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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – January 2018

Posts Tagged ‘Google Analytics’

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 – 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 – June 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017 7:15 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 release of new audience solutions for AdWords Search and Shopping campaigns, and how that can assist in targeting both loyal and potential new customers. The second article looks at Google’s recent improvement to AdWords Quality Score reporting and how this can help to optimise campaigns.

In the final article this month we take a look at how Google Tag Manager now includes Analytics integration and how this can make it easier to manage multiple tags and tracking options.

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 Releases New Audience Targeting in AdWords

Engaging both new and loyal customers is just as important to an online business, and so to help attract more potential new customers, Google has started to release ‘similar audiences’ for Search and Shopping campaigns. Alongside this, new Customer Match for Shopping targeting will also help businesses use their own data to reach the right customer with the right message. This is in addition to Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) which have been around for a while to reconnect with people who’ve been to a website before.

The ‘similar audiences’ option in AdWords helps to find people who share similar interests with a business’s best customers, right when they’re searching for relevant products and services. This makes it easy to expand reach by connecting with more people who want what you have to offer. For example, if you’re marketing a hotel in Sydney using RLSA and you want to connect with Summer travellers, then the people in your “Recent Converters” list might be searching for things like ‘flights to Brisbane,’ ‘scuba classes,’ and ‘flip-flop sandals.’ Powered by Google’s machine learning, similar audiences use these search trends to help you find people who are looking for the same things as existing customers, even if they’re not already on remarketing lists.

By connecting with more qualified customers, similar audiences can help unlock new opportunities to grow a business, so that targeting generic terms may work better with a similar audience applied to them. You can also use it as a bid modifier to be more competitive in a crowded auction, tailoring your bids to reach people who are more likely to buy. According to Google, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, a leading global auto company, used similar audiences for Search to increase conversions by 22%.

It’s now possible to see Search list size estimates for similar audiences, letting businesses know how many people they can reach. These audiences can be applied to both Search and Shopping campaigns. You can learn more about similar audiences here.

Customer Match for Shopping campaigns will soon be available globally. By using existing email lists, Customer Match makes it easy to focus Shopping campaigns on high-value customers, like previous purchasers, newsletter subscribers, rewards members and in-store shoppers. You can learn more about Customer Match here.

For instance, if you manage marketing for an online apparel retailer and you’re interested in connecting with your rewards members, to make it easy for you to reach these customers when they’re shopping you can now use your “Rewards Members” customer email list to show them relevant Shopping ads featuring your latest styles (subject to minimum volume requirements).

If you want to know more about how similar audiences and Customer Match can help your business, please contact us now.


AdWords Quality Score Reporting is Improved

During May Google began rolling out several improvements to Quality Score reporting that make it easier for advertisers to get more visibility into these scores. Effective ads connect people with the content that’s most relevant to them, right when they’re looking for it. In AdWords, you can assess how relevant your keywords, ads, and landing pages are by evaluating Quality Score and its components: expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance and landing page experience.

Three new optional status columns that show useful Quality Score components have been added to the Keywords tab for “Exp. CTR,” “Ad Relevance” and “Landing Page Exper.” These columns can be added to keyword reports to get a comprehensive snapshot of the keywords’ current scores.

To improve campaign performance, it’s important to understand how changes to a account – like ad optimisation or landing page experience – impact Quality Score. It’s now possible to view historical Quality Score data as well, and their three main components, for all of the keywords to understand how they’ve changed over time. This data is available via four new columns: “Qual. Score (hist.),” “Landing page exper. (hist.),” “Ad relevance (hist.)” and “Exp. CTR (hist.).”

There are two important things to know about these seven new columns:

  • They reflect the last known score for the date range you selected.
  • Historical data isn’t available for dates earlier than January 22, 2016.

Also, if you apply the “Day” segment to Keyword reports, these columns will show daily values that reflect what your scores were at the end of each day. Therefore these additional reporting columns are a useful addition by Google, which will help to assist the optimisation of campaigns by being able to monitor how the Quality Scores have been changed due to adjustments or trends in the market.

If you would like more information about how Quality Score optimisation can improve your campaigns, contact us now.


Google Tag Manager Includes Analytics Integration

An increasing number of websites are now moving their tracking code strategy towards Google Tag Manager (GTM), which can make it easier to manage multiple tags and tracking options. However, it can be technically more complex to set up compared to Google Analytics, although Google has now introduced an easier way to help this process.

As website tracking options become more sophisticated, marketers may require measurement through Google Analytics tags, or the application of event tracking tags for clicks on certain buttons, links leading away from a site, form submissions, and so on. Keeping the settings for all of these tags in sync can be a challenge as users have to ensure that Tracking IDs are set correctly and that any custom settings are consistent.

