Search Engine Watch https://www.searchenginewatch.com Wed, 23 Mar 2022 11:54:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.2 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/sew-favicon.png Search Engine Watch https://www.searchenginewatch.com 32 32 2022 Search ads 360 update: What you need to know https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2022/03/23/2022-search-ads-360-update-what-you-need-to-know/ Wed, 23 Mar 2022 07:31:27 +0000 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/?p=143813 Get more work done in one place, save time and access a better cross-channel view for data-driven decision making

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2022 Search ads 360 update What you need to know

30-second summary:

  • Search Ads 360 platform has seen one of its biggest updates in 10 years
  • Performics’ Senior Media Manager, Alex Medawar shares key highlights of the updates around budget optimization, performance monitoring, and inventory management

Google recently announced a new update to its Search Ads 360 platform – and it’s a big one. SA360 has gotten even more powerful since it was first launched over 10 years ago, making it simpler than ever for commercial enterprises to manage their search advertising efforts.

A select number of Search Ads 360 users finally gained preview access this past month.

The new platform experience will start rolling out over the coming months while allowing users to continue access in the classic experience. In this article, I outline what’s new and share effective ways to make the most of your budgets and inventory in the Search Ads 360 platform.

1. Greater support for alternative channels

One of the Search Ads 360 updates includes greater support for alternative search engines such as Microsoft Ads and Yahoo! Japan.

Other advertising channels have been neglected for years, and the consequence has been time-consuming workarounds to link data and make bulk changes.

As a result of the new update, Google promises that you will now be able to get more of your work done from the same place.

For Microsoft Advertisers, SA360 will now support additional features:

  • Response search ads
  • Call extensions
  • Local inventory ads
  • Access to a variety of audience types

For Yahoo! Japan advertisers, you can now utilize dynamic search ads and site link extension scheduling.

2. Access to new features

Search Ads 360 will now offer support for the newest features in Google Ads including:

  • Performance Max – a new goal-based campaign type that lets performance advertisers access all of their Google Ads inventory from a centralized campaign. 
  • Discovery campaigns – allows advertisers to run ads in Google discover feeds to deliver highly visual, inspiring personalized ad experiences
  • Display and YouTube Advertising (previously only in the platform)

Google has also added advanced enterprise innovation features that will allow teams to scale everyday tasks such as:

  • Campaign management
  • Create automated rules
  • Use labels across various advertisers simultaneously

The addition of Templates will combine current features like inventory management and ad builder for a unified and scalable experience.

new features in the Search Ads 360 update - inventory management and ad builder

For media managers who spend hours crafting forecasts, the new Performance Center will include enterprise planning capabilities with spend, CPA, and conversion forecasts in the coming months.

3. Updated inventory management

A revamped inventory management system provides streamlined workflows and more powerful controls over how you use your ad space.

Utilizing an inventory feed, SA360 can generate ready-to-go paid search campaigns using dynamic data such as price, description, and availability of your product from your feed.

This tool is especially useful for industry verticals with frequently changing prices and availability such as:

  • Airlines
  • Hotels
  • Live and Streaming Entertainment
  • Recruitment
  • Retail
  • Businesses with geo-specific offers

How it works

  1. Provide high-quality data and make a list of attributes for your feed such as product name, price, and landing page.
  2. Create templates for each type of output you want generated such as a campaign, ad group, ad, or keyword. (Tip: start small!)
  3. Utilize functions and attributes to generate highly relevant ads.
  4. Check your output and optimize until you are happy with the results.

Within minutes, you’ll have ready-to-go, targeted campaigns in your account that ready for launch.

In the new Search Ads 360, marketers will be able to manage templates across client accounts to update ads at scale.

budget management in Search Ads 360

4. Budget management

Any media manager will tell you that managing account budgets and pacing is one of the most critical components of campaign management and also one of the most difficult, especially at scale.

As part of the latest Search Ads 360 release, budget management will be improved and integrated with the new ‘Performance Center’.

Later this year, Google plans to provide complete access to these planning tools, allowing you to experiment with a variety of potential media budget flighting scenarios.

Features

The following are some of the features included in the present budget management system:

  • Visual graphs that include target and estimated spend, plus KPIs such as CPA (cost per acquisition) or revenue
  • Automatic budget allocation and bid adjustments set by your chosen budget bid strategy
  • Forecasting capabilities based on historical performance data that factors in seasonality
  • Estimated cumulative spend and likelihood to hit target spend based on historical data
  • Pacing reports at the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual level

As Google adds new features throughout the year, we can anticipate that these tools will become more accurate and streamlined for enterprise planning.

New look

The new Search Ads 360 experience closely resembles the Google Ads platform with similar navigation and a familiar user experience.

Upon launching the SA360 platform, you can see the identical account overview dashboard found in Google Ads for seamless navigation between the two.

Into the future

With the new Search Ads 360 update, Google opens doors for the next generation of enterprise innovations to optimize performance.

The new updates will help you get more work done in one place saving time and providing a better cross-channel view for data-driven decision making.

To learn all about the new tools, enroll in Google’s new Skillshop modules for Search Ads 360.


Alex Medawar is Senior Media Manager at Performics and creator of Alex Medawar.com. As a seasoned digital media expert, Alex Medawar focuses on B2B paid search campaign management and strategy for global brands in the tech space. Utilizing a data-driven approach, Alex believes that both small businesses and large enterprises alike can speak to their audience and drive results within the digital media landscape.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Online brand protection: trusted automated monitoring is key https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2022/03/22/online-brand-protection-trusted-automated-monitoring-is-key/ Tue, 22 Mar 2022 10:00:25 +0000 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/?p=143811 Brand protection in the digital age, is more complex than ever before. However, new tracking and analytics tools can help organisations ensure they retain their integrity and pursue growth

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Even though consumers enjoy having the world at their fingertips, they have become all too aware of how much their personal data is abused. According to the Nielsen 2021 Trust in Advertising Survey, 36 percent of respondents distrust ads on social networks, while 36 percent distrust ads served in search engine results.

“As people more frequently shop online, they’ve realized the top ads are not necessarily the best option,” says Josh Stephens, director of Digital Marketing at CWT, one of the biggest travel companies worldwide. “If consumers do not recognize the company name, they will not pay attention, so the ads are becoming a sort of screen blind spot.”

Daniel Creed, head of marketing, planning and effectiveness at Santander UK adds: “As media (particularly online and social channels) attracts increasing public scrutiny and politicization, brands increasingly risk becoming embroiled in controversy seemingly by their mere presence on a given platform at the wrong time.”

Fraudulent behaviour

It is therefore critical all businesses ensure their branding, advertising, and marketing practice integrity, whilst also protecting themselves against the maleficence of advertising fraud.

The unauthorised use of a company’s intellectual property by a third party can create confusion with the customer base, and prospects in terms of business offering, financial model, and a company’s values.

Advertising fraud has become an unintended by-product of the digital era, and left unchecked, can become increasingly rampant. Take affiliate marketing for example – a successful strategy used by digitally-savvy companies but has its own risks.

Affiliate marketing

Even for well-known companies, working with affiliates helps them to tap into audiences outside their traditional channels. Affiliates provide brands and marketers with the opportunity to reach and engage their target audience, creating not only an opportunity for acquisition, but also the opportunity to develop long term relationships with their audiences because of a trusted introduction and recommendation.

However, where traditional channels and affiliates often collide is in paid search, necessitating monitoring to prevent cross-channel cannibalization. “Brands today have become very adept at using paid search as a source of high intent traffic – particularly branded search,” says explains Van Chappell, general manager at BrandVerity, a US-headquartered company which provides paid search and affiliate monitoring tools.

He notes that when affiliates also appear on a search engine’s results page, they “compete” with the brands paid search team, driving up the cost of that traffic.  “It is also unlikely that traffic from branded search is incremental to traffic the brand would get anyway,” Chappell says.

Chappell also says  that “ad hijacks” sometimes occur. “We see affiliates which copy the ads already utilized by brands,” he says. “The consumer types in a search term, they see a search result and it looks like the brand they were looking for – they click on the ad, and it will take them to the site, and so to the user, everything’s fine.”

Behind the scenes

Everything, however, is not fine. Even though the brand will ultimately win the sale, this detour on the consumer journey bears a greater cost for the company. This is because the commission paid to an affiliate is considerably more than the CPC a paid search team pays to a search engine.

There is also an underlying cost to a company’s reputation among affiliates and, ultimately, their brand. “The affiliate channel is very important for brands; it’s a great marketing channel because it is performance based,” Chappell says.

