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How to prepare for a JS migration

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An 80 percent decrease in organic traffic is the nightmare of every business. Unfortunately, such a nightmarish scenario may become reality if a website migration is done incorrectly; instead of improving the current situation it eventually leads to catastrophe.

Source: http://take.ms/V6aDv

There are many types of migrations, such as changing, merging or splitting the domains, redesigning the website or moving to a new framework.

Web development trends are clearly showing that the use of JavaScript has been growing in recent years and JavaScript frameworks are becoming more and more popular. In the future, we can expect that more and more websites will be using JavaScript.

Source: https://httparchive.org/reports/state-of-javascript

As a consequence, SEOs will be faced with the challenge of migrating to JavaScript frameworks.

In this article, I will show you how to prepare for a migration of a website built with a static HTML to a JavaScript framework.

Search engines vs. JavaScript

Google is the only search engine that is able to execute JavaScript and “see” the elements like content and navigation even if they are powered by JavaScript. However, there are two things that you always need to remember when considering changes to a JS framework.

Firstly, Google uses Chrome 41 for rendering pages. This is a three-year old browser that does not support all the modern features needed for rendering advanced features. Even if they can render JS websites in general, it may happen that some important parts will not be discovered due to the reliance on technology that Google can’t process.

Secondly, JS executing is an extremely heavy process so that Google indexes JS websites in two waves. The first wave gets the raw HTML indexed. In the case of JS-powered websites, this translates to almost an empty page. During the second wave, Google executes JavaScript so they can “see” the additional elements loaded by JS. Then they are ready for indexing the full content of the page.

The combination of these two elements makes it so that if you decide to change your current website to the JavaScript framework, you always need to check if Google can efficiently crawl and index your website.

Migration to a JS framework done right

SEOs may not like JavaScript, but it doesn’t mean that its popularity will stop growing. We should get prepared as much as we can and implement the modern framework correctly.

Below you will find information that will help you navigate through the process of changing the current framework. I do not provide “ready-to-go” solutions because your situation will be the result of different factors and there is no universal recipe. However, I want to stress the elements you need to pay particular attention to.

Cover the basics of standard migration

You can’t count on the miracle that Google will understand the change without your help. The whole process of migration should be planned in detail.

I want to keep the focus on JS migration for this article, so if you need detailed migration guidelines, Bastian Grimm has already covered this.

Source: Twitter

Understand your needs in terms of serving the content to Google

This step should be done before anything else. You need to decide on how Google will receive the content of your website. You have two options:

1. Client-side rendering: This means that you are totally relying on Google for rendering. However, if you go for this option you agree on some inefficiency. The first important drawback of this solution is the deferred indexing of your content due to the two waves of indexing mentioned above. Secondly, it may happen that everything doesn’t work properly because Chrome 41 is not supporting all the modern features. And last, but not least, not all search engines can execute JavaScript, so your JS website will seem empty to Bing, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook.

Source: YouTube

2. Server-side rendering: This solution relies on rendering by an external mechanism or the additional mechanism/component responsible for the rendering of JS websites, creating a static snapshot and serving it to the search engine crawlers. At the Google I/O conference, Google announced that serving a separate version of your website only to the crawler is fine. This is called Dynamic Rendering, which means that you can detect the crawler’s User Agent and send the server-side rendered version. This option also has its disadvantages: creating and maintaining additional infrastructure, possible delays if a heavy page is rendered on the server or possible issues with caching (Googlebot may receive a not-fresh version of the page).

Source: Google

Before migration, you need to answer if you need option A or B.

If the success of your business is built around fresh content (news, real estate offers, coupons), I can’t imagine relying only on the client-side rendered version. It may result in dramatic delays in indexing so your competitors may gain an advantage.

If you have a small website and the content is not updated very often, you can try to leave it as client-side rendered, but you should test before launching the website if Google really does see the content and navigation. The most useful tools to do so are Fetch as Google in GSC and the Chrome 41 browser.

However, Google officially stated that it’s better to use Dynamic Rendering to make sure they will discover frequently changing content correctly and quickly.

Framework vs. solution

If your choice is to use Dynamic Rendering, it’s time to answer how to serve the content to the crawlers. There is no one universal answer. In general, the solution depends on the technology AND developers AND budget AND your needs.

