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How Google AdWords (PPC) Does and Doesn’t Affect Organic Results – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

It’s common industry knowledge that PPC can have an effect on our organic results. But what effect is that, exactly, and how does it work? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers the ways paid ads influence organic results — and one very important way it doesn’t.

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How Google AdWords does and doesn't affect Organic Results

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about AdWords and how PPC, paid search results can potentially impact organic results.
Now let’s be really clear. As a rule…

Paid DOES NOT DIRECTLY affect organic rankings

So many of you have probably seen the conspiracy theories out there of, “Oh, we started spending a lot on Goolge AdWords, and then our organic results went up.” Or, “Hey, we’re spending a lot with Google, but our competitor is spending even more. That must be why they’re ranking better in the organic results.” None of that is true. So there’s a bunch of protections in place. They have a real wall at Google between the paid side and the organic side. The organic folks, the engineers, the product managers, the program managers, all of the people who work on those organic ranking results on the Search Quality team, they absolutely will not let paid directly impact how they rank or whether they rank a site or page in the organic results.

However:

But there are a lot of indirect things that Google doesn’t control entirely that cause paid and organic to have an intersection, and that’s what I want to talk about today and make clear.

A. Searchers who see an ad may be more likely to click and organic listing.

Searchers who see an ad — and we’ve seen studies on this, including a notable one from Google years ago — may be more likely to click on an organic listing, or they may be more likely if they see a high ranking organic listing for the same ad to click that ad. For example, let’s say I’m running Seattle Whale Tours, and I search for whale watching while I’m in town. I see an ad for Seattle Whale Tours, and then I see an organic result. It could be the case, let’s say that my normal click-through rate, if there was only the ad, was one, and my normal click-through rate if I only saw the organic listing was one. Let’s imagine this equation: 1 plus 1 is actually going to equal something like 2.2. It’s going to be a little bit higher, because seeing these two together biases you, biases searchers to generally be more likely to click these than they otherwise would independent of one another. This is why many people will bid on their brand ads.

Now, you might say, “Gosh, that’s a really expensive way to go for 0.2 or even lower in some cases.” I agree with you. I don’t always endorse, and I know many SEOs and paid search folks who don’t always endorse bidding on branded terms, but it can work.

B. Searchers who’ve been previously exposed to a site/brand via ads may be more likely to click>engage>convert.

Searchers who have been previously exposed to a particular brand through paid search may be more likely in the future to click and engage on the organic content. Remember, a higher click-through rate, a higher engagement rate can lead to a higher ranking. So if you see that many people have searched in the past, they’ve clicked on a paid ad, and then later in the organic results they see that same brand ranking, they might be more likely and more inclined to click it, more inclined to engage with it, more inclined actually to convert on that page, to click that Buy button generally because the brand association is stronger. If it’s the first time you’ve ever heard of a new brand, a new company, a new website, you are less likely to click, less likely to engage, less likely to buy, which is why some paid exposure prior to organic exposure can be good, even for the organic exposure.

C. Paid results do strongly impact organic click-through rate, especially in certain queries.

Across the board, what we’ve seen is that paid searches on average, in all of Google, gets between 2% and 3% of all clicks, of all searches result in a paid click. Organic, it’s something between about 47% and 57% of all searches result in an organic click. But remember there are many searches where there are no paid clicks, and there are many searches where paid gets a ton of traffic. If you haven’t seen it yet, there was a blog post from Moz last week, from the folks at Wayfair, and they talked about how incredibly their SERP click-through rates have changed because of the appearance of ads.

So, for example, I search for dining room table lighting, and you can see on your mobile or on desktop how Google has these rich image ads, and you can sort of select different ones. I want to see all lighting. I want to see black lighting. I want to see chrome lighting. Then there are ads below that, the normal paid text ads, and then way, way down here, there are the organic results.

So this is probably taking up between 25% and 50% of all the clicks to this page are going to the paid search results, biasing the click-through rate massively, which means if you bid in certain cases, you may find that you will actually change the click-through rate curve for the entire SERP and change that click-through rate opportunity for the keyword.

D. Paid ad clicks may lead to increased links, mentions, coverage, sharing, etc. that can boost organic rankings.

So paid ad clicks may lead to other things. If someone clicks on a paid ad, they might get to that site, and then they might decide to link to it, to mention that brand somewhere else, to provide media coverage or social media coverage, to do sharing of some kind. All of those things can — some of them directly, some of them indirectly — boost rankings. So it is often the case that when you grow the engagement, the traffic of a website overall, especially if that website is providing a compelling experience that someone might want to write about, share, cover, or amplify in some way, that can boost the rankings, and we do see this sometimes, especially for queries that have a strong overlap in terms of their content, value, and usefulness, and they’re not just purely commercial in intent.

E. Bidding on search queries can affect the boarder market around those searches by shifting searcher demand, incentivizing (or de-incentivizing) content creation, etc.

Last one, and this is a little subtler and more difficult to understand, but basically by bidding on paid search results, you sort of change the market. You affect the market for how people think about content creation there, for how they think about monetization, for how they think about the value of those queries.

A few years ago, there was no one bidding on and no one interested in the market around insurance discounts as they relate to fitness levels. Then a bunch of companies, insurance companies and fitness tracking companies and all these other folks started getting into this world, and then they started bidding on it, and they created sort of a value chain and a monetization method. Then you saw more competition. You saw more brands entering this space. You saw more affiliates entering. So the organic SERPs themselves became more competitive with the entry of paid, and this happens very often in markets that were under or unmonetized and then become more monetized through paid advertising, through products, through offerings.

So be careful. Sometimes when you start bidding in a space that previously no one was bidding in, no was buying paid ads in, you can invite a lot of new and interesting competition into the search results that can change the whole dynamic of how the search query space works in your sector.

All right, everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to your thoughts in the comments, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition. Take care.

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Attention Accountants: Your Impressions Are About to Skyrocket

Have you heard the news? There are some drastic tax code changes on the horizon.

The GOP plan for tax overhaul cleared the House on Thursday. Regardless of your political leanings, that’s big news for your AdWords account! If you’re a CPA (Certified Personal Accountant), or an agency running accounts for accountants, you’re going to want to prepare for the impending increase in impressions and subsequent clicks. Otherwise, you risk wasting a ton of your budget on clicks that represent absolutely no value to your business.  

Here’s a quick rundown on what’s changing, and how you can alter your AdWords account to hedge against wasted spend, impending doom, etc.

What’s Changing?

Who knows!? And that’s the point.

As news, both real and fake, permeates the internet, Americans will enter panic mode and begin searching for answers to their tax-related questions. Here’s a screenshot I took this morning:

Tax Reform Bill

Look at those articles, those pivots to video, those clickbaity headlines.

Do you know what searchers looking for information as to whether they should weep or cheer aren’t looking for? A CPA.

How Will The Tax Reform Bill Impact Your AdWords Account?

Even though you probably aren’t bidding on “tax reform bill,” you’re not out of the woods.

In the coming days, folks across the country will make millions of tax-related search queries.

From 3 am to 11 am on Nov. 16th, search interest in “tax reform” rose 84%.

Tax Reform Bill Trends

Tax Reform Bill 2

Images via Google Trends

If you’re bidding on any broad, broad match modified, or phrase match keywords that contain the word “tax” (which seems likely since, you know, you’re an accountant) and you aren’t explicitly negating the words “reform” and “bill,” you’re in for a world of hurt.

And by hurt, I mean a massive uptick in impressions. Which will inevitably lead to a whole mess of unqualified clicks.

Guess what? You still have to pay for those clicks.

What Can You Do?

Add. Account. Level. Negative. Keywords.

AdWords allows advertisers to create lists of negative keywords that can be applied at the campaign level. Luxury advertisers use this technique to stop their ads from being served for queries that contain modifiers like “discount,” “sale,” or, god forbid, “free.”

Here, I’m going to show you how accountants can use negative keyword lists to hedge against tax reform-related queries cannibalizing their AdWords budgets.

Enter the new AdWords interface and click the helpful little wrench at the top of the screen. From there, click the “Negative keyword lists” option under the “Shared Library” menu.

Tax Reform Bill Lists

Here, simply click the giant blue circle bearing a tiny white plus sign.

 Tax Reform Bill Negative Keywords

List creation time!

Name your new list of negative keywords something like “Tax Reform Bill” (this will make it easy for you to find it among other lists of negative keywords or remember what you’ve included here so that you can remove it at a later date if need be). In the “Add negative keywords” box, add “reform” and “bill.”

^ You see how I formatted those? Make ‘em look just like that. Adding the words “reform” and “bill” as negative phrase match keywords will ensure that any query containing either word will not trigger one of your targeted keywords. Whatever you do, do not add the word “tax.” Please.

 Tax Reform Bill Negative Keywords

Save your list of keywords and leave this menu. Navigate over to the keywords tab (on the vertical bar to the left of your interface) and select the “Negative Keywords” header.

Tax Reform Bill Add

Use the radio buttons to select the “Use negative keyword list” option, add all of your campaigns in the “Add to” section, and, finally, use the search field (depicted at the bottom of that screenshot you see above) to find your “Tax Reform Bill” negative keyword list.

And you’re done. Congratulations: you just saved your AdWords budget!

Final Thoughts

Adding specific, account-level negative keywords is a quick fix for a problem that could completely derail your AdWords account.

Leave your account untouched, and you run the risk of paying to put your ads in front of frenzied searchers who either won’t click them (which will destroy your expected click-through rate and, as a result, diminish your Quality Scores) or, worse, will click but with zero intention of hiring you to help them out come April.

