Google has been very busy lately. In just the past few months they've rolled our design changes, introduced brand logos to search results and added icons to their search bar.
However, it doesn't stop there. Google has made some changes under the bonnet that could help you reach new audiences, get leads and increase conversions. So, without getting too technical, here's what you need to know about the latest updates.
Core Algorithm Updates
Google rolled out a broad core search update to their algorithm in March and June. The March update seems to have largely affected health and news sites (perhaps in an attempt to target clickbait and fake news). Whilst some websites such as Buzzfeed have seen big gains, others have suffered big drops in organic visibility such as Vanity Fair who’s visibility has nearly halved. Search Metrics have compiled a list of their winners and losers.
They also released an update to improve domain diversity. In short, this means that Google will only return two results in top positions from the same site.
How does this affect your business?
It means more opportunities to rank for queries previously dominated by one website. Recruiters, this one is especially important for you, and if you want to learn more, we’ve written this blog specifically about the site diversity update and how you should be capitalising.
Reserve with Google
This is a new product available from Google and is particularly relevant for Bars, Restaurants and the Fitness and Beauty businesses. As the name suggests, you can now book a table, make a beauty appointment or save your spot in a fitness class without leaving Google.
How does it work?
Google has integrated with several booking partners to make this possible including Bookatable and Treatwell with more planned such as Eventbrite and Ticketmaster. If you already integrate with one of these partners, then you need to ensure your Google My Business page is optimised and configured correctly for this to show.
Google Ads Updates
The new updates were announced at Google Marketing Live and I've cut the jargon to explain what it means for you.
Gallery Ads combine captivating imagery and copy to show users their offering in a more creative and engaging way. They are displayed as a carousel banner and sit at the top of the search results page. Here are the specifics:
4 - 8 images
- 70 Character tagline per image
- Up to three headlines (so you can experiment with CTAs)
Smart Bidding Improvements
There are a few technical changes to be aware of such as setting conversions at campaign level rather than account level and being able to group conversion goals into action sets, but I said I was keeping it simple and jargon-free.
The one that businesses need to know about is Seasonality Adjustments. This allows you to plan and optimize your bids for a specific period where you may expect more opportunities for conversion (e.g. Black Friday Sales) and then automatically return them to normal afterwards so there’s no wasted budget.
Custom Audiences & Audience Expansion Tool
Up until now, Facebook has been the preferred tool for audience-based ads. In response to this, Google has merged custom affinity and custom intent audiences to allow for better targeting. Soon they will be able to target users based on their interests and behaviours to rival Facebook.
But wait there’s more! If you think your custom audience is working well, then you can use the new audience expansion tool to reach users that behave in a similar way to your existing custom audience.
Sound familiar? It is pretty much the same as Facebook’s lookalike audience. Google's advantage comes from direct access to search data, so we could be getting the best of both worlds.
Phew, well that wasn’t quite as short as I had hoped but there is so much happening in the industry. We will be creating some more in-depth blogs about these very soon, but I’ll leave that to our experts! For now, sign up to the mailing list or follow us on Twitter so you can be the first to hear about it.