Close Variant Changes Coming to Adwords

Close Variant Changes Coming to Adwords

Google announced it will soon remove exact and phrase match variation options from all accounts. No, the PPC sky is not falling. Yes, close variant changes will affect how all those handpicked exact and phrase match keywords in your account function.

These changes now mean that “exact” and “phrase” match keywords will trigger for plurals, misspellings, acronyms and abbreviations. Yes, plurals and misspellings. It is important to note that this change is estimated to effect only 10% of all Adwords users who have manually chosen to opt-out of variant matching prior to the change.

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Historically, PPC account managers have had the option of changing their keyword matching preferences for exact and phrase match. By default, Adwords exact and phrase keyword options were (and still are as of this writing) by default set to close variant. That changes, according to Google, sometime in September.

Some PPC account managers see this as the worst-case scenario, their clients are too niche or in too competitive markets to allow for such blasphemy from potential customers. For example, an account manager for a higher education account may not want to spend money on searchers who can’t spell “college degree” properly.

What To Expect
Perhaps, there might be a reduction in the amount of redundant keywords in accounts, as there will be no need to find and add every plural, misspelling and acronym for every keyword.

Others, who have opted out of close variant, may see slight increases in impressions, clicks and spend until they adjust to the changes.

Ultimately, 90% of PPC accounts won’t notice any changes. As for the other 10%, anyone who actively and properly optimizes and observes his or her accounts will be just fine. A good account manager should already be actively adding positive and negative keywords and optimizing accounts for maximum performance. In the end, this close variant change doesn’t change how pay-per-click should be managed—don’t sweat it.

***Not satisfied? Completely bypass Google’s new settings (for the tech savvy) here.

Workarounds for Google Analytics ‘(not provided)’

Workarounds for Google Analytics ‘(not provided)’

We’re going to start in the middle here. Google Analytics organic keyword information is lacking. Their goal is to protect the privacy of all users searching on Google. The issue here is that it leaves marketers with a lack of information as to how people are finding their websites. It originally started with the assurance that only a small amount of search queries would be affected by this ‘(not provided)’ update. Almost Google, almost. I have seen clients with up to 80% of their organic keyword traffic falling under ‘(not provided)’ in part due to Google encrypting all searches under SSL in September of 2013. That’s a lot of missing information.

How Do We Figure Out What’s Hidden Behind ‘(not provided)’

We can’t. Plain and simple. However, we wouldn’t be good at what we do if we didn’t test and figure out ways to get as close as possible to recovering that data. Here are a few ways you can get a much better idea as to what’s being hidden behind ‘(not provided)’ and answer the question of which keywords are sending traffic to your site.

The Dan Barker Approach

Dan Barker at eConsultancy came up with a custom filter you can apply in Google Analytics, which has proven to be very valuable. With this filter, you tell Google that you want to see which page a user landed on after searching on Google and clicking your site listing. With this you get a better idea of searcher intent, the search terms that were used (based off of the landing page triggered), and what percentage of those are branded versus non-branded. I won’t walk you through how to set it up, as it’s explained very thoroughly on his site, but if you would like to talk about it further I’d be happy to help.

This is what it looks like before the filter application:

No provided

This is what it looks like after the filter application:

No provided 2

The Moz Approach:

They now offer a new data view, which groups tracked keywords by landing page and are correlated with ranking position and visits. While this is just a guess on their end, Moz doesn’t just throw darts at ideas and see which one it hits. There is a LOT of back end data they are pulling and displaying in order to give us this data.

more not prov

Google Analytics Acquisition Data

A much more limited option compared to the first two, it is still worth glancing over your SEO queries in order to get an overview of how people are finding your site through organic search. It can give you some insightful long-tail information, along with content generation ideas.

search queries

Webmaster Tools:

This is useful as it tells you approximately how many search impressions your keywords are attracting. A caveat here is that since the data is not 100% accurate and the number of keywords reported on is not comprehensive, you should consider this as trending data and will need to be considered in conjunction with total traffic, URL traffic, and search rankings in order to form a comprehensive view of the overall effectiveness of the SEO program during any particular time period.

