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

5 Common Google Ads Mistakes To Avoid

My Post - 2019-09-24T123735.767.pngGoogle Ads are a science and an art. Here’s how to master both.

Google Ads is a powerful platform for advertising your business on Google’s search results pages, Google Display Network and YouTube. It is no surprise that the single biggest source of income for Google is paid advertising. In 2018 alone, Google’s advertising revenue amounted to 116.32 billion USD.

Although setting up a Google Ads account is fairly straightforward, mastering this platform can be difficult, and mistakes are made even by the most experienced advertisers. To help you get the most out of your ad spend, Hallam has identified 5 common Google Ads mistakes to avoid.

1.  Advertising without understanding profit margins

The primary goal for most business’ advertising activity is generating sales or leads. Whilst increasing brand awareness and gaining traffic is important when it comes to advertising, achieving a significant return on an ad spend enables a business to secure more budget.

To be able to accurately measure the performance of a campaign, and optimise accordingly, advertisers must have a clear understanding of their profit margins. It is necessary to be aware of exactly how much you can afford to pay for a lead in addition to the percentage of leads that your team converts to sales.

Another valuable use of time is to work out the lifetime value of a new customer and the average net profit per customer you acquire. The diagram below shows how to calculate this:LTV

At the very least, advertisers should spend time working out target returns on ad spend (ROAS) and breaking this down by product or service category. Following this, you can optimise your bidding strategy and account to achieve your desired outcomes.

2. Forgetting to set up conversions

It is highly beneficial to set up conversions for sales or enquiries so that return on investment can be measured. This also enables you to gain a clearer understanding of your profit margins, so that you can set a price per click which will not lose you money.

Setting up conversions in Google Ads is easy; simply select conversions from the ‘Tools’ menu option and add a new conversion. If you already have these set up, import conversions from Google Analytics.

Before moving on to test whether or not your conversions work, you need to check for and remove any duplicate conversion actions, particularly with Google Ads and the imported Google Analytics data. – Read more

How To Decrease Decision Fatigue And Increase Conversions

My Post - 2019-09-24T111519.630.pngWith so much of our lives spent trying to choose from oversized lists of options, why not make your website simpler? Here’s what you can do to reduce decision fatigue and make your website easier to say “yes” to.

It sort of feels like our lives are nothing more than an endless string of decision-making, doesn’t it? You go to the grocery store and half an aisle is dedicated to olive oil. Or cereal. Or yogurt. Then, you go home and your streaming services give you literally hundreds of options for horror movies. Or documentaries. Or TV shows. And it doesn’t get any better online.

Decision fatigue happens when you put your consumer in the position to choose from an over-abundance of options.

That said, decision fatigue isn’t some minor frustration caused by having too many awesome choices. It can do some major harm to your conversion rate. For instance: Hick’s Law states that with each new option you put before a user, the longer it will take them to process all of their choices.

That’s the opposite of what you want to happen on a website. You want visitors to quickly explore, find exactly what they need, and convert. The longer you delay this, the lower your chances will be to convert them at all.

Or, you might find that too many choices lead visitors to make poor buying decisions.

This happens when there are too many similar-looking options or there’s an excess of information and the customer gives up. They know they need to buy something, so they make a hasty purchase just to “get it over with”. As a result, the company ends up having to deal with more returns and refunds because of unsatisfied customers. And they will cost you.

Your website already has enough competition to contend with, so why create competition for your visitors’ attention internally?

What Web Designers Can Do to Reduce Design Fatigue

If you or your client want your website to convert, you really need to think about the ways you’re forcing them to stop and wonder: “Which one do I choose?”

Whether your website sells content, services, or products, less is always going to be more in terms of decision-making. And this isn’t about how many products you sell on a website. This is about how you frame every individual decision leading up to conversion.

Here are some examples of where decision fatigue may take place and how to reduce friction there:

1. CLEAR UP THE NAVIGATION

With smaller websites and more narrowly-focused businesses, you won’t have to worry about this too much. With big stores, however, the navigation can get you into a lot of trouble if you don’t organize it well. – Read more

3 Unconventional Ways to Use Automated Bidding

My Post - 2019-09-20T112422.208.pngSmart bidding has been around for a good amount of time now which hopefully means you’ve been able to play around with it on your accounts.

Everyone always seems to jump to their largest search campaigns to test it out but there are some really creative ways to use these strategies across the funnel.

As a reminder, there are some recommendations and best practices to keep in mind when deciding to opt into these strategies. For a month in-depth summary, check out a previous post of mine that takes a closer look at smart bidding.

Specifics to Look At:

Automated bidding will not work just because you have to put it in the right environment for success. Some specific things I like to keep in mind when deciding on a strategy are as follows:

  • Have we had at least 15 (but closer to 30) conversions in the last 30 days?
  • What is our impression share and overall goal of the campaign? A low impression share means maximize conversions will likely work better.

Here are some unconventional ways you can start to think about using automated bidding.

Display Remarketing:

Since you’re already filtering things down to a qualified audience, you may have never thought about tapping into Google’s bidding features here. Let’s face it, you’re likely spending a lot less here too than going after new customers too.

Display can be a bit of a tricky area with weird placements, a pretty large variance in CPCs depending on the website, and a whole host of other things. By using either Target CPA or Maximize Conversions, Google should do a lot of the placement work for you and really go after the best customer at the end of the day.

You’ll want to ensure you’re not excluding quality traffic mistakenly but this could be a great option to extract some additional performance out of Display. – Read more