Do you ever want to compare notes on the PPC media industry with people outside of your company? Do you ever want to hear what other paid media experts are concerned about, excited for, or planning to test?
Our team is constantly talking about what’s next, so we thought, “hey, why don’t we share their conversations with the world?”
In this video, Hanapin’s Mary Hartman and Dan Rocklin discuss what they’re excited for in 2020, their resolutions, and their hot takes on overrated strategies.
Hey everybody! Today on the PPC hero vlog we’re going to be talking about New Year things: what we’re excited about in 2020, our New Year’s resolutions, and overrated strategies or hot takes that we have. Just as an introduction, my name is Mary Hartman. I’ve been here at Hanapin Marketing for three years and I’ve been in the industry for about eight years now. I’m here with Dan and I can have him introduce himself as well.
Hi everybody! I am a Senior Account Manager here at Hanapin Marketing and I’ve been with Hanapin for about two and a half years now.
Awesome. Yeah, let’s just plunge right into it.
First, let’s talk about what we’re excited about in 2020.
On my part, I’m really excited about new Google Ads reports and Google has been rolling out these reports, kind of quietly, to better guide the machine. In 2019, automation seemed to be the thing that everybody was talking about.
Google has new reports to let you know about your portfolio strategy. It lets you know the top signals going into your bids and what could be affecting those negatively or positively. Seasonality adjustments is another new thing in the shared library for your bid strategies. And then the RSA combination report. With responsive search ads, advertisers have been really hungry for more information about what combinations of ad copy Google is serving.
So Google is actually delivering a little, little sliver of sunlight for us, to let us know the combination reports. That’s another thing that if you were testing RSA’s right now definitely take a look. I’m really hopeful for the future that Google can just keep rolling out more and more reports to help us be able to pull at least a few levers and open up that black box and let us know what’s going into these new automated strategies and tools that they have for us.
What are you excited about in 2020?
Well beyond what you just said, I definitely am excited to have a peek behind the curtain a little bit with some of these reports that Google is rolling out. And in addition to these reports that tell us about past performance they are also moving towards giving us more insights when it comes to predicting future performance.
So I’m just going to talk briefly about a couple of new tools in the Google ads platform that let advertisers do that a little bit better. One is the performance planner. The premise of which is pretty exciting I think.
Google’s announcement of the tool said that in beta they had seen advertisers drive up to 43 percent more conversions using it which is a huge number. And basically the way it works is that advertisers can model different levels of spend and Target CPA bidding for various campaigns and Google will provide estimates of how the campaigns would perform at those levels. So according to Google’s description in the future, again, it takes into account past performance as well as performance in similar advertisers accounts and campaigns, in addition to billions of search queries. So they hopefully can better predict how the campaign will perform with future search demand. And another exciting premise or part of this new feature is that it should at least to some degree be able to take into account seasonality as well. So for clients that are highly affected by seasonality, hopefully, this will give a little bit more precise estimate of performance moving forward.
The second tool that is pretty similar to this is the reach planner which is a lot like the performance planner but specific to YouTube. Similarly, it will allow advertisers to better predict the reach of their YouTube campaigns at various levels of spend and what’s really exciting about this tool I think is just that it’s compatible with a wide range of different ad types and for pretty much any audience that you can Target on YouTube.
You can use the reach planner to model out how your campaign will perform at various spend levels and bits. So those are definitely two features that I’ll be excited to try out, and speaking of new things on the horizon Mary:
Do you want to talk a little bit about your PPC-specific, 2020 New Year’s resolutions?
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that reach planner will be great. I feel like everybody is talking about YouTube ads recently. So I’m excited for that. But on my part, setting up Google ads the campaign-level conversions and action sets. It’s really on my to-do list for the year. A lot of new clients I have don’t have them set up and basically it’s just another great way of helping to guide the machine. My kind of niche here at Hanapin is mostly with B2B clients and lead gen so we have our campaign segmentation already designed to push specific offers over really, really long funnels. So using campaign level conversions and the action sets and just actually going into settings and letting Google know, “Hey, this is the conversion that really matters the most to us.”
