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31 Best Giveaway Ideas (+Tips to Make Them Successful)

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31 Best Giveaway Ideas (+Tips to Make Them Successful)

Here’s a hill I’m dying on: giveaways are one of the most versatile and efficient marketing strategies available. They work on any channel, are easily scalable to your budget, and create their own buzz (we all love free stuff!).

But the best part is they are endlessly variable—there are infinite giveaway ideas.

I want you to get a feel for what a good giveaway can do for your business and find a few versions to try. So I’ve listed over 30 ideas, a handful of examples, and some things you can do to make sure your giveaway delivers what you need it to.

Table of contents

Why should you run giveaways?

Giveaways produce results across your entire sales funnel, from early awareness to customer evangelism. Here are some of the most popular ways I’ve seen giveaways used in marketing:

  • Boost brand awareness: When people don’t know or trust your brand yet, a giveaway will help you break the ice.
  • Support a product launch: Giveaways capture attention fast, which is exactly what you need for a new product.
  • Introduce a new location: A little free gift will build rapport quickly with new neighbors.
  • Grow your social media and email following: It’s crazy how well tag-a-friend giveaways multiply social networks.
  • Clear out seasonal merch: Turn a sunk cost into a wildly effective marketing strategy.
  • Capture UGC: Make sharing user-generated content a sweepstakes entry, and watch the awesome customer images pour in.
  • Get customer referrals: Incentivize customers to become your best salespeople.
  • Recover abandoned cart sales: Put all those “almost-won” sales over the finish line with free shipping or by throwing in a gift card or trial size.

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How do you make a successful giveaway?

The type and scope of giveaway you manage depends on what you have available, who you’re trying to reach, and what you hope to get out of it. Follow these steps so your giveaway makes a huge splash.

Set a goal

The goal of your giveaway is the first piece of the puzzle. Everything else snaps in around it.

Say you want to blow up your Instagram follower count. The platform, set of rules, and promotional plan supporting your giveaway should all align to make that happen.

Choose the prize

This is trickier than some people realize. Ideally, you want a prize aligned with your brand and right-sized for your goals.

A brand-aligned giveaway helps you focus on attracting ideal potential customers. If you sell baby monitors, giving away running shoes will attract lots of people who don’t need your products.

Giveaway ideas - giveaway on YouTube

Choose a gift that matches the size and goal of your giveaway.

Likewise, a huge prize for a simple entry method (like tagging a friend on Instagram) is going to bog you down with so many entrants outside of your core audience. Pick a prize just large enough to make it worth the effort to get it.

Pick your platform

Here, I’m talking about in-person, social media, email marketing, etc. Where can you find the people you want to reach? Which option makes it easy to achieve your specific goal?

If you’re drumming up brand awareness for a new dentist’s office, handing out travel toothcare kits at a health fair is perfect. However, an email campaign would be better if you’re looking for new patient referrals.

Schedule appropriately

Timing matters a lot in giveaways for several reasons. Seasons, competition levels, and your own internal needs all factor in.

For example, a brand awareness giveaway that would triple your TikTok follower count in June might get drowned out by holiday marketers in December.

Create the rules

There are two questions to answer here:

  1. What do people have to do to get the giveaway?
  2. What laws and platform rules do you need to follow?

To set the rules of entry, match the ask’s difficulty to the prize’s value. The better the prize, the more you can ask. It’s fair to ask someone to buy one shirt to get another similar shirt for free. Or to register their email address for a chance to win a weekend trip. But if your giveaway is an inexpensive branded pen, you won’t get many people registering (those are great handouts at conferences, though).

Giveaway ideas - Giveaway on Instagram showing the rules.Giveaway ideas - Giveaway on Instagram showing the rules.

Make sure you’ve listed all giveaway rules clearly.

Laws and platform rules can vary. Instagram has its own rules, for example. In general, you want to clearly and fairly describe the prize, give a minimum age to participate, list the rules, and give the odds of winning if it pertains to your type of giveaway.

Hype it up

Before and during the big day(s), use social media posts and popups on your website to get more attention. Email your subscribers and offer your loyalty members early or extra entries. Look for influencers or related businesses to partner with. If it’s a really big deal, consider spending on paid search ads or boosted social media posts.

Follow up

After your giveaway is over, there’s plenty of attention and excitement to be had. Announce the winner (if it was a contest) and tag them in the social media posts so their network can see them. Let people who didn’t participate or win know what they missed, and tell them to stay tuned for future events.

You could end up gathering more email addresses with the promise of a future giveaway than the original giveaway itself.

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Best giveaway ideas for businesses

These are your tried-and-true giveaway ideas that have proven to generate buzz, leads, and sales.

1. Sweepstakes

You’re probably pretty familiar with this one. You give up your email address or some other information, and you’re entered to win a prize. Unlike a gift-with-purchase, your free gift isn’t guaranteed, which adds a little anticipation to the game.

Sweepstakes are useful for all types of brand awareness and lead-generation campaigns. They’re less often used to generate direct sales since requiring a purchase to enter can be legally tricky.

2. Customer loyalty giveaway

Customer retention is a critical business growth strategy. This giveaway aims to keep your best customers happy and returning for a long time.

Giveaway ideas -Under Armor giveaway.Giveaway ideas -Under Armor giveaway.

Use exclusive giveaways for your loyalty members to keep them active longer.

The actual giveaway can take on many forms. The important part is to talk up the exclusivity of it. Only your best customers get the gift, discount, or entry to win. That’ll help cement the feeling of community, which strengthens brand loyalty.

