I believe artificial intelligence (AI) will be a key driver of change in PPC in 2018 as it leads to more and better PPC intelligence.
So far, I’ve discussed the roles humans will play when PPC management becomes nearly fully automated and six strategiesagencies can take to future-proof their business. In this final post on the state of AI in PPC, I’ll cover the technology of AI.
Why AI took years to matter to PPC
AI has been around since 1956, and PPC has existed since the late 1990s. So why did it take until now for AI’s role in paid search to become such a hot topic in our industry?
It’s because we’ve recently hit an inflection point where, due to the exponential nature of technological advances, we’re now seeing improvements that used to take years happen in weeks.
What’s driving this is the exponential growth explained by Moore’s Law, the principle that computing power doubles approximately every 18 months. The outcome of exponential growth is hard for humans to grasp, so let me give an example that doesn’t involve computing speeds since those can be a bit too conceptual. Instead, let’s apply this doubling of speed to cars, where we can more easily understand how it impacts the distances we travel and how quickly we get somewhere.
Imagine if the first car, invented by Karl Benz in 1885 with a top speed of about 10 mph, was doubling its speed every 18 months. In 1885, we could have driven that car across a typical town in an hour. After 27 times doubling its speed (the same number of times the microchip has doubled its speed since it was invented), we could have gone to the sun in about 4 minutes. And less than 18 months later, it would take just about 2 hours to travel to Neptune, the farthest planet in our solar system. (Voyager 2 did that same trip in about 12 years.)
Because computing speed has already doubled 27 times, every extra doubling leads to new capabilities that are beyond imagination.
What exponential growth means for PPC
So, if we’ve reached the point of PPC automation today where humans and computers are about equally good, consider that the pace of technological improvement makes it possible for the machines to leave humans in the dust later this year. That’s why it’s worth thinking about the roles humans will play in the future of PPC.
And just like the first car is not the right vehicle for a flight to Neptune, the tools you used to manage AdWords a few years ago may no longer be the ones that make sense for managing AdWords today. So let’s take a look at what AI is doing to PPC tools.
The technologies driving PPC intelligence
Just like you want to know what your employees are capable of by interviewing them before hiring them, you should understand a technology’s capabilities (and limits) before adding it to your toolkit. So let’s see how artificial intelligence works in PPC.
PPC intelligence through programmed rules
Before the advent of AI as a research field in 1956, you could make a machine appear “intelligent” by programming it to deliver specific responses to a large number of scenarios. But that form of AI is very limited because it can’t deal with edge cases, of which there are invariably many in the real world.
In PPC, this would be akin to using Automated Rules to write rules for every possible scenario an account might encounter. Rules are great for covering the majority use cases, but the real world is messy, and trying to write rules for every scenario is simply impossible.
PPC intelligence through symbolic representations
Between the 1950s and 1980s, AI evolved into using symbolic systems to be able to take heuristic shortcuts like humans do. By framing problems in human readable form, it was believed the machines could make logical deductions.
Here’s a PPC problem: you’re adding a new keyword, but you don’t know the right bid to set because there is no historical data for it. By teaching the machine concepts like campaigns and keywords and how these relate to each other, we are providing it with the same heuristics we use to make reasonable guesses.
So the system can now automate bid management and might set a similar bid to other keywords in the campaign because it knows that campaigns tend to have keywords that have something in common.
PPC intelligence through statistical learning methods
The type of AI that is responsible for a lot of success in PPC today is based on statistics and machine learning to categorize things. Quality Score (QS) is a great example; Google looks at historical click behavior from users and uses machine learning to find correlations that help predict the likelihood of a click or a conversion.
By having a score for how likely it is that each search will translate into a conversion, automated bidding products like those offered inside AdWords can “think” through many more dimensions (like geo-location, hour of day, device, or audience) that might impact the likelihood of a conversion than a person could.
Thanks to the massively increased computing power available today, these systems can also consider interactions across dimensions without getting “overwhelmed” by the combinatorial nature of the problem.
What’s next for artificial intelligence
AI systems getting a lot of attention today, like AlphaGo Zero, are no longer dependent on structured data and can become “intelligent” without being “constrained by the limits of human knowledge,” as explained by DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis.
The team created the AlphaZero algorithm using reinforcement learning so that it could learn to win other games besides AlphaGo. They claimed that by the end of 2017, this algorithm had learned to best humans in other games like chess and shogi in less than 1 day — a huge leap forward in AI.
Reinforcement learning uses massive computing power to run lots of simulations until it starts to recognize actions that lead to desirable outcomes. It can be applied to games because there is a clear outcome of “winning” or “losing.” When Google figures out what it means to win or lose in the game of AdWords, I bet we’ll see a huge acceleration in improvements of their automation tools.
Build your own PPC intelligence
There are a lot of tools available to automate your PPC work, and multiple third-party vendors are starting to use AI and ML to provide stronger recommendations. But there are also many free tools from AdWords that are getting better every day thanks to advances in AI, like Portfolio Bid Strategies, Custom Intent Audiences, optimized ad rotation, etc.
For those willing to invest in connecting their own business data to AdWords and AI, I’m a big fan of prototyping solutions with AdWords Scripts because they provide a lot of customizability without requiring a lot of engineering resources. Unfortunately, simple scripts you write will fall into the weakest category of AI, where PPC intelligence is achieved through hard-coded rules.
But when you get a bit more advanced in your scripting abilities, you can use Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine to start enhancing your own automations with modern machine learning techniques.
The benefit of an out-of-the box solution like this is that you don’t need to learn many types of different models. But that’s also the downside because you won’t get total control over how you set criteria and thresholds to get results that are usable. Our team at Optmyzr tried several ready-made systems but eventually decided that we needed more power — so we’re building our own AI.
I believe there are three pillars for being a successful PPC marketer in a world where AI takes over and I’ve now touched on each pillar in my recent posts:
- Be ready for the new roles humans will play.
- Have a plan for your business, and especially focus on having the best process for leveraging AI.
- Understand the technology so you can spot opportunities faster.
