Marketers should follow 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 that Google has made recently. 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 advised brands to review AdWords now, as the search engine results page (SERP) has changed drastically over the past two years.
First, the SERP had two columns, one of which was dedicated to AdWords ads, but now it’s a single column designed to appear the same on mobile and desktop.
While this change may 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 and three more at the bottom.
As the potential ad space on the first SERP has been reduced from 11 to 7, keyword and bid optimization has never been more important.
Another major change to the SERP is that AdWords ad text has been significantly expanded. Previously, advertisers were limited to one title, one sub-header, and one link.
Now advertisers have a lot more space to draw attention to their brand, internal sitelinks, and even reviews.
Marketers are encouraged to review their current AdWords ads and learn about extensions on Google’s support site.
Keyword bidding strategies have also seen a number of upgrades over the years. Although advertisers can still bid on individual campaigns, ad sets, and keywords, Google has added several strategies that will make your life easier. These include:
- Search page target location – to help you stay at the 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 rate – to help your ads stay ahead of a specific competitor
- Maximize clicks – to drive 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 about each of these strategies on Google’s 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 will do your bidding for you!”
2) Organic search engine optimization is also changing
An entire industry has grown up around optimizing content and page markup for Google, commonly referred to 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 the content of a web page and stores it in an indexed database. . The theory behind SEO is that the easier you make it easy for Google to read, store, and recall your site’s information, the better your page is optimized for a top position on the SERP.
Now, however, Google is moving from an “information engine” to a “knowledge engine”. Instead of displaying search results solely based on keywords, Google now aims to understand each user’s intent and provide the best possible response on the landing page.
This change is quite noticeable when searching for a well-indexed topic like a movie, company, or country. While Google still delivers results based on the keyword, the SERP also displays “knowledge” (like Google searches semantically, finding the data it thinks the user wants to see).
Here we can see that a search for “Laos” not only provides a normal SERP (on the left), but there is also a “knowledge panel” on the right containing commonly searched details on the topic.
This means marketers need to re-examine their keyword strategy and make sure they’re not trying to optimize for short keyword terms that are already well supported by Google.
Additionally, for retail brands, Google may offer locally relevant business information in the Knowledge Panel. Although Google says it’s not possible for marketers to edit this panel directly, best practice is to keep all information on the brand’s website up to date so that the brand’s site remains current. central brand information authority.
3) Google is going mobile in a big way (again)
On April 21, 2015, Google updated its algorithm to rank web pages that looked good on mobile higher than those that were optimized for desktop. Colloquially known as “mobilegeddon,” this update resulted in a 21% decrease in non-mobile-friendly pages on the top three pages of search results, according to BrightEdge.
However, as Google said at the time, “mobilegeddon” was just the beginning.
Recently, Google announced that it would split its page index into two indexes, one for mobile-optimized pages and another for those that are not.
Participants were also advised that the non-mobile-optimized index will not be updated as often as the mobile-optimized index. This means brands that aren’t optimized for mobile may not have the most up-to-date information in Google and may not even show up in a mobile search.
Delegates whose brands have not yet optimized all of their web properties for mobile viewing have been urged to do so now.
4) RankBrain is a new and 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 to users. Called “RankBrain”, it has been widely misunderstood by many marketers as just another SEO ranking factor that they will need to optimize their website for.
According to Google’s Gary Illyes, 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 ensure brand websites don’t fall in the rankings, Eu Gene suggested that marketers should ensure content is:
- Costs – so that Internet users are likely to see recently relevant information
- Engaging – because RankBrain will assess whether previous searchers were satisfied with the results
- Deep – so that RankBrain can better assess the relevance of the page for a searcher
Although this seems like a hard list to follow, Google has always advised that web content “provide high-quality content” through a “helpful 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 friendly site that has been recommended for many years.
A word of thanks
Econsultancy would like to thank Eu Gene Ang, Lead 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 Singapore Econsultancy events!