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Structuring URLs for Easy Data Gathering and Maximum Efficiency

Posted by Dom-Woodman

Imagine you work for an e-commerce company.

Wouldn’t it be useful to know the total organic sessions and conversions to all of your products? Every week?

If you have access to some analytics for an e-commerce company, try and generate that report now. Give it 5 minutes.

Done?

Or did that quick question turn out to be deceptively complicated? Did you fall into a rabbit hole of scraping and estimations?

Not being able to easily answer that question — and others like it — is costing you thousands every year.

Let’s jump back a step

Every online business, whether it’s a property portal or an e-commerce store, will likely have spent hours and hours agonizing over decisions about how their website should look, feel, and be constructed.

The biggest decision is usually this: What will we build our website with? And from there, there are hundreds of decisions, all the way down to what categories should we have on our blog?

Each of these decisions will generate future costs and opportunities, shaping how the business operates.

Somewhere in this process, a URL structure will be decided on. Hopefully it will be logical, but the context in which it’s created is different from how it ends up being used.

As a business grows, the desire for more information and better analytics grows. We hire data analysts and pay agencies thousands of dollars to go out, gather this data, and wrangle it into a useful format so that smart business decisions can be made.

It’s too late. You’ve already wasted £1000s a year.

It’s already too late; by this point, you’ve already created hours and hours of extra work for the people who have to analyze your data and thousands will be wasted.

All because no one structured the URLs with data gathering in mind.

How about an example?

Let’s go back to the problem we talked about at the start, but go through the whole story. An e-commerce company goes to an agency and asks them to get total organic sessions to all of their product pages. They want to measure performance over time.

Now this company was very diligent when they made their site. They’d read Moz and hired an SEO agency when they designed their website and so they’d read this piece of advice: products need to sit at the root. (E.g. http://ift.tt/2nZ1Vta.)

Apparently a lot of websites read this piece of advice, because with minimal searching you can find plenty of sites whose product pages that rank do sit at the root: Appleyard Flowers, Game, Tesco Direct.

At one level it makes sense: a product might be in multiple categories (LCD & 42” TVs, for example), so you want to avoid duplicate content. Plus, if you changed the categories, you wouldn’t want to have to redirect all the products.

But from a data gathering point of view, this is awful. Why? There is now no way in Google Analytics to select all the products unless we had the foresight to set up something earlier, like a custom dimension or content grouping. There is nothing that separates the product URLs from any other URL we might have at the root.

How could our hypothetical data analyst get the data at this point?

They might have to crawl all the pages on the site so they can pick them out with an HTML footprint (a particular piece of HTML on a page that identifies the template), or get an internal list from whoever owns the data in the organization. Once they’ve got all the product URLs, they’ll then have to match this data to the Google Analytics in Excel, probably with a VLOOKUP or, if the data set is too large, a database.

Shoot. This is starting to sound quite expensive.

And of course, if you want to do this analysis regularly, that list will constantly change. The range of products being sold will change. So it will need to be a scheduled scrape or automated report. If we go the scraping route, we could do this, but crawling regularly isn’t possible with Screaming Frog. Now we’re either spending regular time on Screaming Frog or paying for a cloud crawler that you can schedule. If we go the other route, we could have a dev build us an internal automated report we can go to once we can get the resource internally.

Wow, now this is really expensive: a couple days’ worth of dev time, or a recurring job for your SEO consultant or data analyst each week.

This could’ve been a couple of clicks on a default report.

If we have the foresight to put all the products in a folder called /products/, this entire lengthy process becomes one step:

Load the landing pages report in Google Analytics and filter for URLs beginning with /product/.

Congratulations — you’ve just cut a couple days off your agency fee, saved valuable dev time, or gained the ability to fire your second data analyst because your first is now so damn efficient (sorry, second analysts).

As a data analyst or SEO consultant, you continually bump into these kinds of issues, which suck up time and turn quick tasks into endless chores.

What is unique about a URL?

For most analytics services, it’s the main piece of information you can use to identify the page. Google Analytics, Google Search Console, log files, all of these only have access to the URL most of the time and in some cases that’s all you’ll get — you can never change this.

The vast majority of site analyses requires working with templates and generalizing across groups of similar pages. You need to work with templates and you need to be able to do this by URL.

It’s crucial.

There’s a Jeff Bezos saying that’s appropriate here:

“There are two types of decisions. Type 1 decisions are not reversible, and you have to be very careful making them. Type 2 decisions are like walking through a door — if you don’t like the decision, you can always go back.”

Setting URLs is very much a Type 1 decision. As anyone in SEO knows, you really don’t want to be constantly changing URLs; it causes a lot of problems, so when they’re being set up we need to take our time.

How should you set up your URLs?

How do you pick good URL patterns?

First, let’s define a good pattern. A good pattern is something which we can use to easily select a template of URLs, ideally using contains rather than any complicated regex.

This usually means we’re talking about adding folders because they’re easiest to find with just a contains filter, i.e. /products/, /blogs/, etc.

We also want to keep things human-readable when possible, so we need to bear that in mind when choosing our folders.

So where should we add folders to our URLs?

I always ask the following two questions:

  • Will I need to group the pages in this template together?
    • If a set of pages needs grouping I need to put them in the same folder, so we can identify this by URL.
  • Are there crucial sub-groupings for this set of pages? If there are, are they mutually exclusive and how often might they change?
    • If there are common groupings I may want to make, then I should consider putting this in the URL, unless those data groupings are liable to change.

Let’s look at a couple examples.

Firstly, back to our product example: let’s suppose we’re setting up product URLs for a fashion e-commerce store.

Will I need to group the products together? Yes, almost certainly. There clearly needs to be a way of grouping in the URL. We should put them in a /product/ folder.

Within in this template, how might I need to group these URLs together? The most plausible grouping for products is the product category. Let’s take a black midi dress.

What about putting “little black dress” or “midi” as a category? Well, are they mutually exclusive? Our dress could fit in the “little black dress” category and the “midi dress” category, so that’s probably not something we should add as a folder in the URL.

What about moving up a level and using “dress” as a category? Now that is far more suitable, if we could reasonably split all our products into:

  • Dresses
  • Tops
  • Skirts
  • Trousers
  • Jeans

And if we were happy with having jeans and trousers separate then this might indeed be an excellent fit that would allow us to easily measure the performance of each top-level category. These also seem relatively unlikely to change and, as long as we’re happy having this type of hierarchy at the top (as opposed to, say, “season,” for example), it makes a lot of sense.

What are some common URL patterns people should use?

Product pages

We’ve banged on about this enough and gone through the example above. Stick your products in a /products/ folder.

Articles

Applying the same rules we talked about to articles and two things jump out. The first is top-level categorization.

For example, adding in the following folders would allow you to easily measure the top-level performance of articles:

  • Travel
  • Sports
  • News

You should, of course, be keeping them all in a /blog/ or /guides/ etc. folder too, because you won’t want to group just by category.

Here’s an example of all 3:

The second, which obeys all our rules, is author groupings, which may be well-suited for editorial sites with a large number of authors that they want performance stats on.

Location grouping

Many types of websites often have category pages per location. For example:

  • Cars for sale in Manchester – /for-sale/vehicles/manchester
  • Cars for sale in Birmingham. – /for-sale/vehicles/birmingham

However, there are many different levels of location granularity. For example, here are 4 different URLs, each a more specific location in the one above it (sorry to all our non-UK readers — just run with me here).

  • Cars for sale in Suffolk – /for-sale/vehicles/suffolk
  • Cars for sale in Ipswich – /for-sale/vehicles/ipswich
  • Cars for sale in Ipswich center – /for-sale/vehicles/ipswich-center
  • Cars for sale on Lancaster road – /for-sale/vehicles/lancaster-road

Obviously every site will have different levels of location granularity, but a grouping often missing here is providing the level of location granularity in the URL. For example:

  • Cars for sale in Suffolk – /for-sale/cars/county/suffolk
  • Cars for sale in Ipswich – /for-sale/vehicles/town/ipswich
  • Cars for sale in Ipswich center – /for-sale/vehicles/area/ipswich-center
  • Cars for sale on Lancaster road – /for-sale/vehicles/street/lancaster-road

This could even just be numbers (although this is less ideal because it breaks our second rule):

  • Cars for sale in Suffolk – /for-sale/vehicles/04/suffolk
  • Cars for sale in Ipswich – /for-sale/vehicles/03/ipswich
  • Cars for sale in Ipswich center – /for-sale/vehicles/02/ipswich-center
  • Cars for sale on Lancaster road – /for-sale/vehicles/01/lancaster-road

This makes it very easy to assess and measure the performance of each layer so you can understand if it’s necessary, or if perhaps you’ve aggregated too much.

What other good (or bad) examples of this has the community come across? Let’s here it!

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The 15 Best Instagram Marketing Campaigns of 2017

Instagram has become the go-to place for visual content marketing.

It’s a veritable mecca for media, with over 600 million engaged users sharing nearly 100 million photos and videos with their friends, fans and followers every single day.

Between Instagram Stories, Instagram Live, Carousels and more, the visual media platform is constantly introducing new ways for users to explore content creation.

As a business, it can be tough to keep up with these trends and tools. Sometimes, though, all you need is a handful of good ideas from which to draw inspiration.

Luckily, I’ve put together 15 of the best Instagram marketing campaigns from 2017, featuring examples from brands like Airbnb, Amazon, Nintendo and more.

Let’s get into it!

