While Google's various products and Internet marketing services are updated on a continual basis, 3 recent changes are worth noting their impact on ecommerce businesses: Video previews, Google Adwords' appended URLs and Google Analytics' site speed report.
Video previews in search results with previews
Google somewhat-recently launched Instant Previews in its SERPs (search engine results pages), where you can hover over a magnifying glass to preview a landing page before committing to a click. It now supports previews for video content, showing not only a few thumbnail images but also very short clips of the video, with or without sound.
Hat tip to Xavier Casanova from VideoRetailer.org for the screenshot.
This means video SEO is all the more important, to ensure your video assets have the best chance of appearing in blended search results. Check out the 7 Deadly Sins of Video SEO and 5 Heavenly Acts of Righteousness for tips.
Google Adwords' appended URLs
Adwords announced a global change to the way your text ads are displayed. Ads are now appended with the display URL automatically.
My observation - this only happens when the ad is in the magic
blue purple green yellow box and when there's enough room.
My concern with this tactic is stuffed headlines are actually harder to read and scan. While I suppose they can give a branding boost by showing the URL, they may make the headlines ignored altogether. Making some brands more prominent than others also seems a bit unfair. If it does impact click through positively, the "rich get richer" (the highest CTR ads that win the top spots will stay there).
Nevertheless, it's important that you understand your headlines have been changed without your consent, and this change can impact your campaign performance for the good or the bad. It's a good idea to annotate the date of this change so you can see the changes in your web analytics. Ideally, Adwords would have provided advertisers with the ability to split-test with and without the display URL in the headline, and an option to turn the feature off.
Google Analytics Site Speed Report
While there's been a whole whack of adjustments in the new Google Analytics (version 5), perhaps the most exciting is the site speed report.
This report will tell you which landing pages load the slowest, which campaigns correspond to faster page loads and how geography and browser type differ in performance.
Once you identify where the issues are, you can take measures to optimize these pages. Here's a tip - pay the most attention to the pages in your checkout, not just "landing pages." Many carts are not abandoned because a button was the wrong color, but because tables, graphics and other objects were...taking...too...long...to...load...