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The Plain-English Guide to Integrated Marketing Communications

I fly Southwest Airlines almost exclusively. They offer reasonable prices, make it easy to rack up points, and always have fun and kind flight attendants.

One thing I’ve noticed about Southwest is their branding is on point. Whether I’m booking a flight on their mobile application, being served my go-to in-flight ginger ale, or walking through the terminal at Midway Airport, I’m surrounded by Southwest’s consistent brand colors, messaging, and imagery.

This is an example of integrated marketing at work. If you’re interested in presenting a cohesive, consistent brand experience that leaves your products or services top-of-mind — like Southwest does — this guide is for you. Read on to learn more about integrated marketing and how to create a campaign of your own.

Imagine discovering a new brand on Instagram and visiting the company’s website to purchase one of their products. If their website promoted a different message or campaign than the one you found on their Instagram account, you’d have a hard time understanding the gist of the brand, right?

Integrated marketing exists to eliminate these disparities and differences regardless of how or when a customer interacts with your brand. It’s similar to multi-channel marketing, except integrated marketing is what aligns the message you’re sharing on all of those channels.

Speaking of channels, integrated marketing doesn’t apply to just your inbound or digital marketing channels; traditional media channels are also included. Many of the integrated marketing examples we’ll review below incorporate traditional marketing channels such as print, radio, and TV ads.

Now, let’s talk about integrated marketing campaigns.

Why are integrated marketing campaigns effective?

While integrated marketing campaigns can differ in their goals (e.g. converting views, building brand awareness, etc.), they should all have one component in common: to align your marketing channels to present a united marketing “front”.

If your marketing channels are players, consider your integrated marketing campaign the coach in charge of running plays and helping your channels work as a unified system — not disparate ones.

It’s also more effective to run integrated marketing campaigns as compared to campaigns on individual channels. Integrated marketing campaigns are impactful for a few reasons:

  • They reach a wider audience than a single marketing channel.
  • They have a greater chance of being seen on multiple channels, thus keeping your brand top-of-mind and pushing visitors closer to conversion.
  • They build trust with visitors as they see a consistent message on multiple channels.
  • They save you money since assets can be shared between and repurposed for different marketing channels and, depending on your campaign, customers can help you market your product or service for you.

So, how can you build your own integrated marketing campaign? Follow these steps to get started.

1. Establish your overarching campaign goal.

Before you consider what channels will be part of your integrated marketing campaign, you must consider the goal of the entire campaign.

Maybe you’ve launched a new product, service, or initiative and want to get it in front of customers — like Southwest’s Transfarency. Maybe you’ve completely rebranded and want to broadcast your new message — like Old Spice’s Smell Like a Man, Man. Perhaps you’ve simply chosen a new positioning tagline and want your audience to start associating your brand with it — like Snickers’ You’re Not You When You’re Hungry.

(Don’t worry, we’ll dig deeper into these examples later.)

Whatever your campaign goal may be, always remember to make it SMART. This will help you stay focused, track your campaign success, and learn how to improve the next time around.

These goals should also relate to at least one of the following key performance indicators (KPIs) and their subsequent metrics, which you can track when you launch your campaign.

KPI related Metrics
Traffic/reach Unique page views by channel and source
Engagement Bounce rate; average time on page
Top (and falling) content Top page views; top exits
Impact Click-throughs; conversions; backlinks
Sentiment Comments; social shares
Lead generation Total leads; total sessions; session to lead conversion rate
Sales Lead to marketing qualified lead (MQL); MQL to sales qualified lead (SQL); customer purchase/closed-won business

Also, while increased engagement and new leads are always exciting, a multi-channel campaign should also consider the bigger picture: how your campaign impacts sales opportunities and business revenue. Take a moment to map out how you want your campaign to impact your bottom line, too.

2. Choose your marketing channels and set goals for each one.

Now that you know your overarching integrated marketing campaign goal, you probably have a better idea of what channels (if not all of them) can help you reach that goal.

For example, if your goal is to roll out a new logo and branding suite, you don’t necessarily need to leverage radio ads. On the other hand, if you’re extending your audience to target a new geographic region or city, radio ads, billboard ads, TV ads, and other local channels may come in handy.

When choosing your channel(s), it all boils down to what you’re trying to achieve through your integrated marketing campaign. There are 10 major marketing “channels” that you can use to distribute your campaign content.

Your integrated marketing campaign should include a variety of marketing channels in order to reach the widest audience and drive home your campaign message. If you see one or more channels plateau, don’t hesitate to add, remove, or test new ones.

3. Define your buyer personas by channel.

Every marketing channel targets its own specific buyer persona. For this reason, instead of defining a broad persona for your campaign, you must define your audience by channel.

There will inevitably be some overlap, but it’s wise to understand exactly who you’re talking to on each medium and how you can tailor those specific assets to be the most successful.

Note: With some campaigns, you may be targeting a specific audience. In this case, steps 2 and 3 would be flipped — you’d define your buyer persona(s) first and then decide which channels can help you reach that audience.

Download our free Persona Templates to easily organize your audience segments and make your marketing stronger.

4. Identify your channel managers.

Depending on the size of your marketing team, you may have different people (or entire teams) in charge of different channels. When running a multi-channel marketing campaign, you must determine who specifically will be in charge of ensuring their channel(s) is aligned with the campaign.

This is important for two reasons: 1) that manager is the expert on their channel (e.g. audience, posting cadence, optimization tactics, reporting strategies, etc.) and will know how to tailor the campaign content to be the most successful; and 2) putting one person in charge of all channels may be overwhelming and will cause the content and campaign to suffer.

Perhaps you have a smaller marketing team where one person handles multiple channels. Regardless of your team size, do your very best to share channel management responsibilities across a few people — ideally with one person handling one or two channels.

5. Create adaptable marketing assets and messaging.

At this point, you have your campaign goal, target audience(s), and marketing channels. It’s now time to create your integrated marketing campaign content. This stage is where copywriting, graphic design, and other creative processes come into play.

Before I dive into how, let’s talk about an important component of integrated marketing content: adaptability. To keep your campaign consistent (and ease your workload), you should be able to repurpose any content to be used on different channels.

For example, let’s say your integrated marketing campaign is focused on the launch of a new 3-minute brand video. You could repurpose this video into:

  • 30-second and one-minute “trailer” videos
  • Still images
  • Quotes
  • GIFs
  • Hashtags
  • Blog posts
  • Soundbites

As you develop and repurpose these creative assets, keep them aligned with your brand guidelines and consistent with each other. In fact, it may be helpful to create your own set of brand guidelines for your integrated marketing campaign to share with your team and any channel managers.

