7 Must-Have Tools for PPC Managers

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While the digital world can be highly changeable, some things remain the same. One of those constants is that PPC is still a primary profit generator, and a lucrative way to monetize. When you look at the methods of the highest earning websites across the web, what is often at the very top of their earning strategies? PPC.

If you are looking for a way to optimize your own website for higher earning potential, these tools are must haves.

Ringostat

multichannel_1.gif

Ringostat is an intelligent call tracking tool that increases the performance of the advertising and optimizes business workflow.

Ringostat multi-channel report shows the sequences of interactions that brought the user the phone call. With this type of reports Ringostat clients see how previous referrals and searches contributed to their sales, what traffic sources were the first in the consideration process and what sources ultimately converted the user into the lead.

Moreover, these reports show the number of visits from each advertising channel. The call log allows to evaluate the efficiency of advertising campaigns and properly re-allocate the advertising budget. Showing the source of each phone call up to a keyword level, it helps to determine the campaigns that really generate calls.

Obviously, you can glean a lot about your customer  base this way, which can really help you with ad planning. It is expensive, but worth it if you have a decent sized business.

Adwords Editor

Nothing is as frustrating as having to manually go in and edit a bunch of different campaigns in Google AdWords. So your best bet is to make it possible to mass edit and make changes faster.

Adwords Editor gives you the power to do that. It is a super simple tool, maybe so simple it doesn’t seem like it would be that helpful. But it is…oh, yes, it is.

Keyword Planner

Keyword Planner

Speaking of Google, have you used their Keyword Planner yet? If not, you are insane. This is hands down the best free research tool on the web.

You can find the best keyword combinations and monitor your campaign progress, making changes along the way until you have the best possible keywords targeted. Start using it, and thank me later. If you are already using it, use it more. Then thank me again.

Answer The Public

This is a great secondary keyword research tool to use in addition to Google’s Planner. You can generate questions related to your business, and come up with some awesome target phrases. Plus, it is free.

This is out of the usual scope of PPC tools, but is still really valuable and can inform your strategy later on.

SERPstat

How do you keep a leg up on the competition? Spy on them, of course! This tool is a handy little app that will do the detective work for you.

You can find out what keywords they are targeting, how much they are spending on campaigns, and a lot more. Sometimes knowing what the other guys are doing is the best possible way to improve your own efforts.

Trello

Trello is kind of my collaboration and project management tool of choice. I use it for everything from professional projects to personal ones.

I find with PPC campaigns it is a great way to organize keywords, track data, and make future plans. Especially if you are working with a team that needs to stay involved.

Adwords Scripts

No one really likes spending all the time needed to run an effective PPC campaign. It takes ages, and so much energy.

These scripts written by BrainLabs automate several of the tasks that take up the most time. Every one of these is a lifesaver, and you should implement them immediately.

Have some tools to add? Let us know in the comments!

The post 7 Must-Have Tools for PPC Managers appeared first on SEO Chat.

May 20th 2016 Keywords, PPC

4 Ridiculously Awesome Ways Search & Social Ads Magnify CRO by 3-5X #ConvCon

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4 Ridiculously Awesome Ways Search & Social Ads Magnify CRO by 3-5X #ConvCon was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

You’re tuned in to Conversion Conference. Larry Kim, founder of WordStream and 2015 Search Personality of the Year, explains the situation. A diabolical villain has abducted our conversions. Our boss at the impossible mission force (IMF) is trying to frame us. Larry’s going to help us avoid danger and get the conversions BACK!

Larry Kim

Larry’s A/B #1 Testing Epiphany: The Great A/B Test Is a Fairy Tale

He’s done this test thousands of times for hundreds of customers. The early lead disappears and the gains don’t persist over time. The reason is that the reason it worked was because it was new and exciting and then eventually it’s not exciting.

Larry’s #2 A/B Testing Epiphany: There’s a Confirmation Bias

Small changes usually result in small changes.

Larry’s #3 A/B Testing Epiphany: CRO Just Increases Quantity of Leads at the Expense of Quality (in Lead Gen)

You might have more leads but it takes more time to figure out if they’re any good.

Larry’s #4 A/B Testing Epiphany: Average Conversion Rates Are Low and Haven’t Changed Much in Years

Everyone is doing all this A/B testing, why isn’t the average going up?

What is needed are new CRO weapons and strategies.

Use PPC weapons:

PPC Weapons

In addition to the focus on landing pages, there should be an equal or greater focus on up-stream activities.

Larry will equip us with the weapons of success for this impossible mission. Larry’s background is in electrical engineering. He’s also got an impossibly adorable 2-year-old #ppckid.

Larry’s #5 Crazy PPC CRO Hack: Focus on the Click-Through Rates

Generally, the higher the click-throguh rate, the higher the conversion rate. If you can get people excited to click, you can get the conversion.

What’s the big difference between click-through rate and conversion rate? A conversion rate is biased. You must use CTR to figure out if your offer sucks or not.

How to write unicorn ads: the top 1% of ads based on CTR (like 20-40% CTR)

He built a program to detect what these ads are and what the qualities are:

  1. Focus on keywords with HIGH commercial intent (as opposed to informational queries)
  2. Use ad customizers to create urgency and fear of missing out (FOMO) [img]
  3. The hack: use EMOTIONAL triggers in ad copy. The best ads aren’t written in the persona of the company. There are four voices that the ad might be written in:
    • the bearer of bad news
    • the hero/villain
    • the comedian
    • the feel-good friend

Here’s an example ad that is a unicorn:

ad

Key takeaway: Ads CRT tell you if people are into your offers or not.

Larry’s #4 Crazy PPC CRO Hack: Remarketing on Google Display Network and Facebook Ads

Greater brand exposure dramatically increase conversion rates. Users may be less inclined to click on an ad that is following them around BUT if they do click on it, they’re highly likely to convert. With precise ad targeting, you can boost engagement rate. Refine ad targeting for specific purchasing behavior:

  • media
  • mobile device user
  • purchase behavior
  • residential profile
  • seasonal and events

Larry thinks demographic ad targeting in Facebook is like super remarketing. You’re targeting people who visited your site and also are in your target audience. Behold the power of super-remarketing on Facebook & Twitter:

  • Behavioral & Interest Targeting: they’re interested in your stuff
  • Remarketing: they recently checked out your stuff
  • Demographic Targeting: They can afford to buy your stuff

Super remarketing allows you to target a narrow audience that meets all three of the above criteria … resulting in $$$.

“Well Larry, how do I know who my target market is?” Use Facebook Audience Insights to determine target market. Upload your best customer emails and Facebook will analyze your audience for you.

Larry’s #3 Crazy PPC CRO Hack: Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)

Remarketing lists for search ads = Google search ads shown only to people who recently visited your site.

Target search ads only to people who recently visited your site. Users visit yoru site, get added to your remarkeitng lists. Show them customized ads when they search on Google. People familiar with your brand are 2-3x more likely to convert than people not familiar with your brand.

You can also target by email. Email audience targeting = 10X CTR vs. generically targeted keywords.

larry 2

The greatest strength of RLSA is that you’re cherry-picking the awesome cheap conversions. The drawback is that you’re not targeting all the other people who aren’t familiar with your brand. How do you solve the problem of getting conversions for cheap and lots of them? Social media ads!

How advertising REALLY works:

  1. Promote inspirational/memorable content about your brand to your target market
  2. People see the ad, but don’t necessarily take action right away (but become biased)
  3. Later, when the need arises, people either do a branded search for your stuff or do an un-branded search but are still biased toward clicking and buying from you.

Larry’s #2 Crazy PPC CRO Hack: Video Ads on Facebook

We like RLSA because conversions were cheap but we couldn’t reach enough people.

We want:

  1. Strong brand recall (lots of ad impressions)
  2. High CTR (high ad engagement)

Video ads provide both!

LovePop Cards did a video ad to remarket to people who visited their site. It’s saturated with product and color and movement and leverages emotional triggers.

