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Cabot Cheese – How to Make a Cheese Plate [Infographic]

Being the perfect host to a party is a tough job. It requires panache, flawless table settings, and delicious food. But if you’re not a professionally trained chef or full-time party planner, it can be hard to know how to put together the finger foods that will best charm your guests. Never fear, though – Cabot Cheese is here with an infographic to teach you everything you need to know about putting together an incredible cheese plate. From the tastiest accompaniments to which types of cheese to select, you’ll learn how to dazzle all your friends and family with your cheese plate prowess.

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If you want a dish that will really wow, check out the full infographic now!

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A Smorgasbord of Social Media: Shopping and Searching on Social

Welcome back to another Smorgasbord of Social Media, your weekly roundup of all things social. There are some exciting new changes to the social media landscape, so keep reading for the latest.

FACEBOOK 

“Login, Loser! We’re Going Shopping!”

Facebook is testing small Ecommerce shops within the pages of businesses. This shopping experience, which takes place entirely within Facebook, comes after the debut of last year’s Facebook Buy Button and, more recently, the Pinterest Buy Button.

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“With the shop section on the page, we’re now providing businesses with the ability to showcase their products directly on the page,” says Facebook product marketing manager Emma Rodgers. With the ability to leverage Facebook’s specific targeting features and drive to a purchase page, this feature has large potential for advertisers.

 

“Not Now, Maybe Later” For Facebook Video

Facebook is testing a new ‘Watch Later’ button which allows users to flag a particular video to watch at a later time of their choosing. Similar to Facebook’s article save feature, this will keep Facebook users on the site for longer periods of time, without navigating out for different content. This feature will also be another proponent for Facebook video advertising.

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Updated News Feed Controls

To keep the Facebook experience personalized, Facebook announced some new tools to put the power of customization back in the user’s hands:

  • Pick and choose the pages and friends you see first – Just as it sounds, this feature allows you to pick which of your friend’s or page’s activity you’d like to see first in your News Feed.
  • Find new pages to connect to – Based on the types of pages you’ve liked in the past, you can choose to follow new pages Facebook suggests for you.
  • To follow or not to follow – Facebook will list profiles which have had posts appear in your News Feed over the last week and you can choose to unfollow their posts so they won’t appear in your News Feed again. Alternatively Facebook will also list profiles which you’ve unfollowed and give you the opportunity to reconnect and begin following again.

 

TWITTER 

Twitter Expands Article Previews

iOS and Android users will begin seeing more detail in the form of short descriptions or the beginning sentence of articles in their Twitter timelines.

 

INSTAGRAM 

Searchable Hashtags, Locations, And Accounts Now Available On Desktop Instagram

The desktop version of Instagram is stepping up its game a bit by now allowing users to search by hashtags, locations, and user profiles within a search bar at the top of any page. Similar to Iconosquare’s search capability, Instagram for desktop also includes a location search feature, which includes a map atop of photos taken at that location:blog-Instagram

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A Smattering of SEO News – A Fistful of Pandas

I usually write these news posts on Wednesdays, so at the time, there were murmurings of some “phantom update” at Google, as a lot of webmasters were noticing fluctuations in their rankings. Well, lo and behold, AFTER I wrote the news below, Google confirmed that Panda 4.2 has launched. WHEEE! Prepare to ride the roller coaster again my friends! That and more below!

