Archiv für den Monat: Oktober 2017

Duplicate content FAQ: What is it, and how should you deal with it?

SE Ranking

There are a few questions that have been confusing the SEO industry for many years. No matter how many times Google representatives try to clear the confusion, some myths persist.

One such question is the widely discussed issue of duplicate content. What is it, are you being penalized for it, and how can you avoid it?

Let’s try to clear up some of the confusion by answering some frequently-asked (or frequently-wondered) questions about duplicate content.

How can you diagnose a duplicate content penalty?

It’s funny how some of the readers of this article are rolling their eyes right now reading the first subheading. But let’s deal with this myth first thing.

There is no duplicate content penalty. None of Google’s representatives has ever confirmed the existence of such a penalty; there were no algorithmic updates called “duplicate content”; and there can never be such a penalty because in the overwhelming number of cases, duplicate content is a natural thing with no evil intent behind that. We know that, and Google knows that.

Still, lots of SEO experts keep “diagnosing” a duplicate content “penalty” when they analyze every other website.

Duplicate content is often mentioned in conjunction with updates like Panda and Fred, but it is used to identify bigger issues, i.e. thin or spammy (“spun”, auto-generated, etc.) and stolen (scraped) content.

Unless you have the latter issue, a few instances of duplicate content throughout your site cannot cause an isolated penalty.

Google keeps urging website owners to focus on high-quality expert content, which is your safest bet when it comes to avoiding having your pages flagged as a result of thin content.

You do want to handle your article republishing strategy carefully, because you don’t want to confuse Google when it comes to finding the actual source of the content. You don’t want to have your site pages filtered when you republish your article on an authoritative blog. But if it does happen, chances are, it will not reflect on how Google treats your overall site.

In short, duplicate content is a filter, not a penalty, meaning that Google has to choose one of the URLs with non-original content and filter out the rest.

So should I just stop worrying about internal duplicate content then?

In short, no. It’s like you don’t want to ignore a recurring headache: it’s not that a headache is a disease on its own, but it may be a symptom of a more serious condition, so you want to clear those out or treat them if there are any.

Duplicate content may signal some structural issues within your site, preventing Google from understanding what they should rank and what matters most on your site. And generally, while Google is getting much better at understanding how to handle different instances of the same content within your site, you still don’t want to ever confuse Google.

Internal duplicate content may signal a lack of original content on your site too, which is another problem you’ll need to deal with.

Google wants original content in their SERPs for obvious reasons: They don’t want their users to land on the same content over and over again. That’s a bad user experience. So Google will have to figure out which non-unique pages they want to show to their users and which ones to hide.

That’s where a problem can occur: The more pages on your site have original content, the more Google positions they may be able to appear at throughout different search queries.

If you want to know whether your site has any internal duplicate content issues, try using tools like SE Ranking, which crawls your website and analyzes whether there are any URLs with duplicate content Google may be confused about:

How does Google choose which non-original URLs to rank and which to filter out?

You’d think Google would want to choose the more authoritative post (based on various signals including backlinks), and they probably do.

But what they also do is choose the shorter URL when they find two more pages with identical URLs:

Duplicate content

How about international websites? Can translated content pose a duplicate content issue?

This question was addressed by Matt Cutts back in 2011. In short, translated content doesn’t pose any duplicate content issues even if it’s translated very closely to the original.

There’s one word of warning though: Don’t publish automated translation using tools like Google Translate because Google is very good at identifying those. If you do so, you run into risk of having your content labeled as spammy.

Use real translators whom you can find using platforms like Fiverr, Upwork and Preply. You can find high-quality translators and native speakers there on a low budget.

Translation

Look for native speakers in your target language who can also understand your base language

You are also advised to use the hreflang attribute to point Google to the actual language you are using on a regional version of your website.

How about different versions of the website across different localized domains?

This can be tricky, because it’s not easy to come up with completely different content when putting up two different websites with the same products for the US and the UK, for example. But you still don’t want Google to choose.

Two workarounds:

  • Focus on local traditions, jargon, history, etc. whenever possible
  • Choose the country you want to focus on from within Search Console for all localized domains except .com.

There’s another old video from Matt Cutts which explains this issue and the solution:

Are there any other duplicate-content-related questions you’d like to be covered? Please comment below!

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

5 More WordPress SEO Enhancements You Wish You Had

WordPress.org has 52000 plugins

5 More WordPress SEO Enhancements You Wish You Had was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Are there certain things you wish you could accomplish with your SEO in WordPress, but the functionality is just not there? Me, too.

Last time I wrote about WordPress SEO enhancements, I talked about the popularity of WordPress as a platform for some of the world’s best-known websites. I also discussed the challenges that WordPress presents for doing SEO effectively, further challenged by the gap in functionality of SEO plugins out there today, even with 52,000 WordPress plugins in the marketplace.

