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How AI-generated images can streamline your SEO game with DALL-E 2

September 23, 2022 No Comments

How AI-generated images can streamline your SEO game with DALLE-2

30-second summary:

  • SEOs are always on the lookout for innovative technology that can help them amplify content creation effectively
  • One such innovation that is on the cusp of being the next big thing in SEO and content creation is OpenAI’s DALL-E 2
  • What is it, how does it work, and how can SEOs use it (or at least start experimenting with it)?

Have you ever wanted to feel like Salvador Dali? Maybe even create a small cute robot that could look like WALL-E? Your dreams very well might come true with the recent development of the technology behind AI. If that sounds interesting, let’s dive a bit deeper into this topic. Let’s talk about DALL-E 2.

Ok Google, what does AI Do?

Artificial intelligence (AI) aims to create unique algorithms that can behave like people in specific situations – recognize human speech and various objects, write and read texts, and the like. This technology is already far ahead of human capabilities in many spheres involving data processing. Until recently, AI was encroaching mainly on the fields that are linked with technical tasks – predictive analytics, robotization, image, and speech recognition. Today AI surpasses people by 40 percent on trivia

But can AI also take on creative functions? It seems this is the last field to be mastered by neural networks. Art is a complicated combination of skill, creativity, and aesthetic taste, which all are very human elements. However, in April 2022, the OpenAI group proved otherwise by releasing a powerful text-to-image convertor, DALLE – 2, that can transform any text caption into a visual presentation that has never existed before. Its most winning feature is that the tool can precisely and logically convey relationships between objects it displays.

What is DALLE-2?

This neural network was created by OpenAI. Originally, it was GPT-2, a technology that could work with languages – answer questions, complete text, analyze content, and make conclusions. It was improved to GPT-3 – its capabilities expanded beyond textual information and enabled it to work with the images. 

Already in January 2021, this technology was followed by its new mind-blowing version that could build a connection between text and images. This neural network was called DALLE. The most remarkable thing is that it can come up not only with objects known to us but also produce completely new combinations, creating objects that do not exist in nature. In simple words, DALLE is a transformer consisting of the decoder, which processes a sequence of 1280 tokens. These are 256 text tokens and 1024 image part tokens. The algorithm treats image regions in the same way as words in a text and generates new images identically to how GPT-3 generates new text. In 2022, the project was scaled to DALLE-2. The improved version creates an image just from a text prompt.

How does DALLE-2 work?

It is not the first attempt to create a text-to-image generation system. However, the capabilities of DALLE-2 are much broader. This neural network can effectively link textual and visual abstractions and provide a true-to-life image. How does the system know how a particular object is interacting with the environment? The algorithm is quite difficult to be explained in detail. Still, roughly it consists of several stages and uses other OpenAI models – CLIP (Contrastive Language-Image Pre-training) and GLIDE (Guided Language-to-Image Diffusion for Generation and Editing).

  • Mapping the image description to its space presentation via the CLIP text encoder. CLIP is trained on hundreds of millions of images and their associated captions, figuring out how a particular piece of text relates to an image. The model does not predict the caption but learns how it is related to the image. This comparative approach allows establishing the relationship between textual and visual representations of the same abstract object. This stage is critical to the creation of images by the neural network.
  • Encoding the CLIP-learned image. The next task is to create the image, the details of which have been suggested by CLIP. Now, DALLE-2 uses a modified version of another OpenAI model, GLIDE, to create this image. It is based on a diffusion model – data is generated by reversing the process of gradual image noise. The learning process is supplemented with additional textual information, which ultimately leads to the creation of more accurate images. 

Based on the above, DALL-E 2 can generate semantically consistent images that naturally fit any object in the surrounding space.

DALLE-2 for SEO

The vast potential of AI image generation immediately attracted the attention of SEO specialists. They spend a lot of time finding appropriate pictures to support their text content. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to invent something that is not just copied and stitched together from the web. So DALLE-2 can become a great source of a never-ending flow of wholly unique and non-standard images. Interestingly, users will have exclusive rights to use the images they create, including for commercial use.

How it can help SEO

Nowadays, website and content promotion are not possible without attractive visuals. Images add more value to your SEO efforts – your site wins more user engagement and accessibility. But sourcing enough appropriate pictures has always been a headache. DALLE-2 can solve this task with ease. You just need to print a descriptive prompt of your future image, and AI will come up with a result. The text should not exceed 400 characters. But users should be ready to train a little to create explicit requests. It is highly advisable to study Prompt Book and master the basics to avoid weird results. You will learn the most valuable tips on how to get the most out of this fantastic image generator.

If you’d like to further automate your image creation process this tool will allow you to generate a prompt that can be used on DALLE-2.

Use cases (blog posts, product images, designs, digital art, thumbnails)

AI algorithms were already used in SEO before for naming objects on the images and creating descriptions for them based on data. With DALLE-2, this process is flipped around, and now you can generate images based on text prompts. No matter whether you are running an online blog or a store – you need lots of visuals to attract new customers and followers. And DALLE-2 can successfully be integrated into any project where you need image supplements –  create illustrations for your blog posts, product descriptions, design sketches, and much more. Moreover, you can further modify already created images. 

You can already see some successful use cases of DALLE-2. 

  • Blog thumbnail optimization. The Deephaven blog thumbnails have been replaced by images fully generated by DALLE-2. It took a couple of minutes and several prompts per image to get the desired result. However, it is a significant time saving compared to what would have been spent on the search for stock images. A nice bonus is that DALLE-2-generated images are fully unique and memorable.
  • Design development. DALLE-2 can become an efficient tool in the design field. And it looks like its capabilities are endless. For example, a picture of the existing garden was taken, and a rectangular swimming pool was applied to it via DALLE-2. It helps the client envision how it might look in reality.

For more use cases and live community discussions join r/dalle.

Currently, users are just experimenting with DALLE-2, but there is no doubt it will be soon actively applied in business, architecture, fashion, and other spheres.

Examples of DALL-E 2

DALL-E 2 is launched in beta version with a credit-based model open to 100,000 users. Another million applicants are waiting for approval to test this AI product. Some users have already shared their first experience with the converter, and the results are impressive. DALL-E 2 processes the craziest requests and offers its interpretation. Here are a few examples:

 

Prompt #1

A sad beaver in the sweater sitting in front of the screen and thinking about apples.

Examples of AI-generated images can streamline your SEO game with DALLE-2 - Sad beaver

Source: Twitter

Prompt #2

A charcuterie board floating in a pool on the Amalfi coast.

Examples of AI-generated images can streamline your SEO game with DALLE-2 - Amalfi coast
Source: Twitter

Prompt #3

Source: Twitter

Prompt #4

A person in the space suit walking on Mars near the creator with dried-out grass and remnants of the Voyager.

Examples of AI-generated images can streamline your SEO game with DALLE-2 - Space man
Prompt:A person in the space suit walking on Mars near the creator with dried-out grass and remnants of the Voyager

Source: LinkedIn

Prompt #5

A Ukrainian on the field harvesting crops.

Source: Twitter

Conclusion

DALL-E 2 is a revolutionary text-to-image converter today. It will help you instantly generate a variety of unique images with only a short text prompt in failry shorter time spans than you would spend on photo stock sites. This technology is an absolute game changer and can rearrange a lot of things in SEO in the coming years. Yet, more live testing is still needed to benefit from DALL-E 2 to the fullest.


Dima Makei is Head of SEO at Omnicom Media Group. He is also passionate about teaching and has previously served as a Marketing Professor at Seneca College. Find him on Twitter @dima_makei.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The post How AI-generated images can streamline your SEO game with DALL-E 2 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How to Get Found Online: 5 Tips for Small Business Owners in 2022

September 23, 2022 No Comments

Not all small businesses or bloggers have the capital to run massive paid marketing campaigns.  47% of small business owners handle marketing efforts on their own.

Many are on a tight budget and don’t know where to start. Once you have a website, its value primarily relies upon how well you can engage consumers.

Engaging initially through one channel creates an impression, leading to conversion opportunities and improved traffic of qualified visitors to the page. Visibility is critical when 70-80% of people research a small business before visiting or making a purchase from them.

There are many ways to boost your online presence between paid and organic channels. 

So, are you looking for some new ways to market your product or service?  We’ve got five proven methods that will help get the word out.

1) Optimize for Organic Search (aka SEO)

Organic SEO is (and should be) the foundation of your website traffic. 

Did you know that 68% of all trackable website traffic is sourced from organic traffic and Paid Search, vastly exceeding all other channels, including Display and Social Media?

