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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – February 2018

Posts Tagged ‘Google Shopping’

Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – February 2018

Thursday, February 1, 2018 5:08 No Comments

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.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – September 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017 6:44 No Comments

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 have a focus on AdWords, with a new development as well as tips on getting better results from Shopping campaigns. In our first article we look at the new call bid adjustments which are being rolled out to advertisers over the next few months to provide more control and focus for the better converting phone channels. In the second article this month we provide some advice and tips for Google Shopping campaigns, and ways to structure a product feed to get the best coverage of the market.

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…

 

Call Bid Adjustments in AdWords

Click-to-call ads have been available in AdWords for the past seven years as ad extensions, which enable searchers to call directly from the ads. Google is now rolling out a new function whereby advertisers can use bid adjustments to control how often the call function appears as part of an advert.

Many advertisers have found the click to call extension a powerful way of attracting enquiries from search. With mobile searches becoming increasing important and a bigger share of the market, these calls are vital and can convert three times better than web clicks.

The new call bid adjustments – which are being made available through the new AdWords ‘experience’ interface – allow advertisers to increase bids on campaigns that drive valuable phone calls. For example, if you’re a travel advertiser, you may see higher order values from calls because it can be easier to cross-sell rental cars, group tours and other vacation add-ons during a live conversation. By raising your call bid adjustments to show call extensions more frequently, this can drive more of the high-value call conversions.

There is already some good data being made available for the click to call option, with reports showing the time and length of calls that record a conversion (usually for calls or more than 1 minute), but with the new bid adjustment, this analysis and tracking will become more valuable to advertisers.

Google has provided best practice advice on the use of call extensions and how these can be used to maximise conversions, plus they have provided suggestions on ways to convert more calls to business.

If you’d like to know more about call extension and bidding in your AdWords account, please contact us now for more details.

 

Tips for Google Merchant Centre & Shopping Campaigns

At a recent Google presentation about using the Merchant Centre feeds and AdWords Shopping campaigns, a range of insights and tips were presented which aim to get better results for ecommerce stores from this increasingly important sector of AdWords.

One of Google’s current areas of focus is the use of automation and machine learning to help improve the management and results of AdWords campaigns, including Shopping. Here, the main objective should be to improve margins and ROAS (return on ad spend) so that as campaigns develop and data is collected, the bid targeting and ad performance should improve based on results.

The other main area that Google is pushing is website load speed, particularly for mobile sites. Research shows that most searchers will leave a mobile site after 5 seconds if it still hasn’t loaded, with a target time of less than 3 seconds to keep the user engaged and onsite. As we have noted before, Amazon and other big retailers obsess about these metrics as differences in milliseconds can have a notable impact on sales and revenue.

Google is continuing to enhance the interaction between product feeds from the Merchant Centre account and AdWords Shopping campaign performance. New opportunity suggestions for feeds will be appearing in AdWords soon, along with price benchmark reports.

With the product feed content, the use of good title and description for a product are important to help it rank better in the results. It’s recommended that brand names are included in the product title, plus gender and size information where relevant. By looking at the search terms report that has displayed products in the past, the common search phrases should be fed back into the product descriptions to match popular usage and increase the chances of products appearing on the search page.

As Shopping becomes a bigger part of AdWords inventory, and often the most effective part of an ecommerce account, the tools and metrics being made available are becoming more sophisticated and valuable, such as click impression share reports and price benchmarks for the same products. These things can all help an advertiser develop their product feed and campaign targeting to maximise sales and make an AdWords Shopping campaign a highly cost effective source of new online business.

If you’d like to know more about developments in Google Shopping campaigns and how these could work for your business, please contact us for more information.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – June 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017 7:15 No Comments

Welcome to the latest issue of our regular monthly newsletter which features news, tips and advice on effective website marketing, with a particular focus on search engine marketing techniques and trends.

