Monthly Archives: March 2016
Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.
From Search Engine Land:
- AdGooroo releases travel and retail keyword results after Google’s right rail ad change
Mar 31, 2016 by Ginny Marvin
Overall, the number of advertisers competing is down and CPCs are up somewhat, but results can vary widely by keyword.
- First-page minimum bids continue to rise in wake of Google desktop SERP changes
Mar 31, 2016 by Andy Taylor
Columnist Andy Taylor discusses AdWords bidding trends following Google’s move to eliminate right-rail ads and show four top-of-page ads for some queries.
- From waste to win: watch how a simple change affects AdWords performance
Mar 31, 2016 by Jacob Baadsgaard
Wasted ad spend can indicate issues with your AdWords account. Fortunately, as Jacob Baadsgaard reminds us, it’s also under your control.
- New report from the Local Search Association on SMB advertiser churn
Mar 30, 2016 by Digital Marketing Depot
This report from the Local Search Association and Vendasta explores some of the triggers and potential variables behind SMB advertiser churn, using new data from Vendasta. The data come from more than 275,000 small business accounts, and Vendasta made its aggregate customer data available as a source for this report in an effort to help […]
- Think cross-channel to build stronger marketing
Mar 31, 2016 by Digital Marketing Depot
Inbound. Search. Social. Email. Web. Mobile. Events. A consistent, dependable multi-source experience can help you create ideal customers who spend 2x as much as regular ones. Get the new Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Cross-Channel Marketing from Oracle and start creating the most cohesive, valuable, and frictionless customer experience possible. Visit Digital Marketing Depot to […]
Recent Headlines From Marketing Land, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Internet Marketing:
- Amazon adds 100 new Dash buttons & triples the number of available brands
- Salesforce VP: In the age of predictive and self-learning tech, marketing is turning into goal-setting
- Video ads are coming to Facebook Instant Articles
- DocuSign CMO aims to bring his brand to life by giving it more of an emotional POW!
- A century of celebrating Mom: smart ad strategies for the mother of all holidays
- Is your marketing organization struggling with the pace of digital? “Hacking Marketing” is the answer [Review]
- Are our leading brands also optimization leaders?
- Want real results from social? Start paying.
- 5 engaging visual content formats that aren’t infographics
- Ad network AdTheorent can now forecast if you’re likely to visit a physical store after seeing an ad
- MarTech Today: Microsoft’s chatbots, OTT TV & sharing a Google search
Search News From Around The Web:
Local & Maps
- Google Testing Dropping Reviews From Local Listings?, Search Engine Roundtable
- Google Tests New Sign-In Modal For Leaving A Business Review, serptests.com
- Google tackles simple 360 content embeds with VR View, introduces Cardboard SDK for iOS, TechCrunch
- The complete list of “OK, Google” commands, CNET
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – What You Need to Know, thesempost.com
- Canonical Attributes and Robots Meta Tags Collide: When a #1 Ranking Is Meaningless, Keylime Toolbox
- How to make your site mobile friendly, Branded3
- On-Site SEO Checklist, semrush.com
- The Battle for SEO Budgets: SEO Platforms vs People, Outspoken Media
SEM / Paid Search
- 4 Ways Google Tag Manager Will Help Your PPC, PPC Hero
- Advertisers Can Opt Out of Any Bing Ads Annotation, thesempost.com
- Best Practices: A new guide to entering international markets with AdWords, Inside AdWords
- PPC vs SEO or PPC and SEO Together? Analyzing SEO to Improve PPC Performance, Metric Theory
- [New Toolkit!] The Ultimate Travel PPC Toolkit, PPC Hero
The post SearchCap: Travel & retail report, first page bids & more appeared first on Search Engine Land.
Inbound. Search. Social. Email. Web. Mobile. Events. A consistent, dependable multi-source experience can help you create ideal customers who spend 2x as much as regular ones.
Get the new Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Cross-Channel Marketing from Oracle and start creating the most cohesive, valuable, and frictionless customer experience possible.
Visit Digital Marketing Depot to get your copy.
By Ginny Marvin
AdGooroo has released its second look at the impact of Google eliminating text ads in the right rail on desktop search results. The two analyses — one on retail keywords, another on travel keywords — tell similar stories: a reduction in the number of advertisers competing in the auctions, slight increases in cost-per-click on average, but big swings at the individual keyword level.
