Candour

Indexifembedded - a new robots tag, ContentKing's log file analysis, real-time reporting in GA4 and Google Ads' new Experiments page

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What's in this episode?

In this episode, you will hear Mark Williams-Cook & Jack Chambers talking about:

  • ContentKing's log file analysis
  • Issues with DMCA notices
  • indexifembedded: A new robots tag
  • IndexWatch 2021 US Winners
  • Real-time reporting in Google Analytics 4
  • Google Ads introduces a new Experiments page

Show Notes

ContentKing's log file analysis: https://www.contentkingapp.com/support/log-file-analysis/

A book review site incorrectly receives DMCA notices: https://twitter.com/FantasyBookCrit/status/1483901173576859648?s=20

indexifembedded - A new robots tag: https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2022/01/robots-meta-tag-indexifembedded

IndexWatch 2021 US Winners: https://www.sistrix.com/blog/indexwatch-2021-the-seo-winners-in-googles-us-search-results/

Real-time reporting in Google Analytics 4: https://www.kristaseiden.com/realtime-reporting-in-google-analytics-4/

Google Ads introduces a new Experiements page: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-ads-introduces-new-experiments-page/434429/

Transcript

Mark: Welcome to episode three, season two of the Search with Candour podcast, recorded on Wednesday, the 26th of January 2022. My name is Mark Williams-Cook. Today, I am joined by my co-host Jack Chambers.

Jack: Hello, that's me.

Mark: And we'll be discussing well, all sorts, actually today. ContentKing bringing in log file analysis amongst a whole other bunch of stuff. Jack's been looking at some interesting DMCA requests and the trouble they're causing people in Google, a new robots tag that Google is now supporting, real-time reporting in GA4, and a new experiments page in Google Ads. So absolutely loads to get through. I hope you enjoy the show.

Jack: Search With Candour is supported by SISTRIX, the SEOs toolbox. Go to sistrix.com/swc, if you want to check out some of their excellent free tools, such as being able to check your visibility index, Google update impact, keyword research, and page speed checker. You can also register for a free trial of their paid services, which include website auditing, content optimisation, and over 13 years of trends, and search end result paid data. That's SISTRIX, S-I-S-T-R-I-X, .com/swc.

Mark: This week, we are going to kick off talking about ContentKing. So for those who maybe haven't heard of it, ContentKing is a software as a service that, essentially, monitors your site pretty much in real-time for SEO stuff. It's been a tool that I've used for a couple of years now, and I've been a growing fan of it. Their kind of thing is ‘prevention is better than cure’, which I agree with, and I think clients do because prevention is normally cheaper than cure.

Jack: Yeah, I haven't encountered it until I came and worked for you, funny enough, Mark. And you kind of talked about how useful it is, especially when you're looking at... We here at an agency, I'm handling multiple accounts across multiple sites, I'm not necessarily checking in on the content we just published every single day or whatever it is. You can see whether people are changing page titles or links have been broken, and it will flash up a little alert in your email inbox. And it's really handy to just be like, "Oh, hey client, did you change this thing on purpose? Is something broken? What's going on?" Really useful for that kind of stuff, I’ve found.

Mark: Yeah, especially for the larger teams where you get people going rogue, and changing things, and going off piece. They've got a Slack integration as well, which is pretty cool. But last week, they launched, as part of their platform, log file analysis. And this is for their pro and enterprise tiers. So ContentKing have actually done a lot of new things recently, I think trying to push people up to those more expensive tiers. So they brought in JavaScript support as well, a few months ago. So now you can have the HTML crawls of your website and you can have a Chrome rendered version. That's particularly helpful, and that's actually saved me before with a client we had, that was doing dynamic rendering. So that essentially means there's one version of the site for Google and users get delivered another site, which is great because it got them around all kinds of tech issues. Where it isn't so great, is that if the Google version breaks, nobody notices because none of their team, none of their staff are changing their user agent and looking at what happens when Google is looking at the site.

Mark: So what actually happened in this case, is their entire site for Google and all search engines was just blank, across a hundred thousand pages.

Jack: Wow.

Mark: Yeah, ContentKing helpfully sent me an email being like...

Jack: By the way...

