Even with the best online marketing services to hand, rankings do have a horrible habit of fluctuating. You can spend huge amounts of money on strategy, but - if your online marketing agency isn't prepared for Google updates - it could all go out of the window very quickly indeed.

So what are Google updates and why do they cause such havoc with your place on the search engines? Above all, how can you make sure that you're investing in online marketing services that are future-proof and will withstand even the more radical change in Google's algorithm?

What are Google Updates?

In basic terms, a Google update occurs when the techie team at the search engine giant make changes to the way websites are viewed and ranked. Google uses an algorithm to work out where your website belongs in the rankings. There are hundreds of different factors, which Google's algorithm takes into consideration, some of the most crucial factors are:

  • Internal links
  • External links
  • Anchor text
  • Web copy (originality)
  • Keywords
  • Social metrics
  • Site architecture

Agencies providing on-the-ball online marketing services will make sure that your site ticks all of the right boxes with regards to these factors. This will get your website ranking highly. Yet it isn't quite so simple because Google are constantly changing the goal posts. To paraphrase one person's remark at the recent Brighton SEO conference: "Google are the opposing team as well as the referee, plus they own the ball, the pitch and the goal posts!"

Every time Google updates their algorithm, the way they rank websites shifts. There are hundreds of updates every year and usually they are very subtle, but sometimes these updates are big news and can make a big impact. For example...

Google Panda

Many online marketing service providers will shudder at the mention of Google Panda. It was a huge update to the algorithm, which was designed to eliminate the use of unhelpful, duplicate and plagairised content and give priority to highly original, high quality websites. It hit the UK in April 2011 and dramatically impacted 11.8% of all search queries.

Many high profile websites took a real beating and many online marking agencies were left blinking in horror at the un-doing of all their hard work.

How to Get Google Update-proof

Google keep all their updates thoroughly under wraps, which means that online marketing agencies can't really do much except wait and then work with what they're given once changes hit. Even if they do hint at what changes have been made, they usually don't give too much away...

Although it's impossible to know which changes are going to happen, there are ways to help protect your website against any negative impact that updates might have. As the motivation of Google updates is to weed out low-quality, spammy webpages, an ethical online marketing strategy which places quality at the forefront of its approach is vital. If your online marketing agency or in-house team implement this sort of plan, Google is unlikely to make changes that majorly (and negatively) affect your site rankings. By creating the kind of content and links that Google likes, you're less likely to be penalised by an update.

To run a good, ethical, high-quality online marketing strategy the basics need to be covered:

  • Good, unique, keyword-rich content,
  • A large, varied in-bound link profile, with lots of domains, a variety of anchor text and a mixture of dofollow and nofollow links,
  • A blog/news section will help keep the site seen as fresh,
  • Social integration and social media work will be important in the months/years to come.

If you want to succeed online, you’ll need to work with an ethical SEO agency that provides quality-driven online marketing services. As staunchly white-hat SEO and PPC experts, Liberty Marketing can help you weather Google updates and make a big splash on the web.

It might sound a bit medieval but, as official Google Local Champions, Liberty Marketing will be riding in on their noble white steed to get small-to-medium Welsh businesses online, in touch and up to date with the internet! There won’t be any swords, shields or damsels in distress, instead we’ll be offering workshops and one-to-one support as part as the Google Juice Bar and GWBO (Getting Welsh Business Online) initiatives.

These programmes were masterminded by Google after a study found that Wales is lagging far behind its British neighbours when it comes to online business. Whilst the UK as a whole has the biggest online economy in the world, Wales is not receiving a proportional amount of this benefit. Here are a few interesting facts and figures that illustrate the problem:

  • The UK online economy makes up at least 7% GDP
  • That’s more that the construction, utilities and transport sectors
  • The internet economy contributed more than £100bn to the UK market last year
  • In Wales 25% of small-to-medium businesses don’t have a website
  • Of the 75% that have a website, a mere 58% have a high web presence
  • Welsh businesses with successful sites grew 7x to 8x faster than those without a well-performing website.

These statistics are the result of an in-depth, Google-commissioned study which showed a surprising backwardness in the Welsh online industry. With these stats in mind Google and the Welsh Assembly Government decided it was time to act.

Starting in March 2012, a year of online awareness will see the Google Juice Bar travelling across the country. After the launch event in Cardiff on March 6th, the Google Juice Bars and workshops will travel across the country, helping small-to-medium businesses to blossom and reach their full potential on the internet.

These workshops and Juice Bar sessions are free, friendly and don’t come with any added sales pitches! Best of all, they can cover the area of your choice. Whether you’re a total novice looking to set up a free website for your company, or want to learn how to market your existing website online – the Google Juice Bar experts are here to help.