Over the coming months, I will share my own experiences with AI so advertisers ready to take the plunge will have a better understanding of what is involved in building successful companies that leverage the latest state of the art in technology, computation, and statistics.
The power behind search-based marketing has always been intent. Search engines like Google gave us the ability to put our ads in front of people at the exact moment they were searching a specific keyword. Because people were searching, we could safely assume they were ready to buy and it has worked beautifully for years.
However, over time a couple of problems started to crop up. First, with the success of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising we began to see lots and lots of competitors. Anyone could bid on a keyword and the auction-based nature of the platforms meant that average cost-per-click (CPC) continued to rise. Secondly, as Google became its own verb, people began searching for lots and lots of things. They wanted to find out the answer to trivia questions, learn details about upcoming events, get pictures of celebrities, etc. This watered down the intent. Someone searching for “King James” might want to learn about Lebron James or buy a Bible.
Get Past Keywords Keywords
Most new PPC advertisers focus heavily on keyword research and selection. They believe that if you pick the right keywords you’ll get clicks that you can turn in to sales. While I agree that you must choose the correct keywords, the attitude above forgets that each search has a unique intent. It further ignores the fact that search engine results pages offer numerous options to click.
With increased cost and competition, the key to success is less on what keywords you choose and more about what message you’re presenting, aka your ad copy. Ad copy influences who you get to click, how well qualified they are and how well prepared they are to respond to your product/service. So how do you write more compelling ad copy?
While economics assumes that all people behave rationally, marketers realize that people are complex mixtures of emotion and logic. Virtually every company I have worked with could explain logically why someone should use their product/service. These appeals usually center around cost, time savings and ease of use and can be quite effective. However, consider these alternatives:
- Lowest prices on product X
- Don’t overpay for product X, buy from us
Our first option is matter-of-fact and gets the message across, but the second option evokes fear. People don’t want to overpay (very negative emotional association) and you offer them relief from that fear. That’s how you get the click.
Here is a handy cheat sheet of emotion-loaded words that you can incorporate into your ad copy:
I recently attended a presentation about the use of pronouns in ad copy. Mark Irvine, of Wordstream, shared the 3 most effective pronouns to use in ad copy:
#3 – “We” sells a solution
#2 – “You” speaks directly to your audience
#1 – “Him/Her” connects with a relationship
Notice that all of these pronouns shift the focus away from you as the product/service provider. People stop thinking about cost or features and start thinking about how it benefits them or how it will benefit their significant other. See the results from Mark’s analysis. Spoiler alert: They dramatically increased CTR.
Always Be Testing
Over the years I’ve had a lot of really good ad copy ideas fail. I’m not too proud to admit it. Sometimes that bone-dry descriptive ad copy is exactly what your customers want. But many times I’ve seen significant improvement in performance by testing a “crazy” idea. What will work best for your customers?
I don’t know. Your marketing people might not know either. But the only way you’re going to find out if your current ad copy can be better is if you get out there and test it. Put 2-3 ads in all your AdWords ad groups and change the campaign setting to “Optimize indefinitely” (that forces Google to give all copies a fair chance, though it won’t guarantee equality of impressions). Let your customers tell you what they prefer and what they don’t prefer with their clicks and conversions.
Source: How To Write Compelling Ad Copy
Are your AdWords campaigns working… like, really working?
That might be a surprisingly hard question to answer. Anybody with an AdWords account can see if they’re getting clicks, and it’s not too hard to set up conversion tracking — but chances are that the reason you put money into AdWords was that you wanted to get money out.
In other words, you want your ad spend to produce sales.
As obvious as this statement is, actually determining how different factors in your AdWords campaigns affect sales can be fairly difficult. To try to shed more light on the subject, we recently conducted a study on how different variables affect ad performance at Disruptive Advertising (my company). We pulled data from well over half a million keywords and measured return-on-investment against dozens of variables.
In short, we wanted to answer the question: What predicts profitability in an AdWords account? Our findings may surprise you.
1. High CPC = low profitability
With any pay-per-click platform, the more clicks cost, the less profit you’ll make. However, many businesses are quick to argue that if a new sale is worth enough, it’s worth it to bid on keywords with expensive CPCs.
But do things actually work out that way?
In our study, we found that ROI rapidly drops off as your cost-per-click (CPC) increases. For example, take a look at data we pulled from a variety of e-commerce companies:
Now, for these companies, a sale was worth anywhere from tens to thousands of dollars, so you’d think that at least some of their keywords would perform well at a higher CPC. But it didn’t work out that way.
Even for expensive products, higher CPCs were directly linked to low ROI, to the point where paying more than $5 for an e-commerce click is like saying, “No, I don’t want to make money on this product.”
2. Long-tail keywords are a waste of money
Based on the above findings, it seems like long-tail keywords would be the way to go. After all, the longer the keyword, the less competition there is and the cheaper the click will be.
However, that only works up to a point.
When we looked at how keyword length affected ROI, we found that the most profitable keywords typically had 15 to 30 characters.
If you think about it, these findings make sense. Below 15 characters, you face one of two problems:
- The keyword is too non-specific and produces low-quality clicks, or
- The keyword has good volume and intent but is way too competitive.
Above 30 characters (and especially above 40 characters), the searches are usually incredibly specific and have low conversion intent. For example, we once saw an AdWords account that had received 127 clicks from the search term “how do I remove the terrible smell from carpet that has been flooded using household ingredients.”
Despite all these clicks, this search term had never produced a single conversion. Why? Well, people who bother to type in a 96-character search term like this are usually looking for a very specific answer — the kind that you get on a forum or answer board, not a landing page.
3. More clicks don’t mean more conversions
If you have a conversion rate (CR) of 5 percent and a click-through rate (CTR) of 5 percent for a given ad, it’s easy to assume that doubling your CTR will double your conversions. While that may be true in some situations, as a general rule, increasing your CTR actually tends to decrease your conversion rate.
Yes, you read that right.
In our study, higher CTRs were typically associated with lower conversion rates. Let’s take another look at that e-commerce data we were talking about earlier.