So I created a list of WordPress SEO enhancements we wish we had, including:

  • A plugin that allows you to focus on optimizing for more than one keyword
  • A plugin that clearly shows where the keywords are in the content
  • A plugin that shows the content creator how their content and their site are performing
  • A plugin that alerts you to problems with mobile usability and performance

At the end of the last post I asked for your vote. We wanted to know what functionality you would like to see in WordPress SEO, and here are the results:

Which of these WordPress enhancements do you want from an SEO plugin?
wordpres enhancements survey

Today, I’ll outline five more WordPress SEO enhancements you wish you had and why.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 1: You Can’t View Customized Keyword Recommendations

Existing WordPress SEO plugins make recommendations for keywords based on fixed SEO best practices, rather than customized guidance per keyword. The problem with that is best practices are good to know, but experienced SEOs realize that each keyword creates its own playing field in the search engine results pages.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 1: You Can’t View Customized Keyword Recommendations

We know that content is one of the top ranking factors, and so search engines will analyze all the top pages about a topic as a population to determine what attributes they share in their content.

This includes things like the total word count, title tag length, meta description length, the number of times keyword is used, the reading level and other factors.

The search engines will evaluate a newly published web page against the top competitors for a query to see how many of those top attributes it shares before the page is ranked among them.

Wouldn’t it be nice if an SEO plugin could size-up the competitors and tell you, for example, how long your page needs to be before you publish? Or, how many times a given keyword should appear?

The gap: A plugin that evaluates the top-ranked pages for your keywords in real-time, and then gives actual recommendations for keyword usage in tags and content, even word count, based upon these competitors. Just reporting usage is easy, but recommendations is what is needed.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 2: You Can’t See Content History per Keyword

As your website ages, you add more and more content. And, more people author those pages and posts, leaving it hard to know how many times you’ve written about a topic in the past at-a-glance, and how those posts are performing.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 2: You Can’t See Content History per Keyword

Today’s WordPress SEO plugins don’t address those challenges. For example, when choosing what keyword to focus on when creating content, it would be helpful to see:

  • The keywords you’ve already used in previous posts
  • How many posts or pages you’ve written for each keyword
  • How well those pages or posts are doing, for example, average rank, page views, clicks, impressions and click-through rates

There are ways to stitch this information together outside of WordPress by looking at Google Search Console and Google Analytics, but this takes time and resources away from the goal: creating more targeted content.

The gap: A plugin that shows how much content has been written on your site per keyword, and how each of those pages or posts are actually performing using Google Analytics data.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 3: You Can’t Gamify Publishing

Are you able to quickly tell who the top-performing authors are on your website? Within WordPress today, you can see a list of all your pages or posts, but you can’t tell which pages are your top performers and who authored those, and that can change daily or weekly.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 3: You Can’t Gamify Publishing

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about the need to see top-performing posts and pages to influence your plan for new content:

When you don’t know which posts are resonating in organic search, it can hinder planning for future posts and social media campaigns. You’re basically flying blind.

Knowing which posts and topics are succeeding allows you to create more winning content. It also helps you avoid wasting time promoting content with high bounce rates or which generates little interest and little traffic to your site.

What you want is “unicorn” content — your very best, standout content. You want to be able to find your best content, amplify it, and then make more like it. You can only do this with analytics data informing you of the unicorns in the herd.

But what if you could also easily see how many posts an author has on the website, and how many of those posts are top performers? Things like page views and time on page could be useful metrics to gauge this by.

How could an organization use this data? Let’s say you’re a news publisher with hundreds of contributors, and you want to incentivize authors to properly optimize their posts so they gain more traffic.

With access to data that shows top-performing posts per author, you can stir up some healthy competition amongst contributors, and in turn, reward those top authors with recognition or goodies.

The gap: A plugin that shows the top performing posts or pages per author/contributor to the website as measured by actual visitors over a selectable period of time.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 4: You Don’t Know if You Have Duplicate Content

Google may not have an official penalty for duplicate content on your site, but when pages are too similar, the search engines filter out the “duplicates” from the search results. That equals less real estate for your website. If it happens a lot, your site might appear low quality. These outcomes make duplicate content an SEO concern.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 4: You Don’t Know if You Have Duplicate Content

Today, publishers can gather data about duplicate titles and meta descriptions in Google Search Console. If you’re on top of it, you’ll check regularly and fix those issues — but it’s easy to neglect.

That’s why website publishers using WordPress don’t have an easy way to know if they’re inadvertently creating duplicate content. This can happen, for example, when someone copies an existing title tag or meta description, or if someone mistakenly publishes the same page under two different URLs. Using canonical tags can prevent the auto-generated types of URLs from being indexed as duplicates — and your SEO plugin should add a canonical tag automatically, if your settings are right — but this is no cure for the inadvertent duplication of content in newly created pages.

