Category: Search Engine Marketing

How To Make Your PPC Campaign A Success Through Budgeting

How To Make Your PPC Campaign A Success Through Budgeting

When it comes to pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, managing your budget is one of the most important aspects. You can quite easily burn your budget out on strategies that may look good on paper, but turn out to be nothing more than a sinkhole for your money.

A great analogy to look at regarding budgeting and strategy is a car – picture strategy as the car itself, and your budget as the fuel that keeps it running on the road.

Without having a car, there’s nowhere to put the fuel! Therefore, without having a proper strategy, there is no way to determine where you should be investing your budget for PPC.

But how do you create an effective strategy for your PPC campaigns?

  • Assess situations. Assess the overall situation by analysing factors such as performance, the impact of competition, overall market conditions and true needs of the business. Developing an overall view of the situation leads to the next step, which is creating a point of view regarding how to manage your PPC program.
  • Create a point of view. Your point of view is ultimately the governing philosophy for how the PPC account will be managed and should be tied directly to goals and priorities. Align your point of view with the goals and priorities of the accounts to ensure you’re working on the right initiatives.
  • Create a tactical plan. The next step after creating a point of view is to create the tactical plan. Tactics are the actual tasks performed in the account. For instance, remarketing, bidding and writing ad copy are all examples of tactics that can be taken to execute the overall strategy.
  • Focus on funding. Once the plan is built, budgeting comes into play. Creating a focused strategy based on priorities and a strong tactical plan directs where and how budgets are allocated.

Then comes time to plan your budgets using a similar structure:

  • For an existing PPC program, tying budget to performance is a key component of budget allocation. While most of your budget will ultimately be allocated to profitable campaigns and channels, strategic decisions should be made on whether to invest in “loss leaders” that can help reach goals.
  • Invest in resources when the business is at its busiest. In the slower seasons, use your PPC budget to not only drive conversions but also to build brand awareness.
  • Use attribution data to prove the influence of PPC on conversions either cross-channel or within the channel. For instance, you might learn that certain campaigns don’t convert well, and the instinct is to turn them off. However, if they lead to conversions in other campaigns, you’ll want to allocate budget to keep the conversion path open.

You’ll want to allocate the majority of your budget, around 70% for example, to tried and tested platforms such as AdWords. Then you can invest 10% into channels that you may not have used before, but have high positive feedback and are reliable sources. The remaining 10% can be allocated to testing and experimenting new avenues.

Having trouble managing your own PPC Campaign?

We’d love to be of assistance and crunch the numbers for you. Just get in touch and we’ll discuss your requirements and see where we can help your PPC campaign thrive.

Reverse-Engineering Your Online Advertising Strategy

Reverse-Engineering Your Online Advertising Strategy

Want to Reverse-Engineer Your Online Advertising Strategy? We Can Help!

Aesthetically pleasing ad copy is often the focus when creating effective PPC, or so we think… Have you ever considered that starting by looking at what customers are already responding to rather than concentrating on what ‘may’ catch the customer’s eye could in fact enhance your future success rate?

Advertisers fundamentally work in one direction. They formulate an advertising concept with an ad that suitably matches the content of the desired landing page. They then aim to fill in the missing pieces between the chosen ad and a completed sale (landing pages, sales collateral, lead magnets and others).

From there, the focus shifts towards ways in which things can be improved. For instance, if an ad has received a poor click-through rate, an advertiser may look to amend the ad copy in order to boost its desirability to the user, or alternatively if there aren’t enough people signing up to an email list, then the lead magnets may be altered.

All of these tweaks however, work on the assumption that the advertiser already knows exactly what their customer wants which can often be far from the truth. Many large organisations recognise this fact and as a result they typically utilise surveys and focus groups to better understand their target audience. Whilst this may yield more accurate results, there are certainly better alternatives that can enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

By reversing your advertising process, you will avoid spending time on developing methods that ‘may’ catch the customer’s eye, as you will start by analysing what customers are already responding to on your website’s landing pages.

