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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - August 2012

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

The lead article in the month's newsletter describes how Google's controversial addition of "(not provided)" search data has impacted the value of Google Analytics data and, as it can affect SEO campaigns, why it's vital for web marketers and data analysts to understand the significance of this recent change.

In the second article, we review how the introduction of Facebook's Timeline can have an impact upon the use of business pages and how this can affect social media campaigns through this major site. In the final article this month, we look at the Google AdWords Certified Partners scheme including what the use of the logo means, and how it's achieved.

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 for updates.

On to this month's edition...

Google Analytics showing "(not provided)" search data

In October 2011, Google implemented a controversial change that has impacted Google Analytics and continues to raise increasing concerns in the search engine marketing field. The change has resulted in increasing numbers of search keyword numbers showing as "(not provided)" and it's important for web marketers and data analysts to understand the potential ramifications of this change, as it can have an impact upon the effectiveness of SEO campaigns.

The change made by Google was the decision to make search activity more secure for anyone logged into a Google account when conducting a search through Google. Therefore, when an account user searches on Google, the search engine changes to a secure search (with the https domain shown) and, in addition, by deciding to protect users' privacy in this way, the associated search data is not being shown in Google Analytics.

Anyone using Google Analytics to record visitor activity on their website will now see "(not provided)" as a data line in the search keywords report. This reflects the volume of search visits generated from Google when users are logged into their Google account. During 2012 the figure has been growing as a percentage of total searches, with estimates that the initial level of around 5% of searches when this measure was first introduced has now grown to around 35%.

With Google being the main source of visitor traffic for many websites, and the "(not provided)" line also being one of the main "search queries" shown in the traffic reports, website marketers are seeing a large section of data being hidden from them. This comes at a time when Google Analytics has been widely adopted by so many websites that it seems that Google has cornered the analytics market and then removed a core data element that websites gain value from.

This hidden data on affects search traffic coming through Google's "organic" search results, rather than the paid AdWords listings, but it tends to be the organic visits that drive most traffic to the site and which influence (and record) the search engine optimisation efforts of many website marketers. It could be assumed that the mix of terms within the "(not provided)" number can be proportional to all the other search terms that are shown for example the % mix of brand or non-brand name searches but this doesn't make accurate data easy to obtain and it is likely to become more of an issue as more web users sign up with Google accounts and conduct searches when logged in to these accounts.

When Google first announced the change to encrypt the searches of Google users, they implied the numbers would be low. However, as more people sign up to Google accounts and search when logged in, the number of blocked search terms in Analytics is growing. This seems illogical when search data is not linked to individual activity anyway in Google Analytics. Whether Google will decide to change this outcome and show the data in Analytics again remains to be seen but the loss of valuable data in Google Analytics will potentially raise questions about the value of the tool.

If you would like more information about your Analytics data and possible ways to interpreting the "(not provided)" data, please contact us.


Facebook's Timeline and its impact on business pages

Facebook introduced a new "Timeline" feature in December 2011 that arranges posts according to their date and shows a history of a fan page. Many companies that use Facebook for social media networking may have been discouraged by these changes and not taken advantage of what they have to offer. So there are a number of useful points that business owners should know about Facebook's timeline.

If you had previously set up a business page on Facebook before the implementation of the new Timeline format, some of the old functionality has changed. There are therefore the main features you need to consider for the new format:

Use an effective cover photo
This photo has a strong impact on the look of your Facebook business page and should be used effectively to support your branding. There are tight restrictions on the usage of the cover photo (including not being permitted to include a call-to-action, or a request to "Like" the page), so the cover photo should be interesting enough to convey the business brand image and its services, as well as draw visitors into the page's content.

Use personal & private messages
Since the new Timeline has been implemented, it's possible for companies to reply to personal or private messages that people can now send to them. This helps businesses to network with potential clients, and provides another avenue of customer service.

Use the screening option for comments
A company's Timeline shows all comments, replies and posts, which everyone can see. But it is possible to turn off this feature so that posts can be screened to determine whether they are generating negative publicity.

Use the improved admin controls
It's now easier with the new Timeline function for a business to monitor all aspects of a company's Facebook fan page from one place. There's also now more information about what activities are attracting the most attention.

Use the default landing page effectively
Visitors to a business's Facebook page now land directly upon the main Timeline page, instead of a default landing page that could be chosen by the business. This is to facilitate how users can explore a business, so as the old calls-to-action on Facebook landing pages have been replaced, it's important to ensure that the page and Timeline of a business is interesting and provides concise information.

Use apps to promote the business
Now that it's no longer possible to promote and make offers through a business's Facebook cover photo or landing page, it's important to use approved Facebook apps to keep the social media campaign generating these types of useful leads. For example, Shortstack is a free app that can be used to embed a business blog into Facebook with the app and point it back to your website with links.

There are more aspects of Facebook's Timeline that be utilised by a business to generate additional engagement from existing and potential customers and fans. So if you'd like more information about how we can help your business achieve this, please contact us now.


Google AdWords Certified Partners

You will often see the Google AdWords Certified Partners logo on agency websites including on this site. GACP's can be online marketing professionals, agencies and sometimes individuals who manage AdWords accounts. But how is the Partners logo achieved and what does it mean?

Certified Partners must meet certain requirements specified by Google for individuals the entry acceptance is mainly based on passing 2 of Google's AdWords related exams to demonstrate knowledge of the system. For companies, they must demonstrate management of AdWords campaigns and also the qualification of having passed the exams.

Only qualified companies can display a Partners logo on their website and this should be actively linked to their Partners page on Google directory of recognised Certified Partners. There are often cases of unscrupulous companies or individuals displaying the logo on their website, despite not being qualified and therefore there is no link to the page confirming their status. Therefore, if working with a GACP is important, you should ensure that they are verified members and that you can view their page, such as this one.

Google Certified Partners have invested time and training into using AdWords effectively. Using their expertise should benefit your campaigns and help generate new leads and business from Google's paid advertising programs. Like many advertisers, you may not have a significant amount of time to invest in learning AdWords and managing your own advertising account, so hiring a professional can help save you time while maximising the return on your investment.

As noted above, Web Marketing Workshop are fully qualified Google AdWords Certified Partners, and have been since 2006. We are also proud to have been selected by Google as one of only 5 agencies in Australia to participate in a Pilot Programme since October last year, which has given us additional support, insights and training to help develop our clients' marketing activity.

For more information about our status as a GCAP and the benefits it brings to our clients, please contact us now.



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If you use Facebook or Twitter, you can now follow our news and updates using these channels:

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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.