In our first article this month we take a look at Google’s recent release of new audience solutions for AdWords Search and Shopping campaigns, and how that can assist in targeting both loyal and potential new customers. The second article looks at Google’s recent improvement to AdWords Quality Score reporting and how this can help to optimise campaigns.

In the final article this month we take a look at how Google Tag Manager now includes Analytics integration and how this can make it easier to manage multiple tags and tracking options.

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 Releases New Audience Targeting in AdWords

Engaging both new and loyal customers is just as important to an online business, and so to help attract more potential new customers, Google has started to release ‘similar audiences’ for Search and Shopping campaigns. Alongside this, new Customer Match for Shopping targeting will also help businesses use their own data to reach the right customer with the right message. This is in addition to Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) which have been around for a while to reconnect with people who’ve been to a website before.

The ‘similar audiences’ option in AdWords helps to find people who share similar interests with a business’s best customers, right when they’re searching for relevant products and services. This makes it easy to expand reach by connecting with more people who want what you have to offer. For example, if you’re marketing a hotel in Sydney using RLSA and you want to connect with Summer travellers, then the people in your “Recent Converters” list might be searching for things like ‘flights to Brisbane,’ ‘scuba classes,’ and ‘flip-flop sandals.’ Powered by Google’s machine learning, similar audiences use these search trends to help you find people who are looking for the same things as existing customers, even if they’re not already on remarketing lists.

By connecting with more qualified customers, similar audiences can help unlock new opportunities to grow a business, so that targeting generic terms may work better with a similar audience applied to them. You can also use it as a bid modifier to be more competitive in a crowded auction, tailoring your bids to reach people who are more likely to buy. According to Google, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, a leading global auto company, used similar audiences for Search to increase conversions by 22%.

It’s now possible to see Search list size estimates for similar audiences, letting businesses know how many people they can reach. These audiences can be applied to both Search and Shopping campaigns. You can learn more about similar audiences here.

Customer Match for Shopping campaigns will soon be available globally. By using existing email lists, Customer Match makes it easy to focus Shopping campaigns on high-value customers, like previous purchasers, newsletter subscribers, rewards members and in-store shoppers. You can learn more about Customer Match here.

For instance, if you manage marketing for an online apparel retailer and you’re interested in connecting with your rewards members, to make it easy for you to reach these customers when they’re shopping you can now use your “Rewards Members” customer email list to show them relevant Shopping ads featuring your latest styles (subject to minimum volume requirements).

If you want to know more about how similar audiences and Customer Match can help your business, please contact us now.

 

AdWords Quality Score Reporting is Improved

During May Google began rolling out several improvements to Quality Score reporting that make it easier for advertisers to get more visibility into these scores. Effective ads connect people with the content that’s most relevant to them, right when they’re looking for it. In AdWords, you can assess how relevant your keywords, ads, and landing pages are by evaluating Quality Score and its components: expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance and landing page experience.

Three new optional status columns that show useful Quality Score components have been added to the Keywords tab for “Exp. CTR,” “Ad Relevance” and “Landing Page Exper.” These columns can be added to keyword reports to get a comprehensive snapshot of the keywords’ current scores.

To improve campaign performance, it’s important to understand how changes to a account – like ad optimisation or landing page experience – impact Quality Score. It’s now possible to view historical Quality Score data as well, and their three main components, for all of the keywords to understand how they’ve changed over time. This data is available via four new columns: “Qual. Score (hist.),” “Landing page exper. (hist.),” “Ad relevance (hist.)” and “Exp. CTR (hist.).”

There are two important things to know about these seven new columns:

  • They reflect the last known score for the date range you selected.
  • Historical data isn’t available for dates earlier than January 22, 2016.

Also, if you apply the “Day” segment to Keyword reports, these columns will show daily values that reflect what your scores were at the end of each day. Therefore these additional reporting columns are a useful addition by Google, which will help to assist the optimisation of campaigns by being able to monitor how the Quality Scores have been changed due to adjustments or trends in the market.

If you would like more information about how Quality Score optimisation can improve your campaigns, contact us now.

