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Following the trend of growth we’ve seen since the internet was opened up, this year (unsurprisingly) has been a huge year for digital marketing as it has blossomed to another level. Internet trends are constantly changing and because of the fact digital marketing is constantly evolving, so it’s likely some of the techniques marketers currently use to get great results are bound to be old news in 2018. So we ask the question, just how much has marketing changed in 2017?
Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to find a business’ phone number on Google so easily? Well, back in January, Google sent out emails to all AdWords advertisers informing them that call extensions would be added in integrated ads from the 6th February. However, only those who had a clear phone number on their landing pages were notified. Although Google altered this by default, it was predicted that this change would drive 19% more calls to businesses rather than using landing pages alone.
Also in January, Bing added a new feature for advertisers, allowing them to sync their Google AdWords campaign to Bing Ads. This means that advertisers can seamlessly market between two search engines, giving them a larger audience.
Moving onto social media, Facebook changed how Dynamic Ads work on their channel. Did you notice that Facebook began promoting products you’ve recently searched for? To help drive more sales, Facebook started showing even more targeted product ads to users based on their browsing activity, Facebook behaviour and demographics. So, the next time you’re searching for a product, don’t be surprised if you see an advert on Facebook marketing a product you searched earlier.
In March, it was confirmed that Google AdWords price extensions were able to be shown on all devices. Price extensions were usually displayed below mobile text ads as a way for advertisers to promote certain products/services, and the cost of that specific product/service. Now, price extensions can be shown on all devices with no additional effort required.
Also in March, Google AdWords released three important upgrades to Dynamic Search Ads. The first upgrade being page feeds. This was introduced to allow advertisers to target the exact URLs, used with DSAs (Dynamic Search Ads). This would ensure only the most appropriate products/services were advertised via DSA campaigns to customers. Also, DSA campaigns are now able to support extended text ads. Thanks to this upgrade, long headlines and descriptions are now available.
The last upgrade for DSA campaigns was the showing of more relevant ads by default. This is the simplest of the three. This means that if your business is a pastry shop in Southend, your ads should only be shown to people looking for pastries in Southend.
Verified Customer Reviews
In April, Google retired its Trusted Stores program and released a new way to gain customers’ confidence through verified customer reviews. I know what you’re thinking, Didn’t Google already have customer reviews in search results?
Technically, yes it did, but there’s now a difference. “Customer Reviews” differ from ordinary Google reviews in that Google verified that the person leaving the Customer Review actually purchased from the company. Regular Google Reviews didn’t have this feature and could be left by anyone, so for a company that received a Customer Review, it must have an online website so that Google can verify the reviews. This was said to improve traffic to the company’s site and leave Google shoppers feeling safe and trusting
The Pay-Per-Click part of digital marketing continued to develop as the year progressed and in May, in an effort to help AdWords users get the most out of their own or their client’s advertising budget, Google introduced “Maximize Conversions.” This new technology was used to optimise smart bidding to automatically set the right bid for each auction. Therefore, getting the maximum amount of conversions for your daily budget.
Google Introduces Ad Experience Report Tool
In June, Google brought out a new tool called Ad Experience Report. This tool was released for publishers to help them identify how annoying or disturbing their website adverts were. It is able to measure how well a site’s ads comply with the better ads standards, which are determined by the Coalition for better ads. Cool, right?
Google’s Ad Experience Report presents screenshots and videos which identify the annoying ads on a site so that publishers know what to fix.
Another change for the PPC aspect of digital marketing took place in June as Bing Ads released two more new features designed to help advertisers reach their ideal customers. These features were named “In-Market- Audiences,” which is only available in the US, and “Custom Audiences,” which can be used globally.
In-Market Audiences are curated lists of people found to have purchased intent for a particular category of products or services. Say for example you’re a travel site looking to target people who are ready to book a holiday. Bing Ads looks for people who are clicking on ads related to hotels and flights, or checking out hotel reviews, and predicts whether these users are ready to buy. Users identified as, “likely to purchase” are included in the Travel & Tourism In-Market Audience, which you can associate to your ads.
Moving onto Custom Audiences and unlike In-Market Audiences, Custom Audiences are the remarketing lists created using your own data. After importing your Custom Audiences segments into Bing Ads, you can then target audiences that have been built using your customer data. Audiences are built based on attributes such as purchase history, subscription renewals, and so on.
Bing Ads also introduced In-line competitive metrics back in June to measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns. Now advertisers have added competitive metrics, to compare how their campaigns are doing compared to their competitors.
SEO Algo Update
On June 25th Google updated its algorithm. Admittedly, Google makes updates daily, however, this one is believed to be significant in the sense that it has affected ranking positions in a very obvious way. An analysis from RankRanger indicated that Google’s algorithm updates predominantly targeted sites that were ranking in 6th-10th position.
Google Expanded its home service ads to more markets, especially business categories. This meant that all businesses in select categories within Philadelphia are now able to apply for home services ads, after undergoing and passing the screening process. Now, as a home services ads customer, there is now a possibility of having ads heavily featured at the top of the SERPs. Giving you a sense of prestige.
Also in July, Bing Ads made it official that it will stop supporting standard text ads from July 31st. That included the creation of new STAs and changing current ones. Bing went all in with this transition to expand text ads and released some tools to help advertisers convert their STAs into expanded text ads. However, when it came to serving expanded text ads, Bing held back. Despite advertisers not being able to change or make STAs, those that were created before July 31st continued to be displayed along with expanded text ads.
There will be a date as to when STAs will no longer be displayed, however, as of right now they will both remain. Bing has said that we will be informed well in advance.
Google voice search available to 1 billion people
Back in August, Google reached a milestone as one billion people were able to access Google’s voice search! Google’s speech recognition supports 119 languages as well as the language of emoji! So, when you try and confuse google with emoji’s, think again! This means that phrases such as “tongue out emoji” and “winky face emoji” are recognised.
