First Thing Monday 29 Sep 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. Google goes to war with Private Blog Networks
  2. Facebook to increase tracking ability – website owners wary
  3. NZ not on the country list that can access Local Inventory Ads…yet
  4. Google Analytics reveals top 3 issues
  5. Google unleashes a new Panda penalty update
  6. Why Alibaba is worth more than Amazon

1.Google goes to war with Private Blog Networks

PBN Laughing

There have been reports online which indicate that Google is taking massive manual action against private blog networks.

On September 18th Google notified many webmasters that manual action had been taken against them via Google Webmaster Tools.

The reason for the penalties and loss of rankings was “thin content” spam.

What is a Private Blog Network?

A private blog network (PBN) is a group of blogs or websites that are usually owned by one publisher. They link between each other with the hope or goal of increasing the rank of a specific website.

PBN’s are not actually private; in that they can be found. They get their name from the fact that they haven’t been designed to be visited by the people and provide quality content; they have been created with the sole purpose to “game the system”.

Why should you care?

Google continues to get better at finding websites that are trying to “beat” their algorithm.

There are no short cuts to good rankings and if you do use techniques such as a PBN’s then you may see results at first.

These results however will be short lived but the negative implications of being caught could be long lasting.

It’s important that you’re vigilant when hiring an SEO company or consultant. If they state on their page that they have an “undetectable” private blog network that allows them to beat Google and get you to the top of the rankings – avoid them.

2. Facebook to increase tracking ability – website owners wary

Facebook is getting ready to release a new tool next week. The tool will give advertisers the ability to track users across all devices.

The Wall Street Journal has indicated that the reason for this is that brand advertisers are moving money away from Facebook pages and developing micro sites.

The new product will be called “Atlas” and will give markers the ability to target users on Facebook and across the web.  The product will have a automated ad-buying tool called a “bidder”.

The “bidder” will help marketers buy targeted advertising space that will be offered by Facebook.

Facebook has stated that the biggest impact that this product will have will be in mobile.

An anonymous source at Facebook stated –

“The biggest impact of this will be in mobile. People spend more time on mobile than on desktop, but marketers don’t spend there because cookies don’t work. This could finally enable us to spend more money in mobile.”

While Facebook is about to release this new product – some web traffic experts are saying there is less data flowing to Facebook from some online retailers and publishers. This indicates that some websites have been coded to withhold information.

The reason for this push back is that the massive quantities of data that Facebook is collecting will make it too competitive.  For example, why spend money advertising on Sports Illustrated when you can choose targeted Facebook adverts to sports fans at a lower cost?

What’s in it for Sports Illustrated giving Facebook so much data?

Why should you care?

Facebook currently has over 1.3 billion users. Being able to specifically target their users not only while they are on Facebook but across all devices as well is massive.

Mobile usage continues to grow and will overtake desktop searches.

This new “Atlas” tool will make it easier to advertise on mobile. This is where your customers are likely to be and it could make mobile advertising a more lucrative marketing channel for your than it currently is.

However, the reason that this is such a powerful marketing tool is because the amount of data Facebook is collecting from your website and Facebook page.

Where do you stand on the issue?

3. NZ not on the country list that can access Local Inventory Ads…yet

Are you one of the 83% of shoppers who would be more inclined to visit a local store if you could check the availability of a specific product online beforehand?

Chances are you are.

That’s why in late 2013 Google released  “Local Inventory Adverts“.

Local Inventory Adverts are designed so that when someone searches for a product and sees a product listing advert, if they click on it they will be taken to the local storefront. From here they can have a look through that stores inventory. If the item is in stock they will be more likely to visit the store in person.

These adverts were only available in the USA but have been expanded to include the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia.

Why should you care?

Local Inventory Adverts are still not available in New Zealand. But, being that they are available in Australia it’s only a matter of time.

You may not be able to use them at the moment but you want to make sure that your website is set up so that it can implement them straight away when they become available.

Talk to SureFire today about setting this up and when it becomes available you will be able to take advantage of it.

4. Google Analytics reveals top 3 errors

Google Analytics has revealed the three most common errors that occur within the platform and has given some ideas about how to rectify them. (Follow the link for specific information about how to fix them or talk to SureFire.)

The three errors are:

  • Bad Default URL
  • Clicks / Session Discrepancies
  • No Goal Conversions

Bad Default URL: This can occur when the tracking code is missing or not correct. It can also happen because of a simple typo within the URL that was entered.

Clicks / Session Discrepancies:  This can occur when the number of sessions you see in Analytics doesn’t match the number of clicks in AdWords. This can slow down meaningful analysis.

No Goal Conversions: The most common reason for this error is when a goal is based on a URL that changes.

If you see any of these and are unsure what to do please contact SureFire.

Why should you care?

Good data is very important. In fact studies have shown that inaccurate data has a direct impact on the bottom line of around 88% of companies.

The study also revealed that a company on average loses around 12% of their revenue due to bad data.

Google Analytics is a very powerful tool. It can provide you data about your business which will allow you to improve your businesses online conversions.

Google Analytics is not something that you can simply set and forget. It needs to be monitored and updated regulary to change with your changing business goals.

You have invested in a website; why not use Analytics to get the most out of it?

Speak to SureFire about how we can help if you don’t like the sound of losing 12% of your revenue.

5. Google unleashes a new Panda

Late last week Google announced that the latest version of Panda was released and will continue rolling out this week.

Panda is a filter designed to penalise “thin” or poor content from ranking well.

According to Google, the latest version is supposed to be more precise and will allow more high-quality small and medium-sized sites to rank better. Apparently 3%-to-5% of search queries will be affected, depending on location. That’s up to 1 in 20, so not insignificant.

Why should you care?

New hope for some & pain for others.

Provided you’re not into churning out crappy web pages thin on content, then chances are you’ll be fine.

If you got hit by last Panda update & have since cleaned up your site, you’ll know by the end of this week if those changes were good enough and you’ve earned an Escape from Jail card. If you have, you’ll see an increase in traffic.

The rollout also means that new sites not previously hit by Panda might get nailed. If you’ve had a sudden traffic drop from Google last week or get one this this week, then this latest Panda Update is likely to blame.

Irrespective – it will be prudent keep an eye on your Google traffic this week.

6. Why Alibaba is worth more than Amazon

Yes you read that right. Amazon the billion dollar empire is worth less, according to some commentators, than Alibaba.

What’s Alibaba?

It’s basically China’s version of Ebay and Amazon and on Tuesday investors valued Alibaba at $215 billion dollars.

$215 billion dollars.

That’s more than Amazon and Ebay combined.

Why has it been given such a high value?

1) It makes a lot of profit.

Alibaba Profit Graph

2) It’s growing extremely fast.

Alibaba Growth Graph

3) There are more online shoppers in China than the US (with more potential for growth.)

Alibaba Online Shoppers Graph

Why should you care?

You need to be aware of what’s going on in the world market around eCommerce if you’re a business that operates online. Alibaba is a powerhouse and it’s only going to get bigger.

Alibaba will give everyone in the world easier access to China’s manufacturers and population – including you.

In fact a recent New Zealand Herald article drew attention to a partnership between the NZ Post and Alibaba stated the following”

“Alibaba’s sites could provide a bridge for New Zealand companies into the difficult-to-navigate Chinese market space, while minimising the risks.

 There are so many exciting opportunities for New Zealand businesses in this space. Tmall and the Alibaba sites provide a platform to sell your products through but they also give you data on who you’re selling to and where your customers are, so you can better target your sales. The companies we represent have been really excited so far with the sales from the site.”

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

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About the Author SureFire

These search marketing news updates feature articles of interest picked up through the week by the SureFire team.

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