Top 10 Must-Try PPC Tactics for 2020

My Post - 2020-02-04T165007.081.pngIf you want your PPC campaigns to remain effective in 2020, you have no choice but to evolve. In some cases, that evolution will mean thinking about things very differently than before.

If your program isn’t in an advanced state already, here are ten tactics you must try this year (in no particular order).

1. Layered Audience: Demographics & Affinity

It’s no secret that a campaign will perform best when you clearly define who it’s meant for.

By using the combined power of Google Ads and Analytics, you’re able to give your campaigns a better chance of success by targeting those most likely to take the desired action. I look at demographics and affinity as a more of a passive “who they are” classification.

The screenshot below shows current site visitors who fall into the affinity category of “Pet Lovers”. Those specific customers convert 46% better than the average. That’s an audience worth engaging:

Top 10 Must-Try PPC Tactics for 2020

2. Layered Audience: In Market

While Demographics and Affinity audiences are more about “who they are”, In-Market audiences are about “what they’re doing”.

In this case, this an audience who is exhibiting certain online behavior consistent with those who are actively “in the market” for a product or service.

Top 10 Must-Try PPC Tactics for 2020

3. Layered Audience: Life Events

Anyone who has ever run a Direct Response campaign (even in the pre-digital days) knows that reaching potential customers at key life event stages can be critical to its performance.

If you’ve ever gotten a mortgage (or even just moved to a new address), you’ve probably noticed an increase in the volume of offers you receive. There’s a very good reason for that – data shows it’s effective.

Google Ads allows you to run promotions for specific “life events” on a limited basis today. It’s limited because:

  • You’re restricted to life events concerning:
    • College graduation.
    • Marriage.
    • Moving.
  • It’s currently available for Gmail and YouTube campaigns.

They launched these targeting capabilities in the last couple of years and hopefully, it will eventually be expanded as a targeting layer for additional events and platforms.

4. Running One Responsive Search Ad (RSA) Per Ad Group 

I know. You tried it and were less than impressed. I get it.

Try it again, but this time on some keywords and audiences that might not be your core focus.

If your campaigns are anything like most, you have some core audiences and set of keyword variations that make up the bulk of the conversions and revenues.

Test RSAs to try and find success outside that core audience. The biggest things to remember:

  • The key word in machine learning is “learning.” In order to “learn” what works, the “machine” also must learn what doesn’t. That takes time and a bit of volume to get a good read.
  • You still need to input some quality headlines (minimum 3, up to 15) and descriptions (minimum 2, up to 4). If those are sub-quality, no amount of machine learning will help your campaigns.

– Read more

Why Featured Snippets Are Still Important

My Post - 2020-02-04T164201.842.pngGoogle Search Liaison tweeted an update on how Google will be serving Featured Snippets in search. This change caused some confusion in the SEO world and caused many to question whether Featured Snippets are worth targeting anymore. In this video, I’ll share what Feature Snippets are, what changed with Google and how you can target and optimize your content to earn those positions.

Hey. What’s up? And welcome to Hack My Growth. In this episode, we’re going to be looking at featured snippets, why they’re important and how you can rank for them as well. All right. Let’s go. Are you looking to grow your business, but you’re not sure where to start? That’s where we come in. Thanks for checking out this video. If this is your first time watching or maybe you’ve been watching a while and you have not yet hit subscribe, please do so now. We would love to have you join our community. We create new content each and every week to help you get the most out of your digital marketing activities.

What made me want to create this video was a recent update? January 23rd, 2020, Google Liaison announced something via Twitter that set a lot of SEOs on fire, and here’s the tweet. It said, “If a page is listed and elevated to the featured snippet position, we will no longer repeat it in the first page of the results.” What Google’s trying to do, like they say here, is declutter the results and help the users find relevant information more easily.

We know that Google has moved more towards mobile, that’s their first index now, and we also know that they continue to update and change the look of the search results. One of those is called the featured snippet, and what it used to be is you could have that box above search, and then below that you could also have your link, in position two or three. Well, Google now is getting rid of that link if you’re owning the featured snippet position, and this has already happened. There’s a lot in the SEO community, after seeing this update, that are questioning whether or not these are even worth targeting anymore, because of some data that’s been put out. My answer to that is yes. Absolutely you should be targeting these, because they are great opportunities to have visibility, and I will also show you some newer data that contradicts some of the data that’s out there as well.

