Dave Chaffey - Insights Director at ClickThrough Marketing, The Search Conversion Experts

The 16 changes that mattered to Google marketing in 2011

Since December is that time of year when we look forwards and also reflect, I’d take a look at some of the major changes in search in 2011. I hope these will act like a checklist helping you think through what you have covered and what you may have missed. My update includes a combination of paid and natural search and some of the changes to Analytics which have helped us improve our search marketing better (and in some cases less well).

There’s been plenty to keep us busy in getting the most from digital marketing and I’m sure there will be next year.

We don’t know yet how many changes Google made in 2011, but Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Congress that Google made 516 updates in 2010. They tested over 13,000 potential updates!

Well I’ve been tracking the changes carefully and I think there’s far fewer that really matter – just 16 in fact, but do let me know about what I missed – there must be at least 20?

I hope you manage an enjoyable break from the digital world! All the best for a successful 2012.

Let’s go!

  • A new way to assess the potential of mobile search – January 2011

The year got off to a quiet start with few changes in January before the major changes in the first part of the year. Read this introduction to finding the volume of mobile searches

  • Google Panda/Farmer updates were one of the big changes starting in February to April 2011

The official announcement on Google’s High Quality Site updates

  • New version of Google Analytics announced – March 2011

How are finding it so far? See Dan Barker’s analysis of the top 10 new Google Analytics features

  • Google+1 sharing button announced – March 2011

View the Google introduction to Google +1

  • Click to download app – June 2011

Another of the many ad innovations in Google, this one has been rolled out worldwide. Check Google’s mobile ad features on the Ad Network

  • Google Layout changes affect paid search – June 2011

Post on Evolving the Google Design and Experience – these changes occurred throughout the yeargoogle

  • Google+ plus – June 2011

The biggest change to Google Marketing this year. View The What’s New in Google+ page for the latest updates

  • Remarketing on the Google Display Network

Not new in 2011, but following-up on site visitors became much more popular in 2011. Read this video introduction to Google’s Remarketing

  • Multichannel funnels in Analytics – June 2011

Read The tutorial from Tim Leighton Boyce on how to use multichannel funnels to help with paid search

  • Google Adwords Quality score updates – October 2011

The official announcement from Google

  • Google masks search keywords through query encryption for logged in users – October 2011

Read Dave’s update on ClickThrough’s blog

  • Bid per phone call

Read how you can differentially bid for clicks vs calls

  • Expanded sitelinks – October 2011

These made quite an impact on brand search – did you check the impact? Google’s explanation of the changes to: Expanded sitelinks

  • Google Plus business pages launched – November 2011

See the official announcement for Google+ pages with examples

Social extensions – recommendations appear on your ads – November 2011

Social extensions help advice

  • New footer ad placements for Google Adwords – November 2011

Official Google Announcement

  • Algorithm update featuring fresh content – November 2011

Increasing the argument for having fresh content on your site. Read this summary from Chris Soames and see how ClickThrough covered the news.

OK, so what am I missing?

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About the author:

An acknowledged expert on digital marketing, Dave was recognised in 2004 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of “50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing“. Dave is also author of five best-selling books including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice; and eMarketing eXcellence.