The gap: A plugin that easily notifies website publishers when there is a possibility of duplicate content, like meta information or the content on a page.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 5: You Don’t Understand Your Content’s Reading Level Score

Reading level is just one of the many criteria that search engine algorithms may take into account when evaluating web pages against one another.

Coffee Break Reading Travel Book Lifestyle Concept

SEO Plugin Gap No. 5: You Don’t Understand Your Content’s Reading Level Score

Knowing a page’s or post’s reading level score, such as that generated by the Flesch-Kincaid readability tests can help you ensure your content is on par with the competition in the search results. The Yoast SEO plugin today does offer readability guidance that gives general recommendations on how to improve the overall ease of reading of your content, but there isn’t a plugin today that tailors reading level to the keyword.

As I mentioned earlier, each keyword query can have its own set of signals when it comes to the search engine algorithms, so readability scores can vary based on the type of query, for example, a medical query versus a shopping query.

The gap: A plugin that presents a readability goal based on your keywords and assesses the reading level on your pages and posts so the author can instantly know if the new content is on par with the competition at the top of the search results.

What WordPress Is Missing

Let’s face it, WordPress is in the business of WordPress, not the business of SEO.

WordPress is not exactly SEO enabled by default and finding the right plugins to help you accomplish everything you want in SEO can be a challenge. Consider my wish list and ask yourself if your job would be easier or goals closer to accomplishing with the right tool.

If you like this post or want to commiserate with a friend or colleague about the gap in the WordPress SEO plugin marketplace, please share.

If you have friends that could benefit from improved WordPress SEO guidance, then share this post series with them. And if you just like how we think, then tell everyone.

Source:: bruceclay.com

Do you need a PPC management expert?

The eternal question for businesses both large and small: should you run your marketing in-house, or should you hire an expert?

There are numerous factors to take into account including level of expertise, the complexity of the campaign, existing internal resources and the management fee of said expert.

We’ll come clean. Most of these types of articles are written by an agency of some sort and will therefore naturally have a tendency to be biased towards the benefits of external help. Some would call it bias, some would call it scaremongering.

This article has also been written by an agency, but one looking to give as objective a view as possible. The truth is that both options are completely viable when everything goes to plan. In turn, both options can have significant downsides when those cogs do not turn quite as smoothly as intended.

Note: We previously explored this topic on Search Engine Watch back in 2014. I will include some of the points made in the aforementioned article, as well as adding some new ones.

Cost effectiveness

On the face of it, one of the main points of the argument boils down to cost effectiveness. For a business, the obvious question is: why would you pay a potentially hefty management fee if you could find the time in-house and do it yourself? Especially when PPC is just a bidding system, and does not require design or development skills.

Dig a little deeper, though, and there are key questions that you need to ask yourself on both sides of the coin.

Using an agency

  • How does the management fee stack up against the actual PPC spend and subsequent ROI offered by the campaign?
  • More importantly, what is the risk profile of the agency not hitting the expected ROI and as such their management fee actually removing all of the margin in the campaign?

Managing the campaign in-house

  • Do you actually have the in-house resources to properly manage a campaign, or are you just going to try (unsuccessfully) to squeeze more time out of an already busy team? How will this impact other critical daily tasks within the business (i.e. opportunity cost)?
  • If you are hiring a new person to run the campaign, what are their total costs? Basic salary is an initial indicator but what about benefits, pension, increased desk costs?
  • Furthermore, is this something that you are committed to for the mid to long term? Hiring someone is easy, but if this is their sole responsibility, they may become an unnecessary part of your cost base should you not continue with the campaign. In the UK and EU especially, you can’t then just get rid of this unfortunate soul without going through a somewhat arduous process which will likely involve additional costs such as redundancy pay.

As you can see above, assessing the cost effectiveness of agency vs in-house involves a whole swathe of variables. No two businesses are the same, and as such, applying a standard equation to this situation is simply not possible.

Hopefully you will have enough information available to put together your own version of this equation and come to a decision with regards to the cost effectiveness of a PPC expert.

It all depends on the level of knowledge

Knowledge is power, or in the case of PPC, knowledge and experience will result in a campaign that outperforms one managed by a beginner. You might get lucky, but as with most things in life, the more experienced practitioner will come out on top.

Taking this into account when looking at how to manage a PPC campaign (agency or in-house), you must first look at the level of knowledge within your team.

The fundamentals of a bidding system and focusing on search terms that deliver ROI for the business are easy to grasp. However, to really squeeze the benefits of your spend on PPC you simply need to know what you are doing. Of course this required level of knowledge is only likely to increase with more complex campaigns.

As mentioned in the previous blog post on this topic, having an expert conduct the initial research and set up the campaign is often a cost effective method of making sure that the campaign gets off on the right foot. Much like an initial SEO audit, gettting an expert to set up the campaign could provide you with a sufficiently stable foundation to then manage the campaign in-house.

