The industry’s most prestigious awards competition is now accepting submissions in 17 categories, such as Best Overall SEM Initiative and Best Overall SEO Initiative (with separate contests for small business versus enterprise), and also featuring opportunities to recognize outstanding results in verticals like retail, local and B2B. Additionally, we’ll award the Agency of the Year, In-House Team of the Year and Search Marketer of the Year — some of the highlights of the Search Engine Land Awards, now in their fifth year.
If you’ve done the hard work and achieved remarkable results, what could be better than being recognized in front of your high-performing peers at our SMX Advanced conference in Seattle? The conference will take place June 3-5 this year, with the awards celebration at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture. Attendees will include not just the awards finalists, but all SMX Advanced All-Access attendees and EXPO+ Pass holders, ensuring that the entrants who rise to the top get the spotlight they deserve for leading innovation in the industry.
The judging will be performed by our own editor-in-chief Ginny Marvin, along with editors Barry Schwartz, Greg Sterling and Detlef Johnson. Assisting them will be Brad Geddes and Matt Van Wagner, who play important roles in putting our SMX programming together, and they’ll also be joined by representatives from Google and Bing.
How to enter
First, review all categories and entry criteria here. Next, create an account and begin the application process. We recommend that you log in and review how the application process is structured for the category (or categories) you plan to enter before preparing submission materials. You may also complete the entry process in phases until the deadline. For additional information, read the FAQ and Rules & Regulations.
Fees & Deadlines:
Now – March 8: Submission period for Super Early Bird rates ($295 / entry)
March 9 – April 12: Submission period for Early Bird rates ($395 / entry)
April 13 – April 26: Submission period for standard rates ($495 / entry)
About The Author
Pamela Parker is Content Manager at Marketing Land, MarTech Today and Search Engine Land. She’s a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since 1998. She’s a former managing editor of ClickZ, and worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing.
Keyword-based text ads allow retailers to easily understand a consumer’s window of intent and are able to optimize accordingly.
However, shopping ads were created on a product-based bidding model, which means Google’s auction selects what products show up for a specific search result.
This model takes away an important aspect of optimization and bid control because retailers are not able to bid differently on a consumer throughout their purchase journey.
While this can be disheartening it doesn’t have to be!
There is a solution to the product bidding disadvantage:
Through the shopping setting, campaign priority, you are able to control how much you bid for different types of queries.
How do campaign priorities work?
When you have the same product in multiple shopping campaigns, you can determine which campaign should participate in the auction for that product with the campaign priority – high, medium, or low.
The highest priority campaign will always enter the auction first, regardless of how much you are bidding.
To create a shopping keyword segmentation structure retailers must start by building three campaigns of the same product, or group of products, each with a different priority setting – high, medium, and low.
The priority settings will act as a funnel, filtering down more specific keywords via negatives.
Below is a table to highlight how the shopping keyword segmentation structure works.
Inefficient non-brand queries
Shopping keyword segmentation gives advertisers the ability to:
Own the SERP on branded terms.
Optimize bids based on non-brand performance.
Control what products to advertise at different stages of the purchase journey.
Shopping keyword segmentation is a worthwhile approach to ensure you are driving sales on high intent queries and cutting spend on inefficient head terms.
Dynamic Search Ads Are an Asset, Not an Accessory
Leverage the power of Dynamic Search Ads to expand your keyword set at a lower cost.
When crafting ecommerce campaigns, you’ll often find that the most logical keywords are also the most expensive and least profitable.
There’s an old adage that around 15% of daily searches are not new to Google; sure you’ll find them via broad match with a higher CPC, but it’s more efficient to let DSA do the dirty work for you.
When crafting a DSA campaign, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:
Pages and URLs are your keywords. Make sure to segment like-sections of the site into their own ad groups to maximize copy relevancy.
By the same token, use negatives! Block DSAs from going to irrelevant pages. I doubt there would be any relevant queries coming from pages around careers or return policy.
Leverage a full suite of extensions, just like you would for a keyword targeting campaign. They’ll likely see less volume due to lower ad rank, but better to have them present.
Use any and all audiences available. Spend the majority of your time optimizing toward people, and let the engines pick the keywords.
Smart bidding features (target ROAS/CPA and eCPC) help amplify the effectiveness and efficiency of DSA’s. Use them often.
It’s a common practice to take all converting keywords from a DSA campaign and deploy them into a traditional keyword-targeted campaign to maintain control.
