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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – May 2018

Posts Tagged ‘Google AdWords’

Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – May 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 7:14 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 the use of automated bid strategies in Google AdWords and whether it can be an effective approach. We also report on the roll-out of Google’s ‘mobile-first’ indexing and the implications for SEO, plus the use of autocomplete in the search box, to help searches quickly find the information they are looking for.

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…

How Good Is AdWords Automated Bidding?

Over the past 8 months or so, Google had been pushing the benefits of their automated bidding systems in AdWords, confident that their machine learning tools are now advanced enough to provide advertisers with better results. In turn, this should give marketers more time to focus on their campaign strategy while the system provides the best volume of traffic at the ideal cost. But how good are the systems and should you be using it?

There are a range of automated bidding options available to AdWords advertisers, from the default ‘maximise clicks’ to ones that can maintain your ads in selected positions, or more importantly target your best conversions, through enhanced CPC (which is an addition to manual bidding) to maximise conversions to target CPA. These automated bid management systems will all use the various signals available to provide the best results determined by the advertisers input criteria. But how well do they work?

The answer is mixed. The conversion focused systems do increase conversions and lower the cost per conversion in most cases, but this tends to be done through an increased focus on brand name activity and less on more generic terms, which means that impressions and clicks can be reduced and coverage of the target market is lower. Of course the system will target the better converting keywords which can also be brand related, which is fine for some advertisers, but others who may want to grow their market may not see the best results.

The other main issue is that automated bidding puts all the control into Google’s system so that bid level control at keyword level is lost. Therefore some of the priority keywords that an advertiser wants to rank high may be too low, and therefore to achieve a higher ranking the overall bid settings may need to be changed which then impacts all keywords. In addition, it’s harder to know which keywords may be below first page bid when using automated bidding and although impression shares can often be improved, this may not be true for some terms that are core for the advertiser’s strategy.

The other main consideration is that conversions, or more likely conversion cost, needs to be the primary metric for most advertisers, and so an automated bid system used on this metric could be used, but is dependent on historical conversion data. Therefore the campaign needs to have a good history of conversions (at least 100 in a month is recommended) and these would all ideally need to be conversions of a similar value. As Google’s system ‘learns’ the bid data for an automated system, it can mean that results can deteriorate for several weeks before you start to see the benefits of the system, even if it does work well.

So the best advice is to test. If you have enough conversions over the past month or so, run a split test with an experiment in AdWords so that you compare manual v automated bidding as a 50/50 split (or 70/30, whichever feels more comfortable) and see how the metrics perform over the next month. You can then decide whether to increase the % of the test allocation or switch the whole campaign to auto bidding, or back to manual, depending on the results and what works best for your campaign.

If you’d like to know more, or to discuss automated bidding for your AdWords campaigns, please get in touch.


Google Confirms ‘Mobile-First’ Indexing

At the end of March, the Google Webmaster blog posted an article confirming the long expected roll-out of their mobile-first indexing for search. This comes after a reported 18 months of “careful experimentation and testing” so that Google is now starting to use the mobile version of a web page for the primary indexing and ranking in the search results, to help mobile users who are now the primary form of web searchers.

Up until now the process of Google crawling, indexing, and ranking web pages in their system has typically been driven by the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is significantly different from the mobile version.

Google says they are notifying websites that are migrating to mobile-first indexing via their Search Console account and site owners will expect to see a significantly increased crawl rate from the Smartphone Googlebot. Additionally, Google will show the mobile version of pages in Search results and Google cached pages.

The impact of this for web marketers will hopefully be limited, but older sites that have not yet moved to mobile version, or have separate mobile versions of the site, could see a change in ranking positions. There is also some question about how this change may impact the link popularity of sites if the mobile version has a different link structure to the desktop version.

However, Google says that mobile-first indexing is about how they gather and index content, not about how that content is ranked. Therefore content gathered by mobile-first indexing has no ranking advantage over mobile content that’s not yet gathered this way, or desktop content.

Having said that, Google wants to encourage webmasters to make their content mobile-friendly to help the growing mobile market, and since 2015, the measure of sites being ‘mobile friendly’ can help this type of content perform better for those who are searching on mobile devices. Similarly, it has been announced that from July 2018, content that is slow-loading may perform less well for both desktop and mobile searchers.

So, Google wants to make it clear that:

  • being indexed this way has no ranking advantage and operates independently from their mobile-friendly assessment
  • having mobile-friendly content is still helpful for those looking at ways to perform better in mobile search results
  • having fast-loading content is still helpful for those looking at ways to perform better for mobile and desktop users
  • and as always, ranking uses many factors and therefore mobile-friendly content is just one signal used to determine the most relevant content to show.

If you would like more information about this change, please get in touch.


Google Autocomplete – How it Works

In our continuing series about Google autocomplete, we take a look at when, where and how it works in Search. Autocomplete is available most anywhere you find a Google search box, including the Google home page, the Google app for iOS and Android, the quick search box from within Android and the “Omnibox” address bar within Chrome. Just begin typing and the predictions appear, varying from one Searcher to another because the list may include any related past searches.

If a past search is appearing on a desktop, the word “Remove” appears next to a prediction. Click on that word if you want to delete the past search. (It’s possible to delete all your past searches in bulk, or by particular dates or those matching particular terms using My Activity in your Google Account).

For example, typing “london w” brings up predictions such as “london weather” making it easy to finish entering the search on these topics without typing all the letters. Autocomplete is especially useful for using on mobile devices, making it easy to complete a search on a small screen where typing can be hard. Typically up to 10 predictions are seen on desktops and up to 5 on mobiles.

Google call these “predictions” rather than “suggestions,” for a good reason. Autocomplete is designed to help complete a search people were intending to do, not to suggest new types of searches to be performed. Those predictions are determined by looking at the real searches that happen on Google and showing common and trending ones relevant to the characters that are entered and also related to the Searcher’s location and previous searches.

Interestingly, Google has been in legal trouble over the feature. Courts in Japan have ruled on autocomplete. They also lost cases in France and in Italy and an Irish hotel has sued Google over predictions. So they remove some from autocomplete, such as piracy related terms and adult terms, but when it comes to reputation management, Google prefers to let the algorithm do its work.

