Google Announces Major Changes to Ad Rotation Settings

Google recently announced some major changes to ad rotation settings in AdWords that will take place starting from the 15th of September. These changes will bring an end to the long-standing debate among advertisers about the best way to test different ads in each ad group. While all paid search advertisers can certainly agree that ad testing is important, should they let them rotate blindly, make changes after a 90-day period, or optimise them to increase clicks and enjoy more conversions? It seems the answer doesn’t matter anymore because now, the changes simplify the matter by trimming the AdWords ad rotations settings for a simpler solution.

The Major Changes to Ad Rotation Settings

Google AdWords will support only two rotation settings where you can either choose to optimise or rotate indefinitely. The first option to optimise (prefer best performing ads), will employ Google’s machine learning technology to deliver ads with the potential to do better than the other ads in the ad group. Choosing ‘do not optimise (rotate ads indefinitely) allows your ads to rotate continuously without putting priority on better performing ads to a user’s search.

The existing settings ‘optimise for conversions’ and ‘rotate evenly’ will be abandoned and where the options to ‘Optimise for clicks’, ‘Optimise for conversions’ and ‘Rotate evenly are being used by campaigns, there will be automatic change to the new ‘Optimise’ setting.

Regardless of how campaigns set their ad rotation settings for their smart bidding strategies like Enhanced CPC, target CPA or target ROAS, their ad rotation will automatically be set to ‘Optimise’ as a result of Google’s new decision. In addition, advertisers can easily control their new ad rotation settings at the campaign level and at the ad group level as well.

The Impact of the Changes on Advertisers

Besides the major effect being forcing search marketers to stay on top of their testing schedules if they aren’t already, the announced changes to AdWords rotation will affect many advertisers using the usual ad rotation and bidding strategies.

This means if your campaigns currently make use of either the ‘Rotate evenly’ or ‘Optimise for conversions ad rotation setting’ you will notice the new changes in your account sometime in late September. Campaigns employing smart bidding strategies such as target CPA, enhanced CPC or target ROAS bidding strategies are not left out either.

Although some advertisers would naturally not be inclined to trust Google to optimise their ad rotation, you can reasonably expect to see positive performance n CTR and CPA from making the change.

Preparing for Changes in Ad Rotation Settings

There’s nothing to be done in advance since the transition will automatically occur in late September. Still, it is advisable to pay close attention to your accounts in order to see how they respond to said changes.

Advertisers presently making use of the ‘Rotate evenly’ option should work to finish up current ad tests and possibly migrate to an optimise setting before the ad rotation change takes place to get the most out of ad tests in the future. A smart bidding strategy is a better option for advertisers currently using the ‘Optimise for conversions’ setting in order to optimise their bids in real time auctions.

On a final note, if you are dissatisfied with the proposed changes to be made to your account, you can always choose the ‘Do Not Optimise’ ad rotation so that your ads are rotated evenly into each search auction.

AdWords Announces Upcoming Changes to Enhanced CPC Bidding

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In the middle of May, Google announced that AdWords will start rolling out changes to enhanced CPC bidding (eCPC) beginning in early June. Advertisers logging into the AdWords interface would likely have seen the notification indicating these changes.

Background of eCPC bidding

AdWords presents advertisers with various bidding strategies to use to achieve their aims. While advertisers can decide to bid for a target CPA, bid for a target location on the SERP, pay for display ads, or pay for video views, majority of advertisers choose to depend on cost-per-click CPC bidding.

Advertisers’ accounts easily grow in complexity and size, and with this growth, it becomes difficult to manage a rapidly growing load of audiences, demographics, keywords, and bid adjustments in campaigns. It is for this reason that Google introduced eCPC in 2010, rolling out a major change in the way cost-per-click (CPC) bidding works. By introducing eCPC bidding, they were able to take some load off the shoulders of advertisers.

The change allowed Google to dynamically adjust advertisers’ bids within a range of 30% if the AdWords algorithm believed a click was likely to lead to a conversion. Since it was introduced, eCPC bidding was used for new campaigns as the default bidding strategy, which in turn gave Google more control over bids.

What do the new changes mean?

Adwords eCPC Update
This is the official word from Google on the eCPC update.

Before the new changes, the eCPC automatic bidding strategy would increase an advertiser’s keywords bids by up to 30% if the AdWords algorithm noticed a click which may be more likely to convert. When automatically adjusting bids, the algorithm would take into account the time of day, users’ location, device, and browser, and before those, any manual bid adjustment.

