Figaro Digital Search Seminar Round-up: 12 June 2014

by Jessica Ramesh

We were joined at our Search Marketing Seminar by industry experts from Adobe, Branded3, Marketing Signals and 7thingsmedia. Here we take a whistle-stop tour through their presentations

Google Penalties – Now is the Time to Audit Your Backlinks
Gareth Hoyle, Managing Director at Marketing Signals

So you’ve been hit by a Google penalty. How do you respond? Gareth Hoyle, Managing Director at Marketing Signals, believes it comes down to this rule: “If it’s made for SEO it’s got to go.” Easy in principle, difficult in practice – especially if you have several million unsound links to sort through. Not to worry, this clean-up operation can be made easier to manage. Gareth broke down the of getting a Google penalty repealed into five simple steps:

1) Gather all the link data you can get your hands on. Where can you find this? In Majestic, Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs. Also go through old SEO reports. It’s important to gather as much data as possible. No single source gives you the complete picture.

2) Analyse this data. Check the percentage of anchor text per page. Scrutinise site-wide links and note links from de-indexed sites. Find anomalies: if you’re a UK business selling to the UK you shouldn’t have lots of links from Vietnam.

3) Remove unnatural links. It’s recommended that you try and remove spam links yourself, rather than going straight to disavow. Contact third party sites and ask them to remove links in a polite, personable way – this elicits a much better response than sending a barrage of irate emails.

4) Upload your disavow file. Google allows you to disavow at page or domain level, but it’s better to choose the latter option as this is more thorough.

5) Send your reconsideration request to Google. In the request you need to provide evidence of lessons learnt. Explain that while you may have ranked on spam in the past, you are now taking steps (producing content, undergoing a site redesign etc.) that means your website offers genuine value for visitors.

However, Gareth also sounds a cautionary note. “Removing the penalty does not mean your rankings are coming straight back. The junk that was ranking for you for the last few years is now gone. You need to be patient and rebuild. ”

How to Make Generics Work through Paid Search
Ben O’Neil, Account Manager at 7thingsmedia

Google receives 500 million never-before-seen search queries every day. As this dizzying stat suggests, the way people search is changing. And marketers need to react. Ben O’Neil argues that targeting generics (non-branded keywords, for the uninitiated) is the right way to respond. The challenge is doing this in a time and cost-effective way.


Targeting generics increases brand awareness and draws in new customers, but as a top of the funnel activity it doesn’t yield immediate returns. So for generic campaigns to deliver real ROI they need to be fully optimised from the start. Ben advises that you control, monitor and adjust spend carefully. “Make sure you’re only running ads at key times in the day,” he advises. “Do Radius targeting and bid adjustments by region to make sure your ads are served to people with the right taste and income levels for your brand.”

“Another way to boost the effectiveness of your generics strategy is to target by device” Ben says. “Since the introduction of advanced campaigns the cost-per-click on mobile is a lot lower. If you’ve got a strong mobile site don’t be afraid of sending the traffic there.”

A final quick win is to make sure you have remarketing lists set up so you can bid on more generic keywords, but only for people who have previously purchased from or visited your site.

“Tie these elements together and you’ll create an efficient generics strategy,” says Ben.

Winning the First Moment of Truth
Stephen Kenwright, Senior Search Strategist at Branded3

Having a beautifully presented shop-front has always been crucial and this is no less true in the digital age. The only difference is that a brand’s storefront is now its Google search listing. “It’s important to make your digital storefront as enticing as possible,” says Stephen Kenwright. “Include star ratings, reviews, location pages and videos in your listing.”

But getting a user to your site is only the first hurdle to clear. Next you have to convince the customer that your site is trustworthy and informative. Stephen believes providing an excellent user experience is key to this. “The most important factor in how good a website design is, how easy it makes it for users to complete the action or find the information they want,” he says. “What most sites are doing wrong is that they don’t show a clear path of progression, they show a clear path to purchase.”

So how do you build a website which is engaging, easy to navigate and convinces customers to buy? “Start by mapping out a user’s decision making process from the moment they think they might want to buy a certain thing until they actually purchase. Then create a content hub which contains all the information they need and present it in a way that helps customers make a final decision.”

Using RLSA to Target Your Audience
Allan Witts, Senior Account Manager at Adobe

RLSA 2.0 has arrived, according to Allan Witts, Senior Account Manager at Adobe. The problem is that brands have been slow to embrace this new functionality. Most search marketers are familiar with the basics of remarketing lists for search ads: building up cookie lists and then retargeting users who’ve already visited your site with ads. What many are failing to do is use more in-depth customer data to create remarketing ads for specific audiences.

“If you want to fire your remarketing tags based on additional information you need to use a data management system,” Allan explains. “The data management platform allows you to identify the person using your website. Maybe they’ve logged into your site, so you know their name, age and gender. Or maybe you’re using third party data and shared cookie lists to identify more in-depth demographic information about users. Either way, you can now conditionally fire the remarketing tag based on gender, age category and location. With these targeted remarketing campaigns we’ve seen click through rates up to 730 per cent higher than with standard PPC campaigns.”

Round-up by Eilidh Wagstaff