Mark: “So…everything's gone.” And yeah, basically we could fix that then before catastrophe happened. I mean, I was emailing, I was literally texting them as well, being like “This is really important!” I know when you look at the site, everything looks fine, but this is really important. They've got IndexNow support as well, they've just added in ContentKing, which is for Pro and Enterprise. You get the idea.

Jack: We touched on that recently, as well, about IndexNow.

Mark: Exactly. There's loads of great new features, but they want you to kind of upgrade. But log file analysis is something that they added very recently, so they will do log file analysis for Google desktop or mobile, and Bing desktop and mobile. Currently, you can feed your logs into ContentKing using a Cloudflare worker. And there's a guide on their site on how to do that. It's actually very simple, kind of click process. You're not having to do any programming or anything yourself. Very, very straightforward to do. And once this is all hooked up, you will then get stats from your site about when these bots last visited, their visit frequency. And you can do this down, as you'd expect of course, to a page level. And that's really then very interesting to see how often Bing and Google are visiting specific pages because it allows you to test the theories you have on crawling. Because if you do just run your Sitebulb or your Screaming Frog crawl of a site, and you think “OK, well the way this is set up might be an infinite loop, or it might be a spider trap.”

That's not necessarily how search engine bots are engaging with your site because there's a whole load of infrastructure that tries to make them smart. For instance, if Google finds it's taking down your site, because it's crawler... You've got a bad site if this happens, I'll be honest, but it does happen. If your site's falling over, because it's getting crawled, Google will actually slow down how often it's crawling your site. So what I'm saying is, the crawls that you run with tools, like on your desktop, are not reflective of exactly how search engines might crawl your site. So, if you have identified or you have a theory that “OK, we may have a crawling issue because of this.” the next step is, you can use log file analysis to confirm this and say, "Well actually, yes. Look, these pages, they're not getting crawled or they're only getting crawled once every few months." So you've got an issue there.

So that's a brilliant new feature on ContentKing. If you haven't tried it out, you can go to trycontentking.com. That sounds like their URL, doesn't it? But it's actually my affiliate link. Don't tell anyone. I think their actual URLs ContentKing app-

Jack: It is, yeah. It’s contentkingapp.

Mark: But you can use trycontentking.com if you like, that's my affiliate link. And then they'll know I sent you there, but do give it a try. It's a brilliant bit of kit and it has definitely saved our clients more money than its cost many times over.

Jack: So the next one we want to talk about is a DMCA. And for those of you who don't know, the DMCA is a Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Basically, copyright stuff that happens on the internet and Google is kind of obliged to review and report things when people submit a notice to them. So if you have a site that is stealing from other people, and stealing your content, and stealing copyrighted content from you, you can report this to Google to get them de-listed essentially. And you touched on this in a previous episode, right, Mark?

Mark: I believe, I didn't put it in the notes, it was episode 47, but we'll put a link search.withCandour.co.uk to that. And that was actually about the DMCA tool that they released in Search Console. So there is actually a URL you can go to if someone is stealing your content, to report them.

Jack: And it kind of came to our attention around this time last week, just after we'd finished recording the episode, funnily enough. This all kind of kicked off on the 19th of January but brought to attention by a Twitter profile called Fantasy Book Critic, which is basically a fantasy and sci-fi book review site, which I've used myself, plenty of times as a big reader of science fiction and fantasy stuff. They basically were hosted on the Google blog side of things and they tweeted saying, "Hey, we've been taken down," and I'll go through the tweets for you here, dear listeners, and kind of go through their journey. And we'll see if it came out with a happy ending, fingers crossed.

So opening with the tweet, this is a full thread. So I'll run through a few different tweets for you. "Hi Google Blogger Team, this is a sincere longshot but I really hope that someone on your side is reading this. We are an independent and totally free fantasy and sci-fi book review site that's been operating since 2007. Over the last 15-plus years, we've had 3,600-plus posts that are featured over 1000-plus book reviews, 170-plus author interviews, 100-plus author guest posts, and a lot more book-related content."

Mark: Lots of content.