(Note: Since this is e-commerce, a single click sometimes leads to multiple sales, which is why a good chunk of our conversion rates fall above the 100 percent mark.)
As you can see in the graph above, as CTR improves, the conversion rate plummets. But why? Since people only click on ads that they think match their intent, wouldn’t a higher CTR lead to a higher conversion rate?
Unfortunately, that only happens if you are targeting the right audience with the right message. In many cases, CTR improves because you are targeting the wrong audience with the wrong message (or at least an unclear message). As a result, they think they’ve found what they’re looking for, only to end up on your landing page and discover that your business isn’t what they really want.
4. There is no silver bullet
Sadly, this is where the clear data ends. Although AdWords experts love to say, “Pull this lever and you’ll make more money,” it doesn’t work out that way in practice.
For example, let’s take a look at how well click conversion rate (percentage of clicks that convert at least once) predicts ROI:
At first glance, this graph looks great! I mean, look at that trend line. Clearly, the higher your conversion rate, the more profitable your campaigns will be, right?
While this graph looks compelling, there’s a problem. If you take a close look at the graph, it’s pretty clear that the dots don’t really follow the line. In other words, the trend line doesn’t do a very good job of predicting real-life results.
In statistics, we describe how well a trend line fits the data using R2 (R squared). In the case of the graph above, the R2 value is 0.31, which essentially means that the trend line is only accurate about 31 percent of the time.
In our study, we found that the best predictors of ROI were the amount of time spent on a page and the number of pages visited. That’s kind of a no-brainer — if you’re converting, you’re going to spend more time on the site and visit more pages. But it’s hard to use that data to improve campaign performance. After all, forcing someone to visit more pages and spend more time on your site isn’t likely to get them to convert.
But what about all the other metrics we love to watch? How does modifying those metrics affect ROI?
As you can see above, the very best predictors of ROI are CTR and CPC. But even those factors only have R2 values of 0.27 and 0.19, respectively. A 27 percent and 19 percent success rate aren’t exactly the kind of wins you want to wager money on.
Now, that being said, these numbers are based on our whole data set. When you group companies with a $0.25 CPC and a $10 product with companies with a $25 CPC and a $1,000 product, your data are not going to be very consistent.
So, let’s try to simplify things. Instead of looking at our whole data set, let’s look at the R2 values for e-commerce keywords with very similar CPCs and see if that provides any additional clarity:
In this chart, I’ve assigned bronze, silver and gold medals to the top predictive factors in each CPC range. As you can see, hashing out the data in this way does improve the predictive value of each of these factors, but our best performer is still only accurate about 50% of the time.
So, regardless of what you may read out there, there is no “silver bullet” for AdWords performance. Improving your CTR, ad position or conversion rate might improve your ROI, but it’s a shot in the dark.
Really, when you get right down to it, every business and market audience is unique, which means that the only true “silver bullet” may be blood, sweat and tears. That being said, these data may be a bit of a relief to you.
After all, if improving these metrics doesn’t reliably improve ROI, that means you can spend less time worrying about your CTR and more time identifying new, creative ways to reach and influence your target audience. If you’re focused on creating profitable ads and campaigns, rather than improving surface metrics like bounce rate, you’ll probably end up with better results.
Keyword research is not easy. Every SEO has done it, but few will ever master it completely. In this guide we go beyond raw search volume data to metrics that
This is not supposed to be just another keyword research post. This post is about going beyond raw search volume data, using metrics which will help you choose keywords which deliver the best ROI for you right now.
To start with I am going to assume you have carried out your keyword research already, and are starting off with a comprehensive list (if not, our complete guide to keyword research for SEO will help you do this).
The more keywords, the better: you want to start with a massive data set and then use the below points to whittle down your keywords.
Here is the full list:
1. Get Cost Per Click data
Cost Per Click, or CPC data is invaluable to SEOs. Why should we have to test one keyword’s effectiveness against another’s when the PPC guys have already got it figured out?
If marketers aren’t spending money to appear on the keyword, it’s clearly not commercially viable. We want to be using CPC data to exclude keywords.
Any keywords with less than 50p CPC clearly isn’t commercially viable, so ditch them from your list, and prioritize all those keywords with over £1 CPC.
2. Focus on what you already rank for
This point is about prioritizing short term goals. There is no point focusing on a keyword, no matter the search volume, if you don’t rank for it.
Moving a keyword which isn’t ranking to page 1 is going to take time, and will only start delivering traffic right at the end. Moving a keyword from position 11 to position 9 can take no time at all, and you will see the traffic coming through instantly from managing to get on the first page of Google.
Below is the classification we use at Zazzle Media to secure short-term wins for our clients and to help them to manage their expectations too. The position range column refers to the ranking position of each keyword on Google.
Position Range Opportunity Group 2 – 4 Short Term 5 – 20 Quick Win 21 – 39 Medium 40+ Long Term
Click-through rate studies all show that it’s page one or nothing, and as ‘Short Term’ and ‘Quick Win’ all sit on page 1 & 2, the vast majority of your traffic will be coming from these.
Long term keywords should not be ignored, especially if they can deliver significantly more traffic than other keywords, however your keyword optimisation strategy should reflect the effort-to-benefit ratio which the above classification will identify.
3. Choose the easy options
SEO is not done in a vacuum. For every campaign you invest in, there is always going to be a competitor out there investing more than you.
Ranking above a bigger brand is hard, very hard! If you’re not up for going toe-to-toe, budget-wise, with the big players in your field, then you’ll need to go after the easier keywords.
You can outrank more authoritative sites with more specific, more engaging content. However, as a rule of thumb we use referring domains as a signal of competitiveness on the keyword.
We use Majestic’s Open Apps to get referring domain data at scale. However, any backlink audit tool is sufficient. It’s best to look both at domain and URL level with this, with extra weight put on URL level (a 75/25 split).
Compare the average difficulty score for your keyword set against the URL on your site you wish to target the keyword on, and rule out any keyword massively out of reach.
