PPC 2021 in review: Privacy and automation force advertisers to adapt
In 2021, PPC professionals navigated changes in keyword match types and automated bidding, scratched their heads at the prospect of a future without third-party cookies, and navigated their role in an increasingly automated industry.
Prompted by the vision that platforms, like Google, have for their services as well as increased concern over user privacy, these changes underscored adaptability as one of the traits that define successful marketers. Below, we’ve summarized the most impactful changes, announcements, and developments that shaped PPC this past year and, in all likelihood, will continue to influence the years ahead as well.
Farewell, broad match modified keywords
In Q1 2021, Google announced a significant change to how it treats phrase match keywords by expanding it to include broad match modifier traffic (BMM).
“Broad match now looks at additional signals in your account to deliver more relevant searches,” Google also announced. These signals include landing pages and keywords in your ad group.
Bundled bid strategies replaced standalone options
Google updated its Smart Bidding in April 2021, bundling the Target CPA (tCPA) and Target ROAS (tROAS) strategies with the Maximize Conversions and Maximize Conversion Value bid strategies.
Three months later, the company removed standalone Maximize conversions and Maximize conversion value bid strategies for search campaigns. Shortly after that, Google removed the old tCPA and tROAS options from standard campaigns, effectively completing the bundling of these bid strategies.
FLoC was heavily debated, but not rolled out
With the deprecation of third-party cookies slated for 2022 (which Google later pushed back to the latter half of 2023), it wasn’t much of a surprise when Google first announced that it was testing an alternative targeting technology in October 2020. Known as Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), the proposal was opened for advertiser testing in Q2 2021.
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Messy SEO: Fixing site structure while a Google title change sinks clickthroughs
This installment of “Messy SEO” details my process of working with our marketing, content, and development teams to further clean up the search engine results pages for MarTech. In Part 4, we discussed the issues arising from Google’s title changes and the tactics taken to address them.
SERP title change fallout and improvements
Google’s SERP title changes from August did a number on our MarTech mission page, pulling in irrelevant alt text from our site header logo, making the title link read “Martech is Marketing Logo.”
We tried many tactics to combat this change: resubmitting the page via Google Search Console, adding contextual internal links, and updating the title tag every few days to see if anything changed. And, after months of edits and monitoring the SERPs, Google finally updated the MarTech title tag to reflect our chosen version (shown below).
Our original chosen page title tag read “What is MarTech? …This is MarTech.” We believed Google’s algorithm felt this tag wasn’t clear enough for searchers, so we tweaked it a bit to better highlight the main topic of the page. In a sense, we answered the question we posed in the same tag, inviting searchers to view the page to learn more.
We were thrilled to see Google update this important page’s title in the SERPs. But, after digging into the original change’s effects on MarTech search performance, we saw the true impact of Google’s SERP title alteration.
Google December 2021 product reviews update is finished rolling out
Read more: Messy SEO: Fixing site structure while a Google title change sinks clickthroughs
Google has confirmed that the December 2021 product reviews update is now finished rolling out. This update has officially completed rolling out a few days before Christmas.
The announcement. “The Google product review update is fully rolled out. Thank you!” Google’s Alan Kent wrote on Twitter.
December 2021 product reviews update. As a reminder, the December 2021 product reviews update started to roll out at about 12:30 pm ET on December 1, 2021. This update took 20 days to roll out after it was announced. So this update started on December 1, 2021, and lasted through December December 21, 2021.
When and what was felt. Based on early data, this update was not a small update. It was bigger than the April 2021 product reviews update but also seemed to continue to remain pretty volatile throughout the whole rollout. The community chatter and tracking tools were all at pretty high levels consistently for the past few weeks.
Read more: Google December 2021 product reviews update is finished rolling out
Microsoft Bing’s Shopify integration now live with buy now
The Microsoft Bing and Shopify integration that was previously announced in October is now live in the Bing Shopping and Bing Search results, the company announced.
Microsoft said “we’re excited to share that the experiences are live,” where you can more deeply integrate your Shopify site so Bing has showcased more “diverse products, great prices, and improved discovery of deals.” “With the integration of Shopify, you will now have access to millions of merchants to select from,” Microsoft said.
You can click the “Buy Now” link directly in the Bing search results and be taken directly to the shopping cart page on that Shopify website. Here is a screenshot of this:
Read more: Microsoft Bing’s Shopify integration now live with buy now
Google Search Console accessibility issues fully resolved five days later
Last Thursday, many SEOs noticed that Google Search Console was inaccessible. Google confirmed the issue saying “We’re aware of an issue with Search Console that prevents some users from using the service. We’re working on fixing it and we’ll post an update when the issue is resolved.” The issue was not impacting all users, but it did impact many users.
The issue is now officially resolved, five days after it was first confirmed. Google posted in an update “The issue is now resolved. Thanks for the patience.”
Resolved earlier. I believe this was mostly resolved earlier, like within 48-hours of the issue, but Google probably fully restored access five days later. It is not clear what the issue was exactly but it seemed to me it was around server capacity and resources for the Search Console tools. Again, that is not confirmed but the errors displayed conveyed a 429 Apache error which means “Too Many Requests response status code indicates the user has sent too many requests in a given amount of time (“rate limiting”).”
Read more: Google Search Console accessibility issues fully resolved five days later