Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - September 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 changes to the format of the local search listings when displayed on the main search results page. This should be of significant interest to businesses that have any local 'My Business' listings and want to target local searchers.
In our second article, we look at Google's advice for website owners and managers on how to avoid being targeted by hackers, which is becoming an increasingly common problem. Finally this month, we take a look at Google's recent launch of the new Adwords Report Editor, a tool which any business running an AdWords campaign should be interested in, to help review and analyse their marketing performance.
On to this month's edition...
Google Changes Local Search Results
Google has recently changed the way in which local search listings are being displayed on the first page of search results. This should be of interest to any business that has a local business listing, as they are an important asset on the Search Engine Results Page, as Google gives them preference in the organic rankings.
Up until recently, Google would usually display about 7 local business listings in the search results, so this recent change to limit the list to 3 businesses means that there's more competition for the limited visibility. So having a well-optimised listing is more important than ever.
The new listings have a number of important changes, including telephone numbers being replaced with directions to the address, as these changes are mostly designed for mobile searchers looking for a location. These directions also link to the new Local Finder in Maps, as does clicking upon the business's red icon in the search results. Within these new Local Finder results there are 20 opportunities for visibility.
The links to the business's associated Google Plus pages have also now been removed, as G+ is going through a change of focus and will soon be split into two elements - Photos and Streams. Fortunately, this change won't impact the ability for searchers to view reviews of a company, which will still appear in the grey box that appears when the listing on maps is moused over. Seeing reviews is now a two-click process into the Local Finder and then another click on the reviews, which isn't very user friendly.
However, if there are sufficient reviews to show the star rating out of 5, there is a link directly to those reviews from the search box. This means that there's still a good reason for compiling as many of those positive customer reviews as possible because having that visible star rating provides a competitive advantage as it immediately draws the eye towards the business that has it displayed.
Google has been making a series of changes over the past few years to the Places / My Business listings and to the local search results, which can often be a confusing or backwards step for some companies. It's hoped that it will soon settle on the most effective format and stick with it for a while, as the data that its own Local Analytics provides is currently not completely accurate and so has limited use.
If you would like to know more about how your business can benefit from these latest changes and having a local business listing displayed, contact us now for more details.
How to Avoid Being Targeted by Hackers
Google has recently been publishing a series of articles for website owners with tips and techniques to avoid their websites being hacked. This is because they say that they've seen a 180% increase in the number of sites getting hacked over the past year. Therefore if you publish anything online, one of your top priorities should be security, as getting hacked can negatively affect your online reputation and result in loss of critical and private data.
First launched in 2014, Google's '#NoHacked' campaign aims to educate webmasters about ways to avoid, or identify hacking attacks on their website, and to keep data and account secure. A recent series of blog articles on its Webmaster Central Blog, has added more content to support this campaign.
Some of the key recommendations made by Google have been:
- Ensure that all your website's software is up-to-date: one of the most common ways for a hacker to compromise your site is through insecure software on your site. Be sure to periodically check the site for any outdated software, especially updates that patch security holes. If you use a Content Management System (CMS), or any plug-ins or add-ons on the site, make sure to keep these tools updated with new releases - this is particularly important for WordPress sites, which are a primary target for out-of-date software.
- Strengthen your account security: creating a password that's difficult to guess or crack is essential to protecting the site. For example, a password might contain a mixture of letters, numbers, symbols, or be a pass-phrase. Password length is important. The longer your password, the harder it will be to guess.
- Research how your hosting provider handles security issues: Your hosting provider's policy for security and cleaning up hacked sites is in an important factor to consider when choosing one. If you use a hosting provider, contact them to see if they offer on-demand support to clean up site-specific problems, or a managed administrator services option, to update software. You can also check online reviews to see if they have a track record of helping users with compromised sites clean up their hacked content.
- Use Google tools to stay informed of potential hacked content on your site: having a Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) account can be useful to receive notifications from Google about malware or other issues on your website. It's important to have tools that can help you pro-actively monitor your site. The sooner a compromise is discovered; the sooner work can begin on fixing the site. You can also set up Google Alerts on the site to notify you if there are any suspicious results for it.
Website security is a fundamentally critical issue for any online business, so taking heed of these points could make the difference to avoiding, or surviving a hack-attack. Check out the blog articles from Google and check what security processes you have in control for your site.
If you want to know more about how a website security plan could help to protect your online business, contact us now for more details.
Google AdWords Launches Report Editor
At the start of August, Google AdWords announced the new Report Editor tool, which would be rolled out over the coming months. This is yet to appear in some accounts, but it will do so in due course, so it's well worth being familiar with it in advance.
Report Editor is a powerful AdWords tool that lets you explore account data in brand new ways from within a browser. Access to it will be apparent when the new 'Reports tab' appears in the AdWords account and from this tab, you can open a pre-defined report or create your own report from scratch. It provides an easy-to-use interface that enables the building of custom tables and charts that can be segmented, sorted, and filtered to help find the insights that matter to a business.
The key functions are:
- Explore your data with simple drag and drop actions
- Sort, filter, and pivot your data to focus on the slices of information you need
- Visualize your data in pie, bar, or line charts to reveal powerful insights
- Apply multiple segmentations to analyse your data with finer granularity.
Key metrics and dimensions can be examined by simply dragging and dropping the selected ones into a table or chart. Metrics like impressions, clicks, and conversions can be viewed and then you can add dimensions like device, campaign, or adgroup to segment the data further.
It's also possible to visualise data. Charts can quickly unveil performance trends that may be missed when looking at numbers alone. Now, it's possible to instantly create a line, pie, or bar chart to surface your key insights. It just takes a click to instantly switch between different charts and tables. Just like tables, it's possible to save and share charts with others or set them to run regularly.
This release has been warmly welcomed by the AdWords management community, as it makes the data more actionable, providing more powerful insights and vastly reduces the amount of time spent creating 'old-style' numeric reports, which don't highlight the KPIs as effectively.
You can read more about the Report Editor, here. If you would more information about how this important reporting tool can enhance the performance of your AdWords campaigns, 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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