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  • Did A “Phantom Update” Happen Last Weekend? – Many webmasters, according to Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz, have been emailing him asking if Google had an update this past weekend, as there apparently was a lot of volatility in their rankings. One of his readers thinks it’s similar to the odd update that happened last month which Google first denied then confirmed. We’ll have to see if anything comes of it. Update: Since writing this, Google has now confirmed that they’ve launched Panda 4.2 this past weekend, but it’ll take months to roll out, so keep an eye on those SERPs people!
  • Bad HTML Validation Can Impact A Variety Of SEO-Related Factors – In a recent Google Hangout, Google’s John Mueller explained that while having badly validated HTML won’t affect your rankings, it can affect aspects of your site in which visibility can be impacted, such as structured data, meta tags, or even links. Making sure your HTML is valid can really help your site achieve better SEO friendliness.
  • HTTPS Can Be A Rankings Tie-Breaker – According to a Tweet from Google’s Gary Illyes, he stated that, if two sites are neck-and-neck for the top spot in a given search engine result, Google will give the nod to the site that has a proper HTTPS implementation. A “dealbreaker,” he called it, as it gives that site the edge to break a tie. Fascinating stuff.
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  • Search Console Sitemap Indexation Bug Affecting Many Sites – Many webmasters have been noticing an odd drop in their indexed page amounts via XML sitemaps in the Search Console. Gary Illyes confirmed to Search Engine Land that they know about it, and it is indeed a bug, so if you’ve lost indexed pages, don’t freak out. Hopefully a fix will happen soon.
  • All Top-Level Domains Treated The Same By Google – With all the brouhaha surrounding many of the new top-level domains, such as .london, .how, .guru and others, Google took an official stance on whether these affect rankings or not. In a new FAQ, when asked how TLDs effect rankings they state, “Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.” Makes sense.

Other News

  • Yahoo Testing Google-Like SERPs – According to screenshots taken from intrepid Tweeters, they noticed that Yahoo is playing with a Google-style Search Engine Results Page (SERP) which includes sitelinks and site-specific search boxes. It’ll be interesting to see if Yahoo adopts this permanently.
  • Bing Analytics Suffering From Tracking Issue – Many webmasters have recently noticed that Bing’s analytics were showing chalkboard-wide-bing-1437391667massive drops in traffic for their sites. Apparently it’s due to a bug in which they’re showing the wrong report segments in their analytics platform. No word from Bing at the time of this writing on a fix.

 

 

 

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A Crowdsourced Case of the Mondays (Infographic)

I used to be a professional musician, which basically means that I used to have no money and was not very good with calendars. The band I was in used to tour quite a bit, and in spite of the fact that they weren’t a household name, they always seemed to skim a profit from the road. There’s a few tried and true rules you stick to like glue when you’re trying to eke out a living being a wandering minstrel, one of which is:

“Never throw a gig on a Monday unless you absolutely have to.”

One day while we were galavanting around Europe, I asked the reasoning behind the “no-gigs on Monday” rule of our Belgian tour manager and his response was:

“Ha! Dude, people barely come to your shows on a Friday”

Yeah, he was kind of a jerk. But he wasn’t really “wrong”

Be that as it may, the exchange stuck with me and so did the lesson: Mondays make everything worse. That’s not where the idea for this Infographic came from, but it certainly helped put things into perspective while we were doing the research. Enjoy.

A Crowdsourced case of the Mondays (Infographic) from Wpromote

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A Plethora of PPC News – Hitting the Sweet Spot

The Plethora of PPC News has some exciting news! Wait, what? News has news? Yes – we are switching up authors this week and every other week moving forward. Stay tuned for more changes!

 

Brand CPCs Surging

This past quarter, for the first time ever, paid search advertisers faced higher costs to show up on their own brand terms on Google than on Bing. Brand keyword CPCs, on average, rose nearly 40% year-over-year, and 10% quarter-over-quarter. Yikes! These keywords include brand + other phrases as well. If you are having this problem, you may want to start filling out this form.

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Google Adds Target CPA And ROAS Projections

Ever wonder if you increased or decreased your target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) what would happen to conversions and unique conversions? Well, Google has you covered now, if you opt into this automated bidding strategy which uses the past two weeks of data to hit that sweet spot. The idea is to use the historical CPA data while AdWords works to optimize by either  increasing or decreasing conversions to reach the target CPA goal. This update is now globally available as a part of Google’s bid strategy tools.