Here’s Larry’s video ad targeting stack:

larry kim

Larry’s #1 Crazy PPC CRO Hack: Lead Ads on Facebook

This is a new ad format that lets people sign up with stuff on mobile with one button tap. There’s only one field needed, email. What this does is eliminate the landing page — the biggest bottleneck in the funnel.

Email unlocks over 10k interests, demographics and behaviors. The email that gets sent to you is their Facebook login email which allows you infinite ad segmentations.

You have to pay money to target these people, but it’s like $3 or $4 for thousands of impressions.

Larry’s Bonus Hack: Change Your Offer in a Big Way

WordStream changed their offer from a free trial to a free AdWords performance grader. There’s big and little changes. If you only think of the on-page elements, you’re taking your current offer and finding a local maximum. It might be better to throw out your current offer and find a different, completely different offer. PPC gives you the perspective of different data to find out how your offer is resonating in the world.

There’s tons of leverage around higher in the funnel. A lot of the tools Larry shared here have only been around for 18 or 24 months. We get to adjust!


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May 19th 2016 PPC

PPC AMA: Paid Search Ask Me Anything — An Hour of Q&A with David Szetela

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PPC AMA: Paid Search Ask Me Anything — An Hour of Q&A with David Szetela was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

PPC AMA with David Szetela

Last Thursday on Reddit, David Szetela offered an AMA to the r/PPC community. An AMA, or “Ask Me Anything,” is just that — an anything goes Q&A with someone of some interest, whether a celebrity, an expert, or someone with a unique role or experience set. David, our VP of Search Marketing Operations and the director of our PPC services, kept it short and sweet, opening the floor to questions for an hour.

Then he and I talked about highlights in part 2 of our podcast SEM Synergy this week.

Life After the Removal of Right-Side Ads

Give it a listen or read a transcript-recap combo here. As David described, it was a conversation marked by diverse PPC topics. Jump to the question and answers with the links below.

Google’s Removal of Right-Side Ads

Seokingindia: David, what will be impact of removing sidebar ads in Google search?

David: Unfortunately, there are winners and losers already. The winners are the companies that can afford to some extent buy their way to the top of the page. But, even more pertinent, they’re using all of the ad extensions and maximizing the amount of real estate that their ads occupy on the search results page so that they can sometimes push their competitors down further on the page.

As we know, more real estate equals better click-through rate. Better click-through rate equals better Quality Score. Better Quality Score leads to lower CPCs which is directly related to profitability. So, it’s important to be up there with all of your ad extensions.

The losers are those advertisers who are in very competitive markets. This is frequently a local business — a law firm or financial firm, even plumbing and HVAC — where there’s a lot of competition locally and for that reason the keywords are very expensive, the CPCs for the keywords are very expensive.

Before this change it was possible for an advertiser in this situation to get some clicks and conversions despite the fact that their ad appeared low on the page or even at the bottom of the page. They’re being priced out of the market. I think there’s going to be some fallout for advertisers in those industries.

I’ve also read recently that the first-page bid amount (Google lets advertisers know how much they would need to pay to show up on the first page) is going up and that’s because there are fewer ads on the page.

I heard from Frederick Vallaeys when I interviewed him on my show PPC Rockstars this week, that when he was with Google they did experiments that led to this action and they found that the ads at the bottom of the page outperformed the ads at the side of the page. So they talked internally about trying to convince advertisers to shoot for the bottom of the page even though their ads were not high on the page. Google concluded that was counterintuitive and people wouldn’t believe it. Meanwhile, here we are.

AdWords Reporting for Assisted Conversions and Tracking Store Visits

Petpiranha: Hi David, what’s the most common mistake you see regarding assisted conversions and/or what’s your take on AdWords tracking store visits?

David: The data that AdWords reports on assisted conversions is interesting but not actionable. There isn’t a lot you can do with the information you have at hand. Google Analytics multi-channel funnel reports give you a lot more information about the number of steps that someone takes before they actually convert, and that’s actionable because you can break it down by campaign, ad group and keyword.

AdWords Tracking Store Visits, I haven’t tried yet. We haven’t had any clients that are brick and mortar places, so I’ve read about them and they seem like they would work, but I can’t say from experience.

SEO & PPC Synergy and Collaboration

ginnymarvin: Hi David, Thanks for doing this. Now that you’re heading up PPC at Bruce Clay, I’m wondering how/if the agency’s deep roots in SEO has influenced your approach to paid search at all. Are there any synergies or differences in the way teams or clients look at PPC in as it relates to the overall marketing strategies?

David: I suspect it’s different than other agencies because communication between departments even in small companies is frequently less frequent or deep than it should be. Especially recently, the SEO team and the PPC team have started to meet regularly, share reports regularly, and it’s already helped immensely.

We pull up channel reports when we are reporting on monthly performance, and we show the client not just the number of conversions and the average order value, etc., from PPC, we show those data points for organic, direct, any channel that is pushing traffic to the site. So, frequently, we’re able to say, for example, all the other channels suffered but PPC saved the day. Or, all of the channels suffered so maybe there’s something wrong with the site or maybe its seasonality.

Virginia: Or, maybe we stopped a PPC campaign and organic also suffered, so maybe there’s a synergy with the branding.

Lessons from Szetela’s Personal Approach to PPC

SamOwenPPC: What have been the biggest changes in your personal approach to PPC over the past 15 years?

David: My answer pertained to client satisfaction. I’ve learned an immense amount about how and when and what kind of information we need to share with clients and especially how to resolve issues with a variety of client personalities

Another thing I think has changed a lot is the mantra up to two or three years ago was: the more keywords the better. I remember when I was very proud to have built my first million keyword account. We had covered every possible long tail keyword, and quickly found that dealing with a million keywords imposed a huge overhead on managing the account, trying to pull it into AdWords Editor, trying to find things in the native interface. So we actually started to pursue a different approach called “keyword lite,” where we would start a new account advertising with the very obvious and very important core terms, and then we would wait to see which were the ad groups that gained the most traction with conversions and conversion rates. And then we would start to build those out with more long-tail terms.

When we do audits now, one of the things we do is calculate the number of keywords that have never converted and the number of keywords that has never accrued any impressions. Frequently we see accounts where there might be 22,000 keywords and only 100 of them have ever converted. That usually means the account has spent a lot on clicks that didn’t convert. So, we also calculate the amount of money lost to clicks that didn’t convert. That’s usually an indicator of things that need to be tackled first.

15-Minute PPC Audit

Virginia: What are the high-level areas of a quick, 15-minute audit?

We have a very detailed process, it’s a 4 page document with many different check points that we look at, trying to find mistakes and missed opportunities. We look at the ads, the ad copy, the messaging and provide feedback on that.

One of the most frequent mistakes I see is that advertisers are running too many ads per ad group. They think that’s a good idea because they think they’re testing those ads against each other. The fact is that almost always they let that test go very wrong and as a result they might be running five loser ads against one clear winner. The easy quick win is just shut off the ads that are not performing as well as the winner.

We look at ads, we look at keywords, we look at keyword match types. Another tip is that we’ve settled on using only broad match modified and exact match keywords. We’re no longer using phrase match because for some reason the cost of phrase match clicks has risen over the past year especially, and the search terms are pretty much covered by the broad match modified keywords.

We look at all the ad extensions. I would say that 80% of the audits reveal that ads are being served outside of the geographic target that the advertiser has chosen. So we look at that and calculate exactly how much has been spent on ads shown outside of the geographic location. We frequently find thousands, tens of thousands of dollars that the client wasn’t even aware of.

Why would an ad be served outside of the location an advertiser has set? The fact is that by default, there’s an advanced geographic setting that, paraphrased, says something like, show my ads to people in my location AND to people outside my location that might be interested in my products or services. That sounds innocuous but what it does is gives google carte blanche to spray the ads all over the world. It’s easily fixed, but you’ve got to know what you’re looking for. It’s in the dimensions tab.

Targeting on the Google Display Network

David, what are your preferred targeting methods on Google’s Display Network. Keyword, topics, placement, interest?

On Reddit, David wrote: I love custom affinity audiences — they provide the best possible precision. Second: remarketing lists. Third: Placement. Keyword and Topic are the least-precise targeting, but they’re great if you want wide reach.

mynameistaken: What do you mean by “best possible precision” here?

