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5 Less Obvious PPC Testing Ideas That You Should Try

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As PPC marketers, there are certain A/B tests we are always running.

Landing page, ad and audience tests are all important.

But if you have been regularly testing these items and are looking for new features and ideas for testing, look no further!

Below is a list of less obvious PPC tests that you should try out.

Let’s hop in.

1. Test Increasing Brand Awareness with Target Impression Share Bidding

Smart bidding strategies are a way to incorporate some automation while not relinquishing complete control of your campaigns.

Google has a smart bidding type that is perfect for increasing brand awareness: Target Impression Share.

Using this smart bidding model, you can choose the amount that your ads will appear in the auction in conjunction with page position and a Maximum CPC you are willing to pay.

5 Less Obvious PPC Testing Ideas That You Should Test | SEJ

How to Get Started

This bidding strategy works best when you want to increase or stabilize visibility and brand awareness.

If your competitors are encroaching on your brand terms, it’s a great time to test IS bidding.

If you’re seeing cost per leads that are trending too high and want to decrease the impression share your ads are receiving, you could set the IS at a lower percentage to be less competitive.

We ran a test for a client who also wanted to increase leads while decreasing costs by decreasing IS, which we found to be a delicate balance.

If you have a new brand that has a core group of highly competitive terms, this could also be a useful bid model, but you’d want to be careful and potentially only test a few core terms to begin.

2. Test Competitor Keyword Campaigns

5 Less Obvious PPC Testing Ideas That You Should Try

Some advertisers are opposed to competitor campaigns and some are all for it. In today’s landscape, I always recommend at least testing competitor campaigns.

Competitor campaigns are a delicate balance, as it can inflate CPCs and ultimately CPAs, but when done right, it can also allow you to gain brand awareness amongst an audience that has shown intent.

How to Get Started

Head to Auction Insights in the search channels to check out who your biggest competitors are currently.

When drafting ads, make sure not to use the competitor’s name in the ads – those ads will get disapproved. Instead, use this as a starting point to highlight your brand, call out what’s different and how you stand out.

Starting with a smaller scope can allow you to test the waters before jumping in and potentially spending a great deal on folks who are looking for your competitors.

There are a few ways to do that:

You can start with a limited set of keywords, perhaps long-tail keywords like “chewy.com dog food” instead of just “chewy.com”.

Test a limited geographic area. Instead of targeting the entire state of California, try testing 1 DMA (designated market area) to start.

Keeping bids low but competitive can also be helpful in long-term success.

3. Test Dynamic Search Ads

5 Less Obvious PPC Testing Ideas That You Should Test | SEJ

Feel like you have plateaued with traffic and can’t seem to find additional ways to grow?

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) may be able to help you uncover additional keywords and search trends.

DSA has gotten a bad rap in the past. But this campaign type has seen a lot of improvements since its initial release.

How to Get Started

I always recommend having a page feed in place. This will allow you to have the most control over a campaign that has the potential to wreak havoc.

Always make sure to add every search keyword you are bidding on in other campaigns as a negative for DSA.

The ultimate goal of DSA is to render it useless in the sense that you are either:

  • Gathering new keywords that are outside of your current list that match your site content.
  • Or are negating the terms because they are outside of your scope.

Using both of these techniques, your DSA may (and most likely will) eventually be producing so little traffic that you pause the campaign.

Keep a close eye on queries and traffic – this is not a set-it-and-forget-it campaign type!

Google rolled out some cool new features in late 2018 and Bing recently introduced page feeds so both of these channels are a great starting point.

4. Test Broad Match Keywords (Gasp!)

If you have killer performance with some keywords and money to test, then give (monitored) broad match keywords a shot!

How to Get Started

Break your keywords out into their own campaigns so they don’t impede on other match types.

As with DSA, don’t leave this campaign to run without supervision.

Create a separate negative keyword list that includes negatives you have already identified along with modifiers of long-tail keywords that are included elsewhere in your account.

Start with low keyword bids to begin in case things go awry.

