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2019 Google core algorithm updates: Lessons and tips to future-proof your SEO

November 19, 2019 No Comments

There’s nothing that beats that organic #1 position in Google’s SERPs when it comes to brand visibility, increase in traffic, trust factor boost, reduction in cost per lead, and so on.

Everyone who’s anyone in online business knows this, which is why the struggle to grab that marketer’s Holy Grail can look like a cut-throat business to many SEO novices.

However, even SEO pros get confused when Google throws a wrench into the intricate workings of the rankings machine. Google’s core algorithm updates can mess up even the best SEO strategies, especially if you react in a panic to a drop in the rankings.

Today, I’ll share with you the three things I’ve learned from 2019 Google algorithm updates that will help you future-proof your SEO. First, however, take a look at the hints that Google rolled out alongside those updates to see if you’re building your SEO strategy on a healthy foundation.

2019 Google core algorithm updates and what they tell us

In 2018, Google reported 3234 algorithm updates.

That’s just a bit shy of 9 updates per day.

All of them change how the algorithm evaluates a website and its rankings (most just slightly, though).

However, three of them were so-called ‘core algorithm updates’ – meaning that their impact on the rankings was likely significant for most indexed websites. Google announced these (in March, June, and September of 2019), which is not something that they normally do. This should give you an idea of how important they were in the grand scheme of all things SEO-related.

Google Sear Liaison's tweet on its 2019 Google core algorithm updates

Websites were affected differently, with some seeing increases in their rankings and traffic, and others plummeting to Google’s page #3. Many of the sites that experienced significant drops are in the Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) niche.

(Verywellhealth.com shows a significant drop after the March core update)

“The sensitive nature of the information on these types of websites can have a profound impact on peoples’ lives,” says Paul Teitelman of Paul Teitelman SEO Agency. “Google has long struggled with this and at least one of these core algorithm updates was designed to push trustworthy YMYL content to the top while sinking those websites that contain dubious and untrustworthy information.”

Google signaled a path forward with these updates. If you were not paying attention, here are the key takeaways:

  • Google signals an intent to keep rewarding fresh, complete, and unique content. Focus on answering the searcher’s questions thoroughly and precisely.
  • E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) guidelines are more important than ever. Things like backlinks from reputable websites, encryption, and who authors your posts can make or break your organic rankings.
  • Google wants to see you covering a wide range of topics from your broader niche. Increase your relevance with content that establishes you as the go-to source in your niche.

SEO is far from an exact science.

If anything, it’s educated guesswork based on countless hours of testing, tweaking, and then testing again.

Still, there are things that you can do to future-proof your SEO and protect your websites from reacting too violently to core algorithm updates.

Based on Google’s recent hints, here are three things that you should focus on if you’re going after those page #1 rankings in the SERPs.

Three tips to future-proof your website’s SEO

Keep the focus on high-quality, actionable content

I know you’re annoyed with hearing it by now but high-quality content is a prerequisite to ranking at the top of the SERPs and staying there.

This means that you need to pin-point a specific question that the searcher wants answers to and then write a piece of content that provides a detailed clarification of the issue. Does it need to be 5,000 words long? That depends on the question but, in most cases, it doesn’t. What it needs to be is concise and thorough, and clarify any and all questions that the searcher might have while reading it.

Ideally, you will want your content to be 1500+ words. According to Backlinko’s Brian Dean and his research, Google tends to reward longer content.

 

Source: https://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking

My advice is to ask yourself the following questions when you’re writing:

  • Am I providing the reader with a comprehensive answer to their question?
  • Is my content more thorough than what’s already on the #1 page of the SERPs?
  • Am I presenting the information in a trustworthy way (citing sources, quoting experts)?
  • Is my content easy to understand, and free from factual, stylistic, and grammar errors?

If your answer to these questions is a yes, you’re already doing better than (probably) 95% of your competitors.

Improve the E-A-T score of your website

In SEO, E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

In other words – who is authoring blog posts and articles that are published on your website? Are they penned by an expert in the field or by a ghostwriter?

Why should people trust anything you (or your website) have to say? That’s the crux of E-A-T.

The concept appears in Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG), and SEO experts have debated for years whether or not it has any bearing on the actual organic rankings.

In 2018, Google cleared all doubts around it, announcing that QRG is, in fact, their blueprint for developing the search algorithm. “You can view the rater guidelines as to where we want the search algorithm to go,” Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president of search, assistant and news, said in a CNBC interview.

Here’s what the QRG has to say about E-A-T

Source: https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterhub.com/en//searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf

We have no idea if Google’s core algorithm can evaluate E-A-T parameters as well as an actual human rater. Still, if that’s Google’s end goal, it’s a good idea to pay attention to it now, regardless of whether it’s implemented or not. It most certainly will be at one point in the future.