Jack: Lots of content. Lots and lots of content. Thousands of pages, hundreds of interviews. It's not a site that's just come out of nowhere. Like I said, I've been using it for a while now. I read a lot of their reviews and stuff on there. Back to the tweets. "We have reviewed books from traditional publishers, from both sides of the Atlantic, independent publishing, and self-published authors. We do this for free and never charge any money. We don't even have any affiliate links on our site and do this purely based on our passions for genre books and helping authors. I'm mentioning all of this because hopefully, it'll make things clear, as to why we need your help."

Jack: And there's a lovely little Puss in Boots, please pleading gif there, because they received over 51 DMCA infringement notice emails from Link Busters. And Link Busters, for those of you who don't know are...

Mark: Absolute bastards.

Jack: Yes, pretty much. Kind of renowned for doing this sort of thing. Pretty infamous in this space. I know a lot of people have had issues with this happening through video content and stuff. The YouTube DMCA takedown notice thing is infamous among YouTubers. Yeah, Link Busters are kind of one of these companies that is going around, basically, on behalf of their clients and reviewing potentially copyrighted information. They flagged all of these book reviews as copyrighted information because they basically had publisher given book covers, and title tags, and all this kind of stuff with the full name of the thing written by the author, and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, Link Busters came after Fantasy Book Critic.

Mark: I'm just trying to imagine reviewing a book without saying the title-

Jack: Or using the book cover, or mentioning the author, or...

Mark: It's almost like a game, you have to guess which book is.

Jack: I've played a few word games like Poetry for Neanderthals and stuff like that, where you're trying to make sure you don't say certain things, and then you're panicking. You need to describe the book, but you can't say the title, any of the words in the title, or the author, or the genre. Oh, my God, you have to frantically try.

Mark: There's definitely a DMCA board game somewhere.

Jack: Copyright Candour, 2022. And yeah, so on behalf of their two publishers, so it's Penguin, of course, and HarperCollins who both work with Link Busters, basically working on behalf of them and chasing up all of their legal stuff. "Like many service providers, they use the algorithm that identifies "dangerous" links, and then they send a DMCA infringement notice. You can check the attached pic," and again, links in the show notes, search.withcandour.co.uk, you can see the full thread of tweets there, and the many, many DMCA complaint notices as they received, basically trying to flag piracy stuff. But this poor review site got caught up in it all. And they basically say, we're just a book review site, leave us alone! This is not fair. We don't even do affiliate links. We're not trying to make money out of this. This is a totally innocent and altruistic thing, essentially. And yeah, because they received so many of those, the Google blog took them down and they were completely off the web for a few days. And thankfully, they kicked up enough noise on Twitter, and how Mark and I saw it on Twitter as well, that as of, I believe it's a couple of days ago, they are back online and everything is mostly back to normal. I think they're still fighting for a few bits and pieces, but yeah, thank God. They're back online and not being crushed by the legal system.

Mark: Yeah, it's interesting because as when we covered the DMCA tool, Google says they are legally obliged to quote-unquote review the reports.

Jack: Whatever that means.

Mark: Yeah, and there's obviously, like with so many of these things, automated systems where, if you hit a threshold, playing it safe means take it offline, and then sort it out, then review it.

Jack: Yeah, they almost always err on the side of caution, of this is probably a copyright infringement, let's take it down. It tends to go on that side of things, rather than playing it safe from the other creator's perspective. And like I said, this has been a big thing on YouTube over the last few years of people being copyrighted for their own stuff because their parent company has flagged it through one of their channels, or people using licensed music at the end of a outro, of their episode of their podcast on YouTube, or something like that. You will get taken down by one of these legal representatives of one of those publishing companies.

Mark: Even outside of these companies that are these representatives, I've seen people receive emails that are blackmailing them, that if they don't link to websites, that they will file these mass-

Jack: Oh, the Dominic Cummings approach?

Mark: Do you want to explain that for people outside the UK?

Jack: So, what was his official title ‘aide to the Prime Minister’? I know you did-

Mark: Adviser.

