The big comings and goings in paid search 2019 that will shape how we market in 2020

My Post (88).pngAutomation, full-funnel campaigns, shoppable ads and privacy fueled PPC changes in 2019.

In 2019, Google shook up mobile search results pages with a redesign that introduced black “Ad” labels to text ads and favicons for organic listings. It also caused a stir in notifying some advertisers it would start handling campaign management for them. Automation continued to be a major theme. This year, it was reflected most prominently in Google’s product announcements aimed at owning the funnel with campaigns that extend across properties. Adjusting to new privacy restrictions and expectations also took on new urgency and will have a significant impact on search marketing in the year to come.

Bing celebrated its first decade. Ten years on, still, Bing’s market share doesn’t rival that of Google and likely never will – but perhaps that’s beside the point now. The newly-branded Microsoft Advertising doesn’t have to carry 90+% of its parent company’s revenues like rivals Facebook and Google’s ad businesses, and it began exhibiting more of an independent streak in 2019 rather than simply aiming to keep up with new Google Ads features (though, it’s still doing that, too).

These were the big things we said goodbye and hello to in paid search this year that will inform our campaigns in 2020.

We said goodbye to:

Average position metric. This old-timer rode off into the late fall sunset. The retirement of average position was more of a process headache than a loss in actionable data. Advertisers had months to shift their bidding strategies, reports and scripts to rely on the new position metrics that Google introduced in late 2018. Frederick Vallaeys of Optmyzr offered a history of the blurring of average position as an informative metric. The new impression share-based position metrics instead better indicate how often your ads appear above the organic listings.

Microsoft also introduced the new position metrics but said it is holding on to average position reporting. For now, anyway.

Accelerated delivery. Search and Shopping campaigns no longer have the option to have their ads serve as early and often as possible until the day ends or their daily budgets deplete. Accelerated delivery was a fan favorite for Shopping and brand campaigns with uncapped budgets, but Google said many still used it with capped daily budgets and that “this method can increase CPCs due to increased competition early in the day, or unintentionally spend most of your budget in earlier time zones.” Now, campaigns are optimized through standard delivery with Google’s algorithms based on the campaign’s goal, bidding strategy as well as contextual signals. – Read more

11 Headline Writing Tips to Drive Traffic & Clicks

My Post (87).pngWondering how to write a headline that drives traffic and clicks?

The best headlines are:

  • Extremely relevant to the content
  • Contain a keyword
  • Generate interests

There’s plenty of room to be creative and demonstrate value, right off the bat.

While there’s no exact science to writing a headline, there are useful headline writing tips that will help you whip up brilliant headlines.

Discover 11 ways to write good headlines.

1. Let Keywords Drive You

If you’re writing a piece of evergreen content, always do keyword research to find out what people are actually searching for.

A slight difference in wording can make a huge impact on traffic.

Let’s take this content, for example.

As with all content, I did keyword research beforehand to pinpoint what people are actually searching for.

I narrowed it down to these keyword phrases, based on their monthly search volume:

  • Headline writing tips: 360
  • How to write a headline: 360
  • Good headlines: 390
  • How to write a good headline: 170

By choosing a relevant keyword phrase with the most search volume, I can boost the ROI of the content.

Accordingly, I chose “headline writing tips” as my main keyword (and, of course, I can use the others as supporting keywords).

As you can see, the headline on this content is “12 Headline Writing Tips to Drive Traffic and Clicks.”

It’s keyword-rich, relevant and (hopefully) demonstrates value.

2. Come up with Multiple Headlines

If you find yourself with a bout of writer’s block and can’t come up with a headline that really strikes your fancy, try writing a bunch!

The act of brainstorming multiple headlines will really get your creative juices flowing, and you’ll land on something great eventually.

3. Know that Sometimes Short and Sweet is A-OK

Sometimes we need to get straight to the point.

Not every headline needs to be lengthy – sometimes being punchy and straightforward is a better approach, so don’t automatically discount a potential headline just because it’s short.

4. Pull a Quote from the Article

Another option for coming up with a good headline is pulling a quote from the content.

A quote, especially from a celebrity or influencer, can be excellent fodder for a headline.

The quote, of course, should be on-topic with the article as a whole.

Here’s one technical issue to keep in mind: unlike body copy, quotes in headlines should always appear in single quotations, according to Associated Press Style. – Read more

How to Perform an In-Depth Technical SEO Audit

My Post (86).pngI’m not going to lie: Conducting an in-depth SEO audit is a major deal.

