Connect a Google+ Business Page with a Google Maps Listing

At long last Google have finally provided webmasters with a much anticipated feature, the ability to connect a Google+ Business page with a verified Google Maps listing.

For some time now many businesses have been forced to operate Google+ Business pages and Google Maps listings independently, leaving many in limbo. This dates back to the early days of Google+ when brand pages were completely separate to Google Maps. But Google have finally enabled the ability to connect the two to the delight of webmasters, myself included!

How to Merge a Google+ Business Page with a Local Business page

Google published this help page which provides a detailed guide on how to connect a Google+ Business page to a Google Maps verified listing as well as advice on which factors will/will not carry over when changing the connected page.

We’ve run through the process ourselves so we thought we would document and share our experience. I’m pleased to say it’s a relatively straight forward process!

One thing Google have failed to tell you, which may cause you problems if you’re not aware of it, is that the connection can only be changed through an owner level account. Page managers will have the ability to view the current connection but are unable to make a change request.

Page Owner vs Manager

So assuming you have “owner” access to the account you should be good to go, but before I continue with our walk-through of the process I thought I’d take the opportunity to show you what our Google Maps listing paged looked like originally, before we commenced this process.

Original Maps Listing

As you can see the maps listing is inactive. We have 5 followers, 2,188 views and only one other person in our circle – our Google+ Business page. We also only have a single post which directs anyone who visits this Maps listing through to our Google+ business page which we’ve traditionally used as our “social” page for Google+. So all in all it’s a bland (almost pointless) page which acts only as a gateway for visitors to reach our active Google+ business page.

You should also be aware of these considerations before you proceed:
Connection Considerations

So on with the process…

1. Sign in as the Owner of both the Google+ Business page and the verified Google Maps listing
2. Select Pages and select the Google Maps page (the verified local business page)

The local page and the business page will look very similar, however the local page will include a verification shield which, if you mouse over, will display the text “Verified Local Business”
Verified Local Business Badge
3. In the top right, click the page icon and click Page Settings
Google+ Page Settings
4. Scroll down to “Profile” section. You’ll see the text “This page is connected to Google Maps” with the option to “View” the connection or “Learn More”. If you have ‘owner’ privileges you should see the button to “Connect a different page”.
Connect a Page
5. Next you’ll have the ability to choose a different page to link to the Google Maps listing. If by any chance you have more than one business page, unfortunately you’ll only be able to link one of those.
Choose Page to Connect
Link a Page
6. Once you’ve selected the page to connect you’ll be prompted to confirm the changes.
Confirm Linked Page Changes
7. Voila! The pages are now successfully merged.

If you rewind to the beginning of the post you will recall our Maps listing originally had only 5 followers and 2,188 views. Now the connection process is complete Google have merged the ‘followers’ and ‘views’ from our Google+ business page into the maps listing.

Merged Listing Local Info

You will also recall I highlighted that our maps listing originally had only a single post, but now the process is complete all of our posts have been merged from our Google+ business page into our Google Maps listing.

Merged Listing Post Info

And that’s it – thankfully it really is that simple!

For a feature which has been eagerly awaited by SEO’s and webmasters, the process of actually connecting each entity is pleasantly simple. It’s also instant. As soon as we clicked the ‘Confirm’ button, the changes took immediate effect, to the point where even our ‘Google+ page’ link within a branded search for High Position also now points to the correct page. So all in all it’s a pretty awesome feature. Thanks Google!

For your information you can visit our connected Google Maps listing via https://plus.google.com/100114515348974367512/.

If anyone has any questions or any difficulty following the connecting process please let me know and I’ll be happy to help if I can.

Update 4th June 2014:
One thing I forgot to mention previously is that when I confirmed the change of connection, Google automatically made a backup of the old Google Maps listing page. This backup version is accessible through the main page selection options, such as:

Maps Page Backup Selection

Here’s an example of the backup page:

Maps Page Backup Example

We now have the option of rolling back the connection by re-connecting to the older page through the same process as above (which in this instance we do not want to do), or we have the option of deleting the page permanently.

April Fools’ 2014 Pranks from Google, Bing & Best of the Rest!

It’s the beginning of April which means only one thing, it’s April Fools’ Day!

Every year various divisions of Google, Bing and companies worldwide take part in April Fools’ pranks, each year trying to outwit the last. This year is no different.

Here’s a round up of the best April Fools’ day hoaxes from Google, Bing and the best of the rest!

Google’s April Fools’ Pranks

Google Maps Pokémon Challenge

Become a Pokémon Master and hone your Pokémon-capturing abilities with Google Maps through the newest version of Maps for iPhone or Android.

More info on this prank via http://google-latlong.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/become-pokemon-master-with-google-maps.html

Google+ Auto Awesome Photobombs with David Hasselhoff

Bringing your photos to life with celebrity photobombing, starting with The Hoff. Upload a self portrait to Google+ and use Auto Awesome Photobombs to add some celebrity stardom to your photo.

Find out more via http://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/introducing-auto-awesome-photobombs.html

Chrome for Mobile Translates Emoji

Read the web with emotive illustrations instead of boring old text with Google Translate support for Emoji built directly into Chrome for Android and iOS.

Read the full story via http://chrome.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/a-faster-mobiler-web-with-emoji.html

Chromecast: A New Era of Squirrel Entertainment

Introducing a new era of squirrel entertainment with Chromecast.

Google Japan – The Magic Hand

Introducing a new input device for smartphones, the Magic Hand from Google Japan!


You can read more here, if you understand Japanese that is http://www.google.co.jp/ime/m9/

Nest and Virgin America – Total Temperature Control

Nest have teamed up with Virgin America to launch Total Temperature Control, individual climate control for passengers flying at 35,000 feet.

YouTube Announces Upcoming Viral Video Trends #newtrends

YouTube HQ announce some of the upcoming viral video trends that you’ll watching in 2014 including Clocking, Kissing Dad, and Glub Glub.