This documentation could include a few things:

  • Visual guidelines (logo, color palette, typography, etc.)
  • Any developed and repurposed assets in multiple file formats
  • Voice and tone guidelines (taglines, preferred language, words to avoid, etc.)
  • Messaging guidelines (pain points, goals, types of content, resources, etc.)
  • Buyer persona information and guidelines

Integrated marketing is all about a consistent brand experience. Be sure your campaign assets reflect that, regardless of what channel your audience visits or sees.

6. Establish your plan for collecting leads.

Whether or not you intend your campaign to collect leads, you should always be prepared to receive them. You don’t want to leave this as an afterthought once you launch your campaign. Even if you’re simply campaigning to raise awareness of your brand, consider how your visitors might convert to leads — and, eventually, customers.

First, consider how a visitor might convert to a lead. Would they subscribe to your newsletter? Input their information to download a content offer? Create an account on your website? Ensure these conversion aspects of your campaign are also on-brand with the rest of your visual and messaging assets.

Next, consider how your leads will be nurtured once they convert. Would they roll into an automated email workflow? Would you pass them along to Sales? However you go about this step, make sure your leads aren’t forgotten once they willingly give over their information.

As always, communicate with Sales to confirm that they’re aware of your campaign and on-board with your plan for new leads and customers.

7. Launch, measure, and iterate your campaign.

Ready to launch your integrated marketing campaign? It might be time to put your campaign to work … but it’s not time to rest just yet.

Remember those KPIs and metrics from step one? Whichever KPIs relate to your overarching campaign goal (e.g. boosting brand awareness, rebranding, new product, etc.), start tracking those subsequent metrics each week, month, and quarter (depending on how long your campaign is running) to see how successful it is at reaching your goal.

As always, take what you learn from each integrated marketing campaign and apply it to future campaigns. With the right strategies, managers, and tools in place, you can create a never-ending cycle of integrated marketing campaigns — and wins.

Integrated Marketing Strategies and Best Practices

As you construct your integrated marketing campaign, there are a few key strategies and best practices to keep in mind. We’ve detailed them here, and they apply regardless of what media, channels, or goals you’ve chosen.

Align behind the scenes.

In order for you to successfully implement an integrated marketing approach, it’s imperative that you not only choose marketing channel managers but that all your marketing managers also communicate often about projects and campaigns.

While not every integrated marketing campaign or promotion needs to be on all of your channels, they should at least complement each other to avoid a fragmented brand experience for customers.

Consider the channel transition.

Integrated campaigns receive traffic from a number of sources — and pass along those sources like a game of Hot Potato. Consider how a visitor may view/experience each marketing channel 1) if it was their first visit and 2) if they transitioned from another channel. Think about how each channel can help others convert.

For example, say a customer saw your new billboard on their way to work and, once they arrived, visited the website that was on the billboard. Imagine if, on your website, the customer couldn’t easily find whatever your billboard was marketing. How confusing would that be? That customer would likely drop off immediately.

Don’t neglect the small overlaps.

When preparing to launch your integrated marketing campaign, it’s tempting to separately think about each channel and its respective media assets. But this thought process inherently goes against the ethos of integrated marketing. Integrated marketing exists to eradicate the silos of traditional marketing and bring together a cohesive campaign experience.

For this reason, don’t neglect the places in which your campaign overlaps. Here are a few examples:

  • Your email signature, where you can plug your social media handles, website URL, or video links
  • Your social media bios and posts, where you can include links to your website, blog posts, content offers, or other digital content
  • Your blog and website, where you can incorporate social sharing buttons
  • Your standalone landing pages, where you can optimize for relevant keywords and SEO
  • Your PPC copy, where you can test subject lines to see what your audience responds to

While these overlaps might not directly support your campaign goals, they help your audience transition seamlessly between channels, enjoy that consistent, cohesive brand experience, and ultimately find their way to a page that converts them.

Every marketer knows just how much you can learn from those who’ve come before you. In this section, we’ve pulled together a handful of well-executed integrated marketing campaigns to give you an example of just how successful this tactic can be.

1. Smell Like a Man, Man by Old Spice

For years, I associated Old Spice with something only my dad or grandfather would wear. I can remember the old, white bottle of aftershave — the one with the faded pirate ship — that used to sit in my dad’s cabinet.

integrated marketing example old spice old bottle
I don’t think I’m the only one who held this association, so it’s no surprise that, in 2010, Old Spice launched a major rebranding campaign to give its products a more youthful, playful feel — and ultimately attract a younger audience. Not only did Old Spice change the design of their packaging, but they also renamed their products and crafted a new tagline (“Smell Like a Man, Man”).

The initial campaign launch featured one 30-second TV spot, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, that was so beloved that Old Spice launched a handful of others.


But Old Spice didn’t stop at the TV commercial. They also included their website, product pages, Instagram, YouTube, and other channels in their campaign.

No, they don’t all feature the specific characters or taglines from the original TV spots (remember, the campaign launched almost 10 years ago), but they do reflect the same tone, theme, and brand, thus giving customers a consistent brand experience across all media.

integrated marketing example old spice website

2. Transfarency by Southwest Airlines

I discussed Southwest Airlines’ consistent branding at the beginning of this article. One campaign that stands out is their Transfarency movement, which introduced a brand new word that marketed Southwest as an airline with straightforward pricing and no hidden fees.

The campaign originally launched in 2015, but Southwest has since been rolling out phases to release new elements and introduce more themes and stories. This tactic has helped elongate the campaign message and truly solidify the association between flying Southwest and saving money on fares.

Southwest has used almost every possible marketing channel to broadcast this campaign: a dedicated landing page on which you can purchase tickets, print advertisements posted along airport walls and tucked behind airplane seats, a slew of video spots, and plenty of user-generated content on their social media.

integrated marketing example southwest instagram

3. You’re Not You When You’re Hungry by Snickers

Snickers is one of my favorite chocolate bars, so I paid close attention when I started to see commercials for their You’re Not You When You’re Hungry advertisements.

Launched at the 2010 Super Bowl, this Snickers campaign has remained top-of-mind for chocolate and candy lovers everywhere.