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St. Bernard Sports – Outdoor Events in Texas [Infographic]

As the largest state in the continental United States, it stands to reason that Texas would have a lot to offer. Though it has a bit of a reputation as an Old West holdover, and outpost for cowboys and ranchers, there’s actually a lot more to the state of Texas than that. Urban areas provide all the art and culture a city slicker could want, while the diverse scenery is ideal for outdoor adventurers of all stripes. There’s also plenty to do for adults and kids alike, so you can find something interesting for the whole family. St. Bernard Sports has put together a great infographic that outlines all sorts of fun things to do while you are in Texas!

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Perhaps most interesting thing about Texas is the many diverse rural areas. Texas spans two distinct climates: dry and hot in the west and humid and lush in the east. Between the two are hundreds of exciting camping, hiking and boating opportunities. Big Bend National Park in the southwest sits right against the bend of the Rio Grande River and houses gorgeous rock formations that are unlike anything else in the country. On the opposite end of the state is Lake Murray Park, a great place for camping and indulging in all kinds of water sports.

Texas is a great place to relax in the beautiful outdoors. With so much open space, there is no trouble finding remote camping spots for the more adventurous, or spots along a more well-worn path for those who prefer the familiar. Check out the entire infographic and find the perfect vacation plans for your stay in Texas!

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5 Tips to Boost Your Content Marketing Strategy

With the release of the Google Panda algorithm update in February 2011, unique and high quality content has become increasingly important for a website’s rankings on this powerful search engine. More significantly, from a pure user-experience perspective, relevant and engaging content is a quintessential component that not only reflects the value of a website, but also the brand as a whole. The word “content” is typically associated with written text on a company’s website, but in the larger scope, content marketing really encompasses a variety of initiatives both on and off-site. From videos to infographics to social posts to consumer-generated-media (user generated content), in order to captivate, inform, and engage your intended audience, it’s vital to have a carefully executed content marketing strategy. Here are five tips you can utilize to improve your content marketing campaign:

1. Content marketing should be well planned out, yet remain flexible and adaptable.
Content marketing should be strategically defined and thoroughly documented, and generally involves:

  • Setting Clear Goals And Objectives – What do you wish to accomplish with your content marketing? Are you trying to drive more traffic to your website? Create more social buzz around your brand? Boost the conversion rate of your products? Increase lead generation or newsletter signups? Understanding what you intend to achieve with content marketing will provide you with a general direction in your strategy.
  • Outlining Key Metrics To Track And Report – With your goals and objectives in mind, identify the key metrics that you want to track, report, and analyze to make adjustments. For example, if your content marketing objective is to drive more traffic to your website, you may want to track and report the unique visits coming from a particular piece of content and see whether it is helping you to meet this goal. If you’re looking to utilize content marketing strategies to get more leads for an email marketing campaign, then setting up event tracking can help determine which posts are driving the most signups.
  • Identifying Your Target Audience And Their Key Personas – With an abundance of brand new content sprouting across the Internet each and every day, knowing exactly who you want to reach with your content and what they are like can help you refine your marketing strategy to attract your intended audience. You can gain valuable information about the types of users that are already engaged with your site by taking a look at the Google Analytics demographics and interests reports. This can give you key insights about your existing audience and help you create content that will resonate with them.
  • Adopting A Voice And Style That Speaks To Your Target Audience And Is Representative Of Your Brand – The content you create for millennials could be drastically different from that which you use to attract their grandparents. Make sure you employ a style and tone that resonates with your target audience, but do so without sacrificing the authenticity of your brand.
  • Establishing Consistency In Frequency Of Posts And Tone – Create a content calendar to engage your audience on a regular basis. This way your audience will know when to expect content from you and how frequently they should be checking your site for posts. It’s especially beneficial to remain consistent if you already have a solid foundation of followers in place.

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While it’s certainly important to have a content calendar to guide your initiatives, always keep room for spontaneity. For example, following the 2015 Grammy’s, the dress worn by well-known artist Rihanna became an overnight Internet sensation. TBS’ beloved series “Family Guy” most likely did not have Peter Griffin’s new dress on the initial content calendar, but when Rihanna’s pink fluffy dress became a trending topic, Peter Griffin also appeared donning an outfit of uncanny resemblance. The takeaway here is that even if you have your entire content marketing strategy outlined by date, don’t hesitate to make last minute changes when a fitting opportunity comes along.

