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Google Scraps Sidebar Ads, Adwords Rivalry Intensifies

By | Adwords, Google, SEO | No Comments

Google remains the world’s top search engine, and any change it imposes will substantially affect us and you, our clients, and all those who live and breathe digital marketing. February marked this year’s biggest Google modification – the unveiling of a new SERPs layout on desktops with significant consequences to digital marketers and Adwords clients worldwide.
In a nutshell, the changes are: Ads

  • No more text ads on the right rail of desktop search results
  • Four text ads instead of three to show above organic results
  • Three text ads to show below organic results
  • Text ads on SERPs goes down to seven from about eleven
  • Product listings and Knowledge Panels to show on right sidebar

What to expect from the changes?As we continue to gather and analyse available data concerning recent changes in desktop SERPs, we take note that the following are highly likely:
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Google Search – Is Your Website Mobilegeddon Ready?

By | Blog, Comment, ecommerce, Mobile, Research, SEO, tools | No Comments

Google Algorithm Update

Come 21st of April, Google will roll out its new “Mobile Friendly” algorithm update which will preference search results for web sites that are mobile friendly.

For your websites, this simply means you’ll get left out in mobile search results unless your website is deemed by Google bots to be mobile friendly.

But wait!

How should you know if my site is ready for mobilegeddon? Fortunately Google, being Google, has already foreseen the outcry of website owners if they opted to bring their algorithm guessing game to such an important update so they’ve actually rolled out more than enough tools to help you prepare for this big day.

Without further delay, here are the tools and information you’ll need to be able to do a self-diagnosis of your site in preparation for mobilegeddon:

  1. Mobile-Friendly Test – just simply put in your website URL and hit analyze and you’ll know within seconds if your site is up to speed. Hopefully you’ll get a result like so:Mobile-Friendly Test
  2. Google Webmaster Tools Mobile Usability Report – This is another tool that will help webmasters identify elements of your website that does not fit Google’s mobile friendly standards, because it could be that some NOT ALL your pages have problems. Errors here should be addressed if you want to keep up on mobile search results.Here’s an example result for good measure:Mobile Usability
  3. Mobile Friendly Guidelines – In the case you’ll find yourself in the undesirable side of this update, after using the previously mentioned tools, fret not as here’s all you need to be able to get back in the good light of Google mobile search results.

Remember, this is not just about penalties but also about rewards. A more mobile friendly web site will be rewarded as much as a non-mobile site is penalised.

And as always, if you need help in keeping up with all these changes, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us any time.

Google to Rollout Close Variant Keyword Matching End of September

By | Announcements, Blog, ecommerce, Research, SEO, Web Store | No Comments

exact-phrase-match

When people go to search engines like Google, it’s not all the time that they key in their queries correctly. According to Google, at least 7 percent of all searches on their search engine contain some sort of misspelling, with longer queries more likely to have a typo. Web users don’t have the time to care about such trivial matters, especially in this time and age of shorter attention spans and a continually growing hunger for information. People expect to connect with products, services, and businesses they’re looking for.

For instance, a person trying to find “kid scooters,” “kids scooters,” or “kid’s scooters,” will want to see the most relevant Google ads regardless of these small differences in the search phrase. This is precisely why Google is turning to close variant keyword matching as a means of intuitively connecting search engine users with the people and businesses they’re looking for. The solution will apply to all exact and phrase match keywords.

Since its introduction in 2012, advertisers on Google’s AdWords program have enjoyed varying degrees of success. The company notes that the majority of advertisers are already matching to close keyword variations, garnering an average of 7 percent more exact and phrase match clicks with similar conversion and clickthrough rates. Besides this growth in keyword coverage, these incremental clicks directly translate to potentially crucial opportunities missed by low search volume keywords, a common occurrence when misspellings and abbreviations are concerned.

Widen your Reach

Beginning late September, Google will be rolling out close variant keyword matching to all phrase match and exact match keywords. It’s worth noting that close variant matching was already “switched on” by default in the campaign settings, so many advertisers won’t even notice any change in their keyword matching activity.