Whether it’s someone at the bottom of the funnel looking for a demo or if they’re further, you know up at the top of the funnel and they get a content offer or something like that, just being able to pull that lever and be able to just to test that out and give Google that information, that’s a big sort of goal for me for my accounts in the new year.
I think that is definitely going to be a big thing for 2020. It’s something that I experimented with a little bit towards the latter part of 2019 to see, for lead gen campaigns that weren’t getting a lot of hard conversions coming in to help guide the machine, we tested including secondary conversion metrics in their targeting as well.
So even if they weren’t producing signups, were they producing quality website sessions? And by targeting that conversion, the question we wanted to figure out is if we could ultimately produce more value for the client there.
For sure. Yeah, I think another resolution I have is making use of, on the social side, Facebook attribution and Facebook analytics. Getting things set up correctly can sometimes be a real pain, especially on the Facebook analytics side with event sets and things like that. So getting those set up is really a big push for us and especially using the ads attribution. Facebook attribution is still pretty new as a tool but it’s going to be incredibly powerful to be able to better understand how Facebook ads are actually affecting those endpoint conversions. So measurement, measurement, measurement is really, like, what is in my head for social for the New Year, too.
I was just going to say I have a couple of same-genre New Year’s resolutions that are, speaking to taking advantage of newer features, newer ad types, newer audience targeting strategies, one of which that I really am eager to test out is the effectiveness of responsive display ads versus traditional display ads.
So I think a lot of advertisers at this point are pretty familiar with responsive search ads and comparing those to expanded text ads. Personally, I want to see how responsive display ads can compare against traditionally designed display ads. You know on the one hand we might hypothesize that performance would be better because they can reach more placements and are self-optimizing to find the best working combinations, but on the other hand, professionally designed creative tends to look better and be more engaging just in the normal human eye.
And so I really don’t know beforehand which one would work better in any case which is why I think it is something worth testing out. And the other kind of machine learning strategy I want to test out more of is the use of similar audiences versus audiences that advertisers can determine in advance, like in-market audiences or affinity audiences or demographic audiences, right? So we might think we have a really good idea of the type of audience that converts well and that idea might even be backed by a lot of data, but I wonder if when we feed a similar audience into a campaign, if when we’re just telling an algorithm to find us more people who look like that, if that can perform even better than those audiences that we determined beforehand.
Mary do you have experience or have you tried either those things in the past?
Similar audiences, generally I’ve stayed away from, but I think that any advertiser that’s using a custom audience – and more and more advertisers are just using way higher quality custom audiences like their current customers or you know, people that are engaging with an app or things like that – if you have people like a list it’s really solid and really high quality not just like a huge remarketing list I think that’s definitely an audience that you should really get into testing. Yeah, just if you have those audiences that are so high-quality for Google to take off from.
So as our last topic today, we’ll be covering overrated strategies or hot takes.
So my hot take for 2020 is: copy and calls to action – they really still matter, but I feel a lot of advertisers are still in this mode of testing text all the time on search. We’ve seen at the very tail end of 2020 that images are starting to really become more important in search. We had the images extensions that came out for search in December – very quietly released by Google. So that is an exciting aspect. And then the gallery ads for search too is in the closed beta currently but so many of my clients are chomping at the bit to have that beautiful image at the top of the search engine result page for mobile, especially for mobile users.
So those are a couple of closed betas that I’m very jealous of, but but I think any advertiser who’s familiar with search can:
- Hone in their skills of testing images by experimenting on social
- Getting really, really good at doing A/B testing
- Having an understanding of what works and image testing on social
…because I really think that the future of search, especially on mobile, is going to be image testing hardcore.
That’s definitely my hot take. You see it in the SEO world too. An SEO image, like infoboxes, is becoming big and I think images are just going to get hotter and hotter on the SERP for sure.