 

2. Aim to produce content that’s relevant, unique, interesting, and valuable to your audience by conducting research, leveraging different tools, and thinking outside of the box.
The Internet is saturated with a wide array of content, both good and bad, thus making it extra difficult to present fresh and captivating content consistently. Researching pertinent topics regarding your company and reading about what’s trending in your industry can provide you with content ideas. There are a variety of tools online that you can utilize across various content marketing strategies to get a better gauge on what interests people and to brainstorm ideas. Below are a few examples:

  • Buzzsumo: Allows you to see posts of a certain topic with the highest amount of engagement on social media platforms. You can assess the type of content that is most popular among a shared or similar target audience.
  • Google Search: Take a look at what shows up as the top results on Google for a particular subject, and learn about what makes the content exceptional.
  • Trending Topics On Facebook And Popular Hashtags On Instagram: These features on social media are real-time indicators of what people are currently interested in.
  • Ubersuggest: This tool is great for showing you what people are searching for based off of your target keywords.

Be creative in your content marketing and outshine your competition. Don’t limit your content initiatives to just blog posts. Instead, include visual, interactive, and shareable items in your strategy, such as infographics or videos.

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3. Content that lives on your website is top priority, but don’t forget to get social.

Social media’s ubiquitous presence makes it an integral part of modern day content marketing. Promoting your content across a variety of social channels can increase its exposure and popularity. Even utilizing social media as a direct content marketing platform is not far-fetched. The “Happy” artist, Pharrell Williams, wore a hat shaped like Arby’s logo to the 2014 Grammy’s. Arby’s then took this opportunity and tweeted Pharrell, “Can we have our hat back?” The singer took the message in good humor and re-tweeted a reply, which was also re-tweeted numerous times by his fans. This tweet went viral, clearly reflecting the unstoppable power of social media.

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Network with other websites and organizations and welcome the opportunity when others are wiling to help promote your content.

 

4. Involve your audience to be a part of the content creation process.

  • Invite your audience to write reviews about your company and publish their opinions on your site.
  • Start a forum on your site so that your audience can communicate their ideas with each other.
  • Motivate your audience to participate in a contest and share their work on your site.
  • Create a hashtag for your company or campaign and feature your audience’s posts on your site.

Some of the most successful content campaigns can be attributed to user-generated content. Want to #shareacoke? What about participate in the #alsicebucketchallenge?

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5. Design your website so that your quality content can reach its target audience.
Even the most amazing content would be futile if it remains unseen. To ensure that users can find the content on your website, categorize it properly and place it under appropriate headings that can be identified with ease. Make sure that you’re linking to your posts from other pages of your site as well. A good rule of thumb is that you should never be more than three clicks away from any page on your site.

 

Capitalize on SEO efforts such as including relevant keywords in the copy and meta data and establishing a user-friendly page construction. This will help you rank more effectively for long tail search terms and obtain organic traffic from search engines. Aside from that, it’s important to market your content to other websites and influencers. Building high quality backlinks to your content will help boost your rankings and referral traffic as well.

Finally, ensure that your website is mobile friendly, because mobile traffic is on the rise and many people will be accessing your content on their tablets or phones.

Hope this article provided you with some insight on content marketing strategy. Be sure to keep these tips in mind in refining your content campaigns, and don’t hesitate to try new methods or ditch the ones that don’t work well for your site or industry. Good luck, and feel free to add your own strategies in the comments below!

 

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5 Common On-Site Optimization Problems and How to Fix Them

In my eleven years within the SEO industry, I’ve spent the majority of my time diagnosing websites. It’s actually my favorite part of the job, digging through code, testing navigational elements, finding things to break, it’s so fun. However, I’m still boggled when I run into the same basic SEO flubups from over a decade ago. I mean, it’s 2015, there’s a plethora of information out there via books, websites, and conferences to give people a basic foundation of proper on-site SEO, and yet, there are many, many websites that still fail at some of its most basic tenets.

