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SEO Web Design / SEO  / Google might have to subsidize journalism, but not like this…

Google might have to subsidize journalism, but not like this…

Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here[1] to get it delivered to your inbox daily.

Good morning, Marketers, it’s my day to hop into your inbox and I have opinions.

A week ago I spoke to several professionals in the publishing sector for a deep dive into Australia’s showdown with Google[2] (read it after this newsletter for context). Now, the European Union may be looking to follow Australia’s lead as it seeks to force Google and Facebook to pay to link to news publishers, the Financial Times reported (there’s a link in today’s What We’re Reading).

There seems to be a consensus that Google should subsidize journalism; the News Showcase initiative is a soft resignation on Google’s part to do just that. While the exact details for the EU’s new regulation are still unknown, it’s unreasonable to expect Google to pay to link to publishers on the main search results page, as Australia is trying to strong-arm it into doing.

Here’s why, in a nutshell:

  • If Google is made to pay news outlets for SERP links, the argument can be made by other industries that Google should pay them, too. How could any search engine afford to pay for even a fraction of the search results it provides?
  • Right now, Australia is focused on Google and Facebook, but if Google shuts down search in Australia (like it has threatened to), not only will publishers not get compensated, they’ll lose out on traffic, which means less ad revenue.
  • Providing publishers with advance notice of algorithm updates is inherently unfair to other sites.
  • If Google has to pay and it can’t find a way to recoup revenue elsewhere, it’s just going to shut down search in those regions and fall back on Alphabet’s other products, like YouTube. There will be collateral damage — smaller businesses that depend on organic traffic from Google will lose a lifeline as their audiences recalibrate and get accustomed to alternative search engines. And, those businesses will have to do the same; without searching it, do you even know what Bing’s version of Google My Business is called?

I’m not one to defend tech giants every chance I get, but these proposed regulations may have very real consequences for other businesses. I don’t know what the right solution is, but I’m certain that there’s a better one than this. What are your thoughts? DM me @geochingu[3] on Twitter or email me at[4]

George Nguyen,

Google’s updated phrase match simplifies keywords and worries advertisers

“I saw this coming” was a common reaction to Google’s announcement last week about including broad match modifier (BMM) traffic in its updated phrase match treatment. That’s because the announcement is in line with the years-long series of changes the company has made to emphasize machine learning and automation over manual controls from advertisers.

“The thing advertisers are gaining is a match type solution that better mimics how match types currently work,” Kirk Williams, owner of ZATO Marketing, told us. However, phrase match keywords are losing out on word order in some circumstances, and those that were reliant on BMM can expect to see fewer clicks and conversions. Google, though, seems to be gaining more control over the auction as transparency and data have dwindled down over the years.

To prepare for the new treatment, advertisers should export their data and look at how phrase match and BMM are currently performing. “What we’ll be doing is basically trimming out all broad match modified terms as soon as we can,” Matt Van Wagner, president of Find Me Faster said. “Because the more searches that are still going to broad match modified (versus phrase, versus regular broader or exact), the less we’ll be able to analyze what Google really means by these changes.” And, for those more reliant on phrase match, be sure to keep an eye on your keywords as the change occurs since additional queries will be eligible to match, and make use of negative keywords to ensure that your budget is being used effectively.

Read more here.[5]

Microsoft Advertising to replace Manual CPC with Enhanced CPC by end of April

Microsoft will soon transition all search, shopping and Dynamic Search Ads campaigns that don’t have automated bidding strategies over to Enhanced CPC (eCPC). The transition will begin in March, with new campaigns no longer having the option to use manual CPC in early April, and all campaigns are expected to be migrated over to eCPC by the end of April. And, all ad groups and keywords will inherit bidding from their parent campaign.

If you’re already using an automated strategy (like target ROAS, max clicks or target CPA), there’ll be no change. “Advertisers using eCPC achieve 5-10% more conversions while maintaining their cost per acquisition (CPA),” the company said in its announcement. But, don’t just take their word for it, begin testing now so that you can avoid any wasted spend. To help you determine which strategy is right for your campaigns, Microsoft provided the decision tree above. 

Read more here.[6]

Google search ranking update (unconfirmed)

Unconfirmed Google search ranking update. We are seeing some early reports from within the SEO community and also with the automated tracking tools that there was an unconfirmed Google search ranking algorithm update around February 8th[7]. This has not been confirmed by anyone at Google.

Manual actions with News & Discover. On Monday we reported about the new manual actions for Google News and Google Discover[8]. Well, some are worried that it can impact the site in other ways. Google’s Danny Sullivan said that if manual actions for News or Discover won’t impact your overall Google Search performance[9].

Pingback links. Worried about spammy pingback links pointing to your website? Don’t, says Gary Illyes of Google, he said on Reddit “very very likely those pingbacks are marked worthless (meaning they’re ignored) on Google’s end[10].”

Happy birthday Google Maps. On Monday, February 8th, Google Maps turned 16 years old[11].  Can you imagine a world without Google Maps these days?

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

About The Author

George Nguyen is an editor for Search Engine Land, covering organic search, podcasting and e-commerce. His background is in journalism and content marketing. Prior to entering the industry, he worked as a radio personality, writer, podcast host and public school teacher.

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