I would also recommend turning off eCPC, which is the default for new campaigns since Google can now increase eCPC bids as much as it deems necessary to generate a conversion.

Set your initial daily budget to be half of what you’re OK with spending during testing.

Since Google can double your daily budget so you “don’t miss out on valuable clicks” (I know, I know, it will probably average out – unless you’re just testing and turn it off, in which case you’ll likely be mad at the overspend).

5. Test Audience Targeting + Demographic Data

There has been a lot of talk about layering In-Market audiences and Custom Affinity audiences into your campaigns for observation.

You can take audience targeting one step further and couple it with some basic demographic targeting for a next-level audience test.

5 Less Obvious PPC Testing Ideas That You Should Test | SEJ

How to Get Started

Run some initial tests on audience targeting and narrow down your desired audience demographics.

Make sure to exclude any demographics that you do not want to target.

For highly desired demographics, say the 65+ age group, consider setting a bid modifier to bid higher for these users. Targeting a larger audience to start may help prevent traffic from being too low to gather performance data.

Keep in mind that targeting and observation layers have different functions and limitations depending on the type of campaign. In order to limit the reach of ad groups in Search to users only in that audience, you’ll need to flip on Targeting.

Create a separate campaign or ad group that looks to target your desired criteria separate from your normal search ad groups.

Group by audience themes. By making these divisions, it allows you to personalize the ad copy and landing pages without throttling traffic from normal search ad groups.

Additionally, when it comes to demographics, I rarely exclude the “unknown” categories.

These categories are often some of my best performers, which leads me to believe that there is likely a good chunk of my target audience hanging out in the shadows.

Conclusion

It can be easy to get into a testing rut after running many A/B landing page and ad copy tests, but there are a lot of great testing ideas out there!

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Image Credits

Screenshots taken by author, April 2019





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New site Hotspot Law like ZocDoc for lawyers

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Local search is probably more visible than it has ever been since the advent of Google Maps. Yet, paradoxically, there’s almost no consumer-facing innovation taking place. There’s Google, Yelp, Facebook (somewhat) and a range of specialized vertical apps and sites, some of which have simply survived but aren’t thriving.

Little or no ‘horizontal’ innovation. Part of the lack of “horizontal” innovation in local is likely the result of venture capital not wanting to fund anything that goes up directly against Google. The company may appear to many investors now like an insurmountable juggernaut in local/mobile search.

Any new local-consumer startups, therefore, are likely to appear in specific industries or otherwise offer specialized use cases. Such is the case with Hotspot Law, a new legal search site that hopes to bring ZocDoc-style appointment scheduling to the legal profession. It also seeks to provide a more reliable and cost-effective flow of leads to consumer attorneys.

The legal vertical has a quite a few competitors, including Avvo (Internet Brands), LegalZoom, FindLaw and several others. Despite this, Hotspot Law founder Felix Shipkevich believes he’s solving two unsolved problems in the legal vertical.

“The legal market is in dire need of an upgrade,” argues Shipkevich.

Making direct connections with lawyers. “Once you’ve finished searching online, you have to start calling,” he said. “You don’t get to speak directly to attorneys, you typically talk to a gatekeeper.” He points out that this process of getting to a lawyer is time consuming for people who need legal help. “None of these [completing] platforms directly connect the consumer with an attorney.”

Shipkevich, who is an attorney and faculty member at Hofstra Law School, said he was inspired by ZocDoc and the way it enables direct connections between doctors and patients. Similarly, he wanted to remove the friction in lawyer-consumer matchmaking. Shipkevich explained that also sees Hotspot Law as a way to make “justice” more accessible to consumers.

Why you should care. Legal lead-gen is costly. Shipkevich believes that existing legal sites and ad solutions don’t serve lawyers particularly well either. “PPC advertising can be extremely expensive; in New York it can be $60 to $80 per click.” He adds that “Yelp is expensive. Sometimes it takes $2,000 to $4,000 to bring in a case.”