1. Adidas Originals

Adidas cemented their position as a key fashion figure in the hip-hop industry with their latest Instagram campaign. Using the hashtag #ORIGINALis, Adidas partnered with big names like Snoop Dogg, Desiigner, and Stormzy to highlight and promote their Originals lineup. Though Adidas has different product lines for different sports, like football and basketball, Adidas uses the video below to build their Originals brand as a totem of hip-hop culture.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Adidas Snoop Dogg

I love this campaign firstly because it uses influencer marketing to appeal to a wide base of people within Adidas’ target market. Partnering with influential figures in the hip-hop world helps Adidas establish additional credibility and the videos it has created for this campaign are intriguing and engaging.

2. John Mayer

John Mayer used Instagram extensively to promote his recent set of EPs, The Search for Everything. Though his team has been running a multitude of campaigns on the visual marketing giant, one campaign that rocked the marketing boat was John Mayer’s use of Instagram Live to  better engage his followers and push the songs on the album.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns John Mayer

John used the Live platform for a variety of purposes, including performing songs from his new records for his fans, answering questions, and telling stories about the writing process of his new music. Using Instagram Live to market your business makes it much more accessible to your followers – it’s a feature that allows you to interact directly with them to help build your brand.

3. Ryu

Vancouver-based athletic clothing retailer Ryu ran a marketing campaign through their Instagram account called “#WhatsInYourBag”, to promote their various products with a giveaway. I like this campaign for a number of reasons. Firstly, I love that it’s a giveaway – hosting a contest is always an incredibly effective way to engage your target audience and spread the word about your brand (if you’re looking for a contest app, check out Wishpond).

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Ryu clothing

Next, though the brand created promotional posts on their Instagram profile to highlight the giveaway, they also promoted it extensively on their Instagram Story. This is a helpful strategy to help push marketing campaigns, as the Stories feature sits atop Instagram users’ feeds. Promoting on your Story is a great way to keep your campaigns top-of-mind with your followers, and ensure that they reach as many people as possible.

4. Airbnb

Airbnb took to Instagram to show their full support for acceptance of people from different places and backgrounds. Though they didn’t directly address it, it was clear from the timing of this campaign (which revolved around the hashtag #WeAccept) that Airbnb was voicing their opinions on recent political developments, cementing their position as a world-renowned brand with a focus on acceptance.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Airbnb

Though political statements in marketing can often be hit-or-miss, Airbnb successfully capitalized on this trending topic to take a stance on an important issue while strengthening consumer perceptions about their brand. Running marketing campaigns that are relevant to current events – whether that’s the Super Bowl, the Grammys, or an upcoming holiday – makes for content that’s inherently more engaging to your Instagram followers.

5. DJI

Drone industry leader DJI consistently puts out high quality content on their Instagram profile – and their latest marketing efforts have been no different. Recently, they’ve partnered with various Instagram filmmakers to promote their latest drone offering, the Phantom 4 Pro. This is not only an expert utilization of user-generated content, but also of Instagram video.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns DGI

Since Instagram increased the maximum length of its videos from 15 seconds to 1 minute, the possibilities for video marketing have increased drastically. DJI shows off the capabilities of its flagship product through the videos it shares on its profile – the one I’ve highlighted here features the drone flying high above a variety of beautiful locations. Using video in a creative way to promote your products is one of the best ways you can sell on Instagram to your target market – and that’s why this campaign is so great.

6. Amazon

Amazon ran an Instagram marketing campaign to thank their users and fans for rating them #1 in corporate reputation. The ecommerce giant posted a simple image showing their top-notch reputation ranking with a caption telling customers about a new discount they created in celebration of their big win.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Amazon

This campaign, first and foremost, is great because it’s a discount. It can be difficult to reliably turn Instagram engagement into sales for your business, but providing followers with a discount code or linking to a promotional pricing page is one of the best ways to do it. I also love that Amazon is thanking their customers – it’s something that many brands don’t do enough. It makes fans and followers feel appreciated, strengthening their connection to your brand.

7. Orangetheory

Popular fitness center Orangetheory uses Instagram as one of their primary online marketing platforms, and for good reason – their strong visual branding makes the media they post eye-catching and engaging. Though Orangetheory explores a variety of visual media marketing strategies on their Instagram profile, Orangetheory’s best content campaigns are their user testimonials.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Orangetheory

This not only shows a more “personal” side of your business, but also serves to increase your business’ and product’s credibility to potential customers who follow you on social media. Testimonials create social proof – a psychological “boost” that shows people within your target market that others like them use and enjoy your product. Orangetheory does an awesome job of highlighting their users and telling their story in a genuine way.

8. Daniel Wellington

Famous timepiece maker Daniel Wellington partnered with YouTube music sensation Joseph Vincent to promote its watches to the singer-songwriter’s fans. As you can see in the image below, Joseph Vincent created a genuine-looking Instagram photo highlighting both a men’s and women’s Daniel Wellington watch.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Daniel Wellington

In the caption, you can see he’s tagged the brand and also provided a discount code for his followers to use when buying a Daniel Wellington watch of their own. This is especially effective because it can push these followers into making a purchase they may not normally have made. Partnered marketing is awesome for helping you bridge the gap to certain segments of your target market – they result in more relatable marketing efforts from influential social media figures.

9. Lokai

The Lokai bracelet has become a world-famous accessory thanks to the brand’s inspiring message of positivity, dedication to exploration, and commitment to helping a variety of causes.

Lokai’s widespread fanbase has allowed it to craft an social media marketing plan revolving primarily around user-generated content to promote its products. Take a look at Lokai’s Instagram feed – it’s full of gorgeous images from around the world, most of which are taken by its fans. This results in an exciting feed that’s still entirely product-focused – not an easy task by any means.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Lokai

User-generated content is great for a number of reasons. First, it’s a more genuine way to promote your products to your followers; they’re real images from real people all around the world. Next, it allows you to pad out your content schedule without much effort on your own part. Finally, it’s an awesome avenue through which you can connect with your users, showing them you’ve got your finger on the pulse of the content your fans post about you.

10. Cellucor

Popular fitness supplement seller Cellucor ran a giveaway campaign to promote the “on-the-go” version of their beloved C4 pre-workout drink mix. This giveaway post has everything it needs to be successful. First, it features an engaging and humorous video that features the product prize and mentions the giveaway itself.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Cellucor

Next, the caption mentions the giveaway again (for people who might be unable to watch the video) and clearly outlines how people can enter this social promotion. I love that they asked users to follow them, like the photo, and tag three friends to enter. This increases their follower count, and more importantly, increases the post’s engagement, meaning it’s more likely to show up on potential customers’ Explore feeds.

11. Nintendo

Video game giant Nintendo took to Instagram to build hype for the upcoming launch of their latest console, the Nintendo Switch. Instagram is one of the best places to build interest for a product launch – the content posted on the platform is easily shareable, which means you can rapidly spread the word about your exciting new product.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Nintendo

This specific post is an awesome product preview. The image itself shows just enough to excite viewers – it doesn’t give too much away. Having two different people using two different controller colors shows off the Switch’s collaborative nature, as well its different product options. Finally, the caption clearly states how long it will be until the product launches. It’s mysterious, intriguing, and engaging.

12. ASOS

ASOS’ Instagram strategy is one of a kind. Instead of simply partnering with influencers to create sponsored posts, ASOS goes a step further and creates “sponsored accounts” for its influencers, like @asos_ashley and @asos_megan. These accounts are run by the influencers (who also have their own well-known accounts, of course), but differ slightly in that they primarily feature ASOS clothing.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Asos

This is an interesting strategy because it pulls influencers’ existing followings to new accounts with content more relevant to specific brand. Influencer marketing in this way helps ASOS widen its reach significantly through its influencer marketing efforts.

13. Disney

Disney’s a brand that needs no introduction – its a huge, household-name brand, but it still continues to use Instagram marketing best practices to push its latest offerings. In this campaign, Disney got actor Luke Evans to promote the upcoming Beauty and the Beast film with an Instagram takeover. Evans posted images throughout the day of his time at the film’s world premiere, sharing them with Disney’s massive Instagram following.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Disney

Hosting an influencer takeover is an Instagram strategy that’s proven to be effective time and time again. It draws the influencer’s following to your account and helps you reach additional segments of your target market. The posts give your followers a (much-welcome) break from your regular Instagram content, and are often more engaging based solely on their subject matter. Look for influencers within your target market and reach out to them for your next takeover!

14. Forever21

Forever21 is a brand that’s mastered Instagram marketing. Beyond its impressive mix of original and user-generated content, Forever21 is an expert at the Instagram sale. How? Well, Forever21 utilizes a monetization platform called Like2buy, which helps it turn the engagement and interactions it garners on the visual content platform into sales. As you can see in the image below, Like2buy takes Forever21’s photos and links each item to the relevant store page.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Forever 21

Forever 21 makes sure to include a CTA in each of their photo captions (“Shop link in bio”) to make sure each follower knows where they can find each item. Using a monetization platform is the simplest and most efficient way to drive sales from Instagram – it’s a great option for any ecommerce business.

15. Shake Shack

East Coast burger joint Shake Shack took advantage of Instagram’s new Carousel post format to tell the story of its Downtown Detroit location opening. Though this campaign didn’t have the hugest reach, I love that the chain immediately used a new Instagram feature to adopt it as part of its Instagram strategy. Next, I like that Shake Shack mixed media types – there’s a collection of hi-res photos as well as simple phone-shot videos that help document the new location’s launch.

Best Instagram marketing campaigns Shake Shack

Carousel posts are great because they allow you to introduce multiple pieces of media, making it the ideal format to use when you’re trying to tell a story. Though you could theoretically do this in your actual Instagram Story, a Carousel post allows you to eternalize it – letting it make a lasting impression on your timeline.