However, advertisers that opted out will notice the option to disable close variants disappear sometime around the last week of September. All exact and phrase match keywords will then connect to close keyword variations, allowing you to broaden your reach towards more potential customers with the most relevant ads, while at the same time, trying to lower your cost per click (CPC) and improve your clickthrough rate (CTR).

widen reach

 

What Does this Mean?

There’s always some level of anxiety present when Google makes changes to its search engine protocols and paid advertising program, as even the smallest changes can have huge effects on a company’s SEO and PPC campaigns, undoing several hours of work.

However, we at Enform actually see this update as helpful to our clients, as it cuts out the complexities of matching several lists with abbreviated, misspelled, and slight variations of your keywords just to get the coverage you want.

This time around, all you need to focus on is adding close variants of keywords that you don’t want to trigger your ads, to your negative keywords list. This is a far quicker way of shaping your traffic and reducing costs per click; it doesn’t hurt that this also offers a better ad experience to your potential customers.

It’s worth pointing out that Google AdWords tends to trigger ads with keywords that are most identical to search queries, so that doesn’t mean misspelled, abbreviated, and other close variations of your keywords are useless. Try to look how these close variants perform, they just might be able to stand independently as separate keywords with their appropriate bids.

A Different Point Of View

This mandatory change may have larger implications that mark a loss of control which is bad news for SEM (search engine marketing) professionals.

With this release we are heading towards a “keywordless” world where Google dictates when your ads appear and for what search terms.

With Google recent release of Shopping Campaigns, ads are generated using Google Merchant Account inventory feeds instead of keywords. Google is gaining more and more control of ads and advertisers may not be able to even control the outcome or put up a fight.

As long as AdWords keeps delivering results advertisers want, there won’t be many people complaining. Product Listing Ads are getting advertisers more results, and generally so will close variant matching, so it can’t be that bad…right.

google_robot

However, it’s time for the negative keywords to the rescue, that is for advertisers who feel very strongly about exact match terms, there is still the option to use negative keywords to weed out irrelevant queries.

 

Amazon Outs Online Marketing Platform to Rival Google AdWords

By | Announcements, Blog, Comment, ecommerce, Research, Social Media | No Comments

Google-Amazon

Several reports claim that the company is aiming to give Google some competition in the highly lucrative online marketing landscape with their proprietary ad platform. Word is that Amazon’s advertising product will be similar to Google AdWords in how it works, and will replace its own online ads and compete for ad share.

If successful, Amazon could very well shrink Google’s monopoly on online share once they replace their ads with their own. And the market is tempting for any tech company out there, what with more than $50 billion in sales a year.

Amazon’s new project will be called Amazon Sponsored Links, with no confirmation yet on when publishers and advertisers can try the platform out.

Furthermore, Amazon is busy developing a bulk-buying program for advertisers, which would enable the online retail giant to place ads on third party sites more easily. Reports by the Wall Street Journal indicate that Amazon’s online marketing system will roll out to users before the year ends, with the company already pitching ideas to prospective clients.

Needless to say, Amazon has their work cut out for them, should they choose to push through with their own platform against Google. The search engine giant didn’t just dominate the online marketing space overnight. It built its way from the ground up, boasting of more than 14 years of experience and along the way, amassing millions of advertisers and publishers vying for the limited ad space available to their respective niches.

This level of competition has not surprisingly sent prices for ad space soaring, which also means publishers are likely to stick with Google over another online marketing firm.

Although Google has yet to see another online marketing platform capable of toppling them from the top spot, Amazon certainly has a chance of being the company to do it. With the company’s strong experience and leadership in the online retail industry, Amazon has firsthand knowledge about the purchasing habits and behaviour of online shoppers—it’s this area where Google is at a potential disadvantage.

Moreover, Amazon apparently already has more than 250 million users actively using their platform, potentially giving the company plenty of data they could use to push their online marketing platform and rival Googles AdWords program. If the company makes the right moves, we at Enform could see a new player entering the online marketing space.