These are removed:

  • Sexually explicit predictions that are not related to medical, scientific, or sex education topics
  • Hateful predictions against groups and individuals on the basis of race, religion or several other demographics
  • Violent predictions
  • Dangerous and harmful activity in predictions

The guiding principle is that autocomplete should not shock users with unexpected or unwanted predictions. Google’s systems are designed to automatically catch inappropriate predictions and not show them, but they can still get shown. They strive to quickly remove those however, as in one case in Tokyo in 2013, a search on a particular man’s name provided suggestions that the man committed criminal acts. Google was ordered to pay the man $3,100 in defamation damages for the mental anguish the search suggestion caused him.

Google’s defence has been that their autocomplete predictions are automatically generated based on what people are searching for and the content which already exists on the Internet, maintaining a position of neutrality. That’s a fair point, as when there are sufficient searches and content created about a subject which Google’s algorithm sees fit to display as a recommended search result, then, is it the search engine’s fault for honestly displaying what people are saying online?

In relation to this, Google states “even if the context behind a prediction is good, even if a prediction is infrequent, it’s still an issue if the prediction is inappropriate. It’s our job to reduce these as much as possible”.

To better deal with inappropriate predictions, they launched a feedback tool last year and have been using the data since to make improvements to their systems and their removal policy has recently been expanded for criteria applying to hate and violence. If an inapproriate prediction is spotted, it can be reported by using the “Report inappropriate predictions” link Google launched last year, which appears below the search box on desktops.

If you want to know more about how Google’s working to reduce inappropriate predictions and how using autocomplete can help your business, contact us now.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – April 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018 6:13 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 the recently launched Speed Scorecard from Google which helps website owners and marketers check the load time of popular websites on mobile, and how speed may impact revenue or conversion rate. We also look at message extensions in Google AdWords and the new reporting options being introduced which will help to provide better insights into the use of this option. Finally we look at Google’s changes to privacy and advertiser settings in the face of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which particularly impacts websites operating in the European 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…

Google launches Speed Scorecard and Impact Calculator

At the end of February, Google announced the launch of their new mobile Speed Scorecard and Impact Calculator, which is an easy-to-use online tool that allows web marketers to compare their mobile website speed with other companies.

Google is continually extolling the virtues of a fast-loading website, to help the searcher experience as well as general usability of a website, and with mobile search now becoming the dominant form of search, the speed of a mobile website is vital. Slow loading sites can be a frustration for visitors, and a 2016 study by Google indicated that 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes more than three seconds to load.

The new Speed Scorecard tool shows the speeds of thousands of sites from 12 countries across the globe. Google generates the data from their Chrome User Experience Report, which is the largest database of real-user latency data for how Chrome users experience popular destinations on the web. However, not all sites will be included in this database so results for some sites can be patchy.

When it comes to mobile speed, Google recommends that a site loads and becomes usable within 5 seconds on mid-range mobile devices with 3G connections, or within three seconds on 4G connections. By using this tool, companies can check the load speed of their website and compare to others in the market.

A slow mobile site doesn’t just frustrate customers, it can limit an online business. In the retail market, it’s been calculated that for every 1 second delay in page load time, conversions can fall by up to 20%. The Impact Calculator is an additional tool that estimates the revenue impact that could result from improving the speed of your mobile site.

Google already provides a number of site speed tools, including in Google Analytics where a list of speed suggestions are generated. These often suggest the same things for most websites, but it’s important for companies to be aware of potential speed issues, and to discuss the checklist and possible options with their website developers to gain seconds in page load time.

If you’d like to know more about the new Speed Scorecard and how you can assess or improve your website’s load time, please contact us for a discussion.


Using Message Extensions in Google AdWords

Click to message ads, or message extensions, have been available in Google AdWords since the end of 2016 although are not widely used by many advertisers. However, Google’s research indicates that 65% of consumers would consider messaging a company to get further information, or to schedule an appointment. Now Google has announced more detailed reporting for this type of extension.

Starting to roll-out in the number of countries, including Australia and the UK, message reporting is designed to provide advertisers with more information and insights to assess the effectiveness of the message extensions with AdWords adverts.

The new reporting will include a number of performance metrics, including:

Chat rate – how often users start a conversation with you (“Chats”) after seeing your message extension (“Message impressions”).
Chat start time – the timestamp for when a user sends you a message to initiate a conversation. Advertisers could use this insight to help schedule their message extensions.
Messages – the total number of messages exchanged between you and a user within a single chat. This insight could be used to evaluate which campaigns are driving the longest or most in-depth conversations compared to the average.
The most common uses for message extensions might be for advertisers whose potential customers may want to make fast contact, but may not want to talk to someone directly. They can start a new contact channel which should be responded to quite quickly and puts the emphasis on the advertiser to provide more information and to encourage further exchanges with the enquirer.

Message extensions could be used as a mobile equivalent to a live chat option on the website, but starting from the advert itself, and the advertiser can start with a strong text message in the ad that relates to the search term and encourages a first contact to be made.

Google provides a ‘best practice’ guide to using message extensions and this should be tested by advertisers if they think their customers may want to communicate in this way. The new message reporting should also help advertisers assess the response and effectiveness of this ad extension as they develop the conversions from their campaigns.

If you’d like to know more about message extensions and how it could be used in your AdWords activity, please contact us now for more details.


Understanding the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

At the end of March, Google sent out a lengthy email to their advertisers and users of their various data services, particularly in Europe but also throughout the world with regard to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In the light of the recent Facebook issue where personal data was shared without consent, this move by Google seemed timely and also in preparation of possible future changes to legal restrictions that could be imposed.

The GDPR is a new data protection law which came into force in Europe on May 25, 2018. The GDPR affects European and non-European businesses using online advertising (such as AdWords) and measurement solutions (such as Analytics) when their sites and apps are accessed by users in the European Economic Area (EEA).

