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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – May 2016

Posts Tagged ‘Market trends’

Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – May 2016

Monday, May 2, 2016 7:50 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 how Google recently provided more information about ranking factors for ‘Google My Business’ listings. This should be of interest to any businesses, or SEO managers who are setting up or managing these listings to target a local market.

We also look at the identification by Google of the new and emerging threat of ‘Clickjacking’. This is a sophisticated form of online threat to Cost-Per-Click display ads, so Google’s defence against it should interest any business running AdWords campaigns.

Finally we look at the latest online advertising expenditure report from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK for the 2015 year, which increased to over £8.6bn and saw an increasing importance of mobiles and, more recently, videos in the online advertising space.

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 Updates Details on Improving Local Ranking

In an interesting development from Google – who are usually notoriously coy about releasing detailed information about how to achieve good search rankings – they recently added more details to their help page, named ‘Improve your local ranking on Google’. This provides more insights on how to achieve better visibility with local search results.

As reported in our September 2015 newsletter article ‘Google Changes Local Search Results’, the reduction in the number of listings displayed from 7 to 3 has led to increased competition for those spots. Therefore these recently updated details are welcomed by small business owners and the SEO industry, as any information provided by Google about these factors is always useful.

Google does still do their best to keep the specific details of their search algorithms confidential, to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone. Previously, the help page had about five paragraphs of text around relevance, distance and prominence for ranking in the local results. Now, Google has vastly expanded the document which now covers the newer local ‘3-pack’ results, as well as how to be included in that pack and how the ranking positions are determined.

In terms of these rankings, Google still outlines relevance, distance and prominence, but expands upon each of them. Here is a summary of the key points in the revised content:

  • Relevance – this refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches. Relevant terms in a business name can be important but this should still be the correct name for the business, plus selecting the best category/ies and using a good business description can all help.
  • Distance – just like it sounds, how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location, which tends to be more accurate if on a mobile device.
  • Prominence – this refers to how well-known a business might be. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results. Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles and directories).
  • Reviews – having Google reviews, including the number and rating score are factored into local search rankings. More reviews and positive ratings are likely to improve a business’s local ranking. A business website’s position in the main search results can also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimisation.

You can read the updated Google help file here. If you want to know more about how ranking well in a local listing could help to improve your business, contact us now.


Google Rolls Out More Defences to Thwart Clickjacking

Google recently identified ‘Clickjacking’ as an emerging threat to cost-per-click display ads. This is a type of web attack where the appearance of a website is changed so that a victim does not realise they are clicking on one or more ads. For example, a user may intend to click on a video play button or menu item, but instead clicks an invisible ad unit. They reacted quickly by rolled out new defences to protect advertisers against this threat by using a combination of technology, operations, and policy.

Earlier this year when Google’s operations team identified Clickjacking activity on the display network, they moved swiftly to terminate accounts, removing entities involved in, or attempting to use, this technique to trick users. The engineering team worked in parallel to quickly release a filter to automatically exclude this type of invalid traffic across display ads.

This approach delivered a two-phase solution to publishers who violated Google’s policies: firstly, the operations team cleaned out publishers from the ad systems; secondly, engineers built a new filter as a durable defence to protect against Clickjacking traffic.

The combined Clickjacking defences operate at considerable scale, analysing display ad placements across mobile and desktop platforms, evaluating a variety of characteristics. When the system detects a Clickjacking attempt (or an normal ‘invalid click’), Google zeros-in on the traffic attributed to that placement, and removes it from upcoming payment reports to ensure that advertisers are not charged for those clicks.

Ad traffic quality has always been a priority to Google, which has consistently put in place sophisticated technology to detect and not charge for, or eradicate, ‘invalid clicks’. It’s swift to respond when such emerging threats appear and the combined defences work well to combat those.

If you want more information about how ‘invalid clicks’ and Clickjacking could impact your AdWords campaigns, please contact us now.


Online Advertising Expenditure in the UK Increases to Over $8.6bn

In their latest report for the twelve months ending December 31st 2015, IAB UK stated that the online advertising market experienced another year of significant growth in 2015, growing by 16.4% over the previous year on a like-for-like basis, to finish the year at £8.606bn. This reflects the ongoing growth of the market, and in particular, the strong trends in mobile and video advertising over the past few years.

This latest data comes from the regular Digital Adspend Study conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau in the UK, together with PwC and shows that all online advertising segments experienced another strong year of growth in 2015. Display ads were up by nearly 25% to over £3bn, with 60% of this spend being reported as programmatic advertising. Paid Search was up by 15% to £4.36bn and Classifieds grew by 5% to £1.1bn. Search remains the largest sector of spend with a 51% share of the market, followed by Display at 35% and Classifieds at 13%. However, as usual the Search figure remains an estimate as Google doesn’t reveal their actual figures for this report and this would comprise the largest part of this spend.

