Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - February 2017
Welcome to the latest monthly issue of our regular newsletter which features news, tips and advice on effective website marketing, with a particular focus on search engine marketing techniques and trends.
In our first article this month we take a look at the term 'crawl budget' in relation to Google Search Console, which applies to the Googlebot that crawls websites to index their pages for the search engine rankings, and the implications this may have for search marketers. The second article looks at Google AdWords, and examines search terms that Google classifies as 'low search volume', with advice about how best to approach the use of those keywords.
In the final article this month we take a look at how best to avoid fake emails. These can be in the form of scams, or thinly veiled online marketing sales pitches and this advice should be useful for individuals or businesses who are keen not to fall into these potentially serious traps!
You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subject. You can also follow us on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn, as well as our occasional updates on Twitter.
On to this month's edition...
What 'Crawl Budget' Means for Googlebot
Webmasters have various definitions for 'crawl budget', which is a term that refers to Googlebots that crawl websites to index their pages for the search engine rankings (i.e. 'Crawling' is the start of the process to get websites into Google's search results). Efficient crawling of a website helps with its indexing in Google Search.
Google recently clarified the meaning of 'crawl budget', which covers a range of issues, but they also emphasised that it's not something that needs to concern the majority of webmasters, whose sites have less than a few thousand URLs, as most of the time, sites of that size will be crawled efficiently.
Crawl rate limit
Prioritising what to crawl, when and how much resource the server hosting the site can allocate to crawling, is more important for bigger sites, or those that auto-generate pages based on URL parameters, for example. Crawling is Googlebot's main priority, while making sure it doesn't degrade the experience of users visiting the site. This is called the 'crawl rate limit,' which limits the maximum page fetching rate for a given site.
If the site responds really quickly for a while, the limit goes up, meaning more connections can be used to crawl. If the site slows down or responds with server errors, the limit goes down and Googlebot crawls less. By setting the limit in Search Console, website owners can reduce Googlebot's crawling of their site. (Note that setting higher limits doesn't automatically increase crawling).
Even if the crawl rate limit isn't reached, if there's no demand from indexing, there will be low activity from Googlebot. The factors that play a significant role in determining crawl demand are:
- Popularity: URLs that are more popular on the Internet tend to be crawled more often to keep them fresher in Google's index.
- Staleness: Google's systems attempt to prevent URLs from becoming stale in the index.
- Additionally, site-wide events, like site moves, may trigger an increase in crawl demand in order to reindex the content under the new URLs.
Taking crawl rate and crawl demand together, Google defines 'crawl budget' as the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl from a website. According to Google's analysis, a website that has many low-value-add URLs can negatively affect a site's crawling and indexing, such as having on-site duplicate content, soft error pages, hacked pages or low quality and spam content.
These sort of issues make it important to develop quality content throughout a website, but also to keep monitoring Google Search Console reports to ensure that a site is being indexed regularly and efficiently, and there are no potential issues with the site that may prevent pages being added to Google's index.
You can read more on how to optimise the crawling of your site, here, and this is still applicable despite being an article from 2009. If you would also like to know more about how we can check if your site is being correctly indexed to ensure it'll be admissible to Google's search results, please contact us now.
Managing Low Search Volume Terms in AdWords
One frustrating aspect of Google AdWords can be the 'Low search volume' status that Google will sometimes give to keywords with very little to no search history, worldwide over the past twelve months. They are temporarily made inactive so that they don't trigger AdWords ads even if you try searching for the term on Google. This can be a problem for new product or brand related keywords.
Google will identify any keywords added to an adgroup with the 'low search volume' status and no impressions will accrue against the keyword. However, if the number of search queries for these keywords should increase, even a small amount, they'll be reactivated and will start triggering ads to show in the results as Google's system automatically checks and updates the status on a weekly basis.
Before the introduction of the 'low search volume' status, it used to be possible to target 'long tail' keywords. These are keywords or key phrases that are more specific and usually longer than more commonly searched for keywords, but not searched for very often. Long tail keywords get less search traffic, but usually have a higher conversion value, as they are more specific and more closely relate to the searcher's intent.
This is often why the 'low search volume' status can be frustrating in AdWords and there has to be a methodology to manage them, such as the following:
- Do nothing and wait for Google to automatically check again within a week. If more people start searching for your keyword, it'll be reactivated. This option can be particularly helpful if a new brand, term or product is being advertised.
- Change the keyword match to broaden it out from phrase or exact versions, as the probability for someone searching for a keyword with 5-6 words in a certain order is very low.
- Pause the keyword. If there are a large number of low search volume keywords, pausing the ones that are generic and have a low quality score should be considered. Having a few low search volume keywords in your account doesn't affect account performance. However, if you have a significant number of such keywords then it may affect the Quality Score of the adgroup, which in turn can affect the avg. CPC of the keywords.
- Move the 'low search volume' keywords to a separate campaign. This can provide more control over them and improve overall campaign quality score.
- Remove the keyword and use the Keyword Planner to find additional keyword ideas.
The best way to increase traffic on low search volume branded keywords is to run Display campaigns to create brand awareness. People will become aware of your product/site and start searching. This will increase search traffic for the brand terms and low search volume keywords will become active. It won't happen immediately, but results should begin in a month or so.
If you want to know more about how we can help to improve the Quality Score and performance of your AdWords campaign, contact us now.
Avoiding Fake Emails
Ever since emails became a mainstream part of the Internet, the use of unscrupulous or fake emails to try and trick recipients have been a common threat, with varying degrees of annoyance or danger. However, being email aware can make recipients cautious about emails and avoid taking any unnecessary action.
From the early days of Nigerian email scams, which promised recipients untold wealth from surprising will gifts, emails have become more sophisticated and widely used by scammers, hackers and criminals to hide behind a fake profile and to tempt participants to part with money to do things they shouldn't be doing.
In the search marketing field, these scams include marketing emails that supposedly come from an 'expert' who has viewed your website and want to scare you into taking action with them. These senders have rarely viewed your site and send the same warning message to thousands of recipients in the hope that a few will 'bite'. They tend to come from Gmail or similar generic email addresses and have no indication of coming from a legitimate business, with no address or phone number details.
At a more serious level, emails that contain clickable links can lead you to fake websites and probably malware or viruses that can attack your computer and personal information. Many of these emails are cleverly designed to look like legitimate emails from companies and attract your attention and have to be treated with caution. Many emails systems - like Gmail - are pretty good at filtering out a lot of these scams, but some can get through (and sometimes real emails can be filtered incorrectly).
A few simple checks are worth taking with any emails that look unusual, such as:
- Would you expect to be receiving this type of message?
- Check the message headers, as the "from:" address and the "return-path" reference should reference the same source
- Does the content of the email read correctly or contain typos?
- If you hover over any links from the email, does the URL match the expected website you'd be connecting to, or an unusual address?
If in doubt, go directly to the website you would expect and login or signup there rather than via the email link. Also make sure you have virus software on your device and you regularly scan the device or run a malware check.
By being email smart and questioning anything that looks odd, should help to keep you safe and just delete the suspicious emails. If you'd like more information, please contact us for details.
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