Google replaced standard text ads with expanded text ads (ETAs) last month. This change has been regarded as their largest since AdWords launched with expanded text ads visible across all devices.

Expanded text ads are designed to maximise web presence and mobile search results as they have a longer headline and description. They offer more prominent headlines with two 30-character fields instead of one. It’s worth highlighting headline one is more important the second headline but the two need to work together.

Descriptions have been merged into an 80-character field, previously there were two 35-character description lines. In addition, AdWords now automatically extracts the domain of your final URL and shows it as your ad’s display URL. This can also include two “path” fields where you can add copy to show visitors what they can expect when they click on your ad.

With these changes comes an opportunity to create much more eye-catching ads, resulting in greater visibility. Expanded text ads are mobile-optimised too so there’s no need to alter the settings when creating or editing. They’re also supported by the same AdWords tools as standard text ads were.

Do take advantage of the additional characters as longer headlines increase your clickable space. You must, however, ensure you review your entire ad creative when devising your expanded text ads. Write compelling and relevant copy that outlines your key point of difference while not forgetting about keywords, which feature in the path fields. The quality of your ads matters to Google, so don’t rely on the additional characters doing the leg-work for you!

Test and optimise your expanded text ads ensuring each works well on mobile and do experiment with different variations to see what performs best. You should test both new and old format ads next to each other, evolving your expanded text ads until they surpass the standard ads. Standard ads should continue running alongside expanded text ads up to this point.

If you’d like to read more, see the PPC Services we offer.

Need to get more out of your text ads? Contact Paul Mackenzie Ross, our Digital Marketing Manager at Clever Marketing, on 020 3146 4341.

Searchmetrics released its annual study of Google’s top search ranking factors recently. This is used as a comparative benchmark for webmasters, online marketers and SEO’s to identify patterns and trends. The company’s historical database contains over 250 billion pieces of information such as keyword rankings, search terms, social links and backlinks with global, mobile and local data covering organic and paid search plus social media.


The full 63-page report can be downloaded here. We thought we’d take a look at the key takeouts from the report which measure the top 20 search results for 10,000 keywords:


Ranking factors are more personal


Much has changed over recent years with universal ranking factors certainly a thing of the past. These days each individual search query has its own ranking factors that are continually changing. Benchmarks like the Searchmetrics annual report, which provide key insights, can be used by search specialists to understand what impact Google’s evaluations will have on its clients’ rankings.


Content remains king as does user intent


We all know content is king with the main challenge for SEO’s ensuring each post is relevant to users. Word count continues to be important with the top ranking sites exceeding an average of 1000 words. Continuing to write content specific to your readers and on a regular basis remains of prime importance. Search queries can vary enormously however so the more specific the content is, the more likely it is to be found and shared.


User intent is an essential part of the mix for SEO’s. Regularly studying the SERPs for a brand’s basic keywords will help uncover what people are looking for. Likewise, customer data will keep SEO’s up to speed with industry developments while focusing on user intent, rather than just keyword research, will help enhance search queries.


Technical factors continue to be important  


In addition to having relevant content, web pages need to provide a smooth user experience and being fully optimised. Ensure your website is mobile first as these sites will always rank higher in Google search than those that are not. Tips on how to make your website mobile friendly can be found here. You should also review how quickly your site loads and how large the files are as well as performing your on-page technical basics. Nearly half the pages in the top 20 of the Searchmetrics report were encrypted using HTTPS.


User signals provide Google with feedback


Google has a wealth of data generated from its search results, browsers and analytics. As such it’s able to identify how satisfied a user is with their search results with an evaluation created in real time. Top ranking factors include click-through rates, time spent on a site and bounce rates. The average bounce rate for websites on the first page of Google is 46%, with the time on site for the top 10 sites being 3 minutes 10 seconds. Websites in positions 1 to 3 typically have an average CTR of 36%. When working on your keyword research and user intent, also consider local search as well as the topic.


Backlinks have less influence on rankings


Although a website with an established link structure should never be underestimated, links are less influential when it comes to search results. There has been a dramatic drop over the past 12 months with relevant content and user intent ranking above. It’s now possible for a site to have a higher Google ranking than a competitor even if it has fewer links. While this is topic dependent, typically it’s come about as mobile searches have rarely linked even if they’re shared or liked.


Backlinks do form part of Google’s algorithm but they’re certainly not the driving force they were previously. Penguin is now a factor in the algorithm too, which means less stability: websites can move up and down rankings quickly as a result of other’s efforts. While you should ensure you keep your backlink profile clean, it’s important to continue with your outreach activity too. Links pointing to your website with a high domain authority will ensure you are seen as an authority in your niche.


So to summarise, we can expect content and user intent to increase in importance with technical also a key driver in search results. Backlinks are on the decline and now just one of many contributing factors in a site’s visibility.



