We are right in the middle of the craziest shopping period of the year so websites are tested to their max. Hopefully, there will be huge virtual footfall as the nation continues to move their shopping experience onto tablets, mobiles, desktops, and away from high street stores. For eCommerce stores this is a good opportunity to take a moment and see how their sites are performing in comparison to their competitors. This is when site speed, navigation, ranking and conversion matter most. Visitors will quickly switch off from slow sites, abandon those too hard to navigate around, miss sites completely that fail to show up in common searches, and leave products in baskets for an eternity while they browse for the best price on multiple stores. Is your site as competitive as it can be?

This is the place to keep track of all the advancements you need to stay on the cutting edge of the world of digital marketing and SEO. Browse each section for what you need to know to keep a few paces ahead of your competitors.

SEO

Over the last week there has been a lot of talk about Penguin 3 again with Google confirming that the rollout continued over Thanksgiving weekend. Barry Schwarz reported that there was a lot of talk about changes in Google with webmasters noticing sudden recovery over the weekend. This was later confirmed to be the continuing Penguin 3 update that started in October! We know that Google now rollout updates over a longer period but this is huge. (Source)

Looking further into the Google Updates, Search Engine Land columnist, Aaron Friedman, wrote an interesting insight into his beliefs that the days of big upsets may well be over. However for those that have already been hit there has been a lot of pain and recovery work is an in-depth process. Aaron made a very interesting point –

“Everything seems to be pointing to sites ending up where they rightfully belong in the SERPs. The Pandas and Penguins have been among us for a few years now. We have had time to get to know them, and it should be clear to everyone that the old ways don’t work anymore.

The old linking tactics and the old junk content — they’re not part of a valuable strategy and won’t bring the results you are looking for.”

Which strengths our findings and methodology in terms of working hard to create great content and earn links and shares. The search engines are now starting to get it right and place sites in positions that they are worth meaning that if you want to increase your ranking you need a proper digital marketing strategy in place in order to build your site as an information resource of quality and value.

On a lighter note Microsoft have partnered with NORAD to launch Santa Tracker so that you can track Santa as he makes his annual journey around the world. (Source)

Google’s Santa Tracker is also up and running counting the days, so make sure you get in the festive spirit with one or both of these great sites. (Source)

Social Media

Facebook recently announced updates to its advertising and privacy policies and for once it’s actually good news for the user.

One of the new changes is known as the ‘Privacy Basics’ Tool of which you can get more in-depth details  here  but basically put it is designed to give the user much more control of their content and their timeline and in all honesty it has to be one of the most user friendly updates they have made.

In the announcement they also made more mention of the improvements to their ads system which is based on the sites and apps you use offsite and again giving you more control.

This with a whole raft of other improvements announced in the official post which states these updates will go live on January 1, 2015. To learn more and read the full announcement visit Facebook’s post here .

AdWords

Big news last week in the pay per click world as Black Friday forced its way into all of our lives. It really is a phenomenon that shows no sign of slowing down as the busiest shopping day of the year!

According to research from Kenshoo, retailers increased their advertising spend by 49% compared to 2013. The biggest increase was seen through Google shopping campaigns which peaked at 6% conversions.

This research just highlights the growth of Google Shopping and its tremendous ability to convert products – if you place time and effort into optimising your campaigns. Every business that is serious about eCommerce absolutely should have by now looked to take advantage of Shopping Campaigns. Don’t leave it until next year to set this up if you haven’t. There is still time for later players in the pay per click market. Don’t forget many people will be searching for products that you sell over the Christmas holiday!

That is it for this week – have a great weekend!