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Google Ads Introduces “New vs. Returning” Store Visits Segmentation by @MattGSouthern

Google Ads advertisers who measure store visits can now utilize a “New vs Returning” segmentation.
The new segmentation is designed to help advertisers better understand how many store visits come from first-time customers compared to repeat customers.
These insights can then guide advertisers in the right direction in terms of adjusting their marketing strategy to reach their most valuable segment.

“For example, if your business goal is to maximize sales from existing customers, identify which campaigns and ad groups reach the most returning customers and focus your budgets, bid increases and keyword expansions there.”

The “new vs returning” segmentation applies to all conversions columns, including custom columns.
Advertisers can see previous visits and segment conversions in the store visit conversion reports based on a selected time period for the “customer lapse window.”
For returning customers, advertisers can choose from these conversion windows:
180 days (default setting)
90 days
60 days
Custom (between 1 and 180 days)
If an advertiser selects 90 days as their conversion window, for example, then store visits are considered new if they’re from customers who haven’t visited in the past 90 days.
Conversion windows cannot exceed 180 days.

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Daily Search Forum Recap: October 31, 2018

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.
Search Engine Roundtable Stories:
Google: We Will Close The Gap On Modern Browsers & GoogleBotMartin Splitt from the Google Webmaster Trends Analyst team said yesterday on a hangout that they are working on closing the gap between how modern browsers render web pages and how GoogleBot renders web pages.
Google On Lazy Loading Scroll Events For Search – Very Interesting…Last night, John Mueller did a hangout at the GooglePlex and Martin Splitt from the Webmaster Trends Analyst team was with him who was able to answer some really technical JavaScript questions. This one was about lazy loading scroll events and how Google handles them. With it, he brought up on topics on GoogleBot scrolling and the use of the noscript tag.
Bing Ads API Version 11 Goes Aways TodayBing sent out a final reminder this morning that today is the last day you can use version 11 of the Bing Ads API. You need to migrate to version 12 if you want to still use the Bing Ads API, version 11 will not work tomorrow.
Google My Business Adds Setting For Google Assistant Calls Over DuplexWe know that Google is now going to be letting customers use Google Assistant’s duplex technology to book appointments or make reservations on their behalf. With that, Michael Wallace posted on Twitter that one of his customers has a new section to enable or disable the ability for Google Assistant to call you to make these reservations.
Halloween Logos From The Search Industry In 2018We showed you the first ever multiplayer Google Doodle for Halloween from Google yesterday and Bing’s bat home page. But today, while Google’s game Doodle is still live, Bing swapped their home page out to show you scary movie clips. Sogou posted their Halloween logo, we have our theme up as well
Googler With Scary Mask At Google DublinHere is a video from a Googler named Anne Christine Lorenzen at the Google Dublin office wearing one of those scary masks. She posted this video, I think she is also holding a knife. Looks scary to m
Other Great Search Forum Threads:
Search Engine Land Stories:
Other Great Search Stories:
Analytics
Industry & Business
Local & Maps
Mobile & Voice
SEO
PPC
Search Features

Twitter Doubling its Character Limit from 140 to 280 Has Not Led to Longer Tweets by @MattGSouthern

A year after Twitter doubled its character limit from 140 to 280, data shows users are being more polite, using fewer abbreviations, and replying to more tweets.
More Polite Users
The use of polite sentiments is way up since the character limit increase.
Data shows that 54% more tweets use the word “please,” while the use of “thank you” is up 22%.
Fewer Abbreviations
The ability to tweet more characters has led to a decline of abbreviations and an increase of the full-length words.
Usage of “gr8” is down 36%, while “great” is up 32%
Usage of “b4 is down 13%, while “before is up 70%
Usage of “sry” is down 5%, while “sorry” is up 31%
More Replies and Engagement
Replies to tweets are reportedly on the rise, although the exact increase in tweet replies was not provided in the data.
It’s possible that there are more replies because users are asking more questions – 30% more tweets include a question more.
Tweets Are Not Getting Longer on Average
Curiously enough, the character limit increase has not led to longer tweets for the most part.
The most common length of tweets in English is 33 characters, which is actually one less character than before the change.
In fact, only 12% of English language tweets are longer than 140 characters. Just 1% of tweets hit the 280-character limit.
Looking at data across all languages, 6% of tweets are longer than 140 characters.
Here is a collection of tweets that were recently published that support the above statistics.

