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How Google Works: Search Results Explained

 

Organic Results

In computer science, algorithms are the processes that turn input to output. Google’s algorithm takes your query (input) and returns your search result (output). What goes on in between is not entirely understood, but through experience, digital marketing experts can determine the factors that play a role in generating the right results for even the most obscure keyword.

Here is a list of the most influential ‘ranking factors’ that Google uses to determine the relevancy of a website to your search query:

  • Links – The quality and quantity of links to one website from other websites.
  • On-Site – The titles, data markup and other technical aspects, such as speed of the site.
  • Social Signals – The amount of likes, shares, and chatter surrounding the website on FaceBook, Twitter and elsewhere.
  • Engagement and Traffic – How often visitors arrive on the site and what they do when they are there.
  • Brand recognition – How often the brand is mentioned offline and in the news.
  • Keyword usage – Quantity and quality of content relating to the search query

 

Local Results (Businesses and Maps)

Local search is playing a bigger part in the results pages, where Google Maps now makes an appearance for a lot of different keywords.

Here is a list of the most influential ‘ranking factors’ for local search results:

  • On-Page – Titles and the address of the business on the page the same way it appears on other websites.
  • Google My Business – Business category, business title, keywords in profile. For example, our company appears at the top of local results for SEO Thailand related keywords, partly because we have included ‘SEO Company Bangkok’ in our My Business listing. It’s a small change to make but can have a big effect.
  • Links – The quality and quantity of links to one website from other websites, as well as the number of citations.
  • Engagement – Click through rates for local results.
  • Social Signals – The amount of likes, shares, and chatter surrounding the website.
  • Reviews – Quality and quantity of reviews on Google Plus

 

Image Results

Image results are also appearing at the top of the web results page, and some marketing experts believe that as Google evolves, there will be a merging of normal results and image results (when Google is smart enough!).

Here is a list of the most influential ‘ranking factors’ for image results:

  • Unique images – If your image is unique and hasn’t been indexed before, there is a higher chance it will rank well.
  • Image title – The relevancy of the title of the image to the search query.
  • Alt text – This text, sometimes used by visually impaired web users, describes what’s in the image. The relevancy of this text to the search query also plays a part in ranking.

 

Understanding Google AMP And Why You Should Consider It For Your Content

 

You may have heard in the press recently about Google AMP and even if you haven’t you will probably hear more and more about it over the course of the rest of the year.  What is the Google AMP project, who benefits from it, and why should you care?  In the following post that is exactly what we will look at.

What Is Google AMP?

Google AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages is Google’s own answer to competitor’s like Facebook’s

Instant Articles and was introduced to help solve the problem of internet pages not loading quickly enough on mobile devices.  The AMP Project was established after many in-depth discussions between technology companies and actual publishers to improve and update the complete ecosystem of mobile content for not just the publishers or the users but for everyone.

Despite the fact that mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are more powerful now than they have ever been, the speed at which some content loads is not meeting the expectations.  Before the introduction of Google AMP in February 2016, loading certain pages of content could take several seconds to load, which doesn’t seem too bad until you consider the fact that many users would give up and click on a different site or page.  Because of the way Accelerated Mobile Pages are designed they load almost instantaneously, which is a huge step in Google’s eyes towards the mobile web improving for anyone involved.

What Are The Major Benefits Of AMPs?

Speed matters a lot when it comes to the mobile web with regards to publishers and users alike.  Research conducted by Google showed that the bounce rate on pages was approximately 58% for any web pages that took around 10 seconds to load on a mobile device.  As well as loading faster though, the AMP format enables publishers to more easily distribute their content everywhere much quicker, across various apps and platforms; which in turn can lead to more revenue through subscriptions and ad clicks.

How Do AMP Pages Basically Work?

Essentially AMPs are no different to ordinary HTML, apart from the fact that they only have a limited number of technical functions that are set and controlled by the open source spec.  Like any other type of web page, they will load in any modern and up to date web viewing app or browser.  In order to prioritise loading speed the AMP files use various architecural and technical approaches to offer users a faster web experience on their mobile devices.

How Can You Optimise Your Site For AMPs?

In order to optimise your site to run AMPs you first of all have to have at least two live and working versions of the same page of content – the original that any will see and the AMP version.  As AMP does not allow third-party JavaScript and form elements, you will not be able to use on-page comments, lead forms and similar elements that you may be used to having on your pages.

There is also some rewriting you will have to do to fall into line with the restrictions set for AMP.  For instance CSS has to be in-line and lower than 50KB.  Multimedia also has to be handled in a special way, using the custom amp-img element and a specific height and width.