 

Google Tag Manager Includes Analytics Integration

An increasing number of websites are now moving their tracking code strategy towards Google Tag Manager (GTM), which can make it easier to manage multiple tags and tracking options. However, it can be technically more complex to set up compared to Google Analytics, although Google has now introduced an easier way to help this process.

As website tracking options become more sophisticated, marketers may require measurement through Google Analytics tags, or the application of event tracking tags for clicks on certain buttons, links leading away from a site, form submissions, and so on. Keeping the settings for all of these tags in sync can be a challenge as users have to ensure that Tracking IDs are set correctly and that any custom settings are consistent.

Making changes to things like Custom Dimensions and Metrics across multiple tags can require repetitive work or cumbersome workarounds, and so to help users with these tasks, Google has announced new Google Analytics Settings Variables in GTM.

A Google Analytics Settings Variable acts as a central location to configure sets of Google Analytics settings for use across multiple tags. This means that instead of having to enter your Google Analytics settings over and over again in each new Universal Analytics tag in GTM, you’ll simply be able to select (or create) a Google Analytics Settings Variable to apply to the tag.

With this simpler process it will make it easier to manager tracking tags and avoid the chance of errors in the settings. Users can have as many Settings Variables as required for different combinations of settings, and it’s easy to override specific fields in a given tag with the click of a checkbox. This feature will now appear in all Universal Analytics tags as the primary option and should make the implementation of GTM easier for many users.

If you’d like more information about the Google Analytics Settings Variable in GTM, please contact us for more information.

 

We hope you’ve found this month’s newsletter useful. As usual, if you have any questions or need help with any of these items, please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website’s performance.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – June 2014

Sunday, June 1, 2014 7:47 No Comments

Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter which covers news, tips and advice on effective website marketing, with a particular focus on search marketing techniques and trends. This issue marks 10 years of this newsletter, with over 350 articles published in this time and much has changed! Take a look back at the original edition published on our UK website from June 2004 (although the original design for this edition has changed).

Back to the present day and for the first article this month we take a look at Google AdWords’ enforced campaign migration from the Product Listing Ads (PLA) format to the new Shopping campaigns (by late August) and the impact this will have upon existing campaigns. Next, we examine the recent introduction of call forwarding numbers for AdWords advertisers and the benefits of using this option.

Finally this month, we investigate the increasing trend in SEO sales tactics to use scaremongering to convince some website owners to sign up through a potentially misplaced fear.

You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subject. 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 New AdWords Shopping Campaign Format

Ecommerce advertisers using Google AdWords should be using Product Listing Ads (PLAs), as this links to Google’s Shopping search engine and enables small product images and prices to appear at the top of the search results. However, Google is updating the PLAs campaign format to the new Shopping campaigns, so that any AdWords campaign managers who currently use PLA campaigns need to be aware of these significant changes.

At the end of 2013, Google tested a new campaign format for how retailers manage product ads on Google Shopping via AdWords. In February 2014, it made Shopping campaigns available to all Product Listing Ad (PLA) advertisers and in March it released AdWords API support to help manage the campaigns at scale. This was shortly followed that month by the official announcement of a forced campaign migration to happen by late August this year. More details about that can be found here.

As a result, businesses and AdWords managers should be prepared for the imminent changes to the new Shopping campaign format. Google has continued to release more information about this enforced upgrade, including details about the new upgrade options here. This information culminated in the very useful article on how to monitor and optimise Shopping campaigns here.

One of the key benefits of this migration to the Shopping campaigns is that it’s no longer necessary to create separate ad groups, or product targets to track impressions, clicks and cost. This should make it easier to integrate the Google merchant centre listings into the AdWords Shopping campaigns and it’s now also possible to analyse and report on the PLA performance by product attribute or by individual items in the Dimensions tab, regardless of the campaign structure.