Wrapping it up

There you have it – 15 of the best Instagram marketing campaigns of 2017 so far! Hopefully this have given you some great ideas on Instagram marketing campaigns you can run for your own business.

Best of luck with your Instagram marketing!

About the Author

Carlo Pacis is a marketer at Wishpond who lives and breathes all things social media. He also has an obsession with music, sneakers, and coffee. Find him on Twitter or Instagram @carlonathan.

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The 6 Values (and 4 Benefits) of Agile Marketing – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by AgileJim

You’ve probably heard of agile processes in regards to software development. But did you know those same key values can have a huge impact if applied to marketing, as well? Being adaptive, collaborative, and iterative are necessary skills when we live in a world where Google can pull the rug out from under us at a moment’s notice.

In today’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome guest host Jim Ewel, founder of AgileMarketing.net, as he describes what’s important in the agile marketing process and why incorporating it into your own work is beneficial.

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Agile Marketing

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Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans, this is Jim Ewel. I’m the blogger behind AgileMarketing.net, the leading blog on agile marketing, and I’m here to talk to you today about agile marketing.

Agile marketing is an approach to marketing that takes its inspiration from agile software development. Like agile software development, it has a set of values and it has a set of benefits, and we’re going to talk about those values and benefits today.

6 Values of Agile Marketing

Value number one: Responding to change over following a plan.

It’s not that we don’t plan. It’s just that we don’t write 30- to 40-page marketing plans. Instead, every quarter, we write a one-page plan that specifies our goals, our aspirations to get everybody on the same page, and then every two to four weeks, we reset our priorities. We say, “This is what we’re going to get done during this two- to four-week period.”

Value number two: Rapid iterations over “big bang” campaigns.

In traditional marketing, we get together in a room and we say, “We’re going to run a campaign for three to six months to a year.”

We hash out the idea of what we’re going to do for that campaign. Then we communicate to the agency. They come up with creative. They review it with us. We go back and forth, and eventually we’ll run that campaign for three to six months. And you know what happens at the end of that campaign? We always declare victory because we’ve spent so much money and time on that campaign that every time we say, “It worked.”

Well, we take a very different approach in agile marketing. We take an iterative approach. We start out with a little strategy. We meet for half an hour or an hour to figure out what do we think might work. Then we figure out how to test it. We measure the results, and this is very important, we document the learning.

If something doesn’t work, we test it out and it doesn’t work, it’s okay because we’ve learned something. We’ve learned what doesn’t work. So then we iterate again, and we try something else and we do that, we get that cycle going in a very effective way.

Value number three: Testing and data over opinions and conventions

Here, again, the importance is that we’re not following the highest-paid person’s opinion. No HiPPOs. It’s all about: “Did we test it? Do we have data? Do we have the right metrics?” It’s important to select the right metrics and not vanity metrics, which make us feel good, but don’t really result in an improvement to the business.

Value number four: Many small experiments over a few big bets

And I like to talk about here the 70:20:10 rule. The idea behind the 70:20:10 rule is that we spend 70% of our budget and 50% of our time on the things that we know that work. We do it broadly across all our audiences.

We then spend 20% of our budget and 25% of our time modifying the things that we know that work and trying to improve them. Maybe we distribute it in a little different way or we modify the content, we modify what the page looks like. But, anyways, we’re trying to improve that content.

And the last 10% of our budget and 25% of our time, we spend on wild ideas, things where we fully expect that only about 2 or 3 out of 10 ideas is really going to work, and we focus those things on those creative, wild ideas that are going to be the future 70% and 20%.

Value number five: Individuals and interactions over one-size-fits-all

Now, I like to think about this in terms of one of the experiences that I have with SEO. I get a lot of requests for link building, and a lot of the requests that I get are form requests. They write me a little message that they’re writing to hundreds of other people, and I don’t pay any attention to those requests.

I’m looking for somebody who really knows that I’m writing a blog about agile marketing, who’s interacting with me, who maybe says something about a post that I put on Agile Marketing, and those people are the ones that I’m going to give my business to, in effect, and I’m going to do some link building with them. Same thing applies to all of our marketing.

Value number six: Collaboration over hierarchy and silos

One of the key things in many marketing organizations is that different silos of the organization don’t seem to talk to each other. Maybe marketing isn’t talking to sales, or marketing hasn’t got the ear of senior management.

Well, one of the things we do in agile marketing is we put some processes in place to make sure that all of those groups are collaborating. They’re setting the priorities together, and they’re reviewing the results together.

4 Benefits of Agile Marketing

As a result of these six values, there are four important benefits to agile marketing.

I. The first is that you can get more done

I’ve taught a lot of teams agile marketing, and, as a whole, they tell me that they get about 30% to 40% more done with agile marketing. I had one team tell me they got 400% more done, but that’s not typical. So they’re getting more done, and they’re getting more done because they’re not doing rework and they’re working on the right priorities.

II. Getting the right things done

Because you’re working with sales, you’re working with senior management to set the priorities, you’re making sure with agile marketing that you’re getting the right things done, and that’s important.

III. Adapting to change

Part of our life today in marketing is that things change. We know that Google is going to change their PageRank algorithm in 2017. We don’t know exactly how, but we know it’s going to happen, and we need to be able to adapt to that change quickly and accurately, and we put processes in place in agile marketing to make sure that happens.

IV. Improved communications

Improved communications both within the marketing team and, probably even more important, outside the marketing team to sales and senior management.

By representing what we’re getting done on something like a Kanban board, everybody can see exactly what marketing is working on, where it’s at, and what they’re getting done.

So that’s agile marketing in a nutshell. I’d love to hear your comments, and thanks for watching.

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How to Optimize Shopping Campaigns for Every Level of Intent

Not all shoppers or would-be shoppers come to the search box with the same level of commercial intent. So how do you optimize your shopping campaigns for users at different stages of the purchase path?

Implementing different bids for different user intents can help you get the most out of your paid shopping campaigns.By combining multiple shopping campaigns with strategically placed negative keyword lists, you can separate out the best, average and worst traffic to significantly raise sales without compromising on profitability.

In this article, I’ll show you how to do it.

Introduction to the purchase path: Different levels of intent

It may take minutes, hours, days or even months, but every customer follows a set purchase path. This starts with becoming aware of a product and ends with them purchasing it.

shopping campaign intent levels

As a customer progresses along this path, the chances that they will finalise the purchase increase at each step:

  1. Awareness – Discovering the product – Unlikely to buy
  2. Interest – Finding out details about the product – Quite likely to buy
  3. Intent – Deciding to buy the product – Likely to buy
  4. Consideration – Finding out where to buy the product – Very likely to buy
  5. Purchase – Already purchased the product

Most people will fall off the purchase path for one of two reasons – they either don’t end up buying the product or, unfortunately for many advertisers, they purchase the product from a competitor.

In terms of paid online advertising, typically the higher you bid, the more prominent your ad will be. You are probably more willing to bid higher for potential customers who are further down the purchase path, as they are more likely to make a purchase. Bidding costs typically increase as follows:

  1. Awareness – Tiny conversion rate, tiny bid required
  2. Interest – Low conversion rate, low bid required
  3. Intent – Medium conversion rate, medium bid required
  4. Consideration – High conversion rate, high bid required

purchase path for e-commerce sales

If one potential customer is ten times more likely to buy a product than another customer, you can justify spending ten times more on advertising to them because you can achieve the same return-on-investment overall.

To get the most from paid advertising, potential customers at all stages of the purchase path should be taken into consideration. This will increase your chances of getting the highest possible volume of customers, sales and profit.

Even potential customers in the awareness stage will still have some value because they may discover a product on a website and return to purchase it later. They may even buy the product in the same session, hitting all stages of the path in one fell swoop, but the odds of this happening are lower than if they started further down the path.

Identifying different levels of intent on shopping platforms

Shopping platforms, such as Google Shopping or Bing Shopping, currently work on a search term basis, so products only appear when they are actively searched for using keywords.

google and bing shopping campaigns

It’s not always clear what actual user intent is behind each search term. Generally speaking, separating out different levels of intent results in the following important keyword groupings (shown with examples):

Very low intent search terms

Generic product names: [bbqs], [bikes], [biscuits], etc.

Low intent search terms

More specific but still generic product categories: [gas bbqs], [mountain bikes], [chocolate biscuits]

Medium intent search terms

Specific product categories: [chrome gas bbq], [21 speed mountain bike], [triple chocolate biscuits]

High intent search terms

Specific product types: [chrome gas bbq with six burners], [21 speed mountain bike with dual suspension], [triple chocolate fairtrade biscuits]

Branded product categories: [weber gas bbqs], [raleigh mountain bikes], [mcvities chocolate biscuits]

Very high intent search terms

Exact product names: [Weber Genesis E-330], [Raleigh Helion 2.0 2017], [Traidcraft Fairtrade Chocolate Chunk Cookies]

Product SKUs or identifiers: [wb-e330], [r-hel2017], [tcftcc360]

Using a shopping campaign’s priority setting

To separate out user intent you need to use different shopping campaign priorities.

On both Bing Ads and Google AdWords, each shopping campaign has a priority setting of High, Medium or Low.

This priority setting only makes a difference when there are two or more shopping campaigns that contain the same products. Importantly, product group bids within the highest level shopping campaign are considered first, even if they have a lower bid than the same product group in a lower priority shopping campaign.