As official Google Local Champions, the Liberty Marketing team are excited to be part of such a fantastic, worthwhile initiative. As the fastest growing online marketing agency in Wales we are passionate about promoting and boosting Welsh business online. If you would like to learn more about how to boost your business online, or would like to know more about the GWBO initiative, take a look at the following link or get in touch with the Liberty team today!

When it comes to online business Wales is lagging well behind its UK neighbours. Google recently provided figures which show that only 60% of Welsh small & medium enterprises (SMEs) have their own website and, of these, a paltry 33% are set up for ecommerce. With more and more of Britain’s shopping taking place online, Welsh business could suffer if it fails to modernise.

Fortunately the Welsh government and Google have now teamed up to help Welsh SMEs get online and get profitable. The 12 month programme will organise over 1000 free e-skills seminars and free consultations across Wales, equipping local businesses with the skills they need to improve their online presence.

According to the Welsh Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science, Edwina Hart: “We want Wales to be a truly digital nation…We welcome this initiative to help companies gain maximum benefits from using and exploiting digital technologies to innovate, grow and access new markets, driving business growth.”

“Digital technologies and online services have the potential to revolutionise the competitiveness of business and I hope as many as possible take advantage of the expertise on offer from Google.”

Meanwhile, Adrian Clark, chairman of Cardiff & Co, agreed that: “Getting online is one of the most important marketing tools for businesses…You don’t need a huge investment to win a share of the online market but you do need the skills.”

These skills do seem to be lacking in Wales but, if you know where to look, there is a whole seam of skill and knowledge to be found in the country. In fact, part of the Google initiative involves linking web novices up with top digital agencies and online marketing services across Wales.

The year-long programme will also see the popular Google Juice Bar touring the country, bringing online business experts to less web-savvy companies from Cardiff to Caernarfon. The Google Juice Bar will be offering complimentary 1-2-1 sessions that will show SMEs how to increase traffic to their websites and build a profitable business online.

This year is seen by many to be the year that Wales goes live. The project will kick off in Cardiff on March and will tour South Wales for a further 3 months before taking on online business in the rest of the country for the rest of the year. If you’re in the South this March, make sure you attend the Google Juice Bar launch event on the 6th.

In the meantime, you can improve your web presence and online skills using your own initiative. The first step is to source great advice and real expertise to help you on your way. Liberty are the largest and fastest growing online marketing agency in Wales, with a wealth of knowledge and specialist online marketing services designed to get your business booming online.

To find out more about how we can help and our online marketing services, call the Liberty team today on 029 2076 6467.

For more information on the initiative, please visit the Getting Welsh Businesses Online (GWBO) website by clicking here.

If you are one of the many people who has been annoyed with recent Google changes, such as personalised search and auto-correction of your searches, then you’ll be glad to hear that you can now choose to turn them off…

In a post on the “Inside Search" blog, Google says “we've received a lot of requests for a more deliberate way to tell Google to search using your exact terms. We've been listening, and starting today you'll be able to do just that through verbatim search.” 

When you use Verbatim Search (found in the left hand menu, under the ‘More Search Tools’ option), Google uses the exact words you enter, without making changes and without showing results that they think you will be more likely to want.

Google lists the things that Verbatim Search turns off, including:

  • automatic spelling corrections 
  • personalised search results, using information such as sites previously visited.
  • synonyms in the results

See the full list here.

If you want to learn how Pay Per Click advertising works and see what makes Google AdWords one of the most popular advertising platforms in the world then join us at our latest joint training course with Marketing Tom Media.

On the 3rd and 4th November in the ESIS conference centre in South Wales, Gareth Morgan, Managing Director of Liberty and Alun John of Marketing Tom Media, will be teaming up to offer another 2-day Pay Per Click Masterclass.

The course will look at everything from the history of search engine advertising and the theory behind Pay Per Click, to advanced AdWords uses, such as the display network and ad extensions. Attendees will be shown how to choose keywords, structure an account, write adverts, pick keywords, manage bids, and a whole lot more!

This training will benefit those new to AdWords as well as existing advertisers that want a refresher or a look at additional options.

Full details and a booking form can be found here. We hope to see you there!

Of the numerous and varies tests that Google keeps performing, this has to be one of the more interesting ones - snippets of information from Wikipedia, all neatly boxed up alongside the search results:

We stumbled across this yesterday and could only get this to work in Chrome, whilst not signed in. This must mean that it is in beta testing and they are likely monitoring click-through-rate to see if it's something worth keeping.