Yeah, I think that’s a great callout – that advertisers should already be testing images on social, right, and not only when they do so they can hone their skills in doing that, but those learnings are going to apply if and when image testing becomes more popular and more necessary on search, you know. If you know, what images work best on social, that’s a great place to start with the first images that you’re testing in your search campaigns as well.
Yeah, for sure. What’s your hot take for 2020?
My spicy hot take is that I don’t think broad match keywords are dead. I think that for a lot of advertisers, in most cases, it makes all the sense in the world to be very, very specific and targeted with your keywords. And for the most part, just utilize exact match and/or broad match modified and/or phrase match keywords.
Where I think broad match targeting can be very effective though, is when you combine it with audience targeting, right? So if you’re not opening up your campaign to the whole wide world you’re saying, okay, let’s restrict this campaign to an audience that I know converts well and I really want to visit the landing page for a wide variety of searches that they may be doing.
Then I think that testing those broader keywords makes all the sense in the world and you know, not only could you find that those campaigns themselves are very effective, but it can also be a great place to mine for additional keywords to increase the reach of your other campaigns as well.
For sure. Yeah, I totally agree with that. Even modified broad match is sometimes not enough to get enough volume sometimes and just having that bravery to use an audience has a safety net. We already have seen really good results, especially in the B2B side, for that kind of targeting where we kind of crack open the keyword targeting and just layer an audience on top to keep, kind of the testing safe. So yeah. Thanks, Dan for participating and chatting with me about 2020 and the New Year.
It’s a really exciting time.
And thanks to everyone for listening to us today. If you’re looking for more in-depth discussions like this one we’re actually having the PPC Hero Summit which is on February 12th. It’s coming right up. So, it’s like a whole day practically of experts, not just from Hanapin, but from across the industry.
So we have people from the Microsoft advertising side. We have Larry Kim chatting about things and chats… chatting about chat! So feel free to sign up take a look in this video description or on the page where you found this video and sign up for that (Or click here). It’s completely free: the PPC Hero Summit on February 12th. Otherwise, thanks so much everyone for tuning in!
How to Write For Google
Are you writing your SEO content based on the latest best practice tips?
I originally wrote this SEO copywriting checklist in 2012—my, how things have changed. Today, Google stresses quality content even more than before, conversational copy is critical, and there are revised SEO writing “rules.”
I’ve updated the list to reflect these changes and to provide additional information.
As a side note, I would argue that there’s no such thing as “writing for Google.” Yes, there are certain things you should do to make the Google gods happy. However, your most important goal should be writing clear, compelling, standout copy that tells a story.
I’m keeping the old headline in the hopes that I can convert some of the “write for Google” people to do things the right way.
Whether you’re an in-house SEO content writer, a DIY business owner, or a freelance SEO copywriter, this 27-point checklist will help you write engaging, Google-happy content—every time.
Items to review before you start your SEO writing project
– Do you have enough information about your target reader?
Your copy will pack a powerful one-two punch if your content is laser-focused on your target reader. Ask your client or supervisor for a customer/reader persona document outlining your target readers’ specific characteristics. If the client doesn’t have a customer persona document, be prepared to spend an hour or more asking detailed questions.
Here’s more information on customer personas.
– Writing a sales page? Did you interview the client?
It’s essential to interview new clients and to learn more about their company, USP, and competition. Don’t forget to ask about industry buzzwords that should appear in the content.
Not sure what questions to ask to get the copywriting ball rolling? Here’s a list of 56 questions you can start with today.
– Writing a blog post? Get topic ideas from smart sources
When you’re blogging, it’s tempting to write about whatever strikes your fancy. The challenge is, what interests you may not interest your readers. If you want to make sure you’re writing must-read content, sites like Quora, LinkedIn, Google Trends, and BuzzSumo can help spark some ideas.
– Did you use Google for competitive intelligence ideas?