Google Adbirds

Yes, that’s right not Adwords, Adbirds! Adbirds is the latest addition to Google Adwords, a new ad format allowing advertising managers to place ads on real birds.
Google Adbirds

Bing’s 2014 Effort

Bing Link Juice

Bing have apparently released bottled Link Juice. Costing just a few $’s and containing an array of link types this bottled link juice is available via an anonymous package and will be delivered within 90 days to ensure a natural approach!
Bing Link Juice
Head over to Bing Blogs for details on how to claim your link juice – http://www.bing.com/blogs/site_blogs/b/webmaster/archive/2014/03/31/link-juice.aspx

The Best of the Rest

I couldn’t leave without mentioning some of the best 2014 April Fools’ hoaxes from other companies and other industries.

Screaming Frog’s SEO Lookalikes

This is still SEO industry related but definitely worth a quick mention. Patrick Langridge of Screaming Frog has put together an awesome list of SEO lookalikes including some of the most recognised faces in the SEO industry next to some other familiar faces. Here’s a sneak peak at what to expect…
Screaming Frog SEO Lookalikes
Check out the full lookalike list here http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-lookalikes/

Union Jack if Scotland Votes for Independence

Controversial? It certainly has potential to open up a can of worms! Nevertheless the Daily Mail has revealed secret Government papers proposing to ditch the cross of St Andrew if Scotland votes for independence. The new Union Jack with include only St George’s red cross (which represents England and Wales) as well as the red saltire of Ireland’s St Patrick – there’s no Scottish blue in sight!
Union Jack
Read the full hoax via http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2593781/Scot-free-Union-Jack-gets-Yes-vote-makeover-Secret-Government-papers-reveal-flag-look-Scotland-votes-independence.html

Domino’s Pizza Edibox

Domino’s have seemingly revolutionised pizza delivery with a world first in snacking innovation, the edible pizza box or Edibox.
Domino's Editbox
Find out more via http://www.dominos.co.uk/blog/edibox-revolutionises-pizza-delivery/

Experts Baffled by Square Eggs

A Freedom Food Farm has apparently become the first ever farm where chickens lay square eggs.
Square Eggs
Find out more via http://www.itv.com/daybreak/hot-topics/the-chickens-that-lay-square-eggs

That’s all for now, but if I come across any more April Fools’ delights I’ll add them later on. Likewise if you have any April Fools’ gems which I’m yet to see please let me know!

5 Digital Trends to Watch in 2014

If 2013 is anything to go by, this year will be another cracker for digital marketing. With 79% of the EU having internet access in 2013, compared to 55% in 2007 and online traffic from mobile devices increasing by 46% year on year, digital really is becoming the new mainstream as users get hooked on all things online. With dual-screening from our couches and vouchers being pinged to us as we stroll past pizza takeaways, there has never been so much meaning to “being in the right place at the right time” and this year you’ll be able to do exactly that. Read on to find out how and why, as we reveal the top 5 digital marketing trends to watch out for in 2014.

#1. The mobile takeover. It’s here! …Now what?

2013 was the year that marketers really started to sit up and take notice of mobile. We’ve seen responsive site design and email campaigns adapt to offer improved browsing experiences on our mobiles but this really is just the beginning of the mobile takeover. 2014 will see more and more brands getting clever with multi-platform marketing and sequential messaging, as dual-screening becomes a mainstream activity.

Mobile Research Summary of Findings

Of course, B2C campaigns will evolve ahead of B2B as big brand marketing teams are already working hard to understand how their audiences use different devices and in what circumstances they use them. For instance, as people sit at home watching TV and tweeting about it, this is an obvious opportunity for TV advertisers to ramp up their twitter campaigns and embrace dual screening activity to reinforce marketing messages and have conversations with their audience (conversations that are organic and about topics their audience is interested in).

Whilst we’re on the subject of TV….marketers should now be embracing TV as a digital platform, and step away from treating it as a traditional advertising platform – those who don’t will probably miss out! Why? Marketing Week has delved into the research and MarketShare Partners “suggests that brands enhancing their TV spots with social ads such as promoted tweets lower their Cost Per Acquisition by 38 percent.” Also, “as consumers watch more TV via smartphones and on-demand, marketers will need to adjust their approach.” says Chris Ellis, Group Digital Marketing Manager at Belron, owner of the Autoglass brand.

#2. Getting personal, with the rise of “me-tail”

As consumers become used to engaging with their brands on social platforms, naturally their expectations have evolved to want a more personal, conversational relationship with companies. Whilst we don’t want to be stalked by our favourite brands, Marketing Week reported that consumers are more likely to expect a personal approach from brands – from having polite conversations, with real people, on social media platforms to receiving tailored e-shots that they are (actually) interested in.

segmenting-your-users

This was an intresting snippet: “In fact, 56 percent of consumers say they would be more inclined to use a retailer if it offered a good personalised experience, according to O2 ’s The Rise of Me-tail study. And considering that personalisation could lift sales by 7.8 percent, retailers would be wise to take note.”

Although we know that Apple can predict what people want to listen to and Tesco will send you Clubcard vouchers based on what you’ve bought in store over the last few months. Brands need to embrace that they too have valuable data on current customers and should start to nurture those most loyal relationships, then gradually roll out campaigns to wider segments. If you know that customer A buys item #4 every few months…tell them when it’s on offer and show them what other customers who love product #4 like to buy. (= lots of Brownie points!)

Studies also show that personalising ad campaigns generated a lower CPA and makes for happier, loyal relationships with audiences. Even if advertisers are still working on their data crunching and targeting strategies, organisations can and should also experiment with “Native content”. This means using social advertising to deliver natural looking ads that create demand from “pull” marketing tactics as opposed to “push” marketing. Results show that Click Through Rates improved by 100% as consumers are starting to see through the generic adverts.

#3. Social media ads – for everyone!

Tying in nicely, native content campaigns are now easier than ever to implement as social platforms are keen to cash in on their successful networks. 2013 saw the rollout of sponsored tweets for all brands (big and small!) as well as Google+ starting to dip their toe in sponsored posts and paid for “help outs” using their hangout feature.