He wants to solve that problem with simplified reasonable pricing for lawyers who may be struggling to find clients. But he also sees Hotspot Law evolving into a platform to help attorneys manage existing clients. Currently the site only operates in New York, with plans to expand geographic coverage in the coming months.

For the time being Shipkevich will need to rely on SEO for discovery but over time he hopes to build a branded consumer destination. It will be very challenging given the current structure of local SERPs. One has to admire the ambition and chutzpah.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He researches and writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

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Remembering the Tragedy That Made Our Community Start Talking

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About one year ago, everything changed for me and for our community.

A tragedy that struck home so hard it shook us to our core.

A suicide.

A dear friend, brilliant mind, adored father, respected colleague … the list goes on, left us in a way that hits straight to the heart and wakes you up like very few other events can.

I certainly woke up that day. That alarm screamed as loud as it could and I still hear it to this day.

I know I wasn’t alone. So many of my peers experienced similar emotions, sensations, and reactions.

We Could No Longer Ignore the Problem

Sadly, this wasn’t the first tragedy we’d encountered that year – we lost other friends and colleagues as well.

But we knew we couldn’t stand to lose any more amazing people.

We couldn’t look away. We couldn’t just carry on anymore.

So we started talking.

I have been blown away by our internet marketing community. Many of us have never even met face to face and yet the comradery, the friendship, the support among us run rampant!

Never before have I seen a group of people come together so quickly and so openly as when we were forced to face this tragedy.

Groups were formed. Calls were made. Texts were sent. Face-to-face get-togethers were had. Columns like this one were created.

And the best part of it all? It didn’t stop!

We saw the need to stay connected. We recognized that we are a family that needs to support each other. And, perhaps most of all, we saw that we were not alone in our struggles.

It has been amazing to see the openness and honesty that has become so commonplace over the past year. I have seen people that once felt they couldn’t risk being seen without their mask on break down and lay themselves out in the most vulnerable ways.

I include myself in that list. I have become more able to reveal myself to the world around me. That has only been made possible by others sharing in that journey with me.

In leading up to this piece, I knew that I wanted to really find a way to focus on the positive changes that our community has seen because of Jordan Kasteler.

I wanted to honor him in a way that really brought some form of good to this incredible loss that we all experienced due to his passing.

Where Are We Now? Thoughts from Our Community

I reached out and asked a few people in our community if they would share some words of how they have been changed for the better as well as how they have seen our community as whole making changes to support each other over the past year.

Here is what they had to say:

Alexandra Tachalova:

“Working days, nights, and weekends was normal for me a few years ago. However, at that time I couldn’t say that I was really happy. I didn’t understand at the time that my work-life balance was completely off, and I now know that that could have developed into something truly horrifying.

I eventually reached such an emotionally unstable point that I hit a time where one week I was super productive, but the following week I felt hugely demotivated and absolutely miserable. (I know this is a familiar story with many others as well, I hear people telling similar stories and sharing similar experiences regularly.)

Over the past while, I have been working diligently to save myself from this emotional trap. This new focus has led me to investing more time into things that are not related to work and putting more time into the things that help to create a happier life for myself.

I can see that more people in our community are becoming more aware of the need to make this sort of a switch to their schedules and priorities as well, which is brilliant to see!”

Melissa Fach:

“In the past year, I have noticed a massive shift in our community not being ashamed to reach out and ask for help, advice, or just a kind word. I feel like masks have been dropped, and people are not embarrassed to discuss what make them “real”; I love it!

I think many people used to feel they had to have public persona that was acceptable, and now they know we all have issues and it is OK to talk about.

I have a picture of Jordan out that I see every day. I moved past the guilt and the pain when I looked at it, and he is now a daily reminder to stay present with my friends as much as I can.

And, it is a reminder to me to stay focused on my well-being as well. I tend to overwork and do too much for everyone and end up exhausted. I take steps now to take care of me more than ever before.”

