Five competitive advertising strategies to outsmart your competition

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

It’s often said that competition is good for your business. It pushes you to be your best. Think Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, Visa vs. MasterCard, Xbox vs. PlayStation, or Apple vs. Microsoft.

Of course, part of the fun of rivalry is stealing customers from your rivals. You can do that with the help of advertising!

Today you’ll learn five brilliant competitive advertising strategies you can use to get in front of your competitors’ customers and (with a little work) turn them into YOUR customers instead. *Evil laughter*

competitive-ads-dr-evil-laugh

1. Target Facebook users whose interests include your competitors

Facebook Ads doesn’t offer keyword targeting for your ads and you can’t specifically target people who have liked your competitors’ pages. However, Facebook offers something called interest-based targeting.

On Facebook, interests range from extremely broad (e.g., business or entrepreneurship) to very specific. In this case, your competitor’s name is the specific interest you want to target, because Facebook allows you to choose to target people based on, among other things, brands and products they like.

facebook-interest-targeting-competitive-ads

Type in your competitor’s website URL. Or, if that doesn’t work, you can type in your competitor’s brand name or try a few keyword combinations to figure out best option for reaching their target audience – which is now your target audience!

2. Disrupt your competitors’ videos with YouTube ads

Recently I was on YouTube searching for an AT&T ad. Before I could watch the ad I was looking for, I had to sit through another ad – I know, that’s modern life. But the genius part was that this ad wasn’t for AT&T, but for its competitor, Sprint.

In this ad Sprint explained why it is a better provider than AT&T and highlighted an offer to switch carriers, before I could even see the ad for the brand I had searched for.

To execute this competitive advertising strategy for your own campaigns, create the most watchable TrueView ad you can, adding in how much you’re willing to spend.

There are many targeting options to choose from (e.g., demographics, interests, keywords, remarketing). But today we’re feeling competitive!

You want to target your video ads so that whenever someone searches for the YouTube videos of your competitor that they’ll see your ad first. If you play it right, they might not even watch your competitor’s video!

3. Use your competitors’ emails against them with Gmail Ads

Another brilliantly sneaky competitive advertising tactic you should start using now is targeting people who have recently shown interest in the things your competition sells.

With Gmail Ads (those ads that appear at the top of the Promotions tab of users’ personal email accounts), you can do keyword targeting on your competitors’ brand terms.

As you read this, people who are in the market for your competitor’s products are getting emails from your competitors – and those emails mention your competitors’ brand terms.

For example, if you were competing with Sephora, you could target its brand name as part of a Gmail ad campaign so that every time a Sephora newsletter arrives in someone’s Gmail inbox, your brand ends up in its inbox as well. Obviously, your email should tell Sephora subscribers all about your great competing site and product and why they should check your out.

So if you want to try to steal some sales, target the trademarks of your competitors. Make sure you use an email subject line that will have users clicking your Gmail Ads in droves.

Use only the best-performing subject lines, the ones with the highest open rates – your unicorns. As an added bonus, because these people are already in the market for a competing solution, it’s likely that more people will click on your ads, which reduces your costs.

gmail-ads-templates

4. Reach your competitors’ audiences through the Google Display Network

Google has some great display ad technology. But if you want to beat up on your competition, you need to use Google’s custom affinity audience feature.

Affinity audiences let you target a predefined audience, one that should be more receptive to seeing your ads.

custom-affinity-audience-competitive-ads

To make this work brilliantly, and avoid wasting your ad budget, you’ll want to target the home page of your competitor. AdWords will then figure out the brand trademarks and the behavior of the people who visit and are interested in that domain name (or search for content on related topics).

Let’s use MailChimp as an example: MailChimp is a publication that’s geared toward businesses doing email marketing. So if I’m running a similar business geared toward email marketers,MailChimp visitors would form the basis of our “ideal customer” we want to reach with our own display ads.

This will start the process of getting the right people familiar with your brand and the products or service you provide. And hopefully, with the right message, you’ll start stealing business away from your competitors and experiencing breakout growth.

5. Download & target your competitors’ Twitter followers

There are tools that allow you to download a list of every Twitter follower for any account, such as BirdSong Analytics. You can use these to download a list of all your competitor’s Twitter followers. Costs generally start around $35 and go up the more followers the account has.

Once you have your report, you can use those Twitter handles to create a list that you’ll then upload to Twitter Ads. Make sure to select the option to “add tailored audiences.” Uploading the list will take about 3 hours to process.