Making changes to things like Custom Dimensions and Metrics across multiple tags can require repetitive work or cumbersome workarounds, and so to help users with these tasks, Google has announced new Google Analytics Settings Variables in GTM.

A Google Analytics Settings Variable acts as a central location to configure sets of Google Analytics settings for use across multiple tags. This means that instead of having to enter your Google Analytics settings over and over again in each new Universal Analytics tag in GTM, you’ll simply be able to select (or create) a Google Analytics Settings Variable to apply to the tag.

With this simpler process it will make it easier to manager tracking tags and avoid the chance of errors in the settings. Users can have as many Settings Variables as required for different combinations of settings, and it’s easy to override specific fields in a given tag with the click of a checkbox. This feature will now appear in all Universal Analytics tags as the primary option and should make the implementation of GTM easier for many users.

If you’d like more information about the Google Analytics Settings Variable in GTM, please contact us for more information.


We hope you’ve found this month’s newsletter useful. As usual, if you have any questions or need help with any of these items, please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website’s performance.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – May 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017 6:48 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 “home” page for its Analytics website User Interface. The second article looks at their roll out of Smart Display campaigns for AdWords and how this can help to improve your brand awareness.

In the final article this month we take a look at the recent press release by the Interactive Advertising Bureau in Australia that shows digital advertising expenditure surpassed $7b in 2016 and what sections of the industry saw the largest growth.

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 the New Analytics Home Page

As featured in our March newsletter, Google recently introduced a new look for its Analytics User Interface. Now they have started to roll out a further enhancement with a new Home screen when you first access an account, to give new insights into the data being recorded.

Since 2016 Google has been improving Analytics with the goal of making it even easier for anyone to gain the business insights they need. A fully redesigned mobile app for better insights ‘on the go’ was introduced last year and more recently, automated insights were added in the mobile app, which has now been downloaded over a million times. In late May Google introduced additional enhancements designed to help Users make better data-driven decisions based on a deeper understanding of website visitors.

The new home page, which is currently being rolled out across Google Analytics accounts, is represented by a new landing page for all accounts. This “Home” page now offers an overview of key aspects of a business’s online presence.

Here are a few highlights:

  • You can see snippets from a curated set of Google Analytics reports, including real time data, with simple and streamlined controls. Each snippet is preceded by a helpful question that frames the data, such as “When do your users visit?” or “Where do your users come from?”.
  • Want to dig deeper? Hover on any data point for more details or drill into the relevant report with the provided link on each card.
  • “Home” is automatically configured based on your setup: For example, if you have Goals or Ecommerce, you’ll see the page change accordingly.

Existing reports have not changed. The Audience Overview report, which used to be the default landing page, is still available: just open the “Audience” section in the side navigation and click on “Overview”.

If you’re looking for the latest enhancements to the basic Google Analytics experience you can find them in the new “Discover” page, which has a link just next to the Admin link at the bottom of the left navigation panel. As the name suggests, Discover offers products and experiences that might be found useful when working within the Google Analytics account. These could be products like Google Optimize, tools like the Google Analytics mobile app, helpful features like Custom Alerts, or even useful educational materials from the Analytics Academy.

Both of these additions will be rolling out to all Users over the next few weeks and Google hopes these new additions will help make it easier to get the most out of Google Analytics.

If you want more information about how Google Analytics can help to improve the performance of your business, contact us now.


Google Rolls Out Smart Display Campaigns for AdWords

Smart display campaigns began rolling out to all AdWords advertisers from the end of April, with the intention of letting users reach more customers easily on the Google Display Network. Using the power of Google’s automation, these campaigns are designed to make it easier to advertisers to create campaigns that reach the target audience at the right time, and with the right message.

There are now over 3 million apps and websites on the Google Display Network (GDN), from popular news websites to the latest gaming apps. No matter what potential customers are doing to stay informed or entertained across the GDN, it’s important for advertisers to reach them with timely and relevant messages. In order to do that, it’s necessary to find the right customers, tailor your creative to them and set optimal bids.

This is where the new Smart display campaigns come in, as they use the power of Google’s machine learning to automatically:

  • Connect your business to prospective customers who may be interested in your products, using insights from millions of apps and sites
  • Create beautiful image, native and text ads that fit anywhere across the GDN
  • Set the right bids to meet your performance goals.

Only Google provides automation like this at scale, helping to deliver richer experiences to consumers and better results for a brand. Google states that advertisers who use Smart display campaigns are seeing an average 20% increase in conversions at the same CPA, compared to their other display campaigns.

