What You Should (& Should Not) Do with Your Sitelinks

My Post - 2019-10-08T184235.234.pngOf the many functions available to us in Google Ads, one of my favorites is sitelinks.

Sitelinks are fantastic because they’re so effective and versatile.

Whether you want to promote low search volume themes, push lagging products out the door, maximize hot sellers, highlight certain product categories, answer common questions, or handle a PR problem – sitelinks can do it all.

But lately, I’ve been seeing more and more instances where advertisers are using sitelinks incorrectly – and they’re missing valuable opportunities.

Sitelink Rules

If you want to get the most out of your sitelinks, you need to think carefully.

To help you with that, I’m going to lay out a few sitelink “rules.”

1. Get Clear on Your Objectives

Before you start, you need to think about your goals.

  • What are you trying to achieve with this ad?
  • Are you advertising products or services?
  • Will the ad display as the result of a search on branded or non-branded keywords?

Your answers to these questions will help determine which types of sitelinks you should use.

2. Use Sitelinks as Part of Your Larger Strategy

Don’t think of your sitelinks in isolation.

You should also consider the accompanying ad, landing page, and other extensions.

Make sure they all work together in service to your overarching strategy.

3. Use a Mix of Sitelinks

Sitelinks can serve multiple purposes, so make sure you’re using a variety.

For example, you don’t want to use every sitelink on an ad to promote on-sale products. Instead, use a mix.

One could promote an on-sale product, one could generate leads, one could highlight a new product category and one could direct prospective clients to useful information.

4. Create Landing Pages for Your Sitelinks

Ideally, you want to send users to landing pages that tightly correlate with your sitelink instead of just a regular page on your website. – Read more

How to Track Online and Offline Conversions in Google Ads

My Post - 2019-10-07T122509.848.pngIt looks like you have all of the right Google Ads campaigns set up and your ads are generating lots of clicks.

That’s awesome, but what are people doing after they click on that amazing ad? They could be making a purchase (yay!) or they could just be looking for a customer service number (boo!). In order to measure the revenue your ads are generating, you have to set up conversion tracking in Google Ads, and if your customers tend to purchase your product on the phone, you’ll have to get your call tracking software synced with Google Ads as well. Here’s how it’s done.

What is Google Ads Conversion Tracking?

Conversion tracking is a free tool in Google Ads that shows you what happens after a customer interacts with your ads. Whatever action you deem valuable can be counted as a conversion, whether that’s a purchase, filling out a web form, subscribing to your blog, or calling your business. Google Ads conversion tracking allows you to see which keywords, ads, ad groups, and campaigns are best at driving valuable customer activity. When you know what campaign elements are performing best, you can better understand your ROI and make better optimization and ad spend decisions.

To set up Google Ads Conversion Tracking, click on the Tools and Analysis tab in Google Ads, and select Conversions from the drop-down menu, which brings up the All conversions page. Click on the Conversions tab, then click the +Conversion button to create a conversion. From here, you’ll have to fill out a form with the appropriate information for the conversion you want to track and choose the source of the conversion. These include website conversions, phone call conversions, and app downloads.

How to Use Call Tracking and Google Ads to Measure Conversions from Inbound Calls

If you want to track conversions that happen on the phone, Google’s Call on-Site tracking only gets you part of the way there. With the standard Call on-Site tracking in Google Ads, any click from that ad that results in a call from a mobile phone on a predetermined webpage on your site is counted as a conversion. There are several issues with using this as a stand-alone conversion tracking method.

  1. While you will know a call was placed, you have no idea what actually happened on that call. It could have been for customer service or even a complaint, it could have been a purchase, or they could have just hung up without even talking to anyone. The problem arises when you attribute a purchase value to every one of these calls, as there is no way that number will be accurate.
  2. If the person calling navigates away from your landing page for that ad, you will lose track of the conversion.
  3. You also only get campaign-level attribution from Google’s stock call tracking, which means that you may not get any direct insight into the keywords you’re bidding on that drove the call or the ability to connect individual users to purchases.

Read more

5 Common Mistakes eCommerce Website Owners Make & How to Prevent Them

My Post - 2019-10-07T115108.532.pngRegardless of how experienced you may be, there are mistakes that are easy to make when dealing with Ecommerce.

I have been working on eCommerce SEO projects in my career since 2007, and in 2014, I started my own eCommerce business. Along the way, I have gone through many trials and tribulations that helped me grow as a professional. My most recent project has been steadily growing and went from a new website with no traffic to a website that generates over $200,000 in monthly revenue with most of the traffic and sales coming from direct and organic traffic.

