More changes on the way from Google

On 24th May 2016 Google held one of their annual seminars, the Google Performance Summit and announced a number of changes to Google Ads, many of which have been driven by the streamlining of the way that Google Ads are displayed on Search Results Pages (SERPs)

1/ Longer Text AdsOld Google Ad
Previously, Google Ads comprised of a headline of 25 characters, 2 descriptive liners of 35 characters and a web address together with a “hidden” link that takes people to the most relevant page for their search.

Later this year, Google will roll out a new format, to enable Ads to make better use of the space they now have at the top and bottom of Google Search Results,

  • 2 Headlines, each of 30 charactersNew Google Ad
  • Single description line of 80 character
  • Auto Selection of most appropriate landing page (with a manual over-ride)

2/ Better Device Targeting
At the moment, you can target your Google Ads at Desktops (desktop and laptop computers) and Mobile devices (phones and tablets) by setting a bid value multiplier, so you could bit for a desktop keyword at £1.00 per click (for example) and use the multiplier to set a different bid value for mobile devices so, an Ad targeted at Mobile devices could have an 80% multiplier meaning that you’d be bidding £0.80 per click.

Later this year, you’ll be able to target each device uniquely by setting unique multipliers for phones and tablets

3/ Promoted Pins on Google MapsGoogle Ads Promoted Pins
With 1/3rd of all mobile searches being people looking for something in their area Google will be launching the ability to promote your business in Google Maps so that uses will see Promoted Pins along their route – or nearby.

4/ New Look Local Pages
Along with the ability to promote your business through Google Maps, Google are also overhauling their Local Pages so that you’ll be able to include more information, including product inventories, discounts and promotions to encourage visits

5/ New Google Ads Management ConsoleNew Google Ads interface
The current Google Ads management console is now more than 15 years old, New features have been bolted on and, as time has passed, the interface has become less intuitive and harder to understand and use. As a consequence, the Console is getting a complete overhaul and it’s likely that there will be a greater focus on Ads targeting Mobile devices.

As mentioned at the start, these changes are being rolled out this year although the changes to the Management Console are being rolled out more slowly and most of us probably won’t see the new interface before 2017.

If you are having trouble with your Google Ads, or just want it to work better for you, then please get in touch andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020

 

What has Google done now?

On Monday 22nd February Google made a sweeping change to the way that its search results pages looked.

Google removed Google Ads from the RH side of their results, when searching from a desktop or laptop PC.

This is the first major change since 2010, when Google moved from showing a maximum of 10 Ads on a page to 13.

Google added up to 3 Ads at the top of the free results as well as up to 10 Ads on the right hand side.

This latest change has wiped out the Ads on the RH side whilst increasing he number of Ads at the top of the page to a maximum of 4 and has seen Google add 3 Ads to the bottom of the search results.

Now a Search Results Page, which used to have up to 13 Ads, will now have a maximum of 7

Why has Google done this?

Google’s logic is that it wants to bring desktop search in-line with Mobile search, making things simpler and saving money.

I know that most people just ignore the Ads on the right. Even Google reckons that only around 30% of Google users actually look and click.

Although this percentage of users clicking is quite low, the revenue generated for Google is huge.

About 70% of revenue comes from clicks and, with Google the largest company on the planet, this represents a significant income.

However, it’s never enough. The hope is that by just having Ads at the top (and bottom) of the page – more people will click on them.

As well as attracting more clicks, Google will be hoping that businesses will pay more to ensure that their Ads are at the top of the page.

What Impact will this have on businesses

For businesses not paying for Ads, the top free results now appear further down the Search Results Pages. This may mean more people choose to click on an Ad rather than your website.

If your site is not in the top 3 or 4 of the free results, you may find that searchers now have to scroll – and they may choose not to.

This could mean more investment in Search Engine Optimisation to move your site higher on the first page.

The other danger is that Google increases the number of Ads at the top of the page. Google could choose to fill the first page with Ads which would mean that the free results would not appear until Page 2 [speculation]

If you are an Advertiser it could lead to increased costs as more businesses compete for fewer opportunities. However, if you sell products and use Product Listing Ads (PLA) these will continue to feature on the right hand side.