4. Focus on traffic, not search volume
So, if I’m searching for a fashion item… I type in ‘dresses’ only to see that the results page is full of women’s dresses – this isn’t what I wanted! I then have to change the search to ‘men’s dresses’ to get the desired result. Think about the thousands of other men in my position!
But seriously, some keywords will have more clicks per search, some less. Did you know the clicks per search for the phrase ‘Chelsea Boots’ is only 0.64? This means that out of every 100 searches, it only results in 64 clicks.
A search volume of 25,000 looks absolutely massive, but a clicks per search of only 16,236 massively reduces what was a huge keyword.
We get this information from Ahref’s keyword explorer, and it really is impossible to do it any other way. You can get a lean towards how strong a keyword is through inspecting the SERPs and seeing the conformity of the ranking URLs. Are all the websites similar? Or are we seeing informational mixed with commercial results, mixed genders, etc.?
Google is all about delivering the best results for its users, and a mixed bag of results is a quick indicator that it doesn’t know what the user wants, so we’d anticipate lower click volume. It’s impossible to do it this way at scale, but will help you choose between a few keywords.
5. Use seasonal data/trends
Lots of businesses rely on seasonal traffic, which will completely invalidate average search volumes. Make sure your traffic estimates are based on when you are busiest, and focus your strategy on delivering growth at that point in time.
This means on-page and technical changes made months in advance, before consolidating link equity to key pages when they need it most.
Equally so, Google trends is your friend; go after keywords with an upward trend (obviously), don’t prioritize a dying keyword. You can get exports of your top keywords and use a SLOPE formula to determine whether your keyword is increasing or decreasing.
This is especially handy for your long-term keywords, to determine their true value.
6. Focus on keyword categories, not individual keywords
When completing keyword research, your keywords should be tightly categorized and mapped to individual URLs or directories. This allows us to see opportunity at a grander scale, helping you redraw the boundaries, and think more naturally about optimization.
Optimizing for individual keywords is so far outdated – content marketing helps us move beyond this and optimize for topics (this guide will help you do so). This helps us to be more informative and more comprehensive than our competitors. By grouping keywords by tight semantic relationships, you will not only have the head term, but also all the queries people have.
Think about it: what is more relevant and more authoritative than a directory/website that has great, in-depth content for every stage of the funnel?
Focusing on groups of keywords is not only more natural, but will deliver more opportunity for traffic growth as your supporting content ranks for keywords in its own right. If you have done enough to capture the right keywords, you can get conversions through bottom of the funnel, informational keywords.
The above six points will help you to have a more strategic approach to your initial keyword research, which enables you to get the best out of the resources you have – and get above the competition.
If you aren’t seeing that success you expect from your paid search marketing campaigns, check to make sure you aren’t making these critical mistakes.
Have you ever noticed how often someone will complain that something “doesn’t work” if they don’t understand it?
It couldn’t be more true with PPC.
In my experience, a lot of the people who say that PPC doesn’t work are the ones making mistakes with the way their campaigns are conceived, set up, and managed. Their own efforts aren’t working, so they conclude that the whole exercise is folly.
But the “PPC doesn’t work” argument doesn’t hold up strongly against numbers.
According to Hanapin’s most recent State of PPC survey, 80 percent of marketing professionals felt good about their PPC success over the preceding year.
Other marketers are getting the results they want. If you’re not seeing that same success from your campaign, step back and look at your strategy to pinpoint where you could be going wrong.
Could it be any of the below mistakes?
1. Not Adopting New Ad Features
It’s been a long time since online advertising was just search and display, even though that’s still where the lion’s share of people’s energy is focused. These do remain potent ways to reach an audience, but newer options may be better for reaching the specific types of people you want to target in a given campaign.
For example, sponsored InMail on LinkedIn may be impactful, as well as other relatively new social media advertising options like Quora ads, Instagram Stories ads, AdWords call only ads, Facebook lead capture ads, or even Snapchat video spots.
Be on top of the industry trends and stay agile. You may find that you get the best results from an unlikely format or platform.
2. Overlooking Intent Signals
If you aren’t considering different intent signals in your campaign targeting, this can severely diminish performance. Understanding the different ways your prospects engage with you at different stages of the sales funnel, and aligning your campaign to that, is key to reaching them with the right offer.
Search marketers used to think of any search for a product-specific keyword was a quality intent signal. But in the age of the non-linear, self-serve buyer’s journey, that’s no longer the case.
Someone who watches the first 20 minutes of your hour-long Facebook video product demo is displaying somewhat different intent from even someone who Googles “where to buy [your product name].”
To maximize sales, focus on targeting people who’ve displayed intent signals pointing towards the bottom of the funnel. To capture self-warmed, qualified leads, focus on the middle of the funnel.
3. Advertising for One Device Only
Yes, “mobile first” is important. I know, I know.
But focusing too much on one gadget and neglecting others can cause you to lose out on customers and leads you could be reaching with your campaign.
Might you be giving up on desktop visitors by optimizing for mobile?
Experimenting with different CTA and conversion flows allows you to target a much wider audience and miss out on fewer people interested in your offer because of the device they’re on.
4. Ignoring Click Fraud
Could click fraud be tanking your PPC results? Some projections estimate that businesses could lose up to $16.4 billion this year because of it.
Search engines do what they can to combat click fraud and invalid traffic, but industry-wide protection will take time. You can’t rely on that when your viewability is hurting now.
Instead, you need to either use a third-party tool or start taking your own measures to protect your brand’s digital marketing.
By keeping an eye of your site’s activity logs, you can often identify IP addresses, referring websites and even geographic territories where the fraudulent activity is coming from and adjust your campaign targeting accordingly, thereby circumventing the issue altogether.
5. Serving Up Mismatched Messaging
Another mistake that loses you leads is failing to align the different assets of your ad campaign well enough. You need to optimize your campaigns for maximum message match.
Whether your targeting parameters, ad creative and landing page are poorly aligned, or your overall copy isn’t tapped into your customer’s’ needs, this can kill the ad’s overall experience and impact some of your other metrics by way of Quality Score.