Google’s EU User Consent Policy is being updated to reflect the new legal requirements of the GDPR. It sets out the responsibilities of companies for making disclosures to, and obtaining consents from, end users of their websites and apps in the EEA. The policy is incorporated into the contracts for most Google ads and measurement products globally.

Google has been rolling out updates to their contractual terms for many products since last August, reflecting Google’s status as either data processor or data controller under the new law.

For users of Google Analytics (GA), Attribution, Optimize, Tag Manager or Data Studio, whether the free or paid versions, Google operates as a processor of personal data that is handled in the service. Data processing terms for these products are already available for users of these tools to accept (in Admin → Account Settings pages).

If users are an EEA client of Google Analytics, data processing will be included in their terms shortly. GA customers based outside the EEA and all GA 360 customers may accept the terms from within GA.

To comply with and support the compliance of companies with the GDPR laws, Google will be launching new controls for Google Analytics customers to manage the retention and deletion of their data. The policy will also require that publishers take extra steps in obtaining consent from their users and so, before May, Google will launch a solution to support publishers that want to show non-personalized ads, and they are also working with industry groups, such as IAB Europe, to explore proposed consent solutions for publishers.

At present these laws mostly apply to European countries, but could herald further restrictions and controls for online business and advertising around the world. It you’d like to know more, please get in touch.

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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 – January 2018

Tuesday, January 2, 2018 3:05 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 the new user reports available in Google Analytics, the updated SEO Starter Guide from Google, and changes to the Grants requirements for AdWords advertisers.

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…

New User Focused Reports in Google Analytics

A common view of web marketers is that understanding user journeys across channels and devices is critical to marketing success. Since today’s customers have very high expectations for personalised and relevant experiences from brands, Google has introduced new reporting in Analytics to help measure the stages of a customer journey through a website.

The first new change in Analytics has been an update to the standard reports to focus more on users. The new user metrics help website marketers better understand engagement with their customers, especially those who may have multiple sessions across multiple days. The traditional ‘sessions’ data is still being collected and shown in the standard reports, but user data is now also more prominent to help review this level of information.

Another good report – which has also been updated – is User Explorer. This enables marketers to analyse visitors on an individual level, if required, and the report now includes lifetime metrics and dimensions for individual users (based on the lifetime of their cookie if they use the same device). These new metrics and dimensions will give Analytics users a much more detailed way to measure visitors and customers.

For example, Analytics users can look back and see the total amount of time an individual user has spent on the website, or the total number of transactions an individual user has made. There are new dimensions that show data such as when a user made their first visit to your site and which channel acquired them.

There is also a new option to publish any audience data to a new report in Google Analytics, that should help make every audience easier to understand. Users can now go to the new Audiences report and see a cross-channel view of the audiences that have been created in Analytics. For instance, marketers might decide to publish an audience to Analytics so that they can see all users who have purchased within the last 12 months but not during the last 2.

The fourth new development is a metric called Conversion Probability. This takes user-based metrics one step further to show the probability that a given user will convert in the future. These calculations are based on a machine learning model that learns from users who have made transactions in the past so that, for example, marketers can create remarketing lists that target users who have a high likelihood to purchase and then advertise to them using an AdWords campaign.

Added to this new data is a Conversion Probability report, which will show the Conversion Probability for all users of a website, including across important dimensions such as channel. This is a new feature from Analytics Intelligence and Google expects to introduce more forward-looking estimate reports on likely conversions by individual users.

Some of these new enhancements are still rolling out, or in beta for Analytics users, but aim to help marketers better understand their users and create more relevant experiences for them.

If you’d like more information about these new user focused metrics and reports in Analytics, please contact us now.


SEO Starter Guide from Google

Contrary to some beliefs, Google wants to encourage SEO, as long as it’s done correctly in a way that helps the searcher’s experience and gives them access to relevant and useful information. As a result, Google publishes an SEO Starter Guide which has just been revised and updated.

This SEO Starter Guide lists best practices for website owners and marketers that can make their website easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand content. The updated version has been enhanced to include additional sections on the need for search engine optimisation, adding structured data markup and building mobile-friendly websites.

The Guide – which can be accessed here in HTML format – explains how to get web pages indexed by Google and include links out to other resources including webmaster guidelines, Google Search Console and more technical information about Google’s ‘crawling’ of the web.

It includes best practice techniques for adding or blocking pages from Google’s index, and how Google’s crawler will interact and read content from a web page. There is some advice about writing unique and accurate title and description tags, as well as the use of headings in the body content.

As a more advanced technique there is some information on using structured data markup and links to tools that can help users set these up if required. Plus there is a section on the importance of the website hierarchy and navigation structure that will help users and search engines find the content in the correct manner.

Finally there are some sections included on content optimisation with tips on what to do, or not do, and also some advice about the use of links and how to manage these effectively. The guide also covers the importance of mobile friendly web pages, and some techniques to analsye site performance and user behaviour.

The SEO Starter Guide is certainly a good place to begin the SEO process for your website and to review what is currently being done and what could be improved. Following the advice from Google is also a good way of increasing your chances of your site being found and ranked well in the search results, so it should be an essential resource to use as part of your website marketing activity.

If you would like any further information or have any questions about the SEO for your website, please get in touch.


Updates to Google AdWords Grants policies

Charities and non-profits who use Google AdWords Grants accounts have received notifications of changes to some key policies for 2018 which may have an impact on some advertisers and campaigns.

Grants advertisers can benefit from $10k of free advertising spend in AdWords once they qualify for an account, although there are some limitations such as a restriction to Google Search only (no coverage of display ads or search partners), and bid limits are restricted to a $2 cap.

However, one advantage from the new changes is that Google now says that the US$2.00 bid cap can be extended by switching bidding to the automated ‘Maximise conversions’ setting, as this automatically sets bids based on performance. Of course this does require advertisers to have conversion tracking in place and generating leads, but this is certainly worth considering.

Some of the other changes to note are more limitations on single-word keywords (excluding own brand names, recognised medical conditions and a few other exceptions). Also overly generic keywords are also not allowed, such as ‘free videos’, ‘today’s news’, ‘easy yoga’, ‘download games’, ‘job alerts’ or names of places. In addition to these, Google also now says that keywords with a Quality Score of 2 or less will not be permitted in a Grants account.