Check out the sites positioning in the top-10 and look for common characteristics. How long are competing articles? Do the articles link out to authoritative sources? Are there videos or infographics? Do the articles include quotes from industry experts? Your job is to write an essay that’s better than what’s already appearing in the top-10 — so let the competition be your guide.
– Did you conduct keyphrase research?
Yes, keyphrase research (and content optimization) is still a crucial SEO step. If you don’t give Google some keyphrase “cues,” your page probably won’t position the way you want.
Use a keyphrase research tool and find possible keyphrases for your page or post. As a hint: if you are tightly focusing on a topic, long-tail keyphrases are your best bet. Here’s more information about why long-tail keyphrases are so important.
If you are researching B2B keyphrases, know that the “traditional” keyphrase research steps may not apply. Here’s more information about what to do if B2B keyphrase research doesn’t work.
– What is your per-page keyphrase focus?
Writers are no longer forced to include the exact-match keyphrase over and over again. (Hurray!) Today, we can focus on a keyphrase theme that matches the search intent and weave in multiple related keyphrases.
– Did you expand your keyphrase research to include synonyms and close variants?
Don’t be afraid to include keyphrase synonyms and close variants on your page. Doing so opens up your positioning opportunities, makes your copy better, and is much easier to write!
Are you wondering if you should include your keyphrases as you write the copy — or edit them in later? It’s up to you! Here are the pros and cons of both processes.
— Do your keyphrases match the search intent?
Remember that Google is “the decider” when it comes to search intent. If you’re writing a sales page — and your desired keyphrase pulls up informational blog posts in Google – your sales page probably won’t position.
— Writing a blog post? Does your Title/headline work for SEO, social, and your readers?
Yes, you want your headline to be compelling, but you also want it to be keyphrase rich. Always include your main page keyphrase (or a close variant) in your Title and work in other keyphrases if they “fit.”
– Did you include keyphrase-rich subheadlines?
Subheadlines are an excellent way to visually break up your text, making it easy for readers to quick-scan your benefits and information. Additionally, just like with the H1 headline, adding a keyphrase to your subheadlines can (slightly) help reinforce keyphrase relevancy.
As a hint, sometimes, you can write a question-oriented subheadline and slip the keyphrase in more easily. Here’s more information about why answering questions is a powerful SEO content play.
– Is your Title “clickable” and compelling?
Remember, the search engine results page is your first opportunity for conversion. Focusing too much on what you think Google “wants” may take away your Title’s conversion power.
Consider how you can create an enticing Title that “gets the click” over the other search result listings. You have about 59 characters (with spaces) to work with, so writing tight is essential.
– Does the meta description fit the intent of the page?
Yes, writers should create a meta description for every page. Why? Because they tell the reader what the landing page is about and help increase SERP conversions. Try experimenting with different calls-to-actions at the end, such as “learn more” or “apply now.” You never know what will entice your readers to click!
– Is your content written in a conversational style?
With voice search gaining prominence, copy that’s written in a conversational style is even more critical.
Read your copy out loud and hear how it sounds. Does it flow? Or does it sound too formal? If you’re writing for a regulated industry, such as finance, legal, or healthcare, you may not be able to push the conversational envelope too much. Otherwise, write like you talk.
Here’s how to explain why conversational content is so important.
–Is your copy laser-focused on your audience?
A big mistake some writers make is creating copy that appeals to “everyone” rather than their specific target reader. Writing sales and blog pages that are laser-focused on your audience will boost your conversions and keep readers checking out your copy longer. Here’s how one company does it.
Plus, you don’t receive special “Google points” for writing long content. Even short copy can position if it fully answers the searcher’s query. Your readers don’t want to wade through 1,500 words to find something that can be explained in 300 words.
Items to review after you’ve written the page
– Did you use too many keyphrases?
Remember, there is no such thing as keyword density. If your content sounds keyphrase-heavy and stilted, reduce the keyphrase usage and focus more on your readers’ experience. Your page doesn’t receive bonus points for exact-matching your keyphrase multiple times. If your page sounds keyphrase stuffed when you read it out loud, dial back your keyphrase usage.