To improve your E-A-T score, focus on the following

  • Add an author byline to your posts – every post that you publish should be authored by someone. Use your real name (or your author’s real name), and start building a reputation as an expert in the field.
  • Create your personal website – even if you’re trying to rank your business site, make sure to have a personal branding website of your own (and of any regularly contributing authors). Those websites should be maintained – you don’t need to SEO the heck out of them but you should publish niche-relevant content regularly.
  • Get featured on Wikipedia and authority websites – QRG clearly instructs raters to check for author mentions on Wikipedia and other relevant sites. That stands to reason because experts in the field will often be quoted by other publications.

(Image source: https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterhub.com/en//searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf)

  • Get mentions on forums – same goes for forum mentions. If people name-drop you on relevant forums, that means that they feel you have something important to say.
  • Secure your site with HTTPS – security is an important E-A-T factor, especially if you’re selling something via your website. An unsecured website will have a low E-A-T score so make sure to invest in encryption to boost trustworthiness.

Build quality backlinks and establish a social presence

Quality backlinks are still a very important ranking factor.

However, according to a report released by Backlinko, it’s not about one or two backlinks, regardless of how strong they are.

What moves the ranking needle are sustainable, evergreen link-building strategies – backlinks from trusted, niche-related websites that are acquired by white hat SEO methods such as blogger outreach, guest posting, and collaborations with other influencers in the niche. The more of these types of backlinks you get, the better your organic rankings.

Additionally, getting backlinks from a greater number of referring domains ensures that your rankings are protected if, for example, a couple of those websites get shut down or penalized in the future. When you’re playing the link-building game, it pays to think ahead.

(Image Source: https://backlinko.com/google-ranking-factors)

And, while they don’t carry the same weight as true backlinks, you’d be wrong to underestimate the value Google’s ranking algorithm places on social media signals.

A truly authoritative website – and all the authors that write for it – will have a strong social media presence. They will use it to amplify their message, build additional authority, and drive traffic to their website. Ahrefs’ Tim Soulo does this better than any other SEO expert that I know.

how having a strong social media presence helps create authority and tackle 2019 Google core algorithm updates

All of this will affect the aforementioned E-A-T parameters. If nothing, it will distribute your name far and wide, signaling to Google that you’re not a complete nobody that just happens to run a website or write a blog about a certain topic. The stronger your social media presence; the more followers, comments, and shares you end up earning – the better it is for your E-A-T.

Get people to trust you and the algorithm will follow

Pretty soon, the key to top rankings will be how believable and trustworthy you are. Google’s current insistence on E-A-T parameters clearly demonstrates that. Everything else will be just the icing on the cake after that – the fancy schema you’re using, the on-page SEO gimmicks, and all the other loopholes SEO experts are now using to rank their websites.

I’m interested to hear what you think about the direction that Google is taking with this year’s algorithm updates. Have any of your websites been affected? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss.

The post 2019 Google core algorithm updates: Lessons and tips to future-proof your SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Meeting Agenda Tips and Templates for Productive Digital Marketing Client Calls

November 15, 2019 No Comments

Get pointers on crafting an actionable digital marketing meeting agenda with 2 templates you can use for your own future meetings.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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5 Optimization Tips to Maximize Sales This Holiday Season

November 10, 2019 No Comments

As advertisers, we need to take advantage of the upcoming holiday sales predictions and position ourselves for an outrageously successful holiday season. To set yourself up for success, we’ve highlighted 5 tips to maximize your online sales.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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Three tips for Q4 ad copy and messaging

October 5, 2019 No Comments

The holiday season is quickly approaching with the start of Q4, which means an increase in consumer demand and more competition in the paid media space. Shoppers are looking to find the next big thing and anticipate enticing deals during the holiday season, especially during the Cyber weekend.

Users will be researching on many devices and platforms and will be considering competitors before purchasing, especially for higher-priced items.

Many companies will feature different offers throughout the season, testing different messaging and creative is important to help entice a user to convert. We should test this throughout the year, but early Q4 is a prime testing time. Once winners are proven, advertisers should align the messaging across all platforms. In this post, I’ll discuss best practices for testing and messaging dissemination across Facebook, Instagram, and Google.

Offer discounts in retargeting campaigns

One of the strongest audiences to test is with retargeting audiences. These users have shown some type of interest and intent in your product or service and should be exposed to a variety of creative and messaging enticing them to come back to your site.

One of the most popular ways companies try to lure users back to the site is with discounts for consumers who recently visited the site. I recommend testing this messaging against more general “come back to the site” ads and keeping a close eye on CPA and ROAS to understand the discount’s overall impact on margin.

Source: M.Gemi

Some important notes when testing messaging to retargeting audiences: be sure to exclude recent converters (no one likes to get an ad for something that they just purchased). Do not advertise to users who visited the site a long time ago and if you are advertising to lapsed users, wait a few days for them to come back to the site to purchase before offering a deal.

Test non-discount messaging and imagery

For some businesses, offering discounts to bring users back to the site might not be profitable. If that sounds familiar, don’t let it stop you from building and testing new creative and messaging. Some ideas for additional creative and messaging testing on Facebook and Instagram are testimonials or reviews of top products, product use cases/anecdotes, and talking about the problems or issues that your product solves (if applicable).