You can then create ads to get your business in front of the Twitter users who are already following your competitors and are likely in the market to buy or switch to a similar product or service. Genius, right?

After setting your budget comes the real fun. It’s time to get creative and compose your tweet copy. Important note: Twitter’s “advice” for ad success is kind of a disgrace, so please read my article on How to run a successful Twitter Lead generation campaign.

Don’t let your competitors have all the fun!

Remember, all these competitive ad strategies are putting your business in front of users who are interested in your competitors, which means they’re much more likely to be in the market for your product/service. You just have to show them that what you offer is better than what your competitors do!

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Why AdWords’ Smart Goals are Pretty Cool for Certain Advertisers by @LarryKim

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

AdWords unleashed an easier way for the small business to machete its way through the jungle of code typically required to track paid search performance, and it’s called “smart goals.”

This is kinda big news for the less-sophisticated advertiser.

But, as expected, there’s no shortage of opinion on it. And spoiler alert: some people think smart goals are dumb:

Why AdWords' Smart Goals are Pretty Cool for Certain Advertisers

(More discussion on that here.)

Smart Goals are Not Dumb, However

OK, so not everyone is a fan, but at least it’s getting smaller advertisers to finally get some form of conversion tracking.

Google created a cool new way to bring in machine learning that aggregates data from a ton of sites that have opted in to share anonymously. Based on some magical formula, advertisers can quickly see which visits are likelier to convert, and then optimize their AdWords campaigns to match.

From the help files, the technology uses a scoring method:

Each visit is assigned a score, with the ‘best’ visits being translated into Smart Goals. Some examples of the signals included in the Smart Goals model are Session duration, Pages per session, Location, Device and Browser. (Remarketing Smart Lists use a similar machine learning model to identify your best users.)

To determine the “best” visits, it does this:

Smart Goals establishes a threshold by selecting approximately the top 5% of the traffic to your site coming from AdWords. Once that threshold is set, Smart Goals applies it to all your website visits, including traffic from channels other than AdWords.

I get it: it’s not perfect. And yes, it has limits on what it can do:

Why AdWords' Smart Goals are Pretty Cool for Certain Advertisers

But it’s easy to say it’s garbage when you’re used to working with savvy advertisers that have limitless resources.

Smart Goals: Here’s Why People Need It

There are countless small businesses that don’t have any conversion tracking set up, yet are paying for clicks every month.

In fact, at WordStream, about HALF of the customer prospects that we talk to don’t have any form of conversion tracking turned on when we first meet them. And that’s a real shame.

Digital advertising is *supposed* to usher us into a new era where we actually track engagement, versus the days of yore when we sat around with our fingers crossed thinking, please let the right person see our billboard ad, please, please, please.

But conversion tracking is complex for many businesses to get right. Sure, Google makes it seem effortless to do (see the fanciful description in the video below):

… but, do you really think mom and pop shops would know how to properly implement this:

Why AdWords' Smart Goals are Pretty Cool for Certain Advertisers

Not to mention:

  • Even if the code seems like a simple copy/paste, it’s wrongly configured half the time – even high spenders often have messed up conversion code setups.
  • Conversion tracking needs to be maintained over time as you create new goals
  • What if whoever implemented tracking no longer works with you when you need her?

Bad conversion data is worse than no conversion data at all.

Right about now, some of you may be saying: “Exactly, Larry. That’s why this whole new smart goals thing sucks.”

But, guys, it’s better than the alternative. Obviously, I wouldn’t expect smart goals to outperform AdWords conversion tracking when set up correctly and professionally managed. But for those countless businesses that are shooting in the dark by paying for clicks with no data or terribly wrong data, smart goals are a super move by Google for some of those smaller AdWords spenders who may need a little extra boost.

So if you have no AdWords conversion tracking, and be honest, don’t plan to ever mess with the code on your site, check out smart goals instead!

This post originally appeared on WordStream, and is re-published with permission.

Image Credits

Featured Image: 422737/Pixabay.com
All screenshots by Larry Kim. Taken December 2015.

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

Is content marketing really working? Advice and insight from #ClickZChat

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

We talk a lot about content. How to make it, what makes it work, how to measure it’s effects, if there’s too much of it and more. The fact that we’re a good few years into the content marketing revolution but we’re still having these conversations is telling in itself.

