Search Engine Marketing News – June 2013

Another month, another pay check, more reports and more change in the industry (of course!). Here’s what happened in the world of marketing in June 2013:

Dynamic Retargeting Launched
Probably the biggest news from Adwords this month. Google announced in the last week of June that they are launching dynamic remarketing to any advertisers using the Google merchant centre feed. So you can now remarket to people who’ve looked at certain products on your site with a dynamic message. At this stage, I’m not sure how competitive it will be against the likes of Criteo but we’ll soon find out for sure!

Google Adwords Top Movers Report

Another nice update from Google – they have now launched a ‘Top Mover Report’ within Adwords. This report shows you at a campaign level the top moving clicks and costs each week.

The report shows the following:

  • Topline increases and decreases in clicks and costs for all campaigns
  • Top increases in costs -> Showing changes in average position, clicks, average CPC, impressions and clicks
  • Top decreases in costs -> Showing changes in average position, clicks, average CPC, impressions and clicks

The best thing about the report is that it shows you the reasons driving the changes, be that new ads introduced, keywords removed or CPC’s decreased/increased. Finally, a quick way to find out what is driving any top line changes. Monday morning report = sorted!

Payday Loan Algorithm

The latest attempt by Google to reduce the amount of spamming sites, hit payday loans website hard this month. A new algorithm was launched to combat payday loans and other spammy sites.

This update impacted roughly 0.3% of the U.S. queries, but Matt Cutts said it was as high as 4% for Turkish queries.

Apple Makes Bing the Default Search Engine for Siri

Bing had a huge win this month when Apple named them as the default search engine for searches on the web through Siri. Now when you ask a question to Siri, Siri will either give you a direct answer or will ask you if you want to search the web. That web search will now be done through Bing. Google remains the default search engine on Safari, although mine managed to set the default to Bing, safe to say that has now been switched back to Google!)

Goodbye Google Reader

Google reader has finally hung up its boots, after much deliberation about when it was actually to end. Who knows the reason why and what the plans are to replace it (if they will be) but it’s gone!

So that’s another month for Search Engine Marketing news. July will be a busy month in PPC to make the last few changes to enhanced campaigns for anyone still to switch over. And no doubt that Natural search will have a through curve balls thrown by Google!

Search Engine Marketing News May 2013

Another month has flown by and it’s been a busy-ish month in the world of SEM. With no major updates around Enhanced Campaigns and Adwords in general, the main news has been about the return of a well known animal…

Penguin Is Back With A Vengeance!

Penguin 2.0 was released late May as Google’s latest update to fight against spam. This 4th update attempts to prevent spammy, low authority websites gaining positions in the SERP’s. Matt Cutts, head of web spam at Google has said that 2.3% of English queries would be affected by this update.

Google Conversational Search Live on Chrome

So voice recognition technology giving responses isn’t a new concept. Apple have been doing it with ‘Siri’ for a while now but after having a play around on both I’d say Google’s works surprisingly well. If you have the new version of Chrome, you can click on the microphone button and ask a question which Google will respond both verbally and in the search results.

There are some flaws with the voice recognition which can only be anticipated but the opportunity for search is huge and on the whole is pretty well constructed.

Google Author Authority Algorithm Launched

Further to the Penguin updates and Google’s bid to penalize spammy sites and reward quality content, more and more emphasis is being placed on industry authority figures. Google stated this month that they are working on an algorithm to determine subject authorities across the web.

Matt Cutts said – “We are doing a doing a better job of detecting when someone is sort of an authority in a specific space. It could be medical, it could be travel, whatever. And trying to makes sure that those rank a little more highly, if you are some sort of authority or a site that according to the algorithms we think might be a little bit more appropriate for users.”

Adwords Editor Update 10.1

Adwords Editor 10.1 was available this month with changes made to make it easier to make changes within Enhanced Campaigns. The main changes were to:

  • Set bid adjustments for placements, topics, and audiences.
  • Set mobile bid adjustments at the ad group level.
  • Upgrade campaigns in bulk using CSV import or the Add/update multiple campaigns tool.
  • Use the new ValueTrack {ifmobile}, {ifnotmobile} parameters.

Google Testing Ads in Google Maps

Google announced that they are testing ads within Google Maps. An pretty unsurprising move from Google which had been expected. Haven’t yet seen this in action but Google are testing search ads with and without location extensions on the map and below the search box. There is huge potential for local businesses around this so I guess watch this space!

