Search marketing news and what it means for marketers – Jan 17

Happy new year to you all – we hope you had a great festive break. If it’s your first week back after quite a lengthy holiday, have a quick read of our search marketing round-up below so that you’re all set to go in 2017.

Upgrade to audience lists

Google announced that advertisers can now apply audience lists at the campaign level – previously, it was only possible at the ad group level. This is great news for advertisers, particularly those with lots of ad groups! Now, rather than applying an audience to every ad group, you can apply one at the campaign level.

Read more here

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…

Over the past month, a few interesting tests have been carried out by Google – below are the main things you need to know:*

Expanded Product Listing Ads

With Google removing the right-hand side ads earlier this year, there has been much speculation about how it would fill the white space. Well, one format that has appeared recently is nine product ads down the right-hand side – traditionally, we see six product ads in a carousel format at the top of the page.

Expanded product listing ads

Three Product Listing Ads

Another experiment Google has been running is showing three ads at the top of the page instead of the six product ads in a carousel format.

Three leatherman product listing ads

Leatherman tool product listing ads

Again, this new format makes the ads arguably more visible and easier to read on the page. Google Shopping is continuing to grow and with these potential new ad formats, it makes it more important than ever that your campaigns are optimised correctly.

Action: Make sure your product feed and shopping campaigns are correctly optimised.

Google Business Profile rating in Location Extensions

Finally, Google has started showing location extensions with ratings being pulled in from Google Business Profile. An example is below and as you can see, it really makes the advert stand out. This ties in nicely with the importance of getting real reviews and testimonials from customers, particularly on Google Business Profile, as it has the added benefit of improving your paid advert’s visibility.

Google my business rating in location extensions

Action: Make one of your objectives in 2017 to get more reviews from customers.

All about mobile

Earlier in December Gary Illyes (Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google) confirmed that 2017 is certainly going to be the year of mobile for Google.

mobile 2017

Over the past 12 months there’s been a lot happening in the world of Google with the digital realm rapidly waking up to the fact that in most cases, mobile browsing has overtaken desktop browsing. This has sparked changes to the way Google crawls and ranks websites, with its attention turning to ‘mobile first’ meaning that websites will be judged on their mobile version first rather than their desktop version.

If you have a responsive site then you’ll have a lot less of a challenge than those who have a separate mobile site altogether. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) was a big trend setter in 2016 and Google has recently grown this feature’s capabilities, including expanding into image search and improving error display in Google Search Console. These are all indications of a growing interest and focus on mobile – something all digital marketers and website owners alike should be paying attention to. Interestingly, Bing says that it’s not following in Google’s footsteps with a mobile first approach.

Action: If you’re not familiar with how people on mobile are interacting with your website, now is the time to find out.

HTTPS changes are coming

2017 is not only going to be another year on mobile but a year of improving the web’s security (according to Google anyway). In January 2017, an update to Chrome is going to mean that whenever a user navigates onto a page which requires data input by the user and isn’t HTTPS (encrypted), Google will display a warning explaining that the page isn’t secure. Although there is no direct impact on organic search, we’re confident this will have an indirect impact. As users see the warning their trust is going to decrease and they’re far more likely to bounce away, which in turn will impact organic visibility. We certainly recommend getting HTTPS in place for forms and similar content where users are required to enter information.

http pages chrome

Keep an ear to the ground regarding more HTTPS changes on the way from Google in the summer of 2017. Have it on your radar to move your site over to HTTPS but remember, it’s not as simple of ‘flipping a switch’. It will take some effort, but there are plenty of search implications in doing so.

Action: Aim to get your whole website over to HTTPS or at least get it in place for forms and similar content where users are required to enter information.

Local listings expanding

At the end of December 2016, Google announced an additional feature coming to Google Business Profile. This new feature added ‘amenities’ to the list of options for your store location which houses the feature ‘wheelchair accessible entrance’. This is now appearing in search and Google is asking visitors to a location to confirm that there is indeed a wheelchair accessible entrance. It seems that this feature is only appearing on mobile searches at the moment and not desktop.

Action: If you have wheelchair accessible entrances to your stores, include this in your listings. 

Local listings expanding

Need help with anything mentioned in this round-up?

We’re here as always to help you make the most of all these changes – just call us on 023 9283 0281 if you’d like to talk to one of our search marketing experts.

* Images sourced via
Dave Colgate profile picture
Dave Colgate

Dave is head of SEO at Vertical Leap. He joined in 2010 as an SEO specialist and prior to that worked with international companies delivering successful search marketing campaigns. Dave works with many of our largest customers spanning many household names and global brands such as P&O Cruises and Harvester. Outside of work, Dave previously spent many years providing charity work as a Sergeant under the Royal Air Force Reserves in the Air Cadets sharing his passion for aviation with young minds. He can often be found in the skies above the south coast enjoying his private pilot licence.

More articles by Dave
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