“Affiliate managers, agencies and OPMs spend a lot of time cultivating these relationships and making these connections between publishers that come up with really interesting ways to reach consumers and the brands where those consumers then make purchases.”

Chappell adds a poor reputation “drives quality publishers away”. “It’s damaging for the channel and makes it much harder to have a successful affiliate programme,” he says.

When a brand has a clean and well run affiliate channel in place, it attracts the best partners, which promotes the brand and enables it to reach new audiences.

Chappell expands on the benefits further: “In many ways, some of these techniques [in affiliate fraud] can lead to distraction and lead you to places that you didn’t intend to go. If a brand can keep the search engine clean of all these distractions, the consumer clearly knows where they can go to do what they wanted. It’s a better experience for consumers.”

Keep it clean

Santander’s Creed believes it is not the customers’ responsibility to make the distinction between a platform getting it wrong and brands not taking precautions.

“The onus is on brands to ensure they are making informed decisions and are taking the necessary steps to mitigate and minimise these risks,” he says. “Brands need to understand the risks attendant to each media channel and develop a comprehensive policy for the protection of their brand and evolve the right tactics to protect themselves.”

To maintain a clean affiliate model, companies must monitor their affiliates. There are two ways to do this: manual monitoring and automated monitoring.

The former, for example, involves an affiliate manager typing branded or non-branded keywords into a search engine and monitoring the adverts which appear.

There are numerous challenges to this approach, however. Not only is it time-consuming, but it is also arguably ineffective given fraudulent adverts often look identical to their genuine counterparts.      It is also impossible to capture varying search engine results from just one location using manual monitoring.

Automated monitoring, on the other hand, means all associated affiliates are monitored from one place around the clock. If a false advert appears, brands can crackdown on unsavoury partners quickly, while protecting the customer journey and keeping their marketing budget intact.

In doing so, the brand reputation remains intact which helps them to attract the most successful affiliates. This in turn further promotes the brand in a virtuous cycle that continues to feed upon itself.

Marketing in the digital era promises boundless opportunities, but brand protection is more complex than ever. Fortunately, with the right tools in place, the results become clear.

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Here’s what an ROI-worthy search advertising budget looks like in 2022 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2022/03/17/heres-what-an-roi-worthy-search-advertising-budget-looks-like-in-2022/ Thu, 17 Mar 2022 12:08:21 +0000 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/?p=143805 Kris Jones shares some subtle considerations that will separate your search advertising strategy from your competitors (for good)

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Here’s what an ROI-worthy search advertising budget looks like in 2022

30-second summary:

  • Digital marketers experience a potential ROI tunnel vision when it comes to search advertising
  • Seriously, do you need to burn dollars over those high-competition keywords? Does it trickle down into actual business?
  • How do you not lose vision and outweigh the paid search cost with your revenue?
  • We’re bringing you the finer details of designing a paid media budget straight from an SEO expert and serial entrepreneur

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that success in digital marketing depends on a whole lot of things. There’s your skill-set, your team that helps you, and your understanding of the market where you’re trying to make a dent, either for yourself or your clients.

But how often do you think about your budget? Specifically, we’re talking about your search advertising budget here.

On its face, running paid media ads on Google Ads, the Google Display Network, Facebook, Microsoft, and other platforms is pretty simple: you bid on your keywords, define your target audiences, and run your ads for the length of the campaign.

You might not think that your budget factors into things beyond showing you the funds you have to work with, but I argue that there’s more to it than that, especially when every dollar counts and you have a potential tunnel vision on ROI.

The thing is, only you will be able to say ultimately what your ROI-worthy search advertising budget will look like this year, but in this article, I’ll explain how to design your paid media budget to strike gold in 2022.

The basics: What do you want?

So, you want to know what your search advertising budget should look like in 2022.

Let me ask you this first: who are you, how big is your business, how much do you have to devote to search advertising, and, most importantly of all, what do you want to accomplish?

There are so many factors here that only you will know, but the questions I’d ask myself if I were looking at designing a search advertising budget for 2022 would include:

  • What do I want out of my campaigns?
  • How many conversions can I reasonably expect to get from my campaigns?
  • Is search advertising my only growth channel right now, or are there others?
  • How much will I also be putting into SEO or email?
  • How can I track my search advertising to make sure my performance is what I expect?
  • What will success look like?

Your budget is going to reflect what you want out of your campaigns, and what you want should reflect what growth looks like to your business.

For instance, are you an affiliate-marketing blogger who just needs more eyeballs on your pages? Are you a law firm looking for real, honest form-fills? Are you an ecommerce brand that’s retargeting your audiences for products they’ve viewed?

All of it matters, because your approach to your search advertising, and consequently your budgeting, will be determined by your goals.

Closing in: What do you need?

After figuring out what you want, it’s time to think of what you need to get there. Here’s where we’ll talk about hard figures: budgeting.

Only you will know what your search advertising campaigns should be producing (the results ideally will be based on the goals you’ve laid out).

So, if you want to grow by, let’s say, $2,000 a month, then you need to do some math to get there.

How many leads does your current search advertising campaign bring in? Of those leads, how many convert? Knowing your conversion rate will be key, as will knowing what each lead is worth to you and what your cost per lead is.

When you figure these things out, you’ll have a better idea of how to budget.

If a conversion will bring you $500, and your cost per lead is $10, and your conversion rate is five percent, then you need to bring in 80 leads a month through search advertising.

Here’s how it works.

You need four conversions a month to hit your $2,000 goal. You convert five percent of the leads you get. Four is 5% of 80. You, therefore, need 80 leads per month to reach your goal.

And if you pay $10 per lead, then your budget should be $800 a month for search advertising.

Now, that’s an ideal situation. That’s assuming you can make it all happen consistently like that, month after month.

In the perfect world, that budget will indeed be ROI-worthy.

But campaigns may fail, certain methods may not follow through for you.

How can you ensure your budgeting and efforts are worthwhile?

Pulling it together: Get smart about bidding

You want to design an ROI-worthy search advertising budget for 2022. That means you want to be in the big leagues like your competitors. What do you think they’re doing that you aren’t? Do they have some insight into Google Ads that you don’t?

No, it really comes down to your keyword strategy for your ads.

In case you didn’t know, it works like this in SEO, too: the more mainstream, general, and competitive keywords – such as “SEO company” – are going to be pretty expensive to bid on. Depending on your budget, you may not be able to sustain that kind of campaign for long, and it’s going to end up as a lot of wasted dollars.

But again, look at your similarly sized competitors. They probably have roughly the same budget as you do. If they’re outperforming you, they may have a smarter keyword bidding strategy than you do.

Taking the example from above, maybe you don’t want or need to rank your ads for “SEO company.”

A longer-tail keyword such as “SEO agency for link building” will cost you less and have fewer monthly searches. But as in any sales funnel, when searchers get more specific, they tend to be more ready to convert.

Just remember that when you get more specific, you’re going to want to hone in on the quality and relevance of your ads’ corresponding landing pages.

A long-tail keyword search requires a long-tail ad, and a long-tail ad requires a long-tail landing page (so to speak). Be sure to deliver on what your ad promises. Surely, you can develop content related to hiring an SEO agency for link building.

Think of those funnels here. People want to see content related to where they are in the buyer’s journey. When they see it, they will be more ready to convert. It works the same in SEO.

If you want to talk about really honing in on ROI with your search advertising, that’s the way to do it.

What will you do next?

Many businesses spend between seven and 12 percent of their annual budget on marketing. It’s a necessary expenditure for growth.

If you want to make sure that whatever you spend on your search advertising this year is actually worthy of a satisfactory ROI, study the tips I have laid out. Know your strengths, what you can do, and your bidding limitations, as well.

If you’re smart, you can really build something great.


Kris Jones is the founder and former CEO of digital marketing and affiliate network Pepperjam, which he sold to eBay Enterprises in 2009. Most recently Kris founded SEO services and software company LSEO.com and has previously invested in numerous successful technology companies. Kris is an experienced public speaker and is the author of one of the best-selling SEO books of all time called, ‘Search-Engine Optimization – Your Visual Blueprint to Effective Internet Marketing’, which has sold nearly 100,000 copies.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Payday loans algorithm update 2022 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2022/03/16/payday-loans-algorithm-update-2022/ Wed, 16 Mar 2022 11:00:15 +0000 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/?p=143799 The payday loans algorithm continues to be one of the most challenging for SEO professionals around the world. Daniel Tannenbaum, managing director of Tudor Lodge, provides his firsthand insight and personal experience.

