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Digital marketing is a fast-paced industry. This month has seen a number of important updates, so here is our round-up of the latest news and trends from the world of search.

Organic search

Google Search Console gets a new filter

Man using Google Search Console on a laptop

Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, is a free platform for anyone with a website. It allows owners to monitor how Google sees their site and optimise for organic traffic. 

Google Search Console has a very well-known, classic layout. But if you’ve used it in recent weeks, you'll have noticed that Google has added a brand-new feature to the performance report.

The new feature is called translated results, and it lets users see which landing pages are being automatically translated by Google Chrome. The results are currently limited to mobile devices and Indonesian, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu languages. But there's a good chance that more will be added in the future.

Google announces a 50% reduction in ‘irrelevant’ results

A person holding a black android smartphone

Danny Sullivan, Google’s Public Liaison for Search, recently revealed that Google has reduced the number of what it terms “irrelevant” results by 50% and made improvements to how users interact with the platform:

“Since 2015, we've seen a more than 60% increase in natural language queries in search. This means people can find what they need more easily… using language that's closer to the way we normally write and speak".

The revelation is probably drawn from Google’s internal data. But the findings are interesting and indicate the future of search lies in natural, localised language – a fantastic insight for marketers!

Google introduces new ‘highly cited’ trust label

Scrabble tiles spelling out trust

E-A-T – or Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness – is intrinsic to SEO.  The concept is covered in great detail in Google’s Quality Rater Guideline, and this latest update proves that it, as well as Google’s repeated efforts to weed out misinformation, aren’t going anywhere soon.

The new label works like this: upon users searching for factually important information, a new label will appear in the image carousel of Google’s Top Stories results, indicating which stories have been frequently cited or linked to.

The new badge will allow users to identify which publishers they can trust, and is likely to affect click-through rates and organic traffic. To optimise for this feature, make sure your content is regularly earning links from trusted websites.

Paid search

Customer match lists will soon be eligible for smart bidding

A blurry Google logo

Customer match lists are useful for reaching existing customers. They use identifiers such as the searcher’s email address, phone or physical location to target prospects on platforms like Gmail and YouTube.

Today, advertisers have to manually apply these to a campaign. However, thanks to a new feature coming to Google Ads, advertisers will soon be able to use these lists for smart bidding and optimised targeting.

This is good news for PPC marketers as it will streamline their work and give Google more data to analyse for automation. If you work in an industry with low repeat customer rates and don’t want to use customer match lists, you’ll be able to opt out at the advertisement account level.

Google is changing how smart bidding strategies are organised

The Google logo on a smartphone screen

Starting from next month, Google will rename their existing standard 'Target CPA' campaigns to 'Maximise conversions' with a target CPA, and your standard 'Target ROAS' bid strategy campaigns to 'Maximise conversion value' with target ROAS. 

Ramin Miakheyl, a PPC account manager at Bell Digital Marketing, commented on the news, adding: "This name change won’t impact bidding behaviour. Using 'Maximise conversions' with a target CPA will still have the same bidding behaviour as 'Target CPA', and using 'Maximise conversion value' with a target ROAS will continue to have the same bidding behaviour as 'Target ROAS'."

Content marketing

FAQs are making a comeback

A blue question mark on a pink background

According to RankRanger data and SEO evidence, Google appears to be displaying more FAQ rich results in SERPs.

This means setting up an FAQ page and being more strategic with content – such as writing more detailed answers so users are encouraged to click through rather than stay on Google – could make a big difference to how much space a business occupies in SERPs.

 

Get in contact with our team for more information about how to improve your SEO, paid or content marketing activities. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.

Bell-Digital-Marketing
Bell-Digital-Marketing

 

June is Pride month, an annual celebration recognising LGBT+ communities around the world.

Pride events have been an enduring source of LGBT+ visibility for decades, which got many of us at Bell Digital Marketing thinking: what is the most Instagrammed Pride event in the world? Here's what we found out.

