Search Engine Marketing News May 2013

Another month has flown by and it’s been a busy-ish month in the world of SEM. With no major updates around Enhanced Campaigns and Adwords in general, the main news has been about the return of a well known animal…

Penguin Is Back With A Vengeance!

Penguin 2.0 was released late May as Google’s latest update to fight against spam. This 4th update attempts to prevent spammy, low authority websites gaining positions in the SERP’s. Matt Cutts, head of web spam at Google has said that 2.3% of English queries would be affected by this update.

Google Conversational Search Live on Chrome

So voice recognition technology giving responses isn’t a new concept. Apple have been doing it with ‘Siri’ for a while now but after having a play around on both I’d say Google’s works surprisingly well. If you have the new version of Chrome, you can click on the microphone button and ask a question which Google will respond both verbally and in the search results.

There are some flaws with the voice recognition which can only be anticipated but the opportunity for search is huge and on the whole is pretty well constructed.

Google Author Authority Algorithm Launched

Further to the Penguin updates and Google’s bid to penalize spammy sites and reward quality content, more and more emphasis is being placed on industry authority figures. Google stated this month that they are working on an algorithm to determine subject authorities across the web.

Matt Cutts said – “We are doing a doing a better job of detecting when someone is sort of an authority in a specific space. It could be medical, it could be travel, whatever. And trying to makes sure that those rank a little more highly, if you are some sort of authority or a site that according to the algorithms we think might be a little bit more appropriate for users.”

Adwords Editor Update 10.1

Adwords Editor 10.1 was available this month with changes made to make it easier to make changes within Enhanced Campaigns. The main changes were to:

  • Set bid adjustments for placements, topics, and audiences.
  • Set mobile bid adjustments at the ad group level.
  • Upgrade campaigns in bulk using CSV import or the Add/update multiple campaigns tool.
  • Use the new ValueTrack {ifmobile}, {ifnotmobile} parameters.

Google Testing Ads in Google Maps

Google announced that they are testing ads within Google Maps. An pretty unsurprising move from Google which had been expected. Haven’t yet seen this in action but Google are testing search ads with and without location extensions on the map and below the search box. There is huge potential for local businesses around this so I guess watch this space!

  • Search ads with location extensions can appear directly on the map and just below the search box
  • Search ads without location extensions can appear just below the search box

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Spring Clean Your PPC Accounts in 5 Simple Steps

It’s apparently spring (we haven’t had snow in a month so guess it must be!), so what better time to give your paid search campaigns a good ol’ spring clean?! But, “where do I start?” I hear you ask… these few pointers might just help:

1 – Pull the Plug on Under Performing Keywords 

As much as we’d like to see all keywords convert well – it just doesn’t work like that. Once you’ve optimised your keywords as much as you can by adding negative keywords, tailoring ad copy to match and testing different landing pages, if you still can’t get the keyword to convert then it’s time to pull the plug. It’s like breaking up a relationship really – you really don’t want to do it but once you do, it will be the best thing you’ve ever done and you can start to move on with your life….. or something like that!

Sort your under performing keywords into two categories – the ‘no hopers’ and the ‘last chance’ keywords. Bin off the no hopers and optimise the last chance ones to do all you can to revive them. They’ll either turn into ‘no hopers’ or the ‘survive for another day’ers’ – a tad dramatic?!

pull the plug
2 – De-Clutter Your Accounts

Is your account full of paused keywords, ads or ad groups? If you have no intention of reactivating them, then you don’t need them cluttering up your account. Identify what you don’t need anymore and don’t be afraid to press that delete button!

3 – Review your Landing Pages

Landing pages can often be overlooked in optimising PPC accounts, but no matter how good your selection of keywords are or how great your ads look if you’re sending traffic to the wrong pages then they mean diddly squat.

Does the traffic your send to the homepage actually do anything? Is there a more relevant page you could send users to? Are you using all the possible pages? If you don’t know the answers to any of these questions, set up some A/B testing between different landing pages. Analyse the results then test another page.

4 – Add Negative Keywords

If you don’t already regularly look through your search query reports, then take the time to do so now! Search query reports show the exact queries used which trigger your ads. They are the most useful tool showing where you’re wasting your spend on keywords that are not relevant to you. Conversely, they are also useful to add the keywords triggering your ads on phrase, broad match and near exact terms as keywords in your accounts.

Plus, let’s face it, it’s always amusing to look at what people use search engines for!

5 – Look for Missed Opportunities

The opportunites tab in Google Adwords shows you where you are missing out on extra clicks and conversions either through budget constraints or by not having enough keywords in your account. This is a great tool to identify areas you can expand in, but that only tells you so much. When you work on the same accounts every day you can sometimes become blind to what is right in front of you and not spot opportunities that others may do. Ask a colleague to take a look at the account and provide any feedback on how it could be improved. You never know, you might just get some useful pointers that you hadn’t thought about – whether that’s tidying up an ad group, adding new keywords or restructuring a whole campaign.