Other considerations include testing just an image of the product against an image of a consumer using the product. If you are a company that offers seasonal products or has an upcoming product release, showcasing those products to loyal purchasers – maybe even offering an exclusive on pre-sales – can help to increase product sales on new releases.

Make sure your messaging spans platforms

Your audiences don’t limit themselves to one advertising platform, so your messaging should follow suit and be consistent wherever your ads appear. On Google, make sure that ad copy, keywords, and extensions are up to date with current products. If you are running special messaging to lapsed buyers or site visitors who didn’t purchase, you might also consider creating RLSA-only campaigns to target these users with the same messaging or offer that they are seeing on other sites or in their email.

If you are offering a discount that should be prominent in your Facebook and Instagram ads, there are a few components to test, namely whether you should put the discount messaging directly on the creative or mention it in the copy (either in the headline or text).

If you’re selling a product with a high price point, testing Dynamic Product Ads vs. single-image or carousel ads can also be valuable in retargeting efforts, since you can increase the relevancy of products shown to the user.

With the start of Q4 upon us, you’ll need to move fast to capture increased user demand and battle increased competition and higher bids. Creative and messaging testing should occur in early Q4 so that learnings can be applied to the more competitive times, like Cyber weekend, through mid-December.

Lauren Crain is a Client Services Lead in 3Q Digital’s SMB division, 3Q Incubate.

The post Three tips for Q4 ad copy and messaging appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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5 Tips To Maximize Your Next Facebook Ads Strategy

July 19, 2019 No Comments

facebook-ads-micro-targetingSince its inception back in 2007, Facebook Ads has changed the way companies approach their online advertising strategies. Early on, many advertisers have tried and failed with Facebook Ads NOT because they were targeting the wrong audience, but because they did not fully understand the dynamics of this (non-search like) Ad platform. The confusion (still today) is due to the enormous traffic volume of users (which many of them disclosed their likes, interests, age, sex, race, political views, education, marital status, household income, etc…) that are skewing the overall performance which forces many advertisers into believing that Facebook is a scam. In this post, I will try to reinforce the notion that Facebook Ads can be successful for advertisers if they approach their strategies on a more micro-targeted level.

Over the years, marketers (like myself) started to change the methodologies of campaign structures just like we did with Google to obtain a good Quality Score. In March of 2014, Facebook rolled out a bunch of new features which seemed to model that of Google Adwords.  Some of these updates included:

  • Self-serve ad tool, Ad Sets, Ads Manager, Power Editor, 3rd party interfaces

Facebook Ads and Google Adwords Account Structures

Even before the adoption of Ad Sets, marketers started to realize that in order to “offset” the huge traffic volume and identify what was working and not working, they needed restructure everything at a Micro-level. This strategy of creating individual campaigns for each specific interest is what empowered many to re-think their expectations of what Facebook could do for them.

Below is a quick example of a standard Facebook Ads campaign that focuses on one specific audience. As you can see, we are focusing on Green Tea only (not Tea Drinkers in general). We are also segmenting Women-only as well as different Age Ranges which allows for a more granular understanding of interest and interaction.

Facebook Ads Campaign Structure

#1 Why Micro-Targeting Works

In order to get the most out of your Ad dollars as well as identify winners and losers, micro-targeting is a must for every advertiser. Yes, it’s a lot of work and yes it requires many hours to set it up correctly. However, not investing in this time could cost you even more later down the line because all of the work that was done, can be utilized again in the future with little to no effort to update.

#2 Facebook Ads Creates Storytelling

Wouldn’t it be a great story to tell your CEO or client (Tea Company) that the majority of the FB conversions came from Single Women, 35-40, who live in Baltimore MD, and enjoy Pilates and Yoga. That specific piece of information was made possible by the micro-targeting created in Facebook Ads and quite possibly created a whole new level of both online and offline marketing strategies for years to come.

#3 Geo-Targeting Matters:

As mentioned in the storytelling example above, geography is a huge proponent of micro-targeting because of the different social behaviors that surround us. For example, advertisers that are interested in reaching a younger audience (25-35) that enjoy nightclubs and dancing, would be more likely to choose to target their ads in USA cities such as NYC, Miami, Las Vegas, LA, and Chicago instead of other locations that are not as likely to be interested.

#4 The Power of Indirect Targeting:

Lets assume that avid Tea Drinkers are also more likely to be fans of the Food Network and other TV cooking shows. With Facebook Ads, we have the ability to create individual campaigns targeting not only the Food Network, but also specific shows such as Man vs. Food, Barefoot Contessa and others… The fact that we can create TEST campaigns to see if those “in-direct” yet similar audiences could convert is a game-changer in all aspects of marketing.

#5 Why Timing Matters:

We are constantly being bombarded by news everyday coming from TV, radio and the internet. However, the one thing that is NOT constant is the “shelf-life” of the news story and that is where Facebook Ads (including all Social Media) provides a unique advantage for advertisers. For example, lets say the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) comes out with a study that says people who drink 2-3 cups of Green Tea everyday have a better chance to fight the symptoms of the common cold. This report obviously not only shines a positive light on the Tea Industry but it’s also fresh in everyone’s mind and when they see an ad for Green Tea in their Facebook Feed, they are likely to remember that news story about the health benefits and are more inclined to make an impulse buy.

