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The Definitive Search Campaign QA Checklist

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If there’s a box that can be checked, I’m in! I have a checklist for just about everything, including a checklist for my checklists. There’s something very satisfying about ticking off all of the boxes and knowing you’ve covered all your bases. If you can’t already tell, we here at Hanapin love a good checklist. We also love a well-built search campaign. So here to give you the warm, gooey feeling of a completed checklist and make sure your search campaigns are up to snuff is the definitive search campaign QA checklist:

Campaign Setup

Ad Rotation

Are you testing ad copy? Maybe ad rotation should be set to rotate indefinitely. Want the best ad to show every time? Set your rotation to optimize. 

Network

Be sure to disable display for search campaigns. If you feel it’s appropriate for your account, enable search partners, even if it’s just to see how it performs. 

Budget

Are your budgets appropriate for your campaign? Make sure your budget is allocated efficiently and makes sense in comparison to your other campaigns. If you have monthly spend goals, do your campaign budgets align with that goal? In general, we like to play by the 70/20/10 rule. 70% of your budget should go toward strategies you know will work, 20% to strategies you’re pretty sure will work, and 10% to trying something completely new. 

Bidding

What’s your bidding strategy? Are you bidding manually or are you using an automated bidding strategy? If you’re using an automated bidding strategy, ensure it aligns with your campaign goals. Use this guide if you’re not sure how to decide.

Conversion Settings and Tracking

Choose the conversion actions that align best with your campaign’s goals. You can set conversions at either the account level or the campaign level. To ensure that your conversions are set up and your Google tag is firing correctly, navigate to the page where your Google tag should be attached, open and enable your Google tag assistant, and refresh the page. If you need more help setting up and trouble-shooting conversion tracking, check out our whitepaper.

Automated Rules

Set up automated rules to avoid overspending or to pause promotional ads. 

Ad Schedule

Does your ad schedule make sense for your account? If you’re limited by budget, you might want to confine ads only to times when you know users are more likely to convert. 

Language

Are you speaking the same language as your customers? If you provide products or services to people across different countries or multiple languages, create separate campaigns for each language. 

Location

If you’re not selling it there, don’t advertise there. Make sure your location settings align with your campaign strategy.

Audiences

What kind of users should be seeing your ads? You can choose to target and bid on specific audiences or simply set audiences to observation to see how they perform before setting bid modifiers. Audiences can be set at either the campaign or ad group level, so double-check that they’re set up in a way that aligns with your goals for the campaign. Don’t forget to set “all visitors” as an observation audience in case you want to set up remarketing later.

Demographics & Device

If you feel confident you know what kind of users and devices are most valuable to you, make sure you have bid modifiers in place. If you’re not quite sure, leave out the modifiers for now and come back later to see how things are performing.

Structure

Naming Conventions

Does a campaign, by any other naming convention, smell as sweet? Make sure your naming conventions align with the rest of your account, and if you don’t have a consistent naming convention across your account, for shame! Learn why they’re so important here and then implement them!

Ad Groups 

Does your ad group structure make sense in this campaign? If appropriate, have you broken them out by match type? 

Keywords

Are the keywords within each ad group tightly themed and relevant? Ensure the match types of the keywords fits with your ad group and that any modified broad keywords have the necessary “+”. 

Negative Keywords

Make sure you add any relevant negative keyword lists to the campaign. If you think there might be cross-pollination between campaigns, add the appropriate negatives to ensure you’re funneling users to the correct place. Don’t forget about embedded negatives if ad groups are segmented by match type. 

Ads & Creative

Ad Copy

Spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck! It’s so easy to push that little button but oh so common to see typos in ad copy. And don’t forget about good grammar. Make your former English teachers proud. 

Ad Variation

We recommend at least 2-3 ETAs and 1 RSA in each ad group. Take this opportunity to test different ad variations and see which performs better.

Ad URLs & Tracking

Verify that your URLs are working properly, direct users to the correct landing page, and have relevant tracking codes attached. Ensure the correct UTM or 3rd-party parameters are attached if you’re not using auto-tagging.

Verify Approval

Add a calendar reminder to come back and ensure your ads have been approved. If you’ve added labels to your ads, you can create automated rules to enable or pause ads on a desired date. (Labels also help you to pull quick reports). 

Ad Extensions

Sitelink Extensions

Sitelink extensions allow you to take up more space on the SERP and highlight different sections of your website. Google requires a minimum of 2 sitelink extensions but can show up to a maximum of 8.

Structured Snippets

Structured snippets allow you to highlight specific products, brands, and services. We recommend adding multiple sets of structured snippets to allow you to highlight more aspects of your business and increase the likelihood that the relevant snippet appears alongside your ad.

Callout Extensions

Callout extensions promote specific benefits for shoppers, like 24/7 customer service or free shipping & returns. We recommend 4 per ad group and ensuring they’re not repeating the same information contained in your ads and other extensions.

Call Extensions

Call extensions allow users to easily contact your business. If call extensions are relevant for your account, keep in mind that vanity numbers, premium numbers, and fax numbers won’t be approved for call extensions. Don’t forget to set call extensions to show only when your business can take calls.

Location Extensions

Location extensions can help you drive foot traffic to your business. These extensions can include the distance to the user’s location, the business’s street address, a clickable call button, and access to a details page for information like business hours. Keep in mind that location extensions can shoe on Google Maps, Google Display Network, or Youtube Ads.

Price Extensions

Price extensions are a great way to highlight the prices of your products and services. Price extensions can be updated without resetting their performance statistics, but you will need to ensure you keep them up to date.

Promotion Extensions

Promotion extensions are great for highlighting special offers. Be sure to double-check that you’ve correctly set the start and end dates for both the display and extension scheduling sections.

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MARKETING

Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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Salesforce rolls out new edition of Marketing Cloud for small businesses

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Salesforce summer 2023 release: The business executive's guide

Today Salesforce announced Marketing Cloud Growth, an edition of Marketing Cloud designed specifically for small businesses.

With help from AI, this edition makes it easy for marketers to segment audiences, create and execute email campaigns from text to image, optimize campaign performance and create unified customer profiles. It also has a prompt builder that can store and manage known reliable prompts for organizations.

Dig deeper: 70% of SMB marketers willing to pay more for tools with AI or automation

Salesforce developed the new edition by looking at the most common use cases for which small businesses frequenty don’t have the people or resources. This includes things like personalizing campaigns and advanced testing.

The company is also letting small businesses (those with fewer than 200 employees) that have Sales or Service Enterprise Edition “get started with Data Cloud at no cost.” Marketing Cloud Growth will initially be available in the U.S. and Canada and is expected to roll out to Europe, the Middle East and Asia by the end of the year.

Why we care. First of all, small businesses need all the help they can get. This creates an opportunity to start using AI within a centralized marketing workflow rather than importing content from independent generative AI tools. Perhaps it’s also a sign of Salesforce moving to compete with platforms (can we say HubSpot?) that more overtly court SMB clients.

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