Internal Site Search

I wrote internal site search back in July, covering how to set it up and how it benefits your analytical insight. This information can be used to identify gaps/opportunities within your content. If there are numerous searches around a product you offer but do not feature on the site, then it’s time to highlight that! Build out content around that product and feature it on your website. If they are searching for a product you do not offer, then consider a conversation around what it would take to create that product/information and present it to your users.

From ‘(not provided)’ to ‘(now provided)’

With these tactics you can get a much better understanding as to which keywords people are using to find your site. They aren’t as accurate as the information we once received, but from this you can then make more informed decisions about where you will allocate your efforts if you know that certain keywords are attracting a large number of impressions.

Location Extension Updates – Manually Entered Addresses No Longer Supported

Location Extension Updates – Manually Entered Addresses No Longer Supported

Google is updating how you can edit and add location extensions in Google AdWords accounts.  The transition to the new way of managing location extensions is rolling out in September. Below is an overview of why location extensions are important, what is changing, and what next steps you should take to ensure location extensions continue to display with your ads.

Why Location Extensions Are Important

Example of a location extension on mobile device. Location extensions are just one example of ad extensions offered in the Google AdWords interface.  Other common ones you see with ads are sitelinks, call, and review extensions.

According to Google, on average ads that display with ad extensions see a 10% boost in CTR compared to ads that don’t have extensions.  Google now also takes into account ad extensions when calculating where your ad will rank on the search result page and favors ads with extensions, so it is important to have a variety of ad extensions implemented in your account.

Location extensions in particular are helpful for businesses with physical locations. They help drive foot traffic by displaying your address with your ad. Searchers can also get directions directly from the ad by clicking on the address link, which then loads Google Maps.  This is especially beneficial for people searching on mobile devices.   Google research shows that 50% of consumers visit a store within one day of searching for local information on their smartphones.

Example of a location extension on a desktop device. The image above is an example of what location extensions look like on a smartphone.  The image to the right is an example of what it looks like on a desktop or laptop.   Location extensions are indicated with a red arrow.

What is Changing With Location Extensions in AdWords

Previously, addresses used for location extensions were manually entered into AdWords. Starting soon these will no longer be supported and will be removed from accounts.

Moving forward, AdWords accounts must be linked to each location’s Google My Business page (formerly Google Places).  All location information (name, address, phone, etc.) will be managed in your Google My Business (GMB) dashboard.  Any addresses you add to your GMB account will be eligible to show as location extensions in AdWords and can be applied to specific campaigns with filters.

Ensure Location Extensions Continue To Display With Your Ads

We’ll be walking each of our clients through the transition process, but if you’re managing an account on your own here are the next steps you can take to make sure location extensions continue to show.

  1. Search Google or Goole Maps with your business name to find your Google My Business account and identify if it has been verified/claimed by your organization.  If you don’t have a Google My Business account sign up for one. You can sign up with Google by visiting http://www.google.com/business/
  2. If the business has been verified figure out the appropriate Google login to access and edit the account.  You’ll need this login to link AdWords & Google My Business. If you find your business has not been verified start that process.
  3. Once the account is verified, and you have the login, link it to your AdWords account.  More information on the linking process can be found on this Google support page.

Have questions or looking for expert help with your Google presence and local marketing? Our Local SEO service can help.

AdWords View-Through and Analytics Assisted Conversions

AdWords View-Through and Analytics Assisted Conversions


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View-Through Conversions

“Appearing only for the Display Network, View-Through Conversions happen when a customer views your image or rich media ad before converting, but never actually clicks on the ad. If these customers later convert, this metric counts their conversions as “View-Through Conversions.” This conversion type automatically excludes conversions from people who’ve also clicked your Search ads.”I  – Jennifer Johnstone, Ultimate Guide to AdWords Conversion Types

The advantage to view-through conversions in AdWords (ads A and C in the graphic) is that you can talk more to the value of a Display campaign when it comes to your branding or awareness impact. Display campaigns have cheap clicks and low post-click engagement, but with the View-Through conversion model, we can report on how many times our ads were part of the conversion process.