Again, we have seen a plethora of pretty decent campaigns that have been set up by business owners after doing their own research so it still comes back to the level of knowledge (and time) available to you.

How far do you want to go?

There is a reason why different marketing campaigns have different associated costs. Some are very simple, single product localised campaigns whereas others may involve national or international coverage with thousands of individual products.

Generally speaking, the more complex the campaign, the higher the budget, and therefore the higher the risk liability of an underperforming campaign. It doesn’t just come down to bid adjustments.

Great digital marketing campaigns break down the barriers between departments and channels. Teams now communicate with one another instead of remaining in their silos, combining to generate greater results than the sum of their individual parts.

As mentioned back in 2014, using an agency does give you access to more than just PPC experts at the top of their game. An awesome PPC campaign will also pull in web design experts, taking into account UX/UI, conversion rate optimization, content writing and remarketing (among others).

In sport it is often referred to as ‘marginal gains‘, although you’ll find that an overhaul of your website’s user flow could deliver far more than just a marginal gain. Access to multiple disciplines is what you potentially turn your back on when running a campaign in house and it can make or break a campaign.

The core functions apply to the aforementioned single product campaign just as much as they do to the international campaign; it’s just that the latter has more to lose. As campaigns increase in complexity, there comes a point where you need to fully commit to the process and give the campaign the very best chance of success.

In this case, it is worth handing it over to a team that specializes in PPC.

Money talks!

In the end, the likelihood is that if you put an agency’s campaign next to one that has been run in house you would imagine that the additional level of expertise and experience would mean that the agency’s campaign would produce better results. All other things being equal you would choose the agency nine times out of ten.

The elephant in the room is of course the agency fees.

Yes, you could argue that in-house teams have a higher level of industry knowledge, or that a PPC expert will be able to make sense of the campaign dashboard and utilize some of the more advanced tools. But you already know this. That argument is pretty clear (and well covered!).

It all comes down to money. In basic terms, how much money will you get in return for the corresponding costs?

Agencies often have a minimum fee associated with PPC campaigns. Therefore if your budget for PPC is particularly modest, for the sake of argument let’s say £500 per month, you will probably find that the agency fees will exceed the margin made from the campaign.

Remember to look at your internal margins rather than revenue! In this case it is likely that having an expert set up the campaign initially will be the only option that would produce a meaningful ROI.

On the other hand, if the agency fee is only a small percentage of the total budget spend and in turn, the margins from the campaign exceed the agency fee then it makes sense. As the Americans love to say, “if it makes money it makes sense”. The agency provides a higher level of expertise, and may also allow you the flexibility to stop the campaign at any moment.

One size doesn’t fit all

Hopefully my ramblings have shown that this not a one size fits all argument. There are simply too many variables.

My advice would be to base your decision on real world facts. For example, we often see business owners try to run campaigns themselves (or ask one of their team to do it) without seriously considering the time expenditure required. Trust us when we say that if you don’t have the time, it won’t get done. You’ll end up spending a chunk of money for three months and then giving up without making any adjustments.

On the other hand, if you do have the time you could find yourself getting to grips with the campaign and increasing your sales as a result. It may even mean that you can reduce spend on other marketing channels, all without having to pay an agency fee.

Consider your options before making a decision. Don’t just do PPC for the sake of doing it; there should be a real business case put forward which will provide real data as to whether hiring a PPC expert is going to be a viable option.

If it transpires that running the campaign in-house is going to work in the real world, then great, go for it! Be flexible, be realistic and you should find yourself making the right decision. Remember – both options can work.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

3 Mouth-Watering Content Marketing Case Studies That Bring Home the Bacon

If you’ve ever been pregnant, lived with a woman who’s pregnant or even just been around a pregnant woman, you can guess it is not smart to lie to a woman who’s pregnant about food.

Well that’s how I felt today. 6 months along and in arrives a marketing email with the subject line: “[Infographic] Good Marketing starts with good snacks.” Yes, I understand, I’m not literally going to get any food out of this, but I expect to see some mouth-watering graphics upon opening the email. Nope.

Instead I found food references in the copy like “Are you giving your prospects nourishing snacks or asking them to bite off more than they can chew?” and “Make your content highly snackable”. Still, this email teased me enough to click on the CTA to the infographic: Surely within it food will reside!

The infographic was 100% unrelated to food. This is what I call an unfulfilled promise.

As content creators, it’s our job to catch our audience’s attention. Check, done. But it is also our jobs to pay off what we’ve promised the audience within our content.

So, today, my promise – like my headline, title tag and meta description state – is to fill your senses with mouth-watering case studies of money-making campaigns. In following best practices, like delivering on a promise, this content has been able to drive outstanding results, bringing home the bacon for brands. Oh, and I might include some tasty food pics. I mean, “mouth-watering” and “bacon” are in my headline.

