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Is It A Google Ranking Factor?

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Is It A Google Ranking Factor?


Websites in multiple languages allow you to target people based on their language preference.

But can the use of different languages affect your organic search rankings?

Read on to learn whether there is any connection between language and improved Google rankings.

The Claim: Language Is A Ranking Factor

If you want to reach people who speak English, your content should be written in English.

However, that same English content probably won’t rank well in markets where Chinese, Arabic, or Spanish dominate.

Businesses that want to reach customers who speak different languages in specific countries can do so by creating content in multiple languages.

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So it seems logical that language plays some sort of a role in how Google ranks webpages, right?

You can tell search engines what language and country they are targeting using the following methods.

The first option is to use the hreflang attribute, which tells search engines the target language and country for the page.

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.site.com” hreflang=”en-uk”>

The second option is to use the content language meta tag, which tells search engines the target language and country for the page.

<meta http-equiv=”content-language” content=”en-uk”>

In both examples, the hreflang and meta tags tell search engines the page is targeted toward English speaking people in the United Kingdom.

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You can use top-level domain names for specific countries, such as https://domain.it/ for an Italian website. This tells search engines the entire website is targeted toward people in Italy.

In addition, you can use subdirectories to separate content by language and country. An example would be content found under https://domain.com/en-us/, which would target English speaking people in the United States.

The Evidence For Language As A Ranking Factor

Google offers in-depth advice on how to manage multi-regional and multilingual sites in Google Search Central’s Advanced SEO section. It explains how to tell Google about different language versions using the HTML tags, meta tags, and URL structures discussed above.

In addition, Google mentions language in their explanation of how search algorithms work. It states:

“Search settings are also an important indicator of which results you’re likely to find useful, such as if you set a preferred language or opted in to SafeSearch (a tool that helps filter out explicit results).”

If a searcher sets English as their preferred language and Canada as their location, websites that target English speaking people in Canada using the following methods would have a better chance of outranking sites without any language or country specification:

  • https://domain.ca/en/
  • https://domain.com/en-ca/
  • <link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.site.com” hreflang=”en-ca”>
  • <meta http-equiv=”content-language” content=”en-ca”>

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Google also advises the use of canonical tags in certain situations.

“If you provide similar or duplicate content on different URLs in the same language as part of a multi-regional site (for instance, if both example.de/ and example.com/de/ show similar German language content), you should pick a preferred version and use the rel=”canonical” element and hreflang tags to make sure that the correct language or regional URL is served to searchers.”

In Google’s Advanced SEO documentation on consolidating duplicate URLs, they continue discussing how canonical tags and language work together.

“Different language versions of a single page are considered duplicates only if the main content is in the same language (that is, if only the header, footer, and other non-critical text is translated, but the body remains the same, then the pages are considered to be duplicates).”

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Under their do’s and don’ts for canonicalization, they suggest that you:

“Specify a canonical page when using hreflang tags. Specify a canonical page in same language, or the best possible substitute language if a canonical doesn’t exist for the same language.”

Language As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Language is discussed on Google’s page on how search algorithms work. You’ll also find language under the Advanced SEO documentation on Google Search Central.

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So although it isn’t officially confirmed by Google to be a ranking factor, language and country settings do affect visibility in search for users who specify a particular language and location.

Therefore, we’re confident that language is an all-but-confirmed Google ranking factor.


Featured image: Paulo Bobita/SearchEngineJournal





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Inflation’s Impact On Ad Spend Detailed In Merkle Report

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Inflation’s Impact On Ad Spend Detailed In Merkle Report


The leading technology and data-driven customer experience company, Merkle, released its quarterly Performance Media Report last week.

Research from the past quarter shows valuable insights into marketers’ priorities, challenges, and performance.

With over 57% of respondents indicating an increase in paid search spend YoY, these findings are especially crucial as we face economic challenges and uncertainty.

I sat down with Matt Mierzejewski, SVP of Search at Merkle, where he provided his take on some of the most glaring stats from the Performance Report.

Prioritizing Privacy And Measurement

From the Merkle report, 45% of respondents stated that getting accurate reporting in the face of privacy regulations is a top priority in measurement.

Many companies are likely in the same boat but may not know where to start.