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The payday loans algorithm continues to challenge search engine optimization (SEO) practitioners across the world, notably in the US and UK – the two largest markets for payday loans.

In 2012, UK’s payday loan market was worth around £2 billion and was so sought after that Google’s entire first page for payday loans was dominated by black hat results.

In response, the tech giant created a dedicated algorithm – which was revised in 2018 – known today as ‘payday loans 2.0’. The purpose of the algoritm was target what Google deemed “spammy queries”; never before had Google devoted an entire algorithm for one particular product or service.

The payday loan market in the UK is now heavily regulated and no longer as lucrative. But SEO professionals looking to help promote payday loan companies are still hoping to land on a search engine’s first page in order to access very high converting products with over 100,000 monthly searches.

Drawing on Tudor Lodge’s findings from the 2019 and 2021 algorithm, we look at how the payday algorithm has developed in the UK and US, and what techniques are succeeding in 2022.

 Frequency of updates

 Payday loan companies looking to rank their sites higher on search engines may fine they are struggling to make progress, even with the help of SEO practitioners. When this progress will appear, may also seem uncertain.

In the UK, Google infrequently updates its SEO algorithm which means a company with ‘good’ SEO could result in it ranking highlight for months or even a year, without having to change very much. This means companies can ‘ride the wave’ of their previous good SEO work.

There is an age-old SEO assumption that Google takes the techniques used by websites on page 1 of its search and uses these techniques as the basis for the algorithm. Therefore, companies which copy the links and style of content of page 1 should be successful.

In the US, however, the frequency of SEO changes for payday loans is significantly quicker, with the search results changing far more regularly and competitors having to be consistent to maintain those results.

This could reflect the more competitive environment in the US and how state-specific lenders, such as those from Florida or Ohio, might suddenly start to rank higher due to demand in those areas.

Role of exact match and partial match domains

 Traditionally, having the word ‘payday’ in a business’ domain name was a strong ranking signal to secure a page 1 position, but this seems to be less relevant as time goes on.

Filtering by the UK’s geography, only one website appears on Google’s Page 1 search results page with the word payday in the businesses’ domain name; it is one of the oldest payday lenders in the market. The same occurs when filtering for the US market, only in this instance, the firm has used a black hat technique.

As a result, companies looking to set up a website in this market do not need to include the word ‘payday’ within their domain name to be successful.

Popular techniques and red flags

There are a couple of techniques, however, which will stand businesses looking to gain traction in the payday loan market in good stead.

  1. Careful phrasing is one of these techniques. Companies looking to improve their payday loan SEO should look carefully at the phrasing used by websites which rank on page 1 in the UK and US.

These websites tend to use the following terms: “direct lenders”, “bad credit”, and “alternatives”. Other popular phrases include payday loans online used by Dime Alley and include the word “instalment”.

Tudor Lodge’s previous investigation into the algorithm suggests these phrases push websites up the ranking because Google wants to: provide “alternatives” rather than expensive payday products; ensure “direct lenders” are promoted over brokers; and appeal to “bad credit” which is the real use of the product.

  1. Another technique to be considered is the use of Google Business, a free service which allows organizations to manage and optimize their businesses’ profile on Google. In recent years, the platform has gained more exposure in the SERPs for payday loans.

Arguably this is not surprising since figures show Google Business clicks are surpassing normal clicks on Google for the first time ever this year. This is particularly relevant in the US where there are over 23,000 payday stores and the role of local listings is far more important than in the UK where the industry is mainly online.

For SEO practitioners, having a populated Google Business account with images, descriptions and organic reviews will only help to secure more exposure and clicks, even for new entries.

And of course, making sure the address and contact details on your website are very clear on the footer and contact us page. Without any contact details or address on your website, you are pretty much a ghost in Google’s eyes.

  1. Another important detail for SEO practitioners and payday loan companies to think about is ensuring there is an explanation of how their product works. Customers need to know how to apply for a payday product listed on a website.

Websites listed on Page 1 of Google’s listings all ensure this copy is clear and concise, whether it be through a steps process – as demonstrated by Pheabs – or a dedicated ‘how it works’ page.

 In addition to best practice, there are a number of techniques which are now grossly out of fashion.

  1. Long content and landing pages are one example. Whilst I personally have always been a fan of long content, and nice strong landing pages, there are several strong examples on Google’s Page 1 which seem to defy this.

These websites, some with limited content (but a strong backlink profile) and others just including a ‘how it works’ page and some strong FAQs on their homepages, have managed to maintain their top spots. This might suggest backlinks are stronger than content in this market.

  1. Another faux pas is having multiple pages on a payday website. It could be assumed that having pages dedicated to each product, service and question would help the consumer journey, the sites that have multiple pages have declined and been penalized in 2021. This suggests companies should approach their website through the lens of having one, focused page which discusses different locations on said.

 Where do links fall into this algorithm?

 Links are always so vital for SEO, and Tudor Lodge’s studies show that acquiring links is likely to make a company’s website rank quicker in in the payday market, than adding more content would.

The role of PBNs is still evident with SEO professionals buying links and this is having a positive correlation on rankings, unless hit with a penalty. Some of the best ranking sites can leverage links from ‘gov.uk’ and ‘.edu’ by offering sponsorships and associating with good causes.

 Long SEO articles on third party sites

 Finally, there has been a surge in the US of companies who are ranking third party articles, rather than individual sites.

The SEO professional is writing very long and detailed pieces about payday loans and including lots of relevant keywords such as “no credit check” and “bad credit” – then listing their 4 or 5 favourite sites or clients in the text to generate leads.

Using third party sites, often regional or state press sites with domain authorities of 80 or higher, ensures these articles rank well and gains instant exposure via Google News. This technique is often underrated by the industry but has gained a lot of visibility in recent years.

It is innovative and well executed and essentially just SEO by any other name.

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How to create B2B content that ranks and drives sales https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2022/03/03/how-to-create-b2b-content-that-ranks-and-drives-sales/ Thu, 03 Mar 2022 14:29:23 +0000 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/?p=143778 Content is crucial for just about any B2B business as it drives traffic and convinces your leads to become your customers. No wonder, most B2B businesses are increasing their content marketing budgets every year. But do they use content marketing to its full potential? How do you create content that serves several goals, like traffic […]

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How to create B2B content that ranks and drives sales

Content is crucial for just about any B2B business as it drives traffic and convinces your leads to become your customers. No wonder, most B2B businesses are increasing their content marketing budgets every year.

But do they use content marketing to its full potential? How do you create content that serves several goals, like traffic acquisition and rankings?

The big challenge with B2B content

While being extremely valuable to business success, B2B content is also extremely challenging for marketers to execute properly. The problem is twofold: Targeting.

Unlike B2C content where you usually target a single human being, in B2B you have to keep the whole group of decision-makers in mind. This group is usually referred to as a DMU (a decision-making unit) and, depending on your platform and your target organizations, it can include the head of marketing, CEO, IT representative, CTO, etc.

In other words, B2B content targets a group of decision-makers and normally takes more time (and more steps) to convert.

Creating convincing content that appeals to every single person within a DMU is hardly possible:

  • CEOs may need to know how your product will save them money
  • Head of marketing will need to make sure that your product solves an existing problem without making their department redundant. In this case, the best interests of the CEO may be in conflict with the best interests of the marketing team, and yet, the latter is likely to be the final decision maker, so you will need to keep their needs and challenges in mind.
  • The IT team will have to ensure your platform is technically possible (it is possible to integrate into their technical environment).

Before you start creating your B2B content strategy for traffic generation, you need to know your decision-makers and be able to plan your content around possible conflicts.

In other words, plan your content assets that convey value and then decide which keywords you can optimize for.

Knowing your decision-makers

So what is the best way to know who you are targeting? You already know your target businesses in mind (those you created that B2B product for) but how to better understand their internal decision-makers?

B2B audience research is different from B2C audience research: You can hardly apply your web analytics demographics info because you have to keep all those intra-organizational levels and politics in mind.

To better understand your target DMU, try several of these options:

  • Talk to your sales and customer support teams. They already interact with your potential and current customers on a daily basis. Let them describe their contacts and who those report to. Get all the details they can share, including their frequently asked questions and common challenges.
  • Survey your customers. Using on-site and on-registration surveys will help you collect more data on the size of companies you are dealing with and your actual users’ roles within those companies. There are a variety of plugins allowing you to integrate surveys with your content.

