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Audit Your Google Ads: How to Spend Less and Earn More

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Audit Your Google Ads: How to Spend Less and Earn More

If you are operating and managing your own Google Ads it can be difficult to know exactly where to begin. For many small businesses that do marketing in-house, you can typically start by having a consultation with the Google Ads team once you get your account set-up. Unfortunately, the problem is that there is often a lot that you can be doing for your Ads (which involves spending less and earning more) that Google may not tell you because this gets into more advanced practices. 

This article isn’t intended to knock the professionals on the Google team by any means, I myself have found them to be very helpful in the past; however, I do want to give you some independent fixes that could be getting you better results without increasing your bids all the time. The strategy is key with Google Ads, and when you get over the learning curve of managing yourself, there is a lot you can improve for your individual business.

Tips to Auditing Your Google Ads for Success

Google Ads almost always works when you know how to effectively monitor your campaigns, keeping in mind that you also need to have solid business development and branding in place before you can be successful. The goal with Ads is profit, so increasing your conversions and sales on your website. In order to be successful, your strategy really needs to be tailored to your individual business, but there are some tweaks anyone can make to have a successful go at it! Here are some tips on auditing your Ads, so that you can spend less and get more conversions with your advertisements. 

1. Data Analysis is Key for Determining Spending 

This sounds like a pretty basic point, but I want to start a general here and then get more specific in subsequent sections. Let me be clear, data-driven decisions are the best choices when you are determining how to spend on Ads. If you can look at your analytics and determine what is acting as a successful keyword and driving traffic on your site, then that is a smart budget adjustment. The problem is that general budget increases to get your ad on page one of a search, won’t necessarily do anything if people were not hoping to find your company/industry in the first place. Look at data for what is performing well, and don’t put as much money (or attention) into what is not.

A quick word about profit & advertising costs. If you know you are making a profit while spending money on your ads, then you DO want to increase the amount you are funneling into it—this is just best practice in advertising (the whole spend money to make money theory). If you are getting a good ROI on your Ads campaigns, keep it yet. One of my favorite quotes about advertising came from Henry Ford: 

“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” 

Henry Ford

The issue arises when you are funneling a bunch of money into Google Ads and are not seeing results. Also, remember that it may not just be Ads you need to look at. If you feel like you audit, look at analytics, and keep a close eye on your campaigns and you still aren’t seeing the results you should be, it may have to do with your website, brand image, reviews, or other relevant business issues. Ads works when all of those things are in place. 

Bottom line. Look at your data and analytics regularly and often. You may have a learning curve at first, but in the end, you will be able to make the kind of corrections that save money and see a far better ROI once you get the hang of it! 

2. Incorrect Audience Targeting

One of the errors that can lead to excessive spending without seeing the kind of conversions you want is targeting your brand’s audience incorrectly.

You could be:

  • Targeting the wrong location 
  • Bidding at the wrong time of day or days of the week 
  • Targeting the wrong kind of devices
  • Advertising on the wrong networks

Look into demographics about your audience (for example, where you sell your products) and data on what days/times or devices perform best to make these kinds of adjustments. 

3. Errors in Keyword Targeting 

There are a lot of mistakes made (and solutions for them) with keyword targeting. In fact, poor keyword targeting is one of the most significant problems for high-paying and underperforming Ads accounts. The biggest mistakes often fall in one of two categories: (1) targeting over-inclusive keywords or (2) targeting non-converting keywords. I’m going to break-down some solutions for each category: 

Error #1: Targeting Over-Inclusive Keywords

Unfortunately, Google Ads is not one of the places where casting your net wide is a good thing. You do want to have enough keywords and keyword combinations to make sure you rank in relevant searches, but using “overly-broad” keywords is not likely to get you anywhere. In fact, it is likely to just get you a lot of junk. 

For example, I was helping a small business with their Ads recently, and a Chicago-Based photography and video company had “Chicago” and “Video” as keyword options. They wound up getting a lot of traffic for people just looking for videos of Chicago—not traffic looking for a videographer in Chicago. In a PPC campaign, this is no good. I had to go into their Google Ads and did two different things to troubleshoot this junk traffic (and PPC over-spending):

  1. Add negative keywords to their campaign. If you do some research it is pretty easy to find negative keywords you should be using in your specific industry. Google Ads support can also give you a list of recommendations. This will help you to decide what keywords you don’t want to target and therefore not have PPC losses on words that are not driving traffic.
  2. Analyze their search terms report closely. If you analyze your search terms report you can learn a lot of valuable information to make adjustments. For example, you can find out what search queries ultimately lead people to your page (through them clicking on the ad). It will also allow you to figure out which are performing poorly and will need to be added to your negative keyword list.

Doing both of these things can really help you to eliminate over-inclusive keywords and make sure the clicks you are getting are the most accurate possible, which will in turn save you money and boost conversions.

Error #2: Non-Converting Keywords 

The second largest problem is using keywords that are non-converting. What this means is that you need to look at what keywords are performing well and which are not and make a decision about which to add to your negative keyword list. By looking at performance data (i.e, conversions) you can figure out which keywords are more relevant and valuable to your advertisement. 

Here are some steps you can take to figure out what keywords are not working well and build your own analysis: 

Step 1: Export a keyword report,

Step 2: Add the data into a spreadsheet & create a pivot table to determine which keywords are not performing well and what might be able to cut costs.

Step 3: Cut costs by “pausing” non-converting keywords. 

The Takeaway 

There are many things you can do to audit your Google Ads, and the things I’ve mentioned in this post are just a starting point. As I mentioned, data analysis is really key here—you want to make sure you are checking your Ads performance regularly and doing what you can to make adjustments so that you stay within your budget! Learn about more ideas for an audit here.