Paid-First Digital Marketing Strategy Drove Impressive ROI in Month One

The Strategy:

A new client came to TopRank Marketing recently craving customers – FAST. Sound familiar? But seriously, this B2B startup needed to see ROI as the first course – not dessert – in order to be able to keep investing. In addition, they were looking for support in SEO, developing landing pages in the short-term and gathering the insights needed to create a long-term organic content strategy.

We used AdWords to drive leads quickly and to test keyword viability for the landing page content and to help inform the upcoming organic content plan.

The Results:

Just four weeks after launch, we had driven 18 leads with an average CPL of $192. For this client, a single lead has the average value of $5,000-$20,000 (and sometimes up to $100,000) in revenue. In talking with the client, we were able to uncover that within one month we had driven roughly $10,000-$75,000 in ROI.

Takeaway for Marketers:

Don’t get discouraged by tight timelines. Hyper focus on your core marketing objectives and pivot to tactics that you know can fulfill them – even if it seems out of order. Just be sure to set expectations with your leadership team as to why you’re making a shift, what your hypothesis is and what results you anticipate.


Focus on core marketing objectives and pivot tactics that you know can fulfill them.
Click To Tweet


Interactive, Multi-Channel Campaign Resulted in 4% Lift in Market Share, 12M Media Impressions

The Strategy:

By now you’ve heard about and likely drank at least one can of Coca Cola that held the “Share a Coke” campaign branding. Did you know the campaign started in Australia? The challenge was Coke had lost its relevance among Australians leaving sales in a not so happy place.

Coca Cola added the 150 most popular names to their cans and bottles, changing their biggest piece of advertising real estate. Supporting tactics from traditional to digital platforms rolled out from there: #ShareACoke hashtag, apps, an interactive website, outdoor billboards, interactive kiosks in top city centers and more.

Customers fueled digital content for the #ShareACoke campaign.

The Results:

From the initial campaign, in Australia alone, Coke earned 12 million media impressions, a 7% increase in young adult consumption and a 4% increase in sales across the category. With this success, Coca Cola has pushed it out to nearly 60 markets since their 2011 launch and have continued to add additional tactics. One of the more recent additions aimed to turn the enthusiasm for the campaign into even more revenue and earned advertising. To achieve this, Coke has begun selling personalized bottles and gear.

Takeaway for Marketers:

B2B or B2C – A truly impactful campaign integrates with the entire customer experience. Just because your packaging department is in a different building or state from your digital advertising or SEO departments doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t work together. Put your heads together across disciplines to unlock potential you never saw before.


A truly impactful marketing campaign integrates with the entire customer experience.
Click To Tweet


Consistent Publishing and Strategic Partnerships Drove 15.5% Increase in Revenue

The Strategy:

When this B2B and B2C eCommerce company came to TopRank Marketing wanting to drive sales, we knew a breadth of integrated tactics would be the way to reach their lofty revenue goals. And, we saw a huge opportunity to leverage co-created content with influencers and other brands as a way to drive stronger brand awareness. To reach their objectives, we deployed a strong marketing mix of weekly blogs, co-created influencer content, SEO, organic social, paid social and AdWords.

The Results:

In just under one year, we were able to drive a 14.4% increase in organic traffic, and 7.7% overall. The even more appetizing part of the story is these traffic spikes resulted in a 23.7% increase in organic revenue year over year; 15.5% increase in overall website revenue year over year!

Takeaway for Marketers:

A consistent cadence of relevant, SEO-driven blog content set the foundation for success for this client. And, what really made the difference was our strategic partnerships with influencers and other brands. The co-created content bolstered brand awareness in a way this brand had never before seen.


Use SEO & content to set the foundation and form strategic partnerships with influencers.
Click To Tweet


Are You Bringing Home the Bacon?

Hopefully, you just read all of that and thought, “I know. I already do all of that. I eat unlimited bacon!” If that’s you – fantastic! Are you looking for a job? We’re always open to strengthening our team!

But all joking aside, a wise marketer knows there is always more to learn. Keep up on the latest digital marketing trends and tactics by following our blog, or if you’re interested in learning what TopRank Marketing can do to help your business bring home the bacon, please, reach out today.


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
3 Mouth-Watering Content Marketing Case Studies That Bring Home the Bacon | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post 3 Mouth-Watering Content Marketing Case Studies That Bring Home the Bacon appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com

Google AdWords: The Beginner’s Guide

Adwords

Google AdWords is a staple platform for the vast majority of digital marketing strategies. However, marketers need to get things right from the outset to avoid costly inefficiencies.

This guide will provide everything you need to know to get an AdWords account up and running, and set for success.