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How to Make Your Website More Secure (So Google Doesn’t Punish You)

Posted by lkolowich

Thanks to the buzz around website hacking and personal data theft in recent years, most Internet users are aware that their sensitive information is at risk every time they surf the web.

And yet, although the personal data of their visitors and customers is at risk, many businesses still aren’t making website security a priority.

Enter Google.

The folks over at Google are known for paving the way for Internet behavior. Last month, they took a monumental step forward in helping protect people from getting their personal data hacked. The update they released to their popular Chrome browser now warns users if a website is not secure – right inside that user’s browser.

While this change is meant to help protect users’ personal data, it’s also a big kick in the pants for businesses to get moving on making their websites more secure.

Google’s Chrome update: What you need to know

On October 17, 2017, Google’s latest Chrome update (version 62) began flagging websites and webpages that contain a form but don’t have a basic security feature called SSL. SSL, which stands for “Secure Sockets Layer,” is the standard technology that ensures all the data that passes between a web server and a browser – passwords, credit card information, and other personal data – stays private and ensures protection against hackers.

In Chrome, sites lacking SSL are now marked with the warning “Not Secure” in eye-catching red, right inside the URL bar:

imdb-not-secure.gif

Google started doing this back in January 2017 for pages that asked for sensitive information, like credit cards. The update released in October expands the warning to all websites that have a form, even if it’s just one field that asks for something like an email address.

What’s the impact on businesses?

Because Chrome has 47% of market share, this change is likely noticed by millions of people using Chrome. And get this: 82% of respondents to a recent consumer survey said they would leave a site that is not secure, according to HubSpot Research.

In other words, if your business’ website isn’t secured with SSL, then more than 8 out of 10 Chrome users said they would leave your website.

Ouch.

What’s more, Google has publically stated that SSL is now a ranking signal in Google’s search algorithm. This means that a website with SSL enabled may outrank another site without SSL.

That’s exactly why anyone who owns or operates a website should start taking the steps to secure their website with an SSL certificate, in addition to a few other security measures. Businesses that don’t take care to protect visitors’ information might see significant issues, garner unwanted attention, and dilute customer trust.

“In my opinion, I think security is undervalued by a lot of marketers,” says Jeffrey Vocell, my colleague at HubSpot and go-to website guru. “Almost daily, we hear news about a new hacking incident or about personal data that has been compromised. The saying ‘there’s no such thing as bad press’ clearly isn’t true here; or, at the very least, the marketer that believes it has never had to live with the fallout of a data breach.”

With Google’s Chrome update, those visitors will see a warning right inside their browsers – even before they’ve entered any information. This means businesses face the potential of losing website visitors’ trust, regardless of whether a cybersecurity incident has actually occurred.

If you’re ready to join the movement toward a more secure web, the first step is to see whether your website currently has an SSL certificate.

Do you know whether your site has SSL?

There are a few ways to tell whether your website (or any website) has SSL.

If you don’t use Google Chrome:

All you have to do is look at a website’s URL once you’ve entered it into the URL bar. Does it contain “https://” with that added “s,” or does it contain “http://” without an “s”? Websites that have SSL contain that extra “s.” You can also enter any URL into this SSL Checker from HubSpot and it’ll tell you whether it’s secure without having to actually visit that site.

If you do have Chrome:

It’s easy to see whether a website is secured with an SSL certificate, thanks to the recent update. After entering a URL into the URL bar, you’ll see the red “Not Secure” warning next to websites that aren’t certified with SSL:

star-wars-not-secure.png

For websites that are certified with SSL, you’ll see “Secure” in green, alongside a padlock icon:

facebook-secure.png

You can click on the padlock to read more about the website and the company that provided the SSL certificate.

Using one of the methods above, go ahead and check to see if your business’ website is secure.

Yes, it does have SSL! Woohoo!

Your site visitors already feel better about browsing and entering sensitive information into your website. You’re not quite done, though – there’s still more you can do to make your website even more secure. We’ll get to that in a second.

Shoot, it doesn’t have SSL yet.

You’re not alone – even a few well-known sites, like IMDB and StarWars.com, weren’t ready for Google’s update. But it’s time to knock on your webmasters’ doors and have them follow the steps outlined below.

How to make your website more secure

Ready to protect your visitors from data theft and get rid of that big, red warning signal staring every Chrome user in the face in the process? Below, you’ll find instructions and resources to help you secure your website and reduce the chances of getting hacked.

Securing your site with SSL

The first step is to determine which type of certificate you need – and how many. You might need different SSL certificates if you host content on multiple platforms, such as separate domains or subdomains.

As for cost, an SSL certificate will cost you anywhere from nothing (Let’s Encrypt offers free SSL certificates) to a few hundred dollars per month. It usually averages around $50 per month per domain. Some CMS providers (like HubSpot) have SSL included, so check with them before making any moves.

(Read this post for more detailed instructions and considerations for SSL.)

Securing your site with additional measures

Even if you already have SSL, there are four other things you can do to make your website significantly more secure, according to Vocell.

1) Update any plugins or extensions/apps you use on your site.

Hackers look for security vulnerabilities in old versions of plugins, so it’s better to take on the challenges of keeping your plugins updated than make yourself an easy target.

2) Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network).

One trick hackers use to take down websites is through a DDoS attack. A DDoS attack is when a hacker floods your server with traffic until it stops responding altogether, at which point the hacker can gain access to sensitive data stored in your CMS. A CDN will detect traffic increases and scale up to handle it, preventing a DDoS attack from debilitating your site.

3) Make sure your CDN has data centers in multiple locations.

That way, if something goes awry with one server, your website won’t stop working all of a sudden, leaving it vulnerable to attack.

4) Use a password manager.

One simple way of protecting against cyberattacks is by using a password manager – or, at the very least, using a secure password. A secure password contains upper and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers.

Suffering a hack is a frustrating experience for users and businesses alike. I hope this article inspires you to double down on your website security. With SSL and the other security measures outlined in this post, you’ll help protect your visitors and your business, and make visitors feel safe browsing and entering information on your site.

Does your website have SSL enabled? What tips do you have for making your website more secure? Tell us about your experiences and ideas in the comments.

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9 Ways to Lower Your Facebook Ad Costs

Facebook is a compelling platform for advertisers for many reasons, including powerful targeting options and affordable costs, among others.

Your Facebook ad costs, of course, will vary based on a number of factors, including your audience, industry, goals, and optimization settings.

Facebook ad costs cost per action graph

Average cost per action on Facebook

However, Dan Rohsler, social account manager at digital agency Power Digital Marketing, said it is common to expect cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) to vary between $5 and $10 and cost per click (CPC) to come in below $2.

Likewise, Kevin Miller, director of growth at home-buying app Open Listings, said a safe average cost per click on Facebook for most businesses is $1.50. And Peter Messmer, director of growth and strategy at conversion optimization platform AddShoppers, said CPC costs for retargeting are typically in the $0.75 to $1.25 range, with cost per acquisition (CPA) costs for retargeting in the $5 to $10 range.

These costs are competitive and well within reach of smaller businesses.

With that in mind, here’s a look at nine actionable steps your brand can take to save money on Facebook ads and come in below average.

1. Target a more specific audience.

Per Ben Cook, marketing director of social media agency JC Social Media, advertisers should be as precise with their criteria as possible when specifying audiences.

“By narrowing your target audience, you can drastically reduce the competition from other brands running ads to a similar audience,” he said. “Remember you are in a bidding war with hundreds of other brands – only bid on who you really want to reach.”

Cook said this means marketers increase the odds that their promoted content will resonate closely with target individuals.

“It means you can tailor ads to appeal to people in a specific demographic, geographical area and set of interests, giving you the best chance of gaining clicks and generating traction,” he added.

Facebook ad costs targeting parameters

That was the case with children’s book brand Clever Tykes, which worked with JC Social Media to target mothers of children ages six to nine and who were also self-employed or business owners, rather than simply targeting parents with children ages six to nine. (Cook co-founded Clever Tykes.)

“When targeting a broader audience, we achieved good reach metrics, but click-through rates and conversion rates were low,” Cook said. “It was only once we refined the targeted audience to those who were perfect for the brand did conversions improve. When the content, tone of voice, and actual product resonated with the target audience, all of the key metrics improved.”

That’s likely in part because the inventory is low and ad cost is high when you go after an audience that many other advertisers want, said Timothy Masek, senior growth strategist at growth marketing agency Ladder Digital.

“If instead you target a segment where there are less advertisers competing for ad space – for example, in international markets – then your ad cost will be cheaper,” he added.

Masek also noted that Facebook charges more or less depending on the relevancy of your ads.

Facebook ad costs relevance score concept

“In an effort to reward advertisers for adding value to the Facebook user, Facebook will decrease your [ad] cost if your content is relevant to your target segment,” he said. “This relevance is quantified by Facebook’s quality score.” 

2. Use bid caps.

Katy Lowe, social media executive at digital marketing agency Passion Digital, on the other hand, said the more granular you go with audience targeting, the more expensive results tend to be, as Facebook is offering a tool to reach your most valuable audience, and it’s in its own interest to charge more.

Lowe said Passion Digital manages this for its clients by using rules and bid caps, especially for app installs, based on the lifetime value of an individual lead or sale.

3. Look for audience overlap.

In addition, Phillip Reinhardt, CEO and cofounder of digital marketing agency PBJ Marketing, said to use the Facebook Audience Overlap tool to see if audiences are overlapping significantly – and, if they are, to choose the audience that is most relevant to your marketing goals.

