More Reasons to Make the Mobile Move

According to a recent Q1 2016 Digital Marketing Report by Merkle, Google was a major driver of smartphone usage in the first quarter, driving 95 percent of US smartphone paid search clicks.

Most notable, however, is the fact that Google is far ahead of its search engine competition, Bing and Yahoo, when it comes to driving and converting mobile search traffic. Combine this with a recent article that explains how Google is making signifiant strides with in-store attribution, and you’ve got a real powerhouse to contend with.

2016 Merkle Search Engine Clicks and Shares by Device

Continued Growth for Mobile

According to Merkle, smartphone click shares rose to 39 percent in Q1 of 2016 compared to 33 percent in Q4 of 2015. It should also be no surprise that Google, once again, continues to dominate search. The one change that Google made to paid search in Q1 was the removal of text ads from the right sidebar. Additionally, Google seems to be showing more attention to Product Listing Ads (PLAs) as they are beginning to show up more.

The Importance of SOBO

Searches that Result in Offline Purchases (SOBO) are an important part of the mobile growth that is occurring – particularly where closing the online-offline marketing gap is concerned. Search Engine Land columnist, Mona Elesseily, points out a couple of reasons why we might want to pay attention to the importance of closing this gap:

#1 – SOBO conversions significantly outnumber online conversions.

Though many of us use our smartphones as a shopping companion (i.e. checking and comparing prices on items while in the store, researching products, etc.), most retail sales (95% to be exact) still happen at brick and mortar locations. Because this type of marketing data is difficult to capture, it cannot be factored into optimization efforts.

#2 – Offline tracking is labor-intensive.

Elesseily explains that current offline tracking methods require that the offline data be uploaded consistently to Google. The actual process is extremely time consuming and frustrating for companies, which often leads many companies to simply bypass tracking offline marketing initiatives altogether.

Evidence of Better In-Store Attribution

Elesseily sees three things that Google is doing, which is proving that we’re on the right path to closing the online-offline marketing gap:

#1 – Google Local Inventory Ads

  • Highlights how far the nearest store is from you
  • Shows specific store inventory

Implications:

  • Helps us understand in-store-attribution/understanding what audiences are more likely to convert in-store
  • Should improve as it’s able to get more granular and optimize in-store conversions

#2 – Google Now In-Store Cards

  • Appears when a shopper is near a store
  • Displays useful information such as sales, closing hours, loyalty card data and more

Implications:

  • Takes into consideration location history, internet activity (like clicks on ads) and actual visits to a store
  • Also considers data that’s stored in Google accounts

#3 – Google In-Store Conversions

  • Allows advertisers to measure the number of shoppers that visit a physical store after seeing a search ad.
  • Uses a combination of WiFi, GPS and specialized store maps to track visits (basically footsteps) to and within a store

Implications:

  • First step in Google attempting to tie specific purchases at checkout to people who have previously viewed ads

Yahoo Turns to Search Engine Giant, Google, for Help

Yahoo

After reporting financial losses for the third quarter, Yahoo recently announced that it would begin to use Google to help boost some of its search results and advertising. According to Yahoo’s chief executive, Marissa Mayer, the tech company is still in search (no pun intended) of a viable turnaround plan. According to Mayer [https://investor.yahoo.net/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=937519]:

Our Q3 results were largely within our forecasted expectations — our GAAP revenue grew 7% year-over-year and our Mavens revenue grew 43%.  As we move into 2016, we will work to narrow our strategy, focusing on fewer products with higher quality to achieve improved growth and profitability. In addition to sharpening focus within core business growth, our top priority is the planned spinoff of Aabaco Holdings. This is an important moment for the Company, and we continue to strive to complete the spin as quickly as we can.

Narrowing Their Focus

Part of Yahoo’s said turnaround plan involves narrowing their strategy, and the first area to feel the effects was Yahoo’s video programming, which is taking a $42 million write-off. You can also likely expect some lay-offs, and scaling back in other areas of the company’s operations.

Making a Deal with Google

Earlier this week, Yahoo signed a mobile search and web deal with Google. The 3-year deal allows Google to supply advertising and search results for some of the search queries made by Yahoo users. And according to Yahoo, this partnership will only serve to bolster their search capabilities as well as complement the search services already provided by Microsoft.

