Google starts to index apps
by Gary Moyle
Google has rolled out its app indexing service in the US and it won’t be long before it reaches the UK marketplace as well.
App indexing allows webmasters to connect pages from their website to specific content within their Android app. This function will therefore enable Android smartphone users who have the appropriate app installed to access it immediately from relevant mobile search results on Google.
App Indexing definitely has a lot of potential especially in terms of allowing those publishers with Android apps to enhance their search snippets as well driving more engagement with app based content. It’s certainly something we recommend clients sign up for once it becomes available in the UK.
You can read more via Google’s announcement below:
The full technical details are available on the Google Developer Site:
Google Page Rank remains frozen: What is its future?
PageRank is used by Google to determine the importance of a web page. It’s considered to be one of several factors used to determine which pages appear in search results.
As we know, Google considers links to be like votes and also recognises that some votes are more important than others. As Danny Sullivan has already mentioned before, “PageRank is Google’s system of counting link votes and determining which pages are most important based on them. These scores are then used along with many other things to determine if a page will rank well in a search”.
In a recent video Matt Cutts implied that PageRank has started to lose some of its value. Moreover, in his keynote speech at PubCon in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, Cutts revealed the reason why PageRank hasn’t been updated since February and why possibly it may not be updated at all this year.
Internally it is known that PageRank is updated on a daily basis and every few months Google unleashes the PageRank data to the Google toolbar through a pipeline. We haven’t seen a PageRank update all these months because this PageRank pipeline has broken. This means that although the PageRank data internally continues to update as normal, webmasters and users cannot see the effects of these changes.
The reason for this change is that Google feels that too many people obsess over PageRank and it doesn’t see it as a primary issue that needs fixing. Also, the fact that PageRank has not been updated since early this year means that webmasters haven’t been relying on it as a solid SEO tool to reveal the value of a site. Overall, we see this as a positive development with some clear benefits. Online marketers will need to judge the true value of a website by using a combination of different qualitative elements and not by relying excessively on the value of a single metric.
It’s unlikely that we will see a further PageRank update in 2013 and Google isn’t working on a pipeline fix at the moment. It will therefore be interesting to see how PageRank will be shaped in the next year and whether Google plans to introduce any new metrics on how to value websites.
Universal Analytics Upgrade Center
by Simo Ahava
Google has now launched a Universal Analytics Upgrade Center. The centre will provide tools and guidelines to help you transfer your Google Analytics properties to Universal Analytics. This is the first of four phases in Google’s plan to upgrade all Google Analytics properties to the new version.
Account owners should take the time to explore the benefits of Universal Analytics. It’s also best to carefully plan the upgrade, especially if there’s a lot of legacy code, custom variables, and complicated tag setups involved.
This is also the perfect time to consider adopting Google Tag Manager. With GTM, the upgrade process is a lot less painful, since the new tags can be set up and tested with customizations long before the upgrade is live.
You can find information about the upgrade in the Universal Analytics Upgrade Center:
Custom Audiences allows advertisers to find their offline audience on Facebook by importing their contact lists. Facebook uses phone numbers, Facebook user IDs or app user IDs to help advertisers find the right target audience. This action prompts Facebook to make the match and display ads only to those specific individuals. In this way it is simpler than ever for online marketers to find their current customers on Facebook and transform these customers into fans. But they could also reach more potential customers with a highly targeted approach.
Facebook announced recently that the Custom Audiences feature will be available to all digital advertisers globally by the end of November. With Custom Audiences marketers can turn first- time customers into repeat customers by using their contact information to target them with customised ads. Moreover, under a similar logic marketers can also use Custom Audiences to exclude current customers if their main objective is to acquire new leads.
Uploading an e-mail list of contacts is all that’s needed to get started with Facebook Custom Audiences. After this, these users can then be targeted with ads for a Facebook page, a mobile application, a website etc. Some interesting applications could include targeting writers and bloggers of a specific niche or industry or targeting selected companies and organisations.
The Custom Audiences feature has already been released to a limited number of advertisers in the US but as mentioned above every user worldwide will have access by the end of November.
Google introduces Shopping campaigns. Online retailers will be able to better manage their PLAs
When it launched Product Listing Ads (PLAs), Google expected to improve customer experience on the SERPs. Users who were searching for products online could use the listing to easily browse a wide selection of products and find high-quality images along with prices and brands.
From the advertisers’ perspective this created a great opportunity for brands to use their logos and product imagery in search results. However what was missing was a tool to easily manage these campaigns and this resulted in a lack of 100% control on the results shown.
With Shopping campaigns, Google aims at facilitating PLA campaign management allowing advertisers to create product groups and adjust settings and bids to grow profitable traffic from SERPs.
So, what are the key advantages?
- Retailers can organize their inventory in product groups and sort out their campaigns just like their ‘shops’. They can also assign attributes to the products in the feed and differentiate between high and low-priority products based on margins, volumes etc.
- Advanced reporting features (competitive and performance data) per product category will be available, making optimisation faster and more effective.
- Advertisers will be able to identify and push top performing product categories while pulling back on the least profitable ones. This will result in a more efficient allocation of budget across paid search campaigns and therefore higher ROI.
This is the biggest update on PLAs since they first became available on the market, showing Google’s commitment towards creating a retail-centric way to manage product advertising online.
Shopping campaigns are being released gradually and are currently available on a restricted number of advertisers in the US. They should officially launch globally in the new year. In the meantime, Google always appreciates early adopters who have valuable feedback. Interested? Give us a shout!
