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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – October 2015

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.

In a continuation in our regular series of articles about Google AdWords developments, this month we take a look at a couple of new developments which should be of significant interest to AdWords managers, or any business that has a campaign running. Firstly, Google recently announced that Gmail ads are now available for all advertisers directly in AdWords. Secondly, structured snippet extensions have been released, which are useful as they allow advertiser-provided structured information to show with text ads and can improve ‘AdRank’.

In our final article this month, we take a look at how the SEO industry is eagerly anticipating the launch of Google’s latest ‘Penguin’ search ranking algorithm. This is expected to include real-time updates and may be launched before the end of 2016.

You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either 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…

Using AdWords to Place Gmail Ads

Google AdWords now provides all advertisers with the ability to target ads to Gmail users, so this article should be of interest to any marketers who have previously considered advertising within this service. This is a worthy consideration, as the traffic volumes in Gmail can be vast, so there’s plenty of potential to target a wide-ranging audience.

Google recently made Gmail ads available for all advertisers directly through AdWords. Standard text ads no longer display in Gmail and have been replaced with higher-quality ‘native’ ads that integrate more seamlessly with the inbox.

Advertisers can manage these Gmail ads right in AdWords by setting up a Display Network campaign and creating a Gmail ads format in the Ad gallery. The ad has two main parts:

  • The collapsed ad that users initially see, which matches the look and feel of the Gmail inbox. Users can click on this to expand it and get more details.
  • The expanded ad unit is triggered by a click on the collapsed ad. This is a full-page native ad that recreates the informational and visual richness of a landing page. After users click to expand, any subsequent clicks on the content are free, including clicks to save the ad to an inbox or forward it to others.

Advertisers can choose from several customisable Gmail ads templates for the expanded ad unit. They can feature a single image, highlight a promotion that combines an image with a description and call-to-action button, or showcase multiple products at once. The custom HTML format offers the greatest amount of flexibility in how assets are configured and allows the creation of an even richer ad experience by including videos, forms, phone numbers, and multiple links and calls-to-action.

Once the ads are developed it’s then possible to reach the desired audience with advanced display targeting, by using the existing options like keywords, affinity audiences, demographics, and topics. For example, a sports apparel advertiser could select relevant topics like “Fitness” and “Sporting Goods” or reach people in the “Health & Fitness Buffs” or “Running Enthusiasts” affinity audiences.

As Gmail ads have evolved, Google has continued to give users the ability to actively control the types of ads they see. As with other Google ads, users can manage their ad settings to remove unwanted ads from specific advertisers. They can also opt out of interest-based ads entirely.

Google’s announcement to make the native Gmail ad option available to all AdWords advertisers is a positive step. It’s probable though that, due to the large size of the target market and the ‘big-player’ level of competition, the cost of using these ads may be mostly prohibitive for some markets but would be worth testing with some focused targeting criteria.

More information about how to display Gmail ads can be found here.

If you want to know more about how to set up an effective Gmail-based advertising campaign, please contact us now for more details.


Structured Snippet Extensions Available in AdWords

In the second of our AdWords articles this month, we take a look at the use of structured snippet extensions to show additional information with text ads. This should be of interest to AdWords managers, as all ad extensions typically boost the performance of an ad and are also a factor in supporting ‘AdRank’. Although ad extensions aren’t always eligible to show, the more that are provided, the better the auction is at selecting the best combination of extensions to improve performance, so these new ones are a useful addition.

Earlier in the year, Google introduced dynamic structured snippets in AdWords. This automated ad extension can give customers a better sense of the content on a website before an ad is clicked upon. Whether it’s highlighting a list of hotel amenities or top clothing brands, dynamic structured snippets can make search ads more relevant and helpful while saving time by simplifying campaign management.

Since their release, Google has received feedback requesting a function to enable customisation of the information that shows in this format, which is why structured snippet extensions became available to all AdWords accounts during September. The advertiser-provided structured information that shows with text ads can range from amenities to brands to product types. A predefined “Header” can now be selected to then input a list of customised values that make the most sense for a business. For example, a hotel brand promoting hotel property can now create a structured snippet for “Amenities”, such as ‘Free Wi-Fi’, ‘Swimming Pool’ and order them accordingly.

There is a similar extension already available called ‘Callouts’ but their uses differ by having distinct attributes. Callouts should be used to highlight what makes a business, service, or product unique, whereas complimentary structured snippets highlight a specific aspect of the particular product or service. The use of both gives an excellent depiction of what a business provides, whilst simultaneously contributing to boosting the performance of an ad.

More information about Structured Snippet Extensions for AdWords can be found here. If you’d like to know more and how they can be used as part of your AdWords campaigns, please get in touch.


Real Time Penguin Algorithm Updates

Our final article this month examines a topic that is currently of great interest to the SEO industry. Changes to Google’s ranking algorithms can have a significant impact upon how businesses perform on the Search Engine Results Page, so it’s necessary to keep up-to-date with any forecasted amendments to these.

The so-called Google ‘Penguin’ algorithm update was first announced on April 24, 2012. The update was aimed at decreasing the search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s guidelines by using ‘black-hat’ SEO techniques to artificially increase the ranking of a webpage, particularly by manipulating the number of links pointing to the page through unscrupulous techniques and using poor quality websites.

Since then there have been numerous updates to this algorithm change to continually refine and improve the quality of the search results. The last official update was Penguin 3.0, which took place on October 18 2014, almost a year ago. The last time we saw a significant shift with the Penguin algorithm was before December 2014, so the industry is expecting another one soon although Google is being typically coy with the details it releases about it.

In June, Google’s Gary Illyes explained that they’re working on solving the issue of making the Penguin algorithm run in real time, which is a “hard problem” for Google. The most recent information is from John Mueller at Google Switzerland, who said that he doesn’t know for sure when the Penguin algorithm would launch but if he had to guess, it would be before the end of the year and it would be the real time version.

Google has regularly stated that they will be making Penguin run more often and as it’s almost a year now since the last update, the next one is expected soon. Judging by the limited information provided though, there’s the feeling that even Google can have problems with such a technical advancement, causing its release to be frequently delayed. Once it is released however, there may be some more Penguin penalties for unethical links pointing to many websites, so it’s well worth keeping an eye on.

You can read more about the suspected launch of the dynamic update by the end of the year, here. To find out more and how it could impact your website, please contact us.


We hope you’ve found this month’s newsletter useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website’s performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.

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