New format for Google Sitelinks shows more site content in search results

My Post.jpgCheck out this new Google search result user interface that looks like featured snippets within Google Sitelinks.

Google is testing, or maybe rolling out, a new feature in the search results that lets you see more content from a web site without having to click to the site.

Instead of showing normal Sitelinks, which are in the screen shot above on the left, you are presented with more detail Sitelinks, which are shown in the screen shot on the right.

How do these new Sitelinks work? When you are shown the new Sitelinks, they are listed under the main search result snippet with arrows down to expand the results. Here is a closer look:

You can expand the number of sitelinks by clicking on “show more” and/or click on a specific sitelink to see more from the web site directly related to that sitelink directly in the Google results:

How can I see this in action? I was able to replicate this myself by searching for [translate api] while in Chrome in incognito mode. I was not able to replicate this in any other browser. I was given a heads up on this by SEMRush on Twitter.

Why does this matter? This may change your click-through rates from Google search. If Google shows more of your content directly in the search results, it is possible that people may click less or even more. It is hard to say how the click-through rate from Google search will be impacted by this. It is a similar argument to the featured snippets in search, which is what these new snippets look like. Some studies said the featured snippets resulted in gains, while others showed losses. – Read more

Google to close Google+ after 7 years: A look back at the impact it once had on Google search

My Post.jpgJust about seven years ago, Google launched its own social networking site named Google+.

On Monday, Google announced it will be closing down the consumer version of Google+ in the coming months as it disclosed a privacy bug.

Google said “the consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement,” adding that “90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.”

Google+ and +1 button ranking influence? Before Google+ rolled out, Google launched plus one buttons for websites in 2011. It hinted those buttons were one of many ranking signals used for search quality and rankings. Over the years, Google pushed back on that, and as Google+ grew (or shrunk), Google said it did not use Google+ or plus ones as a ranking signal. It was a hot topic as studies showed evidence both ways.

In any event, with Google+ going away, you can rest assured that Google+ and +1 buttons will have no impact on rankings going forward. So this case is closed.

Google+ did influence some search results. Google+ and +1 buttons did show up over the years in Google search. With Search Plus Your World Google would personalize your search results based on what your Google+ friends searched for and clicked on. Google would also show your personal assets, such as your photos, emails, flights, etc based on your Google+ account directly in the search results. These days, Google barely uses personalization in search, as it recently admitted.

Google also showed Google+ posts in real time search when Google Real Time Search was a feature Google had.

Google also suggested that searchers take conversations to Google+ over the years. This was Google’s way of trying to drive conversation on its social network. Google would highlight Google+ content in search results and in Google News, even by showing you what is being discussed on Google+. You would see Google+ show up all over the search results early in the days so often that it became a joke in the SEO community.

Let’s not forget about the heavy local search integration between Google+ and Google Local results. In fact for a time, Google+ pretty much replaced Google Places, the old name for Google My Business.

Google+ had a long, slow death. As adoption lost steam over the years, Google slowly stopped pushing Google+. I saw fewer and fewer Googlers posting on Google+, at least the public commercial version. We saw Google sunset Google+ features like ads integrations, saved searches, Google+ in knowledge panels and Google local edits.

In fact, we rarely covered Google+ announcements or changes over the past few years because it was a product/service that was out sight and out of mind.

Google said it will wind down Google+ “over a 10-month period, slated for completion by the end of next August, ” adding that, “Over the coming months, we will provide consumers with additional information, including ways they can download and migrate their data.”

For more on the Google+ bug and additional security measures Google is taking in response, see Google to shutter Google+ following undisclosed privacy breach on our sister site Marketing Land. – Read more

New ways to manage and measure your experiments in Google Optimize

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With more and more customer interactions happening online, it’s critical to have a high-performing site.

One of the best ways to improve the performance for your site is to run site tests. But it can be a challenge to manage all of them. That’s especially true when you’re managing multiple experiments, juggling different schedules, and then analyzing all the data. That’s why today, we’re adding three features to Google Optimize to make it easier to manage and measure your experiments.

1. Email notifications
With new email notifications, we’ll give you a heads up any time there’s an important update on your experiment. That way, you’ll know when experiments start, when they end, and what was the winning variation.

Now, whenever you create a new experiment, you can choose to receive email notifications directly. You can also opt in or opt out at any time in your container settings or within a specific experiment.