Across the set of top 20 travel keywords, AdGooroo monitors — comparing February 1-18 to February 19-March 28 — the number of advertisers bidding per keyword fell 15.4 percent from an average of 38 advertisers bidding per keyword to an average of 32. The average cost-per-click (CPC) among the top 20 keywords increased by just 3 cents, on average (5.2 percent), from $2.65 to $2.68. That said, there was wide variation in performance at the individual keyword level. For example, “cancun all inclusive” CPC rose 35 percent, “car rentals” rose 34 percent.
On the whole, click-through rates increased 10 percent across the top 20 travel keywords. Just one keyword (“river cruises”) saw a slight decline of 3.3 percent in CTR.
In its earlier analysis of the top 20 retail keywords earlier this month — comparing February 1-18 to February 19-March 8 — AdGooroo found that competition was cut by 27 percent. The average CPC rose 7 percent with 14 out of 20 keywords seeing increases. However, again, several keywords saw significant decreases in CPC: “mobile phone” was off by 26 percent, “shoes” fell by 14 percent. Then there was the outlier “samsung glaxay 26” which rose by 108 percent.
Meanwhile, looking across 2500 retail keywords, the average CPC increased just 1.8 percent while the number of advertisers competing fell by 42 percent since the change went into effect.
The post AdGooroo releases travel and retail keyword results after Google’s right rail ad change appeared first on Search Engine Land.
By Andy Taylor
We’re just about a month out from Google’s sweeping changes to desktop SERPs, in which text ads were removed entirely from the right-hand rail and the number of text ads appearing above organic results increasingly grew to four, where there used to be three.
As we reported a couple of weeks ago, the overall impact of the change hasn’t been dramatic, with at most minimal shifts in CPCs and traffic.
Two observations included in our previous analysis were:
- Rising first-page minimum bids for non-brand text ads, as the total available ad inventory decreased from a maximum of 11 text ads per page to seven.
- Decreasing top-of-page minimum bids for non-brand text ads, as the total available ad inventory above organic results increased from three to four for some searches.
In the days since, we’ve seen first-page minimums continue to steadily increase, while top-of-page minimums appear to be back on the rise.
While it’s too soon to attribute these changes precisely to causes, these are the symptoms we would expect if advertisers did get more aggressive with paid search bids as a result of the changes.
Note: All data sourced from samples of Merkle advertisers, which range from medium to enterprise-level businesses.
First-page minimum bids headed up and to the right
Looking at the median change from February 8 through March 16 for a sample of advertisers year over year, we find that first-page minimum bids continue to increase steadily since the removal of right rail text ads.
Looking at the first-page minimum change for 2015 over the same time frame, we find that there was a slight bump in first page minimum bids in mid-March last year.
However, using last year’s data as a gauge for the seasonality of these minimums for the sample studied, it appears most of the increases observed in 2016 seem tied to the desktop SERP changes, as opposed to seasonal increases.
Now, it’s very possible it’s just taking some time for these minimum bid estimates to get fully updated on Google’s end in light of the new auction limits and that there haven’t been any real changes in competition since the updates.
However, it’s also possible that at least some advertisers are upping bids in an attempt to get ads that fell off of the first page of results with the changes to begin showing on the first page again. Google makes this simple with their automated bid adjustments, which can push keyword bids up to the first page minimum. Thus, these steady increases could be linked to more aggressive competition arising out of the changes.
Not everyone could possibly be bidding to the first page all the time, though, or we would see constantly increasing minimums. If advertisers did start upping bids to remain on the first page in the wake of the SERP updates, bids are likely to plateau at some point as advertisers reach the absolute upper limits of how much they’re willing to pay for traffic.
Top-of-page minimum bids headed back up
As mentioned earlier, top-of-page minimums declined after the SERP changes, as there are now more available ad slots at the top of the page, and these estimates continued to decline for about two weeks.
However, during the first week of March, top-of-page minimum bids began creeping back up and are still steadily climbing.
Again, because these estimates are provided by Google and may take time to fully update, and search behavior is ever-changing, this recent increase may not speak to the level of competition.