What is a featured snippet? Let’s talk about that first, because this only applies to featured snippets. Not everything you’re going to see in the search result is considered a featured snippet. According to Moz … They do a great job in teaching SEO. They’ve got great tools. But this is what they say. “When Google wants to answer a question, when it’s not in the knowledge graph, they may attempt to find that answer in the index. When they do, they create a special class of organic results. Then they extract some of that content from that page, and they call that a featured snippet.” Now, typically, and what we’re seeing today, is that feature snippets have higher click through rates than regular organic results.

This is exactly, right here, an image of what a featured snippet looks like, where you’re going to see this call out box at the top. It’s going to highlight it. It’s going to give you a little bit of information of what that link is about. Then below this you would see the 10 blue links. There’s a few different types of featured snippets. These are paragraphs, list, table, video, and accordion. Those are the five main types.

What you’re seeing here, this is an image of a list featured snippet. Now, paragraphs, which is the one on this page, how to use Excel, are the most common. About 50% of featured snippets are paragraph, and 37% are lists. So, you’re looking at 87% of these are going to be either paragraph or list. Now, again, this doesn’t impact all the different SERP features. It doesn’t impact news. It doesn’t impact a video carousel. It doesn’t impact the knowledge panel. All of those are outside of this realm, and all of those are very different, when it comes to SERP features, than featured snippets. So, what we’re focusing on right now is only featured snippets and how this update has impacted them and then what we should be doing about it.

Why are SEOs panicking after this announcement? Well, Ahrefs did a report in 2017 and Ahrefs does a number of really awesome case studies and reports, and they dig deep into the data. Back in 2017, this is what they found. They found that click through rates for featured snippets at the time was about 8.6%. Now, the page below it was getting a click through rate of about 19.6%. So, as you can see here, generic search would get maybe like 26% of the clicks, but in the featured snippets it would split that, and in their study that they were doing, they were seeing that the link below was actually getting more clicks than the featured snippet.

– Read more

How to Create Effective Ads with Google’s Keyword Planner

My Post - 2020-01-31T112427.323.pngWith over 5.5 billion searches made on Google per day, there’s no question that the platform is the place we turn to for answers on just about everything. It’s only reasonable for a business seeking to grow to build presence on Google’s advertising platform, Google Ads (previously called Google AdWords), now that it’s become the fastest way to discover new things.

Google Ads is a powerful platform that can get your business seen worldwide on your own terms and budget. Consequently, the dashboard provides various information that, when analyzed right, can help a user make intelligent marketing decisions.

The platform also comes with tools that can help a user maximize reach and budget. One of these is the Google Ads Keyword Planner which you can find under the Planning section of Tools & Settings.

Like any other keyword research tool, Google’s Keyword Planner can provide you with keyword ideas and search volume data to help design campaigns. What differentiates it is that it’s free as long as you have a Google Ads account set up, and because it’s a built-in feature, it only takes a few clicks to incorporate your keyword research results into your existing ad campaigns.

With the amount of information available in Google Ads, you may ask questions like, which of these metrics mean I’m running a successful campaign? What can I do to improve? All you need is in one Google Ads account.

In this article, we will break down the anatomy of an effective Google Ad and introduce ways to use information the Keyword Planner tool provides.

First off, let’s take a look at what comprises a good ad.

Writing Good Google Ads

How do we define successful ad campaigns and what elements do effective ads have in common? This section won’t discuss what impressions, CTRs, and conversion rates mean, but the ad attributes you need to keep in check to see those metrics perform well.

1. Concisely introduces a solution to a problem

Keyword: concisely. With the number of elements fighting for your audience’s attention on the internet and limited ad space on screens, it’s important for your ad copies to be crisp. Avoid redundancies, omit unnecessary phrases, and try to reduce wordiness without missing points that can grab your audience’s attention.