The large hotel search platform, Trivago, is cited as using Smart display campaigns to help travellers around the world find hotel rooms that meet all their travel needs. The travel brand provided creative assets (with headlines like “Find Great Hotel Deals,”), together with descriptions of its hotel listings and beautiful images of destinations like Rome and London, plus its logo. They also set business goals, with a target CPA and daily budget.

AdWords did the rest, creating over 25,000 tailored ads and showing them to travellers shopping for hotel deals. With Smart display campaigns, it’s claimed that Trivago drove 36% more conversions at the same CPA, compared to its other similar display campaigns. The brand now uses Smart display campaigns across markets in Europe, Asia and North America. So the potential is evident and this is a significant step forward for Google’s Display Network.

If you want to know more about how Smart display campaigns and how to implement them, contact us now for details.


We hope you’ve found this month’s newsletter useful. As usual, if you have any questions or need help with any of these items, please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website’s performance.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – April 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017 8:08 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 the important forthcoming launch by Google of exact match close variants in AdWords and what this means for keyword search results and conversion rates. The second article looks at Google’s roll out of Optimize, the website testing and personalisation tool, which is designed to help businesses improve their customer experiences and business metrics.

In the final article this month, we take a look at the eventual closure of DMOZ – The Open Directory Project – which had been kept running despite well outlasting its usefulness.

You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter by month. You can also follow us on Twitter for the latest developments during the month, or follow our Facebook page or Google+ page for updates.

On to this month’s edition…


Google AdWords Exact Match Close Variants

Over the coming months Google AdWords is expanding close variant matching to include additional rewording and reordering for exact match keywords. This is to ensure that the right keywords are used to reach the right customers and to eliminate the need to build exhaustive keyword lists to reach these customers.

Close variants help to connect with people who are looking for a business, despite slight variations in the way they search, and now the expansion of close variant matching will include additional rewording and reordering for exact match keywords.

Through this expansion, Google claims that early tests show advertisers seeing up to 3% more exact match clicks on average, while maintaining comparable clickthrough and conversion rates. This is done by ignoring ‘function’ words and including reordered variations of a keyword. Function words are prepositions (in, to), conjunctions (for, but), articles (a, the) and other words that often don’t impact the intent behind a query. For example, the “in” in “hotels in new york” can be safely ignored because it doesn’t affect the meaning. However, the “to” in “flights to new york” would not be ignored, because a “flight from new york” is not the same as a “flight to new york.”

Reordering won’t add any words to the keywords, but exact match will now use that same logic to match with queries that are reordered variations of keywords, such as “buy new cars and “new cars buy.”

With this expansion of exact match close variants, it’ll no longer be necessary to build and maintain lists of reworded and reordered exact match keywords to get the required coverage. If reworded or reordered keyword variations are already used, AdWords will still prefer to use those keywords identical to search queries. (Phrase match keywords aren’t included in this update).

This is a useful addition by Google, but the results from the expansion will need to be closely monitored to ensure that the average cost per click doesn’t rise and that claims about the additional clicks having comparable clickthrough / conversion rates is actually the case in practice.

You can read more about keyword matching options here, or please contact us for more details about this change.


Google Rolls Out Optimize

First announced last year, Google has been rolling out their new Optimize service, so that some Analytics / AdWords users now have access to this and it will eventually be made available to all users for free. As a web and mobile-web testing and personalisation tool, Optimize is designed to help businesses improve their customer experiences and business metrics.

Google previously included Experiments as part of a Google Analytics account, and Optimize is an extension of this, developed as a separate account but part of the overall Analytics login platform. It’s designed to make testing as simple and easy as possible for companies to use their Analytics data efficiently as part of a conversion optimisation process.

Optimize is built on top of the Google Analytics platform, which means that users can take the customer insights from Analytics to test against business metrics that make a difference — such as goal conversions and e-commerce transactions – without any additional development work. Tests can be set up such as simple A/B testing to more complex multivariate tests, which can be customised for different customer segments which increases the flexibility of any testing programme.

This new tool is easy to set up with the addition of a line of code to Google Analytics on a website, and then the ‘visual editor’ enables users to quickly and easily create variants of their web pages without any recoding. The ‘click to edit’ interface means that even non-technical teams can use it. A diagnostics tool also alerts users to potential problems with the testing before starting the activity.

Of course, before running any testing programme you need to identify what should be tested, what the objectives are and the expected or target results. You also need to have a reasonable sample size of users and sessions to make the test work effectively, but as an integrated tool as part of the Google Analytics suite of products, Optimize is a welcome addition and one that should be considered.