Jack: Touch on this on a previous episode somewhere. He goes through very aggressive link building strategies, basically. He's a former adviser to the Prime Minister and was essentially disgraced, and came out and did this huge exposé on the British government, which hasn't changed anything for the record, but whatever. He was a key part in Brexit and all that kind of stuff. I'm sure even you guys outside the UK, know vaguely what Brexit is. He was a key part of that, and it going through, and the powers that be, and all that kind of stuff. The man pulling the strings behind the Prime Minister, essentially. Whenever people interview him or quote him in stuff, he will very angrily tweet, usually with plenty of swear words in there, as well saying, "Oi, link to my blog, or I'll take you down," basically.

Mark: “I’ll send you an invoice.”

Jack: Yeah, send you an invoice. Yeah, so he's link building from 2001, in 2022.

Mark: Dominic, if you're listening, if you come on hard times, we always need new people to do outreach and link reclamation. And I feel you've got the ‘umph’ that we need. Anyway, I've totally lost track here. Yes, blackmailing. So I have seen website owners receive emails, basically threatening them that, unless they link, and they don't want money, they literally just want their website to link to whatever website, that if not, they'll file these mass DMCA requests. And that will trigger these automated systems. If that happens, there actually isn't much you can do about it apart from, like Fancy Book Critic did, getting contact with someone on the team, make some noise if you are a big site. If you receive one of those emails, my advice would be to send it to Google and send it to the DMCA team. So if anything, you've got a chance of them getting ahead of the game, and not actioning those reports, and hopefully doing something against the site. Because they're then breaking, obviously, the Webmaster link scheme thing. And that is definitely worth a ban, in my opinion, if you're-

Jack: Yeah, definitely.

Mark: Blackmailing links out of people. But yeah, I thought it was a really interesting story because this is a direct way to get people out of search results. And there aren't many of them. I would note, for those in the UK, probably the US, knowingly filing false DMCA requests is illegal. So if you have people doing it in the UK and you know who it is, there's a recourse you can take there, but obviously, if someone abroad is doing it, there's very low chances you're actually going to be able to take any kind of action. Which is why I said, I'd get in contact with Google myself, as soon as you can.

Jack: I'm just glad this had a happy ending. And thank God that Fantasy Book Critic is back up and running, once again. And I'm sure this will come up again, and again. This is becoming more, and more common as algorithms are getting, supposedly, more sophisticated. And then actually running up against robot errors, compared to human errors, and stuff like that. I think this will probably come up in a future episode at some point, with something similar. And yeah, DMCA notices have not gone away, that's for sure.

Mark: So it's January, and I already know what's going to come up in conversation, next Christmas at the family table: It's that Google is supporting a new robots tag.

Jack: With the whole SEO family around the table, cutting the SEO Turkey.

Mark: Yeah, they hate it. This is why I started my own SEO meetup because of how Christmas dinners went. So it is kind of exciting/interesting/actually not that big a news, but very useful in very specific circumstances, which is some decent SEO knowledge, to be honest. So Google is now supporting a very quaintly named, indexifembedded.

Jack: All one word.

Mark: All one word. And this is a robots tag that solves an issue, primarily with media publishers when they want their content indexed on third parties sites, when it's embedded but not necessarily on their own site when they host it.

Jack: Yeah, and that could apply to someone like us because we have a podcast, and you can take our embedded player if you go to the show notes. You can see the Anchor embedded player at the top of the page there, and if somebody takes that player, and it embeds it on their website, you could use an indexifembedded tag, and get it indexed that way.

Mark: Exactly. So the solution up until now, up until we had this tag, and it wasn't a perfect solution, was essentially, you didn't want it indexed on your own site, you would have to just use the noindex tag. The downside of this, is that content also will not be indexed when it is embedded on other sites because the noindex tag comes along in the suitcase with it. The usage of this indexifembedded tag is actually with the noindex tag. So if you had a page that you wanted not to have it indexed on your site, as usual, you would put the normal, noindex tag on the page. And then if you would like it indexed on the third party site, you put a second tag, which says index if embedded. So this is actually similar to how robots.txt rules can work. If you disallow, for instance, a section of your site, you can kind of ‘poke a hole’ in that, by then having a more specific allow rule. So you could disallow a whole directory, but then allow a single page to be crawled within that directory. So it's a little bit confusing when you first hear about it. Maybe if you haven't worked with that kind of media when you would use it, but essentially, it is allowing your content to be indexed on other sites when it's embedded, and saves you the issue then, of having that content indexed. Especially if it's that kind of content, normally you'll have a large library of it. So maybe hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of pages that you don't really want indexed on your own site. So obviously, a specific issue that Google has come across because it is kind of rare for Google to make new tags and support new things, they don't do it lightly.

