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6 Tips For Supercharging Google Display Network Performance

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6 Tips For Supercharging Google Display Network Performance


The Google Display Network (GDN) continues to be the largest contextual ad network on the internet.

It’s also a cost-effective way to jump into the market for awareness and re-engagement.

Chances are, your target audience can be found on the GDN.

The targeting options are endless. From reaching a brand-new audience with awareness efforts to retargeting your existing customers, the Google Display Network is an effective place to find the results you seek.

With the inevitable move toward automation in Google Ads, it’s important to understand the levers and mechanisms you can manipulate to reach optimal performance.

In this post, you’ll find six tips that will help you lean into automation while maintaining control of your campaigns.

1. Remarketing Campaigns

An obvious one, but this is by far the biggest opportunity: If you’re ever going to see any kind of return on the display network, you’re most likely to see it from remarketing.

Remarketing allows you to deposit a cookie via the browser of your website visitors.

You will then be able to display ads targeting those website visitors whenever they visit other sites also on the Google Display Network.

It might sound slightly creepy, but it works due to the fact the people seeing your ads are already familiar with your brand.

What’s more, remarketing has been proven to deliver lower CPAs, so it’s a great option for advertisers operating on a smaller budget.

Here’s how to set up a basic remarketing campaign to target users that have previously visited your website:

1. Set up remarketing and add a remarketing tag to all pages of your website.

2. Set up remarketing lists using the audiences tab within the Google Ads shared library:

Screenshot by author, March 2022

3. Within a few days, your “All visitors” list will begin to populate. You can monitor this via the audiences tab in AdWords, as outlined above.

4. Once your chosen list has gained at least 100 visitors within 30 days, you’re ready to start remarketing.

To set up a new campaign, click +Campaign, then select your campaign objective. To enable all features, select “Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance:

Choose no objective to get all features in Google Ads campaigns.Screenshot by author, March 2022

5. Select your campaign type for “Display Network Only”:

Google Ads campaign typesScreenshot by author, March 2022

6. Choose a target location, language, bid strategy, budget, and campaign name.

7. Click Save and continue.

8. Name your first ad group, set your default CPC bid (if applicable). Click How they have interacted with your business” under ‘Audience Segments’:

Choose from a variety of audience segments.Screenshot by author, March 2022

9. In the ‘Select a category’ drop-down menu, choose from a variety of segments, including website visitors, app users, customer lists, and more:

Choose different ways users have interacted with your business.Screenshot by author, March 2022

10. Choose one of the remarketing lists you previously created via the Audiences tab. In this example, we will be targeting ‘all website visitors’:

Example of choosing remarketing lists in Google Ads.Screenshot by author, March 2022

11. Click Save and continue if you want to create your ads, or Skip ad creation if you want to do this later.

12. Once your ads have been created, they’re eligible to be served to all previous website visitors whenever they’re browsing sites on the GDN.

There are many useful posts on how to optimize remarketing campaigns, including how to set up appropriate frequency capping and how to monitor performance.

2. Target Similar Audiences

The Similar Segments feature within Google Ads attempts to find people with similar interests and browsing habits as your remarketing audiences.

If you have already set up remarketing, I would recommend targeting Similar Segments in their own ad groups to see if you can boost performance.

To target similar audiences, set up a new display campaign and select the ‘Similar to remarketing lists‘ option within the Display Network targeting settings:

Google allows you to choose from similar remarketing audience segments.Screenshot by author, March 2022

Similar audiences allow you to increase the reach of existing remarketing campaigns to drive new users to your site who have similar browsing habits as previous website visitors.

Pro tip: I would always recommend segmenting remarketing lists and similar audiences into separate campaigns to monitor relative performance, rather than grouping them into a single campaign.

Similar segments will usually have a much larger audience pool than your remarketing lists.

3. Focus On Placements

Of all the targeting options available to advertisers on the Google Display Network, the best way of gaining granular control over where your ads are being served is by using managed placements.

If you use targeting methods like interests or topics, Google is essentially guessing which sites are relevant, meaning there’s a risk that your ads may be served on irrelevant websites.

By targeting placements, you’re able to select exactly which sites you want your ads to be displayed on, so it’s a safe option for advertisers just branching out into display advertising.

To set up placement targeting, navigate to the targeting settings of your display network campaign and choose ‘Placements‘ from the Ad targeting drop-down:

Placement targeting in Google AdsScreenshot by author, March 2022

You can then choose specific placements from the list by searching for keywords or specific websites:

Placement targeting options in Google Ads.Screenshot by author, March 2022

If you have a list of high-performing placements (websites), you can start to separate them into individual ad groups.

Then, you can more effectively manage your bids on the placements that are providing the best return.

4. Look Out For Mobile Apps

Are you using keyword, topic, or interest targeting?

Has it been a while since you monitored the placements your ads are being served on?

If so, chances are mobile games are wasting a huge chunk of your budget. This is an issue that has appeared largely due to kids using their parents’ mobile apps, which often leads to ads being clicked by accident.

How to check whether mobile games have been taking up a slice of your display budget: Navigate to your display network campaign, click the Placements tab for the campaign (under “Content” on the left-hand side), and then click “See Where Your Ads Appeared”:

Easily find where your ads appeared with placement reporting.Screenshot by author, March 2022

You do have the ability to exclude mobile apps as a whole, or at the category level. Tips on how to exclude can be found here.

5. Target In-Market Audiences

In-market audiences are people whom Google has determined to be most interested in what you have to offer based on their browsing behavior and activity.

This audience comprises of users who are actively searching and comparing products and services matching those you offer.

To see if in-market audiences are a successful targeting method for you, set up a campaign via the ‘Interests and remarketing‘ tab.

Select In-market audiences from the drop down before checking which type of audience you’d like to target:

Target users who are actively in-market for your product or service.Screenshot by author, March 2022

From there, you’ll find many different categories and sub-categories of In-Market audiences:

You'll find many different categories and sub-categories of In-Market audiences.Screenshot by author, March 2022

Pro tip: To get a true reflection of whether this targeting method could work for your business, make sure you split your in-market audience targeting into a separate campaign.

Then, pay close attention to the placements report to further refine performance over time.

6. Use Responsive Display Ads

Gone are the days of relying on static image testing to understand what resonates with users most.

In fact, Responsive Display ads are now the default ad type for this campaign. They are also showing more often than static ads because of the available inventory.

Responsive Display ads take a combination of headlines, descriptions, images, and videos (if applicable) that you choose for your campaign.

Google then mixes and matches based on available ad inventory to show the most relevant ad possible to each user.

Here’s an example of how to create a Responsive Display ad in the Google Ads interface:

How to create Responsive Display ads.Screenshot by author, March 2022

The interface will update in real-time as you add your assets. Google will also benchmark your ad strength based on the variety and quantity of assets being provided.

The interface will also show examples of your ads mocked up in different Google properties, such as websites, apps, and Gmail.

Conclusion

The Display Network is a goldmine of opportunity – if you use it the right way.

Google’s reliance on automation can make or break campaign performance.

By choosing the right levers to pull in your campaign settings and selecting the most relevant audiences, you will have more control over campaign performance.

It’s always a good idea to double-check settings when setting up a campaign, as well as keep up-to-date on any industry changes that may affect your campaigns.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Sammby/Shutterstock





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7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales

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7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales

Content marketing has become one of the best (and most cost-effective) ways to get traffic to a website. When done right, the traffic keeps coming long after you stop actively promoting it.

If you own an e-commerce website and want to learn how to utilize blogging to grow your brand and increase your sales, this is the guide for you.

I’ve personally grown blogs to over 250,000 monthly visitors, and I’ve worked with dozens of clients in the e-commerce space to help them do the same. Here’s an overview of my seven-step process to starting and growing an e-commerce blog. 

But first…

Why start a blog on your e-commerce site?

Creating a blog has a whole host of benefits for e-commerce websites:

  • It can help you move visitors along your marketing funnel so they eventually buy.
  • You’re able to rank highly for keywords on Google that your product pages could never rank for but that are still important for building brand awareness and finding customers.
  • It can help you grow your email list.
  • You’re able to continue to get traffic without constantly spending money on ads.
  • It provides many opportunities to link to your product and category pages to help them rank better on the SERPs.

If you don’t know what some of these things mean, don’t worry—I’ll explain them along the way. But for now, let’s take a look at some e-commerce blogs that are working well right now so you can see the end goal.

Examples of successful e-commerce blogs

Three of my favorite examples of e-commerce websites using blogging are:

  1. Solo Stove
  2. Flatspot
  3. v-dog

Solo Stove comes in at the top of my list due to its excellent use of videos, photos, and helpful information on the blog. It also does search engine optimization (SEO) really well, bringing in an estimated 329,000 monthly visits from Google (data from Ahrefs’ Site Explorer).

Overview of Solo Stove, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

In fact, it’s grown its brand to such a level of popularity that it even created search demand for keywords that include its brand name in them, then created blog posts to rank for those keywords:

Ahrefs' keyword report for Solo Stove

But that’s not all it did. Its blog posts also rank for other keywords in its marketing funnel, such as how to have a mosquito-free backyard or how to change your fire pit’s colors.

E-commerce blogging keyword examples

Then on its blog posts, it uses pictures of its fire pit:

Solo Stove blog post example

Ranking for these keywords does two things:

  1. It introduces Solo Stove’s brand to people who may eventually purchase a fire pit from it.
  2. It gives the brand the opportunity to promote its products to an audience who may not have even known it existed, such as the “mosquito free backyard” keyword.

Moving on, skater brand Flatspot also does blogging well, with a cool ~80,000 monthly visitors to its blog just from search engines.

Overview of Flatspot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

One of its tactics is to piggie-back on the popularity of new shoe releases from major brands like Nike, then use that traffic to get readers to buy the shoes directly from it:

Flatspot promoting Nike SB shoes in blog post

Finally, let’s look at v-dog—a plant-powered kibble manufacturer that gets ~8,000 visits per month.

Overview of v-dog, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

My favorite post it’s done is its guide to making wet dog food at home, which ranks for the featured snippet for “how to make wet dog food”:

Google search results for "how to make wet dog food"

This guide directly promotes v-dog’s product to make wet dog food. So people who search the query will be introduced to its brand and potentially buy its product to make their own wet dog food at home.

And there you have it—three examples of blogging for e-commerce that’s working right now. With that, let’s talk about how you can start your own blog.

Seven steps to start and grow an e-commerce blog

In my 10+ years as a professional SEO and freelance writer, I’ve worked with over a dozen e-commerce stores to help them grow their website traffic. I’ve also run several of my own e-commerce websites.

In that time, I’ve distilled what works into an easy-to-follow seven-step process:

1. Do some keyword research

I never start a blog without first doing keyword research. Not only does this make coming up with blog topic ideas much easier, but it also ensures that every blog post you write has a chance to show up in Google search results and bring you free, recurring traffic.

While we wrote a complete guide to keyword research, here’s a quick and dirty strategy for finding keywords fast:

First, find a competitor who has a blog. Let’s say you’re selling dog food just like v-dog—if I search for “dog food” on Google, I can see some of my competition:

Google search results for "dog food"

At this point, I look for relevant competitors. For example, Chewy and American Kennel Club are good competitors for research. But I’ll skip sites like Amazon and Walmart, as they are just too broad to get relevant data from.

Next, plug the competitor’s URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and click on the Organic keywords report to see the keywords its website ranks for on Google:

Organic keywords report for chewy.com

In this example, it has over 700,000 keywords. That’s way too many to sort through. Let’s add some filters to make things easier:

  • First, set the KD (Keyword Difficulty) score to a maximum of 30 to find easier-to-rank-for keywords.
  • Then we can exclude brand name keywords using the “Keywords” dropdown, set it to “Doesn’t contain,” and type in the brand name.
  • If the website has /blog/ in its blog post URLs, you can also set a filter in the “URL” dropdown to “Contains” and type “blog” in the text field. In Chewy’s case, it doesn’t do that, but it does use a subdomain for its blog, which we can search specifically.

When you’re done, it should look like this:

Ahrefs keyword filters

In the case of chewy.com, this only shaved it down to 619,000 keywords. That’s still a lot—let’s filter it down further. We can apply the following:

  • Minimum monthly search volume of 100
  • Only keywords in positions #1–10
  • Only show keywords containing “dog,” since my example website only sells dog food, not all animal food

Here’s what it looks like with these new filters applied:

Filtering down Ahrefs' Organic keywords report

Now I can find some more related keywords like “what to feed a dog with diarrhea” or “can dogs eat cheese.”

Data for keyword "what to feed a dog with diarrhea"

In addition to picking interesting keywords, you can also get an idea of how to become a topical authority on the topic of dog food by searching “dog food” in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

Overview for "dog food," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

This keyword is extremely difficult to rank on page #1 for. However, if we go to the Related terms report and set the KD to a max of 30, we can see keyword ideas that are still relevant but may be easier to rank high in the search results.

List of keywords related to dog food

Go through and click the gray + sign next to any keywords you may want to target to add them to your list of potential article ideas. 

2. Create templates for future blog posts

One of the first things I do when I create a new blog is to establish a repeatable template that I use for every post. Typically, it looks something like this:

Blog post template example

It has breadcrumb navigation to help with SEO and navigation, the article title and the date it was last updated, then a short intro with an image on the right to make the lines shorter (and easier to skim). Finally, I include a clickable table of contents to help with navigation, then get into the article.