r u abbreving less rn?
Since the switch to 280 characters a year ago, we’ve seen an increase in people writing out full words and phrases. pic.twitter.com/pjnfyVmilY
— Twitter Data (@TwitterData) October 30, 2018

All about the please and thank you.
With 280 characters, people are saying ‘please’ (+54%) and ‘thank you’ (+22%) more.
THANKS!!!!
— Twitter Data (@TwitterData) October 30, 2018

💬💬💬
280 characters later, there are more ? and replies to Tweets. More room, more conversations!
— Twitter Data (@TwitterData) October 30, 2018

Last year, we upgraded tweet length to 280 and guess what? Use of ‘please’ is up 54% and ‘thank you’ is up 22%. I love that! Also, people are asking more questions and having more conversations. All this, and the majority of tweets are still under 140. It worked.
— Biz Stone (@biz) October 30, 2018

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19 SEO Horror Stories That Will Scare the Hell Out of You by @alextachalova

Greetings, boils and ghouls!
Today is Halloween – one of the most popular U.S. holidays, with more than 21 million searches per month.
Clearly, this means Halloween needs to be celebrated by the digital marketing community.
So I decided to mark this Halloween in the spookiest way possible.
I asked 19 SEO pros to share the most terrifying stories – the most horrifying situations they’d ever faced during their career.
This post is not only here to entertain you, but to also remind you how one small mistake can destroy the whole site’s SEO performance.
Hopefully, next year at this time, you won’t be featured in one of these gruesome Halloween roundups!
Jason Barnard, Founder, Kalicube

Back in 2013, I was called in to have a manual penalty lifted. I spent a year disavowing thousands of spammy backlinks.
I also took the opportunity to clean up the site – deleting doorway pages, switching to SSL and HHTP2, reorganizing the categorization, optimizing the images, adding some funky Schema, and a few other nice tricks.
After three months, the penalty was lifted, and six months later we were seeing 10 percent+ traffic increases every month.
One day I noticed the Google +1 count had shot up from 20 to 1,020.
Turns out, the boss had become frustrated with the “slow” progress and bought them from what he called a “reputable” online service.
A few days later, manual penalty.
Back to square one.
Jan-Willem Bobbink

, Founder, Notprovided.eu
A client decided to open up a marketplace system within their existing ecommerce platform.
All those vendors got their own profile and unique URLs for their product range.
Next, to that, the general ecommerce environment added new facets for every individual vendor. They proudly launched the platform together with 120 vendors.
All those new facets and vendor pages added up to over 1 billion new URLs for a domain that used to have 120,000 indexable URLs.
Nobody involved in that project understood the implications of the new setup for SEO and it took us six months to clean up again.
Clark Boyd, Founder, Candid Digital

I worked at an agency for a little bit whose “USP” was that they use freelancers to perform all the usual SEO tasks.
My first project there was to try and coordinate 382 new landing pages, all of which were due to launch on the same day for a big event.
The agency used to sell in these preposterous projects on the proviso that the “freelancer network” could deliver.
The assets were delivered to me on time by the freelancers, but the client was less than impressed with the quality.
No, that’s too diplomatic.
They hated it.
With two days until launch, we were 382 pages from our target.
In the end, I and one colleague worked round the clock to write titles, descriptions, and many, many paragraphs.
I’m not sure it was any good, but the content was at least a little better than what we had…
Craig Campbell, Founder, Craig Campbell SEO

I was working with someone on their website to help them rank better within the Lancashire area for a number of terms.
We were making good progress with technical SEO – then they decided to move from WordPress to Wix in order to “save on costs.”
And yes, it looks good; but the rankings are now tanking.
Adam Connell, Founder, Blogging Wizard