Traditionally, priorities were used to control bids for products on sale, or for seasonal changes, for example:

  • An advertiser may wish to clear some unsold clothing that is out of season and therefore offer a discount on these products. A new higher priority shopping campaign could be created which just includes all the products on sale. If bids were set higher within this campaign than before, then these products will have increased exposure than the others and would receive many more clicks:

shopping campaigns for sale items

  • An advertiser sells cake decorations and wants to promote their spooky cake decorations just before Halloween. Again a new higher priority shopping campaign could be setup that just featured those products with a higher bid set again for each product group. Once Halloween has ended this campaign could be paused until before Halloween the following year:

seasonal shopping campaigns

  • An advertiser selling shoes notices that few people buy the shoes when there isn’t a big selection of sizes available for a single product. Instead of removing these products from the feed, they could be separated into a higher priority shopping campaign. The bids for these products could be set much lower than normal, remembering that those bids will over-write the higher bids for the same products within the lower priority campaign. Instead of removing these products altogether they can still be advertised, but at a much cheaper rate to still make the occasional sale at the right profit level:

how to create optimized shopping campaigns

Using negative keyword lists effectively

The final tool to separate out user intent is a negative keyword list.

Negative keywords will stop a product-listing ad from showing if a certain phrase is used within the user’s search term.

Traditionally negative keywords are used to reduce wasted shopping advertising costs for people who are not actively looking to buy a product, or who might be looking for products you don’t sell.

Often advertisers would add groups of negative keywords to greatly reduce the number of wasted ad clicks and costs, such as:

  • Used products (if only new products are sold) – [used], [second hand], , [gumtree]
  • Support material (for people looking for help with their product) – [instructions], [guide], [how to], [manual]
  • Unrelated search engine functions (people not actively looking to buy products) – [images], [spelling], [location]

To keep negative keywords tidy, they can all be added to negative keyword lists and then these lists can be quickly applied to all campaigns that require them.

Creating negative keyword waterfalls using shopping campaigns

We have identified a need to separate out users who have different intent, so we can place high bids for searchers with high intent, and vice-versa.

On product listing ads we can only differentiate a user’s intent from their search terms, the keywords that they actively search for on the search engine. We cannot control the keywords for search terms in which we want the products shown for, we can only control the negative keywords for search terms in which we don’t want the products to show for.

If the same products are within two or more shopping campaigns, then the shopping campaign with the highest level of priority will always overwrite the product group’s bid, even if it’s lower than other bids.

Combining campaign priority with negative keywords allows us to have two shopping campaigns that act as a keyword filter:

shopping campaign negatives

priority levels for shopping campaigns

As there are three levels of campaign priority, the most the campaigns can be split out is in three ways. Below is a very useful way of separating out brand names and specific product names into their own separate campaigns:

shopping campaign structure

shopping campaign tiers

This works in three main stages:

  1. The high level campaign passes on any search query that mentions a product brand, product name or a product ID. This campaign caters for more generic search terms with low intent and requires low bids on product groups.
  2. The medium level campaign passes on any search query that mentions a product name or a product ID. This campaign only caters for branded search queries with a medium intent and requires standard bids on product groups.
  3. The low level campaign doesn’t pass on any search query. This campaign caters for product names and product IDs with a high intent and requires high bids on product groups.

With just one shopping campaign you can only set a single bid for each product group regardless of what search query is used. As bids are set based off average statistics, advertising costs are wasted on generic, low-intent search terms which have low conversion rates.

Also on the flip-side, a lot of competition will outbid you for higher ad positions on precise, high-intent search terms so a significant volume of sales will be lost.

shopping campaign bidding

Switching from one shopping campaign to two or three filtered shopping campaigns has a huge impact on the overall profitability.

Imagine that advertising costs wasted before on generic search terms will now be shifted to the precise search terms to boost their ad position. The ads are then shown at a level that often matches the user-intent – you may spend far less per click on the window shoppers than serious shoppers who are very close to making a purchase.

Without increasing costs, this technique increases the number of overall sales (and therefore profitability) at the same desired return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) or return-on-investment (ROI) level.

Conclusion

By utilising two or three shopping campaigns, you can easily siphon the best, average and worst search terms in terms of user intent and set the ideal bid.

To do so, you need to take advantage of the three different priority levels for paid shopping campaigns, alongside negative keyword lists, to filter out the better or worse search terms.

Since wasted advertising costs are saved, and the best keywords are given more competitive bids, the overall effect of this technique is that it raises the number of sales per day without lowering the amount of profit per sale. This is a big win for e-commerce sites looking to beat the ever-increasing competition online.

About the author

Jonathan Ellins is the Head of Insights at Hallam Internet Ltd., a UK-based marketing agency. Working in a consulting capacity at Hallam, Jonathan specialises in paid advertising with a keen interest in creating AdWords optimisation and automated bid management scripts. Find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Your Daily SEO Fix: Keywords, Concepts, Page Optimization, and Happy NAPs

Posted by FeliciaCrawford

Howdy, readers! We’re back with our last round of videos for this go of the Daily SEO Fix series. To recap, here are the other topics we’ve covered previously:

Today we’ll be delving into more keyword and concept research, quick wins for on-page optimization, and a neat way to stay abreast of duplicates and inaccuracies in your local listings. We use Moz Pro, the MozBar, and Moz Local in this week’s fixes.


Fix #1: Grouping and analyzing keywords by label to judge how well you’re targeting a concept

http://ift.tt/2mXdJb5
http://ift.tt/1SsY8tZ

The idea of “concepts over keywords” has been around for a little while now, but tracking rankings for a concept isn’t quite as straightforward as it is for keywords. In this fix, Kristina shows you how to label groups of keywords to track and sort their rankings in Moz Pro so you can easily see how you’re ranking for grouped terms, chopping and analyzing the data as you see fit.


Fix #2: Adding alternate NAP details to uncover and clean up duplicate or inaccurate listings

http://ift.tt/2mvjCAb
http://ift.tt/1SsY8tZ

If you work in local SEO, you know how important it is for listings to have an accurate NAP (name, address, phone number). When those details change for a business, it can wreak absolute havoc and confuse potential searchers. Jordan walks you through adding alternate NAP details in Moz Local to make sure you uncover and clean up old and/or duplicate listings, making closure requests a breeze. (This Whiteboard Friday is an excellent explanation of why that’s really important; I like it so much that I link to it in the resources below, too. 😉

Remember, you can always use the free Check Listing tool to see how your local listings and NAP are popping up on search engines:

Is my NAP accurate?


Fix #3: Research keywords and concepts to fuel content suggestions — on the fly

http://ift.tt/2mXdKf2

You’re already spying on your competitors’ sites; you might as well do some keyword research at the same time, right? Chiaryn walks you through how to use MozBar to get keyword and content suggestions and discover how highly ranking competitor sites are using those terms. (Plus a cameo from Lettie Pickles, star of our 2015 Happy Holidays post!)


Fix #4: Discover whether your pages are well-optimized as you browse — then fix them with these suggestions

http://ift.tt/2mX6gZL
http://ift.tt/1SsY8tZ

A fine accompaniment to your on-the-go keyword research is on-the-go on-page optimization. (Try saying that five times fast.) Janisha gives you the low-down on how to check whether a page is well-optimized for a keyword and identify which fixes you should make (and how to prioritize them) using the SEO tool bar.


Further reading & fond farewells

I’ve got a whole passel of links if you’re interested in reading more educational content around these topics. And by “reading,” I mean “watching,” because I really stacked the deck with Whiteboard Fridays this time. Here you are:

And of course, if you need a better handle on all this SEO stuff and reading blog posts just doesn’t cut the mustard, we now offer classes that cover all the essentials.

My sincere thanks to all of you tuning in to check out our Daily SEO Fix video series over the past couple of weeks — it’s been fun writing to you and hearing from you in the comments! Be sure to keep those ideas and questions comin’ — we’re listening.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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New Free Tools: Check Your AdWords Metrics Against Benchmarks!

Viewing on mobile? Check out our new tools here!

If you’re new to paid search advertising, or just onboarding new clients with your agency, figuring out how to measure success can be challenging. We all want to create ads that have high CTRs and chart-breaking conversion rates, but a good metric in one industry isn’t necessarily good in another—in fact, it can be difficult to know what a good CTR is in your own industry. Which numbers should you be looking to beat?

Our fantastic data scientist Mark Irvine has leveraged our huge data stores to establish AdWords performance benchmarks in four key metrics on both the Search and Display networks:

  • Average Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Average Cost per Click (CPC)
  • Average Conversion Rate (CVR)
  • Average Cost per Action (CPA)

Because every business is different, we’ve determined benchmarks for twenty different industries: Advocacy, Auto, B2B, Consumer Services, Dating & Personals, E-Commerce, Education, Employment Services, Finance & Insurance, Health & Medical, Home Goods, Industrial Services, Legal, Real Estate, Technology, and Travel & Hospitality.

How to Use the New Tools

To simplify your search for success, we have created a new set of free tools to accurately calculate how you measure up to the competition based on your current metrics, your network, and your industry. Simply input the metric you want to investigate, select your industry and network, and our free tool will quickly let you know how you measure up! (Big shout-out to our developer Drake McCabe who built the tools.)

Want more info? Use the AdWords Grader to get a full, free report on how you’re doing across 10 key metrics.

What’s a Good Click-Through Rate in AdWords?

Your click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of clicks to impressions on your AdWords ads. AdWords CTR is important because CTR is a major component of your Quality Score, which determines your cost per click.

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What’s a Good Cost Per Click in AdWords?