  • Search ads with location extensions can appear directly on the map and just below the search box
  • Search ads without location extensions can appear just below the search box

Search Engine Marketing News – February 2013

Well, what can we say about search engine marketing news this month…. you may have heard a thing or two about this little thing called ‘Enhanced Campaigns’. Enhanced campaigns has been the main talking point in the industry and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I’ll recap on the main changes of Google’s Enhanced Campaigns and other changes that have happened in SEM this month (yes, there has been other news).

Google are giving us more control in our ‘multi-device world’? Brilliant…. oh no, wait!

I’ll admit when I first got the call from Google I was almost convinced (almost!) that the Enhanced Campaign change was a good thing. For some companies/agencies it may be, but not for the majority. Yes, there are some benefits but Google have gone about it the wrong way by ultimately giving us a lot less control.

  • Separate device bidding no longer possible (boo)
  • Tablet and desktop devices are now treated as one with no way of having separate bids for tablet (boo)
  • Mobile bid adjustments are available as multipliers from -100% to +300% at a campaign level (double boo)
  • Ad scheduling possible (woo)
  • Better call tracking (woo)
  • Data on individual site link extensions are available (finally!)

Enhanced Campaign changes have now been rolled out to Adwords Editor, making it easier for us to start making dreaded changes in our accounts.

Other News

Search Funnel Data

Finally some good news! Search funnel data is now available in the Adwords interface. We can now see data on assisting keywords directly in Adwords. It’s a good move by Google as we can see the number of assisting clicks, impressions and conversions without having to go to Analytics. It looks like this is one of the first steps in providing more attribution data, that most of us go somewhere else to find.

Google Penalising Inteflora

Google sent out a big message to advertisers this month by giving Interflora big SEO penalties. Although Google haven’t officially confirmed the penalty, there natural search results took a drastic turn for the worst… This great post by David Naylor shows how dramatic the shift was.

Interflora Rankings Dip

Free Shopping Comes to An End

Google shopping is no longer free to advertisers in the UK (and many other countries). It was good while it lasted here in the UK, but free shopping listings is no more, instead we have to set up product listing ads.

Google’s Unique Searches Drops

Google’s share of unique searches has dipped under 20%. Okay, so it’s still got the majority of searches but it’s slowly losing ground has Baidu, Bing, Yandex and Yahoo are seeing slightly increased global searches. Check out this post from Search Engine Land

Google Removes Not Provided From Webmaster Tools

The next place to not be able to get data on not provided terms was in Google Webmaster Tools. Just another update making it even harder for SEO agencies to explain to clients where there traffic is actually coming from.

So, it’s been a busy month for SEM in February…. roll on March!

The Good, Bad and Ugly Of Google’s ‘Enhanced Campaigns’

After Google’s reps doing the rounds to give a ‘heads-up’ that a change was about to happen, they have now publicly announced their ‘enhanced campaigns‘, so we can now talk about this huge announcement that is going to affect every single one of us PPC marketers. Enhanced campaigns are set to completely disregard device types to attempt to focus on the person rather than the device.

Google will be automatically changing campaigns to run on all devices rather than splitting them out by mobile, tablet, desktop meaning ad-targeted capabilities are extremely limited. They will now be split into mobile and desktop & tablet.

Google are claiming that consumers behaviours on devices are becoming the same, but are they really?! I don’t believe so. Many people use their phones on the commute to work or just during the day to browse on the internet, not really looking to purchase until later on when they get home. At which point they (including me) use a computer/tablet to have a quick check on Google again before being ready to purchase. People DO use devices for different things and that’s why we need different messaging, URL’s and bids.

So, here’s the good, bad and ugly of this latest announcement (in reverse order):

Ugly

Most PPC accounts are now set up to to treat mobile, tablet and desktop as completely different entities (rightly so) whether that’s by using different landing pages, ad copy, keywords or bids. The ‘enhanced campaigns’ now mean that it is much more difficult to target devices differently. Bid multipliers will mean that you can change bids by a certain %, similar to how hour of the day bid management is set up. Campaigns will now have to be merged into one with no real targeting capabilities.

Bad

Without separate bid targeting per device, tablets and mobile devices which have seen considerably lower CPC’s will now be increased along with competition. Despite the huge reach in mobile and tablet devices, lots of businesses were still not targeting by mobile and tablet but will now be forced to, meaning competition is increased and therefore so are CPC’s. As I was typing this I just realised how bad this could be so it should really be under the ugly category too!

Quality scores will now be rolled into one, so you will not have different quality scores by device type. This could actually increase or decrease overall quality scores dependent on if an account had high or low quality scores for mobile and tablet devices.