For further information, complete our contact form today or call our Digital Marketing Manager Paul Mackenzie Ross on 020 3146 4341

In our first post tackling common SEO problems and how to overcome them, we covered:

  • duplicate content
  • title tags
  • meta descriptions
  • broken links and
  • image optimisation

These being just some of the technical issues faced on-page and off-page. In part 2, we take a look at another 5 SEO issues and what you can do to resolve them.

6. Missing alt attributes & broken images

Alt attributes (commonly and mistakenly called ALT tags – ALT is an attribute of an IMG tag) help search engines like Google understand what an image is about. If the attributes associated with that image are missing and there’s no description, it can cause SEO problems. Image alt attributes should include your keywords to ensure they’re categorised in the right way. We covered broken links in our last post – broken images cause similar issues in that they can lead to a poor user experience. Both these issues can be overcome by ensuring your alt attributes accurately describe your images. That way they will be properly indexed in search results too.

7. Low text to HTML ratio

Low text to HTML ratio means there’s much more back-end HTML code than there is text. Often it’s a sign of a poorly coded website (for example with above average Javascript, Flash and inline styling), hidden copy or the site is slow loading.You can increase the speed of your site by removing code that’s not needed. Also, move inline scripts and styles to separate files and add relevant on page text where it’s required. Other aspects you might want to check include removing white spaces, using CSS for styling and formatting, resizing images (removing those you don’t need) and keeping the size of your page under 300kb.

You can increase the speed of your site by removing code that’s not needed. Also, move inline scripts and styles to separate files and add relevant on page text where it’s required.Other aspects you might want to check include removing white spaces, using CSS for styling and formatting, resizing images (removing those you don’t need) and keeping the size of your page under 300kb.

Other aspects you might want to check include removing white spaces, using CSS for styling and formatting, resizing images (removing those you don’t need) and keeping the size of your page under 300kb.

8. H1 tag and title issues

A title tag is what appears in your search results with an H1 tag what visitors to your website see on a page. While multiple H1 tags can appear on a page, it’s important to get the hierarchy right to ensure your website is indexed in the right way. H1s should be consistent with title tags but not the same. Ideally, you should use one H1 tag per page with H2 tags breaking up the content.

9. Low word count

When Google introduced its Panda updates way back in 2011, the idea was to reduce the amount of “thin content” in the search results. Around this time the notion that web pages should contain a minimum of 300 words came about and that thought still persists today with even the popular Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress still touting the “recommended minimum 300 words”.

While there is no set word count to rank with a search engine, the preference is long-form pages with the text including keywords and phrases. Google is known for ranking websites with more depth and longer content. Equally, visitors to your website want to see content that is relevant to the topic they searched for. Even if you’re sharing an image-led post or infographic, it will need some context behind it. Evergreen content is often popular with lists, tips and how to guides the most well-received.

So remember – google likes high-quality content. In its own words:

“…sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

10. Too many on-page links

While all websites will include on-page links, having too many links is unnatural and can dilute the value of a page. It’s important therefore that links are relevant and useful. This way you can ensure your website will rank well and have a natural link profile. If you remove the low-quality links from your website, you will provide a better user experience particularly for those accessing your website via a mobile and table. High-quality links will improve your SEO ranking.

There are so many ranking signals that Google considers for SEO, which are constantly changing and evolving. If you or your company needs help navigating the minefield is that search engine optimisation, feel free to get in touch and ask for a free SEO audit. Better still, you can let us evaluate your website speed & performance, security, mobile-friendliness and SEO in a complete website audit – claim your free website audit now.

If you need further help and assistance, get in touch with Woking web agency Clever Marketing on 020 3146 4341.

If you have a great website and you’re generating regular content but not getting discovered by prospective clients, it’s likely you’ll need to improve your search results. The most effective way to achieve higher visibility is to seek out the services of an experienced SEO agency. But what do you need to consider when selecting the right agency? And how can an SEO agency achieve the desired impact on your natural search results?

SEO Agency Checklist: The 7 R’s

1. Requirements

First of all, before you start to consider what an SEO agency can do for you, you need to establish what you need. Typically, there are a number of factors to take into consideration such as the technical side that incorporates the structure of a site, on page optimisation (through keywords, labels and meta data for example) and off page optimisation through backlinks from other sites. If you’re not sure what you need, think about the task – is it about increasing your page rank, local search results or sales growth?

2. Reputation

As with any industry, experience is key. Who have they worked with previously? A quality SEO agency will have a portfolio of clients – either in a single category or across a range of categories. If the breadth of an SEO agency’s client list is predominantly within a specific category, this demonstrates expertise in that field with a more varied client spread highlighting their ability to adopt varied SEO tactics. Regardless of their clients, both current and historical, any SEO agency must be willing to share success stories and testimonials.

