Here we are half way through the summer, and we’re back with the latest instalment of The Search Marketing Roundup for July 2016! We’ve been receiving some great feedback over social media, and via the comments section which we really appreciate. So as ever, we encourage you to get involved and send us your thoughts!
Google’s expanded text ads are live, whilst responsive ads for native & device bidding roll out
Google officially launched expanded text ads on Tuesday 26th July, and with the rollout comes the availability of device bidding and responsive display ads for native.
Expanded text ads are optimised for the screen sizes of all the most widely-used smartphones. The expanded text ads feature two headlines, each containing 30 characters and one long 80-character description line. This will provide search advertisers with almost 50% more ad text to promote products and services.
Google provided useful advice for advertisers as they adopt usage of expanded text ads:
- Create and test numerous multiple expanded text ads for each ad group, and evaluate performance before pausing and deleting standard text ads.
- Include important information about your business and the other components from your standard text ads – such as price and keyword insertion.
- Focus on your ad text headlines – as these are the most prominent part of your text ad.
Google have also rolled out the ability for search marketers to create responsive ads for display. The objective of this is to help your ads adapt to the diverse mix of content types and screen sizes. Search marketers can now take advantage of 25-character and 90-character headlines, a 90-character description, an image and a URL. Google will ensure the display ad fits “beautifully across more than two million apps and websites on the Google Display Network (GDN).”
The new device bid adjustments tools allows search marketers to be flexible and optimise bid adjustments for each device type – mobile devices, computers and tablets. This is in response to the changing way in which consumers are using technology to connect with the world around them. Google are helping companies to adapt ad formats and bidding to help reach customers in a meaningful way.
New study demonstrates the links are incredibly important to Google’s ranking algorithm
A new study has shown undertaken by Stone Template Consulting shows how important backlinks are in Google’s ranking algorithm.
By using a sophisticated calculation, this new study demonstrates a “near-perfect correlation” between ranking in the top positions within a Google search results page and the number of backlinks pointing to that page.
The study analysed the top 50 results across 6,000 search results pages on Google; and the count of links to each ranking position was aggregated. The findings showed a near-perfect correlation between a higher ranking position, and a greater number of external backlinks pointing to the webpage.
As the SEO chatter across the web can sometimes suggest that links are a declining ranking signal, this study from Stone Temple has reinforced the importance of backlinks.
As Google state, the two most important ranking factors are content and links. Firstly, your content must be relevant and high-quality, but then the amount of backlinks appears to provide the competitive edge in gaining a higher ranking. The study concludes with the statement, “When you aren’t facing page relevance or quality issues, links can, and do, continue to significantly impact rankings.”.
If you’re SEO strategy is committed to producing great content, and you have developed a proactive marketing plan/promotion of your business to earn links, then you’re on the right track.
301 Redirects To Less-Relevant Pages Are Seen As Soft 404s To Google
Glenn Gabe performs many website migrations – like us here at Semetrical – and has highlighted a case study whereby his client was forced to 301 redirect categories, services and product pages to irrelevant sections of the new website. This is resulted in numerous soft 404 warnings being sent via Google Search Console.
A soft 404 URL will lose all of it’s link equity, rankings and organic traffic. Google will eventually treat a soft 404 page as a traditional 404 page and remove it entirely from it’s index. Glenn Gabe reports that those soft 404s quickly began to lose rankings and traffic as soon as they were redirected to less-relevant pages.
John Mueller has explained numerous times on Google Webmaster Hangouts that URLs which are 301 redirected to an irrelevant URL during a website migration will be treated as soft 404s. An example would be 301 redirecting “Category X” to the “Homepage”, or “Category Y”.
Rand on whether voice search/conversational search impacts SEO tactics and strategy
During one of Moz’s Whiteboard Friday’s, Rand Fishkin explored how the predicted increase in voice/conversational search activity could affect an SEO strategy and influence tactics.
1. There will continue to be a rise in instant answers without search results.
2. Major engines – such as Google, Apple & Amazon – will continue to disintermediate simplistic answer/data problems.
X percent of search queries that provide in organic traffic to websites can be answered in fewer than Y words, or with a quick image/graphic. These major engines are faster than you, so review how safe your strategic position is if you’re gaining organic traffic from keywords which can be answered in fewer than Y words (e.g. “Cooking metric conversions” could be answered easily). Whilst considering this, review your content plans moving forward, so if you were receiving a large amount of traffic via these keywords, start to strategically prioritise new keyword segments long-term.
3. Keyword research & targeting will require SERP feature analysis.
SERP analysis of desktop and mobile will need to be included in a keyword research tool – whilst being able to provide a voice query to inform an SEO or marketer what the results of a keyword look like or sound like from the engine. This will help us prioritise which keywords to target with our content plans, based on click-through opportunity and potential value. We will need to choose our keywords more wisely in the future, or competitors will out-perform us.
4. Content structured for search engines to use in their instant answer boxes.
Structure content so that search engines can easily extract the content and suface it in the SERP answer box. Inclusion within an instant answer box can provide increased click-through rate and overall traffic for your website. Dr Pete at Moz wrote a great post on how to rank number zero, and be included in the instant answer box.
5. Absolute volume and search volume demand trends are still important, not just percentages of queries and aggregated stats
Despite the sharp increases of usage of voice search, do not take retract focus from trying to allocate resources to rank for your target keywords. Typed search is increasing with voice search. So voice search isn’t taking over the SEO industry; instead it is an additive and we should pay close attention to the total volume demand for keywords, based on both typed and voice search over time.
Should SEOs and marketers continue to track and report on keyword rankings?
Keyword ranking reports provide SEOs with the intelligence that is required to make strategic decisions. However, there are a lot of challenges with keyword ranking reports. Moz explored the challenges and the solutions for these.
1. People, places and things.
“Keyword ranking reports are inaccurate” – there is personalisation, localisation and device type. This removes the trust in a “one true ranking”. One solution is to address mobile rankings and desktop rankings separately, as we know that the SERPs change depending on device type. We can also do this for localisation issues, as most of the top ranking trackers (e.g. GetSTAT) are now adjusting their rank tracking methodologies to have accurate local rank tracking.
2. Keyword value estimation.
SEOs are finding it difficult to know how much traffic an individual keyword sends to their website. There are suggestions that SEOs aren’t sure of the value of ranking for certain keywords. We can identify which pages are sending your website traffic specifically in Google Analytics or Omniture, and tie those into the keywords in which we are tracking. This allows a marketer to tie which pages are driving traffic to the target keywords that they are ranking for. Enabling us to estimate the value contributed by content and by pages, rather than by individual keywords.
3. Tracking rankings and keyword relevancy.
Pages are often ranking for keywords that they aren’t specifically targeting. Google is now far better at tracking user intent, so it can be impossible to track those rankings – as we don’t know what to look for! SEOs will have to broaden the keywords that we’re tracking, and sample keyword sets based on conversion keywords, long-tail keywords and branded keywords. Don’t let your keyword targeting determine what you rank track. Do some more expansive keyword research to understand which long-tail/semantically relevant keywords we should be tracking.
4. Keyword rank tracking with a purpose.
SEOs are often producing keyword ranking reports because it’s more of a “historical artifact”, essentially keyword tracking has been set-up for no particular reason. Avoid doing this! SEOs must be tracking keywords for reasons of real value and actionability.