One reason for this is the campaign’s humor, but the other, more pertinent reason is that Snickers pasted this movement everywhere … on its website, social media, TV, print ads, and more, and they included plenty of celebrities to boot. By presenting an aligned, cohesive integrated marketing campaign, customers now think of Snickers when craving a sweet snack — and the company has benefitted as a result.

integrated marketing example snickers billboard

4. Share a Coke by Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign was unique in that the company put their customers front and center by featuring names and fun phrases on their product. Not only did this create endless advertising angles, but it led to endless user-generated content from customers wanting to share products with their own name. The #ShareaCoke hashtag was shared via 500,000+ customer photos.

coke share a coke integrated marketing campaign

When this campaign was at its height, I found myself taking pictures of and even buying Cokes featuring the names of my friends and family. It seems that others did the same — the campaign resulted in an increase in Coke consumption from 1.7 billion to 1.9 billion daily servings.

5. Grow Better by HubSpot

HubSpot has countless digital properties — its blog, website, social media channels, and SaaS products. This level of variety requires a lot of consistency in messaging and marketing.

HubSpot recently set its ultimate vision to help customers grow better — all customers, on all channels. To promote this messaging, it updated all content to reflect this vision.

integrated marketing communications hubspot grow better

The message may be short, but the impact is big. However and wherever customers interact with HubSpot, its integrated marketing has ensured that they know how HubSpot operates — and why they should become a customer.

Integrated Marketing Helps You Grow Better

Integrated marketing turns your marketing campaigns into multi-channel movements. In today’s omnichannel world — with consumers encountering your brand online, on social media, and on their daily commutes — integrated marketing is more important than ever to capture new customers and build brand recognition and loyalty.

Implement these steps and strategies for your next integrated marketing campaign, and it will surely be a success.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Marketing Plan Template

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SEO Writing: 12 Tips on Writing Blog Posts That Rank on Google

If you’ve ever written a blog post before, you know how much time it can take.

From topic selection and gathering research to writing the post and pressing “Publish,” the process often demands hours. That’s why, if your post doesn’t earn the traffic you expected, it can be a major letdown.

Fortunately, there’s a way to combat low traffic: search engine optimization. As marketers, we’re always aiming to write content that’ll rank highly on Google, and SEO is the bridge that’ll help you get there. That begs the question: How do you incorporate that into your content?

Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. In this post, we’re going to dive into 12 ways to master SEO writing.

A 2020 Search Engine Journal study found that the clickthrough rate for websites in position one on the search engine results page (SERP)is 25%. This number drops drastically to 15% for websites in position two and then down to 2.5% for websites in position 10. When you get to page two of Google, that number gets even lower.

This means that if your website is not on the first page, there’s a small chance consumers will find your website organically. Fewer visits to your site mean fewer opportunities to generate leads, and ultimately, revenue.

Your next best option is investing in advertising to get those users to your site. But that costs money, and if you’re on a tight budget, why not invest time in SEO writing? It’s free and will likely bring you traffic for much longer than a campaign would.

12 Tips on How To Incorporate SEO in Your Writing

1. Use headings to your benefit.

Headers help Google’s web crawlers understand your blog post and the sections within it.

Think of the crawlers as readers who are skimming your blog. They want an overview of what your article will cover, that’s your H1. Then your H2s, H3s, H4s break down the subtopics within the piece.

So, your subheaders should reflect the content in the body and include high-intent keywords. When you use the right keywords, meaning the ones your target audience is using, you have a much higher chance of ranking on the SERP.

2. Optimize your content for featured snippets.

Featured snippets on Google are the most direct answers to search queries. For instance, if I were to search, “How do you write a blog post?” Google might use a featured snippet to show the best answer.

Featured snippet example on SERP

To earn a featured snippet on Google, you’ll need to answer the question thoroughly and succinctly.

For instance, if the search term is “How to screenshot on mac,” you can put “How to Take a Screenshot on a MacBook Computer” as your H1 or H2, followed by the steps in a numbered or bulleted list.

Once you’ve done that, be sure to include part of the question in your answer. Using the example above, you would start the paragraph with the following: “To take a screenshot on your MacBook, here are the steps…”

Additionally, start each sentence with an actionable verb, like “click” and “select.”

If the keyword for which you want to capture the featured snippet requires a definition, write an answer that’s no more than 58 words.

3. Write for humans, not search engines.

With all these SEO guidelines, it can be easy to forget that when a user searches on Google, they are looking for an answer. The best way for you to improve your chances of ranking is by writing high-quality blog posts.

What does that look like? Thorough answers, scannable sections, organized subheaders, and visual aids.

Keep your buyer personas, their motivations, challenges, and interests in mind. It’s also important to choose topics that will resonate with your potential customers and address their pain points.

4. Include keywords in your meta description.

Are you adding meta descriptions to your post? If your answer is “no,” then you’re probably not giving your post the most exposure possible. Let’s get into why they’re important.

By now, we’ve talked about a couple of the ways a blog post can communicate with Google: subheaders, keywords, and snippets. However, that’s not an exhaustive list.

Meta descriptions are another area Google crawls to determine search rankings. Meta descriptions are the one- to three-sentence descriptions, you’ll find underneath the title of a result.

Meta description example for the HubSpot Marketing Blog

Use meta descriptions to sum up what your post is about, and remember to:

  • Keep it short.
  • Use one to two keywords.
  • Make it compelling. After all, there are going to be other posts similar to yours so you’ll want your description to stand out above the rest.

Most content management systems (CMS) have meta description boxes built-in, so you likely won’t have to look far to use the function.

5. Add alt text to images.

With any image you add to your post – featured or body images – you’ll want to add alt text.

Alt text describes what’s happening in the photo and it helps Google (as well as those who are visually impaired) understand why the photo is in your post.

For instance, let’s say your article is about virtual events and you include the following image:

Business man sits at a desk while holding a pen

Image Source

The alt text should read something like, “Business man attending a virtual event sits at a desk while holding a pen.”

This sentence is descriptive and includes the main keyword “virtual event.” So, even if the reality is that this is a stock image, you can create a narrative that aligns with your blog post. 

6. Start with keyword research.

It’s estimated that Google processes over 70,000 search queries a second. Staggering, right?

If you want to cut through SERP clutter and outrank your competitors, you need to target the specific keywords and phrases your potential customers are searching for. Otherwise, how else will they find your content and website?

Start with a keyword research tool. Sites like Ahrefs and Google Keyword Planner give you details on what users are searching for and how popular those queries are.

Google Trends can also give you a feel for what keywords are popular at any given time. If you see searches are steadily declining over time for a specific keyword, you know that’s probably not the right keyword to target for your marketing. The opposite is true for rising trends.

If you’re ever running low on keyword ideas, get inspiration from your competition. Use competitive intelligence tools to see what keywords their domains currently rank for. If these keywords are relevant to your business, consider using them too.