In Conclusion:

Truth be told, Facebook Ads may not be a fit for everyone. While certain industries may thrive on having a social-friendly presence, many others will not find their target audience in that social environment. However, I implore that all advertisers/marketers to keep an open-mind when looking at Facebook Ads because there is more strategy potential than you think. In my opinion, FB Ads has become more a testing ground than a standard vehicle for website traffic. Facebook Ads may not be a GEM for everyone, but with an open-mind it could be a diamond in the rough.


PPC Marketing Consultant | Google Ads Agency


Tips to Lower Rising Cost Per Click

April 10, 2019 No Comments

As the paid search industry migrated towards a more automated environment advertisers were met with a spike in cost per click (CPC).  Coming out of 2018 Merkle reports a higher rate of click growth than rise in CPC.  Advertisers worked over the past year to harness automation and understand how to reap the benefits without inflating costs.  However, many advertisers continue to report a rise in despite the downward trend reported industry-wide.  This article will help identify areas that could be the cost of high CPCs

Read more at PPCHero.com
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Eight tips to getting your videos ranked on YouTube in 2019

March 12, 2019 No Comments

Look around you, people are either watching vlogs and video interviews or enjoying branded video content and live stream recordings. This goes to imply that video marketing is at its peak as people are engaging with video content more than ever before.

Talking about video marketing, one cannot help but mention YouTube, the platform synonymous with it. Being a video marketer, YouTube SEO needs to be at the top of your priority list.

You might be uploading stellar videos on a daily basis, but nothing matters if your videos don’t manage to get seen. After all, with 400 hours of video content being uploaded every minute, how do you ensure yours stands out and attracts viewers?

Don’t let your YouTube marketing efforts go waste. Here are eight effective ways to ensure your videos get ranked highly on YouTube and attract views.

1. Use relevant keywords

Be it Google or YouTube SEO, the first and foremost step is conducting keyword research. Start with making a list of potential keywords related to your video, it can be anything that people will use that can direct them to the video.

Next, use YouTube’s autocomplete feature to identify the popular keywords people use to search. You will be met with long-tail keyword suggestions here which prove to be a lot more accurate than the generic short-tail ones.

Example of YouTube’s autocomplete feature

Apart from manually searching for keywords, you can also use tools such as TubeBuddy and vidIQ to find the best keywords and tags to use.

2. Optimize the title, description, and tags

When you are browsing videos, the first element that catches your eye is the video title, isn’t it? Not only should the video title be compelling and interesting, but it should also contain the target keyword/s. The same applies to the video description and tags that best attribute your video.

YouTube video descriptions are highly underrated. Marketers don’t realize that this space provides context and influences ranking too. While you have 5000 characters to play with, YouTube just displays the first 157 characters. So use this space wisely, infused with keywords and appropriate call-to-action words.

example of YouTube’s video description

Another important SEO element is adding relevant tags which make your video easily discoverable.

3. Create engaging videos

Ultimately, people will watch your videos and will keep coming back for more if you upload fresh, engaging and informative content which happens to be an important ranking signal to YouTube’s algorithm.

The more compelling your videos are, the higher is the audience retention which automatically increases your chances of showing up under YouTube’s search suggestions.

In addition to the content, it is important to pay heed to the production quality too. For example, poorly lit and inaudible videos will certainly not entice viewers. So, invest efforts in enhancing the production quality of your video in order to drive views.

4. Encourage subscriptions

Managing a YouTube channel that barely has subscribers and viewers is as good as talking to a wall. Don’t stop at just uploading a video, make it work for you by reaching your target audience and encouraging them to engage with your channel and subscribe to it.

Building a strong subscriber base increases your chances of being ranked highly on YouTube because it goes to show that you have an engaged community which is a huge plus point.

Example of how to encourage YouTube subscriptions

Now, how do you get people to subscribe? Start with asking for it. Make it a practice to insert this call-to-action at the end of every video and include it in the video description. You must also encourage subscriptions outside of YouTube by adding a widget on your website or asking your followers to subscribe on your Facebook or Twitter pages.

5. Add compelling thumbnails

Example of customized YouTube video thumbnails

If you have been using YouTube’s auto-generated video still as the thumbnail, you need to stop being lazy and change your ways.

The thumbnail is the first visual reference your audiences get of your video which influences their decision to view it. So it needs to be compelling enough to grab their attention. Instead of settling for an auto-generated still, why not use customized thumbnails which are far more appealing?

It is a good idea to show the close-ups of human faces to strike emotional connect and the appropriate amount of text to make it click-worthy. You can also add your brand logo but make sure it doesn’t overshadow the thumbnail, given the restricted space.