If you want to know more about the benefits of the migration, the Web Marketing Workshop are Google Shopping specialists and are at the forefront of these developments. So, if you’re interested in having a new Shopping campaign set-up, or an existing PLA one migrated and optimised to its maximum potential, contact us now for more details.

Using Call Forwarding Numbers in Google AdWords

Google has recently introduced call forwarding numbers for AdWords advertisers, which enables an alternative method of phone call tracking and advanced call reporting for all advertisers who use call extensions. Although this system is not as sophisticated as some call tracking services, it does help to provide advertisers with more insights into phone leads coming from their advertising spend.

When a Google forwarding number is used with an advertiser’s call extension, a unique Google phone number is registered to the ad. This tracking number doesn’t cost anything extra with the number either being toll-free or charged at local call rates. The two main benefits of these new advanced call reporting features are advertisers can now see where the call is originating from with local area codes recorded and the duration of the call is also saved. These new advanced features provide useful information to advertisers who can then assist in creating a profitable mobile advertising campaign.

The Google forwarding number is a simple redirect with the visitor being directed to the correct business number from the ad. Google forwarding numbers are only available in the search network and are currently incompatible with the display network. These new features allow advertisers to identify and target calls of high value which can lead to conversions and overall mobile advertising success.

Linked to the call forwarding numbers are new reporting features that include phone impressions, total phone calls and phone through rates. Phone calls by specific type of mobile device can be accessed. The dimensions tab allows advertisers to see a detailed analysis of each call with useful information such as duration of call, call status and area code from which the call originated. The goal of the Google advertiser should be to identify what types of calls are most valuable and likely to lead to conversions. Once this call type is identified, advanced bidding strategies should be implemented to ensure mobile ads have the best chance of reaching this caller.

Previously the lack of advanced data in relation to call tracking has led to poor quality calls being counted as conversions. These new features allow advertisers to specify the characteristics of a call that should be counted as a conversion. Conversion tracking will vary across different advertisers so that, for example, plumbers may potentially count a conversion as a call that has duration of longer than 40 seconds – this may be due to plumbers only needing a name and address for which a quote is provided. In contrast, a florist may count a call as a conversion only if it lasts longer than two minutes, which is necessary due to payment information often needing to be provided over the phone.

If you want to learn more about call forwarding numbers in Google AdWords, or try these for your campaigns, please contact us for more information.

SEO Trends and Scaremongering Sales Tactics

Over the past few years, Google has introduced some high profile updates to their search ranking criteria, in an attempt to improve the quality of their search results and to combat some of the less desirable search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques that have tried to ‘game’ the system. As a result, some SEO agencies have been using scare tactics to overplay the impact and to convince some website owners to sign up through a potentially misplaced fear.

Google’s primary concern is to provide their users with a positive search experience, to get to the desired results – and quality of results – as quickly as possible, and so to return again for future searches. They have always done this well, which is why they became so successful, but they are always competing against the SEO industry, whose aim is to get websites into the relevant search results to drive visitor traffic to websites. This can be a fine balancing act and although Google provides best-practice guidelines to webmasters, many companies try to manipulate the results to their own advantage using techniques that are not acceptable to Google.

Over the past few years there have been several significant changes by Google to improve the quality of search results. These updates have been introduced and refined over time and the main ones have been named as Panda (from Feb 2011, targeting low quality content sites) and Penguin (from April 2012, which was mostly targeting poor quality link networks). More recently, the Hummingbird update in August 2013 was a different update which changed the way the search algorithms read and interpreted online content to try to understand the relevant meaning and context.

These developments have been used as a core sales approach by some search marketing agencies and not just from those anonymous Gmail addresses that send out templated emails – usually from India – but also from some mainstream agencies who are touting for business. The claims of widespread ‘changes to the rules’ and massive impacts across most websites are often overstated to scare companies into signing up and serve to continue the myths and confusion behind effective SEO techniques.