However, keep in mind that the most obvious keywords don’t always align with your strategy. Additionally, your focus keywords will evolve over time as trends shift, terminology changes or your product/service line grows.

Be sure to conduct keyword research periodically to ensure you’re still focusing on the right keywords for your target audience and not missing out on vital ranking opportunities.

7. Resist the urge to keyword stuff.

The goal is to make your page fully optimized, not overbearing. Find natural fits for keyword additions, but don’t force them to the point where your content is illegible.

For example, if your keywords are “account-based marketing,” “startups,” and “sales,” avoid a meta description like this: “Sales for account-based marketing startups.”

Instead, try focusing on one or two keywords to make the description more natural: “Are you looking for killer strategies to boost your account-based marketing game? Discover our research-backed techniques in this post.”

With this approach, you’re still using keywords, but you’re not oversaturating the post. Remember, your goal is to solve for your audience. If your users have a poor reading experience, that will signal to Google that your post may not be meeting their needs.

8. Link to high-authority websites.

As you build out your blog post, don’t be afraid to link externally.

Linking to reputable websites not only offers blog readers additional reading material to expand their knowledge, but it also shows search engines that you’ve done your research.

Nothing strengthens a blog post like research-backed statistics from influential websites. Compelling stats help you build a more convincing and concrete argument that will help you gain trust from your readers.

9. Aim for scannable, longer posts.

In an age of short attention spans, you would think shorter blog posts are the way to go. But in fact, search engines like Google actually prefer longer, in-depth blog posts.

Think about it: the more content on the page, the more clues search engines have to figure out what your blog is about. At HubSpot, we’ve found that the ideal length is between 2,100 and 2,400 words.

The downside to longer blogs is that they may overwhelm your readers. One way to combat that is by breaking down your content into bite-size, scannable chunks.

Turn a long-winded sentence into two and keep your paragraphs to three sentences or less.

Don’t forget about bullet points – they’re great attention grabbers and easily digestible, especially on mobile devices.

10. Link to other posts on your site.

Linking to other pages or blog posts on your website helps search engines create an accurate sitemap. It also helps your audience discover more of your content and get to know you as a trustworthy, credible source of information.

On the user side, Internal links to other valuable content keep readers on your site longer, reducing bounce rate and increasing your potential for a conversion. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

When linking to any pages on your website, or even outside sources, use natural language for your anchor text. Avoid using spammy or generic calls to action, such as “top-rated cheap laptops” or “click here.”

Instead, use descriptive keywords that give readers a sense of what they will find when they click on the hyperlink, like “Download your SEO guide.”

Never force-feed links to your top webpages, featured products, or discounted items. Include links that enhance the points made in your posts and naturally tie in with the subject matter.

11. Compress images for fast page load speed.

Google rewards pages with fast loading speeds, as it improves the user experience.

One of the leading culprits of page lag is large, heavy images. If you have several images in your post and each one is over 100KB, that can drastically impact your page speed.

Luckily, there are free apps, like, that compress images without sacrificing quality.

If you suspect that your low ranking is due to slow page speeds, head over to Google’s PageSpeed site for a free analysis and recommendations.

12. Design a link-building strategy.

Link building is crucial to your search ranking.

Why? Think of search results like a competition where the winners get the most votes. Each webpage that links back to you is considered a vote for your website, which makes your content more trustworthy in the eyes of Google. In turn, this will make you rise further up in ranking.

So, it’s good to write posts that other websites or publications will want to hyperlink within their own posts. To make your website’s blog post more linkable, include high-value assets in your posts, such as original data and thought leadership.

Conducting interviews with experts is another effective way of leading traffic back to your website.

How to Title Blog Posts for SEO

Even with a great, SEO-friendly post body, a bad headline could hurt you in the SERP.

To title your post with SEO in mind, write something compelling that also incorporates your main keyword. Here are a few tips:

  • Incorporate numbers. E.g.: “5 Ways to Rock a Matte Lipstick.”
  • Include your offer in the title. E.g.: “How to Write a Cover Letter [+ Free Template]”
  • Add a teaser. E.g.: “We Tried the New [Insert App Name] App: Here’s What Happened”

You know how to write content audiences will love. Now, it’s time to include elements that Google will love too. It can sound tricky at first, with these SEO tips, you’ll be on the first page of Google in no time.


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Microsoft Advertising blocks 1.6 billion ads while dealing with the pandemic, says annual ad quality review

Microsoft says it is committed to keeping the ads in Microsoft Bing fair and in compliance with its ad policies.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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What five news-SEO experts make of Google’s new, “Full Coverage” feature in mobile search results

30-second summary:

  • Google recently rolled out the “Full Coverage” feature for mobile SERPs
  • Will this impact SEO traffic for news sites, SEO best practices, and content strategies?
  • Here’s what in-house SEOs from The LA Times, New York Times, Conde Nast, and prominent agency-side SEOs foresee

Google’s “Full Coverage” update rolled out earlier this month – but what does it really mean for news-SEOs? In-house SEOs from The LA Times, New York Times, Conde Nast, and prominent agency-side SEOs weigh in.

As a news-SEO person myself, I was eager to get my peers’ opinions on: 

  • If this feature will result in greater SEO traffic for news sites?
  • If editorial SEO best practices and content strategies will evolve because of it?
  • If it will result in closer working relationships between SEO and editorial teams?
  • Or, will everything remain “business as usual”?

ICYMI: Google’s new, “Full Coverage” feature in mobile search

Google added the “full coverage”  feature to its mobile search functionality earlier this month – with the aim of making it easier for users to explore content related to developing news stories from a diverse set of publishers, perspectives, and media slants.  

Just below the “Top Stories” carousel, users will now begin seeing the option to tap into “Full Coverage”/“More news on…” for developing news stories. The news stories on this page will be organized in a variety of sub-news topics (versus one running list of stories like we’re used to seeing), such as:

  • Top news
  • Local news
  • Beyond the headlines, and more

Take a look at  in-action, here:

Source: Google

While the concept of Google “Full Coverage” was developed back in 2018,  it pertained strictly to the Google News site and app. The technology, temporal co-locality, works by mapping the relationships between entities – and understanding the people, places, and things in a story right as it evolves. And then, organizes it around storylines all in real-time to provide “full coverage” on the topic searched for.

The launch of Google’s new “Full Coverage” feature in mobile search, specifically, is exciting because it takes its technology a step further; able to detect long-running news stories that span many days, like the Super Bowl, to many weeks or months like the pandemic to serve to users.  The feature is currently available to English speakers in the U.S. and will be rolled out to additional languages and locations over the next few months. 