There will also, likely, be a shift towards mobile search initiatives. According to the Yahoo Q3 investor report [https://investor.yahoo.net/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=937519], mobile revenue represented 24 percent of traffic-driven revenue, a 4% increase from 2014. As more companies and brands shift the focus to mobile search from desktop search, Mayer reiterated the point that 90 percent of time on phones are spent in mobile apps, not in the browser. Therefore, audiences may see more online experiences driven by mobile apps.

Turning towards Google for help with search results and advertising is a bandaid that may make investors happy for the moment. However, Mayer’s plan to streamline and focus the company remains to be seen.

Google Relinquishes Advertisers’ Control Over Keyword Matching

Estimated Reading Time for This Post: 2 minutes, 48 seconds; approximately 561 words.

ppc word cloudGoogle recently announced a small update that will limit the amount of control advertisers have over their AdWords campaigns as far as keyword matching goes.

Beginning in September 2014, advertisers will no longer be able to show ads when a query exactly matches the keywords in an AdWords campaign. Previously, advertisers had two options when it came to how their ads were matched to search queries:

  1. Only show an ad when it exactly matches the query, or
  2. Allow Google to include variations, such as plurals or misspellings

For many advertisers, this small change will go relatively unnoticed, since Google already implemented close matching as the default feature for most AdWords campaigns. However, for advertisers who had previously opted out of this feature, it will have a significant impact as they will soon lose control over when exactly their ads will appear.

Is this a good or a bad thing for advertisers?

This depends on who you ask. For less experienced advertisers, the general consensus seems to be, “no harm; no foul.” However, for more experienced PPC experts, this move by Google is a bad one, and there already seems to be a backlash in effect as some advertisers are petitioning Google to give them back the little control they once had over their AdWords campaigns.

One such advertiser, Bryant Garvin, recently published a petition to Google (and has since acquired 100+ signatures) in an effort to regain advertiser control. Garvin stated,

This is just the latest in a string of changes Google AdWords has made to eliminate advertiser control, all in the name of “simplification” or marketed as an “upgrade”. This change is double impacted for those long sales cycles like B2B where advertisers first “conversion” is never the $$ conversion so they need to track how keywords/queries perform over time, in a system outside of AdWords (like a CRM). [source]

Other complaints from advertisers come in the form of concerns that removing advertiser control will only lead to a decrease in CTR and quality score in many instances. Still, others question how a move like this will impact on how advertisers provide value via the services their company offers to customers.

Forcing Variation Matching on Advertisers

While variation matching isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the overarching concern by advertisers seems to revolve around the fact that you once had a choice in the matter. By removing an advertisers right to choose whichever option works best for them, many feel that they are slowly losing control over their campaigns.

Brad Geddes, of Certified Knowledge, recently stated:

Loss of control is never good. Mobile control was lost with Enhanced Campaigns, and now you’re losing control over your match types. This will further erode your ability to control costs and conversions within AdWords. [source]

As an advertiser, should I be concerned?

Whether you should be concerned or not really depends on your monthly spend. Advertisers who manage smaller budgets with lower monthly impressions will not be as affected as those who manage larger budgets with larger impressions and more clicks.

As Brad Geddes previously mentioned, the biggest issue for advertisers is that these pending changes will result in less transparency and less control while potentially leading to an increase in wasteful spending.

If you have concerns about this or other changes that Google is making, please give your account rep at LTTR a call, and we’ll be happy to explain how your specific account may or may not be impacted.

Google Location Extensions: Changes You Need to Know

Estimated Reading Time for This Post:  1 minute, 9 seconds; approximately 231 words.

Get ready, Internet marketers!  Google recently announced some “improvements” to its location extensions, which will (hopefully) make it easier and faster to manage individual and/or multiple business locations.

Google Location Extensions

Google Changes & Improvements to Location Extensions

The following are some of the changes that Google made to location extensions:

  • Ability to add/manage business location info from a single Google My Business (formerly Google Places) account, linked to your AdWords account
  • Ability to use location information in Google My Business for location extensions across ALL AdWords campaigns
  • Starting in September, non-upgraded location extensions (managed at the campaign level) will be removed from your AdWords account
  • Previous methods of managing location extensions, such as manually entering addresses, will no longer be available.