Jack: You were half joking about the Christmas celebrations, but...

Mark: Half joking.

Jack: It does feel like a fairly big deal when Google makes this. And I saw a few memes going around on Twitter, of all the SEO tools scrambling around, trying to find out all they can about the new tag and stuff. So, yeah.

Mark: Yeah, I'm trying to play it down. It would definitely come out after a few drinks. The other thing to note is at the moment, it is only supported by Google. I'm sure some other search engines, Bing...

Jack: They'll follow along eventually.

Mark: Might pick it up as well. But at the moment, it's just supported by Google, but really, really useful if you are in that situation, that you've got that in your toolbox, to deploy.

Jack: We're at the midpoint in the show, so let's talk about our sponsor SISTRIX. And as we've touched on IndexWatch, biggest winners and biggest losers of the UK edition, SISTRIX have provided us this week, with the US edition of the winners. And of course, the UK edition was written by Luce Rawlings, as I touched upon, one of their new data journalists. And the US edition tackled by, the one and only, Lily Ray. I'm very, very intrigued to dive into this and straight away, we see some similarities. I think we can pretty quickly identify dictionaries, once again, reference sites, and things like that are...

Mark: Stock photography again.

Jack: Stock photography. Yeah, exactly. Similar kind of trends across the UK and the US. But there are a few other things in here and of course, it's Lilly Ray, so we're going to talk about some EAT, some Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.

Mark: I think this is, to be honest, why Lily's the perfect person to write this-

Jack: A hundred percent.

Mark: Report of the IndexWatch. So we had Lily on the show, I believe, it was episode 85? Yeah, it’s 85. And we talked, of course, a little bit about EAT but Lily was kind enough as well, to completely go off on a tangent with me in crystal ball gaze, about future search technology, which is great because not many people dare do that, because it's easy to then, captain hindsight go back and see where you were wrong. Everything we talked about, actually, does seem to still be heading in that direction. The changes I found interesting are that we are seeing the reflection of what's happening in the UK, which is what I would class as these bigger, more authoritative sites, for better or worse, starting to eat away more market share. I mean, I noticed, you saw we have Walmart on there, right?

Jack: Yeah, Walmart is the single biggest gain. So right at the bottom of the index, watch, we have top gainers, top winners, absolute, and percentage, and walmart.com, which I'm sure, even people who aren't in the US, like us, you've probably heard of Walmart. It's one of the biggest companies in the US. So yeah, and Merriam-Webster, like we said, we touched on a few different dictionaries last time as well, including Merriam-Webster. Then you're going through Best Buy, and Target, and then more things you kind of expect like Instagram, IMDb, Collins Dictionary in there as well. A lot of, kind of what you'd expect in the top 25 there.

Mark: Yeah, and it's the same, again, for the medical type information. All the sites on this list, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Hopkins Medicine, nhs.uk. I've seen these appearing in searches. Their sites have been around a long while, they're trusted sites. And the point that I was going to make when I looked at this data, and then I saw Lily has already touched on it anyway, honest, I was going to talk about this, was about Google's stance on misinformation or disinformation, actually.

Jack: And that's been a big, big talking point, even outside of SEO and things like that, over the last few years. With fake news and misinformation being rife across the internet, whether that's on social media pages, on search engine result pages, literally fake news websites.

Mark: Yeah. So it says here in the write-up, additionally, in how Google fights disinformation, Google states that, "We have designed our systems to prefer authority factors like, recency or exact matches while a crisis is developing." So this, especially, covers things like coronavirus, COVID. And I was thinking the other day, actually, cause I Googled something about COVID, just how custom that search result is now.

Jack: Yeah.

Mark: With COVID, it's loads of direct data sources pulled in from governments. It's loads of fact-checked questions, it's authoritative news sites. There's very few blogspot sites.

Jack: It's all data coming from the man, that's what you're telling me, Mark.