When you know what your website users want, you can use that information in your paid and organic campaigns, your website, social media platforms, and any other channels.

So, how do you optimize your website’s SEO for organic search? 

Here’s how you can start:

Find the Right Keywords 

Keyword selection is vital to be successful with organic search. Using keyword research, you can identify queries searched by your potential customers, including products or services your business offers.

Create Quality Content 

Once you’ve decided on your keywords, you must create content supporting customer intent. 

You can create blog posts, product descriptions, and other content that resonates with potential customers.

If you don’t know what to write or aren’t exceptionally skilled at writing, there are several AI writing tools you can use to write for you.

Build Backlinks 

You need to build backlinks to improve organic traffic to your website.

Backlinks are links from other websites to your website. They’re essential because they help improve your site’s visibility and authority in search engines.

But how do you build backlinks? Get your site sourced by high authority and relevant websites. 

There is plenty of SEO software for small businesses that can help. 

2) Use Content Marketing to Your Advantage 

Some small business owners think content marketing is unnecessary for their business. 

After all, why invest time and money to create content when you’re running a small business? 

Why create content when you can focus on sales or leads?

Content marketing is about creating quality content to attract potential customers to your website. 

Content can come in different forms, but some of the most commonly used are blog posts (i.e., listicles, how-to articles), podcasts, and videos. 

Notably, 86% of marketers use blog post publishing as part of their content strategy. That is to say, it’s the most popular content format among marketers.

On the other hand, 94% of marketers agree that videos have helped increase user understanding of their product or service.

Either way, the critical element of content marketing is value.  What value does your content offer? 

Start With Value

If you’re unsure where to start, remember that when writing a blog post, recording a podcast, or shooting a video, your goal should be to provide value for your audience. 

Think about what you can offer and how it can stand out from competitors in the SERP (search engine results page). 

Stick to a Schedule

Anyone who has tried to improve their ranking on Google knows it is no easy task. 

Algorithm updates can make it feel like you are constantly playing catch-up, and it can be tough to know which strategies are effective and which are a waste of time. 

However, there is one thing that is universally accepted as a foundational element of online visibility: content. 

A website with high-quality, well-written content will always fare better in the search algorithms than a website with thin or duplicate content. This is where blog posting comes in. 

By regularly publishing new articles on your website, you are giving the search engines new material to index and helping to ensure that your website remains relevant. 

Of course, quality is more important than quantity, but even a short blog post can be beneficial. 

The next time you wonder how to improve your Google ranking, remember that content is still king.

SEO Opportunities

Another benefit of content marketing is that it opens up plenty of SEO opportunities. 

When you run a blog on your website, you can use it as an opportunity to improve SEO.

You have limitless opportunities to optimize and improve your website’s SEO by writing and publishing blog posts alone.

Every article you publish is an opportunity to engage with new potential customers and improve your website’s SEO. 

It is your chance not only to engage with potential customers but to build trust and authority in your niche.

3) Grow Your Social Reach

Suppose you’re not already utilizing social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn to market your product or service. 

These digital marketing channels allow you to publish content for free and advertise your products and services cost-effectively. In that case, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to reach a wider audience. 

Creating and maintaining an online presence via social media is an excellent tool for boosting visibility and generating interest in what you have to offer.

There are many ways you can use social media to generate traffic and increase visibility for your website, but here are some of the most effective.

Share Your Blog Content 

One of the simplest and most effective ways to generate traffic from social media is to share your website’s content on social media platforms. 

This is especially effective if you have engaging and valuable content that is likely to be shared by other users.

Boost Posts

Organic social media reach is limited to the number of people who follow your company page. You can boost your posts if you want to reach a larger audience.

Boosting is a paid feature that allows you to promote your posts to people outside your follower base.

You can target specific demographics, interests, and even locations.

Boosted posts are a great way to generate more leads and sales from social media.

4) Get Those PPC Ads Up and Running

Paid advertising is not just a way to get your message out there but rather an investment many small businesses need to grow.

Curious about how you can generate more leads? 

Initially, it makes sense to focus on channels you can get started with little to no investment, including organic SEO and content marketing (which can be free). 

google ads

But eventually, even these cannot sustain growth without some paid campaigns too!

For immediate traffic and results, you can run pay-per-click advertising.

Paid ads allow you to target a specific audience and get your content in front of them immediately.

PPC is a great way to generate leads and sales quickly.  However, with quick results, the trade-off will be an investment.

PPC ads can be expensive, but if results are what you’re looking for, they’re worth it.

Facebook Ads

Despite the rise of other social media platforms, Facebook is still the largest, with 2.7 billion active monthly users compared to TikTok’s 1 billion active users. 

(Although, don’t underestimate the growth trajectory of TikTok.)

facebook budget stats
source: databox.com

Facebook Ads is one of the most popular channels for PPC advertising.

Within the platform, marketers, agencies, and SMBs reported that ads were the most effective way to reach their goals– above organic and boosted posts.

With Facebook Ads, you can target specific demographics, interests, and even locations.

Facebook Ads make it easy to reach your target audience and get your content in front of them.

However, it is important to note that Facebook ads have become less effective since the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the impacts of targeting and iOS updates.

Due to privacy concerns, many users have become weary of giving away their personal information.

As a result, Facebook ads may not be as effective as they once were. 

However, it is still a top PPC platform for agencies, marketers, and small businesses, with more than 60% of companies that increased their Facebook ad budgets in 2021 and then increased again in 2022.

Google Ads

Google Ads and Facebook Ads are PPC (pay-per-click) advertising. They both involve paying to have your content appear in front of a specific audience.

However, there are some critical differences between the two:

Google Ads is search marketing, while Facebook Ads is interruption marketing.

Search marketing is when you target people who are already interested in what you have to offer. 

They are actively searching for information about a specific topic, and with Google Ads, you show up as a result of their search.

Interruption marketing is when you target people who are not necessarily interested in what you have to offer. 

You interrupt them with your content, whether they like it or not.

Due to its nature, interruption marketing can be less effective than search marketing. People tend to ignore or block ads they don’t want to see.

However, interruption marketing can still be very successful if done correctly. It just requires more effort on the part of the advertiser.

Google gives you three ways to get your ad in front of users and potential customers: 

  • Google search (and optional partner networks)
  • Google Display Network (ad banners on websites)
  • YouTube

Google Ads is an excellent option for businesses that want to generate leads and sales quickly. It is highly effective and can be very successful if done correctly.

Google has even reported a “conservative” estimate in 2022 that for every $ 1 a business spends on Google Ads, it received $ 8 in profit- an average of 800% ROI.

5) Analyze and Test 

It may seem like there are unlimited ways to get your message out, but the truth is that not every strategy will work for you. 

It can be challenging to analyze and test all the different marketing and advertising strategies. 

However, by doing so, you will be able to find the ones that work best for your business. 

Remember to Start Small

When starting in marketing and advertising, it’s important to start small. Trying to do too much at once can be overwhelming and ineffective.

Instead, focus on one channel and master it. Once you’ve got that down, move on to the next channel.

This way, you’ll be able to learn what works and what doesn’t and make the necessary changes to improve your results.

Conclusion 

Small businesses have many options for promotion and increasing online visibility.

These options include search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, content marketing, and social media marketing.

Each of these strategies has advantages and disadvantages, so choosing the ones that will work best for your business is important.

SEO is a long-term strategy that can take a while to see results. However, if done correctly, it can effectively improve your website’s rank in search engine results pages (SERPs).

PPC advertising is a great way to quickly get your content in front of a specific audience. However, it can be expensive and can quickly eat into your marketing budget.

Make sure you choose the marketing and advertising strategies that will work best for your business. 

Success in marketing and advertising requires a combination of the right strategies, effort, and dedication. 

However, by choosing the right strategies and analyzing and testing them regularly, you’ll be able to see success in no time.

The post How to Get Found Online: 5 Tips for Small Business Owners in 2022 first appeared on PPC Hero.

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How to effectively optimize content

September 22, 2022 No Comments

How to effectively optimize content

30-second summary:

  • By using a range of techniques to optimize your content, you can make it easier for both search engines and users to consume your written text
  • Taking the time to plan your content topics and conduct extensive keyword research can make a big impact when it comes to performance
  • You should always write for the user first, but you can still implement SEO best practices while doing so
  • Understand the role of accessibility in written content and the importance of providing as much contextual information as possible

Content optimization is essential because it helps users and search engines to easily understand your written text. In addition to this, there are a huge number of other advantages you can gain by optimizing content. You can increase engagement rates, obtain links, generate brand recognition, and appear as an expert in your field. All while improving your organic search rankings.