However, the basic principles of SEO remain much the same today as they always have. Yes, there have been changes in emphasis and focus, but the core elements such as title tags and on-page content focused around the search phrases that people use remain just as important, as do clean and fast loading websites, fresh and unique content, plus external links from other high quality and relevant websites. Most sites that had their rankings impacted over the last few years were usually the result of poor quality link building, often outsourced and generated from low quality sites that Google can identify and penalise.

Some say that SEO is now ‘dead’ or that it’s changed significantly, but this isn’t the case. Google and other search engines still need to use signals from websites to determine relevancy, as well as the hyperlinks between sites and social media signals to identify popular or good quality websites that will provide unique and useful content to users.

If your website has been following these key principles and complies with Google’s guidelines, then little has changed and you may have even seen ranking improvements as competitors drop back. SEO remains a core online marketing strategy, which needs to be an ongoing and long term process for every website. It also needs to be focused around words and content that takes advantage of the many ways that people search online, and the content also needs to be focused on the searcher’s needs and expectations when they find your website.

If you’d like to discuss your current and future SEO performance or strategy, please contact us for more details.

 

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – January 2014

Wednesday, January 1, 2014 3:07 No Comments

Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter – the first for 2014 – which covers news, tips and advice on effective website marketing and search marketing techniques and trends.

To start the New Year, we’ve put together a list of the top events that took place in the search engine marketing / online marketing world in 2013, which have had an impact on websites already, but will also have an ongoing impact throughout 2014. These events include developments in the Pay-Per-Click field with Google AdWords, within the SEO sector, and also with Google Analytics.

We’ve covered these events in some detail in previous issues of this newsletter, but here we summarise the main changes and the implications for any website marketer, as they will all have a bearing on developments in 2014 and may be used to an advantage where applicable. In this fast changing and developing marketplace, we can expect further changes in the next 12 months, but for now, these recent ones from the past year need to be considered as part of your marketing plans for this year.

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 Like our Facebook page or Google+ page for updates.

On to this month’s edition…

Developments in Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Google AdWords launches Enhanced Campaigns

In February 2013, Google announced major new changes to AdWords, called Enhanced Campaigns, and these were fully implemented across all accounts by the end of July. Enhanced Campaigns met some criticism from advertisers as some of the previous flexibility across devices was removed, but the benefits included some more flexible bidding strategies and targeting of some ad extensions. Most advertisers have not seen significant changes since the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns, although the main issue remains the management and cost of mobile ads and some associated factors. However, since the new system is now fully operational, advertisers should be looking at the new opportunities for their campaigns and how some of the new settings can be used to their advantage.
(You can read our original article on this issue here).

Google Shopping integrates with AdWords

In September there was a significant change to Google Shopping (previously called Google Product Search) which meant that it became more closely integrated with the paid AdWords advertising system. Although any ecommerce business can still upload their listings to Google Shopping, the visibility of these in the search results and in the Shopping search is now dependent on running a Google AdWords Product Listing campaign. This change proved controversial as many small businesses showed concern that they would not be able to compete with those companies that can afford a larger advertising budget. However, since the change, most advertisers have found that the paid Product Listing Adverts are a very effective search marketing technique for price competitive products, at a lower cost per click than the standard text ads. This is likely to become more competitive in 2014 but it’s an essential advertising tool for online retailers to be using.
(You can read our original article on this issue here).

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Trends

Google introduces the new ‘Hummingbird’ Search Algorithm

Google announced a major change in 2013 through implementing the ‘Hummingbird’ update, which is a new search algorithm that attempts to improve results for conversation based search queries. The Hummingbird update allows Google to understand more detailed search queries and to also identify the correct meaning or context of the search request to produce more relevant results. Some website marketers have seen notable ranking changes following the introduction of this change, but the impact for most companies was minimal and underlined the importance of unique and quality content on web pages. However, it is one of the ongoing and ever-changing factors that website marketers need to consider as part of their SEO strategy and content development to ensure that ‘long tail search terms’ are being incorporated effectively and that search referrals continue to increase in 2014.
(You can read our original article on this issue here).