Below you will find a review of the options you have from a few approaches, but the choice is yours:

  • I need an as simple a solution as possible.

Probably I’d go for pre-rendering, for example with prerender.io. It’s an external service that crawls your website, renders your pages and creates static snapshots to serve them if a specific User Agent makes a request. A big advantage of this solution is the fact that you don’t need to create your own infrastructure.

You can schedule recrawling and create fresh snapshots of your pages. However, for bigger and frequently changing websites, it might be difficult to make sure that all the pages are refreshed on time and show the same content both to Googlebot and users.

  • I need a universal solution and I follow the trends.

If you build the website with one of the popular frameworks like React, Vue, or Angular, you can use one of the methods of Server Side Rendering dedicated to a given framework. Here are some popular matches:

Using one of these frameworks installed on the top of React or Vue results in creating a universal application, meaning that the exact same code can be executed both on the server (Server Side rendering) and in the client (Client Side Rendering). It minimizes the issues with a content gap that you could have if you rely on creating snapshots and heavy caching, as with prerender.

  • I need a universal solution and I don’t use a popular framework.

It may happen that you are going to use a framework that does not have a ready-to-use solution for building a universal application. In this case, you can go for building your infrastructure for rendering. It means that you can install a headless browser on your server that will render all the subpages of your website and create the snapshots that are served to the search engine crawlers. Google provides a solution for that – Puppeteer is a library that does a similar job as prender.io. However, everything happens on your infrastructure.

  • I want a long-lasting solution.

For this, I’d use hybrid rendering. It’s said that this solution provides the best experience both to users and the crawlers because users and crawlers receive a server-side rendered version of the page on the initial request. In many cases, serving an SSR page is faster for users rather than executing all the heavy files in the browser. All subsequent user interactions are served by JavaScript. Crawlers do not interact with the website by clicking or scrolling so it’s always a new request to the server and they always receive an SSR version. Sounds good, but it’s not easy to implement.

Source: YouTube

The option that you choose will depend on many factors like technology, developers and budgets. In some cases, you may have a few options, but in many cases, you may have many restrictions, so picking a solution will be a single-choice process.

Testing the implementation

I can’t imagine a migration without creating a staging environment and testing how everything works. Migration to a JavaScript framework adds complexity and additional traps that you need to watch out for.

There are two scenarios. If for some reason you decided to rely on client-side rendering, you need to install Chrome 41 and check how it renders and works. One of the most important points of an audit is checking errors in the console in Chrome Dev Tools. Remember that even a small error in processing JavaScript may result in issues with rendering.

If you decided to use one of the methods of serving the content to the crawler, you will need to have a staging site with this solution installed. Below, I’ll outline the most important elements that should be checked before going live with the website:

1. Content parity

You should always check if users and crawlers are seeing exactly the same content. To do that, you need to switch the user agents in the browser to see the version sent to the crawlers. You should verify the general discrepancies regarding rendering. However, to see the whole picture you will also need to check the DOM (Document Object Model) of your website. Copy the source code from your browser, then change the User Agent to Googlebot and grab the source code as well. Diffchecker will help you to see the differences between the two files. You should especially look for the differences in the content, navigation and metadata.

An extreme situation is when you send an empty HTML file to Googlebot, just as Disqus does.

Source: Google

This is what their SEO Visibility looks like:

Source: http://take.ms/Fu3bL

They’ve seen better days. Now the homepage is not even indexed.

2. Navigation and hyperlinks

To be 100 percent sure that Google sees, crawls and passes link juice, you should follow the clear recommendation of implementing internal links shared at Google I/O Conference 2018.

Source: YouTube

If you rely on server-side rendering methods, you need to check if the HTML of a prerendered version of a page contains all the links that you expect. In other words, if it has the same navigation as your client-side rendered version. Otherwise, Google will not see the internal linking between pages. Critical areas where you may have problems is facet navigation, pagination, and the main menu.

3. Metadata

Metadata should not be dependent on JS at all. Google says that if you load the canonical tag with JavaScript they probably will not see this in the first wave of indexing and they will not re-check this element in the second wave. As a result, the canonical signals might be ignored.

While testing the staging site, always check if an SSR version has the canonical tag in the head section. If yes, confirm that the canonical tag is the correct one. A rule of thumb is always sending consistent signals to the search engine whether you use client or server-side rendering.