There are also a tightening of policies regaring the websites that can use Grants and the way that campaigns are structured. For example, a Grants AdWords account must have at least 2 active ad groups per campaign, each containing a set of closely related keywords and 2 active ad texts, plus at least 2 sitelink ad extensions.

A more challenging requirement for some advertisers will also be that all Grants AdWords accounts must maintain a 5% click-through rate (CTR) each month. Google say that they recognise that there are reasons why CTR may fluctuate, but advertisers who don’t reach this level will see in-product notifications alerting them that their account is at risk and will provide links to educational resources. If the CTR requirement is not met for two consecutive months, the account will be cancelled, but advertisers will get the chance to request a reinstatement after keywords with a low CTR have been paused or deleted to bring the account into compliance.

There is more information about these new policies here but if you are a Grants advertiser and would like further advice or help about this, please get in touch.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – December 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017 10:09 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.

In our first article this month we take a look at Google’s new AdWords ‘experience’ interface and the additional features that are available to advertisers who migrate across to this version. We also look at some analytics and reporting issues, with the new user management options in Google Analytics and, finally, the closer integration of Data Studio with AdWords.

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…


New Innovations with the AdWords Experience

All AdWords advertisers are now being moved over to the new look ‘AdWords Experience’ and this is being encouraged by Google with some new innovations that are only available to users of the new interface.

The default view for many AdWords account is now the new designed interface which has quite notable differences in layout and function, so it can be quite a ‘culture shock’ for regular AdWords users. There are also issues of speed and functionality with the new interface which need to be resolved, and there is still the option to switch back to the old view if required.

However, AdWords is trying to encourage more users to move over to the new ‘experience’ interface, including the following developments:

  • Testing ad variations at scale – sometimes small changes to ad text, or using a different call to action, can dramatically affect performance. Google is rolling out ad variations in the new AdWords experience, which provides a fast and easy way to test changes across text ads at scale. The ad variations tool allows advertisers to test changes across thousands of ads in just a few clicks, with the test results shown when they’re statistically significant and simple implementation of the winning option.
  • Evaluate ads and extensions in one place – the new combined section for ads and extensions enables advertisers to see extensions as ads are created, to ensure that the messaging makes sense as a complete unit.
  • Manage call bid adjustments – this new bid adjustment option allows advertisers to increase how many calls might be received without the risk of paying too much for a standard click, and determines how often the call extension appears with the ads on mobile.
  • Take advantage of Showcase Shopping ads – for ecommerce retailers, Showcase Shopping ads enable the grouping together a selection of related products and present them to introduce a brand or business. These ads help the user decide where to buy when they search for more general terms like “skincare” or “furniture”.
  • Utilise promotion extensions – this option makes it easy for advertisers to keep promotions up to date without the need to create new ads. They also free up the rest of the ad for more unique content, like the brand terms or a clear call to action.
  • Manage all audiences in one place – for display advertisers this helps to improve campaigns by managing targeted audiences with a new unified workflow in the new interface. For ecommerce stores, the new custom intent audiences make it easier to reach people who want to buy specific products based on data from the advertiser’s own campaigns, website and YouTube channel.

All the above features are new options available to AdWords advertisers and worth testing if relevant to a particular campaign or market. The new ‘experience’ interface is a new way to work in AdWords but the above options should be an incentive to start using the new look and the new tools.

If you’d like more information about the new AdWords interface and how to get the most from it, please contact us for details.


New Tools For Managing Google Analytics Users

In October, Google announced new account management tools for businesses using Google Analytics in response to feedback about the need for simple but powerful tools to manage access to important analytics data. Near the start of November it introduced another round of improvements, which over the coming months, will centralise user management across a company’s many Google Analytics accounts and launch user groups to simplify the task of managing permissions for multiple teams of users.

Centralised user management for an organisation
Administrators can now centrally manage users across all Google Analytics accounts linked to an organisation. If there are many accounts, and users need to be added across them, there will ‘huge’ time- savings. For example, if a new team member needs access to 25 accounts, it was previously necessary to visit every account to get them set up. Now this task can be completed from one place.

It’s also possible to:

  • View rich cross product and cross account details for users
  • Manage a user’s access across many Analytics accounts in one console
  • See new details about how a user inherits their permissions
  • Get clear in-product explanations of different access levels and privileges

If you’re just using Google Analytics and don’t need to manage users across accounts, these same improvements will be seen inside of Google Analytics. All of the navigation and documentation improvements are present in both places.

User Groups in Google Analytics
Organisation administrators often need to manage access for hundreds of users. This process can be tedious, especially when dealing with multiple Analytics accounts. Now it’s possible to more easily manage large teams of users by creating a group, placing the appropriate people inside it, and granting the groups access to the appropriate Analytics accounts. A group can even be placed inside a group if a hierarchy of teams needs to be managed. To do this, an organisation will need to be created. You can read more about that here.

Combined with existing features like the ability to centrally audit and set policies for users, these new features bring enterprise grade controls to organisations. They also pave the way for future enhancements, such as bringing centralised user management and user groups to more products.

If you want more information about how these new tools for managing Google Analytics users can help to improve the resource management within your organisation, contact us now for details.


Google Simplifies Data Studio Reports With AdWords Data Control

In response to Google’s research that 61% of marketing decision makers struggled to access or integrate the data they needed last year, they created Data Studio as a solution.

This solved the problem of it previously not being easy to pull reports in all kinds of formats, import them into spreadsheets or databases, calculate and derive fields and then share it all with stakeholders. It’s a dashboarding and reporting tool for data from Google AdWords, Google Analytics, DoubleClick Campaign Manager, Google Sheets and more that can produce dynamic, self-updating reports that are easy to understand and share.

The new development includes a new feature in Data Studio that makes sharing even more powerful: AdWords Data Control. This lets each user choose the source accounts for the data they want to see in any report. There’s no need to build separate reports for every user and account.