Likewise, Assisted Conversions (ads B and D) provide additional context for accounts. An assisted conversion occurs when a user sees your ad, returns to your site through another channel and then converts. You can find this information in Analytics under Conversions < Multi-Channel Funnels < Assisted Conversions. Once there, you have the option of seeing how many times your ads assisted other channels before the conversion. There are two sub-categories to this:

  1. Click Assisted Conversions: someone clicked on your ad but it was not the last click before a conversion. It contributed, but didn’t get final attribution.
  2. Impression Assisted Conversion: Someone saw an impression of your ad, did not click, but ultimately converted. (I believe this is the same as View-Through Conversion with the distinction that View-Through Conversions are limited to Display campaigns and Impression Assisted Conversions include all campaigns.)

The metrics you report on should be dictated by the goals of your business model or marketing strategy. View-Through and Assisted conversions can be very helpful in branding and awareness campaigns as well as provide you with additional context on how your other campaigns are performing and which other channels they integrate well with.

Google Analytics Account Permissions – What Does Each One Mean?

Google Analytics Account Permissions – What Does Each One Mean?

We’ve talked before about how we use Google Analytics to take SEM management to the next level and the importance of using Google Analytics goals to track conversions, but today we’re going to take a more tactical approach and discuss what the different account permission levels in Google Analytics (GA) actually mean and where you can assign them in the GA interface.

Google use to offer just two account permission options, administrator and user, but now they offer four which you can assign to users individually or as a combination.  These four permission levels are:

1) Read & Analyze
User can see report data and change their data view with filters, segments, and secondary dimensions.  Users with this permission can also create and share personal assets (e.g. segments and custom reports).  They also see assets shared with them, but can’t collaborate on them.

This access level is good to assign to individuals who just need to see data and don’t need to worry about setting up goals or accessing the tracking code.

2) Collaborate
Includes all Read & Analyze capabilities, plus the user is able to create and share personal assets and can collaborate/edit assets shared with them, for example edit a dashboard or custom report.

This access level is good to grant to a team of people assigned to analyzing your data since it allows them to share things more easily within the interface, while still preventing them from interfering with goal and filter settings or accessing the tracking code.

3) Edit
Includes all Collaborate and Read & Analyze capabilities plus the user can conduct certain administrative tasks and additional report functions such as adding, editing, and deleting accounts, filters, and goals.

When we request access to a Google Analytics account this is the permission we prefer to receive as it allows us to conduct more of the complex reporting, conversion tracking setup, and other account maintenance we do to help clients better measure and understand their ROI.

4) Manage Users
Does not include Edit or Collaborate abilities. Users with this permission can determine who should be added or deleted as users for a Google Analytics account and assign permission levels.

This access level only needs to be provided to individuals that are in charge of granting people access to the Google Analytics account and assigning permission levels.

How To Assigning Permission Levels

To assign permission levels to people with access to your Google Analytics account (assuming you have Manage User permission) do the following:

1)     Login to Google Analytics and select the appropriate website profile.

2)     Select “Admin” from the top menu.
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3)     Under the Account column on the far left, select “User Management”

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4)     On the right side of your screen you’ll see a list of email addresses.  Find the one you want to edit and then select the appropriate permission level from the drop down on the right.  Done!

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*Bonus tidbit – this is also where you go to add users to your GA account.  Below the list of email address with permissions there’s a box where you can enter someone’s email.

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Four User Engagement Metrics to Get Comfortable With

Four User Engagement Metrics to Get Comfortable With

Paid Search is qualified by a few metrics. CTR is a good indicator on the surface, while Bounce Rate, Pages Per Session and Average Session Duration are good post-click engagement metrics. All of these metrics help you hit your KPIs. With that, let’s review what these metrics mean for your or your client’s account.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

Google defines CTR as, “the number of clicks that your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown (impressions).”  In general, this is a good measure of how relevant your ads are to your target audience. That said, the definition of CTR success may be relative to your campaign type or goal.