And, as an SEO consultant, there are a few sweeter words than, “Your audit looks great! When can we bring you onboard?”

Even if you haven’t been actively looking for a new gig, knowing your SEO audit nailed it is a huge ego boost.

But, are you terrified to start? Is this your first SEO audit? Or, you just don’t know where to begin? Sending a fantastic SEO audit to a potential client puts you in the best possible place.

It’s a rare opportunity for you to organize your processes and rid your potential client of bad habits (cough*unpublishing pages without a 301 redirect*cough) and crust that accumulates like the lint in your dryer.

So take your time. Remember: Your primary goal is to add value to your customer with your site recommendations for both the short-term and the long-term.

Ahead, I’ve put together the need-to-know steps for conducting an SEO audit and a little insight to the first phase of my processes when I first get a new client. It’s broken down into sections below. If you feel like you have a good grasp on a particular section, feel free to jump to the next. – Read more

Pro Tip: A look back at some helpful tips from our SEO community in 2019

My Post (85).pngHere are 5 tips from our SEO community we think are worth a second look.

Our community is dedicated to helping fellow SEOs so we wanted to look back at a few insights shared this past year that were particularly popular with readers.

1. Google doesn’t hate your website

“The personal animosity complaint is as frequent as it is irrational,” explains ex-Googler Kaspar Szymanski. “Google has never demonstrated a dislike of a website and it would make little sense to operate a global business based on personal enmity. The claim that a site does not rank because of a Google feud is easily refuted with an SEO audit that will likely uncover all the technical, content, on- and off-page shortcomings. There are Google penalties, euphemistically referred to as Manual Spam Actions; however, these are not triggered by personal vendettas and can be lifted by submitting a compelling Reconsideration Request. If anything, Google continues to demonstrate indifference towards websites. This includes its own properties, which time and again had been penalized for different transgressions.” MORE >>

2. JavaScript publishers: Here’s how to view rendered HTML pages via desktop

“Many don’t know this but you can use the Rich Results Test to view the rendered HTML based on Googlebot desktop. Once you test a URL, you can view the rendered HTML, page loading issues and a JavaScript console containing warnings and errors,” explains Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive. “And remember, this is the desktop render, not mobile. The tool will show you the user-agent used for rendering was Googlebot desktop. When you want to view the rendered HTML for a page, I would start with Google’s tools. But that doesn’t mean they are the only ways to check rendered pages. Between Chrome, third-party crawling tools and some plugins, you have several more rendering weapons in your SEO arsenal.” MORE >>

3. Missing results in SERP even after using FAQ Schema?

“Google will only show a maximum of three FAQ results on the first page. If you’re using FAQ Schema and ranking in the top 10 but your result isn’t appearing on the first page, then it could be something unrelated,” explains SEO consultant Brodie Clark. “A few possible scenarios include: 1) Google has decided to filter out your result because the query match isn’t relevant enough with the content on your page; 2) The guidelines for implementation are being breached in some form (maybe your content is too promotional in nature); 3) There is a technical issue with your implementation. Use Google’s Rich Results Test and Structured Data Testing Tool to troubleshoot.” MORE >>

4. How to avoid partial rendering issues with service workers

“When I think about service workers, I think about them as a content delivery network running in your web browser,” explains Hamlet Batista of Ranksense and SMX Advanced speaker. “A CDN helps speed up your site by offloading some of the website functionality to the network. One key functionality is caching, but most modern CDNs can do a lot more than that, like resizing/compressing images, blocking attacks, etc. A mini-CDN in your browser is similarly powerful. It can intercept and programmatically cache the content from a progressive web app. One practical use case is that this allows the app to work offline. But what caught my attention was that as service worker operates separate from the main browser thread, it could also be used to offload the processes that slow the page loading (and rendering process) down.” MORE >>

– Read more

How to Improve Page Speed for More Traffic & Conversions

My Post (84).pngPage speed is a critical factor in digital marketing today. It has a significant impact on:

  • How long visitors stay on your site.
  • How many of them convert into paying customer.
  • How much you pay on a CPC basis in paid search.
  • Where you rank in organic search.

Unfortunately, most websites perform poorly when it comes to page speed, and that has a direct negative impact on their revenue.

There is an almost infinite number of things we can spend our days doing as digital marketers, and there’s never enough time to do them all. As a result, some things get pushed to the back burner.

