Posted by: Stacey Cosens
Posted on: April 30, 2013 4:24 pm
Google has announced that it will soon be launching its Google Now Service for Apple iPhones and iPads, after previously being limited to devices running Google’s own Android system.
Google Now will work with Google’s search app on the iPhone and iPad, offering users ‘cards’ filled with information designed to be useful to a smart device user without them needing to type a search request.
It works by assessing the machine’s location data and analysing the contents of the owner’s Gmail and Google calendar, as well as using past Google searches. The service could offer information such as maps suggesting the quickest route home, flight departures as well as even suggesting nearby restaurants, museums and shops to users.
The move is being described as the ‘evolution of search’ and could prove a useful asset to local businesses. By picking up on where a user is and suggesting restaurants, shops and other local services based on past searches it provides an ideal opportunity for locally orientated business to tap into their most useful clientele.
The move also allows Google to tap into the Apple user market further, after previously concentrating on its Android market after loosening ties with the gadget giant – changing from Google Maps to Apple Maps and switching its default search engine on the iPhone and iPad.
It will be interesting to see what the introduction of Google Now to the Apple market will mean for mobile search and the effect it will have on local businesses.
Posted by: Kerry Sheahan
Posted on: April 18, 2013 3:25 pm
When we cast our minds back to 2005, Facebook was a very different scene. Little more than an upgrade from the likes of Bebo and Myspace, it was a basic platform where people could search for friends, upload pictures and reminisce from the night before. 8 years and one billion users later and Facebook has undergone a radical transformation, providing apps, games and even real time Bingo.
The most recent bow to its arrow comes in the form of Facebook Home. Described as a family of apps, it automatically shows updates on homescreen and lockscreen, allowing you to view a steady stream of posts and photos the second you turn on your phone. Put simply, it takes over your home screen.
Mark Zuckerburg’s multi-billion empire sums up the new systems when they say “everything on your phone gets friendlier.” With faster access to the essentials, as well as upfront notifications, users can even continue their conversations whilst using other apps, surfing the internet or watching videos. What’s more, the social media giant has introduced Chat Heads. Upon a friend starting a conversation, a message will pop up with a photo of that person, allowing users to tap to open or simply swipe to ignore.
A whole new meaning to the word convenience it would seem, however has this so called `convenience` gone a step too far for some people? As to be expected from any major update introduced by Facebook, the news has been met with a sense of controversy, if not hysteria. A simple internet search can take you directly to advice on how to install Facebook Home, and rumours have already begun circulation that Google tried to block it. Google’s Eric Schmidt has been quick to dispel the idea however, stating it would be “against our religion”.
Facebook Home became available from the Android Play Store in the UK April 12th on HTC One as well as the Samsung Galaxy S3. Whilst it is not currently available for tablets, the company has hinted that it would like to venture this way in the future. It appears unlikely that Facebook Home will launch on iPhone however.
With the news not having long broken, many are still in the dark as to what Facebook Home actually is, let alone installed it yet, but as more take the plunge it will be interesting to monitor the reaction it receives.
Posted by: Kerry Sheahan
Posted on: April 9, 2013 11:59 am
You may be feeling that the one thing missing from your Facebook experience is the ability to accompany your status updates with an appropriate emoticon? No? It may not be amongst your top priorities, but like all of the social media giant’s additions and amendments, it will probably be hard to imagine life on the network without them given a week or two.
As of today, Facebook’s lucky users will be able to share how they’re feeling and what they’re up to through a drop down menu of emoticons and media, letting friends and acquaintances know precisely what they’re reading, watching or eating.
Put simply, it makes it easier to formally tag the places we attend, the TV shows we’re watching or the music we’re listening to, and so of course inviting our friends to get more involved in the things we love. For example, a person listening to an up and coming musician in their local area would be able to spread the word amongst friends, enabling them to click straight through to the Facebook profile and hit the “listen button”.
It’s all supposed to be part of Facebook’s plan to get users to open up more. But do a series of pre-formatted pictures really help us to express how we’re feeling? A more cynical approach would see this as an attempt to over simplify our moods and feelings? How often can we say we feel 100% sad, happy or confused? And more to the point why is Facebook asking us for such personal information?