Steve Wiideman:

“Though I’ve been in the industry for years, I’m still a somewhat newer member of the SEO community. Call it fear of rejection, social anxiety, whatever, I’ve always been nervous to put myself in a position to be judged by my peers.

It really wasn’t until I was invited to an amazing Facebook group made up of a small close-knit group of industry peers focusing on supporting each other through the day-to-day struggles that I realized that nearly everyone shared the same fears, anxieties and experiences that I have.

What a relief it is to know there is a place where we share what we are feeling and have so much empathy! Finally I have a place I can turn to where people understand me.

Even if I don’t share as much as others, I have peace of mind knowing there are people there ready and willing to listen and help, where there’s no judgement, just open arms.”

Danny Goodwin:

“We’ve definitely made a lot of progress over the past year as a community. However, if I’m being completely honest, we still have a long way to go. I’m still hearing about issues of bullying. I’m seeing people piling on people they disagree with on Twitter.

While, thankfully, these are in the minority, the polarization and black-and-white thinking needs to stop. The judging and assuming needs to stop. The trolling and “mob mentality” needs to stop.

We need to stop fighting each other and start lifting each other up – treating everyone like human beings. Nobody is perfect, but I hope we will continue to see more people be able to let go of their hate and negativity to accept love and positivity into their lives. I know that will continue to be our aim with Friday Focus – to remind everyone that they are not alone in their struggles.

Ultimately, though, I am so happy to be a part of something so positive in our community – and it’s great to see so many others jumping onboard, too.”

Kim Krause Berg:

“It’s easy to assume that your peers are generally doing better than you, making more money than you, and are super successful in every way. It is only in the past few years that I realized this is baloney.

I respect people who remove their masks and show who they really are. We are people with lives and struggles, heartache, depression, and pain.

In the past year I have opened up more and made new friendships as a result. We have more in common with each other than we might think.”

Dave Davies:

“Over the past year I’ve seen an incredible shift in our community.

Social media itself breeds an environment where we see only the best of our peers and post the best of ourselves and being in marketing, needing to be on social media, needing to market ourselves on social media and seeing only the best version of those trained in presenting the best version of themselves – one can feel very alone in difficult times. Compounding that we face an often isolated profession where even sitting beside someone, we are focused on a screen and all they contain.

Sadly, we all know too well what that leads to, and over the past year we collectively recognized that we are human. That those around us are human. That others need support and perhaps most importantly, that we do too.

We finally heard the words spoken all too often after those tragic events, “If only they had asked for help.” And we took it upon ourselves to do so.

We finally knew to listen, to watch and to find out how those around us were doing, lest we face the loss of another friend who we would have dropped everything for, ‘If only they had asked for help.’

The community has grown it’s heart and soul over the past year.

There is still a lot to do. There are still many who don’t know where to turn. Many who don’t know who to talk to. But each time we reach out and each time we talk about challenges openly, share our own and listen to theirs … each time we do that, the community grows it’s heart a little more.

It has been a incredible year of change. While we will forever mourn the spark, the now burning fire keeps us all warmer.”

Jeremy Knauff:

“One thing that has changed dramatically in our industry over the last year, is that as individuals, we’ve become a lot more vocal about asking for help when we need it.

I think most people are more than willing to help each other. They just have to know that someone needs help. Now that people are starting to open up more about their personal struggles, the community is able to better support them.”

Thank You!

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you – whether I know you in person, whether I know you online, even if I don’t know you at all –- thank you for being here.

Thank you for caring and sharing and being a part of the positive change that we are all working so hard at creating.

Keep being a force for good in our community.

Together we will make a difference.

Remembering the Tragedy That Made Our Community Start Talking  

 

This piece is written in memory, honor, recognition, and gratitude of Jordan Kasteler. For all that he gave us, shared with us, taught us and left us with. We are eternally grateful.

 


***PLEASE DO NOT STRUGGLE ALONE! Reach out, ask for help and know that you are valued.
CLICK HERE for a list of phone numbers for Suicide Hotlines around the world.***



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20190718 SEL Brief

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