Most notably, mobile advertising continued its meteoric rise, increasing by just over 60% to reach £2.6bn in 2015. This is a significant increase and mobile now accounts for just over 30% of all digital ad spend, compared to just 2% in 2010. This rapid growth should clearly be noted by all online marketers, and was accompanied by strong growth in the social and video advertising sectors.

You can read more here. If you would like more information on how these figures can be used to improve your online marketing, 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 – September 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014 6:28 No Comments

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

In the first article this month, we take a look at Google’s increasing focus upon https as a ranking factor and why that should be noted by webmasters and SEO practitioners. Next, we look at the global consternation about Google Analytics data corruption by the Semalt referral traffic. In the final article this month we examine the significant increases in mobile search share in the UK, US and Australia.

You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter here. 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 Announces HTTPS as a Ranking Factor

In a rare move, Google announced at the start of August that they would be using HTTPS encryption as a positive ranking factor, in an attempt to encourage websites to become more secure. Currently this is only a small signal that can contribute to a higher ranking position, but Google says that this is likely to become a bigger factor in the future.

Google’s move is a significant one and part of a strategy to ensure that websites accessed from Google’s search results are secure. They have therefore provided this guidance and details to help webmasters prevent and fix security breaches on their sites, which can be seen here.

More webmasters have recently been adopting HTTPS (also known as HTTP over TLS, or Transport Layer Security), on their website, which is encouraging. Google wants to encourage more webmasters to do this however, by using HTTPS as a ranking signal, so that websites using secure, encrypted connections will see a benefit in the rankings.

Currently, this only affects fewer than 1% of global queries and is still less critical than other ranking factors, such as high-quality content, while webmasters are given time to switch to the secure protocol. Over time though, Google is very likely to strengthen the importance of https as a factor, as they want to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

Google is beginning to publish detailed best practices in its help center to make TLS adoption easier, and here is a useful article on how to change your website’s address. Google is also very keen to see more websites using HTTPS in the future to make the web more secure, so the sooner webmasters make that transition, the more they will benefit from the inevitably increasing weight that will be put onto that by Google’s ranking algorithms.

If you’d like more information about how your website could benefit in the rankings from the transition to https, contact us now.

The Issue of Semalt Referrals in Google Analytics

Many users of Google Analytics will have seen a growing number of visit referrals from the Semalt domain over the course of this year, although the quality of visits are poor and reflect an automated visit, which has been impacting the overall user metrics for these websites. Globally, this has become an irritation but one that Google has now targeted and provided a new tool to combat similar activity in the future.

Any search for Semalt will get some varied results, but their website describes itself as ‘a professional webmaster analytics tool that opens the door to new opportunities for the market monitoring’. However, many Analytics users just find it to be a significant annoyance as it has been skewing the data in their reports from the beginning of this year, with 100% bounce rates from a significant number of visits. These also tend to mostly originate from Brazil.

There have been a growing number of complaints about Semalt referrals, as the company seems to employ malware to crawl the web and spam server logs, potentially ruining your Google Analytics data with irrelevant data. This ‘referral spam’ is apparently used by Semalt to drive traffic to their website to get users to sign up for their €14.65 / month service.

However, this spammy traffic data pollutes many Google Analytics reports, because all crawler traffic uses the HTTP referrer header containing the URL semalt.semalt.com/crawler.php (which redirects to semalt.com). For some accounts this activity ceased in April, but for others it has continued until Google appeared to begin to automatically block it in early August and hopefully, for most Google Analytics accounts, this will mean that these referrals will now cease.

Google have also recently introduced a new Bot and Spider Filtering function in Analytics. This allows users to select this in the Admin / Views area of Analytics to then exclude all data that comes from specific bots and spiders on the IAB known bots and spiders list. More information about this new filtering option can be found here.

These recent changes should now fix this data problem, but historical reports for this year will continue to carry the Semalt referrals, which need to be considered in trend data. If you’d like more details about how the accuracy of your Google Analytics data reports could have been affected, please contact us now.

Increases in Mobile Search Share

This article highlights the increasing importance of mobile click share and advertising spend for business owners and online marketers. Recent research shows the rapidly growing speed at which the adoption of mobiles are used to access the Internet is a highly significant trend.

Data released in August 2014 by digital marketing software firm Kenshoo shows how three of the most mature paid search markets – US, UK and Australia – saw mobile search share rise by between 8 and 11 percentage points year-over-year in Q2 of this year. From those three countries, the one that had the largest percentage increase in clicks was Australia, which rose by a notable 13 percentage points in this year’s Q2 annual comparison. The search advertising share of clicks here rose to 44% (with 38% in the UK and 33% in the US).

This data indicates that mobile browsing is proving to be exceptionally popular in Australia, as average phone CPCs for search advertising spend remain 12 cents lower than for tablets and desktops. The average CPC spread between phone and tablet has narrowed in the US and UK, however, with the US figures showing that average phone CPCs are just $0.04 cents lower than tablet. In the UK, the phone CPCs are only .02 Euros less than tablets. The Kenshoo report surmises that “Higher CPC for mobile (in the US and UK) reflects marketers getting savvier about how to measure mobile and set different goals for campaigns targeting those devices.”