Sounds good, right?

Let’s find out how you can benefit from all this, and more, by effectively optimizing your content.

Think about your topic

Before you write content, you need to decide on the topic you’re going to cover. This might sound obvious, but it’s worth thinking about. Spending some extra time planning will help you to identify specific subjects and talking points you can discuss. This will help shape your keyword research, which plays a huge role in creating SEO-friendly content.

At this stage, it’s worth thinking about what you want to focus on. You want the topic to be broad enough that you can produce detailed content about it, but not so broad that you won’t be able to cover it all. It might be the case that you need to split the topic into multiple articles. Or if your topic is too vague, you may need to home in on something more specific.

Conduct detailed keyword research

Keyword research is and always has been an essential part of producing good content. It’s the basis for content production and making sure you’re ranking for relevant keywords that you have a good chance of competing for. When performing keyword research, you should be on the lookout for several different types of keywords.

Short-tail keywords

Also known as the head or main keyword, short-tail keywords are made up of a maximum of three words. These keywords will typically have large volumes, but because of this, they have high search difficulties and therefore are highly competitive.

Because these keywords have a broad search intent, they should be used alongside more precise keywords to make it clear to users and search engines exactly what your page is about.

Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are terms made up of more than three keywords and are much more specific than short-tail keywords. These keywords generally have lower volumes, but they also have lower search difficulties, which means they are less competitive.

These keywords are important because they allow you to target a user’s exact search intent. A user who searches for the short-tail keyword ‘motorbike’ might be trying to buy a motorbike, find more information about a model or simply look at a picture of one.

A long tail variation of this search might be ‘Motorbike helmet with Bluetooth speakers’, which narrows down the user’s search intent to a very specific product.

LSI keywords

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are keywords that are loosely related to your head keyword. While these keywords are relevant to your main keyword and the overall topic, they’re not necessarily directly related.

Instead, they’re used thematically to build broader topical depth and make it clear to both search engines and users what the overarching topic of your content is. If your short-tail keyword is the trunk of a tree and your long-tail keywords are the branches, then the LSI keywords are the twigs.

LSI keywords branch out from the main keyword but are still relatable enough to provide additional context and information. These can be a bit trickier to find, but by using the suggested search feature in search engines, you can get your hands on them.

Local keywords

These keywords won’t always be relevant, but if you’re looking to boost your rankings for local terms, then including local keywords is essential.

Luckily, this is a lot easier than implementing other keywords. You simply add your location into your content along with your main keyword. But remember, don’t stuff in keywords for the sake of it! Try to mix it up, using different variations wherever possible.

People also ask (PAA) key phrases

Like the suggested search function, the people also ask feature is an excellent way to obtain relevant keywords and phrases. These are phrases that users have searched for before, so we know that they hold value and have good search volumes.

So, how can we use this to our advantage?

By creating content that targets these queries, you’ll be increasing your chances of appearing in Search Engine Results Pages for these terms.

And the best thing is, these questions are often different to the main keywords you would normally target. This means your content will be more varied and unique and will specifically target pain points that your audience is looking for.

Always write for the user first

People skim content more than ever these days, so it’s important to keep it short, snappy, and engaging. The days of writing solely for search engines are long gone, and Google’s recent helpful content update has really cemented this.

This update emphasizes the importance of writing for the user first. Your focus should be on creating engaging, informative and easy-to-digest content. You can always go through your work afterward and make tweaks and edits to optimize for SEO best practice.

Just be careful not to make it too robotic as search engines can spot keyword stuffing from a mile away! Keep it free-flowing and try to insert keywords in a natural way; both users and search engines will appreciate it.

Include alt-text for your images

If you’re including images in your articles (which you should be) then it’s essential that you add alt text. Alt text is the written copy that describes an image to users who can’t see them or if the image fails to load.

First and foremost, alt text is a core principle of web accessibility for visually impaired users. Its secondary function is to provide additional context and descriptions to search engine crawlers, allowing them to index an image properly.

As some images contain critical information or provide context for the rest of the page, it’s crucial to take the time to write appropriate alt text. By doing this, you are adhering to accessibility standards and improving your SEO at the same time.

Remember internal and external links

Another way to optimize your content is to include internal and external links.

Internal links can be used to take users toward relevant, closely related pages that will provide them with further information they might be looking for. This makes it easier for users to navigate your website and helps to create a strong site structure.

External links are also useful because they can be used to point toward external data and sources of information that back up your content. In the eyes of a search engine, the use of valuable external links improves the authority of your content.

Just make sure you have a healthy balance of follow and no-follow tags on your external links.

Consider site speed

Site speed is always important when it comes to performing well in search engines. No one likes a slow website, and users are more impatient than ever when it comes for waiting for things to load. Even an extra second’s loading time could put some users off and cause them to bounce from your website.

You should regularly review your site speed and make sure your website is performing well. Consider removing unnecessary code and compressing large images as these are common factors that contribute to slow site speed.

Break up your content

Imagine you land on a webpage and the first thing you see is a wall of text with no paragraphs, headings, or subheadings. It’s not exactly going to draw you in, is it?

Users are more likely to consume your content if it’s broken up into digestible chunks. This makes it much easier for them to quickly take in the information they’re looking for.

It also provides you an opportunity to weave keywords into your headings and subheadings, which are strong signals for search engines. It’s a win-win!

Keep things up to date

Remember, even when you’ve produced a well-written, SEO-friendly article, the hard work doesn’t stop there. Google LOVES it when you go back and update existing content because it shows you’re keeping your website up to date.

Has there been a new development that affects the topic of your post? Or perhaps some new data that you could use to explore a new angle? If there is some way that you can update your article and add information that will benefit your users, then it’s worth taking the time to do so.

Enjoy the benefits of optimized content

Now that you know how to optimize your content, you’ll have a better chance of ranking for your chosen keywords. In addition to this, your users will be more likely to stay on your website for longer, increasing your engagement rates and the time spent consuming your content.

As a result of consistently producing high-quality content, you may well find that your site is attracting more links from external sources. This will boost your domain authority and help you to appear as a trustworthy and authoritative source of information.

So, if you’re looking for ways to give your content a little boost, consider implementing some of these techniques into your writing. It won’t always be possible to include everything we’ve mentioned here, but if you write for the user first and take care with your keywords, you’ll be on the right track.


Rob Phillips is Digital Manager at Coast Digital.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

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The post How to effectively optimize content appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Your Guide to Winning with Performance Max Campaigns

September 22, 2022 No Comments

The first mention of Performance Max dates back to 2020, but it is still considered the new kid on the block for businesses and marketers alike. 

For many business owners, and especially eCommerce store owners, there has always been that search for the Holy Grail to simplify online advertising. With many options available, it was difficult for many to choose where to start. For those unfamiliar with the Google Ads ecosystem, it became a very expensive lesson, with many chalking it up as an expensive lesson in futility.

Then came a shift in the landscape, with the release of their automated behemoth, Smart Shopping. This new campaign option offered the likes of many amateur shop owners a simplistic way to take their first steps into the online advertising universe. This made for a simplified process for users to easily showcase all their products, putting most of the decision-making in the hands of Google. 

Whilst this provided some relief for many, there were still boundaries. For one, the ability to extract pertinent data to review and assess was one of them, as was providing the opportunity to the inexperienced to expand into the other Google advertising ecosystem (YouTube, Display, etc.) where their products may flourish. This provided a void for advertisers to expand their reach and required something to fill the gap.

That was until now!

With the announcement that Google is sunsetting the Smart Shopping campaign, the talk moved quickly to how this will be handled. There was the mention of a “one-click” solution to transition across to this new kid on the block, which was music to the ears of those still not familiar with the Google advertising network. Whilst this may sound like the perfect solution for most, not having that understanding of what you’re working with, could be the difference between the success and failure of your efforts.

This is why I want to equip you with a full understanding of what Performance Max is, and how you can go about implementing the moving parts to set it up for success.

Introducing Performance Max

Performance Max is the latest installment from Google’s war chest of advertising tools. Unlike other automated options of its predecessors, Performance Max harnesses the power of its advertising ecosystem and enables advertisers to serve their ads across YouTube, Gmail, Discover, Search, Shopping & Display networks from a single campaign.

In their own marketing efforts, Google has made it sound simple to get these new campaign types in place, and in some ways, they have. Simply provide your ad copy, upload inspirational product images, add links from your YouTube account, and connect to your Google Merchant Center and you’re only a button click away from unleashing its power. From there, Google’s all-powerful machine learning systems will seek out and find the perfect customer and serve your ads to whichever platform they may be using at the time.