Promoted Tweets

Used on a small scale, social advertising can be a very cost effective, budget friendly way for all brands to reach out to new and existing consumers. And, although our previous research has revealed that last click attribution of social media is weak compared to search traffic, we believe that the value of social relations is in the long term, lifetime value of a customer. Early research into our client data shows that companies who updated at least three social channels in a 72 hour time frame, achieved almost twice as many sales that were assisted by social than companies who focused on one or two channels.

Marketing Week also reported that consumers themselves say they are more likely to favour brands that they connect with on social media. Plus, we need to remember that social media doesn’t only mean Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or G+. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other channels if your target audience is thriving there. Pinterest, Instagram and even SnapChat or Vine are ones to watch, and can provide great strength to brands that can offer great visual engagement – travel, retail and lifestyle industries take note!

#4. Data is So Hot Right Now!

One thing that these first three trends have in common is that they can be improved and driven by data, and lots of it. From capturing enough individual consumer data and enough collective audience data these segmenting and personalisation decisions can be made, with a little bit of number crunching of course.

High Position's Mobile E-commerce Dashboard

At High Position we love data, and we can’t get enough of it. Being a Google Analytics Certified Partner means we get to see Google Analytics (GA) evolve and roll out new features before they go mainstream, and 2013 has really been the year of attribution, multi-channel funnels, as we adopt an approach to measure results that see past last-click value and take note of consumer buying behaviour. This means we can measure the true value of your campaigns…moving towards measuring brand activity and pinning value on this as well as sales and revenue.

To aid this movement, Google has opened up their Analytics Academy to help marketers in any organisation to sharpen up on their analytics and get to grips with what GA really has to offer beneath the surface of page views and bounce rates.

#5. Google will play cupid

2013 witnessed a $3million overhaul of Google’s Partner programme and 2014 is set the be the year that Google works hard to connect smaller organisations with trusted digital marketing agencies. Collectively this agency/SME matchmaking will provide SMEs with a decent slice of online markets that have started to become dominated by big brands with budgets that allow them experiment with digital strategies. Helping SMEs to work with agencies trusted by Google (like High Position!) means their investment in AdWords will be well spent and go the extra mile, avoiding wasting budget on under-optimised accounts simply because an SME can’t learn AdWords inside-out like an agency can.

Google sees the value and opportunities for SMEs now that their targeting options have been taken to the next level (with enhanced campaigns) and they, of course, want more businesses to use them! Plans are in place to roll out a better “Find a Partner” site, which will not only help businesses find PPC agencies but agencies that offer a range of digital marketing services. Part of this drive will revolve around their new partner logo and a #LookForTheBadge campaign to help SME’s easily recognise a trusted agency.

Google partner Badge

So, 2014 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for Digital Marketing – businesses just need to keep up and embrace the opportunities that will unfold! To get started with a better digital marketing campaign, contact our team of experts today.

The Evolution of Knowledge Graph

Knowledge Graph

In May 2012 Google unveiled one of the most significant changes to search, the Knowledge Graph.

I recently published a post on the Search Engine People blog discussing the importance of Knowledge Graph, how it works and various types of data which you should expect to see as a result, many of which you have probably naturally encountered throughout your search journey. I would of course highly recommend reading it if you’re unfamiliar with Knowledge Graph of even if you just want to understand it a little better.

Since its release in 2012 Knowledge Graph has evolved quickly branching out into additional languages and returning a broader range of facts and figured to enhance search results. Many of these may have gone unnoticed so I’ve put together this little timeline of the evolution of Knowledge Graph highlighting some of the major changes since it launched.

  1. 2012

    16th May 2012 – Knowledge Graph Launched in the US.

    In May 2012 Knowledge Graph officially rolled-out in the United States. According to Google Knowledge Graph initially contained data about more than 500 million objects and more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between different objects.

  2. 8th August 2012 – English Roll-out

    Google rolls-out Knowledge Graph across every English-speaking country in the world. At the same time as the language roll-out, Google launch the Knowledge Graph Carousel available via Google.com only.

  3. 5th September 2012 – Carousel Global Roll-out

    After initial launch in the US, the Knowledge Graph Carousel rolls out globally to all in English speaking countries.

  4. 19th October 2012 – “People also search for” Integration

    Google added explanations of connnections to the “People also search for” function allowing users to better understand the connection between the entities.

  5. 30th November 2012 – Medications Added

    Google added medical information to Knowledge Graph with detailed information about various medications, with data pulled from U.S. FDA, the National Library of Medicine, and DailyMed amongst others.

  6. 4th December 2012 – Language Roll-Out

    Knowledge Graph rolls-out support for additional languages including Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian and Italian.

    Google state that Knowledge Graph now contains information on 570 million entities and contains 18 billion facts.

  7. 2013

    8th January 2013 – Clickable Source URLs

    Google implemented a clickable source link when Knowledge Graph displays ‘Web Definitions’.

  8. 27th March 2013 – Android Play Movies & TV –

    Knowledge Graph expands into movies, availabe via the Android Play Movies & TV app allowing users to see relevant information directly within a movie.

  9. 9th April 2013 – Non-Profit Information

    Google adds information about non-profit organisations to Knowledge Graph.

  10. 15th May 2013 – Language Roll-out & Added Stats

    Knowledge Graph rolls-out additional language support including Polish, Turkish, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese announced by Amit Singhal at Google IO.

    Knowledge Graph now contains additional statistics allowing the system to try to predicted a users next question.

    Google announce support for the Organization Schema markup.

  11. 30th May 2013 – Nutritional Information

    Nutritional information added to Knowledge Graph for over 1,000 fruits, vegetables, meats and meals.

  12. 17th June 2013 – Carousel Expansion

    It was rumoured that 50 different topics are now serving the Knowledge Graph carousel. Unconfirmed by Google.

  13. 18th June 2013 – Carousel for Local Search

    The Knowledge Graph Carousel now integrates local serch data for resturants, bars and other local places on desktops.

  14. 26th September 2013 – Comparions and Filters

    Google add the ability to compare various entities (such as Earth and Mars) providing a range of facts and figures.

    Users can also filter results by various factors depending on their search query.

    Google also launch a Music Knowledge Graph with YouTube, Google Now, New Carousel and more.