If you’d like more information about Optimize and the testing opportunities for your website, please contact us for more information.


The End of DMOZ

DMOZ, or The Open Directory Project, that uses human editors to organise websites has closed. This marks the end of a time when humans, rather than machines, tried to organise the web and the announcement came via a notice that’s now showing on the home page of the DMOZ site, saying it closed on March 14, 2017.

DMOZ was born in June 1998 as “GnuHoo,” then quickly changed to “NewHoo,” and was set up as a rival to the Yahoo Directory at the time. Yahoo had faced criticism as being too powerful and too difficult for sites to be listed in. DMOZ was soon acquired by Netscape in November 1998 and renamed the Netscape Open Directory. Later that month, AOL acquired Netscape, giving AOL control of The Open Directory.

Also born that year was Google, which was the beginning of the end of human curation of websites. Google bought both the power of being able to search every page on the web with the relevancy that was a hallmark of human-powered directories. As the web developed at a rapid rate, the demands of a human edited directory meant that these sites quickly became outdated and obsolete. However, DMOZ did go through a phase of being a resource used by Google and many companies tried to get listed, usually unsuccessfully as the number of editors on the site declined.

Yahoo eventually shifted to preferring machine-generated results over human power, pushing its directory further and further behind-the-scenes until its closure was announced in September 2014. The actual closure came in December 2014, with the old site these days entirely unresponsive. DMOZ continued, even though for marketers and searchers it had also long been mostly forgotten as a resource, so the only surprise in this news is that it took so long to close!

DMOZ will live on in one unique way – the NOODP meta tag. This was a way for publishers to tell Google and other search engines not to describe their pages using Open Directory descriptions. While the tag will become redundant, it will also remain lurking within web pages that continue to use it for years to come.

If you’d like more information about DMOZ and the recent closure, please get in touch.


We hope you’ve found this month’s newsletter useful. As usual, if you have any questions or need help with any of these items, please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website’s performance.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – March 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 4:49 No Comments

Welcome to the latest monthly issue of our regular 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 the new AdWords and Analytics User Interfaces, which should interest both Online Marketers and Data Analysts who want to know more about the recent structural and visual improvements in these services. The second article looks at Google’s filtering of ‘bad ads’, and what techniques were used to tackle bad sites and scammers in 2016.

In the final article this month we take a look at Google’s free Data Studio and the significant recent announcement, which should be useful to organisations’ collaborative reporters, that the limit of five free reports has been removed.

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 AdWords and Analytics User Interfaces

This year, users of Google AdWords and Analytics will see a new look to both these services. The refreshed Google Analytics interface has now rolled out to most accounts over the past month, and the changed Google AdWords look will be coming soon, with a more gradual rollout over the next few months. Google has made these changes to reflect the increased usage through mobiles and multiple devices, and based on extensive research and user feedback. The changes will require some adjustment, particularly in AdWords, but marks another significant move forward for both of these services.

With Google AdWords, the user feedback that Google received about the way the current interface should improve suggested that it should be more about a user’s business, and less about the AdWords product. That was taken on-board and there is now the ability to see the data most relevant to business goals, to enable more time to be spent optimising campaigns and identifying opportunities. There’s now less clutter and more intuitive workflows, so it’s possible to quickly make changes that can move a business forward.

The new look does represent quite a change however, and the most noticeable difference with this new AdWords ‘experience’ is the look and feel, due to the ‘Material Design’ language being used that’s at the core of favourite Google apps like Maps, Search, and Gmail. This allows AdWords to focus on the business and not around features, but with the tools used to get things done being simple, yet powerful. For example, the new Overview page provides relevant insights about the AdWords account and helps to easily visualise them, so action can be taken. The clutter has been removed and navigation has been made easier, so it’s possible to do more in less time.

This has resulted in feedback from Users who have said that the new experience is faster, more intuitive, and that it’s easier to get things done. So at this stage, the feedback indicates that Google’s vision is coming to fruition by building a platform that’s easy to use and helps to reach unique business goals.

Google Analytics has been running for over 10 years and has had many new features and reports added to it over this time. In the last few months, Google have been building a simpler User Interface while still retaining the key functionality that people frequently use.