The importance of search query data in Google’s Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is starting to gain more importance for website owners when reviewing search query data and traffic coming from organic (SEO) search rankings. This is due to the more limited data now available in Google Analytics (see below) which means that the reports in Google Webmaster Tools provide at least some level of insight and trend information. The Google Webmaster Tools reports can be integrated with Google Analytics, but also provide some depth of analysis in the original reports, including the ability to click on a specific page URL and see what search terms are sending traffic to that URL. Although there are also limitations with these reports, all website marketers should be using this information at least monthly to track their SEO activity.
(You can read our original article on this issue here).

Guest blogging gains popularity

Following Google’s previous actions to crack down on poor quality links, 2013 saw an increasingly popular trend for ‘guest blogging’ for website marketers to develop valuable backlinks on popular and prominent blogs. However, it has also become a new platform for spam emails and for bloggers to be inundated with requests to post content, so that what used to be a valuable technique has now become popularised and questionable. While the technique can still be used effectively, Google’s Matt Cutts has emphasised that spammy or paid content can lead to harsh penalties for specific websites or networks of websites. It is therefore more important than ever to implement effective and valuable strategies for guest blogging, including developing relationships and contributing valuable content, and it remains one area to consider for link and content development in 2014.
(You can read our original article on this issue here).

Changes with Google Analytics

Google Analytics showing “(not provided)” search data

Perhaps the biggest frustration for search marketers in 2013 has been the increasing impact of ‘not provided’ data in Google Analytics, which has meant that organic search term data is no longer being reported and so is unavailable to companies to see which search terms have been used to find their website through a Google search. This is the result of Google using a secure search function, initially just for Google account users but then, by the second half of 2013 for most searches globally, due to privacy concerns. For search marketers, this loss of data is significant and places more reliance on Google’s Webmaster Tools reports (see above) or data from paid search activity. By February 2014 it’s expected that all Google search data will be ‘not provided’ and there is little that can be done about this other than look at the overall search traffic volumes and some alternate but less insightfull reports.
(You can read our original article on this issue here).

Google’s Universal Analytics

Google had been testing their ‘Universal Analytics’ tracking code for some time and made it available to all Analytics accounts in March 2013. The roll-out of this significant new version is likely to continue more actively in 2014 as Google wants to move all websites to this upgraded version of the new tracking code – it’s a simpler but more flexible tracking method, enabling new functionality and potentially tracking of users across different devices. There are still some limitations – such as being able to use remarketing – but this should be fixed soon and the new UA code will need to be upgraded by website owners to keep up with the ongoing development of Analytics tracking and reporting.
(You can read our original article on this issue here).

Google Analytics introduces Demographics & Interests Reports

Regular users of Google Analytics will have seen some notable changes to the report layouts and naming during 2013 as Google continues to improve the product and make it more accessible to the average user. Two notable reports that have been added are the Demographics and Interests reports, which use Google’s user data to provide a sample insight into the visitor profiles of a website – you can see gender, age range, interest categories, which in turn can provide new insights as well as advertising targeting opportunities. To enable these reports, website marketers may need to amend their Analytics tracking code (and the new Universal code doesn’t yet support these reports) but it’s a recommended enhancement that should be implemented and reviewed in 2014.
(You can read our original article on this issue here).

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – September 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013 7:10 No Comments

Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – September 2013

Welcome to the latest edition of our regular newsletter, which covers news, tips and advice on effective website marketing techniques and the latest trends.

In the first article this month we take a look at how Google’s recent changes to Analytics access controls and user permissions provides enhanced flexibility over what level of data can be viewed. Then, we follow-up our previous article on Google Shopping with an update on how its evolved into a Paid Listing service, that allows businesses to showcase their products online, as well as the importance of keeping up-to-date with recent developments.

You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subject. 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 Changes Analytics User Permissions

Google recently announced two primary changes that offer more specific controls over how different users can interact with Google Analytics accounts. These changes are to its access controls/user permissions and are going to make a big difference to those that manage Google Analytics accounts. However, companies still need to own their Analytics account and the data, so should have ultimate control over these settings.