What five news-SEO experts think about “Full Coverage” in mobile search

Lily Ray, Senior Director, SEO & Head of Organic Research at Path Interactive on Google's "Full Coverage" feature
Source: Linkedin

1. Lily Ray, Senior Director, SEO & Head of Organic Research at Path Interactive

Lily Ray is a Senior SEO Director at Path Interactive in New York. She’s a prominent voice within the SEO community (with +15K followers on Twitter), and has been nominated for multiple search marketing awards throughout her career. She is well known for her E-A-T expertise.  Here’s what she had to say:


“Full Coverage appears to be another new tool in Google’s arsenal for displaying a diversity of perspectives and viewpoints on recent news and events. It’s a good thing for publisher sites because it represents another opportunity to have news content surfaced organically. It may also serve as a way for niche or local publishers to gain more visibility in organic search, since Google is specifically aiming to show a broader range of viewpoints that may not always come across with the major publications.

Hopefully, Google will allow us to be able to monitor the performance of Full Coverage via either Search Console or Google Analytics, so we can segment out how our articles do in this area compared to in other areas of search.”

Louisa Frahm, SEO Editor at The LA Times on Google's "Full Coverage" feature
Source: LinkedIn

2. Louisa Frahm, SEO Editor at The LA Times

Louisa Frahm currently serves as the SEO Editor at the Los Angeles Times and is also pursuing a master’s degree in communication management at the University of Southern California. Prior to the LA Times, Frahm was an SEO strategist at other high-profile digital publications including Entertainment Weekly, People Magazine, TMZ, Yahoo!, and E! Online. Here’s her take:

“I’ve always liked that element of Google News. It taps into readers (like me!) who are consistently hungry for more information. 

Working in the journalism field, I’m always in favor of readers utilizing a diverse array of news sources. I’m glad that this new update will tap into that. I’m interested to see which stories will fall into the “develop over a period of time” criteria. I could see it working well for extended themes like COVID-19, but big breakout themes like Harry and Meghan could also potentially fit that bill. 

A wide variety of story topics have resulted from that Oprah interview, and fresh angles keep flowing in! As we’re in the thick of 2021 awards season, I could also see the Golden Globes, Grammys, and Oscars playing into this with their respective news cycles before, during, and after the events. 

The long-term aspect of this update inspires me to request more updates from writers on recurring themes, so we can connect with the types of topics this particular feature likes. Though pure breaking news stories with short traffic life cycles will always be important for news SEO, this feature reinforces the additional importance of more evergreen long-term content within a publisher’s content strategy. 

I could see this update providing a traffic boost, since it provides one more way for stories to get in front of readers. We always want as many eyeballs as possible on our content. Happy to add one more element to my news SEO tool kit. Google always keeps us on our toes!”

Barry Adams, Founder of Polemic Digital on Google's "Full Coverage" feature
Source: Linkedin

3. Barry Adams, Founder of Polemic Digital

Barry Adams is the founder of SEO consultancy, Polemic Digital. He has earned numerous search marketing awards throughout his career and has also spoken at several industry conferences. His company has helped news and publishing companies such as – The Guardian, The Sun, FOX News, and Tech Radar to name a few. This is his opinion:

“The introduction of Full Coverage directly into search results will theoretically mean there’s one less click for users to make when trying to find the full breadth of reporting on a news topic. 

Whether this actually results in significantly more traffic for publishers is doubtful. The users who are interested in reading a broad range of sources on a news story will already have adopted such click behaviour via the news tab or directly through Google News. 

This removal of one layer of friction between the SERP and a larger number of news stories seems more intended as a way for Google to emphasize its commitment to showing news from all kinds of publishers – the fact remains that the initial Top Stories box is where the vast majority of clicks happen. This Full Coverage option won’t change that.”

John Shehata, Global VP of Audience Development Strategy at Conde Nast on Google's "Full Coverage" feature
Source: Linkedin

4. John Shehata, Global VP of Audience Development Strategy at Conde Nast, Founder of NewzDash News SEO

John Shehata is the Global VP of Audience Development Strategy at Conde Nast, the media company known for brands such as – Architectural Digest, Allure, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. He’s also the founder of NewzDash News SEO – a News & Editorial SEO tool that helps publishers and news sites boost their visibility and traffic in Google Search. This is his opinion:

“Google has been surfacing more news stories on their SERPs over the past few years, first Top Stories were two-three links then it became a 10-link carousel. Google then started grouping related stories together expanding Top Stories carousel from one to three featuring up 30 news stories. They also introduced local news carousels for some local queries, [and now, this new feature]. It is obvious that Google keeps testing with different formats when it comes to news. One of our top news trends and prediction for 2021 is Google will continue to introduce multiple and different formats in the SERPs beyond Top Stories article formats.

As of the impact on traffic back to publishers, it is a bit early to predict but I do not expect much boost in traffic. Do not get more wrong, this feature provides more chances for more publishers to be seen, the question is how many search users will click. And if users click, Google surfaces over 50 news links plus tweets which makes it even more competitive for publishers to get clicks back to their stories.

I did some quick analysis back in July of last year When Google Search Console started providing News tab data. I found that News Impressions are less than five percent of total web impressions. Not quite sure how is the new “Full Coverage” feature CTR will be and how many users will click! The “full coverage” link placement is better than the tabs, so we might see higher CTR.”

Claudio Cabrera, Deputy Audience Director, News SEO at The New York Times on Google's "Full Coverage" feature
Source: LinkedIn

5. Claudio Cabrera, Deputy Audience Director, News SEO at The New York Times

Claudio Cabrera serves as the Deputy Audience Director of News SEO at the New York Times. He is an award-winning audience development expert, journalist, and educator. Prior to working at The New York Times, he was Director of Social and Search strategy at CBS Local. Here are his thoughts:

“It can be looked at in so many ways. Some brands will look at it as an opportunity to gain more visibility while some will feel their strong foothold may be lost. I think it just encourages better journalism and even better SEO because it forces us to think outside of our playbooks and adjust on some level to what we’re seeing Google provide users. 

From a site traffic perspective, I can’t really comment on whether this has affected us or not but I do know there are so many other areas where sites have done serious research and testing into like Discover where audiences can grow and be picked up if you do see a drop-off. I don’t think the best practices of SEO change too much but I think the relationship between search experts and editors deepens and becomes even closer due to the changes in the algo.”


Google’s new “Full Coverage” feature in mobile search rolled out earlier this month and is an extension of the full coverage function developed for Google News back in 2018. The aim of this new feature is to help users gain a holistic understanding of complex news stories as they develop – by organizing editorial content in such a way that it goes beyond the top headlines and media outlets. In essence, giving users the “full coverage” of the event. 