Google isn’t stopping there though. Google now says it’s attempting to “honour languages around the world”- which includes Georgian, Swahili, etc.…
Google was able to release what proved to be one of the most valuable updates yet to Merchant Centre. This update was the addition of the “opportunities” tab. This was created to help Google shopping advertisers prepare for the holiday seasons. Due to this, cards now appear in the opportunities tab when a suggestion is available. This was released to help drive more clicks and traffic to your site.
In addition to the opportunities tab, numerous other updates to the Google Merchant Centre were released at the same time. Google shopping advertisers can now use more than one feed for submitting product data. Multi-country feeds were also added which helped target the same ad to multiple countries that share the same language.
Lastly, the final addition on this huge update was the ability to add multiple team members as either admin or standard members of your google merchant centre account.
Google also increased its AdWords budget. Back in September, Google made a major change to the way AdWords budgets could be used, and advertisers are not very happy about it.
Campaigns are now able to spend up to twice their average daily budget meaning on high traffic days, costs can soar as much as double the budget set. Google said it made this change to help advertisers reach their goals. But advertisers aren’t charged more than their monthly limit, meaning it won’t cost advertisers more money.
So why are advertisers annoyed over this?
Many advertisers didn’t like the idea of spending their monthly budget earlier than usual so with this change, if there are a few really high traffic days early in the month it’s possible they could spend their entire budget well before the month is over. Meaning their ad will not be shown near the end of the month.
In October Google released its new AdWords experience that was due to be available at the end of the year. This experience promised to be faster, more intuitive and with a renewed focus on achieving business goals. This design is now clutter-free and easy to navigate. This experience has allowed pages to load 20% faster so you can get your AdWords tasks completed quicker. The visualisations of customer data have made it easier to determine when they are most engaged with your business.
With the new AdWords experience being available for months now to those who received early access, Google had loads of time to put together a number of valuable resources such as guided tours, how to videos and best practice guides to get new users used to the update.
Twitter introduced a new ad unit called the Video Website Card. This unit has allowed advertisers to use videos to drive traffic back to their website. The Video Website Card is a versatile unit and was designed to fulfil a number of different brand objectives. The unit has been devised to remove friction for the consumer to engage, learn or convert in their own time. The Video Website Card has an auto-playing video which is said to push twice the engagement of standard mobile video ads.
Google Local Search
October was a brilliant month for businesses as Google My Business pages rolled out a brand-new booking button. This has allowed businesses to take bookings directly through GMB (Google My Business). As a booking button is a call to action, this has allowed businesses to stand out from their competitors. It’s allowed customers to make a booking in under a minute, creating an easier booking experience for customers and has helped businesses gain more clients.
Bing Ads announced a new overview tab in October that provided a big picture view of account performance.
The overview tab can be found at the top of any campaigns page. The data can be customized to focus on the key insights that are most important. Data in the overview tab can be edited to have segments that aren’t already there. This has allowed people to customize the data in a way that suits them.
In October Google decided it would no longer use country code domains to indicate where the user is searching from. Historically, Google has always indicated the country service through the use of domains such as Google.nz, Google.ca, and so on. But since October, the country service automatically changed based on location, without directing users to a different domain. This is now managed in settings. Google knew that this change would only affect the way its services are labelled and would not affect how the services themselves work.
Google Knowledge Panel
The last change major change to happen to Google in 2017 (that’s noteworthy for marketers) was the introduction of a new type of Knowledge Panel solely for publishers. The new Knowledge Panel fills the entire above-the-fold section of search results with information to help searchers learn more about a publication. The knowledge panel now features
A description of the publication
A Wikipedia link
Notable awards won
A sample of frequently covered topics
Claims made by the publisher that have been reviewed by a third party
Google has said it will continue to improve on this new feature so prepare for more and more updates!
To keep up with all of the updates that took place earlier on in the year, Google introduced a fresh look for mobile search results that better resembled the devices they are being shown on. When looking at the update, Google’s new design for mobile search, all search cards, and boxes within search cards now have rounded corners thanks to this upgrade. The rounded edge corner design is an appropriate fit for mobile search results, complementing the smartphone screens of today.
Facebook revealed details about version 2.2 of its messenger platform last month, which came with a very in-demand customer chat plugin. Messenger platform 2.2 has been created to help businesses and developers reach their customers in more engaging ways. Facebook Messenger’s customer chat plugin has allowed businesses to carry on chatting with their customers between their website and Facebook Messenger. This means a chat between customers and businesses that begin on the business website can seamlessly transition to messenger or vice versa without losing any of the chat histories.
A huge announcement from Twitter was released last month as it doubled its character limit to 280 characters from 140! Twitter did this because it says longer tweets drive more engagement. Twitter also said that this change is an effort to make it easier for people to tweet.
Twitter has since rolled out the new 280 character limit and as marketers we’re still trying to work out how exactly this will change our interaction on Twitter but with the extra space for great content, videos and images I’m sure copywriters & social media managers across the world are feeling excited about this new world of Twitter.
Well so far we’re only 6 days into December this year and nothing major has happened since the end of November! So who knows what might happen before New Year’s Eve?
Although you should keep your eyes glued to our blog this month because we will be putting out an article of our predictions for what might happen next year, with expert insight from our SEO, PPC, Content & Social Media nerds coming out very soon!
Bulldog Digital Media are a leading transparent full service digital marketing & UK SEO agency servicing Essex, Kent & London. Covering all aspects of online marketing strategies with a transparent approach, specialising in organic search (SEO) and paid search (PPC). From a local SEO campaign, to an all singing, all dancing e-commerce bespoke website, we at Bulldog have got you covered!