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🔍 Text ads carousel test | Google’s Map spam problem

Good morning Refactual, happy first Monday of the summer!

A new test from Google caught PPCers’ attention Friday. It features a carousel of text ads on mobile search results. The carousel popped up on a brand search caught by the team at SEMRush, appearing below the brand’s ad in the absolute top position. The ads in the carousel have two headlines (not three), truncated descriptions (as in one truncated line) and no ad extensions. Of course, we’ve grown accustomed to carousels for Shopping ads and even some ad extensions, but seeing text ads in a carousel with very little text to show is not sitting well with some. (Average position sunsetting makes even more sense now.) Google isn’t talking other than to confirm it is indeed a test. Let me know what you think or @ginnymarvin.

Anyone who’s done any work with local businesses is probably familiar with Google Maps spam propagated by fake Google My Business listings. Turns out there are literally millions of fake listings on Google Maps, according to a WSJ report last week. Associate editor George Ngueyen spoke to several digital marketers and SEOs about the real business implications of fake listings on Maps. “The underlying concept of this is that there doesn’t seem to be consequences for keyword stuffing in GMB listings,” UK-based digital marketer Itamar Blauer said. And the fake listings don’t just show on Google Maps, they get picked up in the knowledge graph, too.

“Right now the name of the business has a huge impact and fake listings just use target keywords leading to massive gains,” SEO and digital strategist Joe Youngblood explained. Google says it is working on new ways to fight scammers and that it took down three million fake business profiles, of which more than 90% were removed before they could be seen by users.

In her SMX Advanced speaking debut this month, 3Q Digital regional directory Ashley Mo shared tips for improving YouTube video ad performance and mastering targeting and automated bidding. Have a listen to her Insights session. Ashley is off to Singapore to open a 3Q Digital office there. Good luck, Ashley!

More to read below, including a Pro Tip from Frederick Vallaeys on layering automation, the first in our Ask The Editors series and more.

Ginny Marvin,


Pro Tip

Here’s why we need to layer automation to improve profitability

“Smart Bidding is not the same as automated bidding. Part of the bid management process is automated, but there’s still work for humans to do. Things like setting goals and ensuring measurement is working are just two examples of these tasks,” explains Fred Vallaeys of Optmyzr.

“Besides needing to dial in adjustments for seasonality, special promotions and figuring out how to connect these limited controls to business goals like acquiring new customers, driving store visits or driving higher repeat sales, there’s still the point that most companies care about profits. Curiously, Google Ads doesn’t really have a Smart Bidding strategy geared towards profits. So it’s up to the human PPC pro to bridge that gap and perhaps add some automation layering.”

Read More »


The Secret Formula For Determining A Marketing Budget

Sponsored by Sharpspring

Determining a marketing budget can be frustrating. Are you investing enough? How do you know if what you’re doing is working? This guide from SharpSpring outlines two simple equations you can use to take a lot of the guesswork out of the budgeting process.

Read More »

Ask The Editors

Your questions answered: Periodic Table of SEO Factors

Last week, we held a webinar on our 2019 Periodic Table of SEO Factors and weren’t able to address to all the questions. Search Engine Land editors, Barry Schwartz and Detlef Johnson, will be answering many of them here in the days ahead.

For a site selling separate manufacturers’ products, does copying product descriptions from the original manufacturer hurt or help since it’s the manufacturer’s official text? Does this fall under the category of your “Ar” (piracy)?

You should always aim to provide more value-add than just what the manufacturer gives you as their product descriptions. This is not a piracy issue because you are not stealing the content — the manufacturer expects you to use their descriptions to sell their products. But if you want your site to stand out, do better than the hundreds of others selling this product, you need to add value and be different.

Read More »

Search Shorts

Sage SEO advice from Googlers

Crawl budget. Gary Illyes from Google shared that URLs that are disallowed via a robots.txt file do not affect a site’s crawl budget.

Temporary Sitemaps. Need a boost to get pages indexed or refreshed, Google’s John Mueller said you can always submit temporary sitemaps.

Multiple indexes. Don’t forget, Google has multiple indexes, not just a web index but images, videos, etc – reminds Martin Splitt from Google.

Users not machines. Write your alt attributes for users, don’t stuff them with keywords that don’t make sense to a user says John Mueller of Google.

What we’re reading

We’ve curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader


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