Your cost per click (CPC) is the price you pay every time someone clicks one of your ads. A low CPC ensures that you’re getting a good return on your AdWords investment.

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What’s a Good Conversion Rate in AdWords?

Your conversion rate is the ratio of people who complete your offer or make a purchase out of the total number of people who visit your site or landing page. Conversion rates can vary highly by industry due to the variety of different offers.

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What’s a Good Cost Per Action in AdWords?

Your cost per action, or CPA, is the cost required to secure an action (either a sale or a lead) through AdWords. CPA is calculated by dividing your CPC by your conversion rate.

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How did you do?!

If you want even more insight into how your AdWords account is performing compared to other advertisers, check out the free AdWords Performance Grader. You’ll get an instant, customized report packed with insights into your performance on ads, landing pages, mobile and more.

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How to Do a Content Audit [Updated for 2017]

Posted by Everett

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This guide provides instructions on how to do a content audit using examples and screenshots from Screaming Frog, URL Profiler, Google Analytics (GA), and Excel, as those seem to be the most widely used and versatile tools for performing content audits.


{Expand for more background}


TABLE OF CONTENTS


What is a content audit?

A content audit for the purpose of SEO includes a full inventory of all indexable content on a domain, which is then analyzed using performance metrics from a variety of sources to determine which content to keep as-is, which to improve, and which to remove or consolidate.

What is the purpose of a content audit?

A content audit can have many purposes and desired outcomes. In terms of SEO, they are often used to determine the following:

  • How to escape a content-related search engine ranking filter or penalty
  • Content that requires copywriting/editing for improved quality
  • Content that needs to be updated and made more current
  • Content that should be consolidated due to overlapping topics
  • Content that should be removed from the site
  • The best way to prioritize the editing or removal of content
  • Content gap opportunities
  • Which content is ranking for which keywords
  • Which content should be ranking for which keywords
  • The strongest pages on a domain and how to leverage them
  • Undiscovered content marketing opportunities
  • Due diligence when buying/selling websites or onboarding new clients

While each of these desired outcomes and insights are valuable results of a content audit, I would define the overall “purpose” of one as:

The purpose of a content audit for SEO is to improve the perceived trust and quality of a domain, while optimizing crawl budget and the flow of PageRank (PR) and other ranking signals throughout the site.

Often, but not always, a big part of achieving these goals involves the removal of low-quality content from search engine indexes. I’ve been told people hate this word, but I prefer the “pruning” analogy to describe the concept.

How & why “pruning” works


{Expand for more on pruning}


How to do a content audit

Just like anything in SEO, from technical and on-page changes to site migrations, things can go horribly wrong when content audits aren’t conducted properly. The most common example would be removing URLs that have external links because link metrics weren’t analyzed as part of the audit. Another common mistake is confusing removal from search engine indexes with removal from the website.

Content audits start with taking an inventory of all content available for indexation by search engines. This content is then analyzed against a variety of metrics and given one of three “Action” determinations. The “Details” of each Action are then expanded upon.

The variety of combinations of options between the “Action” of WHAT to do and the “Details” of HOW (and sometimes why) to do it are as varied as the strategies, sites, and tactics themselves. Below are a few hypothetical examples:

You now have a basic overview of how to perform a content audit. More specific instructions can be found below.

The process can be roughly split into three distinct phases:

  1. Inventory & audit
  2. Analysis & recommendations
  3. Summary & reporting

The inventory & audit phase

Taking an inventory of all content, and related metrics, begins with crawling the site.

One difference between crawling for content audits and technical audits:

Technical SEO audit crawls are concerned with all crawlable content (among other things).

Content audit crawls for the purpose of SEO are concerned with all indexable content.


{Expand for more on crawlable vs. indexable content}

All of this is changing rapidly, though. URLs as the unique identifier in Google’s index are probably going away. Yes, we’ll still have URLs, but not everything requires them. So far, the word “content” and URL has been mostly interchangeable. But some URLs contain an entire application’s worth of content. How to do a content audit in that world is something we’ll have to figure out soon, but only after Google figures out how to organize the web’s information in that same world. From the looks of things, we still have a year or two.

Until then, the process below should handle most situations.

Step 1: Crawl all indexable URLs

A good place to start on most websites is a full Screaming Frog crawl. However, some indexable content might be missed this way. It is not recommended that you rely on a crawler as the source for all indexable URLs.

In addition to the crawler, collect URLs from Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, XML Sitemaps, and, if possible, from an internal database, such as an export of all product and category URLs on an eCommerce website. These can then be crawled in “list mode” separately, then added to your main list of URLs and deduplicated to produce a more comprehensive list of indexable URLs.

Some URLs found via GA, XML sitemaps, and other non-crawl sources may not actually be “indexable.” These should be excluded. One strategy that works here is to combine and deduplicate all of the URL “lists,” and then perform a crawl in list mode. Once crawled, remove all URLs with robots meta or X-Robots noindex tags, as well as any URL returning error codes and those that are blocked by the robots.txt file, etc. At this point, you can safely add these URLs to the file containing indexable URLs from the crawl. Once again, deduplicate the list.

Crawling roadblocks & new technologies

Crawling very large websites

First and foremost, you do not need to crawl every URL on the site. Be concerned with indexable content. This is not a technical SEO audit.


{Expand for more about crawling very large websites}


Crawling dynamic mobile sites

This refers to a specific type of mobile setup in which there are two code-bases –– one for mobile and one for desktop –– but only one URL. Thus, the content of a single URL may vary significantly depending on which type of device is visiting that URL. In such cases, you will essentially be performing two separate content audits. Proceed as usual for the desktop version. Below are instructions for crawling the mobile version.


{Expand for more on crawling dynamic websites}


Crawling and rendering JavaScript

One of the many technical issues SEOs have been increasingly dealing with over the last couple of years is the proliferation of websites built on JavaScript frameworks and libraries like React.js, Ember.js, and Angular.js.


{Expand for more on crawling Javascript websites}


Step 2: Gather additional metrics

Most crawlers will give you the URL and various on-page metrics and data, such as the titles, descriptions, meta tags, and word count. In addition to these, you’ll want to know about internal and external links, traffic, content uniqueness, and much more in order to make fully informed recommendations during the analysis portion of the content audit project.

Your process may vary, but we generally try to pull in everything we need using as few sources as possible. URL Profiler is a great resource for this purpose, as it works well with Screaming Frog and integrates easily with all of the APIs we need.

Once the Screaming Frog scan is complete (only crawling indexable content) export the “Internal All” file, which can then be used as the seed list in URL Profiler (combined with any additional indexable URLs found outside of the crawl via GSC, GA, and elsewhere).

This is what my URL Profiler settings look for a typical content audit for a small- or medium-sized site. Also, under “Accounts” I have connected via API keys to Moz and SEMrush.

Once URL Profiler is finished, you should end up with something like this:

Screaming Frog and URL Profiler: Between these two tools and the APIs they connect with, you may not need anything else at all in order to see the metrics below for every indexable URL on the domain.

The risk of getting analytics data from a third-party tool

We’ve noticed odd data mismatches and sampled data when using the method above on large, high-traffic websites. Our internal process involves exporting these reports directly from Google Analytics, sometimes incorporating Analytics Canvas to get the full, unsampled data from GA. Then VLookups are used in the spreadsheet to combine the data, with URL being the unique identifier.

Metrics to pull for each URL:

  • Indexed or not?
    • If crawlers are set up properly, all URLs should be “indexable.”
    • A non-indexed URL is often a sign of an uncrawled or low-quality page.
  • Content uniqueness
    • Copyscape, Siteliner, and now URL Profiler can provide this data.
  • Traffic from organic search
    • Typically 90 days
    • Keep a consistent timeframe across all metrics.
  • Revenue and/or conversions
    • You could view this by “total,” or by segmenting to show only revenue from organic search on a per-page basis.
  • Publish date
    • If you can get this into Google Analytics as a custom dimension prior to fetching the GA data, it will help you discover stale content.
  • Internal links
    • Content audits provide the perfect opportunity to tighten up your internal linking strategy by ensuring the most important pages have the most internal links.
  • External links
  • Landing pages resulting in low time-on-site
    • Take this one with a grain of salt. If visitors found what they want because the content was good, that’s not a bad metric. A better proxy for this would be scroll depth, but that would probably require setting up a scroll-tracking “event.”
  • Landing pages resulting in Low Pages-Per-Visit
    • Just like with Time-On-Site, sometimes visitors find what they’re looking for on a single page. This is often true for high-quality content.
  • Response code
    • Typically, only URLs that return a 200 (OK) response code are indexable. You may not require this metric in the final data if that’s the case on your domain.
  • Canonical tag
    • Typically only URLs with a self-referencing rel=“canonical” tag should be considered “indexable.” You may not require this metric in the final data if that’s the case on your domain.
  • Page speed and mobile-friendliness

Before you begin analyzing the data, be sure to drastically improve your mental health and the performance of your machine by taking the opportunity to get rid of any data you don’t need. Here are a few things you might consider deleting right away (after making a copy of the full data set, of course).


Things you don’t need when analyzing the data


{Expand for more on removing unnecessary data}

Hopefully by now you’ve made a significant dent in reducing the overall size of the file and time it takes to apply formatting and formula changes to the spreadsheet. It’s time to start diving into the data.

The analysis & recommendations phase

Here’s where the fun really begins. In a large organization, it’s tempting to have a junior SEO do all of the data-gathering up to this point. I find it useful to perform the crawl myself, as the process can be highly informative.

