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GOOGLE

Google makes Shopping listings free – what will it mean for search marketing?

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On 21st April, Google announced that it would be free for merchants in the United States to list products on Google Shopping from the week commencing 27th April, with the change rolling out to the rest of the world “before the end of the year”.

The move was framed as a measure to help retailers that are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic to “reconnect” with consumers online at scale. Interestingly, Google implied that this change had already been in the works but had been brought forward as a result of the crisis, writing that it was “advancing [its] plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google.”

On top of this, Google announced a new partnership with PayPal that would allow merchants to link their accounts and speed up the onboarding process – an important step for businesses that can’t afford to waste any time in getting additional sources of revenue up and running.

Taken together, what will these changes mean for businesses in the current crisis – and further into the future? And how will they affect search marketers and the wider search landscape? We turned to some experts to get their thoughts.

Giving Google a boost in the product search race

Malte Landwehr, VP Product at Searchmetrics:

I believe this announcement means Google has realised that it’s losing out in the race to become the top destination for product search – where consumers go to research products and make online purchases. And while it’s positioning the news that it’s making its Google Shopping product listings free in order to help smaller retailers caught up in the COVID-19 crisis, Google must also have one eye on the likely ecommerce boom that’s going to happen as ‘locked down’ consumers are forced to make purchases online rather than going to physical stores.

In the end, Google Shopping has become a pretty light-weight product search engine and ecommerce marketplace. Right now, Amazon and eBay are the dominant players in this space. In fact, it’s unclear if Google Shopping is even number three in the United States, where it’s also competing with the likes of Walmart and niche marketplaces such as Etsy for product search traffic.

In most of its other key markets such as general web search, video search, maps and local search, Google is still number one. And that’s a nice position to be in before starting to monetise a service. With Google Shopping I think it’s introducing free product listings to try and retain and increase its market share. Many other services from Google are free – it’s something the company often does to capture market share.

I also believe that the current positive run that Amazon has in the stock markets is an important factor. It seems analysts and investors find KPIs like “number of sellers” or “number of SKUs” in a marketplace much easier to understand than the obscure patents that Google has in areas such as Natural Language Processing or similar.

Levelling the playing field for small businesses

John Earnshaw, Chief Product Evangelist at Pi Datametrics:

This will immediately have the most beneficial impact on small and perhaps medium sized businesses as it will quickly and effortlessly put them on an almost level playing field with bigger players in ways that would previously not have been possible. This is especially true with improved PayPal integration. The timing of this initiative could not have been better.

Matt Brown, Director of Media at Syzygy:

For companies that historically hadn’t gone near Shopping campaigns, like a new online retailer, what a wonderful opportunity. The biggest barrier to entry (cost) just got thrown out the window. But this is not an approach to be undertaken without thinking of how it impacts on other channels and touchpoints.

If you had relied on Shopping campaigns previously, and haven’t been prioritising SEO, you could be in for a rough ride – standing out in the virtual space is a different beast to typical storefronts, and it can require continual maintenance.

An opportunity for retailers whatever Google’s motives

Wesley Parker, Managing Director at Clicteq:

There is a saying that “you only know who is swimming naked when the tide goes out” and the coronavirus pandemic has been that tide for the UK brick and mortar retail industry, with numerous household name retailers collapsing into administration.

Google’s announcement to make results within the Google Shopping tab free is an unprecedented move to react to what is an unprecedented time. This will provide a great opportunity for brick and mortar retailers to go digital and help stem losses and keep their business afloat by getting their products in front of millions of readers until we are through to the other side of this crisis.

But make no mistake, even though this is a great PR move, this space is going to be freemium and will be a gateway to help generate interest in Google paid shopping campaigns as it responds to Amazon solidifying its dominance in shopping. Brands will also have to think about their strategy for earning this space, once it becomes more clear how you rank.

How will listings be ranked in ‘organic’ Google Shopping?

John Earnshaw:

From an organic perspective, a big question is – under the paid-for layer – if these are truly organic results, how will they be ranked?

That last bit for me is the most interesting question.

Building ‘one’ view of search

Matt Brown:

For SEO, this news further highlights the need to be closer to PPC teams. Building this ‘one’ view of search means, regardless of whether things are paid for or organic, you’re ready for the inevitable changes that Google consistently throws our way, from algorithm changes to updates.