Google has suffered criticism from webmasters and the SEO community in recent years, due to them keeping people on the results pages more and sending them through to websites less. It has also been long thought that Wikipedia receives favouritism in the search results. This is going to fan the flames on both accounts, as users can find more information without leaving Google and Wikipedia gets another first page ranking.

Bing vs. Google

A recent study has shown that Google may be falling short of Microsoft's search engine, Bing, when it comes to the helpfulness and relevance of their search results. The study looked at just how many searches made using the search engines actually resulted in a visit to one of the suggested websites. The findings were very interesting; around 80% of searches conducted on Bing resulted in the user visiting a link provided by the search engine. Meanwhile, over at Google, searchers made use of the links provided by only 67% of the searches.

This brand new research has been conducted by the web tracking firm, Experian Hitwise, who concluded that both search engines showed room for substantial improvement in terms of the number of search results that users actually go on to explore. Researchers at Experian Hitwise believe the high percentage of searches which did not lead to a website visit shows that both search engine services could stand to enhance the precision and usefulness of their results.

The results of Experian Hitwise's study could suggest a number of things. While it is possible that Bing, and its related search sites, are simply more likely to come up with the link or answer that searchers are looking for, the results of the study could also mean that people using Bing and Google are using the two search engines in different ways and for different reasons. This may account for different patterns of use and may mean that the disparity between the two does not necessarily reflect badly on Google.

The comparative success of Bing over Google in this section of the search engine market, however, looks as if it could be mirrored by the state of the companies' respective market shares. In July, Google's US search market share dropped to 66.05%, a drop of 2%. Searches conducted through Bing on the other hand experienced a 1% increase, taking their share of the market to 28.05%. The most substantial growth, however, was recorded by the Bing-affiliated Yahoo, whose shares in the market ballooned by 4% to achieve a 15% share of the market. Interestingly, and perhaps relatedly, searches conducted on bing.com itself dropped by 2% to 13%.

It seems that Google launches a new service or upgrade to its infrastructure every week! The latest addition to its services, Google+, has left many scratching their heads wondering what it’s all about - especially seeing as most people can't access it yet. That's why we have put together this brief guide to Google+ and what it means to businesses looking to market themselves on the social media networks...

What is Google+?

Google+ is the latest attempt by the search engine giants to create a social network designed to rival Facebook. Launched on June 28, 2011 as a private Beta, the project was led by Vic Gundotra, Google’s SVP of social media.

Google+ could have many possibilities especially for social media marketing. The network is a series of social products including:

  • Stream – A newsfeed service
  • Sparks – A recommendation engine
  • Hangouts – A video chat service
  • Huddle – A group newsfeed
  • Circles – Friend management service
  • Photos – Photo albums and photo sharing

Many more features such as Games and Questions are expected in the very near future.

So, why the name Google+? Google want Google+ to be an extension of the main Google search engine. It’s actually designed to be an enhancement of Google which may explain by they opted to alter the Google navbar to incorporate a link to a user’s Google+ profile. You can also see a new icon displaying the Google+ notifications the user has received. This is very much designed to emulate the Facebook notification service.

Social media marketing is big news on Facebook and Twitter, with many companies building branded pages and online communities in a bid to win more business and increase online exposure. Google+ looks set to be the next in line to get attention from big business and it could work out to be very lucrative for the search engine moguls.

Why Use Google+?

Okay, so Google have launched a social network. You may be wondering why you should use it. After all, you’ve got the Facebook and Twitter accounts. Why move to or use yet another social network?

The only way to find out how good a service is rated, is to ask the users themselves. When questioned why somebody should use Google+, users answered that Google is a much cleaner way to share data with friends, Google integrates well with Google’s cloud products such as Docs and Calendar, and the whole interface and sharing processes seem to work faster. Users also described Google+ as being a more grown up alternative to Facebook and Twitter allowing for more control and a more organic experience. Because each component is broken up into separate areas, this reduces the distracting features that you get with Facebook for instance. After all, does everybody want to know how many virtual sheep you just bought for your virtual farm?!

How to Start Using Google+

Right now, you need to be invited by a friend to join Google+. This restriction will be lifted soon and it’s best to have your invite sent to your Gmail account so that you can use this account to sign in to your Google+ area. Once you accept the invite, you will be asked to create your Google+ profile, entering personal information such as your name and date of birth. Setup is very straightforward and once you are set up you can start inviting your friends to Google+ too. You may choose to use Google+ to sort the wheat from the chaff – so to speak – building a network of your closest friends or work colleagues.