Additionally, inbox Insight offers a handy checklist for you to organize your data and better understand your target DMUs.

From there, start creating a list of problems each person within a DMU may have and how your product may solve all of them. This is where matching those problems to searchable keywords is the required next step.

Planning your keyword strategy

It is not often easy to identify how people may be searching for solutions and answers to relevant problems. While there’s no such a thing as an ideal word count which would work in every niche, try and create a resource that will answer several related questions.

Google is now mature enough to steer your search into a more popular direction, so I suggest starting your keyword research by simply searching Google. Type the search terms as you yourself would use them, and pay attention to:

  • What Google Autocomplete suggests in the search box
  • People Also Ask” boxes and featured snippets
  • Words Google shows within search snippets in bold (on desktop)
  • Google’s “Related Searches” and (on a mobile device) Google’s categories that usually appear below organic search results:

Rich results

All of these will help you collect the core terms your target B2B customers are using when searching for solutions to their problems.

From there, use keyword research tools to extend your core terms and discover even more related terms.

Keyword clustering is a good way to better organize your keywords by intent and identify some common searching patterns. Here’s a good guide on using those identified keyword clusters to create a content strategy that will apply in both B2B and B2C.

Promote and repurpose your B2B content

Publishing your content is a good first step to start generating some organic search visibility. But unless you promote your content, you will not achieve much as search engines need more signals than just useful copy.

Promoting your content is a whole new topic that has already been covered in much detail. A lot of content promotion ideas apply to both B2B and B2C content, including social media sharing, email marketing, and more.

When it comes to the B2B niche, some of the more effective content and link acquisition methods include:

  • Organic promotion via email messages. Emailing is the main source of communication for most B2B businesses, so including your recent or most important content assets in your email signature will get you some clicks and possibly even backlinks. Wisestamp will help your employees create a cool signature that can pull your recent articles. They offer some cool email signature examples for you to get inspired.
  • Content repurposing. With so many complicated DMUs in mind, you will need different content formats to cater to all of them. Making your content possible to download as a PDF file (to make it shareable within a company) is the first step. You can make that happen using Google Docs. Another idea is to turn your content into a video format which is pretty easy using Movavi. This would expand your reach to video-only platforms, like Youtube. Additionally, consider reusing your visuals (graphs and screenshots) in a PowerPoint format to create content to promote on Slideshare and Linkedin. Venngage makes it very easy. In other words, turn your content into lead magnets!
  • Webinars make excellent B2B content because they can be used at every step of the sales funnel. You can live stream them, turn them into many videos, transcribe to create text content, enable lead generation forms to engage your prospects. There are lots of platforms that allow you to do all of that.
  • Use email marketing. Email automation is an integral part of any B2B pipeline. Here are a few examples of email marketing campaigns to get you started with yours.

Creating optimized content that targets different roles and comes in different formats will require a lot of organizational efforts. 

Conclusion

Content planning and creation take a ton of time, so it makes sense to set up a content marketing strategy that serves several goals, like organic traffic and sales generation. Hopefully, the above tools and steps will show you some direction. Good luck!


Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

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Six data-driven SEO strategies that optimize conversion rates https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2022/02/22/six-data-driven-seo-strategies-that-optimize-conversion-rates/ Tue, 22 Feb 2022 14:57:33 +0000 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/?p=143767 Exploring the elements and outcomes that make it the star of modern marketing

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Six data-driven SEO strategies that optimize conversion rates

30-second summary:

  • Since Google now focuses heavily on user experience, using data as a pillar to uncover consumer insights will drive your digital marketing success
  • However, marketing teams still need to understand these sources and their areas of impact on the consumer’s experience
  • Atul Jindal helps you cover the ground with his advice and case studies

Studies have shown that businesses using data-driven strategies experience five to eight times higher ROI. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a process that largely depends on data. The core focus for most CRO strategies is to use consumer data to make their customer journey smoother and experience better.

With search engines also increasing emphasis on user experience, we find a point where SEO strategies start to complement CRO strategies.

But your SEO tactics can truly augment your CRO efforts when driven by data.

In this article, I share six data-driven SEO strategies to supplement your CRO efforts.

From content audit to website personalization, read till the end to find out how you can boost your search engine rankings and conversions altogether!

Data-driven SEO strategies to supplement CRO

Data-driven strategies are online marketing tactics fueled by consumer data. Unlike traditional marketing strategies, data-driven strategies are based on data-backed hypotheses rather than assumptions.

This reliance on solid data makes such strategies the star of the modern marketing world.

Here are six data-driven SEO strategies to make your CRO efforts more promising:

1. Website analysis and optimization

Website analysis is a process through which you test various elements of your website. It analyzes the overall performance of your website and highlights areas of improvement.

The elements that web analysis takes into account include the website’s on-page optimization and technical SEO, finding out about the keywords it ranks for, and what rank it has for different keywords.

Using various web analytics tools, this process also uncovers sources where your website gets traffic from, highlights the flaws in your website’s usability and UX, and provides the basis for the website’s load speed optimization.

Through all of these elements, it helps in enhancing your website’s overall user experience and contributes towards conversion rate optimization.

Additionally, it also provides your web traffic’s demographic and interest data, enabling you to optimize the website for a more relevant user experience.

Google Analytics is the most comprehensive and reliable tool to support your website analysis and optimization efforts. It integrates with your website and tracks all the data you need to optimize your website for an enhanced user experience.

A leading marketing automation software company experienced 10x higher conversion rates when they integrated their native real-time personalization tool with Google Analytics to use the personalization data. This was paired with the Google Analytics information to serve personalized remarketing ads through Google AdWords.

Not only did they experience higher conversion rates, but with the effective use of web analytics data, like demographic and behavior information, they also experienced a 107 percent YoY increase in qualified leads.

2. Content analysis and optimization

Content analysis is similar to website analysis, but instead of testing your website’s technical elements, it analyzes your website’s content and overall content strategy to uncover areas of improvement.

Conversion rates are almost six times higher for businesses that invest in content marketing. But results like this manifest only when your website brims with optimized content.

The purpose of your content is to compel users to take the desired action, or in other words, convert.

Content analysis finds out how well it serves this purpose.

You can uncover various metrics with content analysis, like which content type is the most popular among your audience, which content is bringing you closer to your marketing objectives, and which needs more work.

For example, a marketing optimization software company may have blogs and case studies in its content strategy. Their web analytics may reveal that case studies drive more conversions while blogs get the most social shares.

With its content marketing objective being increased conversions, content analysis will help them focus more on publishing more case studies.

An effective content analysis will also uncover whether or not your content matches the search intent of your target search queries. And therefore, whether or not you need to find new SEO keywords and re-optimize. If your content doesn’t match the search intent perfectly, even if it gets traffic, those users will not convert.

So, in essence, content analysis will help increase conversions by helping you create content that is proven to drive results. It will also help save time and resources from being spent on less-profitable strategies.

Here’s a case study discussing how changing content on your website can reflect a spike in revenue.

Brookdaleliving.com, a website offering community living solutions for the elderly, had a disappointing website conversion rate. But then, their website had nothing that would drive conversions.

The digital marketing experts they hired revamped their website and tested two different content types on their landing page – an image and a testimonial video – to see which one performs better.

Ironically, the web page with an image drove 3.92 percent higher conversions than the original page. This may seem like a small increment, but it resulted in additional revenue of $106,000.

3. Website design optimization

Tests like usability testing and A/B testing provide the data that drives website design optimization to improve a website’s design and enhance its user experience.

The purpose of CRO is to make the user journey smoother and experience better.

Website design optimization supports CRO by removing frictions in the buyer’s journey and making it easier for them to accomplish their goals.

But there are a couple of best practices the website design must adhere to to ensure that it really contributes to your CRO efforts.

  1. The design should be simple and somewhat similar to what the users are accustomed to
  2. The navigation bar should be designed intuitively, with the user’s search intent in mind, so they can quickly find what they came looking for
  3. The content arrangement should follow proven design techniques that enhance content readability and value delivery

For your web design to truly serve your business, you will have to continue to test various combinations of website elements, their placements, and designs.

Regardless of how you go about your web design, making the target audience’s journey easier should be at the heart of all your efforts.

Trucker Reports, a trucker’s community that helps truck drivers find jobs, struggled with low conversions.

The CRO experts they hired performed a web design audit and discovered multiple opportunities. Based on these opportunities, they tested different hypotheses.

