SEO: What to expect in the next few months from Google?

In this video Matt Cutts from Google outlines what’s in store in terms of Panda and Penguin updates over the next few months.

Google Launch Enhanced Campaigns For Multiple Devices

Google has announced a new upgrade to their Adwords PPC platform, launching “enhanced campaigns”

Google are calling this a first step to help advertisers manage ad campaigns more easily, and more effectively, in today’s multi-device world.

The announcement today references a recent study of multi-device consumers that found that 90% of users move sequentially between several screens to accomplish a task. With a proliferation of new devices — PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, hybrid devices, mini-tablets, televisions, and more new digital screens and devices still to come, today’s consumers are constantly connected and moving from one device to another to communicate, shop and stay entertained.

Google highlight the new opportunities this creates for businesses, but also points to the fact that this can make marketing more complex and time-consuming than ever before. They offer the example of a pizza restaurant that wants to show one ad to someone searching for “pizza” at 1pm on their PC at work (perhaps a link to an online order form or menu), and a different ad to someone searching for “pizza” at 8pm on a smartphone a half-mile from the restaurant (perhaps a click-to-call phone number or restaurant locator). This means that key factors such as location, time of day, and the device a consumer is using have become increasingly important in showing them the right ad.

With Google’s new enhanced campaigns, instead of having to cobble together and compare several separate campaigns, reports and ad extensions to do this, the pizza restaurant can easily manage everything in one single place. The new enhanced campaign functionality enables advertisers to reach searchers with the right ads, based on signals such as location, time of day and device type, across all devices without having to set up and manage several separate campaigns.

SEO: Back to Basics

More often than not, good search engine optimisation is first and foremost about getting the basics right. Does your site have high quality, relevant and unique content? Is your site (and your content) technically well structured and easily accessible for search engine spiders? And is your content clearly signposted for both search engines and your users?

I still find in many instances, that getting the basics right in terms of on page optimisation can help many sites improve search engine rankings and visibility. An excellent reference point that illustrates these basics superbly well is an SEOmoz blog post from 2009 entitled: Perfecting Keyword Targeting & On-Page Optimization. The original post which uses research data to demonstrate the importance of these basics, also includes a very simple example page layout, copied below, which shows very clearly an ideally optimised page.

If you have the time, I strongly recommend reading the original post. However I’ve summarised some of the most important points here:


1. Page Meta Title.
Quite simply this is the single most important of all the on-page keyword elements. The page meta title should ideally employ the target keyword or search phrase as the first word(s). Not only is this proven to help rankings but also means that the searcher sees the term they searched in the title of the search result snippet.

2. Page Meta Description.
The page meta description is not used for “rankings” by Google, but is still an important place to use the target search term or phrase due to the “bolding” of the words that appear in the visual snippet of the search results, and because it has also been shown to help boost click-through rate.

3. H1 Headline tag
The H1 tag has always been thought to have great importance in on-page optimisation, and although the original post did question this, it still advised the proper use of a single H1 tag as the headline of the page, preferably including the targeted keyword term or phrase.

4. Image Alt Tag Attribute
The SEOmoz study showed that the image alt tag, previously thought to carry little SEO weight, actually had a reasonably robust correlation with high rankings. It is strongly recommended to use a graphic image/photo/illustration on important keyword-targeted pages with the search term or phrase used in the alt tag. It is also suggested to use the keyword term or phrase as the name of the image file.

5. Page URL
SEOmoz found that shorter URLs appear to perform better in the search results and the closer the target keyword is to the domain name, the better.

6. Keyword Location
The advice from SEOmoz was that important keywords should ideally feature in the first few words of a page, preferably the first 50 to 100 words or sooner.

In conclusion, it’s critical to get these basic elements of on page optimisation right – and doing so will give you a sound foundation for your overall SEO strategy.

£125 Of Clicks Free From Bing & Yahoo

Bing and Yahoo are currently offering £125 of free clicks to businesses who sign up as new advertisers between now and 15th July. With Bing search ads now being served across both Bing and Yahoo’s search platforms and networks, we’ve already started to see some great results for clients.

