Your search marketing round-up for March 2016

The search marketing industry moves at a fast pace and the past few weeks have been no exception.

In this round-up we look at the top industry changes that you need to watch out for; and provide some insight into what they might mean for you and your business.

This round-up includes:

Google removes paid advertising from the right side panel

A Google screenshot showing where Google paid ads have been removed in Feb 2016Last week, Google announced an important update to desktop search results. Barring two exceptions, Google will no longer display ads on the right hand side of search results. Traditionally paid advertising (sponsored ads) could be seen at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) and along the right hand side panel. The past few days have been filled with expert search marketing opinion debating the change and the impact of this update. Whilst the main focus has been on paid advertising (PPC) many have ignored what this will mean to organic search marketing (SEO).

It would be easy to see this as a negative. Yes, paid ads are now taking up more of the main body of the search results (from three sponsored adverts to four) and yes, because of the growth of mobile search, the further organic adverts get demoted from the top of the screen, the less likely people are to click on them. But neither of these things diminishes the opportunity search provides to businesses.

This update might change the way traditional search results appear, but as has always been the case, the rewards will go to those who work hard and who work smart. There are more and more ways of being found in search (local results, contextual results etc). The opportunity is in applying a thorough SEO strategy that diversifies and increases your visibility to place you in front of the right people at the right time. If you rely on a particular search result served in a particular way, you may run into trouble. So don’t do that.

And yes, the opportunity is found in being effective and efficient. If you want the results that can come from having increased visibility, you need a strategy that involves direction, pace, thoroughness and depth. And that can only come from a mix of people and intelligent automation.

Google launch AMPs

What are AMPs? Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are a way to provide an alternative version of a website’s pages content so they display quicker on mobile devices. The speed savings are mainly delivered through the removal of content types other than static text (including images and video). In reality an AMP page is what you are left with after you strip everything else from the page, including adverts, interactive content and more.

For media outlets, news sites and businesses that provide a lot of publisher content it is now feasible to deliver a more effective user journey and quicker access to written content.

As the AMP functionality features prominently in the search results (above the remainder of the standard organic listings), if you are a publisher and you’re not leveraging the potential value of AMPs, you will start to miss out on visibility and traffic.

As you may have noticed, Google love a bit of testing. One of the elements they have been looking at lately is ad extensions –

Serptests (an industry blog) spotted that Google have been experimenting with bullet points in between sitelinks instead of the usual hyphen. These tests are always interesting to see of these tests, as these changes can help increase click-through rates of campaigns. As a recognised Google partner, we typically have beta access to new tools and tactics and will make sure that your campaigns see the benefit.

How much does SEO cost?

Digital performance charts showing results in SEO

We get asked this question a lot, so we decided to create a guide to help you through the decision making process. For many businesses buying SEO services, especially for the first time, can feel like a daunting process, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

From thoroughness of delivery through to matching investment levels with result expectations, we give you everything you need to make the right search marketing choices for you.

Read your full guide to buying SEO.

60% of businesses want to invest more in digital in 2016

Fujitsu chart showing that 60 percent of business plan to spend more on digital in 2016

According to the latest ‘Digital Inside Out’ report by Fujitsu over 60 percent of companies asked, stated that they need to spend more of their marketing budgets on digital technology and associated services in 2016. Regardless of your industry, it is likely that some of your main online competition will be increasing online marketing spend – should you be doing the same?

Whilst extra spend is not always a guarantee of increased returns, the threat posed by external intention to invest should be a trigger for re-evaluating budgets and certainly an opportunity to re-prioritise digital communication channels this year.

Facebook Canvas

Facebook launched a new ad product that they describe as A Full-Screen Ad Experience Built for Bringing Brands and Products to Life on Mobile. With Canvas, when a user clicks on a promotion for example, they will be presented with a kind of landing page that will be fully interactive and can include full screen images, 360◦ product views and high quality videos together.

This new product sounds very exciting and offers businesses a chance to advertise in new ways and really engage their audience without them ever having to leave Facebook. We will be running some test campaigns and then let you know how we get on.

<h2id=”reactions”>Facebook reactions

Facebook recently released additional emotions or ‘reactions’ for people to use when engaging with ads/ posts on Facebook.

We are already starting to notice a number of Love, Angry and Sad faces appearing under posts – and from a PPC point of view it will be very interesting to see if there will be additional targeting around these reactions or they end up contributing to the ad relevance score.

A fond farewell to Amit Singhal

Amit Singhal Google Plus - Former Vice President of Google

I love Google. It is a company that believes in doing the right thing, a company that believes in doing good in the world, a company… that cares. I look back at my time here with a profound sense of gratitude that I was a part of building this.

If the name sounds familiar to you, there is a very good reason for this. Amit Singhal has been the senior vice president at Google Inc., and the head of the core ranking team.

After a Google career spanning 15 years, in Feb 2016 he announced his decision to move on from Google onto pastures new.

For your business, this is unlikely to have any immediate direct impact, as the Google team far exceeds the influence of a single person however, when a leader leaves a role, there will be some change of course, and that is going to show in the shaping of rankings over the months to follow.

Any questions?

If you would like to chat about what any of these search industry updates mean for your business contact us and chat to our experts.

Lee Wilson profile picture
Lee Wilson

Lee has been working in the online arena, leading digital departments since the early 2000s, and oversees all our delivery services at Vertical Leap, having joined back in 2010. Lee joined our company Operations Team in May 2019. Before working at Vertical Leap, Lee completed a degree in Business Management & Communications at Winchester University, headed up the online development and direct marketing department for an international financial services company for ~7 years, and set up/run a limited company providing website design, development and digital marketing solutions. Lee had his first solely authored industry book (Tactical SEO) published in 2016, with 2 further industry books being published in 2019, and can be seen regularly expert contributing to industry websites including State of Digital, Search Engine Journal, The Drum, plus many others. Lee has a passion for management in the digital industry and loves to see the progression of others through personal learning, training and development. Outside the office he looks to help others while challenging himself, having skydived, bungie jumped and abseiled (despite a fear of heights) with many more fundraising and voluntary events completed and on the horizon. As a husband and dad, Lee loves to spend time with his family and friends. His hobbies include exercising, trying new experiences, eating out, playing countless team sports, as well as watching films (Gangster movies in particular – “forget about it”).

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