Avoid Targeting Pitfalls & Save Budget with 7 Paid Search Best Practices

My Post - 2019-08-23T093509.743.pngSo you have a budget. Keywords and ads are ready to go. Ready to launch? Not quite.

Or maybe you are planning a Display Network campaigns, finally determined all audiences and demographics to use.

Before you finalize your strategy, you should be aware of some targeting considerations that can make or break the success of any campaign.

Strategically speaking, SEM targeting settings fall into two categories:

  • Those that impact the user experience.
  • Those that influence budget.

Targeting settings that impact user experience are useful for adapting messaging and landing page experience.

You also have the opportunity to modify performance KPIs, if needed, for parts of your effort.

However, they primarily impact one’s media cost without offering much leverage for other planning considerations.

Regardless of what search engine you are working with – Google, Bing or even some less common country-specific engines – each one has provisions to address these areas.

User Experience Targeting Elements

Audiences, Geography targeting, Languages and Location settings are the four key settings to keep in mind which can have a big impact on a search engine marketing campaign success.

1. Audience Insights

You probably heard about audiences now available in campaigns. But are you regularly looking at those insights and using them to adjust your messaging and landing page strategy?

These audiences can:

  • Give you valuable information on behavioral elements of users who are and are not converting.
  • Validate any existing notions of who the users are.

Based on what you learn on their demographic profile and interests, consider customizing your campaigns with a paid search audience strategy.

Let’s also not forget your own first-party audiences.

Use RLSA campaigns to:

  • Remarket to past non-converting users.
  • Upsell to converters.

With cascading messaging and progressive offer strategies, you can create tailored experiences for each set of users – much like a salesperson would do offline with the knowledge of who the repeat users are.

And while you are at it, don’t forget to “trim the fat”. Make it habit to regularly review what audiences are not converting.

Aside from savings that will add up, this will further help the search algorithm to better target future searchers.

2. Geographic Targeting

From countries to as granular settings as designated market areas (DMAs) or postal codes, location targeting ensures that your ads run in the right geographical area. This is an excellent opportunity to customize messaging and landing pages for each location.

Even if the site is not for a location-centric business, which varies product offerings by geography (e.g., an online school with different courses for each state), it can be still beneficial to create separate campaigns for different geographies.

For example, a skincare site may well sell the same products to all online users. However, people in different geographies will likely buy sunscreen at different times of the year.

The tendency is to mirror targeting of other marketing efforts, but be wary that online trends often differ from offline patterns. Biggest areas of online demand may well differ from what one sees online.

For example, a bank may find that locations with many branches and high foot traffic actually do not drive as much online activity as expected precisely due to people going to physical branches.

Similarly, some commonly though of areas might not be the most efficient and should be excluded or targeted last.

Large urban areas (e.g., New York, London, Dubai) with their high user concentration are often very competitive, leading to a suboptimal return on investment.

Rather than pile in with other advertisers, consider prioritizing locations and creating specific campaigns for those other high ROI areas so you can double down there.

Lastly, while tools offer very granular targeting, think twice about using them. A CMO may say, “I want lots of control with separate campaigns for each DMA.”

This granularity considerably complicates campaign management with the extra time not always resulting in better performance.

Zip code, DMA and radius targeting are attractive for their precision but will quickly make your campaigns unwieldy if used at scale. – Read more

The Hidden Opportunity for Ecommerce Websites in Google Images

My Post - 2019-08-21T122339.567.pngAround three-quarters of U.S. internet users regularly or always search for visual content prior to making a purchase, according to eMarketer; only 3% never do.

When it comes to shopping online, product images create a positive experience for potential customers.

Many experts share that featuring multiple professional images for a product helps reduce customer uncertainty, resulting in improved conversion and lower return rates.

Google Images search share is approximately 26% of overall search, according to Jumpshot and Moz.

Optimized product images can drive new customer acquisition for ecommerce websites. Connecting discovery of up-to-date and accurate product information like images is key to completing a successful buyer experience on Google Images.

Here’s why Google Images offers a great opportunity to acquire new quality traffic.

Google Images: What Changed?

Google partnered with Getty Images to create a new search results experience for Google Images users.

As result of this partnership, Google announced two major changes to image search that change how Google displays indexed images and refers traffic to publishers.

Moving forward, Google is removing the option to “View Image” and replacing it with “Visit Site”, theoretically shifting traffic from Google Search to publisher sites, as evidenced by Google’s Danny Sullivan in the following tweet: – Read more

Paid Search is the Fastest Growing Ad Format in Retail

My Post - 2019-08-21T114706.960.pngA new report on retail digital ad spending in 2019 reveals that paid search is the fastest growing ad format.

