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Published: 12 September 2014

In previous years there have been Hummingbird and Penguin updates but 2014 has seen a raft of updates and changes to Google’s practices. With so many changes and updates available, this article will hope to distil the fact from the fiction and provide you with some insight to what you should and could be doing with your website.


In the middle of August 2014 Google announced that they will begin using website encryption aka HTTPS as a lightweight ranking signal. There were murmurings of this change so this hasn’t come as a massive surprise but it does mean that developers that perhaps thought they could do without increasing security measures or were not in need of encryption, may have to think again.

So what does this mean? Well it means that other ranking factors still hold a lot more weight at this moment in time like quality of content and a clean backlink portfolio, with the idea being that Google gives webmasters time to switch to encryption. However this does suggest that overtime, there is potential for encryption to become a more influential ranking signal as Google focus more on website security.

Google have had an increased focus on security in recent months and have made the development of encrypting traffic between its own servers. At the end of last year we saw Google change all queries on the search engine to HTTPS regardless of being signed in or not and Gmail now always uses an encrypted HTTPS connection. 

PPC Drops Exact Match
Starting in late September, Google will be applying close variant keyword matching to all exact and phrase match keywords. Close variant matching was already the default setting for campaigns in Google and most people won’t see a change in their keyword matching behaviour. For advertisers that have opted out, the option to disable close variants will be removed in September. Exact and phrase match keywords will then begin matching to close keyword variations, allowing you to reach more of your potential customers with the right ad while aiming to lower cost per click and improve click through rate.

So what does this mean? This update means that you no longer have to build huge lists of misspelled, abbreviated, and other close variations of your campaign keywords to get the coverage you want. Instead, focus on adding negative keywords, including close variants you don’t want to match for, to shape traffic and reduce cost. This can improve your campaigns’ ROI and help deliver a better ad experience for your customers.

Enhanced Ecommerce
With the best products and merchandising, your site design, strategic thinking and marketing ideas have to create a great user experience.

Google’s Shopping Analysis reports give you a detailed look at how users engage with your content in terms of viewing products, and adding or removing them from shopping baskets; along with initiating, abandoning and completing transactions.

Also, Google’s Overview and Product Performance reports include data for the revenue and conversion rates your products generate, how many products the average transaction includes, average order values, refunds issued and the speed at which users add products to their baskets and buy products after having viewed product information pages.

Implementation of Enhanced E-commerce tagging gives you data for individual products, but you can easily add the category and brand properties so that you can evaluate data from those perspectives, as well.

User ID Tracking

Users may interact with your website from a number of different devices, such web browser, a mobile phone, or via a native mobile application.

By default, Google Analytics assigns each device a unique Client ID, and considers each unique Client ID as a unique user in your reports.

Measurement activities that span across devices in Google Analytics, such as attributing an interaction with a marketing campaign on one device to a conversion that occurs on another device, require the use of the User ID feature.

The User ID feature consists of:

  • The userId field, which can be set to a stable, non-personally identifiable ID to represent a unique user.
  • Cross-device reports that provide insight into behaviour and conversion paths across devices.

When User IDs are sent with Google Analytics hits in the userId field, your reports will reflect a more accurate count of unique users and offer new cross-device reporting options.

Universal Analytics

At the end of 2013, Google Analytics announced the launch of Universal Analytics. Google Universal Analytics is an updated tracking script, allowing for more detailed and "universal" analysis of your website, taking into account activity offline and online to gather a greater understanding of your customers and website users.

Benefits Of Google’s Universal Analytics are:

  • Advanced Segments for Visitors
  • Tracking Offline Conversions
  • Custom Dimensions for Reports


Rating and Reviews
Online research is a key component to today’s consumer’s online behaviour and conversations around your brands and products influence purchasing decisions. By allowing consumers to share their opinions with others, you will not only show your customers that you care about their feedback but also improve your ROI.

Reviews provide large volumes of unique, fresh and dynamic content that is full of relevant keywords. These elements help improve your website’s ranking in natural search results allowing consumers to find your website more frequently.

Benefits of ratings and reviews are:

  • Improved Sales
  • Better User Experience
  • Enhance your brands visibility and products in search engines



Sarah Dennis

Head of Marketing & Communications

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