  15. 3rd October 2013 – Google Now Integration

    Google Now integrated with Knowledge Graph.

  16. 9th October 2013 – Language Roll-Out & TV Episodes

    Knowledge Graph rolls-out support for additional languages including Croatian, Serbian, Hindi, Slovak, Lithuanian, Slovenian, Persian, Catalan, and Latvian, as well as Filipino. The announcement was made by Google Philippines Country Head Narciso Reyes

    Google also add TV Episode information to Knowledge Graph.

  17. 13th December 2013 – Knowledge Graph Ad Testing

    Gianluca Fiorelli noticed Google testing ads in Knowledge Graph results providing an example of local car dealer ads in vehicle related panels.


I think that pretty much covers all of the major changes to Knowledge Graph since its launch in 2012. As you can see Google have come a long way in a relatively short space of time, evolving Knowledge Graph to better server the growing needs of the user. By the way if you think I’ve missed anything please let me know!

What do you expect to see happen next with Knowledge Graph? Do you think Google are missing any vital data which would truly enhance the user experience?

Google+ Rollout Custom URLs

Google+You Banner
Yesterday Google finally began rolling out vanity URLs for established Google+ profiles much to the joy of many Google+ users. In a post on Google+ Otavio Silva announced that Google have commenced rolling out custom URLs to established profiles, expanding availability throughout the week.

The vanity URLs provide individual Google+ users and businesses profiles with a concise, user friendly, memorable URL offering improved personal and/or brand identity, an approach which both Facebook and Twitter have adopted for quite some time.

Until now a Google+ URL consisted of somewhat random strings of numbers, such as https://plus.google.com/109096094773861702252‎

Non-Customer G+ URL

Now users and business can claim an optimised URL which is more oriented towards the identity of the user/brand using the +PageName format. For example, here’s my new vanity URL – https://plus.google.com/+ChrisAinsworth/.

Custom Google+ URL Example

For individual Google+ users this is an added bonus but for businesses the introduction of vanity URLs is a massive aid to maintaining brand consistency across all major social platforms, for example.

Whether it’s for promotional activity online or offline the vanity URL will definitely be the preferred choice for brands worldwide.

A Long Awaited Identity Feature!

For the Google+ community vanity URLs have been a long awaited feature. In August 2012 Google announced that vanity URLs were rolling out to a limited number of verified profiles.

At first, we’re introducing custom URLs to a limited number of verified profiles and pages. But over time we plan to offer custom URLs to many more brands and individuals, so please stay tuned!

This generally included elite members such as popular brands, certain celebrities or otherwise renowned individuals, and certain other key profiles such as influential Google employees, for example:

Google also began rolling out custom URLs for select groups of people such as this example cited by John Saddington in August 2012.

Custom URL Select GroupImage Credit: http://john.do/google-plus-vanity-url/

But now Google are finally rolling out custom Google+ URLs to a wider audience.

Are You Eligible?

Before you can claim your vanity URL your profile will need to meet certain criteria before you’re deemed as eligible.

For individuals their profile must have been active for at least 30 days, the user must have a minimum of 10 followers and the profile must have a profile photo.

For Google+ Local pages they must be a verified local business, and for non-local Google+ pages they must be correctly linked with a website. You can find out more about getting started with Google+ custom URLs via the Google Help Center- https://support.google.com/plus/answer/2676340

If you meet these requirements you should receive an email from Google detailing the pre-approval of your vanity URL. Please note the sender will appear as Google+ Team and the subject of the email will be Get a custom URL for your Google+ profile.

Google+ Custom URL Notification

Haven’t Received a “Preapproval” Email Notification?

If you didn’t receive the preapproval email from Google there’s a chance you may not be eligible for a custom URL; but don’t panic you may have inadvertently missed the notification, so there are a couple of checks you can do.

Firstly, log into your Google+ profile and look for a ‘preapproved’ notification at the top of the screen.

Custom URL Profile Notification

If this isn’t available you can also check the ‘About’ tab on your profile and reviewing the ‘Links’ section.

Get Custom URL Notification

If you cannot see either of these options then unfortunately you’re not able to change your URL at the moment; but don’t worry as Google are reportedly rolling this out gradually throughout the week,

If you have been preapproved you’ll then be able to click the “Get URL” link to agree with the T’s and C’s and confirm the change to your vanity URL.

Get A Google+ Custom URL For Your Page

Voila! It’s that simple! Or is it?

Preapproved URL Uproar!

Since the announcement of custom URL rollout individuals and businesses worldwide have began the process of claiming their custom URL yet many have been met by disappointment; not because they cannot claim a vanity URL but because they cannot change their preapproved URL.

It’s been noted by many people, mainly in relation to Google+ business pages, that for some bizarre reason Google are automatically appending the domain extension to the end of the URL making custom URLs visible as +PageNameCom instead +PageName. For example, the preapproved High Position Google+ vanity URL is +HighPositionCom instead of +HighPosition

Appended Domain Suffix-1

Appended Domain Suffix-2

And we’re not alone! There have been numerous comments on Otavio Silva’s post questioning the value of custom URLs with appended domain extensions.

Rada Merino Comment

Paul Gailey Alburquerque Comment

So why have Google appended the domain suffix to business page vanity URLs? At the moment I have absolutely no idea why Google would assume this approach. I can imagine certain scenarios where this may be applicable (i.e. multiple business pages for different geographic locations and target audiences) but to roll this out as a blanket approach is questionable.

Can You Request a Different URL?

As far as I am aware at the moment there’s no way to request a change to a business page vanity URL. The Google Help document suggests that you may amend the capitalisation of the URL but you cannot change the actual URL.

Remember, you can only change the capitalisation of the URL, not the URL itself.

Initially this raises questions over the structure of the preapproved URL. For those who are looking to the future this also raises queries over the longevity of the URL; for example what would happen if your business wanted to rebrand? Facebook offer a one time URL change for such purposes on their Pages. Twitter offers no such flexibility.

What Can You do if you’re not happy with your preapproved URL?

So what exactly can can you do about if you’re not happy with your preapproved URL? Unfortunately the answer is very little, at the moment at least.

