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How Data Science Can Improve PPC Performance

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As machine learning and automation gain more of a stronghold in digital marketing, we need a way to analyse all the data we obtain. Data science does this by turning theories into tangible evidence.

One data science term you might come across is big data. It refers to large and complex data sets used to identify trends and patterns that can help businesses make better, more personalised decisions for their customers.

In PPC, that kind of power can work wonders for optimising budget spend, improving CTR, and overall performance.

In this article, I will look at the concept of data science, the tools and knowledge you need to make it work, some common PPC issues, and how data science can help fix them.

What is data science?

Data science is the study of data through various scientific processes and algorithms with the goal of deducing insights. As mentioned above, big data plays a major role in showing the effectiveness of data science and techniques like machine learning and automation are just as important.

Why is it so important?

The short answer is: data science solves problems. Before technology was as sophisticated as it is now, certain decisions were made by best guesses and past trends. That didn’t always work and lost people and businesses a lot of money. Now, data science can help find anomalies and trends to save people millions and give businesses the chance to improve customer relationships and services.

Some examples that show how important data science can be include:

  • Airbnb, who used data science to grow its business by 43,000% in just 5 years
  • Netflix uses data insights to produce original series as well as all the personalised recommendations you see. This was done by using big data to understand its users and what they liked and disliked
  • Spotify has a team of data scientists that use its API to categorise music by type (eg. energy, loudness, danceability)

Tools, terminology, and techniques

Data science isn’t reserved for use with large, complex data sets and you don’t need a degree to understand the basics.

Tools

  • Python is a programming language synonymous with data science due to its clear syntax and ability to scale for projects of all sizes. It also has a great number of libraries made specifically for data science including pandas, numpy, and scipy.
  • R is another programming language used extensively in data science, particularly with data mining.
  • There are frameworks used for creating machine learning models – including TensorFlow (Google) and Pytorch (Facebook) – and data processing such as Apache Hadoop (Apache).
  • BigML uses a cloud-based GUI environment to process machine learning algorithms.

Terminology

  • Data set – a collection of structured data.
  • Data mining – a process of identifying models and insights in data sets.
  • Deep learning – a subset of machine learning that tries to copy the thought processes of human beings. AI uses deep learning to improve things like speech recognition and translation.

Techniques

  • Clustering is a technique where data is grouped together.
  • Machine learning performs tasks based on patterns and trends it gets from datasets. The larger and more accurate the dataset, the better the results.
  • Classification helps to predict the categories that data points should go in.

How can data science help PPC?

Whether you use Google Ads or other PPC alternatives, automation is at the forefront. But you need to know what to automate and why, and that’s where data science comes in handy. Other benefits of data science in PPC include:

  • Identifying outliers in impressions and clicks over time to confirm whether significant changes are due to seasonality or something else.
  • Tailoring PPC campaigns aligned to particular audiences and when they’re online.
  • Understanding buyer’s preferences.
  • Deeper analysis of ad copy.
  • Creating and optimising remarketing lists.
  • Identifying unusual traffic.
  • Creating better split tests.

Practical applications of data science in PPC

1. Find data sources and cluster them

Chris Pitt, Head of Marketing at Vertical Digital did a talk at brightonSEO about the benefits of data science in PPC campaign management and one of his suggestions was to “collect and combine everything”, regarding data sources.

In his example, he combined the OpenWeatherMap API or Google Distance Matrix API to ask deeper questions about the overall performance of PPC campaigns when it rained and the behaviour of users who were within a 20-mile radius of business locations. These insights might sound superfluous but acting on these details could save a lot of money in the long run.

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The quality of your data sources can affect your insights so use the best tools you can. Besides the tools mentioned above, software like SEMrush, Google Data Studio, and Tableau can help collate and analyse data quicker and easier.

2. PPC needs to work together with all marketing channels

PPC professionals don’t operate in vacuums. Their strength lies in combining their efforts with everyone within a marketing team. That means collaborating with sales and using CRM data, developers who help create landing pages and websites, SEO, and customer support.

Data insights can provide goals and best practices for everyone to follow to ensure a smooth customer journey from impression to goal conversion. Those insights can also identify key areas for improvement between two teams and they can work together in fixing them. Is CTR high but conversions low? Maybe there’s a page speed issue that PPC, devs, and SEO could work on together. That’s the power of data science.

3. Visualize PPC performance

Data is awesome but on its own, it’s columns and rows of numbers and letters. How do you turn all that into insightful information you can act on? With data visualisation. Performance reports are paramount to showing where PPC is succeeding or needs improvement and the ability to visualise that data is important too.

Data visualisation can:

  • Find trends
  • Compare data over time
  • Normalise larger datasets
  • Help further testing

Sometimes, all it takes is a simple bar chart or line graph to show you where things are going right or wrong. The advantage of data science with regard to data visualisation is it can be done very quickly and you can generate reports in minutes if not seconds.

4. Test, test, test

After Google made their infamous changes to the SERPs on desktop, I decided to test whether the Google SERP changes had an impact on ad CTR. I had a hypothesis, I used a large dataset to test it and the results were different to what I had predicted. There was still scope for further testing and for better classification but the power of testing can help you confirm or refute any preconceptions you might have had.

Data in isolation has no meaning and being able to test it in controlled conditions can lead to important insights. That’s the beauty of data science – it provides knowledge you can use to make better judgements. In PPC, those judgements can impact metrics like ROAS (return on ad spend), Quality Score, impression share, and cost per conversion.

Conclusion

Using data science in PPC can solve ongoing problems, dependent on your campaigns. There’s no need for guesswork when you have the data in front of you. All you need is the means to interpret what you see, find certain trends, and improve performance and that’s where data science excels.

