Google changes so often these days that many marketers have a hard time keeping up with it.
Just look at all the Google algorithm updates to give anyone a headache.
Marketers need to keep up with them though, even if search engine marketing is only a small part of their job.
At a recent Econsultancy event in Singapore, Digital Outlook 2017 Part 2, hosted by NTUC, delegates received an overview of several important changes recently made by Google. Here are four provided by search engine marketing expert Eu Gene Ang, Econsultancy’s lead trainer in Asia.
1) It’s time to review your AdWords campaigns
Search engine marketing is not always at the heart of a brand’s digital strategy, and as a result, AdWords campaigns can often be left unattended for long periods of time.
Eu Gene has advised brands to review AdWords now, as the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) has changed dramatically over the past two years.
First, the SERP previously had two columns, including one dedicated to AdWords ads, but now it’s a single column designed to appear the same on mobile and desktop.
While this change might seem somewhat trivial, one important thing for marketers to note is that the old SERP had up to 11 ads at the top of the page …
… And now the top of the SERP only has four ads with three more at the bottom.
As the potential ad space on the first SERP has been reduced from 11 to seven, keyword and bid optimization has never been more important.
Another major change to the SERP is that the text of the AdWords ad has been significantly expanded. Previously, advertisers were limited to one title, subheader, and link.
Now advertisers have a lot more space to draw attention to their brand, internal site links, and even reviews.
Marketers are encouraged to review their current AdWords ads and inquire about extensions at Google Support Site.
Keyword bidding strategies have also undergone a number of upgrades over the years. While advertisers can still bid on individual campaigns, ad sets, and keywords, Google has added several strategies that will make your life easier. These include:
- Target search page location – to help you stay on top of the SERP
- Target CPA – where you set a conversion goal (cost per acquisition) and ask AdWords to budget based on that conversion
- Target upgrade share – to help your ads stay ahead of a specific competitor
- Maximize clicks – to generate the most traffic to your site
- Improved CPC (cost per click) – which adjusts your manual bids to help you get more conversions
You can find more details on each of these strategies at Google AdWords Support Site, but in short, Eu Gene’s recommendation is that marketers should avoid spending a lot of time on manual bidding and “let Google’s AI do your bidding for you!” “
2) organic search engine optimization is also evolving
An entire industry has grown around content optimization and page markup for Google, commonly known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
However, as Eu Gene pointed out, almost all SEO is based on the idea that Google is an ‘information engine’ that simply reads content from a web page and stores it in a database. indexed. The theory behind SEO is that the easier you make it easy for Google to read, store, and recall your site information, the more your page is optimized for a top position on the SERP.
Today, however, Google is moving from an “information engine” to a “knowledge engine”. Instead of showing search results purely on the basis of keywords, Google now aims to understand each user’s intention and provide the best possible response on the homepage.
This change is quite noticeable when searching for a well indexed subject such as a movie, a company or a country. While Google always offers results based on the keyword, the SERP also displays “knowledge” (like Google searches semantically, finding data it thinks the user wants to see).
Here we can see that a search for “Laos” not only provides a normal SERP (left), but there is also a “Knowledge Panel” on the right containing commonly searched details on the topic.
This means marketers need to reconsider their keyword strategy and make sure they don’t try to optimize for short keyword terms that are already well supported by Google.
Additionally, for retail brands, Google may provide locally relevant business information in the Knowledge Panel. While Google indicates that it is not possible for marketers to modify this panel directly, the best practice is to keep all information on the brand website up to date so that the brand website remains the central authority for brand information.
3) Google goes mobile (again)
On April 21, 2015, Google updated its algorithm to rank webpages that appeared correctly on mobile higher than those that were optimized for the desktop. Known colloquially as “mobilegeddon,” this update resulted in a 21% decrease in non-mobile pages on the first three pages of search results, according to BrightEdge.
As Google said at the time, however, “mobilegeddon” was just the beginning.
Recently, Google announced that it will divide its page index into two indexes, one for pages optimized for mobile and another for those that are not.
Participants were also warned that the non-mobile optimized index will not update as often as the mobile optimized index. This means that brands that are not optimized for mobile may not have the most recent information on Google and may not even appear in a mobile search.
Delegates whose brands have not yet optimized all of their web properties for mobile viewing have been strongly advised to do so now.
4) RankBrain is a new misunderstood SEO ranking factor
Finally, Eu Gene told delegates about a new Google ranking factor that uses artificial intelligence to process search results and deliver more relevant results for users. Called “RankBrain”, it has been widely misunderstood by many marketers as another SEO ranking factor for which they will need to optimize their website.
According to Gary Illyes of Google, however, there is no RankBrain “score” and it is not possible to optimize a website for RankBrain.
Instead, RankBrain acts as an interpreter of both searcher intent and website content to find the best match for the user.
To make sure brand websites don’t fall into the rankings, Eu Gene suggested that marketers should ensure that the content is:
- Costs – so that researchers are likely to see recently relevant information
- Engaging – because RankBrain will assess whether previous researchers were satisfied with the results
- Deep – so that RankBrain can better assess the relevance of the page for a searcher
While this seems like a difficult list to follow, Google has always advised that web content should “deliver high quality content” via a “useful and information-rich site” with a page that “clearly and accurately describes your topic.” .
So, the best practice for RankBrain is to simply follow the same Steps to a Google Compatible Site which have been recommended for many years.
A word of thanks
Econsultancy would like to thank Eu Gene Ang, Senior Trainer, Asia, Econsultancy for his presentation as well as the delegates who took the time to attend despite their busy schedules.
We hope to see you all at future Econsultancy events in Singapore!