Despite many, many assertions to the contrary, a number of people and organisations simply do not believe that content works.

We took to Twitter to find out why this myth persisted, and what we could do about it in this week’s #ClickZChat.

As always, we asked three questions in one hour. Here’s the insight and advice from our witter followers:

Q1: Do you think the C-Suite *really* believe in the value of content marketing Why or why not?

Many felt that we were still relatively early in the content marketing adoption cycle, and that this view would change given time (and proof of data)

However, when it came to companies already doing it, metrics were often a sticking point.

Last-click conversion was still being used in many cases, which made it harder to show genuine dollar value

It is worth mentioning that there are plenty of trackable numbers out there, some of which may not fall under the traditional ‘marketing’ banner. Search was a popular measure of success

And ultimately we may just need a little faith and patience. Not something we all have the luxury of unfortunately

So, how are marketers measuring ROI from content? Next up, we asked or followers for personal tips and examples…

Q2 How do YOU measure ROI from Content Marketing?

Starting with the basics. Having analytics in place, but also tracking human responses to content:

It’s also important to have clear goals to begin with. Success looks very different from company to company

Raj mentioned that simple actions could lead to larger results. It’s important to consider which action you are driving, and at what stage it sits in your sales funnel

With this in mind, it’s important to remember that it may not have to make ANY money. Content could reduce paid media costs, or work as a lead generation machine that does not convert directly

Q3: Which roles would you have as part of your content marketing dream team?

Initially, the focus was very much on creation, with lots of votes for key roles like designers, writers and editors:

As mentioned earlier though, once you have created something, you need to have it seen by the right people

it’s also worth pointing out that editorial and creative should have a strategic structure, rather than just concentrating on standalone pieces of content

And needs to know the brand and the audience intimately

And we received this remarkably thorough answer from Chris Lake which highlights the crossover between roles very nicely:

Overall it seems that marketers are convinced by the ability of content to go beyond push marketing and create measures like engagement which are more valuable over time, but currently many of us are lagging when it comes to proper planning and measurement techniques. Hopefully the continuing advance of digital transformation will see this change for the better.

If you’d like to know more about content marketing, check out this useful Content Marketing Strategy Documentation Map.

Thanks as always for all your fantastic answers. Join us over on twitter every Wednesday for the next #ClickZChat

Here’s a new content marketing strategy documentation map

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Mobile design and the art of doing one thing well

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

hp

It’s best to do one thing really, really well – is one of Google’s “10 things” philosophy, written when the company was in its infancy. This is a great mantra for mobile projects to follow.

Where the young Google focused on excellence in web search, so mobile sites and apps must focus on meeting an identified user need in the most effective (usability) and rewarding (user experience) fashion.

This column will consider two approaches that help the business and the project team establish and implement a focused, user-centric project:

  • Working backwards. This forces the team to focus on the core purpose – the user need – of the project, typically by writing the launch press release or marketing slogan at the concept stage.
  • Minimum viable product (MVP). This concentrates development on delivering a product that does that core purpose well, shelving non-core features and functions for future releases and getting it into the hands of (early-adopting/loyal) customers as quickly as possible, so the product can be appraised and improvements made based on real customer feedback.

As articulated in previous columns, the audience and their need are identified through research, and user testing, and articulated through user stories, use cases and user journeys.

The benefits of the do-one-thing-well philosophy are:

  • Easier to ascertain project viability.
  • Helps to sell the project to stakeholders.
  • Keeps project focused on customer i.e. user-centered design.
  • Speed to market.
  • Keeps development costs down.
  • Easier to formulate marketing message/campaign.
  • Customer feedback influenced by design.

One of the major advantages of taking a do-one-thing-well philosophy is that it focuses attention on the mobile context. Good mobile-friendly sites anticipate when, where, how and why the user is visiting. Poor sites will simply reformat untargeted desktop content for the mobile device.

The following image shows the different incarnations of Amazon.com on three Android devices, a Samsung Galaxy Tab (tablet), an HTC One (smartphone) and Samsung Galaxy S6 (smartphone).

These were rendered concurrently using the really useful Mobilizer testing service. Note the difference between the tablet and smartphone sites, and even between the two smartphones.

amazon_via_mobilizer_cz20

Parisa Durrani, director of mobile strategy, at mobile agency Plastic Mobile

Doing one thing well is extremely important for mobile web because you want to answer the user’s question immediately. If a user is opening your web page in-store, they are most likely either searching for an item or checking a price. You want to give them a great web experience to entice them to download your app, if you have one, and further extend your relationship with the consumer.