How we determined the results

To determine the most photographed Pride event, we collected hashtag data from Instagram in multiple languages, measuring engagement in the official hashtag or the most popular local hashtag, whichever was greater. We also collated annual hashtags dating back five years (e.g #prideevent2017).

Overall, the number of hashtags totalled 1.7 million.

Rank

Country

Pride Event

Total

1

USA

NYC Pride

342,722

2

UK

London Pride

258,011

3

USA

San Francisco Pride

209,375

4

Australia

Sydney Mardi Gras

99,400

5

Canada

Pride Toronto

65,573

6

Sweden

Stockholm Pride

64,554

7

Finland

Helsinki Pride

53,766

8

Italy

Milano Pride

48,366

9

Germany

CSD Berlin

47,318

10

Ireland

Dublin LGBTQ Pride

44,172

11

Netherlands

Pride Amsterdam

41,139

12

Denmark

Copenhagen Pride

36,999

13

Brazil

São Paulo Gay Pride Parade

32,630

14

Czech Republic

Prague Pride

31,706

15

Norway

Oslo Pride

30,673

16

Israel

Tel Aviv Pride

30,399

17

Italy

Roma Pride

28,950

18

Germany

Cologne Pride

28,200

19

Spain

Orgullo Gay de Madrid

27,629

20

Canada

Fierté Montréal

22,834

21

Spain

Pride Barcelona

19,712

22

Tokyo

Tokyo Rainbow Pride

18,646

23

Vietnam

VietPride

18,569

24

Poland

Warsaw Equality Parade

18,173

25

Austria

Vienna Pride

16,731

26

Greece

Athens Pride

16,510

27

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Pride

15,857

28

Taiwan

Taiwan Pride

13,786

29

Hungary

Budapest Pride

12,546

30

France

Paris Pride

11,831

31

Argentina

Buenos Aires Gay Pride

9,681

32

Switzerland

Zurich Pride

9,314

33

Iceland

Reykjavík Pride

8,937

34

New Zealand

Auckland Pride

5,772

35

South Africa

Johannesburg Pride

4,565

New York takes the title

NYC Pride takes the title of most Instagrammed Pride event in the world, beating out London Pride by almost 100,000 hashtags.

Interestingly, NYC Pride saw the most Instagram engagement in 2019 when the city commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a key event in modern LGBT+ history.

European cities rank prominently

European Pride events are some of the most Instragrammed on the planet, ranking 13 times in the top 20 and amassing over 800,000 hashtags.

The most photographed European Pride event is London Pride (258,011 hashtags). Second is Stockholm Pride (64,554 hashtags) then Helsinki Pride (53,766 hashtags).

Pre-pandemic popularity

Between 2017 and 2019, hashtag engagement in Pride events grew by an average of 180% on Instagram. There was a significant drop-off in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, which forced many Pride events to cancel.

 

Today, I have the pleasure to announce that Natasha Davids has joined Bell as Chief Operating Officer – Digital.

Natasha’s appointment comes at a time when we can really build on our momentum and meanwhile ensure we deliver continued success and service for our clients.

Natasha will be responsible for our PPC, SEO and Social business units foremost, while working alongside her counterpart Bruno Alberini (COO - Creative) and myself to lead Bell.

Natasha brings over 20 years of experience to the team. Over recent years, Natasha has held similar roles in other independent digital marketing agencies, beforehand has worked client-side and started it all off as an agency account manager herself.  

On behalf of Bell and our wider group, I am absolutely delighted to welcome Natasha.

Oliver

Oliver Hunt
CEO & Head of Sales

Bell-Digital-Marketing
Natasha Davids

Natasha Davids
COO - Digital

Bell-Digital-Marketing

 

Over recent months we have become Bell Digital Marketing to join the dots once and for all with our sister agency Bell Creative. Alongside we have refreshed, harmonised and modernised our branding – we hope you like it.   

Since Bell was acquired by the group back in 2017, we have gradually become one agency internally as we shared offices, infrastructure, clients and expertise at an ever-increasing rate. So it made sense to be one agency externally too, but with two front doors to ensure we penetrate both our target customers with digital media and creative needs.