However, combined with the fact that first page minimum bids continue to rise, it also seems possible that advertisers are adjusting bids to get ads to show above the organic results.
Even though bottom ads have maintained most of the click share that went to ads on the side/bottom prior to the updates, top ads have still gained traffic share, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.
Therefore, advertisers may be bidding to the top of the page in order to garner more clicks, and this could in turn increase top of page bid estimates for advertisers.
CPCs up only slightly since updates
Looking at daily year-over-year CPC increases aligned for day of week, we see some slight acceleration in CPC increases over the past two weeks. However, the acceleration is slight enough to be reasonably tied to simple seasonality as a cause.
Many predicted that desktop CPCs would rise in the wake of Google’s updates, but a couple of factors likely play into why there hasn’t been a clear-cut increase.
Factors working against CPC increases
1. Google’s requirements to show on the first page and top of page only affect the CPC for some clicks
The role of first-page and top-of-page minimums in the auction is complicated and took me about 10 minutes of fast-paced speaking to explain at last year’s SMX Advanced. In short, however, there are minimum ad ranks required for advertisers to show above the organic results, as well as minimums for an advertiser to show at all. These ad ranks translate to minimum CPCs required for each advertiser to reach the first page of the results and to get to the top of the page.
First-page and top-of-page minimum CPCs might be a pure result of the level of competition. This means that the first page minimum is the bid required to beat out the ad rank of the last advertiser that’s getting featured on the first page, and the top of page minimum is the bid required to beat out the last advertiser being shown above the organic results.
However, for some auctions, these minimum CPCs are required to meet Google’s minimum ad rank, as opposed to beating out competitors, as Google itself requires minimum ad ranks for ads to show at the top of the results or to be featured on the first page at all. This ensures the quality of the ads that are presented to users.
Google’s documentation puts it like this:
The minimum Ad Rank required to appear above search results is generally greater than the minimum Ad Rank to appear below search results. As a result, the cost-per-click (CPC) when you appear above search results could be higher than the CPC if you appear below search results, even if no other advertisers are immediately below you.
For auctions where first page and top of page minimum CPCs are decided by Google’s minimum ad rank, as opposed to the ad rank of the next highest competition, the changes to the desktop SERP impact the CPCs for ads shown in the last position above the organic results and the last ad featured on the first page.
However, for auctions where these CPC floors don’t come into play for the price paid, these changes would not have had an impact on the CPC for the ads shown in those positions.
All of this is to say that the desktop SERP changes very likely directly impacted the price paid for traffic for some keywords that got moved just above the organic results or found themselves in the last ad spot on the page.
However, most clicks are not impacted by minimum bids, particularly first page minimum bids, since most traffic goes to ads farther up the page.
2. Bottom ads are picking up a lot more traffic than most expected
To be honest, when I first heard that side ads were being removed completely and that there would just be more ads at the top and bottom of the page, my first reaction was that pretty much all paid search traffic would go to ads featured at the top of the page.
The likelihood of users scrolling past all of the top of page ads and organic listings to then find a relevant ad at the bottom of the page just seemed unlikely.
This would have driven up CPCs if it were indeed the case that only ads in position 4 or higher got any real traffic.
And yet, it appears that bottom ads are doing pretty well for themselves. Looking at the share of Google.com non-brand text ad traffic by the location on the page, we find that while top ad click share increased about 10 percentage points to ~80 percent with the updates, bottom ads also picked up about 10 percentage points of share to ~20 percent.
This is helping to keep CPCs stable, as traffic hasn’t shifted entirely to the top position ads, which have higher CPCs tied to them.
As mentioned, there haven’t been huge shifts in CPC in aggregate just yet, but you can see from the way first page and top of page bid minimums are moving that the auction has indeed changed as a result of Google’s updates.
It’s still very early to assess the impact from these changes (particularly considering these updates occurred towards the end of what is considered a down period for many retailers after the holidays), and we may yet see more evidence of impacts in the weeks to come or further rollout of serving four text ads from Google’s end. Frankly, it’s too early to call the ballgame.
We’re particularly interested to see if four text ads get served above the organic results more often come the holiday shopping season this Q4. Only time will tell.
The post First-page minimum bids continue to rise in wake of Google desktop SERP changes appeared first on Search Engine Land.