If you’ve not used Bing before, and don’t know where to start then please give me a call. Alternatively, just check out the deal for yourself at:

Spend 10 Minutes A Day On Your AdWords Account

This is a really useful video showing how you can take just 10 minutes to optimise your AdWords campaigns. It’s targeted at smaller businesses and Adwords accounts, but the principles are absolutely spot on for all campaigns.

Here is a brief summary of the main tips:

Update your keywords
AdWords uses your keywords to determine who sees your ad. The more relevant your keywords are, the more likely it is that anyone who sees your ad may be interested in your products or services.

Monitor your clickthrough rate (CTR)
If your CTR is less than 1%, your keywords may be too general or too specific. Consider editing, pausing or deleting keywords with a low CTR.

Use 2-3 word phrases
Keywords that consist of two or more words tend to be more specific and therefore may better speak to what a potential customer is searching for. Example: Instead of “boots”, a more relevant keyword may be “men’s leather boots”.

Try Google’s Keyword Tool
Use the Keyword Tool at to find new keywords for your products or services.

Manage your bids and costs
Keep an eye on your bids and budget to make sure your ads stay competitive. Get more clicks and customers with AdWords by setting aside a few minutes each week to review and manage your keywords, bids and ads. You may not need to make changes every week, but keeping an eye on your results is ultimately the key to success.

Invest in high-performing keywords
Devote a greater percentage of your budget to keywords that deliver a greater number of customers to your website. Increase bids on your best-performing keywords and lower bids on lower-performing keywords. By doing this, you can get more customers without spending more.

Ensure your bids are competitive
Take a look at your keywords’ average position. If an average position is below eight, your ad may not appear on the first page of Google’s search results when someone searches for that word or phrase — and therefore it won’t be visible to many potential customers. To increase your ad’s position, consider increasing your keyword bid – or take a look at how you can automate bid changes based on position in the keywords tab.

Improve your ads
Take a look at your ads. Are some ads performing better than others? Are all your offers or promotions up to date? Did you include a call to action? Here are tips for improving your ads.

1. Attractive, relevant headlines
Get noticed with a short, simple headline that describes your product or service and includes your most important keywords.

2. Descriptive text with keywords
Why would someone choose your business over another? Focus on the details that make potential customers search for your product or service and remember to include relevant keywords.

3. Strong call to action
Ask for the sale. Drive business to your site with a call to action like “Shop now,” or special offers.

These tips should help you to improve your Adwords campaigns, but if you feel you need more help to improve your online marketing, particularly PPC search and online media, then I can provide search marketing training and offer bespoke online marketing workshops – please feel free to get in touch.

Advertising In Local Hospitals

Recently I’ve been working on the launch of a new hospital advertising service that enables small businesses such as Care Homes, Local Taxis, Mobility Providers and other relevant organisations to advertise on the bedside screens in their local hospital.

Until recently advertising in hospitals was limited to placing posters and leaflets, or ads on hospital radio. But now gives local firms the chance to put themselves right in front of patients by placing ads on the bedside screens that patients use to watch TV, access the internet, listen to the radio, and even order their food!

Across the UK there is a potential annual audience of over 10million patients, and ads can also be seen by up to 5 million visitors and 500,000 NHS staff. Of course, if an advertiser just targets their local hospital, then these numbers are somewhat lower. provides a highly engaging and great value advertising opportunity for small businesses. Patients can click straight through to a website from an ad, but can also pick up the phone to call right there and then. And with packages starting at just £40 per hospital per month, pricing is highly competitive in comparison to local newspapers and other local media.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Local Hospital Advertising please feel free to call me on 07827 806722 or email

EU Cookie Law: Are You Ready?

On 26th May last year the EU Cookie directive came into force, with the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) offering a one year grace period before starting to enforce it. Almost 10 months later very few, if any, sites seemed to have actually taken any action, or started to seek permission to drop cookies, other than the ICO website itself – though according to many observers even their approach doesn’t meet the regulations.

It appears many people are either blissfully ignorant of the change in the law, or don’t believe it impacts them. However, if you use Google Analytics to track your site, or Google Adwords conversion tracking it almost certainly affects you. Check out the video below for a useful overview:

If you want to know more about the directive and it’s potential impact then I suggest you contact the Information Commissioner’s Office or consult your legal advisers.