Message matching has been proven to make a huge difference. For example, by using dynamic content personalization tools to align all the variables of one recent campaign for a client, Codeless Interactive was able to drive a 213 percent increase in conversion rate and a 69 percent decrease in cost per conversion.
Just don’t forget that message matching shouldn’t trump the basics – making sure that you’re targeting the right people with the right message.
6. Not Monitoring Campaigns Closely Enough
Next, don’t underestimate how hands-on active PPC campaigns can, and arguably should be. They’re anything but “set it and forget it,” and hands-off advertisers run the risk of wasting heaps of money over time if they continue to run ads that aren’t performing.
You should always have at least two versions of every campaign running: a test group and an experiment group. Document the variables of your experiments, measure their impact over a day or two or more, rinse, repeat.
Some campaign parameters you can experiment with include:
- Adjusting budget by impression share.
- Making bid adjustments.
- Optimizing ad copy.
- Changing the hours and days your ads are shown.
If you’re doing a good job with your experiments, you should see conversions rising and costs per conversion sinking as time goes on.
Remember, though, that what worked for you last week might have already stopped working for you, and you might never know why.You need to check in on all active campaigns frequently enough to spot performance issues before you spent too much money on them. That way you can make adjustments before your campaign goes too far down the wrong path.
7. Not Bidding on Branded Keywords
Yet another common mistake is not using your brand name as a campaign keyword. Many argue it’s not worth it or necessary, but even if you don’t need to use them, your competitors will. They can intercept your audience if you don’t try to outbid them.
When Growww Digital experimented with turning off brand name ads for an online marketplace client, they saw a 23 percent decrease in cumulative revenue, dropping more than $43,000, as well as a decrease in sessions. After turning the brand ads back on, their important metrics recovered back to where they were before the experiment.
8. Optimizing for Metrics Other Than Revenue
With all the fuss over Quality Score and pressure to drive a high volume of traffic with ads, it can be easy to forget that click-throughs aren’t your end goal – and neither are lead capture conversions. These are just signposts along the way.
At the end of your funnel, and what you’re really after with advertising, is sales, revenue, and ROI.
When you take your eyes off of the ultimate objective, the metrics that your PPC dashboard might be showing you can become misleading.
For example, optimizing campaigns around click-throughs is a bad idea when you have a campaign that’s getting clicks but not conversions. And even conversion rate can be misleading, and optimizing for it a potential mistake, if you’re generating low-quality leads as conversions.
You might not have your goal measurements set up for this type of tracking, and it might not even be possible, depending on your site’s tech infrastructure. This is why it’s key to integrate your ad performance data with other data, such as your Google Analytics dashboard (yes, those UTMs are useful).
At the very least, you should set up data pushes to your CRM for automatic logging of each customer’s pre-sale touches with your assets. This will allow you to identify the campaigns that send you the highest-value customers.
Everything in Its Right Place
Ultimately, most PPC mistakes happen when you don’t understand the best way to reach your audience given the specifics of your situation. By focusing on reaching your targets in the right place with the right message for the campaign’s particular goal, and tracking your results all the way through, you can stay in tune with what people want and optimize your campaign accordingly.
If you really want to improve your Google AdWords’ results, perform these three maintenance tasks and watch your CTR skyrocket.
There are three crucial Google AdWords checks you should do regularly that ensure your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns remain healthy.
1. Ongoing management: checks.
This part of managing accounts is relatively easy to carry out and is essential if the rest of your AdWords work is to be effective. There are three things you want to measure in this step:
The first step to any success in any business system is deciding what measurement is going to tell you that your business is, in fact, running like it should. Setting up conversion tracking is simple, but it’s also easy for things to break down. If you’re using code on key pages to measure conversions, check regularly to be sure the code is still present and installed correctly.
Also, check the conversion process itself to ensure no glitches have cropped up. Working tracking code on your “thank-you” page is pointless if the lead-capture form is broken. Make sure these pieces of your funnel are installed and functioning.
The settings inside your AdWords account aren’t likely to change without your noticing. But, don’t take this for granted, especially if you’re not the only person administrating your campaign. Keep a written record of your settings and occasionally check them to be sure nothing’s been moved, adjusted, paused or unintentionally reset.
Start by looking for obvious glitches such as broken formatting or dead links. Then take a high-level view and ask whether you’re matching the right landing page to the right ad copy. Does what you promise in the ad get delivered in the landing page? Is the connection between the two obvious to the visitor? Is there a better landing page you could be using?
2. Ongoing management: optimizing.
“Outliers” is a term made popular by Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success. It refers to fringe elements that, in some way, behave differently than everything else. The “outliers” in AdWords are the campaigns, ad groups, keywords, ads or placements that perform significantly better — or significantly worse — than everything else.
You could spend your time optimizing every last element of your PPC campaigns, but that’s not smart. Go for your outliers first. The goal is simple: Increase the good outliers, and decrease or fix the bad ones. If you have a particularly high-performing keyword, for instance, you might want to raise the bid and get more impressions, clicks and conversions. If you have a poorly performing keyword, try lowering the bid or even removing it from the campaign altogether.
Before you reach for the “nuke” button, however, ask whether you can improve the bad keyword by writing a better ad or building a better landing page for it. Sometimes your worst player can turn into your star player.
3. Ongoing management: expansion.
Once your AdWords account is well-optimized, think expansion: more impressions, more clicks and more conversions. With PPC, you can never have too much of a good thing.
There are a number of different ways you can expand an account.
- Start with new keywords. The search query report is a goldmine for this information. (To access this, look under the Dimensions tab, and in the “View” drop-down box, select “Search Terms.”) This shows you the actual search terms people typed in that Google chose to show your ad for. Look for common phrases that aren’t yet in any of your ad groups. Add them in.
- Look in the Opportunities tab for Google’s list of additional keyword suggestions. This section is useful for finding new ideas, but beware: Don’t be too quickly sucked into Google’s insistence that the best thing you can do is increase your maximum bids. There’s a time and place to raise bids. Don’t do it in kneejerk response to Google’s pestering.
