The rate at which Google changes these days can be more than a little difficult to keep up with.
2017 has been a particular whirlwind of change for search engine marketing (SEM), so here are a few of the more major updates you should be taking note of.
1) Take A Close, Personal Look at Your AdWords Campaigns
Search engine marketing is not always core to a brand’s digital strategy and, as a result, AdWords campaigns can often be left unattended for lengthy periods.
Many industry experts have advised that brands should now revisit AdWords, as the search engine results page (SERP) has changed dramatically in the past couple of years.
The first big change is that the SERP used to have two columns, with one solely dedicated to AdWords ads, but it is now a single column designed to appear the same on mobile and desktop.
While it may seem somewhat inconsequential, it’s important for marketers to note that the old SERP had up to 11 ads at the top of the page, whereas the new 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, optimizing keywords and bids is more important than ever.
Another massive change to the SERP is the expansion of AdWords text ads. Previously advertisers were limited to 3 things: a headline, a sub-headline, and a link.
With the new text expansion, advertisers have a great deal more space to draw attention to their brand, as well as add internal sitelinks and personal reviews.
Marketers should take the time to double check their current AdWords ads and read up on the extensions at the Google support site.
Keyword bidding strategies have also undergone a large number of upgrades.
While advertisers can still bid on individual campaigns, ad sets, and keywords, Google has added multiple strategies which will make your life easier. These include:
- Maximize clicks – to drive the most traffic to your site.
- Target search page location – to help you stay at the top of the SERP.
- Target outranking share – to help your ads stay ahead of a specific competitor.
- Enhanced CPC (cost per click) – which adjusts your manual bids to help you get more conversions.
- Target CPA – in which you set a conversion goal (cost per acquisition) and ask AdWords to budget based on that conversion.
More detail on each of these strategies can be found at Google’s AdWords support site, but the main point here is that these many new bidding strategies allow marketers to spend lees time on manual bidding and let Google’s AI do some of the heavy lifting. But constant vigilance is still the key to success.
2) Organic SEO is Changing FAST
There’s now an entire, blooming industry around optimizing content and page markup for Google – colloquially known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
However, nearly all of SEO is based on the notion that Google is an ‘information engine,’ which simply reads web page content and indexes it in a database.
The theory behind general SEO practices is that the easier you make it for Google to read, store, and recall your site’s information, the more optimized your page is for a top position on the SERP.
However, there are now some important changes in the works.
Google has made the leap from an ‘information engine’ to a ‘knowledge engine’. Instead of showing search results based on keywords, Google now aims to understand each user’s intent and provide the best answer it can on the front page.
This change is quite noticeable when searching on a well-indexed topic, such as a movie, a company, or a country. While Google still offers results based on the keyword, the SERP also includes Google’s semantical searches, finding the data it believes the user wants to see.
A search for “Iceland” not only provides a normal SERP display, but now also a ‘Knowledge Panel’ containing commonly-sought details about the country.
What this means is that marketers must re-examine keyword strategy and ensure they are not trying to optimize for short keyword terms which Google is already catering to.
For retail brands, Google may also offer locally relevant business information in the Knowledge Panel. While Google indicates that it is not possible for marketers to change this panel directly, a best practice is to keep all information on the brand website up-to-date so that the site remains the central authority for any branded information.
3) Google is “Movin’ On Up” With Mobile
As we’ve talked about before, mobile has finally become the powerhouse that it was always predicted to be.
In April of 2015, Google updated its algorithm to rank web pages which were optimized for mobile higher than those which weren’t.
Coined by some ecommerce insiders as ‘Mobilegeddon’, this update resulted in a massive decrease in non mobile-friendly pages on the first three pages of search results.
But that was only the beginning of the mobile revolution.
Recently, Google announced it will be splitting its page index into two indices, one for pages which are optimized for mobile and another for those which are not.
Attendees were also warned that the index for non mobile-optimized will not be updated as often as the mobile-optimized index. This means that brands who are not optimized for mobile may not have the most up-to-date information in Google and may not even appear in a mobile search.
Brands that have not yet optimized all of their web properties for mobile viewing absolutely need to begin that process now.
While all these changes can get a little overwhelming, keeping careful track of SEM updates and a lock on your best marketing strategies is paramount for any and all retailers.
If you’re interested in learning more about SEM and Google marketing strategy, ROI Revolution can help! Get a complimentary, 20-minute consult today and start down the path to complete market domination.