WMW logo
Social links
contact us for a free marketing report

Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – May 2018

Posts Tagged ‘SEO’

Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – May 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 7:14 No Comments

Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter which focuses on news, tips and advice for effective website marketing, with particular attention on Google and best practice search engine marketing techniques, plus current trends in the market.

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

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

On to this month’s edition…

How Good Is AdWords Automated Bidding?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Google Confirms ‘Mobile-First’ Indexing

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, Google wants to make it clear that:

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

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


Google Autocomplete – How it Works

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

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

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

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

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

These are removed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: ,

Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – March 2018

Thursday, March 1, 2018 4:39 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 some search / SEO issues, with the new search suggestions being shown in the Google results when you return from a website visit. We also look at the longer snippets being shown in the search results and how these can be controlled through the use of the Description metatag. Finally we look at the ‘Google a Day’ tool which can help you refine and improve your search techniques to find the best answer as quickly as possible.

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…

Longer Search Snippets in Google Results

At the end of last year Google expanded the length of the snippets shown in the search results – the additional content below the main clickable blue link in the results, that provide more information about the webpage being listed. But what does this mean for SEO?

The search snippets in Google’s results are designed to provide the searcher with more information about what to expect on the website page once they click on the result. It should therefore be relevant to the page, and can also be an important element to generate interest and a click on the listing, although Google has said for some years that this content doesn’t influence ranking performance.

The content for this snippet may be taken from the website page content, or from the description metatag, depending on which content is more relevant to the searcher’s query. The search terms used in the query will also be emboldened in the snippet where included, so this can be a good way for a website to stand out as being more relevant for a search query and therefore more likely to attract the clickthrough.

From an SEO perspective, it’s best practice to write a good description tag to try to control the content that Google will show in the results. It should reflect the main search terms being targeted on the page within the page content and title tag, so that there is some alignment of the core terms, as well as a strong marketing message to attract the searcher onto the page.

The snippet length was traditionally restricted to about 2 lines of text (or around 160-180 characters), but this has now been extended to up to 4 lines for many searches (around 250-300 characters). Google’s intention is to make the results more descriptive and useful for the searcher (and also look more like the expanded text AdWords ads with extensions!).

It can therefore be advisable to take advantage of this extra space to make your search listings more prominent and to include some good, relevant and appealing information for the searcher. However, it’s still important to include the main search terms and message in the first few lines, to attract that attention and in case Google reverts back to shorter descriptions again in the future.

It’s also recommended to check some of the main search rankings where your site is appearing in the results and see how the description snippet appears, and how it reads compared to other results. What else could be added, how can the search query be better used, and could different message be tested in the content?

You can read Google’s advice about creating good meta description content, or you can contact us for more help or information.


Search Suggestions in Google Results

A new development with Google’s search results has appeared over the past month, with additional search suggestions appearing below a website listing when a searcher ‘bounces’ back from the results. This adds to Google’s range of tools to try to help the searcher find the result most relevant to them.

We previously covered the use of Search Suggestions on Google back in 2013 as the useful list of related terms shown when you type in a search can be a quick way to find the search results you’re looking for, based on the most common searches for the same terms made in the past. Google has also been adding suggested related search terms at the bottom of the first search page for a longer period.

However, in the past month the additional suggestions panel has been shown below individual sites listed in the search results, as shown below:

Google's search suggestions within the ranking results

When you now complete a search and click through to a resulting website, if you then click back to the results page, the site in question will display a panel below the listing, with ‘People also search for” suggestions. These terms are related to the original search query made, but also to the content from the site in question that was visited.

Google’s intention here is to generate other search ideas and suggestions based on related content, on the assumption that if you have visited a result for a search but then ‘bounced’ – or returned to the search results page – you’ve not found exactly what you wanted and therefore they are presenting you with some different search term options that you can then select and view a new set of results.

From a searchers perspective, this could be a useful tool to help refine or broaden a search activity, and from a search marketing view, it’s also useful to see what terms are being suggested, and in particular for your own website listings in the Google results, to see how Google may be directing people from a click back from your site into the results again. These may be terms that you should consider for SEO or for targeting your AdWords campaigns to make sure relevant phrases identified by Google’s system are being covered.

If you’d like to know more about these new search suggestions, and how you should use them for your own search engine marketing, please get in touch.