- Pay regular visits to Google’s Keyword Planner. We also recommend third-party applications like SpyFu, SEMrush and WordStream. Go digging there on a regular basis to find new keyword ideas.
- Try aiming for the top positions. When your ad moves to the top of the page above the organic results, the positive difference in click-through rate (CTR) is massive. Use your “Top vs. Other” report to see this spelled out in hard numbers.
Display campaigns with vibrant ads that show everywhere
- Never assume that the performance of your display campaign ads has hit its ceiling. Keep testing new ads, especially image ads and try to beat your best CTR. You can often get a quick win just by testing a vibrant new image or a new headline.
- If you’re using a managed placement campaign, look around for new sites where you can feature ads. If you’re using contextual targeting, look for new keywords or topics you can introduce that will expand the range of sites where your ads can show.
- Experiment with different targeting methods. If you’re only using managed placements, give contextual targeting a try and vice versa. And if you’re not using remarketing, this should be at the top of your idea list.
Marketing comes in different forms and it is usually with the purpose of advertising a product, brand or service. In this article, we will discuss one of those forms, namely: Google AdWords
What is AdWords?
AdWords is a system of marketing products and services on Google’s search engine and all Google-affiliated sites. It involves using text advertisement that shows up when words related to your product or service are entered into the search engine.
You have the power to determine where the ad will be seen by using paid search and the higher you pay per click, the more likely that you have your ad appear more – although this requires bidding against other marketers. Pay Per Click (PPC) simply means you only pay what you budgeted for advertising when someone clicks on your ad.
How It Works
There some elements that are key to maximizing Google AdWords and these are:
This is a score that is accessed by how relevant your ad is to the one searching and it shows how well your keywords respond to a search typed into the search engine. It is the likelihood of your ad getting clicked which determines the quality score and this also includes your landing page usefulness and how often your page was visited.
The quality score carries a lot of power in determining whether your ad appears first before the other competitors, regardless of the bid results. It is important to note that the higher your quality score, the lower your cost.
The two options available for bidding on Google AdWords are:
Cost per Click (CPC) or Pay per Click (PPC)
This is the price you are willing to pay for a click on your advertisement; it is called Cost Per Click (CPC) or Pay Per Click (PPC). It is the most common method and it is within range of the budget for your CPC or PPC that Google uses to bring the maximum click you can get.
Cost per Impression (CPM)
In this case, you pay for every 1000 times your ad appears on the search result page (SERP) and has nothing to do with whether your ad was clicked or not.
What goes on behind the scenes from when the search is keyed in is that, an auction is held by Google AdWords and the ad with the highest bid and quality score is picked as the top ad which will be featured on the search page result all under 0.26 seconds
What you bid is not usually what you pay – what you pay is determined by the AdRank of the competitor lower than yours. So, actual Cost Per Click equals competitor AdRank, divided by your quality score.
How It Targets
For every product or service, there is a target market, so your advertising should be able to reach your targeted audience and communicate with them in a way that they will understand. Google AdWords enables you to use targeting methods that will determine where your ads will appear.
- Keyword targeting: Your ad will show only when certain keywords you have chosen are entered into the search engine.
- Device targeting: You may want to be more specific on how and where your adverts show up by choosing a certain type of device, time of the day, etc.
- Location and language targeting: This targets a particular race or location, depending on the geographical setting and language of your customers.
- Audience targeting: This targets people that have particular interests as they browse through the net on different apps; pick from the Affinity audience or In-market audience.
- Placement targeting: This requires picking the websites you want your ad to feature – websites your customers visit, or one that holds complimentary or contrasting services to yours.
- Topic targeting: With this, you target your ad on pages that are about certain topics selected by you.
- Remarketing: This allows you to target your ad towards people who have interacted with your business or websites before.
Steps to Add Targeting Methods
- Go to ‘Display Network’ found under ‘All campaign’
- Click ‘add targeting’ where you can choose your target method stated above
- Simply close to save your ad group
There are two options as well that must be set for each target method you choose and they are:
Target and Bid
Your advertisement only shows the target method you have chosen and you can only bid for each targeting method.
You are not restricted to your chosen target method, but you can only set bids for individual targeting.
It is important that you maximize your Google AdWords account by ensuring you create a highly targeted Ad group and be strategic with your bidding.
You are free to combine as many target methods that works for your products and services and depending on your setting, you are able to have your ad show on Google affiliate sites.
Google AdWords management may be helpful and necessary if you are still not sure on all the methods, target groups and strategies you need to engage, see Matter for transparent with AdWords management. You have the power to increase your sales and get your brand out there, so make use Google AdWords today.
As the app ecosystem grows, many marketers are turning their sights towards mobile app marketing. Today’s post provides a high-level view of App Store Optimization, and gives tips on how to break into the rapidly expanding world of apps.
How to Optimize for App Store Search Engines
Let’s dive into search in the app stores, and how the search engines differ based on platform.
First things first; remember I mentioned that the app ecosystem reminds me of the web in the mid-to-late 90’s? Keep that picture in your head when you think of search. App store search hasn’t been “figured out” in the same way that Google “figured out” search on the web. Simply put, we’re still in AltaVista mode in the app ecosystem: something better than Yahoo’s directory provided, but not incredibly sophisticated like Google would become in a few more years.
Just like the web has on-page and off-page SEO, apps have on-metadata and off-metadata ASO. On-metadata ASO include factors totally within your control and are often things dealing with your app store presence. Off-metadata ASO include factors that might not be entirely in your control, but which you can still influence. Here are a few of the most important knobs and levers that you as a marketer can turn to affect your search performance, and some quick tips on how to optimize them.