3. Holiday-themed giveaway

Holiday-themed giveaways come in many variations. Black Friday doorbuster deals are a very popular one, but you can get pretty creative. For example, you could offer a self-care giveaway for singles as part of your Valentine’s Day marketing.

4. The year’s supply giveaway

There’s some psychology behind our desire for abundance, even for everyday products. Think of having a pantry full of mac and cheese or all the laundry detergent you could use for a year. It’s more exciting than it should be.

That’s the motivation behind giving a year’s supply of a product. The bonus is that you can make this highly relevant to what you sell, attracting future customers.

5. BOGO

Buy one, get one free deals are among the most popular giveaways for both the giver and the receiver.

Giveaway ideas - Cosmetics BOGO giveaway.Giveaway ideas - Cosmetics BOGO giveaway.

Use BOGO deals for a big boost in sales and awareness.

Your customers get double the product for the same price, and you make a sale every time someone takes advantage of your offer.

Giveaways like this can also be great loss-leaders—products that don’t generate much profit on their own but drive lots of new customers to your store to buy additional items.

6. Free upgrade

This is a nice option if your product or service has pricing tiers and you want to attract more customers to the higher tier.

Say you sell software with entry, pro, and executive plan options. Run a promo where anyone who buys the entry plan gets the pro version for the first month. Some of those users will get hooked on the expanded capability and upgrade at the end of the giveaway period.

You can use this for physical products, too. Offer the premium product at the standard price for a limited time. Then gather as many reviews of the higher-end version and use that social proof to sell it after the promo is over.

7. Free product with purchase

I love these types of giveaways, especially for two specific purposes:

  • You have seasonal or excessive stock you need to turn
  • You’re introducing a new product

Make the free product as relevant to the purchased one as possible. Socks with a pair of shoes is a perfect example. You could also throw in something that often causes friction when forgotten, like batteries with a battery-powered toy.

8. Product bundle giveaway

Grow your add-on sales by bundling several complementary products and running a sales promotion giveaway to demonstrate how they all work together.

Giveaway ideas - Bundle giveaway on Instagram.Giveaway ideas - Bundle giveaway on Instagram.

Bundling products for a giveaway is a great way to promote complimentary products.

9. Surprise discount or coupon code

Here’s the gist. A customer opens a promotional email with their secret code. They click through to a sales page and enter it to learn they’ve been given a 20% discount. That little bit of intrigue and anticipation makes a much bigger impression than simply getting 20%.

This giveaway works best when you can give away something valuable—you might disappoint people if they go through the motions for 5% off.

10. Branded swag giveaway

This is a standard and useful tactic for in-person events. Hand out pens, t-shirts, ball caps, or fidget spinners (remember those?) to get people to your booth or table.

A slight modification here is to buy fewer, more expensive items and only give them away to people who talk with your team. That shifts the focus from brand awareness to a lead generation campaign.

11. Refer-a-friend giveaway

There is no better salesperson for your business than happy customers. Use a little gift to give your customer referral program a big shot in the arm.

Giveaway ideas - Customer referral giveaway post.Giveaway ideas - Customer referral giveaway post.

Use giveaways to get more customer referrals.

You’re asking people to discuss your business with their friends, and the leads you get will be very high-value, so make sure the gift is a good one.

12. Influencer giveaway

If you don’t already have a big audience, partner with an influencer to get more eyes on your giveaways.

Pick an influencer with a smaller, niche, engaged audience. So find a holistic health professional with a few thousand dedicated followers over Selina Gomez for your essential oils giveaway. That’ll deliver higher quality traffic which leads to more future sales.

13. Buy a gift, get a gift

This is such a great variation of the holiday giveaway or buy one, get one promo. When someone orders a present, give them something for themselves.

Gift cards work well here, so the buyer can choose what they want. But you can also create a cool version where both people get the same gift, especially if your product is great for friends—like bracelets.

14. Appreciation giveaway

Use this type of giveaway for milestones like business anniversaries or getting your first 100K followers on TikTok.

You can make this about the individual, too. For example, you could send an extra gift or discount to people one year after their first purchase.

15. Reengagement giveaway

Now, for those customers or prospects who haven’t made a purchase or opened an email in a while, a re-engagement giveaway is just the trick.

Start by segmenting your email list to pull out subscribers who haven’t done what you want them to do (click a link or re-order a product) for a set period. Send them an email with a concise, compelling subject line announcing the giveaway.

If reordering is the goal, an extra discount or BOGO offer is a good giveaway to use here.

Giveaway ideas for small businesses

Every penny counts for small and growing businesses. These giveaway ideas don’t require a lot of money or time to manage but can still net a really nice return.

16. Co-sponsored giveaway

Co-sponsored giveaways are events managed and promoted by two or more businesses. I purposely put them at the top of this list because they’re such a smart way to share the load of running a giveaway while multiplying its effect.

Giveaway ideas - Cosponsored giveaway post on Instagram. Giveaway ideas - Cosponsored giveaway post on Instagram.

Giveaways work great as co-promotional events.

With multiple businesses involved, you’ll be able to afford a larger prize or gift. But even better, your brand will get exposure to the existing networks those other businesses have built.

Co-sponsored giveaways are a good social media marketing strategy, but they can also be effective in person or even via email.

17. Tag us in your post giveaways

This giveaway is a UGC-gathering powerhouse. Ask followers to tag you in their social media posts using either your handle or a branded hashtag in exchange for entry into a sweepstakes, then share the content on your account.