With the new adjustments to eCPC, Google will be removing the 30% cap, aiming to help advertisers to gain more conversions. The new changes will not adjust bids based on device, and advertisers who have no conversion stats and those with strict CPC KPIs need to watch out.

While it is possible that advertisers will pay more than their maximum CPC for one click in eCPC bidding, Google says it will try to keep average CPC under maximum CPC bids. With the 30% cap removed, Google may become forceful in making automatic bid adjustments.

Also, Google may adjust advertisers’ bids for different demographics, similar audiences, and remarketing audiences. Regarding bids for different locations, if Google’s AdWords algorithms find local markets with higher conversion rates, your bids for that location will automatically be adjusted.

For advertisers using eCPC with excellent results, it is recommended to test for some time and see how the new changes affect conversion rate, average CPC, and impression share.

A Comprehensive Checklist for Your SEO Audit

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An SEO audit is important for any website seeking to increase traffic. Thorough website audits are helpful for planning future strategies relating to keywords and creating more effective content. If you are planning an SEO audit for your website, you need to follow our comprehensive checklist to ensure nothing is left out during the process.

What Should an SEO Audit Cover?

Attention should be given to five main areas in order to complete a successful SEO audit.

Technical Analysis

For your website to be listed, it needs to be able to be identified and indexed by search engines. When checking SEO, focus on the following:

  • Analysis of how duplicate content is being identified.
  • Sitemap validation using XML sitemaps which make available information for search engines such as last updates, page hierarchy and public pages to be crawled.
  • Assessment of site speed and studying the load time, which is critical.
  • Analysis of backlinks i.e. the links leading into your site. Links coming in from poor quality sites or unrelated sites where your niche is concerned can harm your SEO.

Review Page Design

This includes evaluating ease of use, CTAs, overall design, and inter-page connection for a seamless flow on the website. This component is important in an SEO audit because it makes search engines able to make sense of your content. It also increases your chances of getting found by visitors.

Usability Audit

This involves measuring how easy your users find it to make use of your site, and to navigate to the information they seek. Incorporate the following into your usability checks on your website:

Relevant internal linking –internal links on from one page to another on your site is a great idea for reducing bounce rate and maintain the interest of visitors. During an SEO audit, make sure your pages are not overly saturated with links, and that the links present are not optimized over the top, which is unadvisable in SEO practice.

Easy navigation – the goal is for visitors to be able to find what they are looking for. There is no right or wrong way to present a site structure as long as the important features and information are easy to locate.

Semantic mark-up – with semantic mark-up, search engines are better able to index your site more accurately, creating rich snippets which users make use of to locate information that interests them.

Analyse Site Content

SEO requires organised and well-written content. Industry or brand-specific content that is focused on providing value to site users attracts more users and higher rankings. During SEO audit, assessment of content should be based on consistency and value.

On-Page Audit

On-page SEO factors to consider include title tags, Meta descriptions, and headers and sub-headers. Ignoring these could make you miss out on the opportunities a comprehensive SEO audit offers.

 

Google Takes the Fight to Fake News and Offensive Content with Project Owl

8-fake-news-Owl-algorithm-fcdGoogle is certainly unrelenting in its fight against fake news and content that is considered offensive, disturbing, or clearly misleading, as it officially announced the Project Owl algorithm. According to the search engine, their algorithm was being updated in order to boost, authoritative content while penalising low-quality content, specifically with queries that could display offensive or misleading material.

Further, Google introduced a feedback mechanism for featured snippets and auto-complete suggestions to swiftly obtain feedback from users on search results that are not in line with their guidelines. Google’s search quality rater’s guidelines were also updated to aid the fight and check that the algorithms were working accordingly. Meanwhile, what do the new changes mean?

Boosting authoritative content

As a way to fight the fake and offensive content that appear in search results, Google is keen on pushing for authoritative content. Google tags as offensive, any content that encourages violence or hate against a group of people based on a number of criteria ranging from gender and race, to religion and disability. Also tagged as offensive is any content that contains racial slurs, detailed how-to information about dangerous or harmful activities, and other types of content users in a particular locale would find intensely upsetting.

Featured Snippets feedback form

A Featured Snippet is an informational box displayed at the top of search results, designed to have a profound influence on the search experience. Featured Snippets are becoming even more important with the rise of voice search as they are the default answer to a user’s question. Google introduced a feedback form that lets users pick from a variety of tags that can be used to describe the content, and a space to make comments or suggestions. While individual snippets are not going to see immediate removal, Google will use the data to adjust the algorithm to effect the necessary changes.