My goal in this article is to share some of the most common mistakes that are made when dealing with an Ecommerce project in general. I will recommend some software solutions that I have used in my experience, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other solutions out there that are just as good if not better.

Preventing Spam & DDoS Attacks Before It’s Too Late

Many of reading this article may already be familiar with spammers and how to combat common spam tactics using plugins or SASs. And most likely many of you had to find out the hard way after the attacks already took place (including myself). Proactive prevention for spam and DDoS attacks is recommended if you want to prevent the tedious cleanup work needed to get rid of countless spam accounts and or dealing with the post effects of a DDoS attack.

Many CMS’s even have built-in features that help reduce general spam on your site. DDoS attacks are common on eCommerce websites that are driving a lot of sales and traffic, especially when you have competitors who are privy to DDoS attacks and how to execute them. It is not hard to do, and unfortunately, I see them happen quite a bit.

The reason why spammers target eCommerce websites is because there are so many sites out there that allow accounts to be created and ultimately create a back door for getting back-links or hacking. To prevent spammers from creating fake accounts on your site, make sure to install Recaptcha by Google or a similar service. In my experience, Recaptcha does the job very well compared to other paid solutions.

To stop DDoS attacks, I recommend a service like Cloudflare, which has been around for a long time, and they are very effective at mitigating DDoS attacks that can really slow down your business. It is a paid service, but in my years of experience, it is a service that is worth the expense to prevent downtime. I am not an affiliate for Cloudflare, I just use them for my own eCommerce business, and many of my clients and peers do as well.  There are many other software solutions available for mitigating DDoS attacks which I implore you to research. – Read more

A Guide to Every Automated Google Ad Type

My Post - 2019-10-07T114237.251.pngGoogle Ads has made a big push toward automation, with rapid-fire changes to automated bid strategies and ad types in particular.

While the goal of automation is to streamline and simplify, the constant platform updates can cause confusion rather than clarity.

In this guide, we’ll break down every available automated ad type.

You’ll learn the difference between options and naming conventions, as well as when to use each one, so you can confidently make the best decisions for your campaigns.

Google-Created (Auto-Applied) Assets

First on our list of automated ads are those that Google automatically creates on your behalf, without any input from you.

You may not even realize these ads and assets are running, and they may not be compliant with your branding guidelines, so they’re important to review.

When to Use (or Avoid) Auto-Applied Ads & Extensions

You don’t have to do anything for Google-created assets to run (not even approve them!)

If you’re short on time or need some fresh ideas, you can effortlessly run auto-applied ads to test new messaging. Google states that using additional creative may improve your CTR.

However, if you need tight control over your ad messaging (including regulated industries), you may prefer to opt out of auto-applied ads to avoid the risk of non-approved ads slipping through.

Auto-Applied Ad Suggestions

Your account is automatically opted-in to Google Ad suggestions, which you’ll find on the Recommendations page of your account.

Google may add as many as 50 suggested ads per week (though it will likely be fewer). – Read more 

6 Important Google Analytics Metrics You Need to Track

My Post - 2019-10-04T132643.127.pngWhen you log in to your Google Analytics, are you just seeing a bunch of numbers that make you scratch your head in bewilderment? Google Analytics can be confusing and overwhelming for beginners. 

It’s not just a bunch of numbers and random information though. If you know what to look for, it’s valuable data that can be used to increase your website traffic, boost user engagement, and even generate sales. So, if Google Analytics is confusing to you, let’s break it down and make it easier to understand.

Here are 6 important Google Analytics metrics you need to track.

1. User Demographics and Interests

The more you know about your target audience and your customers, the better. When you know who your website visitors are, you can create content that’s more of interest to them, send them messages and offers that are personalized to their exact needs and wants, and more. So, it’s important to use Google Analytics to learn about your user demographics and interests.

Google Analytics will show you valuable information about your users such as location, age, and gender under Insights > Reports > Publisher. Also included is user interests. User interests are a result of data taken from Gmail, internet browsing habits, app messages, and YouTube videos watched. This data can give you a full picture of what truly interests your website visitors.

2. Traffic Sources

Another important metric to look at is your traffic sources, which can be found in Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium. By looking at your traffic sources, you can see where the majority of your website visitors are coming from. Using this data, you can grow your website traffic. For instance, if you notice that most of your website visitors are discovering you via Pinterest, you can amp up your Pinterest marketing to get even more results.

Alternatively, if you have put some effort into marketing your business on Twitter but see that you’re not getting any traffic from it, you can tweak your Twitter marketing strategy to improve it.