These events are easy to run. Just make sure you explicitly mention that tagging a post is consent for you to reshare the image. And don’t forget to highlight the winners so everyone knows the contest was legit and to get an extra splash of attention for your brand.

18. Tag-a-friend giveaways

If you scroll Instagram or TikTok for about five minutes, you’re almost guaranteed to stumble on one of these contests. That’s simply because they’re so good at exponentially growing your social network.

Giveaway ideas - tag a friend giveaway on Instagram.Giveaway ideas - tag a friend giveaway on Instagram.

Use tag-a-friend giveaways to grow your social media following quickly.

Try to keep the instructions simple. If you ask someone to follow three accounts, like two different posts, and share the post to their network, they might keep scrolling (unless you’re offering a monster prize).

Combine this with a co-sponsored giveaway for an extra boost in online presence.

19. Giveaway for feedback

Online reviews do a lot of heavy lifting for your business. Buyers trust reviews, and Google uses them as a local search ranking factor so you show up in more searches.

You can use giveaways to get more reviews in a hurry. Just make giving a review a requirement for entering the giveaway.

Caution is warranted here. You don’t want to come off as buying reviews. And some platforms, like Yelp, don’t allow this tactic. Plus, you need to start with an excellent product and service, or you’ll just get more bad reviews.

20. Free information giveaway

This one is nice for small businesses because it leverages your valuable expertise instead of a costly product.

To launch this type of giveaway, create an ebook, template, or some other form of content that your target audience would love to have. For example, if you’re a chiropractor, you could create a PDF showing 10 daily habits for a healthy back. Then use a popup, or lead magnat, which asks visitors to enter their email address in exchange for the guide.

Not sure what to create? List out the five questions your customers most frequently ask and start there.

21. Free trial

An old sales trick says that if you can put a product in a prospect’s hands, your chance of making the sale will increase dramatically.

A free trial giveaway does just that. Let people who register on your website try your product without cost. They’ll gladly pay to keep using it when they fall in love.

You’ll see this strategy used for software sales a lot. But you can also send a sample size of a consumable product. Make it a gift with the purchase of another popular item to get it in more hands.

22. Free quote

This might be the most underrated giveaway on the list. Especially if your competitors regularly charge to price out a job.

Giveaway ideas - free quote promotion on Instagram.Giveaway ideas - free quote promotion on Instagram.

Don’t sleep on the value of a free quote.

Besides attracting new potential customers, you’ll also create a cost barrier that makes it more likely people choose to work for you. Once they have your quote, they’ll be less likely to pay another business for theirs.

Cool giveaway ideas

Here are several fun giveaway ideas your customers and followers will love (and you’ll love to run).

23. Quiz/trivia

Ask your customers to answer a question about your business or industry. Tie it to your unique selling proposition so as people search for the answer, they learn what makes you different.

Here’s an example. Say your long history and wide range of services set you apart. Ask people to reply to a Facebook post with the year your company was founded and the number of services you offer. Then, pick one winner out of the replies and give them a nice giveaway.

24. Choose your own gift

I used to love it when my mom handed me a little cash and told me to pick out one toy I could take home. I had a blast prowling the isles for my special treat.

Give your audience that same thrill by letting them pick their prize from a list of options.

Giveaway ideas - Choose your own give giveaway on Instagram.Giveaway ideas - Choose your own give giveaway on Instagram.

Let customers pick their prize for an extra exciting giveaway.

Ideally, the prize list will be a curated selection of things you sell. But it could also be from a list of your favorite seasonal products or any other themed group of items.

25. Scavenger hunt

This one is a lot of fun. Create a list of little details from your website pages (or on multiple pages if it’s a co-sponsored event). People who register get questions to answer, each requiring them to visit different pages. Then pick a winner from all of the completed entries.

These are best done over a short time period to limit answer sharing. So, make sure to create a lot of hype before the event so you have as many people playing as possible.

26. Photo or video contest

Here’s a twist on a UGC giveaway. Instead of simply collecting tagged images, offer a prize for the best one(s)!

By making it a contest, you’ll encourage people to send in their absolute best pics and videos. Plus, you’ll get a double dose of engagement when everyone checks back in to see who won.

27. Nominate a hero

People love to work with businesses that give back. This giveaway lets your audience spotlight their local heroes while you get to give back to people making a difference.

Giveaway ideas - Nominate a hero giveaway.Giveaway ideas - Nominate a hero giveaway.

The hero nomination giveaway requires more work, but it pays off in many ways.

To run a giveaway like this, ask your followers to nominate someone they believe is a true hero and explain why. Then pick one (or more) to receive the prize and promote the event. If possible, get a video of the hero accepting their prize. You could also create a landing page listing all the nominated heroes.

Unique giveaway ideas

One of the defining characteristics of a great giveaway is that it stands out against all the other messages and ads people are exposed to. These interesting and unique giveaway ideas grab attention, even in a crowded space.

28. Gamified giveaway

A gamified giveaway adds gameplay elements to your offer. If you’ve ever spun a wheel to get a freebie or discount, you’ve seen a gamified giveaway.

Spinning the wheel is one of many ways to add engagement-boosting gameplay to your giveaways.

Giveaway ideas - Scratch to win giveaway from Microsoft.Giveaway ideas - Scratch to win giveaway from Microsoft.

Digital “scratch-off” tickets add a fun element to a standard sweepstakes giveaway.

Try creating digital scratch-off tickets that give customers points for making a purchase that they can spend on future products. Anything that ups the ante by asking people to play in order to win instead of simply getting a freebie is worth consideration.