Bell is now a digital marketing and creative agency with vast local and international expertise from eCommerce to education, part of an independent group. Other group agencies include ESV (France) and  MyAgency (Luxembourg).

We grow brands both in the UK and internationally, online and offline. We structure our strategies around the most efficient channels and actions to accelerate customer growth. We empower our customers to communicate with flair and grow at the optimum ROI year on year. We go bold to make you go beyond.

Bell was established in 1976 and ESV in 2004. We hope to be serving our customers successfully for many years to come. If you want to learn more about what we could do for you please get in touch

Oliver

Oliver Hunt
CEO & Head of Sales

Bell-Digital-Marketing

Instagram is a constantly evolving platform. Regularly, it offers new features to its users. Here are the latest developments of the platform in 2021.

#1 Update on your friends' content

For a few months now, many users have been complaining about the evolution of the Instagram algorithm. You may have noticed that you don't see your friends posts anymore? Instagram is now about to test a feature on your friends’ content. The platform will display suggestions within the posts of the accounts you follow. Accounts that are lucky enough to test this feature will be able to add themes to their interests. This will allow suggestions to be displayed on their feed. This test will only be available in English-speaking countries for the time being.

#2 Visual search for Instagram shopping

Instagram has announced that it wants to add visual search to shopping on the social network. Therefore, it will soon be possible to find an item for sale on Instagram by taking a photo of it. This is a very handy feature, which you may have already seen on sites like AliExpress and Pinterest.

#3 A step forward for more inclusiveness

With the evolution of society and recent talks about inclusivity, Instagram launched a dedicated section on account profiles to add pronouns, so users will be able to specify their gender identity and display the pronoun they want to be referred to. The new field to be filled in (after the name and before the nickname and bio) is optional, and the user can decide whether their pronouns appear on their public profile or for their followers only. The new feature allows users to share up to four pronouns selected from a pre-approved list of common pronouns including she, he, they, ze and others.

#4 The "link" sticker that redirects to a site

The days when you had to have at least 10,000 followers to be able to redirect to a website will soon be over. Since last April, Instagram has been testing a "link" widget. This feature is one of the most anticipated by Instagram users.

#5 Instagram tests the stories vertical scroll

Today, stories are read as a kind of carousel by tapping on the right to go to the next story. Instagram is working on a prototype that allows stories to scroll vertically, up and down. This will look surprisingly like its competitor TikTok.

#6 Live videos with up to 4 people arrive

Used to Instagram calls with up to two people? Instagram has now increased the number of participants to four accounts introducing Live Rooms, allowing more people to get involved.

#7 Experimenting with automatic stories captioning

Testing a new sticker: "closed captions" that automatically generates a caption in stories. The text appears on the screen as the speech unfolds. A bit like the widget for song lyrics, but here the caption will be generated directly from your voice.

If you need advice on how to optimise your posts and increase the reach of your organic or paid social media content, don't hesitate to get in touch. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.

It was last summer when I decided to change jobs. The idea was to specialise in SEO, given my strong interest in this field, so last November I accepted the job offer from Bell Digital as an SEO Account Manager. I was very excited to embark on a new adventure despite the uncertainty due to the global pandemic.

The 3rd of November was my first day - remotely - in the new job. If I had started in the office, I would have met colleagues by the coffee machine and had the half-day orientation of meeting people to establish relationships at work. Instead, I saw myself locked up in my room, at my desk, which was close to my bed. I honestly felt kind of isolated, particularly because I’m not British and I really need to mingle with other people in order to get that sense of togetherness which is pivotal when you live abroad.

I was worried . . . many questions and doubts crowded my mind. For example, I wondered if I would quickly learn the job, and if I would be able to understand my colleagues and quickly integrate into the team. I was afraid, so afraid, that wouldn't be able to adapt to a new way of working. However, the excitement was high too, and I wanted to progress with my career and keep a positive attitude.