Mierzejewski states: “Brands are big on cross-device measurement. Apple disrupted the measurement game. Many companies are looking to build their data warehouses for multiple reasons:”

  • Too much reliance on individual platforms. The more conversions are modeled in a platform, the less perfect a company’s individual measurement is.
  • They’re tired of black box solutions. Brands want to be able to own or change the way they model conversions.

Mierzejewski also noted that with more brands looking to build their own reporting solutions, it changes the dependency from the platform conversion truth to their own conversion truth.

Prioritizing Audiences & First-Party Data

Looming privacy regulations have kickstarted the need for brands to create and manage their first-party data.

However, only 35% of respondents prioritize managing audiences and first-party data.

I asked Mierzejewski: “what do you see as the macro implications of so many companies waiting on this?”

He responded with a few points:

“From a digital perspective, they’re shifting towards getting their creative and messaging right.” If you’ve interacted with a brand, you’ll notice how consumer expectations have shifted.

“An implication of deprioritizing audiences and first-party data is poor customer experience.” Not prioritizing these crucial aspects of marketing will accelerate the deceleration, or further remove, the customer feeling connected to that brand.

“You have to use those unknown audience signals to your advantage to meet the expectations of consumers and beat out the competition.” For example, In-Market audiences from Google releases more signal and intent of propensity to buy. They’re allowing those signals to be in the open market.

Mierzejewski summarized: “It misses out on the opportunity for the best customers. You’ll be left competing for the worst customers!”

Paid Social Growth In 2023

An overwhelming 67% of respondents prioritized paid social more this year than 2021.

The growing number of social platforms with ad opportunities is a partial factor in increased prioritization.

When asked about what social platform would see the most growth in 2023?

“If we’re talking raw dollars, Facebook and Instagram will still win,” Mierzejewski stated.

Further, he notes: “If we’re looking at percentage growth and who to watch for, it’s TikTok.” Matt shed some light on user projections, with TikTok’s growth projected to surpass Snapchat next year.

Inflation Is Driving Faster Adoption Of Machine Learning

With inflation costs, adopting automation and machine learning may be put on the backburner.

Not according to the Merkle Performance Report.

  • 41% of respondents are beginning to take action on automation and machine learning strategies
  • 38% of respondents have made significant progress in their ML strategies

So, why is inflation driving faster automation adoption?

“Inflation is just one element. It goes hand-in-hand with the last few years. COVID accelerated Ecommerce and the digital world for many companies,” Mierzejewski noted. He went on to say:

“There’s greater scrutiny on the investments in companies. They are trying to beat the market and the competition. There’s pressure for leaders to be tied into the data and marketing measurement.”

Let’s not forget one of the most critical aspects: resources.

Mierzejewski finished by noting that if companies are having trouble hiring individuals, they’re trying to do more with less. They have to rely on automation to supplement the workload.

Inflation’s Impact On Advertiser Strategies

We’ve seen the stats on increased advertiser costs YoY.

We have a better understanding of what marketers are prioritizing in the future.

Amid economic factors that companies can’t control, advertisers might not know how or where to pivot their strategy. When posed with this question, Mierzejewski provided his expert opinions.

“Expect double-digit changes to ad spend.”

Whether the above statement refers to an increase or decrease in ad spend, this change is based on a mixed bag of strategy, cash flow, inventory positions, and the vertical.

“The economic pressure reminds me of 2008 – the downturn of the digital sphere. Some clients will pull back on ad spend. Others may take the opportunity on the downturn and have double-digit growth,” Matt commented.

CPCs will likely decline.

In these types of environments, CPCs are likely to go down. This could allow advertisers to shuffle dollars based on what will work hardest for them.

Matt notes, “If you can be bold, it’s the time to do it.” The decreased CPCs become a buying opportunity for advertisers with the financial capacity to spend more.

“Don’t over-pat yourself on the back.”

Mierzejewski emphasized, “Be careful on the data.” He explained that with inflation and rising costs, you may also see a natural rise in revenue.

For example, if you’re seeing a 10% lift in sales but spent 15% more in advertising or COGS, that can provide a false narrative in growth. The 10% increase in revenue may be attributed to inflation costs and, in this case, shows a decline in profitability.

Summary

The Q3 Performance Marketing Report provides invaluable data to unpack.