Of course, we’ve seen many companies out there introduce their own online marketing platforms as an alternative to AdWords with varying degrees of success. All of them, however, have fallen short to knocking Google off their perch.

We’ll have to wait and see if Amazon has the goods to make a strong entry into the online marketing scene. Anything less than spectacular might only result in failure.

Effective Use of Analytics to Enhance User Experience

By | Research, SEO, tools | No Comments

Google Analytics SEO SEM results search

Making Effective Use of Analytics to Enhance the User Experience

For a long time, the primary use of analytics systems was to help marketers develop marketing strategies, providing important statistics on everything from page views, clickthrough rates, impressions, and more. However, we now see this source of quantitative data helping user experience (UX) professionals improve the usability design of websites.

The value of analytics is sometimes lost to us, having a tendency of becoming a black hole of data, which although useful, provides no real value to the uninformed webmaster. At the very least, this useful data is left untouched and subscribing to the analytics service becomes a waste of money. At the worst, analytics systems lead to costly expenditures in areas not as productive as others are.

Analytics systems can become a distraction, turning from something that helps you in your work to something you need to spend time understanding and getting to work. For UX professionals, it’s important to take one step back and think of how analytics data can help in enhancing current usability techniques.

Web usability experts the Nielsen Norman Group surveyed several UX teams to find out how they used their analytics data, coming up with some interesting findings.

1.       Issue Indication

NN/g found that a number of UX teams collaborated with optimisation experts while designing a site and launching new features, creating what they referred to as a measurement plan. UX teams receive regular reports to keep track of the site’s ability to meet usability goals, turning to the analytics system to diagnose issues.

A measurement plan normally consists of:

  • Goals, or macro conversions, which refer to large-scale actions that users perform on the site for it to convert to success. Think purchase completions or lead submissions.
  • Desirable actions, or micro conversions, which as the name suggests, pertain to smaller actions that often lead to a larger goal. This can be something from visiting page, click on a link, or keying in user data on a form.
  • Metrics, or web analytics data, show quantitative data on the frequency/number of these actions.

 

2.       Investigation

This mode sees UX teams formulating hypotheses on issues around macro conversions, using analytics to prove or disprove their theories. The investigation tackles issues categorised into: traffic, technical issues, content, visual design, and navigation.

NNG provides some examples below.

a.       Traffic

Google SEO SEM Analytics

Google Analytics Pages

If you want to find out which traffic source is the cause of a drop in page visitors, use Google Analytics’ Pages and Source as a Secondary Dimension to get traffic data. Google allows you to get specific reports on a web page’s sources, be it search engines like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing; email campaigns, or direct.

b.      Technical Problems

Google Analytics Event SEO SEM

Google Analytics Event Pages

UX teams can investigate issues like pages failing to load properly by looking at Event Pages, which provides a report on all pages being tracked. It’s as simple as choosing a specific page to get your metrics on events and anomalies, if any.    

c.       Content and

d.      Visual-Design

Google Analytics SEO SEM

In-Page Analytics

With Google Analytics, UX teams can also find out if certain keywords and phrases fail to encourage web users to perform specific actions. It also allows professionals to determine if certain typography, images, and colors impede the success of calls to action. In-Page Analytics is the tool to use for both issues.

e.      Navigation

Google Analytics SEO SEM

Google Analytics Pages with Navigation Summary

 If a UX professional wants to look into ineffective site links and buttons, Google Analytics Pages, filtered by the page URL and choosing the navigation summary tab provides details on in-links, or which specific pages users came from before going to a page of interest, and where they went afterwards.

3.       Triangulation

This mode sees UX teams pinpointing a site issue by combining quantitative data with the qualitative information gleaned from usability testing to find more clues and figure out a solution to the problem. Usability tests are not perfect, especially tests that are quick and involve a limited number of users. It’s here where analytics reports can come in, monitoring potential problematic spots usability tests may have gotten wrong.

NN/g provides a scenario where participants in a test can’t find information about a certain topic because the keyword used on the site is different from the one they’re searching for.