News-SEO experts seem to be in agreement that this new feature will make it simpler for users to explore – and gain a holistic understanding of – trending news stories. As far as what this new feature means for SEO traffic and strategy, experts can only speculate until more developing news stories emerge and we can analyze impact. 

Elizabeth Lefelstein is an SEO consultant based in Los Angeles, California. She’s worked with a variety of high-profile brands throughout her career and is passionate about technical SEO, editorial SEO, and blogging. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter @lefelstein.

The post What five news-SEO experts make of Google’s new, “Full Coverage” feature in mobile search results appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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FLoC testing hits a snag in Europe; Wednesday’s daily brief

And, which is more difficult for brands, being authentic or conveying authenticity?

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How social drives transformation: Q&A with Twitter’s Zach Hofer-Shall

For years now we’ve heard about the impending digital transformation—the slow-rolling wave of businesses removing non-digital, manual processes in favor of technology that improves efficiency, data collection and analysis, team collaboration and, ultimately, return on investments.

Digital transformation was always coming. But due to COVID-19, what would have been a gradual transformation happened virtually overnight. As Zach Hofer-Shall, the Senior Director of Twitter’s Ecosystem, puts it, “The unprecedented events of 2020 made it so that every business out there was hit with a wrecking ball that destroyed the notion that this transformation was years away.”

If businesses want to be at the forefront of digital transformation, they must fully embrace the power of social conversation. It’s something we at Sprout Social and Hofer-Shall agree on. That’s why we sat down with him to discuss the role of social in digital transformation, the future of social media marketing and why businesses need to seize the opportunities social data from sources like Twitter provides.

How did the events of 2020 accelerate digital transformation?

ZHS: If you break it down, it’s not hard to see why 2020 accelerated this transformation. Stores closed, events were canceled and our ability to get physically in front of people changed completely. So the question became, how do we still get our messages out there and reach our customers?

Fortunately, a lot of smart businesses started to make the shift long ago. Companies that were doing well, the ones that already adopted digital channels and shifted their messaging and execution to digital—they are ready. They already have the skills, they’re going faster than they were and they’re picking up business from those on the other end of the spectrum—the businesses resistant to transformation.

Any business that ignored the importance of digital channels, or companies that had a generational shift to make at some point, can no longer wait. And social drives this kind of business transformation. At Twitter, throughout 2020, we watched the shift of resistant buyers, the ones who had pushed social to the back burner before, realize that they needed a new way to talk to customers and maintain relationships with them.

What elements of social media do you think businesses should embrace and value more?

ZHS: Data adoption is a passion of mine. I believe all of us will be better when a generation gets smarter about the power of data, how to responsibly use it and how to use it to drive business decision making. But frankly, marketers aren’t using social data enough.

Working in the social tech world, sometimes we forget how much of a bubble we’re in and that not everyone recognizes just how important social data is. But when we step outside of that bubble, we can see that there are opportunities for businesses to do a whole lot more with it.

Why do you think businesses are underutilizing social data?

ZHS: We are still early in intelligent marketing and barely have scratched the surface of where social marketing is going. And when it comes to the data, we are potentially a generation away from what we’ll see in the future. Nearly all roles across business lines need to understand and embrace data-driven strategies. And social data is arguably the easiest for people to understand today.

Brands may have a misconception that they have to be active on social to use social data, which is not true. Even if your business does not have an active Twitter presence, you can still get immense value from utilizing Twitter data to get a real-time pulse on what’s happening in the world and what people care about.

At the end of the day, data is only powerful if brands can harness and apply it, and a lot of people just don’t know how to do that yet.

How can brands get more comfortable using social data to drive business decisions?

ZHS: Make social approachable and relatable. There are tons of people who don’t have a degree in data science or don’t have formal data analysis training, but their job in social requires data literacy. We’ve got to make it as easy as possible for them to understand their data and spin it into actionable insights.

Businesses and social media management tools like Sprout Social do just that. Your tools help brands see that there is more to the story than they may have imagined.

One of the silver linings of COVID was that it gave every single person in the world an excuse to look at a chart and start to analyze data on a timeframe. Every publication, however traditional, started to show flattening the curve charts.

Of course, data awareness doesn’t exactly equate to data literacy, but it does accelerate the discussion of data. It gets more people thinking it’s not just one person’s job to own data.

How can brands bridge the gap between social and other disciplines across their business?

ZHS: Social has long been siloed technology and siloed team. But now everyone’s starting to ask if they should be in the social space as well.

A joke we used to make was that social was the Trojan horse to get internal teams talking to each other for the first time. PR teams and marketing teams used to be able to get away with not talking to each other as often as they should. And the sales and support teams didn’t have to be in those conversations. But social doesn’t work that way. Social needs to be something every team is cognizant of because there is really powerful data there that can impact your entire business.

Think about it like this. You don’t have a phone strategy anymore, but you use the phone to power other strategies. Social is going to take a very similar path and will power brand strategies in the future. Whether you work purely in data analytics, customer care, customer experience, research and development—any of those can be powered through Twitter and other social channels.

How can Sprout Social and Twitter’s partnership help brands see social differently?

ZHS: A lot of time brands come into the social space with a preconceived notion of what being on Twitter actually means. And what we need to do is expand their perspective. They need to think beyond, “We have a Twitter account. We use it for the following reasons. We’ve checked the box.” My job is to help as many brands as possible understand the critical value of social channels, and that they’re not just a checkbox.

There are more opportunities out there every day. Brands can use social listening to identify emerging trends and measure their share of voice. They can use social as a testing ground for new creative content. With social analytics, brands can refine their overall strategy in a way that aligns customer preferences. There’s so much more to gain from social than what a lot of businesses might currently be thinking.

So your message, “see social differently,” that’s been at the heart of my crusade for well over a decade now. We need that and we need businesses like Sprout to champion that.

See Twitter data differently

Twitter and other social channels are rich sources of business, competitive and customer intelligence that can influence your entire business. And when you harness that intelligence, you can solve some of your biggest challenges. Product teams can adjust offerings based on feedback from social sources. PR teams can leverage listening data to build a media pitch that lands their brand in the news. Marketing teams can pull from social data to build a business case and secure buy-in for more resources.

Curious about other ways you can put social data to use? Download this guide on 40 of the best ways to use social data that you might have overlooked.


This post How social drives transformation: Q&A with Twitter’s Zach Hofer-Shall originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Changes are afoot, and this time they’re going in the right direction; Tuesday’s daily brief

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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YouTube experiments with automated lists of products detected in videos

Plus, enabling YouTube video playback directly within Twitter may help content creators get more views.