Additionally, Google has character limits for headlines and descriptions on text ads. A standard Google Ads text ad is made up of a headline and a two-line description. Well-crafted ads are able to highlight a product or service’s sellable points in only a few but highly relevant number of words.

2. Maximizes ad budget

Optimizing the following aspects can greatly help in maximizing your ad budget on Google:

• Clear customer targeting
• Keyword relevance
• Landing page quality

It is these three factors that make up an ad’s Quality Score – the higher it is, the lesser Google charges you per click.

You don’t want to blow thousands of dollars advertising luxury accommodations to budget travelers. They’re not part of your market, and even if you bid on general keywords in your industry, your audience will most likely leave your landing page as soon as they realize your offer is not what they’re looking for.

To make more bang for your buck, before setting up a campaign, first identify what your market needs, how they’re looking for it, and prioritize relevance from writing ad copies to building your landing page.

3. Generates quality clicks

Ultimately, what we want from our ad campaigns is to gain a good amount of impressions among our market, get people to click on our ad and find out more about what we’re offering, and get them to purchase, subscribe, donate, or sign-up. In short, an ad campaign is only effective when it leads users to the last step of the process — conversion.

That’s why it pays to speak your target audience’s language and identify searches you don’t want your ads to appear in.

One way to do this is to take time to list down keywords that can mean an entirely different thing from your offering and add them as negative keywords. For example, if you’re selling mouse traps, it can benefit you to add ‘electronic’ or ‘wireless’ as your negative keywords so your ads don’t show up in searches made by people looking for the computer accessory. – Read more

How to Start a Pay Per Click Campaign – Get Results

My Post - 2020-01-31T104157.736.pngIn this article, we’ll discuss what pay-per-click advertising means and how to start a campaign of your own.

Pay per click has grown in popularity over the past few years for plenty of reasons. One of the most significant reasons it’s growing in popularity is that in addition to attracting attention it can go a long way in converting interest into sales. To take advantage of pay-per-click advertising, it’s important to learn how to start a pay per click campaign.

How to Start a Pay Per Click Campaign

In this article, we’ll discuss what pay-per-click advertising means and how to start a campaign of your own.

What is Pay Per Click Advertising?

Unlike traditional advertising, where you pay to have your ad broadcast or advertised, when it comes to pay per click advertising, you only pay when someone actually clicks on the advert. Some of the most popular PPC advertising is on search engines as well as social media platforms. In other words, PPC ads are sponsored links that appear on search engine result pages. How PPC works is that the companies listed typically pay to appear under a particular search phrase but only pay when someone clicks on the advert.

Companies bid for position, so if one company’s PPC ad is more relevant or the company offers more than another for a potential customer click, their advert appears above the competitor’s.

How to Set Up A Campaign

Before setting up a campaign, think about what you want to achieve with Bing or Google PPC marketing. For instance, are you trying to get subscribers to your newsletter, drive traffic to your site or trying to sell a product or service? Of course, you can always choose to hire a PPC management company to get everything started and running for you.

  • Start by working out your goals. Do you want to increase enquiries, encourage sign-ups or make more sales?
  • Decide where you want to advertise. Most businesses find it a good option to advertise on search engines using Google AdWords and Microsoft Advertising. So, go ahead and sign up to create an account.
  • Bid on the keywords you choose
  • Set your bids for different keywords and select your monthly or daily budget. There are a lot of mistakes that can come with bidding, so be sure to stray away from some of the most common mistakes.
  • Come up with your PPC ad and link it to a relevant landing page on your site
  • Monitor progress and make necessary improvements

Here Are Some Benefits Of PPC:

  • You can get your ads in front of the right audience by identifying keywords that match what your target customers are looking for.
  • You don’t have to pay unless someone clicks on your advert
  • You set your advertising ‘bids’ accordingly, allowing you to decide how much a visitor is worth to you.
  • You can set a limit to your total advertising spend and control your costs
  • You can try out various options, and get a detailed analysis of the performance of each advertising campaign.