Step 3: Put it all into a dashboard

Even after removing unnecessary data, performance could still be a major issue, especially if working in Google Sheets. I prefer to do all of this in Excel, and only upload into Google Sheets once it’s ready for the client. If Excel is running slow, consider splitting up the URLs by directory or some other factor in order to work with multiple, smaller spreadsheets.

Creating a dashboard can be as easy as adding two columns to the spreadsheet. The first new column, “Action,” should be limited to three options, as shown below. This makes filtering and sorting data much easier. The “Details” column can contain freeform text to provide more detailed instructions for implementation.

Use Data Validation and a drop-down selector to limit Action options.

Step 4: Work the content audit dashboard

All of the data you need should now be right in front of you. This step can’t be turned into a repeatable process for every content audit. From here on the actual step-by-step process becomes much more open to interpretation and your own experience. You may do some of them and not others. You may do them a little differently. That’s all fine, as long as you’re working toward the goal of determining what to do, if anything, for each piece of content on the website.

A good place to start would be to look for any content-related issues that might cause an algorithmic filter or manual penalty to be applied, thereby dragging down your rankings.

Causes of content-related penalties

These typically fall under three major categories: quality, duplication, and relevancy. Each category can be further broken down into a variety of issues, which are detailed below.


{Expand to learn more about quality, duplication, and relevancy issues}

It helps to sort the data in various ways to see what’s going on. Below are a few different things to look for if you’re having trouble getting started.


{Expand to learn more about what to look for}


Taking the hatchet to bloated websites

For big sites, it’s best to use a hatchet-based approach as much as possible, and finish up with a scalpel in the end. Otherwise, you’ll spend way too much time on the project, which eats into the ROI.

This is not a process that can be documented step-by-step. For the purpose of illustration, however, below are a few different examples of hatchet approaches and when to consider using them.


{Expand for examples of hatchet approaches}

As you can see from the many examples above, sorting by “Page Type” can be quite handy when applying the same Action and Details to an entire section of the website.

After all of the tool set-up, data gathering, data cleanup, and analysis across dozens of metrics, what matters in the end is the Action to take and the Details that go with it.

URL, Action, and Details: These three columns will be used by someone to implement your recommendations. Be clear and concise in your instructions, and don’t make decisions without reviewing all of the wonderful data-points you’ve collected.

Here is a sample content audit spreadsheet to use as a template, or for ideas. It includes a few extra tabs specific to the way we used to do content audits at Inflow.

WARNING!

As Razvan Gavrilas pointed out in his post on Cognitive SEO from 2015, without doing the research above you risk pruning valuable content from search engine indexes. Be bold, but make highly informed decisions:

Content audits allow SEOs to make informed decisions on which content to keep indexed “as-is,” which content to improve, and which to remove.

The reporting phase

The content audit dashboard is exactly what we need internally: a spreadsheet crammed with data that can be sliced and diced in so many useful ways that we can always go back to it for more insight and ideas. Some clients appreciate that as well, but most are going to find the greater benefit in our final content audit report, which includes a high-level overview of our recommendations.

Counting actions from Column B

It is useful to count the quantity of each Action along with total organic search traffic and/or revenue for each URL. This will help you (and the client) identify important metrics, such as total organic traffic for pages marked to be pruned. It will also make the final report much easier to build.

Step 5: Writing up the report

Your analysis and recommendations should be delivered at the same time as the audit dashboard. It summarizes the findings, recommendations, and next steps from the audit, and should start with an executive summary.

Here is a real example of an executive summary from one of Inflow’s content audit strategies:

As a result of our comprehensive content audit, we are recommending the following, which will be covered in more detail below:

Removal of about 624 pages from Google index by deletion or consolidation:

  • 203 Pages were marked for Removal with a 404 error (no redirect needed)
  • 110 Pages were marked for Removal with a 301 redirect to another page
  • 311 Pages were marked for Consolidation of content into other pages
    • Followed by a redirect to the page into which they were consolidated

Rewriting or improving of 668 pages

  • 605 Product Pages are to be rewritten due to use of manufacturer product descriptions (duplicate content), these being prioritized from first to last within the Content Audit.
  • 63 “Other” pages to be rewritten due to low-quality or duplicate content.

Keeping 226 pages as-is

  • No rewriting or improvements needed

These changes reflect an immediate need to “improve or remove” content in order to avoid an obvious content-based penalty from Google (e.g. Panda) due to thin, low-quality and duplicate content, especially concerning Representative and Dealers pages with some added risk from Style pages.

The content strategy should end with recommended next steps, including action items for the consultant and the client. Below is a real example from one of our documents.

We recommend the following three projects in order of their urgency and/or potential ROI for the site:

Project 1: Remove or consolidate all pages marked as “Remove”. Detailed instructions for each URL can be found in the “Details” column of the Content Audit Dashboard.

Project 2: Copywriting to improve/rewrite content on Style pages. Ensure unique, robust content and proper keyword targeting.

Project 3: Improve/rewrite all remaining pages marked as “Improve” in the Content Audit Dashboard. Detailed instructions for each URL can be found in the “Details” column

Content audit resources & further reading

Understanding Mobile-First Indexing and the Long-Term Impact on SEO by Cindy Krum
This thought-provoking post begs the question: How will we perform content inventories without URLs? It helps to know Google is dealing with the exact same problem on a much, much larger scale.

Here is a spreadsheet template to help you calculate revenue and traffic changes before and after updating content.

Expanding the Horizons of eCommerce Content Strategy by Dan Kern of Inflow
An epic post about content strategies for eCommerce businesses, which includes several good examples of content on different types of pages targeted toward various stages in the buying cycle.

The Content Inventory is Your Friend by Kristina Halvorson on BrainTraffic
Praise for the life-changing powers of a good content audit inventory.

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Everything You Need to Perform Content Audits

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Google Reveals Future of Search at #SMX: Voice Search & Virtual Assistants

SMX is a must-attend conference series for any search professional, and a staple of any SMX show is a highly anticipated keynote by a top Googler. Well, Tuesday morning at SMX West in San Jose was no exception. Google’s own Jason Douglas took center stage to kickoff SMX and reveal how the search giant plans to change the search experience – both on and off the SERP – in 2017.

             google smx from search to assis

Image credit: Thomas Ballantyne

Voice Search Is The New Focus for 2017

We may have stopped calling it “the year of mobile,” but we’re seeing Google continue to follow its mobile-first game. The next frontier for both Google and Bing appears to be voice search. Windows’ Bing may have the head start by partnering with Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Window’s own Cortana voice assistants, but Google has big plans to make up the gap with its Google Assistant.

The Google Assistant helps people get more done online and offline and rivals Apple’s Siri and Window’s Cortana as a voice search assistant. Previously, Google Assistant was only avaliable on Google’s wearable tech, Google Home, and Google’s newest mobile device, the Pixel. Over the coming weeks, Google will roll out the Google Assistant to many more smartphones running Android 7.0 Nougat and Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which will greatly expand its reach and use!

google virtual assistant voice search SMX

While these new searches are certainly exciting, there is a considerable difference in how people search using a voice search platform like Google Assistant. We’ve grown accustomed to typing short syntax langage searches from our browsers in a traditional search setting, and ultimately search for keywords like “Coffee Mass Ave.”

Voice searches are much more unique, complex, and use more natural language. Consequently, we’re more likely to search for long-tailed keywords like “Where can I get coffee on Mass Ave” as Google Assistant and similar assistants become more prevalent. The implications of this trend in more longer, natural language searches has big implications for SEOs and PPC adverterisers alike.

Google Assistant Delivers Personalized Results

Think of the things you’d count on a human personal assistant to know about you – how you take your coffee, your contact lists, your calendar, maybe even your dress size. Google’s virtual assistant hopes to be equally helpful and knowledgable.

Google sees the key to making its assistant valuable as a true personal assistant is in remembering your what you’ve searched for in the past and using the information you provide to it. Knowing this, Google can provide more personalized results with less context, ultimately driving a relevant and hopefully satisfying result.

The Internet of Things

As everything from our cars, TVs, watches and even lightbulbs are becoming connected to the web, we’ll see similar kinds of assistants on other devices. Today, we’re already seeing voice assistants emerge on on smart TVs, gaming consoles, and cars. Bing’s partnerships with its own Xbox devices and Apple’s Siri-enabled devices and its announced partnership with Lexus give them a headstart to reach users in a SERP-free world.

Google has ambitious plans to reach these searchers off the SERP – both in home and on the go. Over the coming months, Google intends to announce plans to intregate the Google Assistant to more Android devices, starting with Android watches and its other wearable tech devices. Google also announced plans to scale their intergration with Android TVs and other smart TVs connected to the web.

Although the future of a Google car is uncertain today, Google also has its eye on intergrating Google Assistant into other brands’ cars as well. Understanding that users engage with these devices differently, our engagment with Google Assistant on these different devices will provide more detail as to where and how users search on the internet of things and will ultimately help Google cater the answers (and potentially the ads) it delivers on these devices.

About the author:

Mark is a Senior Data Scientist at WordStream with a background in SEM, SEO, and Statistical Modeling. He was named the 14th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2016 by PPC Hero. You can follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +.

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The Step-By-Step Guide to Testing Voice Search Via PPC

Posted by purna_v

I was conned into my love of cooking by my husband.

Never having set foot in the kitchen until the grand old age of 22, my husband (then boyfriend) — a former chef — said he’d teach me some simple recipes. I somewhat enjoyed the process but very much enjoyed the lavish praise he’d bestow upon me when eating whatever I whipped up.

