Google “Refreshes” Mobile Search Results Page

In May 2019, Google announced a visual refresh of the mobile search results page. The new design is meant to help push a brand’s image front and center, while allowing users to scan the SERPs more easily. This change affects both organic and paid search results on mobile.

New Google Ads Labels and Organic Favicons

The labels for Google Ads are now simple, bold and black. The green border around green text has been replaced. The URL has been switched from green to black as well, and both have been moved to the top of the “results card.” They have even gotten rid of the thin grey divider line between the headline and the description.

Organic results have undergone similar changes. Rather than an “Ad” label, Google is now displaying favicons. Your favicon, website name (NOT your domain name), and the page structure (breadcrumbs) are now above the page title exactly like the ads.

Why This is Important

This update might seem like a simple design change, but it has potentially massive impact for both SEO and PPC. Using identical design layouts further blurs the line between paid and organic results. Personally, I think it’s still pretty obvious when something says “Ad” but it’s not hard to see how the public could miss the difference between a label and a favicon. I expect this change to help click-through-rates for advertising campaigns (especially within Google Maps).

The update to organic results is interesting, and something you need to speak with your SEO agency about. Please don’t buy a “favicon optimization” package, unless of course you find it listed in our Legal SEO Store. It’s not something you need to optimize, but it is something you need to set up correctly.

If you’re not already, pay attention to your website name and your site structure. Some think Google is slowing killing the URL, and when I see search results without URLs like these examples above, I have to agree.

What to Do About the Mobile SERP Refresh

First, start advertising. Whether you like it or not, ads are taking up more and more real estate on SERPs. They are also getting harder to spot, which means fewer people will be ignoring the ads.

Second, optimize your headlines. For both paid and organic results, Headlines have taken center stage of these results cards. It’s more important than ever to make sure you have a clear, catchy, click baity optimized headline that captures attention and generates clicks.

Third, update your favicon. You don’t want your website to show your host’s favicon instead of your brand’s logo.

Lastly, stay tuned for even more updates. These changes are live on mobile, and we can only assume the desktop results will soon follow. Google’s announcement said “this new design allows us to add more action buttons and helpful previews to search results cards” so pay attention to when those features become available.

How to Add & Remove Access to Your Google Ads Account

Do you know who has access (or ownership) of your Google Ads account? Odds are, there are some old agencies or employees that still have access to your entire account. You may want to kick them out, or if you started working with someone new, you may want to give them access (with proper permission levels).

Here’s how to check, add, and remove access to your Google Ads account:

1) Log in to Your Google Ads Account

Go to https://ads.google.com and log in with your username and password.

2) Click Tools, then Account Access

Click the wrench icon in the top right, then click “Account access” under Setup.

3) Add or Remove Users

Make sure you (as a user) have full admin access to your own account. If it says “Standard” or “Read Only” it means someone else actually owns the account, and they can kick you out at any time.
Double check that whoever has access also has the right permissions. Change their access level if you need to – not everyone needs to be an Admin.

To add someone (a person, not an agency), click the blue plus button, select their permission level, and invite them via email. They will need to accept the invitation before accessing your Google Ads account.

To remove someone’s access, simply click the “Remove Access” link in the right column.

4) Add or Remove Managers (Agencies)

There’s another section that’s a little hard to see. Next to “Users” there’s a “Managers” tab. This is where you grant access to agencies and tools (rather than individual people). You may grant Administrative Ownership, but this gives them the ability to add or remove anyone they like. If that makes you uncomfortable, simply toggle that switch off. They’ll still have access, but they won’t have total control.

To add a manager, the agency will need to request access. Give them your Google Ads CID number (it looks like a phone number), and once they send a request, you’ll need to come back to this section and click “Approve”.

To remove a manager, simply click the “Remove Access” link in the right column.

5) Check Your Billing Users

Once you’ve verified that certain people and agencies each have the right level of access, you need to check who has access to your billing information.

This is NOT the same as who has access to your Google Ads account. There is a big difference between a Google Ads user, and a Google Payments user.

Go to Tools (the wrench icon) > Billing & Payments (under Setup) > Settings (left side menu) > Manage Payment Users (one of the middle cards).

You can then adjust permission levels, set notifications, select who is Primary Contact, and of course add or remove users as you need.