While checking the website, always verify if both CSR and SSR versions have the same titles, descriptions and robots instructions.

4. Structured data

Structured data helps the search engine to better understand the content of your website.

Before launching the new website make sure that the SSR version of your website displays all the elements that you want to mark with structured data and if the markups are included in the prerendered version. For example, if you want to add markups to the breadcrumbs navigation. In the first step, check if the breadcrumbs are displayed on the SSR version. In the second step, run the test in Rich Results Tester to see if the markups are valid.

5. Lazy loading

My observations show that modern websites love loading images and content (e.g. products)  with lazy loading. The additional elements are loaded on a scroll event. Perhaps it might be a nice feature for users, but Googlebot can’t scroll, so as a consequence these items will not be discovered.

Seeing that so many webmasters are having problems with lazy loading in an SEO-friendly way, Google published a guideline for the best practices of lazy loading. If you want to load images on a scroll, make sure you support paginated loading. This means that if you scroll, the URLs should change (e.g., by adding the pagination identifiers: ?page=2, ?page=3, etc.) and most importantly, the URLs are updated with the proper content, for example by using History API.

Do not forget about adding rel=”prev” and rel=”next” markups in the head section to indicate the sequence of the pages.

Snapshot generation and cache settings

If you decided to create a snapshot for search engine crawlers, you need to monitor a few additional things.

You must check if the snapshot is an exact copy of the client-side rendered version of your website. You can’t load additional content or links that are not visible to a standard user, because it might be assessed as cloaking. If the process of creating snapshots is not efficient e.g. your pages are very heavy and your server is not that fast, it may result in creating broken snapshots. As a result, you will serve e.g. partially rendered pages to the crawler.

There are some situations when the rendering infrastructure must work at high-speeds, such as Black Friday when you want to update the prices very quickly. You should test the rendering in extreme conditions and see how much time it takes to update a given number of pages.

The last thing is caching. Setting the cache properly is something that will help you to maintain efficiency because many pages might be quickly served directly from the memory. However, if you do not plan the caching correctly, Google may receive stale content.

Monitoring

Monitoring post-migration is a natural step. However, in the case of moving to a JS framework, sometimes there is an additional thing to monitor and optimize.

Moving to a JS framework may affect web performance. In many cases, the payload increases which may result in longer loading times, especially for mobile users. A good practice is monitoring how your users perceive the performance of the website and compare the data before and after migration. To do so you can use Chrome User Experience Report.

Source: Google

It will provide information if the Real User Metrics have changed over time. You should always aim at improving them and loading the website as fast as possible.

Summary

Migration is always a risky process and you can’t be sure of the results. The risks might be mitigated if you plan the whole process in detail. In the case of all types of migrations, planning is as important as the execution. If you take part in the migration to the JS framework, you need to deal with additional complexity. You need to make additional decisions and you need to verify additional things. However, as web development trends continue to head in the direction of using JavaScript more and more, you should be prepared that sooner or later you will need to face a JS migration. Good luck!


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

Maria Cieslak is a Senior Technical SEO Consultant at Elephate, the “Best Small SEO Agency” in Europe. Her day to day involves creating and executing SEO strategies for large international structures and pursuing her interest in modern websites built with JavaScript frameworks. Maria has been a guest speaker at SEO conferences in Europe, including 2018’s SMX London, where she has spoken on a wide range of subjects, including technical SEO and JavaScript. If you are interested in more information on this subject, you should check out Elephate’s “Ultimate Guide to JavaScript SEO“.





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FTC smacks down anti-review ‘non-disparagement clauses’ in form contracts

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There are numerous studies circulating that show how important reviews are to consumer purchase decision-making. To protect the integrity of online reviews Congress passed The Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA) in 2016. This was largely modeled on an earlier California law.

CRFA makes non-disparagement clauses illegal. The intention of CRFA was to “prohibit the use of certain clauses in form contracts that restrict the ability of a consumer to communicate regarding the goods or services offered in interstate commerce that were the subject of the contract, and for other purposes.”

These terms are typically called “non-disparagement” clauses and have been used periodically by professionals and corporations to pre-empt and prevent negative reviews. They often provide financial penalties or the right to sue for their violation. But they’re illegal.

