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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - April 2009

Welcome to the April issue of our monthly newsletter covering web search and marketing news, trends and advice.

This month we look at the role of the Title tag in search engine optimisation and how this should be used to help achieve ranking positions and also encourage visits to a website. We consider the Keyword Positions Report within Google Analytics and how this can be a benefit to Google AdWords advertisers. Finally - and staying with Google AdWords - we look at the new 'interest-based' advertising option that's just been launched in beta by Google to help advertisers improve their targeting opportunities.

Read more about these stories below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subjects covered. If you'd also like to keep up with the latest developments during the month, don't forget our web marketing blog - we've included a summary of some recent stories from the past month at the end of this newsletter.

On to this month's edition...

Optimising the Title tag

The HTML Title tag is one of the most important factors in search engine optimisation, yet it is often overlooked or used incorrectly. A well written Title tag can support search engine rankings and also increase the clickthrough rate from the search results list into a website.

The Title tag should be included in the 'head' code section of every website page and remains one of the key elements within the SEO factors on a website and page. There are 2 reasons for this - firstly, because a still plays an important role in keyword targeting, and secondly because the text that's included in the Title tag also forms the hyperlink from the search engine results page. In addition, this text also appears in the browser bar when a user views the page, although the length of the tag is important in both of these cases as the number of characters being displayed will be limited by Internet Explorer and also by Google within the ranking results.

Websites are often built with little attention to the Title tag, which will simply reflect the page name (such as 'Home Page' or 'About Us') or will use a generic wording throughout the site (such as 'Welcome to XYZ Company'). This is really missing a great opportunity to improve the ranking potential of a site, whereby the targeted optimisation of different search terms throughout all pages of the site should be driven by the page content and the focused use of 2 or 3 search phrases in the Title tag.

Once these targeted search phrases are included in the Title tag, they should also be reflected in the description tag and the body content of the page, including headlines where appropriate. This will give the website a better opportunity to rank well for relevant terms in its market, although the tag may need to be adapted and tested in different ways to establish the best possible ranking position that can be achieved at the time.

As noted above, consideration also needs to be given to the way the Title tag will be displayed in the search results, so that it encourages searchers to click on the link into the site and, if important, establishes product or brand awareness as well. Google tends to cut off the Title tag content after 55-65 characters, so it's worth testing this and seeing how the Title tag displays within Google's results once the updated page has been indexed.

Some websites may see an immediate impact coming from some basic changes to their Title tags, whereas others will need to work harder on getting this optimisation factor to work well with the rest of the site. If you would like more information about how the Title tag could be used better with your website, please contact us now.


Using the Keyword Positions Report in Google Analytics

In the continuing series about Google's Analytics reports, this month's newsletter takes a look at the Keyword Positions Report. This valuable tool within Analytics tracks the performance of individual keywords within a Google AdWords campaign in relation to their ranking positions and gives advertisers feedback on which position is the most cost-effective to help them adjust their bids and ranking positions.

The Keyword Positions Report enables advertisers to view the number of visits and conversions (amongst other data) that result from the different positions that a particular keyword's generated advert appears in the PPC ranking results. For example, an advert displayed in position number 1 for the keyword "product" may have resulted in 80 visits and 3% conversions, whereas it may have resulted in 90 visits and 4% conversions when appearing in position number 4.

An analysis of such data may demonstrate, for many advertisers, that a lower position in the PPC rankings may be more cost-effective for a particular keyword than one higher up. Therefore it can be decided whether it is fruitless to bid for a position on the top left side of the results when it isn't proven to be as effective over time for that keyword than when it appears in the sponsored links on the right side.

This data gives a value to the keyword and can make it work more effectively for a lower cost by saving advertisers from excessively bidding for a high positions. It can also help to save an advertiser a significant level of spend within a large campaign consisting of numerous keywords and a high budget, by being able to focus on the most cost-effective positions and to adjust their bids accordingly.

This Analytics report isn't perfect however - for example it can't differentiate between search terms that are targeted as broad, phrase or exact terms, nor can it give an overview of trends by particular groups of terms. Having said that, the ranking of the ad slots as an average over the campaign can also be viewed by using the new "Advanced Segments" reporting function. This can provide a good comparison of how the left or right-hand side ranking positions produce results over the campaign as a whole.

The Keyword Positions Report can be very effective, especially as it can be used alongside the 'Position Preference' function in Google Adwords which allows advertisers to target a particular ranking position or range by automatically adjusting the bid levels.

If you'd like to know more about how this specific report, or how Google Analytics could be used to enhance your website's performance, please contact us for further information.


Google launches 'interest based' advertising

Google has announced a new feature for AdWords advertisers that will be launched as part of the third-party content network (AdSense). In addition to matching ads with the topic of a web page through contextual advertising, advertisers will now be able to reach users based on their interests, independent of the content they are currently reading.

This new 'interest-based' advertising option is initially being introduced in beta for selected advertisers. Companies will be able to advertise to users based on their previous interactions with them, such as visits to their website. A number of interest categories will be offered, such as "sports enthusiasts," so that targeting can be improved to drive brand awareness or increase advert responses.

Google has been looking to add this type of feature for some time, following the user-profile options offered by Microsoft's adCenter PPC tool in the US. This latter system is supported by Microsoft's network of user details from Hotmail or Messenger, whereas Google has been lacking that level of targeting data. However, Google is now developing a base of information on user habits and offers searchers the additional relevancy that interest-based ads can provide. Users can visit the new Ads Preferences Manager to see what interest categories Google thinks they might fall into, or they can add and remove categories themselves. This Ads Preferences Manager can be found by clicking on most "Ads by Google" links on ads throughout the web.

The question will be how many web searchers will provide their details or be comfortable with the privacy issues that drive this new service. Clearly more relevant advertising should be of interest to most people, but the ways of serving that up may not be so acceptable. Google's official blog has also posted an article explaining the new system and outlining how they are making the option transparent to users, in the hope that they will encourage a wider uptake of this service for the benefit of advertisers and web users.

If you'd like to find out more about this new option and how it might benefit your online advertising, please contact us for a discussion.


Book Review - Get to the Top on Google

As part of our series of book reviews featuring online marketing books, this month we look at Get to the Top on Google, by David Viney. This book focuses on Google and addresses all aspects of search engine marketing through a simple, seven-step methodology.


Recent articles from The Marketing Workbench

The Marketing Workbench is our regular web marketing blog covering news and comment on Internet marketing events and trends. If you want to keep track of current stories you can visit this section of our website on a regular basis, or set up an RSS feed. These are just some of the items posted over the past month:


We hope you've found this month's issue 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.