29. Caption this photo

A photo caption giveaway is great for a quick engagement boost. Post a picture on your social media platform of choice and ask your followers to write a caption for it. You pick the most creative caption and send a prize to the winner.

The game is fun, so you can expect decent participation, even with minimal prizes. Just closely moderate the replies so you don’t accidentally post a caption that isn’t safe for work.

30. Brand ambassadorship giveaway

Instead of just partnering with a brand ambassador, create a contest where people can win a chance to become one.

Giveaway ideas - rules for the BARK Ranger ambassador giveaway.Giveaway ideas - rules for the BARK Ranger ambassador giveaway.

Who wouldn’t want to be a B.A.R.K Ranger?

Make this as big or as small as you want. You can give away a little gift to everyone who completes a task to become an ambassador. Or sponsor a huge contest where the winner spends a year using what you sell and gets paid (in products or cash) to share their experience with the world.

31. Do a good deed giveaway

This is a play on the pay-it-forward theme. Ask your followers to do something kind for a stranger (or maybe volunteer for a non-profit), document what they’ve done, and submit it for a chance to win a gift for themselves. Double the impact by offering a second gift people can give to a loved one.

This type of giveaway drums up lots of good feelings while also doing something positive for the world.

The best giveaway idea is up to you

There is no one perfect giveaway idea. What works best will be the one that matches your brand, achieves your goals, and you actually enjoy running.

Remember to be extremely clear on the rules and follow through on your promise. Missed expectations can turn a great giveaway into a public relations hassle.

Here’s a recap of the best giveaway ideas:

  1. Sweepstakes
  2. Customer loyalty giveaway
  3. Holiday-themed giveaway
  4. The year’s supply giveaway
  5. Buy one, get one free
  6. Free upgrade
  7. Free product with purchase
  8. Product bundle giveaway
  9. Surprise discount or coupon code
  10. Branded swag giveaway
  11. Refer-a-friend giveaway
  12. Influencer giveaway
  13. Buy a gift, get a gift
  14. Appreciation giveaway
  15. Reengagement giveaway
  16. Co-sponsored giveaway
  17. Tag us in your post
  18. Tag-a-friend
  19. Giveaway for feedback
  20. Free information giveaway
  21. Free trial
  22. Free quote
  23. Quiz/trivia
  24. Choose your own gift
  25. Scavenger hunt
  26. Photo or video contest
  27. Nominate a hero
  28. Gamified giveaway
  29. Caption this photo
  30. Brand ambassadorship giveaway
  31. Do a good dead giveaway



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8 Fast Takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024

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8 Fast Takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024

Similar to last year, Google Marketing Live provided a torrent of AI-fueled advances for advertisers. In all, nine presenters announced 30 products and features over the 90-minute keynote event.

In the upcoming days and weeks, we’ll examine each of these new products and features in-depth and share what marketers and advertising experts think of them as they roll out.

But for now, here’s a quick recap of the most important announcements from Google Marketing Live 2024.

Contents

8 biggest takeaways from Google Marketing Live 2024

The GML keynote was a fast and furious hour and a half. Here are the biggest announcements from the event.

1. Automatic ad placements in AI overviews

Just last week at Google I/O, Google announced the wider release of AI overviews in search results (formerly known as SGE or search generative experience). Now, Google is testing automatically placed Search, PMax, and Shopping ads in AI Overview boxes.

Google Marketing Live - screenshot of AI overview ad

The ads will show up in a block labeled “Sponsored” to separate them from the organic and AI-derived content.

These ads will show up automatically when they match the intent of both the query and the AI Overview; advertisers don’t need to take any action to target those placements.

2. AI-powered, personalized recommendations and advice

In another experiment, Google is using AI to speed along shoppers’ decision-making process for large or complicated purchases by offering personalized product recommendations.

Google used the example of someone shopping for storage space.

The user would search for “short-term storage” and click on a relevant ad. They would then enter a guided shopping experience where they could answer questions and provide a photo of what they wanted to store.

Google Marketing Live - screenshot of AI guided ad.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of AI guided ad.

Google’s AI reviews the details and suggests the right-size storage unit and related items like packing materials. The user then clicks through to a product page on the business’s website to finalize their purchase.

This ad feature is currently in the testing phase. If it’s successful, it will soon be available to other verticals.

3. AI creative asset production for PMax campaigns

Google announced more features and tools to help advertisers create PMax campaign assets faster and at scale. These new features include:

  • The ability to add brand guidelines for colors, fonts, and imagery.
  • Image editing is used to add and extend backgrounds, add objects, and alter image sizes to fit multiple ad placements (think of adding a plant and expanding the wall for a furniture ad).
  • Auto-generation of ads from a product feed.
  • Asset-level conversion metrics.

Google Marketing Live - screenshot of PMax ad creation.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of PMax ad creation.

4. AI-enhanced Shopping Ads

    Shopping Ads got another layer of AI treatment with several upgrades to create a more immersive shopping experience.

    Virtual try-on for apparel

    Google is expanding its virtual try-on (VTO) experience to apparel ads. Beginning with men’s and women’s tops, users will be able to see how individual styles look on different body types.

    3D product images

    Using Adidas brand sneakers as an example, Google showed off new 360-degree shoe views that can be featured in ads. Google generates the 3D images using images provided by the seller.

    In-ad, short-form product videos

    Advertisers can now incorporate short product videos—created by the brand or by influencers—into ads. The videos will be clickable and interactive, letting shoppers view related products and get styling suggestions.

    The ads will include product details under each video.