One of the things that seem to get pushed back most often is optimizing page speed. This is easy to understand because most people don’t truly comprehend the importance of this often overlooked detail, so they don’t see the value in investing time and money to improve it by a few seconds or less.

What may seem like an inconsequential amount of time to some marketers, including those who focus solely on search engine optimization, has been proven to be monumental by data from industry giants all the way down to our own analytics data.

I’ll assume that you’re like me and you want to maximize your results, and of course, your revenue, right? Then let’s get started in making your website faster than greased snot! (That’s quite a visual, isn’t it?)

1. Ditch the Budget Web Hosting

We’re all trying to save money these days, after all, those subscriptions to Raven, SEMrush, Moz, and all the other tools we use on a daily basis add up quickly. It’s almost like having an extra kid.

One way a lot of people try to save money is by choosing the kind of cheap shared hosting that crams as many websites as they can fit onto a server, much like a bunch of clowns piling into a single car. Performance be damned!

Sure, your website will be available most of the time as it would with most any web host, but it will load so bloody slowly that your visitors will leave frustrated without ever converting into buyers.

“But it’s barely noticeable!” these bargain shoppers insist.

Here’s the thing — it might be barely noticeable to you because it’s your baby and you love it.

But everyone else only wants to get in and get out of your website as quickly as possible.

People want to be on your site for just long enough to do what they came to do, whether that means to get an answer, buy a product, or some other specific objective. If you slow them down even a little bit, they will be likely to hate their experience and leave without converting.

Think about it like this:

Most people love their own kids unconditionally. But someone else’s kid screaming, throwing things, disrupting their night out at a restaurant? They hate that kid. It’s the same with your website.

How Much of a Difference Does It Really Make?

According to a study conducted by Amazon, a difference of just 100ms — a unit of time that a human can’t even perceive, was enough to reduce their sales by 1%. Walmart found similar results.

If that tiny unit of time has that much direct impact on sales, what kind impact do you think an extra second or more will have?

But it doesn’t stop there because how quickly (or slowly) your website loads also has an impact on organic search ranking and pay-per-click costs.

In other words, if your website loads slowly, you should expect your competitors who have invested in this critical area to eat your lunch.

Bottom line: skip the budget web hosting. If they are selling it like a commodity (based mainly on price) then they’ll treat their customers like a commodity too.

There are a lot of web hosts that are optimized for speed, particularly for WordPress websites, and some of them are priced similarly to the budget options.

So ask around, do some testing, and invest in a web host that will give you the performance to satisfy both your visitors and Google.

2. Reduce HTTP Calls

Every file needed for a webpage to render and function, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, and fonts require a separate HTTP request. The more requests made, the slower that page will load.

Now if you’re anything like most of the people I talk to, you’re probably thinking “Oh, I don’t need to worry about that, Jeremy. I know what I’m doing and I don’t add a bunch of bloated garbage into my website!”

That may be partially true. You may not add a bunch of bloated garbage to your website, but for 90+% of the websites that I encounter — it’s still there anyway.

That bloat isn’t there because the Bloat Fairy snuck it in while you were sleeping. It’s there because a majority of web designers, regardless of skill or experience, don’t make page speed a priority. The sad truth is that most don’t even know how.

Here’s where the problem starts:

Most themes load one or more CSS files and several JavaScript files. Some, such as Jquery or FontAwesome, are usually loaded remotely from another server, which dramatically increases the time it takes a page to load.

This becomes even more problematic when you consider the additional CSS and JavaScript files added by plugins. It’s easy to end up with half a dozen or more HTTP requests just from CSS and JavaScript files alone.

When you factor in all of the images on a page, which each require a separate HTTP request, it quickly gets out of hand.

  • Merge JavaScript files into one file.
  • Merge CSS files into one file.
  • Reduce or eliminate plugins that load their own JavaScript and/or CSS files. In some cases, as with Gravity Forms, you have the option to disable them from being loaded.
  • Use sprites for frequently used images.
  • Use a font like FontAwesome or Ionic Icons instead of image files wherever possible because then only one file needs to be loaded.

3. Include the Trailing Slash

Omitting the trailing slash on links pointing to your website, whether from external sources (link building efforts) or from within your own website, has an adverse impact on speed.

Here’s how:

When you visit a URL without the trailing slash, the web server will look for a file with that name. If it doesn’t find a file with that name, it will then treat it as a directory and look for the default file in that directory.

