Connect with us

SEO

A Complete SEO Checklist for Website Owners

Published

on

A Complete SEO Checklist for Website Owners

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a broad discipline where it can be easy to get stuck or caught up in details.

Sure, the specifics matter – but a top-down approach with a comprehensive strategy to keep you on track is essential.

Whether you’re just starting out or are a Fortune 500 brand, you’ll find that an SEO plan that considers the full set of factors and ongoing updates will help you improve and grow.

So in this column, you’ll find a full checklist to help you craft an SEO strategy built for your unique needs. You’ll work through key considerations for:

  • Technical SEO.
  • On-page optimizations.
  • External factors.

You’ll want to keep these factors that make up a good website in mind, too. Have your content, UX, IT, and other marketing resources ready to join you on your SEO journey for the best possible outcomes.

Happy optimizing!

Technical SEO Cheat Sheet

Before focusing on the specific content that you want to rank in the search engines, you have to make sure that your site can be indexed and crawled.

This all falls into the category of technical SEO.

Free Reporting Platforms

Start off by making sure you have Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, and Google Tag Manager tied into your site.

These tools all deliver great diagnostic and analytics data to help you along the way.

XML Sitemap

This is a table of contents for your website. The sitemap file is the modern way of “submitting” your pages to search engines.

Most website platforms have this built-in or have plugins/add-ons that will create a dynamic sitemap that stays in sync with the pages on your site.

At worst, you should at least have a static one that you can generate through a number of free tools.

Robots.txt

This file provides instructions to the search engines on what pages or parts of the site to not index. By default, the search engines will look at all the content they can find.

Even if you don’t want to restrict the search engines from indexing any pages on your site, make sure this file:

  • Is accurate.
  • Validates in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
  • Doesn’t accidentally block important content from being indexed (or your whole site).

See Best Practices for Setting Up Meta Robots Tags & Robots.txt to learn more.

Domains

If you own more than just your primary domain name, make sure you know what each of your additional domain names is doing. If they are parked and not in use, that’s fine.

If they redirect to your website, check to ensure that they 301 redirect to it (versus mirroring the site or doing a 302 redirect).

This could be a quick area to simply check and move on from, but don’t overlook it as it can cause issues with duplicate content and confusion over which domain name is the real one.

Site Architecture

The more hierarchy and structure you can build into your navigation and sections of your site, the better. This will benefit users and the search engines and present organized topics and content (more on that later).

Aim to get your directory structure and URLs to match the literal page and file structure of your site’s content.

Stepping back and mapping out your site structure or sitemap is a good starting point. This gets you to think about the content, how you prioritize certain aspects of your site, and how you want to funnel your users (as well as the search engines) through it.

Speed

We continue to see stats showing that users spend less and less time before bouncing.

The search engines have worked over the years to incorporate page speed into their ranking factors.

Look for ways to minimize the use of JavaScript and heavy loading pieces of code in your pages and find ways to cache or load elements externally.

There are some great developer tools that can help you identify the right areas to optimize in your own website to get your page load times to competitive levels.

See How to Improve Site Performance: 4 Speed Audit Quick Wins for more.

Mobile-Friendly

It’s a given that we have to be mobile-friendly. However, even if you built your site in a mobile framework like responsive design, it’s important to make sure that it actually validates.

Be sure to run it through Google’s mobile-friendly test.

Also, do as much user experience (UX) and quality assurance (QA) testing as possible to make sure it truly works for your users on all devices you anticipate them using.

404 Pages

Don’t forget to create a custom 404 page and put helpful information on it. You don’t want to lose a visitor to your site by having a default browser error come up.

You should create a 404 page that includes helpful links, navigation, site search functionality, and contact options.

SSL

Much like mobile-friendly and site speed needs, having a secure site is important.

If your website isn’t under an SSL, you may lose users before they even get to your site when they see a security warning in Chrome or other browsers.

Instill trust in your website by taking the typically simple step of implementing an SSL certification on your site.

Plugins, Add-ons, Or Extensions

If you’re using a content management system, chances are that you are already using plugins or other code extensions that you trust.

Most platforms have tools that you can add to your site that provide additional control over SEO and analytics functions.

Whether these are WordPress SEO plugins or others for Drupal, Magento, etc., you should watch for trusted plugins, extensions, or add-ons that give you maximum control and functionality.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals is a category of additional technical page factors that now matter to Google.

These ranking factors are in addition to the Page Experience factors like mobile-friendliness and page speed. These page experience factors can definitely take you down a path into detailed coding and IT areas.