Suppose you have set data that’s monitored every day in AdWords accounts. With Data Studio, it’s possible to build a report, then use AdWords Data Control to populate the report with data from the other active accounts. That makes it easy to monitor all the data for a business while also seeing individual accounts that are of interest.

This enables large organisations with many websites for different brands, regions, or business units to unify AdWords reporting and team KPIs across them all. Also to share data, collaborate, and add or revoke permissions at any time. A template report can be built in Data Studio to do this and by adding the AdWords Data Control, the report can be shared across the organisation. Every user will then see the AdWords data in the curated report.

As always with Data Studio, it’s possible to pull data from over 127 AdWords dimensions and metrics, from CTR to conversions and average position. The reports are easy to share with a whole team or company, so everyone can make better decisions.

Data Studio comes with sample reports and templates to make it easy to get started. Multiple data connectors help to import data from multiple sources, like Google AdWords and Google Analytics, into a single report and now Data Control makes gathering and sharing data even easier.

You can see more about Data Control here, or Data Studio here.

If you want more details about how Data Studio can help to improve your business, contact us now for information.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – November 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 5:03 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.

In our first article this month we take a look at Google’s recent changes to the AdWords daily budget settings and how the spend can now be up to twice the average daily budget, without exceeding the calculated total budget for the month.

We also look at how Google is aiming to create better user experiences by reducing delays in website landing page load speeds from clicks on AdWords ads with URL tracking, by rolling out parallel tracking later this year. This feature should be of interest to AdWords managers and businesses who use third-party providers, as necessary changes to tracking platforms could take several months to complete.

In the final article this month we examine Google’s Project Beacon For local search marketing, which harnesses the technology of mobile search to help support local businesses in attracting potential customers to their location.

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’s Changes to AdWords Daily Budgets

The AdWords daily budget is calculated by Google over a month-long billing cycle, based on 30.4 days. Due to the daily fluctuations in traffic and online searches Google has changed the way that the budget can be spent, starting from last month. Campaigns can now spend up to twice the average daily budget to help try and reach advertising goals, such as a target amount of clicks and conversions.

This so called ‘overdelivery’ will be balanced out by Google over that 30.4 day calculation period. It states that it won’t charge more than the calculated monthly spending limit, but if it does then it’ll credit the extra amount. To elaborate further on that process, 30.4 is the average number of days in a month (365 days in a year / 12 months = 30.417) so Google multiplies an advetiser’s daily budget by this number so it knows what the budget should be over the course of a month.

For example, if the daily budget is set at £5, over the course of the month the daily charges will vary. Some days the charge would be £2, on others £10. But at the end of the month, the charges wouldn’t exceed £152 (which is 30.4 multiplied by the £5 budget). So even though campaign costs rose above and fell below the £5 budget from day to day, at the end of the month the charge should still be no more than the calculated monthly budget.

If Google does deliver over the monthly budget it’s possible to check if overdelivery credits have been processed, by following these steps:

1. Sign in to the (new version) AdWords account.
2. Click the reporting icon in the upper right corner of your account.
3. Select Predefined, then Basic from the drop-down menu.
4. Click Overdelivery.
5. To calculate overdelivery, subtract ‘Billed cost’ from ‘Served cost’.

This change by Google should help businesses that tend to have large fluctuations in traffic during various periods during a month by ensuring that the quota of clicks for the available monthly budget will be reached and there will be the maximum amount of traffic going to the site.

If you want to know more about how this ‘overdelivery’ could benefit your business, contact us now for more details.


Quicker Landing Page Loading With Parallel Tracking

It will soon be posible to get visitors to a landing page from AdWords faster with parallel tracking. As technology enables more assistive experiences, consumer expectations for seamless web experiences are now higher than ever before. In fact, a one second delay in mobile page load can decrease conversions up to 20%.

When someone clicks an AdWords advert with URL tracking, this can cause a delay that prevents them from reaching a website for hundreds of milliseconds. While this may not sound like much, this lost time can impact campaign performance and so to avoid these delays – and create better user experiences – Google announced last month that it will begin to roll out parallel tracking later this year.

With parallel tracking, users will head immediately to the landing page after clicking an ad while the browser processes URL tracking requests in the background. Google has seen this change help users on slower networks reach landing pages up to several seconds faster. When more visitors can reach and engage with a site more quickly, this can help reduce wasted ad spend and increase conversions for a business.

Parallel tracking will finish rolling out to all AdWords accounts in early 2018, so it’s important that the next steps are taken asap. If a third-party provider is used for tracking, it’s necessary to contact them as soon as possible to make sure clicks will continue to be measured with parallel tracking. Providers will need to make changes to their platform that could take several months to complete, so it’s important to get started early. Google is also working closely with key providers to help make the transition as easy as possible for all advertisers.

You can learn about how to prepare for parallel tracking here, or if you want more information about how it could impact your business, contact us now.


Project Beacon For Local Search Marketing

Google has been offering a pilot program to some companies over the past few months, called Project Beacon. It’s a way of harnessing the technology of mobile search and to help support local businesses in attracting potential customers to their location.

Project Beacon is a new test program whereby Google will send ‘beacons’ to businesses with a physical location to make their site more visible to customers with mobile devices. These beacons are small transmitters that send one-way signals that are read by customers’ phones. This location information can then be used across a wide range of services on mobile phones.

Beacons help mobile devices determine a user’s location more accurately. As a result, when a user’s smartphone has a better understanding of their location, participating companies can unlock a wide range of new features, and set up their business to use location-related features across Google, such as:

  • Help their business show up on personal maps or saved places, where users have opted in to Location History.
  • Gather photos, reviews, and other user-generated content for their business from people who’ve actually visited the location.
  • Provide features like popular times and typical visit duration to help customers plan their visit to the business.
  • Help provide Location Insights about how customers engage with the store.

The features available to a business will depend on the number of users that visit the location, as well as visit durations, size of venue, and other factors. The data shown in Google’s products is based on anonymous, aggregated visit statistics so that it’s not possible to tie a particular visit back to an individual and Google follows industry best practices to ensure the privacy of individual users.

