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Three Basic Categories of Google Ads Bidding

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There are only two certain things in life: death and Google Ads updates. Google makes updates to its ads platform on a monthly basis and most of these are small changes or new features types to test out. However, every year or so Google loves to rock the boat with removing or adding a new bid strategy. Don’t worry, you haven’t missed any big news recently! However, given pivotal shifts in strategy all markets have undoubtedly had to make in these uncertain times, let’s take some time to review our current bidding strategy options and how best to use them!

If you or your client is primarily concerned with profitability, Google offers two types of bidding strategies that will allow you to up your PPC game while working within a pre-set KPI.

Target Cost Per Action (CPA) Bidding

Target CPA bidding is a smart bidding strategy that gives Google almost total control over your bids, leaving your hands free to focus on other aspects of your account. Target CPA bidding allows you to set a specific cost per action that you do not want to go over, ensuring you are not going after “unaffordable” conversions. So, for example, if you are selling a pair of shoes for $60 it wouldn’t make sense for you to pay $60 for a conversion, as it would completely wipe out your revenue. Instead, you’d want to set a much lower CPA goal, maybe $10, to ensure you are going after the most profitable converters. Setting this CPA goal tells Google’s algorithm to only bid on searches by customers that it identified as likely to convert within this $10 restriction. If you or your client is highly focused on efficient spend and revenue, this is a great bid strategy to leverage. 

Target Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)

Much like Target CPA bidding, Target ROAS is super valuable to the revenue-focused client, particularly in the e-commerce realm. One benefit of eCommerce businesses is that we can easily quantify sales or assign value to them. Therefore, it is easy to calculate a return on investment, or in PPC terms, return on ad spend. Of course, all brands want to see a return. However, because eCommerce clients have a set dollar value assigned to each product, we can optimize ad spend to stay within a margin of return. Therefore, if you have a brand that wants to generate 5x the revenue from the cost it takes to generate a conversion in PPC, your ROAS goal is going to be 500%. Google’s Target ROAS smart bid strategy allows you to input that goal then tells its algorithm to only go into auctions it deems as likely to convert at or above that 5x margin. Again, this is a great option for clients with KPIs heavily centered on return, however, it is best suited for eCommerce clients with specific product values. This is because in eCommerce businesses product values differ. For example, one pair of shoes may cost $60, while another costs $120. If our KPI is 5x ROAS then we are willing to pay only $12 for the $60 conversion but $24 for the $120 conversion. Target ROAS bidding gives Google’s algorithm room to adjust based on product price, unlike Target CPA.

If your brand is less concerned about ROI, but is primarily focused on maximizing conversions or conversion value as is possible with the given budget, then choose one of these bid strategies.

Maximize Conversions

This is another smart bidding strategy that gives Google total control at auction time. However, this strategy is tailored to spend your entire budget and bring in as many conversions as possible. That’s it, pretty straight forward. The one caveat to this is that you can set a max. CPC to ensure you aren’t paying an outrageous amount for a click. However, be careful in setting this. You will want to be generous with your CPCs to ensure Google’s algorithm can work its magic, if you set a low CPC, you will be restricting yourself just as you would with manual bidding!

Maximize Conversion Value

Just as with Target CPA and Target ROAS, there is a very subtle difference with Max. Conversion and Max. Conversion Value bidding. Maximize Conversion Value bidding is, again, a smart bid strategy but is more tailored for ecommerce clients. Like Target ROAS, Max. Conversion Value operates based on a product dollar value. With this bid strategy, Google’s algorithm is going to go after conversions likely to bring in the most dollars. This strategy will maximize the revenue from sales generated through PPC.

If handing over the reigns to Google seems like a scary prospect, or if you’ve tested out smart bidding with less-than-desirable results and would prefer to stick with manual bidding but with a liiitttle bit of help from Google then this next bidding strategy may be for you:

Enhanced Cost Per Click (ECPC)

ECPC bidding allows you to set and adjust your bids manually, which admittedly takes some time. However, this setting gives Google some leeway in changing those bids at auction time. Basically, if you’ve set your bid cap at $10, but Google’s algorithm feels certain that you can win a particular auction at $10.05, it will adjust your bids accordingly. 

Finally, if your campaign goals are not based on driving conversions or revenue, but rather you are wanting to drive awareness and get your brand name out there, then none of the above strategies matter to you! Instead, you will want to focus on showing in the SERP and traffic to the website, which can be done with the final two bid strategies.

Top Impression Share Bidding

If your plan is to dominate the market and show for every relevant search or always show above a competitor, then this is the strategy for you! Top IS bidding is Google’s newest bid strategy, having replaced position-based bidding in 2019. 

Top IS bidding allows you to tell Google:

  • How often you want to show up in search results
  • How often you want to show on the first page   OR
  • How often you want to show in the very top placement

Then, its algorithm optimizes for that goal. The most common setting for any of these placement options is 100%, because why use impression share bidding if you only want to show up part of the time? Just like Maximize conversions, you are able to set a max. CPC, here again, however, you want to be careful with this because setting a 100% impression share goal and then setting an extremely low max. CPC is unrealistic and will not yield the results you want. 

Maximize Clicks

Since Maximize Clicks is optimizing for the most click-through traffic as possible, it is pretty straight forward. With this bid strategy, all you need to do is set a daily budget and Google will take care of the rest! Its algorithm will work behind the scenes to generate as many clicks to your website as your budget will allow. This strategy is great if you want to generate brand awareness or if you want to jump-start a new campaign by bringing in a lot of data, faster. By getting as many clicks to a website as possible, you can more quickly identify what type of users are most likely to convert – their interests, demographic sets, etc. Then use that knowledge to drive future optimizations!

And that’s it! Outside of manual bidding, these are your options for search in Google! It is always recommended to test one of these strategies before overhauling your whole account because while they all sound good on the surface, you never know what kind of results your brand is truly going to get. Also, when testing out these strategies, remember that Google’s algorithm has a learning period. So you may see some wonky performance for the first few days of the test. However, if you stick it out and test these methods one by one – you may just hit a huge win for your account!

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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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