They tested three different designs against the original ones in their final test and found out that the final design had 79.3 percent higher conversions.

Do you know why?

Because this last design had the least friction and made it easier for the users to convert.

4. Audience analysis

Audience analysis, commonly known as audience research, is the process through which you dig up information about your prospects so you can develop targeted marketing campaigns.

Since user experience is a massive part of SEO and CRO alike, audience analysis holds an important place as a data-driven SEO strategy for conversion rate optimization.

This process uncovers a wide variety of data, from core demographic information like age, gender, marital status, income, education, etc., to online behavior, internal and external challenges, and more.

Audience analysis helps develop a buyer persona, which then becomes the foundation of a highly-targeted marketing campaign.

Audience analysis is a core element of a successful CRO campaign because it makes your website relevant to the users. You find out about their pain points and struggles and are better equipped to address them through your content.

This shows that you care about your customers and inevitably builds trust between your brand and its prospects. Given that the modern customer prioritizes their connection with the brand when making purchase decisions, this bond of trust and reliability results in higher conversions.

Data-backed audience analysis also allows you to segment your audience based on their demographic information and interest. With this level of segmentation, you spend your efforts and resources on people you know matter to your business.

This is why studies indicate a 56 percent reduction in marketing costs for businesses that use audience analysis as a basis for all their marketing efforts.

5. Testing and optimization

Testing is the life of conversion rate optimization. You put samples of your content and design arrangements to test to see which one performs better and optimize using the results of these tests.

These tests are all data-driven, that is, they are based on hypotheses generated from existing data and provide insights into how valid the hypothesis is.

For example, data may show a higher conversion rate on websites with explainer videos. This forms the hypothesis of your test. So, you develop two different landing pages, one with a video and another with an image, to see which performs better. If the videos result in higher conversions, you know what to continue optimizing with!

You can perform different kinds of tests when optimizing websites for conversions. Two of the popular ones include usability testing and A/B or split testing.

Search engines also recommend A/B and multivariate testing for SEO as it improves user experience, which search engines pursue in the websites they index.  

NatureAir performed A/B testing on their landing page to increase conversions. One of the samples had a CTA on the side, while the other had a CTA prominently placed in the content area.

Once the test results were in, they found that placing CTA in the content area increases conversions by 591 percent!

That’s how potent A/B tests can be!

6. Website personalization

According to Google, 90 percent of marketers believe personalization results in business profitability. And why shouldn’t it? In an era with so many similar websites, a web page that offers a customized experience deserves to make better revenue.

Website personalization is a relatively complex process through which you can serve a unique experience to each visitor. These experiences are designed based on consumer data, including their demographic data, interests, search history, and online behavior.

75 percent of consumers prefer that online sellers use personal information to enhance shopping experiences.

People want you to make shopping easier for them, adding a personalized product recommendation on your website will help improve your user experience and could boost sales. They don’t want to go out and search for what they want. They want you to know what they need and bring it to them. And that’s what website personalization empowers you to do.

It improves overall website experience, lowers bounce rates, boosts SEO, and of course, increases conversions.

Serving dynamic content makes the customer’s experience more intuitive and relevant. It lets you put out the content that interests them the most, and hence, contributes to better revenue.

Conclusion

The goal of an SEO and a CRO campaign have become somewhat similar ever since search engines have started giving value to user experience.

There are many SEO strategies focused on improving UX. And these strategies, when backed by data, can lead to increased conversion rates.

Therefore, I have discussed some of the most promising data-driven SEO strategies that can drive conversions in this article.

But the true results of a strategy depend on how well you implement it. So, ramp up your data analysis game, derive insights, implement them, and optimize your strategies for better results.


Atul Jindal is a web design and marketing specialist, having interests in doing websites/apps optimized for SEO with a core focus on conversion optimization. He creates web experiences that bring conversations and transform web traffic into paying customers or leads.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Is your business optimized for Google Discover? This guide is for you! https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2022/02/17/is-your-business-optimized-for-google-discover-this-guide-is-for-you/ Thu, 17 Feb 2022 11:15:30 +0000 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/?p=143757 "How to drive website traffic without spending any dollars?" This guide comes armed with all the answers and a fifteen-point checklist.

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30-second summary:

  • Would you turn down an opportunity to acquire new customers without breaking the bank?
  • Google Discover currently supports 800M users in exploration and is a great way to attract new audiences
  • Joe Dawson covers the “why” and “how” in this comprehensive Google Discover optimization guide

Even though spending on SEO plays such a major role in the online business sphere, most web admins spend their lives attempting to crack Google’s organic page ranking algorithms. As SEOs may or may not lose sleep over the latest updates, Google Discovery is surely a dreamy-eyed way to win more audiences.

What is Google Discover?

Discover is the brainchild that replaced Google Feed in 2018 and helps around  800M monthly active users with content exploration. Discover aims to push hand-selected news and articles directly to user feeds without the need for searching. Google builds a profile of users and supplies them with content considered relevant to individual interests.

Nothing is anonymous online, and we all leave digital trails of our fundamental interests. Just as your website offers opportunities to glean first-party data, so does Google. With the average person estimated to make at least three to four searches per day, that’s plenty of information to harvest.

Google Discover - a quick look

Source: Google Search Central

Google plays their cards close to their chest about how they build consumer profiles. Experts believe that the following are factored into the creation of these blueprints:

  • Search history unique to Google
  • Browser history of websites visited
  • Activity on any installed apps
  • Location, assuming this information has not been barred in settings

That’s certainly enough material to understand what a user may be interested in. Much like social media targeted advertising, Google knows what your audience wants to see and will do all it can to meet such desires through Discovery. It’s your responsibility to optimize your Discovery presence and ensure that your content is chosen to be pushed.

Why optimize Google Discover?

Discover attracts a loyal, returning audience to your website. It allows users to follow a particular brand or business, ensuring their content will always appear on their smartphone. Naturally, you need to earn this loyalty. The usual caveats apply here. Work to attract your target audience by speaking their language, delivering content that shows your brand can be relied upon.

Deliver content that shows people can rely on your brand - Google Discover optimization guide

Source: Marketing Charts

Perhaps more pertinently, Discover knows what users want to hear about – and delivers this in spades. Imagine that a user’s five most visited websites are for their local NFL team, a health food store in their town, a website specializing in tips for joggers, a website that sells running shoes, and a food blog packed with recipes. This suggests that the user in question enjoys sports and fitness. This individual’s Google Discovery feed will reflect this lifestyle.

Somebody with more sedentary hobbies may receive articles on the latest comings and goings on Netflix or technology and gadget news. If you optimize your content for Discover, it could be your website and articles that are pushed onto a smartphone. As Discover has an enviable CTR, this is not an opportunity to pass up.

How to optimize your website for Google Discover

Now that we’ve established that Discover fast-track site traffic, and by extension, conversions – how do you achieve this optimization? This fifteen-point checklist covers hints and tips to enhance your success rate.

1. Comply with Google’s policies

First thing’s first. Do not forget that Discover is a Google property, which means abiding by the search engine’s usual rules and regulations. In essence, that means continuing to follow organic SEO and page ranking practices.

As much as keeping on top of Google’s regular algorithm updates can sometimes feel like a full-time job, it remains necessary. To optimize the potential of Discover, your website must maintain standard white hat SEO protocols. If your dedication to improving page ranking and quality score slips, your content is less likely to be selected by Discover.

2. Create a Google My Business account

Here’s another quick and simple hack to help produce tangible results. Google always wants to provide users with the finest and most relevant connections. If you’re using Discover for ecommerce, the big G will consider a GMB account as a seal of quality. You’re likelier to be selected by Discover if you have an active profile – especially one that boasts organic, positive reviews.

3. Ensure mobile compatibility

When investigating different web design possibilities, highly prioritize mobile compatibility. This sounds like a no-brainer as Discovery is a mobile-centric tool, but you may be surprised at how many fall at this hurdle. Use Google’s Mobile Usability Report to check how your site is doing.

If you build your website through WordPress, consider taking advantage of the Web Stories plug-in. This is made for use on Google – after all, Web Stories even have their own segment on the search engine’s home page – and will often pique the curiosity of Discovery.

4. Feature larger images to create compelling UX and boost CTRs

You can even feature your card images in a large format by using the robots meta tag max-image-preview setting. This is a great way to gain more screen space and win audience attention that will drive CTR. According to Google, this increased a food blog’s CTR by 79 percent and drove a weekly magazine’s clicks by 332 percent across six months.

