If you run Google Ads on search results, you should be using “call extensions” – the opportunity to have your phone number included with the advert, which will be ‘click-to-call’ on suitable devices such as mobile phones. This is a harmless option with no down side, and we’ve actually been quite surprised at how many times calls are made this way, straight from the advert.
Not so fast. In what would be one of those daft moves which show how removed companies like Google are from the real commercial world, it’s been reported that Google has started recording a small percentage of phone calls that are initiated by call-only ads or call extensions in the US, with the usual excuse that it’s “to improve call quality for users and advertisers”. If this is true, according to one report “when a user initiates a call from a call-only ad or call extension they will hear a short message informing them that the call may be recorded by Google for quality assurance”.
I’m sure this probably only applies to certain types of potentially controversial or fraudulent advertising. But even a remote prospect that callers to your company might get a message like that before being put through would, I’m sure, have you running for the hills.
Apparently, as advertisers, if this applies to us, we will have to agree to it in order to use call extensions, so obviously we’d opt out of those extensions. Our clients needn’t worry – we wouldn’t touch this with a barge pole.
As a follow-up to yesterday’s article on the changing face of SEO, I’d recommend reading Semantic Search: What It Is & Why It Matters for SEO Today on Search Engine Journal. Not as geeky as it sounds, the article explains that “Search engine understanding has evolved, and we’ve changed how we optimize for it as a result.” Identifying keywords is no longer enough, the author suggests; now we need to firmly understand user intent.
The way ahead is to stop creating content around keywords and think about broad topics to cover in-depth. In other words, “Instead of creating dozens of short, disparate pages each with its own topic, consider creating ‘ultimate guides’ and more comprehensive resources that users will find valuable.” Think about the journey people take to reach your site, and what they want when they get there. It seems a bit elementary, I know. But if you can crack this concept, you may have the key to better SEO and a better site.
As I mentioned yesterday, this is advanced stuff if you sell blue widgets and the Google results for that search are still rather poor. In that case, do not stop targeting those generic keyword searches for now. But do think about this intent-based approach, because it is the future.
I enjoyed reading 13 Things Every CEO Needs to Understand About SEO on Search Engine Journal. This is just a discussion of aspects of search engine positioning which senior management in medium- to large-size organisations rarely understands, and if you’re in that situation, it would make the ideal basis for an internal presentation. However, it’s probably something which we could all do with ensuring we’ve fully digested. The article reminds us about the evolution of the search engine results page, the fact that SEO is a long-term strategy, our lack of influence, the importance of brand terms, content quality and more. Well worth a quick read.
Google has once again insisted that having a keyword in a domain name is not an advantage. This ties in with my recent ramblings on the increasing importance of a brand name instead. Search Engine Journal reports in Google on Ranking Power of Keyword Domains that keyword domains do not naturally rank faster than branded domains, and do not naturally rank more highly. This, they say, has been the case for many years.
So how do we account for examples people have given of domains such as bluewidgetcompany.co.uk apparently doing better than bwc-manufacturing.co.uk, the market leader in Blue Widgets? The author of the article suggests it may be because people may be more likely to click on a link with the keyword in the domain, which may have a general traffic advantage, but the only algorithmic SEO one would be that resulting from the higher clickthrough rate. The argument that the keyword itself generates an SEO advantage does not appear to be true.
Google recently revealed that in 2017 it made over 270,000 algorithm experiments. That’s about 740 search experiments per day, which is an indication of how many people must be working on this stuff (and why you’ll never outwit them). It also said that 2,400 changes were kept and became a part of the search algorithms, which is about seven updates to Google’s overall algorithm every single day.
The reason I thought this was worth reporting is that if anyone ever tells you they know how Google works, don’t believe them.