Analysing Your Website

A good place to start is with your own website. By looking at the messaging on the top-performing pages on your site (for example when tracking conversion rates on Google Analytics), you can examine how many people landed on a particular page and then went on to convert on your site. Essentially, this report will immediately tell you which of your pages are most aligned with the desires of your customers.

From here, you can begin to reverse-engineer your advertising by deciding on the suitable elements necessary (for example: the main message of the page; how people will get to the page; who will visit the page and so on). Once these elements have been identified for a specific page to deliver the results needed, advertisers can then use the corresponding information to formulate a meaningful ad that will engage with end users.

How To Identify The Right Ad Strategy

In short, encouraging customers to click on your ads is not the ultimate goal – your objective is to ensure that people convert or ideally make a purchase directly. Unfortunately, if users are not converting, every click paid for is a complete waste of resources.

Hence, we suggest that using your landing pages as a means of picking your ad messaging can be a highly effective method.

In this case however, we stipulate that rather than changing your landing page to match your ad and split testing your landing page to assess how different versions affect your conversion rate, you should in fact maintain your landing page as a constant and test different ads instead.

The process is simple. Identify one of your top landing pages and create several varied ads that match the messaging of said page. Then, simply set up a split test in your ad platform of choice and identify which produces superior conversion rates.

For this test however, when considering that we attempting to reverse-engineer our advertising, we must assume that the conversion rate of the landing page is influenced directly by the quality and type of traffic sent to it. Essentially, if ads are sending better traffic to the landing page, then the conversion rate will also improve.

A test such as this is easy enough to set up. It is also important to note that you must analyse ‘how’ different ads may be influencing your conversion rate. You may wish to consider the following criteria when examining intricate differences between your ads:

  • How the messaging differs between ads
  • The difference in expectations created by ads for your landing page
  • How the ads prepare users to take the next step towards converting

Summary

With your current customers having already given you a shed-load of information on what encourages them to convert, it can certainly be considered as beneficial to use that data to re-engineer your advertising strategy to engage fully with your audience. It will ensure that resources are utilised most effectively and could give an important foothold in the competitive marketplace.

PPC Trends to Watch In The New Year

PPC Trends to Watch In The New Year

Firstly, we’d like to wish a Happy New Year to all of our readers from everyone here at Soar Online!

With the New Year comes the opportunity to refresh our strategies and focus on new areas, particularly the new trends in PPC that are likely to develop throughout the coming months. Lets take a look at some of our predictions for 2018 that you may not have thought about.

The Increasing Importance of Structured Data

Structured data has become more and more important already in 2017, and we can see this importance only increasing throughout the year, particularly with the roll-out of the mobile first index looming. We may even see Google using structured data markup to dynamically populate ads. If you haven’t already started implementing schema markup into your website, we highly recommend you taking a look at how it could work for you and be prepared for the upcoming trend.

Visual & Voice Search

Visual and voice search are on the rise, particularly voice with the introduction of many different smart home speakers. Visual search is also progressing through the likes of Pinterest Lens and Google Lens. No doubt throughout the holiday season more and more users have acquired the likes of Amazon’s Echo or Google Home devices and will be looking to put voice search to the test.  Whilst both of these technologies are still progressing and we’re unlikely to see a huge shift in popularity, it will still be important to keep a keen eye on how the search habits progress throughout the year, particularly if the investment in time will give you an edge over competitors.

Change of Workflow

Artificial Intelligence will be having a big impact on how PPC managers will work, particularly when it comes to daily tactical tasks, with the implementation of more automated functions. In 2017 we saw the introduction of ad rotation, ad creation and bid optimisation so we can only suspect that 2018 will usher in further AI enhanced functions.

With the new AdWords interface being rolled out, there have been mixed signals from search marketers. Whilst Google has boasted its new speed and efficiency, a lot of PPC managers have noted that the new interface is actually slower and has been crashing on a regular basis. Some have also reported that custom views and templates have not been carried over to the new interface, resulting in a loss of work and time. It’s safe to say either way that it will take some getting used to the new interface.

Local SEO – What NOT To Do

Local SEO – What NOT To Do

Local SEO is a powerful way to get quality traffic to your online business, but it’s often a strategy that is implemented poorly or downright exploited in all the wrong ways. Here are a few tips at what not to do when implementing a local SEO campaign, some of which you may already be doing without knowing about it!