Working backwards

The working-backwards methodology was developed at Amazon, one of the world’s most success digital/mobile commerce ventures, and has been emulated by many other m-commerce success stories, including Airbnb.

This is a great way to sell/explain/justify your m-commerce product internally, as well as making the customer central to the concept.

As explained by Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon.com on his personal blog All Things Distributed in 2006, working backwards at Amazon involves:

  • Start by writing the press release. This clarifies how the world will see the product – not just how it is seen internally.
  • Write a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document. This imagines the user’s questions.
  • Define the customer experience. This explains how the product is used and the problems the consumer is solving.
  • Write the user manual. This covers everything in depth, including concepts, how-to and reference.

While experts appreciate how working backwards helps companies zero in on user-centered design, not everyone welcomes the extra documentation.

Allen Smith, VP of customer experience (CX) and head of Innovation at global digital agency DMI International:

Working backwards is really just an attempt at user-centered design, but from a non-practitioner’s standpoint (hence, why there’s such an emphasis on document types like a user manual and FAQ). Being user-centered is important for mobile web as well as every single other project, and this is built into the DNA of our projects.

We’ve found that most documentation really adds no value for our clients, and only contributes to either expensive over-runs or lowers the quality of projects because it leaves less time for actual user discovery. For this reason, we got rid of it (except for the rare occasion when a client has a need for a specific documentation type). We are radically collaborative and work principally from prototypes, which capture all of our learnings about a particular problem space and how to express a particular solution.

Once we’ve reached a certain fidelity in terms of the customer experience and testable business propositions, we essentially have the MVP target. Software is much easier to change after it launches, so we take advantage of that to release a testable hypothesis of the user value first and use feedback loops from various channels to help us understand which direction the service offer should take.

Arguably the most important part of working backwards is the press release headline or marketing message, the rest of the documentation is justification.

Consider the following four messages, if your call to action isn’t compelling, then nor is you mobile site/app.

  • Avoid the line. Order online… or by mobile. PASS.
  • Buy a meal for a hungry child with just one tap. PASS.
  • [Brand X] launches mobile site/app. FAIL.
  • Download our app. FAIL.

“Avoid the line. Order online” is the tagline for the US chain Panera Bread for its web/mobile ordering service.

It is unclear if this impressive service originated from this tagline, but it’s evident on first glance at the Panera smartphone or tablet site that design was based on three very clear use cases:

  1. Order by mobile for “rapid pick-up” instore.
  2. Order by mobile for home delivery.
  3. Order by mobile for table delivery.

panera_via_mobilizer_cz20

Minimum viable product (MVP)

The concept of the MVP was popularized by Eric Ries on his book The Lean Start-up. His original definition is:

The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

The Ries Lean Start-up Methodology is based on a cycle of build, measure and learn. The quicker the MVP is built the quicker the learning and improvement starts.

An example of a lean start-up cited by Ries is online shoe vendor Zappos. This started with Nick Swinmurn posting pictures of shoes from local shoe shops on his website.

When customers placed the order, Swinmurn bought the shoes from the stores then sent them to the purchaser. Thus he validated the concept that customers would purchase shoes online, without needing to build out the infrastructure first.

The best visual metaphor for MVP, was created by Henrik Kniberg, an agile/lean coach, at Swedish consultancy Crisp, and a long-term collaborator with Spotify & Lego.

The diagram (much copied) contrasts two approaches to solving the customer problem: “I need to get from A to B quicker”, where the end result will be a car. First, the big bang which gradually provides the user with a part-built non-working product until the car is completed; whereas the second, the MVP approach, delivers gradually improving modes of transport: skateboard, scooter, bicycle, motorbike and, finally, car.

In this article Kniberg explains that he has gone off the term “minimum viable product” as it can give the wrong impression to the client i.e. concern that they will receive “minimum releasable crap”. He prefers these terms:

  • Earliest testable product (skateboard).
  • Earliest usable product (bicycle).
  • Earliest lovable product (motorbike).

mvp_car_kniberg_new_cz20

MVP has become popular with mobile app start-ups, many of which have re-interpreted the concept, so the MVP model now increasingly looks like the doing-one-thing-really-well philosophy.