Refine Your Google Search Skills

As Google develops its search database and results list for any given search, so do searchers become more sophisticated in the way they use Google and enter a search query. However, if there are times when you get frustrated trying to find the right result, have a go at Google’s search test and find new techniques to improve your own search skills.

Called ‘A Google a Day‘, this service has been available for just over 7 years but is a little known resource. It takes the form of an online challenge, or trivia game, and changes each day with a new search query that you try to solve in the given time as your points score reduces. There are no prizes, just the satisfaction of getting the answer using the best techniques for Google’s search engine.

As the strapline on A Google a Day says, there are no right ways to solve the question, but only one answer!. It asks general knowledge questions each day in a cryptic manner, that can be solved by using search techniques on Google. It’s intended to be used to improve searching skills while having fun, and it also provides a hint, if needed, or the first letters of the answer.

If you play regularly then you will quickly learn useful search techniques to make your future searches more efficient, as well as acquiring interesting bits of knowledge that could help with quizzes and puzzles or provide food for thought! So give it a go to see if it triggers your imagination and helps you discover all the types of questions for which Google can provide an answer.

If you’d like more information or help with searching Google or want to improve your search techniques, please contact us now for more information.


Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – February 2018

Thursday, February 1, 2018 5:08 No Comments

Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter which focuses on news, tips and advice for effective website marketing, with particular attention on Google and best practice search engine marketing techniques, plus current trends in the market.

This month we look at page load speed and the potential impact on mobile search rankings on Google, as well as some new tools available in AdWords for eCommerce advertisers using Google Shopping campaigns. We also look at the new user interface coming to Google Search Console plus the reports and tools that are being added or updated.

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

On to this month’s edition…

Page Speed to Impact Mobile Search Rankings

Google’s studies have shown that people really care about the load-speed of a page particularly on mobiles, as they want to be able to find what they’re searching for as fast as possible. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Google recently announced that starting in July 2018, page speed will be also be a ranking factor for mobile searches. So any efforts that have been put into that up until now will have been worthwhile.

The “Speed Update,” as they call it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.

Developers are encouraged to think broadly about how performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics. Although there is no tool that directly indicates whether a page is affected by this new ranking factor, here are some resources that can be used to evaluate a pages performance:

  • Chrome User Experience Report is a public data-set of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions
  • Lighthouse is an automated tool and a part of Chrome Developer Tools for auditing the quality (performance, accessibility, and more) of web pages
  • Page Speed Insights is a tool that indicates how well a page performs on the Chrome UX Report and suggests performance optimisations

It’s important that these points are noted ahead of time in order to help benefit your business’s mobile rankings from July. If you want more information about we can help to improve that, please contact us now.


Useful New AdWords Features for e-Commerce

Google recently introduced some useful new AdWords features, about which e-Commerce retailers should be aware.

1. Promotion extensions

These ad extensions allow you to append a discount code or site-wide discount to your text ads. They were first mentioned by Google last May (when they were still in beta), but they’ve finally released them to all advertisers.

These are handy because previously, ad headlines and descriptions had to be used for promos, which took up valuable characters that are limited in number. This now enables the ads to include the original copy which can still include a strong call-to-action and be used to boost ad relevance. The promotion extensions also help the ads take up more space on the Search Engine Results Page, which is always a core objective for AdWords ads.

2. Ad Variations

With any e-Com business especially, it’s always been important to A/B test ads to determine which are the most effective for KPIs. Doing so has been a protracted process, having to upload multiple copies of a given ad in which single components (a headline, a call-to-action etc) are altered and rotated against a control ad to determine its effect.

Thankfully, Google has now provided the function to easily test ad variants en masse. The ‘AdWords experience’ provides access to the new ad variations tab. Within that ad variants interface, it’s possible to:

  • Find and replace certain keywords in your ads
  • Update entire textual components (headlines, description, paths)
  • Invert headlines (which should always include the relevant keyword)

Once the ad variants are created it’s possible to use the Experiment split section to assign the percentage of the campaign budget that’s allocated to it. This is particularly useful if only a small percentage is required, which may be the case during a time of year when many e-Commerce businesses make a substantial share of their total annual profits and so the majority of the budget should continue to be focused upon that in that period.

3. Custom Intent Audiences

Many e-Com businesses find that the results using The Display Network can be a bit hit or miss due to the widespread variation of websites upon which the ads can appear.

To address that issue Google’s introduced custom intent audiences that use “Google’s machine learning technology to analyse existing campaigns and auto-create custom intent audiences… based on the most common keywords and URLs found in content that people browse while researching a given product or service.”