While this is an effective way to ensure maximum volume, oftentimes CPCs spike to the point of being inefficient when targeting every query instead of when DSAs determine its most likely to convert.
Unless a single query is getting dominant volume or underperforming relative to keyword targeting, it’s recommended to leave them be.
Adopt Google Showcase Shopping Ads
In 2016, Google launched a new ad format – Showcase Shopping ads.
This solution looks to better position ecommerce, retail, and fashion advertisers with their customers.
Think of Google Showcase Shopping ads as your digital storefront. It’s the window shopping solution your online customers are looking for.
You’re able to group together different ecommerce, fashion, and retail products using vivid, high-quality digital images.
You can complement existing products with multiple smaller products, or combine several “me-too” products within a larger discounted offer.
Showcase ads are used to target more generic non-brand queries and appear on mobile search results.
On the SERP, the ad features a brand-specific, customized hero image relating to the search query along with two smaller images.
These smaller images show the actual products. When the user clicks into the ad it features the custom hero image, a custom description to help introduce the brand, and up to 10 individual products.
Aside from the visual differences, Showcase Shopping ads use maximum CPE (cost per engagement) bidding, which means that advertisers set the highest amount that they are willing to pay for an engagement.
They then are charged when someone expands the ad and spends 10+ seconds within the ad or when a user clicks on a link to the site before the 10 seconds.
In 2018, Showcase ads continued to gain mobile click share and have continued to gain momentum in 2019.
This ad format is a great branding tool, tailored towards user engagement rather than user acquisition and best used as an upper-funnel tactic.
Connect Online to Offline with Local Inventory Ads
According to Google, almost 80% of shoppers will go in-store when the retailer has an item they want immediately.
One of the best ways to address this expectation of immediate in-store availability is through local inventory ads.
This ad format is a great way to drive customers to your store, capturing their attention by highlighting products available at stores nearby.
Local inventory ads appear on mobile queries that include local intent (for example, “dresses near me”) and will trigger if the user is within 35 miles of a store.
When users click on your ad, they’re immediately directed to your Google-hosted local storefront page.
Your customized storefront page includes:
A product description.
An image of the product.
Links to your website.
Your phone number.
Your store’s hours of operation.
A map providing directions to your store.
Customers can also buy directly by clicking through to your website.
While local inventory ads are a great option for all brick-and-mortar advertisers, the setup and maintenance can prove challenging.
Advertisers must ensure in-store availability and inventory counts in the feed are updated daily.
In an attempt to alleviate the onboarding and maintenance of local feeds, Google launched a local feed partnership program. This new program allows third-party inventory data providers to provide sale and inventory data to Google on behalf of the merchant.
Once an advertiser launches local inventory campaigns the recommended way to measure impact is through multiple sources, like Google Ads and Google Analytics.
Monitoring key metrics like in-store traffic and online orders, as well as other analytics, allow retailers to optimize campaigns toward in-store visits and resulting offline and online sales.
Target the Less Obvious Audience
Audience tools like demographics, customer match and retargeting are some of the more powerful features Google and Bing have created in recent memory.
Advertisers have the ability to customize messaging, increase/decrease bids and generally pinpoint whatever or whomever you want!
Some of the most commonly used (and recommended) audiences are in-market, meaning Google is able to hone in on people who are actively researching to make a significant purchase.
If you’re an insurance company, it seems like a no brainer to add an audience of users who are in market for insurance, right? The challenge is all of your competitors are doing the same thing.
Consider using audiences as a way to find what else your audience likes and target accordingly.
If you’re selling handbags or jewelry, you might find success targeting men who want to buy something for their significant other’s birthday or anniversary.
Boutique fitness club? Try targeting users interested in organic food.
Google has a bevy of tools to help identify these cohorts as well. Head over to the Audience Insights section of the audience manager to get a view of what your audience likes relative to the rest of the country.
Below is a snapshot from a luxury watch seller. Perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising the audience indexes high for Pools, Sailing, and Trips to Miami!
Re-Evaluate Your KPIs
Return on Ad Spend (ROAS as we all affectionately call it) can be a dangerous metric. It’s a single snapshot in time, evaluating only whether a single order made money or not.
Optimizing to single-purchase ROAS only will diminish the ability to compete in challenging auctions. Consider evaluating towards Cost Per Acquired Customer, Customer Lifetime Value or one-year customer payback as a better true north metric.