The first version of the MVP app concentrates on delivering the core expertise, with the view that additional functionality will be added in future iterations, further down the roadmap assuming it is proven to meet a customer need.

Mobile-friendly web design – including responsive design – should also apply this same lean, laser-focused MVP methodology. Mobile-friendly does not mean repurposing of bloated untargeted PC websites for the smaller screen.

The MVP approach in practice

Large organizations will sometimes spin off mobile projects into a separate entity to try to recreate the start-up environment. An example of this approach is ShareTheMeal, which is a World Food Program initiative that enabled donors to share 5.6 million meals (May 2016) with needy children with a single tap of their smartphone.

Matthias Hellmund, chief technology officer, ShareTheMeal (WFP):

While almost every start-up out there claims to work “agile”, for us that means we try to reduce features to an MVP, which can be implemented and launched within a few weeks’ time. Especially with anything transaction-related, I think it’s really crucial to test and verify your hypothesis with actual users doing actual transaction. In our case this is giving meals to children in need via PayPal or credit card transactions.

So the important aspect is that we test those “experiments” with segments of our users. That means we need to be able to enable variants of the user interface only to specific users and compare their impact with a corresponding control group. We configure both from our server side, so we can increase distribution of a successful experiment to a larger part of our user base. We work in weekly sprints, so we can react on feedback and test results quickly.

Because of our small team size, we develop the different parts leading to an MVP implementation, depending on the feature. For some parts, we created early draft designs as static screens on a smartphone then get feedback by inviting users to come into the office and swipe through the screens.

For more complex and flow-related changes, we usually do a UX sprint first which results in sample designs for the corresponding screens, sometimes we also use interactive prototypes or click dummies. Then it’s a pretty close collaboration between implementation and design and some smaller tweaks based on QA (quality assurance) builds of the app. This allows us to swap graphical elements in the app with different variants, based on the experiment group.

sharethemeal_cz20

This is Part 20 of the ClickZ ‘DNA of mobile-friendly web’ series.

Here are the recent ones:

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The 7 Most Important Questions to Ask of Your SEO Data by @TimothyCarter

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

We live in a glorious age of data, and if you’re like most marketers, you relish in it. Yes, the massive influx of data can be stressful, and at times, intimidating, but at least you have objective data on what’s going on in your campaign on all fronts—right?

SEO is a strategy that depends on objective data reporting and analysis to be effective; if you don’t listen to the data when it tells you you’re doing something wrong, you could self-destruct. On the other hand, if you analyze the data correctly, you’ll all but guarantee yourself a solid path forward.

questions to ask of seo data

Google Analytics and hundreds of other fantastic online analytics platforms can give you more data than you ever thought you needed—but therein lies the problem with modern data analysis. Objective data alone can’t give you meaningful takeaways and conclusions. For those, you need to ask the right questions of your data:

  1. What are my goals? You should be familiar with your goals in a general sense, but it pays to remind yourself what your actual, specific goals really are. Are you trying to get more conversions? Are you focused exclusively on traffic? What kind of traffic growth were you hoping for? What kind of time frame were you looking at? This will help you identify the key areas and plan what you need to measure to evaluate your progress.
  2. What progress am I making toward these goals? Take a look at how the numbers illustrate your progress toward your goal. For example, let’s say you’re hoping for a 50 percent increase in organic traffic in the first six months of the year. After the first month, how much of a traffic increase have you seen? This is a basic question, but it’s one that’s often missed—people tend to look at their “progress” data without putting it into the context of their ultimate goals.
  3. How have things changed? Here, you’ll want to look at a variety of other data points. Look for outliers and changes that break from the norms you’re used to. For example, let’s say your bounce rate suddenly spikes, or one of your internal pages becomes more popular—this is important information that could tell you about how one of your recent changes is affecting your user behavior.
  4. How is this different from what I expected? It’s important to clarify the difference between your actual results and your expected results, as this can help you better understand your SEO strategy in general. It forces you to challenge your assumptions and accept the fact that your ideas of SEO growth may be wrong—which most marketers are afraid to admit. For example, let’s say you recently launched a new social media campaign, but your social traffic didn’t grow as much as you thought it would. Why is this?
  5. What qualities of this change are worth noting? Dig a little deeper into the major changes in your report to understand the secondary qualities that may be worth further consideration. For example, let’s say you’ve seen a major increase in organic traffic from one month to the next. What demographics are a part of this organic increase? What pages are they going to first? Is their behavior any different from past segments of your population?
  6. Why is this change occurring? It’s hard to pinpoint the exact motivation for a change in an SEO campaign, but it’s important that you try. You can’t just assume that the first factor that pops into your mind was responsible—for example, if you launch a new wing of your content strategy and see a rise in organic traffic, you’d immediately think your content strategy was responsible. It may be, but take a look at other variables to to isolate the real root cause.
  7. What could I be missing? This is a big question, and one that’s hard to answer, but it’s an important way of challenging yourself. Revisiting your SEO strategy on a regular basis will help. Think about all the data points, all the variables, and all the possible changes you could potentially be missing. You should be excited to find out you’re wrong about something—it means you have the chance to improve.