David: The ability to hyper-target ads to people in your target audience or even a subset. For example, I can target CFOs of companies in the food processing industry.

In the podcast, David expanded: Regarding custom affinity audiences, I haven’t seen a lot of resources by third parties. I’ve seen a handful of articles, one I’ve written myself. I’d say the best resource is the set of help pages right in AdWords. They still don’t go as far as they should in supplying examples; they might provide one example but it doesn’t leave the person educated about their situation.

PPC Certifications Worth Having

Dirtymonkey: How do you feel about digital marketing certifications? Any value to these? If so what which ones would you recommend?

On Reddit, David wrote: I’m a big fan. They’re great for bringing new employees up to speed. I recommend everybody pass at least the two Search exams, the Display one, and the Google Analytics one. The video, mobile and shopping ones could be optional depending on whether you intend to offer or specialize in those areas.

On the podcast, David expanded: I love the AdWords and Bing Ads certifications. Bing Ads only has one, but AdWords offers 7 if you include Google Analytics. They are difficult enough that they require study. We’ve found them to be a great way to bring new hires up to speed quickly. Even with senior people that we’ve hired, I’ve never seen somebody with a complete set of certifications on all the topics that Google offers, including myself. I’m going to pass the Shopping certification this week.

Let's talk about PPC services

April 8th 2016 PPC

Infographic Looks at ‘Man vs. Machine’ In PPC

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Man vs Machine has always been a complicated argument. In every industry, machines have replaced jobs and turned them into automated functions, but there’s one thing technology will never replace: creativity. The one thing that can’t be programmed is intuitive creativity: the key piece to advertising.

In the enormous world of marketing, creativity is king. It takes a human to properly strategize, while it takes a machine to turn that strategy into something scalable. The two of these powerhouses working together doesn’t translate anywhere better than within PPC. Bid management, the foundation of PPC, works similar to the buy/sell model of the stock market, targeting the prospects in the “I want it now.” Machine helps to automate the lowering and rising bids across a large scale by taking past performance into account. Meanwhile, the creative types are taking this info into consideration and are molding the campaign to make it work at its highest capacity.

Fifty percent of PPC ads shown on Google in the US are managed by one of the top bid management platforms. How can you utilize machines in tandem with creativity to optimize your advertising? Check out this infographic on how you can combine machine and man for a killer PPC ad campaign.

software-eating

The post Infographic Looks at ‘Man vs. Machine’ In PPC appeared first on WebProNews.

April 7th 2016 Marketing, PPC

How to Care for Your Shopping Campaigns #SMX

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How to Care for Your Shopping Campaigns #SMX was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Ecommerce paid search pros! This is the moment when SMX West becomes all about you!

Moderator Ginny Marvin (@ginnymarvin), Contributing Editor, Search Engine Land

Speakers:

Ginny Marvin Purna Virji Susan Wenograd Kirk Williams

From left: Ginny Marvin, Purna Virji, Susan Wenograd, Kirk Williams

Kirk Williams: Setting Up Shopping Campaigns for Success

Initially, if we think of how to optimize our shopping for the future, the cold, hard reality will eventually hit: you can only optimize as far as you stop that. Don’t be a dung beetle, who starts with dung and optimizes that. He’s going to suggest a setup strategy that sets up success.

Why is your current campaign setup bad? Because, bidding. You’ll bid the same for general queries as you are for long-tail high-intent queries.

Is there a way to setup campaigns so you’re not bidding on products but rather separating queries by intent? Yes! This idea was originally shared by Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty).

Filter shopping queries by four essential aspects:

  1. Campaign priority
  2. Negative keywords
  3. Shared budget
  4. Product bids

Six things learned:

  1. Ad groups trump product groups. “Let’s make keyword funneling great again.” Because of negative queries you can filter the queries in campaign structures.
  2. You Be You. SKU might not work for you, and that’s OK. Identify natural query groupings by profit.
  3. Bids can overrule priorities. (Google no-likey timid bidding.) Be aware you can’t bid so low you’re not appearing in the auction anymore.
  4. Beware of dangling negatives. This might be a query that comes through and it’s horrible and you don’t want it to appear (like the letter “M”). Add [-m] to non-brand, branded and all other campaigns.
  5. The Bing effect. You should be importing your shopping campaigns into Bing because it’s really easy to do. But there’s no shared budget in Bing and he explains that this can cause a problem with general queries jumping into your campaigns, so this kind of ruins the strategy on Bing.
  6. It takes a while to soar. You have to get your client/boss on board. It takes time, build out time, but it’s awesome.

Susan Wenograd: Google Shopping Ongoing Optimizations

Let’s assume you have something set up. Now what do you do with it?

Paid search tools can often feel like a bunch of valves and you can tighten and open up different levers and valves. Shopping campaigns are like a fire hose. You tell the search engine what NOT to match to.

Air Traffic Control: Query Mapping

Negative keywords all the tings. Create negative keywords to funnel search queries towards the groups that are the most profitable. This ties back to ad groups being more important than product groups. Ad groups give you the control to negative and match queries where you want.

Don’t Burn Money: Structuring for ROAS

Evaluate your strongest ROAS performers. This is where Ad Groups come in handy vs. Product Groups. Test grouping strong ROAS ad allocating budget.

Remember, there is no Product Group tracking in Analytics.

Also note: you are not bidding on a search query. You are bidding on a product.

Evaluate product attributes beyond standard feed fields:

  • Inherent attributes: physical attributes
  • Client-made attributes: seasonal, sales, determined by the business as an attribute that accounts for business decisions

Use custom labels so you know what ad group to place a product in. You’re not limited to the labels they give you. Although, there will be products that could possibly live in different ad groups. So, plan your structure ahead of time. When you have the right structure, where something should live is a lot easier to figure out. Structures can evolve over time as you analyze performance. Granular tends to be better.

Bid Strategy Fussing

There’s no one best way:

  • Manual CPC
  • Maximize clicks
  • Enhanced CPC
  • Target return on spend (newish; your mileage may vary)

Mobile

A missed opportunity: if you have physical storefronts and you show inventory in a store, set up a bid modifer to a radius around your physical locations to capture nearby searchers.

Make sure your Google My Business is linked to your AdWords. Regularly evaluate performance by distance.

Check out seasonality wins and weak spots.

Wrapping it up:

  • Query map and negative keywords like crazy.
  • Consider grouping items based on ROAS/margin to drive how aggressively you bid.
  • Utilize Custom Labels to create more specific groupings and increase your control.
  • Evaluate mobile user performance based on distance from physical storefronts.
  • Evaluate mobile performance vs. competition.

Purna Virji: 3 Shopping Campaign Tips That Would Make Paris Hilton Proud

The first mental image that comes to mind when she thinks of shopping is Paris Hilton. So we’re going to take inspiration from Paris.

Our agenda:

  1. Labels are important — feed optimization
  2. Don’t be boring — creative optimization
  3. Hire bodyguards — defensive strategy

Labels Are Important

Custom labels give you more control. Utilize optional attributes for more powerful segmentation.

Heres an optimization for product feed and campaign organization. There’s nothing wrong with this structure:

OK shopping campaign structure

But this is more efficient:

better shopping campaign structure

  • Bids can be applied independently
  • Targeting adjusted to top geos
  • Increase budget for top selling products
  • Monitor low-inventory and move products out

Here’s a checklist of possible custom labels:

  • Price range (like: high end, low end, sale)
  • Popularity (like: high demand, low demand)
  • Profit margin (like: high, low)
  • Stock level (like: limited supply)
  • Seasonal products (like: winter clothes, swimwear)

Don’t Be Boring and Dress Cute Wherever You Go

Make sure your shopping campaigns look good. This comes down to picture, price, store. The picture is what jumps out. Don’t use boring colors. Check to see that your product image stands out in the field.

Core creative elements for shopping ad image:

  • Show multiple colors
  • Show product in use
  • High resolution images

Bing research has showed that white background tends to perform better. You can’t use text on an image. If there’s more than 60% white space, your image might not show.

These are the core creative elements for a shopping campaign: image, price and enhancements.