For true, top-of-the-funnel prospecting search terms, consider targeting micro-conversions or “steps” as a way to add value without breaking the bank.
Optimize toward an email list subscribe, or use early-stage terms as a way to build retargeting pools to market to later.
Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita All screenshots taken by author
The popularity of Amazon Marketplace over the years has made Amazon a more attractive destination for brick-and-mortar retailers. In a recent column, I discussed the example of one retailer that relies on Amazon to complement its offline operations. Recently published data suggests that Amazon presents a major opportunity for retailers to attract more business by having a presence on the site. As reported in Marketplace Pulse, 78 percent of keyword searches done on Amazon are nonbranded. In other words, most people are searching for product categories such as “AAA batteries” and “men’s shirts” instead of trying to find names of specific brands. Now consider that Amazon has overtaken Google as the most popular destination for people to do product searches. Brick-and-mortar retailers need to view Amazon as a platform to not only sell more products but to build your reputations. Doing so will create a virtuous cycle of success.
Here’s how retailers can win on Amazon
Winning on Amazon isn’t very different from using digital outside of Amazon. You need to attract customers and keep them. The fundamentals are the same, even if the rules differ from one platform to the next.
You’ve heard it said — how many times now? — about Google, Facebook and other digital platforms that attracting and converting customers is about combining an organic and paid media strategy with the management of customer reviews.
Optimize for search. For example, optimize product titles and product category descriptions to answer the 78% of nonbranded searches occurring on Amazon. Make sure you include a brief and concise description of what your product does, how much quantity is available, and depending on your category, crucial details such as color, size and price, all of which will keep you in the consideration set for more detailed generic searches such as “men’s shirts size medium.” Pay close attention to how you manage Amazon backend keywords, which are keywords that you use on the backend of your seller account. And, in the age of visual storytelling, it’s essential to use strong, clear images that allow shoppers to do detailed comparisons.
Capitalize on Amazon Advertising. Amazon is putting a dent into Google’s and Facebook’s dominance of online advertising, as I discussed in a column last year. Its share of digital advertising, while small, is rising and stealing business from Google in particular. Over the past few years, Amazon has unleashed a slew of advertising products for businesses whether they sell products on Amazon or not. Among the popular Amazon Advertising products: Sponsored Products, which make it possible for businesses to promote products to shoppers who are searching with related keywords or viewing similar products on Amazon. They appear as inventory alongside search result. People who click on the Sponsored Product listing are taken to your inventory. On the other hand, Display Ads serve up relevant ads to shoppers who are actively viewing specific products – and the content can appear on a competitor’s product inventory. These are just a few of the products available among Amazon’s rapidly expanding toolset.
Mind your reviews. Customer reviews on Amazon function like they do on Google: they increase your chances of being chosen, and they make your products more visible. In fact, reviews are among the most important ranking factors under Amazon’s A9 search algorithm. Unfortunately, unethical businesses are trying to game the system with fake reviews. But fake reviews are not a reason to ignore a strong reviews program. It’s important to proactively managing reviews – and, yes, managing reviews means asking for them, so long as you adhere to Amazon’s terms of service (such as using the Seller Central Buyer Message system).
Keeping customers is about being vigilant to monitor input from customer reviews to improve your products and services. Here is another reason why managing your customer ratings/reviews on Amazon is essential as well as far-reaching in scope: they are the building cornerstone of your reputation.
A five-star review in and of itself doesn’t mean a whole lot. But a pattern of reviews over a period of time gives you valuable unstructured data that you can and should use to improve your service, whether you need to price your products more competitively, carry a better selection of inventory, or improve your fulfillment practices.
Reviews help create a virtuous cycle on Amazon: the more positive reviews you get, the more likely it is that those non-branded searches are going to land on your merchant page. When people come to your page and see those reviews, they are more likely to buy what you are selling. The reviews, in turn, also give you feedback to help you improve your products and services, which leads to more positive reviews.
But you don’t create this virtuous cycle unless you use that input from reviews to get better.