Autocomplete feedback link

Designed to save time and help make searches faster, autocomplete suggests possible queries to users, drawn from the most popular searches. While it is a useful feature, occasionally, autocomplete may offer suggestions that are offensive or inappropriate. Google has now introduced a new “report inappropriate predictions” link that lets users flag predictions as violent, hateful, sexually explicit, or any other tag the user feels describes the suggestions.

Conclusion

It will take some time before Project Owl will be seen to impact search results; nonetheless, Google is clearly determined to present users with legitimate results. Meanwhile, new sites are not expected to find it more difficult to rank higher in search; neither will big brands have any advantage over smaller ones.

Was There A Google Algorithm Update On Monday & Tuesday? Unsure.

Making useful information available and easily accessible is the main goal of Google and it dedicates itself to this cause by constantly seeking to improve the users’ search engine experience.

Google updates its algorithm from time to time with multiple updates happening within a day sometimes. The number of changes is between 500-600 updates per year. The updates are mostly minor and the results almost unnoticeable but there are some that cannot occur unnoticed because of the relative impact such updates have on the on page rankings in the search engine.

It is important to Google that black hat SEO practices by webmasters and search marketers are curbed.

Whenever there is an algorithm update, Google may announce and give hints here and there about the impact of such updates while other times, the updates are done without any form of admittance or detail on the implication of such update from Google.

What is most important is whether the updates have noticeable impact on SERP.

The main question now is that, was there an update on Monday or Tuesday, June 19th or 20th?

The drift is nobody is sure what happened. We all know Google can be pretty secretive about their updates but most of the automated tracking tools;(Mozcast, Accutracker, SERPMetriccs, Rank Ranger, SEM Rush) except for Algoroo revealed that the algorithm may have been tweaked on either of the two days. They showed massive spikes and activity but not many people seem to catch up to it.

Updates with impact cause a lot of chatter that may have resulted in a lot of satisfaction or dissatisfaction among the SEO community but the expected activity that is supposed to be the immediate result of such massive update is missing. No one is screaming foul or livid about penalties.

The SEO community always give an insight into the impact of huge updates.

Barry Schwartz gives an insight into what may have happened but even that isn’t conclusive.

Below is a screenshots of the Mozcast tracking tool showing huge changes in search engine results observed

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As earlier stated, these should stir conversations but nothing has been observed from the white and black hat SEO forums or Google Forums.

It is quite irregular not to have the regular noise that would have preceded or accompanied the kind of activity noticed on the automated tracking tools.

It is somewhat uncertain the kind of impact this update has and if it is an update or a change in Google’s user interface. it is certainly not related to the Google Owl as believed by some.

Did you notice the change? How has it affected you?

Google Doodle Marked ‘Grand Finale’ of Cassini Spacecraft Journey

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On Wednesday, April 26, Google’s homepage featured an animated doodle showing the Cassini spacecraft personified as a jolly triangular photographer taking pictures of a passing smiling Saturn, paparazzi-style. Designed by Nate Swinehart, the fun doodle was to put up to mark the beginning of the ‘Grand Finale’ of the spacecraft’s journey of two decades. On Wednesday, the Cassini started taking photos and measurements between Saturn and its rings, making the first of a series of orbits to help scientists gain more insight on the nature and origin of the planet’s rings.

A mission of exciting discovery

The landmark Saturn mission is a NASA project with backing from the Italian space agency (ASI) and the European Space Agency (ESP). The Cassini’s 2.2 billion mile journey began 20 years ago from Cape Canaveral in the United States in 1997, when the spacecraft left Earth on its way to our solar system’s second largest planet. The spacecraft reached Saturn 7 years later in 2014, when it began exploring around the planet and its satellites.

Over the years, numerous remarkable discoveries have been made and astonishing photos have been compiled into a stunning collection, including a picture of our tiny planet taken through Saturn’s rings. Early in April, when Cassini was exploring one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, it discovered the presence of molecular hydrogen, suggesting that the planet could support extraterrestrial life.

A glorious tragedy

Running out of rocket fuel, the Cassini spacecraft will plunge to its death on the 15th of September, 2017, ending its historic journey. NASA has to destroy the craft to avoid letting debris and microbes from Earth contaminate Saturn’s moons (Enceladus and Titan), cause disruption to whatever may exist there, or prevent us from finding out about the possible existence of extraterrestrial life. When the spacecraft dives into Saturn’s atmosphere, it will have many of its instruments on to ensure it keeps transmitting to Earth until the moment it burns up and gets destroyed. Before its final moment, Cassini will tell us what the planet’s atmosphere is comprised of.