  • Awareness. Awareness campaigns are used in both Display and Search campaigns. They are top funnel keywords that are less targeted but result in exposure for your brand to a larger, broader audience. In this way, they may not have as high of a CTR because your audience is less segmented, but a larger reach.
  • Branding. Branding is an easy and cost-efficient way to get your CTR up. Buy the branded keyword and get clicks when consumers search that term and click on your ads. Branded keywords tend to be cheaper and drive great traffic. That said, unless discussed otherwise, Two Octobers does not buy branded keywords because we believe our clients can get those results for free through their organic search.

Pages per Session & Average Session Duration

First, it would be helpful to define a session.  A “session” is, “a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame.”   Sessions last 30 minutes by default. Here is a graphic that helps explain what a single Session entails.

Session

Souce: Google

 

Pages per Session

Google defines Pages per Session as, “the average number or pages viewed per session.”  The above graphic illustrates six pages over the course of a single session.  Before creating a goal for this metric, consider: How many pages does the average user view on my website?  Does this align with our campaign expectations?  What does this mean in terms of our conversion funnels?

  • Top Funnel – We expect higher average Pages per Session rate in the Top Funnel for two reasons.  First, these users are in the early research stages.  Secondly, these ads direct users to a generic landing page (usually the home page) forcing them to navigate deeper into the site to find the product or service that may interest them the most.  For instance, a user might type in “new trucks” when starting their research for their next truck purchase and dive into their research based on these Search results.
  • Bottom Funnel – We would expect to have a lower average Pages per Session rate here.  Why?  Users that are targeted in this funnel have already done their research and/or are close to making a purchase.  Thus, ads that are being triggered for these users are much more specific.  For instance, our user who recently searched “new trucks” has now narrowed his sights and is now searching “2015 Ford F-150 for sale” to specific websites/landing pages with this particular model for sale.  If the Search campaign is set up correctly, this interaction can be accomplished on a single landing page.

Average Session Duration

Google defines Average Session Duration as, “the total duration of all Sessions (in seconds) divided by number of Sessions.”  With this metric, consider: How long is the average user interacting with your site?  Is this long enough to accomplish the goals that you have identified while building your advertising campaign?  What does this data say about your conversion funnels?

  • Top Funnel – Top Funnel users are at the beginning stages of product/service research, so they may take a long time on a site after clicking a Search ad or not.  Look at your product or service and think like a potential customer.  How long would it realistically take you to decide on making a purchase?
  • Bottom Funnel – You would expect bottom funnel searchers to spend the least time on site. They have done their research and are being landed on an interior page with a more specific product. These people are closer to converting and for this reason, less engaged on moving around the site. We should see high conversions for this group, but less time on site or pages visited.

Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate is a tenuous metric.  Google defines the Bounce Rate as, “the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).”  This means that the Bounce Rate skyrockets when a potential customer enters and exits on the same page, with no other movement on the site. Best practices for paid search dictate landing consumers on the most specific website page to their search. If done correctly, this could result in a higher bounce rate because the need to find the product or service on site is lost. Consequently, you have a high bounce rate on a well-placed ad.

  • Top Funnel – It is not unusual to want a Bounce Rate of 50% or lower for this type of user.  This is because they will generally land on a more generic page and the campaign might be designed for them click through different products or services (think about our initial truck buyer searching for “new trucks”)
  • Bottom Funnel – Bounce Rates for this type of user may be higher because of the decreased need to navigate through the site. Our truck buyer searches “2015 Ford F-150 for sale” and reaches a dealership site with all the information on this specific truck with dealership info in the footer. The user sees then calls the dealership, closes his browser and leaves to purchase the truck.There is no need for this user to click around the site if the Search ad directed him to the perfect landing page.

As you can tell, there is never a hard and fast rule when it comes to analyzing user engagement metrics. But, the more we understand about user engagement data the more informed decisions we can all make whether we want to increase brand exposure or to close sales.

Google Engage for Agencies

Google Engage for Agencies

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Some time very soon Google will announce the 2014 selections for the Google Engage All-Stars event. Last year, they fully sponsored the participation of 100 agencies world-wide and your friends over at Two Octobers just happened to get on that list.