“If they have some overlaps, mutually exclude those audiences to avoid bidding against yourself,” he added.

This is what PBJ Marketing did for the University of Maryland’s Master of Professional Studies in Technology Entrepreneurship program, which seeks part-time students and was targeting entrepreneurs and startup founders in the US.

“After creating two separate audiences for people living in the United States interested in ‘Entrepreneurship’ and ‘Startup Company,’ we quickly ran an audience overlap check on Facebook,” Reinhardt said.

Facebook ad costs audience overlap tool

“As we can see, nearly 50% of the ‘Startup Company’ audience is also interested in ‘Entrepreneurship,’” he said. “If we set up a campaign targeting these two audiences in separate ad sets without any audience exclusion and pay – let us suppose – $0.10 per click, we could waste up to $220,050 in the ad auction by bidding against ourselves.”

Instead, he excluded the interest in entrepreneurship in the startup company audience and vice versa, and ran the overlap tool again and got 0%.

Facebook ad costs audience overlap excluded results

This is important because if there is a high percentage of overlap, you are essentially bidding against yourself in the Facebook auction in order to serve ads to the same people.

“You are not only advertising to the same person more than once, but you’re also paying more to serve ads to that person because of internal competition,” Reinhardt said.

In addition, having low – or no – overlap also allows you to better A/B test the different audiences you are using and customize your bids based on each audience’s ROI.

“For low intention audiences, we bid lower,” Reinhardt said. “For remarketing audiences or converters, we bid higher. This way, we can make sure we are not wasting money on people who are not as interested in us.”

As for those who are interested in both, Reinhardt said to create a dedicated audience that satisfies both criteria:

Facebook ad costs detailed targeting options

“Now if we run the audience overview tool one last time for all three audiences, we will have a perfectly segmented group of audiences,” he added.

Facebook ad costs selected audiences overlap tool

4. Set up your Facebook Pixel.

Morgan McGregor, photography and online content specialist at social media marketing firm Hyped, said her biggest tip is to set up your Facebook Pixel, which is a few lines of code you insert into your website to track conversions and access data about your clients.

“It can not only track who your clients and visitors are right down to their Facebook page, but it also collects data such as: What are they interested in? Where do they live? How many kids do they have? How much money do they earn? What things have they bought recently? What is their average purchase price? Are they going on holiday soon?” McGregor said.

It can get very detailed, which means marketers are able to target people who are in a position to start purchasing their products.

“You can not only retarget people who have gone on your website, you can even target down to what actions they’ve taken, such as people who added to their cart but never completed their purchases,” she said.

Setting up a Facebook Pixel also means brands can track which ads are performing best and yield more sales, which means they can really start putting money where it counts.

“It also allows you to create dynamic sales funnels [for Top Of Funnel, Middle Of Funnel and Bottom Of Funnel] that can last forever and bring you sales while you sleep – that’s the lifestyle we all dream of,” McGregor added.

Facebook ad costs dynamic sales funnels

5. Test different creative.

Cook also recommended testing your Facebook creative to see which executions resonate most.

“Facebook ad sets enable you to run multiple ads concurrently with the same budget,” he said. “Even if you know your audience inside out, tiny nuances in the image chosen, the copy and the call to action can make a large difference in the results over time.”

He continued: “By using different combinations of text and images, you’ll be able to spot trends in the adverts’ performances. Take the best elements from the better performing ads and drop the worst. This data-driven ad crafting is the best way to get the best value from your ads budget.”

Facebook Ads coach Monica Louie said she typically starts with testing the image in the Facebook ad, followed by headline and ad copy.

“It’s fascinating how just changing the image can have a dramatic effect on the costs,” she said. “All of these are done in this specific order to keep costs down and increase conversions.”

Even small improvements in click-through rate and conversion rate can make a huge difference to ROI in the long term. The following ad sets are from a B2B client whose CPC JC Social Media reduced by using this testing method.

Facebook ad costs per link chart

High cost per click

Facebook ad costs low cost per click

Low cost per click

6. Tap into retargeting segments.

Messmer highly recommended segmenting website visitors by engagement levels to create better retargeting segments in Facebook.

“We use a custom retargeting algorithm that automatically sorts your website visitors into low, medium and high engagement groups, and that audience pushes to any ad network,” he added.

Facebook ad costs retargeting audience segments

Jason Parks, president of digital marketing agency The Media Captain, also said he runs dynamic retargeting and retargeting advertisements to generate sales at a cheap cost per acquisition on Facebook.

Check out WordStream’s complete guide to Facebook remarketing here.

7. Target fans separately.

In addition, Reinhardt said to segment consumers who are connected to your Facebook page and save them as an independent fan audience and build dedicated campaigns for them. Meanwhile, also exclude existing Facebook fans in other audiences. The same could be done for website visitors and converters.

That’s because Facebook fans are typically the best-performing audiences in terms of engagement rate and conversion rate, he said.

Facebook ad costs fan stats

“We want to ensure that all the Facebook fans are reached and the best way to do it is to create a separate audience for Facebook fans,” he added.

For example, for a nonprofit client, Reinhardt said he ran a fundraising campaign and the segmented Facebook fan audience had a cost per conversion of $1.16 and a ROAS of $56.58. The interest targeting excluding Facebook fans audience PBJ Marketing used, on the other hand, had a cost per conversion of $98.45 and a ROAS of $2.22.

“During the final stages of the fundraising campaign, we quickly lowered the daily budget and bids for the interest targeting and prioritized on high return audiences,” he said. “A perfectly segmented account allows us to clearly identify where the opportunity is and spend our client’s money on the best audiences.”

8. Refresh your creative.

Miller said to refresh your Facebook ad creative every two weeks to avoid ad fatigue.

Jomel Alos, online PR lead and content marketing strategist at digital marketing company Spiralytics, agreed.

“One of the most common problems we see with our clients before they hire us is their failure to refresh their ad visuals,” Alos said. “Once they see that an ad is performing they don’t monitor its frequency anymore, which results in ad fatigue, or the point when the audience is already too familiar with the ad.” This causes ad performance to drop off precipitously.

Alos pointed to a case study with what he called a healthy campaign with consistent CPC/CTR/CR and CPL for the first six days. On day seven, however, CPC and CPL started to increase, as everyone targeted had seen the ad four times on average. And as fewer users click on your ad, Facebook starts to lose money and must decide whether to stop showing your ad or to charge you more, Spiralytics noted in a blog post.

To prevent this, advertisers should report on ad-level conversion metrics daily. And, Spiralytics said, after a few ads run, you’ll get a feel for your range of impressions/person for where the ad will fatigue, and you can indicate this metric in your reports and pause ads as they approach the fatigue point.

9. Take advantage of video.

Damon Gochneaur, founder and managing partner of digital marketing firm Aspiro Agency, said his #1 tip for reducing the cost of advertising on Facebook is to use video anywhere you can.

“Video is on average 10% of the cost of carousel or single image ads,” he said. “We pay on average anywhere from $0.15 to $0.50 per click on video campaigns, with single image ads in the $2.00 and higher CPC, for the same audience.”

Lowe agreed: Facebook values video content in ads because it gives videos bigger impression share and therefore cheaper CPC.

“For smaller clients without budgets to produce dedicated video ads for campaigns, we often use Facebook’s own in-platform tools to create slideshows of product or service imagery, which can be downloaded as video content in the ideal spec for Facebook video ads,” she added.

For more help, check out our comprehensive guide to online advertising costs.

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How to Build the Right Content Marketing Strategy for SEO Growth

Posted by AlliBerry3

Delivering content that best serves the needs of users is certainly top-of-mind for many SEOs since the Hummingbird algorithm update and subsequent buzz around RankBrain. It sounds easy enough in theory, but what does that actually mean in practice? Many SEOs believe that they’re already doing this by driving their content strategy by virtue of keyword research alone.

The problem with solely using keywords to drive your content strategy is that not all of your audience’s content needs are captured in search. Ask your nearest customer service representative what questions they answer every day; I can guarantee that you won’t find all of those questions with search volume in a keyword research tool.

Keyword research can also tempt you to develop content that your brand really shouldn’t be creating because you don’t have anything unique to say about it. Sure, you could end up increasing organic traffic, but are those going to be converting customers?

Moving away from a keyword-first-driven content strategy and into an audience-centric one will put you in a better place for creating SEO content that converts. Don’t get me wrong — there’s still an important place for keyword research. But it belongs later in the process, after you’ve performed a deep dive into your audience and your own brand expertise.

This is an approach that the best content marketers excel at. And it’s something that SEOs can utilize, too, as they strive to provide more relevant and higher-quality content for your target audiences.


How is an audience-focused content strategy different from a keyword-focused content strategy?

A content marketing strategy starts with the target audience and dives deeper into understanding your brand’s expertise and unique value proposition. Keyword research is great at uncovering how people talk about topics relevant to your brand, but it is limiting when it comes to audience understanding.

Think about one of your prospective customer’s journey to conversion. Is search the only channel they utilize to get information? If you are collecting lead information or serving up remarketing ads, hopefully not. So, why should your audience understanding be limited to keyword research?

A content strategy is a holistic plan that tackles questions like:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What are their pain points and needs?
  • What types of content do these people want to consume?
  • Where are they currently having conversations (online or offline)
  • What unique expertise does our brand offer?
  • How can we match our expertise to our audience’s needs?