Read more

New: Google Ads Target ROAS Bid Simulator

My Post - 2020-01-28T135742.649.pngGoogle Ads has introduced a new bid simulator, the Target ROAS bid simulator. The target ROAS bid simulator shows the relationship between a ROAS target and your key metrics. The key metric it shows is your conversion value.

Google explains; let’s say you’re interested in seeing how a higher target would impact your performance. Using data from the auctions you participated in over the last 7 days, this tool will show you what would have happened assuming everything else (e.g., your ads, landing pages, competitor ads, competitor bids etc.) stayed the same.

Here is a screen shot:

click for full size

Read more

The Beginners Guide to Google Tag Manager

My Post - 2020-01-28T134933.695.pngGoogle Tag Manager is a vital tool for any webmaster or site owner. The system plays a critical role in managing any website’s tags. It makes tag management fast, efficient and easier to understand for those of us who aren’t pro coders. This definitive guide will give you all the information you need to become a Tag Manager expert.

Tags are snippets of code added to any website’s pages. They have a range of different functions. One prime example is the JavaScript code tag which is vital to making Google Analytics work. That tag collects the data that Analytics needs to deliver its various reports and insights. Other tags can extract and send different information to platforms like Google Ads, and many others.

Effective management of your site’s tags, then, is crucial to performing analytics on the website. That, in turn, makes it critical to optimizing the site performance. That’s why you’ll want to read on and learn how Tag Manager makes it so much simpler to produce and implement all the tags your site needs.

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google describes its Tag Manager product as a ‘Tag Management System’ (TMS). That’s an excellent way to think about it. It does for a website’s tags what a Content Management System (CMS) does for its content. The service provides an interface through which to create and track all the tags your site needs.

You no longer have to code each tag manually. Instead, you can create all your tags through the interface. Tag Manager will then implement them for your site. That is if you’ve embedded a straightforward piece of Tag Manager code into each page of the website.

There are three main benefits to handling tags in this way:

  • Easing Pressure on Developers – Neither you nor your company’s web developers need to worry about manually coding tags. That frees up more time to spend on other tasks like managing your site’s content
  • Greater Accuracy – Tags coded by a person are more susceptible to errors. A simple typo or copy and paste issue can render a tag useless. Tag Manager won’t make such errors.
  • Marketing Control & Oversight – The Tag Manager interface makes it much easier to control and track all your tags. That means you can create and use more tags that directly relate to your marketing priorities. It’s easier to produce and implement tags to collect information for your marketing activities.

Tag Manager can give you that control and mastery over tags for a range of analytics platforms. Getting started with Tag Manager is nice and easy, not to mention free. The first thing you have to do is to set up your Tag Manager account.

How to Set Up a Google Tag Manager Account

To get started with Tag Manager, you have to set up an account with the service. Unlike many of Google’s products, you won’t be immediately logged in to Tag Manager via an existing Google Account. Instead, head to the Tag Manager site and click one of the ‘Create Account’ buttons, as shown below:

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You then have to input a few different pieces of information. First, you need to choose a name for your Tag Manager account. Google recommends each business creates only one account. Your company name, then, can also serve as your account name.

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You also need to choose a ‘Container Name’. The container is the piece of code you must add to your webpages for Tag Manager to work. The container name should be the name of the site or sites where you’ll be embedding the container. Then, all you need to do is choose the relevant platform from the menu and click ‘Create’.

Once you’ve worked through that simple page, you’ll see two popups. The first is the Google terms of service, which you need to accept. The next displays all the details of the container snippet you need to add to your site’s pages.

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There are two parts to the container snippet. The first piece of code uses JavaScript extract information. You should place that snippet as high up in the <Head> section of your pages as you can. The second snippet is an HTML iframe. You need to put that code immediately after each page’s opening <Body> tag.

The HTML iframe element of the container only comes into play in specific circumstances. Those are when a site visitor has disabled JavaScript. Having that snippet embedded ensures tags still fire, even without JavaScript.

Once you’ve set up your account and your first container, you’re ready to roll with Tag Manager. You can now start to learn a little more about the interface and the elements that it contains.

Tags, Triggers and Variables

Every analytics platform has its vocabulary. They all use unique words and phrases that you may not have come across if you haven’t used the tool before. Google Tag Manager is no exception.