In other words, by omitting the trailing slash, you’re forcing the server to execute an unnecessary 301 redirect. While it may seem instantaneous to you, it does take slightly longer, and as we’ve already established, every little bit adds up.

https://example.com (this is bad)

or

https://example.com/services (this is also bad)

vs.

https://example.com/ (this is good)

or

https://example.com/services/ (this is also good)

– Read more

Nine voice search stats to close out 2019

My Post (83).pngA look back at some of the year’s key voice search and virtual assistant metrics.

From smartphones to smart home appliances, artificial intelligence, voice and virtual assistants are very much at the center of a shift in the way we interact with digital devices. While voice has not yet lived up to its promise, it’s clear it will be an enduring feature of the digital user experience across an expanding array of connected devices.

Mobile = 59% of search

Way back in 2015, Google announced that mobile search had surpassed search query volumes on the desktop. But it never said anything more precise and hasn’t updated the figure. Hitwise, in 2016 and again in 2019, found that mobile search volumes in the aggregate were about 59% of the total, with some verticals considerably higher (e.g., food/restaurants 68%) and others lower (e.g., retail 47%).

This isn’t a voice stat, but it’s important because the bulk of voice-based queries and commands occur on mobile devices rather than the desktop.

Voice on cusp of being first choice for mobile search

According to early 2019 survey data (1,700 U.S. adults) from Perficient Digital, voice is now the number two choice for mobile search, after the mobile browser:

  1. Mobile browser
  2. Voice search
  3. Phone’s search box/window
  4. Search app
  5. Text a friend

However between 2018 to 2019, voice grew as a favored entry point for mobile search at the apparent expense of the browser. Thus it could overtake text input as the primary mobile search UI in 2020.

Nearly 50% using voice for web search

Adobe released survey data in July that found 48% of consumers are using voice for “general web searches.” This is not the debunked “50% of searches will be mobile in 2020,” data point incorrectly attributed to comScore.

The vast majority of respondents (85%) reported using voice to control their smartphones; 39% were using voice on smart speakers, which is a proxy figure for device ownership.

Here are the top use cases for voice usage, predominantly on smartphones:

  1. Directions while driving — 52%
  2. Making a phone call — 51%
  3. Sending a text — 50%
  4. Checking the weather — 49%
  5. Playing music — 49%

Directions a top voice use case

Consistent with the Adobe survey, an April Microsoft report found a more specific hierarchy of “search” use cases on smartphones and smart speakers. Again, however, this is a primarily smartphone-based list:

  1. Searching for a quick fact — 68 percent
  2. Asking for directions — 65 percent
  3. Searching for a business — 47 percent
  4. Researching a product or service — 44 percent
  5. Making a shopping list — 39 percent

Crossing the 100 million smart speaker threshold

During 2019 there were multiple reports and estimates that sought to quantify the overall number of smart speakers in the U.S. and global markets. In early 2019, Edison research projected that there were roughly 118 million smart speakers in U.S. homes. However, other analyst firms and surveys found different numbers, typically somewhat lower.

Because people often own more than one smart speaker, the number of actual individual owners of smart speakers is considerably lower than 100 million: 65 million or 58 million, depending on the survey.

Amazon dominating Google in smart speaker market

Amazon, with its low-priced and aggressively marketed Echo Dot, controls roughly 70% to 75% of the U.S. smart speaker market according to analyst reports. In Q3 2019, for example, Amazon shipped 3X as many smart speaker and smart display units as Google.

Analyst firm Canalys argues Amazon’s success is a byproduct of its market-leading direct channel and discounting. Google’s direct and channel sales have so far not been able to keep pace with Amazon’s efforts.

Virtual assistant usage: Siri and Google lead

In contrast to the smart speaker market share figures, virtual assistant usage is a different story. This is because most virtual assistant usage is on smartphones and Amazon doesn’t have one.

A Microsoft report (in April) found a different market share distribution, with the Google Assistant and Siri tied at 36%, followed by Alexa.

Source: Microsoft (2019)

There are other surveys that suggest Google Assistant’s usage is greater than Siri’s.

58% use voice to find local business information

The connection between mobile and local search is direct. While Google has in the past said that 30% of mobile searches are related to location, there are plenty of indications that the figure is actually higher. Google itself said the number was “a third” of search queries in September, 2010 (Eric Schmidt), 40% in May, 2011 (Marissa Mayer) and, possibly, 46% in October 2018.

