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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – December 2014

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

In the first article this month, we take a look at Google’s recent introduction of a ‘mobile-friendly’ label to its mobile search results as a way to help users find mobile-friendly pages. In addition, we look at Google’s recent statement that it’s testing this ‘mobile-friendly’ criteria as a ranking signal for its search engine results.

As it’s becoming increasingly important to ensure that a website is well optimised for mobiles, we also look at the new mobile usability reports in Google Webmaster Tools, which highlight major mobile usability issues across a website. Finally, we examine how the new AdWords Treemaps reports in Google Analytics enhance the speed and insight of trend identification, or trouble spots, across an AdWords account.

You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter here. 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 Mobile-Friendly Search Results

Google has just announced the introduction of a ‘mobile friendly’ label which will appear in their mobile search results, to indicate which websites are likely to work better to visitors clicking into the site from a smartphone search. Linked to this, there are reports that Google is also testing this ‘mobile friendly’ criteria as a ranking signal to help improve the positions for sites that are geared up for mobile searchers.

This new ‘mobile-friendly’ label in Google’s mobile search results is intended to alleviate the common frustration of searchers on a mobile phone that can occur when the website has not been optimised to be viewed on a mobile. It is already starting to appear in results in the US and will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks.

In order to achieve a ‘mobile friendly’ label, a website will need to meet the following criteria, as detected by Googlebot – the automated programme that visits and indexes the website pages:

  • It avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • It uses text that is readable without zooming
  • The page content is sized to the screen (such as responsive designs), so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom in
  • It places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped.

Related to this identification and labelling of ‘mobile friendly’ websites, are the reports that Google is testing this criteria as a ranking signal for its mobile search engine results. This would mean that websites designed only for desktop or laptop screens may be pushed lower down the rankings on a mobile-search results pages, whereas those seen to be ‘mobile friendly’ will get a ranking boost in the future.

Google is currently conducting limited A/B tests of the mobile criteria, involving thousands of individual users so that some see one set of results while others see a different set, to see which results perform better based on a number of usability criteria. A spokesman declined to comment on when Google might integrate the new ranking criteria fully into mobile-search results, but this would seem to be a likely extension of the labelling policy and aim to encourage site owners to make their websites more mobile friendly and so take advantage of this growing area of search traffic.

If you would like to know more about how to make your website eligible for the ‘mobile-friendly’ label, please contact us now.


Using Mobile Performance Reports in Google Webmaster Tools

Following on from the first article this month, it’s clear that website marketers need to ensure that their sites are optimised well enough to qualify for Google’s ‘mobile-friendly’ label. One way to do this is to review a new set of reports that are now available in Google Webmaster Tools to help site owners identify potential issues with their sites on mobile devices.

The new Mobile Usability report in Google Webmaster Tools were added in October and these help to highlight the major mobile usability issues that can be present across an entire site. This is therefore a useful feature for web marketers and developers, plus the reports include graphs with trends over time, so it’s possible to see the progress that’s been made if mobile changes are implemented on a website.

A mobile-friendly site is one that you can easily read and use on a smartphone, by only having to scroll up or down. Swiping left/right to search for content, zooming to read text and use UI elements, or not being able to see the content at all make a site harder to use for visitors on mobile phones. Therefore these new Mobile Usability reports show the following potential issues: Flash content, missing viewport (a critical meta-tag for mobile pages), tiny fonts, fixed-width viewports, content not sized to viewport, and clickable links/buttons too close to each other.

The reports will list potential issues with the website as a whole, or on individual pages, as identified by Google’s indexing programme. More information on how to make a great mobile-friendly website can be found on their Web Fundamentals website, plus you can also test your website using the Mobile-Friendly Test tool. In addition to these pages, Google also provides documentation in their Webmasters Mobile Guide on how to create and improve a mobile site.

If you would like more information about reviewing your site for mobile usability, contact us now.


New AdWords Treemaps Reports in Analytics

Google has just launched a new set of reports in Analytics, which enable AdWords advertisers to see a ‘Treemap’ report of their advertising performance, linked to key Analytics data. Treemap reports are a popular way to review data visually and so quickly identify areas of good or bad performance that can then receive additional attention.

The new Treemap reports in Google Analytics can be found in the Acquisition menu, under AdWords. At the moment these are shown as Beta reports and are gradually being rolled out and developed based on user experience. The Treemaps represent data as rectangles so that the size and colour in each rectangle represent different metrics, so you can combine different aspects of your data into a single visualisation. You can also drill down into the rectangles to see more specific information about a particular campaign or adgroup or keyword.

These nested rectangles allow the identification of trends and trouble spots across an AdWords account, with the speed and insight that often isn’t possible when looking at numbers alone. It enables advertisers to have the ability to understand an account with enhanced clarity and to determine what the relative levels of importance in different areas of your account are, or if anything has been overlooked.

The visual treemaps provide an intuitive representation of good and bad performance, highlighted by green and red overlays. For metrics where a high number is good (like click-through rate) there will be higher numbers in green; for metrics where a high number is bad (like bounce rate) there will be higher numbers in red. Users can choose which metrics are compared within the treemaps, depending on the data and objectives required.

These new reports are a valuable addition to the tools available for managers and allow KPIs to be analysed at a rapid rate, which can lead to enhanced and more productive AdWords management. You can read more here about the new Treemap reports.

If you’d like to know more about how to use AdWords Treemaps in Google Analytics, please contact us now for more details.

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