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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - October 2013

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

In the first article this month we take a look at new research that shows the importance of phone calls from search results on a mobile device, which means that having a 'click to call' function is very important and how this can lead to better branding and improved sales.

Next, we take a look at the end of Yahoo Search Marketing in Australia and how Yahoo!7 has chosen to become a Google search partner, rather than using Microsoft's Bing Ads system to provide paid ads in its search results. In the final article this month, we examine the importance of WordPress website security and 6 important steps to take to ensure that your business website isn't a victim of unscrupulous hackers.

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...

The Importance of the 'Click to Call' Search Function

The Google AdWords blog has recently published the results of new research which shows that 70% of mobile searchers call a business directly from search results. This action can be taken, for businesses that enable it, by using the 'click to call' button that appears in the search results on mobiles. So it's important for businesses that appear in the search results on Google to know this function exists and the importance of having it show with their mobile-targeted results.

Google says that their ads drive over 40 million calls each month and therefore it's important for businesses to understand consumers' use of the click to call feature. The new study by Ipsos Research showed that, from the 3,000 mobile searchers surveyed, calls are important for positively influencing brand perception through the inclusion of a phone number in the search results, as well as still being a vital channel for research and purchasing. Through research, calls help a consumer move closer in purchase consideration and a larger number of calls happen when someone is ready to buy.

It was found that click to call was an important feature for people looking to find information and make purchases across the 7 industries studied - travel; restaurant; auto; retail; finance; technology; local services. Within the local services sector, 76% would use call features to schedule an appointment for professional services, so this makes it particularly important for localised search results (including Google+ Local listings). Also, the majority of calls generated by mobile search ads are not quick informational calls, but instead tend to be more substantive research or transactional calls.

The inclusion of a click to call button can lead to an increase of 8% in the adverts overall clickthrough rate, because of the larger ad size due to the call button, or users feel more confident in the business. Nearly half of mobile searchers indicated that the lack of a call option would lead them to be both frustrated with the business and more likely to turn to another brand. Additionally, 33% said that they would be less likely to refer the brand to others and would be less likely to use the brand in the future.

So encouraging phone calls should still be a priority for all businesses and the importance of this shouldn't be underestimated in an increasingly competitive online environment. This can be done quickly through an AdWords campaign by attaching call extensions to mobile search ads, (whereas the presence of the call button in organic results depends on a number of factors). Furthermore, the data provided by AdWords on call metrics from doing this can be valuable to identify areas to improve campaign performance and increase the number of conversions.

If you'd like more information about how the 'click to call' function can help to improve your business, contact us now for more details.

 

Yahoo! Search Marketing to close in Australia

Yahoo! has recently announced the closure of its Search Marketing business in Australia, through an email to existing advertisers. The move by the Australian joint venture between Seven West Media and the US-based Yahoo! is a significant shift in the Australian search market, with advertisers no longer able to directly advertise on Yahoo!7's search engine, which will now carry ads from Google.

This is a surprising move and follows the launch of the new Bing Ads service in Australia at the end of July. Globally, Bing and Yahoo! have combined their paid search services so that the older Yahoo! system (called 'Panama') had been rolled into the newer and more 'user-friendly' Bing system, so that, for example, in the US and UK, advertisers can manage their pay-per-click ads across Bing and Yahoo! through the Bing Ads system.

However, in Australia, the expected partnership between Bing and Yahoo! has been complicated by their respective joint ventures between Channel Nine (with MSN) and 7 (with Yahoo!). It seems that any plans for a merger here broke down, leading to Bing Ads launching and so removing coverage on Bing and NineMSN from the existing Yahoo! Search Marketing network. Consequently, Yahoo!7 had few options available to them and have decided to now carry their paid ads from Google's AdWords system.

From November, Yahoo!7 will now become part of the 'Search Partners' network in Google AdWords a broad network of other third-party websites that provide search results from Google under their own brand. This will therefore generate revenue for Yahoo!7 from clicks on the search ads, but also helps to expand Google's dominance of the Australian search market.

A Yahoo!7 spokeswoman said: "We believe the decision by Microsoft to launch Bing without us is not in the best interest of the Australian search industry. In regards to the rollout of the Yahoo! Microsoft Search Alliance, unlike other markets globally, Microsoft made a decision to launch Bing in Australia without a managed migration of YSM Panama advertisers....as a result of this we will see the majority of our search inventory transition to the Google Ad platform in a migration over the next few weeks".

Google already has around 87% of the search market in Australia and this is likely to increase as a result of this migration. Many within the industry feel that to take on the dominance of Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft needed to work together through the newer Bing Ads system. That would then provide better targeting options for their clients but most importantly provide consumers with the type of functionality the US has access to, which would have set them apart from Google.

If you'd like to know more about how we can help to improve your business's search engine marketing through Bing or Google, contact us now.

 

The Importance of WordPress Website Security

WordPress has become the leader in web publishing, with over 72 million sites using their Content Management System, which is estimated to be more than 25% of all websites operating on the Internet. As a result of this success, it has become a favoured target for hackers, so it's crucial that if your business uses Wordpress, your site is well protected.

In order to make a Wordpress site more secure, there are a number of things to watch, plus before making any changes it's essential to back up everything:

1) Update the admin user name. Surprisingly many people don't change this from the default "admin", or use other very common ones, such as "administrator," "test" and "root". So ensure the one your site uses is different. This should ideally be done during the initial set-up, or subsequently by going into mySQL and updating the user name, in the wp_users table.

2) Use a strong password. Not only should the username ideally be unique, but the password should also be very strong and includes letters (upper and lower), numbers, special characters, with over eight characters in total. (There are free programs, such as Keypass, that can create and remember which passwords are associated to which of your accounts).

3) Change the wp-config Security Keys: Tucked beneath your WordPress database settings in your wp-config file are your site's unique keys and 'Salts'. These are a random array of letters, numbers and special characters you'd likely never run across unless they were pointed out to you. Making a new set is easy with a tool within the CMS that WordPress provides. More details about this can be found here.

4) Limit Login Attempts: WordPress provides a free plugin to do this. It's surprising how many attempts, mainly by hacking bots are locked out by this useful tool. It's very configurable and has helpful features like logging offender's IP addresses and emails you when a lockout happens. These emails may be slightly disconcerting, but serve a reminder that the site is well secured.

5) Use "Secure WordPress": This is another essential, free WordPress plugin that patches many holes that exist in the basic WordPress install. It will do things like removing the version number of WordPress throughout the site or blocking malicious URL requests. The plugin allows you to toggle these options on and off to customise the settings for your security needs.

6) Backup, Backup and Backup: This can't be emphasised enough! The best defence is to ensure that there is a complete, up-to-date backup of the site. It's possible either to download the files to your local machine, or ask your web host about backup options. The latter can sometimes be flawed, so if you want total peace-of-mind, it's best to regularly do that yourself on a scheduled basis. Ensure that you're also backing up your database, with one of the numerous options that are available, such as the WordPress Database Backup.

It's possible to alleviate many attacks just through these 6 steps that will ensure you're not any easy target, like 99% of the sites that don't take these precautions. Prevention is much better than cure and usually a lot less time consuming that trying to recover from an attack after it's too late. Just imagine how you'd feel if the site and database was lost, so be pro-active beforehand, as it can happen.

You can view more in-depth details about this here:

If you'd like to know more about how we can help to secure your Wordpress website, 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.