6. Use the closed caption feature

Example of the closed caption feature

You might have come across “CC” while watching videos on YouTube. CC stands for closed captions, an important YouTube SEO tool.

Closed Captions (CC) refers to the text overlay or transcription of the video. Using closed captions in videos makes it appeal to a wider audience and lets your viewers watch your video with ease irrespective of their surroundings. This leads to higher user engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares, and subscribers.

Discovery Digital Networks conducted a study and found an overall increase of 7.32 percentage in views for captioned videos.

While YouTube generates auto-captions, you rather add closed captions for search engines to accurately index. This impacts your SEO ranking.

7. Name files appropriately

It’s easy to overlook this step but the fact is that naming your video file appropriately is more important than you think. Instead of going ahead with “video_final.mp4” or “brand_filmFINAL.avi,” it is important to rename the video to include the keywords as it is an indicator to search engines about what your video file is about.

8. Be consistent

To improve your rankings and build an engaged community, you must be consistent with uploads. You need to be committed to churning out unique and relevant video content and stay at the top of your game because that is the only way you can improve engagement which in turn boosts search rankings.

Just like any other social media platform, maintain a content calendar for YouTube and ensure you reward your community with videos on a regular basis.

For more on getting videos to rank, also check out our guide on YouTube optimization. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Marcus is the founder of Brew Interactive, an inbound digital marketing agency that specializes in marketing to the affluent audience through digital. He is also the author of the highly raved book, Social Payoff.

The post Eight tips to getting your videos ranked on YouTube in 2019 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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5 Tips To Maximize Your Next Facebook Ads Strategy

February 22, 2019 No Comments

facebook-ads-micro-targetingSince its inception back in 2007, Facebook Ads has changed the way companies approach their online advertising strategies. Early on, many advertisers have tried and failed with Facebook Ads NOT because they were targeting the wrong audience, but because they did not fully understand the dynamics of this (non-search like) Ad platform. The confusion (still today) is due to the enormous traffic volume of users (which many of them disclosed their likes, interests, age, sex, race, political views, education, marital status, household income, etc…) that are skewing the overall performance which forces many advertisers into believing that Facebook is a scam. In this post, I will try to reinforce the notion that Facebook Ads can be successful for advertisers if they approach their strategies on a more micro-targeted level.

Over the years, marketers (like myself) started to change the methodologies of campaign structures just like we did with Google to obtain a good Quality Score. In March of 2014, Facebook rolled out a bunch of new features which seemed to model that of Google Adwords.  Some of these updates included:

  • Self-serve ad tool, Ad Sets, Ads Manager, Power Editor, 3rd party interfaces

Facebook Ads and Google Adwords Account Structures

Even before the adoption of Ad Sets, marketers started to realize that in order to “offset” the huge traffic volume and identify what was working and not working, they needed restructure everything at a Micro-level. This strategy of creating individual campaigns for each specific interest is what empowered many to re-think their expectations of what Facebook could do for them.

Below is a quick example of a standard Facebook Ads campaign that focuses on one specific audience. As you can see, we are focusing on Green Tea only (not Tea Drinkers in general). We are also segmenting Women-only as well as different Age Ranges which allows for a more granular understanding of interest and interaction.

Facebook Ads Campaign Structure

#1 Why Micro-Targeting Works

In order to get the most out of your Ad dollars as well as identify winners and losers, micro-targeting is a must for every advertiser. Yes, it’s a lot of work and yes it requires many hours to set it up correctly. However, not investing in this time could cost you even more later down the line because all of the work that was done, can be utilized again in the future with little to no effort to update.

#2 Facebook Ads Creates Storytelling

Wouldn’t it be a great story to tell your CEO or client (Tea Company) that the majority of the FB conversions came from Single Women, 35-40, who live in Baltimore MD, and enjoy Pilates and Yoga. That specific piece of information was made possible by the micro-targeting created in Facebook Ads and quite possibly created a whole new level of both online and offline marketing strategies for years to come.

#3 Geo-Targeting Matters:

As mentioned in the storytelling example above, geography is a huge proponent of micro-targeting because of the different social behaviors that surround us. For example, advertisers that are interested in reaching a younger audience (25-35) that enjoy nightclubs and dancing, would be more likely to choose to target their ads in USA cities such as NYC, Miami, Las Vegas, LA, and Chicago instead of other locations that are not as likely to be interested.

#4 The Power of Indirect Targeting:

Lets assume that avid Tea Drinkers are also more likely to be fans of the Food Network and other TV cooking shows. With Facebook Ads, we have the ability to create individual campaigns targeting not only the Food Network, but also specific shows such as Man vs. Food, Barefoot Contessa and others… The fact that we can create TEST campaigns to see if those “in-direct” yet similar audiences could convert is a game-changer in all aspects of marketing.