Mark: Yeah, the trustworthy sources.

Jack: Yeah.

Mark: And I think this is one thing I'll be talking about at BrightonSEO in April, in terms of targeting positioning companies in search, which is that when we look at these biggest winners, a lot of the time are dealing with the big sites that are ranking for the big queries. Because I had mixed feelings about this, to begin with. I was like “Cool, trusted authoritative sites are ranking” but then the other half of me was like “Huh, the small person is kicked to the curb here, and it's just big company ranks reflecting the offline world.”

Jack: We touched on it with search engines in a previous episode as well. We're talking about how, because Google is so dominant, it's now so difficult for new search engines to establish any kind of authority in any kind of foothold in that market. And I think we're finding this with a lot of other general subjects, and topics, and things like that. You need to be an authoritative and powerful site to have an impact at all, really. And it's very difficult to come out of nowhere and suddenly be an authority on a medical issue or something like that.

Mark: I think what I eventually came to, and I don't think my brain's done cooking this, is that it does kind of make sense from a user point of view to have these big sites ranking for these big queries, because with big queries comes big responsibility. I think that's the quote.

Jack: Something like that. Uncle Ben would be proud.

Mark: And I do think that makes sense, rather than having someone's small websites suddenly ranking for this 50,000 searches a month. So basically, because it's these sites that are ranking for these, that's why we always see them in these top winners and top losers because that's where the current's changing. It doesn't mean that is necessarily any harder to get your site's traffic, I think it just means it adds to the fact that you need to start with the spokes in this hub and spoke approach, and you need to earn your way, cause you can become one of these sites.

Jack: Yeah, absolutely.

Mark: But you need to start with the smaller queries, the more niche queries, and again, you-

Jack: Don't dive straight in the deep end, right?

Mark: Yeah, absolutely. And I just think it makes strategic sense. Still, some companies come, they're fairly new, a couple of years, and they're like, we want to rank for these terms and they're huge terms.

Jack: I'm sure we've all seen that from very ambitious clients over the years.

Mark: Yeah, and you just know it's not going to happen and you have to try and explain to them why, basically, they don't deserve to rank for those terms, and why the other sites are legitimately better than them. I wouldn't walk away with the hopeless “Oh, it's just these sites that are going to control a web.” There's still plenty of room, and I think Google has got better with all the long tail stuff at not serving these sites for all the long tail stuff. I have seen quite good diversity in different sites ranking, for the more specific search terms.

Jack: Another winner we saw was Spotify. And I know we briefly touched on it in the TrendWatch previously, as well. Spotify's had a very interesting year, in terms of search. And Lily specifically noticed here, that they gained significant visibility between the April Product Review update and the July Core update. So I thought that was particularly interesting to see they're gaining a lot of first page rankings for big, big artists, and their related keywords like, Snoop Dogg, Beyoncé, Kanye West, all this kind of stuff. You can imagine the search volume is in the hundreds of thousands, for each of those artists alone. So yeah, Spotify's seeing significant growth there as well. If you'd like to go and check out your own visibility index for your sites, or your client's sites, you can go to SISTRIX.com/swc.

Mark: I have a little bit of news to bring you, Jack.

Jack: Ooh, okay.

Mark: About Google Analytics 4.

Jack: Ooh, that scary word.

Mark: Yeah, I saw your face light up at Google Analytics and then drop when I said four.

Jack: Pretty much. Yeah, I will wholeheartedly admit that GA4 is not something I'm an expert on.

Mark: I think most people are in that boat. Someone who is not in that boat, is Krista Seiden who, again, joined us on the podcast previously, with Simo Ahava. Two people who, I don't know anyone, really, else who knows more about analytics than these two. Krista Seiden, obviously, being involved at Google with essentially, what is now GA4, as I understand. A really world-leading expert, and Krista released some news, in this last week, about some new features in Google Analytics 4 around real-time reporting. So for those that don't know, real-time reporting in GA4 allows you to look at the number of users that visited your site in the last 30 minutes. Things like, where they're coming from. So for example, if a campaign led them to your site from a Facebook ad, who your users and audience are, what content they're engaging with on your site, and what type of events they trigger, and what conversions they complete. So we did have real-time reporting, or we do have-

Jack: Yeah, we do.