Those who do try out the new drop down box will no doubt have noticed the pop-up notifying them that “details you add to posts also appear on your About page and other pages on Facebook.”
Now it is, the “other pages on Facebook that seems to be causing the biggest stir amongst critics and users. Facebook is essentially warning us that if we choose a particular pre-formatted emotion, TV programme or brand of coffee, Facebook could potentially use this data to target us with ads.
For example someone who reveals that they are listening to Beyonce could be targeted with ads for her new album or appearance. But is this all bad? If we’ve already stated an interest in the subject, is it not surely quite feasible that we should want to hear more about it?
Either way it will be interesting to hear feedback from Facebook’s one billion active users.
Posted by: Lewis Austin
Posted on: April 2, 2013 1:46 pm
As a continuation from a post just a few weeks ago, “Google’s Ads Aren’t Numbered”, Google has taken a step further with the use of phone numbers. As of 2 weeks ago, AdWords users were no longer permitted to submit ad text that contained a phone number as this would be disapproved.
This morning, I was welcomed into one of our clients’ accounts with this lovely message:
The learn more link forwards you to this page: http://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/176098?hl=en-GB&rd=1 .
However, the section that we should really be interested in is this: “Phone numbers and vanity phone numbers can’t be used anywhere in ad text or in a sitelinks extension because doing so is confusing to users who might be expecting to be led to a call session as opposed to a website. To let customers call you directly from your ad, use call extensions instead.”
So we have been warned and we have just a few weeks to implement the required changes, or we must feel the wrath of Google. Understandably, the use of a number in the ad text as well as using a call extension can seem a little pointless, especially from Google’s perspective. Despite the fact that we marketers think it is a brilliant strategy and really emphasises the user to make a call, this is Google’s own way of ensuring quality listings.
Instead of complaining, it’s important to develop a strategy quickly to prepare for another change in the AdWords horizon. The easiest thing to do would be to use the AdWords editor and replace the phone number with “us now” or “today”. Doing this doesn’t really add much to the ad so maybe it could be worth using dynamic keyword insertion to make the ad more relevant in terms of quality score and directly to the user. For arguments sake, let’s say you are a florist in Manchester. Your ad might now say: “Call Now for Manchester Florists”. In my opinion this looks very compelling and relevant, certainly more so than just “Call Us Now”.
We will be preparing for the new implementations by keeping our ads that have a phone number and introducing are newly revised ads, running them side by side. This will allow us to gather data and compare the two different ad formats, along with what substitution performs the best. Then when Google decides to implement these changes we will be fully prepared and won’t have to make any changes to the account.
Posted by: Lewis Austin
Posted on: March 27, 2013 4:28 pm
Today a couple of members of our PPC Team, more specifically: Evaldas Balcius and Lewis Austin set off to London to attend the Google Engage for Agencies event. All in all it was a really insightful meeting that helped to outline the importance of Google’s latest and greatest developments.
A major focus and point of interest for the agencies was the infamous enhanced campaigns. The main benefit of enhanced campaigns was driven by context. This means that a difference in context will result in a difference in behaviour, so to make the most of these moments, we need to be able to provide content that will encourage the user to convert.
Taking the example of Niamh Mahon; if I have a pizza restaurant and someone is searching for “pizza”, on a mobile device whilst in a 1 mile radius of my store at 7PM. It is a pretty safe bet to assume that the searcher is going home and would like to grab a pizza on the way back. This context means that the searcher is very interested in making a purchase as soon as possible. As a business, it is these moments in time that are invaluable to my business and to making a sale. Based on these behaviours, I can use enhanced campaigns to set bid adjustments for: mobile devices, location and even time of day.
We were then brought up to speed with YouTube, not so much the stats as we all know that YouTube is the giant in video sharing networks. More so about the advertising opportunities that YouTube can offer. One interesting feature available is road blocking, this is similar to sponsoring a channel, so your ad will show for the majority of a selected channels’ videos. By doing this, you can display your message to an audience who you deem to have an interest in your product. Another good point to remember is that you won’t be charged for your ad if a viewer clicks the skip button on your ad, which will save you a lot of money and, give you 5 seconds of free exposure.
