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.
This month we look at page load speed and the potential impact on mobile search rankings on Google, as well as some new tools available in AdWords for eCommerce advertisers using Google Shopping campaigns. We also look at the new user interface coming to Google Search Console plus the reports and tools that are being added or updated.
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…
Page Speed to Impact Mobile Search Rankings
Google’s studies have shown that people really care about the load-speed of a page particularly on mobiles, as they want to be able to find what they’re searching for as fast as possible. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Google recently announced that starting in July 2018, page speed will be also be a ranking factor for mobile searches. So any efforts that have been put into that up until now will have been worthwhile.
The “Speed Update,” as they call it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.
Developers are encouraged to think broadly about how performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics. Although there is no tool that directly indicates whether a page is affected by this new ranking factor, here are some resources that can be used to evaluate a pages performance:
- Chrome User Experience Report is a public data-set of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions
- Lighthouse is an automated tool and a part of Chrome Developer Tools for auditing the quality (performance, accessibility, and more) of web pages
- Page Speed Insights is a tool that indicates how well a page performs on the Chrome UX Report and suggests performance optimisations
It’s important that these points are noted ahead of time in order to help benefit your business’s mobile rankings from July. If you want more information about we can help to improve that, please contact us now.
Useful New AdWords Features for e-Commerce
Google recently introduced some useful new AdWords features, about which e-Commerce retailers should be aware.
1. Promotion extensions
These ad extensions allow you to append a discount code or site-wide discount to your text ads. They were first mentioned by Google last May (when they were still in beta), but they’ve finally released them to all advertisers.
These are handy because previously, ad headlines and descriptions had to be used for promos, which took up valuable characters that are limited in number. This now enables the ads to include the original copy which can still include a strong call-to-action and be used to boost ad relevance. The promotion extensions also help the ads take up more space on the Search Engine Results Page, which is always a core objective for AdWords ads.
2. Ad Variations
With any e-Com business especially, it’s always been important to A/B test ads to determine which are the most effective for KPIs. Doing so has been a protracted process, having to upload multiple copies of a given ad in which single components (a headline, a call-to-action etc) are altered and rotated against a control ad to determine its effect.
Thankfully, Google has now provided the function to easily test ad variants en masse. The ‘AdWords experience’ provides access to the new ad variations tab. Within that ad variants interface, it’s possible to:
- Find and replace certain keywords in your ads
- Update entire textual components (headlines, description, paths)
- Invert headlines (which should always include the relevant keyword)
Once the ad variants are created it’s possible to use the Experiment split section to assign the percentage of the campaign budget that’s allocated to it. This is particularly useful if only a small percentage is required, which may be the case during a time of year when many e-Commerce businesses make a substantial share of their total annual profits and so the majority of the budget should continue to be focused upon that in that period.
3. Custom Intent Audiences
Many e-Com businesses find that the results using The Display Network can be a bit hit or miss due to the widespread variation of websites upon which the ads can appear.
To address that issue Google’s introduced custom intent audiences that use “Google’s machine learning technology to analyse existing campaigns and auto-create custom intent audiences… based on the most common keywords and URLs found in content that people browse while researching a given product or service.”
Basically, Google uses data from your AdWords campaigns and website to determine what is being sold, then cross-reference that against humanity to auto-generate new, qualified (at least as far as Display goes) audiences. This kind of audience creation further cements Google shift towards a Facebook-like, audience-centric mode of targeting on the Display Network, in which characteristics take the place of intent as a primary means of targeting net-new prospects.
It’s also possible to generate your own custom intent audiences using a combination of URLs and keywords.
4. Gmail Re-marketing
Up until now it hasn’t been possible for e-Com retailers to show their Shopping ads to previous visitors to their site within Gmail . So the introduction of Gmail re-marketing is welcomed as the ability to re-market and more importantly, do so dynamically, via Gmail is a positive development.
Google calls AdWords Gmail ads dynamic re-marketing “an immersive shopping experience” in your prospects’ in-boxes. This provides e-Commerce advertisers with the ability to bring a prospects’ shopping cart into their inbox, just on the busiest shopping days of the calendar year, for example on ‘Black Friday’.
This is an extremely useful new function, but could be a costly one though, as the avg. CPC for doing that is likely to be high and well above that for most standard campaigns.
The wise use of these new AdWords features could significantly benefit e-Com businesses into the future. If you want more details about how they could be implemented to help your business, please get in with us touch now.
A New Look for Google Search Console
Following a few months of beta testing, Google has announced that it will start rolling out a new user interface for the Search Console tool, which will also include some changes to reports and new features. This tool has become a core resource for any SEO activity and with these new changes, it is likely to become even more valuable.
The new interface follows the style of the recent changes introduced with Google Analytics and Google AdWords, Google says that the new look will help to create a more simplified process of optimising a website’s presence on Google Search. The functionality available to users will include Search performance, Index Coverage, AMP status, and Job posting reports.
One of the best developments with the new version is the updated Search Analytics reports, which are now called Search Performance and have been improved to show 16 months of historical data, rather than the existing 90 days limit. This will make the reports more valuable in looking into larger data periods and long-term trends, as well as year-over-year comparisons which have been a big omission to date.
There is also an updated Index Coverage report which will give users some insights into the indexing of URLs from their website. This section will show correctly indexed URLs, warnings about potential issues, and reasons why Google isn’t indexing some URLs. The new functionality will also alert users when new issues are detected and so helps webmasters or site marketers monitor the fixes that have been made.
When there are specific issues being shown, users can click onto the error URLs to see the issue and link to diagnostic tools to help understand what is the source of the problem. There is also a share button to involve others with fixing any issues if required and also help with resolving an issue with Google so that the search index can be updated accordingly. You can inform Google to crawl and reprocess any affected URLs with a higher priority, helping to get the pages back into the index as soon as possible.
As before, sitemap files are recommended to be used and submitted through the Search Console as best practice to let search engines know about new and updated URLs. Once a sitemap file has been submitted, the new interface allows users to use the sitemap filter over the Index Coverage data in order to focus on an exact list of URLs.
Google will be notifying existing users of Search Console once the new interface is available, and similar to AdWords, there will be an interim period when both the new and old interfaces will be available and users can switch between. In addition, more functionality will be added to the new interface over the coming months and Google is also welcoming feedback and new suggestions for tools that could be added.
You can read more about the new interface here, and if you’d like to know more about using Search Console for your website, please get in touch.