By Zac Johnson
It’s easy to start a blog, but it’s not easy to find success or make money with one. Discover seven of the most common problems that bloggers deal with on a daily basis, while also finding solutions for each.
The post 7 Reference Guides for Successful Blogging in 2016 by @zacjohnson appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
Over the past two years, we’ve audited more than 2,000 AdWords accounts at Disruptive Advertising.
I’ve written at length elsewhere about what we learned from all of these audits, but in this article, I want to explain how you can use our conclusions to directly improve account performance.
To begin, let’s take a look at where most ad spend goes wrong. Then, I’ll show you how controlling wasted ad spend directly improves account performance. Lastly, I’ll explain how to use your own account data to access the full potential of your AdWords budget.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Where’s your budget really going?
Ideally, your AdWords budget should be buying you clicks that are likely to convert — that’s the point, right?
Since paid search advertising is intent-based marketing, your ads should show up for internet searches that indicate a strong purchase intent. In other words, you want to be seen when people are looking to buy what you have to sell.
The question is, how do you know if your ads are showing up for high-intent searches?
Well, it’s fairly easy: just look at your Search Terms report. The Search Term report lets you see exactly what searches triggered your ad and how many impressions, clicks and conversions each search term produced.
If your campaigns are running effectively, your ads should show up when people are searching for what you have to offer. As a result, when they click on your ad, they should be taken to a landing page that meets their needs and convert.
In concept, it sounds great. In practice, though, it rarely works out that smoothly.
Across thousands of AdWords accounts, we discovered that the median AdWords account wastes 76 percent of its budget on search terms that never convert. That means the average AdWords account is wasting 76 percent of its budget.
Now, to be fair, when a company spends more on AdWords, they do get more productive spend:
But, even looking at total ad spend across all accounts, 61 percent of ad spend is still wasted on the wrong search terms.
Fixing the problem
Fortunately, wasted ad spend is a very easy problem to fix. You control your keywords, which gives you control of your search terms. So, if a search term isn’t converting, you can stop paying for it!
After discovering how much ad spend is wasted, we made eliminating wasted ad spend a key part of how we manage our clients’ AdWords accounts. The results have been astonishing.
Check out the charts above. On the left, you can see how much is spent on each term and how many conversions that search term produces. On the right, you can see how that translates into total ad spend and total conversions.
As our clients stop wasting money on the wrong search terms, spend drops and conversions spike.
And the improvement isn’t linear… it’s exponential. In most cases, each 10-percent decrease in wasted ad spend (e.g., 70 percent to 60 percent) decreased the cost per conversion by 30 to 60 percent.
That’s each 10-percent decrease.
So, if you’re wasting 76 percent of your ad budget today, and you drop that number to 66 percent, your cost per conversion could drop by as much as 60 percent. And if you get your account down to 56 percent wasted ad spend, your cost per conversion could drop another 60 percent. And so on… and so on… and so on…
For example, as one client’s wasted ad spend dropped from 91 percent to 68 percent, their cost per conversion dropped from $160.38 to $38.58!
And it all happened in a matter of weeks.
“But Jake,” you might ask, “what about sales? It doesn’t mean much if all of those cheap conversions don’t turn into sales!”
Remember, this approach doesn’t actually change which terms we bid on, it just focuses the budget on what’s working. As a result, our clients simply got exponentially better results from their productive keywords and search terms.
And it showed in their sales numbers, as well. While not all of our clients report their exact sales numbers back to us, we regularly see results like 300 to 500 percent more sales or 25 to 65 percent lower costs per sale using this approach.
How to take control of your wasted ad spend
Now, at this point, you’re probably thinking…
Fortunately, tightening up your Search Terms report is fairly straightforward. It takes some time and commitment, but the results are well worth the effort.
Get your conversion tracking working
To begin with, you’ll want to make sure that you have great conversion tracking in place.
In our audits, we found that although 58 percent of AdWords accounts have some level of conversion tracking in place, only 29 percent actually track conversions effectively. It’s not enough to simply track form fills. You need to track every type of conversion that comes from your ads: phone calls, chat messages, purchases… everything!
This is actually a lot easier than it sounds; you just have to take the time to do it.