The digital marketing industry has grown in tandem with Google AdWords, to the extent that the two are linked inextricably.

Of every dollar spent on digital advertising in the US 42 cents goes to Google, and the search giant brought in 96% of its revenues in 2016 from pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

It is easy to see why the format has such enduring appeal. Any business can get started and making money on AdWords in a few simple steps, with Google providing plentiful support along the way.

The business model is beautifully crafted to fulfill a marketer’s needs; you only pay when a user takes out your desired action (normally a click, a call, or a purchase), so the return on investment is clear and controlled.

Moreover, consumers are explicitly stating their intent when they search. If I owned a sleepwear store, for example, (and it’ll always be the dream), I would love to be front and center when my target audience searches for [buy lounging pants online]. AdWords allows us to do just that.

There’s more to AdWords‘ lure than that, of course. Google processes well over 1 trillion searches per year, all of which are saleable assets to data-hungry brands and marketers.

Factor in the increasingly granular audience targeting and remarketing options Google can offer and the potency of this offering becomes very clear.

Although Google didn’t invent pay-per-click advertising, they certainly refined it and developed the proposition into a sophisticated, multi-billion dollar industry.

Its slick interface (recently upgraded to make it even more user-friendly) can get brands spending very quickly, but there is a subtle blend of art and science behind a successful PPC campaign.

Getting the basics right from day one can be the difference between an underwhelming PPC account and a very profitable one.

This guide is written with that aim in mind; to get beginners up and running on AdWords through a combination of definitions, tips, and best practices.

Although AdWords offers options for Display, Shopping, App, and Video campaigns, we will narrow our focus to AdWords Search campaigns within this article.

Search Network

Quick Links:

Stage 1: Keyword and audience research

The first stage of setting up an AdWords campaign is to understand the level of consumer demand for your brand and products. We can approach this by defining which business objectives we wish to deliver on by using paid search marketing to provide some structure to the process.

AdWords can be expensive, so consider where it fits in alongside your other marketing efforts. PPC and SEO are typically included within the same keyword strategy, given the obvious interplay between the two on search results pages. Often, PPC can cover gaps in SEO visibility or help to strengthen good SEO performance by doubling a brand’s presence for high-priority keywords.

This will become a more significant factor at the later stages of AdWords account setup, but it is a good idea to start thinking about how PPC fits alongside other marketing channels as early as possible.

Furthermore, there is a lot of work that can be done outside of the AdWords interface to get your PPC campaign off to a great start.

Google Keyword Planner is a useful tool, no doubt, but it is not the only resource we should look to for audience research. Before delving into the AdWords interface, marketers should:

  • Survey current customers: Find out what customers see as the brand’s unique proposition and what keeps them coming back to purchase.
  • Speak to the customer service team: Customer service teams hold invaluable data on the most frequent areas of strengths and weakness cited by consumers about the business. Use this information either to accentuate positives or counteract negative perceptions.
  • Strategize with other departments: Brainstorm some ideas about the brand, its products, and what exactly the company is hoping to achieve by using AdWords. Every department can score the proposed keyword categories by their level of importance to their business function, which helps to create a wider view on the PPC strategy beyond the digital marketing team.
  • Research the competition: Third party tools can give a really good sense of how your competitors are approaching paid search. This will help you to understand the landscape and also gain some tips on which keywords might be valuable additions to your list.

This will naturally lead to some core product names and concepts, which can be used to generate a keyword list and to shape ad copy tests at a later stage.

From here, we can enter the Google ecosystem and plug in our keywords to see the search volumes and projected costs for our campaigns. The AdWords keyword planner will reveal how frequently a keyword is searched and how much it typically costs when a user clicks on a paid listing.

Google will also automatically suggest a variety of relevant, popular keywords that are semantically linked to your seed list of terms.

AdWords Keyword Planner

It can be easy to get carried away, but stay focused on the essential volume drivers for your business. The account can always be expanded later, so start with a smaller set of keywords to get a sense of the market and familiarize yourself with AdWords.

We are fortunate to have both the technology and the data at our disposal today to go deeper than just bidding on keywords. Another level of segmentation can be added by including audience data on consumer demographics, interests, past website behavior, or location.

These will be explored later; for now, we have our initial list of keywords that we know our brand wants to advertise for.

Stage 2: Keyword match types

Of course, people don’t always search for the same products in exactly the same way. An identical search intent (to get more information or to buy something, for example) can be expressed using myriad terminologies.

Someone hoping to purchase lounging pants from a sleepwear store may search [buy lounging pants online], but they could also type or say [where can i buy lounging pants nearby], or simply [lounging pants].

If my objective is to sell more of this product, I don’t want to restrict my visibility to just a few of these variations. I want to match my brand to this purchase intent in as many relevant situations as possible.