So now, instead of having to create multiple ads and assets for specific channels, you get to “throw it all together” and let Google work its magic, managing its potential to full effect across their advertising landscape.

Performance Max campaigns leverage their automated bidding and targeting technology, creating tailored ads and putting them in front of customers, no matter where they are on the Google Ads network. From the average person, this sounds too good to be true, especially those that are happy to let Google have complete control over their funds.

To help you get the most out of Performance Max, let’s break it down into the many parts that go into making it work.

Anatomy of a Performance Max campaign

Unlike other previous campaign types, such as Search which focus on text-based queries, from this single campaign, you can now show ads to other platforms that include Shopping, Search, YouTube, Display, Local, Gmail and Discovery.

As an automated campaign type, all you need to do is add your assets, select your goal and let Google proceed to do the job by showing your ad to the right person, on the right network, to give you the best possible chance of success. It sounds like the holy grail of advertising and whilst you will see results, having a better understanding of how to put it all together will go a long way to its success.

So where to begin.?

Whilst you’ve read this far, let’s presume that you have a good understanding of the basic campaign settings for creating a Google Ads campaign, including your budget, location, language, etc. As these are generally pre-determined when you plan your campaign and the goals you want to achieve, there are some areas to take into consideration when doing so.

With Performance Max campaigns, you have 2 options with the bidding strategy. Maximize Conversion or Maximize Conversion Value. While there are only these options to choose from, your success is based on choosing the right one. Whichever goal aligns with the outcome you are wanting to achieve, we suggest not putting in any limitations such as a target ROAS or CPA when starting out, and allowing Google to “spread its wings” to jump-start the campaign.

There is one caveat within the settings and that is the Final URL Expansion section. If there is a page on your site that Google believes is more relevant than the landing page you want to direct them to, it will send them there. This does take some control out of your hands, but it is based on your historical conversion data combined with the characteristic profile data it has on users. If there are pages that you specifically do not want to be included, you have that option through the Add the URLs you want to exclude option.

Asset Groups

Asset groups can be similarly described as the “new ad groups” of these Google Ad campaigns. Within these asset groups, you have the infrastructure to create themed assets, including imagery, video, shopping products, and text ad copy, that will provide an inventory for Google to showcase across its advertising platform. Keep in mind that if you are not utilizing your own video or YouTube channel, Google will create one as part of the asset group. If this is not an option, you can contact your Google rep to remove the Performance Max campaign from the video network.

Listing Groups

Within each asset group, you can manually select which products you want to be served up across the Google Shopping network. These listing groups can be segmented by Category, Brand, Item ID, Condition, Product Type, Channel, and Custom Labels. While there is no right or wrong way to set these up, I suggest breaking them down so they align with your themed Asset Group. For example, you may have an Asset Group for Nike and it would make the most logical sense to only include the range of Nike products, especially if you’re using keywords as an audience signal to find your customers.

For those a little more advanced, you can take advantage of using custom labels to get granular with the products that you want to include, such as top sellers, on-sale items or even by a price point. Aligning your products is a key element here, so ensure you spend time looking at how you want to segment these out in comparison to the audience that you will be targeting.

Audience Signals

Creating these signals will guide Google’s machine learning models on the way to better optimize your campaign. One caveat with this is that these campaigns may show ads to audiences outside of these signals if Google’s machine learning indicates that there is a likelihood of attaining a conversion that falls within your goals.

When starting out, it’s always good to have a solid foundation of audience signals in place to get things going. This initial information is going to help your campaign ramp up and optimize performance faster. Whilst having all your products and signals in one group is the simplest way to start, ideally, every audience should get its own asset group and intended audience. These audiences should include:

  1. All website visitors
  2. Competitor terms and website
  3. In-Market with a combination of relevant and “outside-the-box”
  4. Affinity
  5. Customer match list or All converters
  6. Converting keywords
  7. Brand

These are not the specific audiences that you’ll be targeting but the characteristics of those audiences Google will use to find the right customer.

*Top tip – If you’re looking to create a large number of asset groups by combining categories and audience signals, Google Ads Editor is going to be your best friend. Whenever you duplicate an asset group from within the Google interface, the Listing Group defaults back to all products and you’ll need to segment it each time. If it is duplicated in the Google Ads editor, it will retain the original segmentation of the products.

All Done, What’s Next?

Absolutely nothing!

Not quite but you do need to understand that these new campaigns take time to work through the learning process, gathering all the data from your assets and signals, to achieve the goals you have in place. While this doesn’t mean you won’t see some early wins, and you should, it just means you’ll have to be a little more patient. Generally speaking, this can take up to 5-6 weeks from the time you hit the GO button for new campaigns, which for some can be a nervous period. 

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can walk away and let it do “its thing” for the next few weeks. As they say, a champion team will always beat a team of champions, and this is no different when talking about your Google Ads account. Relying on a single campaign, as many did with Smart Shopping, can be fraught with danger. Whilst Performance Max campaigns utilize all of the advertising networks that Google has to offer, you want to ensure that you’re not missing any opportunities. 

For starters, a Brand campaign.

I suggest running a branded search campaign alongside to ensure that Performance Max is not taking all the glory in sales and converting the low-hanging fruit of those people looking for your business. Although there is hope that it will eventually become available, you’ll still need to speak to your Google rep about adding your brand name, and its derivations, as negative search terms to Performance Max.

Running a standard shopping campaign can also be beneficial, especially if you have core products that need to be front and center with your audience. There is a lot more control, and data to analyze, which can help with improving the overall account, too. The Performance Max campaign will help with “filling in the gaps”, especially with the additional channels it has to market to.

You should also look to run a Dynamic Remarketing campaign. Unlike the previous Smart Shopping that so many were used to running, the remarketing component was far superior, and a dedicated remarketing campaign will give you far more information to review and make decisions.

We live in a media-rich world, where platforms such as Instagram and TikTok rule. The reason they are the kings, or queens, of the social media world is the use of visual creatives. This is no different when it comes to Performance Max campaigns. Make sure you keep a stock of fresh visual images and videos and implement them into newly created themed asset groups for further testing.

But won’t this reset the learning cycle?

Thankfully, it won’t reset the learning phase for the entire campaign, just the newly created asset group. 

Will Performance Max campaigns take traffic/sales from my other campaigns?

The short: it depends. Whilst they are known to “steal” impressions and clicks from other campaigns, there are reasons why. Part of the reason comes down to your ad ranking across all your campaigns. For Search based campaigns, if there is no exact match term in other Search campaigns, then it will be based on the highest ad ranking in your account. When it comes to competing against other YouTube and Discovery campaigns, it’s different again.

To clear up the confusion, here’s a table to give you an idea of which campaign will show:

Campaign #1 Campaign #2 Campaign entered in the auction
Search campaign that matches user query exactly Performance Max Search Campaign
Search campaign that does not match user query exactly Performance Max Campaign w/ higher ad rank
Standard Shopping campaigns Performance Max Shopping Ads on Search/Shopping: Performance MaxShopping Ads on search partners: Performance MaxShopping Ads on Gmail & YouTube: Campaign with higher ad rank
Display campaigns (with no feed) Performance Max Campaign w/ higher ad rank
Display campaigns (with feed) Performance Max Dynamic remarketing: Performance MaxAll other display ads: Campaign w/ higher ad rank
Video campaigns Performance Max Campaign w/ higher ad rank
Discovery campaigns Performance Max Campaign w/ higher ad rank
Local campaigns Performance Max Campaign w/ higher ad rank
ACE campaigns Performance Max Campaign w/ higher ad rank

Conclusion

As you can see, getting started with a Performance Max campaign isn’t as difficult as it may seem, and for those that are either new to Google Ads or crossing over from Smart Shopping, that journey has been made simpler. 

Whilst the above will get you up and running, there is still much that can be done through review and testing, as well as working on accompanying campaigns to complement the performance of your account.

If you’d like to find out how to get the most out of Google Ads for E-commerce, you can contact me at Digital Darts.

The post Your Guide to Winning with Performance Max Campaigns first appeared on PPC Hero.

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The Real Impact of the Grand Theft Auto and Diablo Leaks

September 20, 2022 No Comments

When hackers release game information early, it’s the developers that suffer—not the players.
Feed: All Latest


Broad Match in Review: Putting Google to the Test

September 19, 2022 No Comments

In the world of digital media – and in paid search in particular – it can feel like we’re always on high alert, waiting to jump on the next product announcement or new beta that will come along and help us to squeeze incremental performance out of our paid marketing budget.