Trying to get away with it anyway. Apparently quite a few businesses didn’t get the memo. Last week the FTC announced that it had settled administrative complaints with five firms using these illegal clauses in their customer contracts:

  • A Waldron HVAC
  • National Floors Direct
  • LVTR LLC
  • Shore to Please Vacations
  • Staffordshire Property Management

The FTC administrative complaints were originally announced in May and June. (The Yelp blog has some additional factual detail about the companies and circumstances.) It’s not clear if these contracts have just been in use for years (pre-dating the CRFA) or whether the companies got bad legal advice.

Must notify all their customers. Each of these firms must now notify all consumers who signed their agreements that the contractual provisions in question are not enforceable. There are other multi-year reporting and compliance requirements that the FTC orders impose as well.

In addition, Shore to Please Vacations apparently sued a vacation renter, who had written a negative review, in Florida civil court. It must now dismiss the private lawsuit for breach of contract.

Why we should care. Any marketer, brand or business owner contemplating any scheme to prevent or preempt negative reviews needs to stop thinking this way immediately. These efforts invariably backfire and cause more damage to the business’ reputation than anything contemplated by the non-disparagement clause.

Marketers need to follow review best practices and treat reviews and responding to them as just an ordinary part of doing business. It’s also important to remember that businesses that have some critical reviews ultimately have more credibility than those with only five star reviews.


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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7 Expert Tips to Boost Your PPC Performance Today

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Over the last decade, the number of account and campaign parameters to consider has shot up almost 20 times.

How are PPC specialists expected to know which actions to choose for the best results?

And what exactly do you need to do to continually increase performance while staying ultra-competitive in the marketplace?

On August 14, I moderated a sponsored SEJ webinar presented by Adzooma’s Puneet Vaghela and Sal Mohammed.

They shared seven essential PPC optimization strategies that are proven to boost ROI, save time, and reduce spend.

Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.

 Adzooma’s Puneet Vaghela and Sal Mohammed share seven essential PPC optimization strategies that are proven to boost ROI, save time, and reduce spend. From set up, budgeting and account structure, to the use of data, technology integrations and audience settings, this valuable webinar will cover it all.

So much has changed in the paid search landscape in the past few years. Today, it has become a complex ecosystem with:

With all of this to consider, it’s essential to determine what actions to take through all the clutter of managing a PPC account.

Here are seven areas to consider when optimizing your paid search campaigns if you want to bring the greatest returns.

1. Account & Campaign Settings

No one has an infinite marketing budget, therefore it’s important to find efficiencies wherever possible in your account.

There are three different settings in your account and campaign that you can easily change to boost PPC performance.

Locations

Location targeting

It’s important to use location targeting in your PPC campaigns to drive efficiencies and identify geographic areas with a higher propensity to convert.

It’s one of the best ways to actually reduce wastage in ad spend. Make sure to target your audience in the areas they’re searching.

If you don’t use location settings, you’ll be wasting budget showing ads to people who have no interest in your business.

Location settings also allow you to see in which areas you have the most traction. Therefore, you should concentrate budgets in these areas to maximize the effectiveness of your PPC spend.

Make sure you select the country you want to target when you set up your campaigns initially and then drill down and create campaigns for specific locations for the top-performing areas.

Devices

Device targeting

Ensuring you’re targeting the correct devices is also key to success.

Google has said that about 30–50% of searches on mobile have local intent.

If you’re a business or a high street store, you should be increasing bids on mobile targeting to reach people in the right place, at the right time.

People also interact on devices differently so use the data within your search engine to see which devices are driving the strongest KPI performance and modify bids accordingly.

Don’t worry about bidding too high, the data you gather will help inform you in your most profitable areas moving forward. That extra you spend in the beginning will just help you further down the line.

Ad Copy Rotation

Ad copy rotation

This is something that a lot of people just leave to Google to do for them.

But a lot of advertisers do like rotating ads evenly so they can optimize it themselves.

If the aim of your campaign is for branding, then this works. You can use tag lines from other media channels to support your messaging and then test it. Learn their ad copy to make sure you’re using the right one.

However, if you’re running a direct response campaign, then you should be trying to maximize the number of clicks or conversions coming to your site.

It would be a good idea to allow the system to actually optimize the ads for you based on the best click-through rate or conversion rate.

2. Automated Bid Management

Bid Management in the Engine

You should be using bid management in Bing or Google Ads to make your ads work as hard as possible for you.