Hosted at Google’s Mountain View campus, the event runs two days and covers a lot of information including, but not limited to: new rollouts, digital trends and broader marketing advice. Below, you’ll find a run down from the 2013 conference.

RLSAs

RLSAs stand for Remarketing List for Search Ads. These were rolled out in late June last year and were discussed a great deal at Google Engage.  RLSAs are an excellent way to target your bids and messaging to different audiences that have previously visited a site. Remarketing lists can be used to target ads toward people that visit your site but don’t convert; in this case, you could increase the bids for marketing to those audiences and change the ad text to move them down the funnel (think special offers, % off language, similar products.)

Two Octobers has been utilizing Remarketing Lists since the event and you can learn more about how we do it here.

Trends

Google promoted both mobile and video heavily at the conference. At the time, mobile constituted 50% of search queries and certain verticals had seen an 80% yearly increase in mobile use. Likewise, Google covered video growth: there are 1 billion YouTube views per month making it a more popular search platform than Bing/Yahoo!. Even more impressive, companies report seeing up to a 20% increase in traffic to their website when they use video.  (Look for a blog in the next month on how Two Octobers utilizes video for their clients.)

Marketing

The event also had a heavy emphasis on story telling that engages the consumer. Jonah Berger flew in to present Contagious – Why Things Catch On, and the hypothesis that good ideas need to be basic, fresh and credible. Maybe the best part of his speech, and possibly this blog, was/is Top 7 Panda Cheese Commercials.

In summary, Google Engage is fantastic and we strongly encourage going if you get that invite.

Google Analytics, Taking SEM Management To The Next Level

At Two Octobers, our goal is to deliver more than just clicks to a web site.  We want to provide quality traffic that is relevant to each client’s business goals. While there are a variety of reports in AdWords & Bing that help with this they don’t tell us what happens after someone clicks on an ad.  That’s where Google Analytics comes in.

Having access to Google Analytics allows us to have a better understanding of how users interact with a site. The available wealth of data further informs our management of accounts. Below are just a few ways we use the information in Google Analytics to optimize paid search accounts.

1)   Tracking Goals
Knowing you’re getting traffic is one thing. Knowing that traffic is doing what you want it to do is another.  Google Analytics goals track almost anything you can think of so you can identify what traffic sources are providing high quality visitors.  Everything from purchases, to completion of web forms, views of a certain page, clicks on a specific button, or particular amount of time spent on the site can be made into a goal.

Having goals set up in Google Analytics allows for better ROI tracking and enables us to quantify the value paid search ads are bringing to your business. It also gives us an idea of what areas of the SEM account may need adjustments if the traffic is underperforming.

2)   Budget Management
If you want more leads, purchases, or engaged visitors it makes sense to put more of your budget toward keywords that have proven to meet these goals, right?

When we have access to Google Analytics, and goals are set up, we’re able to analyze the best performing keywords by whatever metric is most important to you.  We then shift budget to those top performing keywords, de-emphasizing lower performing ones, in an effort to improve the traffic we send to your site, ultimately providing more value for your budget.

3)   Location Targeting
We display ads in all geographic regions that are important to our clients, but we also want to make sure ads are getting priority in locations that are performing the best.

AdWords allows us to set bid adjustments for specific locations.  By analyzing user performance by location in Google Analytics we can identify what places to increase or decrease bids so more budget goes towards ads in states or cities where searchers are completing the most goals.

4)   User Experience
When someone clicks on an ad our goal is to take them to the most relevant page that matches their search.  With Google Analytics, we’re able to tell if the landing page we’re taking searchers to is actually relevant based on metrics such as bounce rate and average time on page.  We’re also able to look at visitor flow through the site and see the most common page paths users take.

If we see that the metrics aren’t as strong for SEM campaigns as other traffic sources or that the bulk of people are following a certain page path we can adjust the landing page we take searchers to. This allows us to get visitors to the information they’re looking for more quickly or make sure they have a better chance of completing the goals you have set up.