When I was doing agency work a few years ago, my team and I spent 3+ years working with a client to develop content assets, build links, and increase rankings/traffic.
One day traffic and rankings plummeted. I opened up the site to start figuring out why. The problem was obvious – the blog didn’t exist anymore.
Turns out that a customer service rep at their host “accidentally” deleted their entire blog. Along with all their backups. And their ToS got them out of any responsibility.
The impact was significant: 400+ blog posts and content assets wiped out in an instant. They had to be resurrected from drafts in emails and old Word documents.
The lesson:
Even if your client only hires you to work on content/SEO, and even if they have an agency managing their website – make sure they have redundant backups for everything.
And I mean everything.
Rachel Costello, Technical SEO Executive, DeepCrawl

It seemed like just another ordinary day in the office – how was I to know that a client was about to tell me something that would send a terrible chill down my spine?
One morning I was checking the crawl error report in Google Search Console for a new ecommerce client.
There had been a huge spike in crawl errors, from less than a hundred or so to thousands.
I started checking through the website itself. Category page after category page was either completely empty or had just one or two products left on it, when the last time I checked the previous day they were full.
I then checked the back-end in the CMS and saw, to my horror, that over two-thirds of all of the products had been disabled even though there was still stock left, meaning all of these product pages we’d been working hard to improve were now serving 404s.
I set up a call with the client as soon as I could to find out what had happened.
They told me that “The SEO consultant we worked with before told us it was fine to disable products whenever we want. So at the end of each season, we disable all of the products and if they’re seasonal we just launch them again with new URLs when we want to showcase them on the website again. That’s still OK, right?”
Needless to say, some training on stock management was scheduled immediately. However, the thought of all that wasted link equity over the years still haunts me to this day.
Blake Denman, Founder of RicketyRoo

Early on when I started my agency, I was rebuilding a website for a small business on WordPress.
I built out the redesign on my local machine and would migrate the site late one night.
When I migrated the new site, there was a critical error and the website was showing a 500 error.
I tried again, the same result. I tried, and tried, and tried, nothing was working.
It was about 12:30 am and I froze. I didn’t know what to do.
From 12:30 am on, I resorted to rebuilding the entire site in the live environment.
I finished the site at 5:30 a.m.
I later found my critical mistake. Even though I had double, triple, quadruple-checked the database info, I made the slightest mistake in the password.
Nick Eubanks, Founder, From the Future

So this is so simple but it was costing our client so much money (tens of millions of dollars per month), and all it was was a misplaced canonical tag…
This client had an internal page, right off the root directory, that was built to target a keyword with an exact match MSV of ~130,000, but there was a canonical to the site’s homepage.
After a simple site crawl, once it was identified, we simply removed the tag and the page popped to Position 5 (and now generates literally tens of millions of dollars in online revenue each and every month).
Dan Foland, Director of SEO, Postali

I once worked for an agency that handled the SEO for some of the largest and most well-respected healthcare systems in the U.S.
Every time one of our largest and most notable clients pushed an update live from their dev server it also pushed sitewide noindex tags and robots.txt disallow rules live.
Jenny Halasz, President, JLH Marketing

Working for a very big ecommerce brand about five weeks before Christmas, we had a post about the best gifts get really large reach and get a #1 ranking for “Christmas gifts” on Google.
The increased traffic caused the site to start throwing 503 errors!
We responded really fast with two SEO plays:
302 redirect traffic on that specific URL to another domain hosted elsewhere until we could spool up additional bandwidth.
Change the meta description to include the phone number so that if people couldn’t access the site and hit back, they could call.
Both worked really well. We definitely lost some sales, but were able to recover a lot.
Milosz Krasinski, Founder, Chilli Fruit Web Consulting

My client turned up to be multinational scam agency. Since I have been managing their hosting as well I was halfway involved in this.
Thankfully all got sorted.
Ron Lieback, Founder and CEO, Content Mender