Basically, Google uses data from your AdWords campaigns and website to determine what is being sold, then cross-reference that against humanity to auto-generate new, qualified (at least as far as Display goes) audiences. This kind of audience creation further cements Google shift towards a Facebook-like, audience-centric mode of targeting on the Display Network, in which characteristics take the place of intent as a primary means of targeting net-new prospects.

It’s also possible to generate your own custom intent audiences using a combination of URLs and keywords.

4. Gmail Re-marketing

Up until now it hasn’t been possible for e-Com retailers to show their Shopping ads to previous visitors to their site within Gmail . So the introduction of Gmail re-marketing is welcomed as the ability to re-market and more importantly, do so dynamically, via Gmail is a positive development.

Google calls AdWords Gmail ads dynamic re-marketing “an immersive shopping experience” in your prospects’ in-boxes. This provides e-Commerce advertisers with the ability to bring a prospects’ shopping cart into their inbox, just on the busiest shopping days of the calendar year, for example on ‘Black Friday’.

This is an extremely useful new function, but could be a costly one though, as the avg. CPC for doing that is likely to be high and well above that for most standard campaigns.

The wise use of these new AdWords features could significantly benefit e-Com businesses into the future. If you want more details about how they could be implemented to help your business, please get in with us touch now.


A New Look for Google Search Console

Following a few months of beta testing, Google has announced that it will start rolling out a new user interface for the Search Console tool, which will also include some changes to reports and new features. This tool has become a core resource for any SEO activity and with these new changes, it is likely to become even more valuable.

The new interface follows the style of the recent changes introduced with Google Analytics and Google AdWords, Google says that the new look will help to create a more simplified process of optimising a website’s presence on Google Search. The functionality available to users will include Search performance, Index Coverage, AMP status, and Job posting reports.

One of the best developments with the new version is the updated Search Analytics reports, which are now called Search Performance and have been improved to show 16 months of historical data, rather than the existing 90 days limit. This will make the reports more valuable in looking into larger data periods and long-term trends, as well as year-over-year comparisons which have been a big omission to date.

There is also an updated Index Coverage report which will give users some insights into the indexing of URLs from their website. This section will show correctly indexed URLs, warnings about potential issues, and reasons why Google isn’t indexing some URLs. The new functionality will also alert users when new issues are detected and so helps webmasters or site marketers monitor the fixes that have been made.

When there are specific issues being shown, users can click onto the error URLs to see the issue and link to diagnostic tools to help understand what is the source of the problem. There is also a share button to involve others with fixing any issues if required and also help with resolving an issue with Google so that the search index can be updated accordingly. You can inform Google to crawl and reprocess any affected URLs with a higher priority, helping to get the pages back into the index as soon as possible.

As before, sitemap files are recommended to be used and submitted through the Search Console as best practice to let search engines know about new and updated URLs. Once a sitemap file has been submitted, the new interface allows users to use the sitemap filter over the Index Coverage data in order to focus on an exact list of URLs.

Google will be notifying existing users of Search Console once the new interface is available, and similar to AdWords, there will be an interim period when both the new and old interfaces will be available and users can switch between. In addition, more functionality will be added to the new interface over the coming months and Google is also welcoming feedback and new suggestions for tools that could be added.

You can read more about the new interface here, and if you’d like to know more about using Search Console for your website, please get in touch.

Tags: , , , ,

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.

Tags: , ,

Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – October 2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 23:31 No Comments

Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter which focuses on news, tips and advice for effective website marketing, with particular attention on Google and best practice search engine marketing techniques, plus current trends in the market.

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

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

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

On to this month’s edition…


Google’s Focus on Website Connection Security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Google “Simplifies” AdWords Ad Rotation Settings

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

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

1. There will only be two ad rotation settings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Changes to AdWords Conversion Measurement

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you would like more information about this change, or help with linking your AdWords and Analytics accounts together, please get in touch.

Tags: , , ,

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.

Tags: , , ,

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.

Tags: , , ,

Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – February 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 5:26 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 term ‘crawl budget’ in relation to Google Search Console, which applies to the Googlebot that crawls websites to index their pages for the search engine rankings, and the implications this may have for search marketers. The second article looks at Google AdWords, and examines search terms that Google classifies as ‘low search volume’, with advice about how best to approach the use of those keywords.

