Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - July 2014
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 Google's recent introduction of 'Google My Business', which should interest SMBs that want to have a strong local representation on Google Search. Next, we look at the latest advice for webmasters on how to make website moves between domains easier and to reduce the risks on search results. In the final article this month we review the benefits of Bing Ads as an alternative pay per click advertising service to Google AdWords.
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 Twitter for the latest developments during the month, or follow our Facebook page or Google+ page for updates.
On to this month's edition...
Introducing 'Google My Business'
At the beginning of June, Google announced the introduction of 'Google My Business', the new account for companies to target their local market. This service replaces Google Places and should be of significant interest to business owners or online marketing managers who are interested in maintaining a strong local presence on Google Search.
Over the past year, the original Google Places listings have undergone a series of changes, with some businesses having been forced to re-claim and re-verify their listings multiple times, either via a postcard or telephone PIN code as Google launched new feature updates and modifications. In addition, some companies have seen their user reviews and other valuable content disappear or get overwritten as these local listings have been 'enhanced'.
Finally, last month Google announced the launch of 'Google My Business', the long awaited and, so far, much-lauded redesign of its local business portal. 'Google My Business' replaces both the original Google Places for Business interface and the more recent equivalent within Google+ (Local), consolidating several features into a friendlier interface.
Local search had become a difficult system for business owners to manage, particularly since it was integrated more closely with the Google+ social network interface. This was ironic, as Google has poured unlimited resources into providing accuracy and usability for the consumer, endeavouring to ensure they have the gold standard for Local search, which is way ahead of the competition. It wasn't a money-spinner though, and as a free service not tied to the consumption of ads, Google's small business portal was permitted to languish.
From the business owner's point of view, the perspective is quite different. Strong representation in Google Maps is the single most important differentiator between businesses who succeed or fail in gaining new customers via local and mobile search. Despite the hurdles, business owners who recognise the benefits have gone to the trouble to navigate the often-complex process, or find someone to do it for them.
So the 'Google My Business' account is an improvement and it's designed to connect local businesses with customers, whether they're looking on Search, Maps or Google+, and across all types of device. It requires much of the same information as before, with address and contact details, opening hours and brief business information, plus it makes it easier for Google users to rate, review and share business details through the Google+ network.
If you have a business and, in particular, a local target market, you need to ensure that your business has a strong local presence on Google with an up to date and complete business listing. If you need more information or help with this, please contact us now for details.
Guidelines for Moving Websites
Sometimes website owners have to move the site, from a more basic server move to a more complex domain change. These changes can have a varying degree of impact on Google and other search engines, depending on the way the move is managed, so Google's Webmaster Tools have recently provided guidance on best practice for such changes, to minimise the impact on Google Search.
Website moves involve two types of content transfers, from transferring a website without a URL change (such as moving hosting) to transferring a website with a URL change (such as a full domain change, or a sub-domain or page URL changes following a redesign). The steps needed to move a site with no URL change are more simple and straight-forward, such as setting up a new hosting plan, removing temporary blocks to crawling and updating the relevant DNS settings.
However, moving a website with URL changes can be a difficult process and the risks of impacting the way that Google indexes and ranks a website can be more significant. There are 4 basic steps to follow, which are: prepare the new site and test it thoroughly; prepare a URL mapping from the current URLs to their corresponding new format; start the site move by configuring the server to redirect from the old URLs to the new ones; monitor the traffic on both the old and new URLs.
Google has recently provided a series of help pages for Webmasters, which outline these steps in more detail and provide best practice actions to help minimise the risks and to enable the transfer to occur with the minimum of risks to the way that Google views the site. It's certainly not a process to be undertaken lightly, especially if the website is well established and has built up some good value with Google over the years, but sometimes these things have to take place and these procedures need to be followed.
In addition to this new content, Google has also produced information for developers of mobile sites to cover the issues involved with such configuration changes as moving from a separate mobile URLs to using responsive web design, which is becoming increasingly common.
If you'd like more details about best practice for website transfers, please contact us now.
The Benefits of Bing Ads
Bing Ads launched in Australia in July 2013 and now provides search marketers with the only real alternative to Google AdWords. Although it has a much smaller market share than Google, the Bing advertising network offers a number of benefits to advertisers, particularly as Bing strives to increase its share of the search market in the competitive Australian online marketing community.
Bing Ads should certainly be considered by any search marketers as a low cost way of reaching the remaining share of the search market not covered by Google. It's easy to set up a new account and, if an advertiser currently uses AdWords, it can also be easy to import an existing AdWords campaign into a new Bing Ads account, as many of the features replicate those offered by AdWords.
Bing Ads reportedly has the highest value conversions in the industry, so that based on the assumed average Internet conversion value of $100, it has been calculated that an AdWords conversion would be worth $146 and a Bing conversion would be worth $192. Overall, Bing Ads is seen to have less than 5% market share of the Australian search market, but they also claim to have a loyal audience of 350,000 Australians who use Bing or NineMSN search and avoid Google search altogether.
One of the main advantages we have seen with companies using Bing Ads is that the average cost per click is substantially less in comparison to AdWords, and the cost per conversion is also lower, due to the much lower levels of competitor activity. Of course, the market coverage and the volume of traffic is also much smaller than on AdWords, but Bing Ads is becoming a valuable alternative for advertisers, producing profitable conversions from the remaining sector of the search market.
Bing Ads is also improving the services available to advertisers, including new features in their Intelligence Tool, which provides unmatched and advanced demographics for a keyword's audience. Add-ons for the Intelligence Tool can now be directly installed in Microsoft Excel, providing advertisers with valuable demographic data. Another impressive feature is auto-tagging, which is now available in the Accounts and Billing menu option, allowing advertisers to track individual keyword performance.
The main weakness of Bing Ads, however, is currently the poor accuracy of city-level targeting. Bing's software currently struggles to identify and generate leads from a specific city, with the company's software only currently recognising an IP location at State level. Of course it's still early days for this service in Australia, which replaced the dated Yahoo Search Marketing system, and apparently this glitch will soon be fixed.
If you'd like to know more about how Bing Ads can benefit your business, or if you'd like to set up a new account, please contact us now.
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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.