I was given a lot of learning material. My drive and curiosity have taken me a few times down the wrong route. I have felt overwhelmed sometimes. I loved what I was learning, but I lost focus because I wanted to absorb all the new many concepts and techniques I was presented with all at the same time. Thankfully, I had lovely and helpful colleagues who explained to me where I had to focus my attention.

In the office, conversations would happen spontaneously. I would either talk about projects and tasks with people around me or ask if they could give me their opinion on my work - that’s how I had developed relationships in my previous job.

Brainstorming in the office would make the learning process easier and quicker. I believe that discussing tasks with colleagues helps develop new perspectives and skills. It is eye-opening because It encourages you to think of multiple approaches to perform a task.

My team has a really good structure to ensure we regularly have face-to-face video chats. This structure has given me the chance to speak my mind, ask questions and discuss projects. Whenever I had task-related doubts I asked for help. My colleagues have been supportive and always available to listen. I had video calls where I could receive some training and talk freely. This has made me feel reassured and more confident.

To put it in a nutshell, it's an experience I would do again despite all the difficulties and uncertainties. It has given me the opportunity to learn a lot about myself and my work and get out of my comfort zone. I was worried, but the willingness to make it work was stronger than the fear of failure. I have tried to keep a positive attitude, listen attentively to any advice from colleagues and be flexible and adaptable. I would encourage anyone to change jobs, even in times of uncertainty, if they have a career path clearly in mind. Although my experience during lockdown has been generally very positive,  I still look forward to going back to the office to establish closer relationships, make friends with other people and achieve great results together.

Share your experiences with us on Twitter or Facebook.

Looking for a new job in digital marketing? Check our careers page for new job openings.

Google Analytics Goes Down – What Does This Mean For Us?

Many of you may have experienced outages with certain Google tools yesterday morning. Google Analytics, Tag Manager and Optimise are among the platforms which experienced issues, causing disruption for marketers. These outages were a result of a major problem with Google’s Cloud Platform which was reportedly down for 1 hour and 39 minutes. Does this issue reflect a failure in the Google Analytics infrastructure? And, what does this mean for us?

Although it was only down for about an hour and a half, it still had a big impact. Issues like this can cause deadlines to be missed, daily analysis to be interrupted and overall productivity to dip.

What Caused It?

It is still unclear as to what caused the disruption as Google have stated that they are still carrying out internal investigations. The Google tools that were down include Analytics, Tag Manager and Optimise, which could highlight a flaw in the system.

The main disruption appears to just be a few tools being down. Let’s hope that this issue doesn’t cause any data outages in reports, as we saw with the Search Console bug this April. Time will tell if their tools being down has caused any other disruptions.

What Can We Take From This?

As marketers, you’ll understand how frustrating it is when an outage like this occurs. We need to be able to access these tools in order to carry out daily tasks. Working in a fast-past industry means we need reliable tools. Overall, the disruptions didn’t last too long, so shouldn’t impact us too much – unless any data is lost. We’ll keep an eye out for any further updates.

Did you experience any issues with Google Analytics tools yesterday? Tweet us with your thoughts.

Stop Using Robots.txt Noindex By September

Let’s all get prepared ahead of time, ready for the 1st of September, when Google will officially stop supporting noindex in the robots.txt directory.
Over the past 25 years, the unofficial standard of using robots.txt files, to make crawling an easier process, has been widely used on sites across the internet. Despite never being officially introduced as a web standard, Googlebot tends to follow robots.txt to decipher whether to crawl and index a site’s pages or images, to avoid following links and whether or not to show cached versions.

It’s important to note, robots.txt files can only be viewed as a guide and don’t completely block spiders from following requests. However, Google has announced that they plan to completely stop supporting the use of the noindex in the robots.txt file. So, it’s time to adapt a new way of instructing robots to not index any pages in which you want to avoid being crawled and indexed.

Why is Google stopping support for noindex in robots.txt?

As previously mentioned, the robots.txt noindex isn’t considered an official directive. Despite being unofficially supported by Google for the past quarter of a decade, noindex in robots.txt is often used incorrectly and has failed to work in 8% of cases. Google deciding to standardise the protocol is another step to further optimising the algorithm. Their aim with this standardisation is to prepare for potential open source releases in the future, which won’t support robots.txt directories. Google has been advising for years that users should avoid using robots.txt files so this change, although a major one, doesn’t come as a big surprise to us.