In the final article this month we take a look at how best to avoid fake emails. These can be in the form of scams, or thinly veiled online marketing sales pitches and this advice should be useful for individuals or businesses who are keen not to fall into these potentially serious traps!

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…


What ‘Crawl Budget’ Means for Googlebot

Webmasters have various definitions for ‘crawl budget’, which is a term that refers to Googlebots that crawl websites to index their pages for the search engine rankings (i.e. ‘Crawling’ is the start of the process to get websites into Google’s search results). Efficient crawling of a website helps with its indexing in Google Search.

Google recently clarified the meaning of ‘crawl budget’, which covers a range of issues, but they also emphasised that it’s not something that needs to concern the majority of webmasters, whose sites have less than a few thousand URLs, as most of the time, sites of that size will be crawled efficiently.

Crawl rate limit

Prioritising what to crawl, when and how much resource the server hosting the site can allocate to crawling, is more important for bigger sites, or those that auto-generate pages based on URL parameters, for example. Crawling is Googlebot’s main priority, while making sure it doesn’t degrade the experience of users visiting the site. This is called the ‘crawl rate limit,’ which limits the maximum page fetching rate for a given site.

Crawl health

If the site responds really quickly for a while, the limit goes up, meaning more connections can be used to crawl. If the site slows down or responds with server errors, the limit goes down and Googlebot crawls less. By setting the limit in Search Console, website owners can reduce Googlebot’s crawling of their site. (Note that setting higher limits doesn’t automatically increase crawling).

Crawl demand

Even if the crawl rate limit isn’t reached, if there’s no demand from indexing, there will be low activity from Googlebot. The factors that play a significant role in determining crawl demand are:

  • Popularity: URLs that are more popular on the Internet tend to be crawled more often to keep them fresher in Google’s index.
  • Staleness: Google’s systems attempt to prevent URLs from becoming stale in the index.
  • Additionally, site-wide events, like site moves, may trigger an increase in crawl demand in order to reindex the content under the new URLs.

Taking crawl rate and crawl demand together, Google defines ‘crawl budget’ as the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl from a website. According to Google’s analysis, a website that has many low-value-add URLs can negatively affect a site’s crawling and indexing, such as having on-site duplicate content, soft error pages, hacked pages or low quality and spam content.

These sort of issues make it important to develop quality content throughout a website, but also to keep monitoring Google Search Console reports to ensure that a site is being indexed regularly and efficiently, and there are no potential issues with the site that may prevent pages being added to Google’s index.

You can read more on how to optimise the crawling of your site, here, and this is still applicable despite being an article from 2009. If you would also like to know more about how we can check if your site is being correctly indexed to ensure it’ll be admissible to Google’s search results, please contact us now.


Managing Low Search Volume Terms in AdWords

One frustrating aspect of Google AdWords can be the ‘Low search volume’ status that Google will sometimes give to keywords with very little to no search history, worldwide over the past twelve months. They are temporarily made inactive so that they don’t trigger AdWords ads even if you try searching for the term on Google. This can be a problem for new product or brand related keywords.

Google will identify any keywords added to an adgroup with the ‘low search volume’ status and no impressions will accrue against the keyword. However, if the number of search queries for these keywords should increase, even a small amount, they’ll be reactivated and will start triggering ads to show in the results as Google’s system automatically checks and updates the status on a weekly basis.

Before the introduction of the ‘low search volume’ status, it used to be possible to target ‘long tail’ keywords. These are keywords or key phrases that are more specific and usually longer than more commonly searched for keywords, but not searched for very often. Long tail keywords get less search traffic, but usually have a higher conversion value, as they are more specific and more closely relate to the searcher’s intent.

This is often why the ‘low search volume’ status can be frustrating in AdWords and there has to be a methodology to manage them, such as the following:

  • Do nothing and wait for Google to automatically check again within a week. If more people start searching for your keyword, it’ll be reactivated. This option can be particularly helpful if a new brand, term or product is being advertised.
  • Change the keyword match to broaden it out from phrase or exact versions, as the probability for someone searching for a keyword with 5-6 words in a certain order is very low.
  • Pause the keyword. If there are a large number of low search volume keywords, pausing the ones that are generic and have a low quality score should be considered. Having a few low search volume keywords in your account doesn’t affect account performance. However, if you have a significant number of such keywords then it may affect the Quality Score of the adgroup, which in turn can affect the avg. CPC of the keywords.
  • Move the ‘low search volume’ keywords to a separate campaign. This can provide more control over them and improve overall campaign quality score.
  • Remove the keyword and use the Keyword Planner to find additional keyword ideas.