Back in 2008, during the first year of running Ultimate Motorcycling, we hired an agency to migrate us from Drupal to WordPress.
At the time we were doing around a million uniques per month, and the content was stronger than ever.
But after the migration or rankings tanked by more than half, and the SEO company “lost” about 15,000 URLs, and over 30,000 images.
Yes – lost; it was super scary because I thought the entire business would go under – advertisers pay based on exposure, and we couldn’t afford to go under.
That was the last time I trusted an agency, but it forced me to learn SEO for myself, which led to where I am today.
I can’t stand a hack, but thankfully that one came into my life. 🙂 As for rankings, it took nearly two years to recover, but persistence and patience paid off. And then some.
Karen Neicy, Director of Experience Strategy, OGK Creative

I once inherited a client website that got hacked because it was using some outdated plugins.
Turns out, the links implanted on the site ended up ranking it for all sorts of “adult” keywords.
So the client was getting traffic from some pretty unsavory verticals.
It was a major brand, and we were getting press inquiries about why they were showing up for such distasteful search terms.
I was like, we’re handling it, but why were you searching for those things in the first place?
It took weeks to correct, but we installed malware protection, removed the bad links (most of them were in the forms of anchored blog comments), removed the outdated plugins, and switched to a more secure, https certificate.
Andrew Optimisey, Founder, Optimisey Cambridge MeetUp

This is a classic SEO tale of woe.
I’d just started in a new job, SEO was just one of the things I “looked after” (I was very much the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind).
All was going well and then I had some holiday booked so was away from work for a bit.
Two days into my holiday I had panicked messages from my boss (via LinkedIn, email, phone – they’d tried almost everything to get hold of me – I was in a low/no signal area).
In short, the developer team had released a bunch of updates and… included the “User-agent: *Disallow: /” in the robots.txt.
Ouch.
It took them two days to notice that the traffic jumped off a cliff. After having the “hair on fire” moment, they started trying to call me.
The, moderately, happy ending is that it was a relatively quick fix (thanks to a quick fix from the devs and Google Search Console) and the dev team didn’t make that mistake again!
Bill Sebald, Founder, Greenlane

At an old agency, we worked with a very well-known ecommerce brand.
They were immovable in their #1 rankings for many, many years. (I’d really love to tell you who it was, but I cannot – still, it’s all terrifyingly true!)
They decided to buy their #2 competitor in a very expensive buy-out (who was also immovable in their respective rankings). It was a huge story that month in the trades.
This competitor had an exact match keyword as their domain. (The EMD update hadn’t happened yet.) The keyword had more than a million searches per month. It was a phenomenal opportunity.
We were asked for our opinion on an SEO approach.
We said, “They are mighty, and you are mighty. We recommend you run the site and keep it as close to its current state, even if you change the fulfillment to your own infrastructure. After all, you’ll be owning your #1 and #2 spot – that’s a huge advantage against Amazon. Own that ‘above the fold’ real estate.”
The advice was not taken.
Instead, the site was purchased and promptly dismantled until Google eventually found very little importance in the domain. It dropped right out of the top spot it had enjoyed for 10+ years.
When the purchasers came back and asked how they can fix their mistake, we told them their best bet was to restore to the original state. But that was now impossible. The whole process had been fumbled.
To this day, that domain is sitting with no site attached to it. It’s just sitting in a very large company’s portfolio. It’s a domain that has so much power, and it’s just being squandered. Now that is terrifying.
Deepak Shukla, Founder, Pearl Lemon

I remember starting a business that was to be called Kukumber (an agency) and made some cool videos that I published on my site.
My intern Catherine told me she wanted to “publish the videos on other sites.” Great idea, I thought.
What I didn’t know is that she found a multi-channel video uploader and didn’t create original descriptions or even use an article spinner.
And I didn’t ask about her process nor consider she might not know the difference between duplicated content and syndicating content; alongside mass uploading of the same content.
Within a week, my videos and website were slapped with a manual penalty and you could not “Google” Kukumber for love nor money.
And that’s how the story of Pearl Lemon started.
Sal Surra, Senior SEO Specialist, Angie’s List

I accidentally put a meta noindex tag on a template for an enterprise site that generates millions of dollars from ad impressions on organic search results.
Because we used Google Analytics, it took us a couple of days to realize what had happened and get it fixed.
A couple day-long issue resulted in multimillion-dollar losses.
That was a really bad day.
Glad I could keep the job.
Marcus Tandler, Founder, Ryte

