Look who's calling
Google has released Website Call Conversions, an update to its AdWords service that allows advertisers to track the number of people who are making calls after clicking on a Google ad.
The new AdWords feature works by embedding a forwarding number into a website which Google can track. It allows advertisers to measure calls whether the user has clicked on the advertisement itself, or they left the browser and called directly from their mobile.
The interaction with the customer is recorded against both the ad and the keyword that brought the customer to the website.
On its blog, Google has said:
"With website call conversions, you can understand which keywords and ads are driving the most phone calls from your website and which are resulting in more valuable calls."
Close variable keywords no longer an option
At the end of last week Google announced that, from September, search engine advertisers will no longer be able to opt-out of 'close variant keywords' - the keywords which are similar to but different from an exact keyword, in that they may include a misspelling or some other slight deviation.
In the past, close variants and exact match keywords have been treated as separate entities. The option to combine the two has been available to advertisers since 2012, and now it is going to become mandatory.
This has sparked some criticism. Critics of the move such as PPCHERO's Sam Owen question whether people who search for a misspelt word should be targeted the same way as people who correctly spell a word.
Others welcome the change as part of a wider change in online marketing. Search Engine Land spoke with Larry Kim, the founder of Wordstream, a search marking software developer based in Boston Massachusetts. Mr Kim said:
"This change will free us up and allow us to focus on... the strategy, instead of compiling excessive keyword lists".
Mr Kim added that the recent Hummingbird update could mean we are heading towards a keywordless world.
Eugene Henry, head of PPC at theEword said: "Google loves to update and tweak its AdWords service, it might be a shame to see some of the functionality of keywords change, but who knows, that extra visibility could promote brand awareness. And it goes without saying that tracking calls will be essential if you want to understand the true success of a campaign."