What should you do next?

You need to understand the impact that these changes will have on your website and so I’ve put a special offer together to help.

In-depth SEO review of your website – Special Offer – Save £100.00

Let me take the strain and carry out your audit for you, taking a deep look at your search engine optimisation, providing recommendations to improve and even looking at the way your website is working.

Normal Price Special Offer
1-10 Pages £250.00 £150.00
11-30 Pages £300.00 £200.00
31 – 50 Pages £350.00 £250.00
51 – 100 Pages £400.00 £300.00
Over 100 Pages POA POA

To take advantage of this offer all you have to do is give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk and if you need help with any other aspect of your online marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing etc. don’t hesitate to use those contact details to get in touch..

What is “Negative SEO” and how could it affect my business?

Negative SEOMost of us with a website are aware of the term SEO, AKA Search Engine Optimisation – the “stuff” that you have to do to, and with, your website in order to appear as high up in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as possible, and ideally on Page 1.

In fact SEO forms a major part of my business – helping your business be easily found online.

What you might not be so familiar with is “Negative SEO” but you should be – Negative SEO is something that your competitors could do to your website, and the worst case scenario is that your site is deleted from Google’s database which would make your internet presence virtually invisible.

So, what is “negative SEO”?
BacklinksOne of key ways that Google judges the importance of your website, and where it appears on the SERPs, is based on the number of websites that link to your site and the quality of those originating sites that have published the links.

In a simplistic way, Google sees each link as a “vote” for your site and the more “votes” you have, the more popular your site must be and so it must be deserving of a higher position on Google’s results pages.

However, if any of these links come from sites that are of poor quality, are totally irrelevant or Google doesn’t like then Google will apply a penalty to your site.

Negative SEO hurts your rankingsA minor indiscretion could see any changes to your site ignored by Google, meaning that your site will slowly drift down the results as other businesses improve their sites.

An “intermediate” issue could see Google apply an active penalty – pushing your site down by 5 pages or more.

For something far more serious, such as buying links from a Link Farm (a website that sells nothing but links purely for the purpose of improving your search results) is likely to see your website deleted from Google – buying links in general, and buying from a Link Farm specifically are SEO tactics that Google simply hates.
How do I know whether I’ve been penalised
There are two key ways to know whether you’ve been penalised – the “Locking the stable door after the horse has bolted” method is simply the realisation that the inquiries that you had become used to receiving from your site have dwindled away to nothing, or that you can no longer find your website in the Google results – no matter how many results pages you look at.

Manual ActionsThis is too late, the smarter site owner/manager will be regularly logging in to the Google Webmaster Toolkit to check, among other things, the “Manual Actions” tab that can be found in the “Search Traffic” section. This is where Google will post notifications of any forthcoming penalties and also provides an opportunity for the site owner to take action and notify Google of that action

What should I be doing?
Webmaster ToolkitThe smart website owner will be regularly logging in to their Google Webmaster Toolkit and will be keeping an eye on the latest links report that can be found by navigating to “Search Traffic/Links to your Site”, clicking on the “More” option in the “Who links most” section and downloading the “Latest Links” to make sure that there’s nothing that they are unhappy with.

To be extra safe, they’ll also carry out a full Link Audit using the full list of sites which have back-links leading to their site, contacting any that are suspicious looking and asking for them to be removed. In Google Land it’s far far better to have fewer high quality links than loads of low quality links.

Alternatively, you can drop me an email, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020 and I’ll lift all of the worry of Negative SEO from your shoulders.

How ready is your business for marketing online?

I recently read a post on www.SmallBusinessNewz.com that says many small businesses do nothing to enhance their on-line presence and 90% have not even considered paid web marketing such as Pay per Click [aka Google Ads, PPC] or sponsored updates on Social Media sites.

£20 notesPersonally, I think that this is good news even though I may disagree with the one of the main reasons they give – they believe that it may be too expensive and not deliver results.