So it’s maybe somewhat counterintuitive that in 2022, the single biggest improvement you can make to your paid search program comes from a product that has been around since the inception of Google AdWords, over 2 decades ago. Broad match is that product.

What Is the Size of the Prize?

From their internal studies, Google suggests that advertisers using smart bidding who adopt broad match see an average conversion increase of 30%, at a similar CPA. The exact figure you hear quoted may vary depending on the exact nature of the test – for instance, if your KPI is conversion value rather than conversions – but broadly speaking, the number you hear won’t deviate too far from this 30% mark.

As an agency, our role is to run our own experiments that either validate or reject these claims from media partners, so that we can present the right solutions to our clients. At Brainlabs we’ve invested heavily in this capability, and our “Hippocampus” database allows us to track the results of all tests that have been run across the agency.

From our extensive recent testing of Broad Match, our experiments uncovered two major findings.

1.  We found convincing evidence corroborating Google’s claims. Whilst falling just short of the 30% figure, the median uplift we recorded was +19%, which is by no means a figure to be scoffed at.

2. Arguably more interestingly, our analysis reminded us just how much can be hidden behind an average. We didn’t just see an impressive median uplift; we also saw broad match deliver successful tests with remarkable consistency. Out of all 54 tests we have on record, broad match emerged as the winning variant on 46 occasions. When you consider the array of external factors that can impact testing in digital media, an 85% success rate is almost unheard of.

But let’s take a step back from the nuances for a moment. Regardless of whether the uplift is 19% or 30%, that’s a number you can’t afford to ignore – especially for a feature that requires almost no effort to implement. And if your budget won’t stretch as far as a 19% increase, the good news is that it doesn’t need to: by enabling broad match and maintaining your current investment, you can instead convert that added value into an improvement towards your CPA or ROAS goals.

If there has ever been a silver bullet in paid advertising, broad match is it.

So How Have We Got Here?

Over the years, broad match has made a bit of a bad name for itself – and it’s easy to see why. It’s not too long ago that the presence of broad match in an account was a surefire indicator of a hands-off approach to management, leading to suboptimal results, and ads being served to users who were really not even close to converting with your product.

As time has passed, the rise of broad match has been the story of gradual & consistent technological progress. Whilst there’s a lot of noise around the topic nowadays, there probably aren’t too many outside of Google’s engineering & leadership teams that could have anticipated just how big a hit it would become more than three years ago.

If there ever was a turning point, it came in February 2021. In one of their flagship announcements of the year, Google told the industry:

Encapsulated in that small print was the fact that there had been a fundamental algorithm shift towards semantic matching, rather than syntactic matching. With this change, broad match ceased being the fire-hose it once was, and became a genuinely viable tool to accurately expand your ad targeting.

The product improvements haven’t stopped there, and today, Google’s vision for broad match continues to reflect a slow burn of updates and performance enhancements:

  1. Utilizing state-of-the-art natural language recognition models
  2. Continual improvements to data quality and infrastructure
  3. Simplified management of broad match
  4. Updates to the keyword prioritization process
  5. Building a joint optimization process across creative, bidding & keyword targeting

Of course, nowadays Google are anything but subtle in the way they talk about broad match with their agencies and advertisers. Recommendations tabs in Google accounts across the World are littered with the call to arms of “upgrade your existing keywords to broad match”, as one of the most consistently highly ranked opportunities.

Despite the bolder approach that Google are now taking in their comms, the steady stream of product changes and refinements will continue, with it being likely that many will go unnoticed for the most part.

When Can Broad Match Go Wrong?

You already know this by now, but auction-time bidding is table stakes in paid search. However, this is never more true than when combined with broad match. If you aren’t using this Google Ads feature to tailor your bids in real-time, then for sure broad match will see you spending a lot of money across a lot of users who each have very little interest in your product right now.

Flipping that logic on its head though, it’s also crucial to appreciate the value that some of those more tenuous-looking queries bring to the table when combined with smart bidding. As humans, we can very easily dip into a search query report, find a handful of questionable examples & overreact: “these queries will almost never convert for us, we need to exclude them!” But as long as there is a non-zero probability of those users converting, then by setting an appropriately low bid you are well justified in serving an ad.

To be clear, we’re not advocating an entirely hands-off approach to search query reports, and you will need to use some element of human judgement. But if performance is your goal, then you really should be trying to give the algorithm as much freedom to optimise as you’re comfortable with.

Another common pitfall is to start focusing on the wrong metrics. The dynamics of your paid search account won’t look the same after adopting broad match – and that’s okay because the numbers you care about will be going in the right direction. All else being equal, a move to broad match should typically see your campaign metrics do something like the below:

it’s true that some of these numbers are in the red, and you can already hear the reaction from the less assured marketers in the room – “Why’re my CTR & conversion rate going down?! Broad match must be driving less qualified traffic!” But the point is, you’ve delivered incremental value and conversions with that additional traffic – and because your bid strategy has paid less for the clicks, there’s not been any adverse impact on your CPA & ROAS.

Finally, there’s an increasing emphasis on being able to steer Google’s automation in the right direction. Remember: an algorithm will optimize single-mindedly towards achieving a conversion goal. So if you haven’t developed a conversion goal that’s sophisticated enough to distinguish your most and least valuable customers, then you should be prepared to see an increase in low-quality customers. Depending on your business, that might mean MQLs that never turn into sales, or it might mean one-off shoppers who never come back for repeat purchases. Sharing first-party conversion data with Google is the solution to offset this trade-off.

In Conclusion

As a matured, world-weary PPC marketer, you’ve every right to have a healthy level of skepticism about broad match. Try to overcome that, and bear in mind the steady progress that has been made in the field of machine learning.

Whilst you’re going through that mindset shift, make sure you stay focused on the objectives of your marketing – and ideally, think about how you can advance these objectives to better target your most valuable customers.

But most of all, make sure you take action – don’t let that 19% uplift pass you by. It’s no exaggeration to say that broad match is at a stage where we’d consider it a fundamental component of your search activity. If it isn’t on your roadmap, assess how you can bring it to the forefront – and get testing today.

The post Broad Match in Review: Putting Google to the Test first appeared on PPC Hero.

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Balancing between paid and organic search for brand success

September 18, 2022 No Comments

Balancing between paid and organic search for brand success

30-second summary:

  • Relying on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for short-term gains and neglecting organic marketing will prove ineffective
  • Before pumping any money into SEO strategy, a business must ensure that its website is fully optimised for user experience
  • Once in a comfortable position, PPC advertising can be used to amplify brand reach by experimenting with new keywords
  • While short-tail keywords have a higher search volume, long-tail keywords remain vital
  • Search results drastically differ on mobile and desktop and mobile users have less patience, so allocate more PPC advertising budget for mobile

When trying to grow a business, the importance of SEO cannot be understated. If people are unable to find a business, especially as ecommerce continues to grow into an unstoppable force, then attracting customers is an impossible endeavour.

In a bid to fast-track brand awareness, an inexperienced business owner might be tempted to rely on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to get fast results. However, finding the right balance between organic marketing and PPC advertising is crucial for brand success.

I have broken down six ways to find the perfect balance between organic marketing and PPC advertising so that any business owner can build awareness for their brand the right way.

Fully optimize your website first

Before focusing on paid or organic search for brand success, having a fully functional website is imperative. If a prospective customer has a torrid experience using a website, the odds of securing a sale drastically decrease. All the logistics of a website should be thoroughly inspected, such as broken links, load time and the volume of customers which can be hosted at once. It’s also important to avoid over-optimising a website and using too many keywords. Keywords should be implemented subtly so that the untrained eye would never notice, otherwise, they might add negative SEO value.

Rely on PPC whilst waiting for organic SEO improvement

While it would be great to be able to rely mostly or solely on organic marketing to raise brand awareness eventually, doing so when starting out is virtually impossible. Historically, PPC advertising has been encouraged to be used whilst a business is waiting for organic SEO improvement to land. This is not a licence to neglect organic marketing – far from it – as the goal is to improve a business’s SEO value whilst using PPC initially. In the longer term, results from PPC advertising should be used to guide organic marketing efforts.

Experiment with brand-related keywords

Once in a comfortable position, a business can shift its PPC advertising strategy towards experimentation. As and when organic brand-related keywords drop in place, the corresponding PPC advertising budget can be reallocated to test new keywords, thus amplifying the total reach of the brand. When improving SEO value, a business needs to constantly explore and update its targeted keywords for organic SEO improvement. As mentioned, results from PPC advertising should be used to inform organic marketing planning.