Using Ineligible Addresses for Google My Business Listings

It’s more common than you think for people to create GMB listings using P.O Boxes, virtual offices or even employees’ residential addresses. This goes completely against Google’s guidelines which state:

  • Make sure that your page is created at your actual, real-world location
  • PO Boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.
  • Service-area businesses—businesses that serve customers at their locations—should have one page for the central office or location and designate a service area from that point.

In summary, Google doesn’t want you to create GMB listings for anything but a “real” business location. If you’re doing this already, it’s better to self-report yourself to Google than risk letting your listing run its course until you are found out. This won’t effect your legitimate, eligible listings.

Using One Phone Number Across Several Entities

It may seem tempting, if you run multiple businesses but don’t want to pay for more phone lines or if you have multiple business locations but want to only use a head office number, but it is another no-no in Google’s guidelines:

  • Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible, and provide one website that represents your individual business location.
  • Use a local phone number instead of a central, call center helpline number whenever possible.
  • The phone number must be under the direct control of the business.

Not only is it going against Google’s guidelines, it can also lead to confusion from your audience. If you are currently using one phone number for multiple business listings, you should weigh up the cost of another phone number against the potential to lose confused customers or have your listing removed by Google.

Keyword Stuffing Your Business Name

Keyword stuffing is never a viable tactic in SEO, and Google My Business is no exception. In fact, it is a direct violation of Google’s guidelines to use unnecessary keywords in your business name:

  • Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers.
  • Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted, and could result in your listing being suspended.

Consider your brand at all times – you want to build a long lasting and trustworthy brand rather than cash in on tricks. It’s a far more sound strategy to build your listing organically than to potentially have it removed for violating guidelines. Keep your business name accurate and concise!

 

Google AdWords Gets a Facelift

Google AdWords Gets a Facelift

Google has confirmed that the brand new interface for AdWords is available for all advertisers and boasts upgraded visuals, improved speed and even more tools for management. Whilst not necessarily brand new, as the update begun rolling out from August of last year, the roll-out had continued right up until the present.

Exclusive features to the new interface include the new promotion extension, household income targeting and audiences page. You can take a good look at all of the new features and the interface itself through Google’s handy guided tour, to make sure you’re completely clued up on the new tools at your fingertips.

One particularly powerful addition is the devices card view, which allows you to see how your campaigns are performing across various different devices with ease. This of course is vital information considering the increasing focus on mobile optimised content from Google and the interface allows you to go straight through to adjusting your bids per-device.

There are plenty more streamlined actions and new functions that have been added, and our best advice is that you dive right in and try them out for yourself to see how they fit with your own workflow. One thing is clear though, it is certainly a big step in the right direction, but lets be honest, Google knows user experience like the back of their hand (does Google even have hands?).

It is possible, at least for now, to toggle between the new and old UI, which is comforting to know considering there are still a few features that are yet to be rolled out to the new interface. You may well find yourself still using the “old” UI for some time before extensively working with the new interface whilst Google builds on its updates, but it’s certainly worth a test drive in the interim as there are plenty of time-saving new additions that are readily available.

Delving Deeper into Google Maps Q&A

Delving Deeper into Google Maps Q&A

Last month we wrote about Google’s New Q&A Feature For Maps and now we’ve had more time to look at the new feature, here are some key points you should know about when looking to use it for your business.

Delving Deeper into Google Maps Q&A

#1 – You may need to update the app to see it

The new feature begun rolling out in August, but if you have automatic updates disabled for you apps, you may need to manually update via the Play Store in order to see and use it.

#2 – Customers don’t receive notifications (at least not yet!)

At this point in time, if a customer submits a question and the business responds to it, they won’t receive a notification. This contradicts Google’s initial statement: “When you get an answer, we’ll notify you through Google Maps.” It’s more than likely that this will be fixed in an update soon.

#3 – Businesses need the Google Maps app to track questions

To receive notifications of customers submitting questions, business owners are required to have the Google Maps app installed on their device, linked to the account that they also use when managing their Google My Business listing. At this point in time, notifications from Q&A don’t show in My Business, so you really need to be using the Google Maps app to see when a potential customer has asked a question via a push notification.