    5. New visually immersive ad formats and features

    Google shared that it’s expanding its demand-gen video ad campaigns by adding new options for advertisers. These features include:

    • Clickable stickers created from existing image assets.
    • The ability for users to swipe left to a branded YouTube landing page.
    • AI-generated animations based on static images.

    6. Cohesive first-party data management

    In a move to improve the quality of data used to guide AI outputs, Google announced that its Ads Data Manager platform is coming out of beta testing and is now widely available.

    Google Marketing Live - screenshot of Google performance dashboard.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of Google performance dashboard.

    Ads Data Manager lets advertisers aggregate first-party data from sources like YouTube, Google Ads, HubSpot, and Shopify to make it more visible and actionable. The platform also acts as a “check engine light” to help make sure marketers are using data safely and responsibly.

    7. Visual brand profiles on search

    Sellers can now create a brand profile for Search, including branded imagery, product deals, videos, and more.

    Brand profiles will also include reviews pulled from Product Listing Ads. It remains to be seen how much control advertisers have over which reviews are shown.

    8. New profit optimization goals in PMax

    Advertisers will be able to optimize ads for profit goals in Performance Max campaigns.

    Google says advertisers using the new profit goals saw a 15% uplift in campaign profit compared to revenue-only goals.

    What we didn’t see at Google Marketing Live 2024

    There was a lot for advertisers to be excited about in this year’s GML keynote, but a couple of topics stood out by their absence.

    No B2B-specific products or features

    Once again, the 90-minute Google Marketing Live session focused on the rollout of products designed to help business-to-consumer brands generate more return from their Google Ads investments.

    There wasn’t a single mention of a B2B company, example, or use case. For obvious reasons, we’d have loved to see some.

    No (or too few) small-business case studies

    By number, the vast majority of advertisers on Google are small businesses. Yet just about every example, case study, and customer story featured big brands using Google’s newest features to attract new customers.

    Additionally, the majority of example use cases for the new features announced at Google Marketing Live 2024 were for travel and ecommerce–industries that typically thrive in the search ads environment. Meanwhile, the typical small business wouldn’t be able to reap the same benefits from these new features.

    “Google Ads and YouTube ads for well-established brands should work. If it didn’t, it would be alarming. Show me a local business with impressive stats,” tweeted Julie Bacchini, President of Neptune Moon and Managing Director of PPCChat.

    Google Marketing Live - screenshot of a Tweet about Google Marketing Live.Google Marketing Live - screenshot of a Tweet about Google Marketing Live.

    Source

    Our hope is that Google will use AI to make advertising easier for smaller businesses with smaller budgets.

    What it all means

    We’ll dig deeper into all these announcements and new AI features in an upcoming post, but for now, the takeaway is clear: Google is investing heavily in AI across the board. We get the feeling that not all users are quite as excited about AI as Google is, and regardless, there are bound to be some hiccups, as with any new technology. But we’ll be here to help you all navigate the changes.

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How to Navigate Your Google Ads Suspension

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Google Ads Account

Are you facing the dreaded red bar of death in your Google Ads account? If so, you may be the victim of a Google Ads suspension.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Google Ads accounts are suspended for various reasons, leaving businesses puzzled and eager to restore their campaigns.

Whether you’re new to the concept of a Google Ads suspension or currently grappling with one, this article will explore Google’s policies, to help you understand common suspensions, and will offer guidance on resolving issues if you find yourself fighting a suspension.

Understanding Google’s Approach to Suspensions

Google says it prioritizes user safety and credibility over generating revenue from advertisers. With billions of ads and millions of advertiser accounts to manage, Google has implemented robust policies to ensure a largely secure online experience for users.

These policies are designed to uphold legal requirements and the safety of users. The challenge arises when legitimate advertisers unintentionally get caught in the same net as bad actors who are deliberately violating policies.

Google’s policies cover a wide range of areas, from preventing scams and illegitimate businesses, to safeguarding users against misleading ads and harmful websites. In the past year alone, Google flagged over 5.5 billion ads and suspended around 12.7 million advertiser accounts.

While these measures protect users, they also pose a significant challenge for businesses aiming to reach their audience through Google.

Common Reasons for Google Ads Suspensions

While the reasons an account has been suspended can vary, some are more common than others. Circumventing Systems, Suspicious Payment Activity, Unacceptable Business Practices, and Counterfeit Goods are among the top suspension types.

None of these suspension types are impossible to recover from. The team at StubGroup has worked with numerous accounts struggling with these types of suspensions and have successfully gotten them reinstated.

Types of Google Ads Suspensions

Google rarely provides detailed explanations for account suspensions. If you get flagged for a certain policy, Google does not give more information than that. Here’s a few of the most common suspension types and their potential causes:

Circumventing Systems

This suspension type flags tactics like cloaking, sneaky redirects, and creating multiple accounts to bypass Google’s system.

Obvious things that can cause this type of suspension are redirecting users to a different final URL than the one displayed in the ad, maintaining multiple accounts to run similar ads, malicious software, or using cloaking techniques to show different content to Google’s review systems and actual users. There are, however, many other, less common and often unintentional triggers for Google to suspend an ad account for circumventing systems.

Suspicious Payment Activity

This suspension involves issues with your payment method used for the Google Ads account.

Common causes include: Using virtual or prepaid cards, having multiple accounts with a history of suspension linked to the same payment method, or discrepancies in the payment details provided.

Unacceptable Business Practices

This suspension revolves around practices deemed unethical or harmful by Google, such as misleading claims or deceptive offers. It’s common to see this suspension type in verticals that are more heavily restricted by Google’s advertising policies.