These are the first part in a series of improvements that have been implemented since October:

  • Simplified navigation – A brand-new navigation using Google’s Material Design standards, and Admin is now pinned to the bottom of the navigation.
  • Customisation, all in one place – Previously, reporting Customisation items were spread out. Now, all Customisation elements are contained under a single “Customisation” menu.
  • Simplified Google Analytics View switching – The old “Home” account/property/view picker page has been replaced by the new picker in the header, which allows you to switch views from any page in the product.
  • A streamlined login flow – Logging in now automatically takes you to the last Google Analytics View you were looking at the last time you logged in.
  • An adjustable default date range – You can now change the default date range that Google Analytics reports load with. The default setting of 7 days (rather than 30, previously) can be changed in the Google Analytics user settings.
  • Changes to Intelligence Events – Custom alerts have moved to the new Customisation section and will continue to function as normal but the Automatic Intelligence Events have been removed from Google Analytics, and will soon be replaced by automated insights from Google Analytics Assistant.
  • In-Page Analytics – This report has now been removed from Google Analytics web UI but it’s still possible to access in-page analytics with the official Chrome Extension.

The UI changes to both AdWords and Analytics have certainly improved their clarity of navigation and ease of use. Also, they are becoming more tightly integrated with each other, which makes retrieving the required data to enhance a business much more straight-forward.

If you want to know more about how the use of the latest interfaces can help to improve your business, contact us now for details.


Google’s Filtering of ‘Bad Ads’

Google recently posted in their AdWords blog a summary of their efforts to stop ‘bad ads’ appearing on their network in 2016. These bad ads might be trying to promote illegal products or make unrealistic offers, or they can trick people into sharing personal information and infect devices with harmful software. Such actions can also reflect badly on Google’s platform, so they take steps to prevent these ads appearing whenever possible.

These ‘bad ads’ can be search or display ads, and Google does have strict policies about the type of ads allowed to run on their system. There are automated filters in place to trigger ad disapprovals, as well as a team of experts who will review ads and make a decision on their use. In total, 1.7 billion ads were identified in 2017 as ones that violated Google’s policies and were therefore blocked or removed. This was double the number from the year before.

In the past year Google extended their policies and removed ads that were misleading or making predatory offers, such as payday loans (over 5 million ads removed worldwide). They also enhanced their system to try to spot and remove contravening ads as quickly as possible, such as display or mobile ads that try to trick viewers to click on the ad due to a false warning message that may actually lead to the downloading of harmful software or malware (112 million ads in 2016 – 6 times more than in 2015).

The other types of ads that were widely blocked were ads for illegal products, such as pharmaceuticals (68 million ads) or unauthorised gambling products (17 million ads). Misleading ads, such as some weight loss products, were also removed (80 million).

Other types of blocked ads were ‘self clicking ads’ on mobiles that don’t appear to be ads, and also ones that try to get around Google’s system such as ‘tabloid cloakers’ which are banner ads that appear to look like headlines of a topical subject on a website, but actually link to a completely different website promoting products that Google would otherwise ban.

Google will ban the ads they find that contravene their system, as well as the advertiser depending on the threat or frequency of the bad ads. It is, however, a growing problem and one that Google is continuing to fight more effectively and quickly to maintain the trust of their advertising network, from both advertisers and viewers who may be adversely affected.

Hopefully you’ve not been affected by bad ads from either the advertiser or consumer angle, but if you would like more information about this, please contact us for details.


Free Access to Google Data Studio

Google recently announced a significant change to their Data Studio product, which is their data visualisation product first launched in May 2016, by providing free unlimited access to users. Data Studio turns data into informative reports and dashboards that are easy to read, easy to share, and to fully customise. Since that launch there has been positive feedback and tremendous demand for the product so Google has now enhanced it to make it even easier to use via templates and by adding many new data connectors.

This recent change, announced in February 2017, is that the previous five-report limit in Data Studio was removed and users now have unlimited access to reports. The paid Data Studio 360 version already allowed this, but this significant change now makes it possible to create and share unlimited reports, for free. This change is combined with a design goal to accelerate the ability to fully leverage all the data across an organisation, to ultimately make better decisions.

One of the fundamental ideas behind Data Studio is that data should be easily accessible to anyone in an organisation. Google believes that as more people have access to data, better decisions will be made. Also, with multiple data connectors, dashboards can now be easily created from many different types of data to share with everyone in an organisation and data sources can be mixed and matched within a single report. For example, Analytics and AdWords data can be combined into a single report.

Multiple data connectors enable Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Google Sheets and many other Google services to be integrated, which allows Data Studio to be more that just a report sharing tool but one that provides real collaboration within a business. The same infrastructure as Google Docs has been used, so reports can be edited together, in real time. This is useful as data from multiple teams can be combined with other teams that add analysis and context to the report.

