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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - November 2016

Welcome to the latest monthly issue of our regular newsletter which features news, tips and advice on effective website marketing, with a particular focus on search engine marketing techniques and trends.

This month we look at two changes in Google AdWords which will impact all advertisers in Australia. Firstly, Google has announced that it will be charging 10% GST on AdWords spend from November 1, which will increase the billed amounts and could be a cash flow issue for some businesses, but should also now be a reclaimable cost for GST registered companies. Secondly we report on Google's extension of the deadline to implement the new Expanded Text Ads in AdWords, from October 26th to January 31st 2017 and its recommended best practices on doing so.

For the final article this month, we look at the important issue of mobile site speed and how that can impact the performance of a website in terms of sales and search results.

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 Charging GST for AdWords from November 1

Google recently announced that from November 1st, AdWords invoices for Australian companies will now show an extra 10% GST charged on top of the current spend as an additional line item. As a result, AdWords costs will increase but this will become a reclaimable item now that the billing is moving onshore.

This change in billing within Australia is a result of the increasing pressure on some web-based companies to pay tax in the country of origin, and Google is making the move now to avoid a higher tax burden in the future. However, the move still comes more than 18 months after the then Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull started the push for multinationals to pay GST on advertising booked through Australia. In a statement in March 2015 he said, "the Australian media industry is under enormous pressure from online platforms, notably Google and Facebook. At the moment, little or no GST is collected in respect of advertising by Australians on international online platforms like Google and Facebook. This can be done unilaterally and would recover very substantial amounts of revenue."

Up until now, Australian AdWords accounts have been billed through Eire, or more recently via SG Google Asia Pacific, the Singapore arm of Google, so international transaction charges had been incurred by some businesses using AdWords, depending on their credit card company. This new change will remove that extra cost but add 10% GST to each charge, which will increase the short term costs, but make the GST claimable in the BAS returns, whereas previously Google costs would be reported as GST-free charges.

In relation to accounts being billed through Google Australia from now on, Google stated "with effect from 1 November 2016, SG is assigning your advertising contract, including any amendments and related agreements (such as Service Agreements), to Google Australia Pty Ltd, which is required by law to charge 10% GST (Goods and Service Tax) on its services."

If this change impacts you, then please consult your accountant or financial advisor. If you'd like further information on the reasons for this change, please contact us.


Expanded Text Ad Implementation Deadline is now January 2017

In a follow up to our original article on Google's release of Expanded Text Ads in July this year, Google has announced that it's giving advertisers more time to upgrade the creatives. The original deadline to do this was by October 26, but that's now been extended to January 31, 2017.

This means starting then, it'll no longer be possible to create or edit standard text ads and ads will need to be created and edited using the expanded text ads format. Existing standard text ads will continue to serve alongside expanded text ads, though.

Over the last few months, Google has reviewed a lot of text ads data and has found that Expanded Text Ads can deliver great results, particularly for those who have invested in writing and testing new creatives, as the quality of the ads matters. Extra characters don't solve any performance problems on their own so it's very important to be thoughtful and compelling with the additional headline and characters, which is what we'll be analysing during their implementation and we'll be taking into account these recommendations from Google about the best practices for Expanded Text Ad optimisation:

The key recommendations for the new format ads are:

We'll be continuing to test these new format ads over the next few months and if you want to know more about how well written ETAs could improve your online advertising, please contact us now.


The Impact of Mobile Site Speed

The expression 'speed kills' is often used about driving, but the same could be said about the load times of mobile websites. Perhaps the outcome is not quite so drastic, but for a business, a slow mobile site can still have a significant impact on results.

As more online users access the web via a mobile device - and particularly smart phones - the importance of having an effective and relevant mobile site is becoming increasingly important. The mobile user will tend to operate in a different way to a desktop user and potentially have different requirements, so usability, ease of use, clarity and speed of process is vital, whether this is from a responsive site or a standalone site designed specifically for the mobile screen.

Google is now able to provide a number of reports on mobile usability and speed, including a mobile site audit for AdWords advertisers (please ask us if you'd like to receive one of these). Included in the report is illustrative data on the impact of mobile page speed, based on various research which has been conducted on the impact for online businesses.

One example of this data is that a 1 second delay in page load speed can increase bounce rate from a site by just over 8%, meaning that users can't wait for the page to fully load so hit the back button and probably then jump onto another site option, particularly from search results. That 1-second delay can also decrease the number of page views by just under 10%, and more importantly, decrease conversion rates by 3.5%.

From a business perspective, Google has measured that a 2% slower load time for their search results can impact the volume of searches per user by 2% as well. For Amazon, a 100-millisecond faster page load time can result in a 1% increase in revenue, and presumably vice-versa, which is not an insubstantial issue! Also, importantly from a search perspective, Google will look at the page load speed of websites and use that as one of their ranking factors in mobile search results.

There are a number of online tools to help review page load times, including Google's Page Speed Insights tool, plus you can also review sample load times in Google Analytics, and hopefully the positive impact after changes are made to the site. Another current trend is the move to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which we will cover in a future issue of this newsletter.

If you'd like to know more about mobile page speed issues and review how your site performs, please get in touch.


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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