Common causes include: Failing to deliver promised services, using misleading information in ads, or engaging in practices that violate Google’s guidelines on transparency and honesty.

Counterfeit Goods

Google issues this suspension if it suspects the account is advertising counterfeit products or unauthorized replicas. Businesses with original products and services can also be hit with a counterfeit good suspension if something about their business confuses Google’s algorithms.

Common causes include: Selling or promoting fake goods, using brand names without authorization, using misleading wording that could lead Google to think a product is counterfeit, or listing products that violate Google’s trademark policies.

The Technical Perspective

From a technical standpoint, most suspensions stem from insufficient or incorrect information on the website. They can also come about as a result of landing page issues, security concerns, and inconsistent payment details.

Google’s emphasis on user safety and positive experiences shapes its algorithms. That renders these issues of top importance, and the first to get flagged.

Navigating Your Google Ads Suspension Effectively

If you find yourself dealing with a suspended account, don’t panic. Instead, use these trusty tips to get through it.

  1. Don’t Panic: Everyone’s first thought is to create a new Google Ads account. Don’t be lured into this trap. Creating a new account is seen by Google as an attempt to circumvent their system and ignore the underlying problem. That new account might hurt your chances of restoring your suspended Google Ads account.
  2. Identify the Issue: Understand the specific reason for the suspension. Review the policy Google says that you have violated and compare the policy with your account or website for anything that could appear misleading or flag Google’s system. Finding the cause behind your suspension is crucial for an effective appeal.
  3. Review Everything: Conduct a thorough review of your website, landing pages, ad content, and payment processes. Check anything and everything that could seem malicious.
  4. Address Any Technical Issues: Promptly address any technical issues you find. If you don’t have someone in-house, work with experts to ensure everything is taken care of.
  5. Construct a Clear Appeal: When submitting an appeal for your suspended Google Ads account, provide a clear and concise explanation of the actions taken to resolve the issues. Google does not respond well to complaints against them or angry appeals. The best road to action is a calm, comprehensive appeal, outlining the resolved issues.
  6. Documentation: Keep detailed records of changes made to your website, ad content, or payment processes as evidence of your compliance efforts.
  7. Monitor and Iterate: Keep a record of your appeal. After submission, wait for an email from Google and monitor your ad account.

What if Google Rejects My Appeal?

If your appeal gets rejected, you may need to go back to the drawing board. Re-evaluate and scan for anything that could still be triggering Google’s system or reviewers, including the status of connected accounts and the payment methods used.

If Google provides feedback, use that as you audit your account, website, and any linked accounts that might be affected.

Analyze Google’s Response

When Google rejects an appeal, they reply with an automated email as to why it was rejected. From time to time, however, there will be clues as to why they rejected your appeal to help steer you in the right direction.

Making Changes

Depending on Google’s feedback, you may need to make more changes to your ad account, website, or the documentation you submitted with the appeal.

This includes reviewing and updating any payment method information to ensure it is current. Check there are no outstanding balances that could lead to account suspension.

Resubmit with Updates

After each change, review and revise your appeal. Ensure it addresses the concerns raised by Google and its policies. Once you are confident in your modifications, resubmit the appeal.

Persistence and Patience with Google

Google’s review process can take time, so patience is key. While you are suspended, explore different channels you may have overlooked before. There are many different ways to advertise, digitally and in print, who knows where you may find success.

Consider Expert Assistance

If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of rejections and suspensions, consider seeking expert assistance like the suspension team at StubGroup. Professionals with experience in dealing with Google suspensions can provide valuable insights, identify blind spots, and guide you through the process more efficiently.

When choosing a professional to work with, be cautious and thoroughly research the companies to choose a reliable and transparent company that will keep your information safe and maintain an open line of communication with you.

Strategies for Preventing Google Ads Suspensions

  • Stay Informed: Google is always updating their policies. Regularly review and stay updated on those policies to ensure ongoing compliance.
  • Comprehensive Compliance Training: Educate your team about Google’s policies and best practices so they are aware of what to avoid when operating both your website and ad account.
  • Audit Your Online Presence: Conduct regular audits of your website, landing pages, social media, and ad content to identify and address potential issues before any bigger problems can arise.
  • Security Measures: Prioritize website security. Implementing HTTPS and conduct regular security audits of both your ad account and website. Keep your software updated, and address vulnerabilities promptly.
  • Ad Campaign Monitoring: Actively monitor the performance of your ad campaigns. Look for signs of policy violations or content issues and address them. It’s crucial to maintaining smooth and efficient Google Ads campaigns that you adhere to Google’s policies to prevent suspensions and achieve desired results.



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The Top 10 Google Ranking Factors (+Optimization Tips)

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The Top 10 Google Ranking Factors (+Optimization Tips)

Where’s the first place people go when they need an answer, idea, product, or service? Not to the Yellow Pages. Not into town. Not even to family and friends at this point. They go to the Goog. And most of them do not go past the first page of results.

And it is for this reason that SEO, or search engine optimization, is a multi-billion dollar industry. SEO is the practice of getting a website to align with Google’s ranking factors. So what are those ranking factors and how can you optimize your site for them? Read on to find out.

search engine optimization - google ranking factors

Table of contents

What are Google ranking factors?

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to rank as high as possible in organic search engine results (and yes, you can aim for the first page). When talking about search, we use the term “organic” to refer to search results that are unpaid. This is different from paid results, which come from PPC advertising.

Organic rankings on Google are determined by an algorithm that takes into account various characteristics and SEO metrics —and these are your ranking factors.