Therefore, I’m going to give y’all a freebie. Five freebies to be exact. I’m going to list the five most common on-site SEO issues I run into, as well as a brief rundown on how to fix them. While these won’t be super-comprehensive, they will hopefully push you toward learning more about making your own site SEO-friendly by giving you a foundation to build upon. Now with that said, let’s dive in:

1. Missed Opportunities With Title Tags – This one surprises me the most. So much has been written about title tags that you would think anyone with a passing interest in titletagsranking their website would know this, but nooooooo, apparently this one still flies by people. If you’re reading this and asking, “What’s a title tag?”, go Google that and come back. I’ll still be here. We good? Okay, now, what I mean by “missed opportunities” are basically just that. You wouldn’t believe how many title tags I run into that are either empty(!!!), poorly written, under-optimized, or outright spammy. The key to a good title tag is both brevity and expressiveness. You want at least your top keyword in there along with your branding. So, if you’re selling blue widgets, red widgets, and widget accessories, you can have a tag like, “Red & Blue Widgets | Accessories | Brand Name”. This covers three keywords and slips the brand name at the end all while being under fifty-five characters. You can experiment with word and phrase combinations to get just the right mix that works for you, but don’t get frustrated if it’s difficult, this takes a while to grok.

2. Unengaging Meta Descriptions – While meta descriptions have had a negligible weight as an SEO ranking factor for years now, it’s still important for one key reason: it’s the blurb of text that shows up in your SERP (search engine results page) listing. Therefore, you need to have an engaging meta description that pulls people to your site with a strong call to action. So in sticking with the widget example, don’t just say something like, “We sell blue and red widgets, and accessories.” That’s bland, man. Try, “Come check out our exceptional selection of low-priced blue and red widgets, along with accessories!” for example. Make it call to people.

3. Poor Navigation – Usability is something of a fascination of mine, so it always shocks me when I come to a website that seems to actively work against its users in terms of navigation. You want to give users as many avenues as they can to move around your site. This includes not just a streamlined main menu, but navigational breadcrumbs, links to related stories or products, a well-curated HTML sitemap, and much more. If users can’t find the information they’re looking for, they’ll bounce from your site to another where they can find it. Therefore, you need to make sure your site has multiple avenues of navigation, like those mentioned above, accessible from every page so that users can easily find what they need.

4. Misusing Image ALT Attributes – Many sites are getting more and more image-heavy, which takes away the possibilities for on-page textual content (which is still the best stuff you can put on a site). With this increased reliance on images, ALT attribute usage is just becoming more and more important. If you’re unaware, ALT attributes are where you can place text describing what an image is. These should always be used on images that aren’t spacers or placeholders, in order to help give search engines context as to what the image is and why it’s being used. This is especially important with images that also have text in them. Since search engines can’t read that text, it’s crucial to place that text in the ALT attribute that explains why that image is there as well as what it is. If you have images without ALT attributes filled in, you need to fix this one.

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5. Have The Proper Sitemaps – I mentioned the HTML sitemap above, which is crucial for user navigation, but both the HTML and XML sitemaps are very important for search engine spiders, and you would not believe how many sites I run into that are missing one or both of these. Many of today’s content management systems (CMS) include features to create sitemaps by default, but even then, their implementation can be a little problematic. Therefore, you need to make sure your sitemaps are up to snuff. For HTML sitemaps, if you have a larger site, you don’t need to include every page on your site, but maybe the top two levels of your navigation (such as the homepage and product categories, for example), but for smaller sites having every page listed is fine. For XML sites, make sure you correctly use the priority attribute for each URL to denote its importance. For example, the homepage (and only the homepage) should be 1.0, while pages the next level down can be 0.75 and so on. These help search engines spider your site to the best of their ability, which helps your site in the long run.