6) Sit Back and Relax… Then Audit Your Other Tools

Now that you know who has access to your Google Ads account, what permissions they have, and who is responsible for paying the bills, you can sit back and relax. No need to worry about old agencies messing things up, or worse, kicking you out of your own account.

You shouldn’t go through life paranoid, but you should be cautious about granting access to your business’ information. After adding and removing people from Google Ads, check who has access to your website, your registrar, your Google Analytics, your Google My Business, your Google Search Console, and all your other digital assets.

You may be surprised who you find.

Take some time to run a security audit. It’s better to check and not find anything, than to not check and wish you would have.

Google+ Shutting Down in April 2019

Google is Killing the Google+ Social Network

Google+ is (was) Google’s attempt at creating a social platform to compete with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Launched in June 2011, Google+ has had many ups, downs, and pivots throughout the platform’s life cycle.

It’s been linked to and disconnected from Google My Business (previously Google Places), Google Hangouts (RIP), Google Photos, and a slew of other Google products. In short, Google attempted to connect it to everything at one point or another.

In October 2018, Google cited low user engagement and announced they were shutting down Google+ by the end of 2019.

In December 2018, they accelerated their timeline to shut down by April 2019 due to bugs and security concerns.

Should You Be Worried?

No.

I’d safely bet that 99% of people reading this don’t use Google+ at all. Even if you do copy your Facebook posts to Google+ Circles, there’s nothing to save or transfer or export or worry about.

Let Google+ die, and be happy you didn’t waste time in a social network ghost town.

What You Need To Do

While Google+ is appropriately being killed off, Google My Business has absorbed many of its best qualities. If you’re not already taking advantage, you absolutely should be leveraging the following features through Google My Business:

  • Posts – Publish announcements, deals, and more directly on your GMB page.
  • Follow Button – People can follow your business, and be notified of updates & posts.
  • Q&A – Users can ask (and answer) questions about your business. Watch these closely!
  • Messaging – People can message your business straight from your GMB page.
  • Photos & Videos – Not new, but a major factor in promoting your business.
  • Reviews – Not from Google+ but you can’t talk about GMB without talking about reviews. Go get some!

The elimination of Google+ is long overdue, but if you’re already using Google My Business to its full potential you have absolutely nothing to fear. And, if you’re underutilizing some of the features highlighted above, now would be the perfect time to start.

Google Ads Parallel Tracking is Now Required

Is your Google Ads account ready for the switch?

If you advertise on Google Ads, chances are you’ve received a message recently regarding their new parallel tracking requirement:

Dear Google Ads Advertiser,

You are receiving this message because your Google Ads account (Customer ID: XXX-XXX-XXXX) uses the tracking template field and will be impacted when we begin requiring parallel tracking in all accounts.

What’s changing?

Earlier this year, we introduced parallel tracking as an optional feature to improve your landing page speed by sending users directly to your website while all click measurement is processed in the background.

Starting October 30, 2018, parallel tracking will be required for all Search Network and Shopping campaigns on Google Ads, to ensure a better landing page experience for users. At that time, the account opt-in setting will be removed and parallel tracking will become the only click measurement method for Search and Shopping campaigns on Google Ads.

Next steps

Please work with your click measurement provider(s) to make sure that your account is ready for parallel tracking by October 30, 2018. Should you or your provider miss this deadline, it could potentially interrupt your click measurement reporting or cause landing page errors. If you are already using parallel tracking, you won’t need to do anything; you’re all set up.

For more information on parallel tracking, please refer to the Google Ads Help Center and contact your click measurement provider. If you have further questions, please reach out to your account team or contact us at any time.

Sincerely,

The Google Ads team

What does this all mean?

Parallel tracking is meant to improve user experience by decreasing load times. Data is sent through tracking tools while users are sent directly to websites. Bypassing the tools gets a user to the content a split second faster, but your tools need to be ready to handle the new system.

source: blog.google

If you are self managed or work with another agency, now is the time to make sure everything is compatible. Google Ads tracking templates can be found in your account settings, your campaigns, your ad groups, and individual ads.

Mockingbird uses tracking templates to help with click fraud protection and call tracking. We’ve checked with our providers and have been assured they are ready for the switch. For clients currently being managed by Mockingbird, we don’t expect any interruptions in service.