A large telecommunication service provider used to offer white label shops for their local stores.
Local stores would be paid an affiliate commission for all product sales.
Good idea, but horribly executed because all white label shops were just put in a directory on the main domain with no canonical tag in sight. 🙂
This created enormous amounts of cannibalization issues since there were now multiple duplicates of the very same store.
Of course, this also leads to the most SEO-savvy local store ranking for all products with their white label shop instead of the TSP’s very own, original online shop.
The local store’s subdirectory even ranked for most of the brand terms resulting in a massive affiliate payout for this local store owner.
The worst part about this horror story: They didn’t even notice.
They noticed the decline in sales in the original online shop but they were excited about the uplift in the affiliate marketing channel.
It was not until 6 months later (!) when they started using Ryte Search Success and discovered this huge SEO screw up.
Dan Taylor, Founder, Dan Taylor SEO

Working with a large, international travel brand they were facing issues not being on HTTPS, but due to their legacy infrastructure, they had a limit of the number of redirects they could implement on any given site.
The first solution provided by development was to have the different country managers implement 10,000 redirects manually through the CMS – the country managers rejected this as it’s insane.
So the second option was they found another “SEO agency”, who agreed with (the development team) them that redirects weren’t necessary for a protocol migration and you could just change the preferred URL in Google Search Console.
The end result, both protocol versions open, both indexed, and because the majority of the international sites were English for other regions (with no hreflang so it was duplicate content), this was a straw that broke the camel’s back.
What are some of YOUR most horrific SEO tales? Scare us all in the comments, below.   
Until next time, pleasant screams!
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Image Credits
Featured Image: Created by author, October 2018

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Are Any of These 3 Things Draining Your Passion for SEO? by @casieg

Whether you’re an industry veteran or a search newbie, there’s no denying this is an exciting space.
Changes happen frequently, new strategies are always being utilized, and seeing your client rocket to the top of the search results is so unbelievably rewarding.
However, it isn’t all fun and games.
SEO requires drive, patience, and a dedication to continuous learning. On top of all of that, it requires passion.
It can be a slow game, in some cases, taking years to really true reap the rewards of your efforts. Without passion, the wait would be maddening.
But what happens when you start to lose that passion?
In a recent post, Aaron Levy addressed some of the challenges search engine marketers face. He talked boredom, burnout, and how PPC marketers can find themselves questioning results.
The same thing can be said of those in SEO.
Let’s look at a few challenges facing SEO professionals and how we can work to address them.
1. Lack of Education