At present the Project Beacon pilot is available to selected businesses in the US and UK and there is no cost currently being charged. In order to take part in the trial, businesses must first receive (or request) a beacon from Google.

If you’d like to know more about this trial program and how it might help your local business marketing, please get in touch.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – October 2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 23:31 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.

In our first article this month we take a look at Google’s increasing focus on website connection security and how it intends to eventually show the “Not secure” warning for all HTTP pages through the Google Chrome browser.

We also look at two recent announcements from Google AdWords, with the reduction of the ad rotation options, and secondly, the way that Google tracks AdWords conversions through Google Analytics. We look at the implications of these changes for advertisers.

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’s Focus on Website Connection Security

In January 2017 Google’s Chrome Web browser began to indicate connection security with an information icon in the address bar. Historically, Chrome had not explicitly labelled HTTP connections as non-secure, but since then any HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit cards have been marked non-secure, as part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure and to encourage increased web security.

Chrome previously marked HTTP connections with a neutral indicator, which didn’t reflect the true lack of security for HTTP connections, because when a website is loaded over HTTP someone else on the network can look at, or modify the site before it gets to you. Studies showed that users do not perceive the lack of a “secure” icon as a warning, but also that they become blind to warnings that occur too frequently. As a result, Google’s plan has been to take in gradual steps to label HTTP sites more clearly and accurately as non-secure.

Since that change in January, there has been a 23% reduction in navigations to HTTP pages with password or credit card forms on desktop, so Google has decided to take the next steps they see as necessary. Beginning in October 2017, Chrome will show the “Not secure” warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.

Passwords and credit cards are not the only types of data that should be private. Any type of data that users type into websites should not be accessible to others on the network, so starting in Chrome version 62, it will show the “Not secure” warning when users type data into HTTP sites.

When users browse Chrome with Incognito mode, they likely have increased expectations of privacy. However, HTTP browsing is not private to others on the network so in v62, Chrome will also warn users when visiting an HTTP page in Incognito mode.

Eventually, the “Not secure” warning will be shown for all HTTP pages, even outside Incognito mode. Google will publish updates as future releases are developed, but they highly recommend switching websites to HTTPS as it’s easier and cheaper than ever before and it enables both the best performance the web offers and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP.

It can also provide an advantage in search rankings (particularly for mobile results) against the sites that haven’t yet transitioned. So if this hasn’t already been done, it’s best to do it sooner rather than later.

If you want to know more about how website connection security can help to improve your business, contact us now.


Google “Simplifies” AdWords Ad Rotation Settings

Ad rotation is the way that Google delivers ads on both the Search Network and the Display Network. If there are multiple ads within an adgroup the ads will rotate, because no more than one ad from the account can show at a time. The ad rotation setting is therefore used to specify how often the ads in the adgroup are to be served relative to one another.

On 25th September 2017, three updates were made to simplify and improve ad rotation:

1. There will only be two ad rotation settings:

  • “Optimise” will use Google’s machine learning technology to deliver ads that are expected to perform better than other ads in the ad group. This setting will optimise ads for clicks in each individual auction using signals like keyword, search term, device, location and more.
  • “Rotate indefinitely” will deliver ads more evenly for an indefinite amount of time.

Now that this change has taken place, the previous “optimise for conversions” and “rotate evenly” settings will be greyed out in the AdWords interface. This means:

  • Campaigns using “optimise for clicks”, “optimise for conversions” or “rotate evenly” will now just use “optimise”.
  • Campaigns using “rotate indefinitely” will stay the same.

2. Campaigns using Smart Bidding will use “optimise” regardless of their ad rotation setting.

3. Ad rotation settings will now be available at the adgroup level, rather than at campaign level. This enables the use of multiple rotation settings across a single campaign.

It’s not critical to take any immediate action but Google states that to continue optimising for conversions, the use of Smart Bidding is “recommended” (and there is no other way to do it). This helps to tailor bids based on the likelihood of a conversion, and chooses the ad most likely to drive that conversion, although the results will be dependent on Google’s automated system and the more conversions there are, the more effective this is likely to be.

Google states this change is to simplify the settings, but the fact that the previous “rotate evenly” option will now automatically optimise for clicks encourages a more cynical view, and the reversal of these options comes after the numerous complaints made some years ago when the choice of rotation was originally changed. Furthermore, Smart Bidding using Google’s machine learning has yet to be proven to be highly effective at increasing conversions and lowering the average Cost Per Acquisition, since it’s still relatively early days for that technology and advertisers should review the changes after this change and decide which rotation setting to use.

It’ll be interesting to see if Google ever back-flips on this decision due to more industry dissatisfaction at there being less control (as has happened previously with device bid modifiers). In an attempt to appease a similar outcry, Google is still thankfully providing the option for ads to “rotate indefinitely”. AdWords managers who prefer more control with an even rotation can still do that to split test the ads without any automated optimisation input from Google, although it will require more monitoring and changes to ensure the best results. That will, according to them “be the sole option for an even rotation going forward”, but how long that possibly unpopular decision stays in place remains to be seen.

You can read more about simpler ad rotation or contact us now for more information.


Changes to AdWords Conversion Measurement

In another recent change to AdWords, Google recently emailed all advertisers with details of adjustments that would be made to the way conversions are measured. Most advertisers won’t need to take action but should be aware of the reasons and implications of these changes.

The announcement in September resulted from changes that Apple are introducing with their Safari browser, using a new feature called Intelligent Tracking Prevention. This is designed to stop the use of cookies and other tracking data operating across more than one website and the implications are that it may affect the accuracy of AdWords website conversion tracking through Safari, and therefore in particular on iPhones.

Google has therefore made changes to help ensure that conversions are reported as accurately as possible in AdWords, by making three changes which are consistent with Apple’s own recommendations for ad attribution:

  • If an advertiser has auto-tagging enabled and a Google Analytics tag on their website, Google will begin to set a new Google Analytics cookie on that site’s domain, which will store information about the ad click that brought a user to the site. If the AdWords and Google Analytics accounts are linked, then the AdWords conversion tracking tag will be able to use that click information.
  • AdWords will continue to report conversions for users who have recently interacted with Google services and domains.
  • AdWords will also use statistical modelling to estimate website conversions that could not be measured from Safari, and include them in the AdWords reporting.