Oddly, in Australia, Kenshoo found that clickthrough rates on both tablets and phones fell, bucking the overall trend reported by Google in Q2. The gap between mobile clicks and spend also widened in Australia year-over-year, with 35% of spend allocated to mobile and 44% of clicks generated from mobile ads. This indicates that due to the lower CTRs causing a lower level of competition in targeting mobiles, marketers here still have the potential to get excellent ROI from them before the CPC gap between the devices narrows.

If you would like to know more about how we can help to improve your online marketing ROI from mobile targeting, contact us now.

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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – April 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 6:29 No Comments

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

In the first article this month we take a look at the role and importance of landing pages and how they can have a significant impact on how an online marketing campaign performs – in particular, with Google AdWords. Next, we examine how 2014 is likely to be a revolutionary year in the search environment as it’s predicted to be the first year in which mobile search queries exceed desktop search queries based on global searches.

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 Like our Facebook page or Google+ page for updates.

On to this month’s edition…

The Role and Importance of Landing Pages

If you’re using Google AdWords, a good landing page can provide your business with a series of important benefits, including improving your Quality Score, which in turn can help to improve your ad position and lower your cost per click. A good landing page can also improve conversions, save you money and have a substantial influence on whether a campaign succeeds or fails.

Landing pages are those pages on your website that people first see when they find your site through a search engine – either from the ‘organic’ results, or via the paid listings such as AdWords. Each landing page therefore gives the site visitor a first impression of your business and plays a key role in conversion optimisation – getting a visitor to complete the task on your site that you want them to, whether it’s to make a sale, send an enquiry or sign up for a newsletter.

As noted above, a landing page is an important element in Google AdWords as it can contribute to an improved Quality Score. Each time you create or amend an advert, Google will automatically visit the landing page being used from the ad and assess how well the landing page will work, so there are some key requirements to consider.

The following tips need to be followed to ensure visitors enjoy your landing page experience and that you can maximise your Quality Score for each keyword:

  • Make sure your landing page has content that is relevant and closely to related to the text ads and keywords used. You should check the title tag, description tag and body content for the terms being used.
  • Visitors should be able to easily find what they want. If your text ad is selling a product, make sure the product is easy for visitors to find once they are sent to your landing page.
  • Ensure your landing page offers unique and useful information, including offers that are unique and only available from your site.
  • Contact information on the landing page should be easy for visitors to see, and if a landing page requires information through a form, it is important to let the visitor know why and for what purpose.
  • Make sure the privacy policy of your business is easy to access from the landing page.
  • If you are selling online, make sure that personal data is collected using a secure processing server (https) with a valid certificate.
  • If you are showing adverts on your landing page, make these clearly distinctive from your own content.
  • Avoid pop-ups and other features that can be considered annoying to visitors.
  • Make sure that the back button works if visitors want to return to the search results.
  • You should also consider how your page is viewed from a mobile device if this is a core part of your advertising market.

In summary, a landing page should be easy for visitors to use and it should portray a sense of trust. The landing page should be highly related to the text ad and keyword that enticed the visitor to click the advertisement. A landing page should be easy to understand and visitors should be able to quickly locate more information if it’s needed.

If you’d like more information about landing pages, or a review of those you are using, please contact us for more information.


Mobile Queries Outgrow Desktop Queries

2014 looks set to be a revolutionary year in the Search Marketing sector, with mobile search queries expected to overtake desktop search queries for the first time. The news has been indicated by several industry leaders, including Google’s Matt Cutts, and comes earlier than expected with most predicting such a shift was still years away.

Mobile search queries are expected to exceed desktop search queries based on global searches, which shows the changing nature of the search environment. Google is reluctant to confirm these reports, as the company wants to encourage cross platform promotion, and this does of course remain the smartest strategy for advertisers who still need to target both desktop and mobile users.

However, the increasing trend in mobile searches are hardly a surprise for industry experts, considering there are estimated to be two billion desktops actively being used across the globe, which is well short of the five billion active mobile devices. This mix does vary by country, with India, for example, being well ahead in mobile v desktop usage, whereas globally, mobile traffic is seen to be about 30% of all Internet activity.

The increasing search trend on mobile has made it more important for website owners to ensure their websites can be accessed through these devices. Also, advertisements targeting mobile platforms are becoming ever more important as a result of the booming mobile search queries. The data available within AdWords can clearly show mobile usage and advert interaction. Plus, Google Analytics also provides website marketers with information about visitors arriving from mobile devices and how they interact with the website.

When this data is reviewed, AdWords advertisers can understand the behaviour of their specific market and then determine what type of mobile ads are created. Both mobile text and image ads can be implemented to either high-end smartphone users – which include users of iPhones and Android devices – or to the declining number of WAP users, which includes mobile devices with smaller screens.

If you’d like to know more about reviewing and targeting mobile search users in your marketing activity, please contact us for information.

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