Be sure to do your research to learn about CWV. If you’re not the person responsible for the technical implementation of updates to optimize for LCP, FID, and CLS, then prepare your compelling case why they matter to SEO and bring the information to the team members you’ll rely on for implementing.

Pre-existing Issues

Do you have baggage from a previous site or old, outdated SEO tactics?

Or, maybe you have a legitimate reason for having duplicate content all over your site and the web.

Knowing what you’re facing is important before you get into on-page optimization.

If you have multiple duplicate pages, for a good reason, you’ll want to consider a canonical strategy or how you want to use robots instructions for indexing.

This is important to be aware of and sort out before you invest time and effort into page-level optimization.

Copyscape and Screaming Frog are among my favorite tools for finding duplication and analyzing content before digging into on-page SEO.

On-Page SEO Cheat Sheet

Most people tend to think about on-page factors (e.g., keywords, content, title tags) whenever SEO is mentioned. However, the days of optimizing just single parts of pages or websites as a strategy are gone.

The search engines care about context way more than keywords, so don’t be tempted to just update meta tags or body copy and move on.

The way we build context is in all of the on-page elements within a page and then thinking about how pages relate to each other within sections and navigation of the site.

Keywords & Topics

Before you can really focus on building context, you have to know what you want to build it for.

If you haven’t done keyword research or broader research on your target audiences, you’ll need to pause here and take some time to learn what topics and phrases your audience will use to find your website.

Remember that the days of stuffing terms into page copy or tags are long gone.

We have to use SEO tools to uncover the right terms, phrases, and topics that align with what we do. From there, we can drill down into individual words to apply within the site architecture.

Basically, you need to know the terms that matter, map them to your content, and then get to work on the rest of the on-page factors list to follow.

Content

Content is necessary to show relevancy.

If you have few words and aspects to your website it is hard to compete with sites that are robust and full of content. More isn’t always better as high quality definitely beats high quantity.

But, if you can achieve both, you’ll be in an even better place.

Rich content written for users that resonates with them and is clear to the search engines is where you win. Don’t be tempted to use outdated tactics that will harm the user experience and put you at risk with the search engines.

See Why Content Is Important for SEO for tips.

URL

This is the first element of a page and one that is sometimes overlooked. The search engines can index ugly, faceted URLs just fine.

However, the URL is an opportunity to present a clean directory structure that includes keywords and context as to what the page is about.

Don’t miss the opportunity to customize the URL paths.

Title

Again, the title tag alone is not going to do much for you. However, you need to have a relevant, unique tag for each page.

Be mindful of best practices for length and the keywords that are most relevant to the page topic and write and implement static tags or ensure that you have dynamic formulas in place to populate the title.

Meta Description

Like the title tag, we need to have a custom and topically relevant meta description for each page.

Whether static or dynamic, make sure it is helpful to the user, contains keywords relevant to the content, and helps build context with the title tag.

Headings

Heading or “H” tags are debated in importance for SEO. Again, I’m not focused on a single element, but how all elements work in concert to build context.

If you can use heading tags, do so in an organized fashion and make sure they use keywords that are relevant. Try to use just one H1 tag and have it be the first.

Often website platforms or developers use these for CSS purposes so you might have no H1 tag on a page and a bunch of H6 tags. Be mindful of these and how they are woven into your code and content.

Body Copy

While much of the old school focus on latent semantic indexing, keyword density, and formulas for how many times words need to appear on a page is obsolete, you can’t ignore the fact that body copy on the page often accounts for the biggest block of indexable content.

Don’t skip out on including your focus keywords in the body copy as you need to tie into the context you’re building in the other areas up to this point.

However, don’t obsess over using a keyword 37 times. Do what’s natural and focus on the bigger picture and you’ll be in good shape.

Image Alt Attributes

One of the biggest red flags I get in results from accessibility and on-page auditing reporting tools is missing alt text. Alt text is helpful for search engines to understand what an image is about.

This is another opportunity to work keywords into a page. Plus, you need to consider those in your audience who may be using a screen-reader and ensuring that your site is fully accessible.

Structured Data

While not necessarily a direct ranking factor – Schema.org markup goes right to the heart of building context.

Using the appropriate structured data markup for your website content can help provide another cue to the search engines as to what segment or category your subject matter is in.

If your website platform doesn’t have an easy way to add this and if it is a big line item in terms of cost or time, put it at the back of the line behind the items noted above.

However, keep it on your radar.

External SEO Factors

This is the bonus section.