That’s where keyword match types come in. Match types can both restrict visibility and allow Google’s technology to make decisions on our behalf about which keywords are relevant enough to display our ad.

Broad match

This match type, as the name suggests, allows most room for interpretation. I can tell Google that I want to bid on, and have my ads shown for, any search queries related to lounging pants and it will do so for terms as varied as [red mens pants for lounging] and [tartan lounging pants store near me]. My ad could also show for synonyms of my defined terms and for different combinations that include both of the specified words.

Phrase match

Phrase match provides more control for the advertiser. This time if I say I want to bid on “lounging pants” (phrase match keywords are always written within quotation marks), my ad can show up when these two words appear in this order, but they can be accompanied by other modifiers. For example, [lounging pants for women] or [stripy lounging pants] would be valid within this match type.

Exact match

Exact match is something of a misnomer. It lets advertisers specify the exact terms they want to be displayed against, but it is not 100% accurate. Google made some controversial changes earlier this year to the format, meaning that keyword targets set as exact match can show up against close variants of the defined term.

To go back to our imaginary sleepwear store, if I set [lounging pants nyc] (exact match phrases are always written between square brackets) as my target, I could have an ad served against [lounging pants in nyc] or even [nyc lounging pants]. That can be problematic, of course, and there is a script to make exact match, well, exact, here.

To get our account up and running Google’s out-of-the-box solution is fine, but inspect your search query reports to see how exact this match type has been.

For more on the differences between broad match, exact match and phrase match keywords, check out Amanda DiSilvestro’s guide to common PPC keyword mistakes.

Negatives

Negatives are an essential part of keyword setup. Negative matches allow us to specify any queries or modifiers that we categorically do not want to show against. For example, I may not want to display an ad for any lounging pants terms that include “used” or “second hand”, for obvious reasons.

I also may not sell certain brands, colors, or styles, so I can add these to my negatives list and upload them to AdWords. This brings an essential element of control for brands, as most companies have a clear idea both of how they do and do not want to be perceived by customers.

A combination of the above is usually best and the optimal balance between them can be found through testing and optimisation. Exact match is great for targeting, but it restricts reach. Broad match will get impressions, but they won’t always be the ones you want.

Tweaking the negatives list and shifting the focus on a keyword level between exact, phrase, and broad will yield good results to advertisers that pay close attention and are prepared to change tack.

Stage 3: Creating PPC ads

Now that we have defined the keywords we want to target and the match type variations we plan to utilize, we can start to create our ad copy. This is a really crucial element of AdWords setup and the right ad copy can significantly improve the click-through rate (CTR) your ads receive.

Even with the right targeting and the right bid strategy, there is no guarantee of traffic. Always consider why a prospect would stop and choose your brand over everything else calling for their attention on a search results page.

Google introduced a new standard for PPC ads, known as Expanded Text Ads (ETA), last year. As the name implies, these provide more scope for advertisers to communicate with their audience and they are designed with mobile devices in mind.

ETAs

Expanded Text Ads are comprised of the following elements:

  • Headline: Two 30 character headline fields, which can appear side by side or on separate lines, depending on the size of a user’s screen.
  • Description: One 80 character field, within which you should try to highlight the core reasons prospects should engage with your ad over others.
  • Destination URL: This is the landing page users will be sent through to, so it is worth spending time testing different landing pages to see which perform best for specific queries. The destination URL will be tied directly to your Quality Score, which we will get to in the next section.

These fields will be displayed as follows within the AdWords interface:

ETA in interface

A best practice in this area is to create 2 or 3 ad copy variations and test the effectiveness of each in a controlled environment.

Google has also created a helpful walk-through to help users navigate the platform as they create their ads:

Ad extensions

Advertisers have access to a wide variety of extensions, allowing them to highlight offers, benefits, or unique selling points to their intended audience. These also bring the advantage of taking up more space on search results pages, which can have a positive effect on click-through rate.

As we can see in the example below for the query [car insurance], advertisers are making the most of these new formats to take up as much valuable real estate as possible.

Car Insurance PPC

We won’t go into detail on ad extensions within this guide, but it is worth knowing that some appear automatically while others require input from advertisers before they show. You can read more here about the list of possible extensions.

Stage 4: Setting up ad groups and campaigns

We are now ready to start categorizing our keywords and ads into ad groups.

This can be achieved by separating out your products and services and creating an ad group for each. If we go back to our sleepwear example, we can illustrate a clear and logical approach for achieving this.

Ad GroupEach of these ad groups will have 2-3 ad copy variations, which can be updated on an ongoing basis as performance data arrives in the account. Each keyword, of course, can be set to the match types outlined above.

After I have tested out this product, I may decide to branch out into the pajama market. This is where we need to introduce the concept of campaigns, which sit at a level above both keywords and ad groups.

AdWords Campaigns

In a nutshell: keywords make up ad groups, and ad groups make up campaigns.