What Other Ways Can I Control The Crawling Process?

In order to get prepared for the day that Googlebot will stop following noindex instructions, as requested in the robots.txt directory, we must adapt to different processes in order to try and control crawling as much as we possibly can. Google has provided a few alternative suggestions on their official blog. However, the two we recommend you use for noindexing are:
• Robots meta tags with ‘noindex’
• Disallow in robots.txt

Robots meta tags with ‘noindex’

The first option we’re going to explore is using noindex in robots meta tags. As a brief summary, a robots meta tag is a bit of code that should be located in the header of a web page. This is the preferred option as it holds similar value, if not more, to that of robots.txt noindex and is highly effective for stopping URLs from being indexed. Using noindex in robots meta tags will still allow Googlebot to crawl your site but it will prevent URLs from being stored in Google’s index.

Disallow in robots.txt

The other method to noindexing is to use disallow in robots.txt. This form of robots.txt informs the robot to avoid visiting and crawling the site, which in turn means that it won’t be indexed.

A disallow to exclude all robots from crawling the whole site should look like this:
example

A disallow to exclude one particular robot from crawling the whole site should look like this:
example

A disallow for certain disallowed pages to not be crawled by all robots should look like this:
example

To exclude just one folder from being crawled by all robots, a disallow should look like this:
example

Important things to bear in mind

There are some important things to keep in mind when using robots.txt to request for pages not to be indexed:
• Robots have the ability to ignore your instructions in robots.txt. Malware robots, spammers and email address harvesters are more likely to ignore robots.txt, so it’s important to think about what you’re requesting to be noindexed and if it’s something which shouldn’t be viewed by all robots.
• Robots.txt files are not private, which means anyone can see what parts of your site you don’t want robots to crawl. So, just remember this because you should NOT be using disallow in robots.txt as a way to hide certain information.

And over to you

We’ve given you an overview of our two recommendations for alternative noindexing methods. It’s now up to you to implement a new method ahead of the 1st of September so that you’re prepared for Google to stop supporting noindex robots.txt. If you have any questions, make sure to get in touch with us.

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Google Search Console Data Outage

As digital marketing professionals, we heavily rely on Google Search Console for extracting important information and to help us better understand how websites are performing in Google. However, the recent data outage in Google Search Console, which resulted in a major loss of data, means we should be more concerned about the reliability of Google’s reporting channels.
It was the 5th of April when Google reported an indexing bug, which hit 4% of Google’s indexed pages. Four weeks on and the bug has finally been resolved. However, despite the issue being fixed, many users have noticed bad/missing data in their Search Console reports. Not only does this major indexing issue negatively impact on our analysis, but it also presents an important question about the reliability of Google.

Ineffective April Reports

The data outage means that reports for April cannot be deemed as accurate and is extremely problematic for Google Search Console users. Without correct data for the majority of April, users are unable to fully distinguish whether any of their website pages were affected by the indexing bug or if any other major changed occurred.
Following on from this, users are unable to use their inaccurate April reports from Google Console to improve optimisation for their website. A major data loss like this will set marketing professionals far back. This data is significant for understanding the performance of websites in Google’s results search and is a major part of planning the optimisation process.

Can we really rely on Google?

An important question we should ask is, was the bug acting randomly or systematically? If the bug was systematically targeting certain sites this could raise the possibility that Google could be testing a new algorithm. The fact that the bug took a long time to resolve also questions the reliability of Google’s data channels. How can we fully trust a medium that is unable to resolve a bugging issue more efficiently?
Though many marketing professionals rely on Google’s tools as a main source of data, the recent issues with bugs should lead users to question the reliability of Google’s software. The de-indexing bug highlights the importance of using a variety of channels to ensure that not only do you have enough data to work with and optimise, but also that should Google encounter another bug, you have the traffic to minimise the impact of these issues in the future.

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