Focus on both short-tail and long-tail keywords

A short-tail keyword or ‘head term’ is a search term with one to three words that cover a general topic. Landing on the first search engine results page for short-tail keywords borders on impossible due to the sheer number of results, so even though they typically have a higher search volume, long-tail keywords remain important as users are more likely to be closer to a point-of-purchase when searching them. Searching for “shoe shiner” would be a short-tail keyword, whereas searching for “how to shine my shoes” is a long-tail keyword, as it is three to five words and more focused on a specific subject. Naturally, the short-tail keywords will garner more searches, but ranking well for the long-tail keywords will offer a business a meaningful advantage over competitors in the same market.

Don’t just rely on Google

Most business owners, executives and managers will be inclined to focus all their efforts on Google – and rightfully so as it’s the world’s biggest search engine platform by far. However, it can also be worth testing ads on the likes of Bing to see what returns are achievable elsewhere. If the results are favourable, it might be worth splitting SEO-related efforts across multiple platforms.

Use PPC advertising for mobile, organic marketing for desktop

Search results drastically differ on mobile and desktop. At the risk of stating the obvious, using a search engine on desktop presents the users with more results because the screen is naturally bigger. As the window of opportunity – literally the size of the search window on a smartphone – is much smaller on mobile, using PPC advertising for mobile is critical. Furthermore, mobile users are less likely to make multiple searches using different keywords, than a desktop user with more patience might.

Growing brand awareness requires a streamlined and focused strategy for both organic marketing and PPC advertising. Solely relying on PPC advertising might seem like an easy solution, but slowly working on organic marketing will eventually allow a business to use PPC advertising to amplify brand reach. Business owners might underestimate the importance of SEO, but its importance can’t be underscored in the ever-growing digital marketplace.


Nick Swan is Founder of SEOTesting.

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The post Balancing between paid and organic search for brand success appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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An SEO strategy flywheel to win leadership buy-in and drive results

September 17, 2022 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • From my experience, every SEO has struggled to get buy-in on a recommendation at some point
  • An SEO’s job has changed a lot in a decade. Now, prioritization is mandatory for success
  • To have proper prioritization in your roadmap, you need a framework that builds in opportunity analysis, discovery, and measurement
  • It can be challenging to win-over stakeholders because there is skepticism against advertisers—and SEOs can have competing interests if we don’t get early buy-in and speak in terms of business KPIs rather than SEO KPIs
  • The SEO Strategy Flywheel outlined below is your ticket to unlocking SEO roadmaps that get implemented

In today’s SEO industry, human challenges far exceed technical challenges. Our job as SEOs has evolved dramatically in the last 10 years. To show value a decade ago, SEOs manually audited sites and created a laundry list of SEO action items to fix. Prioritization wasn’t imperative to success because marketing teams were limited, websites were smaller, and SEO didn’t have an obvious home…should SEO live with development, content, creative, or marketing? As we love to say, “it depends.” 

In the decade since we’ve learned that SEO does require meaningful prioritization to get buy-in from all stakeholders. Prioritization is now mandatory for two reasons:

  1. Resources are finite—as SKUs and sites grow, the SEO resources usually don’t
  2. Tools have replaced the need for manual audits but cannot replace human expertise in prioritizing against business needs and objectives

John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, even says this on Reddit:

As an SEO, a part of your role is to take all of the possible optimizations and figure out which ones are worth spending time on. Any SEO tool will spit out 10s or 100s of “recommendations”, most of those are going to be irrelevant to your site’s visibility in search. Finding the items that make sense to work on takes experience.

However, modern SEO success also requires more than just excellent prioritization. We’ve agreed on a common belief that regardless of where SEO sits within an organization, it is marketing! SEO = marketing. And, whether we like it or not, that makes us as SEOs advertisers. SEOs = advertisers.

Unfortunately, I have bad news for you: people despise advertisers, according to Gallup polls.

Advertisers aren't people's favorite

So this presents obvious challenges for us as we try to win over folks like business executives, developers, content writers, etc., with this inherent bias against us as advertisers. 

Introducing: The SEO strategy flywheel

The SEO strategy flywheel was hard-fought through my personal experience. The best part is that this flywheel can be used by in-house SEOs, freelancers, and agencies! 

As Myriam Jessier says to SEOs, “Heart surgeons use checklists. You are not above them.”

To take this further, we are not above process either – and in today’s world, the process must go beyond traditional SEO expertise. SEOs must use processes to overcome human and technical challenges. Processes can feel mundane, boring, and possibly even robotic. Far too often have I witnessed SEOs painfully living in chaos with no defined roadmaps, processes, or regular workflow cadence. But the truth is: we are not above process and it does not turn us into robots. 

Rather, creating process makes us more human. It eliminates the need to focus on “survival” tactics and reserves bandwidth to focus on more impactful strategic initiatives. 

Having a team and various stakeholders commit to a process improves efficiency, allows for more collaboration, and ensures we can see our recommendations implemented. 

Introduction to the SEO strategy flywheel

1. Opportunity analysis – Build confident humility into your process

Step one is our opportunity to reassess our strategic vision, layered against the new competitive landscape from the previous quarter. 

Too often, we as SEOs are either too stubborn in our strategic vision or too passive to make recommendations that may be experimental or challenging to get approved. This leads to either armchair-quarterback syndrome where you’re blinded by hubris or imposter syndrome where you’re too meek to make difficult cases compelling. The goldilocks spot is what Adam Grant calls, “Confident Humility” in his book ‘Think Again’

The opportunity analysis commits all teams to consistently review site performance, and analyze and prepare for any industry/vertical change. In short, the opportunity analysis forces confident humility. And confident humility is how we get better—quarter after quarter. 

Most important in the opportunity analysis is to ensure that there is an “outside” perspective from another SEO expert to ensure that your findings are sound. At Brainlabs, this includes check-ins and QA with the Group Account Director and VP of SEO. This outside perspective allows us to help narrow in on the most impactful findings for our recommendations. 

Tips

  • Doing an audit, you will find someone somewhere along the line made a mistake (for example, unimplemented content, wrongly implemented schema, and the other). Make sure to rectify this before the Discovery Meeting where you recap findings so you don’t burn a bridge with an important stakeholder like a developer. 
  • Always put the opportunity in business KPIs, not SEO KPIs. 

2. Discovery meeting – Get buy-in from stakeholders early

The most collaborative part of the process is my personal favorite and the most influential: the discovery meeting. The discovery meeting is our time to build relationships with all stakeholders—and understand available resources and appetite for change. Put simply, robots can’t build relationships–that’s still something we have over any SEO auditing technology. 

Having meaningful questions to ask stakeholders is part of the reason why the Opportunity Analysis is the first step—you don’t want to go to this meeting empty-handed. The questions I like to ask can be grouped into 4 buckets: Partnership, Business, Industry/SEO, and Resources. While templated questions are a great start, you should always tweak the questions to be relevant to the brand. 

Example questions include:

Partnership: 

  • What project has been your favorite so far? Should we do more of that?

Business: 

  • Are there any changes in your industry or business that can/will impact the website or marketing efforts? 

SEO:

  • Is there anything in the backlog of projects that you’re excited about? What can we provide to make a case for implementation?

Resources: 

  • With the economic uncertainty, will resources stay the same on your side? 

Tips

  • This meeting can be folded into a QBR-esque meeting or, if you can swing the time, it can stand alone on its own, which is my preference. 
  • Invite stakeholders from multiple teams to get perspective (for example, developers, execs, content, brand marketing, and other relevant members)
  • If time allows, have a mock call to ensure that the questions and presentation are well-crafted and the team is comfortable delivering them.

3. SEO roadmap creation – Put rubber to the road

Most SEOs try to skip directly to this step first. But—be warned from my experience—it is a costly mistake (in both time and political capital). Beginning your SEO project with a roadmap results in a long list of unprioritized recommendations and little implementation, and the end result is a loss of trust and frustration with stakeholders. 

The roadmap, when preceded by proper opportunity analysis and an effective Discovery meeting, will successfully accomplish three things:

  1. Lay out projects with enough detail for early buy-in
  2. Identify participants for each activity to avoid a collective action problem
  3. Act as an activity log which makes measurement easier

The sheet below is an example of an SEO quarterly roadmap. We define each project and quantify the impact on the business using relevant SEO KPIs and business terms (outlined in pink). 

Next, we include a RACI model (outlined in blue) to define project participants by who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. 