Mobile PPC Search Sees Significant Growth

Marin Software’s latest UK Online Advertising surveys reports that mobile paid search volumes leapt 49% in the last quarter of 2011, with 12% of all UK paid search clicks in December attributed to smartphone and tablet devices.

Interestingly the report also suggests that the number of consumers searching via mobile devices is growing faster than the amount being spent in this channel. According to Marin, paid search click-through rates rose 24% across all devices during the last three months in 2011, while click costs dropped 5% year on year. The report suggests that desktop search volumes are growing faster than budgets, and as a consequence less budget is being allocated to mobile search, with mobile click share at 12% but mobile spend share only 7.5%. This in turn seems be resulting in less expensive clicks on mobile PPC search campaigns.

Industry experts believe that mobile search ad spend is lagging behind behind consumers’ adoption of new mobile devices and that in the main, advertisers have been slow to react to the growth in consumer demand. However, what isn’t completely clear at this stage is how user behaviour is evolving across a proliferation of different devices. For example, are iPad searches in front of the TV replacing laptop searches? And is the growth in smartphones driving incremental searches and changing the length and shape of the conversion funnel?

As we enter 2012 there are some certainties; mobile searches and searchers need to be considered within your search strategy; and ensuring your site is properly optimised for all devices is paramount.

Check out NMA’s story here.

Cyber Monday – What’s Happening in 2011?

The IMRG today predicted Christmas 2011 Online Spending will reach £7.75 billion during the 5-week shopping month of December – starting in the week commencing 28th November. Of this around £3.72bn will be spent in the first two peak weeks – so this year Cyber Monday and Mega Monday look likely to be 28th November and 5th December.

Cyber and Mega Monday were once bywords for a trend where Christmas sales on a few days far exceeded the rest of the month in terms of sales. However online sales for 2009 and 2010 actually revealed a trend toward peak activity weeks. In 2010, the two peak activity weeks (w/c 29th Nov and 6th Dec) had the exact same share of the month’s sales – 24% each. These peaks follow a steady increase in activity throughout November.

Cyber and Mega Monday were previously attributed to the days falling just after payday for many people who, having browsed products in a shop at the weekend, made the purchase using fast broadband at work. This year the economic situation may have led to people spreading the costs of Christmas over a few months whilst memories of last year’s snow may have a further impact this year – particularly with poor weather being forecast again for this year.

The IMRG see interesting patterns in consumer behaviour and believe that UK shoppers have proved adept at interacting with brands and making best use of the technology available to them – moving between physical and digital channels to get the best deal on offer – either in-store or online. It will be interesting to see whether the current economic uncertainty will mean consumers being even more savvy this year.

David J Smith, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at IMRG, commented: “The shopping behaviour displayed by the agile consumer reinforces the importance to retailers of offering a multichannel solution. Consumers want choice and continually demonstrate their willingness to switch channels to suit their specific circumstances and secure the best deal for themselves. Anyone focusing too heavily on a single channel is certain to miss out on opportunities for engagement as and when they arise.

“With this in mind, this could well be the year that mobile really has an impact on sales activity. Research we carried out earlier this year with eDigitalResearch found that 30% of tablet owners and 25% of smartphone owners have used their device to shop online. Consumers are clearly not fazed by interacting with retailers through these devices and the important role they play is only going to increase.”

Forever Blowing Bubbles: 10 Top Online Video Facts From Hitwise

If you live in East London you’re more likely to watch online video than anybody else in the rest of the country, according to the latest research from Hitwise into the enormous growth in online video.

Perhaps it’s all those West Ham fans tuning in to watch the mighty Hammers on Sky Go, which incidentally I did last week on my iPad. This was the first time I’d tried to watch a game in this way and I found it to be a far better experience than I’d ever imagined. And it seems I’m not alone. The huge growth in video consumption online is no doubt being fuelled by the growth of the iPad and the other tablets lining the shelves – but also presents a plethora of opportunities for businesses and brands. This time out West Ham only converted one opportunity – but it proved to be the winner.

So look out, just as West Ham strive to return to the Premier League, so Sky could yet be a major force online – and video content presents us all with opportunities. In the meantime have a look at the Hitwise presentation. Not as much fun as watching West Ham – but arguably more educational!