Google Discover optimization guide - use large images to drive CTR
Google Discover optimization guide – use large images to drive CTR

Source: Google Search Central

5. Find a unique niche and demonstrate your knowledge

Like when bidding for a plum PPC spot, popular keywords can create an extremely competitive environment in Discovery. Unless you’re among the major players in your industry, you risk being muscled out by more prominent names. For example, if you’re writing about sports, ESPN is always likelier to be selected to discuss the playoffs and significant incidents in a game.

That doesn’t mean that Discover is pointless, you’ll just need to think outside the box. Come up with a topic that could be less commonplace within your niches, such as a particular player, team, or set of stats. Discuss these at length, appealing to the regulations of the E-A-T algorithm, and the results will come.

6. Consider your target audience

Discover is designed to match the ideal content with the perfect audience. That needs to be considered when creating blog posts and similar copy. Take the time to build a picture of your target audience and use analytics to ensure you are appealing to them.

Based on the results, you may need to adjust your approach. For example, emotive language may attract one type of reader but deter users likelier to convert. Equally, you may find that you need to use less prose and more images to draw users you really want.

7. Master your headlines carefully

Over 14 percent of all Google text searches include a question. Embrace this in your headlines. If you pose a question, you’re likelier to be selected by Discovery and attract an audience’s attention.

All the same, never lose sight of Google’s quest for relevance. That means not trying to pull a bait and switch. A blog headlined “how to hire an app developer” needs to discuss the trials and tribulations of this very process. An article that says, “don’t bother – here is a DIY mobile app design guide to save money,” will not be embraced by Discovery.

8. Ensure your content is of the highest quality

We’ve just established that Google Discover has limited patience for clickbait, but you may be able to slip some of this material through the net.

You’ll quickly lose their trust and struggle to attract followers. The same applies to content that has not gone through a quality check process and is littered with typos and errors. Quality matters, so do not try to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. Another way to create compelling, relevant content for your audience is by checking your Google search traffic and keyword research. This will help you distinguish and craft top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content for key segments of the search journey and align it with the sales funnel.

9. Keep your finger on the pulse

News and current events are the bread and butter of Google Discover. On paper, Google will always look to deliver the latest and greatest news articles to users. Criticism has been leveled at Discover, claiming that it has been top-of-the-funnel (TOFU), but it still pays to remain relevant when attempting to appeal to algorithms.

Anecdotal evidence claims that Discover ranks some search terms that SEO does not, opening new opportunities. That does not mean that you should throw together a hot take on the latest Twitter controversy and wait for the clicks to roll in. If that flies in the face of your brand values, you’ll suffer in the longer term. Just avoid shying away from existing talking points that would add value to your audiences. Also, don’t hop on this bandwagon unless you have something valuable to say as a brand.

10. Encourage users to ‘heart’ you

If you have a captive audience outside of Discover, encourage them to follow you on this platform. Discover offers a heart icon that matches the purpose of a Facebook like, which is a direct way to show appreciation for the material.

If somebody follows an article from your site in their areas of interest, it will be noted on their Google profile. They are then likely to receive more content on the same subject from your brand – as are other, unrelated users that Google considers to have similar interests.

11. Increase your brand awareness

As an extension of the point above, users are prone to discover – and follow – your Discover profile if they are aware of your brand. Use your marketing campaigns to raise your Google Discover profile, steering people toward following you on here.

12. Regularly create and post new content

Discover is often looking for the newest insights and articles to share with users. As a result, a freshly published blog is much likelier to be selected than something penned weeks, months, or years previously – assuming it meets the quality standards we previously mentioned. Evergreen content occasionally gets picked up, but not as often.

Just be aware that articles selected by Discover tend to have a shorter shelf life than something penned with organic SEO in mind. You can still look to appeal to both markets. Discover can be just as helpful for an inbound marketing strategy. Just do not expect your blog to remain on the platform longer than three or four days.

13. Include images and videos in your content

Regardless of whether a picture is truly worth a thousand words, there is no denying that Discover looks to curate variety in its content. Websites that included images and video in their blog posts saw a much greater uptake in selection by Discover than those that relied on pure prose.

Quality matters just as much as quantity here. A quick video shot on your smartphone and shoehorned into your content will not cut the mustard. Discover looks for crisp, high-definition image quality in moving and static pictures alike, so always opt for the greatest resolution you can that retains mobile friendliness.

14. Interact on social media

Discover loves social engagement. As with organic SEO, Discover is likely to select and push content that attracts comments and shares on social media. This creates a chicken and egg scenario. Will your content go viral on social media because it was picked up by Discover, or did Discover push the content because it was gaining social media traction?

In truth, the order of events matters little. Discover can sit neatly alongside the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to bolster awareness of your content and amass an army of new followers. As always, this creates a snowball effect – the more followers you gain, the more strangers will have your content pushed to their appliances.

15. Track your analytics – and improve where necessary

Finally, as with your SEO performance, you should always keep an eye on your Google Discover traffic analytics. You’ll find this in your Search Console. Do not be alarmed if your Discover traffic looks low. It takes a couple of days for these visits to hit the report so things may change in time.

Discover may not be essential if you are still attracting attention through other means. But no website should ever turn down an opportunity to boost website traffic! So if your numbers are tracking lower than anticipated, revisit points one through fourteen and implement what you can to improve performance.


Joe Dawson is Director of strategic growth agency Creative.onl, based in the UK. He can be found on Twitter @jdwn.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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How to win at content creation, Esports, gaming, and web3 markets with SEO https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2022/02/08/how-to-win-at-content-creation-esports-gaming-and-web3-markets-with-seo/ Tue, 08 Feb 2022 11:52:31 +0000 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/?p=143750 Advice on finding the route to a thriving presence in these industries

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How to win at content creation, Esports, gaming, and web3 markets with SEO

30-second summary:

  • SEO is vastly underutilized in the content creation industry
  • How can internet marketing lead to success in Esports and gaming?
  • Anthony DiMoro discusses the needed innovation during the content, gaming, and web3 boom

Despite a strong track record and success model within the digital marketing world, for multiple decades, SEO still finds itself almost entirely abandoned in the new age markets of content creation, Esports, gaming, and web3 related properties.

But, why is that? Why would businesses, brands, and creators operating in these spaces, reliant on success in a digital marketplace completely ignore SEO?

Let’s explore why, and how things need to change as 2022 continues to show that the boom of these is not slowing down, but is also rapidly evolving.

1. Content creation and streaming

There is no rhyme or reason as to why content creators (which includes streamers) fail to utilize SEO, considering the fact that their entire brand relies on success within the digital marketplace.

Instead, creators seem to often lean into the following troubling trends, and solely rely on these recycled methods:

Automation and inauthenticity

There is no social platform that has not experienced, in some form or fashion, a form of automation. But content creators, particularly in the streaming sector (like Twitch and YouTube) use this to the point of “overkill”.

“Going LIVE” posts flood timelines, and when they are the majority of what a particular creator posts, it flatlines engagement. While it may seem like a “bot”, it actually is more a real strategy for creators. While informing your audience that you are going live is important, it shouldn’t be or appear, inauthentically posted or automated.

Going further down the rabbit hole will see a more aggressive form of automation in DMs and messages. DMing a new follower or connection is a solid tool for networking when done organically, but the second a bot steps into the chat, your chances skyrocket of someone not only disregarding your content completely but also unfollowing you altogether.

Authenticity is key in proper brand building, especially when you’re being looked at by a potential business or collaborative opportunity.

If you’re heavy into automation and inauthenticity, why would a brand or business spend money on your content or brand? They would, rightfully, assume that is how you do business.

Farming and cycling (aka Botting)

Every few years a new app or platform pops up promising to help creators and streamers reach milestones of affiliate or partner, but are, more often than not, simply a recycling of hacky, spammy, models

Follow for Follow systems have plagued the niche, and have fueled an even more robust “sub for sub” system, but not view churning. This is becoming a more prevalent issue.

Cycling content clips and/or highlights can be an engagement factor for a feed and can help keep your audience engaged, but when in a collective of other cycles, coupled with any incentivizing to push engagement is something completely different.

Some of these models try to divert away from appearing to be a clear violation of, for example, Twitch’s Terms of Services, but it’s all a mirage.

