Google News - 3/11 - Digital Marketing Agency

Google Shopping Listings – No Longer Free

By | Google News | No Comments

Google Product Search is getting a new name, Google Shopping, and a new pay structure – paid inclusion. (Actually, in many countries we already call it Google Shopping, but in their main market, the USA, Google Product Search was the original name.)


In a move I wouldn’t call completely un-evil, Google is taking away something which was previously free, and making people pay for it. If you want to keep advertising your products using Google Merchant Centre feeds – you’re going to have to pay. Also, if Google had previously been crawling your site and showing your products in Google Product Search – that’s stopping too.


Google says this is because they want to serve only the most relevant results, and that this will provide more trustworthy data for the end users.  Compare this to their IPO filing for the old shopping engine Frugal, where they boasted of it’s free results, saying that users could be confident that the results provided were “relevant and unbiased”.


Google Adwords already uses Product Listing Ads – which take your Google Merchant Centre feed, and show it as a pay per click ad on relevant searches. This meant that you would sometimes potentially have your shopping result twice or more on a search page – both paid and free. No more – Google is removing the potential for the free results, and you will have to pay per click if you want your product feed results to show at all.


The change is being rolled out slowly in the USA, starting now, and apparently to be finished around October. In other countries, the roll out is expected to happen in 2013.


Search Engine Land has produced some great pictures, demonstrating how the changes might look. The worrying thing for me, is how the ads will no longer be separated by their background colour – they are white like the natural search results.


How it looks currently

Old Google Shopping experience


An example from the experiments of the new feature

New Google Shopping Appearance


In the industry, we call this Paid Inclusion – where you have to pay to be in the results, but you can’t pay for a certain position. The new ‘ads’ will be managed not in the Merchant Centre, but in the Google Adwords Interface, and seem like they will work a lot like Google Adwords Product Listing Ads. Google is encouraging everyone to get on board with PLA’s before the shift – just to get used to it (or just to bring their revenues even closer).  When Google Shopping takes over Google Product Search, PLA’s will be phased out, because they are basically the same thing.


There may be some positive effects from this change – when you have to pay for something you might take more care to keep it up to date, relevant and abide by the rules. But, it may also squeeze out smaller players, restricting shopping results from those who can afford (or want) to pay.


Google+ Local – The New Google Places for Business

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This week, Google has announced the integration of Google Places and Google Plus, to create Google+ Local. The new interface has already been rolled out to most Google Places accounts, even here in Australia.

Google Plus Local

Yum - Best Gelato in Sydney


The new interface utilises the Zagat style of rating (Zagat was purchased by Google last September), by allowing people to rate venues using their standard 30 point system. It will also integrate all the ratings and reviews already given by Zagat, offering a huge increase in information about individual venues.


Google+ Local pages are much more visually interesting than their predecessors, the Google Places pages. They also enable the presentation of a wider variety of information types and permit local businesses to interact with their customers much like they do on Facebook and Twitter.


You can reach Google+ local from the new Local tab to the left of your screen in Google+

Google Plus New Local Button



Google+ Local interface



The same information is available on Google Android devices and Google maps.


Marissa Mayer, Google VP of Product Management, said that there is a huge opportunity for the use of Google+ Local in the mobile device sphere, with 50% of the usage of Google maps coming from Mobile devices – a strong incentive to get a Google+ Local page if you don’t already have one (and if you have a Google Places page for your business, then you are set up already).


While Google says that it is going to roll out the function beyond Android phones to iOS, as SearchEngineLand mentions, it’s also possible that Apple will replace Google Maps in June with its own Maps, making the iOS development unnecessary. Having said that, Apple users would still be able to access the Google+ Local experience through the Google+ app on their iPhone.


If you’re a business owner, you can continue to manage your local listing information via Google Places for Business, however, I can already imagine this being phased out, and Google business owners being made to participate in Google Local results through a Google+ account.


Google+ Local is the latest step in Google’s quest to get everything anyone ever wants to do on the web integrated into Google+. The uptake of Google+ continues to be low, around 170 million users, compared to 900 million Facebook users (and that doesn’t even mean active users). Google+ Local is an attempt by Google to outdo and out-convenience Facebook, by adding features to their social platform, (although, Facebook might have one foot in the door with Facebook Check-Ins…).



Identify Your AdWords Competitors With New Feature

By | Google News, PPC | No Comments


A new feature showing up in some, not all, of my clients accounts today is the ‘Auction Insights’ report.  You are alerted to the existence of this report by a little ‘column graph’ icon next to a particular keyword. Select any ONE of those keywords, then click on the ‘Keyword Details’ button – which used to be called the ‘Searched Terms’ button. Here you can select to look at searched terms, OR you can use the nifty new feature called Auction Insights (only if you have selected a single keyword), to see the competitors on your keyword!


Google Adwords New Auction Insights Report


Auction Insights from Google Adwords


Google has nicely (?) given you lots of information in this report (which shows details starting only from May 1, 2012).

Apart from showing their display URL domain, they also tell you;


Impression Share: How often they received an impression in the same auction you were participating in


Average Position: Their average position in those auctions


Overlap Rate: How often they received an impression at the same time as you


Position Above Rate: How often THEY were placed ABOVE you


Top of Page Rate: How often they appeared at top of page positions


This is fantastic competitive information that can help you with all your marketing, not just PPC.  For example, it could tell you about new competitors who aren’t showing in the natural SERPS yet, or let you know how aggressive existing competitors are. Other information you might be interested in;


– Over different time periods, you could investigate when and which competitors are getting more or less active on Adwords.

– You could use the ‘position above’ rate to determine whether or not you want to increase your bids – e.g. who is most often above us?  Do we care enough about them to go above our target CPA?

– You could even look to see whose ad is most often shown with yours so you can decide which particular promotions or USP to push.

– It is also very interesting to see who is bidding on your own branded terms!


Thanks Google!

What is the Google Penguin Update About?

By | Google News | No Comments

Google Penguin Update

At the end of April, Google updated it’s search algorithm with code name Penguin. This should not be confused with other updates around the same time , including Panda 3.5 and the over 300 small changes made to the Google algorithm (with a focus on local search).


While Panda and the other little tweaks were focussed, as Google updates usually are, on improving search results for users, the Penguin update is actually thought to be the update Matt Cutts had previously alluded to as the overoptimisation penalty.


This means that the Penguin update made changes to rankings, not based on which sites are most relevant for users, but rather based on what their link profiles look like. If the link profiles look like they have been significantly manipulated, then the Penguin update aims to either;


a) Penalise them, making them drop or

b) Devalue the dodgy links they have coming in to them – thus making the sites drop


Either way you look at it – a penalty or a devaluation – the result is that sites with manipulated link profiles should be less visible in search rankings. In theory – this should be a great results for White hat SEO’s, removing the power that manipulated backlinks had given their rivals. However, in the short term it seems that a mix of sites have been hit – some with crazy link profiles, and some not, while some obviously spammy sites are now sitting at high positions in Google.


In the long term, this will undoubtedly be better for users, we just have to get past the collateral damage that has occurred.


The thing we should be slightly worried about now, is how to protect your site from malicious link building against your site.


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