If you’re looking for the latest strategies in PPC keyword research, there’s something you should know: Google was never designed to be about keywords.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin said:
“My vision when we started Google… was that eventually you wouldn’t have to have a search query at all – the information would just come to you as you needed it.”
Google’s getting closer to that mission, and in 2018 it rebranded AdWords as Google Ads, dropping the “words” entirely. Many older keyword building methods are now outdated or defunct.
Today, there’s a new and easier way to handle PPC keywords, and it starts with a focus on users. To understand this new strategy and why it works better, it will help to know what’s different about the current search landscape.
Google’s Giving Less Weight to Keywords
Once upon a time, many algorithm updates ago, Google’s best chance of serving up relevant results was to match a user’s search terms with keywords on a page (or, in the case of paid ads, keywords in a list). A lot has changed.
Natural Language Processing Advancements
Last week, I did a Google search for a podcast episode. I couldn’t recall the episode number or name. But I remembered the gist of it, and Google knew what I meant. – Read more
Over the past few years, Google has been playing around a lot with audiences.
From the introduction of in-market audiences for search last year to the more recent release of detailed demographics, they’re most likely far from done changing things up.
The fast-moving nature of search advertising is one of the things that makes it so exciting. To be a PPC superhero, you need to keep pace and constantly update your best practice along the way.
Sometimes that means throw out the old rulebook, and A/B testing anew. And that’s exactly what I’ve done here with an up-to-date list of my recommended dos and don’ts for search audiences.
Now, whether you’re relying on manual or automated bidding matters for audience strategy.
As Google’s smart bidding simplifies things quite considerably, I’m mostly focusing on manual bidding in this article but I’ll share a few tips for smart bidding as well.
To start, there’s one goal to keep in mind for both remarketing and prospecting:
DO: Maximize Audience Depth
A quick recap: audience depth is the spend through all audiences divided by total spend.
Modified audience depth is the spend through all audiences with a bid modifier applied divided by total spend.
Maximizing audience depth gives you more data points to optimize toward. Even if an audience has a poor CPA, applying it should still be considered a success because it lets you identify an opportunity for optimization. – Read more
A rare Google confirmation came related to a Google search algorithm update this week.
Google restated previous advice that there is no fix if your site was negatively impacted.
Google confirmed that it released a broad core search ranking algorithm update this week.
“Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before,” the company said.
Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed this update started March 12.
Why it matters. Google does several core ranking updates per year and confirms very few updates throughout the year. Specific to broad core updates, Google has said numerous times that you cannot do anything specific to fix your rankings. Google’s previous advice is, “there’s no ‘fix’ for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”
If your rankings did change recently, it may have been related to this broad core ranking update and not necessarily related to a technical change you made on your website.
What changed? Right now it is very early and it is hard to guess what has changed. Based on the SEO chatter around this update, prior to Google confirming the update, some are saying this was again targeting the health/medical space. But, Google has said there was no specific target at medical or health sites with that August 1st update. – Read more
With this update, Bid Strategy Type is no longer a required column.
There are 13 categories of metric and attribute columns available in Google Ads. Now, Google has added a recommended columns category to call attention to columns relevant to your account and campaign settings.
What’s new. For now the recommended reporting columns is limited, with Bid Strategy Type showing if you’re using bid automation. With this update, Bid Strategy Type will no longer be a required column, freeing up your reporting tables to include a different metric or attribute.
How it works. Recommendations are turned on by default. You can opt out of a specific recommendation, add the columns you want to show consistently or ignore them. You can also opt out entirely by clicking on the toggle button at the bottom of the columns list. Google suggests leaving the recommendations on to see future additions. – Read more
The implementation of Google AdWords has really changed the SEO landscape, and whatever your opinion of it, if you’re not on the bandwagon you’re missing out.
AdWords is a simple concept that opens the door to a number of possibilities. It works by giving you the chance to add extensions to your adverts with the search engine.
These extensions range from adding your location, a telephone number and prices to your advert – where you end up with your ad looking like nothing else on the search results page.
But of course, it’s not as simple as just picking some extensions and bringing them together. So to get ahead in the game you’ll need to find the extensions that are best for you and get creative with them.
To help you in your pursuit of standing out from the crowd, we’ve constructed a list of the five most creative ways to get your ads to stand out in AdWords:
1. Message extension
The AdWords message extension is the new kid on the block in terms of what’s available on the market.
The feature works by displaying a box at the bottom of your advert offering the option of texting the business for more information among other things. – Read more
Google has announced that the “average position” metric will no longer be supported starting in September.
Having been a Googler myself for almost a decade, I can only imagine the trepidation the Google Ads marketing team must have felt before making this announcement.