Improvements to location targeting for international searches
Starting from 11th November, Google is making improvements to location targeting. Now when using the default targeting method on Adwords, it will take into account the user’s location as well as the location searched for. This means that your ads could now be displayed in international locations.
Previously if you owned a hotel and wanted to target the location London, with the keyword ‘hotels in London’ and your location targeting was set to the UK, only people searching in the UK or searching on Google.co.uk would be able to see your ad. Now you may show your ad to anyone in the world searching for ‘hotels in London’, thereby reaching a larger audience, and providing better results searching in locations of intent.
This can create issues especially for travel businesses whose keywords target specific locations and may have several accounts targeting certain locations. This allows another account to show an ad where a different account is targeting which can obscure results as different markets have different levels of bids or have different levels of investment. To stop this, you can change your targeting method to ‘People in my targeted location’ and your ads will only appear in your targeted location, or alternatively add to your list of excluded locations.
Google’s new estimated cross-device conversions can help optimise mobile spend
by Ivan Martin
Last month Google launched a new conversion metric – Estimated Total Conversions. This is Google’s response to the increasing complexity of purchase paths in a multi-device and multi-medium world. Estimated Total Conversions are calculated, for now, by adding an estimate of cross-device conversions to the number of conversions tracked by AdWords. But at a later stage Google will also add estimates for phone and in-store conversions.
In the case of cross-device conversions, the estimates will be based on the behaviour of users that remained logged into Google throughout a multi-device path. For example, if 5% of signed-in users that clicked on a mobile ad, then made a purchase directly on the advertiser’s website from different device, Google will estimate that not-logged-in users also converted at a similar rate. These estimates can help optimise mobile spend as total revenue and the optimal mobile bid adjustment can now be calculated.
Estimated Total Conversions have some limitations. Advertisers must have AdWords tracking and a certain volume of bookings for this metric to be available. More importantly, the accuracy of the estimates is uncertain as it will depend heavily on the quality of the sample used and the assumptions made to extrapolate the results.
However, this additional reporting feature is a welcome move towards greater visibility of performance especially as regards mobile campaigns. Advertisers that have opted out of AdWords tracking should find alternative solutions to the multi-screen revenue attribution problem to avoid being outperformed by the competition.
Cross-device conversions estimation has started to be rolled out on 1st October and this will be soon available on all advertisers’ accounts using Google conversion tracking. The next step will be for Google to track cross-device or cross-browser conversions for AdSense for Search, AdSense for Content (including AdMob), Display, or any other Google properties. Let’s see what they come up with in the next few months!
Target Return on ad spend Bid strategy – Hit or Miss?
by Chris Moon
As part of their ‘flexible bid strategies’ initiative, Google has recently announced a new ‘target Return on ad spend’ bid strategy that they say should provide you with greater flexibility and control over performance targets and a better overall return from your ad spend. This new strategy will start rolling out across all accounts in the coming weeks.
The basics behind ‘target ROAS’ is that it helps to maximise revenue by automatically adjusting keyword, ad group and campaign level bids to meet your pre-defined target ROAS.
What is ROAS?
ROAS is your Return On Ad Spend – the amount of revenue you want to generate from the amount of money you intend to spend:
ROAS is a great way to evaluate the efficiency of a search programme when used in context and is a staple KPI for many e-commerce clients.
So, what does ‘Target ROAS’ actually do?
‘Target ROAS’ uses the same real-time bidding technology as ‘Target CPA’ & ‘Enhanced CPC’, taking into account everything from user locations to time of the day, operating systems to browser used in order to predict performance on your ads and adjust the bids accordingly using this information.
This could be a really powerful bid strategy for those clients that sell a lot of products at a lot of different prices. Ideally, you would go in and manually set your bids higher for the high-value items and lower for the low-value ones, but doing this manually across a large scale account can be difficult when time is factored in.
Now, with the new Target ROAS bid strategy, once you have set it up, Adwords can straight away get to work predicting what the likelihood is of each click generating a sale. Based on this, unique bids will be set for each click, always taking into account your specified ROAS target. This happens in real time, so every single time your ads are shown, your bids are being optimised to your target without you ever having to enter a manual bid. Google does have certain requirements that must be met in order to qualify for this bid strategy:
- Conversion tracking must be set up correctly.
- Have at least 30 conversions in the last 30 days.
- Have at least 30 days’ worth of conversion data.
- Have a consistent conversion rate for at least a few days.
It’s worth giving this new tool a trial especially for larger accounts as this may just save you a lot of time you would normally spend manually optimising.
Google’s tracking system is now in place and we can track offline sales long after the cookie is dropped
We all track online conversions, whether it’s a customer clicking on an ad or at some point making a purchase. We can see all this activity in our MCC but what we don’t know is what happens when these same customers convert offline.
Imagine businesses with long sales funnels where several meetings or demonstrations as well as endless market research is required before a purchase is made. For example, luxury travel holidays where you can only book offline or the latest cow milking technology for farmers or renting office space on a medium to long-term basis.
For these types of conversions we now have the ability to log the sale (back end) long after the sale has occurred and the cookies have expired. Not only can we track offline conversions, we can also track repeat customers by recording online conversions and then tracking additional sales offline. This is a great way for businesses to understand how their target audience is responding to their pay per click advertising. Now we can accurately measure how far Adwords budgets go as well as measure true Cost per Sale and ROI.
The next step will be for Google to find a way to include leads generated through the phone. With the release of onsite call metrics we might be able to see that soon. Let’s see what happens in the next few months!
Instructions on how to get Offline Conversions Import implemented can be found at: