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4 Clues From Google That Tell Us Everything

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4 Clues From Google That Tell Us Everything

When I was a kid, my favorite mysteries were the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

They all had their great quotes, but one of my favorites was from The Hound of the Baskervilles when Holmes tells Watson:

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”

I want to think that if Sir Doyle were alive today as a digital marketer in paid search, he might rephrase this quote to say something more like: “Google always leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, straight to the future of PPC, if you just take the time to look.”

I recently decided to look, and the results I found were eye-opening.

I came across more breadcrumbs than I could count, and many of them led to different places.

However, a core group revealed a clear picture of what is to come for the PPC industry.

Clue 1: New Google Ads Scripts Experience

Scripts for Google Ads have been around almost as long as the platform itself.

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However, ask around, and you may be hard-pressed to find a person who has consistently used Scripts in their PPC campaigns or anyone who has ever used any of them.

Google wants that to change.

Version 2 of the Google Ads Scripts experience has officially launched, and it’s a huge step forward by Google to bring this feature to the forefront and support its use with a robust information and training portal.

What it tells us: With Google’s push toward automation, it is imperative to understand that going along for the ride is not an option.

It’s becoming a necessity.

When launching, optimizing, and maintaining campaign performance as you scale budgets, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to stay on top of everything without some help.

With this new offering, Google makes a clear statement for the future of PPC, both near and far.

There will be increased attention to automating your PPC campaign work, and Google Scripts is here for you.

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Clue 2: Acquisition Of Looker

Looker is a Business Intelligence (BI) tool used to chart, graph, and display data so you can recognize and act upon problems and opportunities alike.

This app falls in the same category as Tableau and Power BI by Microsoft.

Three years ago, Google acquired Looker for $2.6 billion.

This acquisition completed the marketing channel UI to data presentation pipeline that Google desperately needed.

Google had already built out Big Query years prior, which allowed them to own the data warehouse portion of the data pipeline, but they were still missing the BI portion.

The acquisition of Looker enabled Google to offer a full suite of data tools, from beginning to end, to their users.

Users no longer needed to venture outside the Google ecosystem to obtain platforms and applications necessary to run a marketing service with end-to-end management.

What it tells us: Dealing with structured data and larger datasets that live outside of the marketing channel UI will be the norm for digital marketers.

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As a PPC manager, you may not have to become a certified data and analytics expert, but you will have to be comfortable updating data sets, managing your campaign, and manipulating data inside your chosen BI application.

Clue 3: Broad Match & Responsive Ad Expansion

Is it just me, or does Google try to push the “Broad Match” bid strategy and the “Responsive” ad setup option every chance they get?

When adding keywords to a new campaign, you’ll get a stern disclaimer if you don’t designate your keywords as broad match.

Or how about the red text status warning when viewing campaign keywords?

You think something is wrong, but it’s just a “warning” that you could get more conversions if you choose “broad match” keywords for your ad set.

Then you have to deal with display campaigns!

When setting up a new display campaign, Google hides the standard display ad option and forces you to create a responsive display ad.

What it tells us: The ”suggestions” Google recommends (which always gives up more control to Google) have been going on for more than a decade.

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And all I have to do is point to Expanded Text Ads to show you how this all ends.

Google will take more control over our campaigns to the point where Google will do nearly everything from campaign setup to ad copywriting and bid strategy selection.

Clue 4:  Google Glasses Announcement at I/O 2022

The long-awaited return of “Google Glasses” (officially named Proto 29) was announced at the annual Google I/O event with a slick video presentation.

While the video was relatively light on specifics, it certainly got people talking about the potential use cases, namely the ability of the glasses to translate foreign languages.

What it tells us: Things are changing, and they always will be.

If you were hoping to become an expert in all the ad software and marketing tactics and then coast on those skills for the rest of your career, you would be very disappointed.

Once “Google Glasses” are released and become widely adopted, we will need to learn and create campaigns for an entirely new ad platform.

Not only that, but if you think Google just released this video to brag about a niche product that will never catch on at scale, you have another thing coming.

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This was the digital equivalent of Google planting a flag and saying, “This market share is ours, and it’s gonna be big!”

So, you have two options.

You can bury your head in the sand and hope on a shooting star that you will never have to use this groundbreaking technology for your PPC work.

Or, you can look at this as an opportunity, set a Google alert for any news related to Google Glasses, and then start learning whatever you can to become a leader in this new field.

Clue 5: “Automatically Created Assets” Beta Feature

Seamlessly nestled between the “Bidding” and “Start and End Dates” tabs in the campaign menu, you will see the biggest clue for the future of PPC.

Google states that the “Automatically Created Assets” feature:

“…will allow Google to help you generate headlines, descriptions, and other assets using your content from your landing page, domain, and ads. Google will provide you with automated tools to customize your assets based on relevance for your keywords. This may improve ad relevance and performance.”

What it tells us: If you read the statement closely, you will realize this one feature changes everything.

With just one feature, Google can, in theory, find relevant keywords to bid on for your business, create headlines and descriptions for search ads, and point the ads to a relevant landing page.

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If you didn’t notice, those actions make up the lion’s share of what a PPC Manager creates daily and will dramatically alter what they fundamentally do as a marketing professional.

The Future Of PPC

So, what does this all mean, and how will this affect the daily job duties of PPC marketers?

Data Tracking & Analysis

If you haven’t already noticed in your day-to-day work, making sure data is tagged, tracked, sorted, and graphed is a big part of the job.

This will become a more significant part of your day as these elements become more complicated and clean data becomes king.

You may not need to become a full-fledged data scientist, but you will definitely need to learn how to aggregate data and manipulate it in the future.

Managing The Systems That Manage Campaigns

The days of directly “pulling the levers” of a PPC campaign are numbered.

We might be setting up and managing the systems and machines that “pull” the levers for us.

From writing JavaScript code that runs based on thousands of input data points to designing a special app on Google Glasses, the indirect management of campaigns seems likely.

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Automating The Work Will Become The Work

There’s no doubt that automating more tasks we perform now will be vital to the future of PPC.

The new Google Script experience is all about automation, but you know it can be serious work to drive automation if you have ever written a script.

With the “Automatically Created Assets” feature, it seems strikingly clear that playing a larger role in setting up the main website to contain the optimal components for Google to use in an automated fashion will be essential.

It may not be the role you set out to play, but it may just be the role you need to play in the future of PPC.

The End (And The Beginning)

I may be right about all these predictions, some of them or absolutely none.

But if nothing else, and if history is any guide, the PPC manager’s role in 10 years will look different than the role we all play now.

Just keep your eyes open for all the clues that Google provides and you’ll remain ahead of the curve.

More resources:

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SEO

8 Pillar Page Examples to Get Inspired By

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8 Pillar Page Examples to Get Inspired By

Pillar pages are high-level introductions to a topic. They then link to other pages, which are usually more detailed guides about parts of the main topic.

Altogether, they form a content hub.

Example of a content hub

But not all pillar pages look the same. 

In this guide, we’ll look at eight examples of pillar pages to get your creative juices flowing.

Excerpt of beginner's guide to SEO by Ahrefs

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 1,200
Backlinks: 6,900
Referring domains: 899

Overview of Ahrefs' beginner's guide to SEO in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This is our very own pillar page, covering the broad topic of search engine optimization (SEO)

Why I like it

Besides the fact that I’m biased, I like the custom design we created for this page, which makes it different from the articles on our blog. 

Even though the design is custom, our pillar page is still a pretty classic “hub and spoke” style pillar page. We’ve broken the topic down neatly into six different chapters and internally linked to guides we’ve created about them. There are also custom animations when you hover over each chapter:

Examples of chapters in the SEO guide

We’ve also added a glossary section that comes with a custom illustration of the SERPs. We have explanations of what each element means, with internal links to more detailed content:

Custom illustration of the SERP

Finally, it links to another “pillar page”: our SEO glossary

Takeaway

Consider creating a custom design for your pillar page so that it stands out. 

Excerpt of Doctor Diet's ketogenic diet guide

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 92,200
Backlinks: 21,600
Referring domains: 1,700

Overview of Diet Doctor's ketogenic diet guide in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Diet Doctor is a health company focusing on low-carb diets. Its pillar page is a comprehensive guide on the keto diet. 

Why I like it

On the surface, it doesn’t exactly look like a pillar page; it looks like every other post on the Diet Doctor site. But that’s perfectly fine. It’s simply a different approach—you don’t have to call out the fact that it’s a pillar page. 

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Diet Doctor’s guide is split into 10 different sections with links to its own resources. The links bring you to different types of content (not just blog posts but videos too).

Video course about keto diet for beginners

Unlike the classic pillar page, Diet Doctor’s guide goes into enough detail for anyone who is casually researching the keto diet. But it also links to further resources for anyone who’s interested in doing additional research.

Takeaway

Pillar pages need not always just be text and links. Make it multimedia: You can add videos and images and even link to your own multimedia resources (e.g., a video course).

Excerpt of Wine Folly's beginner's guide to wine

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 5,600
Backlinks: 2,800
Referring domains: 247

Overview of Wine Folly's beginner's guide to wine in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Wine Folly is a content site devoted to wine knowledge and appreciation. Its pillar page, as expected, is about wine. 

Why I like it

Wine Folly’s pillar page is a classic example of a “hub and spoke” style pillar page—split into multiple sections, with some supporting text, and then internal links to other resources that support each subsection. 

Supporting text and links to other resources

This page doesn’t just serve as a pillar page for ranking purposes, though. Given that it ranks well and receives quite a significant amount of search traffic, the page also has a call to action (CTA) to Wine Folly’s book:

Short description of book; below that, CTA encouraging site visitor to purchase it

Takeaway

While most websites design pillar pages for ranking, you can also use them for other purposes: capture email addresses, sell a book, pitch your product, etc. 

Excerpt of A-Z directory of yoga poses

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 11,100
Backlinks: 3,400
Referring domains: 457

Overview of Yoga Journal's A-Z directory of yoga poses in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Yoga Journal is an online and offline magazine. Its pillar page is an A-Z directory of yoga poses.

Why I like it

Yoga Journal’s pillar page is straightforward and simple. List down all possible yoga poses (in both their English and Sanskrit names) in a table form and link to them. 

List of yoga poses in table form

Since it’s listed in alphabetical order, it’s useful for anyone who knows the name of a particular pose and is interested in learning more. 

What I also like is that Yoga Journal has added an extra column on the type of pose each yoga pose belongs to. If we click on any of the pose types, we’re directed to a category page where you can find similar kinds of poses: 

Examples of standing yoga poses (in grid format)

Takeaway

The A-Z format can be a good format for your pillar page if the broad topic you’re targeting fits the style (e.g., dance moves, freestyle football tricks, etc.).

Excerpt of Atlassian's guide to agile development

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 115,200
Backlinks: 3,200
Referring domains: 860

Overview of Atlassian's guide to agile development in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Atlassian is a software company. You’ve probably heard of its products: Jira, Confluence, Trello, etc. Its pillar page is on agile development.

Why I like it

Atlassian’s pillar page is split into different topics related to agile development. It then has internal links to each topic—both as a sticky table of contents and card-style widgets after the introduction: 

Sticky table of contents
Card-style widgets

I also like the “Up next” feature at the bottom of the pillar page, which makes it seem like an online book rather than a page. 

Example of "Up next" feature

Takeaway

Consider adding a table of contents to your pillar page. 

Excerpt of Muscle and Strength's workout routines database

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 114,400
Backlinks: 2,900
Referring domains: 592

Overview of Muscle and Strength's workout routines database in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Muscle and Strength’s pillar page is a massive database linking to various categories of workouts. 

Why I like it

Calling it a pillar page seems to be an understatement. Muscle and Strength’s free workouts page appears to be more like a website. 

When you open the page, you’ll see that it’s neatly split into multiple categories, such as “workouts for men,” “workouts for women,” “biceps,” “abs,” etc. 

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Workout categories (in grid format)

Clicking through to any of them leads us to a category page containing all sorts of workouts:

Types of workouts for men (in grid format)

Compared to the other pillar pages on this list, where they’re linking to other subpages, Muscle and Strength’s pillar page links to other category pages, which then link to their subpages, i.e., its massive archive of free workouts.

Takeaway

Content databases, such as the one above, are a huge undertaking for a pillar page but can be worth it if the broad topic you’re targeting fits a format like this. Ideally, the topic should be about something where the content for it is ever-growing (e.g., workout plans, recipes, email templates, etc.).

Excerpt of Tofugu's guide to learning Japanese

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 39,100
Backlinks: 1,100
Referring domains: 308

Overview of Tofugu's guide to learning Japanese in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Tofugu is a site about learning Japanese. And its pillar page is about, well, learning Japanese.

Why I like it

This is an incredible (and yes, ridiculously good) guide to learning Japanese from scratch. It covers every stage you’ll go through as a complete beginner—from knowing no Japanese to having intermediate proficiency in the language. 

Unlike other pillar pages where information is usually scarce and simply links out to further resources, this page holds nothing back. Under each section, there is great detail about what that section is, why it’s important, how it works, and even an estimated time of how long that stage takes to complete. 

Another interesting aspect is how Tofugu has structured its internal links as active CTAs. Rather than “Learn more” or “Read more,” it’s all about encouraging users to do a task and completing that stage. 

CTA encouraging user to head to the next task of learning to read hiragana

Takeaway

Two takeaways here:

  • Pillar pages can be ridiculously comprehensive. It depends on the topic you’re targeting and how competitive it is.
  • CTAs can be more exciting than merely just “Read more.”
Excerpt of Zapier's guide to working remotely

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 890
Backlinks: 4,100
Referring domains: 1,100

Overview of Zapier's guide to working remotely in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Zapier allows users to connect multiple software products together via “zaps.” It’s a 100% remote company, and its pillar page is about remote work. 

Why I like it

Zapier’s pillar page is basically like Wine Folly’s pillar page. Break a topic into subsections, add a couple of links of text, and then add internal links to further resources. 

In the examples above, we’ve seen all sorts of execution for pillar pages. There are those with custom designs and others that are crazily comprehensive.

But sometimes, all a pillar page needs is a simple design with links. 

Takeaway

If you already have a bunch of existing content on your website, you can create a simple pillar page like this to organize your content for your readers. 

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Keep learning

Inspired by these examples and want to create your own pillar page? Learn how to successfully do so with these two guides:

Any questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter.  



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