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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - September 2016

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 the first article this month, we look at Google's decision to retire "Converted clicks" from AdWords later this month to focus on 'Conversions'. This should interest any business that's running an AdWords campaign, or any search marketing managers, as this is a significant development for the way in which conversions will be recorded in the future.

In another AdWords development, we highlight the long-awaited and welcome return of device bid adjustments to AdWords campaigns and how this feature can be used to control bids and ranking positions separately for desktop, mobile and tablet devices. This is great improvement in the ability to manage AdWords campaigns more effectively.

Finally this month, we examine how anchor text should be used in links as part of an effective SEO strategy, but how they need to be handled with some caution. This is important information for SEO practitioners as the correct use of these can improve search ranking performance.

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...

'Converted Clicks' To Be Retired From AdWords

Conversion tracking was introduced to AdWords in the early days, as an important way to measure what happened after someone clicked on an ad. The ability to know whether or not people completed a desired action on a site meant that it was possible to determine which keywords, ads and campaigns were the most effective. However, the original "Converted Clicks" conversion measurement metric was very basic, as it simply reported on whether an ad click led to any type of action on a site. Therefore Google has now decided to retire this metric later this month, with "Conversions" becoming the default way to measure valuable actions for a business.

In the 15 years since the introduction of conversion tracking, multiple improvements have been made to measuring and attributing conversions. The "Conversions" metric now offers the full picture of how many conversions AdWords drives for a business and is the best way to track these valuable actions. The advantage of "Conversions" over "Converted Clicks" is that only the former can measure behaviour that spans multiple conversion events, or multiple clicks. It can also track important, non-last-click attribution models, different counting options and mobile-centric actions, like cross-device conversions and store visits. The significant cross-device conversion numbers will be included in the "Conversions" column in AdWords from this month.

If you are already using the "Conversions" metric for reporting and bidding, then no action is required. However, if Target CPA or Enhanced CPC is being used and the primary bid metric is set to "Converted Clicks", that should be updated to "Conversions" by September 21st and there should be a warning message and email sent to accounts using this technique.

Proper conversion counting is vital, and it's something that's imperative to get right as online behaviour evolves. This change is therefore a welcome and timely decision by Google, and the new metric will enable businesses to more precisely track how well AdWords keywords, ads and campaigns are producing leads and sales.

If you need to update your conversion figures, there are a few points to consider, which can be found here. If you want to know more about how this change could impact your AdWords campaigns, contact us now for more details.

 

Device Bid Adjustments Return to AdWords

In another development for AdWords, Google has just announced the introduction of device wide bid adjustments at the campaign level, which gives the advertiser more flexibility in controlling bids and ranking positions across all devices - desktop, mobile and tablet.

Prior to Google's introduction of 'Enhanced' AdWords campaigns in 2013, it had been possible to create separate campaigns by device and bid separately for each (or block ads from appearing on a particular device). Google then stopped that option and all campaigns had to target all device types, with only an option to modify bid levels on mobile devices.

Earlier this year Google announced that bid adjustments would be introduced for all types of device, and this has just been rolled out to all AdWords accounts. It is therefore now available in the campaign settings (if All Features is selected), so that the default bid level can be adjusted up or down by each of the 3 device types, depending on results being achieved.

This new feature allows advertisers to review campaign metrics and performance by device and adjust bids accordingly from -100% (which would turn the ads off on a device) to +900%, so there is quite a range of bid options available. However, it's best to maintain some level of coverage across all devices and optimise the bid levels based on historical data and conversion tracking results (CPA - Cost Per Acquisition).

Keeping a campaign active across all devices still retains the efficiency of enhanced campaigns, but also allows advertisers to continue to target all devices in the most effective way, on the basis that many searchers will use different devices for their needs and at different times of the day. You can also use manual or automated bidding (if you have at least 50 conversions in the past 30 days) to try to improve the targeting of your spend.

This is certainly a great improvement and opportunity to manage AdWords campaigns more effectively and to direct spend to the most effective devices, based on past performance and expected searcher behaviour. You can read Google's Best Practices about bid adjustments, or contact us now for more information about how this can help your AdWords campaigns.

 

Using Anchor Text in Links

When thinking about links as part of an SEO strategy, the use of anchor text has always been an important consideration and something that Google uses to determine search engine rankings. That remains true today, but needs to be handled with some caution.

'Anchor text' describes the visible, clickable words used in a hyperlink that point to another page or website. These words have always been used by Google in varying degrees as a ranking factor, so that the page where the link points will gain some ranking benefit from the anchor text in the link, whether it may be an exact match (such as 'adwords training') or a partial match term (such as 'best adwords training courses in Sydney').

It can still be possible for a web page to rank for a search phrase that isn't used on the page, but is contained in links pointing to that page. Recent research continues to show a strong correlation between the keywords in the anchor text of links, and ranking performance.

However, it should also be noted that although keyword use in anchor text can have a positive impact on rankings, it can also take on a negative effect if there is an overuse of keyword rich anchors using the same term, so that there should ideally be a variety of anchor text used across multiple links to a website. The use of too many anchor text links with the same phrase can be seen by Google as a sign of link manipulation and may incur link penalties, such as those seen from the 'Penguin' update in 2012.

Using links between pages on your own website is a good way of controlling anchor text (such as in navigation buttons or body content) and thinking about key search phrases as well as relevant content that helps the user navigate around your website. Using text links that say 'click here' or 'read more' is not ideal, if the link can be used behind some content that is also relevant to the target page the link is pointing to.

External links from a variety of sites are also still an important ranking factor and using a range of anchor text content is also advisable. It's also good practice to get external links pointing to pages within a site, as well as to the home page, with relevant anchor text terms.

If you review your Google Search Console reports, the 'Links to your site' report includes one showing how your website content is linked by anchor text, and whether the terms or phrases have a good relevancy to your content and your ranking aspirations.

If you'd like more information about the use of anchor text as part of a link building strategy, please get in touch.

 

We hope you've found this month's newsletter useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.

 

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