These are just a handful of the most important questions you’ll have to ask your data. I kept these questions open-ended and ambiguous, so they can apply to practically any business, but in reality, they should be as specific as possible.

Narrow your focus as tightly as you can to avoid misleading yourself with internal biases or vagueness. Once you start asking the right questions, you can start forming more meaningful, actionable conclusions.

The final question, once you’ve learned all you can learn from your most recent report, is “How can we improve from here?”

Image Credits

Featured Image: Hilch/Shutterstock.com
In-post Photo: alexskopje/Shutterstock.com

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

Next #SEJThinkTank: Streamlining the Content Creation Process by @dantosz

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

Creating high-quality content on a regular basis is a struggle for many business owners and brands. With so many moving parts, it can quickly become overwhelming. Streamlining the content creation process makes it easier to consistently create content people will actually want to read and engage with.

Streamlining the content creation process by getting and staying organized and automating parts of the process where appropriate make it easier to consistently create content people will actually want to read and engage with.

Content Creation Doesn’t Have to Be A Struggle

If this struggle is familiar to you, you will want to attend our next SEJ ThinkTank webinar. It is totally free and will be chock full of tools and tips you can use to consistently create high-quality content.

Join me and Loren Baker on June 1st at 1 pm EST for an hour-long webinar titled “Streamlining the Content Creation Process: How to Produce High-Quality Content on a Regular Basis.”

streamlining content creation

This hour-long webinar will include a Q&A session, where you will be able to ask all your burning content creation questions. Attendees will also learn:

  • Tips you can use to generate more ideas quickly.
  • What parts of the content creation process you can automate – and how to do it.
  • How to share your content more effectively.

Register Now for Our June 1st Webinar

If you are tired of struggling to create effective content, you won’t want to miss this webinar!

register

Image Credits: 

All Images Created by Paulo Bobita 

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

New Length of Titles and Descriptions is Just a Test, Google Says by @SouthernSEJ

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

After much speculation as to whether or not the extended length of search snippet titles and descriptions is a test or a permanent change, we finally got confirmation from Google’s John Mueller. On Twitter today Mueller answered a question about this very subject, saying that the extended length of titles and descriptions and search results is just a test at this point in time.

Many searchers have been noticing the longer titles and descriptions in the SERPs, which has rightfully led to confusion amongst SEOs as to what length they should base their page titles and descriptions on going forward.

Considering the fact that this is just an experiment at the moment, it would be wise to stick to the same length of titles and descriptions you have been up until now. For reference, that would be 50-60 characters for the title, and between 150-160 characters for the description.

If you read more into Mueller’s response, it’s possible to arrive at the conclusion that the new card-based interface which many searchers have been seeing is also just an experiment right now.

Until an official announcement comes out from Google, most of the time it’s safe to assume that any changes to search results are just a test. At the same time, if the test proves to be successful it could result in a permanent change, but history shows that you should wait for an announcement from the company before coming to any conclusions on your own.

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

Major Google AdWords Changes Announced: Expanded Text Ads, New Local Search Ads & More by @LarryKim

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

Google announced a slate of major updates and new products for AdWords advertisers in its Google Performance Summit today. Their largest advertisers and partners had a sneak peek at the announcement yesterday, and I’m excited to bring you the details on what’s new!

The updates were revealed by  Sridhar Ramaswamy, Senior Vice President of Ads & Commerce and Jerry Dischler, Vice President of Product Management, AdWords. Here’s what they had to say about exciting changes coming to AdWords:

Crazy New AdWords Stats

Google AdWords is more effective than ever and driving massive economic activity, according to Google. Among the statistics they shared in their presentation:

  • Google’s search and advertising tools drove $165 billion of economic activity for over 1 million businesses, website publishers, and nonprofits across the United States in 2015.
  • There are now trillions of searches on Google.com and over half of those searches happen on smartphones.
  • Nearly one third of all mobile searches on Google are related to location. In fact, location-related searches are growing 50% faster than other mobile queries.
  • Since AdWords store visits were introduced two years ago, advertisers have measured over 1 billion store visits worldwide.