Firstly, you need to analyze your data from the engine or analytics to see how many searches people take to convert with you. You need this to know which bidding works best.

You can then set up automated bidding in the engine based on the last-click conversion model if your conversion length is small.

If your conversion length is high, set it up based on a many-per-click conversion model so you can capture all the keywords required for someone to convert.

Bid Management Using Rules

You can also use automated rules to ensure your account is performing to the standards you expect using third-party bid management platforms, such as Adzooma.

When you’ve analyzed the data in your account, you’ll have identified how many impressions, clicks and conversions you need to drive profitability or hit your target KPI.

With this knowledge, you can set up automated rules to make changes to your account based on these criteria and help drive greater performance on your account while saving you time.

Bid management is generally a good strategy, particularly if you’re new and you don’t know which bids you should be putting in and how to manage them.

If you’re a large-scale advertiser and you’re inundated with different campaigns that you’re running, it is also another great thing you can use.

3. Data Integrations

Data integration is vital to any marketing team. There’s an easy way to integrate your analytics data with your search data in one platform.

Google Analytics, even if it’s the free version, is an important tool for marketers as it allows you to make more informed decisions on your PPC spend.

To link Google Ads and Google Analytics, you’ll need administrative access to Google Ads account and edit permission to a Google Analytics account.

Once you actually have the two platforms linked, you’ll be able to see a number of metrics you couldn’t before including:

  • How many of your clicks resulted in new visitors to your site.
  • How long people are spending on your site from PPC.
  • And, using goals in analytics, what actions people are actually taking on your site from PPC.

Using this data, you can see which keywords are working best for site engagement and optimize accordingly based on your KPIs.

If you’re running a branding campaign, you want more people to spend more time on your site and visit more pages if you’re running a direct response campaign, you want more people to interact with specific goals on your site and probably convert at the same time.

With an analytics integration, you can also start creating audiences based on people’s on-site behavior which is really important.

4. Audience Data

Paid search is based on keyword intent – targeting people based on what they are looking for at all times. It’s been like this since the start.

However, today’s climate is very busy with multiple channels, devices, locations, seasonality, increasing competition, and more data than ever been before.

So how do you sort through the clutter to make sure you’re targeting the people most likely to convert with you and thereby maximize the utilization of your marketing budget?

Why You Should Be Using RLSA

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs) were introduced by Google in 2013 and have grown to become one of the most important strategies available to marketers.

Identifying where people are interacting with your site and gauging who are most likely to convert with you is key to increasing efficiency in your ad spend and improving your conversion rate and cost per acquisition or cost per lead.

In Google Ads and Bing Ads, you can create audiences based on which URLs people have visited on your website and then retarget them when they search for other relevant terms to either:

  • Ensure your ad is appearing in front of them (particularly good for generic keyword efficiency).
  • Or show people different messaging to entice them.

You can also use other data, like demographic data, to make your ads even more targeted. However, this is just one aspect of remarketing with audiences.

How to Create More Enhanced Lists for RLSA

Moving further along, you should also be integrating any CRM data with your search platforms to create customer match lists which are audience lists based on the email addresses within your database.

This allows you to target people you know have already interacted with you and creates similar audience lists to target people similar to people who have already engaged with you and should play a part in your CRM strategy.

Linking your analytics platform with Google Ads allows you to use other on-site metrics to create audience lists. Time on-site, bounce rate, goals, pages visited, etc. are all very important in creating audience lists.

This will let you retarget people, not only based on what pages they visited on your site, but also how long they spend. This means you have another engagement aspect you can layer into your audience strategy.

Why is this important?

Audiences allow you to narrow down your targeting ratio.

This means that rather than spending your budget guessing who might interact and convert with you, you can use this data to:

  • Make informed decisions on which groups of people have the highest propensity to convert.
  • Target them specifically – increasing the effectiveness of your media budget.

That’s really important because acquiring a customer can cost five times the amount of retaining a customer.

If you find someone who’s gone to your site and shown interest, then creating a strategy that can reengage or similarly find more people like that user is something you should be leveraging.

Demographic targeting is also key. It enables you to reach a specific audience based on age, gender, parental status, household income, and multiple other variables.

5. Generic Keyword Efficiency

With generic keyword being so expensive, it’s important to use them properly.