#4 – The name and profile of customers who ask questions is visible

By clicking on the submitted question, you will be able to see the information of whoever asked it, including their name, photos and number of reviews. This information won’t appear on the initial list of questions however.

#5 – ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ answers should be avoided

Google My Business Top Contributor Tom Waddington has stated that there is the potential for yes and no answers to be exploited by way of the customer editing the initial question. To avoid embarrassment, make sure your answers are detailed and contextual.

# 6 – Up-voting affects how questions are shown

Google, in their initial statement, described how “upvoting makes popular questions more visible.” This means that questions with a number of likes will appear more prominent in the actual business listing, meaning that users don’t have to click through to see it. This will be quite valuable for your most common and important questions and answers.

To summarise, the Google Q&A feature in Maps is a powerful and interesting new tool for businesses, but it will take close monitoring in order to use it properly. Be pro-active with managing questions and give detailed answers to get the best out of this exciting new feature!

AdWords Ad Rotation Settings Being Trimmed

AdWords Ad Rotation Settings Being Trimmed

Recently Google announced that they would be making a change to the settings for ad rotation with AdWords. Whilst there were previously 4 settings available, these will now be sliced in half, leaving users with the following 2: “Optimize: Prefer best performing ads” and “Do not optimize: Rotate ads indefinitely.”

Users will now also be able to adjust the rotation setting at the ‘ad group’ level as opposed to campaign level, giving a little more fine-tuning control. The aptly named ‘do not optimise’ setting will provide standard, even rotation (or ‘old school’ if you please!) whilst the new setting will optimise for clicks in each individual auction using signals like keyword, search term, device, location and more.

AdWords Ad Rotation Settings Being Trimmed

Google suggests (strongly, might I add) that you run at least 3 ads in an ad group. They’re quoted stating “The more of your ads our system can choose from, the better the expected ad performance.”

This move brings Google AdWords even more in line with the trend of giving control over to machine learning technology. We can expect this update to roll in late September, with the obvious next step to be phasing out “rotate indefinitely” completely.

How are you Measuring Up to your Competitors?

How are you Measuring Up to your Competitors?

Take the Guess Work Out of it Analyse Your Competitors Website Traffic Today

Whether it is ‘work’ or on a ‘personal’ level, we all want to be first in everything we do right?

Business is no different, we all want to be more successful than others in our industry; we all want to earn as much money as possible; make more sales, be seen as an authority in our field…we all want to be highest on the search engines!

Being higher than your competitors on search results pages may have more impact and significance that you think. Whether you are selling online or competing for business offline, it matters not. It is a simple fact that most potential customers or clients will turn to the internet to either buy from you or check for reviews & testimonials when researching your business. It may be a simple as a client or customer looking for a telephone number! Whatever the reason YOUR customers or clients are online and this means that unless you are more visible than your competitors you are at risk.

Who wants their customers engaging with their competitors, right?

How are you Measuring Up to your Competitors?

So if whether you are looking for more sales or customers online or whether you are looking to retain your client/customer base, being more visible that your competition is not important it is VITAL.

So who are your real competitors? You may be surprised. Your online competitors maybe taking more business from you than you think. Local businesses may seem a threat to your local customers or clients but what impact do national companies have?

 

So whatever business you are in, whatever industry it is vital to know who your competitors are and to gain as much information about them as possible. This includes online. You may not know that it is possible with the right tools, to find out who your industry leading businesses are online and gather some really interesting and informative statistics about their online business.Information such as:

  • How may website visitors are going to their website monthly.
  • Where does this website traffic come from
  • What other websites link to their website.
  • How many keywords they rank for
  • What website pages generate their traffic.
  • What adverts they may be running and where they are advertising
  • How much they pay for Google Adwords traffic.
  • How much business YOU are losing out on.

Try Our Free Competitor Analysis Tool- this will answer the above questions for you and compare the results with your own website traffic.