AdWords Redesign & New Features

In the announcement, Ramaswamy writes: “To help marketers succeed in this mobile-first world, we have redesigned AdWords — from the ground-up — and re-thought everything from creatives and bidding, to workflow and measurement.”

He added that Google has realized that accounting for mobile and actually designing for mobile-first are two very different things, which had resulted in their completely changing how they think about and build AdWords.

First, they created Universal App Campaigns, which have driven more than 2 billion app downloads since they came out. Now, Google is launching some amazing new products:

  • Expanded Text Ads
  • Responsive Ads for Display
  • Individual Bid Adjustments for Device Types
  • Local Search Ads for Google.com & Google Maps

NEW! Expanded Text Ads in AdWords

Did you think Google would EVER change its ad text limits? The announcement revealed that taking away right sidebar ads was part of the preparation for this new product, Expanded Text Ads.

Now, you’ll have more room to sell your wares on the SERPs, with two 30-character headlines, 80 characters for description, and an auto-extracted URL with customizable domain path.

upgraded ad components

This is AMAZING and is going to make Quality Score even more important, as those top spots are going to take up more prime real estate. This is going to make anything below #2 or #3 even more useless.

Expanded text ads are optimized for the screen sizes of the most popular smartphones. Google reports that early advertising tests show up to 20% increases in CTR. Expanded Text Ads will roll out later this year.

Responsive Ads for Display

New responsive ads for display adapt to the content on the site on which they appear. Google promises, “They also unlock new native inventory so you can engage consumers with ads that match the look and feel of the content they’re browsing.”

homespiration ad

Advertisers just need to provide a headline, description, image and URL.  Google will do the rest.

Individual Bid Adjustments for Device Types

Bid adjustments are a super important tool for controlling how much you pay and where you appear according to different parameters. You can adjust your mobile bids, for example, by setting a percentage you’re willing to pay (more or less) against desktop.

Now, Google is also letting you set individual bid adjustments by device type, so you can choose to bid more or less for mobile, desktop or tablets. They widened the adjustment range, too, allowing up to 900% variation.

Local Search Ads for Google.com & Google Maps

Almost a third of mobile searches have local intent, Google said. Their new local search ads for Google.com and Google Maps give advertisers using location extensions more real estate on searches for specific products or services in that geographic area.

walgreens1

Searchers will be able to see special offers or browse available inventory right from the Google Maps ad.

Check out the full announcement on the Inside AdWords blog!

Screenshots and photos taken by author May 2016. 

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

Google AdWords launches new features for mobile ads and maps

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

Google has introduced new tools and features to AdWords to specifically address the consumer shift towards mobile.

The changes and additions have been announced at today’s Google Performance Summit, and include expanded description lines, responsive display ads to fit different devices and formats, more customized bidding options, and pilot features for Google Maps which allow advertisers to introduce more information about their businesses.

Of the trillions of searches made on Google every year, more than half now happen on a mobile phone. Google has also found that more than half of all web traffic comes from smartphones and tablets.

What has been announced? Here’s a glimpse of some of the announcements made at today’s Google Performance Summit.

1. Expanded text ads for a mobile-first world

In February, Google removed right-hand side ads on desktop to improve consistency across devices. In line with that move, Google has optimized its offerings around the screen sizes of the most popular smartphones.

Later this year, prominent headlines in AdWords will increase from one 25-character header, to two 30-character headers, giving advertisers more room to explain their products and services before the consumer clicks on the link.

The description line will also increase from two 35-character description lines to one consolidated 80-character description line.

Currently, if a manually entered display URL does not match final and landing page URLs, they are disapproved. Under the change, domains will automatically be extracted from the final URL to ensure accuracy and the URL path can be customized.

Google Performance Summit_Table[3]_600

Google says these upgrades will be especially relevant for advertisers wanting to reach the “on-the-go mobile consumer” who wants to know exactly what products and services are available before tapping into a website.

Based on early testing, some advertisers have reported increases in click-through rates of up to 20% compared to current text ads, says Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president, ads and commerce, Google.