Once it embarked on the first of 22 orbits around Saturn, the Cassini began a journey of no return as its path is not determined by thrusters anymore, but largely by the effects of gravity. No matter what the scientists at NASA do, the spacecraft will inevitably end up in Saturn’s atmosphere on said date.

It will be sad to see the Cassini go after seeing two decades of the phenomenal service it has rendered to science, expanding our knowledge and deepening our understanding of Saturn and its satellites. Nonetheless, it is a glorious ending to an astonishing journey of discovery.

How to Optimise for Local SEO UK: A Guide for SMBs

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To take advantage of the ever expanding trend of ecommerce, most small businesses now have an online presence – mostly through their websites.

While having a website is a good first step in positioning your business to reach a global audience and thus more customers, it is not the only step. You still have to let people know about the existence of your website. One reliable and highly recommended way to get your website more publicity is by optimising its SEO. This means optimising your website to be better found on search engine results, in order to increase its organic traffic.

To optimise your SMB’s website for local SEO UK, simply execute these following tips;

  1. Optimising your website’s content.

You can accomplish this by inserting into your website’s content keywords or phrases that most local consumer of your products or services search for online. You can discover what these keywords are by using tools such as Google Trends.

Another effective way to optimise your site’s SEO via content is to mention something unique about the locality you are serving within your content. For example, if you are an architect serving London clients, your site can talk about some of London’s architectural landmarks. Search engines will rank site’s that do this higher than their local competitors that don’t. Also be sure to insert your city/region alongside a relevant keyword into your landing page title tag, H1 tag, URL, and image alt attributes.

  1. Organise your website effectively.

This can be accomplished by having each headline and title tag on each page contain a keyword or phrase that will immediately intimate search engines and site visitors alike about what your site has to offer. You can also embed a Google map showing your business’ location into your landing page

For better results, you can also have your most important content featured on your homepage with a link leading to that content’s own page. That is, make sure your bestselling services and products stand out on your site. Said content should also have links referring to them from within the content of other pages.

  1. Improve user experience

This is another useful way to improve your site’s local SEO UK as well as the engagement of your visitors. You can accomplish this by making your site more mobile friendly, especially since most online activity now occurs via mobile devices. Also ensure your site has good loading speeds that will motivate your visitors to keep searching through your site.

Further measures you can take to improve user experience include; having your business’ contact information at the top and bottom of each page, as well as placing headlines over each page to assure visitors they’ve come to the right place.

Lastly, local SEO UK can be improved on by ensuring the website’s design is one that facilitates movement across the site by crawling bots and customers alike.

With these simple steps, your SMB’s website’s local SEO UK will be greatly improved.

Bing Relaxes Policy Restricting Use of Trademarks as Keywords

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On March 27, 2017, Bing’s update to their policy on using trademarks as keywords went live. This means advertisers and marketers are now free to use trademarks in their ads, with a number of restrictions of course. The new changes applied to 10 countries. These countries are Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, France, Italy, UK, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore.

In Bing’s official announcement made by their Program Manager of Search Demand Policy, Melissa Alsoszatai-Petheo, the company made it clear that they would continue to disallow the use of trademarks in ad copy. They mentioned that fair use of a trademark in ad copy will continue to be allowed specifically for:

  • Informational websites such as product reviews.
  • Resellers of an authentic good or service.
  • Ordinary dictionary use of a term.
  • Comparative advertising, but onlywhen supported by independent research.

One of the factors the company seems to have considered before making the change is it will make it easier for advertisers to transfer their campaigns between the major search engines without having to optimise as much. The benefits are not restricted to the advertisers as the company expects that consumers will have a better experience. According to the official announcement, Bing had found that consumers often search for trademarked terms expecting to receive broader results.

Bing has always been stern with piracy, phishing, scams, scareware, misleading content, and other unethical practices. For instance, in 2016, their ad quality review reported that 130 million ads were rejected with 175,000 advertisers blocked. This is nowhere near Google’s 1.7 billion bad ads blocked in the same year but the company does its part. Bing’s decision to update their policy restricting the use of trademarks in keywords could place them on a level playing field with Google’s AdWords. However, Google is certainly way ahead of them, having allowed trademarks in keywords since 2014.

On the advantages of Bing’s update, Paul Smith of Search Creative points out that:

  • Advertisers will be able to optimise search engine results to their advantage by leveraging on trademarks that do not belong to them.
  • Enforcement of trademarks will become more consistent globally.
  • Advertisers will be able to transfer campaigns between search engines without having to tweak optimisation as much.
  • Consumers will benefit as they would begin to get a wider range of results, presenting them with more choices and improving the overall search experience.