The last presentation was an eye opener of how we as consumers use different devices and methods to search. It was interesting to see that you can use Google accounts to have all of your browsing data accessible across all of your devices. This means that if I was in a shop and saw a pair of sneakers that I really liked, but wasn’t 100% about the price, I could run a search using the barcode and compare online prices to what is in store. If I feel that the high tops are a little cheaper online, I could go home and open up my laptop, load up chrome and continue where I left off on my mobile.
I think that we can take a lot away from Google Engage this year, in terms of future developments and how our target market is predicted to evolve technologically in years to come.
Before you all run off to research more about enhanced campaigns; here is a quick snapshot of Google Engage for Agencies this year, our Evaldas Balcius is in there somewhere, can you see him?
Posted by: Lewis Austin
Posted on: March 20, 2013 5:51 pm
Google did explain when the enhanced campaigns were rolled out, that the call extensions feature would make using phone numbers in ad text a thing of the past. It looks like today is the day.
It seems as though ads that are posted as of today will be disapproved if they have phone numbers in them, however I think that ad text that has been approved in the past will remain safe, or that’s what I’m hoping for.
For those that have posted ads and are still waiting for approval, if they contain a phone number, then they are likely to be disapproved just like mine, so you might as well save yourself even more waiting time and submit some close variants.
PPC Managers and AdWords users will now have to think of another call to action to use. The phone number insertion method looked great and in some cases actually received calls. If you were extra sneaky, you would have managed to utilise a number along with call extensions, which showed your number twice, obviously this is what Google is trying to avoid.
It seems as though we will have to go back to “call us now” and our other all time favourites.
Posted by: Lewis Austin
Posted on: March 13, 2013 12:51 pm
On the fateful day of March 11th , Google released an article about the up and coming access update to Google Analytics. This means that now you can grant access based on property level, as well as the previous situation of profile and account level. Also there are now three different three different levels of account access: view, edit and manage users.
This update is definitely one that will be welcomed with open arms. From an agency point of view, Analytics is about to become a lot more convenient. Previously it was often the case where a client would grant access to the whole account and sometimes clients will have multiple domains which are irrelevant to the services you are providing. This means that your profile list in GA becomes colossal; hopefully this update will help to tidy things up. With regards to the access levels, it looks like some of the inspiration for this has been taken from AdWords. This is a useful feature because now agencies can replicate account access structure into their Analytics.
Businesses will also find benefit from these updates. Data can be a very important thing and a lot of people are not so enthusiastic about simply handing over this information. Now businesses have more control over their data and who can access it.
Google has said that the update will be rolled out over the next few weeks, so some people will be getting this sooner rather than later. However, there is no need to panic about account access levels as if you are currently an admin, you will be upgraded to have full rights.
Posted by: Lewis Austin
Posted on: March 6, 2013 4:57 pm
According to Knotice, 41% of all emails are opened using a mobile device. The search volume conducted on a smartphone doubles almost every month and to top it all off, 25% of UK purchases are made using a mobile device. Those are some hard facts and to a marketer or business, should emphasise how important mobile optimisation is.
For those of you who don’t spend every waking minute following Google’s every move, Google AdWords released a huge update called enhanced campaigns. There are some advantages to be gained from this such as improved site links, but the main focus on this is to target mobiles. By making all ads display in the mobile search results, it ties the hands of businesses and agencies using AdWords. Now they must create a mobile friendly landing page, or suffer a loss at the hands of an increased bounce rate and much lower conversion rate.
It is safe to say that all the top dogs are barking about mobile. All the stats are available and there is the evidence to prove its ROI.
Let’s think about this for a second though, Google does encourage businesses to “think like their customers”. Cast your mind back to when you last whipped out your smart phone and looked for information, be it pizza, a bakery or a fact to prove that you do know what you’re talking about in the pub. You scroll through the results and find something promising and chances are if you’re not on EE and in London, you’ll be waiting a while but that’s ok because you want to see this page.