On a recent sales call, a prospect noted they didn’t want to engage in any formal SEO program, they simply wanted us to build links to each piece of content they created.
They wanted 10+ links to each piece because that’s what would help them rank.
Or how about the client email I received a few weeks ago asking me what keywords we were buying? For the SEO program.
Sigh.
One of the biggest frustrations we face is the lack of education and awareness of what it is we do.
How can we do our jobs effectively when the people we are working with or for don’t know what we do?
More so, how can we feel valued when the people we are working with/for don’t appreciate the work that is being put in?
SEO is complicated and, in all fairness, the secrecy of the past and “magical” nature of what SEO once was probably didn’t help us.
But this is a different time and it’s on us to make sure we are educating those around us.
How can we overcome this frustration and move forward? I have a few ideas:
Embrace the Opportunity to Educate
A quality I’ve found in a number of SEO pros is the ability to teach.
Think about it. We spend countless hours on the internet looking at content, code, and SERPs, and then distill that information into something regular folks can understand.
On top of that, we have grown this industry to what it is now, building SEO departments and agencies, holding conferences, creating weekly training videos, and much more.
While it can be frustrating to continuously have to explain what you do, embrace the opportunity to teach SEO the right way.
Step Out of the Vacuum
I remember the first time I attended an ad:tech conference. It was one of the first non-search marketing conferences I had been to and I just couldn’t believe how little SEO was discussed.
In the places it was discussed, it was basic-level stuff and really seen as part of the overall marketing strategy. That’s OK!
The SEO space is small and as a result, it can often feel like the most important thing in the world.
Sometimes we need to step out of the vacuum to gain a more realistic view.
Set the Right Expectations
I think the most important thing we can do, especially when working with clients or upper management, is to set the right expectations as early as possible.
That prospect I mentioned above who only wanted links – we let them know that isn’t what we do and the reasons their desired strategy won’t yield them the results they want.
By setting the right expectations, you are also educating the team, killing two birds with one stone and making your life much easier.
2. What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Back in July, Jacob Bohall wrote a wonderful piece reflecting on the SEO space and the challenges we each face.
One of his points was around the idea of being #1 and how it’s never good enough. I couldn’t agree more.
Marketing in and of itself is a ‘what have you done for me lately?’ industry but SEO truly goes above and beyond.
Do any of these sound familiar?
Organic traffic is up 200 percent but my top keyword isn’t on the first page.
Organic is driving 50 percent more leads than last year. How come it’s not higher?
Sales from organic are the highest they’ve ever been but our team is concerned they aren’t getting enough volume.
Constant pressure can be draining and feeling that there’s no end in sight will easily strip away your passion.
Last Spring, I found my passion for search missing. As I started to dig into the why, I realized one of the biggest reasons was the constant pressure from a few specific accounts.
We worked with each of them for years, results were always great, but they were never happy. Even if they seemed happy, I knew it would be short-lived.
I would wait for the inevitable email each week complaining about something we had done. It wore me down.
Eventually, we restructured the accounts, addressed some of the key issues, and reset expectations. It wasn’t the ideal situation but it helped and we’ve been able to move forward with the accounts.
If you find yourself struggling with any of these same issues, I recommend the following:
Focus on ALL of the Wins
As mentioned earlier, SEO can be a long game. We have to take a minute to celebrate the wins, even if they are small.
Did that keyword you’ve been working toward jump onto the first page?
Did your blog updates results in month-over-month organic growth?
Did a publisher accept your byline?
These are all great things!
Yes, we are paid to be successful. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the wins when we get them.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak up
As I think back to my own frustrations, I realize that I didn’t communicate well and when I did, it was too late.
We all have moments where we complain about something or someone at work but if there is legitimately a problem, one that is draining you of your passion, you need to bring it up in a serious manner.
If you’re on the right team, they will support you.
3. Keeping Up with the Joneses 
I have been in the search space since 2005 and while I am constantly learning new things, I am also constantly worried I’m not learning enough.
There are some really freaking smart people in the industry and it can be easy to compare yourself to them.
Here’s the thing – we can’t be everything to everyone.
Rand Fishkin tweeted this a few weeks ago and it generated a number of responses, some positive, some negative but I have to say, I agree:

See, the thing is, that while I want the technical chops of Britney Muller or Mike King, that’s never going to be me.
What I can do is learn from these folks and understand the things that matter to my job.
For example, I am not a coder but I have learned enough HTML to identify technical issues impacting search. I am also not a designer, but I have learned enough about UX to understand what a site needs to perform better.
Those things make me better at my job.
Trying to keep up with everyone around you is exhausting and it can make you feel as if you are failing. Focus on what you’re good at and don’t be afraid to pick a niche.
When I started in search, I focused a lot on link building. It was something that spoke to me, I found interesting, and frankly, I was good at.
As time passed, I started leaning more toward content. I’m sure that will change as time progresses.
Remember, you can be a great SEO without being an expert in all the things.
Relighting the Fire

Burnout can happen and when it does, it’s important to recognize it, deal with it, and figure out the next steps.
Many of us have been there and if you are looking for a way to reignite the passion, reach out to your fellow SEO pros.
We work in an amazing industry and we do this for a reason. It has its challenges but at the same time, it has its rewards.
Enjoy them!
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Featured Image: PixabayIn-Post Image #1: PixabayIn-Post Image #2: PixabayIn-Post Image #3: Screenshot taken by author, October 2018In-Post Image #4: Pixabay

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