Google+ Circles – Categorising Your Friends

Understanding what Circles is all about is one of the most essential parts of mastering Google+. Instead of finding friends or following people, Google+ allows you more control over who can see your content.

You can choose to drag and drop friends into groups, for example, a family group, or a group for close friends. You can also create a Business circle and plonk your boss and colleagues in there for easy sorting and sharing. Once you have created your circles, you can get more granular controls by clicking on each circle and setting its individual settings. Circles allows you to share different things with different people and also gives those in your circle a better experience, as they don’t need to filter through so much content in order to see what they want.

Google+ Stream – Sharing Data

Google+ Stream is very easy to get the hang of especially if you’re already a Facebook user. It’s really just a newsfeed that you share with your circles. You can choose to share anything from a status update to a video or photo.  

The differences between Google+ Stream and Facebook are few. The main difference is that instead of a ‘like’ button you can choose to ‘+1’ a post or photo.  Status updates are also very similar to the Facebook updates.

Google+ Sparks

If you are stuck as to what to share on Google+ first then Sparks will lend a hand! This content recommendation engine finds the most interesting and relevant articles and videos across a wide range of subjects and genres. If you can find it online then Spark can reference it and find the latest information on your chosen topic.

Google provides an automated list of subjects, but you can customise this as you wish, ensuring that Sparks only retrieves the data that you want to see. Spark content can also be shared with your Circles.

Google+ Hangouts

If Google+ is to have one killer feature then Hangouts may just be it. This interesting twist on the conventional group video chat feature has received a very positive response from the current Google+ community.

You click on the ‘Start a hangout’ button and invite friends to ‘hangout’ with you online and to join a live video stream. Other friends will also see your open hangout and choose to join in if they wish. It’s a great way for up to ten people to chat via video link and because it’s not available on Facebook, this could be the one feature that attracts the masses to Google+.


Google+ also includes a fully-fledged feature for photos and photo albums. Powered by Google’s Picasa (as you would expect), Photos allows you to display photos uploaded by friends, share your photos, and to organise them into albums. You can also view photos in slideshow format and tag yourself or a friend in any photos you can both access. You can also drill down to other information such as what type of camera was used to take the snap.

Google+ and social media marketing

With its clean interface and sharing features, Google+ is great news for those wishing to promote their business through social media marketing. Google+ keeps some of the best features of Facebook, but also allows users to filter out unwanted information and to tailor news feeds to their exact needs. This means information overload is a thing of the past and that companies can design their Google+ pages and campaigns to drive clear messages to those interested in specific services and products.

But before you start to build your company’s Google+ page it’s worth knowing that Google is going to release a dedicated Google+ platform for businesses. This will take some time to build, but is set to have some interesting and useful features. This feature is expected to be released in Beta format in the next few weeks.

As with any social media platform, the social media marketing opportunities are many and it’s only a matter of time before companies large and small start to make use of Google’s new communication and sharing medium. Once the communities start to grow and the service gains momentum, there’s no telling how big Google+ may become. But one thing’s for sure, with the Google name attached, it’s sure to be a threat to Facebook and Twitter.

Google has released its first Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter, which highlights data collected anonymously from hundreds of thousands of Google Analytics accounts that opted-in to sharing data.

Comparing data from 1st November 2010 to 1st February 2011 against the same period 12 month prior, some very interesting changes are taking place in the way people use websites. A couple of highlights…

People are spending less time on websites. They are also visiting slightly less pages. From an average visitor looking at 4.9 pages in late 2009, we are now seeing 4.5 page views per visit. Average time on site is down from 5 minutes 49 seconds to 5:23. 

Bounce rates have fallen. Even though people are spending slightly less time on sites, they must be finding what they want as bounce rates have dropped by 1.2%, from an average of 48.2% to 47%.

UK websites enjoy high quality traffic. Sites in the UK see a higher than average number of pages per visit and lower bounce rate than those in France, Brazil, China, Japan and the US. They also see an above average time on site, second only to US websites.

Search engine traffic is up. Traffic from search engines grew over the period by 1% whilst traffic from referrals fell by 1.6%. This will probably surprise a lot of people as there is a growing belief that social media sites are sending more traffic than search engines.

If you have Google Analytics installed on your webite, but don't quite know how to work out if your site is performing or not, then give us a call. We'l happily run through the figures and tell you if there are any things that you should be concerned with. The number for our search engine marketing team is 029 2076 6467.

If you are logged into Google then along with the +1 badges that are now showing up in the UK results, you may start to see this strange looking test:


Google has changed the order of the green URL and black meta description in the search results. This isn't just for organic results, it is also being applied to the Pay Per Click ads: