Daily Archives: November 23, 2021

SERP News: Google’s Latest Powerful Update

By | November 23, 2021

Beware of the Ides of March! First and foremost, thank you Google for me letting begin an SEO news blog post with Shakespeare! That being said, for sites that harbored low quality content, March 15th was something to be wary of. Due to a powerful Google algorithm update, March proved to be an eruption of SERP significant action. Combined with some interesting SERP feature shifts and tests, the March SERP has quite the story to tell. 

Digital Shakespeare

Fiery Fred – A Potent Google Algorithm Update


There was nothing comical about Google algorithm Fred, well except for its name. There also wasn’t much typical about ‘Fred’ (sort of like my Uncle Fred). It all started on March 9th when the Rank Risk Index spiked to a risk level of 79 on desktop and industry chatter began to rev up. Algorithm update? Sure, it looked like Google undertook a one day roll-out of what appeared to be yet another unannounced update. At the time the industry speculated that this was perhaps Penguin rearing its cute and fuzzy head and that sites with poor linking practices would be hit. 

Fast forward to March 13th. After three days of quiet all sorts of rank fluctuations heck (no bad words in this blog) broke loose! The Rank Risk index showed a two day spike, with a risk level high of 100 (that’s ***) on March 14th. Thus was Fred part II. Indeed, this was not a one day update, nothing to look at, everyone go back to work. This was in fact a major Google algorithm event. Not only that, but it appears that the initial analysis of what the update targeted, while not wrong, was incomplete. After seeing Google ratchet things up, the prevailing wisdom was that the update was targeting sites that put revenue ahead of content. After the initial release, it would appear that Google was not satisfied and turned the heat up to hit additional sites and demote their rankings.

Google Update Fred Roll-out on Rank Risk Index

The Rank Risk Index, tracking Google’s Fred algorithm, shows a two part roll-out

My analysis…. Since the start of 2017 Google has released a series of updates that have seemingly been part of its core algorithm, and have thus targeted spammy and poor content publishing practices. In my mind, Fred should be called Frankenstein. I speculate it was made of parts of other algorithms, stitched together, charged with lighting, and released into the wild. That is, Fred, is the evolution of previous spam/content targeting Google algorithms.  

End of Month Knowledge Graph Features Show Curious Spike

With a degree of peculiarity, top displaying Knowledge Graph SERP features underwent a late March spike. Both Answer Boxes and Featured Snippets took an end of the month dip (March 29 – 30) before showing sharp spikes (March 30 – 31). In conjunction with this, Related Questions (i.e. People Also Ask) showed the exact same behavior. Oddly enough, Related Questions, which is a form of Answer Box, utilizes what is for all intents and purposes, a Featured Snippet. 

Featured Snippets and Google’s Answer Boxes show a late month spike 

Now follow me here for a second. We track the various forms of Answer Boxes Google shows (i.e. Map Box, Info Box, Nutrition Box, Dictionary Box, etc.). None of the specific forms of Answer Boxes either fluctuated enough, or fluctuated during that period to impact the data for the overall category, i.e. “Answer Box.” None except, Related Questions, which dipped and spiked at the exact same time as our data for the overall category, and had movements of significant proportion. In plain English, Google didn’t increase the display percentage of “Answer Boxes” per se, but that of Related Questions, a specific form of Answer Box that parallels a Featured Snippet (this is a good example of why one should dig deep when discussing data). 

Related Questions End of Month Spike

Related Questions, utilizing the Featured Snippet format, shows the same late month data pattern as Answer Boxes 

Why is this of any importance? Well, there was some chatter out there about an end of month Google update. In no uncertain terms, there was no update, there were not even slight increases in rank fluctuations caught by our index. Let me explain what did happen, and why you might have thought there was an update. Google increased the number of Featured Snippets showing on Page One. Since the Related Question form of Answer Box utilizes Featured Snippets, this too increased. In other words, all that really changed, were Featured Snippets, which happens more often than you might think.

Is an increase in Featured Snippets an algorithm update? No, no, no and no. So where did the chatter come from? Well, imagine a page that previously did not have the Related Question feature or even a Featured Snippet. A site may show up on Page One. Enter an increase in these features, and this site may be bumped to page two. Take into account, if you don’t parcel out the features, you might see a perceived change in rank, when all that happened was Google inserted a Featured Snippet or Related Question.  

March SERP Features Tests and Changes 


Every month has its changes to Google’s SERP features. March being no different, had a few of its own. Besides for being interesting to observe, some of the changes have a real SEO or marketing impact, such was the case this month.

Google Releases Service Area Maps


Home Service ads got a new addition (in certain cases), service area maps. The maps, which were also tested within Local Knowledge Panels, indicate the area where the vendor provides service. The maps are surprisingly detailed, and change from vendor to vendor within a Home Service ads box. As a user, I would say the feature is an added bonus. However, as a vendor, I’m not sure. Having such a detailed map could curtail potential customers who marginally fall outside the listed service area from pursuing services. 

Service Area Maps - Home Service Ad

A vendor specific service area map within Google’s Home Service ads 

AMP Continues Carousel Domination 

I recently released a case study indicating that even high profile sites that are not AMP won’t show on the mobile SERP with a carousel, should Google have an AMP alternative available. (Keep in mind that Google recently increased the number of AMP results within its mobile News Box as well). Continuing with its mobile carousel domination, March had AMP carousels enter mobile’s People Also Search For via hidden and subsequently expandable carousels. Just another place for a mobile carousel that features AMP content. Onward to AMP glory! 

AMP in People Also Search For

An AMP carousel as expanded within People Also Search For 

Greater Reach for Google Posts SERP Feature 

Google Posts, which made news last month with GIF insertion, is in the news again. The feature, which some speculate is Google’s attempt at another social media element, expanded to new categories such as museums, movies, etc. The feature also got pushed out in Brazil, so it appears Google wants to go global with the feature. 

Google Posts in Knowledge Panel

As part of their expansion Google Posts now appear within SERP features like Knowledge Panel 

Local Packs Lose Directions – Gets the Picture


Last but not least is yet another test/change to Local Packs. In mid-March, reports came in that Google was substituting the directions buttons in some of its Local Packs for featured pictures. At the time it wasn’t clear if this was a roll-out or a test. Two weeks later, I’ve been able to produce the directionless but pictured Local Packs for a variety of business.

Local Pack Directions Replaced

A Local Pack result showing images in place of the traditionally found directions button 

I’m not 100% sure what the thinking is here. Take the above example. I know what a horse farm looks like… it’s horses… on a farm. What I don’t know is where any of these horse farms are located. Truth is, the directions wouldn’t have helped me anyway… 

March Makes Its Mark on the SERP 

March was an impactful month on the SERP, no doubt about it. Google’s latest algorithm update, Fred, made quite the event and made an impression on the industry. It will certainly be interesting to see if the update pattern we’ve seen in 2017 thus far, continues. The same for Google’s mighty morphin’ SERP features, what’s next to be tweaked, and how might it impact revenues, marketing, and SEO? As always, I’ll keep an eye on the SERP for you… you’ll be hearing from me next month! 

About The Author

Mordy Oberstein

Mordy is the official liaison to the SEO community for Wix. Despite his numerous and far-reaching duties, Mordy still considers himself an SEO educator first and foremost. That’s why you’ll find him regularly releasing all sorts of original SEO research and analysis!

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Google had a crawling issues that impacted some sites

By | November 23, 2021

John Mueller from Google has confirmed a bug that the Google Search team has resolved where Google was not crawling the web between November 11, 2021 and November 17, 2021.

Google confirmed. A Google spokesperson told us “we saw that crawling for the AMP cache had slowed down for some sites.” “This bug has since been resolved, and an internal analysis showed it wasn’t widespread, and that there were no negative effects overall,” Google added.

What was the issue. It seems the issue impacted only certain crawling of caches for some sites. John Mueller of Google added on Twitter “we saw that crawling for the caches had slowed down for some sites. This bug has since been resolved, and an internal analysis showed it wasn’t widespread, and that there were no negative effects overall.”

First to notice. Olivier Papon from Seolyzer first spotted the issue and posted about it on Twitter saying that he noticed Googlebot, Google’s web crawler, has essentially stopped crawling much of the web. He said it began on November 11 at 6PM (GMT) and then crawling went back to normal on November 17 at 8PM (GMT), he said in a follow up tweet.

Here is the chart he shared showing the drop in crawl activity from Googlebot:

I personally did notice a number of sites show a decline in crawling in the Google Search Console crawl stats report but it seemed not to impact most of the sites I have verified access to in Search Console.

Why we care. If you noticed any issues with new pages being indexed or old but updated pages not reflecting those changes in Google Search, this is why. Google seems to have resolved the bug and going forward – all should be fine. Google said this wasn’t widespread and “there were no negative effects overall.”

Hopefully your business and website was not impacted by this bug but if it was, you probably have zero recourse.

About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.

Source link : Searchengineland.com

5 Challenges of Internal Linking at Scale

By | November 23, 2021

Internal links not only create a path for search engine bots to follow on your site, they create a logical route for users, too.

That is, if the internal links are deployed appropriately.

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6 tactics to rank better in Google Discover

By | November 23, 2021

Google’s Discover feed presents mobile users with a stream of content based on the user’s interests. For publications that have managed to get their content featured in it, the Discover feed can drive substantial traffic — but, unfortunately, “there’s no way to create content that explicitly targets Discover’s interest matching,” John Shehata, VP, global audience development strategy & CRM at Condé Nast, said, quoting Google during his session at SMX Next.

“That’s absolutely true, but there are certain things [that you can do to] increase your chances of ranking well in Google Discover,” he added. Using data obtained from one million pages (equating to 27 billion impressions) over the prior 90 days, in tandem with his own experience, Shehata provided the following tactics publishers can use to strengthen their ability to rank in Google Discover.

Use emotional titles, not clickbait

“When we analyzed the titles that perform very well in Google Discover [the top titles above 25% CTR and have at least 10,000 impressions] . . . You will see a lot of them are in that area of ‘clickbaity,’ so is there bait and switch?” Shehata said.

Examples of “emotional” titles. Image: John Shehata.

“No, that will not work, if you promise one thing and you go to the site and it’s completely something else, Google can recognize this very well, but emotional titles still work very well,” he said, pointing out that there is a fine line between clickbaity, outrageous titles and titles with an effective emotional element.

Additionally, data from GD Dash, which Shehata used throughout his presentation, revealed that 13% of the top 100 articles in Discover (with a 25%+ CTR and >10,000 impressions) were listicles. For brands looking to attract Discover traffic, Shehata cautions them against using 10-item listicles: “It gets the lowest CTR. People think it’s generic and it’s a made-up list, so try to avoid ‘10,’” he said.

Include high-quality visuals

Image: John Shehata.

“I cannot stress enough how important this is,” Shehata emphasized, providing the following guidance:

  • Your larger images should be at least 1200 pixels wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting or by using AMP. “That will transfer your small images, like this on the left [in the screenshot above] to the right size, which is the full-width image,” he said, adding, “I have seen this increase CTR by two or three times.”
  • Use 16:9 aspect ratio for hero images.
  • Avoid using a site logo as your image.
  • Avoid manipulated media.
  • Use a descriptive file name for the image.
  • Add appropriate alt text.
  • Use a descriptive caption.

Understand and enhance E-A-T signals

While Search and Discover are different products, the overall principles of E-A-T as they apply to content are similar. In 2020, Google added the term E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness) to its Discover guidelines. “This phrase has not been there before,” Shehata said, “They’re going to be looking at E-A-T when they are evaluating Google Discover content.”

Image: John Shehata.

Demonstrating E-A-T within your content can help you convince Google that it is reliable, free of misinformation, serves users and is thus worth recommending to them. One way to increase your E-A-T is through optimizing your author pages.

Image: John Shehata.

“Make sure to avoid as much as you can — because there are certain exceptions — ‘Written by staff’ or ‘Written by admin,’” Shehata said about article authorship, “This doesn’t transfer any good E-A-T or trust signals.”

He also provided the following ways to bolster your E-A-T for Google and for your readers:

  • Secure your site by using HTTPS.
  • Include dates, bylines and information about authors in your articles.
  • Provide information about the publication, the publisher and/or the company behind it.
  • Include contact information for greater trust and transparency.
  • Link to the author’s social media profiles.

Use the API to identify topics and entities that work for your brand

Now that Discover data is available in the Google Search Console Search Analytics API, publishers can utilize Google’s natural language processing to identify which entities interest their audiences and work for their publications.

Image: John Shehata.

“Once you utilize the Google Discover API and run it through Google natural language processing, you start to figure out what topics work for you,” Shehata said, adding that publishers should “double down on these topics” since Google already considers them to be an authority on those subjects.

Image: John Shehata.

These topics can be sorted by impressions, CTR or number of pages. Sorting by impressions shows you the topics in which you have the most visibility, and by extension, authority. Ordering by CTR can tell which topics your audience is engaging with. And, sorting by the number of pages and referencing CTR, for example, may help you identify opportunities to improve your content.

Refresh your evergreen content

Updating your evergreen content can help drive additional Discover traffic. In the image below, clicks spiked each time the article was refreshed.

Image: John Shehata.

RELATED: How to breathe fresh life into evergreen content (and get fresh traffic, too)

Publishers should make sure to use the same URL and tweak the headline every once in a while, Shehata recommended.

Understand your Google Discover data

Establishing a baseline contextualizes your data and lets you know which stories performed above or below average. To that end, it’s important to understand:

  • Your average CTR per category;
  • Your average impressions per story; and
  • Your average daily life span per story.
Image: John Shehata.

It’s also important to understand that traffic from Discover is categorized as “direct” in Google Analytics (see the screenshots above). “I would assume about maybe 25% to 30% of direct traffic in Google Analytics is Discover traffic, so pay attention to this,” Shehata said.

Remember, Google Discover is a supplemental channel

“A word of caution . . . I want to make sure that you know that you should not be addicted to Google Discovery traffic — it’s not predictable and it shouldn’t be considered a core strategy of your SEO,” Shehata said. While the additional traffic may help you reach business goals, you cannot rely on Discover to deliver a consistent stream of traffic since there’s no way to target users or interests.

That having been said, most of the topics Shehata covered also lend themselves to your regular search strategy, so there’s little additional work to put in to specifically optimize for Discover, but a lot of traffic that may potentially be gained.

About The Author

George Nguyen is an editor for Search Engine Land, covering organic search, podcasting and e-commerce. His background is in journalism and content marketing. Prior to entering the industry, he worked as a radio personality, writer, podcast host and public school teacher.

Source link : Searchengineland.com

Marketing Data Analysis: Getting a Fuller SEO & Marketing Picture

By | November 23, 2021

Everyone, on whatever level, knows that marketing data analysis is important. We, in the SEO and digital marketing industry, are cognizant of this reality all the more so. However, not all data is equal, both quantitatively as well as qualitatively. Data is not merely the acquisition of statistical information. While obtaining such numbers and figures are important, it lacks the qualitative depth data can afford. In its essence, data helps paint a picture of health and performance, it is ironically holistic in nature. The question is how can rich data be accessed? How do we take data from being a linear experience to a holistic one that paints an overall performance picture? The answer is cross source data analysis. 


Moving Beyond One Data Source 


Moving beyond one source of data can give your data analysis a broader, more in-depth potency. In any data-set, there are various segments and dissections that can give you an understanding of your performance. The problem is, such data is relegated to one source and only to that source. How that data interacts with other data, how that data fits into a larger picture isn’t accessible when looking solely at one data-set. What I am going to show you here is how observing the ways different data-sets interact with each other offers a fuller and more complete picture, what I’ll call a holistic performance picture.

Cross Source Data to Compare Performance 

One of the most foundational ways to use cross source data is to measure performance across different related mediums and platforms. In other words, when you are trying to do the same thing, just in different places, seeing both sets of data together can be both telling and powerful. To illustrate this point (and the others I will soon make) I’m going to employ our Insight Graph which has the ability to plot various data sets on the same graph. 

Let’s begin with a simple straightforward case. Say your client is running both AdWords and Bing Ads campaigns, it would be powerful to show the performance in each, at once. If you really want to get a complete picture of where your best value is, you would be well served by comparing both sets of data at once. This is especially in consideration of the amount of time and manpower that goes into endeavors like PPC campaigns. Along these lines, if you see similar or even inverse trends across the two platforms, that could very well be relevant and insightful information.  

Bing Ads vs. AdWords Performance

The Insight Graph displaying a side-by-side data view of Bing Ads and AdWords data

The same could be done when it comes to the traffic to your site per se. Being able to compare traffic across various search engines not only tells you how you are performing but where you need improvement and if such efforts are even worth the time and money. The point is, being able to compare analogous data from multiple channels simultaneously is immensely valuable when it comes to qualifying performance. Seeing the similarities and differences in the data from analogous, yet separate data channels (i.e. AdWords vs. Bing Ads, or Google search vs. Yahoo search, etc.), is an important part in qualifying and understanding the effectiveness of your practices overall. 

Cross Source Data to Understand Correlations 

Another major benefit of looking at cross source data is the ability to understand correlations between various data-sets. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this may be the most substantial benefit cross source data analysis may offer. Combining two unique sets of metrics from two data sources can give you a glimpse into how various aspects of your SEO or marketing plans are coming together.

Think about it for a second, the most basic of all SEO data is rank. However is rank really the end goal? Of course not, you want rank to deliver traffic to your site, which you hope ends in some sort of goal completion. For an SEO, this is the ultimate correlation of data from various data sources. Seeing these correlations is vital to your success. If your rank is up, but your traffic is down, then there’s a disconnect that needs to be rectified. If the inverse is true, think about how much more potent your traffic and conversions could be if your rankings were higher. 

Rank and New User Traffic Correlation

A cross source data correlation between rank, organic traffic, and new user goal completion

For those times where you’ve undertaken various initiatives, seeing the payoff may depend on your ability to see data from various sources at once. For example, you’ve gone ahead and optimized everything you can for placement in Google’s Featured Snippets (which is quite the rage these days). Wouldn’t you want to know if there is a correlation to the Featured Snippet optimization you just undertook and your site’s traffic? Combining the prevalence of the Google SERP feature on a chart that indicates your organic traffic, could help you to know if the hours you spent on optimization had any impact, or if you may want to spend your time on other priorities.

SERP Feature Trends Correlation to Site Traffic

A significant spike in Featured Snippet trends on mobile shows no true correlation with a specific site’s mobile traffic per the Insight Graph 

Specific instances aside, being able to see data from various data sources at once, can prove invaluable in understanding the correlations between your multifaceted SEO and marketing undertakings. 

Cross Source Data to Fill Information Gaps 

Moving beyond showing correlations, cross source data can help fill in the missing data needed to create a whole and complete picture. That is, the data you have from any one source may only be a part of the picture. The clearest example of this is the separation of Google Search Console and Google Analytics. So you’re showing up on the SERP often enough, but how does that translate into conversions? Combining data from Search Console and Analytics can help you to qualify the importance of the metrics within each data source to your business operations. 

Google Analytics Alongside Search Console Data

Search Console data reunited with Google Analytic data showing the impact of SERP impression on goal conversion

Without data from multiple sources, it can be difficult to qualify the figures before you are saying. Should for example I know that a lot of my site’s traffic is from social media, that may not be enough for me. If I have limited time and limited resources (who doesn’t), I need to know where to focus my efforts. Where is my time best spent, Facebook, Twitter, etc.? If I can combine various data sets, if I can see my social traffic, the number of users liking my Facebook page, all while seeing how many favorites I’m garnering on Twitter, I may be able to determine which social source is most valuable to me, and where I should spend the bulk of time and effort. I can see which platform is having an impact on my site’s traffic. 

Social Metrics Presented with Social Traffic Data

Cross source data indicating a site’s social traffic being more strongly correlated to Twitter than Facebook performance


Again, there are endless variations of how seeing multiple data source figures can be vital in determining courses of action and in evaluating performance. The important takeaway are not the specifics I’ve outlined here, but how rich the concept of cross source data viewing really is. 

Cross Source Data – A Whole New World 


What I’ve presented here are just a few general ways you can capitalize on what cross source data has to offer. In fact, my intent was not to overwhelm you with intricate ways in which one minute metric can be plotted against another such intricacy from another data source. Rather, my aim was to highlight just how foundational cross source data analysis is (which is why we’ve integrated third party data sources such as Bing Ads, Bing Webmaster Tools, CallTrackingMetrics, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Drive, Social Analytics, Yext, etc., into a blended metric graph). Really, the possibilities are endless and that’s sort of the point… utilizing cross source data can open up new worlds of data analysis. It opens up a rich world of holistic data where you can determine real performance impact that reflects real-world value that exists outside of a particular data category. 

About The Author

Mordy Oberstein

Mordy is the official liaison to the SEO community for Wix. Despite his numerous and far-reaching duties, Mordy still considers himself an SEO educator first and foremost. That’s why you’ll find him regularly releasing all sorts of original SEO research and analysis!

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Should Freelance Writers Sign Non-Compete Agreements? – SuccessWorks

By | November 23, 2021


I lost a consulting job last week — and how it happened is a great lesson for freelancers and agency owners.

Some backstory: An agency owner wanted to partner on a possible client project. We had spoken before and “clicked” well, so I was happy to help with the proposal and provide my content thoughts.

Especially since they’d hire me to work on the project when the prospect signed on the bottom line.

The excellent news for the agency owner? They got the gig.

The bad news for me was the end client insisted I sign a non-compete to come on board. The contract restricted me from working with a list of companies (the end client’s “competition”) for three years.

That meant I couldn’t work with the companies AT ALL —  even if they directly contacted me. Even if the work I’d do for the competing companies was completely different.

My agency friend couldn’t hire me according to the end client’s contractual terms UNLESS I signed the non-compete.

Which I wouldn’t do.

So I walked away. I hated to do it, but I walked away.

And if you’re faced with a similar situation, you should consider walking away too.

What’s the big deal about freelancers signing non-compete agreements?

I’m so glad you asked.

Sometimes, if you work with an agency, their contract states that you can’t solicit their clients. After all, the agency doesn’t want you contacting their clients, saying, “Hey, I’m already writing your content. Why not hire me directly and cut the agency out of it?”

That, to me, makes sense.

But imagine this…

Let’s say you land a $5,000 contract with a B2B SaaS company that makes you sign a non-compete. You have to wait two years before working with another B2B SaaS company.

It may not feel like a big deal at the moment. After all, you just made a 5K sale!

Then, 18-months later, another B2B SaaS company wants you to consult with them. They’re ready to sign a $25,000 agreement…but you can’t take the gig.

Why? Because you signed away your rights 18 months ago.

(You see where this is going?)

Back in my twenties, I learned this lesson the hard way. I accepted a sales job and stupidly signed a non-compete. The job was dreadful, and I lasted all of two weeks.

I got a new job quickly — but I couldn’t start until the company president released me from the non-compete. I had to track him down and beg him to let me out of the contract.

It took weeks. Weeks with ZERO income because of that stupid contract.

Yeah, never again. That’s why many states don’t enforce employment non-compete agreements.

You can’t restrict how someone makes a living.

Does that mean freelance writers or agencies should never sign non-competes?

Not necessarily. But, this IS a situation where you want to get an attorney involved before you sign. Always.

Why? Assuming you want to move forward with the client, your attorney ensures your right to make a living is protected. Non-competes are tricky, and if they’re too broad or the duration is too long, your income is at risk.

Plus, you may be so excited about landing the client that you don’t see the far-reaching ramifications. Your attorney can dispassionately explain the risks and trade-offs and craft an agreement that’s more in your favor.

For instance, if a company wanted to give you a humongous yearly retainer in exchange for not working with Company X, well, that may be worth it. You’d be getting something in exchange for signing a non-compete.

Or perhaps the client would agree to shorten the non-compete duration from three years to one. It’s not great, but it could be workable in some situations.

Just don’t sign away your right to do business without getting something in return. And, if you want to negotiate your non-compete, always get an attorney’s help.


Your livelihood is too valuable to sign away for one stupid client.

What do you think?

Have you been asked to sign a non-compete? How did you handle it? Leave a comment and tell me all about it!

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Joel Bondorowsky Spreads on PPC Trends and Shares Hands-On Tricks

By | November 23, 2021

Nov 23, 2021 | 27 min read

He calls himself a PPC addict, works for the sake of the numbers, despises extensive automation, and believes in the power of creatives. Joel Bondorowsky is an Israel-based PPC and marketing growth expert who has contributed to dozens of successful projects. He worked for both Wix and SimilarWeb in their early days before the startups evolved into industry colossi. Currently, Joel runs a Quality Score boutique ad agency and collaborates with just a few companies, spearheading their advertising efforts and helping them grow and scale.

I had a chance to talk with Joel about the role of PPC within the marketing mix, the rapidly changing PPC landscape, and things one can do to embrace the new game rules imposed by Facebook and Google. We’ll also get down to the brass tacks—read on to get dozens of tips on crafting an ad copy, improving your ad quality score, and properly measuring your net.

How is PPC different from other marketing channels, and does every business need it?

Joel, you started doing PPC back in the 2000-s, which means you’ve been into it for over two decades now. What is so special about PPC that drives you and makes you stick to this particular marketing channel?

When I started buying media back in the 2000-s, PPC was really just beginning. I had the privilege of working for wix.com when they were in their infancy, before they took off and became a unicorn. It was a great school for learning how to do search advertising, because they had a somewhat complex sales funnel, and I had a chance to learn how to optimize for different steps in the funnel pretty quickly. 

I prefer PPC to other things because it’s very fast. I have a very short attention span. I’m excited by quick rewards. To be driven to do something, I have to see the end. What fascinates me about PPC, is the fact that you’re able to get fast, quick bottom-line results that are measurable and meaningful. 

Today, I’m working very closely with just a few companies, and each one of them is like another adventure. It’s a new challenge where I take what I’ve learned, and I adapt it to the unique needs of each business to help them reach their goals. 

“Everything I do is data-driven and performance-based. I don’t work for the sake of the work—I work for the sake of the numbers.”

It’s not about how many hours you put in. It’s not about the tasks that have been done. It’s about the bottom line. My approach is that all the effort you put in should make conversions go up and/or cost per conversion go down. And that’s basically what justifies the work. 

Performance-based and data-driven campaigns sound like a great investment. In your opinion, can any business benefit from PPC?

The short answer is no. In fact, for many businesses, it can be very difficult to work with PPC. If it’s a small market, if it’s something local, that might not necessarily make sense. 

For me, the question is what your goal is as a company and whether it can be achieved through the tools that PPC platforms bring. 

Let’s start with search—a case where people are looking for something specific, and they want a solution. For example, someone is locked out of their house, and they search for an emergency locksmith. PPC is excellent for that. You have people expressing a problem, and you have a solution to the problem that can be placed at the top of the SERP with the help of PPC.  

The easiest way to get a vast list of relevant keywords for promoting your product in Google’s SERP is to use dedicated tools. SE Ranking’s Keyword Research tool allows you to quickly get dozens of keyword ideas by pasting a single seed keyword into the search bar. All the provided data is geo-specific—you’ll see the search volume, CPC and competition metrics for the chosen target location. Also, the search volume graph will help you immediately assess seasonality.

Another scenario is showing ads to people to make them buy something that they didn’t know they wanted. For example, right now, one of my biggest clients is Lingopie, a language learning tool. They help you learn a language through watching TV shows. And from my experience, almost everyone at some point in their life tries learning a second or a third language. So, that’s something you could sell to practically anyone with the help of PPC.

Thus, PPC works great in two cases:

  1. People know exactly what they want and express it in search terms that have a clear intent. If you can find plenty of keywords that describe your product or service—build a massive and actionable keyword list—PPC is the way to go.
  1. Another case is when you market things that people don’t know that they want, but they are things everybody uses at some point in their life. Then, you could show them ads, pull them into a funnel, and convince them to make a purchase. 

“One thing you always need to remember is to measure the cost of the traffic against the value it brings. If the cost of the traffic is less than the value it brings, you’re good.” 

Marketing channels are not individualized in black boxes

While some businesses rely solely on PPC, most companies use it along with other marketing channels. Should PPC specialists work in close cooperation with other marketers?

Marketing channels are not individualized in black boxes. PPC specialists can help other marketers do their job better, and conversely, other channels can help PPC. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Most people don’t buy on the first visit. They come in through multiple channels. Let’s say someone is searching for a product on Google and ends up clicking on an ad. While they’re interested in buying, they’re not 100% sure just yet. At this point, they might turn around and search for the brand. In this case, the way your brand SERP looks has an impact on the PPC results. It is very important for everything to appear the best possible way in your brand SERP. Because if not, it’ll hurt conversions from the PPC after. 

At the same time, PPC can also help SEO. Let’s say an SEO specialist is doing keyword research and trying to figure out which keywords to focus on. With PPC, you can actually buy them, and understand the real value of the keywords. SEO takes time, but with PPC you can experiment and quickly gain measurable results. So, instead of just putting out nets from vast keyword lists and hoping to bring in traffic that converts, SEOs can rely on PPC data to focus on the most lucrative keywords from the get-go. 

Finally, PPC can also help SEO with titles and descriptions. CTR is crucial in PPC. Google measures your CTR, as well as how engaging the ad itself is, plus a few other factors, and then determines your position in the SERP. To run successful PPC campaigns, you need to experiment with different headlines and descriptions. You can then apply the insights you gained to title and description tags crafted for SEO. That way, your organic results will have a higher click-through rate, and, thus, gain more traffic.  

Adapting to the evolving PPC landscape

Can you tell that the PPC landscape is currently changing? Let’s talk about privacy regulations and automation tools PPC platforms keep introducing. 

The landscape is changing in several ways. Some changes are positive, but others are making things more difficult. For example, a big, big thing that’s happening right now—and I think anyone who’s doing online marketing knows about it—is cookies becoming irrelevant. Thanks to Apple. 

Joel refers to the iOS 14 update that had a massive effect on  Facebook ads. As people choose to opt out of tracking on iOS 14 devices, ads personalization and performance reporting become limited. PPC specialists have to deal with Facebook under-reporting the number of leads, less reliable Campaign Budget Optimization, and a smaller remarketing audience. 

PPC largely relies on tracking. It allows us to show ads that are most relevant for people. 

“If you don’t have proper tracking, you won’t be able to optimize for your goals.” 

So, before you start running ads, you have to make sure that you have tracking installed properly. Otherwise, you’re just going to be throwing money down the drain.

With the latest iOS update, it gets complicated. Now, to produce meaningful results, you need to track people in different ways. 

That’s one thing that has changed tremendously. Another thing is that the algorithms developed by Facebook and Google are so sophisticated that advertising, in a way, has circled back to the basics. And when I say back to the basics, I mean, that in traditional advertising, it’s all about messaging and the creatives. 

For many years, PPC was very nerdy. To do proper targeting, bidding, etc.,  a very heavy skill set was required. Today, the mechanics are still important, but doing it is not nearly as hard as it used to be. 

“Now, the real differentiating factor that I don’t see Google or Facebook taking away from us is how well we run the creatives.”

I believe that no matter what happens, PPC specialists will always have to pay attention to the messages. From things you’re going to show people when they first hear about a product, to messages you’ll have to bring in to push them further into the sales funnel. You’re always going to have to tell a story that is sequential.

“One big mistake I see marketers make time and time again is that they’re always a/b testing ads and maybe a/b testing landing pages, but they’re not really thinking about a/b testing the whole sequence of thoughts. So, when people think in those little black boxes, they end up having messages that are just random blurbs mixed together, which aren’t capable of driving people down the funnel to the purchase.”

Speaking of the way Google is moving towards simplified mechanics, back in February, Google Ads began to incorporate behaviors of broad match modifier (BMM) into phrase match. What’s your opinion on the matter?

One thing I liked about Google search campaigns was building them so that they were very granular. I used to cater to searchers by showing them ads crafted for the specific search term they used. That way, I was able to perform better. Now, I think Google is aiming for businesses to be running fewer ad groups or consolidated groups. Google is supposed to do most of the work, and serve the right version of the dynamic ad based on its algorithms.

I don’t like the update, because broad match modifiers were something I was excelling at. In other words, one of my advantages was being able to take a vocabulary list—the different ways that people could express their interests—and group them into group themes, and then provide different messages to different groups. That way, I would win by having a much better CTR than my competitors and not paying as much as they did in order to get to those positions. So, I was very good at that, and Google is kind of taking that away from me. 

At the same time, search is actually minimal for me. Most of my clients are offering people something they don’t know they want. So we’re bringing them in because they’re scrolling in their newsfeed or seeing a YouTube video or an ad on the display network. 

You don’t seem to be a big fan of automation. Still, you do agree that this is where it all goes. Do you ever use automatic campaigns? 

That’s right, everything is moving more towards full automation. Google these days is coming out with new tools such as Performance Max. It’s a new type of Google campaign that is supposed to help you promote a business across all Google Ads inventory. The idea is that you can just throw a bunch of keywords inside the ad group, and the tool will make everything work on all channels. Sounds awesome? In fact, it isn’t, because it’s not that smart. And I don’t think it will be that smart anytime soon. 

I’m not totally against automation. Automatic bidding is ok. Then, on Facebook accounts, when they get huge with lots of data in the campaigns, the targeting is basically everybody. When Facebook learns the pixel, learns who converts, and you have a good volume in your account, there’s not really any targeting that has to be done. So in a way that’s automatic, and that’s great. But if we talk about automatic search campaigns that Google has with those fully dynamic ads, it’s not something I particularly like. It’s a way to get things set up quickly and easily, but it’s not the fastest way to success. 

We all have products to market, and Google itself is a product with sales funnels. Now, they onboard people more easily—it’s like click-click, next, put in your credit card, go. It seems to be very easy to successfully launch a PPC campaign in a few clicks, and this allows Google to get advertisers on board and up and running quicker. The problem is you’re not launching a successful campaign in that way. For that, you need some sort of strategy. And if you have a strategy, you should be able to implement it a certain way, which can only happen if you rely on your own skill set, and not on automatic algorithms.  

Let’s discuss another feature that will make Google ad campaigns more automatic: responsive vs expanded search ads. Google plans to deprecate expanded search ads in June 2022. Which type of ads do you recommend using right now? 

The problem with responsive search ads is that you have to guide them in order for them to work well. If you just throw a lot of random stuff in, it’s going to take more time and money for Google to understand how to arrange and move everything around properly. When Google figures this out and understands what’s inside the ad, responsive ads can work pretty well. 

Expanded search ads are great for having control and being able to test. What I’m finding right now is that when I start with the expanded search ads and then throw something responsive in based on what’s happening for those expanded ads, the responsive ones work faster and better.

So, in order to make it work better, I think you need to really focus on the way the message is organized, instead of the ad itself. In other words, there’s an anatomy of an expanded ad. And the way I see it is, the headline should reflect the person’s search. Then, there is a description. The first line of the description, in my point of view, should reflect the inner dialogue inside of someone’s head—something they’re thinking but aren’t necessarily expressing. For example, if someone searches for a luxury hotel in Paris, they might be thinking about relaxing in style and comfort during the visit. Description two should then talk about features, benefits, or contain a promo offer with a call to action. 

What Google allows you to do with extended ads is specify the way you’ll be using headlines and descriptions. So, use the ordering properly. You can tell Google that the description with the callback at the end of it should always be second. Meanwhile, another description reflecting what users might be thinking can be pinned as description one. Then, as far as headlines go, you don’t necessarily need to pin them—let it be automatic. But if you have something like a seven-day free trial, tell Google that you want this headline to be second.

“Don’t make Google figure it out, because then they’re going to start by wasting your money on a seven-day free trial as the first headline, which isn’t right. Rather, help Google push it, help train it.”

Adjusting your net to your budget

It’s clear that PPC is all about experimenting and testing. Is there a certain minimal number of conversions in a week or a month that would indicate that your campaign is working, and then you can dive in?

It depends on how wide your net is. Let’s get back to the example with the emergency locksmith. You do not need very many conversions for the exact match emergency locksmith keyword to understand its value, because there’s one dimension there. 

However, if you’re running some Facebook campaign or something on the Google Display network or YouTube, where it could be shown on millions of different placements across different demographics and interest groups, you’re going to need more data. 

Let’s say a new potential client came to me, and they wanted to sell some great new skin rejuvenation products. The audience is basically anyone, but mostly women over 40. Even if I build a great funnel, it’s going to cost a lot of money to become profitable. I’ll need plenty of data points for the PPC platforms to learn how to optimize for it. It’s not going to be cheap, as opposed to when you’re an emergency locksmith and just bid on that one keyword. 

“So, the first thing you have to consider is how big your net is. The wider your net is, the more data and conversions you need.” 

If you’re still on the way to becoming profitable, my advice is to forget about your long keyword list. For most campaigns, there will be about five terms that are going to be the main movers and shakers—those are the keywords to focus on. This way, you can get the data, optimize for it, become profitable, and then build your big keyword list and worry about your long tail.

“If you don’t have a massive budget to waste, to learn, to optimize, then make your net smaller.”

Crafting an ad copy that strikes the cord

Let’s proceed with the ad copies. Where do you draw your ideas? How do you know which inner dialogue your potential customers might have? 

It comes from a lot of search and testing. When I first got into this very seriously, I read a lot. Things like Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords by Perry Marshall. Now, it’s a combination of these guidelines I’ve embraced and things I’ve learned from my own experience. I experimented a lot. As in PPC, in order to learn, you have to experiment and test.

How about looking at your competitors’ experiments and learning from their mistakes? Does it work for you

My approach is that if I’m doing something new, I want to come up with my own ideas before I look at what the competitors are doing. Because once you see what other people are doing, your own ideas sort of get skewed. So I always start with a fresh, modern point of view.

Then, I see what has worked traditionally using competitive analysis tools. I look at people who seem to be very successful with PPC. If you see a competitor, and they’re everywhere in paid search results and have a high budget, chances are they’re doing something right. Of course, you don’t want to just copy. But you can get inspired, and in that way competitive analysis tools really help. 

With SE Ranking’s Competitive Research and Keyword Research tools, you can check which ads copies your rivals have been using in the past years and see how the changes they’ve introduced to the ad copy, along with other factors, affected their position in the SERP. CPC, competition, and search volume metrics are also available to you. Finally, you can click the link and take a look at the landing pages your competitors have crafted.

Rivals' ads copies

Some PPC specialists choose to craft ad copies where every word starts with a capital letter. Is this a working method, or is it better to steer away from it?

It depends on what the headline is. Sometimes people say it’s aggressive and they feel like they’re being sold too much. But it really depends on the product and on how much you want to push. If you’re selling something that people didn’t know they wanted, and you’re convincing them to buy, play safe with the lowercase. It makes you look less pushy. But if your ad offers the services of an emergency locksmith, you might as well capitalize everything. Because the matter is urgent, and you offer exactly what the person wants. 

Aiming for the top keyword quality score

Let’s touch upon such a vital thing as keyword quality score. Any tips on how to improve it? What matters more here—the ad copy or the landing page?

To start with, quality score isn’t just about the keyword quality. It is assigned based on how well the combination of the keyword, the ad copy, and the landing page matches the search term. Still, it’s only reported on the keyword itself. 

Now, what determines quality score? There are many factors, and a lot of them are binary in nature. By binary, I mean, whether it’s good enough or not. For example, with landing page loading speed, just make sure it’s good enough. Making the site superfast isn’t going to improve your quality score any more than having a fast site. Going the extra mile might, however, improve user experience.

At the same time, when I refer to the landing page load time as binary, it doesn’t necessarily mean whether it’s good enough or not. You could divide the speed by geographical locations. For example, if your site’s really slow in Australia, you could be bad for Australia, but good for the States. 

Once you’re sure you’re good enough with all the binary factors, work on things such as page relevance and CTR. These are things that can further improve your quality score. And here’s why.

“Google is selling a product. In fact, it is selling eyes on ads, which is a limited resource. They get paid per click. It means that every time you don’t get clicks while they let people see your ad on their properties, they’re not making as much from you as they would be from somebody else.” 

Of course, user experience also matters—Google keeps telling us that it strives for better UX and tries to provide users with the most relevant results. But at the end of the day, Google just makes a lot more money off people who get more clicks.

Choosing the right timing

Let me summarize​​ a little bit. With PPC, to nail it, you need to properly measure your net, work on the relevance of your ads and landing pages, and keep testing and experimenting. Are there more factors to bear in mind?

Another thing that makes a big difference in addition to the ad itself is targeting plus hours of the day. You will often be surprised at how things change hour to hour, day by day. People search for different things at different times. 

Let’s take healthcare or dietary products as an example. When you target the US, conversion rates are many times higher in the mornings than in the evenings, especially on Sunday. Sunday morning is by far the best, while Saturday evening is the worst. And then starting from Monday, and as the week goes on, it gets worse and worse. It all makes sense when you think about people’s habits. Sunday for Americans is the day to go to church and behave. Then, as the week progresses, things get sloppy. In the evening, people are more likely to get drunk than sign up for a diet. So, you don’t show the ads to them. 

Seasonality matters as well. If it’s the 4th of July, everyone’s on Facebook, but they don’t want to interact with your ad to buy something. They’re at the beach or at a barbecue, and all they want to do is see their friends and post stuff. So, the time when you show the ad can also have a great impact.

Reaching out to the international audience

Do you have any experience running PPC campaigns for multilingual countries such as Switzerland where people speak German, Italian, and French? In your opinion, which is better: creating separate campaigns for every language or putting all the ads into one group and letting Google decide?

Well, fully relying on Google is the worst thing to do. I often segment campaigns based on language in that location. If I’m, say, advertising in Portuguese and selling something that is international, I’m going to be targeting Brazil and Portugal. On Google, inside the campaign itself, there are also language settings. What I never do is segment a single campaign by different languages. At the same time, on Facebook, you could actually have ad variations in different languages for a single country like Switzerland, which is fine.

There’s one thing I want to stress here. Since PPC is all about performance and the bottom line, I believe people tend to make mistakes by getting distracted by smaller markets and smaller languages before getting solid results with English. 

“For many markets, if you don’t have it crafted properly for the United States, you’re not making it.”

If you are good with English ads, your further steps will depend on the market and the niche. If you’re dealing with the Netherlands or Norway, they’re fine with English. Meanwhile, if you’re dealing with France and Italy, you’re way better off with French and Italian. It doesn’t mean Dutch and Norwegian people don’t appreciate being spoken to in their own language. But you need to always bear the bottom line in mind.

The niche also matters. If you’re selling a SaaS solution, it means people will be reading more, and they will take the effort to understand the tool better. So, having a landing page translated into Dutch or Norwegian makes sense. For a B2C niche, that is not always the case.

Selling SaaS products to mobile users

Speaking of SaaS products, let’s discuss mobile traffic. It tends not to convert well. Are there any tricks that could help? 

I can assume that whenever mobile traffic is not performing well for a SaaS product, that’s because the search volume isn’t there. I guess that if you do keyword research for SaaS-related terms, you’ll find out that the mobile search volume is considerably lower. 

At the same time, everything has a price. If it’s not working for you, it’s not working for your competitors either, so it’s not going to cost that much. There’s a reason why bids are where they are. If a keyword has a high search volume, and it’s converting well, it will always cost more money because the bids are going to be higher. 

Now, what makes users convert is the funnel. So, the major question you need to answer is whether you can have a funnel on mobile or not. If so, you can have it all consolidated and use bid adjustments or conversion optimizer in order to automatically bid differently for the conversion rate for mobile versus desktop. But if the sales funnel isn’t even possible to have on mobile, then targeting mobile users is pointless.

Growing into a seasoned PPC specialist

What does it take to become a PPC specialist, and what should a good PPC specialist do to keep up with all the trends?

I think that the major thing that helps you grow as a PPC specialist is experience. For sure, anyone could learn how to do PPC by just studying the materials that are given by Google and Facebook. However, in order to be confident in what you’re doing and know how things work, you need to have experience. And most of that comes from being trusted by someone with a budget. I was very lucky because I had the privilege to take responsibility with very large budgets very quickly.

Speaking of trends, there are always new tools and new technologies you need to be familiar with. Recently, iOS happened, and we can’t trust cookies anymore. PPC managers need to get up to **** with the technologies required in order to track users based on who they are, and not based on the cookie data. So, you always want to stay on top of trends. 

But above all, it’s becoming more and more important to focus on messaging psychology and testing everything from the ad itself, all the way through the funnel. That is not something that’s going to be taken away. As campaigns get more automated, that will become a bigger differentiator for being successful with PPC. So, here’s my advice—get into messaging creatives and testing methodology.

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Microsoft Bing launched Page insights

By | November 23, 2021

Microsoft Bing Page insights is now live in the Bing search results for the search results snippets, the company announced today. You will see a lightbulb icon on the right side of the search results that provides more details about the search result before you click on it.

Microsoft said that Page insights “provides a summarized insights from a page on your search results so you can find what you’re looking for faster.”

What it looks like. Here is a screenshot of this new feature, which you can see yourself for a search on [mars mission nasa] on Bing:

More on page insights. Page insights “helps you verify that the source is relevant to your needs, helps you get caught up to speed at a glance on top factoids you didn’t know about, and lets you jump straight to the relevant section of the page when you click ‘Read more’ for a specific question,” the company said. There is also a section to “explore more” to find more relevant search results.

Only desktop. Microsoft said this feature is only available on desktop search results because of the “screen size required to properly display the results.”

Months of testing. Microsoft Bing has been testing variations of this since June and the lightbulb variation since October.

Why we care. First, you might want to see if your site’s Bing snippet has this Page insight feature and if so, if the content and images within the Page insights box looks accurate and positive. So test it out for some of your more valuable keyword phrases.

Also, from a searcher feature, it is a fun little tool that we’ve seen variations from other search companies in various forms previously.

About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.

Source link : Searchengineland.com

Kasu Zama | Buy private **** villa in North Goa

By | November 23, 2021

Dive into the luxury of a private **** villa in North Goa and experience a sense of peace and well-being. Get ready to relax in the comfort of your private swimming **** at Kasu Zama villa and feel rejuvenated as the stress and tension release from your body.