In total, retail advertisers in the US will spend $13.12 billion on search in 2019, which is up 22.5% from last year.

In 2020, spending is projected to grow to $15.65 billion.

It’s stated in the report that retail benefits more than other sectors when it comes to Google integrating the search functions of its various products.

For example, Google search ads can be shown in Google Maps, which helps drive traffic into stores and show local stock of specific products.

Searches for products and services in other sectors don’t have that same level of integration.

eMarketer forecasts that 46.3% of retail digital ad dollars will be spent on search ads, which is higher than the industry average of 41.5%.

In 2020, eMarketer estimates that search will account for 47.3% of total retail digital ad spending. – Read more

How Google Ads’ new keyword selection preferences work

My Post - 2019-08-20T184810.784.pngA look at the potential impact of same-meaning close variants for exact match, phrase match and broad match modifier on your keyword matching.

With last week’s announcement that it will extend same-meaning close variants to phrase match and broad match modifier, Google said it would be changing keyword selection preferences to help prevent keywords from competing against each other. This doesn’t mean there still aren’t times when keywords compete with each other on Ad Rank. To clarify how Google Ads’ keyword selection preferences are designed to work with same meaning keywords, we’ve mapped out several scenarios.

Existing preferences trump new same-meaning matching. In the initial announcement, Google said of the changes to keyword selection preferences: “If a query currently matches to an exact, phrase, or broad match modifier keyword that exists in your account, we’ll prevent that query from matching to a different phrase or broad match modifier keyword that’s now eligible for the same auction as a result of this update.”

In other words, Google won’t suddenly pick a different phrase or BMM keyword deemed to have the same meaning as a keyword that’s already triggering on a query. This is how the preferences already work for exact match same-meaning close variants.

The example Google gives is that the query lawn mowing service near me will continue matching to the phrase match keyword “lawn mowing service” even though another keyword in your account, “grass cutting service,” could also now match to that query based on same-meaning matching. – Read more

Search marketing is moving back toward more human interaction

My Post - 2019-08-13T170718.729.pngPPC expert Mark Irvine shared his insights during SMX London on what lies beyond the data to manage walled gardens with new opportunities in mind.

At SMX London in May, I attended two presentations with PPC expert Mark Irvine. He was recently crowned the number one PPC Expert by PPCHero in their annual list.

Irvine works as a data scientist for Wordstream, a Google Ads and Microsoft Ads management and optimization platform. Examining data and explaining what it means is his expertise and I interviewed him for my 2019 Search Trends report.

Social trends predict search trends

Some of the data from his analyses goes beyond search to the trends his data is showing across multiple platforms.

This slide from Irvine’s presentation at SMX examines how an hour of trending on Twitter affects searches. In this case it doubled on Google and within six hours, the searches increased fivefold. There is a good case for real-time marketing and this view of the data is something we rarely see in digital marketing because of the channel specialization and the difficulty with access to cross-channel data. – Read more

How to Improve Your Keyword Rankings in Google

My Post - 2019-08-13T165848.427.pngImproving your keyword rankings in search isn’t as straightforward as it once was.

With all of the recent Google algorithm changes we have seen, traditional tactics like keyword research and targeting, page tagging optimization, and on-page content updates don’t have the impact that they used to.

More importantly, every website is unique. This means that using a certain tactic doesn’t guarantee a specific result for your website.

The same change could impact websites differently, which is why it’s important to make continuous improvements, test new strategies, monitor performance, and adjust as needed.

In today’s evolving search landscape, we need to think beyond traditional keyword ranking factors and look at the big picture.

This involves focusing on the overall experience of a website, optimizing content for both users and search engines, building inbound links the right way, and much more.

Here are several ways to improve your keyword rankings in Google by looking at your site more holistically.

1. Measure Your Rankings

The first, and probably the most obvious, place to start is measuring your rankings.

Without having a solid understanding of your baseline keyword performance, you won’t know how far you’ve come and how much you’ve improved.

I’d highly suggest exporting all of this valuable keyword data and keeping it on file to reference in the future.

Some of us may have learned the hard way, but you never know when things will change in any given tool – whether it’s how the data is reported, what information we have access to, etc. – Read more

The #1 Factor That Will Help Your Content Rank in Google

My Post - 2019-08-13T165033.954.pngIf one thing matters more than anything to Google, it’s your content’s relevance to the reader.

(Is it useful? Does it serve a purpose for them connected to their search intent?)

This fact came into focus once again in the first episode of Google’s YouTube series, SEO Myth Busters.

In particular, a Search Engine Journal post by Roger Montti outlines insights from this episode we can apply right now.