Asking for driving directions is not always an indication of a commercial intent to go somewhere and buy something. But as the Adobe and Microsoft surveys indicate, it’s a primary virtual assistant/voice search use case. A voice search survey conducted in 2018 by BrightLocal also found:

  • 58% of U.S. consumers had done a local business search by voice on a smartphone
  • 74% of voice search users (the 58%) use voice to search for local businesses at least weekly
  • 76% of voice search users search on smart speakers for local businesses at least once a week, with the majority doing so daily

– Read more

Page load time and crawl budget rank will be the most important SEO indicators in 2020

My Post (82).pngBased on my own testing, PLT and CBR are the technical aspects I believe will determine website success, or failure, in the new year.

Google has the ability to impose its own rules on website owners, both in terms of content and transparency of information, as well as the technical quality. Because of this, the technical aspects I pay the most attention to now – and will do so next year – are the speed of websites in the context of different loading times I am calling PLT (Page Load Time).

Time to first byte (TTFB) is the server response time from sending the request until the first byte of information is sent. It demonstrates how a website works from the perspective of a server (database connection, information processing and data caching system, as well as DNS server performance). How do you check TTFB? The easiest way is to use one of the following tools:

  • Developer tools in the Chrome browser
  • WebPageTest
  • Byte Check

Interpreting results

TTFB time below 100ms is an impressive result. In Google’s recommendations, TTFB time should not exceed 200ms. It is commonly adopted that the acceptable server response time calculated to receiving the first byte may not exceed 0.5s. Above this value, there may be problems on a server so correcting them will improve the indexation of a website.

Improving TTFB

1. Analyze the website by improving either the fragments of code responsible for resource-consuming database queries (e.g. multi-level joins) or heavy code loading the processor (e.g. generating on-the-fly complex tree data structures, such as category structure or preparing thumbnail images before displaying the view without the use of caching mechanisms).

2. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). This is the use of server networks scattered around the world which provide content such as CSS, JS files and photos from servers located closest to the person who wants to view a given website. Thanks to CDN, resources are not queued, as in the case of classic servers, and are downloaded almost in parallel. The implementation of CDN reduces TTFB time up to 50%.

3. If you use shared hosting, consider migrating to a VPS server with guaranteed resources such as memory or processor power, or a dedicated server. This ensures only you can influence the operation of a machine (or a virtual machine in the case of VPS). If something works slowly, the problems may be on your side, not necessarily the server.

4. Think about implementing caching systems. In the case of WordPress, you have many plugins to choose from, the implementation of which is not problematic, and the effects will be immediate. WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are the plugins I use most often. If you use dedicated solutions, consider Redis, Memcache or APC implementations that allow you to dump data to files or store them in RAM, which can increase the efficiency.

5. Enable HTTP/2 protocol or, if your server already has the feature, HTTP/3. Advantages in the form of speed are impressive.

DOM processing time

DOM processing time is the time to download all HTML code. The more effective the code, the less resources needed to load it. The smaller amount of resources needed to store a website in the search engine index improves speed and user satisfaction.

I am a fan of reducing the volume of HTML code by eliminating redundant HTML code and switching the generation of displayed elements on a website from HTML code to CSS. For example, I use the pseudo classes :before and :after, as well as removing images in the SVG format from HTML (those stored inside <svg> </svg>).

Page rendering time

Page rendering time of a website is affected by downloading graphic resources, as well as downloading and executing JS code.

Minification and compression of resources is a basic action that speeds up the rendering time of a website. Asynchronous photo loading, HTML minification, JavaScript code migration from HTML (one where the function bodies are directly included in the HTML) to external JavaScript files loaded asynchronously as needed. These activities demonstrate that it is good practice to load only the Javascript or CSS code that is needed on a current sub-page. For instance, if a user is on a product page, the browser does not have to load JavaScript code that will be used in the basket or in the panel of a logged-in user.

The more resources needing to be loaded, the more time the Google Bot must spend to handle the download of information concerning the content of the website. If we assume that each website has a maximum number/maximum duration of Google Bot visits – which ends with indexing the content – the fewer pages we will be able to be sent to the search engine index during that time.

Crawl Budget Rank

The final issue requires more attention. Crawl budget significantly influences the way Google Bot indexes content on a website. To understand how it works and what the crawl budget is, I use a concept called CBR (Crawl Budget Rank) to assess the transparency of the website structure.