Do you know of any helpful Google Ads audit tricks? Let us know in the comments section below! 

Amanda DiSilvestro is the Editor-in-chief for Plan, Write, GO. She has been writing about all things digital marketing, both as a ghostwriter, guest writer, and blog manager, for over 10 years. Check out her blogging services to learn more!

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

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Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.

“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”

The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.

The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.

Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.

The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”

The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.

Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”

States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.

The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.

Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.

Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.

“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”

The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.

Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.

“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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5 Tips to Boost Your Holiday Search Strategy

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Student writing on computer

With the global economic downturn, inflation, ongoing supply chain challenges, and uncertainty due to the Ukraine war, this year’s holiday shopping season promises to be very challenging. Will people be in the mood to spend despite the gloom? Or will they rein in their enthusiasm and save for the year ahead?

With these issues in mind, here are five considerations to support your search engine optimization strategy this holiday shopping season:

1. Start early.

Rising prices are likely to mean shoppers will start researching their holiday spending earlier than ever to nab the best bargains. Therefore, retailers must roll out their holiday product and category pages — and launch any promotions — sooner to ensure their pages get crawled and indexed by search engines in good time.

Some e-commerce stores manage to get their pages ranking early by updating and reusing the same section of the website for holiday content and promotions, rotating between content for Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine gifts, Fourth of July sales, etc. This approach can help you retain the momentum, links and authority you build up with Google and get your holiday pages visible and ranking quickly.

2. Make research an even bigger priority.

With all the uncertainty this year, it’s vital to use SEO research to identify the trending seasonal keywords and search phrases in your retail vertical — and then optimize content accordingly.

With tools such as Google Trends you can extract helpful insights based on the types of searches people are making. For example, with many fashion retailers now charging for product returns, will prioritizing keywords such as “free returns” get more search traction? And with money being tighter, will consumers stick with brands they trust rather than anything new — meaning brand searches might be higher?

3. Make greater use of Google Shopping.

To get the most out of their holiday spending, consumers are more likely to turn to online marketplaces such as Google Shopping as they make it easier to compare products, features and prices, as well as to identify the best deals both online and in nearby stores.

Therefore, take a combined approach which includes listing in Google Shopping and at the same time optimizing product detail pages on your e-commerce site to ensure they’re unique and provide more value than competitors’ pages. Be precise with product names on Google Shopping (e.g., do the names contain the words people are searching for?); ensure you provide all the must-have information Google requires; and set a price that’s not too far from the competition. 

4. Give other search sources the attention they deserve.

Earlier this year Google itself acknowledged that consumers — especially younger consumers — are starting to use TikTok, Instagram and other social media sites for search. In fact, research suggests 11 percent of product searches now start on TikTok and 15 percent on Instagram. Younger consumers in particular are more engaged by visual content, which may explain why they’re embracing visually focused social sites for search. So, as part of your search strategy, create and share content on popular social media sites that your target customers visit.

Similarly, with people starting their shopping searches on marketplaces such as Amazon.com, optimizing any listings you have on the site should be part of your strategy. And thankfully, the better optimized your product detail pages are for Amazon (with unique, useful content), the better they will rank on Google as well!

5. Hold paid budget for late opportunities.

The greater uncertainty and volatility this holiday season mean you must keep a close eye on shopper behavior and be ready to embrace opportunities that emerge later on. Getting high organic rankings for late promotions is always more challenging, so hold some paid search budget back to help drive traffic to those pages — via Google Ads, for example. Important keywords to include in late season search ad campaigns include “delivery before Christmas” and “same-day-delivery.” For locally targeted search ads, consider “pick up any time before Christmas.”

The prospect of a tough, unpredictable holiday shopping season means search teams must roll out seasonal SEO plans early, closely track shoppers’ behavior, and be ready to adapt as things change.

Marcus Pentzek is chief SEO consultant at Searchmetrics, the global provider of search data, software and consulting solutions.

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Google Home App Gets an Overhaul, Rolling Out Soon

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Google Home app

Google refreshes its Home app with a slew of new features after launching a new Nest gear. This makes it faster and easier to pair smart devices with Matter, adds customization and personalization options, an enhanced Nest camera experience, and better intercommunication between devices.

This revamped Home app utilizes Google’s Matter smart home standard – launching later this year – especially the Fast Pair functionality. On an Android phone, it will instantly recognize a Matter device and allow you to easily set it up, bypassing the current procedure that is often slow and difficult. Google is also updating its Nest speakers, displays, and routers – to control Matter devices better.

Google Home App New Features

  • Spaces: This feature allows you to control multiple devices in different rooms. Google has listed a few things by room: kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc., although it’s pretty limited right now. Spaces let you organize devices how you see fit. For instance, you can set up a baby monitor in one room and set a different room’s camera to focus on an area the baby often plays. With Spaces, you can categorize these two devices into one Space category called ‘Baby.’

Google Home app Spaces

  • Favorites: This one is pretty self-explanatory. It allows you to make certain gears as a favorite that you frequently use. Doing so will bring those devices into the limelight within the Google Home app for easier access. 

Google Home app

  • Media: Google adds a new media widget at the bottom of your Home feed. This will automatically determine what media is playing in your home and provide you with the appropriate controls as and when needed. There will be song controls if you listen to music on your speakers. There will be television remote controls if you’re watching TV. 

Google probably won’t roll out this Home app makeover anytime soon. But you can try it for yourself in the coming week by enrolling in the public preview, available in select areas.

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