There are multiple visualisation tools to style reports and data, with the recent inclusion of bullet charts that help you communicate your progress towards a business goal, in addition to the existing bar charts, pie charts, time series visuals and the advanced tabular data heat mapping feature. There are also stylistic design tools and interactive data controls, like a date picker and dynamic filters that enable report editors to make reports interactive for their viewers.

Data Studio’s ability to use pre-built data connectors make it easy to bring together all the required data in the way it’s needed, to create collaborative, interactive and dynamic reports. It’s a welcome addition to Google’s free services and has been receiving excellent feedback from users.

You can see the free version of Data Studio here and if you want more information about how Data Studio can be used to improve your business’s reporting, please contact us now.


We hope you’ve found this month’s newsletter useful. As usual, if you have any questions or need help with any of these items, please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website’s performance.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – January 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017 0:03 No Comments

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

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

You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter by month. You can also follow us on Twitter for the latest developments during the month, or follow our Facebook page or Google+ page for updates.

On to this month’s edition…

Google AdWords checklist

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


SEO Checklist

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


Google Analytics checklist

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


We hope you’ve found this month’s newsletter useful. As usual, if you have any questions or need help with any of these items, please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website’s performance.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – October 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016 6:53 No Comments

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

In the first article this month we look at Google’s recent release of the long awaited Penguin 4. This should be interesting to SEO practitioners and webmasters who are keen to keep up-to-date with Google Search ranking algorithms and how those may impact their websites’ rankings.

We also look at the major changes to Google’s Keyword Planner, which is used by many SEO and AdWords professionals but is likely to be less so, as its data becomes less detailed. Finally this month, we look at the demo Analytics account that’s been made available by Google. This should be useful for businesses, or users who want to become more familiar with the full range of reports and data sets.

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 Releases Penguin 4

In a significant development for SEO practitioners and webmasters who are keen to keep up-to-date with Google Search ranking algorithms, Google finally released it long anticipated Penguin 4 at the end of September. Notably, the ongoing updates to this algorithm will now be on a real time basis, so that search results will be continually reviewed and adjusted based on the core Penguin criteria.

The so-called Google ‘Penguin’ algorithm update was first announced in April 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 web page, particularly by manipulating the number of links pointing to the page through unscrupulous techniques and using poor quality websites.

We’ve covered the Google Penguin algorithm in previous issues of this newsletter, such as in October 2015. At that time we reported that Google was struggling to solve the issue of making the Penguin algorithm run in real time, which had been a “hard problem” for them. This caused its release to be frequently delayed, so the last official update was Penguin 3.0, which took place in October 2014, although since then there have been numerous updates to that algorithm to continually refine and improve the quality of the search results.

So the latest release of Penguin 4 has been an eagerly awaited development, but it only really means that changes in the rankings will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after a page has been re-crawled and re-indexed. Historically, the list of sites affected by Penguin was periodically refreshed at the same time. Once a Webmaster considerably improved their site and its presence on the Internet, many of Google’s algorithms would take that into consideration very quickly, but others, like Penguin, needed to be refreshed. With this change, Penguin’s data is now refreshed in real time, so the ranking changes will be seen more quickly.

Another element of its release is that Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site. That raises the question that if Penguin no longer penalises spam links to a site, is it still necessary to use a disavow file to help recover from Penguin issues? (A disavow file is used by Penguin penalised Webmasters in particular, who want to disavow or ‘annul’ links to their site that Google feels are unnatural and just used for ranking purposes. It allows them to flag and remove links that ‘somehow’ pointed to their site and were previously hard to disassociate from).

Google’s Gary Illyes has said that “specifically there’s less need” to use the disavow file for Penguin, but he added “you can help us help you by using it. So, in a nutshell, it seems Google Penguin no longer penalises sites or specific pages, but rather just ignores/devalues the spammy links and so the rankings are adjusted in that way and not demoted, which should make Webmasters “happier”, but Illyes also said that “manual actions are still there, so if we see that someone is systematically trying to spam, the manual actions team might take a harsher action against the site.”

If you want more information about how Penguin 4 may impact your site’s rankings, contact us now for details.


Major Changes to Google’s Keyword Planner

A favourite Google tool is the Keyword Planner – originally known as the Google Keyword Tool – which is used by many SEO and AdWords professionals to research the keywords being used on Google. However, access to this tool has recently undergone some significant changes, the main one being that it’s now necessary to have an active Google AdWords account to access the full data available to users.

The Keyword Planner is a free AdWords tool for advertisers to enable users to build new search campaigns in AdWords or to expand existing ones, but it’s just as useful to identify the best search terms to target through an SEO campaign. It’s possible to search for keyword and adgroup ideas, see how a list of keywords might perform, and create a new keyword list by multiplying several lists of keywords together.