Of course, ultimately, Google owns your Analytics data and since the data resides on their servers you could never gain full control over it. However, the original creator of the Analytic account will have administrative control over the data that’s collected and the access provided to other users, and so this should be the business itself and a centralised login so that no one person in the company controls this.

It can often be the case that if Google Analytics has been set up by a web designer, the admin access to the account is controlled by them, and previously, if set up as part of their overall account, the designers couldn’t then add admin access for a business as this would give users access to all their other design clients. This has caused issues with a lack of control by the business, and the potential to lose data if the relationship with the web designers sours.

The recent changes to the access permissions and roles provide more control over which sections of the data can be viewed (but not claimed) by certain individuals. Firstly, access permissions will be able to be set at the property level, not just at the account and profile levels. Secondly, access roles are expanding beyond the current administrator and viewer options to allow any user a combination of view, edit and manage users access. So this provides more powerful control, but also means it can be more complicated to know who has access to what parts of an account.

Google explains how permissions will be inherited in the new system: “Properties inherit permissions set on their parent account, and profiles inherit permissions set on their parent properties. For example, a user with view access to an account, also has view access to all of that account’s properties and profiles”. Existing account admins still get full access in the new system (edit, view and manage users) and existing account viewers will continue to have view-only access.

Matching the new permission types with different levels of the hierarchy should give every type of organisation the flexibility they need in controlling access to data and configuration settings. It’s important that organisations audit the people that have access to the data once a year (or once a quarter depending on the data governance), as many forget to do this. They should exclude people that no longer need access, or adjust their permissions as necessary.

If you’re a Google Analytics manager, User Permissions is a critical tool as it helps to push more data into the hands of more people in a safe way. You can read more about the new Google Analytics User Permissions here.

If you’d like to know how we can help your business to make the most of these changes, contact us now for more information.

 

Recent Developments with Google Shopping

In a follow-up to our original article in September 2011, entitled “Google Shopping becomes an important online shopping tool” – where we described the original shopping comparison service – this month we look at how this has evolved into a tool that allows business to showcase their products online through the Google Merchant Center, plus it has become an integral part of Google AdWords.

Google Shopping – formerly Google Product Search, Google Products and Froogle – originally allowed users to search for products on online shopping websites and compare prices between different vendors. The service listed prices submitted by merchants, and was monetised through AdWords advertising like other Google services.

Alongside the immediate re-branding from Google Product Search to Google Shopping on May 31, 2012, Google also announced that in late 2012, it would change the service to use a “pay-to-play” model, where merchants would have to pay Google to list their products on the service, with results influenced by both relevance and the bid amounts they pay. Google justified the move by stating that it would allow the service to “deliver the best answers for people searching for products and help connect merchants with the right customers.”

The change proved controversial as some small businesses showed concern that they would not be able to compete with larger companies that can afford a larger advertising budget. Microsoft’s Bing also attacked the move in an advertising campaign known as “Scroogled”, which called Google out for using “deceptive advertising practices” and suggested that users use its competing Bing Shopping service instead.

Although the paid listing version of this tool remains controversial, it remains a very effective way for businesses to display their products online with images, for those larger sized ones that have sufficient budget resources to do this. So for those that are aware of this technology, it’s important to keep up-to-date with recent developments. One of these is the recent announcement by Google about the enforcement of a specific requirement, which is aimed to continue improving data quality on Google Shopping.

The compulsory use of the “unique product identifier” and “identifier exists” attributes will come into force from September 16th in Australia. By November, all violating listings will be rejected and will not be served through Product Listing Ads, so it’s vital that this requirement is put in place by then. (These new feed specifications are already being enforced for all accounts in the United States and non-exempt accounts in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom).

Please review the latest product feed specification to learn more. Or if you’d like more information about how to use product listings with images online through Google Shopping contact us now.

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