I know that a properly constructed and managed campaign WILL most certainly deliver results and does not have to be expensive. However, campaigns that are rushed in to place and ineffectively managed will simply feed the money hungry machines that are Google, Facebook etc.

What’s even worse is that even a well set up and managed campaign may not deliver the wished for results because the website at the end of the click may not be up to the task.

It would be like advertising the opening of a new supermarket, building demand and expectation and then throwing open the doors only to have the shelves half stocked and no one around to help or take your money. A wasted opportunity! Not only a wasted opportunity but a wasted future because people who have had their expectations dashed will never return and (and this is just as bad) spread the word.

So, a business with a website that is unsatisfactory from a visitors perspective should NOT embark on any new marketing activity until –

  • the destination website is up to scratch.
  • they are sure they have the resources to deal with an uplift in enquiries and / or sales

What do I mean by having a website that it “up to scratch”? Watch this space for my next post.

Domain Name Nightmares

Domain Name Nightmares

Web Browser iconsI’ve just started listening to the phone-in shows on London Broadcasting Company [LBC] on DAB, many of which make for interesting listening.

Of course, this means that I have to listen to the adverts, by far the majority of which are targeted specifically at LBC’s London audience. Although I tend to tune-out, two in particular caught my attention – although not for the reasons that the advertisers would like. They reminded me of issues associated with the importance of choosing the right domain name for your business, issues that I thought had been put to bed years ago.

In my experience, most organisations choose their domain name based on their business name – bbc.co.uk – the sector they trade in – diy.com – and/or based on a product they sell or a service they deliver – windows.com, for example.

The choice of name would be either discussed or shared by email, very rarely were domain names discussed and shared in print and this must be why some absolute howlers were registered. The problem being that something that looks good or “cool” in print can be a nightmare to communicate verbally and a domain name that sounds good could send totally the wrong message when viewed in print.

Take phones4you – as a company name it “does what it says on the tin” – sells mobile phones for you, although the “for” was replaced by ”4” to shorten the domain and imitate “text speak”. Phones4You were lucky to be backed by an expensive TV and print campaign. Imagine, as a small business with a small marketing budget trying to convey the web address in a phone call, “its phones4you.com,”that’s’ phones 4 – the digit 4 not the word – you dot com”.

There were others too – such as Speedofart.com – a London based video production agency, the domain name sounds fine when spoken but has an issue when written down.

Then there’s the Italian power generating company, PowerGen Italia, sounds fine when spoken but looks less good in writing, imagine receiving an email from powergenitalia.com [although this was later proven to be a spoof], unlike pen supplier Pen Island whose domain – penisland.net is more “Carry On” than they probably would like.

It’s OK having a giggle at some of these but the reality is that many of these websites may not be visible to their target audience, especially where  the businesses they are targeting use web-filtering devices to ensure that their personal can only access appropriate websites.

Domain names like this also cause SEO confusion because the search engines have to guess the words from the alphabet-soup of letters and yet the solution is simple, use a hyphen or two, and the intention is immediately visible, speed-of-art.com and pen-island.net for example.

So, back to LBC and the two adverts that set me thinking, one is for a London based Cloud Service  provider called Xara Cloud. The voiceover had to enunciate each letter – X, A, R, A Cloud to make sure that potential clients did not confuse the X with Z and the second was for Buy2let cars – where the voiceover tried to emphasize the 2 but totally failed to communicate whether it was Buy2LetCars, BuyToLetCars or BuyTooLetCars.

The moral of this is simple – when thinking of a domain name, make sure that it looks good in print and is easy to communicate verbally – if it’s not, then go back to the drawing board.

I might not be able to undo any domain names that you have registered but I can certainly help with the majority of internet marketing issues that you have, so why not give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me a line, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for an informal and free chat about your issues and how I may be able to help.

How much is a Page 1 position on Google really worth?

search Engine OptimisationAlmost every week I am approached by clients who need more traffic to their website from the major search engines.