Hopefully, if you’re a Search Engine Land regular, this should already be done. However, if you know you’ve got holes in your tracking, now’s the time to take care of them. Stop, go get your tracking set up (For help, click here for AdWords and here for Google Analytics) and come back when you’re done.
Pull your Search Terms report
Once you’ve got a few months of quality conversion data in your account, you can see where your budget is really going.
It’s important to run your analysis on at least a month (preferably three to six months) of data. On any given day, or even week, there can be a lot of variability in which search terms produce results, so you need to look at a large window of data to get a good feel for how things are working.
To see where your budget is going, open AdWords and go to the Keywords tab. Make sure your date range is set appropriately, and click on “Search Terms.” From there, you can see how much ad spend each search term consumed and how many impressions, clicks and conversions it generated.
This is helpful, but to see how much of your ad spend was wasted, you’ll need to click the Filter drop-down menu and “Create filter” for “Conversions < 1” as follows:
Scroll down to the very bottom of your filtered list, and look at the “Total – all filtered search terms” row. The number in the “Cost” column is how much you spent on search terms that never produced a single conversion.
Divide that number by the total amount you spent on all search terms, multiply by 100 percent, and you’ve got your percentage of wasted ad spend.
Discard the waste
Now comes the fun part: fixing your account.
In my experience, the Search Terms report usually evokes one of two reactions:
1. “What in the world?”
For some accounts, the problems are so extensive that there seems to be little rhyme or reason to the Search Terms report. This is usually a sign of poor campaign structure.
If your Search Terms report leaves you wondering, “Why have I been paying for that query?” or “What does this search term have to do with my campaign?,” you probably need to consider rebuilding your account from the ground up.
Create new, highly focused campaigns around the keywords and search terms that are working, and then let things run. This alone will improve your campaign performance, but you’ll want to run this same report again in a few months when your account is running properly.
2. “Well, that’s interesting.”
On the other hand, if your account is working decently, you should be able to use this report to identify a variety of specific problems.
For example, if no one is converting on a particular search term that seems highly relevant to your business, it may be time to revise your advertising strategy for that term. Maybe that term needs a dedicated ad or landing page. Maybe you just need to test different ad copy to find something that works. Maybe the term isn’t as relevant as you thought it was.
Alternatively, you may find search terms that seem to occur rarely, but they all share something in common. Together, they indicate a major flaw in your keyword strategy that needs to be fixed.
Regardless of the specifics, looking at where your ad spend is being wasted will give you a ton of insight into how to improve campaign performance.
What we shoot for
As a general rule, we usually shoot for < 40 percent wasted ad spend in the accounts that we manage. This keeps your budget highly productive, while giving you room to test out new keywords.
However, even getting your wasted ad spend down from 76 percent to 50 percent will have a profound effect on your campaign performance, so don’t despair if that < 40 percent mark seems unattainable.
Wasted ad spend is a huge indicator of the health of your AdWords account. Fortunately, wasted ad spend is also a metric that is almost entirely under your control.
So, if you need to cut cost-per-conversion and boost sales, take a hard look at your Search Terms report. This critical report offers the vital information you need to eliminate waste and dramatically improve campaign performance.
Try it out and let me know what happens!
The post From waste to win: watch how a simple change affects AdWords performance appeared first on Search Engine Land.
By Daniel Tay
To create infographics that stand out from the pack and drive serious traffic today, you have to make it something special. Here’s how you can do it.
The post The Essential Guide to Creating Infographics That Drive Traffic by @legendt appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
By Neil Patel
Steve Jobs wasn’t a CRO expert. Nonetheless, we can learn from his genius and apply those lessons to our own craft of conversion optimization.
The post 4 Things Steve Jobs can Teach Us About Conversion Rate Optimization by @neilpatel appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
This report from the Local Search Association and Vendasta explores some of the triggers and potential variables behind SMB advertiser churn using new data from Vendasta.
The data come from more than 275,000 small business accounts, and Vendasta made its aggregate customer data available as a source for this report in an effort to help isolate and identify churn variables and potential triggers and causes.
Some of the findings are counterintuitive and may surprise you. Visit Digital Marketing Depot to download “SMB Advertiser Churn: New Data For An Old Industry Problem”.
The post New report from the Local Search Association on SMB advertiser churn appeared first on Search Engine Land.