The best way to increase traffic on low search volume branded keywords is to run Display campaigns to create brand awareness. People will become aware of your product/site and start searching. This will increase search traffic for the brand terms and low search volume keywords will become active. It won’t happen immediately, but results should begin in a month or so.

If you want to know more about how we can help to improve the Quality Score and performance of your AdWords campaign, contact us now.


Avoiding Fake Emails

Ever since emails became a mainstream part of the Internet, the use of unscrupulous or fake emails to try and trick recipients have been a common threat, with varying degrees of annoyance or danger. However, being email aware can make recipients cautious about emails and avoid taking any unnecessary action.

From the early days of Nigerian email scams, which promised recipients untold wealth from surprising will gifts, emails have become more sophisticated and widely used by scammers, hackers and criminals to hide behind a fake profile and to tempt participants to part with money to do things they shouldn’t be doing.

In the search marketing field, these scams include marketing emails that supposedly come from an ‘expert’ who has viewed your website and want to scare you into taking action with them. These senders have rarely viewed your site and send the same warning message to thousands of recipients in the hope that a few will ‘bite’. They tend to come from Gmail or similar generic email addresses and have no indication of coming from a legitimate business, with no address or phone number details.

At a more serious level, emails that contain clickable links can lead you to fake websites and probably malware or viruses that can attack your computer and personal information. Many of these emails are cleverly designed to look like legitimate emails from companies and attract your attention and have to be treated with caution. Many emails systems – like Gmail – are pretty good at filtering out a lot of these scams, but some can get through (and sometimes real emails can be filtered incorrectly).

A few simple checks are worth taking with any emails that look unusual, such as:

  • Would you expect to be receiving this type of message?
  • Check the message headers, as the “from:” address and the “return-path” reference should reference the same source
  • Does the content of the email read correctly or contain typos?
  • If you hover over any links from the email, does the URL match the expected website you’d be connecting to, or an unusual address?

If in doubt, go directly to the website you would expect and login or signup there rather than via the email link. Also make sure you have virus software on your device and you regularly scan the device or run a malware check.

By being email smart and questioning anything that looks odd, should help to keep you safe and just delete the suspicious emails. If you’d like more information, please contact us 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.

Tags: , , ,

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.

Tags: , ,

Web Search & Marketing Newsletter – December 2016

Friday, December 2, 2016 2:59 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 continuing series of recent articles reflecting the importance and focus that Google is currently placing upon mobile search, the first two articles examine two significant aspects that should be interesting to businesses of all sizes. Firstly, Google announced that it has begun experiments to make its search engine index priority mobile-first, over desktops. This is a very important change to its search engine algorithm, for which business owners should be aware, and prepared. Secondly we report on mobile AdWords advert extensions and how these can be useful to attract business that may not otherwise be generated.

Finally this month, we take a look at the relationship between PPC / Adwords and SEO and the common question about whether to bid on terms that are also ranking well organically. We look at the pros and cons of this strategy and how to combine the targeting for the optimal goal of getting relevant results in front of users and driving qualified traffic to your website.

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 Mobile-first Indexing Announcement

In an important recent blog post by Google, it announced that it has begun experiments to make its search engine index ‘mobile-first’. That means their search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, but the algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to determine a ranking position. So Google’s significant, continuing shift of focus towards mobile-centric usage prevails, but it’s keen to emphasise that they’re going to continue to build ‘a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices’.

One of the reasons for this shift in priority is because currently, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. However, their ranking systems still typically looks at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because the algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher. So in the near future the search engine index of pages will be built primarily from mobile documents.

This is vital information for SEO practitioners and businesses that don’t yet have mobile-friendly sites, as it could eventually have a dramatic impact on the rankings of sites that aren’t prepared for it. In addition, if companies have a separate mobile site with different content to their desktop version, this could also result in a change in ranking position once this change is implemented. However, Google will continue to carefully experiment over the coming months on a small scale and will ramp up this change when they’re confident that they can maintain a great user search experience.

