No Noise Friday 27 June ’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. Profile photos are being removed from Authorship in Search Results
  2. How much influence does social media have on purchases? Little according to American Study
  3. Is Google stealing even more website traffic?
  4. Facebook adverts to get bigger
  5. Do no evil apparently means pay no tax to Google
  6. Now you can apply AdWords conversion settings to goals imported from Google Analytics
  7. Keep an eye out for Google Stars

1.Profile photos are being removed from Authorship in Search Results

The profile picture and circle counts are being removed from Authorship.

Authorship is a form of mark up that previously added more information to the search results.

Search results containing Authorship markup will change from this:

Authorship Example 1

To this:

Authorship Example 2

Google has said that the new design is less cluttered, improves the mobile experience and doesn’t affect the CTR (click through rate).

Why should you care?

Google claims that it doesn’t affect CTR. However, a study done by Search Engine Journal shows differently.

The first image shows search results containing Authorship.

Heat Tracking for Search Results Example 1

The second image shows where people are looking and clicking.

Heat tracking for search results example 2

What this shows is that the authorship snippet (the ones with a picture) gets the most attention. Even more attention than the paid ads or top ranking organic results.

Even more than the paid ads…..  doesn’t seem a little odd that something that detracts from the paid ads is being removed?

Of course there could be a valid reason for the removal of the image from the Authorship markup such as cleaning up the mobile experience where the images did take up a fair bit of real estate.

If you were planning on implementing authorship markup on your website to increase CTR then you no longer need to worry.

2.How much influence does social media have on purchases? Little according to American Study

According to a recent study done by Gallup, Americans say that social media has very little sway on the purchases that they make.

Companies in the US spent a combined $5.1 billion on social campaigns in 2013 on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

However, they may not be getting the return on investment that they were hoping for.

Gallup Study Example 1

As the results show only 5% of the participants said that social media had “a great deal of influence” on purchases while a resounding 62% said that social media had “no influence at all”.

Why should you care?

Spend on social media campaigns is climbing in New Zealand and while this is an American study we can assume that the information provided would mirror results in New Zealand.

SureFire still believes that social media still has a role to play through engaging, boosting your customer base and promoting your content.

However, simply promoting your products and services on social media is unlikely to lead to direct sales.

 3.Is Google stealing even more website traffic?

This video shows Matt Cutts (head of Google Spam) getting interviewed at SMX Advanced 2014. The video is around an hour long but the important part starts at around the 47th minute.


What the video shows is Matt using the Google Now App on his mobile phone to ask a series of questions that lead on from the last one about the “space needle.”

The questions he asks are:

  • Where is the space needle?
  • I want to see pictures.
  • Who built it?
  • How tall is it?
  • Show me some restaurants near there?
  • How about Italian?
  • Navigate to the first one.

The use of Google Now is impressive. The way that the search is conversational in tone and the fact that it remembers what he is talking about – without the need to continually mention “space needle”.

The real world implications are great. Imagine using it for the Sky Tower, finding a restaurant near it and getting directions to it – all without leaving Google.

Why should you care? 

All without leaving Google – that’s important.

Matt performed 7 searches and none of these searches generated any traffic for anyone but Google.

Google is not only indexing the content of your webpages but understanding and absorbing what’s there. They are then returning the information without the need for the searcher to visit your website.

Now, as a searcher this is great. As a website owner and content creator – not so much.

Matt’s in the video saying that he believes that this is the future of search.

4. Facebook adverts to get bigger

The adverts on the right in the side bar are about to get bigger.

The changes will look like this:

Facebook Increase Advert Size Example

The advert sizes have increased. Where there use to be seven adverts there will only be room for one or two.

Facebook’s tests have shown that this increase in size and therefore increased real estate resulted in more engagement and clicks.

Why should you care?

Last week we mentioned that Facebook adverts will become even more targeted to an individuals likes and tastes.

This development will mean that the adverts that are shown are larger and more eye catching.

These two factors combined should result in increased CTR and engagement for your company or brand.

5. Do no evil apparently means pay no tax to Google

Google’s company moto is “Do No Evil” but one could be forgiven for thinking another is “Pay No Tax.”

TVNZ is reporting that Google NZ paid $224,074 in tax for 2013. The company reported revenues of $10.13 million with employee expenses of $3.9 million.

Why should you care?

Its not the first time Google has been questioned about the amount of tax that they are paying. Facebook has been targeted before as well. They are both examples of a multi national and multi billion dollar companies that pay tiny amounts of tax.

Is Google doing anything illegal?

The answer is no. However, it does seem a little odd that a company with revenues of around $10.13 million is paying less tax than many small to medium size companies in New Zealand.

What do you think about the amount of tax Google NZ is paying? Does it seem fair?

6. Now you can apply AdWords conversion settings to goals imported from Google Analytics

Importing goals into Google Adwords from Google Analytics just became even more useful.  The reason for this is because you can now tailor them to your paid search objectives.

Customised conversion window, flexible conversion counting and editable conversion values can all be applied to transactions and goals that are imported from Analytics.

What is Flexible Conversion Counting and Editable Conversion Values?

Flexible Conversion Counting: This gives advertisers the ability to count unique conversions only or every conversion action that occurs after there has been a click on an ad.

Editable Conversion Values: This means that paid search managers can set different values for goals and any transactions that are imported from Analytics that reflect the goals of their PPC campaigns without changing values in Analytics.

Why should you care?

This is all pretty technical. Chances are that its not that relevant to you unless you are in the trenches doing the PPC & Analytics work for your company.

However, it’s important to share this because it shows that Google is pushing to be a resource where there is little to no need for third party providers.

For example the above will allow bid management without the need for expensive third party bid management tools.

This could be seen as a positive for your company if you are using a third party bid management tool.

7. Keep an eye out for Google Stars

Google is about to release another social media product called Google Stars.

Google Stars…will let users save, share, and organize Web content – TNW

It’s important to note that this product was leaked so its full functionality is unknown. Some commentators are saying that it could replace Google +, some are saying that it will compete with Google+ and some are saying that it’s simply going to be a book marking tool similar to Evernote.

Why should you care?

It’s important to keep an eye on what products Google is releasing because they can help your business. For example the release of Google My Business we mentioned two weeks ago which makes it easier for potential customers to find your business.

It’s possible that Google Stars will disappear like Google Buzz which was meant to compete with Twitter.

Or it could replace Google + which will annoy a lot of people who have put in many years to build up a community on that platform.

SureFire will keep you update with any news around Google Stars that may affect your business.

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


Last week’s web marketing news

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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