Ready Player One? We might be closer to the OASIS than you think; Friday’s daily brief

Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.


Good morning, Marketers, and happy FriYay!

A few years ago I worked for a SaaS company and wrote a blog called something like “Search engine optimization is soon to be user experience optimization.” I’m either a visionary or maybe search engines read that piece and thought they’d take me up on my idea.

Joking aside, that was the theme of my keynote presentation at SMX Advanced this year, too. We keep saying it over and over in the search space —  optimize for UX — but is that what we’re actually doing? 

In the recap of the first part of my talk (sign up to see the full thing on-demand), I’ll try to convince you why we should scrap the SEO or PPC OKRs and focus on helping our target audiences achieve their goals online. 

Plus, we’ve got a ton of new announcements about SERP features, options for local business visibility, and advertisements in virtual reality (yep, this is happening now). Check it all out below.

Carolyn Lyden,
Director of Search Content


User experience is the difference between mediocre and next-level search marketing

What does empathy have to do with search marketing? Well, according to data, quite a bit. In this snippet from my keynote presentation at SMX Advanced, I dive into how the 6 habits of highly empathetic people are key to helping improve your search marketing (and the KPIs that you have to hit along the way, too).

Back in the day, search engines didn’t used to look at the functionality of websites — whether your visitors were actually able to do what they wanted once they got there. Initially, search engines just looked at what was there. That’s how we got to “content is king,” right?

Search engines are realizing that usability is also key to a good search experience. We have one job as search marketers now — and that’s to help our website visitors get their to-dos done. Let’s build on what Google’s provided us with its page experience update and go to the next level of user experience in search marketing. That starts with empathy.

Read more here.


Ready Player One is closer than we think: Facebook testing virtual reality ads in Oculus VR

In May, Facebook announced that it would begin testing advertisements in virtual reality. Those tests are now about to go live. The advertisements, deemed “in-headset ads” by Facebook, are part of the company’s exploration of ways for developers to generate revenue. Facebook, which develops the Oculus VR headsets, plans to monitor user interaction with the VR ads, but did say that all Oculus ads will still have to follow Facebook’s advertising rules.

Why we care. The opportunity may be perfect for many advertisers to reach a new or specific type of audience if the tests go well. There’s a precipice where ads in VR almost feel like we’re headed toward Ready Player One territory, so it’s a trend worth watching.

Read more here.


New research shows Google serves almost half of all ad traffic on fake news sites

Google serves 48% of all ad traffic on “fake” news sites according to a new study from researchers Lia Bozarth and Ceren Budak at the University of Michigan School of Information. The research from Bozarth and Budak states that, even though big players like Google receive inconsequential revenues from advertising on these scam news websites, they are still “responsible for delivering a substantial fraction of ads on fake and low-quality news sites.”

Why we care. Brand safety has been a real concern for advertisers and their clients for the last few years. It’s been top of mind as more search marketers are finding their ad content served up on negative, fake, and downright spammy sites.

Read more here.


Google tests article carousel for some author knowledge panels

Google has started to test showing an article carousel beneath the knowledge panels for some author and journalist searches. This is a limited test but the company is “looking to expand the feature over time to more journalists, devices and languages” over time.

Why we care. This is a new way for publishers to get more traction and traffic to their stories and articles. If people are searching for your more well-known journalists, showcasing their recent articles on your website might drive more traffic to your site.

Read more here.


Google expands GMB profile editing capabilities in Search and Maps

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The Pointy hardware device.

Ahead of its International Small Business Week, Google has expanded editing capabilities for Google My Business (GMB) profiles in Search and Maps, the company announced Thursday. It is also offering a free trial of Pointy, a platform that enables local businesses to get their inventory discoverable online, to eligible business owners.

What’s new?

  • GMB users will be able to add their services and schedule Google Posts directly within Search
  • Restaurant owners can now add menu items to their GMB profile and update ordering options from Search and Maps.
  • Google is offering Pointy for free to eligible retailers through September 30. The platform uses a hardware device that attaches to a point-of-sale barcode scanner to pull its title, image and description to add it to Surfaces across Google.

Why we care. Being able to update a GMB profile from Search or Maps may make it easier for some business owners to do so, which can help them keep their audiences up-to-date about how their business is operating and what they’re currently offering.

Pointy may be a useful solution for SMBs that want to get their inventory online, which is especially important as consumers may be expecting the option to “buy online, pickup in-store.” 

Read more here.


How did you get into search marketing? Podcasts on Facebook and influencer disclosures

Take a very scientific Twitter survey. How did you initially learn SEO or PPC? I want to know. Log your answers here.

Podcasts start coming to Facebook next week. Facebook wants to be your one-stop shop for everything in your pocket now. “It’s also possible Facebook sees potential in podcast advertising, which Spotify has focused its efforts on as it launches exclusive shows and its own ad network,” wrote Ashley Carman for The Verge.

Social media stars under fire for flouting rules on advertising. Just like in the US, UK influencers who are posting #sponsored or #ad content have to make it known to their followers. And some big names across the pond are getting some flak for refusing to do so.


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