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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - March 2015

Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter for 2015, 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 release of AdWords Call-only campaigns and describe the pros and cons of these. This significant development should be interesting to businesses and AdWords managers that run campaigns of all sizes.

We also look at Google's recent upgrade to its My Business listings that provide business owners with more control over how their photos are displayed in the search results. Finally, we examine the importance of getting AdWords ads to show on the first page of the results and how to do so. This should be of significant interest to any business that is currently running any AdWords campaign, or intends to do so at any time in the future.

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 or LinkedIn, as well as our occasional updates on Twitter.

On to this month's edition...

Google Releases AdWords Call-only Campaigns

At the end of February, Google announced the launch of the new AdWords 'Call-only' campaigns. These are specially designed to only show ads on smartphones where a call can be made from the search results, and is therefore important for any business where mobile search and call leads are important, so that every paid click can be a phone call to your company.

People are living their lives online and engaging with businesses in new ways. With smartphones in hand, consumers are increasingly looking for products or services while on the go and then placing a call right away. Google states that "70% of mobile searchers call a business directly from search results."

This is why the new AdWords Call-only campaigns have been introduced, since they are a way for businesses to reach potential customers by prominently showing their phone number, business description and call button when people are searching. It's uniquely built for businesses that value phone calls more than website clicks.

Many businesses may still prefer to display the link to the website as well as the phone number however, as consumers may wish to have a look at the website before they make the call. It's still possible to show both the website link and the phone number through the call extension option in the standard AdWords campaigns, but the new ad type is now simpler to create and manage. Firstly, AdWords managers click to create ads, then they can drop down to choose the call-only ad type. There is still a 'display URL' which helps to show who users are calling, but this doesn't link to the site as the 'destination URL' from an ad extension does.

This quick set-up can be a time-saver for advertisers and now replaces the existing option to just show the phone number in ads. The advantage of this is that it's now possible to bid just for phone calls and since every click goes towards a phone call, it's possible to design a bidding strategy based specifically on CPA or ROAS goal for calls. This helps maximize the value of every call to a business and will be of benefit to those companies that want to target the mobile searcher and encourage direct calls.

The disadvantage is that these Call-only campaigns may lead to a rise in the average cost-per-click for the calls, and as the ads are easier to set up there's likely to be more competition for the calls than previously. Also, critically, when a click occurs and the number is loaded up on the searcher's phone, the advertiser is charged, whether or not the call is made. So this may result in lost expenditure on wasted clicks and as such, should be closely monitored for a positive Return On Ad Spend.

If you want more details about these new Call-only campaigns and how they could impact your business, please contact us now.


Google My Business Upgrade Gives More Photo Control

Also announced by Google at the end of February is the ability of businesses to have more control of photos displayed with their search and map results, through an update to the Google My Business product. This is a useful change for any business listed on this service, but especially those with shop-fronts who may want to better present their business online.

Once a business has a Google My Business listing set up and verified, it's now possible to indicate to Google which image should appear when customers search for a business on Google. While doing that, it's advisable to give a business a fresh look online by updating the profile, logo and cover photos to ensure these are up to date and as effective as possible.

The new photo interface walks business owners through six categories of images - identity photos, interior photos, exterior photos, photos at work, team photos and additional photos. The dashboard includes explanatory hints for each category. From the identity section - the profile, logo and cover photos - a business manager can select which image will be displayed on search and map results.

This is a useful enhancement to the previously limited choice of how the images could be displayed and will benefit businesses such as restaurants, in particular, that will be able to showcase their food more effectively than before.

If you would like more information on how Google My Business listings can help to improve your business presentation, contact us now for details.


Understanding the First Page Bid Estimate in AdWords

Any AdWords advertiser will know the value of prominently displaying ads on the first page of search results on Google. In order to do this, however, it's necessary to understand what a first page bid estimate is and then to know that even if the first page bid estimate is met, in some cases the ad still may not appear on the first page of results.

The estimated First Page Bid amount within an AdWords account approximates the cost-per-click (CPC) bid needed for the ad to reach the first page of Google search results when a search query exactly matches the keyword. This estimate is based on the Quality Score and current advertiser competition for that keyword. There is also an estimated Top Page Bid that approximates the CPC bid needed for your ad to appear regularly in the top positions above the main search results.

When managing an AdWords campaign, these estimated bid levels can be seen in the Keywords view, by adding new columns to the standard settings. These estimates can then help an advertiser to make better bidding decisions. On average, ads that appear on the first page or above the search results tend to get substantially more clicks than ads that appear on other search results pages or alongside the search results.

If your first page bid estimate is very high, it may mean that your keyword's Quality Score is poor or that competition for that term is high. The first page bid estimate is a guide, meant to give you greater insight with which to plan your bidding strategy but meeting your first page bid estimate isn't a guarantee of ad position. Ad position will still depend on competition from other advertisers, the components of your Quality Score (expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience), your CPC bid, the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats, the budget and account settings, and user and advertiser behaviour.

First page bid estimates try to estimate the bid needed for your ad to generally reach the first page of search results for the device(s) that you're targeting. If you're running a campaign that is only serving on a single device, the bid estimate will reflect the bid required to generally reach the first page of search results on that device. Otherwise, the estimate will reflect the bid generally required across all devices, which can include mobiles, where there are fewer ads shown on the first page of search results.

In some cases, your ad may still rank on the first page even if the first page bid level isn't reached, or it might not appear on the first page of search results even if first page bid estimate is met! Therefore it's necessary to keep in mind that this estimate is a guideline, based on your keyword's Quality Score and recent advertiser competition that applies to search queries exactly matching your keyword. It isn't a guarantee about your where your ad will appear, but it does indicate that you may be losing out on possible search impressions for your target market.

Below are a few common reasons your ad might not show on the first page, even when you meet this bid estimate:

If your ads continue to not appear on the first page of search results when you meet the first page bid estimate, then it's necessary to improve your Ad Rank. You can read about understanding ad position and Ad Rank here.

If you want to know more about bidding strategies and how we can help to improve your AdWords campaigns, please contact us now for details.


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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.