In this post by Florent Le Mens Florent shows screenshots of an individual Google+ profile whereby Google offer the option to request a different URL.

Request a Different Vanity URL

However I certainly didn’t see this option when I upgraded to my vanity URL.

Google+ Top Contributors DeAno Jackson posted yesterday stating that they are fully aware of the concerns surrounding vanity URLs and that they’re hoping to escalate the issue to community managers and product teams.

DeAno Jackson Post

Being a top contributor they have a little more clout and therefore may have the ability to get some answers. All they ask is that you leave details of your required changes via comments on their post – https://plus.google.com/+DeAnoJackson/posts/Ki4A8JDc2h4.

More Strange Factors…

Before I leave you I just wanted to mention a couple more things which I’ve noticed.

Firstly within the Google+ Custom URLs Terms of Use Google state that the use of a custom URL is free for the time being but they may start charging for the use of a custom URL in the future!

Google+ Custom URL Ts & Cs

Will Google really start charging individuals or businesses for the use of a vanity URL? I think it’s quite unlikely but I’m alarmed that Google would ever consider it.

Secondly, being the tech savvy SEO that I am I was intrigued to see how Google was handling requests for the old “non-custom” URLs. It would appear that Google are using a 302 Temporary redirect method over a 301 Permanent redirect. FYI here’s the header info for my old URL https://plus.google.com/109096094773861702252


GET /109096094773861702252 HTTP/1.1
Host: plus.google.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:24.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/24.0
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8
Accept-Language: en
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Cookie: PREF=ID=195983eac3af9bca:U=bdecb42211b26adc:FF=0:LD=en:CR=2:TM=1383037345:LM=1383123935:GM=1:S=y5z
foyCHdytNGoVz; NID=67=UbPvYN1_bQaUfGKGSgbZg0kBcK0jZZ0kBYm1FDlQGhmEd0kjh-r4aq2cOMf7pMeGnDfxoeK28SKNJveE5Hm_UjDKcDsSaHXOBJyW-m5UowvBivs9-VZNRjNXu9enc4cT_wn7CNflXBOaj-V4MHFvFm2lO7kNZfO4Aks2t6-quA6cZW5h; OGPC=4061029-5:; OTZ=2013829_56_56_123900_52_436380; S=localbusinesscenter=RjrwHBfkF1iWQLLcCYm_Kg; S=localbusinesscenter=RjrwHBfkF1iWQLLcCYm_Kg:talkgadget=6zWjyBlR-Y1dKxE9doJFNQ
Connection: keep-alive

HTTP/1.1 302 Moved Temporarily
Alternate-Protocol: 443:quic
Cache-Control: no-cache, no-store, max-age=0, must-revalidate
Content-Encoding: gzip
Content-Length: 185
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 11:48:56 GMT
Expires: Fri, 01 Jan 1990 00:00:00 GMT
Location: https://plus.google.com/+ChrisAinsworth
Pragma: no-cache
Server: GSE
x-content-type-options: nosniff
X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
X-UA-Compatible: IE=edge, chrome=1
X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block
X-Firefox-Spdy: 3

Are Google luring people into a false sense of security before unleashing fury as they switch to a paid URL model? Extremely doubtful but who knows! If the change to a custom URL is indeed permanent then surely Google should practice what they preach and use a permanent redirect?

In Summary

If you’re yet to receive notification of elgibility for a custom Google+ URL don’t panic. Google are apparently set to rollout vanity URLs over the next few days so keep an eye on your emails and your Google+ profile for notification. Remember, the email sender will appear as Google+ Team and the subject of the email will be Get a custom URL for your Google+ profile!

If you’re running a Google+ business page be sure that you’re happy with the preapproved URL before you claim it. If you’re not happy then it might be worthwhile holding back for a while until Google provides a resolution or at least provide a statement on the problem. Chances are if you claim the preapproved URL now you’ll struggle to update it at a later date even if Google to provide a fix. So be sure to make an informed decision before you proceed.

Update – 11th November 2013

It would seem that Google are now offering a level of URL customisation when choosing a vanity Google+ URL.

In our account the pre-selected vanity URL now defaults to the name of the page (in our case “Highposition”) and we’re now given the option to “add a few characters” to the preselected URL.

G+ Add Extra Letters

We’re no longer given the option to change the case of the lettering and we’re not permitted to continue without adding a few characters meaning that we’re obliged to reside to a URL structure of /+Highposition[INSERT RANDOM CHARACTERS HERE].

It’s evident that Google are reacting to constructive criticism of the roll-out but is this method really a better approach? In my opinion not really. You’re still forced to add additional, unwanted, characters to the vanity URL which is many instances will continue negate a uniform approach to branding. Do we really want to adopt /+Highposition123 or some other meaningless variant of our brand? I don’t think so. Why as a brand can we not simply own /+HighPosition?

What do you think? Does this change help your Google+ Page/your brand?

UPDATE:Google also put this announcement out via Google+ Help on 11th November…

Unfortunately it offers little in terms of action to remedy any issues with your vanity URL.

Multi-Channel Funnels – 90 Day Look-back Is Here!

I arrived at work this morning, opened my inbox, and quelle surprise! a lovely treat from Google sitting right there!

Google Analytics have announced that the look-back period within the Multi-Channel Funnel reports have been extended to 90 days before conversions, up from the previous limit of 30 days. While this may not seem like a big change, it will in fact give you far deeper insights in to how customers interact with your website.

 

What do Multi-channel funnels actually do?

Multi-channel funnels (MCF) take web analytics beyond last-click analysis and show you how your marketing channels work together on a customers journey to conversion.
They allow you to see each of the touch points you had with your visitors before they purchased through e-commerce or completed a goal.

Multi-channel funnels can really help you understand your cross channel marketing efforts and should become a valuable tool in your data analysis toolbox.

 

Insights Insights Insights

Path Length

Path length shows you the number of interactions a customer had with your website before purchasing. With the new 90 day look-back window the Path length report has changed substantially for some of our clients. In the example below you can clearly see that this extra 60 days of data has changed our outlook on how customers interacted with this site.