Got any tips on spring cleaning your PPC accounts? Feel free to share them below!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Search Engine Marketing News – February 2013

Well, what can we say about search engine marketing news this month…. you may have heard a thing or two about this little thing called ‘Enhanced Campaigns’. Enhanced campaigns has been the main talking point in the industry and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I’ll recap on the main changes of Google’s Enhanced Campaigns and other changes that have happened in SEM this month (yes, there has been other news).

Google are giving us more control in our ‘multi-device world’? Brilliant…. oh no, wait!

I’ll admit when I first got the call from Google I was almost convinced (almost!) that the Enhanced Campaign change was a good thing. For some companies/agencies it may be, but not for the majority. Yes, there are some benefits but Google have gone about it the wrong way by ultimately giving us a lot less control.

  • Separate device bidding no longer possible (boo)
  • Tablet and desktop devices are now treated as one with no way of having separate bids for tablet (boo)
  • Mobile bid adjustments are available as multipliers from -100% to +300% at a campaign level (double boo)
  • Ad scheduling possible (woo)
  • Better call tracking (woo)
  • Data on individual site link extensions are available (finally!)

Enhanced Campaign changes have now been rolled out to Adwords Editor, making it easier for us to start making dreaded changes in our accounts.

Other News

Search Funnel Data

Finally some good news! Search funnel data is now available in the Adwords interface. We can now see data on assisting keywords directly in Adwords. It’s a good move by Google as we can see the number of assisting clicks, impressions and conversions without having to go to Analytics. It looks like this is one of the first steps in providing more attribution data, that most of us go somewhere else to find.

Google Penalising Inteflora

Google sent out a big message to advertisers this month by giving Interflora big SEO penalties. Although Google haven’t officially confirmed the penalty, there natural search results took a drastic turn for the worst… This great post by David Naylor shows how dramatic the shift was.

Interflora Rankings Dip

Free Shopping Comes to An End

Google shopping is no longer free to advertisers in the UK (and many other countries). It was good while it lasted here in the UK, but free shopping listings is no more, instead we have to set up product listing ads.

Google’s Unique Searches Drops

Google’s share of unique searches has dipped under 20%. Okay, so it’s still got the majority of searches but it’s slowly losing ground has Baidu, Bing, Yandex and Yahoo are seeing slightly increased global searches. Check out this post from Search Engine Land

Google Removes Not Provided From Webmaster Tools

The next place to not be able to get data on not provided terms was in Google Webmaster Tools. Just another update making it even harder for SEO agencies to explain to clients where there traffic is actually coming from.

So, it’s been a busy month for SEM in February…. roll on March!

The Good, Bad and Ugly Of Google’s ‘Enhanced Campaigns’

After Google’s reps doing the rounds to give a ‘heads-up’ that a change was about to happen, they have now publicly announced their ‘enhanced campaigns‘, so we can now talk about this huge announcement that is going to affect every single one of us PPC marketers. Enhanced campaigns are set to completely disregard device types to attempt to focus on the person rather than the device.

Google will be automatically changing campaigns to run on all devices rather than splitting them out by mobile, tablet, desktop meaning ad-targeted capabilities are extremely limited. They will now be split into mobile and desktop & tablet.

Google are claiming that consumers behaviours on devices are becoming the same, but are they really?! I don’t believe so. Many people use their phones on the commute to work or just during the day to browse on the internet, not really looking to purchase until later on when they get home. At which point they (including me) use a computer/tablet to have a quick check on Google again before being ready to purchase. People DO use devices for different things and that’s why we need different messaging, URL’s and bids.

So, here’s the good, bad and ugly of this latest announcement (in reverse order):

Ugly

Most PPC accounts are now set up to to treat mobile, tablet and desktop as completely different entities (rightly so) whether that’s by using different landing pages, ad copy, keywords or bids. The ‘enhanced campaigns’ now mean that it is much more difficult to target devices differently. Bid multipliers will mean that you can change bids by a certain %, similar to how hour of the day bid management is set up. Campaigns will now have to be merged into one with no real targeting capabilities.

Bad

Without separate bid targeting per device, tablets and mobile devices which have seen considerably lower CPC’s will now be increased along with competition. Despite the huge reach in mobile and tablet devices, lots of businesses were still not targeting by mobile and tablet but will now be forced to, meaning competition is increased and therefore so are CPC’s. As I was typing this I just realised how bad this could be so it should really be under the ugly category too!

Quality scores will now be rolled into one, so you will not have different quality scores by device type. This could actually increase or decrease overall quality scores dependent on if an account had high or low quality scores for mobile and tablet devices.