#5 Why Timing Matters:

We are constantly being bombarded by news everyday coming from TV, radio and the internet. However, the one thing that is NOT constant is the “shelf-life” of the news story and that is where Facebook Ads (including all Social Media) provides a unique advantage for advertisers. For example, lets say the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) comes out with a study that says people who drink 2-3 cups of Green Tea everyday have a better chance to fight the symptoms of the common cold. This report obviously not only shines a positive light on the Tea Industry but it’s also fresh in everyone’s mind and when they see an ad for Green Tea in their Facebook Feed, they are likely to remember that news story about the health benefits and are more inclined to make an impulse buy.

In Conclusion:

Truth be told, Facebook Ads may not be a fit for everyone. While certain industries may thrive on having a social-friendly presence, many others will not find their target audience in that social environment. However, I implore that all advertisers/marketers to keep an open-mind when looking at Facebook Ads because there is more strategy potential than you think. In my opinion, FB Ads has become more a testing ground than a standard vehicle for website traffic. Facebook Ads may not be a GEM for everyone, but with an open-mind it could be a diamond in the rough.


PPC Marketing Agency | Search Marketing Firm | Adwords Certified Consultant


3 lead generation tips for ecommerce businesses

January 26, 2019 No Comments

When we hear the words “lead generation,” our minds automatically conjure up a B2B marketing strategy aimed at filling the top of the sales funnel. But leads are not exclusive to B2B companies.

Every type of business, be it wholesale, retail, startup or whatever else, needs qualified “potential” customers who can be nurtured into actual paying customers. Ecommerce is no different.

With the barriers to starting an ecommerce business tumbling faster than you can say Jack Robinson, the ecommerce industry has become competitive like never before.

Besides new competitors mushrooming every day, there is the entrenched Goliaths – Amazon – which will eat away close to 50% of the market within the next three years!

projected retail ecommerce

HubSpot’s State of Inbound report revealed that for 3 out of 5 marketers, generating traffic and leads is the toughest challenge. No surprise then, that 70% of them intended to expand their demand generation budgets in 2018.

But bigger budgets are useless if you use the same old strategies that didn’t work before.

How about embracing tried and tested strategies that guarantee leads in the New Year? Here goes!

Three top lead generation tips for ecommerce businesses

1. Rewrite your product descriptions with a focus on SEO

This mistake, like history, has been repeated time and again in the world of ecommerce. While the importance of having unique product descriptions is plastered all over the web, rookie ecommerce companies still make the same mistake of using manufacturer’s descriptions and putting off giving them a custom twist until later when they’ve “made some sales.”

But hey, if you won’t make them unique, how will Google rank you for those products? And if Google doesn’t rank you, how will you get any visitors? And if you don’t have any visitors, how will you have any leads? In fact, a study by AWR found that click-through rates from Google SERPs to retailers’ sites dropped from nearly 30% for position 1 to less than 5% for position 5. Thereafter, you might not as well exist.

lead generation for ecommerce

According to this post by Tracy Vides, there are four critical factors that are important for SEO, lead generation, as well as sales, which you’d do well to address on your product pages:

  1. A well-defined buyer persona that matches your most valuable customer profiles
  2. Descriptions that answer every possible question that a potential customer might have
  3. In-depth reviews from existing customers
  4. A simple, intuitive, quick, easy path to purchase

Don’t be afraid to go into great detail with product descriptions. Clearly explain all the features; in fact, make it so simple that a five-year-old should be able to use your product by reading what you have to say about it. The same goes for the “usability” of your product pages. The more (and better) content you have on your pages, the better Google will understand and consider it, the more time readers will spend on it, and the more qualified leads you will eventually get into your funnel.

2. Continually expand your email list, segment it for maximum impact

There’s no better (and cheaper!) way to stay in touch with your customers than via email. I could quote research that shows how every dollar spent on email marketing brings back up more than $ 40 in revenue, but even if you don’t get such exponential ROI, email marketing is a channel you absolute must leverage.

While getting your hands on customers’ emails are easy to get for ecommerce businesses, it’s important to also capture email addresses of website visitors and browsers. This article explains how ecommerce businesses typically gather 3x their regular number of emails with email capture pop-ups. Depending on the type of pop-up you choose – exit intent pop-ups, timed pop-ups, sidebar pop-ups, and more. You can potentially capture emails from 3 to 16% of website visitors at close-to-zero cost.

Once you’ve set up your email capture pipeline, don’t go indiscriminately mass mailing your list and put them off from all your communications. Instead, create clear segments within your database to which you can communicate distinctly different messages.

Novelty apparel retailer Johnny Cupcakes discovered the benefits of simple and basic segmentation to their pleasant surprise. They leveraged social media data to piece together a more detailed profile of their customers, with information on their gender, interests, media habits, and brand preferences, and found that a large proportion of their customers were sports fans, especially baseball.

So they decided to experiment with a new product line of baseball shirts, with distinct male and female categories. They segmented their 80,000-strong email list by gender and sent them the email creatives you see below.

lead generation ecommerce SEO

Source: Marketing Sherpa 

The results blew them away. CTRs grew by 42%, conversion rate went up by 123% and revenue per campaign rose by a whopping 141%. What a difference relevant content can make to marketing outcomes!