If you haven’t yet taken action on privacy regulations, you’re not the only one.

And while inflation, privacy, and other economic impacts can cause shifts in performance trends, they’re not the only factors.

The paid media landscape changes every day. Use this to understand how others in the space are shifting priorities and strategies and what this means for you.

You can download your copy of the Performance Marketing Report here.

A special thank you to Matt Mierzejewski, SVP of Search at Merkle, for taking the time to address these statistics and providing additional insights.


Featured Image: PopTika/Shutterstock





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Google Maps Testing New Local Panel With Images & Tabs

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Google Maps Testing New Local Panel With Images & Tabs


Google Maps is testing a new local listing interface where it shows more images in the top portion of the local listing and there are tabs to show the business overview on the left and the reviews on the right.

Here is a screenshot I took from the video recorded by Punit on Twitter:

click for full size

Here is his video so you can see it in action:

In 2017, Google rolled out the tab interface like this for local panels in Google Search but I don’t think it launched in Google Maps.

I think I like the tabbed approach, since reviews for many local listings are super important.

Forum discussion at Twitter.





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Small Business Search Trends On The Rise In 2022

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Small Business Search Trends On The Rise In 2022


A new report from Semrush reveals searches related to small businesses, particularly ‘opening’ a small business, are on the rise.

The report details the business categories and specific search queries gaining traction and offers insight into what areas of marketing businesses are investing in.

Data in the report is based on the keyword and search volume intel collected by Semrush.

After analyzing the traffic growth trends to organic search performance over time, Semrush shares which small business categories manage to do better online.

Here are some key highlights from the report.

Search Trends Around Opening A Business

Looking at search volume for various searches that indicate an intent to open a business, the report finds:

  • Over the past four years, the number of “open business” searches has grown by 21%.
  • The majority of “open business” searches occur in January and March.
  • From 2018 to 2022, searches for all things related to starting a small business spiked by 76%.

Most Popular Small Business Categories

While general interest in starting a small business is spiking, search volume indicates aspiring business owners are looking to open boutiques:

  • Almost one-fifth of all entrepreneurs-to-be want to open a boutique.
  • starting an Etsy business looks attractive to almost one-fifth of all the searchers.
  • Vending machines appear to be gaining the most significant traction, as the category broke into the second spot of most-searched small businesses.

Analyzing search trends across regions, the report finds:

  • The “Etsy, cleaning, boutique” triad is present—fully or partially—across each state’s top 3.
  • In exactly half the states, coffee shops also make it into the top 3 most searched small business categories.
  • Montana and Vermont searchers also consider delivery services as a potential undertaking.

Most Frequent ‘Small Business’ Related Searches

Half of all the top small business-related searches are related to financing.

Here are the top queries, ordered by average monthly searches:

  1. Small business loans
  2. Small business grants
  3. Small business administration
  4. Small business ideas
  5. How to start a small business

Small Business Searches Related To Marketing

Keyword stats indicate small business owners try to embrace all the up-and-coming trends:

  • Searches for digital marketing services surged by 1,500% (especially fast during the pandemic).
  • Interest in creating short videos for small businesses grew by 420%.
  • 600% more people were looking up free text message marketing in 2022 than in 2018.

Small Business Site Categories With the Highest Traffic Growth

The report finds the average traffic growth for small businesses across the board was 2900%.

Semrush states:

“This means that over the past 4 years, most of the websites within our client list managed to expand their visitor base.”

Top 10 Small Business Site Categories By Share of High-Ranking Organic Keywords

The report explores which small business site categories have the largest share of high-ranking organic keywords.

Here are the categories listed in order, followed by the median number of organic keywords where the domain ranks in the top 10

  1. Publishing: 45,581
  2. Online Media: 10,116
  3. Veterinary: 9,379
  4. Entertainment: 6,627
  5. Consumer Services: 3,518
  6. Consumer Goods: 3,339
  7. Building Materials: 2,957
  8. Music: 2,593
  9. Human Resources: 2,145
  10. Food & Beverages: 1,839

What’s interesting to note here is how the top 10 categories by high-ranking keywords don’t line up with the fastest-growing site categories by traffic. Semrush suggests this could mean ranking for a high number of keywords might not directly lead to traffic growth.


Featured Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock





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