The #1 SEO factor mentioned: user-relevant content that serves a purpose.

The #1 Factor That Will Help Your Content Rank in Google

We see this sentiment about the importance of user relevance echoed in other Google sources, too, like the Webmaster Guidelines:

The #1 Factor That Will Help Your Content Rank in Google

And the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (for example, pages without a beneficial purpose get the lowest page quality rating): – Read more

Google Ads’ new account map makes it easier to visualize manager accounts

My Post - 2019-08-13T163435.411.pngThe tool is now available in all manager accounts.

If you’re managing multiple accounts and sub-accounts in a Google Ads manager account, there’s a new tool to help you visualize and navigate.

Why we should care

It shows a map of all the accounts and sub-accounts under your manager account and makes it easy to see connections and navigate to accounts.

The account map also shows performance metrics such as clicks, impressions, cost and conversions as well as owned and shared labels, conversion tracking parents, remarketing pools and external managers on the accounts. – Read more

Do These 3 Things Before Google Changes How Keyword Match Types Work

My Post - 2019-08-13T162239.073.pngGoogle announced another round of updates to how close variants will work.

Queries with the same meaning could already trigger ads for exact match keywords as of September 2018. But now, close variants with the same meaning may also affect phrase and broad match modified keywords.

Google expects advertisers to see around a 3 to 4% lift in clicks and impressions on the affected keywords with 85% of those being incremental for the account.

Because advertisers’ ads may now trigger for a broader variety of queries, I recommend three actions to ensure your account is well-positioned to take advantage of the incremental leads while reducing exposure to risks from less relevant queries.

1. Automate Bidding so Low-Quality Close Variants Won’t Overspend
When your ad starts appearing for new close variants of your keywords, don’t pay more than you should for this new traffic.

Close variants introduce a new layer of complexity to bid management so it’s a good reason to evaluate whether your bidding strategy is still the best one.

I’ve made the case before and I’ll say it again: nobody should be managing bids manually.

This is another nail in the coffin for manual bid management.

Simply put, with the level of complexity involved with targeting and bidding, it’s near-impossible for a person to manage bids manually and do it as well as an automated system.

The current round of changes to close variants may not require you to change how you manage accounts. However, it may amplify the potential downside if you aren’t already carefully managing queries.

There is no longer a match type that allows total control over the exact words that must be in the query for an ad to show. So keyword bids now apply to potentially tens or hundreds of variations of that keyword.

Regardless of how closely the query is related to the keyword, the manual bid is taken from the keyword, and a highly relevant query will get the same bid as a much less relevant one.

This is bad if you care about conversions, CPA, ROAS, and profitability.

What advertisers need to achieve the best results is the tightest level of control possible. In this case, the ability to factor in each unique query in every auction to determine the correct bid.

But only Google can set auction-time bids, meaning they are the only ones who can factor in the specific circumstances of a search, including the query, at the time they match an advertiser’s ad to the query.

This means that only Google can appropriately increase or decrease the bid to help the advertiser reach their CPA or ROAS goal based on the expected conversion rate and conversion value that their machine learning system predicts for the auction.

Because auction-time bidding is the exclusive domain of ‘Smart Bidding, which includes the Target CPA and Target ROAS automated bid strategies from Google, the only way to set the right bids for close variants is to use these tools.

My company, Optmyzr, recently created a handy table showing all the various bid automations from Google and how they interact with bid adjustments. – Read more

Don’t Get Entangled in These PPC Snags!

My Post - 2019-08-13T161502.082.pngYour campaigns might be running along perfectly fine right now.

But someday soon, you might suddenly find yourself entangled in something you didn’t anticipate.

You’ll have to struggle to free yourself before you lose sight of your goals – or your results sink.

Snags can happen anytime in your PPC programs.

You’re most susceptible to these snags when you’re new to paid search advertising.

When you know where the snags are hiding, you can take proactive steps to avoid them.

This article will help clear the PPC waters for you.

1. When a Daily Campaign Budget Really Isn’t a Daily Campaign Budget

Google Ads allow you to set a maximum daily campaign budget amount.

A reasonable person would take that to mean once you’ve spent your max budget for the day, no more would be spent.

But a reasonable person would be wrong.

In October 2017, Google Ads changed its rules so that your campaigns can spend up to twice your average daily budget.

The “max daily budget” is now something that is calculated and applied over the course of a month, not day by day.

In other words, Google calculates your monthly charging limit, which is the average number of days in a month multiplied by your average daily budget. And then they promise to not go over that over the course of a month.

Let’s illustrate with a few screenshots.

We’ve set a $50 budget in the example below: – Read more