Understanding Google’s Search Engine Results Page and Why It Matters

Marketers understand that in order to have a strong online presence, a website has to rank high on Google (or any other search engine) or prospects will likely have a hard time finding it. This is where Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) comes in. The SERP is the page of options that comes up when you do a search. Each SERP is unique depending on the keywords and search engine used. It contains two types of content: organic and paid results. It also includes featured snippets, images, videos, and location-specific results.

This is Google’s way of trying to make users’ search experiences easier and more relevant. The SERP enables users to see on-page content without having to click into an organic result. This is great for users, but it can be problematic for marketers looking to capture attention in organic search results.

Marketers need to stay current with SERP features to learn how to rank higher. Search engines are increasingly more sophisticated. A few years ago if you searched the word “pizza” you would get a listing of pizza restaurant websites, a directory listing, review sites, and maybe some blog posts. Today that same search provides so much more. You’ll see an ad, a map with the closest pizza location to you, a Wikipedia page with pizza nutritional information, etc. This makes it harder for even the #1 ranked pizza place to be visible. There are ways around this.

Rich Snippets Enable You to Share More Info Before A Click

Rich snippets allow you to include images, reviews, descriptions, pricing, etc. that will come up in the search so users are more enticed to click.

Paid Search Results Put Your Site At The Top Of The Page

These are the ads and sponsored posts that you see at the very top of the SERP. Google differentiates paid searches from organic using visual cues that include providing a “sponsored” or “ad” label or by boxing off the paid search results.

Organic Search Lists Your Site Below Paid Search Results

In an organic search your site will appear in the order Google ranks it based on your SEO. It will be listed below the paid search results. Ensuring your site has engaging, relevant, keyword-rich content will help boost SEO to keep your ranking high and your site visible in organic search.

Here’s a visual for what each of these options looks like on Google.

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Facebook is Removing Third-Party Targeting: What This Means for Marketers

You are likely aware that Facebook, under heightened scrutiny and mounting regulatory pressure, has announced it will be removing access to data provided by third-party data brokers for its advertising system. This includes all third-party targeting capabilities – both private and public. Currently in Facebook under the Partner Categories by Request option, advertisers can request access to private data from vendors like Oracle and Experian or access public data categories that include behavioral targeting parameters – like purchasing behavior and household income. Facebook does not disclose the source(s) it uses for this data.

Nearly half of Facebook’s 1,200 targeting criteria come from third-party data sources, all of which will be impacted by this change. Facebook is making this move as a result of its Cambridge Analytica data breech crisis. Facebook is also doing it to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will go into effect May 25, 2018.

In an unprecedented move, this broad-reaching GDPR provides governmental guidance regarding how European Union (EU) member states handle users’ personal information. But this doesn’t just affect EU companies. GDPR will apply to all companies that process personal data of EU citizens, regardless of where they reside. That means it applies to US companies that process data of EU citizens, whether they live in the States or not.

The GDPR requires companies to provide the highest levels of privacy protection or suffer dire financial consequences. Violators may face a fine up to four percent of their company’s global revenue. This will affect how third-party data is used throughout the digital advertising world regardless of location.

Facebook released the following 2018 timeline for its GDPR compliance and its impact on advertisers:

May 10: After this date, you will no longer be able to create or edit campaign using Partner Categories built on audiences from the UK, Germany, and France; however, they will be allowed to continue running until May 24.

 May 25: Facebook will no longer deliver to Partner Categories built on audiences from the UK, Germany, and France, and these targeting options will no longer be available for use on the platform. You will notified to update any targeting containing impacted Partner Categories before this date.

June 30: Last day for creating new or editing existing campaigns using non-EU Partner Categories; they will be allowed to run until September 30.

October 1: All other Partner Categories will no longer be available as targeting options and Facebook will stop delivering against these audiences. You will be notified to update your targeting by this date.

Many marketers who use third-party Facebook data to reach their prospects are likely shaken by this news. But keep in mind that while US advertisers have had access to third-party data, that hasn’t been true everywhere – like in Canada, for example. Canada hasn’t had access, yet advertisers have still had the ability to scale and deliver successful Facebook campaigns.

It’s very difficult to predict what comes next. It’s possible that advertisers will buy audiences directly from data brokers and layer it into their own data before importing it as a Custom Audience in Facebook. Or Facebook may find alternative ways to incorporate third-party data. Facebook could also bring these data fields in-house and begin to re-release them to advertisers. Read my blog for updates.