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The TMS uses three labels in particular that you must understand. Knowing what they’re all about will make it easier to get started using the tool. Those three labels are tags, triggers, and variables. Each makes up a vital element of Tag Manager and has a section within the interface. You can see the links to access those sections highlighted in the image above.

What, though, is a tag, a trigger, and a variable? – Read more

Nine Things To Know About Google Analytics

My Post - 2020-01-21T145501.291.pngOf all the business analytics tools used today, the most popular one is Google Analytics, which is a data-tracking tool offered by Google. If you’re a business owner looking to optimize and better understand how visitors use your website, here are some things you should know about Google Analytics and how to make it work for your business.

1. Google Analytics is free.

There are no subscription or monthly fees for the standard version. More features are included with the paid version, but they really aren’t necessary for running a small business. When your business has grown, you can simply upgrade when you have more resources available.

2. It’s easy to set up.

There’s minimal technical know-how involved to get started. You just sign in with an existing Google account and follow the instructions. You will be asked to provide basic information, such as your website and domain name. Lastly, you will need to add a tracking code to your website’s code for Google Analytics to start capturing data.

3. There are five reporting options.

The ABCs of Google Analytics include Audience, Behavior and Conversions. These reports provide an overview of who your visitors are, what they do on your site, and what activities they complete. The other two reports are Real-Time and Acquisition, which show real-time activity on the website, as well as how traffic reaches it.

The Audience report allows you to confirm and/or discover how well your marketing is working from different standpoints. The report can confirm if visitors are coming to your website from a specific location you are marketing to, or help you make further discoveries about new locations to put forth efforts toward. Also, if the goal of your website is to have repeat visitors, data within these reports can confirm the percentage of returning visitors to your website as a key performance indicator (KPI).

4. Google Analytics helps improve website usability.

With data on user behavior, you can better understand how visitors use your website. For example, you can identify the types of content potential customers look for, as well as gain insight into how they navigate your site and the pages from which visitors exit. All of this information can help you modify website navigation and improve overall site performance.

A hypothetical data point that can be used to make a website usability decision would be the bounce rate of entrance pages into the website for core content (not blogs). If the bounce rate for these entrance pages is above 70%, has a low average session duration and results in no conversions for the session, that can be an indication the page is not properly engaging a visitor to explore the website further and ultimately result in an outreach conversion.

5. It identifies devices used to access websites.

GA also gathers data regarding the types of devices used to access your website. If the data shows that many of your visitors use mobile devices to reach your site, take steps to ensure that it is mobile-responsive and user-friendly.

6. Google Analytics can help to optimize online campaigns.

GA tracks information about the location, profile and behavior of your visitors. Such data can help identify your user segment, which enables you to modify your content marketing, promotions and offers to match your target market.

Segments can be used to home in on specific traffic sessions that resulted in a conversion or other KPI metrics. As a result, you can reverse-engineer this data to see what traffic mediums or locations most commonly occur for conversions and leverage those data points. For example, you may want to initially cast a wide net with different types of paid advertisements, but you can later determine which mediums perform best. Then you can cut ties or reduce spending with the channels that are unsuccessful and put more spending toward the paid channels that work.

7. Google Analytics has a campaign tracking feature.

Google Analytics shows how your marketing efforts are working. You can identify how your emails, social media messages or paid ad placements are performing. It enables you to measure campaigns and identify those that actually convert to customer engagement. – Read more

Everything You Need to Know About Google Lead Form Extensions

My Post - 2020-01-17T123446.337.pngRecent data shows that mobile conversion rates are lower than desktop:

low mobile conversion rates

To combat this situation Google introduced the newest addition to mobile search ads — lead form extensions. The ad type is similar to LinkedIn lead gen form ads and Facebook lead ads in terms of the lead capture process.

So, do lead form extensions, like the rest of Google’s extensions, help with conversions or do they have shortcomings similar to LinkedIn and Facebook? Today’s post will examine what Google lead form extensions are and if they help advertisers maximize campaign results instead of sending prospects to dedicated post-click pages.

What are Google lead form extensions?