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Now sure, there are a myriad of other issues that can befall a website that can cause it to lose rankings, or rank poorly initially, or have spidering problems, or whatever else, but these are the ones I run into over and over again. Therefore, fixing these issues, if you have them — and I hope you don’t — can go a very long way toward making your site more valuable in the eyes of both users and search engines, which should be the ultimate goal of any website owner. Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to hit us up in the comments! Have a great day, and happy SEOing!

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A Smattering of SEO News – Late Penguins and Incorrect Languages

Welcome, my friends, to another Smattering of SEO News! This week it’s all Google, all the time! First we find out Penguin is still months away, then Google is looking for their own SEO manager and much more. Check it out!

Google News

  • Google Penguin Refresh Still Months Away – According to a Tweet from Google’s Gary Illyes, a refresh to the Penguin algorithm is still “months away.” It has been nine months since the last update to Penguin in October of last year, and before that it was a year between updates. Will we see another update to Penguin in October, which is indeed months away? We’ll have to wait and see, but as soon as we know, you’ll know.

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  • Google Is Looking For An SEO Manager – Despite reports released over the years that Google tends to unfairly promote its own properties in search results, Google is indeed looking for a SEO manager to help improve organic traffic to its own pages and properties. They want at least 4 years of web development, 2 years of experience with SEO and quite a bit more. If you think you have what it takes, go check it out.
  • Google Clarifies Its “Don’t Ask For Links” Statement – Last week we brought you news that a Google Portuguese Webmaster blog had been updated with the language, “do not buy, sell, exchange or ask for links.” It was the portion that stated, “ask for links” that got folks curious. Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz followed up with Google to try and get more information on this change, and Google clarified saying, “not buy, sell or ask for links that may violate our linking webmaster guidelines.” This makes a ton more sense.
  • Search Console Notifications Going Out For Incorrect Hreflang Implementation – In a new addition to their ever-growing list of webmaster notifications, Google is now sending out notifications which let site owners know that their Hreflang implementation is incorrect. This is excellent for those with multi-language sites, as Hreflang implementation has always been a bit tricky, to say the least.

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  • Search Console To Soon Send Out Fewer Notifications – Google’s Gary Illyes recently announced a change to how Search Console would be sending out most of its non-critical communications. Starting in a few weeks, Google will only notify direct site owners, rather than property owners, of non-critical issues. This means that if http://www.example.com/fun/test/seo had an issue, only the direct owner of http://www.example.com/fun/test/seo would get a notification, and not property owners of http://www.example.com/fun/test/, http://www.example.com/fun/ or http://www.example.com/. It’s an odd shift, to be sure.
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The Plethora of PPC News – What’s Happened?!

Old versions of AdWords Editor have stopped working. This headache happened on June 30th and after struggling to adapt (I’m always partial to legacy versions of everything), I’ve finally gotten the hang of the new Editor. Although it is a pain to edit any pre-existing ads, you’ll need to start moving your destination URLs to final URLs…which brings me to my next update…

The Upgraded URLs in AdWords deadline happened on July 1st. It’s bye-bye to destination URLs and hello to final URLs. This means that PPC Managers will have to scramble to get URLs that use third-party tracking parameters manually moved from the destination URL to the new upgraded final URL field.

 

What’s Happening
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Bing Ads’ Shopping campaigns are now out of beta. The big difference here is that “you’ll be able to have greater control, granularity and insights into performance, traffic and what’s working and what’s not.” Features like campaign priorities, share of voice reporting and more will be a part of Bing Ads Shopping campaigns. And, yes, advertisers currently running Google Shopping can now import them into Bing Ads!

Google announced yesterday that display ads can now be measured across apps and the web. “You can now use Estimated Total Conversion to measure conversions that started on the web and finished in an app or vice versa – for Display campaigns.”

 

What’s Going To Happen

AdWords is now starting to show a Display Network summary section in many accounts. Now you will have access to charts that compare clickthrough rates of remarketing audiences based on age,  gender, etc. If it’s not in your account yet, keep an eye out as it may be coming to you soon!

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