Five things worth sharing from the last week or so, brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.
This week’s My Five is by Ali.
1. Microsoft’s Bing eyes Australian opportunity
Google is on the brink of pulling out of Australia as the country’s government mulls over a new media code which would force major technology platforms to pay for the news content they provide. Google is threatening to pull its search engine altogether and Facebook would prevent people from posting news within Australia.
While Google and Facebook have voiced their concerns saying the new code is unworkable, Microsoft’s Bing has spied an opportunity, if not to knock Google off its pedestal, at least to remind us all that ‘other search engines are available’.
Microsoft confirmed that it fully supports the code and that the code ‘reasonably attempts to address the bargaining power imbalance between digital platforms and Australian news businesses’.
How to monetise content is an ongoing struggle for many media outlets with some choosing a paywall, others asking for donations, but most still relying on ad sales. If the code does go ahead Down Under, UK media outlets may well try to follow suit.
2. Duplicate content isn’t a negative ranking factor
Whether duplicate content could impact rankings is a long-discussed topic in the world of SEO.
This week, Google’s John Mueller clarified the situation by saying that having the same content on multiple pages does not have a negative effect and that the search engine can handle it.
Duplicate content can take many forms. For example, repeating the same footer across several pages where the footer is fairly wordy, would constitute duplicate content. Selling similar products on two pages would necessitate two very ‘samey’ pages. And two retailers selling identical products would mean the descriptions may be alike or identical. This is where the canonical tag can come to your rescue.
So while Google has confirmed it’s not a negative ranking factor as such, good SEO practice should always try to steer search engines to a preferred page by making distinguishable differences to on-page and meta content where similar pages exist.
3. COVID-related searches perfectly highlight long-tail keywords
Search Engine Journal has analysed the coronavirus-related searches undertaken at the early stages of the pandemic compared to current search trends. And although not collated for this purpose, they highlight just how important keyword research is, particularly with regards to long-tail searches.
Initially, searches were confined to short phrases such as ‘coronavirus cases’, ‘coronavirus update’, ‘coronavirus symptoms’, but latterly those searches have become much more detailed. For example ‘Is the Moderna vaccine effective against the new strain’ and ‘How long after the second dose of the covid vaccine are you immune’
Both of these searches are much longer and more informed, showing that the public has much more understanding and of course that the situation has changed considerably now that a vaccine is available.
This is important knowledge for governments who need to evolve their digital platforms to reflect current search trends amongst their populations but the same applies to other industries too. Search trends do evolve, perhaps not always as quickly as in this covid example, but keeping on abreast of search trends and particularly long-tail searches can be extremely beneficial to SEO efforts.
4. Google Ads match types are changing
When bidding on keywords for a PPC campaign, Google offers a hierarchy of keyword match types to broaden or restrict when ads are served. The purpose being to help advertisers target the best audience for their product or service within budget.
From 18 February, Google has announced that two of these categories, namely phrase and broad match modified (BMM) keywords, are merging under the phrase match type. The search engine cites the fact that these two types of search largely served the same purpose and a hybrid will ‘help reach more of the right customers’.
The example given is that of a moving company that wants to reach people interested in moving out of New York City. With the updated phrase match, the company can reach people looking to move from NYC to Boston, for example, without showing up for people looking to move from Boston to NYC.
Google says there is no need to recalibrate campaigns immediately as historic and existing BMM keywords will continue to work, and phrase match can be used for new keywords in the future.
With any such changes, some campaigns may need tweaking so keep an eye that this update doesn’t simply further line Google’s pockets.
5. No kidding around on Zoom for Lancashire farmer
Lancashire farmer, Dot McCarthy, who took over from her mother only a few years ago, has turned what started a joke into a successful money-spinning venture.
With wedding and educational visits on hold due to COVID, the entrepreneur has reportedly made over £50,000 by allowing people to hire a goat for their video call.
Her team of goats have joined calls as far-flung as China and Russia, meaning the farm has not needed to furlough staff and is going to use the money to become more energy efficient.