There are over 200 Google ranking factors, and while we will never know all of them, we do know many. We also know that while ranking factors and algorithms may shift, the characteristics Google is trying to parse out through them are expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T).

google ranking factors - meaning of E-A-Tgoogle ranking factors - meaning of E-A-T

E-A-T is not a ranking factor; rather, ranking factors are a way for Google to measure of E-A-T.

Types of Google ranking factors

Before we get into the top 10 Google ranking factors around which you can optimize your website pages, let’s first go over the different types.

  • On-page ranking factors refer to the quality of the content on the page and the keywords its targeting.
  • Off-page ranking factors are like endorsements from other pages on your site or other websites, and primarily involve backlinks.
  • Technical ranking factors measure your site’s ability to be crawled, indexed, and render content quickly and safely for searchers.
  • Local ranking factors involve all three of the above, with a special focus on reviews, reputation, and listings.

There isn’t one single ranking factor that will make or break your SEO. It’s the combination of all your technical, on-page, and off-page efforts that work together to help you rank higher on Google, get more traffic, and build trust.

The top Google ranking factors according to First Page Sage are as follows:

search engine optimization - google ranking factorssearch engine optimization - google ranking factors

On-page Google ranking factors

The above technical search engine ranking factors have to do with your website as a whole, while these next ranking factors are more page-specific—hence the term on-page SEO.

1. Relevant, high-quality content

The single most important Google ranking factor is the quality of your content. This correlates to the consistent publication of high quality content, user engagement, and niche expertise in the chart above. So what makes relevant, quality content?

  • It’s trustworthy. The information is in-depth, accurate, useful, and free of spammy links and/or comments.
  • It’s readable. That means organized logically, written conversationally, and not stuffed with keywords (Google will actually penalize you for this). Incorporate it naturally into your page and use it interchangeably with related keywords.
  • It’s fresh. Even the most evergreen content loses relevancy over time. So in addition to writing net new content, you should also be updating outdated pages with new information and new keywords that are relevant to today. This is the key to maintaining a good freshness score.
  • It matches the intent of the keyword. In addition to using keyword research tools to find out what your ideal audience is searching online, make sure to search the keyword on Google itself to make sure you understand what users are seeking when they perform that search.

In a recent survey conducted by Directive, 78% of marketers identified keyword research as a high-impact practice for driving new traffic. The research process allows you to better understand what your audience is searching for and create content that directly addresses these search queries.
google ranking factors - impact of keyword research on driving new trafficgoogle ranking factors - impact of keyword research on driving new traffic

2. Keyword placement

Once you know which keywords you want to rank for, it’s important to insert them into specific places on your page. This includes:

  • Title tag: aka meta title; the title that appears on the SERP
  • H1 title: title that appears on the page
  • H2 headings: aim for at least two
  • URL: keep your URL short and clean as well.
  • Naturally in the body: and also in the first 100 words
  • Meta description: the blurb that appears below the title tag/meta title. Make sure it accurately sums up your page and gives searchers a reason to click. Google doesn’t always use the meta description you provide, but it’s still important to include.

keyword placement checklist for on-page seokeyword placement checklist for on-page seo

Keywords in the title tags are, by far, the most important, followed by H2s and URL.

3. Image optimization

This is an important one—not only because of Google image search but also because regular search results are getting more and more visual—especially on mobile. Here’s how to optimize your images for SEO:

  • Assign alt text: This is the text alternative of an image, and the only way that Google can “see” them. Be short but descriptive and include the keyword. This also makes your website accessible to visually-impaired readers who rely on screen readers to browse the internet, and will show if the image fails to load.
  • Compress and resize: Use an image compressor (tinypng is my favorite) to keep your image file sizes to 70-100KB or less if you can. Often, saving as JPG instead of PNG helps. Also, images rarely need to be more than 1,000px wide. Though a responsive website will resize the images automatically, the less requests your site needs to make to the server, the better for page speed.
  • Add value: If you can, avoid using empty stock images and graphics in your blog posts and instead use screenshots, examples, charts, and illustrations that depict concepts. This improves the quality of the content and keeps users engaged longer.
  • Include the keyword: Not just in the alt text, but the file name. And replace spaces with dashes in the file name, otherwise your CMS will replace them with “%20” which creates an untrustworthy-looking image link.

google ranking factors - a properly saved, tagged, and compressed image in wordpressgoogle ranking factors - a properly saved, tagged, and compressed image in wordpress

A properly saved, tagged, sized, and compressed image.

4. Niche expertise

It’s not just the quality of your content that indicates expertise in your niche, but also the quantity of that quality content. For example, WordStream has been publishing high-quality content about PPC for a long time now, so Google has come to see us as a trusted source in this niche. But if we were to publish a super high-quality post about, say, robotic process automation, our chances of ranking for that keyword are slim.

To build out your niche expertise, you can use the hub and spoke method (also known as pillar page and cluster content). With this method, you create a hub/pillar page on a particular topic, usually a broad, high-volume keyword. This serves as the main resource for that topic, and your various H2s cover different child keywords within that topic.

Then you have your spokes, or cluster content, which are the additional pages that dive deeper into each of the aspects (child keywords) covered in the pillar page.

google ranking factors - hub and spoke content clustersgoogle ranking factors - hub and spoke content clusters

In addition to demonstrating your expertise within this niche, this method also helps with your site structure, which we’ll talk about later. Since the cluster pages link to and from the pillar content, as well as to each other, this keeps all of your links tightly organized around the same topic.