External factors are things that you can’t control on your website and don’t necessarily fall into a checklist.

However, I’d be remiss if I painted a picture that all you need to do are the indexing and on-page things and that you’re going to rise to the top of the search engines.

On-page factors influence relevance and trust of your content to the search engines. External factors influence your “authority” status and validate your site as the subject matter expert.

Links

Inbound links (a.k.a. backlinks) to your website from credible and authoritative websites play a huge role in SEO. Also important are unlinked brand mentions (a.k.a. citations) and how much your website is talked about on the web.

There’s a lot to be said about creating great content that people naturally want to link to.

To supplement your awesome content, it doesn’t hurt to look for great sources of quality links through natural relationships, accreditation, and possible traffic sources in your industry.

You want to focus your efforts on quality sources that are relevant to your subject matter – and never pay for a link in a way that violates the search engines’ respective guidelines.

Local Search

If you have a physical or service-based business, local directory and search site citations are key.

While claiming and properly owning your listing helps protect your brand at a basic level, you need to make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP data) are accurate and consistent across all local and social directory listing sites that are relevant.

There’s an entire local directory ecosystem and if you can at least tackle NAP data, you’ll build a good foundation.

Social Media

Social media can also enhance your SEO (and other digital marketing) efforts, even if it won’t directly impact your rankings.

Ensuring that your website links to your owned and active social media accounts and vice versa is an important first step.

Beyond that, you need to ensure that your level of engagement is on par with your high-ranking peers. This is a relative scale, but by understanding what your competition is doing you can ensure that the SEO aspect of social is covered.

Conclusion

I hope this checklist helps you optimize your website. By making improvements to your website’s technical and on-page SEO, you will help Google find and index your content.

As you continue to optimize your website, keep an eye on your organic search traffic in Google Analytics to see the results of your changes.

More resources:


Featured Image: E.F.S/Shutterstock




Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

SEO

Google Dials Back AI Overviews In Search Results, Study Finds

Published

on

By

Photo of a mobile device in mans hand with generative google AI Overview on the screen.

According to new research, Google’s AI-generated overviews have undergone significant adjustments since the initial rollout.

The study from SE Ranking analyzed 100,000 keywords and found Google has greatly reduced the frequency of AI overviews.

However, when they appear, they’re more detailed than they were previously.

The study digs into which topics and industries are more likely to get an AI overview. It also looks at how the AI snippets interact with other search features like featured snippets and ads.

Here’s an overview of the findings and what they mean for your SEO efforts.

Declining Frequency Of AI Overviews

In contrast to pre-rollout figures, 8% of the examined searches now trigger an AI Overview.

This represents a 52% drop compared to January levels.

Yevheniia Khromova, the study’s author, believes this means Google is taking a more measured approach, stating:

“The sharp decrease in AI Overview presence likely reflects Google’s efforts to boost the accuracy and trustworthiness of AI-generated answers.”

Longer AI Overviews

Although the frequency of AI overviews has decreased, the ones that do appear provide more detailed information.

The average length of the text has grown by nearly 25% to around 4,342 characters.

In another notable change, AI overviews now link to fewer sources on average – usually just four links after expanding the snippet.

However, 84% still include at least one domain from that query’s top 10 organic search results.

Niche Dynamics & Ranking Factors

The chances of getting an AI overview vary across different industries.

Searches related to relationships, food and beverages, and technology were most likely to trigger AI overviews.

Sensitive areas like healthcare, legal, and news had a low rate of showing AI summaries, less than 1%.

Longer search queries with ten words were more likely to generate an AI overview, with a 19% rate indicating that AI summaries are more useful for complex information needs.

Search terms with lower search volumes and lower cost-per-click were more likely to display AI summaries.

Other Characteristics Of AI Overviews

The research reveals that 45% of AI overviews appear alongside featured snippets, often sourced from the exact domains.

Around 87% of AI overviews now coexist with ads, compared to 73% previously, a statistic that could increase competition for advertising space.

What Does This Mean?

SE Ranking’s research on AI overviews has several implications:

  1. Reduced Risk Of Traffic Losses: Fewer searches trigger AI Overviews that directly answer queries, making organic listings less likely to be demoted or receive less traffic.
  2. Most Impacted Niches: AI overviews appear more in relationships, food, and technology niches. Publishers in these sectors should pay closer attention to Google’s AI overview strategy.
  3. Long-form & In-Depth Content Essential: As AI snippets become longer, companies may need to create more comprehensive content beyond what the overviews cover.