  • Start with regular price
  • Add sale price
  • Or price competitively against each other

Core creative elements for a shopping campaign ad extension/enhancement:

  • Use local, product reviews and merchant promotions
  • Use promo text
  • Create more than one ad per ad group

Hire Body Guards: Defensive Strategy

Key defensive strategies:

  • Negative keywords
  • Campaign priority settings
  • Bids and bid modifiers

Negative keywords save you money. Campaign priority settings let you prioritize high/medium/low and filter products. Bids and bid modifiers through custom labels will allow you to focus the majority of your time and energy on the items that work for you. Adjust by smartphones and tablets, “everything else,” and geographic bid modifiers.

Bonus tip: misattribution is not hot. One of the top pet peeves they see at Bing is importing a shopping campaign from Google but not updating tracking codes.

March 5th 2016 PPC

PPC Q&A: Paid Search Roundtable at #SMX

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PPC Q&A: Paid Search Roundtable at #SMX was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

You’ve tuned in to Q&A for PPC lovers. Questions covered in this SMX West session include:

How do you think speech search will impact ads?

What video ad tips, strategies, success stories do you have?

What tools do you use?

How do you find work-life balance?

How do you create space with your clients? How do you manage clients?

What is the biggest weakness in the PPC industry?

What are your suggestions for testing text ads?

Andrew Goodman, David Szetela, Christi Olson and John Lee

From left, Andrew Goodman, David Szetela, Christi Olson and John Lee

Moderator:

Matt Van Wagner, President, Find Me Faster (@mvanwagner)

Speakers:

Matt starts out with a quick story. In 2002, he got started in the business. Paid search is fascinating and you want to do it day and night. And as it turns out, you do end up doing it day and night. (Everyone on stage is nodding their head). Matt says he doesn’t have a good work-life balance.

How do you find work-life balance?

John: It’s the biggest challenge. The fact that it bothers a lot of us is that we care. We want to be driving performance. His wife is the voice of reason that reminds him to spend time with kids.

David: His balance has been found in age. You learn to not sweat the small stuff and there’s an awful lot of small stuff in everyone’s day.

Christi: In having a perspective from in-house, agency and on the Bing side, she sees all sides. At an agency, there’s always something to be doing. You have to prioritize. You could do all this stuff, but will it make that much of a difference if you do it. You have determine for yourself. If you’re in a busy season, you may accept 18 hour days.

John: The biggest thing is understanding the line between working and being aware because you can control campaigns from your phone.

Matt: Do you ever turn your phones off? How do you unplug?

Audience member: A group of entrepreneurs she knows meets every Tuesday for dinner and they all put their phones in a stack and no one touches their phone and instead they all have good conversation.

Andrew: The book “The Millionaire Next Door” shows that people in an environment who save (vs. spend) are more likely to be happy. Living in a small city is an environment where people aren’t stressed. His company has a lot of remote workers and they aren’t going to jump off a cliff if you don’t get a click.

How do you create space with your clients? How do you manage clients?

David: Be reasonably responsive to email. That diminishes the amount of times that they want to speak with you. Sometimes it takes actually saying to the client, “I’m not able to respond to 8 emails before 8 am.”

John: Consistent, regularly scheduled calls are a pinpoint on the map where they know they can get a hold of you.

Christi: You can set hours. Send a response so that you know you’re looking into it if the question requires in-depth research and that you’ll be getting back to them with the answer in X time frame, then meeting that time frame.

Andrew: Educate clients about the method behind the madness.

Christi: If you’re on the fifth email response in a long thread, pick up the phone.

John: Email doesn’t convey emotion and it can push you into panic mode.

Brad Geddes in the audience: If you’re getting an email response ready at 2 a.m., don’t send it then. Batch send/schedule it for 8:30 a.m. so they don’t think they can get you at any time.

What tools do you use?

John: They all have their own shortfalls.

Christi: Different tool for different clients.

Andrew: Optmyzer is the the best out there. The entry level is like $50 a month.

David: Automated ad testing on steroids: Adalysis.

Christi: Can we have a panel of tool users and not tool reps talking about what we like and don’t like about tools, and the pricing models?

David: I have a controversial view about automated bid management. I’ve said: prove to me that you can do better than Google’s automated bid manager. Vendors only have data from their own pool of users. Google has all the data, including conversion attributes on the keyword and the searcher. So how can a third-party vendor possibly do a better job than Google?

John: I wrote an article about all the little utilities and tools he uses, and he filled pages.

On Google AdWords, my call extensions are disallowed because of DKI that doesn’t match the page.

John: Use Google Search Console to blanket approve your site. This is the same issue with call tracking. The instructions are in the AdWords Help.

How do you think speech search will impact ads?

David: It’s not our problem yet. It’s becoming a problem. Stats he’s heard — people 18-24, 55% use voice search exclusively. Search engines are going to be figuring out how to monetize voice search, have ads for voice search.

John: The idea of conversational search, you start with a long-from question that has a root term, and then it will perform additional searches pivoting on the root term. One idea is that there will be another match type, like contextual match.

Andrew: Thinks this is a futurism question of whether advertising is going to be as much of a thing. Utility is the focus and none of that is monetized. Apple is not a company that monetizes, but they have a business model. Microsoft and Apple are creating utility for the future and there will be less advertising and they have to figure out as companies how they get paid. It seems to me Google is in trouble if they don’t figure this out.

Christi: Context again matters. Cortana may answer you directly, sometimes it will give you a SERP. Then it’s up to the search engine and advertisers to think through the funnel of user intent and where you can reach the consumer. It’s going to be a time to revisit negative keywords and keywords that match voice search.

David: To understand where it’s going, get an Amazon Echo. You’re conversing with a device and starts to become second nature. You’ll see where it’s all going.

John: Amazon Echo is a data collection device for Amazon to understand you and what it can sell you better.

Andrew: It was an era of freedom with the SERPs, 10 or 11 ads that could show up … and now they’ve taken away the right rail and that’s a wake up call that not everyone can show up.

Video paid ads: tips, strategies, success stories?

John: Don’t think of YouTube as a perfect direct response channel.

David: It’s demand generation display advertising.

Christi: YouTube is not the closer and never meant to be the closer channel. It’s exposure.

David: Like any display advertising, the sole purpose of the first impression is to persuade people to engage further. The important things about a video ad is the still image and the first 3 seconds of the video. This has to engage before someone has a chance to skip.

John: If you do it, be sure to have your retargeting audiences set up.

What is the biggest weakness in the PPC industry?

Andrew: The high-level weakness that hits people in the eyes is scale of business and bigger competitors. If someone can beat you by outbidding you, you need to grow, mimic as much as you can with extensions and matching conversion rates. The other weakness is broad match.

Matt: The FCC should ban search engines from allowing broad match. It’s fraud. Google should not be able to do this with good conscience.

John: Expanding on that: a long time client asked him to look at his campaign settings and he saw “search or display select,” targeting all countries, all languages, only broad match. These are all defaults.

Christi: We can get into the weeds. We don’t think about the big picture enough. Think strategy on a regular basis, and how your search campaign connects to SEO and marketing. Be part of the bigger picture working toward a goal and talking across.

John: To the platforms, he’d say that he doesn’t like “talking points.” He doesn’t like Facebook pushing video or the month of mobile.

How do we build personas for B2B leads? Customer serving isn’t always an option.

David: Sales teams.

Andrew: This is about keyword intent. Take a defensive, skeptical stance with B2B search. Assume it’s broad intent. The keyword research phase is annoyingly intensive for B2B.

John: Have theories you’re going to test but don’t make assumptions.

Suggestions for testing text ads?

Andrew: Come up with 3 or 4 concepts to test: is it about price, describing product? Headline is the biggest influencer.

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March 4th 2016 PPC

10 PPC Hacks, Tips and Tricks to Optimize Your Time #SMX

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10 PPC Hacks, Tips and Tricks to Optimize Your Time #SMX was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Kim Thomas, director of Digital Advertising at Wheelhouse Search, is teaching the SMX West 2016 audience how she is making her search campaigns as efficient as possible. Who doesn’t want to learn about that? Let’s dig in.

1. Expand.

Kim Thomas PPCWe can’t ignore the rise of voice search (Siri, Cortana). Try answerthepublic.com – it works off Gogole’s autocomplete and brings in a lot of questions that people are asking. Start by typing in the query and look at the different prepositions and question modifiers (which, who, what, where, when, why, how, are, etc.).

2. Be Aware

Use Google Alerts to be notified about your brand. Have those alerts delivered to your email address or an RSS feed.

3. Be Competitive

You can’t compete where you don’t compare. Compare your brand as well as your ads and offers to others. Use SEMush and SpyFu. But when it comes to display ads, use Moat for competitive display ad comparison.

4. Improve

Constantly chase more leads at cheaper prices. Optimize further down the funnel for opportunity creation.

5. Repurpose

Take advantage of targeting from display and social campaigns. Repurpose that traffic from other digital advertising channels for remarketing/RLSA. Create Audiences by source, destination URL, etc.

6. Organize

Utilize AdWords labels, AdWords comments and Google Analytics annotations. Modify “cents” bids based on performance to quickly determine change history of keyword.

7. Customize

Create custom columns in AdWords Editor. Create column name and description. Select metrics and create formula. Select segments (network, device, top vs. other, +1 annotations, conversion). Ex. metrics by devices, Google search vs. search partners.

8. Automate

Automate to cut down on time. Automate rules. Use ad scheduling. Use AdWords Editor Quick Reference. Use scripts. Scripts are great — try Google Developers AdWords Scripts and FreeAdWordsScripts.com.

9. Be Efficient

Formula Words in AdWords Editor. It’s a feature that’s been around for awhile and is one of Thomas’ favorites. It is similar to the =SUBSTITUE feature in Excel. Find and replace w/ bracket terms. Does not work w/ “Append” Tool. Combine use of UI’s and desktop editors.

10. Share

Utilize shared features to cut down on management and admin. Use shared campaign negative keywords, shared campaign placement exclusion, bid strategies, budges and shared sitelinks.

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March 3rd 2016 PPC

VIDEO: Paid Search Leaders from Bing Talk PPC Hot Topics, Tips & Tricks #SMX

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VIDEO: Paid Search Leaders from Bing Talk PPC Hot Topics, Tips & Tricks #SMX was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

In advance of Search Marketing Expo (SMX), speakers and PPC experts Christi Olson and Purna Virji talked with Bruce Clay, Inc.’s Kristi Kellogg and David Szetela! These paid search leaders dive into PPC hot topics including:

  • Product Listing Ads
  • How to keep Shopping Campaigns creative
  • How social ads fit into the overall paid search strategy
  • Optimizing a mobile site for a good quality score

Watch the full conversation below.

Tweet-Worthy Moments


“I’m almost to the point of thinking all campaigns could be remarketing campaigns.” – @ChristiJOlson
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“To take advantage of all the ad types on Facebook is a full-time job — @Szetela”
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“The image is the most important part of an ad, along with price.”- @PurnaVirji
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“Product on a white background has the best response” – @PurnaVirji
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Are you headed to SMX West? If so, we will see you there! And if not, don’t worry — our blog will be bursting with live coverage of key SMX sessions. Check out our liveblog schedule to know what sessions/speakers will be covered March 1-3.

February 20th 2016 PPC

43 Reasons SEOs Can’t Fear Change: 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions

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43 Reasons SEOs Can’t Fear Change: 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

There’s a word for fear of change: metathesiophobia. The way search, media, technology and consumer behavior changes from week to week, it’s not a phobia that SEOs can afford to harbor.

2016 predictions social

This year, Bruce Clay is joined by Duane Forrester, David Szetela, Cindy Krum, Eric Enge, Larry Kim, Maddie Cary, Dan Petrovic, Richard Baxter, Marcus Tandler and Andre Alpar in our annual digital marketing predictions post.

Instead, digital marketers race to get ahead of competition, ahead of algorithm updates, and ahead of upcoming technologies with early adoption and forward-looking strategy.

Where to start? Right here. Bruce Clay, Duane Forrester, David Szetela, and invited digital marketing rockstars have shared their 2016 predictions for the online marketing industry. What will you do with this foresight into the year ahead?

Read on or jump to predictions by:

  • Bruce Clay – 20-year SEO veteran calls out apps, millennials, and local search revenue as drivers of change.
  • Duane Forrester – HTTPS, podcasts and search from Facebook and Amazon make an appearance in this former Microsofties predictions.
  • David Szetela – Facebook, Instagram and Bing display are big winners in the “Pay-Per-Click Marketing: An Hour a Day” author’s picks, but read to find out who he bets against.
  • Cindy Krum – With mobile changing everything about digital marketing, you’ll want to read this mobile tech expert’s take on 2016.
  • Eric Enge – SEO scientist and co-author of “The Art of SEO” sees machine learning, personal assistants and wearables in the future, but whether going up and down, you’ll have to read to find out.
  • Larry Kim – What will be the biggest game changer this year according to the 2015 Search Personality of the Year Award winner? Hint: It starts with F and ends with R … ?
  • Maddie Cary – U.S. Search Awards 2015 Young Search Professional of the Year dubs 2016 the year of removing resistance with PPC predictions to back it up.
  • Dan Petrovic – The international SEO’s predictions echo a familiar theme — content quality — backed by some interesting new research out of Australia.
  • Richard Baxter – In the UK, Baxter’s predictions center on technical SEO growth, the direction of SEO software and what makes content “work.”
  • Marcus Tandler – User experience is Tandler’s hot topic in Germany, with conversion optimization cooling off — read why.
  • Andre Alpar – The Berlin-based SEO’s predictions offer a helpful rule of thumb to multi-language businesses who must weigh the ROI potential of content in multiple languages.

Bruce Clay

(+BruceClay) President, Bruce Clay, Inc.

bruce clay predicts mobile apps in 2016

1. Mobile devices will surprise everyone with new wireless “attachments” rivaling the power of desktops, and by Q4 we will see an accelerated mobile use in the USA.

Until then it will continue to grow but not at the rate most expect. PC share will shrink as tablet and mobile dominate the space for quick information and location specific queries.

2. Google revenues will grow exponentially as they continue to place ads above organic results. For some queries there will be 4 or fewer organic results well below the fold.


Bruce Clay’s 2016 #SEO prediction: For some queries there will be 4 or fewer organic results well…
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3. Google will emphasize local results for all queries.

Local will allow Google PPC prices to increase as merchants will no longer appear outside of their specific region and are forced to purchase ads.

4. Apps that load web content will be the rage.

This allows users to have a favorite app, yet get the power of a website. Most users will find that “mobile friendly” is simply not enough.

5. Millennials will be influencing a massive web design surge.

The need for minimalistic design, performance, mobile support mixed with elegant features will drive most websites to a redesign. As this happens, the HTML source code sites will begin to fade, replaced by css and javascript intensive dynamic content. SEO becomes much harder.


Bruce Clay’s 2016 SEO prediction: Millennials influence a web design surge, challenging #SEO with…
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6. We will see the demise of link building as a prime influence in SEO.

Link building will be replaced by on-page technical quality, amazing content, mobile friendly, peak performing pages. If the link is inappropriate Google will just ignore it.

7. Internet marketing becomes Internet advertising in order to survive.

The web ceases to be a gold rush, evolving into a pay-to-play space. The few sites gaining true organic rankings and holding them will be gold. The rest will buy ads.

Editor’s note: Bruce has published his annual predictions since 2006. Read his past predictions to see how keen his crystal ball gazing really is. I dare say his 2015 predictions are nine for nine, although we invite your judgement on No. 6 …

Duane Forrester

(@duaneforrester) VP, Organic Search Operations, Bruce Clay, Inc.

duane forrester predicts search engine changes 2016

8. HTTPS will be much talked about in 2016 but little action will be seen with relatively few sites making the swap.

Security will remain a hot topic as consumers wake up to the ongoing data-theft problem, but businesses will be slow to make changes due to the inherent costs involved.

9. Mobile will continue to see growth.

Microsoft’s move with Windows 10 on a mobile device that can act like a larger computer/environment will see some traction for light-duty users. “Indestructible” and “waterproof” will be bigger marketing angles, so expect to see “tougher” versions of phones released, likely tied to some cool photographic features aimed at the vacation/adventure crowd.

10. Podcasts will see continued growth in popularity due to their ease of production/consumption.


2016 digital marketing prediction by @duaneforrester: Podcast consumption will grow & AI will…
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11. AI (artificial intelligence) will be a much hotter topic across search in 2016.

This will mostly be driven by a detailed lack of understanding of what level of AI is in play within systems like RankBrain. Overall, more folks will gain understanding of the three levels of AI, deepening our understanding of what we see in SERPs. All AI are not created equally, so expect some companies to claim to be using it, even though the first level isn’t very advanced. And the third level (human-like) has yet to be attained and employed in a meaningful, public way. Expect to see this level gain more traction in 2016, but, ah…we better be ready!

12. Facebook and Amazon will launch actual search engines.

Well, maybe. Don’t they already have these? OK, this prediction is that in 2016 both of these rumors will pop to the top again, whether they are factual or not.

13. Bing will continue to grow while Google starts to see more leveling off.

14. Yahoo will get out of search.


2016 #SEO prediction by @duaneforrester: Bing will grow, Google will level, Yahoo will exit search.
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15. Round-ups will finally, thankfully, retire.

But the spam from random people will continue.

Bonus prediction: I will learn to play the guitar. :)

David Szetela

(@szetela) VP, Search Marketing Operations, Bruce Clay, Inc.

david szetela predicts mobile buyer journey optimization in 2016

16. Website owners will put more effort into reaching mobile search customers that use mobile devices as the first step of their “buyer journeys.”

As a result, apps, built-for-mobile sites, and responsive websites will take off. To prepare for this trend, digital marketers should implement mobile-friendly advertising such as using click-to-call ads and easy-to-digest content, such as shorter ad copy.

17. Advertisers will invest more money into Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook will become a viable direct response platform and advertisers will take advantage of its latest features, including retargeting, dynamic product ads, and custom audiences.


2016 #PPC prediction by @szetela: Advertisers invest more $ in Facebook & Instagram which…
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18. 2016 will be the year Bing Ads search and display traffic will be seen by more advertisers as a viable platform.

Bing Ads will finally have its own display advertising network capable of reaching target audiences based on behavior data from Windows 10 users and other search partners.  This will be fueled by the fact that the growing click inventory will be cheaper than Google CPCs. But take note: cheaper prices won’t last long, so make sure to purchase your fair share of Bing Ads while you still can.

19. 2016 looks grim for Yahoo/Gemini.

Direct response advertisers will stay away and digital advertisers will continue to see it as a second best option for native advertising.


2016 #PPC prediction by @szetela: Bing search+display becomes viable platform but the year looks…
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20. PPC will be broken down into specific areas of expertise.

As ad platform products and features continue to develop and launch at a fast pace, individual PPC managers will have an even harder time keeping up with all aspects of PPC in 2016. Agencies will hire team members that specialize in those areas to act as resources for the rest of the agency.

Cindy Krum

(@suzzicks) CEO, MobileMoxie

cindy krum predicts chromecast in google SERPs

21. I feel strongly that we are going to start to see more ChromeCast logos in Google properties — potentially directly in the SERPS.

Google has been focusing a lot of their talks on “video” and other types of media, and also focusing a lot of research on “cross-device behavior.”


2016 #mobile #SEO prediction by @suzzicks: We’ll see the ChromeCast logo in Google SERPs
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22. Getting exposure in the ChromeCast app may become relevant for SEO.

ChromeCast automatically scrapes the Deep Linked video and music apps on your phone for content that it can aggregate, so you only have to go one place to see what’s on. Also, it seem seems very likely that video and audio content will eventually receive a rankings boost if they are integrated with ChromeCast, since Deep Linking is starting to be more seamless on iOS, and more prevalent on Android.


2016 #mobile #SEO prediction by @suzzicks: Exposure in the ChromeCast app via deep linking becomes…
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23. App Streaming may be the way of the future – especially for entertainment apps like Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, etc, which already really work best on WiFi.

Why download the app when it is available from the cloud without wasting storage space on your phone? Streaming apps will hopefully make the app/web distinction less relevant, and save some developers from having to build/maintain both Android and iOS apps (finally!). Apps that can be easily streamed may consequently eventually be given an additional rankings boost.

24. App plugins will become more important.

Why develop an entire app when there is an existing app, with an existing audience, that already does most of what you need. We are already seeing this with keyboards and emoji libraries that can be added to your SMS app or Facebook Messenger. Why not make a Netflix Nanny that prevents your kids from watching more than an hour a day, or a Chrome App plugin that lets you take scrolling screenshots, ala Snagit on the desktop? (Somebody please make this one — I need it!!!)

25. I anticipate a consolidation in some Google properties.

I am not sure which way things will go, but Google Play, Google Music, YouTube, Google+ all seem to have some overlapping capabilities, and are sharing lots of data. Google is also really struggling with UX for people who have multiple Google accounts – I can only hope that they find a good way to manage that, so that all the services will work better together.


2016 #SEO prediction @suzzicks: Google properties consolidate – Google Play, Google Music, YouTube,…
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Eric Enge

(@stonetemple) CEO, Stone Temple Consulting

eric enge predicts engagement ranking signals 2016

2016 will be a huge year in digital marketing, as there is so much going on. Here are some of my predictions.

26. The rise of content quality and user engagement as ranking factors will begin to be broadly accepted.

An increasing number of businesses will begin to invest in their overall site experience, and view part of the payoff of that as increased rankings and traffic.  More and more SEO agencies will correspondingly promote related services on their sites as a result.

27. The power of paid social as tool to drive content marketing campaigns will also become more mainstream.

Currently, only a small subset of the industry recognizes this, but the word will get out. This will cause more content marketing agencies (or SEO agencies) to offer paid social services.

28. Wearables will show a disappointing level of growth.

People will realize that they don’t find the functionality that compelling yet.


2016 prediction by @stonetemple: Wearables will show a disappointing level of growth.
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29. Personal assistants from Google, Apple and Microsoft will continue to battle through the year.

As these companies view those platforms as one of the most important land grab battles for the future of digital marketing. This will result in major new announcements from at least 2 of the 3 aforementioned parties this year.

30. Machine learning will become more mainstream as well.

The computing knowledge needed to implement these algorithms is become much more accessible, and the power of machine optimized algorithms is undeniable.

Larry Kim

(@larrykim) CTO, WordStream

larry kim predicts facebook messenger expansion 2016

31. In 2016, Facebook will open up Facebook Messenger as a service. Meaning, developers will be able to build business applications on top of messenger to enable commerce activities, which up to now, hasn’t been made generally available. For example, say you’re doing a group chat in messenger, you could order an Uber for a friend, and they could see your status in real time. Or say you’re an ecommerce company — your customers could subscribe to a live update of the shipping, and do future orders by just replying to message.


2016 prediction from @larrykim: Facebook opens Facebook Messenger as a service for devs to build…
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Facebook Messenger matters because nearly a billion people use it, mostly on mobile. Filling out those complicated ecommerce forms that were designed for desktops is so much harder than texting an emoji or using voice input. To say this is disruptive and transformative to mobile commerce is an understatement. What’s a marketer to do about this trend? A simple growth hack would be to start supporting Facebook logins on your site or apps, and collecting Facebook login IDs and/or mobile phone numbers as part of your direct response marketing efforts, so that you can target them later.

Maddie Cary

(@MaddieMarketer) Senior Client Manager, Point It Inc.

maddie cary predicts year of removing resistance 2016


Prediction by @MaddieMarketer: 2016 is the Year of Removing Resistance – think streamlined…
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2016 is going to be the year of “removing resistance.” I think we’re going to see new features, ad formats, and campaign types rolled out that are streamlined and dynamic, as well as provide more data-enriched ways to target (and ideally convert!) searchers. A few ways I think that’ll play out throughout the year include:

32. More audience targeting in PPC

Keyword intent is incredibly important, but there’s greater power in layering it with high-quality audience data. I think PPC is going to follow the paths already carved out in channels like Display and Social, with Google and Bing likely launching more PPC targeting methods that are audience-focused

33. Removing steps in order to convert the mobile searcher

How many articles and studies have we seen over the last 1-2 years showing how mobile search volume is surpassing desktop? Yet why is it that it’s still difficult in many verticals to convert mobile searchers? I anticipate we’ll see search publishers take the Amazon route and start rolling out one-click options on the mobile SERP (like that Google mobile buy button) in order to shorten the conversion path and improve conversion rates, encouraging more PPC investment in mobile.

34. Increase in dynamic ad features

How else do you shorten the path to conversion? By showing the searcher what they’ve already expressed an interest in. Dynamic ad formats & targeting methods are going to expand further in 2016, and I think we’re going to get more ad building tools within the UIs to help further streamline that process for online marketers.

35. Growth of Shopping/PLA and available ad formats

SERPs are getting more visual, and therefore I think PLAs are the frontrunners for driving e-commerce growth through 2016. If you then start to imagine Shopping campaigns that incorporate layered audience targeting + mobile one-click buy solutions + dynamic ad formats…that could be the winning formula for notable PPC channel growth throughout this next year!

Dan Petrovic

(AU LinkedIn: SEOguy) Director, Dejan Marketing

dan petrovic predicts content consumption trends 2016

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

Content production has been increasing at a phenomenal rate. The abundance of choice and easy of access of web content lead to changes in our reading habits. One specific phenomenon is the rise of skimmers.


Dan Petrovic’s research shows a content consumption phenomenon: the rise of skimmers. Read his…
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An Australian-based study conducted by our team showed us that most people decide whether to read something within seconds of loading a page. This choice is influenced by a number of factors including:

  • Presence of quick answers
  • Scannable text structure
  • Design and aesthetics
  • Trustworthiness
  • Text size

The majority of our respondents admitted to skipping uninteresting parts when reading content or even only quickly scanning pages looking for quick answers. We’ve known this for nearly two decades yet few are getting their content format right.


2016 #SEO prediction by Dan Petrovic: Producing lots of “OK” content isn’t going to cut it in…
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36. Producing lots of “OK” content isn’t going to cut it in 2016. I believe we’ll see a lot of digital agencies adjusting their approach to content formats and keeping in mind that more doesn’t mean better.

I’d like to see Google reward innovation when it brings good user engagement signals. It’s time for them to start treating content behind tabs, accordions and other mechanisms for what they are designed for — great user experience.

Bonus predictions:

  • Penguin release will be mild and uninteresting.
  • Google will continue to aggressively push mobile.
  • Additional incentives will be offered to switch to https.
  • We’ll start seeing a smarter AI-based results, but will not be impressed.
  • New developments will be made on a personal assistant level involving two elements: email and voice input.

Richard Baxter

(@richardbaxter) Managing Director, Builtvisible

richard baxter predicts content that works 2016

37. The demand for technical search expertise will increase significantly, especially in mobile.

Over the past 6 months we’ve seen a lot of development in the mobile influenced side of search. App indexing is now a standard part of most technical search audit recommendations, and as we progress into 2016 I’d expect to see more app only content in search results. This will include app streaming — enabling the use of an app without it actually being installed on your device. Put simply, the number of options available to marketers to drive traffic from mobile will expand, but will all require a great deal of technical discipline to get right. Over the longer term, we’re going to see the divide between desktop and mobile channel tactics expand.

38. SEO software companies are in for a transformative period.

The majority of the reporting and tracking tools we use today are going to need to provide a step change in their products to cope with mobile, mobile search results tracking, app traffic, traffic modelling and research. More emphasis on placement, channel, device, topic and targeting will be required by content marketers to provide more relevant content experiences to an oft content fatigued audience.


2016 #SEO prediction by @builtvisible: software companies enter transformative period to cope with…
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39. Anyone can produce content; 2016’s winners will be those who make that content “work.”

We’ve observed a large increase in examples of quite complex content production coming out of search marketing agencies, to the point where the ability to provide interactive content is no longer a USP. For our industry, I think 2016 will be a year of focused attention on what makes content “work”. This is a huge subject that doesn’t receive the coverage it deserves, and hopefully we’ll see the subject covered in more detail at this year’s search conferences.

Marcus Tandler

(@mediadonis) Co-founder and CEO, OnPage.org

marcus tandler predicts ux over cro 2016

40. I predict user experience optimization to be a dominating topic in Germany this year.

By now conversion optimization is an established tactic and within the standard repertoire of clever in-house online marketers and performance marketing agencies alike. Unfortunately, conversion optimization mostly focuses on single pages and almost always only on the last step of the entire customer journey. Attention needs to be shifted towards optimizing the whole customer experience. This does not only include the optimization of the entire customer journey but most importantly optimizing all touch points potential customers are having with the brand, including any social media platforms, as well as traditional marketing activity whatsoever. Personalization is key here, to enhance the brand experience and general user experience. Nowadays users expect a personal and individual attention — relevant content, at the right time via the right channel. No widely spread advertisement but rather authentic dialogue.


2016 digital marketing prediction by @mediadonis: user experience #UX optimization overshadows…
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Andre Alpar

(@andrealpar) CEO, PerformicsAKM3 Berlin

andre alpar predicts multi-language content roi calls 2016

41. Technical SEO grows in complexity and importance.

The plurality and diversity of options for technical SEO measures is growing faster than ever before. On top of that, topics that used more separate from SEO are becoming more interconnected with SEO. Here are some examples:

  • Web security: defense against spam / hacking
  • Privacy: HTTPS etc.
  • Server configuration and hosting: page speed
  • The complexity and non-transparency of search engine results: the keyword position tracking when all results are heavily individualized. There are also all kinds of special insertions and result representations

Technical SEO will definitely require investment in terms of effort and costs. It remains to be a potentially great differentiating factor for those able to adapt quickly while managing effort thanks to a sound technical infrastructure.

42. Links will still matter.

It seems during the last three or four years that some search marketers have adapted “links are not important any more” as their version of the claim, “SEO is dead”. All search marketers who realistically can grow their own and their clients’ organic traffic over many years know that this false prediction is far off and will stay so for at least another five years. Sure, there may be other off-page signals that can complement links e.g. the analysis of traffic via browsers, but at the moment, and for the foreseeable future, there is no better off-page quality signal than a good link that drives direct traffic—and, ultimately, a large multiplicative of traffic via better positions in SERPs.

43. Drifting apart of content quality requirements.

This may be a trend that many do not see but we are confronted with it daily as we work in many multilingual and international setups in Europe. Investments per piece of content in large countries, or languages which are spoken in many countries, are growing rapidly. But this is not the case for smaller countries or less popular languages. Think, for example, of the many European countries with less than 10 million inhabitants and their own local language.


2016 international #SEO prediction by @andrealpar: Business will invest in content,…
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Also think of the varying search terms and topics. Where it makes sense to invest a lot in content in, for example, English, Spanish or German, it makes less sense to do so in Italian or Dutch, for example, and even less in Serbian, Danish or Swedish.

You have to then also find and adapt how you measure SEO success or ROI on content, etc. The aftermath coming out of this development has a massive strategic impact. For multiregional and multinational companies and the agencies that they work with, this is a huge and massively growing driver of the complexity of SEO.


Thank you all for sharing your predictions with us here. If you reading have predictions, comment away. We’ll be checking back with our assembled experts through the year to see how their predictions stand.

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January 14th 2016 PPC, SEO

Internet Marketing Highlight Reel: SEO, PPC & SMM

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Internet Marketing Highlight Reel: SEO, PPC & SMM was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Here’s to rediscovering the best BCI blog posts of 2015 for a competitive advantage. 

Dear marketing director, business owner, and digital marketing client: It’s been a pleasure working to make your website a well-oiled sales machine and useful resource for your customers this year. We spent time tuning up your website to be in line with established marketing best practices. We also followed search engine optimization announcements and new guidelines along with global marketing trends to make sure your business received every competitive advantage. To share our thoughts on digital marketing’s evolution and productive ways of thinking, we published our findings and recommendations on our blog for all to read.

Internet Marketing Highlight Reel

Looking back on our blog posts of 2015, a story is told — a big picture of Internet marketing today. Let’s look at the story of the last year to remember where we are and what’s expected of your business (and ours) when serving customers and attracting new ones online today.

This World is Mobile: SEO and PPC Need-to-Knows

Mobile SEO

The tale of mobile began many years ago, but 2015 was the year it became a main character in the world of Internet marketing. As our SEO Manager Rob Ramirez first reported on the blog, Google announced the exact date it planned to make mobile-friendliness a ranking signal — sending a clear message that mobile is the primary lens through which digital marketing must be viewed.

Long before the announcement, though, we helped prepare you for the major search change (because we saw it coming) and offered technical advice on how to improve the search experience for your customers on the go.

Part of this preparation included the post “6 Mobile-Friendly Navigation Best Practices,” written by former BCI Senior Content Writer . One of our most read posts of 2015, it helps you see the mobile search experience through the eyes of your customer and provides valuable customer-friendly navigation tips so you can “keep Joe and the rest of your inbound traffic smiling.”

Chelsea Adams points to Bruce Clay, Inc.’s navigation along with REI, LA Times and Firestone Tires for examples of navigation best practices for mobile.

Preparing for Mobilegeddon also meant updating our popular SEO guides to reflect the latest information about mobile. For example, we revamped our popular “SEO 101: The 29-Point SEO Checklist,” with a new SEO to-do item.

Scroll to #26: “Review Mobile Usability Issues” to see how to check if your site is even performing well on mobile devices. It’s a great place to start if you’re new to the mobile journey as it introduces you to the Mobile Usability Report and the Mobile-Friendly Test, a simple way to find out if you have what it takes to satisfy Google’s mobile criteria.

The Mobile-Friendly Label

When some results get a “Mobile-friendly” label and other results get different notation, is one better than the other? Maryann Robbins explains.

As a result of our prep work, clients began taking and passing the mobile-friendly test, until we noticed a pattern. Sometimes the mobile-friendly label didn’t show up in Google search results, even when a site passed Google’s exam.

Our Senior SEO Consultant  researched the problem, compared notes with industry thought leaders, and came up with examples of why certain pages might not have the mobile-friendly annotation.

The timely results were published in the helpful post, “Why is My Mobile-Friendly Label Missing in Google Search Results,” a great resource to visit if you’re experiencing the same issues. This was also a very popular Internet marketing blog post of 2015.

The Big Day

And then the big day came. On April 21, 2015, as promised, Google rolled out its mobile-friendly update. The update rewards mobile-friendly sites in mobile SERPs, providing a boost to beat their closest competitors. Our clients came out ahead on the other side because of strategic planning and preparation.

Shortly after “Mobilegeddon,” Google told us that they created a way for web pages to be “faster and lighter,” in an effort to speed up the mobile search experience for people with slow connections. What perhaps wasn’t so clear was that Google wanted (and wants) this so bad that it’s willing to do it for you.

That’s when our SEO Analyst John Alexander stepped up to write “Google Wants You to Make Your Site Faster or They’ll Do It for You. Will You Like the Result?” This popular article provides a picture of what Google wants to do (hint: it has to do with transcoding) and helps you weigh the pros and cons to answer that question for yourself.

Google reps have already said that Google’s primary initiative in 2016 is to make sites faster by encouraging the adoption of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).

The push to create a customer-friendly mobile experience continued to change nearly every aspect of SEO this past year, including the way URLs are featured in the mobile search results.

Paula Allen explains how to optimize mobile breadcrumbs so a long, convoluted string turns into a cleaned-up and easy-to-read breadcrumb in her post “Google’s New Mobile Breadcrumb URLs.”

In April, Google told us that mobile search results will now appear with the “real-world name of the site instead of the domain name, and the URL structure of the sites in a breadcrumbs-like format.” Immediately we saw potential here, agreeing with Gary Illyes’ point, that this was an opportunity for websites to use Schema.org structured data to customize displayed breadcrumb URLs and site names.

Written by our Senior Technical Writer Paula Allen, “Google’s New Mobile Breadcrumb URLs: Making the Most of Your Site Name & URL Structure” details the changes and offers useful tips on how to use these changes to your website’s advantage.

Mobile PPC

In February of 2015, Google introduced call-only campaigns in AdWords, and shortly afterward we published “Tips for Getting the Most out of Call-Only Ads in Google AdWords,” written by former BCI SEM Analyst Jack Van Leeuwen.

What makes this article unique is not that it includes easy instructions on how to setup a call-only ad (although that information makes it helpful), but that it features insider tips based on “data and testing” we conducted for our PPC clients. For example, did you know there was a way to get more “granular control of the different bid and keyword strategies” of mobile preferred ads and call-only ads? Yup, there is, and the answer is in the article.

While we updated some of our digital marketing guides to include mobile sections, 2015 was also the year we found it useful to create new guides — such as our “Guide to Mobile PPC Opportunities” written by yours truly — that reflect just how valuable the mobile customer is to the pay per click advertiser.

This guide is helpful to both new and seasoned advertisers and provides clear instructions on everything from how to locate your mobile audience to how to monitor cross-device conversions. It also shares useful PPC tips on keyword research for mobile and features clear descriptions of all the mobile ads and extensions.

Be Useful: Content, Social Media, and Serving Your Customers

all-about-usefulness-today-and-moving-forward-duane-forrester-4002015 taught us that everything we do as Internet marketers revolves around satisfying the customer.

In addition to mobile campaigns, the development of content and social media strategies are also focused on improving the customer experience. Google ended the year on that note, releasing an updated version of its Search Quality Rating Guidelines with its heavier emphasis on usefulness.

Paula spells out all you need to know that’s included in the 160-page guide in “2015 Search Quality Rating Guidelines Checklist: Aligning with Google’s Focus on Usefulness.” Content and the websites they appear on have to be helpful.

Of course there are challenges to writing useful content. Ever heard of writer’s block? In one of this year’s popular blog posts by Director of Training Mindy Weinstein, “Creating Content for a Boring Industry? No Problem,” we address a very common obstacle for content writers and online marketers – writing for a boring topic. The article offers three powerful tips on how to craft engaging SEO content regardless of what you’re writing about.

Find Out What Happens When _The Great Gatsby_ is Run Through an SEO Tool

Kristi Kellogg shows you how the free Single Page Analyzer can help you examine various elements of your content and compare it to SEO best practices.

But how do you know if your content is really useful to your target audience and the search engines? There’s an SEO tool for that.

In a unique demonstration of the SEOToolSet’s Single Page Analyzer,  Social Media Editor Kristi Kellogg shows you how this handy tool can help you examine various elements of your content and compare it to SEO best practices.

The Power of a Page Analyzer: I Ran ‘The Great Gatsby through an SEO Tool & This Is What Happened” reveals valuable insight such as the novel’s reading level, the most commonly used words on a page (categorized by one-, two-, three- and four-word phrases), how those words relate to one another, the topic of each page, and more. In addition to highlighting the power of the tool, the article is a fun read for literature lovers, especially fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel.

But there comes a time when every business owner and digital marketer is ready to hire a professional content writer – someone educated and experienced in the craft. That’s when you can rely on Kristi’s article “15 Content Writer Interview Questions You Need to Ask” to help you find the perfect professional to join your in-house Internet marketing team. In fact, we use these questions to hire our own writers, so we know you can depend on them to hunt down great talent. :)

Conquering SEO and PPC Waves of Change

As we look back at the most popular blog posts of 2015, we see a clear picture of the customer. Today the customer experience is the core of nearly every marketing strategy and campaign. For us, this means you are the center of everything we do. We hope to be with you throughout 2016, too, as we work even harder to predict industry trends, shifts, and continue to fine-tune your websites to reflect the latest and established marketing best practices.

H.G. Wells said, “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” How true this is for the digital marketing world! We work to do more than adapt, but to take advantage of change to become better than your competition.

December 30th 2015 PPC, SEO