3 Key Benefits of Google Location Extensions

  1. Improved Relevance – Location extensions are a great way to include relevant, key information about your business/brand to potential customers.
  2. Better Optimization – Because location extensions is linked with your AdWords account, you can direct your ads to different locations throughout various geographic areas, making it easier to hone in on your target audience.
  3. Faster, Better Reach – With the recent changes/improvements to location extensions, Google has now made it faster and more efficient than ever to help you promote your business to customers who may just be right around the corner.

How has using Google location extensions benefited you and your business? Do you think the recent improvements/changes will make a difference?

Effectively Manage Your Adwords Campaigns With These Quick Tips

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 12 seconds. Contains approximately 443 words.

Running an Adwords campaign is a great way to drive more traffic to your site, increase ROI or simply gain more visibility within your target audience. And while having a professional, certified PPC specialist can be a real advantage, there are some things you can do on your own to help keep things running as smoothly as possible.

The following are some quick tips to help you more effectively manage your ads and get more ‘bang’ for your ‘bucks’.

3 Quick Adwords Tips to Keep in Mind:

Set up your Adwords campaign(s) ahead of time.

Even if you’re not completely ready (budget-wise, or otherwise) to launch into your campaign full steam ahead, this doesn’t mean that you can’t at least set it up and have it waiting in the wings. Simply PAUSE the campaign as you are creating it.

Having your Adwords campaign set up ahead of time will ensure that no money is spent until you are ready to spend. It also keeps you one step ahead of the game because when you’re finally ready to execute, all you’ll have to do is click a button versus worry about inputting a ton of information. If you’re setting up a campaign for a client, this would also fall under best practices to help you stay organized.

Retrace Past Adwords Campaigns; Look for Patterns.

Sometimes you learn best from past mistakes or by simply seeing what worked in the past. If it’s not broken, why fix it? Retracing past steps that you took in successful Adwords campaigns can lend insight into what you may want to consider repeating or altering for future campaigns. Similarly, examining what went wrong in past campaigns can also lend insight into what NOT to do for future campaigns. You can also figure out where you went wrong and avoid making the same mistakes on your account or clients’ accounts.

Research the Competition.

It’s not enough to simply spout out a bunch of keywords and keyword phrases. Instead, your first step should be to see who the competition is and how their ads are performing. Where are they showing up in the search results and for what keyword phrases? How can you take their ads and make yours different or better? Perhaps it means more than simply coming up with a more creative ad. Perhaps it will involve improving the readability on your landing page or implementing an improved site design. It may take some investment of your time, but it will make the results that much more worth it.

Have any other tidbits of advice that you’d like to add? What’s worked for you in your campaigns? What sorts of difficulties have you faced? Leave your comments below!

Calculating Quality Scores: What Does it Influence?

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes, 15 seconds. Contains approximately 1053 words.

Knowing how to calculate your quality score is crucial to the success of any online marketing campaign you put forth. Why? Google uses its Quality Scoring to communicate with you, the advertiser, what they think about the quality of your keywords. Therefore, it would behoove you to learn how your quality score may or may not be impacting the success of your online marketing campaigns and business.

Quality score is Google’s way of aligning the interests of three different parties within the online advertising ecosystem:

  1. The Publisher (aka: Google) – Google wants to monetize your ads
  2. Advertisers – want to get new leads/sales/customers
  3. Users – those seeking information

What Does Quality Score Influence?

Quality score determines the eligibility of an ad to go to auction to appear on Google. If your quality score isn’t good enough, Google won’t allow you to participate in the auction at all. Therefore, the relevance of your ad matters! Similarly, if you have two advertisers competing for an ad placement, the ad with the higher quality score (more relevance) will win out. Other areas that the quality score influences includes:

  • PRICE: the price you need to bid in order to maintain a given position
  • TOP SLOT: only available to high quality ads (minimum threshold for ad to show above the organic search results). If no ad meets those requirements, then Google will show the organic results.
  • DKI (Dynamic Keyword Insertion): There is a minimum quality score threshold before Google will allow DKI.