Good

It is not expected to be rolled out until June, so it gives us all some time I guess.

Oh, and the best news to come out of this announcement….. sitelinks are finally getting sorted (woohoo…). We will now be able to see stats on each individual sitelink. Reporting will also be improved with the ability to still report on device,

There are many questions that still remain to be answered (other than, why Google, why?!) but at least we have a few months to think how it affects us and how we can make the best of the situation.

How will it affect your PPC campaigns?

5 Common Misconceptions About SEO

After writing 5 Common Misconceptions About PPC, 5 common misconceptions about SEO was in high demand (not really, I just had an urge to write it). SEO / Natural Search  just like Paid Search Marketing has many misconceptions associated to it, so I’m here to whack them right out of the park!

It Will Take Too Long to Start Ranking

You’d be surprised at how quickly your site can start ranking for keywords. Google will generally start crawling your website within 24 hours (that’s once you’ve told them to crawl it that is!). A combination of good content, HTML tags, titles and descriptions should see your site starting to rank for relevant keywords. Then once you start acquiring back links, creating fresh content and getting a presence on social media these rankings will continue to improve.

Content is All That Matters
Content may be king, but a king needs to be backed up by its army and family! In this case, it’s on page optimisation & structure, a good strategy and social media presence that will see the king keep its reign! Content is only a small part in determining your natural search engine rankings.

Content Is King

Continue reading

5 Common Misconceptions About PPC

PPC / Paid Search Marketing / Pay-Per-Click can be a funny old world and one that can be a bit of a mystery to some people. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about PPC and why they’re complete rubbish!

Your Work Is Done Once Someone Clicks On Your Ad

Wouldn’t that be nice?! But no, sadly it doesn’t quite work like that.  The ad copy you write plays only a small part in determining the success of your paid search campaign. The landing page needs to be relevant to both the keyword and ad. You might have a fantastic clickthrough rate on your ads, but if you’re not getting a good conversion rate then you’re work is far from done! Arguably on site optimisation is just as important as the set up and delivery of your PPC campaign.

You Have to Be Number 1 To Succeed

Unlike in natural search rankings, it is not always best to be number 1 for PPC. Number 1 rankings mean you pay a higher CPC (cost per click) and more people will see your ad but not necessarily click on it just because it’s top. Not all your keywords will be keywords that convert well or that are completely relevant to what you’re offering/selling, so you don’t want to be spending higher costs just to be at the top of the page. Your ads will still get clicked on when they’re not in poll position and you’ll still be able to achieve a ROI.

Continue reading

5 New Year Solutions for Your PPC Campaigns!

Happy New Year to you all! Forget giving up eating junk, trying to quit smoking and generally making resolutions you’ll never stick to, this year why not focus on your paid search strategy and instead of not doing things, create solutions for your PPC and make it work even harder this year! Here are just a few solutions to get 2013 off to a good start and optimize your PPC campaigns straight away.

New Year's Solutions

1. Turn Off What Doesn’t Work
Are you spending money on keywords/ad groups/campaigns that doesn’t give you a return? If a certain ad group or keyword isn’t converted then do you want to be using your budget on it? Probably not I’m guessing (that’s if you are targeting conversions). Looking at historical data to determine what works and what doesn’t is the best place to start. It can sometimes be a little too easy just to pause/delete something that doesn’t appear to work though, so try to optimise in these areas to see if you can improve conversion rate. The below might help with this.

2. Review Your Landing Pages

Landing pages have arguably the biggest influence in conversion rates. You may have the best ad copy in a well structured ad group, but that means squat if you’re not landing them onto the best page possible. Take the start of the year as a good time to review all the landing pages you link to. Do you have custom page pages for certain keywords? Or are you using generic pages that were set up to people already on your website? Use common sense to think if there is a better landing page and analyse your conversions results for a certain period.

Landing page A/B testing is the best way to establish which landing page is best. Use the same ads and make the only variant between them the destination URL. Remember it doesn’t have to stop after one test, you can take the top performing landing page and test that against another and keep going until you think you’ve optimised enough (not that it can ever be enough in paid search marketing!)

3. Test Your Copy
Does the perfect ad copy exist? Arguably not if you ask me. Okay, so you may have found a certain ad(s) give you really good clickthrough rates (CTR) and a conversion rate you’re happy with, but is this the best ad copy possible? Ad copy should be reviewed and tested constantly. Again A/B testing can be used to establish the most effective headlines, description lines and even display URL’s. Never stop testing!

Continue reading