Highly encouraged that I seemingly had an innate culinary genius, I looked to grow my repertoire of recipes. As a novice, I found recipe books inspiring but confusing. For example, a recipe that called for cooked chicken made me wonder how on Earth I was meant to cook the chicken to get cooked chicken.

Luckily, I discovered the life-changing power of fully illustrated, step-by-step recipes.

Empowered by the clear direction they provided, I conquered cuisine after cuisine and have since turned into a confident cook. It took me only a few months to realize all that praise was simply a ruse to have me do most of the cooking. But by then I was hooked.

When it comes to voice search, I’ve talked and written a lot about the subject over the past year. Each time, the question I get asked is “What’s the best way to start?”

Today I’ll share with you an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to empower you to create your own voice search test. It’s sure to become one of your favorite recipes in coming months as conversational interfaces continue their rapid adoption rate.

Testing voice search? But it’s not monetized.

That’s correct. It’s not monetized as of yet. However, the usage rates have been growing exponentially. Already search engines are reporting that:

  • One out of ten searches are voice (per Baidu)
  • Twenty percent of all mobile Android searches are voice (Google)
  • Usage spans all age ranges, as we discovered at Cortana (which is owned by Microsoft, my employer):

1_Cortana.png

With Cortana being integrated into Windows 10, what we’re seeing is that age range demographics are now comparable to what eMarketer is reporting for overall smartphone usage. What this means: Using digital assistants is becoming more and more common. It’s no longer an edge case.

More importantly, voice searches done on the search engines can often have PPC ads in the resultant SERPs — as you’ll see in my examples below.

Why a PPC test?

It’s easier to get started by testing voice search via PPC since you can get more detailed reporting across multiple levels.

I would recommend taking a teeny-tiny budget — even $50 is often good enough — and putting it toward a voice search test. (Don’t fret, SEOs, I do have some tips in here for you as well.)

Before we start…

Here’s a quick reminder of how voice searches differ from text searches:

  1. Voice has longer queries
  2. Natural language means more question phrases
  3. Natural language reveals intent clearly
  4. Voice search has high local value
  5. And greatly impacts third-party listings

You can read about it in more detail in my previous Moz article on the subject.


Let’s get cooking!

Step 1: See what, if any, voice activity exists for you currently

Goal: Find out what voice-related activity exists by identifying Assumed Voice Queries.

Estimated time needed: 30 min

Tools needed: Search Query Reports (SQRs) and Excel

A good place to start is by identifying how your audience is currently using voice to interact with you. In order to do this, we’ll need to look for what we can term “assumed voice queries.”

Sidebar: What are Assumed Voice Queries?

Since the search engines do not currently provide separate detailed reporting on voice queries, we can instead use the core characteristics of these queries to identify them. The subtle difference between keyboard search and voice search is “whom” people think they are interacting with.

In the case of keyboard search, the search box clearly ties to a machine. Searchers input logical keywords they think will give them the best search results. They generally leave out filler words, such as “the,” “of,” “a,” and “and.” They also tend not to use question words; for example, “bicycle store,” rather than “what is a bicycle store?”

But when a searcher uses voice search, he is not using a keyboard. It’s more like he’s talking to an actual human. You wouldn’t say to a person “bicycle store.” You might say: “Hey Cortana, what is the best place to buy a bicycle near me?”

The key difference between text and voice search is that voice queries will be full thoughts, structured the way people speak, i.e. long-tailed queries in natural language. Voice searches tend to be approximately 4.2 words or longer on average, according to research from both Google and Microsoft Cortana.

Thus, assumed voice queries would be keywords that fit in with these types of queries: longer and looking like natural language.

Caveat: This isn’t going to be 100% accurate, of course, but it’s a good place to start for now.

Even just eight months ago, things were fairly black and white. Some clients would have assumed voice queries while others didn’t. Lately, however, I’m seeing that most clients I look at have some element of assumed voice queries, indicative of how the market is growing.

Okay, back to step 1

a.) Start by downloading your search term report from within your Bing Ads or Google AdWords account. This is also commonly referred to as the search query report. You want to run this for at least the past 30 or 60 days (depending on volume). If you don’t have a PPC account, you can pull your search term report from Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools.

2_SQR.png

b.) Open it up in Excel, so we can get sorting.

3_Excel sheet.png

c.) Sort the columns to just the essentials. I usually keep only the search term, as well as the impression columns. For larger accounts, you may prefer to leave on the campaign and ad group name columns as well.

4_SortColumns.png

d.) Sort by query length to isolate the search queries that are 5+ keywords in length — I’m going with 5 here simply to increase the odds that these would be assumed voice queries. A simple Excel formula — taught to me by my colleague John Gagnon—- can help count the number of words:

5_Formula.png

Replace A1 with the actual cell number of your search term, and then drag that formula down the sheet. Here it becomes C2 instead of A1:

6_formulainaction.png

e.) Calculate and sort, first by query length and then by impressions to find the assumed voice search queries with the most impressions. The result? You’ll get your final list — success!

7_finallist.png


Step 2: Extrapolate, theme, sort

Goal: Find additional keywords that could be missing and organize the list based on intent.

Estimated time needed: 45 min

Tools needed: Keyword tools of choice and Excel

Now that you can see the assumed voice queries, you’ll have handy insights into your customer’s motivation. You know what your audience is searching for, and also important, what they are not searching for.

Next, we need to build upon this list of keywords to find high-value potential queries we should add to our list. There are several helpful tools for this, such as Keyword Explorer and Answer the Public.

a.) Go to the keyword research tool of your choice. In this example, I’ve used SEMRush. Notice how they provide data on organic and paid search for our subject area of “buy (a) bicycle.”

8_SEMRUSH.png

b.) Next, let’s see what exists in question form. For any given subject area, the customer could have myriad questions along the spectrum of motivation. This output comes from a query on Answer the Public for “buy a bicycle,” showing the what, when, where, why, and how questions that actually express motivational intent:

9_answer the publix.png

c.) These questions can now be sorted by degree of intent.

  • Is the searcher asking a fact-based question, looking for background information?
  • Are they farther along the process, looking at varieties of the product?
  • Are they approaching making a purchase decision, doing comparison shopping?
  • Are they ready to buy?

Knowing the stage of the process the customer is in can help tailor relevant suggestions, since we can identify core themes and sort by intent. My brilliant colleague Julie Dilleman likes to prepare a chart such as this one, to more effectively visualize the groupings:

10_Intentsort.png

d.) Use a research tool such as Bing Ads Intelligence or your demographic reports in Google Analytics to answer core questions related to these keywords, such as:

  • What’s the searcher age and gender breakdown for these queries?
  • Which device is dominating?
  • Which locations are most popular?

These insights are eminently actionable in terms of bid modifications, as well as in guiding us to create effective ad copy.


Step 3: Start optimizing campaigns

Goal: Review competitive landscape and plan campaign optimizations.

Estimated time needed: 75 min

Tools needed: PPC account, NAP listings, Schema markup

To get the lay of the land, we need to look at what shows up for these searches in the voice platforms with visual interfaces — i.e., the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and Digital Personal Assistants — to see what type of results show up. Does the search provide map listings and reviews? Where are they pulling the data from? Are ads showing?

a.) Run searches across multiple platforms. In my example, I am using Siri, Google app and Cortana on my desktop.

Near me-type searches:

12_NearME.png

These all had map listings in common — Apple maps, Google maps, and Bing maps, respectively.

Research-type queries:

13_Research.png

Siri got it wrong and led me to a store, while both Google and Bing Ads provided me with SERPs to answer my question.

Quick answer-type queries:

While Siri pulled up multiple results from a Bing search, both Google and Cortana found what they considered to be the most helpful answer and read them aloud to me while also providing the option for looking at additional results.

14_quickanswer.png

b.) Optimize your NAPs. Make sure you have listings that have an accurate name, address, phone number, and open hours on the top business listings such as Apple Maps, Google My Business, and Bing Places for Business.

15_NAP.png

c.) Ensure you have proper Schema markup on your site. The more information you can provide to the search engines, the more effectively they can rank and display your site. Be sure to add in:

  • Contact info
  • Reviews
  • Articles/Events/Content

d.) Optimize your PPC campaigns.

  1. Choose a small handful of voice search queries from your list across different intents.
  2. Add to new ad groups under existing campaigns. This helps you to take advantage of historical quality score benefits.
  3. Adjust bid modifiers based on your research on age, gender, and device.
  4. Adjust bids based on intent. For example, the following keywords demonstrate completely different levels of purchase intent:
    • Do I need a hybrid or mountain bike? – More research-based.
    • Who invented the bicycle? – Zero purchase intent. Add this as a negative keyword.
    • When does bike store XYZ open today? – High likelihood to purchase. Bid up.

Step 4: Be the best answer

Goal: Serve the right message at the right time in the right place.

Estimated time needed: 60 min

Tools needed: Creativity and Excel

Make sure you have the relevant ad for the query. Relevance is critical — the results must be useful or they won’t be used.

Do you have the right extensions to tailor toward the motivational intent noted above and the consumer’s ultimate goal? Make it easy for customers to get what they want without confusion.

Voice searches cover a variety of different intents, so it’s important to ensure the ad in your test will align well with the intent of the query. Let’s consider this example:

If the search query is “what’s the best waterproof digital camera under $500?” then your ad should only talk about digital cameras that are waterproof and around the $500 range. Doing this helps make it more seamless for the customer since the selections steps along the way are much reduced.