Generics are higher in the funnel, used more for research purposes. Conversion rates on generic terms tend to be very low, and far lower than brand terms.

It’s an ineffective way to drive business goals based on a last-click conversion model.

How to Use Generics Properly

You can use generics as a retargeting mechanism – targeting people in your audience lists when they search for generic terms are after visiting your site.

They will have already engaged with you and so they will be familiar with your brand. Thus, when they widen their search, keep your brand at the forefront of their minds and get them back to convert, either through:

  • A different messaging (i.e., put an offer into the ad copy).
  • Or by increasing your bids on your audiences so that you appear more prominently on generic terms at a time when people are more likely to convert.

This will allow you to concentrate your generic keyword budget to an audience with a higher propensity to engage which will drive higher click-through rates (and hopefully conversion rates), reduce impression wastage, and allow you to use your budget more effectively.

Using scripts can make the use of generics a lot easier. If you ensure your generic keywords are only live during certain moments or triggers, it increases their value to your business and makes the use of them more efficient.

One example is if you sell ice cream, use generic terms when it’s really hot to increase the likelihood of people purchasing your product rather than wasting money showing your ad when it’s cold.

How to use generics properly

To run a strategy like this you can either write a weather script in Google ads using an API connection from a weather information source or you can use a third-party platform that already has the API connection set up.

This will allow you to automate the process of activating ads for specific generic keywords based on the trigger you decide.

This strategy can be used with a multitude of triggers such as TV ads, programs, social posts, news articles, stock market fluctuations, pollution levels, sports, and even other events.

Basically, anything that you can get an API connection to, you can feed that back into Google Ads to trigger into a strategy like this.

6. Effective Account Structure

Your account structure forms the foundation of your entire account and how well it will performs.

A broad structure will lead to impression wastage.

A granular account structure may take longer to set up in the short run but will benefit you with more accurate data and bid management capabilities moving forward.

Ensure Your Campaigns Are Split by Products or Categories

Don’t lump random keywords together. This will allow you to write more relevant ad copy based on the keywords in your ad groups and campaigns.

Some people like to use their websites as a touchpoint on how to structure their account and that’s a good idea.

However, if it’s a particularly large website, it can get quite difficult to use so just make sure that you are splitting your products and categories into the keywords that they should be by a group.

If You’re Covering Your Main Brand Term, They Should Have Its Own Campaign

This will allow you to manage the daily budget for this keyword much more accurately than if it’s fighting for budget with other keywords.

The same here comes into effect for your highest performing terms as well, even if they’re generics.

Create Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs), Where Possible

For your top-performing keywords, keep them in their own ad groups to:

  • Make the ad copy as accurate as possible for testing and learning.
  • Give you the ability to manage their daily budgets and bids separately so all your other keywords in your account.

Split Your Campaigns by Match Types

Using the following match types is recommended:

  • Exact match for traffic generation.
  • Broad match modifier to identify new keywords to add to your account.

Why avoid other match types?

  • Using broad match can cause impression wastage and your budget can get depleted quickly.
  • Broad match modified basically can cover all phrase match plus can harness a large net for harvesting new keywords.

This will allow you to manage your traffic drivers more effectively and allocate the correct budget levels to them and then use your remaining budget to invest in broad match modifier terms to harvest new keywords

By following these tips to building a strong foundation in your account, you’ll be able to initially identify your optimal bidding levels and you can then allow the bidding algorithms within the engine or third-party tool you’re using to optimize activity for more secure base.

Once you’re happy with your account structure, you can use numerous review tools to check how it’s performing and benchmark against that.

Using Adzooma’s free Google Ads Health Check tool can help you quickly spot 47 automatic areas on your account to see if it is set up the correct way.

7. Attribution

When most people think about attribution, they think about a complex user journey and having to use a data science team to translate what the numbers mean into actionable marketing ideas.

But attribution doesn’t have to be time-consuming or something only data scientists can do.

Using Google Ads, you can use data-driven attribution to report on your performance and see which touchpoints along the user journey are leading to the conversions on your site.

You can also use it to inform your bidding rules – which keywords to bid on – not based on the last-click model, but based on the effectiveness of each keyword in the journey.

This means that rather than just pausing a keyword because it didn’t result in a conversion, you can now ensure that:

  • You’re visible on keywords that help in driving conversions throughout the user journey.
  • You’re optimized towards the ones which have the greatest impact at the beginning and in the middle of the journey

Data-driven attribution is different from the other attribution models in that it uses your conversion data to calculate the actual contribution of each keyword across the conversion path.