An app’s title is the single most important metadata factor for rank in ASO. It’s equivalent to the <title> tag in your HTML, and is a great signal to the app stores as to what your app is about. On the web, you want your title to include both a description of what you do (including keywords) as well as some branding; both elements should also exist in the app store. Be sure to include the keywords, but don’t be spammy. Make sure it parses well and makes sense. Example: “Strava Run – GPS Running, Training and Cycling Workout Tracker”
Patrick Haig, our VP of Customer Success, likes to break descriptions down into two sections: above the fold and below the fold (sound familiar?). He says, “Above the fold language should be 1-2 sentences describing the app and its primary use case, and below the fold should have a clear and engaging feature set and social proof.” We’ll dig into some of the differences about the description field across platforms below.
The Keyword Field in iOS is a 100 character field which you can use to tell iTunes search for which keywords you should show up. Since you only get 100 characters, you must use them wisely. A few tips:
- When choosing your keywords, just like on the web, focus on relevancy, search volume, and difficulty.
- Don’t use multiple word phrases; break out to individual words (Apple can combine them for you).
- Don’t repeat keywords that are already in your title (and put the most important ones in your title, leaving the keyword field for your secondary keywords).
- Separate keywords with commas, and don’t use spaces anywhere.
Consumers are finicky. They want apps which are beautiful, elegant, and simple to understand. Your icon is often their first interaction with your app, so ensure that it does a great job conveying your brand, and the elegance and usefulness of your app. Remember, in search results, an icon is one of the only ways you can convey your brand and usefulness. Think of it as part of the meta description tag you’d create in SEO. For example, SoundCloud does a great job with their icon and branding.
The most important rule to remember when creating your screenshots is that they should not be screenshots. They are, instead, promotional graphics. That means you can include text or other graphics to tell your app’s story in an interesting, visual way.
Especially in iOS, where the card layout shows your first screenshot, it is incredibly helpful when an app displays a graphic which explains the app right up front, increasing conversions from search results to viewing the app page and, ultimately, installing the app.
The best app marketers also use their
screenshotspromotional graphics together to create a flow that carries the user through the story. Each graphic can build off the previous graphic, giving the user a reason to continue scrolling and learning about your app.
Here’s a great example of using the screenshots effectively by our friends at Haiku Deck.
Outside of your direct control, you’ll also want to focus on a few things to ensure the best performance in ASO.
Every app has a rating. Your job as a marketer is to ensure that your app gets a great overall rating. Rating is directly tied to performance in app store search, which leads us to believe that rating is a factor in app store search rankings.
Similar to ratings, you want to ensure that the reviews your users write about your app are positive. These reviews will help increase your conversion rate from app page views to downloads.
For a great product to help you increase your rating and reviews, check out Apptentive.
This is discussed further below, but suffice it to say, link building to your app’s page in the app store matters for Google Play apps. Given you all are SEOs, you know all about how to rock this!
How Do iOS and Google Play Differ In App Store Search?
The differences in the platforms mean that there are different levers to pull depending on the platform. Google Play and iOS act completely independently, and often, quite differently. The differences are wide-ranging, but what are a couple of the main differences?
In general, the way to think about the differences is that Google is Google and Apple is Apple. Duh, right? Google has the built the infrastructure and technology to learn from the web and use many different data points to make a decision. Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t have indexes of the web, and comes from a background in media. When in doubt, imagine what you’d do if you were each of them and had the history each of them has.
Here are a couple concrete examples.
Description versus Keywords
In iOS, there’s a keywords field. It’s easy to see where this came from, especially when you think of iTunes’ background in music: a song has a title (app title), musician (developer name), and then needs a few keywords to describe the song (“motown,” “reggae,” etc.). When Apple launched their app store, they used the same technology that was already built for music, which meant that the app title, developer name, and keywords were the only fields used to understand search for an app. Note that description isn’t taken into account in iOS (but I expect this to change soon).
On the other hand, there is no keyword field in Google Play; there is only a description field. Thus, while iOS doesn’t take the description into account, in Google Play the description is all you have, so be sure to do exactly the same as you do on the web: cater your content towards your keywords, without being spammy.
Leveraging PageRank in Google Play
Another big difference in iOS and Google Play is that Google has access to PageRank and the link graph of the web, while Apple does not. Thus, Google will take into account the inbound links to your app’s detail page (for example, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.symantec.mobilesecurity) as a factor in Google Play search, while Apple has no such factor.
How To Measure Success In App Marketing
It’s very difficult to measure success in app marketing in the same way you can measure success in web marketing. This is especially true when you’re working with inbound channels. It’s still early, but it’s continuously getting better, with more tools and services coming out all the time to help marketers understand success. Here are some of the ways I recommend measuring success in the app store today:
Just like on the web, a great way to measure your success in app store search is to track your ranking for specific search terms you care about over time and versus your competition. Rank tracking is incredibly valuable for ASOs to understand their progress.
Top Charts, especially Top Charts within a particular category, do a great job of allowing you to understand your success in relation to the rest of the apps in your category.
Ratings and Reviews
Just as ratings and reviews will help your ASO, they are also great metrics to track over time for how you’re doing with your app marketing. Keep track of what users are saying, how they’re saying it (pro tip: listening to their language is a great way to do keyword research!), and what they’re rating your app.
Taking it one step further, correlating your search rankings to downloads will allow you to understand the effect your increased ASO is having on your app performance. One way we do this is to integrate with iTunes Connect and overlay your search rankings with your downloads so you can visually see how closely related any one keyword is with your downloads. It’s not perfect, but it helps!
Conversion and Revenue
At the end of the day, revenue is the most important metric you should be understanding. Of course, you should be tracking your revenue and doing the same correlation with search performance. In addition, you should watch your conversion rate over time; we often see apps whose conversion rate soars with an increase in ASO because the users are so much more engaged with the app.
Tools And Resources To Use To Help With App Marketing
To conclude this post, I want to quickly talk about some tools and resources to use to help your app marketing process.
Sylvain has written some great content and has some incredible insights into app marketing and ASO on his company’s (Apptamin) blog.
I mentioned Apptentive above, and they really are the best way I know to impact your ratings and reviews, and get great feedback from customers in the process.