To determine if people are actually using these keywords the participants in the study used, UX teams can look at Google Analytics’ Search Terms, which provides lists on the words and phrases users key into the website’s search box.

Google Analytics SEO SEM results

Google Analytics Search Terms

At Enform, we believe that the quantitative data analytics systems provide is a crucial component to developing a sound user experience on a website. However, this also means that usability and UX specialists have to become familiar with these systems, as well as the information they offer, which for a while, has been the domain of optimisation experts. The fact that analytics allows us to catch issues early on before affecting conversions, and helps in investigating suspicions on usability problems, is enough reason to learn these systems, even if they’re built for marketing, not usability.

Google Rolls Out New Product: Google Shopping

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Google_Product

Despite the fact that Google Shopping is already transitioning to a paid service tomorrow, many retailers using Google‘s online marketplace to sell their wares may be caught with their pants down once the drastic change takes effect. The rest have only known about the update over the previous holiday season, and are still trying to figure out just what the transition means for their business.

If your organisation depends on Google Product Search (Google Shopping’s old name) for traffic, now’s the time to adjust to Google Shopping to avoid losing momentum.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping, formerly known as Google Product Search, previously allowed online retailers to simply submit large volumes of product data through Google Merchant Centre, which Google then ranked according to relevance, just as it would other organic results on the Web.

The transition of Google Shopping to the new commercial model means that search results are now based on both bid price and relevance, very similar to Google AdWords ads.

We at Enform believe it’s important for retailers to take note of this major change, since Google Product Search traffic will eventually disappear in favour of paid Google Shopping Traffic. For retailers, this also means that action will be needed for them to participate.

Starting tomorrow, online retailers will notice a shift in their traffic, and in light of these changes, the folks from ChannelAdvisor have taken it upon themselves to break down some elements of Google Shopping, providing measures on how to start using them.

Product Listing Ads

At its core, Google Shopping is driven by Product Listing Ads, which are essentially visual product ads with product data like image, title, price and brand. PLAs are displayed alongside search network text ads, and show up when Google detects a search query matching with the product data. Like Google AdWords ads, Google’s pricing for its PLAs are based on a CPC bidding model.

Which products Google will display on its PLAs will depend on how well optimised your product data’s quality score and click-through rate.

Feeds

Product data feeds refer to lists of single products that come with product details like price, name, URL for the product page, product image URL, category, description etc. Success with PLAs begins with properly optimised and accurate data feeds.

Be sure to look at your product information and see that all relevant fields are filled up, accurate and optimised.

More tips can be found on the ChannelAdvisor blog.

Enform and Google Adwords Certification

By | Adwords, Announcements, Awards, Blog, SEO | No Comments

We’re delighted to be able to congratulate our team member Debbie Dankworth on becoming individually qualified under the Google Adwords Certification Program, specialising in Search Advertising.

Debbie is a hands on marketing professional with over 20 years experience and her Adwords Certification adds a significant tool to her set of skills as a digital and online marketing expert. Enform are very proud to have Debbie as an associate and we look forward to adding more value to our clients SEO and SEM needs.

Google Adwords Qualified individuals are globally recognised and have had to sit a number of exams to achieve the qualification demonstrating a close understanding of Adwords, campaign deployment, management and measurement. Qualified partners and individuals are also listed in the Google Partner directory.

Enform believes that Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is becoming increasingly important as the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) space becomes more and more crowded. Native search through good SEO is still critical for long term brand awareness and creation of core brand value but SEM is the tool to help launch product and company idea’s promotions, marketing communication programs and anything that is time critical.

This makes SEM a particularly effective tool to quickly create and deploy campaigns to drive traffic and customers to your site, e-commerce store or social media resource. A simple campaign can be created and deployed in under an hour with results visible almost immediately. Equally, the campaign can be turned on or off in seconds but Google Adwords management console allows that to even happen automatically.

Setting up an Adwords account is free and relatively easy, so why use an agency or Adwords professional? To quote Google themselves;

“Like many advertisers, you may not have a significant amount of time to invest in learning AdWords and managing your own advertising account. Hiring a professional can help save you time while maximizing the return on your investment.”

