Is Google Really Optimizing Their Search Engine Results Page?

Google, ppc, adwords, marketing

Recently at the Google Ads & Analytics Innovations Keynote held on on May 24th 2016, Google released some game changing news to people who are familiar with Adwords and the world of PPC. Without a clear date other than “sometime this year” we will begin to see an increase of text on all our ads. In some early testing they claimed that some advertisers saw an increase in clickthrough rates of up to 20% compared to the current text ads we have in place now. This sounds like fantastic news, who would ever turn down the opportunity to increase clickthrough rate? But delving in deeper to this topic it begs the question: Is Google really optimizing for the needs of the consumers and users? Or are they looking out for their own (already) deep pockets?

As you’ll see in the chart below, text ads will increase by nearly 50% in character count and it will allow us to describe our products and services in much finer detail. At first glance this is great news because sometimes as advertisers we do need that little extra space to get our point across to the end user. I’ve had countless occasions that go a little like this:

Just finishing up the perfect description line right there… let’s check the character count… Dang it! 36?! Oh come on!.

 It happens too many times, and it gets a bit frustrating at times.

Expanded Text Ads

For the advertisers this sounds like great news but let’s take a look at it from Google’s perspective and what they have been doing to the SERP in just this year alone. In early February, Google announced that it would no longer be displaying side bar ads. Upon some research it seems that their reasoning behind this was to work towards a seamless user interface of the SERP between desktop and mobile. This makes a bit of sense since the shift to mobile has already happened. And by this, I mean that more than half of the searches done on Google are through mobile smart phones rather than desktop and laptops. After the removal of the side bar ads we started seeing an increase in competition. This sort of competition would only come natural with less real estate to work with on the SERP. Instead of businesses being happy at ad positions 1-8, where all those ads were visible above the fold to the viewer, advertisers now absolutely need to compete for the number 1-4 position which naturally increases competition and cost as well. If you are not at those top positions, chances are that your ads are not going to be seen. Some would argue that there are ads at the bottom of the page now as well, but the user will rarely scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page going past organic results and find your specific ad. We’ve personally seen a slight increase in costs to remain competitive for those top 4 spots with our own clients. Not being careful with these new changes Google implements can be detrimental to your account. Lowering numerous, if not all, metrics within your campaigns. This change has made it even harder for smaller business to thrive in PPC. Aside from your ad and keyword relevancy, aiming for those top positions can really rack up your costs tremendously. PPC just got a little more competitive and harder for anyone or any business that is starting out and may not have the funds to compete with major brands.

We are still seeing the impact left by the no side bar ads and managing quite well here at Netfinity. But these new expanded text ads will increase competition and drive costs up even more! Take a look at this infographic down below.

Ads Infographic

This all simply comes down to real estate available on the SERP and we are all fighting for at least the number 1-4 position as of right now. On the left under “previous” you’ll see that it has the most ad space, which we were working with this just a couple months ago! In the middle, you’ll see what we are currently working with, which has a little less ad space and you can begin to see how it becomes more expensive to remain competitive. Even more so with the last page (right) which is where we are heading. Now obviously, we won’t know how many ads will be displayed yet with the new changes, but with 50% more text, I can only speculate that it will be no more than 3 positions at top which is one less than we’d have now. You begin to see a trend with these changes, less real estate to work with which equals more expensive to compete. This ultimately leads to Google getting a little more bang for their buck out of AdWords users. I still can’t grasp myself if this change is done with 100% good intentions, we will have to wait and see how it unfolds. I can certainly tell you however, that we welcome the challenge and am eager to compete for those top positions.

So if you are new to the marketing and advertising space and are considering Google as a potential channel, I encourage you to work with someone who is actively staying on top of the ever evolving space, and can help you be competitive and not break the bank.

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What is Google My Business and How Can It Help Your Company?

google-my-businessFor many small business owners, managing and syncing all their information on Google+ and Google+ Local was becoming redundant and time-consuming. Google’s response to this is Google My Business. So, what exactly is Google My Business? It’s a centralized place to manage your business across all of Google.

How does it Help?

Google My Business allows you to multiply the chance for a user to find you and get your information whether he is in Google Search or Google Maps or Google +. It ensures that your information is everywhere, so whether a potential customer is doing a web search or “seeing what’s nearby” on Google Maps, they’ll be able to find you. Check out the example below of a Realty company we manage located in Scottsdale. It clearly maintains their Google My Business Account with photos, contact information, and hours of availability.Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 3.49.52 PM

Computer, smartphone, tablet? Clients can also be on any device, and Google My Business will have you covered. It also means that any time you need to update your information — say you want to add a phone number, or you’ve changed your hours — you only need to do it in one place to update all things. If you live and die by your web traffic, you want to make sure that what Google shows is right! You can even add a virtual tour of your business so new clients and customers can really check you out!

Why is is so important for SEO?

When you establish a presence on Google My Business you have the ideal platform for gathering customer reviews and ranking higher in Google SERPS – all organically. The more positive customer reviews your business receives, the better your company’s SEO rankings get and the more visibility your business will gain.

Optimizing Google My Business

Much like the content on your website and blog, the information you use for Google My Business can be optimized. By keeping the information consistent across this page, as well as on other third party directory listings, your site will be recognized as an even more reputable business, which will pay off in terms of traffic and search engine rankings.

Once you have optimized your Google My Business listing, you can take advantage of the tracking data (provided for free by Google) to see the number of page impressions, clicks, click-to-calls and other user insights. All of this can be used to further improve your SEO efforts.

Google & SEO Are More Important Than Ever.

Don’t ignore the power of Google My Business. While you may be killing it in terms of search engine results, there is always room for improvement. Be sure local customers are finding you by taking advantage of this hugely effective tool.

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The Strategy of Social

Social Media is an ever changing world. It seems like everyone has a “friend” who is working on a new “game-changing” social platform. But as a business how do you determine where you should spend your time? How do you know where to put your effort, or staff members, time and advertising dollars to work? Strategy! 

In construction there is a phrase my dad used to tell me all the time, “measure twice, cut once.”

Implying you need to take your time to make sure your assumption is correct before you move to action. The same is true in marketing and advertising, spend time really figuring out where your target audience is at.

Selling natural supplements to old people? They probably aren’t on Periscope or using Facebook live. They still have an old email address and are afraid of the big, scary, interwebs. They are on Facebook though; data shows that the 50+ demographic is getting more involved in social media. So use ads for desktop to target this audience, segmenting your targeting by age, and health concerns.

Are you a business that is more service based, providing Freight Logistics? Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are platforms you could use. Depending on the amount of investment you want to put forward maybe you do all three, there are pros and cons to each, which I will save for another post, but look into the demographics of your users and target audience, plan of putting aside time to put together a Marketing Roadmap before you go spend money. It is well worth the time and investment.

Most businesses exercise the “Ready, shoot, aim” approach when it comes to their marketing, where they realize that the money they spent could have been used more efficiently and been more profitable had they spent the time to use some “Strategery” before going into the market. Give us a shout if you need some help in this area, because like I said, the investment is well worth it!

BTW – Thanks Grandma for liking all my photos on Facebook!

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