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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - August 2015

Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter, which covers news, tips and advice on effective website marketing, with a particular focus on search marketing techniques and trends.

In the first article this month, we take a look at Google's recent enabling of local reviews through AdWords. This should be of significant interest to AdWords managers, although Google has yet to confirm when these will appear in Australia.

In our second article this month, we look at how Bing has improved its Webmaster Tools service, which includes compelling information that webmasters should be aware of, in order to utilise some of the best search tools available. Finally this month, we take a look at Google's release of its latest quarterly financial results and what sections of its business are currently receiving most focus.

You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subject.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn, as well as our occasional updates on Twitter.

On to this month's edition...

Google Enables Local Reviews Through AdWords

This latest change by Google is an interesting development for businesses that are keen display good review ratings as part of their AdWords ads. Google recently announced that it will combine both 'My Business' listings and AdWords campaigns, to show these ratings beneath the ads. It's yet to be definitively clarified by Google whether this will soon be coming to Australia from the U.S., but the rollout of this option is likely in the coming months.

At present, these review extensions will only appear within the ads on desktop and tablets, not mobiles. This is quite ironic as Google has become increasingly focused upon showing location based search results on mobiles and people increasingly rely on the opinions and experiences of others to help make decisions, such as which restaurant or dentist to visit! So we would have expected these reviews to be included in the mobile search results, but as space for these ads is more limited, this is the primary reason why these will only be shown on those devices that have more room for advert 'real estate'.

The new 'My Business' reviews will be seen instead of seller ratings from 3rd party sites. Previously it was only possible to get Google Local review stars if you were using AdWords Express and typically they would show if you had at least 3.5 stars and a minimum number of reviews (in the case of seller ratings that number is 30). Google hasn't yet specified the exact number of reviews that are required to show the local review stars, but it will probably be a similar number to reflect well-reviewed businesses.

Although the review ratings don't include mobile ads, the local ratings seen on desktops and tablets will make ads more useful and informative to consumers searching for local information. They can also improve a business's ad performance, so these are a welcome addition by the search advertising community.

If you want to know more about building your business reviews and using these within your AdWords ads, please contact us now.

 

Bing Improves Webmaster Tools

It's essential for every SEO practitioner to keep track of their website's performance, and there are plenty of tools that can be used for this. Bing is still a small player in terms of search traffic compared to Google, but Bing's tools can be helpful in increasing search traffic and quality on both those and other search engines.

A useful feature in the Bing Webmasters toolkit is Connected Pages. This allows the connection of related pages and to get insights into the search traffic from Bing to social network accounts. For example, if your Twitter account and Facebook account are also ranking for your brand name you might want to see how much search traffic they generate. With this feature you're able to see and analyse this data. The only requirement is that these social network accounts link back to the site that you've verified in Bing Webmaster Tools. This feature is extremely useful if your brand has a large social presence and so by adding all of your social networks to Connected Pages, it's possible to keep track of their search performance.

Another good feature from Bing is the Index Explorer. This makes it possible to find old sub domains or subfolders (such as ones a developer worked with a long time ago) that are still being indexed by the search engines. It's important to detect any duplicate content that may have been left from that work and Index Explorer is an excellent way to reveal the areas that you don't want Bing bot to identify anymore. This allows the Bing crawler to focus on more important pages and it can also be good for finding old, lost folders that had been forgotten about!

Geo-Targeting is another decent Bing feature for sites that have multi-regional directories. It speeds up the process of marking pages as localised content for a specific country/region, such as for a http://example.com/newzealand/ directory. This saves plenty of time adding canonical URLs to the pages to specify which is the preferred version for the search engine to show - which is still required in Google's Search Console (the new name for their Webmaster Tools service) to prevent duplicate content.

Bing Page Preview is useful to show previews of your pages in its search results. If Bing bot visited your page when it was down or scripts weren't running, then Bing could be showing the wrong screenshot of your site. Within Bing Webmaster Tools Page Preview feature it's possible to make Bing replace the screenshot with an updated version. This feature ensures that you always have influence on how your site looks like in its search results and allows you to block images from the site that aren't wanted to be seen.

In computer programming, an application programming interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. For real SEO experts, the API is a great way to export a lot of available data from Bing Webmaster Tools. Even with Google's newest version of their API, a lot of information is still not available. Bing enables the export of information on search terms and crawl settings directly from the API. It also provides search volumes on the keywords that you'll receive traffic from and so this information is useful for a site's SEO work, and can't easily be retrieved from Google (at scale) anymore.

These Bing specific features are additional and superior to those provided by Google at present and enhance the SEO development to assist in getting the best performance in not only the Bing search results, but those for other engines, also. Any SEO expert should be very familiar with them and it's possible that Google will follow Bing's lead here and introduce similar tools to their Search Console service.

If you want more details about how to make the most of Bing, or Google's Search Console to enhance your site's SEO, contact us now.

 

Google Releases Second Quarter Financial Results

In mid-July Google announced its latest quarterly results which elated investors as they exceeded Wall Street expectations. They were primarily based on strong advertising revenues driven by Search, YouTube and Play, coupled with the perception of a new commitment to financial discipline as the company continues to grow and expand across more business areas.

With the latest quarterly revenue up 11% year on year, and 3% on the previous quarter, to US$17.7 billion, Google's stock soared to a new high. Class A shares crossed the $700 threshold following the announcement of the results, up more than $100 from the trading price at the time the market closed the previous day. The spike added an extraordinary $50 billion of market capitalisation. In their primary search arena, paid clicks through AdWords jumped 30% globally compared to the quarter a year before. However, the average cost per click was lower again due to the increasing share of mobile search ads.

However, nearly a year after the launch of the 'Google for Work' brand, little was mentioned about its intention to storm into the enterprise market with its cloud-based productivity tools, along with a new commitment to a channel strategy. So the results provided very small insight into the health of its cloud business. Google was also quite coy about their results and didn't go into much detail, with Ruth Porat, the new CFO of Google, only stating "Our strong Q2 results reflect continued growth across the breadth of our products, most notably core search, where mobile stood out, as well as YouTube and programmatic advertising. We are focused every day on developing big new opportunities across a wide range of businesses. We will do so with great care regarding resource allocation".

Google is shedding partners with a new program that eliminates all but the most profitable. Those are the same partners that the company said formed the cornerstone of its strategy to become a serious enterprise cloud player. There were only two uses of the word "cloud" in the entirety of the Google earnings presentation, or Q&A session that followed. There was no mention of Google for Work and Ruth Porat only referenced the enterprise cloud business once by telling investors it falls into the "adjacent areas" category of Google's various business pursuits.

The framework encourages a 70-20-10 split in resource dedication: 70 percent going to core businesses like Search; 20 percent to the adjacent businesses, which include Chrome and Android as well as the cloud platform; and 10 percent to developing "really sizable" new markets by pursuing "exciting opportunities," Porat told investors. Omid Kordestani, Google's chief business officer, did tell investors, "We're seeing strong momentum around Google Cloud platform, with a range of great new features". Other than that, no further information was divulged, as Google chose to keep their cards close to their chest. This isn't surprising, as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services ramp up their attacks to win the hyper-scale cloud wars and aggressively beef up their channels.

If you want more information about Google's recent financial results, please contact us now.

 

We hope you've found this month's newsletter useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.

 

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