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4 local review trends to watch in 2021

It’s important for businesses to not ignore the importance that reviews still have in local search results even as customer sentiment around reviews shifts.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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The Local Finder vs. Google Maps: How Different Are They?

Posted by MiriamEllis

Google must be one of the most experimental enterprises the world has ever known. When it comes to the company’s local search interfaces, rather than rolling them all out as a single, cohesive whole, they have emerged in piecemeal fashion over two decades with different but related feature sets, unique URLs, and separate branding. Small wonder that confusion arises in dialog about aspects of local search. You, your agency coworkers, and your clients may find yourselves talking at cross-purposes about local rankings simply because you’re all looking at them on different interfaces!

Such is certainly the case with Google Maps vs. the object we call the Google Local Finder. Even highly skilled organic SEOs at your agency may not understand that these are two different entities which can feature substantially different local business rankings.

Today we’re going to clear this up, with a side-by-side comparison of the two user experiences, expert quotes, and a small, original case study that demonstrates and quantifies just how different rankings are between these important interfaces.


I manually gathered both Google Maps and Local Finder rankings across ten different types of geo-modified, local intent search phrases and ten different towns and cities across the state of California. I looked at differences both across search phrase and across locale, observing those brands which ranked in the top 10 positions for each query. My queries were remote (not performed within the city nearest me) to remove the influence of proximity and establish a remote baseline of ranking order for each entry. I tabulated all data in a spreadsheet to discover the percentage of difference in the ranked results.

Results of my study of Google Maps vs. the Local Finder

Before I roll out the results, I want to be sure I’ve offered a good definition of these two similar but unique Google platforms. Any user performing a local search (like “best tacos san jose”) can take two paths for deep local results:

  1. Path one starts with a local pack, typically made up of three results near the top of the organic search results. If clicked on, the local pack takes the user to the Local Finder, which expands on the local pack to feature multiple listings, accompanied by a map. These types of results exist on
  2. Path two may start on any Android device that features Google Maps by default, or it can begin on a desktop device by clicking the “Maps” tab above the organic SERPs. These types of results look quite similar to the Local Finder, with their list of ranked businesses and associated map, but they exist on

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

At first glance, these two user experiences look fairly similar with some minor formatting and content differences, but the URLs are distinct, and what you might also notice in this screenshot is that the rankings, themselves, are different. In this example, the results are, in fact, startlingly different.

I’d long wanted to quantify for myself just how different Maps and Local Finder results are, and so I created a spreadsheet to track the following:

  1. Ten search phrases of different types including some head terms and some longer-tail terms with more refined intent.
  2. Ten towns and cities from all parts of the big state of California covering a wide population ratio. Angels Camp, for example, has a population of just 3,875 residents, while LA is home to nearly 4 million people.

I found that, taken altogether, the average difference in Local Finder vs. Maps results was 18.2% across all cities. The average difference was 18.5% across all search phrases. In other words, nearly one-fifth of the results on the two platforms didn’t match.

Here’s a further breakdown of the data:

Average percentage of difference by search phrase

  • burgers (11%)
  • grocery store (19%)
  • Pediatrician (12%)
  • personal injury attorney (18%)
  • house cleaning service (10%)
  • electric vehicle dealer (16%)
  • best tacos (11%)
  • cheapest tax accountant (41%)
  • nearby attractions (8%)
  • women’s clothing (39%)

Average percentage of difference by city

  • Angels Camp (28%)
  • San Jose (15%)
  • San Rafael (24%)
  • San Francisco (4%)
  • Sacramento (16%)
  • Los Angeles (25%)
  • Monterey (14%)
  • San Diego (16%)
  • Eureka (25%)
  • Grass Valley (15%)

While many keyword/location combos showed 0% difference between the two platforms, others featured degrees of difference of 20%, 30%, 50%, 70%, and even 100%.

It would have been lovely if this small study surfaced any reliable patterns for us. For example, looking at the fact that the small, rural town of Angels Camp was the locale with the most diverse SERPs (28%), one might think that the smaller the community, the greater the variance in rankings. But such an idea founders when observing that the city with the second-most variability in LA (25%).

Similarly, looking at the fact that a longer-tail search like “cheapest tax accountant” featured the most differences (41%), it could be tempting to theorize that greater refinement in search intent yields more varied results. But then we see that “best tacos” results were only 11% different across Google Maps and the Local Finder. So, to my eyes, there is no discernible pattern from this limited data set. Perhaps narratives might emerge if we pulled thousands of SERPs.

For now, all we can say with confidence is that we’ve proven that there’s a good chance that the rankings a business enjoys in Google’s Local Finder frequently will not match their rankings in Google Maps. Individual results sets for keyword/locale combos may vary not at all, somewhat, substantially, or totally.

Maps vs. Finders: What’s the diff, and why?

The above findings from our study naturally lead to the question: why are the results for the same query different on the two Google platforms? For commentary on this, I asked three of my favorite local SEOs for theories on the source of the variance, and any other notable variables they’ve observed.

Near Media Co-Founder Mike Blumenthal says:

“I think that the differences are driven by the subtle differences of the ‘view port’ aspect ratio and size differences in the two environments. The viewport effectively defines the cohort of listings that are relevant enough to show. If it is larger, then there are likely more listings eligible, and if one of those happens to be strong, then the results will vary.”

Here’s an illustration of what Mike is describing. When we look at the results for the same search in the Local Finder and Google Maps, side by side, we often see that the area shown on the map is different at the automatic zoom level:

Uberall Solutions Engineer Krystal Taing confirms this understanding, with additional details:

“Typically when I begin searches in Maps, I am seeing a broader area of results being served as well as categories of businesses. The results in the Local Finder are usually more specific and display more detail about the businesses. The Maps-based results are delivered in a manner that show users desire discovery and browsing. This is different from the Local Finder in that these results tend to be more absolute and about Google pushing pre-determined businesses and information to be evaluated by the user.”

Krystal is a GMB Gold Product Expert, and her comment was the first time I’d ever heard an expert of her caliber define how Google might view the intent of Maps vs. Finder searchers differently. Fascinating insight!

Sterling Sky Founder Joy Hawkins highlights further differences in UX and reporting between the two platforms:

“What varies is mainly the features that Google shows. For example, products will show up on the listing in the Local Finder but not on Google Maps and attribute icons (women-led, Black-owned, etc.) show up on Google Maps but not in the Local Finder. Additionally, searches done in the Local Finder get lumped in with search in Google My Business (GMB) Insights whereas searches on Maps are reported on separately. Google is now segmenting it by platform and device as well.”