Finding your unique content angle

The key to connecting with your audience is to develop your unique content angle that finds intersections between what your brand’s expertise is in and your audience’s pain points. The Content Marketing Institute refers to this as a “content tilt” because it involves taking a larger topic and tilting it in your own way. Defining your brand’s expertise can be more difficult than it appears on the surface.

It isn’t uncommon for brands to say their product is what makes them unique, but if there is a competitor out there with the same general product, it’s not unique. What makes your organization different from competitors?

Here’s an example

When I worked for Kaplan Financial Education, a professional licensing and exam prep provider brand under Kaplan Professional, finding our tilt was a real challenge. Kaplan Financial Education has a lot of product lines all within financial services, but the audience for each is different. We needed a tilt that worked for the entire Career Corner content hub we were creating. What we realized is that our core audience all has a big pain point in common: entering the financial services industry either through insurance or securities (selling stocks and bonds) has low barriers to entry and high turnover. Everyone entering that job market needs to know how to not only pass their licensing exam(s), but also be successful as professionals too, both in the early years and also in the years to come.

Kaplan Financial Education’s biggest content competitors create very factual content — they’re websites like Investopedia, Wikipedia, and governing bodies like FINRA and state government departments. But Kaplan Financial Education has something going for it that its competitors do not: a huge network of students. There are other licensing exam prep providers that compete with Kaplan Financial Education, but none that cover the same breadth of exams and continuing education. It’s the only brand in that industry that provides licensing education as individuals progress through their financial careers. “From hire to retire,” as the marketers say.

We made our content tone more conversational and solicited input from our huge student and instructor network to help new professionals be more successful. We also used their quotes and insights to drive content creation and make it more relatable and personalized. All of our content tied back to helping financial professionals be successful — either as they’re getting licensed or beyond — and rather than simply telling people what to do, we leveraged content to allow our current students and instructors to teach our prospective students.

You may be thinking… so I can only write content that fits in this tilt? Isn’t that limiting?

As SEOs, it can be really hard to let go of some keyword opportunities that exist if they don’t fit the content strategy. And it’s true that there are probably some keywords out there you could create content for and increase your organic traffic. But if they don’t fit with your target audience’s needs and your brand’s expertise, will it be the kind of traffic that’s going to convert? Likely not. Certainly not enough to spend resources on content creation and to distract yourself from your larger strategy objective.


How to build your content strategy

1. Set your goals.

Start at the end. What is you are ultimately trying to accomplish? Do you want to increase leads by a certain percentage? Do you want to drive a certain number increase in sales? Are you trying to drive subscribers to a newsletter? Document these goals first. This will help you figure out what type of content you want to create and what the calls-to-action should be.

If you’re a business like Kaplan and leads are your ultimate goal, a proven strategy is to create ungated content that provides good insights, but leaves room for a deeper dive. Have your calls-to-action point to a gated piece of content requiring some form of contact information that goes into more depth.

A business like a car dealership is going to have a primary goal of getting people into their dealership to buy a car. Their content doesn’t necessarily need to be gated, but it should have a local spin and speak to common questions people have about the car buying process, as well as show the human elements that make the dealership unique to establish trust and show how customers will be treated. Trust is especially important in that industry because they have to combat the used car salesman stereotype.

2. Identify your primary audience and their pain points.

The next step is to identify who you’re targeting with your content. There are a lot of people at your disposal to help you with this part of the process. Within your organization, consider talking to these teams:

  • Customer Service
  • Sales
  • Technical Support
  • Product Management
  • Product Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing

These are often the people who interact the most with customers. Find out what your audience is struggling with and what content could be created to help answer their questions. You can also do some of this research on your own by searching forums and social media. Subreddits within Reddit related to your topic can be a goldmine. Other times there are active, related groups on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. If you’ve ever been to the MozCon Facebook group, you know how much content could be created answering common questions people have related to SEO.

3. Determine your brand’s unique expertise.

Again, dig deeper and figure out what makes your brand truly unique. It likely isn’t the product itself. Think about who your subject matter experts are and how they contribute to the organization. Think about how your products are developed.

Even expertise that may seem boring on the surface can be extremely valuable. I’ve seen Marcus Sheridan speak a couple of times and he has one of the most compelling success stories I’ve ever heard about not being afraid to get too niche with expertise. He had a struggling swimming pool installation business until he started blogging. He knew his expertise was in pools — buying fiberglass pools, specifically. He answered every question he could think of related to that buying process and became the world thought leader on fiberglass pools. Is it a glamorous topic? No. But, it’s helpful to the exact audience he wanted to reach. There aren’t hundreds of thousands of people searching for fiberglass pool information online, but the ones that are searching are the ones he wanted to capture. And he did.

4. Figure out your content tilt.

Now put your answers for #2 and #3 together and figure out what your unique content angle will look like.

5. Develop a list of potential content topics based on your content tilt.

It’s time to brainstorm topics. Now that you know your content tilt, it’s a lot easier to come up with topics your brand should be creating content about. Plus, they’re topics you know your audience cares about! This is a good step to get other people involved from around your organization, from departments like sales, product management, and customer service. Just make sure your content tilt is clear to them prior to the brainstorm to ensure you don’t get off-course.

6. Conduct keyword research.

Now that you’ve got a list of good content topics, it’s time to really dive into long-tail keyword research and figure out the best keyword targets around the topics.

There are plenty of good tools out there to help you with this. Here are a few of my go-tos:

  • Moz Keyword Explorer (freemium): If you have it, it’s a great tool for uncovering keywords as questions, looking at the keyword competitive landscape, and finding other related keywords to your topic.
  • Keywordtool.io (free): One of the only keyword discovery tools out there that will give you keyword research by search engine. If you are looking for YouTube or App Store keywords, for instance, this is a great idea generation tool.
  • Ubersuggest.io (free): Type in one keyword and Ubersuggest will give you a plethora of other ideas organized in a list alphabetically or in a word cloud.

7. Create an editorial calendar.

Based on your keyword research findings, develop an editorial calendar for your content. Make sure to include what your keyword target(s) are so if you have someone else developing the content, they know what is important to include in it.

Here are a couple resources to check out for getting started:

8. Determine how to measure success.

Once you know what content you’re going to create, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll measure success. Continuing on with the Kaplan example, lead generation was our focus. So, we focused our efforts on measuring leads to our gated content and conversions of those leads to sales over a certain time period. We also measured organic entrances to our ungated content. If our organic entrances were growing (or not growing) disproportionate to our leads, then we’d take deeper dives into what individual pieces of content were converting well and what pieces were not, then make tweaks accordingly.

9. Create content!

Now that all the pieces are there, it’s time to do the creation work. This is the fun part! With your content tilt in mind and your keyword research completed, gather the information or research you need and outline what you want the content to look like.

Take this straightforward article called How to Get Your Series 7 License as an example. To become a registered representative (stockbroker), you have to pass this exam. The primary keyword target here is: Series 7 license. It’s an incredibly competitive keyword with between 2.9K–4.3K monthly searches, according to the Keyword Explorer tool. Other important semantically related keywords include: how to get the Series 7 license, Series 7 license requirements, Series 7 Exam, General Securities Registered Representative license, and Series 7 license pass rate.

Based on our content tilt and competitive landscape for the primary keyword, it made the most sense to make this into a how-to article explaining the process in non-jargon terms to someone just starting in the industry. We perfectly exact-match each keyword target, but the topics are covered well enough for us to rank on the front page for all but one of them. Plus, we won the Google Answer Box for “how to get your Series 7 license.” We also positioned ourselves well for anticipated future searches around a new licensing component called the SIE exam and how it’ll change the licensing process.


Once you’ve created your content and launched it, like with any SEO work, you will have a lag before you see any results. Be sure to build a report or dashboard based on your content goals so you can keep track of the performance of your content on a regular basis. If you find that the growth isn’t there after several months, it is a good idea to go back through the content strategy and assess whether you’ve got your tilt right. Borrowing from Joe Pulizzi, ask yourself: “What if our content disappeared? Would it leave a gap in the marketplace?” If the answer is no, then it’s definitely time to revisit your tilt. It’s the toughest piece to get right, but once you do, the results will follow.

If you’re interested in more discussion on content marketing and SEO, check out the newest MozPod podcast. Episode 8, SEO & Content Strategy:

Listen to the podcast

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A Glimpse Inside WordStream’s First Customer Insight Round Table

Last Wednesday, a day removed from being announced one of Built in Boston’s Top 100 Tech Companies, WordStream hosted our first in-house Customer Insight Round Table. We invited 11 of our customers to visit our office for a day of learning and knowledge sharing. They walked into our 101 Huntington offices excited, alert, and ready to share their experiences as business owners, digital marketers, and WordStream customers.

WordStream Customer Insight Round Table

Our 11 generous participants.

I am proud to share that the event was a total success!

Since joining WordStream as President in late Spring, I have spent many hours speaking with our customers.  One of many important lessons I’ve learned in my career is the power of truly understanding what makes customers succeed, and translating that into how you build your business.

A lot of companies like to bill themselves as customer-centric, and WordStream counts itself among them. We also realize, however, that customer feedback surveys and other arms-length methods of customer interaction can at times fall short of true human connection. Our solution?

Be a customer-inspired organization. Design our customers into our business. Bring them in, get them talking, and get down to the business of real understanding. What are their biggest challenges? What parts of our product can we improve upon? What do we need to continue to do well?

At an organizational level, our goal is for each and every employee to keep our customers in mind as they go about their day-to-day jobs—regardless of what function they perform at WordStream. And that is why we created our Customer Insight Roundtable.