3. Most Popular Content

As mentioned earlier, you can look at user demographics and interests to find out what type of content your website visitors are interested in. But another way to come up with content that users will love is by looking at what the most popular content on your website is currently.

Under Insights > Reports in Google Analytics, you’ll find a list of the top posts and pages of your website. With this information, you can see what posts your website visitors like most and create more of the same type of content in order to continue giving them what they want.

4. Exit Pages

Finding out what your website visitors like most on your website is important, but just as important is finding out what pages and posts they like the least. Under Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages, you can find out what pages or posts users exit your site on most often. – Read more

7 Reasons Why an HTML Sitemap Is a Must-Have

My Post - 2019-10-04T120618.226.pngA sitemap guides your website visitors to where they want to go. It’s where they turn if they haven’t found what they are looking from those dropdown menus.

Beyond helping your visitors navigate your website, which should be the primary focus of any marketing effort, there are many other reasons to use a sitemap.

First, it’s important to understand that there are two types of sitemaps:

  • XML sitemaps
  • HTML sitemaps

What Are XML Sitemaps?

XML sitemaps help search engines and spiders discover the pages on your website.

These sitemaps give search engines a website’s URLs and offer data a complete map of all pages on a site. This helps search engines prioritize pages that they will crawl.

There is information within the sitemap that shows page change frequency on one URL versus others on that website, but it is unlikely that this has any effect on rankings.

An XML sitemap is very useful for large websites that might otherwise take a long time for a spider to crawl through the site.

Every site has a specific amount of crawl budget allocated to their site, so no search engine will simply crawl every URL the first time it encounters it.

An XML sitemap is a good way for a search engine to build its queue of the pages it wants to serve.

What Are HTML Sitemaps?

HTML sitemaps ostensibly serve website visitors. The sitemaps include every page on the website – from the main pages to lower-level pages.

An HTML sitemap is just a clickable list of pages on a website. In its rawest form, it can be an unordered list of every page on a site – but don’t do that.

This is a great opportunity to create some order out of chaos, so it’s worth making the effort.

Why You Should Leverage HTML Sitemaps

While you may already use an XML sitemap – and some insist that an HTML sitemap is no longer necessary – here are seven reasons to add (or keep) an HTML sitemap.

1. Organize Large Websites

Your website will grow in size.

You may add an ecommerce store with several departments or you may expand your product portfolio. Or, more likely, the site just grow as new people are added to a company.

However, this can lead to confusion for visitors who are then confused about where to go or what you have to offer.

The HTML sitemap works in a similar way to a department store or shopping mall map.

The sitemap is a great way for the person maintaining the sitemap to take stock of every page and make sure it has its rightful home somewhere in the site.

This is the directory for users that can’t find the pages they are looking for elsewhere on the site and, as a last resort, this should help them get there. – Read more

Google Ads Introduces Improved Keyword Recommendations

My Post - 2019-10-04T113140.908.pngGoogle Ads is updating optimization scores by improving the relevancy and quality of keyword recommendations.

Going forward, Google Ads will only suggest recommended keywords if they’re estimated to drive additional traffic beyond existing keywords. In addition, Google Ads’ keyword recommendations can now include broad match modifiers.

Google touts the benefits of following its recommendations and improving your account’s optimization score:

“Recommendations and optimization score help you prioritize your most impactful opportunities to improve account performance. In fact, advertisers who increased their account-level optimization score by 10 points saw a 10% increase in conversions on average.”

A New Way to View Google Ads Recommendations

Google Ads is rolling out a new table view format which displays recommendations and their expected impact. Users can toggle between the new table view and the original card view.

The new table view format, as shown in the header image, offers the following improvements over the card view:

  • View and sort recommendations by largest optimization opportunity.
  • See how much your optimization score will change if you adopt a recommendation.
  • See a breakdown of scoring and recommendations by campaign.
  • Download the table view into Excel. – Read more

Small accounts and Responsive Search Ads – Adopt or not?

My Post - 2019-10-02T173647.749.pngThere can be a wide range of benefits to small accounts adopting RSAs if done properly.

With Microsoft Ads recently opening a responsive search ad (RSA) beta to their advertisers, it’s clear that the automated Text Ad format is here to stay. The push towards automation continues and with it comes the pressure from platform reps to adopt. While larger accounts have the luxury, in terms of additional budget, to take their time and test these additions, those running smaller budgets often have to make a decision outright: adopt or not?