Smith insists that while more advertising campaigns may be annoying, making searches broader can only yield better results. He advises that brand owners be aware of the development and consider focusing their efforts on retaining a strong online presence, especially through multiple search engines.

Google is Making AdWords Smarter with Exact Match Keywords


The days of having to enter loads of exact match keywords are soon coming to an end. Over the next few months, Google will effect a series of changes to the way AdWords processes keywords.

What happens now is if you sell children’s clothes, you’ll likely include “children’s clothes” in your list of keywords. For a potential customer to find you, they would have to type “children’s clothes”. If you want to ensure more people find you, you’ll add different variations such as “clothes for children”, “kids’ clothes”, and so on. Of course, this can get tiring and on many occasions, you may be unable to target all the possible keywords.

Because Google understands that this can be a difficult matter for advertisers, they’ve decided to expand close variant matching to help advertisers reach more of their customers. These are the changes they’re making:

Ignoring function words

Google is going to start ignoring function words as long as they don’t change the meaning of the keyword. Function words are prepositions such as “to”, conjunctions such as “but”, articles such as “an”, and other words that don’t alter the intention behind the user’s search. For example, the “in” in “restaurants in Vancouver” can be ignored because it doesn’t change the meaning. However, the “from” in “flights from Vancouver” doesn’t have the same meaning as “flights to Vancouver”.

Words can appear in any order

An exact match keyword will be matched with different queries even if the words are reordered. The only condition is the meaning must remain the same and retain the intent behind the user’s search. Using the same examples above, “restaurants Vancouver” is the same as “Vancouver restaurants”. However, “Vancouver to Toronto” is certainly not the same as “Toronto to Vancouver”.

These changes are to be effected over the next few months starting with English and Spanish, with other languages following through the rest of the year. Google expects to see up to 3% more exact match clicks.

What do advertisers think?

On day 2 of Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West, Mindstream Media’s Stephanie Cheek shared her thoughts on Google’s AdWords update. She explained that advertisers would have to retrain themselves to use and think of exact match keywords differently. Mindstream Media’s report from the panel discussion states that many advertisers were uncomfortable with giving up the level of control they have with exact match.

Scotty D on Google’s advertiser community believes the update is certainly a step in the right direction. He points out that 20% of searches in the US are now by voice, making it harder to pinpoint all query variations that may capture a user’s intent.

Location Extensions for your local business’ Google Display Ads. What good are they?

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Location extensions are a Google AdWords feature that allows for the adding of location data concerning a business into an ad. But why are these extensions important? And how can you use them to your advantage?

Location extensions assist people in discovering the location of a sought after local business with the aid of Google Maps and Google.com. Doesn’t matter what the business offers. As long as it’s listed and it has a physical location, Google will help you find it.

With the help of Google Display Network ads, a store’s photos, working hours, and location are automatically uploaded for the benefit of shoppers who are interested in what said business has to offer. A good example would be of an individual interested in limited edition sneakers browsing online and coming across local information of a little known store selling limited edition, one of a kind Nikes. This would mean thanks to local extensions, our friend with the sneaker fetish can visit this neighbourhood store he’s never heard of and maybe find something interesting.

To help users along, Google has started automatically adding location extensions to Google Display Network ads that are eligible when a user expresses interest in a certain kind of business and is in the locality of said business.

As a business owner, what you can profit from using Google AdWords location extensions is quite extensive. Such as, but not limited to;

  1. Acquiring extra ad space for communicating your business’ value: With local extensions, you’re no longer limited to only traditional costly methods of advertising or social media. Now you can reach potential customers who are in the actual vicinity of your business and are looking for your specific services
  2. Encouraging potential customers to walk through your store’s front door: Potential customers who would have never known of your business’s existence now have a higher likelihood of visiting you. This is thanks to location extension’s targeted approach.
  3. It also improves your Click through Rate by up to 10%, which in turn improves your Quality Score and reduces your advertising costs.
  4. With location extensions, customers have more ways to interact with your ad instead of just viewing it. The can click on the ad’s headline, or hit a “click-to-call” button, or better yet, get directions to your business’s location. This added functionality comes at no extra cost to your business because you’ll still be charged the same Cost Per Click regardless if the user chooses to visityour website or your local store, or call.

With this information you can now decide if location extensions are worth it to your business and how to go about benefiting from them. Up your business’ publicity by making the best out of this added feature from Google.