Mark: Real-time reporting. Did have, do have. We do have it because we still use Universal Analytics. I'm not changing yet in universal analytics is, is slightly different now in GA4. So Universal Analytics, I'm sure you're all aware, you've got the separate sections where you can slice what's happening. With GA4, in real-time, you have this more interactive, global map now and there's these kind of cards that help you navigate from one main viewpoint. So you stay on that page on this global map, and you can real-time filter the information that you're getting. One other really cool feature that they've got in GA4, so there's that, which is kind of a facelift, is you can access a snapshot of a single anonymous user for a chronological timeline of what they've done, which I do think is seriously cool. So you can see where they land, and what pages they've looked at, and what events they've triggered, and kind of scroll through, and interact with that.

Jack: Yeah, I think user journey has always been a thing where you look at Google Analytics and it seems straightforward at a glance. You're looking “Oh, people drop off on this page and people continued onto this page.” and that seems like a fairly obvious flow, but you don't actually get that much usable data, user by user, person by person. And credit where credit is due, GA4 sounds a lot more intuitive and a lot more useful if you're looking at a smaller scale, individual users. And you really want to track, as you gave a perfect example there, Mark, the beginning of a campaign, the first people that just come into your site, and seeing, oh, we've just launched these ads on social media, or Google ads, or whatever it is. And you can see them landing on the page, and where do they go to that? Are they converting? Are they going off and finding more information? Are they reading loads more of your content and then converting? Are they reading a particular content and then bouncing off? Really interesting stuff, and I think could be really, really useful in the future.

Mark: Yeah, so that's one, I say, main use of these real-time analytics. Especially when you've got the type of campaigns that maybe are going to be high traffic over a short time period. So you can't really wait a week, and then see what people are doing, and make a change. It's, okay, we're going to get, probably, a hundred thousand visitors over the next 48 hours. To make the most of them, you can be watching what's happening as people are arriving. Especially if you're doing things like A/B tests, workout what's actually working.

Jack: Yeah, give you that ability to test and optimise on the fly.

Mark: Yeah, and analytics, generally, when I talk to clients about it, I tell them, analytics generally tells you the what and not the why. So by its nature, it's a quantitative data set. So we know people are dropping off at this page, but that in itself, isn't enough to action. But it gives you then, that's the framework for, okay, well we need to test this. Why are people dropping off at this stage? And you can move to your more qualitative testing. But I think having this magnifying glass on individual users is going to be really helpful because before you move to that testing stage, having all that information is going to make everything a lot easier. So another reason why, if you are a little bit cautious, and I kind of joked about it earlier, because I know a lot of people working in SEO just think that GA4 is not ready for prime time. And like us, what we are doing in fairness, in a lot of cases is running it in parallel because I think we are going to get to the stage room really, we need to be using GA4, so I'd rather be...

Jack: Yeah, I think that's pretty much what most people recommend at the moment, at least. If you can, run them in parallel because we're going to switch over eventually, so you may as well get the ball rolling, and make sure your team are at least up to scratch on that, and making sure that you're aware that it's going to happen at some point. And let clients know about it as well.

Mark: I think Google's actually changed their advice now, they're not saying run it in parallel anymore. They're just saying, just go with it.

Jack: I mean, of course they are. Sure, “Buy our new thing” says company. Great, yeah.

Mark: Yeah, and back in real world, not quite ready for me yet, to be honest, for prime time. But these things, I think, are moving us in the right direction.

Mark: And we have some Google Ads news to finish on.

Jack: Hooray, some PPC stuff.

Mark: Some PPC stuff. And not even Rob here to talk about it.

Jack: Oh.

Mark: We'll have to get him on though, cause-

Jack: Definitely.

Mark: I know he has collated a whole mass of stuff that he wants to talk/rant about.

Jack: We did briefly touch on with Rob, with this update we're about to talk about, and he was his usual self, which is always good to hear from Rob.

Mark: He was pretty chill about-

Jack: He was pretty chill.

Mark: He was pleased.

Jack: He was very pleased, yeah. “They're finally fixing the broken thing” is something I hear from Rob on a weekly basis.