Let’s take a look at some highlights from the day!

WordStream Customer Insight Round Table Image

Peer Knowledge Exchange

After a quick breakfast, welcome statements from CEO Ralph Folz and myself, and industry and product updates, we opened the floor to our customers. It was time to get their perspective, their stories—the good stuff. Sitting side by side with our employees, they were charged with a task: draw a picture of the highlight of your business experience in 2017

Facility with illustration varied, but there were two constants throughout: honesty, and connection.

WordStream Customer Insight Round Table Spoils

The spoils of ideation.

One of our customers, at one time an owner of two home furnishing brick-and-mortars, told how she only decided to venture into ecommerce and online advertising after relentless encouragement from her son. The start of her digital marketing journey consisted in toiling with the 20-Minute Work from behind her retail counter, a team of local high school students handling online orders and shipping from the back of the store. Today, she owns her own warehouse, has seen her business grow exponentially, and remains one of WordStream’s valued customers.

Success stories like these abounded, and got the day off to an encouraging start.

Ideation & Design Workshops

The majority of the day’s remainder was spent in three groups. Our customers identified their biggest challenges as online advertisers, then worked to identify solutions to those challenges. Each group created three unique problem statements based on the challenges they had in common. We heard problems like: How can I prioritize various accounts? How can I customize reporting to please each of my clients? How can I better manage remarketing and wasted spend? How can I target my ideal buyer? 

WordStream Customer Insight Round Table 1

WordStream Customer Insight Round Table 2

Working through story boards.

After forming problem statements, groups worked to generate as many solutions to their problem statements as possible. Solutions were story boarded, and new user journeys were created. From there, groups silently critiqued each other’s work by walking around and placing dot stickers next to the things they liked most. Finally, the group gathered as one to vote on which solutions made the most collective sense, and which deserved further investigation.  

WordStream Customer Insight Round Table Story Board

Just as common challenges were identified, so were common solutions. One member of an agency in the healthcare vertical told about how, when she added Bing to her search campaigns, she saw a massive lift in performance—so many healthcare decision-makers were, it turns out, Bing users, and she had been missing her ideal customer by relying exclusively on AdWords. Members of other agencies in that vertical said they hadn’t thought about that strategy, and were excited to try implementing it.   

WordStream Customer Insight Round Table

Group brainstorming led inevitably to common ground.

The day ended with the main event: a customer panel that took place in front of all WordStream employees. Introductions were re-made, and the floor was opened to a Q&A. What our employees heard: our customers’ desire to make WordStream their go-to solution for the most fundamentally important of their online marketing needs. What our customers heard: the willingness and the curiosity necessary to push headlong toward that end.

Some Closing Thoughts

Our goal in putting on this event was simple: continue to design solutions and experiences through the lens of our customers, rather than through the lens of our company. We strive to be respectful of our customers’ time, to communicate in their language, and above all, to inspire pride when they think about our company and the solutions we provide.

Events like this one allow us to continue to foster a relationship of mutual growth: our employees build intuition about the needs of our customers, and our customers become more intimate with our organization and the people that make it go. 

We look forward to keeping you updated on our journey!

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7 Ways to Write More Engaging, Compelling Website Copy

Kurt Vonnegut, one of the heavyweights of 20th century literature, once said that every single sentence of a story should either reveal something about a character or advance the action.

website copy tips

You might not be crafting traditional narratives on your website, but Vonnegut’s timeless advice still holds true whether you’re helping people learn a new skill or selling plumbing fixtures.

Every single line of copy on your website should help your visitors accomplish or learn something, and in this post, I’ll show you seven ways to write more engaging, compelling website copy.

These tips and techniques aren’t specific to any one particular type of website, so whether you’re in ecommerce or run a nonprofit, there’s something here for everyone.

1. Emphasize Benefits Over Features

One of the most common mistakes companies make with their web copy is spending too much time talking about how great they are. While it’s understandable to want to highlight the accomplishments, distinctions, and aspects of your organization that make it great, this is not why your visitors came to your site.

We’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – people don’t care about your company, they only care about how your company can solve their problems.

Website copy I don't care rainbow illustration 

That’s not to say that none of your visitors care about your company. Some, like your fiercely loyal brand evangelists, may in fact care about your company quite deeply. That doesn’t change the fact that most visitors are looking for a solution to a very real problem.

Let’s take a look at the differences between benefit-driven copy and feature-driven copy.

Feature-Driven Copy

The screenshot below was taken from the Infinity website.

Website copy Infinity rear parking sensor illustration 

As you can see, this particular page tells the reader about Infiniti’s rear-view camera and proximity sensor technology, and features several high-resolution images showing this tech in action.

This is all well and good, but the copy – and the overall framing – doesn’t mention any benefits explicitly. You could argue that the benefits of this technology are obvious or implied; having a 360-degree field of vision around the entirety of the vehicle will definitely make parallel parking easier, but the copy doesn’t tell us that; we’re left to assume what the benefits of these features are.

The Hyundai ad below, however, makes the benefits of this kind of technology abundantly clear, which makes for a much more compelling demonstration of the underlying tech: 

Benefit-Driven Copy

The screenshot below is taken from Slack’s website.

Website copy Slack benefits illustration 

As a communications platform, Slack could have focused on the bells and whistles that people like about Slack, such as private chat rooms, emoji responses, and the service’s many integrations. However, Slack knows that its ideal customers aren’t interested in that – at least, not as much. No, Slack’s potential users want to save time and hassle, which is why Slack’s primarily benefit-driven copy is so persuasive. Who wouldn’t want to receive almost 50% fewer emails or spend 25% less time in meetings?

By leading with the benefits, Slack is answering the user’s most important question – how will this make my life better or easier?

Emphasizing the benefits of your products or services doesn’t stop you from mentioning features completely – it’s just a simple matter of priorities. By all means include copy that tells visitors how great your products are, but don’t do so at the expense of explaining clearly and concisely why using your products or services will make visitors’ lives better.

How this improves your website copy

By showing visitors exactly how your offerings will make their lives better.

2. Use The Voice of the Customer

Tone and style are crucial when it comes to website copy, as they define the voice of your brand across multiple channels. However, as important as style and tone can be in establishing and maintaining editorial consistency, we can take it one step further to serve as a powerfully persuasive way to reach prospective customers with your copy, known as the “voice of the customer.”

What Is the Voice of the Customer?

As Brad McMillen explains in his excellent primer on the technique, the voice of the customer is a technique commonly used in market research, which “focuses on customers’ (and prospects’) wants and needs, then prioritizes them into a hierarchical structure before prioritizing them in terms of relative importance and satisfaction with current alternatives.”

Simply put, VOC is a way to describe your customers’ experiences with and expectations for your products or services in their own language.

What does this mean? Let’s take a look.

Website copy FreshBooks voice of the customer example 

An example of web copy written using the voice of the customer

You can find examples of your customers’ real language in a number of different ways; for example, reading customer reviews and conducting surveys are two of the best ways to gather this data, as they provide customers with ample opportunity to tell you about their problems in their own words.

Before we can create a profile to begin crafting our voice of the customer, we need to identify several key data points, including:

  • The problems that frustrate people who could benefit from your products or services
  • What they would like to see as a potential solution
  • Customer desires and expectations for companies like yours
  • Powerful or memorable quotes based on actual user experiences

Identifying common pain points should be among the first things to look for in your customer research data. This likely includes the frustrations that are common in your industry; think labyrinthine automated customer service helplines, hidden fees or opaque pricing structures, lack of competition, that kind of thing.

Following on from this, you should identify the things your customers want in a company or service provider like yours, such as responsive customer assistance from an actual person, or a simple, easily understood pricing structure.

Once you have this data, you can write copy that addresses each of these elements in order of importance. All the information on your site – from your About page to individual product descriptions – should address one of the dimensions you identified in your market research. This means that, wherever a user happens to be on your site (or within the traditional marketing funnel), your copy is speaking to something that your prospective users have identified as a priority for them.

In the example above from FreshBooks, the copy mirrors common customer pain points, such as the time-intensive nature of some bookkeeping workflows, as well as the solution that these customers want, which is simplified, streamlined accounting software that lets them get on with actually running their business.

How this improves your website copy

By showing visitors your speak their language, you’re on their level, and you understand their problems.

3. Conduct Customer Surveys to Determine Brand Values

These days, many companies have jumped firmly on the “corporate values” bandwagon in an attempt to attract top talent. However, brand values aren’t just what you say they are – they’re just as much a byproduct of how your customers and audience views your business. How can you discover what values people associate with your brand? By conducting customer surveys.

Website copy customer survey illustration 

Image via Lynda.com

Similar to the market research you conducted to gather data to create the voice of the customer, surveys and questionnaires are an excellent way to learn how people perceive your brand with regard to brand values. Just as there is often a considerable disconnect between how we think users behave and how they actually behave, there can sometimes be a similar gap between the brand values you think your company exemplifies and how prospective customers actually see your company.

At the heart of this process is a concept known as “brand attributes.” This refers to the characteristics that people associate with your brand. For example, philanthropy and charitable giving is a brand attribute of companies that have embraced ethical marketing, such as TOMS shoes. Similarly, glamour and opulence are brand attributes commonly associated with brands such as Rolex or Swarovski.

Conducting Brand Value Research

One of the greatest challenges of conducting brand value research is that it is primarily qualitative, meaning that the responses necessary to create this kind of profile are often much more in-depth and personal to the person taking the survey. Quantitative research, on the other hand, usually relies on larger data sets often involving standardized questions, typically presented as yes/no or agree/disagree scenarios or multiple choice questions.