3. Bring back lost souls with remarketing

As the old adage goes, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Getting users to come to your site in the first place is hard enough. But having them leave without buying a thing is simply heartbreaking. Put the brakes on your users’ exodus by retargeting them with two of the most effective methods available – retargeted emails and retargeted ads.

Retargeting emails or abandoned cart emails, sent to users who’ve added items to their cart and then dropped off from the buying journey, are a great way to remind potential customers of what they’re missing and nudging them back into the sales funnel. These emails have the power to win back at least 15% of revenue that’s typically lost, thanks to cart abandonment.

lead generation ecommerce SEO

Source: author’s inbox

Retargeted ads come in different avatars. Just as you remind a user about an “almost” purchase with retargeting emails, you can remind users of their last visit to your site in the form of display ads, as they browse other sites across the web. The different types of retargeting ads relevant to ecommerce include:

  • Search retargeting – target users that searched for keywords related to your business, but may not have visited your website
  • Site retargeting – target users that visited your site and were “cookied” on their way out
  • Contextual retargeting – target users that visited sites or liked pages similar to yours, or those of competitors

Users’ familiarity with your products and brand means CTRs for retargeted ads are 10x those of regular display ads. Data shows that website visitors that are exposed to retargeted ads are 70% more likely to convert than those who never saw the ads. That’s massive!

Not only is retargeting better cheaper than traditional display and search advertising in terms of CPA (cost per acquisition), it also assists in reinforcing your brand on your customers’ minds – a nice little bonus!

average cost per acquisition

Source: Blue Mint Marketing

Remarketing ads offer best results on the Google Display Network and Facebook, thanks to their massive reach and extensive data on potential buyers.

Parting thoughts

No matter what industry you operate in, at the end of the day, your revenue growth is inextricably linked to growing the number of customers who shop with you. These new customers could come in from glitzy, high-budget, multimedia advertising campaigns or they could come through low-cost, high-hustle marketing that gives lasting results. I know which path I’d take. How about you?

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Tips to maximize ROI on paid social: Facebook + Instagram

January 22, 2019 No Comments

Available ad impressions on social media are hitting a wall as user growth slows, driving up CPC and CPM prices. As demand increases, it becomes even more important for advertisers to properly optimize campaigns to maximize their return on investment for paid social.

According to Merkle’s Q2 2018 Digital Marketing Report, advertiser spend increased 40% year-over-year in Q2, while impressions fell 17%.

The influx of advertising dollars to social media platforms with a steady number of available impressions means that the average cost-per-click (CPC) is rising.

Many paid social media campaigns do not maximize their return on investment because of poor or incomplete optimization, limited distribution, incomplete tracking, and undefined goals.

Here’s what you need to do to squeeze more out of your paid social media campaigns.

Advertising for the funnel

Each advertisement you run must have a clear goal in mind, and that goal must fit into a larger piece of your paid social media strategy. Moving prospects from the top of the funnel to the bottom—as efficiently as possible—is necessary for a successful ad campaign.

Keep in mind that it may take multiple interactions with your advertisements and content before someone works their way through the funnel. Your ad campaigns should never take on a one-and-done approach.

An ad targeting a past purchaser will be very different than an ad targeting someone who is completely unfamiliar with your brand and products.

This makes it important to segment your customers into the correct phase of the buying process. Run different ads with different messages and calls to action for each segment.

Advertise smarter, not harder.

Simple process improvements

A number of small improvements can greatly impact the success of a paid social media campaign. Not implementing these is basically leaving money on the table. Remember, we are trying to squeeze every last drop of ROI out of these campaigns, even if getting the maximum return takes time.

While the examples I cite relate to Facebook and Instagram, we can see equivalents on Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat to some degree.

Whichever social media platform you are advertising through, follow platform best practices and make sure everything is set up properly—through tracking pixels and UTM codes. Everything should be properly attributed across platforms.

Facebook Pixel

First, make sure that Facebook’s tracking pixel is properly implemented on your website.

Facebook Pixel Helper, a free Chrome browser extension from Facebook, can help you troubleshoot any issues. You can find information on how to set up Facebook Pixel from scratch on Facebook’s website.

You also need to set up Facebook Pixel with standard events like newsletter sign-ups and successful e-commerce actions (add to cart, purchase, etc.) to help with creating higher quality custom and lookalike audiences.

Facebook and Instagram have powerful tracking and conversion optimization abilities in their ad technology, so use them.

Custom audiences

Using Facebook’s custom audiences feature is a must if you want your paid social media campaigns to really perform.

It is foolish to not capture and harness information about your website’s visitors, especially when it is free and requires only minutes to set up. Facebook offers a number of ways to create a custom audience in the Facebook Ads Manager.

Facebook’s Create a Custom Audience Tool

Website traffic

If your Facebook Pixel is properly set up, it can record every action taken by visitors on your website in the past 180 days. The actions include page views, button clicks, abandoned carts, and purchases.

You can create audiences to build lookalike audiences or use them for remarketing.

Advertising to someone who has already been to your website and possibly even completed on-site actions has a much higher chance of converting than advertising to a first-time visitor.