What you should do next
There’s another major benefit to being on Amazon: you’ll protect yourself as Amazon expands into physical retailing through operations such as its brick-and-mortar bookstores and Amazon Go for groceries. If you are a well-established retailer with a strong local presence, you have an edge – and you can capitalize on it by relying on your storefronts to manage product fulfillment for your online presence. But that edge may not last. The time is now to act by taking advantage of the strengths of retailing’s largest online search platform.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Adam Dorfman is a technology and digital marketing professional with more than 20 years of experience. His expertise spans all aspects of product development as well as scaling product and engineering teams. He has been in the SEO and Local SEO space since 1999. In 2006, Adam co-founded SIM Partners and helped create a business that made it possible for companies to automate the process of attracting and growing customer relationships across multiple locations. Adam is currently director of product at Reputation where he and his teams are integrating location-based marketing with reputation management and customer experience. Adam contributes regularly to publications such as Search Engine Land, participates in Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey, and regularly speaks at search marketing events such as Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West and State of Search as well as industry-specific events such as HIMSS. Follow him on Twitter @phixed.
I have put off sharing my experiences with mental illness for a long time because I wanted to be “fixed” before I could feel like I was in a place to be giving advice to others.
I would have felt like a fraud to be telling others how things can get better, when I kept taking the odd step backward with my own mental health.
But here’s the secret: there is no “fixed,” and that is OK.
There isn’t a black and white divide between being happy and struggling through. And that is why we need to learn to give ourselves a break when we stumble or have a bad day, or a bad month. It’s OK.
I have always been a deeply private person; feeling more comfortable listening than holding the attention of others.
However, when I see others suffering, I feel that there is a greater need to do what I can to give those people out there some advice, and a bit of hope. So I’ve decided to put my privacy aside for this article.
That’s why I’d like to share my experiences with mental illness, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I hope it helps even one person feel less alone.
It’s thanks to my own support network as well as a much-needed push after reading Navah Hopkins’ great article on Search Engine Journal which inspired me to finally show this post the light of day, after years of going backward and forward between writing out my thoughts only to back out and scrap them.
My Experiences with Clinical Depression & Anxiety
I started experiencing symptoms of severe clinical depression at the age of 15.
As someone well-versed in hiding my emotions, I have always noted the surprise on doctors’ faces — both on the day of my diagnosis and on multiple occasions over the years — when I would come into their office with the most convincing smile and politeness I could muster, and then score in the mid-20s on the NHS Depression in Adults questionnaire.
Alongside depression, my anxiety levels soon started creeping up and I have been struggling with a combination of both for more than 10 years now.
Depression and anxiety are a really difficult combination to deal with.
The depression will sap you of your drive and energy, and the anxiety will be sending you waves of panic because you aren’t being as high-functioning as you could be.
The two are at constant war with one another. You’re sinking further underwater and losing touch with the world around you, but also feeling alarm bells ringing inside at the same time.
This is something I still struggle with, but where I am now compared to where I was 10 years ago is astonishing when I stop and think about it.
I was a very unhappy and lost teenager who couldn’t see a way forward for myself. I felt that applying to university would be dishonest because I didn’t see a future for myself, and I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time as I didn’t think I’d be around long enough to actually go.
I did apply, however. And with a combination of multiple visits to the campus doctor, a course of strong antidepressants and postponing my final year and graduating a year later than expected, I made it through with a degree to show for it.
My journey into technical SEO hasn’t been all smooth sailing, which I have written about previously. However, I have now reached a point in my career where I’m really proud of what I have achieved.
I have developed the internal strength and mental control to face new challenges, such as publishing articles and research pieces to wide audiences, as well as delivering technical talks at digital marketing conferences around the world.
By no means has this journey been easy; my progress has been down to a number of different factors that I have had to work really hard at over the years.
That’s why I’ve decided to put together some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through my own experiences, in the hope that they can help others.
1. Open up & Talk
This is the first and most important step to getting better.
I know it can be overwhelming to consider letting someone else know how you’re feeling inside, because they’ll never understand and they’ll think you’re ‘crazy,’ right?
The people who matter will want to help you, and they will not judge you or see you any differently.
I’ve been surprised by how understanding people have been when I’ve told them about my illness, whether that’s family members, friends, or even bosses. It can be scary to strike up that conversation, but you’ll feel so much better once it’s out in the open.
Choose a few select people to tell about your illness and build your own support network of people who will be there to check in on you.
This will help to start clearing those feelings of loneliness, and your network will also be able to provide you with the support you need to go and talk to a doctor who will be able to help you plan out your recovery strategy.
2. Practice Mindfulness
This has been one of the most effective methods that have helped me over the years.
I’ve attended a variety of different types of therapy sessions in my time, but something really clicked for me in one particular CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) session.