Lead form extensions help you immediately capture user information when they search for your company, products, or services on Google. The extension was created to replace the need for directing prospects to a post-click page to convert.

Ads that use the extension show a form beneath the search ad on mobile and tablet devices which allows prospects to enter their contact information directly in the ad’s popup form:

Google lead form extensions example

It is currently in beta and isn’t available to all advertisers yet, but to check if your business is eligible, go to this link.

How do lead form extensions work?

They simplify the process of collecting user information by placing forms within the ad and allowing prospects to commit to your offer instantly. Moreover, when a user sees an ad while they’re signed into their Google account, they can tap the CTA and reach a Google-hosted form already pre-populated with their information. This sequence makes the lead capture process possible with a single tap.

From their initial Google search to form submission, it only takes a few seconds for prospects to connect with your business. For advertisers, creating the lead form extensions also takes just a few seconds, click the “Ads and Extensions” tab on your search ad account. If your account has access to the beta version, clicking on the blue “+” will give you the drop-down menu with the lead form extension:

Google lead form extensions selection

The extension allows you to select what information you want to collect from prospects, including the following fields:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Postal code

Along with the form fields, these are the CTA button copy options:

  • Get offer
  • Subscribe
  • Download
  • Apply now
  • Book now
  • Contact us
  • Get quote
  • Sign up

The platform allows advertisers to add a background image to appear as the lead form screen, with recommended dimensions 1200 x 628 and an aspect ratio of 1.91:1. You can also create a form submission message, usually a thank-you note, that prospects see the after they’ve submitted the form.

The form specs

When creating your lead form extension, you must adhere to these specs:

  • Business name: 30 characters
  • Headline: 30 characters
  • Description: 200 characters

Apart from allowing advertisers to collect leads from within the ads, the Google extension also has the following advantages.

Pros of lead form extensions

The extension allows you to bypass sending users to another page and get their contact information instantly. Plus, you can add a link to your website in the submission message in case prospects want to find out more about the offer or your brand.

Google also provides you with two options to reach out to the prospects who have submitted their information:

  1. Download leads as a CSV: The “download leads” link allows you to get the contact information from each lead form extension. However, Google will only store leads for 30 days, so you’ll need to download these leads often.
  2. Set up a webhook integration: You can also enter the new leads directly into a CRM. To do this, you need to add a webhook URL and key to your lead form extension. Once everything is integrated, you’ll be able to send test data to view testing stats and results.

Although the extension seems like a godsend for lead generation, they have a number of disadvantages.

Cons of lead form extensions

Before you go all-in on this new extension, consider the following as they relate to your campaigns:

  • They are only available on mobile: Lead form extensions are only eligible for mobile search campaigns.
  • Extensions can only be applied at the campaign level: You cannot create lead form extensions at the account level or ad group level.
  • Your industry might not be eligible for the extension: Some sensitive industries (such as healthcare) will not be able to collect personal information with lead form extensions. For a full list of restrictions for the extensions, visit this page.
  • Google has strict data collection policies: The personal information you collect with lead form extensions must comply with your company’s provided privacy policy, Google’s data collection policies, and the local legal requirements of your users.
  • Limited form field options: Unlike your post-click page’s form where you decide which information you want to collect, Google currently allows very little customization with form fields. You can only ask for the user’s name, email, phone number, and zip code.
  • You miss out on a personalized introduction: Convincing prospects to click the CTA button on a pre-filled form seems easy. However, you miss out on properly introducing them to your brand. They might have clicked your ad, but would they convert if they don’t know all the details they wanted. This is what your personalized post-click experience provides.
  • You don’t have access to useful user data: When prospects don’t land on your post-click page you can’t see how your visitors would have interacted with the page, making you miss out on useful analytics data, potential ad revenue, and other branding opportunities.

Google lead form extensions seem like a quick and easy way to collect leads; however, the quality of leads collected will not be nearly as high as a personalized post-click experience. A well-designed personalized page experience can achieve exactly what Google lead form extensions can. Plus, a dedicated page gives prospects a better introduction to the offer and your brand while giving them relevant offer details, which helps them make an informed decision. – 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

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

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