From our point of view, we see the difference a high quality score can make to the cost and effectiveness of an Adwords campaign. This directly goes to the argument of ROI and there are countless horror stories about peoples blowing their entire budget in one day. Yes, you can do it yourself but wouldn’t you rather be running your business or your marketing strategy?

Google Adwords is still the number one search engine marketing tool and accounts for the bulk of all SEM ad spend globally. That’s why we strongly support the Google Adwords certification program to make sure our clients get the best support in this important area.

Congratulations again Debbie!

Paid Google Ads Report, PPC is NOT an Option Anymore!

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ppc not an option anymore

If you’re a frequent user of Google Search—it would be odd if you’re not—then you may have noticed how sponsored ads on the search engine have suddenly surged in number over the recent weeks and months.

If you thought PPC was a waste, think again

A recent study by WordStream shows that paid search listings outclicked organic search results by at least a 2:1 margin in the United States, with high keywords with a high commercial intent behind them getting the most clicks.

There is, however, a catch to this. Organic searches still get more clicks than paid search ads in general, but the kicker lies in how the keywords are created. For instance, keywords designed to have a high commercial intent behind them, that is, keywords geared specifically towards buyers (e.g. buy 2012 tablet PC), are much more valuable to businesses than plain, ordinary keyword searches. It’s the keywords in this department that’s laying the beating on organic search results.

Other notable finds of the study are outlined below:

  • The position of paid search listings plays a big role in the clickthrough rates of PPC ads. Google has now made it that sponsored ads occupy a significant chunk of the real estate of a search engine results page (SERP), which has, not surprisingly, increased clickthrough rates in high commercial intent keywords.
  • Google easily trumps Facebook, at least when it comes to high commercial intent keywords. Sponsored ads on Google are clicked at least 600 times more than similar ads on Facebook.
  • Businesses may want to look twice at pay-per-click ads on Google, if their goal is to sell products and services online. Keywords with high commercial content attract people looking to make a purchase, and since these keywords perform well on paid listings, it would be foolish not to consider PPC ads as part of a marketing campaign

For the full results of WordStream’s study, here’s a link to the [infographic].

Fortunately, Enform is an elite Adwords campaign manager. So if you think your organic clicks are not acting the way they used to be, you can always give us a call to discuss adding and Adwords campaign to your strategy.

Understanding Google’s Targeted Marketing Feature

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google adsense power

The advent of behavioural targeting in online marketing has forced many marketers to redefine their strategies. The concept behind behavioural targeting lies in building profiles around web users by inferring what their interests are based on the websites they visit.

For a search engine like Google, ads are targeted by recording data on what searches users make. Google’s ‘Demographics’ is an analytics feature that gives valuable insight into how Google targets users with online ads.  For website owners and marketers, making proper use of Google’s Demographics feature helps ensure that you’re getting the most out of the mileage of your ads.

Why is this a big deal, you may ask? For one, this option helps marketers running PPC campaigns through Google save time and money by not targeting ads to web users who are either not interested, or are negatively predisposed toward the products or services being advertised. Moreover, having direct access to information about what a target market wants has always been the holy grail of sorts for marketers.

However, it must be pointed out that despite the usefulness of Google’s targeting tool, it still uses a lot of guesswork at its heart. The guesses may have become more educated, but they are still guesses nonetheless. This is glaringly evident in Google Ad Preferences, a search engine feature that allows users to select what type of ads they want to see. Here, Google places its assumption of a user’s demographic data, such as age and gender. Unfortunately, the search engine often gets such data wrong, which again proves that much of targeted marketing is still guesswork.

Whether or not targeted or fixed Internet ads and results are the future of online marketing is up for debate. However, it would be foolish not to give it a try as a marketer. Any information to go with is better than no information at all, and that’s what targeted marketing is about at its core: providing the most accurate audience data as possible.

Talk with Enform to know more on how best to take advantage of this internet marketing tool.