Although there are still improvements that can be made and it is by far a perfect system, the results so far in its infancy seem to suggest that creating websites and pages with Google AMP in mind is the right way to go.

Google’s Ad Format Changes And The Implications

 

Google ads have been in the same position on the search engine pages for 15 years now, following the same basic format of 3 ads above the organic search results and various to the right of the results.  They have conducted various experiments over the course of time when it comes to ad space and introduced product advertisements and tried image extensions that were found inside text ads and as time as passed the space for ads has become bigger.

However in December last year, Google had started trying a very different approach to ads by removing all ads from normal, desktop searches.  Gone are the ads displayed down the right hand side.  Instead, the 3 text ads above the organic search results are displayed alongside a 4th.  As there are now 4 text based ads above the SERPs, it does leave the question as to why has Google done this and what does it mean for marketers?

What Has Google Done?

Before we look at why, let’s just outline briefly and clearly what Google has actually done.  They have removed the ads to the side and increased the number of ads at the top of the search results page to 4 from 3.  For the time being the Knowledge Graph and Shopping results/Product Listing Ads are still shown to the right of the search results for some searched for queries.  However, it is unclear whether they will keep this permanent placing.

Why Has Google Changed Their Ad Format?

Google have not been secretive to the fact that they have spent the last year to year and half working on the mobile web.  During 2015, mobile searches overtook desktop searches which increased their important in the search space and it is a trend that is continuing to increase.  The mobile’s year has finally come and Google was ready for it, as the changes to its desktop ad format transforms the  search results page into something that looks more like the mobile version to make a more similar search experience across all forms of device.

What Will The Impact Of This Be?

Although this is a seemingly very simple change to the layout, it could have a rather substantial impact on marketers who rely on searches, with both organic and paid results being affected.

Impact On Organic

On the search results pages that feature the changes, the organic links will be further down than they have been ever before.  This will mean for some users at least that above the fold the screen space will only feature paid for adverts, that in turn will mean some level of change to the click-through rate from organic search results and decrease of traffic for some sites.

In time, it could mean because of a lack of right side ads, brands losing the bidding wars for paid spaces may shift their attentions to organic to compensate, particularly if they do not have a top ranking position.  Marketing terms often place higher value on getting sites and pages a little higher in organic results than just spending on 4 paid ads.

Impact On Paid

The biggest impact the ad format changes have on paid results is there is less advertising space.  While in the past there was space for approximately 11 ads, there is only space for 4.  This will mean an increase in competition and of the CPC or cost per click and will make it harder for some marketers to get the most prominent places on the page.

There will be potential issues for brands because of the impact of less space for adverts and the moving of the organic results further down.  Retailers will most likely emphasise having a good product feed pushing specific products and lines.  Although their presence within the actually Shopping results pages should already be important to retailers, the changes in format make it even more crucial.

Finally, as the CPC increases, it will push some advertisers out of the picture and force them to tweak their targeting and more tactfully advertising to get the best traffic at best price.

Seven Words to Avoid in Your Email Marketing

 

If you’re using email marketing, you may have only your subject line to attract attention and interest, so make sure you don’t repel your audience by avoiding these words!

Sale

There’s always a sale on somewhere, and people tend to feel fatigued when they see the word yet again in an email subject line. Many believe that the word alone is enough to set off spam filters.

The best way around this is to state the facts of the sale as briefly and factually as possible.

Superlatives

There’s been quite a few studies done and it seems that emails with the word “perfect” in the subject lines tend to be opened 25% less than lines without it. “Good” reduces opening rated by 20% and “wonderful” has a similarly depressing effect.

Old internet slang

Always beware of slang terms – fleek, derpy, cray-cray and so on. Usually, by the time a phrase reaches marketing bods, it’s already over. It looks tacky and unprofessional.

In addition, hashtags do nothing for a subject line and actually get in the way of searches for your email at a later date.

Dodgy punctuation

The more exclamation marks there are, the less likely an email is to be opened. The same goes for stars, daft emojis and hearts. Punctuation symbols like square brackets might make people think there’s been a coding error which makes a poor first impression.

Personalising to the wrong person

If the name isn’t right, it’s instant death for opening rates. Even worse is “[name] we haven’t heard from you for a while”.

Even if the name is right and the person is a regular customer, it doesn’t really affect opening rates.

WRITING IN ALL CAPS

Just stop shouting, yeesh!

False familiarity

Adding “Fwd:” or “Re:” to make an email look like it’s part of an on-going conversation just looks sneaky and fosters distrust.