Welcome to the New Mockingbird!

The Announcement

Today, Mockingbird Marketing is proud to announce the new Mockingbird! In a little more than 5 years, we have grown from the stereotypical startup to a top-tier, full-service law firm marketing agency. Our mission and values have always stayed the same, but our capabilities and services have evolved. We’ve come so far that we decided to officially relaunch the brand.

Welcome, to the new Mockingbird.

The Logo

Few know the story of the original Mockingbird logo… most likely because there isn’t one. The logo was a randomly selected bird icon with MOCKINGBIRD typed next to it in all caps. Effective? Sure. Creative? No. We were following one of our 10 commandments, “done is better than perfect.”

Our new logo is custom made by our lead in-house designer. The wings are two M’s for Mockingbird Marketing. The bird is no longer standing still, but flying upward to represent the speed and agility of our agency. The curved, modern design reflects the smooth and polished aspect of our boutique level of service.

The Website

With the new logo comes a new website. The clean, consistent design follows our brand guidelines while the backend development focuses on speed and stability.

Of course we’re going to use this as an opportunity to showcase our best work, but more importantly, our site is meant to help law firms grow. We have resources, webinars, speaking events and blog posts with the latest law firm marketing strategies. Whether it’s as a client or as a newsletter subscriber, our job is to make law firms successful.

The Agency

As Mockingbird has grown, our tagline has evolved from “Search Experts” to “VP of Marketing” to “Outsourced Marketing Department.” Our level of service is rising, and our solutions are expanding. We’ve made invaluable partnerships around the industry, including a very important partnership with Google. As Premier Google Partners, we have been able to send teams to train at Google and bring back the latest marketing strategies. Our knowledge as an agency continues to grow, and our team is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

When you hire Mockingbird, you don’t just get a “Search Expert.” You get all of us. Your Account Executive will work with you to develop marketing strategies, we’ll have Marketing Managers implement technical SEO changes, you’ll get a Paid Search Manager to handle your advertising, and our design and development team will create websites, display ads, and custom imagery whenever you need. This is how we built the new Mockingbird brand – as a team of experts.

The Launch

With the new logo, more polished branding, and updated website, we are excited to officially relaunch Mockingbird. Our agency has grown, and our brand has evolved. We will continue to provide marketing solutions for law firms across the country, but now we have a brand, a logo, and a website that reflects our industry leading level of service.

4 Things Every PPC Account Needs To Exclude

Are You Utilizing Your Budget To It’s Fullest Potential?

If you haven’t looked at these 4 settings in AdWords, your campaigns are probably wasting money.

When building campaigns, people typically focus on what to include: specific keywords, compelling ads, competitive bids. However, what you exclude from your campaigns can be equally as valuable and make your budget go even further.

Exclude Your Company’s IP Address

Clicking your own ad is a great way to waste your advertising budget. If you or your employees are doing this, you need to stop immediately!

Of course many people refrain from this behavior because they know that ads cost money. What many people don’t know is that just seeing your ad, even without clicking, can hurt your campaign as well.

Every impression counts, and if Google sees that users (including you) don’t click your ad, they’ll penalize your campaign. An impression without a click lowers your click through rate (CTR), which can lower your quality score (QS), which can increase your cost per click (CPC), which can lead to fewer clicks and fewer leads.

Make sure to block your company’s IP address to avoid costly clicks and inflated impressions.

Exclude People In Other Countries

The location setting “People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location” is the best way to capture everyone looking for services in your area.

The problem arises when people in other countries (I’m looking at you Philippines and Myanmar) start Googling “accident attorney Austin TX” and start wasting your budget. While Google is usually great at blocking this kind of spam, sometimes these clicks sneak past their filter.

To add that extra level of security, make sure to select “People in my excluded location” and add every country you don’t want business from.

Exclude People Looking For Other Cities

If you’re an accident attorney in Tampa, and a Tampa resident searches for “car accident attorney Dallas”, there is a good chance your ad will show. They used a keyword you’re bidding on and they’re right down the street! However, it’s easy to see they don’t want a Tampa attorney, and that click isn’t worth anything to you.

Make sure to add all major cities to your negative keyword list, and routinely check your queries report for minor cities to add later.