There is no obvious reward for starting with a huge array of ad groups; in fact, this lessens your level of control over performance. When getting set up, it is best to begin with a smaller sub-set of core products as this will help performance and allow you to learn from the data much faster.

Some marketers even prefer to isolate keywords into their own ad groups, if they are particularly profitable. This strategy brings a lot more control, but it is labor-intensive and restricts the amount of data that can be used for optimization within the ad group.

Stage 5: The fundamentals of AdWords bidding

The AdWords auction dictates how much you pay for each action and in which position your ad will show for the selected keywords.

First of all, it is important to know that AdWords operates as a sealed, second-price auction. This is explained clearly by Cornell University:

“The auction is a sealed-bid auction because advertisers do not know what other advertisers are bidding. The highest bidder wins the auction and gets their advertisement placed on specific pages for specific users, but pays the price of the second highest bidder plus $0.01. The $0.01 is to differentiate the highest bidder from the second highest bidder and to allow the highest advertiser to outbid the next highest bid. This type of auction awards the advertiser with the highest bid but sells the advertisement slot to the highest advertiser at the price of the second highest bid.”

Therefore, what you bid is not always what you pay. A second consideration is that budgets are set as a daily limit; however, Google has recently decided to allow accounts to spend up to double this amount each day as long as they are still hitting their campaign targets.

This is evened out over the course of a month, and Google will never charge advertisers more than 30.4 (the average number of days in a month) times their daily budget. So if your account spends double the daily limit on a frequent basis early in the month, you could max out the budget rather quickly.

Luckily, there is a very helpful script that will allow you to keep some control over this.

Now, when it comes to bidding, we can split out the two main options as automated or manual.

Automated Bidding

Google uses a range of advanced machine learning technologies and rule-based automation to deliver maximum value to advertisers in its auctions. We can therefore tell Google what our objective is, how much we are willing to pay to achieve it, and let the algorithms do the bidding on our behalf.

automated

That makes automated bidding sound appealing, but there are enough cautionary tales in the industry to suggest it must be approached with some reservation.

Ceding control to Google altogether can lead to very costly campaigns and, while setting a sensible ceiling on maximum bids can help, automated bidding can still lead to inefficient spend. Machine learning systems feed off data and learn from feedback, which means budget can be spent in a wide range of areas to gain this knowledge.

Manual bidding

For a beginner, manual bidding is a great way to start. This option provides control, quick feedback, and the ability to adjust bids quickly based on performance. Although it gets more difficult to stick with manual bidding as an account increases in size and complexity, nascent accounts with a small set of ad groups will benefit from this approach.

Google has also added the option to adjust bids based on a user’s device type. This welcome feature means marketers can increase their bids for specific queries on a mobile device, for example, if they know that this device type typically converts better than desktop. This is reflective of user behavior, as people tend to use their mobile and desktop for different purposes.

Quality score

Quality Score is a fundamental aspect of Google AdWords bidding, as it will dictate how much a brand pays for clicks. The intention behind Quality Score is simple: Google wants to ensure that relevant ads show against its searches and also wants to deter low-quality websites from manipulating the system to gain high ranking positions.

AdWords depends on its high quantity of searches, after all, so Google needs to ensure users have a positive searching experience or they may take their business elsewhere.

The exact formula behind Quality Score is not publicly known, but we can make some safe assumptions. The score is on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being given to irrelevant ads and landing pages, and 10 awarded to brands that match the user’s intent with a relevant ad and a great landing page experience.

Quality Score is calculated at a keyword level, so you could even see different scores within the same ad group. Again, there is plenty of room for experimentation and it is worth the work, as a high Quality Score can make your budget go a lot further.

Wordstream created a helpful image to illustrate how this works:

Wordstream

Ad Rank is explained in more detail here, but suffice to say this metric determines which position your ads will appear in on search results pages.

Google recently added a long-awaited feature that allows advertisers to view historical Quality Score, which now allows us to view any positive or negative trends over time. There is plenty more information on Historical Quality Score in this thorough guide.

Stage 6: Reviewing and optimizing performance

To get the best possible results from Google AdWords, marketers need to keep a close eye on their performance and be prepared to make adjustments. There are four metrics in particular to keep abreast of, which can be segmented by dimensions such as device type, demographic factors, or location.

Click-through rate (CTR): Clicks/Impressions

Conversion rate (CVR): Conversions/Clicks

Cost-per-click (CPC): Spend/Clicks

Cost-per-acquisition (CPA): Spend/Conversions

The steps outlined above will get your AdWords campaign up and running with the right foundations in place. There is a huge amount more to this platform and advertisers are rewarded for investing the time in more advanced features.

However, this all starts with the basics and as long as marketers monitor performance and are open to new strategies, the more complex pieces will naturally fall into place over time.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com