Google has started to use the ad click information stored in the new Google Analytics cookie from September, although it may take a few days before these conversions appear in the AdWords reports. Advertisers can turn this off by updating their Google Analytics tag, but this would not be recommended.

Google does recommend that if an advertiser hasn’t yet linked their AdWords and Google Analytics accounts, this should be done to better measure conversions in AdWords. They also recommend that the conversion data is monitored over the next few months to see if there are any notable changes to previous trends with the data tracking.

If you would like more information about this change, or help with linking your AdWords and Analytics accounts together, 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 – August 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 11:36 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.

In our first article this month we take a look at Google’s recent blog post that provides warnings about the use of guest blogging as a link building technique for SEO (search engine optimisation). We also look at the use of responsive ads in Google AdWords, which provide flexible ad formats for a wide range of websites, apps and devices.

In the final article this month we cover the announcement of the new voice control feature in Google Analytics, which is part of the Intelligence tools to enable users to get more information from the stats provided.

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’s Warnings Against Guest Blogging

Over the past few years, a common SEO link building technique has been to target relevant blogs and to provide articles on those blogs with links back to a site. However, Google has always warned against this technique as a form of paid link building, and they recently provided further guidelines through their Webmaster blog.

We provided some best practice techniques for guest blogging back in July 2013 and any approaches to this need to be planned, managed and communicated carefully to avoid conflicts with Google’s guidelines. Google has recently reported that they are seeing an increase in spammy links contained in articles referred to as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts and have provided some tips about these.

These articles are generally written by, or in the name of, one website (which is usually trying to develop more links to their domain), and published on a different site. Although Google says they do not discourage these types of articles in the cases when they inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to a cause or company, they do dislike such articles when they believe that the main intent of the article is to build links in a large-scale back to the author’s site.

Google has therefore indicated the signals they are looking for to identify these types of link building content, which can indicate when an article is in violation of their SEO guidelines:

  • stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles
  • having the articles published across many different sites
  • alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites
  • using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on
  • using the same or similar content across these articles, or duplicating the full content of articles found on the original site (in which case the use of rel=”canonical”, in addition to rel=”nofollow”, is advised).

When Google detects that a website is publishing articles that contain spammy links, this may change Google’s perception of the quality of the site and could affect its ranking. Sites accepting and publishing such articles should carefully vet them, asking questions like: Do I know this person? Does this person’s message fit with my site’s audience? Does the article contain useful content? If there are links of questionable intent in the article, has the author used rel=”nofollow” on them?

For websites creating articles made for links, Google takes action on this behavior because it’s bad for the Web as a whole. When link building comes first, the quality of the articles can suffer and create a bad experience for users. Also, webmasters generally prefer not to receive aggressive or repeated “Post my article!” requests, and Google encourages such cases to be reported through their spam report form.

You can read more about Google’s quality guidelines for link building schemes, or you can contact us for more information and advice now.


Using Responsive Ads in AdWords

Google has been prioritising mobile devices and search activity over the past few years as mobile becomes the largest portion of search usage in many countries. One such tool in AdWords has been the new responsive ad format, which gives advertisers the flexibility to target searchers on many different device formats.

Google’s responsive ads for display have been available for almost a year now, and were provided to advertisers to enable their content to adapt across the more than two million publisher sites and apps on the Google Display Network (GDN). They also unlock new ‘native inventory’ which means that advertisers can engage consumers with ads that match the look and feel of the content they’re browsing.

Responsive ads offer more flexibility with minimal setup as they automatically adjust their size, appearance and format to fit just about any available ad space. For example, a responsive ad might show as a native banner ad on one site and a dynamic text ad on another, as it automatically transforms itself to fit precisely where it has been targeted to meet the advertiser’s goals. In this way, responsive ads can increase the reach and impact of a display ads campaign while also saving the set up time for numerous ads.

To create responsive ads, you just need to provide 2 headline options, a description, an image, and a URL and Google will automatically design these responsive ads that should work in numerous different formats on various devices, websites and apps. When you create a responsive ad, you can preview some common layouts, but it’s not possible to see every possible layout across all the sites that comprise the Google Display Network.

The main downside of these ads is that although they are simple to create, they utilise Google’s template which can mean that they are not always the best looking ads and may not ideally suit the brand requirements for a business, but they do provide the flexibility and reach that would be hard to achieve with tailored ad designs.

You can read more about responsive ads or contact us now for more information.


New Voice Controls in Google Analytics

Another new feature for Google Analytics has been announced in the past month to help users get more business insights from their data. Voice control analysis enables users to ask a question in plain English and receive a response about their stats and recent trends. Possibly seen as a bit gimmicky, this new tool has nevertheless been extensively developed over recent years.

An example Google provides is to ask your Analytics account “How many new users did we have from organic search on mobile last week?”. With the new voice control feature, you should get an immediate answer with some data reports and suggested insights. It uses the same natural language processing technology available across Google products like Android and Search, and it will be rolling out now to become available in English to all Google Analytics users over the next few weeks.

The ability to ask questions is part of Analytics Intelligence, a set of features in Google Analytics that use machine learning to help users better understand and act on their analytics data. Analytics Intelligence also includes existing machine learning capabilities like automated insights (now available), smart lists, smart goals, and session quality.

Google’s feedback from web analysts was that they spend half their time answering basic analytics questions for other people in their organization. This new voice control feature is intended to help everyone get their answers directly in the product, so that team members get what they need faster, and analysts can spend their valuable time on deeper research and discovery.

The new Analytics Intelligence feature helps users to identify new opportunities through automated insights, which can show spikes or drops in metrics like revenue or session duration, or by highlighting key issues that may need to be investigated further. Insights may also present opportunities to improve key metrics by following specific recommendations. For example, a chance to improve bounce rate by reducing a page’s load time, or the potential to boost conversion rate by adding a new keyword to your AdWords campaign.

