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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – January 2017

As we begin 2017 we’d like to wish you a happy and successful year ahead. Following on from the theme of the newsletter a year ago, we have created a checklist for your website / search marketing activity for the new year, to review all the key elements you should have in place for the next 12 months.

These items cover AdWords activity, if you are using a paid search account, as well as some of the main SEO factors to consider for your website. We’ve also included some key aspects for your Google Analytics reporting. And as usual, if you need any further information about any of these checklist items, please contact us for details.

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 AdWords checklist

  • Expanded Text Ads – all AdWords advertisers should have the new expanded text ad format in place by the end of January, which is when Google has said they will stop supporting the old format ads, and so no further edits can be made to these (although they will continue to be shown if still used). It’s possible that Google may extend the deadline again, but it’s also advisable to get the new expanded text ads running for a period alongside the old ads, which can then eventually be removed and the newer format ads will become the default option. Read more here.
  • Ad Extensions – Google added a number of new ad extensions over the past year, so check which ones are being used with your campaigns and make sure you have all the key ones in places, such as sitelinks, callouts and call extensions. Use the structured snippets and location extensions as well, if possible, and consider some new extensions such as text messages or price extensions for mobiles. Read more here.
  • RLSAs – this acronym stands for ‘remarketing lists for search ads’ and allows you to extend your remarketing activity to Google search results, so that your previous site visitors will get your search ads boosted in the results, and can encourage return visits and conversions at a better rate than new visitors. Use this at the same bid level initially and then raise or lower the bids based on results. Read more here.
  • DFSAs – similar to the above option, the Audiences tab in a search campaign now includes ‘demographic targeting for search ads’ with data automatically displayed, where available, so that you can focus your bids on the core customer groups by age or gender that match your target audience. The information is dependent on Google being able to match the searcher with known or assumed information, but this can provide some great insights on conversion rates and offer bid control around the best or worst converting groups. Read more here.
  • Responsive Ads – this new format for display ads in AdWords has been around for the past 6 months and provides the flexibility to create ads for multiple screen sizes and formats. It’s good to set one or more of these up to test the reach and performance of these, particularly if mobile is a core part of your target audience. Read more here.


SEO Checklist

  • Search Console – as we recommended last year, the Google Search Console account should be an essential addition to your website marketing tools, and is free to create. Once verified, you can access a range of valuable information, recommendations and reports about your website activity on Google, with some key reports being the search analytics reports, link reports and crawl error report. Read more here.
  • Robots and Sitemap – as part of the Search Console settings, as well as a best practice technique, make sure your site is using the robots.txt file to provide search engine spiders with the access commands for your site, and that linked to this, you have a sitemap.xml file to get your pages found and indexed by Google. Remember to keep this updated as well with any changes to your website structure. Read more here.
  • WordPress Updates – we’ve covered this issue in a previous newsletter, but if your site has been built with WordPress and uses a range of plugins, make sure these are kept updated and you regularly check for new updates to prevent the chance of the site being hacked. Read more here.
  • Google My Business – whether you are targeting a local market or not, your business should ensure that you have a Google My Business listing set up and this is owned and updated as necessary. These listings have gone through a number of confusing and often frustrating changes in the past few years, but they remain a key marketing tool for local or brand name searches. Read more here.


Google Analytics checklist

  • Conversion Goals – an essential part of using Google Analytics reports to their full potential is having one or more conversion goals set up. This helps to provide the real insights on your website performance and the ultimate objectives you have for each visit, whether it’s a sale, enquiry, page view or other user engagement that can help identify the best visitors and where they come from. Read more here.
  • Event Tracking – if the standard goals in Analytics are hard to set up, make use of event tracking to measure non-standard actions on your website, and track as goals if relevant. By counting clicks on emails or phone links, downloads of PDF files, views of videos, or visits to social media sites, event tracking can really expand the data and insights being collected by Analytics. Read more here.
  • Advanced Segments – of all the tools available in Analytics, segments can be some of the most insightful to enable you to isolate particular groups of visitors or to drill down into certain user behaviour to get to the answers you need. Get into the habit of using Google’s preset segments or more importantly, create your own to get more from the reports. Read more here.
  • The Google Analytics Mobile App – this is a relatively new tool which can be downloaded to your smartphone and allows you access to your Analytics reports via your mobile. More importantly, it provides an ‘Assistant’ option in the menu that shows alerts or suggestions based on recent trends in your data to gain insights into your results which you may not have picked up. Read more here.


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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