Quite often they have been approached by (or have approached)  consultants offering to this but have baulked at the fees. Now, I know that the fundamentals are pretty east to achieve if you have the knowledge, experience, inclination and time but many small businesses rarely have any of these and yet some many feel that good search engine optimisation [SEO] can be delivered quickly and cheaply.

Let’s look at this scientifically, around 49m people use the web in the UK (77% of the population apparently). Of these about 80% use search engines to find what they are looking for – which equates to 39.2m people and approximately 95% of them use Google as their search engine of choice – 37.2m people.

Now, let me ask the question – how much is it worth to expose your brand to a potential audience of this size?

Lets look at TV first. There is the cost associated with the production of the advert, script writing, casting, production, filming and editing. According to the Televisual magazine, the average cost of producing a 30 second advert for TV is around £140,000. Then there is the cost of your “slot”. This will vary based on your target channel, whether you want a regional or national ad,  the time of day, the product to be advertised and the show (s) that are on either side of the ad break targeted so something at 9pm is going to cost much much more than a slot at 2am when the audiences will be far lower.

For a 30 second national ad on ITV1 between 7pm and 10pm a 30 second slot will cost from £60,000 and £75,000 rising to £250,000 for peak time Saturday and Sunday evenings [think X-Factor and Downton Abbey] and this is likely to reach between 5m and 9m viewers depending on the popularity of the show.

Too much? Then think about radio or the print media – both of which have lower costs (both production and media costs) but also have significantly lower audience figures.

In all of these cases, the costs will be for a “one off” and most people with any experience of advertising know that one-off adverts simply do not work, so you have to pay for a campaign.

All of a sudden fees quoted by Search Engine Optimisers actually begin to actually look like pretty good value for money bearing in mind that if they succeed, then your site will be in front of the largest possible audience 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

To understand how effective search engine optimisation can help your business please give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

Posted in SEO

New Domain Name Dilemas

Are new domains worth it for businesses?

Domain name dilemasMore than 1,000 new domain names could soon be available.

I was watching TV the other night when up popped an advert for a large and well know web hosting company advertising the forthcoming availability of more than 700 new domain name extensions, known as gTLDs or global Top Level Domains.

Most of us are familiar with the likes of .com, and .co.uk, you’re probably familiar with .info, .net and .eu but ICAAN, the association charged with managing domain names, is currently evaluating over 1,000 new options - how does .accountant, .book or even .zip strike you? They are just 3 under consideration – have a look at the complete list over on my website.

When visiting websites it will mean that we will all have to pay more attention to domain extensions to make sure we get to the sites we want, the search engines will face a challenge to deal with this potential explosion in domain extensions whilst domain registration agencies, ruthless marketing companies, consultancies and cybersquatters may feel that their .ship is about to sail in because it’s unlikely that these new gTLDs will be policed.

Very few are – for example .org was always meant to be used by charities and not-for-profit organisations but was quickly hijacked by businesses when the more common .com and .co.uk options had already been registered although .ltd or .gov can only be registered if you are a Limited company or a genuine government department but these controlled domains are in the minority.

Businesses may be sold more domains than they actually need by being told they need to protect their brand and to prevent cybersquatting whilst cybersquatters may jump on the opportunity to make a quick buck by registering the domain names of well-known companies in the hope of holding them to ransom, expecting a large payoff to sell the domains on to them.

Although legislation was passed to outlaw some of the more ruthless scams it’s not actively policed and this explosion in new domains may make Cybersquatting too tempting to resist and could bring the Cybersquatters back in droves as they look to capitalise on these new opportunities and confusion.

To protect your business against cybersquatting you need to make sure your company name is properly registered and trademarked. This will mean that you can use the law to claim what is yours should you fall victim to cybersquatting but it still leaves one question unanswered – which domain names should you register?

Simply put .co.uk and .com are the ones uppermost in people minds so you should always register these and then choose carefully from the new ones and only register those that are really relevant to your business and sector that you trade in.

If you want to talk more help with domain names, websites and online marketing in more detail please email me, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk or give me a call on 01793 238020