First Thing Monday 20 Oct 14

The latest news about web marketing, SEO, PPC & Analytics. But only the stuff that matters from a New Zealand perspective. Less noise, more signal!

As a switched on marketer you’ll know how important your website is to the success of your business. Being aware of what’s happening in the fast moving world of SEO, PPC Advertising & Web Analytics is essential. But things change so fast and staying abreast of this can be overwhelming. Most people simply don’t have the time to do so, despite knowing how important it can be to their business.

At SureFire we want to help you by sifting through all the noise and highlighting what’s new and noteworthy in SEO, PPC and Web Analytics. But more importantly, answer the question – Why this might matter to YOU and YOUR business here in New Zealand.

So grab a coffee and spend a few minutes checking out what caught our attention this week…

  1. Eric Schmidt – Google faces threats from everywhere
  2. Google Tag Manager now more accessible
  3. Webmaster Tools adds site move tool
  4. Facebook video defeats YouTube
  5. Google makes changes to mobile search ads

1.Eric Schmidt – Google faces threats from everywhere

Paranoid? Google? Put yourself in Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s shoes. At the time of writing, that would mean you are in Europe to speak about online privacy and the right to be forgotten.

Schmidt, who can be forgiven for thinking European policy makers are gunning for Google, spoke his mind when in Berlin. Addressing an audience of company founders, economists and scientists, he said that Google is not a monopoly but, rather, a good corporate citizen. And more: a citizen that faces competition from a wide variety of other internet players.

Schmidt’s key points:

  • Monopoly – Google isn’t the monopoly that people think it is with news sites getting 70% of their traffic directly, not from a Google search. And last year a third of people who were looking for a product started their search in Amazon, not Google. And that means, he said, that Amazon is Google’s biggest competitor in search.
  • A Good Citizen – Google employs over 1,100 people across 5 offices in Germany; 9,000 people work for Google throughout Europe and Google has invested four billion dollars in Europe over the last four years.
  • Antitrust – He addressed the issue of companies that say Google steals their traffic, saying instead that traffic has increased to many of these same companies.
  • Innovation is a response to frustration – Google struggled at answering queries such as “flights from Berlin to London” so they created flight search. And Google’s results keep getting better – search for weather in your area and you get an answer not a page full of hyperlinks.
  • Google killer – He argued that someone in a garage somewhere is building something that will do to Google what Google did to AOL: Kill it.

Why should you care?

Yes, monopolies stifle innovation. And Google is far and away the most popular search engine internationally. But a monopoly?

It’s very easy for consumers to start using another search engine – it’s not like moving house. The prospect that another search engine will become more popular than Google has to keep most everyone at Google awake at nights. After all, 90% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising, and most of that is from search ads.

That Schmidt cites Amazon as the company’s greatest search competitor should be no surprise. He referred to a recent Forrester report that found almost a third of people looking to buy something started on Amazon (over twice the number who started on Google).

More recently, Amazon has announced it will launch its own ad network: Amazon Sponsored Links. And we can expect ads on that network to be highly targeted.  “Google has data on what we search for, Facebook has data on what we like and share, but Amazon’s data may be the best of all for targeting ads”, VentureBeat’s Mark Sullivan wrote after the announcement. “It has data on what we browse and buy.”

More competition for Google and Facebook in the ad market? That’s a good thing, right?

2. Google Tag Manager now more accessible

If you’ve ever had to wait too long for your IT department or web development firm to update tracking code on your website, you are probably now using Google Tag Manager (GTM). Amongst other benefits, GTM and other tag managers allow for quick and easy deployment of website code changes, without the need for a developer.

Google has now announced significant improvements to Google Tag Manager including:

  • New APIs enabling greater customisation
  • A new intuitive interface to facilitate launching and editing of tags
  • More 3rd-party templates to make tagging even easier

Why should you care?

If you’re not already using GTM you should give it serious consideration, particularly if you frequently need to add or update website code or are using a lot of custom tracking on your site. While the API adds more flexibility for power users, Google’s trying to simplify tag management is of greater interest, particularly in adding templates to support third parties such as AdRoll, Marin & comScore.

3. Webmaster Tools adds site move tool

Google has been giving Google Webmaster Tools a lot of love recently, and we’ve been big fans of the new features and functionality that make it an essential website management tool. Now Google’s adding a new Site-Move tool to help website owners through the stressful process of moving their site from one domain to another.

Webmaster Tools Guide

The Site-Move tool includes a guide that walks you through part of the process and double-checks that you have the sites verified, that the redirects are in place and that redirects don’t break the verification.

Why should you care?

If something can go wrong it will, at least if you’re moving your website from one domain to another and you haven’t properly planned for it. And failing to manage the move correctly can have an extremely negative effect on your business, including loss of search rankings, loss of traffic and, ultimately, lost business.

This new guide and tool will help you through the process. There’s often a lot involved in moving website domains, though, and you should also consider seeking professional advice to ensure that everything goes smoothly. We’d rather hear from you before there’s a problem rather than afterwards, so if you need help please get in touch.

4. Facebook video defeats YouTube

Facebook video views – aided by Autoplay – have for the first time outnumbered YouTube video views, on desktop machines at least. That’s according to comScore’s Gian Fulgoni who said that in August Facebook delivered nearly one billion more views than YouTube did on desktop.

One Billion.

YouTube, though, is still the king on mobile devices.

Why should you care?

Autoplay is the key here. The videos play automatically on desktops, encouraging people to stop and view them.

If your business uses video for marketing you should be looking at putting your videos onto Facebook. And we’re here to help if you need advice or want to run advertising campaigns on Facebook.

5. Google makes changes to mobile search ads

Google recently announced changes to how AdWords text ads will be displayed on mobile devices.

The change in format – which could mean your ads are shown with sitelinks or other ad extensions replacing the second description line – could dramatically affect your campaign’s performance. The key is to make sure that the most important selling proposition is in the first line of ad text, and that this forms a complete sentence.

Here’s the before and after versions of a mobile ad where there are problems in removing the second line of text:

New AdWords Text Format

Why should you care?

On mobile phones, your ad could lose the second line of description text from time to time, and that may mean it no longer makes real sense. You’ll want to make sure that mobile ads for your company are updated where necessary; a process we have been conducting for our clients.

Google is still testing performance of the new format, which started appearing last week. If it performs well, it’s likely to stay.

OK, that’s what we think. We’re keen to hear your thoughts on any of the above – please comment below. 

Click here to read previous editions of “First Thing Monday” web marketing news.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer & Mark Sceats

Jeremy and Mark are two of the partners behind SureFire Search. Despite their deceptively youthful appearances, both have worked in search marketing for many years. To put that in context, Google didn't even exist when Jeremy started.