Within the article itself, I will use headers (H2s) and subheaders (H3s) to make my content easier to skim and to help Google understand what each section is about.

You can make templates for every kind of post you plan on creating—such as list posts, ultimate guides, tutorials, etc.—and reuse them for every post you ever create. It’s a huge time-saver.

While you’re at it, you should also create a standard operating procedure (SOP) that you go through for every article. This could include writing guidelines, what to do with images, formatting, tone, etc.

3. Outline your article

I never dive into writing an article without outlining it first. An outline ensures the article is well structured and planned before you start writing, and it bakes SEO right into your writing process. It’s another big time-saver.

Typically, you want this outline to include:

  • Potential title or titles of the article
  • Target keyword
  • Brief description of the article angle
  • Links to competing articles on Google for research
  • Headers and subheaders, with brief descriptions of the section as needed

Here’s a look at part of an example outline I’ll either send to my writers or write myself:

Content outline example

I wrote a guide to outlining content, which you can follow here for the full step-by-step process.

4. Write, optimize, and publish your post

Next up, it’s time to write your article. As you write more articles, you’ll find what works for you—but you may find it easier to fill in the sections then go back and write the intro once the article is finished.

Here are a few writing tips to help you become a better writer:

  • Ditch the fluff – If a word isn’t needed to bring a point across, cut it.
  • Keep your paragraphs short – Two to three lines per paragraph is plenty, especially for mobile readers where the screen width is shorter.
  • Use active voice over passive voiceHere is a guide for that.
  • Make your content easy to skim – Include photos and videos and make use of headers and bulleted lists to share key points.

Once you’ve written your article, do some basic on-page SEO to help it rank higher in search results:

  • Ensure your article has one H1 tag – The title of the article.
  • Have an SEO-friendly URL – Include the keyword you’re targeting, but keep it short and easy to read.
  • Link to other pages on your site using proper anchor textHere’s a guide for that.
  • Ensure your images have alt text – This is the text Google uses to read what the image is about, as well as what is shown to readers if the image can’t render.

Finally, publish your post and give yourself a pat on the back.

5. Add product promotions, email opt-ins, and internal links

Before you promote your content, there are a few things you can do to squeeze more ROI from it—namely, you should add a way for people to either push them through the funnel toward purchasing a product or subscribe to your email list. I’ll give an example of each.

First, Solo Stove wrote an article titled “Ambiance Is A Girl’s Best Friend,” where it promotes its tiny Solo Stove Mesa as a way of improving a space’s ambiance: 

How to promote your products in a blog post

Beyond directly promoting your products in the articles, you can also add email opt-ins that give people a percentage off their orders. You may lose a little money on the initial order. But once you get someone’s email address, you can promote to them again and get multiple orders from them.

For example, Primary sells kids’ clothing and uses this email pop-up to promote money off its products after you spend a certain amount of time on its website:

Email opt-in pop-up offering a discount on first order

Just make sure your discount code only works once per unique IP address. You can learn more about how to do that here if you use Shopify.

Finally, when you publish an article, you should make it a point to add internal links to your new article from older articles. 

This won’t be as important for your first few because you won’t have a ton of articles. But as your blog grows, it’s an important part of the process to ensure your readers (and Google) can still find your articles and that they aren’t buried deep on your site.

Refer to our guide to internal linking to learn more about this step.

6. Promote your content

At this point, your content is live and optimized for both conversions and search engines. Now it’s time to get some eyeballs on it.

We have an entire guide to content promotion you should read, but here are some highlights:

  • Share the article on all of your social media channels
  • Send the article to your email list if you have one
  • Share your content in relevant communities (such as relevant Reddit forums)
  • Consider running paid ads to your article

There’s a lot more you can do to promote a piece, including reaching out to other blog owners. But I won’t cover all of that here.

The other important piece of promoting your content is getting other website owners to link to your new articles. This is called link building, and it’s a crucial part of SEO.

There are many ways to build links. Some of the most popular include:

Link building is an entire subject on its own. If you’re serious about blogging and getting search traffic, it’s a crucial skill to learn.

7. Scale your efforts

The final step in blogging for e-commerce is scaling up your efforts by creating repeatable processes for each step and hiring people to do the tasks you yourself don’t need to be doing.

You can hire freelance writers, outreach specialists, editors, and more. You can put together a full SEO team for your business.

If you’re not in a place to start hiring, there are still things you can do to squeeze more output from your time, such as creating the SOPs I mentioned earlier.

