Google News - 9/11 - Digital Marketing Agency

Google Content Network Equally Effective as Search Network

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Last week, Google released a White Paper on a study they did regarding their Content Network.

Basically, the issue with the content network is that it is generally thought that the content network results in lower conversions than the search network.

This white paper is a great piece of soft selling from Google, in that they have shown results which indicate that the conversion rates from the content network are equal to conversion rates from the search network. The basis of this they say is their Smart Pricing system, so this paper was really about proving the worth of the Smart Pricing System and convincing us to give the Content Network a go.

Note: The Smart Pricing system works by reducing the cost of a click in the content network to match the relative value or likeliness of a content network conversion (which is significantly lower than that of the search network). You can see why it would be lower considering that the search network shows ads based on a query a searcher has already entered, and therefore they pre-qualify for being interested in your ads.

The intention of this White Paper is obvious – try and get more people to use the content network. However, for people who have already tried to use it, and have not seen good CPA’s, I am not sure this will convince them. The advice going forward for users is no more in depth than the optimiser tools already available in Google Adwords or the learning centre lessons, so there isn’t much incentive to try again.

However, for NEW users, who will undoubtedly hear about this paper from Adwords sales people, this would more likely be encouraging, and might help dispel the myths they could have heard from others telling them not to bother with the content network.

Google Local Results – Now Searching Postcodes

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I noticed this new postcode search box while on Google today…

google-map-postcode-box

Over the last month or so, we know that Google has been attempting to refine their local search, to try and make it so that if you search for something generic, like hairdressers or restaurant, they will return related local sites or ads. This meant that towards the top of the page you would usually get a Google map with the local vendors like below. (The pushpins are looking unusually 3d to me today, do you think?)

3d-google-map

This new method means that you get more generic results, and if you WANT local results, then you can have them by entering your city or postcode.

I think this is an excellent improvement (though obviously not permanent, as I can’t find it again), because:

1. It lets you tell Google if you are wanting local rather than generic results – rather than Google just guessing.

2. It lets you tell Google the location, rather than them guessing from your IP address – which is particularly useful if you are searching for something for a friend, somewhere you want to go, etc.

3. It gets rid of that annoying big map picture, which you might not be interested in.

I have seen the new post code search on .com and .co.uk but not yet on .com.au, which was still showing the local business results.

If Google rolls this out as a normal service, businesses can expect to be able to increase their visibility to searchers who are actually looking in their area, but not necessarily for generic searches.

Changes to the Google Keyword Tool

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The Google Keyword tool is now no longer comparing last months search volume to the average monthly search volume (which I thought was useful). It is now comparing last months local search volumes to global monthly search volumes.

new keyword tool

While you can’t compare the volume to the average as a number, you can compare it as a picture of the last 12 months.  Go to Show/hide columns, and choose “Show Search volume trends”, which will bring up a little column graph for every search term you choose.

search trends

As you can see in this picture you can also “show highest volume occurred in”, which will tell you the month which has had the highest volume. This might be useful when planning campaigns, if you wanted to bid more in certain months when you think the volumes might be higher.

If you compare the global search to the local search for Australia there are some surprising results:

Australians searched 20% of the ‘Easter’ searches, but only 0.4% of the ‘christmas’ searches. We also contributed more than 100% for ‘easter holiday’ searches apparently… which I think means that the global volumes are actually monthly averages.

Another feature in the show/hide columns, which I am not sure if it was there previously, is the average CPC column. If it did used to be there I kick myself for not knowing, because how great is this for sorting for relevantly priced clicks and seeing what kind of search volumes (not clicks) are out there for them.

Google Improves Search for Local Businesses

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Despite talk recently of the Vince Update helping big brands, and Google publishers trying to get their original content (from big brands) given a boost in the rankings, it is nice to see some changes being made in Google which are aimed towards helping searchers which don’t necessarily skew the results towards big business.

For the last week or so there has been discussion on the web regarding changes to the search results, which more often now show local business locations. What seems to be happening, is that more and more often, Google Maps results are showing within the search listings for many more queries – not just when they include local terms.

I first noticed this on Monday when I Googled MooMu Media, and quite near the top was the Google Maps results showing our office in North Sydney. Unfortunately, the results seem to have since been tweaked, and I cannot replicate this now -I didn’t get a screen shot back then (must remember to get screen shots when things are looking odd!).

However you can still see these with branded and non-branded topics. Here is Domino’s…

blog-pic

And here is a non-branded, hairdressers.

blog-pic1

Only a week or two ago my colleague Tracy was complaining that she couldn’t get good results for hairdresser in Google, and now she has a list of 10 in her area to choose from.A quick quote from her on these results “Thats good if they have websites I can check out, and I guess a good lesson that you should be using Google Maps more often when looking for a local service”.

Not that you will need to go separately to Google Maps now that Google is serving this up for you on their home page.

The algorithm is hopefully still undergoing improvements, because if I use the term National Parks, the top result is Google Maps, with only one suggestion – National Parks in Tasmania…and I am in Sydney. So that is strange, considering the multiple national parks close to me here, particularly one at the end of my street.

Also, other online marketers are wondering if there will be further refinements to the algorithm to better identify local searches. Search Engine Land used the example of the word burger. They say that this isn’t necessarily a local search. However, with 9 other options to choose from on the results page, even if it isn’t a local search, searchers are still getting other options.

What does this mean for search marketers? Well, your local business listing is now going to be much more important. You should make sure your business is in there, because suddenly your small business could be getting exposure for a lot of the more generic terms which you may have thought were out of your reach.

Also, your ISP, and that of your customer, is now of great importance. It might not be a big deal when you are searching using an ISP that is quite close to you, but what about people whose ISPs aren’t? For example, in China, many people use ISPs in Hong Kong.  Their search queries are maybe going to have to improve, to include the word Beijing, or Shanghai, to make sure they don’t get given Hong Kong map results.

It will be interesting to see the Google search volumes for these terms in a couple of months  – must keep our eye on Google Trends, or record some volumes now in the keyword tool and see how they change later.

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