2. Easier reporting with a new Analytics dimension
It’s important to understand how your site experiments impact your business. To help you do that, we’ve created a brand new dimension in Analytics, “Experiment ID with Variant.” This dimension combines your Optimize Experiment ID with the specific variant of your site that users saw. That makes it easier to conduct deeper analyses of your Optimize experiments in Google Analytics.

Now that your experiment data is in one dimension, you can create a segment in Analytics with a single click. Use it to add a segment to your Analytics report and understand if Variant A or Variant B had a more positive impact on your revenue per user. If you’re using Optimize 360, you can also create an audience from your segment, then reach these users through remarketing campaigns or custom site experiences.

3. Scheduling experiments
Want your experiment to launch during a specific time or event, like a campaign or holiday? Now you don’t have to stress about organizing your schedule just so you can push the “Start” button at the right time. Use the schedule experiments feature ahead of time and Optimize will automatically push it live for you. Optimize can even notify you with an email when the experiment is live. – Read more

25 Amazing Contact Us Pages That Will Make You Rethink Your Website

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The Contact Us page is one of the most visited pages on any website.

That seems like a compelling enough reason to redesign your Contacts section to better meet your users’ needs and grab their attention.

While working on this post, I came across hundreds of beautifully made websites, yet their Contact Us pages were, for the most part, disappointing.

Most Contact pages are made for show, with just an email address, phone, location, and some short boring text on a plain background.

Such run-of-the-mill pages won’t inspire your visitors to leave a message or call the company.

However, I managed to find some Contact Us pages that almost made me forget about writing the article, as I became engaged in exploring the rest of the website.

Let’s get some inspiration from the following 25 amazing Contact Us pages and try to figure out what exactly makes them so special.

The Power of Words
First of all, you do not need to hire a team of designers to come up with a colorful and original design for just for one webpage.

Creativity means thinking outside the box.

Sometimes the right words on a simple background can be more engaging for users than bright colors and fancy pictures.

Here are five examples of webpages that stand out using only a few well-chosen words and a simple design.

1. Make It Interactive
Focus Lab came up with the most brilliant solution for an interactive Contact Us page.

All the visitor has to do is type in a couple of words and select a budget amount (optional).

And voila, the message is ready.

A backup plan is also in place. Visitors can scroll down to view the location, email address, social media links, and phone number. – Read more

20 Conversion Optimization Tips for Zooming Past Your Competition

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Conversion optimization (CRO) is one of the most impactful things you can do as a marketer.

I mean, bringing traffic to a website is important (because without traffic you’re designing for an audience of crickets). But without a cursory understanding of conversion optimization—including research, data-driven hypotheses, a/b tests, and analytical capabilities—you risk making decisions for your website traffic using only gut feel.

CRO can give your marketing team ideas for what you can be doing better to convert visitors into leads or customers, and it can help you discover which experiences are truly optimal, using A/B tests.

However, as with many marketing disciplines, conversion optimization is constantly misunderstood. It’s definitely not about testing button colors, and it’s not about proving to your colleagues that you’re right.

I’ve learned a lot about how to do CRO properly over the years, and below I’ve compiled 20 conversion optimization tips to help you do it well, too.

Conversion Optimization Tip 1:
Learn how to run an A/B test properly
Running an A/B test (an online controlled experiment) is one of the core practices of conversion optimization.

Testing two or more variations of a given page to see which performs best can seem easy due to the increased simplification of testing software. However, it’s still a methodology that uses statistical inference to make a decision as to which variant is best delivered to your audience. And there are a lot of fine distinctions that can throw things off.

What is A/B Testing?
There are many nuances we could get into here—Bayesian vs. frequentist statistics, one-tailed vs. two-tailed tests, etc.—but to make things simple, here are a few testing rules that should help you breeze past most common testing mistakes:

  • Always determine a sample size in advance and wait until your experiment is over before looking at “statistical significance.” You can use one of several online sample size calculators to get yours figured out.
  • Run your experiment for a few full business cycles (usually weekly cycles). A normal experiment may run for three or four weeks before you call your result.
  • Choose an overall evaluation criterion (or north star metric) that you’ll use to determine the success of an experiment. We’ll get into this more in Tip 4.
  • Before running the experiment, clearly write your hypothesis (here’s a good article on writing a true hypothesis) and how you plan to follow up on the experiment, whether it wins or loses.
  • Make sure your data tracking is implemented correctly so you’ll be able to pull the right numbers after the experiment ends.
  • Avoid interaction effects if you’re running multiple concurrent experiments.
  • QA your test setup and watch the early numbers for any wonky technical mistakes.