Website copy qualitative research concept illustration 

This presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Although this type of qualitative research can be tremendously valuable, it’s also significantly more time-consuming to gather than quantitative research data, and it asks a great deal more of your respondents. To offset this, many companies offer incentives such as discounts, coupons, freebies, and other goodies to tempt people into completing these surveys.

However you decide to structure your questionnaires, consider the following:

  • Don’t just ask respondents which brands they like – ask them why they like those brands
  • Invite participants to explain how their perceive those brands and the characteristics they share
  • Ask speculative questions about not only the brand attributes your audience already associates with your brand, but the attributes they want to associate with your brand in the future
  • Embrace negative feedback – it can be just as valuable (if not more so) than positive feedback
  • Ask open-ended questions that give respondents ample opportunity to answer

A Real-World Brand Values Case Study

Fortunately for you, WordStream recently conducted this research for our own use, so I can show you exactly what this process looks like.

We asked respondents to select five brand attributes that they associate with the WordStream brand. Here’s what they told us:

Website copy WordStream brand attributes 

As you can see, the top five attributes respondents associated with WordStream are:

  • Knowledgeable
  • Helpful
  • Educational
  • Influential
  • Friendly

This data was not only immensely useful to us, but also very rewarding. Our aim is to make digital marketing and PPC accessible to businesses of all sizes – small businesses in particular – by providing valuable, actionable, and insightful content. The participants’ responses tell us that we’re succeeding in this goal, which is awesome.

We didn’t stop there, however. We also asked participants which attributes they want to associate with the WordStream brand in the future:

 Website copy WordStream desired brand attributes

This is almost as revealing as our initial results. Based on these responses, we know that the top five brand attributes people want to associate with WordStream in the future are:

  • Creative
  • Trustworthy
  • Influential
  • Helpful
  • Friendly/Educational

This tells us several things. For one, people want to see WordStream as a creative brand; we like to think we’re on our way, but it’s clear we still have room to improve. Secondly, trust remains a highly desirable brand attribute, and it’s one that we’re constantly striving to cultivate. Finally, this data tells us that what we’re doing is working and that we need to not only diversify and branch out into more creative avenues, but also that we need to continue to develop the influential, helpful, and friendly/educational brand values people already associate with the WordStream brand.

In just two slides of actual audience response data, we’ve gained incredible insight into how our audience perceives us, highlighting how useful and actionable this kind of market research data can be.

How this improves your website copy

By ensuring that your writers reflect the brand values that your valued customers want to see on your site.

4. Create a House Style Guide to Establish Brand Voice

You’ve probably heard of news agencies such as The Associated Press, or AP. The AP began as a newswire service, meaning that it provided newspapers around the world with syndicated news content produced in part by regional reporters known as stringers who work exclusively for news agencies rather than newspapers themselves.

Website copy AP style headline with corrections 

TFW an Associated Press story doesn’t adhere to AP style

Since the AP was founded long before the advent of online content, space in newspapers was (and still is) at a premium, meaning no space – typically measured in column inches – could be wasted. This necessary brevity resulted in the creation of the AP Stylebook, a bible for journalists and copyeditors alike that states how certain things should be written and formatted.

Of course, your own brand style guide doesn’t need to be as detailed as the style guides that newspapers use. Instead, you want to use the brand values you established in the last exercise to create some guidelines for all your content writers and creators to follow. This can help them make decisions like how formal to be, and whether it’s ever OK to swear (say, on your blog).

Getting Started with an In-House Style Guide

The first thing you need to do when creating an in-house style guide is to meet with your editorial team and relevant stakeholders and identify the priorities to be addressed by the style guide.

Voice and tone have an incredible impact on the entire experience of using your site, so it’s important to settle on an appropriate brand voice for your company that aligns with the business goals of your copy and content.

MailChimp has a particularly good in-house style guide that covers a range of content types including technical documentation, social media content, general copy, and also features a section dedicated to voice and tone. For example, it includes this list of guidelines for how to nail the MailChimp voice:

One way to think of our voice is to compare what it is to what it isn’t. MailChimp’s voice is:

  • Fun but not silly
  • Confident but not cocky
  • Smart but not stodgy
  • Informal but not sloppy
  • Helpful but not overbearing
  • Expert but not bossy
  • Weird but not inappropriate

This is an excellent resource for marketers hoping to create their own style guides, and should give you an idea of the kind of things a solid style guide should cover.

How this improves your website copy

By establishing brand standards that all your writers can reference for a consistent user experience.

5. A/B Test Copy on High-Value Pages

Nobody knows your customers better than you do, but that doesn’t mean you should gamble by making decisions based on how you think your visitors will behave. Just as you would (or should) test crucial elements of your campaigns such as landing pages, you should be regularly A/B testing the copy on your highest-value pages.

Website copy A/B test concept 

Not All Copy Is Created Equal

Before we go any further, it’s important to mention that even if you have the resources to do so, it’s probably unnecessary to A/B test every single word of copy on your site – you just need to focus on the pages that really bring home the bacon. Maybe your product overview page has a killer conversion rate, or maybe it’s your FAQ page or product documentation. Whatever your strongest pages are, those are the pages you should be testing.

Some web copy elements you might want to test could include:

  • Questions versus statements in headlines
  • Headline length
  • Short-form versus long-form copy
  • Language and/or word choice
  • Points of view (i.e. first-person versus third-person)

Actually conducting an A/B test on your web copy is largely similar to the way you’d split-test pretty much anything else. Begin by identifying those high-value pages using Google Analytics or similar data, then create two versions of the page, each with its own unique copy. Send approximately 50% of your total traffic to the control version of the page (the original page as it exists today), and send the other half to the variant (the page with the new copy). Allow the test sufficient time to ensure you’re working with a statistically significant data set, and see which page converted better. Easy, right? Well, kinda.

Website copy A/B test concept 

Image via VWO

Since you want to figure out which copy performs more strongly, you need to test copy that actually asks the user to do something. This could be a prompt to download a guide, sign up for a free trial, subscribe to a newsletter – some kind of clearly defined call to action. If you don’t focus on actionable copy with a true call to action, it’s harder to determine if the variant of your copy is any better than the control page. However, since your highest-value pages are likely already associated with a defined conversion pathway, this shouldn’t be an issue but it’s worth bearing in mind.

How this improves your website copy

By giving you data, rather than assumptions, on what copy really resonates with potential buyers.

6. Think About Intent At All Times and Write From the Perspective of the User

We’ve talked about commercial intent before (as well as the wider topic of intent marketing), but it amazes me how few websites seem to factor in user intent into their web copy.

What Is User Intent?

User intent refers to what a given person intends to do when they reach your site. Sometimes this intent leads to a clearly defined action – such as buying something – while other times it may not.

Although the underlying problems your users are trying to solve are likely quite diverse, there are only a few reasons a person visits a website. These align with one of the three primary types of search – informational, navigational, and transactional – and include:

  • To learn about the industry in which your company operates
  • To learn more about service offerings in your industry
  • To learn more about your company in particular
  • To comparison shop and compare products, offers, prices etc.
  • To buy something

Obviously, it’s impossible to account for every user’s intent in your web copy, and you definitely shouldn’t attempt to. However, considering user intent should inform every aspect of your web copy.

How to Write Web Copy with User Intent in Mind

Whether you’re writing the copy for your website yourself or hiring someone to do it for you, it’s crucial that you consider user intent from the outset.

Picture yourself in your prospective customers’ shoes and ask questions about your copy:

  • Is it immediately obvious what your company sells or does?
  • Is your web copy benefit-driven, and are those benefits clear?
  • Does your website assume prior industry knowledge on the part of the visitor? Is this knowledge necessary to understand and navigate your site?
  • Does your site’s navigation allow different kinds of users at different stages of the funnel to quickly and easily access the information they need?

Considering user intent can be challenging, because it can be difficult to truly divorce yourself – and your considerable industry knowledge and expertise – from the reality of the experience of using your site. To this end, it may be worth conducting qualitative market research by asking laypersons who aren’t familiar with your business to use your site and provide feedback. This can highlight gaps in both your web copy and your awareness of these gaps, allowing you to craft web copy that better addresses these issues.

Website copy user intent diagram 

Image via SuperX Growth Hackers

Writing from the perspective of the user, on the other hand, is a little easier than trying to preemptively solve for user intent. Whenever you’re writing any copy – or content – ask yourself whether your copy follows our variant of Vonnegut’s rule: does every single sentence of copy reveal some useful information about your products or services, or advance your visitors’ understanding of what you do?

Many people mistakenly assume that focusing on user intent or benefit-driven copy means there’s no room to talk about their company’s achievements. This isn’t true at all – you just have to consider where and when to wax lyrical about how great you are.

For example, if you’d never heard of a company and weren’t familiar with their goods, you probably wouldn’t care about how that company is a great place to work, or how many awards it has won – none of this information answers your questions or helps you solve your problems.

If, however, you’ve already done some research into the company, like its products, and can visualize how patronizing this company will make your life better – essentially at any point during or beyond the “consideration” stage of the classic sales funnel – information about how great the company is might be a powerfully persuasive tool. That’s when you want to hit your visitors with your innumerable accolades.

It all comes back to thinking about the user and what they want, rather than what you want.

How this improves your website copy

By giving your visitors what they want to see, increasing their satisfaction and encouraging them to stick around.