Final thoughts

Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your e-commerce store’s traffic and sales. It costs less than traditional paid advertising and can continue to provide a return long after a post has been published.

This guide will hopefully help you start your e-commerce blog and publish your first post. But remember that success with blogging doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes three to six months on average to see any results from your SEO efforts. Keep learning and be patient.

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The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results

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The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results

Looking to launch a successful digital marketing campaign for your business?

How do you select the best SEO keywords to expand your brand’s reach?

What can you do to determine the most effective ways to allocate your marketing budget?

Facing these tough decisions can put you on your heels if you’re not equipped with the right information.

Luckily, there’s a new way to leverage your company’s data to estimate your ROI and take the guesswork out of your next campaign.

With a simple mathematical formula, you can predict the amount of traffic and revenue you’ll generate before even setting your strategy in motion – and you can do it all in just five steps.

Want to learn how?

Join our next webinar with Sabrina Hipps, VP of Partner Development, and Jeremy Rivera, Director of Content Analysis at CopyPress, to find out how to analyze specific keywords and forecast your SEO results.

Not too fond of math? Don’t worry – we’ll provide access to free tools and a downloadable calculator to help automate this process and save you time.

Key Takeaways From This Webinar: 

  • Learn how forecasting your SEO can help you build better campaigns and choose the right keywords.
  • Get step-by-step instructions to predict revenue and website traffic for your next SEO campaign.
  • Access a free handout, resources, and online tools that will save you time and supercharge your content strategy.

In this session, we’ll share real-life examples and provide guidance for the decision-makers within your organization to start getting the most out of your marketing efforts.

By better understanding the market potential of your product or service, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions and effectively maximize your ROI.

Sign up for this webinar and discover how you can secure a sufficient marketing budget and use SEO keywords to forecast the results of your future content campaigns.



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Google SEO Tips For News Articles: Lastmod Tag, Separate Sitemaps

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Google SEO Tips For News Articles: Lastmod Tag, Separate Sitemaps

Google Search Advocate John Mueller and Analyst Gary Illyes share SEO tips for news publishers during a recent office-hours Q&A recording.

Taking turns answering questions, Mueller addresses the correct use of the lastmod tag, while Illyes discusses the benefits of separate sitemaps.

When To Use The Lastmod Tag?

In an XML sitemap file, lastmod is a tag that stores information about the last time a webpage was modified.

Its intended use is to help search engines track and index significant changes to webpages.

Google provides guidelines for using the lastmod tag, which could be used to alter search snippets.

The presence of the lastmod tag may prompt Googlebot to change the publication date in search results, making the content appear more recent and more attractive to click on.

As a result, there may be an inclination to use the lastmod tag even for minor changes to an article so that it appears as if it was recently published.

A news publisher asks whether they should use the lastmod tag to indicate the date of the latest article update or the date of the most recent comment.

Mueller says the date in the lastmod field should reflect the date when the page’s content has changed significantly enough to require re-crawling.

However, using the last comment date is acceptable if comments are a critical part of the page.

He also reminds the publisher to use structured data and ensure the page date is consistent with the lastmod tag.

“Since the site map file is all about finding the right moment to crawl a page based on its changes, the lastmod date should reflect the date when the content has significantly changed enough to merit being re-crawled.

If comments are a critical part of your page, then using that date is fine. Ultimately, this is a decision that you can make. For the date of the article itself, I’d recommend looking at our guidelines on using dates on a page.

In particular, make sure that you use the dates on a page consistently and that you structured data, including the time zone, within the markup.”

Separate Sitemap For News?

A publisher inquires about Google’s stance on having both a news sitemap and a general sitemap on the same website.

They also ask if it’s acceptable for both sitemaps to include duplicate URLs.

Illyes explained that it’s possible to have just one sitemap with the news extension added to the URLs that need it, but it’s simpler to have separate sitemaps for news and general content. URLs older than 30 days should be removed from the news sitemap.

Regarding sitemaps sharing the duplicate URLs, it’s not recommended, but it won’t cause any problems.

Illyes states:

“You can have just one site map, a traditional web sitemap as defined by sitemaps.org, and then add the news extension to the URLs that need it. Just keep in mind that, you’ll need to remove the news extension from URLs that are older than 30 days. For this reason it’s usually simpler to have separate site map for news and for web.

Just remove the URLs altogether from the news site map when they become too old for news. Including the URLs in both site maps, while not very nice, but it will not cause any issues for you.”

These tips from Mueller and Illyes can help news publishers optimize their websites for search engines and improve the visibility and engagement of their articles.


Source: Google Search Central

Featured Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock



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