Offline conversions

With proper implementation, you can track offline events, like sales at physical retail locations, after someone has interacted with your Facebook advertisements.

There are two ways to set up offline activity: either upload the offline data CSV file manually to Facebook or sync your CRM directly with Facebook. The customer information will then be matched to the correct user IDs on Facebook.

This approach will show you if someone took a specific action, like purchasing after viewing.

Creating offline events

Lookalike audiences

You can create lookalike audiences in the Facebook Ads Manager to find audiences that have similar traits and characteristics to your ideal user.

The lookalike audience is created based on a custom audience, which acts as a seed audience. This allows you to greatly expand the number of potential customers you can target based on a higher-quality custom audience.

Lookalike audiences let you target people similar to your existing, custom audiences

Conversion tracking

Conversions are of paramount importance for e-commerce stores. Website traffic is useless unless it results in sales. Luckily, Facebook and Instagram can help optimize your campaign’s delivery for successful conversions.

Conversion tracking depends on the proper implementation of the tracking pixel and properly set up ad campaigns. You also need to set up standard events or custom conversions on Facebook to accurately measure and optimize for conversions. Google Analytics offers conversion tracking as well, but it’s based on a last-click-attribution model.  

There is no reason not to track and optimize for conversions. Even media companies that generate revenue by on-site ad units can benefit from optimizing toward conversions by focusing on pages-per-session to find a higher quality user, opposed to general website visitors.  

Remarketing

Remarketing with social media ad managers requires proper implementation of each platforms’ tracking pixels.

For example, Facebook’s audience and lookalike audience features are powerful tools that can track users and specific website actions up to 180 days in the past.

Remarketing with these audiences in mind is a strategic approach, and entire campaigns can be built around them. In fact, these types of campaigns often yield the highest returns.  

Facebook remarketing illustration

 

Image: http://marketingjumpleads.com/facebook-remarketing

Sequential Advertising

Sequential advertising is when you show different ads to the same person over a period of time. Large television campaigns sometimes use this tactic, but there is no reason why it cannot be successfully applied to paid social media campaigns.

For example, you may show an audience an ad focusing on one benefit of your product. The next ad, after the majority of people in the audience has seen the first one, would highlight another benefit of the product. The third ad would highlight a customer testimonial. You are showing your audience the same product but with different messaging.

If you are running video ads, you could also share a related story via that format. Think the Budweiser Frogs television campaign or some of BMW’s mini-movies. A sequential advertising campaign does not have to go to such lengths to be successful, but fresh, on-brand, eye-catching creative in any form is generally a good thing.

Maximizing distribution

Besides improvements to the advertising process, further optimization to paid social campaigns can be achieved through maximizing the campaigns’ distribution. That will ensure your campaign is successful based on your set goals. Not maximizing the distribution of your ads will leave money on the table.

Regularly refresh your creative

Using the same creative—images, video, and text—over and over can quickly cause fatigue. This means your audience will start to ignore your ads—or worse, start leaving mean comments on them. You’ll also start experiencing an increase in CPM and CPC as you lose more in Facebook’s ad auction.

Regularly refresh your creative to avoid this. It makes a difference, even if you’re just refreshing your images or copy every month.

Standing out in the newsfeed is a big part of successful paid campaigns. If you are using photographs or videos, they need to be high quality and relatable to make the user stop scrolling through their newsfeed.

Pay special attention to resolution, aspect ratio, and how the ad units look on a mobile device. The majority of users will see your ad on their phone, so make sure it’s thumb-stopping.   

Use all available placements

Facebook is always optimizing for the lowest event cost possible. The vast majority of your results will come from ads run on the Facebook or Instagram newsfeed. But don’t forget about other placements, like the sidebar, messenger, and marketplace.

Automatic placements are the best option to maximize results beyond the newsfeeds.

All placements selected

All placements selected.

Image: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/965529646866485

Limited placements selected

Limited placements selected.

Image: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/965529646866485

Optimize for mobile

Unless you specifically target only desktop device users, the majority of the impressions or clicks you receive will be from mobile devices. This means you better make sure your creative is mobile-friendly.

Make sure all of your images and videos are formatted to maximize the viewable space on mobile for the type of advertisement you are running. Your headlines and accompanying text also need to be optimized to fit.

If you’re using videos, make sure they’re formatted to a 1:1 aspect ratio (square videos) to take up the most room on the Facebook mobile newsfeed and outperform horizontal aspect videos.

Benefits of mobile optimized video

Image: https://blog.bufferapp.com/square-video-vs-landscape-video

Minimize restrictions for the Facebook algorithm

Don’t try to control Facebook too much. Instead, give Facebook room to show your ads to the correct users at the correct time with the least necessary targeting restrictions. The more freedom the algorithm has to use your pixel data, the better able it is to encourage conversions.  

Josh Thompson is Senior Social Media Strategist at Portent—a Clearlink Digital Agency. Josh is Facebook Blueprint Certified and has worked in social media advertising for seven years.

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