2013 has seen plenty of changes to paid search, mainly driven by Google. For a brand in a competitive market like insurance, little tweaks here and there matter.
Changes include the addition of Google's own comparison products to the SERPs, meaning less visibility for organic results, enhanced campaigns, and changes to the style of PPC ads.
I've been asking Heledd Jones, Head of Search Marketing at Confused.com (and an Econsultancy guest blogger), about the challenges presented by these changes, and her thoughts on how PPC will evolve in the next year.
Over the last four months, Google has been ramping up its publicity of a more aggressive target for mobile site performance: sub one second page load times.
Enforcement of this aspiration comes from Google's usual source: algorithmic rewards for sites achieving their goal. You just need to look at how industry commentary has exploded around site speed issues over the last couple of years to see the impact this strategy has had.
I fully expect to see this industry focus switch to mobile-specific commentary through 2014.
Let's take a look at the evidence, and the SEO opportunity...
A paid search algorithm update by Google has led to an improvement in the performance of PPC adverts that include an ad extension.
But overall the new AdWords Ad Rank update actually caused a slight decline in ad performance.
The update, which was announced back in October, altered the way that Google determines the order of paid search ads by adding in a third variable alongside the maximum bid and quality score.
This new variable is the expected impact of ad extensions and formats, and it has apparently had a notable impact on PPC results. So in effect, the use of ad extensions and formats can now influence ad position in the SERP.
The elements that are considered when determining the potential impact of extensions and ad formats include relevance, click-through rates, and the prominence of extensions and results on the SERP.
The results of the study are summarised below, but firstly here's a run through of the ad extensions that Google takes into account.
When taking over any PPC account, it is essential to learn from historical performance swiftly in order to make the best possible start to a campaign.
In this example account there was a clear disparity between the best and worst hours / days of the week.
This suggested that a more aggressive ad scheduling strategy was required to bring the account to an even keel (and to perform as efficiently as possible) over the course of the day and week.
‘Nofollow’ tags are an HTML attribute that tells search engines not to pay any attention to links that appear on a webpage.
It was created in 2005 by the major search engines as a way of combatting link spam and dodgy SEO practices, though its impact in helping to win that fight is debatable.
Recently I’ve had a few conversations around the use of nofollow tags so thought it would be helpful to give an overview of why they’re important and in what context they should be used.
Once again, here are some of the most interesting digital marketing statistics we've seen this week.
Statistics include Pinterest, eBay, mobile, social customer service, Amazon and a bumper stack of data from Cyber Monday.
For more digital marketing stats, check out our Internet Statistics Compendium.
I worked on a conference talk called Ban the Blog with a colleague about a year ago. It was a purposefully provocative title and an extreme view, but one I believe many businesses and website owners need to heed (yes, I get the irony of writing this on a blog platform, but hopefully you'll see past that minor contradiction).
Blogs can often become a content dumping ground and despite the rising influence of structured content strategies into the broad digital direction, let's start a blog' is still a statement that is regularly touted in planning sessions.
But creating a blog and chronologically presenting what you produce isn’t necessarily the answer to your content needs.
Putting your content in date order may make sense in some instances (and with some CMS platforms it’s your only option), but just because it's your latest, it isn't necessarily your greatest or the most relevant for your audience.
I hate the word granular. I spend half my life tweaking and fiddling with PPC campaigns across different platforms.
The word granular invariably means spending even more time setting up campaigns. The problem is, the only way to achieve, monitor and maintain success in PPC is by going granular. The same holds true for Google Product Listing Ads.
I first went granular with my bog standard AdWords search network text ads soon after starting out in PPC. I went granular with my Product Listing Ads at a much later stage however.
When I first setup Product Listing Ads (PLAs) I had to do so with the assistance of the official Google documentation and a few third party guides. It’s all a bit fiddly.
Most of these guides seemed to encourage large ad groups for one reason or another. Against my better judgement I just went along with it, wasting thousands of pounds in the process.
Along with a number of genuine national holidays, the end of November and beginning of December are a time for consumers to enjoy a time of frantic spending as we commemorate fictional occasions created by retailers to help make a few extra sales.
These special shopping days always have awful buzzword names that initially mean very little to anyone outside of the marketing industry, but eventually come to be used in every day conversation due to the good work of PRs and the national media.
Off the back of Thanksgiving we’ve just enjoyed Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which heralded the usual surge in online spending and unseemly squabbling in stores.
And here are some interesting stats detailing just how much was spent during the annual sales bonanza...
Product page copywriting is vitally important, but seems to be overlooked by some ecommerce sites, which simply plonk the standard manufacturer's descriptions on their pages.
Paying attention to product page copy can help improve conversions rates, as better copy can be more informative and persuasive.
It can also help your site to stand out in the search results over competitors who have paid less attention to their product descriptions.
I've rounded up some examples of great product page copywriting here, but first some views from the experts on the essentials for effective copy...