I like to put all of the above fine details in an experiment document with a unique ID so that it can be reviewed later—and so the process can be improved upon with time. – Read more

Here’s how to copy old AdWords column settings to the new Google Ads UI

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With a new option, it’s now possible to get all your old columns settings back.

If you’ve been putting off the hassle of rebuilding your beautiful columns layouts from the old AdWords interface, Google has acknowledged your pain. This week, Google added the ability to copy your columns preferences from the old AdWords interface to the new Google Ads interface.

How to do it. Go to the Tools icon in the upper right corner of the UI and select Preferences (under the Setup column). Expand the new “Columns preference” option to copy your previous column preferences to your Google Ads account.

Important to note. There are a couple of things to keep in mind before selecting this option. First, the change is permanent. If you click the “Copy Columns” (shown in the screenshot above), you’ll see the following notice before confirming the change:

“Copying columns replaces all of your existing Google Ads columns – in all accounts – with your previous AdWords columns. This change can’t be undone and takes up to 24 hours. You can see your column status in your column preferences.”

Second, if you’re logged into an MCC (master account), the columns preferences will copy over to all of the accounts under that MCC.  If that’s not what you’re looking for, log in to the individual accounts to apply your old copy settings. – Read more

Google is giving advertisers more ways to target YouTube users

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Part of Google’s growing effort to build search-based ad tools outside its core search engine

Google is expanding its use of lucrative search-based advertising tools on YouTube, to help advertisers target potential customers as they search for everything from products to movie trailers on the video site. The news, announced this morning at Advertising Week and reported by CNBC, marks a shift in how Google treats YouTube. Increasingly, the company is relying on YouTube as an extension of its core search engine instead of a separate entity. To help drive home the point, Google representatives told the crowd at Advertising Week that YouTube is the second most popular search engine in America, behind Google Search.

The logic makes sense, and Google says it has data to prove that many people who search for products, movies, and other items on Google Search then head over to YouTube to watch reviews, unboxing videos, and other content related to the product. From there, Google says it can effectively target those customers. For instance, searching for movie reviews on Google Search and then heading over to YouTube to watch a trailer may trigger an ad for showtimes at your local AMC theater. Google is calling the tool “ad extensions for video.”

For Google, expanding its ad business is a key component to staving off competition from Facebook and, increasingly, Amazon, which has been building a powerful, product-based ad business based off Amazon product searches. Today, Google makes nearly $100 billion a year. A majority of that revenue comes from ads, a majority of that ad revenue is search-based advertising powered by Google’s AdWords, AdSense, and DoubleClick technologies. However, Google’s dominance in web advertising is tied to the strength of the web, and more companies, like Amazon and Facebook, are cutting into that by locking customers and the behaviors that would drive targeted ads into their own ecosystems. Every time an internet user spends time on Facebook or searches for products directly on Amazon instead of Google is a potential loss for the search giant’s ad business. – Read more

Google Ads Expands Headlines, Descriptions, Characters

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For many years Google AdWords allowed 25 characters for a single headline and 35 characters per line for two lines of description text. Then Google gave us two headlines of 30 characters each and a description line of 80 characters. It was like Christmas with all that new real estate.

Well, the increased ad copy must have been a success because Google Ads (formerly AdWords) has made a couple of changes that advertisers should know about. You can now add more text to your existing text ads and utilize a new type of text ad.

More Text for Existing Ads

To see the new options, navigate to your Google Ads account and view some ads — account, campaign, or ad group level. Click the blue plus sign to create a new ad. It will produce the following drop-down menu. – Read more

How to help shoppers looking for inspiration this holiday

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Gone are the days where shoppers had one specific gift in mind. Today, they’re asking brands to help inspire them. Our research also shows that 61 percent of shoppers are open to buying from new retailers during the holiday season—and in the 2017 holiday season 46 percent of them actually did.

That’s a huge number of consumers looking to uncover new brands and products or re-discover old favorites. But with so much choice at their fingertips, shoppers need help cutting through the clutter and feeling confident in their choices.

A recent study shows that Google is the first place US shoppers go to discover or find a new brand or product. That’s why we’re continuing to invest in solutions to drive inspiration and discovery, capture intent, and amplify your message to customers, wherever they’re shopping across Google and the web. So lean back, grab an eggnog (it’s never too early), and learn about how consumers plan to shop this holiday—and how Google can help. – Read more