Take it right from Twitch’s TOS page:

Fake engagement is artificial inflation of channel statistics, such as views or follows, through coordination or 3rd party tools. This behavior is characterized by the creation of incidental or duplicitous views or follows. One common form of this activity is often referred to as view-botting. Another, when done in a coordinated manner, is sometimes identified as “Follow 4 Follow” (F4F), “Lurk 4 Lurk” (L4L), or Host 4 Host (H4H), which involve a mutual exchange of interaction intended to increase the visibility of both channels over those with legitimate interaction. Using services that promise higher visibility in exchange for lurking in a large number of channels or viewing streams on pages with several unrelated, active embedded streams, is considered a form of fake engagement and is not permitted on Twitch services.”

Does the app or platform you use have instances where members are motivated to pop into someone’s channel to say “hello, I am here from PLATFORMNAME” and then leave? Are you a part of a system where videos are cycled to generate views and inject this behavior?

Then you may be, in essence, engaging in a form of view botting, albeit a more human version, and also engaging in fake engagement.

Let’s look further into how Twitch defines these things:

Artificial engagement and botting limit growth opportunities for legitimate broadcasters and are damaging to the community as a whole. False viewer growth is not conducive to establishing a career in broadcasting because the ‘viewers’ do not contribute to a healthy, highly engaged community.

As a reminder, fake engagement and artificial inflation of channel statistics are violations of our policies. Participating in, organizing, and/or running these services will lead to an enforcement issued on your account, including and up to indefinite suspension”

Why run the risk? Furthermore, why try to “game” or “cheat” the system to inorganically generate some form of success?

Sure, it can be a good confidence booster, but you’re looking to monetize this, or even make it a career, rather than protecting your analytics and ensuring they are transparent is key, and could make or break a financially rewarding opportunity or deal with a business who will, assuredly, do their due diligence.

Community toxicity

One big issue in the industry, overall, is toxicity and how many creators and viewers engage in this at varying levels. But to take things further, many communities and platforms fuel this behavior or lead the charge.

Association is key, and if you’re aligned or using a service or platform, ensure how they interact, specifically when criticized, aligns with your brand and is something you would not mind a potential business partner or collaborative partner seeing.

Whether a member of the community leaves or someone reports an unsuccessful experience, a brand’s reaction and the behavior/conduct of their prominent members/admins speak volumes in the world of business.

The solution

Explore more viable outlets, look for services more rooted in things such as SEO and internet marketing, and lean into those service offerings and/or benefits. 

There is a reason why influencer marketing and even things as minute as Twitch SEO are gaining impressive traction.

Because, with effort and a professional, dedicated, and intuitive approach, businesses can work in areas that really matter. They can take you outside of the box that a platform’s discoverability model may keep you contained in. It can make you more appealing to businesses.

Explore and re-invent the way you do business. If you’re investing hard-earned money into your equipment and also pouring hours into creating, you owe it to yourself to be efficient with your branding and marketing.

2. Esports

The Esports boom is not slowing down and you can expect the industry to expand further as there is considerable buzz around the college Esports industry in 2022.

The projected boom shouldn’t come as a shock, in fact, it was projected back in 2019 when a report from Estreme Networks and eCampus News “which surveyed 281 technical and administrative leaders across K-12 and higher education in North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East, found that –

  • one in five schools already have an esports program
  • 71 percent were considering or might consider adding an esports program in the future

Fast Forward to 2021, and the State University of New York (SUNY) reported that 2,077 students enrolled in a SUNY esports program in the 2021 fall semester, compared to 636 students that enrolled in the 2020 fall semester, and those numbers are going to grow in 2022.

This creates a more competitive marketplace driven by greater revenue opportunities, meaning that Esports teams, players, casters, and businesses need to gain an edge to keep up and scale.

So, where does that come from? Esports SEO.

Let’s backtrack to my article back in August 2021 and what eUnited’ Matt Pothoff said regarding the importance of SEO:

“eUnited does use elements such as SEO to increase visibility when selling merchandise or showcasing new sponsors. Additionally, we help players revise their stream titles and descriptions for better chances of obtaining new viewership when users are searching for different topics on Twitch”

Now, let’s circle back to the here and now, and an interview I did on Gamactica Portals with  Christian Bishop, Director of Twitch Properties:

“SEO and working through the Google machine is incredibly important,” Bishop said.

“This can very much make or break the success of a website or piece of content. Investing in SEO has been one of the most fruitful and rewarding decisions I have made with my media companies. I would love to see creators do more around SEO to drive traffic to their channels and content.

Discoverability and growth can be hard for a lot of creators, SEO might be one of the angles to break through.”

The fact is, internet marketing and SEO are proving to be differentiators in many layers of the industry, including esports, and making it a huge part of the foundation of your team, career, or your organization is more vital than ever.”

There is no denying this need within the esports landscape yet it remains vastly unutilized by many organizations and teams.

3. Video games (Developers and publishers)

Regardless if you’re a big named studio, an indie team, or a solo developer, video game SEO should be a big part of your strategy, because the industry is seeing a rapid YoY increase in revenue flow.

Take this infographic from Statista, demonstrating the market size (in US dollars, billions) from 2010 to 2021 and it speaks for itself.

Statista graph on the size of gaming industry - 2010 to 2021

Source: Statista screenshot by author

The influx of revenue means that it demands a more competitive and fluid marketing approach that reaches an exact target market. Given the number of game genres and considering that markets aren’t always the same, you cannot always approach it broadly. For instance, fans of Animal Crossing may not like your FPS game.

4. The new markets of web3, cryptocurrency, and NFTs

Regardless of where you stand on cryptocurrency or the controversial Non-Fungible Token (NFT), they aren’t going anywhere. If you operate in the gaming and streaming industries they are likely already operating in your space.

So, you can choose to disassociate them completely from your brand or be open to working with businesses that operate with them. Regardless of where you lean, you should understand the niches and network with the brands and names within them – they will, more often than not, overlap in your niche.

Marketing will likely do the same and you have probably already seen it exist, in some fashion, in your favorite game, or on a platform you use (such as Twitter), and with the birth of NFT SEO and Crypto SEO, these sectors are going to be pushing even more efforts into penetrating your market space.

Business owners in these spaces will need to rely more on these methods, as a shiny, new-age-looking website will only take you so far.

The importance of marketing and targeted networking will only continue to scale upwards, and those who either don’t use it or refuse to use it all together will either be making their track to success or a much more difficult path.


Anthony DiMoro is CEO of Gamactica. He can be found on Twitter @AnthonyDiMoro.

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How you can embrace paid search automation to maximize outcomes https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2022/02/03/how-you-can-embrace-paid-search-automation-to-maximize-outcomes/ Thu, 03 Feb 2022 11:21:59 +0000 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/?p=143741 Master the balancing act of trusting Google's automation while maintaining needed control

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How you can embrace paid search automation to maximize outcomes

30-second summary:

  • Automation is a hot topic within digital marketing, and Google has more options than ever before for search practitioners to utilize
  • However, there’s still a level of discomfort with handing the keys to the kingdom over
  • As a long-time skeptic myself, I make the argument for automating core components of search campaigns and share the areas where marketers should instead focus their energy and attention for success in 2022

“Automation” it’s a word of constant focus for search marketers these days – and rightfully so. There are more components to search than ever before, and automation is a critical tool that enables us to optimize campaigns at scale and frees us to focus on what can’t be automated.

Google has released automated solutions to nearly every aspect of account management, but how do we know when it makes sense to hand over control and where we should maintain a strong level of influence? I see 2022 as a year for search practitioners to reimagine and rework their approach to search engine marketing (SEM) with Google, striking a new balance between automated solutions and customer-focused, business-driven oversight.

Handing over the keys (or at least some of them) in a reimagined relationship

Google Ads has become a one-stop-shop for marketers looking to engage customers across platforms up and down the funnel. It’s not just about search and shopping anymore – practitioners can also buy Discovery Ads, YouTube, Local Ads, etc.

With a more holistic Google Ads, an interesting dynamic emerges with what I call “a tale of two Googles.” On one side, there’s Google’s highly sophisticated suite of flexible, powerful technology tools that are built for advanced users – people and brands who obsess over the next level and the ability to capture it. But now, there is a second side of Google Ads that’s geared toward the masses, with superb out-of-the-box automated solutions.

As a marketer, it’s time to reimagine your approach and embrace these solutions that have been historically shunned by expert search practitioners. And you should do it with pride and intention – let go and let Google automate your campaigns. Then you can focus on core marketing tactics and engaging your customers more effectively. Let Google maximize keywords, placements, bids, and budget levels toward your goals, and make sure that once a user lands on your site, you’re ready to deliver the best experience for them.