– Did you edit your content?
Resist the urge to upload your content as soon as you write it. Put it away and come back to it after a few hours (or even the next day.) Discover why editing your Web writing is so very important. Also, don’t think that adding typos will help your page position. They won’t.
– Is the content interesting to read?
Yes, it’s OK if your copy has a little personality. Here’s more information about working with your page’s tone and feel and how to avoid the “yawn response.” Plus, know that even FAQ pages can help with conversions — and yes, even position.
– Are your sentences and paragraphs easy to read?
Vary your sentence structure so you have a combination of longer and shorter sentences. If you find your sentences creeping over 30 or so words, edit them down and make them punchier. Your writing will have more impact if you do.
Plus, long paragraphs without much white space are hard to read off a computer monitor – and even harder to read on a smartphone. Split up your long paragraphs into shorter ones. Please.
– Are you forcing your reader onto a “dead end” page?
“Dead-end” pages (pages that don’t link out to related pages) can stop your readers dead in their tracks and hurt your conversion goals.
Want to avoid this? Read more about “dead-end” Web pages.
– Does the content provide the reader with valuable information?
Google warns against sites with “thin,” low-quality content that’s poorly written. In fact, according to Google, spelling errors are a bigger boo-boo than broken HTML. Make sure your final draft is typo-free, written well, and thoroughly answers the searcher’s query.
Want to know what Google considers quality content — directly from Google? Here are Google’s Quality Raters guidelines for more information.
– Did you use bullet points where appropriate?
If you find yourself writing a list-like sentence, use bullet points instead. Your readers will thank you, and the items will be much easier to read.
Plus, you can write your bullet points in a way that makes your benefit statements pop, front and center. Here’s how Nike does it.
– Is the primary CTA (call-to-action) clear–and is it easy to take action?
What action do you want your readers to take? Do you want them to contact you? Buy something? Sign up for your newsletter? Make sure you’re telling your reader what you want them to do, and make taking action easy. If you force people to answer multiple questions just to fill out a “contact us” form, you run the risk of people bailing out.
Here’s a list of seven CTA techniques that work.
– Do you have a secondary CTA (such as a newsletter signup or downloading a white paper?)
Do you want readers to sign up for your newsletter or learn about related products? Don’t bury your “sign up for our newsletter” button in the footer text. Instead, test different CTA locations (for instance, try including a newsletter signup link at the bottom of every blog post) and see where you get the most conversions.
– Does the page include too many choices?
It’s important to keep your reader focused on your primary and secondary CTAs. If your page lists too many choices (for example, a large, scrolling page of products), consider eliminating all “unnecessary” options that don’t support your primary call-to-action. Too many choices may force your readers into not taking any action at all.
– Did you include benefit statements?
People make purchase decisions based on what’s in it for them (yes, even your B2B buyers.) Highly specific benefit statements will help your page convert like crazy. Don’t forget to include a benefit statement in your Title (whenever possible) like “free shipping” or “sale.” Seeing this on the search results page will catch your readers’ eyes, tempting them to click the link and check out your site.
– Do you have vertical-specific testimonials?
It’s incredible how many great sales pages are testimonial-free. Testimonials are a must for any site, as they offer third-party proof that your product or service is superior. Plus, your testimonials can help you write better, more benefit-driven sales pages and fantastic comparison-review pages.
Here’s a way to make your testimonials more powerful.
And finally — the most important question:
– Does your content stand out and genuinely deserve a top position?
SEO writing is more than shoving keyphrases into the content. If you want to be rewarded by Google (and your readers), your content must stand out — not be a carbon copy of the current top-10 results. Take a hard look at your content and compare it against what’s currently positioning. Have you fully answered the searcher’s query? Did you weave in other value-added resources, such as expert quotes, links to external and internal resources (such as FAQ pages), videos, and graphics?
If so, congratulations! You’ve done your job.
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