In sum, Google Maps vs. Local Finder searchers can have a unique UX, at least in part, because Google may surface a differently-mapped area of search and can highlight different listing elements. Meanwhile, local business owners and their marketers will discover variance in how Google reports activity surrounding these platforms.

What should you do about the Google Maps vs. Local Finder variables?

As always, there is nothing an individual can do to cause Google to change how it displays local search results. Local SEO best practices can help you move up in whatever Google displays, but you can’t cause Google to change the radius of search it is showing on a given platform.

That being said, there are three things I recommend for your consideration, based on what we’ve learned from this study.

1. See if Google Maps is casting a wider net than the Local Finder for any of your desired search phrases.

I want to show you the most extreme example of the difference between Maps and the Local Finder that I discovered during my research. First, the marker here locates the town of Angels Camp in the Sierra foothills in east California:

For the search “personal injury attorney angels camp”, note the area covered by map at the automatic zoom level accompanying the Local Finder results:

The greatest distance between any two points in this radius of results is about 100 miles.

Now, contrast this with the same search as it appears at the automatic zoom level on Google Maps:

Astonishingly, Google is returning a tri-state result for this search in Maps. The greatest distance between two pins on this map is nearly 1,000 miles!

As I mentioned, this was the most extreme case I saw. Like most local SEOs, I’ve spent considerable time explaining to clients who want to rank beyond their location that the further a user gets from the brand’s place of business, the less likely they are to see it come up in their local results. Typically, your best chance of local pack rankings begins with your own neighborhood, with a decent chance for some rankings within your city, and then a lesser chance beyond your city’s borders.

But the different behavior of Maps could yield unique opportunities. Even if what’s happening in your market is more moderate, in terms of the radius of results, my advice is to study the net Google is casting for your search terms in Maps. If it is even somewhat wider than what the Local Finder yields, and there is an aspect of the business that would make it valuable to bring in customers from further afield, this might indicate that some strategic marketing activities could potentially strengthen your position in these unusual results.

For example, one of the more distantly-located attorneys in our example might work harder to get clients from Angels Camp to mention this town name in their Google-based reviews, or might publish some Google posts about Angels Camp clients looking for the best possible lawyer regardless of distance, or publish some website content on the same topic, or look to build some new relationships and links within this more distant community. All of this is very experimental, but quite intriguing to my mind. We’re in somewhat unfamiliar territory here, so don’t be afraid to try and test things!

As always, bear in mind that all local search rankings are fluid. For verticals which primarily rely on the narrowest user-to-business proximity ratios for the bulk of transactions, more remote visibility may have no value. A convenience store, for example, is unlikely to garner much interest from faraway searchers. But for many industries, any one of these three criteria could make a larger local ranking radius extremely welcome:

  • The business model is traditionally associated with traveling some distance to get to it, like hotels or attractions (thinking post-pandemic here).
  • Rarity of the goods or services being offered makes the business worth driving to from a longer distance. This is extremely common in rural areas with few nearby options.
  • The business has implemented digital shopping on its website due to the pandemic and would now like to sell to as many customers as possible in a wider region with either driver delivery or traditional shipping as the method of fulfillment.

If any of those scenarios fits a local brand you’re marketing, definitely look at Google Maps behavior for focus search phrases.

2. Flood Google with every possible detail about the local businesses you’re marketing

As Joy Hawkins mentioned, above, there can be many subtle differences between the elements Google displays within listings on their two platforms. Look at how hours are included in the Maps listing for this taco shop, but that they’re absent from the Finder. The truth is, Google changes the contents of the various local interfaces so often that even the experts are constantly asking themselves and one another if some element is new.

The good news is, you don’t need to spend a minute worrying about minutiae here if you make just 5 commitments:

  • Fill out every field you possibly can in the Google My Business dashboard
  • Add to this a modest investment in non-dashboard elements like Google Questions and Answers which exist on the Google Business Profile
  • Be sure your website is optimized for the terms you want to rank for
  • Earn publicity on the third-party websites Google uses as the “web results” references on your listings. 

I realize this is a tall order, but it’s also basic, good local search marketing and if you put in the work, Google will have plenty to surface about your locations, regardless of platform variables.

3. Study Google Maps with an eye to the future

Google Maps, as an entity, launched in 2005, with mobile app development spanning the next few years. The Local Finder, by contrast, has only been with us since 2015. Because local packs default to the Local Finder, it’s my impression that local SEO industry study has given the lion’s share of research to these interfaces, rather than to Google Maps.

Yet, Maps is the golden oldie in Google’s timeline (albeit one Google has handled irreverently with the rise and fall of the Map Maker community), and Maps has been shown to have three times more impressions than search, in one recent study. Maps is the default app on Android devices, and other mobile brand users often prefer it, too. Most intriguingly, Google is appearing to toy with the idea of replacing the Local Finder with Maps, though nothing has come of this yet.

I would suggest that 2021 is a good year to spend more time looking at Google Maps, interacting with it, and going down its rabbit holes into the weird walled garden Google continues to build into this massive interface. I recommend this, because I feel it’s only a matter of time before Google tidies up its piecemeal, multi-decade rollout of disconnected local interfaces via consolidation, and Maps has the history at Google to become the dominant version.

Summing up

Image credit: Ruparch

We’ve learned today that Google Maps rankings are, on average, nearly 20% different than Local Finder rankings, that this may stem, in part, from unique view port ratios, that it’s possible Google may view the intent of users on the two platforms differently, and that there are demonstrable variables in the listing content Google displays when we look at two listings side-by-side. We’ve also looked at some scenarios in which verticals that could benefit from a wider consumer radius would be smart to study Google Maps in the year ahead.

I want to close with some encouragement for everyone participating in the grand experiment of Google’s mapping project. The above photo is of the Bedolina Map, which was engraved on a rock in the Italian alps sometime around 500 BC. It is one of the oldest-known topographic maps, plotting out pathways, agricultural fields, villages, and the people who lived there. Consider it the Street View of the Iron Age.

I’m sharing this image because it’s such a good reminder that your work as a local SEO linked to digital cartography is just one leg of a very long journey which, by nature, requires a willingness to function in an experimental environment. If you can communicate this state of permanent change to clients, it can decrease stress on both sides of your next Zoom meeting. Rankings rise and fall, and as we’ve seen, they even differ across closely-related platforms, making patience essential and a big-picture view of overall growth very grounding. Keep studying, and help us all out on the mapped path ahead by sharing what you learn with our community.

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