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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – February 2015

Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter for 2015, 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 release of its ‘Pigeon Update’ algorithm that’s intended to improve the quality of local search results and we consider what impact that’s having on UK business listings.

We also look at the changes that have improved the level of sophistication and ability to target potential customers through the Google AdWords Display Network. Finally, we examine how the global release of Google’s latest version of the popular AdWords Editor tool has been the most significant change to it since its inception in 2006.

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 ‘Pigeon Update’ and Local Search Rankings

Google originally launched their new ‘Pigeon Update’ algorithm on July 24, 2014 for US English results, stating that it provides “more useful, relevant and accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals”. Also, in an attempt to improve the quality of local searches, Google are “now relying on the factors such as location and distance to provide better search results to users”.

This local search ranking algorithm was unusually termed ‘Pigeon’ by industry watchers, following the previous Panda and Penguin updates in recent years – the reasoning was also that pigeons know their locality well enough to be able to fly back home! Following 6 months of usage on Google.com, ‘Pigeon’ was rolled out to UK search results in the middle of December 2014 and there have been some significant changes noted in the local search engine results since then.

The ‘Pigeon’ algorithm isn’t one focussed on fighting ‘spammy’ results, as long as there have been no unscrupulous methods implemented to get better local search ranking results that don’t comply with Google’s guidelines. However, it has altered the local listings in the search results – particularly where the small panel of 3-8 local results would appear on the main Google search page for the locally focused search term. There are now fewer ‘local’ listings for some search terms and early reports indicate that for some searches, Google is opting to display a higher percentage of standard web page listings, instead of the local results derived from the Google My Business listings.

Google also seems to be heavily favouring the physical proximity of a business location to the search intent, to provide a better ranking in from ‘Google My Business’, particularly for mobile searches. This is one of the most significant changes in this recent update, and of course something that can’t be changed by a business! However, there are also some ranking rewards for local businesses who have invested wisely in their own website’s SEO, as this ‘Pigeon Update’ appears to use more of Google’s main web search ranking signals built in to it.

For example, authoritative backlinks matter more in web search than they do in local search. Those and unique, relevant website content are now also becoming an increasingly significant factor in ‘local’ results along with the physical location of the business. As such, the update should reinforce that it is more vital than ever to have a mobile responsive, useful, properly optimised website for your local business to help target customers in your area. This is a crucial consideration in light of the mobile search revolution – as the mobile browsers have much less space available, attaining the top rankings in those is becoming increasingly important.

If you want to know more about how to improve your local and mobile search results, contact us now for more details.


Improved Google AdWords Display Network Targeting

Google recently announced that it’s changing the way in which customers can be reached through their AdWords Display Network. This should be interesting to any online marketeers that use this network, especially for widespread company branding which targets customers’ ‘other interests’.

Since 2009, advertisers have been using ‘interest category’ marketing to connect with people across the Google Display Network based on their interests. Since then, Google have added new and more powerful interest-based capabilities: affinity (for enthusiasts), custom affinity (for niche segments), and in-market audiences (for ready to buy shoppers).

As these more sophisticated audience tools offer advertisers additional flexibility and control, since January 15 2015 ‘other interests’ is no longer a targeting option for new and existing audience campaigns. Current campaigns that target ‘other interests’ will continue to run until June 2015, after which they’ll be automatically upgraded to one of these options:

Affinity audiences: Reach TV-like segments at scale to drive brand awareness (e.g. Kraft used affinity audiences to reach cooking enthusiasts to build awareness for their new ‘Fresh Take’ brand).
Custom affinity audiences: Niche segments that can be found and custom-tailored for a brand (e.g. Electronic Arts used custom affinity audiences to engage fans of specific NFL teams in their recent Madden GIFERATOR campaign. They created 32 custom affinity audiences, one per NFL team, to reach fans of specific teams with display ads timed to the real-time action on the field).
In-market audiences: Reach consumers while they’re actively browsing, researching or comparing products related to a category you choose (e.g. the online car dealership Autobytel uses in-market audiences to reach customers actively researching specific models, price comparisons, and consumer reviews, as opposed to casual car enthusiasts).

So the level of granularity that Google provides for controlling the targeting on its Display Network is increasing in its sophistication and will continue to do so, to give companies the best opportunities to target their customers most effectively.

You can read more about the enhanced GDN reach and if you want more information on how to better focus your Display Network targeting, contact us now for more details.


Google AdWords Editor is Updated

Google recently released an updated version of one of its most popular management tools – AdWords Editor – and this update was a significant one with some major changes to the look and functionality of the tool. AdWords Editor was designed with the most sophisticated advertisers in mind, as it helps to reduce the time spent on managing large campaigns by simplifying workflow, but for anyone managing an AdWords campaign, it can be a great time-saver.

AdWords Editor 11.0 represents the biggest update to the application since its initial release in 2006. It’s been redesigned from the ground up, with old features being enhanced and new ones added to help do more, in less time. With a brand new visual design and faster interface, AdWords Editor 11.0 is built to improve efficiency as you view changes as they’re are made across accounts, campaigns and adgroups.

The new design and interface mimics the Windows OS by enabling the ability to view multiple accounts at once by opening as many account windows as desired. Arrange them side-by-side and even copy and paste or drag-and-drop items between them. You can also add and manage all of the accounts, download data, and monitor status in the new accounts manager. It’s also possible to open multiple windows to view different parts of your account at the same time – for instance, you can now open a new window to view your keyword list while creating your related ads.

As the number of accounts grows, so does the need to find the things in them quickly. So there’s now a panel for selecting type lists. This feature removes the need to navigate using tabs, so you can quickly perform common tasks while instantly accessing your campaigns, advanced features and settings. If you’re looking for something specific, use the improved, advanced search bar. You can now apply multiple search criteria and filters, and even save popular searches for future use. Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, it’s easy to navigate and make changes using simple keyboard shortcuts (Mac & Windows).

Making large-scale changes is now even easier in AdWords Editor 11.0. Advanced multi-select functionality makes viewing and updating specific parts of an account simple. Select any combination of campaigns and ad groups to view their ads or keywords, and paste them into multiple campaigns and ad groups at once. You can also manage your Shared Library to assign bid strategies and sitelinks across multiple campaigns and ad groups. The ‘Make multiple change’ tool now automatically organises your text into rows and columns as you add, update, or remove multiple items on the fly, and a detailed history of your recent changes is now just a click away, along with the option to quickly undo or redo multiple changes in sequence or in bulk.

This update has been warmly received by the AdWords marketing industry, as it isn’t a forced update that immediately renders the previous version obsolete. Both versions can be used concurrently as mastery of the new version is attained, so that by April 10, 2015 support for previous versions will be withdrawn. You can read more and download the new version here.

If you want more information about how the new version of AdWords Editor can simplify your campaign management, contact us now.

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