Amongst other changes introduced fairly recently is that now, instead of showing individual search volume estimates for each keyword or keyword phrase, Google has decided it would be better to lump all of that data together. So even though the keywords ‘SEO’ and ‘search engine optimisation’ are two different search variants, Google displays the search volume for both as the same. So while you might think that each keyword or keyword phrase has unique figures for its searches per month, Google actually adds these two terms’ results, to display the combined total for both.

It’s worth noting that the Google Keyword Planner’s figures have never been 100% accurate and this combined figure means that the tool is even less reliable than it used to be. As well as lumping data together, which can be an inaccurate way to perform keyword research or estimate search volumes for a Google Adwords campaign and it’s been speculated by some that there might be additional keywords included in with this data, completely skewing accurate estimates. This is why experienced SEO professionals use other premium tools, like Moz and SEMRush.

In summary, the Google Keyword Planner is now combining:

  • Plurals with non-plurals for any word in the keyword phrase
  • Some acronyms with longhand version (e.g. ‘SEO’ and ‘search engine optimisation’)
  • Stemming variants: -er, -ing, -ized, -ed etc keywords (ie. designer, designing, designed)
  • Words that can be spelled with or without space (ie. car park and carpark)
  • Words with and without punctuation (ie. kid toys and kid’s toys)

These aren’t always the case however, as ‘Christmas Day’ and ‘Xmas Day’ have different search volume results, which means that while Google is combining some data together, that’s not a hard and fast rule across the board.

The other main change to the Keyword Planner is access. You would need to have an AdWords account to have full access to the data available from this tool, but not necessarily an active one, although this has now changed so that the data is more limited unless you are running an actively spending AdWords account. Although the spend is not necessarily high, it does mean that users do need to be spending money on AdWords for at least several weeks before being able to see the keyword data, which will otherwise be shown with some broad and fairly meaningless number ranges.

If you want to know more about how we can help your business succeed through essential keyword research, contact us now for details.


Google Makes Demo Account Available in Analytics

In a recent move to help Analytics users become more familiar with the full range of reports and data sets, Google has introduced a demo account of a real website – their Merchandise Store – which can be included into any Analytics account and viewed with all the active data.

Google has introduced this demo account as another learning tool for people wanting to get a better understanding and more familiarity with the Analytics reports and interface, and possibly in a roundabout way, promoting their merchandise store to shift more product! However, it’s a significant new development that anyone with an Analytics account can access and work through.

Many Analytics users may only be running websites with low traffic volumes or with features that are not relevant to their situation, so the new demo account can provide reports with some high traffic volumes and potentially new or different settings in place, including ecommerce tracking data. Google has therefore decided to open this information out to anyone, and reveal what many companies would see as confidential information.

To access the demo account you can start here and click on the demo link once you are logged into your Analytics account, and this will import the Merchandise Store account / property, containing 3 views (although these are all reporting the same data at present, so all are using the same filters). There is linked AdWords and Search Console data showing, site search information and of course goals, events and ecommerce data, so a full array of reports.

You can also view real time data, access a number of preset dashboards and save shortcuts or set up or import custom reports from the Analytics Solutions Gallery. Of course, access is read only, so you can only view settings and not make any changes, but it’s a welcome tool to have a good look around lots of reports with plenty of data and to use all the different functions available.

There’s a good blog post here by Avinash Kaushik that helps you review some of the key areas of the demo account, which you can then translate across to your own data and hopefully find new ways to review and interpret your own website’s performance.

If you’d like more information or help with the Analytics demo account, please get in touch.


We hope you’ve found this month’s newsletter useful. As usual, if you have any questions or need help with any of these items, please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website’s performance.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – June 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 9:22 No Comments

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

This month we look at 2 recent enhancements made to Google Analytics, with some new reports that provide better insights for website marketers. Firstly, we look at the new User Explorer reports that further enhance its value, by allowing website marketers to review individual actions of anonymous users.

Secondly, we review the recent introduction of more detailed search console data in Google Analytics, which enables the ability to review organic search data with User behaviour, to get more useful insights and to see which search terms generated the more engaged visitor traffic to the website.

Finally this month, we look at how Shopping Ads now target mobile Users on Google Images and the possible ramifications upon AdWords managers’ Shopping campaigns.

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 Explorer Report in Google Analytics

Last month Google Analytics started to roll out a new report – the first for some time – which is called User Explorer. This feature allows website marketers to review individual actions of users, which are anonymous but help to provide insights into user visits and paths through a website. They can also help to improve the user experience by seeing how people interact with a website.