A few additional tips and ideas:

a.) Voice searches seem to frequently trigger product listing ads (PLAs) from the search engines, which makes sense since the images make them easier to sort through:

16a_Goog.png16b_Bing.png

If you can but haven’t already done so, look at setting up Shopping Campaigns within your PPC accounts, even just for your top-selling products.

b.) For results when the SERPs come up, be sure to use ad extensions to provide additional information to your target audience. Consider location, contact, conversion, and app information that is relevant. They make it easy for customers to find the info they need.

17_extensions.png

c.) Check citations and reviews to ensure you’re showing up at your best. If reviews are unfavorable, consider implementing reputation management efforts.

18_citations.png

d.) Work to earn more featured snippets, since the search engines often will read them out as the top answer. Dr. Pete has some excellent tips in this Moz article.

e.) Your helpful content will come to excellent use with voice search — share it as a PPC ad for the higher-funnel assumed voice queries to help your test.

19_SEOContent.png

f.) Video has been getting much attention — and rightly so! Given the increased engagement it can provide, as well as its ability to stand out in the SERPs, consider offering video content (as extensions or regular content) for relevant assumed voice queries.

20a_Goog.png20b_Bing.png


Step 5: Analyze. Rinse. Repeat.

Goal: Review performance and determine next steps.

Estimated time needed: 60 min

Tools needed: Analytics and Excel

Here’s where the power of PPC can shine. We can review reporting across multiple dimensions to gauge how the test is performing.

Quick note: It may take several weeks to gather enough data to run meaningful reports. Remember that voice search volume is small, though significant.

a.) First, determine the right KPIs. For example,

  • Lower-funnel content will, of course, have the most conversion-specific goals that we’re used to.
  • Research-type queries will need to be measured by micro-conversions and different KPIs such as form fills, video views, and leads generated.

b.) Pull the right reports. Helpful reports include:

  • The keyword performance report will show you the impressions, clicks, CTR, quality score, conversions, and much more about each individual keyword within your campaigns. Use the keyword report to find out which keywords are triggering your ads, generating clicks, and leading to conversions. You can also identify keywords that are not performing well to determine whether you want to delete them.
  • Ad performance reports show you the impressions, clicks, spend, and conversions for each ad. Use this report to help you determine which ads are leading to the most clicks and conversions, and which are not performing. Remember, having underperforming ads in your campaigns can pull down the quality of your campaign.
  • Filter by device and by demographics. This combination telling us what devices are dominating and who is converting can help us to adjust bids and create more effective ad copy.
  • Create a campaign report looking at your PLA performance. Do tweaks or major overhauls to close gaps versus your expectations.

c.) Determine where you can personalize further. AgilOne research indicates that “more than 70% of consumers expect a personalized experience with the brands they interact with.”

21_personalized.png

Carefully pairing the the most ad messaging with each assumed voice query is incredibly important here.


Let’s recap

Step 1. See what, if any, voice activity exists for you currently.

Step 2. Extrapolate. Theme. Sort.

Step 3. Start optimizing campaigns.

Step 4: Be the best answer.

Step 5. Analyze. Rinse. Repeat.

Pretty do-able, right?

It’s relatively simple and definitely affordable. Spend four or five hours completing your own voice search test. It can open up worlds of opportunity for your business. It’s best to start testing now while there’s no fire under us and we can test things out in a low-risk environment — an ideal way to get a leg-up over the competition. Bon appétit!

Have you tried some other tests to address voice search queries? Please do share in the comments below.

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Breaking: Exact Match Keywords No Longer Exact Match

It’s not unusual to have things get a little…confusing on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe your speech falls apart, your words fall out of order, and some of what you say might get misinterpreted. Well, Google announced changes late Friday afternoon to how they define keyword match types, and PPC advertisers can now expect this kind of behavior every day from their exact match keywords.

What’s Changing with Exact Match Keywords?

Advertisers have relied on match types since the dawn of AdWords to control how their keywords match out to a user’s search. A staple of any successful AdWords account was the use of exact match keywords, which would only serve an ad when a user’s search exactly matched the keyword. Exact match keywords prevented you from serving an ad if a user’s search didn’t exactly match your keyword. Effectively, exact match keywords gave you complete semantic control over what search terms your ads showed for – the search term had to include those words, only those words, and in that exact order.

Well, Google’s recent announcement changes all that. Now, exact match keywords can show when search queries share the same words of that keyword, but in different order. For instance, the exact match keyword [men’s dress shirt] is now eligible to show to the exact search term men’s dress shirt and to the not-exact search term dress shirt men’s.

 google adwords exact match keyword change

Google’s recent change also allows for exact match keywords to disregard the functional words within a user’s search query, including appropriate prepositions (such as “in,” “to,” “for”), conjunctions (such as “and,” “but,” and “or”), and articles (such as “a,” “an,” and “the”). For instance, the exact match keyword [jobs in united states] could potentially serve an ad to someone searching for “jobs in the united states” even though the keyword didn’t include the word “the.”

 adwords exact match keyword change examples

Google estimates that advertisers will see 3% more clicks from this type of “additional exact match” traffic. This isn’t the first time that Google’s changed the rules of exact match keywords. In 2014, Google began automatically including misspellings, plurals, and other close grammatical variants of exact and phrase match keywords. We saw that change increase the reach of those keywords by roughly 2%.

Who Benefits from the Change?

So Google just found a way to serve more ads from exact match keywords. What’s the upshot?

Some small advertisers may benefit from this change. Local advertisers uniquely benefit from the simplicity of this new exact match. For instance, let’s say you were advertising your new hotel in Boston’s Copley Square. Previously, the exact match keyword [Hotel Copley Square] would only show your ad to that exact search query Hotel Copley Square. You’d have to create multiple keywords or experiment with other match types to get more traffic. Now that exact match keyword [Hotel Copley Square] will attract a lot more relevant searches that you might not immediately consider such as Copley Square Hotel, Hotel in Copley Square, Hotel on Copley Square, Hotel near Copley Square, Hotel by Copley Square, etc.

If this change excites you and sounds like it will help your account serve to additional relevant searches, good! You might also benefit from modified broad match keywords, which effectively match out to a lot of the same traffic.

Who This Change Hurts

Semantics may not be the most exciting thing you’ll talk about with your CMO this week, but if word order matters to you—and in some cases it definitely does—your PPC accounts may be in for a rough transition.

Brand advertisers may notice their accounts struggle because of this change, particularly if their brand name includes a location or other common words. In direct comparison to the previous example, consider The Copley Square Hotel bidding on the exact keyword of its brand name [The Copley Square Hotel]. To them, someone searching for the exact term The Copley Square Hotel is highly qualified brand traffic whereas someone searching for the term Hotel by Copley Square is effectively a non-branded search as they’re competing with a dozen or so other brands.

Advertisers in niche industries should also be on high alert following this change, particularly if you’re using long-tail keywords or nouns as adjectives to qualify traffic. For instance, if you’re a bloodstock agent, you may be interested in people who are searching for the exact query race horse but may have obvious reasons against paying for traffic for the more popular search horse races. If you’re helping professionals learn how to become licensed in their field, you may be interested in paying for the exact query architect license but not the more popular (and expensive) query license architect.

The change hits close to home for paid search marketers too. Here at Wordstream, we’re proud to admit that we’ve used paid marketing to recruit top talent. Because of this change though, the exact match keyword [paid search jobs] now also matches out to considerably more searches, and the reordered queries paid job search or search paid jobs attract a lot more traffic and are much less likely to match our open positions.

What Should We Do to Prepare for These Changes?

Google’s changes to exact match keywords don’t all go into effect immediately. Per their announcement, the change will be rolled out to English and Spanish keywords over the following months, with other languages to follow throughout 2017. Here’s what you need to do before Google changes your exact match keywords:

Review your top exact match keywords

review your adwords exact match keywords 

Look at your most popular exact match keywords. Are they all one word or are they more than one word? If your keywords include multiple words, write down each word of that keyword and then write out every permutation of those words in different orders. If any of those re-ordered search terms could potentially be irrelevant to your business, you may be in trouble.

Preemptively add new negative keywords

Adding new negative keywords is an important routine for every PPC manager. If after reviewing your exact match keywords you discover that they’ll start serving traffic to irrelevant reordered search terms, you should preemptively add that search term as a negative keyword to prevent you from losing precious budget on that search term soon.

Consider adding other match types

adwords phrase match keywords 

If the idea of losing control over word order or not being able to control the addition or removal of function keywords sounds like a nightmare for you, consider relying more heavily on phrase match keywords. Google has confirmed that phrase match keywords will not be affected by this change.

 broad match modified keyword adwords

Conversely, if you’re particularly excited about this change making your keyword management easier, consider adding more modified broad match keywords to your account. Modified broad match keywords enjoy many of these same benefits such as disregarding word order or the addition of new words in a search query.

Remove any newly duplicate keywords

If you’ve previously included exact match keywords in different word orders, such as [Boston Hotels] and [Hotels Boston], or included keywords with prepositions or other functional words such as [Hotels in Boston], this change effectively eliminates those differences between those keywords. Consequently, all those keywords would now be competing in the same auctions within your account. Duplicate keywords not only make it harder to manage an account, but can also drive up your own CPCs for each keyword, so be sure to remove them ASAP!

Very few advertisers appear to be celebrating Google’s recent announcement. Many are upset over losing the semantic control over their search ads they’ve had for so long. Some people have argued that exact match keywords are now dead. I may not fully agree there, but they are most certainly no longer exact match. 

About the author

Mark is a Senior Data Scientist at WordStream with a background in SEM, SEO, and Statistical Modeling. He was named the 14th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2016 by PPC Hero. You can follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +.

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