Lastly, once the Roadmap is approved we add the middle Project Status section (outlined in black), and track each activity so we can measure pre- and post-implementation success. 

Tips

  • Exercise ongoing confident humility with the roadmap and know when to pivot a project
  • Continuously update the roadmap and use this to guide status calls
  • Use the roadmap to define resource allocation and project management—that is, new projects to be added must be done in place of something else

4. Implementation – Get sh*t done

While site implementation may fall to different teams, the important part is being able to assess who needs approval for which implementations early on. That way, by the time each recommendation is finalized then it can immediately be ready for implementation. 

Tips

  • Since you have a roadmap with defined timelines, get development tickets submitted early so the implementation team can prepare resources for them in an upcoming sprint
  • QA all implementations to ensure that the final result matches your recommendation
  • Use a site change tracker tool to see when stuff gets implemented

5. Measurement – Identify winning efforts to scale

Step five is where this framework turns into a flywheel: Measurement. Having an activity log in your roadmap allows you to easily identify pre- and post-implementation impacts. Being able to tie performance back to a specific subset of optimizations allows you to scale those efforts to yield the compounding effects of SEO. 

There’s no better way to win influence over a site’s development team than by following up and sharing the results of their work.  Make sure they see the post-implementation report and watch how easily SEO projects get added to the development roadmap in future sprints!

Tips

  • Make sure implementation dates are accurate (including site adjustments)
  • Ensure to account for seasonality in your analysis
  • Track pre and post-measurement from the soonest crawl date after implementation, rather than implementation itself as it can take upwards of three months for a page to be recrawled
  • Use an SEO A/B testing tool for testing ranking/traffic impact—like SearchPilot for large sites—and/or a conversion testing tool like Google Optimize to test for engagement/conversion impact
  • Set up tracking for SEO KPIs as early as possible to get enough pre-implementation data

Process = Success

The SEO strategy flywheel allows you to dedicate your SEO team’s time and resources to SEO rather than reactively resolving prioritization conflicts. Committing to this process builds confident humility into your work, gets stakeholder buy-in early, and easily allows you to scale winning efforts. I encourage you to modify this process to fit in with your existing workflows and share your modifications with others in the comments for inspiration. 

Next quarter’s planning is right around the corner—go get it!


Travis Tallent is the VP, SEO at Brainlabs overseeing the SEO product to ensure account teams have the right talent, tools, tech, and process to do their jobs well. Travis spends time enjoying nature, playing saxophone in a local band, and volunteering for LGBTQ+ organizations. Follow Travis on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The post An SEO strategy flywheel to win leadership buy-in and drive results appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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The Pros and Cons of Combining Content Marketing With PPC and How to Pull It Off

September 14, 2022 No Comments

It’s no secret that content marketing and PPC are two of the most important and popular types of digital marketing strategies. But what happens when you combine the two? Is it a match made in heaven, or does it end in disaster? In this post, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of combining content marketing with PPC, and we’ll also offer some tips on how to make it work.

What Does It Mean to Combine Content Marketing With PPC?

As we all know, content marketing is all about creating and distributing valuable, relevant, engaging content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience to drive profitable customer action. Content marketers focus on crafting well-written, compelling, SEO-friendly copy that answers users’ questions and helps boost organic traffic and website authority within a certain niche.

On the other hand, PPC is a paid form of advertising that allows you to place ads on search engines and other websites to drive traffic to your website.

This is nothing new. But what exactly does it mean to combine the two? It means using PPC campaigns to promote highly-valuable and highly-converting content on your website. In other words, you’re using SEO-friendly content to attract organic traffic while also using targeted PPC ads to drive traffic to that same content.

Why Would You Want to Combine PPC and Content Marketing?

There are several reasons why you might want to consider combining content marketing with PPC. The most important are:

1.) High-Quality Content Can Be Better at Converting Than a (Very) Well-Written Ad

It’s common for PPC marketers to focus their attention solely on the quality of their ads and landing pages. While that’s certainly important, it’s not the only thing that matters. If you’re driving traffic just for the sake of a sale and you disregard the reason or intention behind a user typing in a keyword in Google, visitors are likely to catch on quickly. They’ll realize that they won’t find what they’re looking for on your site and click away.

But if you use your PPC ad to drive traffic to valuable content that answers a user’s question, they’re much more likely to stick around. This is great for you because good content is much better at driving conversions and generating leads than other forms of marketing. In fact, marketers who focus their strategies around content marketing report six times higher conversion rates than those who don’t.

But it can sometimes take time for a good piece of content to reach the top of the SERPs. That’s when combining it with a well-targeted PPC campaign can help. Both strategies work together as one: your PPC campaign drives traffic to your content, getting people to interact with your brand and share it with others. This helps boost your content’s ranking. On the other hand, your content is more likely to convert readers than PPC ads alone. So, by driving traffic to your content with your PPC ads, you’re effectively getting more value from your PPC campaign.

2.) Build Trust With Good Content and Boost Your PPC ROI

When users see a PPC ad, they’re generally aware that it’s an advertisement and that the company is trying to sell them something. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that there’s a certain level of distrust there, making people less likely to click on your ad. In the best of cases, an ad does very little to improve the level of trust in your brand from someone who only just found out you exist.

But what if, instead of selling your reader something right off the bat, you direct them to a piece of content that yells, “We know what we’re talking about here!“?

If you take them to content that positions your brand as an authority within your niche, content that offers value and will make your readers keep coming back for more, this can build trust between you and your audience. Nowadays, trust is one of the most important forms of equity a brand can have, as people are more likely to buy from a brand they trust.

It’s a bit of a roundabout way to go about it, but the truth is that driving traffic to valuable content using PPC and building trust with your audience is an effective way to improve conversions and, in turn, the ROI for your PPC campaigns in the long run.

3.) You Can Use PPC to Test Different Types of Content

If you’re not sure what type of content will work best for your target audience, using PPC to test different pieces is a great idea. You can create different ads that link to different types of content and see which ones perform better in terms of engagement, conversion rates, and other important metrics.

This is a great way to fine-tune your content strategy and focus on types of content such as videos, infographics, blog articles, and UGC, which are most likely to resonate with your target audience and lead to conversions.

4.) PPC Can Help You Promote Time-Sensitive Content

If you have time-sensitive content that you want to promote, using PPC is a great way to do it. You can create ads that specifically target people looking for the type of information your content provides and make sure that your ad reaches them at the right time.

This is particularly important in some very dynamic niches like the crypto investment space or the stock market, where a piece of news can make an exchange go ablaze, like what happened in 2021 with the Reddit-GameStop-Robinhood saga. In those cases, getting a good piece of content up in record time can mean the difference between making it big time or missing the wave.

Cons of Combining Content Marketing and PPC Campaigns

PPC can be a great way to drive traffic to your content, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a silver bullet. If you’re not careful, you can waste a lot of money on PPC ads that don’t lead to conversions.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of using PPC to drive traffic to your content:

1.) PPC Can Make Your Content Marketing Much More Expensive

PPC can be a very effective way to drive traffic to your content, but it’s important to remember that it can also be quite expensive, depending on your niche and the keywords you’re targeting. If you’re not careful, you can easily spend more money on PPC than you’re making in revenue from your content.

Before you start a PPC campaign, it’s essential to do your research and make sure that you understand the costs involved. Otherwise, you could spend a lot of money with little to show for it.

2.) PPC Requires Constant Optimization

If you want to make the most out of your PPC campaigns, you need to optimize them constantly. This means regularly testing new ad copy, keywords, and targeting options to see what works best.

PPC can be a lot of work, which adds on top of the work needed to craft a good piece of content when you combine the two. If you’re not prepared to put in the time and effort required, it’s probably not worth pursuing.

3.) PPC Can Be Disruptive

If you’re not careful, your PPC ads can disrupt the user experience. This is particularly true if you mistakenly target keywords that aren’t a good fit for the content you’re promoting, even if it is topically relevant.

For example, if you’re running a PPC ad for a blog post about “How to make the perfect cup of coffee,” that has the ultimate goal of selling an online course about becoming a barista, but you’re targeting the keyword “coffee beans,” you could end up with a lot of clicks from people who are looking for information about where to source coffee beans, and not how to make a cup of coffee. While the post may still be interesting to them, it may not lead to a good conversion rate.