I was given a thought sheet, which is a piece of paper with different columns where you write down your worry or negative thought, and then fill in the following details:
At face value, I thought this was a basic method that wouldn’t be useful. I initially thought I would humor the therapist by trying it out.
However, the first time I filled it out I was able to see how unwell I really was and how unhealthy my existing mental processes were.
At that point, I had gone through 23 years of my life by letting my mind run completely wild with negative thoughts, never once pulling them up and questioning their validity.
But once I could write them down on paper and see a blank column for “facts that support the unhelpful thought” and a full column for “facts that provide evidence against the unhelpful thought,” everything changed.
Writing down your thoughts is step one, the next step is to practice this process internally, which is also known as mindfulness.
Restructuring the way you think is a challenge, but it’s essential to be able to live a happier, healthier life.
It can feel really alien at first to monitor your own brain for negative thoughts and then work through them one at a time, but it does work and starts to become a normal part of the way you think.
It takes practice and perseverance. Trust me.
Thinking about your own thoughts can feel exhausting at first. Training your mind in this way can feel like exercising a muscle that you’ve never used before.
But over time it gets easier, and the process becomes more immediate. When negative thoughts crop up you’ll be able to cut right into your internal dialogue with questions such as:
“Is there any evidence that I’m doing a bad job?”
“What about the time that x complimented me on my performance?”
3. Find an Exercise Routine That Works for You
When I’m feeling down, the last thing I want to do is leave the house, let alone physically exert myself.
But I always feel so much better once I’ve forced myself to go for a run or attend a gym class. It helps you push the reset button on your brain and return to the rest of your day with a calmer mind.
I’m someone who is really motivated by seeing progression, so signing up to a gym near my house has been great for me.
There are some classes that run through similar combinations of moves each week, and I’m able to see myself progressing as certain moves get easier for me each session, which gives me a real sense of accomplishment.
Push yourself to get out of the house a few times a week and go for a walk, a run, or a swim, anything. Just go and do something that can get your endorphins flowing. You’ll thank yourself for it once you’ve finished.
4. Give Yourself a Break
Don’t beat yourself up for having a tough time. This is where having anxiety can be a real problem when you have a low mood, as it fills you with overwhelming thoughts that you don’t have time to feel sad and that you’re letting yourself and everyone else around you down for not being at your best.
First of all, stop and breathe.
Whenever I feel like this, I practice a simple breathing exercise. Three slow, deep breaths. That’s it. This always works wonders for me and helps me reset.
Secondly, this is perfectly normal. Every single one of us struggles from time to time.
Recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed and just take a step back and practice some self-care until you feel like yourself again.
Take some time to rest as well as doing some of the things you enjoy. I know that depression can rob you of your ability to enjoy things, but taking a break to rest first really helps to open me up to more positive feelings.
A “self-care” day will look different for everyone.
For example, my ideal rest day would probably involve a lie in, playing video games, a yoga session, a bubble bath, and a walk in nature where I can pet some dogs.
If I’ve had a tough day, my partner will take me out on a walk to our local park to look at dogs. It’s simple but it works every time!
5. Give Back
Nothing can pull me out of a dark place like seeing someone else hurting. Helping someone else with their problems can transport you away from your own darkness.
Make a note to check in with the people you care about every now and again and see if there’s any way you can support them.
We all like to brush things off and say that everything is fine, so instigating a genuine conversation with someone about how they’re feeling can be incredibly impactful. It’s important that we all take the time to acknowledge and check in with each other on a deeper level.
As well as helping people in your immediate network, think about other ways in which you can use your own experiences to give advice and support to others struggling with mental illness. It might be starting a blog on mental health, or raising money for charities like Mind or Samaritans, for example.
As painful as it can be to suffer from a mental illness, I believe that it gives you the superpower of enhanced empathy.
You know what it’s like to hurt, so you have a heightened sense of the pain in others and wanting to help them feel better so they don’t have to experience the kinds of things that you yourself have felt.
Embrace your powers and share them with the people around you.
I’ve made a lot of progress with managing my mental health up until this point, but I’m not completely “fixed,” as this is an unhealthy idea that isn’t realistic.
Instead of striving for a place of perfection, we need to keep working toward being more understanding and forgiving of ourselves over time.
This post originally was published on Medium, and has been republished with permission of the author.
Screenshot taken by author, August 2019 In-Post Image: Max van den Oetelaar/Unsplash