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I have historically been a fan of the “not.” There are a lot of arguments against RSAs and few in their favor. For example, you can’t use ad customizers in the text, which limits its abilities. There’s also anecdotal evidence from across the PPC community that, while RSAs are getting better click-through-rates and driving more traffic, they’re less effective than extended text ads (ETAs) in driving conversions. However, the biggest complaint, and perhaps widest-reaching one, is that there is no insight into the data regarding which combinations are being shown and in what ways they outperform one another. You can see how many impressions each combination receives, but that’s it. In essence, you’re setting a variety of ad headlines and descriptions and crossing your fingers. For smaller accounts with less budget per day, ‘crossing your fingers’ is a terrifying proposition.

That being said, RSAs can be beneficial. Although we don’t get insight into the data, Google can quickly test tens of thousands of headline and ad description combinations, which is something that I am unable to do with ETAs. With small, low volume accounts, part of the appeal of RSAs is being able to test thousands of ad copy combinations in one go. While it would be nice to have more insight into performance, after some experimenting myself, I think it’s a mistake to write off RSAs completely – especially with the signals we’re getting from the platforms saying that they’re here to stay.

I’m a big fan of testing against my assumptions, especially since I know my bias lends itself to having me reject automated ad formats and other automations. I don’t like change as a person, let alone as a PPC professional, and as such I try to lean into it when the opportunity presents itself. My team adopted RSAs across the board in February 2019; here’s what we’ve learned from 4,200 ads running since then: – Read more

How to Exclude Your IP Address From Google Analytics

My Post - 2019-09-25T154129.764.pngAre you visiting your website daily? Do you worry that Google Analytics data is misleading?

Well, it is time to exclude your IP address!

Knowing how to exclude your IP address from Google Analytics is important. This often overlooked step is easy, not to mention it will give you a clearer picture of your site’s traffic.

This is especially important for sites with multiple teams updating and checking the site, because you can exclude all your team’s IP addresses. The following is a step-by-step guide on how you can find your IP address and exclude it from your Google Analytics report.

How Do I Find My IP Address?

The first step is to find your IP address. This may seem daunting, but it is actually quite simple.

Step 1: Open the Google search browser

Step 2: Type in “What is my IP address”

Step 3: Boom! There it is

The one above is obviously not real, but your IP address should be four number codes separated by periods. Be sure to copy your IP address down somewhere. Now that you have your IP address, it is time to exclude it from Google Analytics.

How Do I Exclude My IP Address From Google Analytics?

First, log in to your Google Analytics account and bring up the Dashboard for your website. Once up, find “Admin” in the bottom left corner and select it. – Read more

10 essential SEO tips to get your website found

My Post - 2019-09-24T155324.239.pngThese tips are a good starting point in understanding the sometimes confusing world of SEO, so they can get their website to the top of Google’s pages.

Ask an expert or an employee at Google how to improve your SEO ranking and you’re likely to get a lot of different answers.

It used to be much simpler – conduct a site analysis, produce a lot of content, stuff in a few keywords throughout, build a few reciprocal links and you were good to go.

But SEO has come a long way since the early days of the internet. Google’s algorithms are a complex system to retrieve data from its search index and keep on feeding people the most relevant results for their search. They are constantly evolving to keep up with the vast amounts of content now being produced and how people are searching for and viewing it, and as a result organisations need to work a lot harder to prove that their content is worth the ranking, and that it’s good quality and valuable.

Charities need to be found by the people they want to serve and help. We’ve broken down a few of the key things charities can do to start improving their search engine rankings.

1. Keep creating high quality, relevant content

In 2019, it’s more important than ever to ensure your content is truly valuable and engaging. Create content for people, not bots. Here are a few tips on what Google considers quality content.

As for the ‘keep creating’ bit, maybe you don’t, but Google rewards sites that regularly update pages.

2. Sign up for Google Search Console

While Google won’t share the exact algorithm for search rankings, they are very good at giving information about it in some select areas – much like how Coca Cola put the ingredients on their bottles, but won’t give the exact formula for how much of what goes into it.

Fortunately, Google created Google Search Console to give you some important clues. This is another free product from Google that provides data and analytics – the difference from Google Analytics is that Google Search Console is focused more on how your pages rank in Google search, as well as the sorts of things you can do to improve that ranking. Sign up now if you haven’t already!

3. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly

In 2015, Google released a significant new ranking algorithm that highly favours sites which are mobile-friendly, to reflect the fact that mobile became the most popular way to browse the internet.

Google Mobile-Friendly test is the best free tool for seeing how well your site works on mobile, and it also lists what elements need fixing if you have any.

You might also want to check out Google PageSpeed Insights, which checks how quickly your pages work on mobile devices (and desktops) and also lists the specific elements that need fixing with how to fix them. – Read more