This Intelligence system is also designed to become smarter over time as it learns which questions and insights users are interested in. Google encourages usage and feedback of the tool to enable the service to be ‘trained’ from experience. The goal is to help users get more insights and ultimately use the tool more often to gain amazing experiences that make customers happier and help you grow your business.

If you’d like more information about this new feature and how to get better insights from your own Analytics reports, please contact us now.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – July 2017

Saturday, July 1, 2017 15:48 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 introduction of a new Smart Bidding strategy called ‘Maximize Conversions’ and how that can help to make the most out of an AdWords budget. The second article looks at Google’s rollout of the new look AdWords ‘Experience’ and how the new design and set of tools makes AdWords significantly easier to use for advertisers.

In the final article this month we take a look at the release of ‘Posts’ for all Google My Business users. This provides another element to a company’s business listing, which allows the addition of more details including the highlighting of limited time promotions, events or new products.

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 Introduces ‘Maximize Conversions’ with Smart Bidding

Google recently introduced a new AdWords Smart Bidding strategy called ‘Maximize Conversions’. The aim of this is to enable AdWords managers to get the most conversions from their marketing budget using an automated system.

It can be challenging to know exactly how to initially set the right bid and then adjust it to ensure that your advertising spend gets the most customers. That’s where Maximize Conversions comes in – it automatically sets the right bid for each auction to help to get the most conversions within the daily budget.

For example, for a clothing retailer who’s trying to quickly sell last season’s styles, Maximize Conversions helps to get the most sales from the existing budget by factoring signals like remarketing lists, time of day, browser and operating system into bids.

Smart Bidding uses Google’s machine learning technology to optimise for conversions across every ad auction (a.k.a “auction-time bidding”). Google cites the case of Trex, a luxury composite decking company that used Maximize Conversions to build brand awareness and saw a “73% increase in conversion volume”.

Google’s made it relatively easy to implement Maximize Conversions, which can then be tested by getting insights and by monitoring bid strategies to understand its performance.

This brand new bidding strategy has yet to be experienced and has the potential to improve the ROAS on AdWords campaigns, but often with automated bidding that uses Google’s machine learning, it can take a few weeks for that to learn enough to work effectively based on historical conversion data. So there can often be an initial period of ‘bid shock’, when the original max. CPC bids can change dramatically and become more costly. If that initial period can be endured however, the automated bidding can often work well over time.

If you want to know more about how Smart Bidding strategies have the potential to improve your AdWords campaigns, contact us now.


New AdWords ‘Experience’ Coming For All Advertisers

Every year Google organises a conference to announce new trends and developments in their products, with AdWords being a keenly awaited event that took place at the end of May this year. With mobile devices becoming ever more common in the way people use the web, Google revealed new tools to help advertisers reach this market and manage their campaigns more efficiently. Some of these are already rolling out, and others will be appearing in the coming months.

Most notable from these new developments is the new look AdWords ‘experience’ which is already available for most advertisers, with a new design and set of tools in the account to help these advertisers visualise and manage their campaigns more effectively. The redesign makes AdWords significantly easier to use, and is designed to help users identify and reach their own marketing goals and to get things done with minimal effort.

Included in this new AdWords experience is a new Overview page, which automatically presents the advertiser with relevant insights about their account performance, so that users can focus on any issues and take action more quickly. There’s also a new interface to help create new campaigns around specific goals, and although experienced AdWords advertisers may not need this approach, it’s there to try and make things simpler and quicker for most advertisers.

There is also a performance estimates panel, so that advertisers can see the key metrics that are relevant when planning search or display campaigns – although as before, these can show quite a range of numbers and may not relate that closely to actual figures once a campaign starts running. There is also a landing page report, which uses Google’s mobile testing tool to identify if pages are loading quickly and are mobile friendly to site visitors – a key element in helping to improve conversions as we outlined in our November 2016 newsletter.

On the subject of landing pages, Google has also announced the integration of Google Optimize with AdWords, so that users will be able to test their landing pages and gain insights about ads more efficiently. The new Optimize tool was launched earlier this year (as highlighted in our April 2017 newsletter) and is designed to help marketers test and deliver custom site experiences to improve performance. With the new integration between the accounts, users can quickly and easily create new versions of landing pages and then apply them to any combination of AdWords campaigns, ad groups, and keywords without the need for coding or Webmaster input.

All these new tools are designed to help AdWords advertisers constantly improve the management and performance of their accounts, so that of course they achieve great results and ideally spend more advertising dollars! For each advertiser, these tools should be considered, tested and used to see what improvements can be achieved in the ongoing process to achieve a better return on ad spend than their competitors.

If you’d like to know more about the new AdWords experience and how it could help your campaigns, please contact us for more information.


‘Posts’ Released Within Google My Business

Google ‘Posts’ first launched in January 2016 under the name ‘candidate cards,’ but they were only available initially for political candidates to post content that would show up for relevant political search queries. A couple of months later, the feature was available for a very limited number of small businesses. It has slowly expanded since then until the recent full launch for all users.

This has been long anticipated and is now rolling out to all small businesses that use the Google My Business (GMB) platform. The content will appear in both Google search and maps results.

There are several options when writing a post:

  • Upload an image
  • Write text (up to 300 words)
  • Add an event title (with start and end dates and times).

Users can also add call-to-action buttons including “Learn more,” “Reserve,” “Sign up,” “Buy” or “Get offer.”

Google states this give businesses the ability to:

  • Share daily specials or current promotions that encourage new and existing customers to take advantage of offers.
  • Promote events and tell customers about upcoming happenings at a specific location.
  • Showcase top products and highlight new arrivals.
  • Choose one of the available options to connect with customers directly from the Google business listing: give them a one-click path to make a reservation; sign up for a newsletter; learn more about latest offers; or even buy a specific product from the business’s website.

This is a useful development that will help businesses to better promote themselves especially upon mobiles, which has been a primary focus of Google for a while now.

If you’d like more information about the Google Posts for GMB or how your business can benefit from a listing, please contact us now.

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