Mark: Yeah, he was pleased, which I think for someone that isn't Rob, they would be ecstatic, but he really plays it cool. He plays it cool. So this is that Google Ads has now introduced a new Experiments page. So before, if you've had to create Experiments in Google Ads, it was a little bit of a pain. I was talking to Luke again, in the studio about this because I said to him, have you seen this? And his first answer was, "Oh no, that's really good because you had to do all that drafts thing."

Jack: You have to draft, and then save it, and then change it over to a different thing. And then you couldn't use that draft after you'd used it once. So you had to start from scratch again. It was a whole process.

Mark: Yeah.

Jack: Oh, God.

Mark: So basically, you can now create experiments in Google ads in a single step, instead of making drafts which is really cool. The other thing they changed is you can monitor all tests now on the experiment page, which is great. Because you can just see how are my experiments doing? You know, kind of a nice thing to be able to do.

Jack: Yeah, that seems like you would've had that from the start.

Mark: They've definitely got some user feedback for this.

Jack: Yeah, clearly.

Mark: And there is what they're describing as “a new syncing experience”.

Jack: That's such tech talk, isn't it? Oh, my God.

Mark: Which basically means, rather than manually copying over the changes that your experiments made, that have proved successful, Google ads can now automatically sync them from the experiment to the original campaign that they have been tested on.

****Jack:** That makes a whole lot of sense. That sounds like a big time-saving improvement, hopefully.

Mark: I'm glad you're impressed because that is the “new syncing experience”.

Jack: I'm sold on this new syncing experience. I don't know about you, Mark.

Mark: So yeah, check it out if you are on Google ads. It is really, really helpful. And yeah, I think in a few episodes time, probably end of February, I think we will get Rob on and we will do a few deep-dive episodes into PPC because a lot's been changed. The thing about Google ads is any small thing changes in SEO, or anyone from Google says anything...

Jack: If John Mueller tweets anything...

Mark: There will be an article about it, and people will argue about it, and discuss it. And then it'll eventually be decided that 99% of the time, it's not that important. Loads of stuff happens with Google ads, and how Google Ads takes money from people, and charges, and all this. And nobody really talks about it. And it's not announced actually as much.

Jack: I find that I hear more PPC news from Rob directly, in our weekly catchups, whether that's on Zoom, or here in the studio. And then they will announce “Oh, by the way, the pricing structures changed.” Rob would have been like, "I think the pricing structures changed, guys. I noticed it a couple of days ago." And then there will be a search engine journal article, whatever, finally catching up on the rest of it. Yeah, it's really weird. It kind of flies under the radar in a lot of ways. I think SEO is such a big topic, like you said. Any opportunity, wants to talk about or wants to write an article about, PPC's maybe not as sexy to some people?

Mark: I don't know because Google's doing, I think last time I looked, I think it was $120 billion, and 80, 90% of that was from ads platform. So it's billions being spent. So I guess I'm just a little bit surprised because even with schema changes. So you've got people like Sitebulb who have got change monitoring set up on Google documentation for schema. So if they change one word on their schema documentation, everyone's going to know about it in the newsletter. But Google Ads has been tweaking fundamentally, how things are working, which is changing what they're charging people. And maybe I'm listening to the wrong people, but I rarely hear about it.

Jack: Yeah. If you have any recommendations for people to follow, newsletters, people who want to get on the show in the future, to discuss PPC outside of Rob, please do let us know, listeners, because we'd love to talk about more PPC stuff.

Jack: And that's it for this week's episode. We'll be back next week on Monday, the 7th of February with our first guest of season two, Tom Critchlow.

Mark: Yeah, I won't be back.

Jack: Wait, what?

Mark: You know this.

Jack: Mark's not coming back. Oh, God, I've got to do a solo show, ladies and gentlemen.

Mark: You do. It's only one week.

Jack: We'll be fine.

Mark: We'll be fine.

Jack: We'll be fine.

Mark: Tom is brilliant.

Jack: Tom's great. We'll be talking about Tom's SEO MBA course, SEO career progression, and plenty of other things. Tom is a really interesting guy, so I'm really looking forward to talking to him next week. But until then, I hope you have a lovely week and thanks for listening.

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