Why Good Translation is Essential to a Marketing Campaign

 

Good marketing needs a message that “speaks to” its audience and makes them want to buy the product or service that it’s advertising. Most of marketing involves language, like a pun or an effective catchphrase, for example. However, just because a company has its marketing wrapped up in one territory doesn’t mean it can simply translate its content into another language and hit “go”.

Look at messaging to make sure it’ll travel well

Companies should look at the reactions of customers in a target market to see how literal translation works. Is it OK, or does it need minor tweaks to fit in with local idioms? Does it need a major overhaul because some parts of the message may cause confusion or downright offence? Sometimes a simple re-wording isn’t going to be enough and the content will need a complete change.

Consider timing and culture

When a company is adapting its existing marketing for a new location or country, it should also look at the images and the cultural references involved. For example, if a company makes comfortable slippers and wants to sell them in Thailand, all images or references to putting one’s feet up should be avoided, as revealing the sole of the foot is considered rude and offensive there.

Translate the call to action

Marketing is all about making people want to act, but they have to be able to respond to a company’s call to action with ease, and that ability will change according to location. It’s essential that companies understand shopping behaviour in a new territory – what the ideal times are, what the ideal medium is and the translation of the intended message.

For example, if people in the new territory don’t tend to have mobile phones or use the internet much, then a marketing campaign involving emails and text coupons isn’t going to achieve much. Also, money-off offers have to be attractive and meaningful enough and feature popular types of products.

 

Thailand is Ready for Digital Marketing

 

Thailand is ripe for digital marketing in all sectors, with many companies and organisations combining their marketing strategies with new media. This revolution isn’t restricted to tech and e-commerce, but extends to all sectors – consumer, housing and lifestyle products.

Consumers are adapting to online life and are ready to trust and to interact more fully with online content and purchasing channels. People in Thailand are happier to swerve traditional forms of marketing and pay attention to online campaigns, largely due to the rapid uptake of the internet.

By increasing investment in digital marketing, businesses in Thailand can benefit from:

Increased brand engagement and awareness

Potential customers can take their time to research a company, product or service online. Companies should use reviews and feedback in their content to demonstrate how they have helped customers. Even if a business doesn’t sell something online, they will benefit from the new wealth of interest from an online audience.

Increased savviness among willing purchasers

Consumers in Thailand are starting to understand internet promotions and advertisements better. They are more open to off-the-wall and creative campaigns than ever before, and a well thought-out campaign can influence a customer to choose one company over another.

Online customer service

Online customer relations is a real revolution. Potential customers can see how a company deals with both positive and negative feedback. This is a hugely important channel, and a well-trained customer relations team can also make good use of consumer feedback.

Social media as a marketing channel

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and even individual blogs are all part of an incredibly powerful viral marketing tool. Companies can use these channels for viral as well as word of mouth marketing campaigns as their reach can be huge. It’s easy to slip up with a hastily-planned campaign, however, so expertise is vital.

 

With such a large breadth of required skills and services, most marketers need to depend on a team of professionals in digital marketing strategy and execution, so contact Dot Media Group to get started with SEO in Bangkok.

Marketing to a New Audience – Five Easy Steps

Researching target markets

Use market data to find out where your services or products will sell. Use the Global Market Finder to look at promising markets – the Global Market Finder uses the world’s internet search data to look at keywords from all countries.

Find out how customers in your target market use the internet to buy things – do they research online then go to a physical store? Do they search online, read reviews then buy online? Google has lots of export tools to help you to understand your new audience without performing expensive surveys.

Adapt the business

Go digital in new markets, even if you have lots of different channels at home. This keeps your marketing cheaper and more flexible so you can go global much more rapidly.

There should also be a dedicated international team that can work autonomously. The team will know how to “read” international markets and therefore make the right decisions so that new campaigns can really flow.

Make sure products are localised

There’s no need for guesswork when it comes to overseas markets – there are plenty of analytics tools and data to help you understand your new customers. Once you understand the market, you can adapt your marketing, products and prices to it.

It’s not always necessary to localise, though. Many European populations speak excellent English and will be quite happy to use an English website that references UK culture. However, many countries will need more adaptation, like Thailand, as many cultural references will be obscure and where English may be someone’s third or fourth language.

Try different markets

International business still has the first mover advantage, so don’t be shy. If you’re the first company to offer a particular product, your name will stick. Using ecommerce is cheaper than hiring staff in your new territory, and if you can find a PR or marketing company in the new market, it can help you out with local knowledge and translations.

Be open to new ideas

Even if you’re not the first entry into the market for an industry, research the big players and replicate some of their methods, as they have likely invested a lot of money to determine what works there. This can include who they are targeting, what methods they’ve used and what results they’ve had. This information can be valuable to build upon as you enter the market.