With the near continuous change that is part of Google Ads, any update could set off a firestorm in the advertising community.
The retirement of one of the oldest metrics certainly seems like it could have been received poorly.
But as it turns out, most advertisers are OK with the announced change, especially in light of some of the new position metrics Google has introduced to replace average position.
Here’s how the new “top” and “absolute top” metrics can do a better job than average position ever could when guiding advertisers to optimizing their PPC accounts.
The Metrics Replacing Average Position
First, here are the new metrics Google introduced in the past year that they feel can help advertisers better understand how their ads are doing, and that are hence seen as the replacement for the average position metric that is being retired. – Read more
Google appears to be looking to switch up the way it labels text ads again.
It’s been a little over two years since Google last played with the “Ad” label it shows next to text ads on Google.com. Since February 2017, Google has used green text and a green border to delineate text ads from organic listings in the search results. Now, it looks to be testing a simpler, more subtle ad label treatment.
The latest label test. On Wednesday, UK-based marketing consultant Darren Taylor, who runs The Big Marketer, spotted “Ad” labels with bolded black text and no border. The label appears at the top of the ad with the display URL appears next to it.
Others in the EU region have also spotted it.
We reached out for comment. “We’re always testing new ways to improve our experience for our users and advertisers, but don’t have anything specific to announce right now,” a Google spokesperson said.
Why you should care. Presumably, greater differentiation between ads and organic will have a negative impact on click-through rates on ads. Google doesn’t share this data, of course, but it has a long history of modifying the way it signifies ads from organic content. – Read more
Get some insights into how changes in spend could impact campaign performance.
Google is rolling out a new Budget Planner tool for Google Ads campaigns.
Kim Clinkunbroomer, who heads Clink Digital Marketing, alerted us to the new feature, available under the Tools menu in Google Ads. It appears to still be rolling out, so you may not see it in your accounts quite yet.
I’ve tried it out, and it’s pretty straightforward. A quick tutorial is also available to guide you through when you first get started.
The basics of how it works.
You can create a budget plan based on either clicks or conversions as a key metric. There is also the option to choose a target: clicks, spend or average CPC if you select clicks as the primary metric, or conversions, spend or average CPA when conversions is your key metric.
If you choose a target, you can manually enter a target amount, or (pretty handy) you can choose from “previous period” or the “same time last year.”
After you set the variables, Google will generate a draft budget plan. The forecast chart will show a gray point showing how your campaigns are expected perform with the existing settings if you make no changes. A blue line indicates how changes in spend will impact your key metric (clicks or conversions). – Read more
Google encourages businesses not to think of mobile speed as a one-and-done fix. It should be an ongoing priority.
Mary Ellen Coe, president of Google Customer Solutions, penned an article outlining the reasons why mobile speed should be taken more seriously.
“While there are as many growth strategies as there are types of businesses, there’s one area where nearly every business has room to improve: the mobile web.”
Having a mobile presence is no longer enough. In order for businesses to grow, they need to continue delivering speedy mobile experiences.
Fifty-four percent of people say that as the load time for a brand’s mobile site increases, so does their frustration.
To that end, a one-second delay in mobile load times can impact conversion rates by up to twenty percent.
Conversely, a fast mobile experience can help attract and retain customers.
Milliseconds can earn millions, Coe says. No matter how fast a site is today, the will eventually degrade over time if it’s not an ongoing priority. – Read more
Available on Pixel phones, it will be rolling out to other Android and iOS users in the near future.
Google announced that Pixel phone users can now use Duplex via the Google Assistant to book restaurant reservations over the phone. Google said it was available in 43 states in the U.S.
Duplex is an AI-powered phone based-system for booking appointments with local businesses that don’t have online scheduling. It was first demonstrated at Google’s developer conference in May 2018. The demo, though controlled, was impressive and very “natural language” sounding.
Request a reservation, get a notification. Here’s Google’s description of the process (also shown in the video below):
Just ask the Assistant on your phone, “Book a table for four people at [restaurant name] tomorrow night.” The Assistant will then call the restaurant to see if it can accommodate your request. Once your reservation is successfully made, you’ll receive a notification on your phone, an email update and a calendar invite so you don’t forget.
Google says it will be rolling out Duplex restaurant booking via the Assistant on other Android and iOS devices in the coming weeks.
Hello, I’m a bot. Duplex is intended to mimic the cadence and sound of natural human speech. In the video the hypothetical exchange clearly discloses that Google Assistant (a machine) is on the other end and that the call will be recorded. The disclosure is mandated by a new California law. And many states require disclosures when calls are being recorded. – Read more