Each data-driven model is specific to each advertiser.

There’s a caveat, however.

Data-driven attribution requires a certain amount of data to create a precise model of how your conversions should be attributed.

Because of this, not all advertisers will see an option for data-driven attribution in Google Ads.

As a general guideline, for this model to be available you must have at least 15,000 clicks on Google search and conversion action must have at least 600 conversions within 30 days.

If you don’t have this volume of data, you can use attribution modeling in Google Analytics to identify your keyword values through the funnel, analyze that manually, and then attribute it back to your activity.

7 Key Takeaways

  • Push some simple change to your account that will make a big difference.
  • Automate the way you manage bids and improve performance.
  • Integrate data to enhance your bidding strategies.
  • Know why audience data is so important and how to use it.
  • Make generic keywords work harder for you.
  • Boost performance quickly with simple account structure changes.
  • Deploy data-driven attribution that drives performance.

[Video Recap] Improve Your PPC Performance Starting Today with These 7 Expert Actions

Watch the video recap of the webinar presentation and Q&A session.

Or check out the SlideShare below.


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, August 2019



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Are your Google text ads getting truncated? Here’s what to consider

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This week, Andrea Cruz, digital marketing manager at KoMarketing noticed text ad headlines and descriptions getting cut off and wondered if is new.

I looked back at some older screenshots of search results and didn’t see truncation happening very often. But now I’m easily able to replicate the kind of result Andrea saw, including in the first text ad position, as in the example below.

Truncated headlines and descriptions in expanded text ads aren’t new, but it could be that it’s happening more often lately with certain ad renderings, which frequently include no ad extensions. Is the pendulum swinging back to simpler ads?

Why does ad truncation happen?

One thing to keep in mind is that truncation is about pixels rather than a specific character count, and wider characters use more pixels. In 2016, when expanded text ads were introduced, Google said advertisers should consider limiting headline length to 33 characters to keep them from potentially being truncated. That’s still the suggested length in the help center, even since Google added the third headline option:

“In some situations, Google Ads needs to shorten your text, usually with an ellipsis (“…”). This could happen if your ad text frequently uses wider characters (like “m”) instead of narrower characters (like “i”), because your headline text could be wider than the space available for it on some browser sizes. With most Latin languages, you can avoid this effect by limiting your line’s overall character count to 33 characters total.”

Additionally, if the ad preview in Google Ads shows the full headline, Google says it will generally render completely.

For descriptions, Google doesn’t give specific guidelines, and the preview tool won’t show truncation. Again, pixels will matter. In several results I looked at, description truncation happened between 84 to 86 characters, but a description with 91 characters displayed in full on one line because it had a lot of narrow letters.

Is ad truncation happening more often?

It may appear that truncation is happening more often because of the way Google often displays text ads now. The text ads above the organic results often show with just one description line, particularly on desktop.

Consider this screenshot of a results page for the query “car loan” captured last year in July 2018:

A Google search result from 2018.

Now, compare that to a results page served today in which the ads in positions two to four include just one line of description copy (the last ad’s description is truncated) and no ad extensions below them:

In a result from today, only the first ad shows ad extensions. The other ads show just one line of description copy.

I see this shorter ad rendering regularly across various queries, particularly on desktop. And the lack of ad extensions is interesting. Ads at the bottom of the page on mobile and desktop tend to show more description copy as well as ad extensions than ads above the organic results.

Ad rendering changes are constant

Google is always experimenting with the way it displays ads, even within the same results page. In the mobile example below (from today), notice the Expedia ad in the second position has a description that gets truncated and no ad extensions showing with it.

After refreshing that search result page later in the day, Expedia’s ad, still in the second position, appears with a description followed by callout extensions and an app extension, while the Hotwire ad in position three shows with just a description.

We don’t have control over how Google chooses to display our ads from one search result to the next, and it will vary based on device, browser and other contextual signals. It also decides when and what ad extensions to show. But we do have some control over truncation. If you want to avoid having your titles and descriptions cut off, experiment with length.

Something more interesting to watch may be the frequency with which your ad extensions show. It’s interesting to often see simpler ad treatments above the organic results these days.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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