This gives a little time to prepare and here are a few recommendations to help webmasters as Google moves towards a more mobile-focused index:

  • If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.
  • If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site.
  • Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version.
  • Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output.
  • When adding structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.
  • Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
  • Sites do not have to make changes to their canonical links; Google will continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile.
  • If you are a site owner who has only verified their desktop site in Search Console, it’s necessary to add and verify your mobile version.
  • If you only have a desktop site, Google will continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if they’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.
  • If you are building a mobile version of your site, keep in mind that a functional desktop-oriented site can be better than a broken or incomplete mobile version of the site. It’s better for you to build up your mobile site and launch it when ready.

Google anticipates this change will take some time and they’ll provide updates as make progress is made on migrating their systems. In the meantime, if you want more information on how this change could affect your rankings, contact us now.


Mobile Advert Extensions: Click-to-message Roll-out

In our second Google, mobile-centric focused article this month, we take a look at the roll-out of click-to-message AdWords advert extensions for mobile users. This is similar to click-to-call ones that have been available for a while, but gives Users another way to contact a business from their mobile device, via a text message.

According to Google, ‘65% of consumers say they’d consider using messaging to connect with a business to get information about a product or service, or to schedule an in-person appointment’. As a result, they’ve recently introduced click-to-message extensions to bring the efficiency and effectiveness of messaging to search ads. By setting up a message extension, users are given an easy way to text to start a conversation and continue it whenever is most convenient for them.

Tapping on the texting option launches a user’s SMS app with a pre-written message tailored to the product or service they’re interested in. For example, if someone messages a travel advertiser after searching for ‘London hotels’, they can send or edit that advertiser’s pre-written message text, “I’m interested in a reservation. Please text me back with more information.”

Many advertisers are already using click-to-message ads to take advantage of a new and faster way to connect with consumers on mobile to endeavour to improve conversion rates. Sometimes customers don’t have time to talk over a web chat or phone conversation, but still need more information. So it can be a good medium to get questions answered that aren’t addressed on a website, or to contact a business when it’s closed, allowing the users to follow up in their own time.

As a result of this new development, mobile users now have more flexibility than ever to choose how they want to connect with businesses. Through messaging, it’s possible to initiate valuable conversations with them by tapping into one of their most preferred modes of communication. As such, message extensions can be an efficient, convenient, way to begin and extend conversations with customers to unlock an entirely new segment of users that prefer to use messaging to communicate.

Another mobile advert extension that can be useful is price extensions. These are best used for events, or products and services that have fixed pricing, rather than for e-Commerce businesses with numerous products that change prices frequently due to seasonal discounts.

If you like to know more about how mobile advert extensions can benefit your business, contact us now.


The Relationship Between PPC and SEO

A common question with a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign, such as Google AdWords, is why bother bidding on search terms where a site is also ranking well organically, including on your own brand name? This is a fair concern, but often PPC and SEO can work together effectively and still create an uplift in clicks to a website from the search results.

Back in 2012 Google published some research that indicated that even with a top ranking organic result, the presence of a paid listing as well can increase clicks to the site by 50%. So incremental clicks from search can increase by half the amount again when using Google AdWords, plus if the organic results are lower, the incremental growth in clicks is higher – by 82% with rankings in 2-4 place, and 96% if ranking 5th or lower.

Now you might think that Google would report that wouldn’t they, as the results favour the use of AdWords, which is Google’s cash cow. Also the layout of the results have changed since that time, with AdWords listings becoming more prominent for most commercial searches these days. However, the conclusion can also be tested by advertisers and, as long as AdWords remains a cost effective marketing technique, it’s certainly worth running the ads alongside the SEO rankings to increase overall clicks to your website.

Many people say that they would never click on the ads in the search results and just the organic listings, as they trust Google’s rankings more than any position paid for by an advertiser. Whether that’s the correct assumption or not, having an ad appearing above an organic result does give a company more chances for a click to their site, plus the branding impact from the domain name appearing several times could also help, with searchers seeing that business as a likely answer to their search if they are visible several times.

Bidding on your own brand name may be less of a necessity, unless there are other AdWords ads that are targeting your brand or generic terms related to your brand that show above your organic result. Bids on your own brand name tend to be low cost and you can also get some good information from the search query report in AdWords about how people have searched for your business, but again, using AdWords for this purpose needs to be cost-effective and relevant to the searcher, and ensuring you get the click to your site through either method.

There’s a feature in AdWords that allows you to track how your site appears in the results for both paid and organic search results, so you can see the overlap or gaps. We’ll be covering this report in some more detail in a future issue of this newsletter.

If you’d like any further information about the overlap in search results and the best strategy to follow for your business, please contact us now for a discussion.


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.

Tags: , ,