If Google Bot finds duplicate versions of the same content on a website, our CBR decreases. We know this in two ways: – Read more

9 Bad SEO Habits to Leave in 2019

My Post (81).pngAs we enter a new decade, it’s time to say goodbye to some bad SEO habits.

These are SEO tactics that just plain don’t work, or even worse, can get a website penalized.

Below is a list of the top nine habits that need to be kicked to the curb.

1. Creating Pages with Similar Content

Fortunately, this tactic is not as prevalent as it once was, but this issue periodically comes up, even today.

Pages with similar content, which is usually created for the sole purpose of targeting keywords, is not a good strategy.

For example, duplicating city pages within a website with the city name as the only difference can be harmful.

Essentially, you end up with low-quality pages that can pull down the rest of the site.

2. Link Building Using Generic, Templated Emails

We don’t like receiving spam, so why send it?

Link building has become more of a marketing tactic than just an SEO tactic. That means we have to identify and research our audience before creating our “marketing” message.

Sending a generic, templated message to someone asking for a link is not going to get you great results.

Instead, send fewer emails, but take the time to research that person’s website and understand what would interest their users or customers.

Also, don’t use a general salutation, such as “Dear Webmaster” or “Dear Website Owner.” Use the person’s name.

3. Trying to Solve Every Ranking Problem By Getting More Links

Yes, links still matter today, but they are only one of many factors of the ranking algorithm.

Links are a public endorsement and reflect that a website has valuable information.

Where the problems occur, though, is when links are gathered in an unnatural way, such as through link schemes, poor link directories, purchasing links, and other spammy tactics.

As we start the new year, these aggressive link building techniques should be abandoned and the focus should be on a link strategy that is more marketing and user-focused. Check out SEJ’s Link Building Guide for tips that can carry you into 2020.

4. Adding Marginal Content for SEO Purposes

You can’t have SEO without content.

SEO and content are intertwined.

You need content to optimize for search.

If you don’t optimize your content, searchers won’t find you.

So, there is no question that we need content, but there is still a problem.

Marginal content is often added to websites simply for the purpose of “improving SEO.”

However, having just any content isn’t good enough.

Avoid churning out a ton of content just for the sake of increasing the number of pages on a website. Google is constantly preaching quality content and even if the search engine wasn’t preaching it, we still need to focus on our users.

Your content has to be considered high quality, especially when compared to the competition.

5. Skipping Over Fundamental On-Page Optimization Elements

There has been speculation over the years regarding the correlation between title tags and rankings.

Regardless of where you stand on this topic, a good title can convert a searcher into a visitor (and even a customer, if you’re lucky).

Take the time to optimize your titles with keywords, but also be sure to make them compelling. – Read more

3 Free Tools to Help Investigate & Fix PPC Account Performance Changes

My Post (79).pngFiguring out why the performance of a PPC account has changed can be one of the most time-consuming tasks in PPC.

Not only is it a big time drain, but it’s also often associated with a fire drill, done at the urgent request of a boss or client who is demanding answers after something didn’t go as planned.

I’ll cover how a typical investigation is done and share free tools and scripts that can help speed up this process.

Of particular interest is Google’s just-announced ‘Explanations’ feature, which can be a great help when trying to find the culprit when things don’t go as planned.

How to Investigate Account Performance Changes

A typical investigation can consume hours if done manually and usually follows these steps:

  • Finding out you have an issue.
  • Determining if the change was across the whole account or mainly due to a few rogue items like some overly broad keywords.
  • Drilling down deeper into the responsible entities.
  • Collating metrics from various sources to understand if the change was due to a change you made, a change in user behavior, or a change by competitors.
  • Fixing the issue.

Step 1: Know You Have an Issue

We’ve all got a lot on our plates. So, chances are, you aren’t logging into all your accounts every hour.

That’s why it’s so important to have good monitoring in place so that you’ll get an alert if something is going on with an account.

If you don’t have good monitoring, rest assured your client will monitor things for you.

But that comes with a downside: they will yell at you

Also, by that point, things may have gone far off track.

So set up some good alerts and spare yourself that trouble.

You’ll look like the PPC rockstar you are if you squash a problem before it gets out of hand.

Step 2: Find the Best Place to Start the Investigation

Once you know that an investigation is needed, it’s time to find out where to start.

A big change in performance can come from the combination of many small changes or from some isolated bigger changes.

1 + 2 + 1 and 0 + 0 + 4 are both 4

It helps focus your effort when you know where the biggest changes appear to have happened.