2. Responsive display ads

Consumers on mobile are now engaging with content from mobile sites, from apps and from video. But for marketers, there is an ongoing challenge to create ads to fit across all these device sizes and formats.

Google’s new tool – responsive ads for display – are designed to help advertisers develop ads to counter the diverse content, shapes, and sizes across the more than two million publisher sites and apps on the Google Display Network (GDN).

It’s an important move because advertisers no longer have to resize display ads depending on the site or device they showed up on. Headlines, a description, an image, and a URL will be enough for Google to now automatically design the responsive ads.

Google_Display ads for a mobile-first world_600Google says the new tool allows advertisers to access new native inventory to engage consumers with ads that match the look and feel of the content they are already browsing.

It is also extending the reach of GDN remarketing campaigns by giving marketers access to cross-exchange inventory to reach more websites and apps around the world.

3. Bidding for a mobile-first world

AdWords will soon allow advertisers to set individual bid adjustments for each device type (mobile, desktop and tablet). Previously, the process was more manual with each device embedded into ad campaigns through Google’s Enhanced Campaigns tool.

Now, advertisers will be able to “anchor” a base keyword bid to the device most valuable to a business and then set bid adjustments for each of the other devices. Bids can be adjusted up to +900%.

4. Connecting online and offline with mobile

Particularly relevant for marketers is Google’s findings that location-related mobile searches are growing 50% faster than all other mobile searches. The platform says nearly one third of all mobile searches made on Google are today related to location.

“It’s clear that consumers are moving seamlessly between online and offline experiences. So it’s important to help marketers think this way too,” says Ramaswamy.

The search platform is introducing new local search ads across Google.com and Google Maps to reach consumers as they search for physical business locations.

For example, when using location extensions, advertisers will be able to prominently showcase their business locations when consumers search for things like “shoe store” or “car repair near me.” In this example, “Smog Check.”

Google_Adwords_Maps_Purple Icon feature_400

This is in a testing phase, and currently not a permanent change.

Google Maps

New features on Google Maps will also allow businesses to develop more branded, customized experiences in two ways.

1. Google is experimenting with a variety of ad formats on Maps to make it easier for users to find businesses around them. For example, a Map user could see promoted pins for nearby coffee shops or gas stations along their driving route. Here’s an example of the new promoted pins:

Google_Maps_Promoted Pins_400

2. Local businesses can now include more detail about their businesses such as special offers or product offerings. Here is what the new business page will look like:

Google_Maps_Business page_400

These latest offerings from Google AdWords reinforce the need for all businesses to understand the importance of mobile. Consumers have already made this shift, and businesses are now playing catch up.

“As consumers live their lives online and blur the lines between online and offline, it’s more important than ever to build business for mobile,” says Ramaswamy.

*Featured image courtesy of Google AdWords

*Featured image courtesy of Google AdWords

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#SEJThinkTank Recap: 5 Foundations for Link Building Success by @dantosz

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

On Wednesday, May 18th the SEJ Think Tank was joined by Colby Stream of Page One Power for a sponsored webinar about the foundations of building a successful link building campaign. Colby’s presentation was followed up with a solid 30-minute Q&A session where webinar attendees were able to pick his brain about a variety of link building strategies.

Colby Page One Power Screenshot

A few highlights from his presentation:

  • Link building requires long-term dedication – you can’t expect to see amazing results in the first 30 days.
  • Before you try to build links, make sure your site is link-ready by checking technical SEO.
  • Pay attention to KPIs (key performance indicators) that really matter.
  • You have to keep doing the work to make your site better if you want to continually get solid links.

Resources Colby Mentioned

Through out the presentation and the Q&A session, Colby mentioned a number of great tools and resources. Here they are!

View The Slides

View the Recap Video

Join Us Next Time!

Do you struggle to create high-quality content your audience actually want to read on a regular basis?

Join our next SEJ ThinkTank on June 1st at 1pm EST with Danielle Antosz, SEJ’s Features Editor, for a FREE webinar titled “Streamlining the Content Creation Process” to learn how to reliably produce high-quality content people will actually want to read and share!

Streamlining the Content Creation Process: How to Produce High-Quality Content on a Regular Basis

View The Twitter Recap Via Storify

Image Credits: 

Featured Image Create By Paulo Bobita. 

In Post Image: Taken By Kelsey Jones. 

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire