This week in search marketing [11/11/2019]

Nov 11th, 2019

Another week, another week in search, here we bring you the roundup of everything, SEO, PPC, Social and more…


Google My Business discontinues toll free phone support

One of the best parts of Google My Business was that you were able to dial a phone number and speak to someone at Google about your Google My Business listing. So if you had an issue with how your business was showing up in Google Search or Google Maps, someone at Google could potentially help you.

Well, now that feature is gone. You can no longer dial into a phone number and immediately get someone from Google to listen to your problem.

Google said: “We’ve removed toll free customer support numbers from the Google My Business homepage. If you call one of the existing numbers, you’ll be directed to the Google My Business Help Center for a more personalised and efficient help experience.

“You’ll still be able to request a toll free call from a support specialist under the ‘Contact Us’ options in the Google My Business Help Center,”


New SERP feature truncates title tag in favour of location

Google automatically adding locations to title tags can work well in local businesses’ favour. In a story published by Search Engine Land it was suggested that Google is helping out local businesses..

They said: “On Oct. 2, we spotted something new happening to title tags in Google UK search results – location names were being added to truncated title tags, despite these not being present in the original title tags.

For example, using the search term “travel agent” we saw the result:


“Our observations are:

  • Locations seem to appear when performing company/agency/business-related searches
  • It appears they display if you do not specify a location in your search
  • Google seems to pull a location based on on-page content
  • It will sometimes use a more specific location if a broad location is specified

“Though it could be argued that Google is removing important content from your title tag in favour of a location, we think it’s a positive move.”


Instagram Launches IGTV Series Tools:

Instagram Announced New Tools to Help Creators Start Their Own IGTV Series: Now that Instagram supports video series content on its long-form IGTV format, Instagram rolled out a new tool that enables creators to start their own series.

Instagram is reportedly testing a new Stories sticker option that is aimed at facilitating event participation. Instagram’s Event Story stickers, spotted by reverse engineer, Jane Manchun Wong, appear to allow users “to add details of your upcoming event – including title, date, and location” and directly RSVP within the Story.

According to Social Media Examiner: “Instagram Tests New Following List Categories to Manage Content Feeds: In addition to Invite Stickers for Events, Instagram also appears to be testing a new process for categorising your “Following” list into both topic categories or based on individual engagement activity. The idea is to help users better manage what content appears in their main feed.”

In addition, creators using the IGTV series tool can give fans the option to turn on notifications that alert them when new episodes are available for viewing.

Bing introduces penalty for ‘inorganic site structure’ violation

Bing is introducing a spam penalty against “inorganic site structure” violations, the search engine announced on Monday. The new penalty seeks to address tactics such as subdomain leasing, doorway content and sites that participate in private blog networks.

To provide context for its new penalty, Bing provided two examples of typical website boundaries.

The first, and most common, boundary is defined by the domain, in which each page, sub-folder and sub-domain are all considered part of the same site.

In the second example, as seen below, each sub-domain is considered its own website.

Voters ‘used’ in political Facebook adverts, warn analysts

Over the weekend I read a really interesting piece in the Observer relating to social media targeting, spend and influence. This, as you may know was something that we covered last week and is a really interesting topic. The story looked at how the political parties are all involved in a targeted experiment and how campaigners have warned that they lack transparency which could harm democracy.

Here is an excerpt from the piece…

The three main political parties in England and Wales are using Facebook audiences “as lab rats in a giant experiment”, according to the first detailed analysis of online advertising during a UK election.

Campaign group Who Targets Me?, which was established to monitor online political ads, has been examining how parties used Facebook before the election was called and in the first week of the campaign. It has found all three parties trialling subtly different messages, images and even colours as they seek to learn what resonates with voters.

“This election will be fought online. Millions will be spent by all parties on ‘untransparent’, highly targeted Facebook ads,” said Sam Jeffers, the co-founder of Who Targets Me? “Most of us know nothing about who is targeting us and how, or what impact this will have on politics and society. We urgently need more transparency.”

From 27 October to 2 November, the Liberal Democrats spent £25,502 on Facebook ads. Of this, £2,985 went on sending 15 different Jo Swinson ads to a total of 128,000 people. They showed the Lib Dem leader in a number of poses, from smiley and determined to thoughtful. All the posts featured the same message – “Liberal Democrats have led the fight to stop Brexit for over 3 years. We’re not giving up and neither should you” – with a link to the party’s website. Analysis shows the 15 ads were whittled down to five based on user response.

Similar analysis of Labour’s campaign shows the party experimenting with a number of messages. One set used pictures of Swinson and Johnson accompanied by variations of the message that “neither will protect our NHS from Donald Trump”.

The party also prepared and briefly sent out a “Let the people decide” message, referring to a second referendum, and has run several versions of ads attacking tuition fees and universal credit.

The Tory party has used a number of messages claiming that politicians like Jeremy Corbyn are not respecting the result of the Brexit vote” in a bid to present the election as “people versus parliament”. It has trialled a series of ads depicting Corbyn stuffing Remain votes into a ballot box while discarded Leave votes lie all around.

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