A reworked approach to search management

Making the decision to automate is one thing but actually leaving the machine to do its job is another entirely. How do you trust Google automation and its work? Over-engineering and tinkering may actually be detrimental to some programs and instances. Choose tweaks and changes wisely! For years, we overengineered our campaigns, obsessed over keyword funneling in single-keyword ad groups, and took pains to ensure our campaign structure was dialed into the nines.

In 2022, there needs to be a little less control and a little more letting go. For those in the “old guard,” this translates to a trust fall. Google is quite good at understanding intent and matching that intent with the right answer at the right moment. Too much tinkering and intervention is a recipe for disaster and sets the machine up to fail before it can even get started.

With automation in place, where do we focus our energy?

Fear not – there is an abundance of important work to be done, even with core components of a search program automated. Search automation gets elevated by extreme focus on customer experience. You need to figure out how to use technology and data in a privacy-safe way to become more helpful and meaningful as a brand. You need to know your customers so you can speak to them personally throughout their journey. In travel, for example, there are many known preferences, such as window or aisle seat, meal choice, favorite hotel pillow type, etc. Your customers expect you to know these things, and you don’t want to restart the conversation with them every time they open a new browser.

Get closer to understanding your data

Focusing on data science and analytics is a critical piece of search success in 2022. There’s so much data available to analyze, and it’s critical to cut through the clutter by defining your customer-centric business goals, aligning metrics, and reporting appropriately. There’s also a new responsibility for search traffic to help replace data lost from third-party cookie deprecation. Better models will be essential to enable the use of search traffic as a catalyst for scientific remarketing.

Master your customer engagement and first-party data strategy

Privacy is a key focal area as well. Search practitioners need to have conversations about how to scale known customer engagement and how to use advertising technology in a compliant way that supports the business by driving customer experience and performance. You need to evaluate your first-party data strategy and look for ways to layer that data into the search experience, whether it’s through messaging, bidding, or other avenues. Google knows a lot about users, but there is information unique to the business that you can use to elevate automation.

Refine your site and landing page experience

Ownership of landing page experience and site content optimization also lie entirely with brands as important components of successful search programs. Search has become a visual battleground – just close your eyes and imagine a Google results page. Five years ago, you would have pictured ten blue links on a screen, and now to think of that feels archaic! Today, you probably imagined a mix of images, shopping listings, maps, videos, and more. As a practitioner, that means your content needs to be optimized to deliver the right information to customers, regardless of the landscape for their unique query. Then, when the user lands on your site, you need to be ready to deliver the information they need to take the next step in their journey.

Conclusion

For years, we needed to re-engineer the game inside of Google Ads because we didn’t have another choice. Now, instead of getting ahead that way, marketers that excessively tinker will fall behind and lose ground on the components that need the utmost attention – analytics, first-party strategy, and customer experience. It’s time for all of us to reimagine and rework our focus as practitioners toward those new realities.


Matt Mierzejewski is SVP of Performance Marketing Lab and Search at Merkle Inc.

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Seven Google alerts SEOs need to stay on top of everything! https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2022/01/25/seven-google-alerts-seos-need-to-stay-on-top-of-everything/ Tue, 25 Jan 2022 13:41:41 +0000 https://www.searchenginewatch.com/?p=143720 Smart ways to get ahead of competition, prevent a reputation crisis, fix a traffic drop, and do much more (without getting overwhelmed)

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Seven Google alerts SEOs need to stay on top of everything!

30-second summary:

  • The search landscape is very dynamic and almost impossible to stay abreast of
  • While an SEO and search marketer’s email inbox can be overwhelming, it can also be a powerhouse that helps you stay in the loop of industry developments and keep an eye on the competition
  • These must-have, free Google email alerts will notify you when your site traffic drops or spikes, when your site is hacked, or when there’s a manual penalty applied to your site

SEO and search marketing are challenging because they’re scattered all over the place. Setting up email notifications is the best way to be on top of everything. Some essential email alerts include reputation monitoring alerts, competitors’ social media activity, new backlinks, and more. In fact, Google offers email alerts on both Google Analytics and Search Console which is an absolute need for any website owner. I’ll cover all the essentials you need to set up!

Why are email alerts beneficial?

Speaking of setting up a separate email inbox, it is not a bad idea to keep this archive separate from your business emails. But it is a good idea to add that inbox to your smartphone mail app to be able to keep an eye while on the go.

  • Email alerts are hard to miss: I love dashboards that consolidate multiple sources of data under one roof but life gets too fast too often and I can neglect my dashboard for weeks in a row. An email notification is unavoidable. Even if there’s no time to read an email, I can quickly scan it while scrolling through new emails and immediately see if it needs my attention right away.
  • Emails get archived: This creates an ever-growing database of everything that has ever been happening with my site. I can search my archive any time to see what happened when and attribute any traffic changes to some alert
  • Email operators can be free: You can set up a free inbox at Gmail in seconds and continue using it for free for years until you run out of free space.

Google Analytics alerts

Getting notified of declining traffic is key for your ongoing organic visibility. It is the fundamental step behind a crucial SEO task called SEO maintenance

Google Analytics offers a custom alerts feature allowing you to get notified if anything weird is happening with your traffic.

How do you do this?

Login to your Google Analytics dashboard > Customization > Custom Alerts > Click “Manage custom alerts” > Click “NEW ALERT”

1. Traffic drop alerts in Google Analytics

There are various ways you can set up traffic drop alerts in Google Analytics. Here’s the most basic one. Set up your criteria that will trigger an email alert, for example:

  • Set up traffic source to “Google”
  • Set up your trigger: For the sake of simplicity I just set it to notify me anytime my organic traffic drops below an unusual level

Source: Screenshot from the author

Don’t forget to check the box that says “Send me an email when this alert triggers” to receive an email notification once your traffic drops below a certain level.

You can also set up a certain percentage of the loss – this way you won’t have to modify your threshold as your traffic grows.

Source: Screenshot from the author

2. Referral or direct traffic spike alert

If any of your content assets is going viral, you want to know about that to be able to monitor the progress, help it spread even further, or reply to comments.

Likewise, if your product was mentioned by a social media influencer and suddenly everyone starts typing in your name to go buy from you, you should know immediately.

This is why this alert is a good idea to create.

For this alert, you can exclude Google from the sources of traffic to keep organic growth and declines from skewing your numbers:

Source: Screenshot from the author

3. Revenue drop alert

Finally, if you have Google Analytics for ecommerce set up, make sure to create this alert.

For this one, I keep traffic to all sources and choose “Revenue” in the “Ecommerce” section of the drop down. Again, you can set the percentage of the loss. 

Take some time to estimate the threshold you want to be notified of. Keep in mind your slower days (weekends) or months and note those “normal” revenue declines.

Source: Screenshot from the author 

There are also several more web analytics solutions, many of which also offer email notifications, so it doesn’t have to be Google Analytics.

4. Lower load time alert

Google Analytics records how long your page loads and reports on the metric allowing you to identify slower pages. Ever since site speed became a ranking factor, keeping an eye on your page load time has been crucial. 

You can get notified by Google Analytics when your page average load time suddenly drops, so your dev team can quickly diagnose:

Source: Screenshot from the author 

Google Search Console alerts

Google’s Search Console will send you email alerts of important changes or issues by default. You won’t need to set those up. All you need is to verify your site with Google’s Search Console (here’s how).

Search Console will immediately notify you of three important events:

5. Malware alert

When your site is hacked, you want to know immediately because it is a potential reputation crisis or any private data leak.

Google’s malware alerts are invaluable. If you needed a reason to verify your site with Search Console, this is the one. Google’s malware notifications are the fastest and the most accurate on the market. And they are free!

Source: Screenshot from the author 

Monitoring your own website changes is also a good idea since you will be immediately notified if any code or text is injected on your pages so you can fix and avoid getting your site into Google’s “hacked sites” list.

6. Internal errors alert

If Google notices an unusual spike in indexation issues or internal errors, you will get an email from Search Console.

Source: Screenshot from the author 

There are a few more monitoring solutions that will alert you as soon as your site is down or broken. Even though those are not marketing alerts, I recommend looking at those too.

7. Manual penalty alert

If you get a manual penalty, Google will send you an email alert for you to be able to quickly fix an issue. While I hope you’ll never get any of these, it gives you a certain peace of mind knowing that you’ll get notified if anything happens.

Conclusion

Getting notified is the best way to fix issues quickly to avoid lasting damage. Keep alerted of traffic drops, site attacks, competitors’ social media activity, new links, and more.


Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

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