✅ Is your site optimized to rank on Google? Get an instant SEO audit with our free website grader. ✅

Technical Google ranking factors

Since it involves knowledge of website structure and content management systems, technical SEO is commonly a joint effort between marketing and development teams. But although this may seem complicated, once your website is in good working order, there’s not a lot of ongoing maintenance required in terms of SEO. Here are the technical strategies for improving your rank:

5. Page speed

Users expect a pain-free browsing experience, which is why page speed is an important ranking factor. If your pages take too long to load, your bounce rate will increase and your ranking will decrease. You can check yours with GTmetrix or Google PageSpeed Insights.

google ranking factors - gtmetrix homepagegoogle ranking factors - gtmetrix homepage

6. Mobile-friendliness

Back in 2019, Google told us it would be using mobile-first indexing on all new sites. This means that it makes its ranking assessment based on the mobile version of a site rather than the desktop. Then, in 2020 it told us plans for this to be the case for all sites, and as of 2021, all sites are now subject to mobile-first indexing.

In other words, even if the desktop version of your site is flawless, your search engine ranking could take a major hit if it isn’t optimized for mobile. Most content management systems allow you to make preview and adjustments for mobile/smaller screens. You can also use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

google ranking factors - google's mobile friendly test homepagegoogle ranking factors - google's mobile friendly test homepage

In addition to these tests, you should still always preview and test your web pages on an actual mobile device because there are some things that code just can’t pick up.

7. Core Web Vitals

While SEO trends ebb and flow, ranking factors don’t often change. But in 2021, Google did introduce a new ranking factor—Core Web Vitals—as a part of the page experience update. Core Web Vitals quantify a person’s experience on your page, which dictates whether and how they engage with it. They include:

  • LCP (Largest Contentful Paint): how long it takes for the visible elements on a page to load.
  • FID (First Input Delay): How long it takes for your page to register the first click or tap on the page.
  • CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift): whether there are unexpected movements or disruptive popups

You can improve your Core Web Vitals with lazy loading, code minification, image compression, and more.

core web vitalscore web vitals

8. Website architecture

As mentioned earlier, search engines work by crawling and indexing different pieces of content on your website. Internal links refer to any hyperlink that points to another page on your same website. The more organized and tightly-knit your internal linking structure is, the more points of access you create to any given page, and the easier it is for search engines (and users) to find what they’re looking for.

Ideally, any given page on your site should be accessible in three clicks or less.

google ranking factors - internal linking structuregoogle ranking factors - internal linking structure

To do this, you must be mindful of what pages you’re linking to each time you create a new page or a new piece of content.

It makes it so that search engines can easily understand and index the content. Topic clusters are also beneficial from a user experience perspective. It makes your content easier to navigate and readers will realize that they don’t have to go to multiple sites to find what they’re looking for.

It’s likely that your website already undergoes regular maintenance to check for things like bugs or server errors. For SEO purposes, it’s a good idea to do a technical SEO audit of your site every couple of months to check for things such as 404 errors, redirect loops, and broken links.

9. Site security

Ever wonder what the s stands for in https (as opposed to just plain old http)? Well it stands for secure. And the way you get your site to be an https site rather than an http site is to get an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate. There are a few different routes to getting an SSL, and the cost depends on the level of security you need as well as your hosting setup. HubSpot, for example offers free SSL through its CMS.

Off-page Google ranking factors

Off-page ranking factors have to do with entities outside of your website, such as social media platforms, influencers, and other websites, but there is one focal point to any off-page SEO strategy:

10. Backlinks

Last but most definitely not least, we have backlinks. A backlink is a link to your page that comes from another website. A page with a lot of links pointing back to it indicates to Google that the particular page is providing exceptional value, and is coming from a credible website.  But one link from one quality domain is much better than multiple links from several low-authority websites.

google ranking factors - how backlinking link juice is transferredgoogle ranking factors - how backlinking link juice is transferred

From our page on link building

So how do you get backlinks? Here are four link-building strategies.

  • Original, quality content: If your content is high-quality, unique, and provides value to your audience, it will generate backlinks on its own. Go for the irreplicable content like thought leadership content and original data-driven pieces.
  • Cold outreach: It takes years to build this kind of authority, so you’ll also want to build backlinks by finding related content and pitching your pieces to the author for a link.
  • Guest posts: Another method for building backlinks is by guest blogging. Rather than just asking for a link, offer to write a post for that site. You can include a backlink to your site in the post or in yoru author bio.

The top 10 Google ranking factors [recap]

With a strong presence in both paid and organic search engine results, you can increase your visibility—and no matter what kind of business you run, having visibility on search engines is critical if you want to earn trust, build brand awareness, increase traffic to your site, attract customers, and drive revenue. The top 10 Google Ranking factors include:

  1. Quality content
  2. Keyword placement
  3. Image optimization
  4. URL structure
  5. Page speed
  6. Mobile-friendliness
  7. Core Web Vitals
  8. Site architecture
  9. Site security
  10. Backlinks

Just remember, when it comes to real SEO, there’s no such thing as a silver bullet. The most important note to keep in mind is that climbing the search results pages takes time. If you optimize your website for several ranking factors today, it’s not going to magically appear in the number one spot tomorrow.

The optimization process requires ongoing effort to keep your site as fresh and relevant for your audience as possible. As long as your website is functional and optimized with your target buyer in mind, you’ll start to see organic growth.

For more opportunities to optimize for Google’s ranking factors, follow our easy 10-step SEO audit, or you can use our free Website Grader tool to do it for you. Or, check out our full range of digital marketing solutions to learn how we can help with your SEO.

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