In addition to having a great, free, in-app analytics product (Flurry Analytics), as well as an interesting paid advertising product (AppCircle), Flurry also posts some of the most interesting data about the app ecosystem on their blog.
If you’re looking to obtain some amount of attribution for your paid advertising (inbound can’t be split out, sorry!), MobileAppTracking is where it’s at. It allows you to understand which paid channels are performing best for you based on the metric of your choosing. Best of all, you only pay for what you use.
This is, of course, a shameless promotion. That said, our product is a great way to understand your performance in app store search, help you do keyword research, and give you competitive intelligence. We offer a free (forever!) tool for Indie developers and scale all the way up to the largest Enterprise customers.
Now It’s Your Turn–> Visit the link below to get the full list to help guide you along your optimization way!
Even though SEO is a long-term investment, marketers often feel pressured to show progress quickly. Columnist Dan Bagby for Searchengineland provides some ideas for quick wins that can show value while waiting for your longer-term initiatives to start gaining traction.
When you start at a new company as the SEO specialist or pick up a new client, one thing everyone wants is to see quick results. The fact that SEO takes time can be a struggle as you try to show value while also satisfying your own desire to make an impact.
Here are a few SEO techniques that will let your colleagues or clients know you are the real deal, bringing value with your expertise.
1. Win With Featured Snippets
Winning a featured snippet spot can have a huge impact, bringing organic traffic to a page. Although getting featured in the quick answer box is not guaranteed, there is a pretty simple formula for optimizing your content for it.
Start by going to the Google Search Console to find rankings for queries that contain a question — you can do this by filtering for queries containing “how,” “what” or “why.”
Once you have a list of keyword phrases, check search volume and prioritize your list, focusing on the keywords with the highest search volume. If you do not currently rank for any question-related keywords, think of a simple question you can answer, and create the content to answer that question.
Increase your chances of being featured in the quick answer box by making on-page improvements:
- Provide a detailed answer in a bulleted or numbered format that specifically answers the question posed by the search query.
- Add a video to the page that answers the question (with transcription).
- Add additional information that adds more value to the page for the reader.
Once your content has been revised, submit it to be indexed, and share it on Google Plus, so that the changes are noticed quickly. To learn more about optimizing for featured snippets, check out this article by Eric Enge.
2. Optimize Existing Content
It is much easier to improve a strong existing page’s ranking a few spots in the SERPs than it is to get a new (or poorly ranking) page to show quick results.
Knowing that you see the biggest bumps in traffic when you get into the top three results, target content ranked in position 3 to 10. Improving bounce rates or building on pages that are converting can also be a great way to see big gains from a small time investment.
There are several ways to identify which pages to focus on:
- Going back to the Search Console, sort keywords by rank to find keywords ranked between 10 and 3.
- Looking in Google Analytics, find pages with a high bounce rate but decent traffic.
- Also in Google Analytics, find pages with high conversion rates. Check what keywords are driving traffic through Search Console, and focus on optimizing for those keywords.
What can you do to improve these pages and see results quickly? Here are some ideas
- Modifying the basic on-page ranking factors to improve search engine optimization.
- Find internal pages that are related to your target pages, and create new internal links from the related pages to the target pages.
- Share on Google Plus and submit to Google to be crawled.
Crowd Source Content For Quick Links
One way to quickly improve a page’s content (and possibly gain links) is by reaching out to influencers. Keep it simple by asking influencers to contribute to a page you are trying to improve.
For example, if you have a page you wrote about the best places to eat in Austin, you could reach out to food bloggers in Austin and ask them for their opinion on the best new restaurants.
Even more effective is to ask them if they have a blog post about those specific restaurants that you can link to. They will gladly give you content to link to while you get more content to add to your page.
Once the updates are made, let the influencers know by email and via Twitter. This can result in additional social shares and possibly links for the influencers. You can also use this technique when you are creating a brand-new page.
Optimizing For Search Intent
I often find pages ranking well for queries that do not fit the page. For example, I might see an article ranking for queries related to “finding influencers” that is really more focused on how to reach out to influencers. Fixing this will likely improve rank and lower bounce rate.
- If the page does not rank for other keywords, and the keywords currently driving traffic are strategic for your site, rewrite the article completely focusing on those keywords.
- If you want to maintain the article, you can add a section to better answer the query that it already ranks for.
- If the information that would match the search intent does not belong on the page, write a new page that answers the questions, and link to it from the ranking post with keyword-rich anchor text.
3. Improve Rank For Converting Pages
Look at Google Analytics to find the pages that are converting. Use Search Console to find the keywords driving traffic to that page. You can also look at paid campaigns to see top-converting keywords.
Focus on these keywords and pages to see quick results and really prove the value in SEO.
4. Find Competing Content
Check your site for several pieces of content on the same topic and combine the pages. Make sure to redirect URLs so that there is only one page.
5. Fixing 404 Errors
There are several tools that make it easy to find 404 errors. You can fix links by reaching out to site owners that have the broken links or redirect the broken URL to a live page.
While SEO is a long-term investment and can take time to show results, there are always a few things you can do to show quick value. I have included only included a few opportunities here, but there are many other techniques like using other sites to get content ranking quickly. What are some of your techniques to get quick results?
is a long-term investment, marketers often feel pressured to show progress quickly. Columnist Dan Bagby provides some ideas for quick wins that can show value while waiting for your longer-term initiatives to start gaining traction.
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[G o o d] Morning #digital friends! Not sure where we'd be without ☕️?. #didyouknow Neurofuse, one of the most popular nootropic formulations out there, was originally developed by Harvard students looking to gain an academic edge but not interested in the risks associated with prescription products. They built a safe and effective formula and recently released it publicly. Read the full article —>http://nextshark.com/9-reasons-elite-entrepreneurs-are-using-study-pills-to-crush-work-1/ #google #instadaily #instapic #instagood #guardianowldigital #louisville #coffee #coffeeaddicts #me #love #energy #awake #business #women #girlboss #marketing #professional #life #goodmorning #googlepartners #louisvilledigital #tech #technology #entrepreneur #seo #sem #keurig