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SEO Web Design / SEO  / Has automation actually changed the way you do your job?; Wednesday’s daily brief

Has automation actually changed the way you do your job?; Wednesday’s daily brief

Good morning, Marketers, what has automation done for you lately?

Seriously, I’d love to know, please email me ([1], subject line: Skynet Automation). I’m currently working on *whisper* something…in which I’ll be discussing how changes in AI, machine learning and automation have impacted you, the noble digital marketer.

Whether it’s Google’s updated phrase match, a nifty new tool for your keyword research, or if you’re just getting more traffic and you think it’s due to passage ranking, get in touch with me. I’m looking to learn about how these advancements have changed your workflow, what your new considerations are, what factors may no longer be considerations, how effective the tech is, what you think the next “big thing” might be or anything in between.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you, and I always reply. In the meantime, keep on reading to learn about Google’s latest organic offering, how ad spend changed last year and more.

George Nguyen,

More freebies from Google, now hotel listings go free

Yesterday, Google announced that it added free listings to its hotel listing results. “We’re improving this experience by making it free for hotels and travel companies around the world to appear in hotel booking links, beginning this week on[2],” Google said, “With full access to a wider range of hotel prices, users will have a more comprehensive set of options as they research their trip and ultimately decide where to book.”

Google said the free booking links display similar information as the paid ones. The main difference is that the “hotel ads are paid links, ranked according to Google’s ad auction, whereas free booking links are unpaid links, ranked according to their utility to users,” Google explained.

If you are in the hotel business, which is likely suffering due to the pandemic, this news may be exciting for you. If you are from a hotel or travel company, you can sign up to participate over here[3].

Read more here.[4] 

How ad spend changed during the year of COVID

Between January and December 2020, the higher education (481%), design (229%) and consumer electronics (217%) industries saw the highest increases in digital ad spend, according to a study[5] of 6,000 U.S. companies from data platform Improvado. On the flip side, the entertainment (-82%) and leisure, tourism and travel (-78%) industries saw the greatest decreases in spend.

The biggest changes (higher education, consumer electronics entertainment, tourism,) make a lot of sense, but the most interesting changes were towards the middle of these charts (the changes most didn’t see coming): Increased demand for housing due to low interest rates resulted in a boom for the construction and furniture industries, and stimulus payments did what they were meant to do (encourage spending) so the manufacturing sector responded with more ads. 

Why we care. Knowing how your sector has adapted to life being upended for an entire year can communicate important details about how effective your marketing has been, such as whether higher ad spend is the new norm or if you can reduce budget and rely on organic without a negative impact on your KPIs.

With privacy concerns escalating, is now the right time for an ad-free search engine?

Last June, former Google ad boss Sridhar Ramaswamy announced Neeva, an ad-free, subscription-based search engine. When we reported on it[6], Neeva had already raised $37.5 million and hired 25 employees. Yesterday, the company announced that it raised another $40 million during its Series B funding round; the funding will go towards developing Neeva’s search infrastructure and expansion into non-U.S. markets.

There’s still no word on when Neeva will officially launch, but if you’re curious, you can join the waitlist on the Neeva homepage[7].

Why we care. The general consensus among marketers is that no one can take Google head on, and I tend to agree. But, there is room for more, profitable search engines, especially ones that can appeal to users in ways that exceed the bounds of the search results (though that remains a crucial aspect for retention). DuckDuckGo doesn’t track its users, most of Ecosia’s revenue goes towards reforestation efforts, and I think some users will be willing to pay for an ad-free search experience.

These search engines aren’t likely to be for the general user, but there are plenty of people who care enough about these issues to use them as their primary search provider, with Google or Bing as a backup when they can’t find what they’re looking for. As a marketer, you have to adapt to your audience, and if they’re moving away from Google, you’ll need to find out why and how you can reach them.

Unindexing pages, a cookieless world, and BK gets grilled.

Unindex pages. Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter about removing pages from the Google index, “Why would you need to unindex them? If they’re ranking for queries you care about, you should improve your other pages. If they’re not ranking, then ignore them[8]. (Also, to unindex, don’t block with robots.txt, use noindex instead.)”

How advertisers feel about no cookies. #PPCChat[9] yesterday was all about “PPC In A Cookieless World” and many marketers are worried about losing their data, losing their clients, and losing control of their ads. There’s a Clubhouse conversation about it today at 12ET if you want to join in the convo too. The room is called PPC Chat.

Burger King gets grilled. In a now deleted tweet thread starting off with “Women belong in the kitchen”, Burger King UK’s is taking heat[10] for their International Women’s Day social media campaign. Along with a print ad, the campaign was meant to announce its H.E.R. (Helping Equalize Restaurants) Scholarship.

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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  3. ^ over here (
  4. ^ Read more here. (
  5. ^ study (
  6. ^ reported on it (
  7. ^ Neeva homepage (
  8. ^ If they’re ranking for queries you care about, you should improve your other pages. If they’re not ranking, then ignore them (
  9. ^ #PPCChat (
  10. ^ is taking heat (

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