Good

It is not expected to be rolled out until June, so it gives us all some time I guess.

Oh, and the best news to come out of this announcement….. sitelinks are finally getting sorted (woohoo…). We will now be able to see stats on each individual sitelink. Reporting will also be improved with the ability to still report on device,

There are many questions that still remain to be answered (other than, why Google, why?!) but at least we have a few months to think how it affects us and how we can make the best of the situation.

How will it affect your PPC campaigns?

5 Common Misconceptions About PPC

PPC / Paid Search Marketing / Pay-Per-Click can be a funny old world and one that can be a bit of a mystery to some people. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about PPC and why they’re complete rubbish!

Your Work Is Done Once Someone Clicks On Your Ad

Wouldn’t that be nice?! But no, sadly it doesn’t quite work like that.  The ad copy you write plays only a small part in determining the success of your paid search campaign. The landing page needs to be relevant to both the keyword and ad. You might have a fantastic clickthrough rate on your ads, but if you’re not getting a good conversion rate then you’re work is far from done! Arguably on site optimisation is just as important as the set up and delivery of your PPC campaign.

You Have to Be Number 1 To Succeed

Unlike in natural search rankings, it is not always best to be number 1 for PPC. Number 1 rankings mean you pay a higher CPC (cost per click) and more people will see your ad but not necessarily click on it just because it’s top. Not all your keywords will be keywords that convert well or that are completely relevant to what you’re offering/selling, so you don’t want to be spending higher costs just to be at the top of the page. Your ads will still get clicked on when they’re not in poll position and you’ll still be able to achieve a ROI.

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What a Difference a Bid Change Makes

Changing the bids on keywords can really optimise your PPC account and give you great results. Often in PPC there is a lot of emphasis on ad performance and overal budgets on campaigns, so the bids on individual keywords can sometimes get neglected. Bid management can generate great results and it can be really easy and quick to do.

I’ll admit I’ve never used bid management software before as I am able to do everything I need to on Excel. On a basic level you can quickly adjust your bids on converting or non-converting keywords by a certain percentage on Excel and upload this to Editor quickly and easily. Bid management software can be useful for when you want to delve further into your conversion data and work out ROAS (Return on Ad Spend).

Using Excel for bid management reduces the amount of errors that can happen as you are more in control. Plus, it doesn’t cost you a penny so that’s always a bonus! You can export your keyword data straight from Adwords. Using filters on Adwords can give you the data you need for the bids you want to amend. What I find to be useful is to set up a filter to show all the keywords which have spent xx and not converted or spent xx and have converted. This will save you time as the data is already filtered.

Using the data from Adwords you can see the keywords that are performing and the ones that aren’t. You’ll need to determine what you deem as a performing or non-performing keywords first based on your overall PPC goals, for example – do you need to lower your cost per lead (CPL) or are you targeted on conversions so need to ensure the leads you get are quality? You can then adjust the bids by a certain percentage in Excel using a simple formula (if you want to reduce by 10%, take the CPC and multiple by 0.9)

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The A-Z of PPC

  • Analytics – Analytics is an extremely useful tool for a huge number of things – conversion data, on page stats, user information. Link your analytics account up to Adwords to make sure you’re looking at the same data
  • Bids & Budget – The question on all clients minds… how much is it costing me! Review the cost of your bids regularly. Do you really want high CPC’s for keywords that don’t convert? A review of bids can a big influence on the overall spend.
  • Conversions – Not seeing as many conversions as you’d like? Are your ads performing? High bounce rates on landing pages? Are you targeting the wrong keywords? Find out why and optimise your account.
  • Display – Google’s Display Network (GDN) allows you to place visual ads across the web to people who you want to target.
  • Editor – Adwords Editor is a must have tool for PPC, which makes multiple changes really easy to make. Exporting data and importing data from Excel is really easy too.
  • Finding the right ad – The right ad does exist, but it takes a lot of testing to get there. Use A/B testing regularly. Once you’ve found an ad that works, don’t be afraid to keep on testing though! The perfect ad can always be improved on.
  • Goals – What do you want to achieve from your campaigns? 50 conversions a month? 100 clicks? Set yourself goals and monitor these regularly. This will help with optimising the account.
  • Headline – If you’ve ever judged a book by a cover, then like most people you’ll judge an ad by its headline. Make sure yours is catchy and relevant to what the user has searched for.
  • Impressions – The number of times your ad is shown. If you want your ad to be shown every time someone searches for a certain keyword, increase your bids to make sure you’ve got a 100% impression share.
  • Keywords – The keywords that trigger your ads to be shown. There are three different match types – phrase, broad and exact. The Google Adwords Keyword Tool allows you to see search volumes for your chosen keywords and recommends related ones. Continue reading