From a PPC perspective, we now have to consider what will happen to those budgets previously spent on shopping campaigns? Often clients don’t switch media money into SEO-driven retainers. That money has to stay in media, perhaps in PPC campaigns. If that happens we can expect to see our CPCs fluctuate: higher demand for less inventory will mean a price increase.

So what do brands need to do? Here are five things you need to consider now (not tomorrow!):

  1. Where will you shift your PPC budget? Think broader terms, protecting your brand, and alternative channels rather than a gold rush to seize this opportunity
  2. Prioritise SEO. If you haven’t, you’re in trouble – you need to get a hold of your SEO roadmaps and make sure they are main priority
  3. If you haven’t run Shopping campaigns before, then you need to get all the essential components ready, such as your feed. Make sure they are in as robust a state as they can be before activation
  4. Build a ‘one search’ approach. SEO and PPC – whether at one agency, between two, or in-house – should have a fully joined-up approach that maximises your organisation’s visibility.

Be ready for your competitors. If you’re doing the above well, so are they! You need to be prepared for their activity – as it will impact your own plans.

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Want to brush up on your SEO and PPC skills? Check out our paid search and SEO best practice guides.

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GOOGLE

This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update

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This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update

Here’s what happened in the world of Google and search engines this week:

1. Google’s June 2024 Spam Update

Google finished rolling out its June 2024 spam update over a period of seven days. This update aims to reduce spammy content in search results.

2. Changes to Google Search Interface

Google has removed the continuous scroll feature for search results. Instead, it’s back to the old system of pages.

3. New Features and Tests

  • Link Cards: Google is testing link cards at the top of AI-generated overviews.
  • Health Overviews: There are more AI-generated health overviews showing up in search results.
  • Local Panels: Google is testing AI overviews in local information panels.

4. Search Rankings and Quality

  • Improving Rankings: Google said it can improve its search ranking system but will only do so on a large scale.
  • Measuring Quality: Google’s Elizabeth Tucker shared how they measure search quality.

5. Advice for Content Creators

  • Brand Names in Reviews: Google advises not to avoid mentioning brand names in review content.
  • Fixing 404 Pages: Google explained when it’s important to fix 404 error pages.

6. New Search Features in Google Chrome

Google Chrome for mobile devices has added several new search features to enhance user experience.

7. New Tests and Features in Google Search

  • Credit Card Widget: Google is testing a new widget for credit card information in search results.
  • Sliding Search Results: When making a new search query, the results might slide to the right.

8. Bing’s New Feature

Bing is now using AI to write “People Also Ask” questions in search results.

9. Local Search Ranking Factors

Menu items and popular times might be factors that influence local search rankings on Google.

10. Google Ads Updates

  • Query Matching and Brand Controls: Google Ads updated its query matching and brand controls, and advertisers are happy with these changes.
  • Lead Credits: Google will automate lead credits for Local Service Ads. Google says this is a good change, but some advertisers are worried.
  • tROAS Insights Box: Google Ads is testing a new insights box for tROAS (Target Return on Ad Spend) in Performance Max and Standard Shopping campaigns.
  • WordPress Tag Code: There is a new conversion code for Google Ads on WordPress sites.

These updates highlight how Google and other search engines are continuously evolving to improve user experience and provide better advertising tools.

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AI

Exploring the Evolution of Language Translation: A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

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A Comparative Analysis of AI Chatbots and Google Translate

According to an article on PCMag, while Google Translate makes translating sentences into over 100 languages easy, regular users acknowledge that there’s still room for improvement.

In theory, large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT are expected to bring about a new era in language translation. These models consume vast amounts of text-based training data and real-time feedback from users worldwide, enabling them to quickly learn to generate coherent, human-like sentences in a wide range of languages.

However, despite the anticipation that ChatGPT would revolutionize translation, previous experiences have shown that such expectations are often inaccurate, posing challenges for translation accuracy. To put these claims to the test, PCMag conducted a blind test, asking fluent speakers of eight non-English languages to evaluate the translation results from various AI services.

The test compared ChatGPT (both the free and paid versions) to Google Translate, as well as to other competing chatbots such as Microsoft Copilot and Google Gemini. The evaluation involved comparing the translation quality for two test paragraphs across different languages, including Polish, French, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, and Amharic.