Quality Score = CTR + Relevancy + Landing Page

What Contributes to Quality Score?

It’s not necessarily a linear curve that determines quality score. Instead, the following three things contribute to your quality score:

  1. CTR
  2. Relevancy
  3. Landing Page

Click-Through-Rate (CTR):

By far, CTR is the most important factor contributing to your quality score. Have a new account? Your keywords will be used to determine the quality score. Google also looks at a number of different factors to determine what your expected CTR will be. A couple of other things worth noting here:

  • **Google does not use the campaign ID or the adword ID to determine your quality score.
  • **You do not have to have an account full of exact match keywords to get a good quality score.

Relevancy

Google has a notion about how the different words in the query are going to change the CTR of your ads. It is constantly performing correlations. If they find that there is something that has a strong correlation, then Google can use it as a determining factor. Google knows, at the exact moment that a search is done, how it will affect your quality score.

Key Takeaways:

  • Google uses relevancy signals unique to the specific query to help inform quality predictions
  • Google looks for correlations to use as “utter relevance factors” — aka “does CTR vary based on these factors?”

Landing Page

Your landing page is the last part of determining your quality score; it is also the smallest part of the trifecta. Google measures the user experience based on how relevant your landing page is to user engagement and how the website is dealing with the user’s information.

Changing your landing page to drive conversion rates is one of the biggest impacts you can have. However, too many people make the mistake of only worrying about their landing page when it comes to their quality score.

**One way to determine if you have a landing page problem: In your Analytics and Adwords accounts — check pages with the highest bounce rate, exit rate, time on page etc.

layered_puzzle_pieceGoogle Ad Extensions

Do your ad extensions boost your CTR? If you use ad extensions and another competitor doesn’t but has the same bid, then you will have the upper hand.

Which ad extensions will actually give my users more information and increase my CTR?This is the question you need to be asking yourself.

  • Ad extensions typically improve CTR and overall campaign performance because they make ads more useful.
  • Google does not care if you use ad extensions if it doesn’t improve your CTRs.
  • The only thing that matters is if you are using an ad extension relevant to your ad and it, in turn, improves your CTR.

8  Quick Optimization Tips

  1. Build better ad groups. Create tightly-themed ad groups. don’t put everything into the same group!
  2. Use multiple ad texts in each ad group.  A one-word change can make a huge difference, but you won’t know that until you test it. [Ex: eBay in the Netherlands changed their wording from “Find” to “Buy” and saw an immediate increase in conversions]
  3. Use all ad extensions that make sense, but only if it makes sense. [Ex: If you have a client that does not take phone calls, then don’t set up a phone call extension for them! However, you may want to set up a ‘review’ extension, put it in your ad and see if it will boost your quality score.]
  4. Create a compelling Call To Action (CTA) in ad texts. Don’t make an ad text that no one will want to click on!
  5. Fix keywords with lots of impressions and low CTR.  Optimize with ad text to try to raise up quality score [Ex: If so many people are searching for this keyword and I have a low quality score, then what am I missing?]
  6. Fix keywords with very few impression and low CTR. These could really affect your account level quality score [Ex: If you have  a lot of long-tail keywords, make sure you pay attention!]
  7. Set bids based on your business goals. Focus what matters to your business first. Your Quality Score should only be used as a guiding metric, not as an end-all-be-all metric.
  8. Use Search Query Reports (SQR) to discover what users look for. Look for negative keywords as well as new keywords to add. The more specific you are with your negative keywords, the less guesswork Google will have to do.

 

In An Ideal Ad Group:

Keywords Should:

  • …contain 5-30 closely related keywords
  • …not always use different match types for same key word

Ads Should:

  • …have at least 2 ad texts
  • …use the keyword in the ad text
  • …deliver relevant information!

Some Final Thoughts to Consider:

  • Be patient. Give Google at least 100’s of impressions before you start drawing conclusions.
  • Respond to bad Quality Score ASAP.
  • Optimize or delete poor Quality Score keywords.
  • Experiment. Always experiment with your Adwords account; never let an account become static.
  • Track the history of your Quality Score.

For more information about Quality Score, or to speak with a certified Google Adwords specialist, contact Look to the Right today at 919-926-8733.