As the page finally loads next to a new day dawning, you have to navigate your way through a huge website with tiny text and elements of flash. To get any good content, you have to pinch your phone being careful not to mis-click and lose all your hard work, and then if you finally find what you are after, you click the link and your thumb or finger is “too” big, so you’re sent off to another page and the journey begins again!
From a business point of view, if a mobile user is browsing on their phone and clicks through to your site, chance are that they are pretty engaged and interested in converting. All you have to do is make it as easy as possible for them to find what they want.
Posted by: Ben Austin
Posted on: October 23, 2012 4:23 pm
For a lot of search engines giving the best user experience is one of the ranking factors, that is being sought after by SEO companies, where such is of course broken down into several aspects. One of those aspect is the websites’ page layout, it is believed by search engines especially Google that the page layout must show the content of a website rather than giving every site visitor the runaround. This is why Google has released an update to its algorithm dubbed as the page layout algorithm.
The Reason For the Update
One of the major reasons why Google has incorporated the page layout algorithm in their search engine ranking factors is the fact that the company has received several complaints about websites ranked in their search engine results page which does not outright display the content users want. For example, a user searched for a particular website using a specific keyword via the search engine and after being given the search result, clicks one of the link to a particular website. However, such particular website has a page layout that was structured in such a way that the actual content is already being swarmed by different advertisements which of course does not give a good user experience.
Therefore, in order to make sure that Google search engine results page would not foster such practice in a websites’ page layout, they have de-ranked websites’ that utilises a page layout that does not show their content above the fold and have utilised ads instead.
Are Ads Above the Fold Bad?
According to Google, they understand that placing advertisements about the fold are the ones that converts best, this is why the page layout algorithm only seeks to penalise websites that uses too much advertisements above the fold that it already is covering up the content of the web page making it a lot more difficult for a site visitor or user to locate the information or content that he or she needs.
Total Effect and Solution
According to Google the total global scale of websites that would be affected is around one percent, which means that one in one hundred websites will be affected. Among the different algorithm changes by Google this might be the easiest search engine optimisation problem to solve, if you see your content being pushed down below the fold and only ads are seen above the fold of your website then it is time for you to redo your websites’ page layout, and make sure that your content is highlighted by pushing it upwards above the fold which could be done by removing or resizing your advertisements.
Posted by: Ben Austin
Posted on: October 19, 2012 4:47 pm
There was a time when people were buying domains that would correspond to their chosen keyword. This technique is known as the exact-match domain strategy. The reason for doing this is to incorporate keywords into the domain of the website since it was believed that having the keywords in the domain name makes it easier for the website to be indexed and ranked in that particular keyword. It was believed that web crawlers or spiders crawls the URL first before crawling the different parts of the web page and it is believed that if the keyword in found first by the search engine crawlers such web page would be ranked first using such keywords.
This strategy has been found to be very effective until the end of September 2012, when Google through Matt Cutts, has announced that they have incorporated an algorithm update where in it would penalise low quality exact match domains.
Who Will Be Affected?
Websites that are usually in the field of affiliate marketing where the use of exact match domains is rampant would be the first ones to be hit by this algorithm update. Affiliate websites are using the exact match domain strategy because of the fact that previously it makes the site easily indexed and ranked in the search engine results page ranking. According to several reports many affiliate sites have been de-ranked and have lost considerable or significant amount of traffic and consequently return of investments.
Generally, people who utilise exact match domains will be affected especially if their SEO strategy involves other processes that are frowned upon by the Google search engine. According to the announcement made by Matt Cutts those that would be affected are low-quality exact match domains so those that utilise black hat strategies coupled with exact match domains will be those that are going to be greatly affected.
What is clear is that Google is trying to eliminate websites that were designed to manipulate ranking without giving high quality content and links done through proper content development and link building efforts. SEO strategies is not considered by Google as generally bad and should be stricken down one by one, rather Google is only banning SEO strategies that are within the realm of black hat, strategies that would intend to manipulate rankings instead of focusing in giving users the information that they need as well as focusing on giving a good user experience while such users or visitors are on their website.