7. Include Statistics, Quotes, and Original Data to Increase Your Site’s Authority

Not so long ago, blogs and bloggers were rightly seen as amateur ventures whose passion and enthusiasm were faultless, but whose actual credibility and authority were suspect. Not so today, when some blogs and independent bloggers have become on par (or even surpassed) “traditional” journalism and media outlets.

However, the little guys still have to work harder than the bigger players, and one of the best things you can do to establish (or enhance) your credibility and authority is to use statistics, quotes, and original data in your web copy and content.

Website copy WordStream original data 

An example of WordStream’s original research data

One of the reasons that the inclusion of statistics, quotes from industry experts, and original data is so persuasive is because it strengthens the points you make in your copy considerably. It’s one thing to make a vague assertion about, say, Facebook’s growing ad revenue, but it’s another thing to say that Facebook’s total revenue increased by 56% and ad revenue increased by 59% in 2016.

This technique works so well because it’s an established journalistic convention, and readers expect this kind of citation in their content. However, it’s not without its downsides.

The Dangers of Overreliance on Third-Party Data

There is no doubt that including statistics, quotes, and original or third-party data in your copy can significantly increase the authority of your site. Overreliance on this kind of data, however, can have a detrimental effect.

Website copy how many citations is too many PhD comics 

Image via Jorge Cham/PhD Comics

You’ll already know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever read a blog post in which every other statement is cited or begins with, “According to…” Relying too heavily on cited stats – no matter how well-sourced or relevant – can dilute the authority of your copy because it suggests either an inability or reluctance to make an assertive, original statement. People don’t want to read copy or content that reads like a book report written by a nervous high-school student – they want to hear original thoughts and opinions that challenge their ideas or help them learn more about a topic.

One way to offset this without losing the authority that comes with including and correctly citing statistical data is to use original research. Here at WordStream, we devote a great deal of time and energy to producing original data and research. This isn’t just a ploy to increase our authority; it’s a way to reinforce our copy and content with research that other publications want to link to.

 Website copy WordStream original data

Granted, creating original research requires sufficient data to draw from (which we’re lucky to have in abundance, something not every business has) or the financial means to commission professional researchers to produce original data, but as far as assets go, it’s hard to beat in terms of return on investment. Our original research has generated millions of unique visits and hundreds of inbound links over the past several years, making it one of our most consistently valuable and strongest-performing content assets.

How this improves your website copy

By making your brand more trustworthy and dependable.

Better Copy, Better Results

Writing web copy that converts like gangbusters is a lot harder than it looks. However, by making just a few adjustments to how you view and approach web copy, you can provide your audience with a much more useful, relevant, and ultimately actionable experience.

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Rewriting the Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Posted by BritneyMuller

http://ift.tt/Zv5K7g
(function($) {
// code using $ as alias to jQuery
$(function() {
// Hide the hypotext content.
$(‘.hypotext-content’).hide();
// When a hypotext link is clicked.
$(‘a.hypotext.closed’).click(function (e) {
// custom handling here
e.preventDefault();
// Create the class reference from the rel value.
var id = ‘.’ + $(this).attr(‘rel’);
// If the content is hidden, show it now.
if ( $(id).css(‘display’) == ‘none’ ) {
$(id).show(‘slow’);
if (jQuery.ui) {
// UI loaded
$(id).effect(“highlight”, {}, 1000);
}
}
// If the content is shown, hide it now.
else {
$(id).hide(‘slow’);
}
});
// If we have a hash value in the url.
if (window.location.hash) {
// If the anchor is within a hypotext block, expand it, by clicking the
// relevant link.
console.log(window.location.hash);
var anchor = $(window.location.hash);
var hypotextLink = $(‘#’ + anchor.parents(‘.hypotext-content’).attr(‘rel’));
console.log(hypotextLink);
hypotextLink.click();
// Wait until the content has expanded before jumping to anchor.
//$.delay(1000);
setTimeout(function(){
scrollToAnchor(window.location.hash);
}, 1000);
}
});
function scrollToAnchor(id) {
var anchor = $(id);
$(‘html,body’).animate({scrollTop: anchor.offset().top},’slow’);
}
})(jQuery);

.hypotext-content {
position: relative;
padding: 10px;
margin: 10px 0;
border-right: 5px solid;
}
a.hypotext {
border-bottom: 1px solid;
}
.hypotext-content .close:before {
content: “close”;
font-size: 0.7em;
margin-right: 5px;
border-bottom: 1px solid;
}
a.hypotext.close {
display: block;
position: absolute;
right: 0;
top: 0;
line-height: 1em;
border: none;
}

Many of you reading likely cut your teeth on Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Since it was launched, it’s easily been our top-performing piece of content:

Most months see 100k+ views (the reverse plateau in 2013 is when we changed domains).

While Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO still gets well over 100k views a month, the current guide itself is fairly outdated. This big update has been on my personal to-do list since I started at Moz, and we need to get it right because — let’s get real — you all deserve a bad-ass SEO 101 resource!

However, updating the guide is no easy feat. Thankfully, I have the help of my fellow Mozzers. Our content team has been a collective voice of reason, wisdom, and organization throughout this process and has kept this train on its tracks.

Despite the effort we’ve put into this already, it felt like something was missing: your input! We’re writing this guide to be a go-to resource for all of you (and everyone who follows in your footsteps), and want to make sure that we’re including everything that today’s SEOs need to know. You all have a better sense of that than anyone else.

So, in order to deliver the best possible update, I’m seeking your help.

This is similar to the way Rand did it back in 2007. And upon re-reading your many “more examples” requests, we’ve continued to integrate more examples throughout.

The plan:

  • Over the next 6–8 weeks, I’ll be updating sections of the Beginner’s Guide and posting them, one by one, on the blog.
  • I’ll solicit feedback from you incredible people and implement top suggestions.
  • The guide will be reformatted/redesigned, and I’ll 301 all of the blog entries that will be created over the next few weeks to the final version.
  • It’s going to remain 100% free to everyone — no registration required, no premium membership necessary.

To kick things off, here’s the revised outline for the Beginner’s Guide to SEO:

Click each chapter’s description to expand the section for more detail.

Chapter 1: SEO 101

What is it, and why is it important? ↓


Chapter 2: Crawlers & Indexing

First, you need to show up. ↓


Chapter 3: Keyword Research

Next, know what to say and how to say it. ↓


Chapter 4: On-Page SEO

Next, structure your message to resonate and get it published. ↓


Chapter 5: Technical SEO

Next, translate your site into Google’s language. ↓


Chapter 6: Establishing Authority

Finally, turn up the volume. ↓


Chapter 7: Measuring and Tracking SEO

Pivot based on what’s working. ↓


Appendix A: Glossary of Terms

Appendix B: List of Additional Resources

Appendix C: Contributors & Credits


What did you struggle with most when you were first learning about SEO? What would you have benefited from understanding from the get-go?

Are we missing anything? Any section you wish wouldn’t be included in the updated Beginner’s Guide? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Thanks in advance for contributing.

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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The Inverted Unicorn Ad Targeting Strategy that Doubles Facebook Relevance Score

By now, Facebook ads aren’t exactly a new thing.

We all know the drill: It’s all about promoting your “unicorns” – the top 1-3% of your best content and/or offers, the ones with unusually high engagement rates, e.g. click-through rates of 10% or higher. Why?

Facebook sponsored posts with high engagement rates get assigned high Relevance Scores, which get rewarded by the Facebook Ad algorithm through increased exposure at lower cost.

facebook relevance score

The cost per click for a sponsored post with 1% engagement rate might be around $3-5 per click, but if you can raise the engagement rate to 10%, your CPC will fall to around 25 cents.

But HOW do you make the content you’re trying to promote get 10%+ click-through rates?

How Your Ad Targeting Strategy Affects Relevance Score

The normal way to increase relevance and CTR on Facebook is to be a bit picky with your ad targeting – no matter how boring your sponsored content is, if you get it in front of a targeted enough audience, it can become exciting to a smaller number of people, or at least that’s how the theory goes:

facebook targeting strategies

For example, if you’re selling PPC marketing software, you promote your offers to people who have:

  • An interest in marketing
  • Middle-management job titles
  • Recently visited your site
  • Etc.

Here we’re casting a narrower net, and maximizing the engagement rates within it.

The problem is that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Meaning, just because you’ve created a perfectly targeted ad set, doesn’t guarantee the prospective buyer will find your offer worthy of clicking on.

Further, sometimes you can over-define your audience, meaning you’re only showing your ad to a tiny pool of people.

inverted unicorn ad targeting

A Bold New Way of Ad Targeting: The Inverted Unicorn Method

My new ad targeting strategy has the potential to dramatically increase your sponsored post engagement rates and your relevance scores, which in turn will simultaneously increase reach and lower cost per engagement.

Basically, the idea here is rather than only targeting correlated interests (e.g. marketers with middle-management job titles), we’re going to target two completely different interests: for example, liberals who watch Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

These are two big audiences, but we’re only targeting the overlap:

advanced ad targeting strategies

A Crazy Example of the Inverted Unicorn Method for Facebook Ad Targeting

Two weeks ago I created a case study that highlighted how Fake News being spread via Facebook Ads can pose a danger to society.

larry kim facebook ad targeting

I only had a $400 budget to promote the story using Facebook Ads. Yet the content promotion efforts yielded:

  • Gazillions of views
  • Over 1300 likes
  • 235 shares
  • 68 comments

The story got picked up in Business Insider, Forbes, and a major international television network is filming a story on this next week at my office.