In the first test conducted in June 2023, participants consistently favored AI chatbots over Google Translate. ChatGPT, Google Bard (now Gemini), and Microsoft Bing outperformed Google Translate, with ChatGPT receiving the highest praise. ChatGPT demonstrated superior performance in converting colloquialisms, while Google Translate often provided literal translations that lacked cultural nuance.

For instance, ChatGPT accurately translated colloquial expressions like “blow off steam,” whereas Google Translate produced more literal translations that failed to resonate across cultures. Participants appreciated ChatGPT’s ability to maintain consistent levels of formality and its consideration of gender options in translations.

The success of AI chatbots like ChatGPT can be attributed to reinforcement learning with human feedback (RLHF), which allows these models to learn from human preferences and produce culturally appropriate translations, particularly for non-native speakers. However, it’s essential to note that while AI chatbots outperformed Google Translate, they still had limitations and occasional inaccuracies.

In a subsequent test, PCMag evaluated different versions of ChatGPT, including the free and paid versions, as well as language-specific AI agents from OpenAI’s GPTStore. The paid version of ChatGPT, known as ChatGPT Plus, consistently delivered the best translations across various languages. However, Google Translate also showed improvement, performing surprisingly well compared to previous tests.

Overall, while ChatGPT Plus emerged as the preferred choice for translation, Google Translate demonstrated notable improvement, challenging the notion that AI chatbots are always superior to traditional translation tools.


Source: https://www.pcmag.com/articles/google-translate-vs-chatgpt-which-is-the-best-language-translator

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GOOGLE

Google Implements Stricter Guidelines for Mass Email Senders to Gmail Users

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Beginning in April, Gmail senders bombarding users with unwanted mass emails will encounter a surge in message rejections unless they comply with the freshly minted Gmail email sender protocols, Google cautions.

Fresh Guidelines for Dispatching Mass Emails to Gmail Inboxes In an elucidative piece featured on Forbes, it was highlighted that novel regulations are being ushered in to shield Gmail users from the deluge of unsolicited mass emails. Initially, there were reports surfacing about certain marketers receiving error notifications pertaining to messages dispatched to Gmail accounts. Nonetheless, a Google representative clarified that these specific errors, denoted as 550-5.7.56, weren’t novel but rather stemmed from existing authentication prerequisites.

Moreover, Google has verified that commencing from April, they will initiate “the rejection of a portion of non-compliant email traffic, progressively escalating the rejection rate over time.” Google elaborates that, for instance, if 75% of the traffic adheres to the new email sender authentication criteria, then a portion of the remaining non-conforming 25% will face rejection. The exact proportion remains undisclosed. Google does assert that the implementation of the new regulations will be executed in a “step-by-step fashion.”

This cautious and methodical strategy seems to have already kicked off, with transient errors affecting a “fraction of their non-compliant email traffic” coming into play this month. Additionally, Google stipulates that bulk senders will be granted until June 1 to integrate “one-click unsubscribe” in all commercial or promotional correspondence.

Exclusively Personal Gmail Accounts Subject to Rejection These alterations exclusively affect bulk emails dispatched to personal Gmail accounts. Entities sending out mass emails, specifically those transmitting a minimum of 5,000 messages daily to Gmail accounts, will be mandated to authenticate outgoing emails and “refrain from dispatching unsolicited emails.” The 5,000 message threshold is tabulated based on emails transmitted from the same principal domain, irrespective of the employment of subdomains. Once the threshold is met, the domain is categorized as a permanent bulk sender.

These guidelines do not extend to communications directed at Google Workspace accounts, although all senders, including those utilizing Google Workspace, are required to adhere to the updated criteria.

Augmented Security and Enhanced Oversight for Gmail Users A Google spokesperson emphasized that these requisites are being rolled out to “fortify sender-side security and augment user control over inbox contents even further.” For the recipient, this translates to heightened trust in the authenticity of the email sender, thus mitigating the risk of falling prey to phishing attempts, a tactic frequently exploited by malevolent entities capitalizing on authentication vulnerabilities. “If anything,” the spokesperson concludes, “meeting these stipulations should facilitate senders in reaching their intended recipients more efficiently, with reduced risks of spoofing and hijacking by malicious actors.”

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