The new User Explorer report can be found in the Audience section of the reporting menu, and the initial view of the report shows a list of anonymous client IDs collected from a visitor’s device and browsers. This basic data includes the number of sessions made by that user, their average duration, bounce rate, goal conversion rate, and transactions / revenue if applicable.

If you then click into an individual client ID, you can see their activity history with time-stamps for each site interaction and page view. You can then filter this report by PageView, Goal, E-Commerce or Event, and individual entries can be clicked for additional data, which enables website owners and marketers to get insights into individual user visits and repeat visits, leading to a goal completion, or visits to a particular page on the website.

Along with the Real Time reports which have been around for some time, the new User Explorer report advances the value of Google Analytics even more, with the kind of detail and insights that some marketers will find really insightful. For example, Google suggests that you might want to see how your top 10 customers interacted with your website (or apps) and you can gain insights into visitors that spent the most with you over a given time frame and analyse each of their journeys on your site over that time period.

By viewing these reports, it’s possible to use these individual interactions to uncover new opportunities to improve the overall experience of visitors and their common path to conversion. The User Explorer report can also help with marketing activities, such as identifying anonymous individual customers who have not converted recently and help them to re-engage with your site using different existing marketing channels.

Check out the new User Explorer report in your Google Analytics account now and see what insights can be gained about individual user interactions. You can find more information about this report here, or you can contact us for further help.


More Detailed Search Console Data in Google Analytics

In another new development for Google Analytics, there is a newer version of the Search Console report now being rolled out, which helps to provide users with more detail about search traffic coming from Google. This continues to be a valuable report and a good insight into search engine optimisation (SEO) activity, as the traditional keyword report remains limited with over 95% of search visits still being shown as ‘not provided’.

For many years, Google has enabled the linking between the Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools) account and Google Analytics, so that organic search visitor activity has been accessible in the Acquisition section of Analytics, under the Search Engine Optimisation menu. However, data has been quite limited, until now, as Google is now enabling a deeper integration of data between the 2 accounts, and renaming the menu item as ‘Search Console’, with 4 sub-reports being made available.

This new development shows the Search Console metrics combined with Google Analytics data in the same reports, so that users can now see a full range of Acquisition, Behaviour and Conversion metrics for your organic search traffic. You can therefore review organic search data with user behaviour to get more useful insights and to see which search terms generated the more engaged visitor traffic to the website.

The most valuable of the new reports is the Queries one, showing the search terms people used on Google to find your website. The landing pages report is also useful to identify the most common pages people found on Google, plus there are reports for visits by country, and a new one by device. You can therefore gain new insights into the organic search traffic coming via Google and review how visitors engage with this site, to reflect good, relevant search terms, and possibly landing pages which are not performing well.

These reports also help to identify new opportunities for search traffic, either through low ranking positions for good search terms, or pages on the website that could benefit from improved optimisation or content. In addition, the data being collected in Google Analytics can also be downloaded automatically each month by email, which is important to do as the Search Console data is still currently only available for a rolling 90 day period.

You can read more about these new reports here and to access these new reports you need to have a Search Console account set up and linked to your Google Analytics account. If you need help with this, or would like further information about how these reports can be used, please contact is for more information.


Shopping Ads Now Target Mobile Users on Google Images

Another interesting development recently announced by Google is the introduction of Shopping ads into the ‘Images’ section of its search results for mobile devices. This is as a result of mobile’s share of online retail purchases continuing to grow, with the latest figures for 2016 showing that 34% of online retail purchases (in the US) took place on mobiles.

People who search and shop on their smartphones at least once a week say that product images are the shopping feature they turn to most. The top questions Google Images users ask Google are ‘What’s the price of this?’ and ‘Where can I buy it?’. That’s why Shopping ads have been introduced on Image Search through the Google Search Partners network. (Google Image Search is not yet part of the ‘core’ Search Network, which is composed of Google Search, Google Play, Google Shopping and, from April 2016, Google Maps). So now, for Shopping campaigns that are opted into displaying upon the Search Partners, the ads for related products will appear as shoppers browse Google Images.

Google explained that the goal behind this change is because many shoppers begin their research using Google Images. When they find something they like, they’re forced to click through to the website to see whether the product is actually for sale and how much it costs. Shopping ads are a natural fit for this activity, since they provide merchant and pricing information directly alongside the image. This is especially useful on mobile devices, where jumping from website to website can be particularly challenging.

If you would like to know more about how these changes to Google Shopping can be used to improve your business’s sales, contact us now.


We hope you’ve found this month’s newsletter useful. As usual, if you have any questions or need help with any of these items, please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website’s performance.

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