Tips on How to Combine Content Marketing With PPC Campaigns

As long as you keep an eye on the potential pitfalls, the pros outweigh all the cons of the content marketing-PPC combo. So, how do you actually combine the two? There are plenty of ways to use PPC to drive traffic to your content without breaking the bank or disrupting the user experience. Here are a few tips:

Tip #1: Use PPC to Promote Content Early in Your Content Marketing Strategy

When you first launch a new piece of content, it can be difficult to get it in front of your target audience based solely on organic search results. As we said above, you can use PPC to promote your content in the early stages to give it a boost and help get it in front of more people and up the rankings. Once the post or other type of content starts performing well on its own, you can turn your PPC budget off or direct it to other content.

For example, if you’re promoting a new digital currency exchange in a country like the U.K. through content marketing, you know that it’ll be quite hard to stand out from the competition through organic traffic alone because crypto exchanges are in a very saturated market, even if there are a couple of major players that dominate the crypto scene. This is where combining your content marketing with PPC can prove to be useful, generating traffic to your content and getting Google to notice it more.

Tip #2: Use PPC to A/B Test Two Types of Content Quickly Within a Very Targeted Niche Audience

If you’re not sure which type of content will perform better with a particular target audience, you can use PPC to A/B test two pieces of content quickly. By setting up a well-targeted ad (something PPC marketers are great at) and directing readers alternatively to one content or the other, you’ll be able to acquire very important data regarding your audience. You can then use that information to decide what content to produce more of in the future.

PPC can be a great way to quickly test headlines, types of content, and even calls-to-action to see what performs best with your target audience without waiting for both versions of the content to start performing well.

Tip #3: Use PPC to Drive Traffic to High-Performance Evergreen Content

PPC doesn’t just work to get new posts off the ground; it can be great at capitalizing on your well-performing content as well. If you have a piece of cornerstone content that’s performing well and continues to generate traffic and conversions over time, you can use PPC to give it an extra boost and reach a wider audience. This is a very smart way to make your PPC dollars go as far as possible because this is content that you already know is doing well.

Think about it, if a record company has an artist generating most of their sales and driving most of their ROI, doesn’t it make sense for the record company to promote that artist wherever they can? Of course, this doesn’t mean they’ll abandon the other artists and put all their eggs in one basket, but they’ll certainly be promoting the ones bringing home the bacon a lot more.

For example, suppose you’re running a website that teaches people about personal finance, budgeting, and expense management. These types of websites usually make money by suggesting partner brands and their products to readers through review posts, comparisons, and listicles. But one of the main reasons people visit the website in the first place is to learn something they didn’t know before.

For example, they may be interested in learning about how investing works or about what factors to consider when choosing a good credit card for their business or for personal use. This type of content is always relevant and will always provide value to the reader. You can use these evergreen posts to drive traffic down your sales funnel, so driving more traffic to the evergreen post through PPC will almost always be highly effective.

Tip #4: Use PPC to Remarket Content to People Who Have Visited Your Site Before

PPC isn’t just for getting new people to visit your site; it can be great for getting people who have already visited your site to come back and engage with more of your content. This is called remarketing, and it’s one of the most effective ways to use PPC to improve traffic and conversions.

The way it works is that when someone visits your site, you place a cookie on their browser that will allow you to show them ads for your content when they visit other sites. This is a very effective way to keep your content top-of-mind and get people who have already shown an interest in what you do to come back and engage with more of your content.

The Bottom Line

Content marketing and PPC are two great strategies that can work together to improve traffic and conversions. The key is to use PPC in a way that complements your content marketing strategy, rather than trying to use it as a replacement for content. When used correctly, PPC will improve your content’s overall performance and, in turn, your content’s performance will improve your PPC campaign’s ROI.

The post The Pros and Cons of Combining Content Marketing With PPC and How to Pull It Off first appeared on PPC Hero.

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The inner workings of search advertising in a cookieless world

September 13, 2022 No Comments

The inner workings of search advertising in a cookieless world

30-second summary:

  • As third-party cookies will eventually phase out and marketers search for alternate approaches, they may find themselves lost in a sea of data when attempting to measure and evaluate the impact
  • Focusing on the quality of users instead of attributable conversions can mitigate the inconvenience of losing third-party cookies
  • The shift from cookies to a new engagement model will require constant testing, so keep data simple where possible

For years now, digital marketers have been spoiled by third-party cookies and the ability to accurately track engagement – it has made life simple, and reporting a campaign’s activity a breeze. Such an approach has allowed us to easily see how many conversions Meta, Criteo, or an influencer has contributed to with minimal effort. But the eventual demise of third-party cookies demands accurate data on engagement to ensure that the transition to new identifiers can be as clear as possible. However, due to either ignorance or convenience, many advertisers still take overly positive and blindly optimistic metrics as the truth.

Counting your chickens before they’ve converted

If we take Facebook for example, they have no way of knowing to what extent their services contributed to a conversion. There are many ways of producing wildly inflated numbers, such as having several touch points and one conversion being associated with multiple channels, or even inaccuracies from false positives. This is particularly troubling for those engaging in heavy remarketing based on past users who already have visited or interacted with a site. One must ask the question – when working with inaccurate metrics, will remarketing actually contribute to further conversions or will it simply attribute miss-clicks to campaigns that don’t increase revenue?

We as humans love to oversimplify things, especially complex patterns. Imagine how complex a visit is to your webpage – you get a session that is connected to a user, that considers different attributes such as age, gender, location, interests as well as their current activity on your site. That user data is then sent to, for example, Google Ads, in a remarketing list.

Even the remarketing list provides a notable variable when trying to make sense of conversions. Facebook and Google users are not 1:1, with one user on Google often being connected to more devices and browsers than the average Facebook user. You could get a conversion from a device that Google has connected to the same user, while Facebook may lack any insight.

With each user visiting your website you populate remarketing lists. Those remarketing lists build “lookalikes” in Facebook and “similar” in Google. These “similars” can be extremely useful, as although traffic from one channel could be attributed to zero to no conversions, they could in fact help build the most efficient “similars” in Google Ads that can then drive a large number of cheap conversions.

Identify data that helps you steer clear of over-attribution

All automated optimization efforts, whether they be the campaign budget optimization (CBO) or Target CPA are dependent on data. The more data you feed the machines the better results you get. The bigger your remarketing lists, the more efficient your automatic/smart campaigns will be on Google. This is what makes the value of a user so multifaceted and incredibly complex, even when you don’t take the action impression of an ad into account.

With this incredible complexity, we need to have an attribution model that can genuinely portray engagement data without inflating or underselling a campaign’s conversions. However, while there may be many models that are well suited to produce the most accurate results, it should be remembered that attribution is by itself flawed. As consumers, we understand that the actions that drive us to conversions in our personal lives are varied, with so many things that can’t be tracked enough to be attributed. While attribution cannot be perfect, it is essentially the best tool available and can become far more useful when applied alongside other data points.

The last non-direct click attribution model

When trying to avoid inflated data, the easiest attribution model is a last non-direct click. With this model, all direct traffic is ignored and all the credit for the conversion goes to the last channel that the customer clicked through, ultimately preventing any conversions from being falsely attributed to multiple touchpoints. It is a simple model that only considers the bare minimum that still manages to solve the problems of over-attribution by being direct. This way, marketers can measure the effect rather than attributing parts of conversion to different campaigns or channels. It really is a very straightforward approach; essentially, “if we do this to x, does that increase y?”. Of course, like all attribution models, the last non-direct click approach has its downsides. For one, it’s not a perfect solution to over/under contribution, but it is an easily replicable and strategically sound approach that provides reliable data where you can measure everything in one place.

In any case, the delayed death of the third-party cookie is certainly causing many to reevaluate their digital advertising methodologies. For now, proactive marketers will continue to search for privacy-friendly identifiers that can provide alternative solutions. First-party data could well have a larger role to play if consent from users can be reliably gained. While we wait for the transition, getting your data in order and finding accurate, reliable approaches to attribution must be a priority.

Ensuring the accuracy of this data is therefore imperative, this can be achieved by ensuring there are no discrepancies between clicks and sessions whilst all webpages are accurately tracked. In the absence of auto-tracking, UTMs should also be used to track all campaigns and, if possible, tracking should be server-side. Finally, marketers should test their tracking with Tag Assistant, and make sure they don’t create duplicate sessions or lose parameters during the session. Ultimately, once the third-party cookie becomes entirely obsolete, which direction marketers go in will ultimately be decided by data – which must be as accurate as possible.


Torkel Öhman is CTO and co-founder of Amanda AI. Responsible for building Amanda AI, with his experience in data/analytics, Torkel oversees all technical aspects of the product ensuring all ad accounts run smoothly.

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The post The inner workings of search advertising in a cookieless world appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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