No Noise Friday 18 July’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!

If your business has anything to do with the online world you know how much information is out there. It’s overwhelming and constantly changing.  Finding out what’s relevant to your business amongst all the noise is time consuming and can result in information overload.

At SureFire Search 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.

Here’s what caught our attention this week…

  1. Google has upgraded Location Extensions
  2. Google Webmaster Tools has released a new robots.txt tester
  3. LinkedIn acquires Newsle – what it could mean for you
  4. Modern websites promoted for modern devices in Google
  5. Yelp is going to have some more competition from Google Maps
  6. Apparently the popular website image sliders kill conversions

1.Google has upgraded Location Extensions

There are many benefits to implementing Google Ad Extensions which include:

  • Seller Ratings
  • Social Annotations
  • Site Links
  • Review Extensions
  • Image Extensions
  • Location Extensions

Location extensions are designed to to make it easier for potential customers to locate your business and therefore make a purchase. The location extension provides valuable information such as – address, directions to your store via Google Maps and your businesses phone number.

Mitre 10 Location Extension Example

Why should you care?

Google is pushing “Google My Business” and in the near future all location extensions on search ads will be pulled from  your businesses “Google My Business” page. This means that any manual location extensions that have been set up in AdWords will no longer work.

This highlights the importance of making sure that your businesses “Google My Business” page is filled out 100% correctly.

If you would like to know more about how Location Extensions could benefit your business or how to correctly set up your “Google My Business” page please contact SureFire.

2.Google Webmaster Tools has released a new robots.txt tester

Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) have made it easier to find out if Google is having a problem crawling a page on your website.

The ‘robots.txt tester’ that is located in GWT will allow you test whether an issue exists on your website that maybe blocking the Google bot from crawling it and therefore indexing it.

Why should you care?

Your website should have robot.txt files on its pages. This file basically tells the search engines what they should and shouldn’t index.

An incorrectly implemented robot.txt file can block the  Google bot or other search engines. This will lead to people (potential customers) are not being able to access the content on that page.

The robot.txt tester should go some way to solving that problem – provided you have linked your website to GWT.

It’s surprising how many businesses we come across that have not set up GWT and are unaware of the advantages it. If you need to know more information about why its vital your business uses GWT contact SureFire.

3. LinkedIn acquires Newsle what it could mean for you

LinkedIn has recently acquired Newsle. Newsle is similar to Google Alerts in that it alerts you when anyone in your network on LinkedIn or Facebook is mentioned anywhere across the web.

This is demonstrating that LinkedIn is trying to become even more of a player in the social media space. They are well and truly shaking the image that LinkedIn is where you go if you are looking for a job. It’s fast becoming the place to go for relevant information on your “business” connections and business news.

Why should you care? 

SureFire commented a while back about LinkedIn advertising is a less competitive pool when compared to FaceBook and should be something to consider. The acquirement of Newsle is just another reason to increase your presence on LinkedIn.

There are a couple of main reasons for this.

1) As of 2012 there were over 500,000 New Zealanders with accounts on LinkedIn – not a small number.

2) Keeps you up to date with “news” regarding your network. You can reach out to congratulate people or gain insight into what your network is up to online.

4. Modern websites promoted for modern devices in Google

If you have ever experienced this then you know how frustrating it can be – trying to visit a website when the website requires browser technology that isn’t supported by your device. When arriving on such a page you will usually see nothing except a blank screen or you will have a very poor experience.

Starting from 14 July in the US all English search results will show the user if the algorithm detects pages that will not work on the user’s device.

An example of this is Adobe Flash isn’t supported on iOS devices. This is what will be shown to a iOS user before they visit a page that is built in Flash.

Modern Website Example

Why should you care?

Google wants its users to have a good experience. Arriving on a page that doesn’t support the users device will negatively affect that users experience.

If you have a website which is built in Flash or another technology that browsers can’t read – it might be time to change to a website built in HTML5. HTML5 is universally supported and can be used to build mobile responsive websites.

The main thing to consider is that if a potential customer is shown “may not work on your (their) device” then it may negatively effect the click through rate to your business – harming your bottom line.

5. Yelp is going to have some more competition from Google Maps App

Google Maps has released some features for its app for the iPhone and iPad. These features will put it more directly in competition with Yelp.

The upgraded app includes features such as:

  • Search results will be returned with descriptions on the map
  • The ability to quickly and easily switch between map and list view of results
  • Reservations via Gmail
  • An improved experience using the explore function based on locations that are nearby

Google is making these changes so that app changes from being considered just a navigation tool – to a local search and nearby discovery tool.

Google Apps Upgrade Example

According to recent comScore data Google Maps is the 6th most used App in the US. These changes will only make the App more popular.

Why should you care?

As the Google Maps App improves and changes to a local discovery and search app it will become increasingly more important that your business can be found on Google Maps.  Google released “Google My Business” as a way of helping local businesses get found on maps and interact with their customers.

You can see from the above pictures that reviews of the businesses are also shown. These reviews are taken from the businesses Google My Business / Google Plus Page – so its equally important that you encourage patrons to leave reviews. (Reviews must be authentic – don’t try and game the system you will get caught).

Many local businesses don’t see the value in getting reviews on Google or have trouble asking. Think of it this way; when deciding on a new restaurant or local business to visit, who would you chose – a company with an average rating of 4.5/5 stars from 200 reviews or a company that has little or no reviews?

6. Apparently the popular website image sliders kill conversions

Rotating banners are used on many websites. Website designers love them because they allow the company to show multiple pieces of content prominently on the page. They seem like a good idea and are often a good way to keep competing departments happy.

But here’s the thing – your visitors likely won’t pay much, if any, attention to them.

According to Tim Ash, a highly regarded usability expert,  all that rotating banners will do is distract visitor from your most relevant content. In a recent article he cites a number of studies to support this view.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider doing away with the rotating banner:

  • The motion activates systems and pathways in the human brain that are inline with what early humans used to detect predators and prey.  This happens without conscious effort and is a distraction for the visitor.
  • The human brain has been designed to notice the onset of motion. We are wired to detect movement and can’t tune it out. This makes the continuous stop and start motion of the banners very distracting.
  • People are so used to being exposed to advertising online that we are starting to develop “banner blindness“. This is caused by people consciously trying to ignore anything that distracts them from their primary objective.  The motion of the slider attracts the subconscious mind but consciously the visitor is trying to ignore it.
  • Rotating banners decrease the readability of the content. It makes it hard for people to read the call to action you want them to take. It also makes it less likely they will be able to recall what they have read.

Why should you care?

One of the main purposes of your website is to get your visitor to take a specific action. This could be to buy a product, service or to complete another action such as download a brochure or book a consultation.

The rotating banner on your website may look great and be a clever use of valuable homepage real estate, but it could be distracting your visitors and potential customers from taking the action that is vital to the success of your business.

Something to think about and maybe test.

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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