Click to view larger

We can clearly see that the limited 30 day period had missed many interactions and were being classified as new visitors, rather than seeing that they had visited the site in the past. This new information will make our marketing more accountable – when previously we thought people were looking at the site and purchasing within a few steps, they were in fact loyal fans returning and had many touch points with this brand.

Similar insights will be found across all the other MCF reports too, I’m now going to dig around with the Assisted Conversion report to see what I can find to improve this clients digital marketing campaign.

 

Assisted Conversions

Straight away I’ve noticed one valuable piece of information, with a 30 day look-back window, we had zero Assisted Conversions from our Email campaigns, switching that to a 90 day look-back and we can see that emails sent a few months ago are still influencing purchases today! months after they were originally sent! – another crucial insight that email campaigns are helping and should be attributed correctly!

If you have spotted any great examples or would like us to look at your account, get in touch in the comments below.

 

Google I/O 2013 – Keynote Highlights

Google I/O 2013 Logo

Google commenced the 6th annual developer conference, Google I/O, in San Francisco yesterday.

The conference began with the three and a half hour keynote address revealing Google’s innovations and future plans across their broad spectrum of platforms. The keynote even featured a surprise appearance from Google CEO Larry Page.

Although there was no announcement of Android 4.3 as many had expected, there were some exciting, innovative announcements worth shouting about.

Here’s a brief recap of Google IO Day 1, we’re going to keep this round up short and sweet – enjoy!

All New Google Maps

One of the biggest and highly anticipated announcements at Google I/O was the launch of the all new Google Maps.

Featuring new innovations such as satellite pictures with ‘real time clouds’, the ability to draw tailored maps for every search a user makes highlight the things that matter most, and improved interaction showing a broader range of helpful information, the new Google Maps promises to be a more intuitive next generation of maps.

If you’re interested you can request an invite to the new Google Maps or read on the Google Latlong Blogspot.

Newly Designed Google +

Another huge announcement was the changes coming to Google+. It was announced that over the coming year Google+ will see the introduction of 41 new features related primarily to the stream, hangouts and photo section of Google+.

One of the major changes, available now, is the move from a single column to a multi-column design depending on the size and orientation of the users screen.

Google+ Multi-Column View

Many people have already pointed out similarities between the new Google+ layout and the likes of Facebook and Pinterest which may have heavily influenced Google’s move to the new design.

Google also announced the introduction of a new feature called related hashtags, automatically providing hashtags related to stories within the stream, allowing the user to follow up on a particular topic. Hash tags have been available within Google+ since birth, however this is a big move to promote this functionality within Google+, presumably in an attempt to rival the massive hash tag usage of Twitter.

In addition to these awesome features Google also announced various changes to hangouts including richer and more responsive messaging, conversation history, free 1-to-1 or group video calls, with a stand-alone app for Android and iOS devices and PC platforms.

Also there are various improvements to photos including auto backups, highlights, improved/auto photo enhancement tools.

Visit the Google+ Project to see all the lovely Google+ enhancements and niceties.

Multi-Screen & Conversational Search

Amit Singhal unveiled the new “conversational search” a Google development which will provide a search engine that can answer your questions. Singhal signalled that simply saying “OK Google,…” followed by a question Google will be able to communicate with a user, and provide relevant information without the user having to ask.

Multi-screen Search

In the Google Inside Search blog Singhal mentions various improvements to knowledge graph to provide better/smarter answers to questions.

Read the full story from Amit Singhal here – http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-multi-screen-and-conversational.html

Google Play Music All Access Subscription Service

Google Play Music All Access is a subscription based music streaming service set to rival similar streaming services such as Spotify. With the ability to combine Google Play Music with a users own music collection via the cloud, Google’s Engineering Director Chris Yerga call All Access “This is radio without rules”. No doubt this announcement will not go down well with Spotify, nor with Apple who have reportedly considered launching their own music service.

Here’s AndroidCentral’s look at All Access.

New Google Now Cards

Six new cards will soon be launched for Google Now, Google’s app for finding answers to user-initiated queries. The new cards include reminders, which automatically notify you when you have appointments or plans, a public transport search as well as music, TV shows, books and video games.

Read more here – http://www.engadget.com/2013/05/15/google-now-updated-with-reminders-real-time-public-transit-upda/.

Samsung Galaxy S4 on Google Play

Google have teamed up with Samsung to deliver an all new version of the Galaxy S4. Available to buy in the US in June the new Android device has been developed especially for Google Play combining Google’s top of the range software applications with Samsungs cutting-edge hardware. Available up to 16Gb with 4G LTE support, the handset itself will run a core version of Android 4.2 and will remain completely unlocked with a full unlocked bootloader, great for developers! The fact that the handset will run the core version of Android will bode well with users, allow them to upgrade to each new version quickly and easily.

Read more here – http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2013/05/whoa-googles-selling-a-pure-android-samsung-galaxy-s-4-on-google-play/.

Google Wallet & Gmail

Google have integrated Google Wallet into Gmail, allowing users to quickly and easily send money to Gmail and non-Gmail email addresses, for free!

Find out more bout sending money via Gmail on the Google Commerce blog.

Google I/O 2013: Keynote

If you’ve got a spare 4 hours you can watch the full keynote from Google I/O 2013 here!

What to Expect on Google I/O 2013 Day 2?

Well there you have it, that the round-up of day 1 at Google I/O 2013. There are a lot of Google I/O sessions on the agenda for day 2 so we’ll keep an ear to the ground for any new announcements. Perhaps the eagerly awaited launch of Android 4.3? You can also follow all of the days events for yourself using the #io2013 hashtag.

Don’t forget you can also follow High Position on Twitter and Google+ for all the latest Google I/O 2013 developments!

What Do You Think?

What are your thoughts on the first day of Google I/O? Are you excited by any of the developments? Do you think Google have over-stepped the mark with the Facebook/Pinterest style G+ interface? Disappointed Android 4.3 wasn’t announced?

We’d love to hear your thoughts! So please feel free to leave a comment!

PS: Google Support for Organisation Logo Schema.org Markup

Expanding their support for Schema.org markup, Google announce yesterday (not at I/O!) support for organisation logos, allowing business to specify which image Google use as the business logo within search results.