3. Retention

It’s important to understand the tenure of an SEO agency’s clients too. How long have they worked with this SEO agency? Typically clients that have remained with the same agency for a period of time, either retained or on a project basis, will have great trust in each other, ensuring a better partnership which in turn leads to a more measurable return on investment. On the flip side, SEO agencies that do not deliver results will have a low retention rate.

4. Realism

It’s important to have realistic expectations and goals when looking for an SEO agency. Agencies offering a guarantee they can get you on page 1 of Google, not adhering to Google’s webmaster best practices and not willing to share methodologies should be avoided. You can always do your own research and see where an SEO agency appears in search rankings. It takes time to climb search engine results and it’s competitive. Think about the size and locality of your SEO agency too as they will dictate fee level. Fees should be transparent so find out exactly what you’ll get for your budget.


Looking for SEO management services? Get in touch and discover why Clever Marketing is the right SEO agency for you…


5. Rigour

An SEO agency should have a clearly defined process that is implemented following strategic thought based on an analysis of your needs – not an ‘off the shelf’ solution. An agency of note should be able to talk you through their approach and how they’re going to achieve your objectives. Their methodology should leverage all SEO angles such as the structure of your site and on page optimization like keywords, labels and meta data to off page backlinks which raise awareness of your content on other websites. Find out if the SEO agency has expertise in maximising visibility at a local level too.

6. Reporting

Your SEO agency should agree measurable KPI’s with you. These should include SEO campaigns goals you agree on with a technical review at the outset. Performance and ROI should be reported regularly (ie; monthly) using the likes of Google Analytics to track improvements. If there’s a drop in search engine rankings, this can then be tracked with measures put in place to push it back up. Search strategies often require frequent content updates so it’s important your SEO agency is accessible and able to offer guidance where required.

7. Relationships

An SEO agency plays a vital role in that it should educate and inform, providing you with a greater understanding of the process. In turn enabling you to work closely to ensure overall objectives are achieved. A good SEO agency will also be able to help develop external relationships such as other site owners and influencers.

We all know that content is king but with search engines ranking sites by popularity, it’s important to maintain your site regularly to iron out any on and off page technical issues.We take a look at five of the most common SEO problems and how to overcome them.

We take a look at five of the most common SEO problems and how to overcome them.

1. Duplicate content

Duplicate content occurs when content appears on the Internet in more than one place. This makes it difficult for search engines to identify which version to include in their index and rank for search queries. Although there isn’t a specific penalty for duplicated content, it can affect ranking and traffic.Your SEO services agency can run an SEO audit initially so you can begin to assess the situation. If the duplicated content is something you can control, you can re-direct to the most authoritative page. You can also use the rel=canonical attribute which prioritises which duplicate page to rank.

Your SEO services agency can run an SEO audit initially so you can begin to assess the situation. If the duplicated content is something you can control, you can re-direct to the most authoritative page. You can also use the rel=canonical attribute which prioritises which duplicate page to rank.

2. Title tags

Title tags are used to tell search engines and visitors what a page is about in an accurate and succinct way. This same title will also form the anchor text when shared on other websites and across social media.

Title tags are an important element within SEO, ranking more highly the closer the start of it is to a keyword-based query. Google can override your title if it doesn’t like it. If you’re working with an SEO services agency, they can help optimise your title tags when it comes to length, keywords and relevance.

3. Meta descriptions

A meta description is a short description that appears under your URL in search results. Placed in the HTML of a website, it’s a 150 character snippet of the content – a great way to show visitors the page is relevant to their search. This is something you can rectify via your SEO services agency or do yourself depending on your site platform and expertise. Meta description errors can be found by heading to: SEO > Site Auditor > Meta or SEO audit software. If you’re a WordPress user, you can use the Yoast SEO Plugin to edit the meta description. These extracts are crucial as they influence the traffic you receive from specific search results.

4. Broken links

A broken link and subsequent 404 error results in a poor user experience and can have a negative impact on search results too. Broken links normally come about if an old page is deleted, moved or if the URL has been changed. The same can apply with outbound links whereby a website you’re linking to alters so it’s worthwhile checking for broken links regularly. You can use your SEO services agency to crawl for internal and external errors, these can then be fixed or removed manually.

5. Image optimisation

Images are the best way to bring a website or post to life thus making the content more shareable. But in much the same way as broken links, broken images can lead to a poor user experience. Images need to index properly too with alt tags used to provide an accurate description for search engines. Google image search receives over a billion page views every day. Optimised images are more likely to receive regular traffic from Google and image-based sites like Pinterest. You can work with your SEO services agency to identify which images are impacting your website, replacing or deleting those affected.

These are just a few of the most common SEO problems companies currently face, we’ll be back to address more SEO issues in part 2. If you have a specific challenge you’d like us to include, feel free to contact Paul Mackenzie Ross at Clever Marketing, Surrey’s digital marketing agency, on 020 3146 4341.

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