How to Create a Basic Online Marketing Strategy

 

Traditionally, Asian markets have followed those in the West when it comes to technological developments but the number of 4G deployments in the region and the vast potential for new customers that still remains have helped to make it a world leader rather than a follower in mobile Internet. Six of the ten largest LTE operators are based in Asia, and South Korea – with 4G accounting for almost two thirds of its mobile connections – is the most advanced LTE market in the world. With mobile Internet usage overtaking that of desktop PCs for the first time in 2014, the significance of these figures should not be underrated. But what does all this mean for digital marketing specialists in Asia?

Back to Basics

Before we tackle the issues raised by the rise of mobile Internet usage, facilitated by high-speed 4G networks, we need to take a look at the basics of digital marketing. Without a solid foundation, any digital advertising campaign will find it hard to gain traction.

1. Paid Search – Pay Per Click advertising has always featured prominently in most companies’ promotional budgets, second only to content marketing, and this continues to be the case in 2015. The reason for its popularity is the great return on investment that companies enjoy when using PPC ads to attract visitors to their websites. Whilst click-through rates are relatively low (around 2% on average), ROI figures can be spectacular – over 400% in some cases. Dynamic PPC search ads are an exciting development that can increase click through rates for websites with good content.

2. Email – It may surprise you to learn that targeted emails are still one of the most effective online advertising channels, with up to 32% of recipients opening emails from companies that use this channel in a methodical manner. It is important to note that this figure starts to drop alarmingly for companies that send more than 30 emails a month.

3. Social Media – The most effective promotional activities are those that gain the most exposure, which is why social media has become such an important online advertising channel in recent years. If your advertising and content appears in the places that people spend the most time when they are online, it is more likely to be noticed and acted upon by your target audience. Establishing a regularly updated Facebook page is considered a crucial part of any comprehensive digital marketing campaign nowadays, with Twitter and Instagram also playing an increasingly important role.

4. Content – The creation and sharing of relevant and valuable content is second only to PPC advertising in terms of marketing investment, as mentioned earlier. The algorithms that Google uses to rank websites in search results are believed to favour content-rich sites heavily, which is a strong motivation for companies to ensure that their corporate websites contain something more substantial than attractive graphics and animations.

There are other important advertising channels, such as remarketing on the Google Display Network and affiliate marketing, but the above can be considered as the big four. To a certain degree they depend on each other and should be approached together, as part of a comprehensive digital strategy, rather than separately. For instance, pay-per-click advertising, especially dynamic search ads, will be far less effective without valuable content on your corporate website, as will a social media presence and email marketing. Well-developed content draws people in and keeps casual visitors interested long enough to turn them into loyal customers.

Keep It Simple

When you are formulating a new online marketing strategy, it is best to keep it simple and build a solid foundation first. The image that you create with your social media presence, emails, content and pay-per-click advertising will be difficult to shed so it is important to get it right first time.

Prepare Your Team

It is essential to ensure that your staff is ready to deal with the volume of new enquiries that your marketing activities will generate. These online advertising channels, when used effectively, will attract attention to your company and you need to be well prepared in order to capitalise on this attention and maximise your ROI. The manner in which email and telephone enquiries are dealt with will play a big part in deciding how effective your online campaigns are as far as turning leads into sales are concerned. Deal with people in a friendly, professional manner and they are more likely to trust your company and believe in what it is doing.

A Mobile Future

The rapid deployment of 4G networks that we mentioned at the beginning of this article is helping companies around the world, and especially in Asia, to take full advantage of the opportunities that mobile Internet marketing has to offer. One company that is grasping these opportunities with both hands is Baidu, the Chinese search giant. With 12-month sales growth running at just under 42% and mobile accounting for fully 50% of its total revenue in the first quarter of 2015, Baidu is a shining example of what can be achieved through online advertising channels.

Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce and Internet services company that dominates the local market, is another example of how companies in Asia are leading the way when it comes to mobile internet marketing. By creating highly targeted content with personalised data, and optimising its mobile advertising, Rakuten Ichiba was able to increase the number of visitors using mobile devices by 40% in just three months and now reports that more than half of its revenue is derived from these mobile visitors.

Understanding Cultural Differences

What stands out when examining the progress companies in Asia are making is the fact that it is locally owned firms rather than international giants that appear to be leading the way. The main reason for this is almost certainly due to the fact that local companies understand the manner in which their customers like to engage with them, which may differ substantially to how Western consumers prefer to engage with companies.