Exclude Non-Business Hours

Letting your campaigns run 24/7 seems like a great way to capture the most business. You always want your ads to show, right? Well, actually, no. Many companies can’t take calls after hours, or they need to return emails right away to successfully convert a lead to a client.

If your intake team isn’t capable of handling leads after hours, don’t waste your budget on clicks you can’t convert.

Make sure you exclude non-business hours from your ad schedule.

Conclusion

These advanced PPC strategies can help any AdWords account become that much more competitive and successful. If you’re not already doing this, take 15 minutes and make a few simple updates! Your budget and bottom line will thank you.

Mockingbird is Moving to Months

Here at Mockingbird, we like to do things the right way, and from our humble beginnings, we’ve always thought operating on a four-week basis gave us an edge over the competition. We preached data consistency and argued that the number of days in a month don’t always match up.

However, we’ve found that four-week periods still have inconsistencies like holidays and seasonality. Also, sending out invoices every four weeks caused problems with everyone’s accounting departments.

Mockingbird is happy to announce that we are changing, and we’re hoping this change will make everyone’s lives just a little easier.

After numerous requests and some self-reflection, we are moving away from four-week periods and are transitioning to a monthly cadence for reporting, billing and invoicing.

We are all used to receiving bills on the same day every month. Comparing March to February is easy to understand. Operating on four-week periods made sense in theory, but moving to a monthly cycle makes sense in real life.

For our current clients, your Account Executives will be connecting with you to discuss what this change means for your specific billing needs. As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.

How to Share AdWords Access with an Agency

Once you’ve entered into a partnership with a digital marketing agency, whether you’ve signed agreements or agreed to an audit, you’re going to need to provide access to your Google AdWords account. The process is relatively simple if you know what you’re doing, but it’s very easy to get lost.

Here’s how to grant AdWords access to agencies in 3 simple steps:

Step 1: Client Sends AdWords Customer ID

  1. Log in to your Google AdWords account
  2. Find your Customer ID and email it to your agency
  3. Stay logged in and wait for the agency to request approval

Step 2: Marketing Agency Requests Access

  1. Log in to the top level Manager Account for Google AdWords
  2. Under Accounts, click +Account and select “Link existing accounts”
  3. Enter the provided customer ID and click “Continue”
  4. Name the account (for internal use only) and click “Request approval”

Step 3: Client Approves Access

  1. Click the gear icon (top right) and select “Account Settings”
  2. Click “Account Access” on the left menu
  3. Click “Accept Request” and if you’d like provide full access, grant Admin permissions

And that’s it! You’ve successfully granted a marketing agency access to your AdWords account.

Accessing the Hidden Fields in Google My Business

These days, Google My Business (GMB) has a nice modern layout that looks simple, clean and straightforward. Don’t be fooled! There are secret, hidden fields in Google My Business that you can only access in certain ways. Here is how to find them.

Using Card View and the Dashboard

“Card View” organizes your locations into a neat grid of cards.

Managing locations from here sends you to a Dashboard where you can access:

  • Info (name, address, hours, etc.)
  • Photos
  • Reviews
  • Insights
  • Users (in the top left menu)

All these fields are important, but there are a few things missing.

Using List View and Direct Edit

Changing to “List View” organizes your locations into simple rows with 3-dot menus on the right.

Clicking those icons bring you to the Dashboard (same as above). However, if you try to edit the listing directly by clicking the actual row, you will unlock a new section:

  • Info (name, address, hours, etc.)
  • Photos (just a shortcut back to the dashboard)
  • Users (no longer in top left menu)
  • Advanced Information

You won’t see Reviews and Insights, but you gain access to “Advanced Information” which contains three new fields you didn’t have before.

  • Store codes: Used to identify individual locations.
  • Labels: Great way to organize locations into groups or mark locations that need work.
  • AdWords location extensions phone: External facing and must be used if you want to utilize call tracking in AdWords campaigns. Very important for maintaining correct conversion numbers!

Which Way Is Better?

If you want to utilize all the tools GMB has to offer, you must use both the Dashboard and direct edit from the list view. This is somewhat of a pain, and I have no idea why Google hides “Advanced Information” from the Dashboard, but that’s how it works. Hopefully the next GMB update will make things a little more consistent, but until then, don’t forget to check out both views!