Read more and see examples at the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

The Brand Bidding Debate

To Bid, Or Not To Bid…

At High Position we take ROI seriously and aim to use PPC budgets as efficiently as possible, generating cost effective clicks, which convert well and achieve a healthy CPA. One topic we are constantly debating with clients is the process of bidding on branded terms when a site is organically in the top spot. So, I thought it was about time that I dig deep for the reasons in support of, and against bidding on brand terms and compare them to studies conducted by Google and independent sources – as well as our very own test which is in the making!

Pro Bidding on Brands

“Maximise your presence and dominate above the fold search results”

Google is gradually moving further towards an above-the-fold domination of paid results – strangely enough this will probably mean they will generate more revenue as users are manipulated to choose paid results! By offering more and more ad extensions, this allows paid adverts to take up more space, and generate more Google revenue. But…these are also very advantageous to advertisers. By making the most of the various extensions we can take up hundreds of extra ad pixels – for free! The more screen space you can own, the more likely you will be to catch the attention of searchers and generate more clicks.

“Control and tailor your message – as often as you want to”

We all know that a good meta description can improve organic visits – but the reality is that in 160 characters we need to summarise the organisation and slip in a few generic keywords for SEO benefit. We can’t promote every offer or work in real time with whatever is “hot” right now – instead we let Google decide what to list, hoping they will use a well written meta description. Another feature of paid ads is having total control over content, allowing you to promote offers, test call to actions and master the appeal that’s needed to keep improving Click Through Rate.

“Tell people lots of things in one ad”

With Ad Extensions, you can not only try to dominate the page, you can provide several other options and cover all bases. From additional, helpful, links to telephone numbers and printable coupons you can try giving them exactly what they want in an advert –a lot more appealing than an organic listing I’d say!

“Prevent your competitors from stealing your business”

Unfortunately, you can’t stop people from bidding on your branded keywords. It might cost them a lot due to having a low quality score but not competing with the competition is as bad as letting your competitor hand out “buy from us, not them” flyers to customers as they go to walk through the shop door.

“Is your brand name ambiguous?”

Some brands have less unique names and find themselves fighting for organic stability! If this is the case, the best way to stand out and secure first page visibility is to bid on branded terms. Make sure people know they are clicking on the right link and finding exactly what they are meant to find!

“Improve your quality scores by upping CTR”

Part of Google’s quality score algorithm uses previous ad success – or Click Through Rate to deem whether your ads are what people want to see! After all, the more people want to click on a set of ads, the more money Google will make! So, how does this help your campaign? By using branded campaigns – which typically have the best Click Through Rates, your whole campaign can over-time achieve better Quality Scores. Better quality scores mean lower CPCs and better Average Ad Positions! Siddharth Shah explores CTR v.s. Quality Score in more detail here.

“Professional Appearance”

Some brands argue that web users expect “good brands” to be present in paid and organic results. Theory suggests this instils more trust in a search user as the brand is visible in two areas – meaning the brand must be doing something right?!

Against Brand Budget

“Why waste budget when they will find us anyway?”

Sure, you will be there in the first spot for your brand organically so if people want to particularly use your service or find your product then maybe they will look for your organic listing. If this is the case, then a chunk of PPC budget can be freed up to target new customers who are searching with generic keywords. We are also all familiar with the logic that says keeping a customer coming back is 10 times easier, and cheaper, than going after new ones! Plus, a large proportion of searchers will only click on organic listings which have earned their way to the top, but, when Google is gradually dominating above the fold results with paid listings, will it take much for a fickle audience to click on the first thing that ticks their boxes?

“Bidding on brand will only upset my affiliates”

A fair point indeed! Having a naturally great quality score (because you are the keyword!) will most likely mean that any affiliate sites will have to pay a higher CPC. But, on the plus side, having your brand in the mix will reduce the chances of clicks going to competitors as much as their chance of gaining more clicks.

Proof is in the Pudding

So, the arguments are solid, but where is the evidence and who has done their research?

Several companies – including Google – have conducted tests and found the following results which concluded that overall search revenue increases with both paid and organic presence.

So, here is what Google says: 

Google Research - Impact of Organic Rank on Ad Click Incrementality

But we also dug around for some less bias results:

From PPC Associates:

“…test shows that brand keywords increased total brand conversions (SEO+SEM) by around 10% even though competition was rare on both paid and organic listings”

From Econsultancy:

“… investment in brand paid search delivers incremental revenue. As soon as we paused the ads, the total revenue from search dropped and wasn’t fully compensated via other channels”

From Enquiro Research:
“When a brand name is the top result in both natural and paid search results, 83% of consumers looking to buy would consider a purchase. Without paid search, however, the same brand name as the top result in organic search only obtains 73% purchase consideration”

But, does your industry matter?

So, AdWords textbooks say that bidding on branded keywords is a no brainer. But is this really true for all industries, and all companies? What about the small proportion of monopoly industries – and do such things even exist?

We are examining the common arguments against bidding and will be testing the theories on a duopolistic client who has one direct competitor and a bunch of affiliates which all sell their product anyway. So, what better way to determine if investment in brand terms is worthwhile? Will the ROI for “lost” traffic captured via PPC be worthwhile for the ad spend for all branded PPC?…Will it only be worth bidding on branded terms during offer periods?…Wow! There are so many questions we could potentially answer here!

Keep checking back here, where we will keep you posted and update you with the results in the next couple of months!

 

Google’s PPC Paid Search Must Have Ticket! Part 1

Google requests the company of…

Google opened their doors last week for a special client/agency presentation, during which they detailed their vision for the future, and High Position had front row seats. Unlike many recent events, this one was at their King’s Cross office, not too far from the location of a NEW King’s Cross Headquarters which is set to be ready in 2016. The presentations were from a variety of sources including a couple of new businesses and a BBC journalist, not just Google Heads of Service, making it especially relevant for the clients we took with us. And not just from a PPC Paid Search perspective but from a much broader angle that took in new technology, consumer insights and the future of contextual targeting.

The King’s Cross Google office, complete with trees, a bag printing stand and a bar!