And it’s even possible that Trump might have heard about the story!

facebook ad targeting fake news

Last week, Facebook started taking out ads on the issue.

facebook ad policies

And they even updated their ad reviewing policy:

facebook ad reviewing

And about a hundred people at Facebook checked out my LinkedIn profile last week.

Did my story cause all this? Impossible to know! But I can share the Inverted Unicorn Facebook Ad targeting strategy that I employed.

As a reminder, I only had $400 to spend on content promotion, so I picked a demographic that I thought would find this story to be particularly interesting: Liberals.

how to target the right facebook audience

Unfortunately, this audience is just too big (26 million people!). That’s just too broad considering I only have $400 to spend.

I had to find a subset of this huge audience that I could still meaningfully target.

So here’s what I did. I (basically arbitrarily) picked another large audience, then targeted the overlapping segment of these two large audiences. I was able to cut down the audience size to 1.1 million people by requiring that people in my target audience be both Liberal and Star Trek Fans, like this:

targeting strategies for facebook ads

What does Star Trek Deep Space Nine have do with Liberals? Absolutely nothing!

But it allowed me to target people who would might understand this obscure joke.

Then, I used that joke in the title image for the post:

unique ad targeting methods

If you have no clue what this joke is all about, that is the beauty of this strategy. You would have never seen the ad in the first place! It was engineered to appeal specifically to this audience.

It worked: The Star-Trek loving liberals engaged with the post, leading to strong engagement metrics  and a Facebook Relevance Score of 7/10…

high facebook relevance score

…and overall very high engagement rates for such a small budget.

I know it worked because I got all these kooky Star Trek comments in the Post Comments:

increasing relevance score with ad targeting

In a nutshell, the Inverted Unicorn Ad Targeting Strategy makes ads more interesting by appealing to two or more of a user’s different interests.

There are so many ways you could use this strategy. For example, what if you’re HubSpot and you want to promote your INBOUND conference on a small budget? You could target the intersection of small business owners and fans of Michelle Obama. Then you would feature an inspiring image of her in your ad, noting that she’s a keynote speaker. Much more effective than a boring stock image of a laptop or something.

Closing Thoughts

Are your CTRs on Facebook too low?

Are your Relevance Scores below 5/10?

Are you stuck promoting the same boring ads which never get more than relevancy score 2/10?

Are the audiences you’re targeting way too big in comparison to your budget?

If you answered yes to any of the above, perhaps it’s time you employed the Inverted Unicorn Facebook ad targeting method for doubling click-through rates!

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream http://ift.tt/2yBDkw8

3 Creative Ways to Use Ad Extensions (that Google Won’t Tell You About!)

Question: What kind of advertiser doesn’t want their creative to sprawl down and across the entirety of a prospect’s search engine results page?

Answer: A bad one.

And how does one achieve such SERP dominance? Why, through ad extensions, of course!

As most of you are aware, ad extensions are the extra bits of information Google allows advertisers to append to their Expanded Text ads in order to provide more (and more relevant) information to searchers. They don’t take long to set up. They’re displayed at no additional cost. And they turn your paid search ads from this…

adwords ad with no ad extensions 

Into this…

adwords ad with multiple ad extensions 

After a long night of bar hopping and bong rips, which would you click?

Now, ad extensions, while inarguably useful, are not a secret. Your biggest competitors are already using them. They’re probably doing so ineffectively, at the account level (you can get ad group granular with some of these suckers) with bland messaging, but their ads are yolked.

In a world where everyone’s ads are bursting with clickable, informative appendages, how can you differentiate?

By finding more creative ways to leverage ad extensions.

Today, I’m going to suggest three creative, alternative applications for ad extensions designed to help you zig (or zag) while other advertisers walk the straight and narrow. They are:

  1. The zero-dollar price extension
  2. The message extension as lead generation
  3. The daily callout extension

Shall we?

#1: The Zero-Dollar Price Extension

Price extensions are relative newcomers as far as ad extension are concerned, but if you sell something (which, you know, seems pretty likely), they’re an absolute must. Basically, price extensions allow you to call out specific products or services and advertise their associated costs alongside the rest of your ad creative. They look something like this:

adwords price extension example 

As you can see, the price extensions appear below the description section of the ad and link directly to the pages on your website associated with the items you’re highlighting. In addition to the name of a given product and link to its digital home, you’re also afforded the opportunity to select a category (header), a price qualifier (like “from” or “up to”) and a short description. As far as ad extensions go, these are among the most information-rich in your arsenal.

 components of adwords price extensions

Initially, these suckers were only available on mobile devices which made them really useful for ecommerce operations and simple lead generation but significantly less so for those selling something a bit more nuanced like, say, online advertising software. Since then, however, price extensions have been rolled out across all devices, making them an invaluable tool for all advertisers, especially those trying to give something away for “free.”

Yup, you read that right.

If your top of funnel goal isn’t a sale but, rather, to introduce your business to prospects using free tools or gated content (white papers, infographics, etc.), you can leverage price extensions to highlight multiple offerings, improving your chance of converting. For example, we use price extensions to hammer home the fact that our AdWords Performance Grader is free (twice) and offer prospects the opportunity to begin a free trial of WordStream Advisor or check out our revamped Free Keyword Tool:

zero dollar price extension google adwords 

Instead of simply using sitelink extensions with descriptions that mention the fact that these offers cost nothing, we make use of the almighty dollar (or total lack thereof).

While using individual ads that use the headlines and description to promote the most relevant tool based on keyword is still the optimum strategy, providing additional free options via price extensions is going to a) take up more SERP real estate, b) turn heads, and c) expose prospects to the wealth of value your brand can provide (without forking over a dime).

If your business has a multi-touch sales process and can provide value to prospects who aren’t quite ready to make a purchase, set up zero-dollar price extensions. You’ll make a helluva first impression, you’ll bolster brand equity, and you can remarket to those same prospects (who now have an affinity for your business) with an offer that inspires credit card to escape wallets with gusto.

#2: Message Extensions as Lead Generation

Google, being an omnipresent force and all, understands people spend a ludicrous amount of time on their phones. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say they also know that most everyone with a smartphone prefers to engage with others using their thumbs instead of their mouths and ears.

Enter message extensions, which give prospects on their phones the ability to reach advertisers via SMS instead of having to make a call.

adwords message extension example 

Instead asking a prospect in need to navigate to your website or click your call extension, a message extension allows them to engage with someone from your business via text. You can even include a pre-written message to kick the conversation off immediately, ensuring a prospect doesn’t bounce back to their browser in search of a more immediate solution. The best part? Clicks on message extensions cost the exact same as anywhere else on your ad: you have a direct line to a prospect actively searching for a solution at the same cost as a form fill. That’s fire, son.

Now, these things are pretty damn effective when used for their intended purpose. Way back when they were in Beta, our own Mark Irvine deduced that message extensions have a CTR that rivals call extensions:

comparing adwords message extension ctr with call extension ctr 

Pretty neat, right? The only real issue with message extensions is the complete lack of conversion tracking. While you can text your prospects, you can’t track or associate value with those conversations within AdWords.

And now for the creative application: use message extensions as a form of lead generation. Not to answer questions, but to get prospects on the phone while they’re actively seeking information about your product or service. There’s no hotter lead!

If you’ve got a sales team (or you are your sales team) and a prospect texts you through an AdWords ad, you’ve got an immediate entry point into a constructive conversation. Simply call said prospect, using a combination of the keyword they found you through and their inquiry as an icebreaker. This’ll allow you to get as much value out of an informational or transactional searcher as possible.

Now, you’re not going to want to implement this system across the board. Some keywords are too top of funnel (lacking intent) to warrant a phone call.

 scheduling adwords message extensions

This is where a well thought out account structure comes into play. In tertiary campaigns (broad keywords), you can probably avoid message extensions all together. In informational campaigns, you should use them for their intended purpose: to respond to questions via text message. But when it comes to high-intent, high value keywords and/or branded keywords, get your prospects on the phone.

To ensure that you don’t squander the opportunities presented by message extensions, make sure you implement scheduling that reflects your business hours: you’re a hard worker, but everybody’s gotta sleep sometime!

#3: Daily Callout Extensions

While price and message extensions are relatively new and their use is less widespread, callout extensions are a staple of most every AdWords account. If you’re not familiar with them, here’s what they look like in the wild:

adwords callout extension example new balance  

As you can see, their use is straightforward: to provide quick-hits of supporting information about your business, product, or service. Many advertisers implement them at the account level and use them generally. This is totally fine. Additional SERP real estate and useful information is better than an ETA flying solo.

But since when was AdWords about anything but granularity?

Instead of using broad, sweeping callout extensions that speak about your business in general terms, try implementing a daily rotation.

Check this out:

improve ctr by creating daily callout extensions 

By simply adding the day of the week to their booking-related callout extensions, this hotel saw CTRs jump almost an entire percentage point. If you’re a plumber looking to book more jobs, why not try adding the day of the week (or simply rotating different callout extensions daily) and seeing how it impacts ad performance? Even an ecommerce advertiser can use this technique: if you know your products ship within two days, on Tuesdays run a callout extension that says, “Get Your Widget By Thursday.” The only thing people love more than free stuff are immediacy and personalization: why not give ‘em both?

Final Thoughts

Extensions are a fantastic way to improve your ad performance when you use them as Google intended. But by thinking outside of the box a bit, you can do a lot more than push your competitors further down the results page: you can acquire more new business, too.

About the Author

Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan. 

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