Don’t close your eyes to this information; it is vitally important to your businesses future online. It is offered to you as a FREE report – Why? Because we believe that with this knowledge, with the ‘full picture’ to hand you will be able to make better and more informed decisions about your businesses online presence. (And hopefully you will choose Soar Online as your preferred digital partner!)

PPC & Fraudulent Clicks

PPC & Fraudulent Clicks

In the world of online marketing, Click Fraud is a pretty big deal. Not only can it put a dent in your profits it will also skew your data and therefore potentially make future campaigns more difficult to construct efficiently. Consumer giant Unilever has already threatened to withdraw their PPC budget due to fraudulent clicks – but there are ways to protect your ads and your budget before this last resort!

A black-hat technique, click fraud is the act of inflating the number of clicks on a PPC ad; either for the purpose of sabotaging a competitor’s budget or for generating more revenue for an ad publisher (i.e a publisher clicking ads on their own website!).

“Unusual clicks” are already monitored by Google and are often removed from a publisher’s account when they are flagged. Alternatively users of Google Adwords can also report any suspicious click levels on their PPC ads to Google themselves and will often be issued with a refund once Google has determined whether the clicks are fraudulent or not.

Google’s anti-click fraud program is certainly the most robust on the market. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put your own measures into practice to ensure you are getting accurate data and the right kind of traffic. Of course, not everyone can detect suspicious clicks, interpret the data given to them in their reports or exclude bad bots from traffic analysis. That is why a professional SEO analyst is a must when it comes to monitoring, managing and protecting your PPC campaigns. Not to mention, a strong organic presence on search engines will save you the headache of fraudulent clicks eating up your PPC budget!

If you still feel as though you want to take the DIY approach, one of the simplest tips is to utilise IP exclusions in AdWords – This requires you to have identified the IP address linked to the fraudulent clicks, but once you have, you can block your content from being served to that IP address in the future. Simple!

Top 4 Online Marketing Nightmares (And How To Avoid Them)

Top 4 Online Marketing Nightmares (And How To Avoid Them)

Say goodbye to sleepless nights with our quick checklist of the top 4 online marketing nightmares and how you can do your best to avoid them.

  1. I forgot to renew my domain!

Purchasing a domain these days is so fast and simple; it’s easy to let them slip out of your mind, and there are many ways you can overlook the renewal date of your domain. Perhaps your credit card has expired or the employee responsible for renewing your domains has since left the business; it could even be a case of the notifications from your registrar landing in your spam box.

Ensure you don’t lose your important online real-estate and keep a close eye on the renewal dates of your domains. The maximum amount of time you can purchase a domain for is 10 years, and you can set up an auto-renewal. This doesn’t completely secure your domain forever, but it certainly increases your chances of keeping hold of it for as long as required. Some registrars also offer SMS reminders 7 days prior to the expiration date and many offer a grace period during which you can get your domain back (Godaddy for example offers 20 days).

  1. My rankings have dropped!

Losing your Google rankings can be a real nightmare, and gone are the days of Google update announcements and notifications within your Webmaster Tools account. It is important to keep a keen eye on your traffic and rankings on a continuous basis and act accordingly. You don’t want to discover your drop in ranks a month or so down the line when it will be an uphill battle to regain them.

  1. My website is down!

Directing your customers to a broken or inactive website is a recipe for disaster, particularly during peak times and seasons. All websites have downtime at some point or another, even the biggest, but it is important to know when, why and for how long your website has been down.

Some of the biggest and most popular hosting providers have poor uptime statistics and if your website is hosted with them, you may not even know that your site has been down more times than you think.

Set up custom alerts inside your Google Analytics account so that you can receive email alerts whenever Google Analytics fails to record any visits. If it is occurring frequently, it may be time to think about moving to a more reliable hosting provider.

  1. People have been saying bad things about my brand!

Monitoring your brand name mentions and acting upon negative reviews and comments is an important, but often-overlooked, part of online marketing strategy. Don’t stick your head in the sand when someone has a bad word to say about your brand or services, and certainly don’t just delete the comment! It can be difficult to please every single customer you have, but online public apologies can turn an angry customer into a brand advocate, or at the very least show to any other potential customers that you are willing to take their feedback on board and act upon it.