Notice I use the word “appear” because it is possible that a campaign with no top-level change actually had lots of positive and negative changes that canceled each other out.

The simplest way to go about this step is to rank campaigns by the biggest net change.

This is simple to do.

Turn on the date range comparison feature in Google Ads. Then filter for only campaigns with a minimum level of data and then sort them from biggest to smallest change.

Step 3: Drill Down Deeper into Impacted Ads Entities

Once you’ve identified the campaigns most responsible for the change, repeat step 2 but now by looking at the ad groups with the biggest change in each affected campaign, one at a time.

Then repeat this again for keywords, queries, ads, etc. After doing this you have a list of individual things that you might be able to fix.

For example, you’ll know which keyword had the biggest drop in conversions and be able to fix its issue.

3 Free Tools to Help Investigate &#038; Fix PPC Account Performance Changes

Or you might find that an affected campaign has no keywords of special note and everything declined equally, indicating that the issue may be due to a campaign-level setting such as a budget change.

As you can see, this recursive step can be time consuming for larger accounts.

Step 4: Drill Down into the Metrics

When you’ve found the entities most responsible for a change, be they campaigns, queries, or something else, it’s time to investigate the underlying cause.

Looking at the numbers will help you hone in on the root cause.

3 Free Tools to Help Investigate &#038; Fix PPC Account Performance Changes

This isn’t easy and requires downloading a lot of data (even data from outside Ads, like Google Trends) and combining it in spreadsheets.

While the Google Ads interface shows metrics in a table, there are relationships that are easier to see in a cause chart, which is illustrated in both the above image from Google and the one below from Optmyzr (my company).

3 Free Tools to Help Investigate &#038; Fix PPC Account Performance Changes

For example, a conversion can only happen if you get a click. And a click can only happen if you get an impression, and an impression can only happen if a user searches for your keyword.

Understanding at which stage of these connected metrics things have unraveled will help pinpoint the likely fix.

An advertiser whose conversions have decreased should look at clicks, impressions, average CPC, impression share, etc. to determine what caused the change.

Once you know the lowest level metric that was impacted, you can correlate that with a likely cause and know if the reason is due to something you changed, something a competitor changed, or a change in user behavior. – Read more

When to Use Data Science in SEO

My Post (78).pngData science comes closer to SEO every day.

Data science, and more exactly artificial intelligence, isn’t new, but it has become trendy in our industry over the past few years.

In this article, I will briefly introduce the main concepts of data science through machine learning and also answer the following questions:

  • When can data science be used in SEO?
  • Is data science just a buzzword in the industry?
  • How and why should it be used?

A Brief Introduction to Data Science

Data science crosses paths with both big data and artificial intelligence when it comes to analyzing and processing data known as datasets.

Google Trends does a pretty good job of illustrating that data science, as a subject of intent, has been increasing over the years since 2004.

Evolution of data science as a search term (Google Trends)

The user intent for “machine learning” has been increasing as well, and is one of the most popular search queries.

This is also one of the two ways for operating artificial intelligence and what this article will focus on.

What Is the Concrete Relationship Between Artificial Intelligence & Google?

Back in 2011, Google created Google Brain, a team dedicated to artificial intelligence.

The main objective of Google Brain is to transform Google’s products from the inside and to use artificial intelligence to make them “faster, smarter and more useful.”

We easily understand that the search engine is their most powerful tool and considering its market share (95% of users use Google as their main search engine), it comes as no surprise that artificial intelligence is being used to improve the quality of the search engine.

What Is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is one of the two types of learning that powers artificial intelligence.

Machine learning tends to solve a problem through a frame of reference and the output is checked by a human being, as it always comes with a certain percentage of error.

Google explains machine learning as follows:

“A program or system that builds (trains) a predictive model from input data. The system uses the learned model to make useful predictions from new (never-before-seen) data drawn from the same distribution as the one used to train the model. Machine learning also refers to the field of study concerned with these programs or systems.”

Pipeline flow of machine learning

Microsoft Azure Machine Learning

More simply, machine learning algorithms receive training data.

In the example below, this training data is photos of cats and dogs.

Then, the algorithm trains itself in order to understand and identify the different patterns.

The more the algorithm is trained, the better the accuracy of the results will be.

Then, if you ask the model to classify a new picture, you will obtain the proper answer.

Google Images is certainly the best example to reproduce this explanation. – Read more