Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter which focuses on news, tips and advice for effective website marketing, with particular attention on Google and best practice search engine marketing techniques, plus current trends in the market.
In our first article this month we take a look at Google’s recent blog post that provides warnings about the use of guest blogging as a link building technique for SEO (search engine optimisation). We also look at the use of responsive ads in Google AdWords, which provide flexible ad formats for a wide range of websites, apps and devices.
In the final article this month we cover the announcement of the new voice control feature in Google Analytics, which is part of the Intelligence tools to enable users to get more information from the stats provided.
You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter by month. You can also follow us on Twitter for the latest developments during the month, or follow our Facebook page or Google+ page for updates.
On to this month’s edition…
Google’s Warnings Against Guest Blogging
Over the past few years, a common SEO link building technique has been to target relevant blogs and to provide articles on those blogs with links back to a site. However, Google has always warned against this technique as a form of paid link building, and they recently provided further guidelines through their Webmaster blog.
We provided some best practice techniques for guest blogging back in July 2013 and any approaches to this need to be planned, managed and communicated carefully to avoid conflicts with Google’s guidelines. Google has recently reported that they are seeing an increase in spammy links contained in articles referred to as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts and have provided some tips about these.
These articles are generally written by, or in the name of, one website (which is usually trying to develop more links to their domain), and published on a different site. Although Google says they do not discourage these types of articles in the cases when they inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to a cause or company, they do dislike such articles when they believe that the main intent of the article is to build links in a large-scale back to the author’s site.
Google has therefore indicated the signals they are looking for to identify these types of link building content, which can indicate when an article is in violation of their SEO guidelines:
- stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles
- having the articles published across many different sites
- alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites
- using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on
- using the same or similar content across these articles, or duplicating the full content of articles found on the original site (in which case the use of rel=”canonical”, in addition to rel=”nofollow”, is advised).
When Google detects that a website is publishing articles that contain spammy links, this may change Google’s perception of the quality of the site and could affect its ranking. Sites accepting and publishing such articles should carefully vet them, asking questions like: Do I know this person? Does this person’s message fit with my site’s audience? Does the article contain useful content? If there are links of questionable intent in the article, has the author used rel=”nofollow” on them?
For websites creating articles made for links, Google takes action on this behavior because it’s bad for the Web as a whole. When link building comes first, the quality of the articles can suffer and create a bad experience for users. Also, webmasters generally prefer not to receive aggressive or repeated “Post my article!” requests, and Google encourages such cases to be reported through their spam report form.
You can read more about Google’s quality guidelines for link building schemes, or you can contact us for more information and advice now.
Using Responsive Ads in AdWords
Google has been prioritising mobile devices and search activity over the past few years as mobile becomes the largest portion of search usage in many countries. One such tool in AdWords has been the new responsive ad format, which gives advertisers the flexibility to target searchers on many different device formats.
Google’s responsive ads for display have been available for almost a year now, and were provided to advertisers to enable their content to adapt across the more than two million publisher sites and apps on the Google Display Network (GDN). They also unlock new ‘native inventory’ which means that advertisers can engage consumers with ads that match the look and feel of the content they’re browsing.
Responsive ads offer more flexibility with minimal setup as they automatically adjust their size, appearance and format to fit just about any available ad space. For example, a responsive ad might show as a native banner ad on one site and a dynamic text ad on another, as it automatically transforms itself to fit precisely where it has been targeted to meet the advertiser’s goals. In this way, responsive ads can increase the reach and impact of a display ads campaign while also saving the set up time for numerous ads.
To create responsive ads, you just need to provide 2 headline options, a description, an image, and a URL and Google will automatically design these responsive ads that should work in numerous different formats on various devices, websites and apps. When you create a responsive ad, you can preview some common layouts, but it’s not possible to see every possible layout across all the sites that comprise the Google Display Network.
The main downside of these ads is that although they are simple to create, they utilise Google’s template which can mean that they are not always the best looking ads and may not ideally suit the brand requirements for a business, but they do provide the flexibility and reach that would be hard to achieve with tailored ad designs.
You can read more about responsive ads or contact us now for more information.
New Voice Controls in Google Analytics
Another new feature for Google Analytics has been announced in the past month to help users get more business insights from their data. Voice control analysis enables users to ask a question in plain English and receive a response about their stats and recent trends. Possibly seen as a bit gimmicky, this new tool has nevertheless been extensively developed over recent years.
An example Google provides is to ask your Analytics account “How many new users did we have from organic search on mobile last week?”. With the new voice control feature, you should get an immediate answer with some data reports and suggested insights. It uses the same natural language processing technology available across Google products like Android and Search, and it will be rolling out now to become available in English to all Google Analytics users over the next few weeks.
The ability to ask questions is part of Analytics Intelligence, a set of features in Google Analytics that use machine learning to help users better understand and act on their analytics data. Analytics Intelligence also includes existing machine learning capabilities like automated insights (now available), smart lists, smart goals, and session quality.
Google’s feedback from web analysts was that they spend half their time answering basic analytics questions for other people in their organization. This new voice control feature is intended to help everyone get their answers directly in the product, so that team members get what they need faster, and analysts can spend their valuable time on deeper research and discovery.
The new Analytics Intelligence feature helps users to identify new opportunities through automated insights, which can show spikes or drops in metrics like revenue or session duration, or by highlighting key issues that may need to be investigated further. Insights may also present opportunities to improve key metrics by following specific recommendations. For example, a chance to improve bounce rate by reducing a page’s load time, or the potential to boost conversion rate by adding a new keyword to your AdWords campaign.
This Intelligence system is also designed to become smarter over time as it learns which questions and insights users are interested in. Google encourages usage and feedback of the tool to enable the service to be ‘trained’ from experience. The goal is to help users get more insights and ultimately use the tool more often to gain amazing experiences that make customers happier and help you grow your business.
If you’d like more information about this new feature and how to get better insights from your own Analytics reports, please contact us now.