5)   Remarketing
Remarketing has been available in AdWords for a while.  In AdWords we’re able to create lists based on people who viewed specific pages, sections, or products on a site and show them ads based on this information later.

Now when Google Analytics is linked to an AdWords account we’re able to take these lists one-step further and show ads to people based on site metrics, making your remarketing more robust.  We can target people that spend a certain amount of time on a site, place items in a shopping cart, view a specific number of pages, complete particular goals, etc.

Internal Site Search: Hiding in Plain Sight

Internal Site Search: Hiding in Plain Sight

Businesses pay a lot of money to figure out what people want from them and/or their industry. Even with that research, businesses can still miss the mark on what they deliver and how they deliver it. What a lot of these businesses don’t realize is that gaining insight into the true intentions of many users on their website is just hiding in plain sight, waiting to be capitalized upon.

You may have noticed that many sites have their own internal search box to provide you a way to quickly and easily find information that may not be readily apparent. Have you ever thought about the fact that all of this can be tracked? Have you thought about what this information really means?

These site search queries are basically users (read: people who want to consume what you offer, whether it be information or concrete products) telling you what they expect to find on your site, in their own words!

How You Can Use This Information For Insight

The first step is to understand what percentage of user sessions are resulting in someone using the search box. A high percent may indicate that you need to consider reconfiguring your site/information. One of the primary ways in which internal site search analysis can help your business is by understanding which content on the site users are having a difficult time finding. When a user clicks through to your site, they expect to see certain information. Using the site search box is a strong indicator that the information they were expecting to find was not intuitive or easily accessible. This is a strong signal that your site architecture and navigation needs to be updated; once you’ve identified certain keyword trends, make it easy for your users to find that information.

Another way in which this information can be used is to identify gaps/opportunities within your content. If there are numerous searches around a product you offer but do not feature on the site, then it’s time to highlight that! They want it, you have it, make it easy for them to convert. Build out content around that product and feature it on your website. If they are searching for a product you do not offer, then consider a conversation around what it would take to create that product/information and present it to your users.

How to Set This Up In Google Analytics

1)      Log into your account in Google Analytics

  1. Click the “Admin” tab

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2)      Click “View Settings” under View

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3)      Find “Site Search Settings” at the bottom of the page

Site Search

  1. Turn to “On”
  2. Enter the query parameter that appears in your URLs through site search
  3. Save

site search on

4)      Find Your Data

  1. Reporting > Behavior > Site Search

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Once you have this set up, be prepared to gain a lot more insight into the true intent of users visiting your site . . . and be prepared to make the changes necessary to facilitate their desire to convert. If you have any questions or issues while setting this up, contact us and we’d be more than happy to help you out.

New Robust Location Extensions With Reporting & Targeting

New Robust Location Extensions With Reporting & Targeting

Google location extensions just got a lot more powerful for brick-and-mortar advertisers. Now, location extensions allow for advertisers to run performance reports by distance, showing results for searches done from .07 to over 40 miles from the business location.

Divide and Conquer (Your Location Extensions)
NewLocationExtPic

The Location Extension report allows for additional insight into conversion rate based on proximity. By seeing how people convert within a certain radius (1 mi, 5 mi, 40 mi, etc.), we can add radius locations to campaigns and adjust bids accordingly.

Let’s consider a car dealership exists in one state but has many brands and many dealerships. Each brand and location has a different campaign in one account. Now, the dealer can choose to set location bids so their own dealerships don’t compete against each other. Additionally, since our distance report shows us how people convert within a radius, we can create campaign-level, location bid adjustments based on data and not just assumptions.

How to Get Going

I haven’t seen any changes to Adwords Editor for new location extension options (yet), and thus all edits must be made in the Adwords browser interface. Before you begin collecting all that wonderfully insightful data, you have to know where to go.

Once you have location extensions setup by location and campaign, or if you already have existing location extensions:

1. Enter the ‘All Campaigns’ view or select an individual campaign to view separately.
LocateExt1

2. Find and select the ‘Dimensions’ tab, at the far right, on the top options bar by default.
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3. Change your ‘View’ option to “View: Distance”
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