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How Can PPC Help Inform a Powerful Link-Building Strategy

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How Can PPC Help Inform a Powerful Link-Building Strategy


If you’re just setting out to create a marketing strategy, then you may have read a lot about the power of link building, and how much it can supercharge an SEO campaign.

Though link building is certainly a powerful discipline, like any marketing technique, it shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. In today’s post, we’ll look at the relationship between PPC and link-building, and how the insights you glean from PPC campaigns can inform your link-building strategy for greater success.

How to Succeed in PPC Marketing

Before we get into how you can leverage PPC findings for better link-building, let’s go over some of the fundamental principles of PPC marketing success…

Effective Keyword Research: Just like when creating content, choosing the right keywords will determine whether or not your PPC ads will be seen by a particular audience segment. Researching, testing, and tweaking your keyword selection as you incept and manage a campaign will magnetize your audience, and ensure that you’re getting a good return on investment from your PPC budget.

Know your Audience: Although PPC is heavily data-driven, and a far cry from more creative, traditional advertising techniques, you’ll still need to craft your ads based on a firm understanding of your audience. By going into PPC campaigns with a clear picture of your customer personas, the audience segments they feed into, and how this should inform your copy, you’ll be able to enjoy stronger results right off the bat.

Leverage Automation: All major PPC platforms now offer automation tools you can use to bring in more leads, improve your conversion rate, and enjoy a stronger ROI, all while saving your team time and energy. PPC automation algorithms are also capable of analyzing countless data sets to inform decisions, based on your past performance, budget, and goals.

Strategies to Follow When Building Quality Links

Now that we’ve looked at the key components for success in PPC marketing, it’s time to run through some of the most effective link-building strategies you can employ for a successful campaign. Here are our top 3 for the current SEO climate…

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3 Main Link-Building Techniques to Use in 2022

1. Digital PR

Digital PR refers to applying proven PR tactics to earn organic backlinks. This means creating linkable assets, such as long-form blog posts, infographics, and interactive content, then promoting these assets to journalists or publications in a way that encourages them to write about your company or assets and link to them. 

This tactic is fairly challenging because you’ll need to come up with some truly great content to earn a link. However, if it’s successful, you can gain some hugely valuable link equity.

2. Contributed Content / Guest Posts

Contributed content and guest posting have been popular methods for link building for some time, and for a good reason: it’s a great way to generate the kind of trust and quality signals that Google favors when ranking websites. 

“Providing valuable, optimized content to real businesses’ websites via guest posting allows [business] to build natural references from related websites in the industry,” says link-building agency Hive19. “Like all marketing activities, there are good versions of this – and bad. [S]pecialise in working closely with editors to provide editorials that seamlessly fit with their brand voice and editorial calendar.”

3. Reclaiming Unlinked Brand Mentions, Broken and Lost Links

Sometimes, all the necessary legwork is done in the way of gaining a link, and all you have to do is reach out to the right contact. There may be instances where a blogger has mentioned your brand, but not linked to it. 

In other cases, there may be links pointing to dead pages that had previously hosted content in your topic or niche, which can be reclaimed by creating a similar piece of content and reaching out to the referring domain’s webmaster. Sometimes backlinks are lost through routine maintenance of a referring domain, and a simple email to the webmaster can be enough to replace it. 

Combining these kinds of low-hanging fruit can be a great way to supercharge your backlink profile, and require very little effort! 

How PPC Analytics Can Help Inform Your Strategy

For many marketers, PPC data is used to inform current and future PPC campaigns, and their usefulness stops there. Though you may not be aware of it, there are a number of ways PPC data analytics can be used to inform and optimize your link-building strategy.

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Use PPC Data to Identify your Strongest Landing Pages

If you’re managing a large website with large PPC campaigns, then it may be hard to know which pages will be the most prudent to target in a link-building campaign. PPC analytics suites offer a quick and easy way to see a complete breakdown of your landing pages, keywords, and how they’re being received by your target market.

Simply drill down to the destination URLs in your campaign, and analyze metrics like conversion rate, clickthrough rate by keyword, etc. By carving off a proportion of the highest-performing landing pages, you’ll easily be able to prioritize target pages for your link-building campaign.

Use PPC Data as a Starting Point to Recycle Content

To flip the previous technique on its head, PPC data can also be used to identify pages that aren’t performing well but show masses of untapped potential. Let’s say, for example, that you’re running a campaign advertising a free ebook for your marketing agency. You may have a great clickthrough rate for a keyword like “content marketing guide”, but see that a poor proportion of people are actually downloading the ebook. This shows that although people are finding your copy compelling, they’re not convinced by the content on your pages. 

These kinds of scenarios can be a fantastic starting point for you to recycle content, and attract new links through quality, authoritative pages.

Look for Spikes in Demand to Inform Topical Content

Finally, analyzing both your own ads and the average CPC for certain keywords can be a great source of inspiration when you’re looking for topical content. If a certain ad suddenly gains a much higher-than-average click-through, and trends in your other ads discount a universal jump in your brand equity, it may be time to ride the buzz around a certain topic by meeting it with relevant content. 

Suggested CPC can also be a good indicator of when a certain type of content is gaining traction, giving you a useful advance warning to get ahead of the game and publish popular content before everyone’s talking about the same trends.

In Conclusion 

This article has given you the fundamentals of leveraging PPC insights for a more targeted and data-focused link-building strategy. 

We’ve discussed the relationship between PPC and link building and how these valuable insights can help guide and inform your link-building strategy for greater success. 

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Adopting link-building strategies such as digital PR and guest posting to reclaiming unlinked brand mentions, using your PPC data will help inform and optimize your marketing strategy going forward. By identifying your highest and lowest-performing landing pages through PPC insights, you’ll be able to prioritize the most valuable pages for link building and see higher ROI for your marketing efforts.





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