It was great for us to be able to give our clients access to some of Google’s top people and get an exclusive, behind the curtain look at one of the world’s biggest companies. Here are a few key points we were able to take away.

Connectivity and Identifying Opportunities

Mark Howe presented around the theme of ‘Connectivity’. Using figures that industry insiders have been monitoring for some years now, Mark used real examples of how businesses who out themselves in the right place at the right time, and use technology to do this, are breaking new ground in marketing and ways to generate new business. There was a great video of how Adidas had created a touch screen shop window that enabled viewers to browse products and interact with the store using their mobile devices. It took the experience of in store shopping, out onto the street!

Perhaps the most impressive example was the simplest. By collecting data about what people wanted, Cooper BMW in Thames Ditton were able to tell people via an email that the car they were looking for was now in their showroom. Mark was so impressed with this simple but effective use of data that he ultimately bought a car from the Thames Ditton dealership.

From a personal point of view it was interesting to hear Mark talk about the role Search Agencies have to play in identifying these opportunities and helping drive ‘Connectivity’. It’s the best Search Agencies that will be able to help implement the data capture, apply that data to a workable marketing strategy and report on the effect it has on a business. This skill, Mark was in no doubt, is a valuable commodity and should be treated as such.

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know…

Next up was Adam Shaw, a BBC Journalist, familiar to most from TV and radio including Radio 4’s Today Programme. Adam entertained us with his deconstruction of the type of economic figures we are fed every day in the news. At first the presentation seemed a million miles away from Google and all things Search related, but what emerged was the compelling idea that economic uncertainty and instability are the perfect breeding ground from which innovation and new ideas emerge. Adam backed up by showing how brands which now dominate our cultural landscape all started during periods of economic downturn; Burger King, Microsoft, MTV and Wikipedia.

The BBC’s Adam Shaw separating fact from fiction

A Contextual Revolution

Phil Miles, Google’s Director of Media Buying Solutions in the UK and Ireland brought things back to more familiar territory. He began by saying that it wasn’t impossible to see a future, 2020, where investment in audience targeting would exceed investment in search. At High Position we’ve always been interested in where all the advances in search marketing technology will lead, so it was interesting to hear Phil talk about contextual targeting and the move from targeting via content towards actual audience signals. It’s a move from volume to precision which could open up all sorts of avenues for businesses.

Last year we learned about advances in Google Analytics which would take targeting to a whole new level. Universal Analytics brought with it the idea of session based information to user based information. We immediately saw the potential this could have for targeting an audience. Rather than look at targeting based on which pages people visit we will be able to target based on the behaviour of those people, not only on your site, but on their browsing history. For example, we’ll be able to highlight visitors based on the amount of money they spend on line. Putting in place a spend threshold we can then decide the value of targeting a certain audience. People who spend more money per visit online are obviously high value and targeting that group is worth putting some money behind.

High Position’s Martin Roche shakes hands with one of the Google elves while trying not to spill his tea

Part 2 of this blog will be published next week. Come back then to find out what Responsive Design, Taxis and Steve McClaren have in common.

How to set up Google Authorship / Rel Author Markup

How to Setup Google AuthorshipOver the last year or so I have found that more and more new clients are aware they need to create a content strategy for their websites and know they need to tie this in with their social strategy; but surprisingly some are still unaware of Google+’s authorship markup and the importance it plays in a successful strategy.

Tom wrote a great article about Authorship and why it’s important for SEO, so I’m not going to explain this here. Instead, I have compiled a quick guide on how to set up Google authorship and I also want to make you aware of a few recent updates Google have introduced to the process.

What are we trying to achieve?

The principal idea is to link your Google+ profile and your content together. This is so that Google understands you as an author, understands your content on the web, and can as a result use the association to add authorship information to search results:

Authorship Example

Setting up Google+

Before we start, you are going to need a personal Google account with your Google+ profile set up. If you don’t have one already, then remember, when setting the account up, that Google will use your G+ profile name to help link to your byline or bio name, so make sure the account is specific to you and not a shared account.

Option 1 : Setup Authorship using a verified email address.

Once you have an account, the quickest way to get your authorship set up in G+ is to complete the G+ profile link page. This allows you to verify a valid email address with the domain you are trying to associate your Google+ account with.

For example, if you want to set up authorship for www.domain.com and have a domain email address (myname@domain.com) then submit that to Google, verify and Google will automatically set up a contributor link to your profile and associate your content with your profile. Simple!

G+ Example of Contributor and Emails

Option 2 : Setup Authorship by linking to your Google+ Profile

If you don’t have an email address on the same domain as the website, don’t worry, you can set up authorship by adding your website to the ‘Contributor To’ section in G+ and then adding a ?rel=”author”  link on your website. This was one of the original ways authorship could be verified, which is why we have it set up on our blog.

You can find the ‘Contributor To’ in Google+ here:

About > Links > Contributor To

Below is an example of the the rel author link in my Author Bio. Note the link should be structured as follows:

https://plus.google.com/myuserid?rel=author

G+ Link Example

By setting up links on both the website and your contributor list you verify that you are who you say you are and that you have access to the site.

If all goes to plan, within a few days you should hopefully start to see your picture in the search results :)

Issues And Options

The current documentation from Google states that if you have a email address on the same domain as your website then you don’t need the link back from the site, as long as each article has a byline with the same name as your G+ profile. We’re still waiting to see how well this is working, so would recommend adding the G+ link from your website as well.

We would also strongly suggest testing and verifying how Google views your authorship by using the Structured Data testing Tool from Google’s Webmaster Tools and if you can’t see your authorship details in the search engines results, we’ve found that being logged in can cause this issue.

IMPORTANT TIP - The final tip we would suggest for ensuring your picture shows in the search results is making sure your Google+ profile information is well filled out and most importantly, that your profile picture is a good clear head shot. If it isn’t recognisable then there’s a good chance that Google will refuse to show your picture in SERPs.

Have any questions or gripes with getting Authorship set up? Have a tip on getting your picture listed in SERPs? Please leave a comment below to tell us your story and experiences with Google Authorship.