Looking Ahead

While the number of AI overviews has decreased recently, we can’t assume this trend will continue.

AI overviews will undoubtedly continue to transform over time.

It’s crucial to monitor developments closely, try different methods of dealing with them, and adjust game plans as needed.


Featured Image: DIA TV/Shutterstock

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SEO

10 Tips on How to Rock a Small PPC Budget

Published

on

By

10 Tips on How to Rock a Small PPC Budget

Many advertisers have a tight budget for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, making it challenging to maximize results.

One of the first questions that often looms large is, “How much should we spend?” It’s a pivotal question, one that sets the stage for the entire PPC strategy.

Read on for tips to get started or further optimize budgets for your PPC program to maximize every dollar spent.

1. Set Expectations For The Account

With a smaller budget, managing expectations for the size and scope of the account will allow you to keep focus.

A very common question is: How much should our company spend on PPC?

To start, you must balance your company’s PPC budget with the cost, volume, and competition of keyword searches in your industry.

You’ll also want to implement a well-balanced PPC strategy with display and video formats to engage consumers.

First, determine your daily budget. For example, if the monthly budget is $2,000, the daily budget would be set at $66 per day for the entire account.

The daily budget will also determine how many campaigns you can run at the same time in the account because that $66 will be divided up among all campaigns.

Be aware that Google Ads and Microsoft Ads may occasionally exceed the daily budget to maximize results. The overall monthly budget, however, should not exceed the Daily x Number of Days in the Month.

Now that we know our daily budget, we can focus on prioritizing our goals.

2. Prioritize Goals

Advertisers often have multiple goals per account. A limited budget will also limit the number of campaigns – and the number of goals – you should focus on.

Some common goals include:

  • Brand awareness.
  • Leads.
  • Sales.
  • Repeat sales.

In the example below, the advertiser uses a small budget to promote a scholarship program.

They are using a combination of leads (search campaign) and awareness (display campaign) to divide up a daily budget of $82.

Screenshot from author, May 2024

The next several features can help you laser-focus campaigns to allocate your budget to where you need it most.

Remember, these settings will restrict traffic to the campaign. If you aren’t getting enough traffic, loosen up/expand the settings.

3. Location Targeting

Location targeting is a core consideration in reaching the right audience and helps manage a small ad budget.

To maximize a limited budget, you should focus on only the essential target locations where your customers are located.

While that seems obvious, you should also consider how to refine that to direct the limited budget to core locations. For example:

  • You can refine location targeting by states, cities, ZIP codes, or even a radius around your business.
  • Choosing locations to target should be focused on results.
  • The smaller the geographic area, the less traffic you will get, so balance relevance with budget.
  • Consider adding negative locations where you do not do business to prevent irrelevant clicks that use up precious budget.

If the reporting reveals targeted locations where campaigns are ineffective, consider removing targeting to those areas. You can also try a location bid modifier to reduce ad serving in those areas.

managing ppc budget by location interactionScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

4. Ad Scheduling

Ad scheduling also helps to control budget by only running ads on certain days and at certain hours of the day.

With a smaller budget, it can help to limit ads to serve only during hours of business operation. You can choose to expand that a bit to accommodate time zones and for searchers doing research outside of business hours.

If you sell online, you are always open, but review reporting for hourly results over time to determine if there are hours of the day with a negative return on investment (ROI).

Limit running PPC ads if the reporting reveals hours of the day when campaigns are ineffective.

Manage a small ppc budget by hour of dayScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

5. Set Negative Keywords

A well-planned negative keyword list is a golden tactic for controlling budgets.

The purpose is to prevent your ad from showing on keyword searches and websites that are not a good match for your business.

  • Generate negative keywords proactively by brainstorming keyword concepts that may trigger ads erroneously.
  • Review query reports to find irrelevant searches that have already led to clicks.
  • Create lists and apply to the campaign.
  • Repeat on a regular basis because ad trends are always evolving!

6. Smart Bidding

Smart Bidding is a game-changer for efficient ad campaigns. Powered by Google AI, it automatically adjusts bids to serve ads to the right audience within budget.

The AI optimizes the bid for each auction, ideally maximizing conversions while staying within your budget constraints.

Smart bidding strategies available include:

  • Maximize Conversions: Automatically adjust bids to generate as many conversions as possible for the budget.
  • Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): This method predicts the value of potential conversions and adjusts bids in real time to maximize return.
  • Target Cost Per Action (CPA): Advertisers set a target cost-per-action (CPA), and Google optimizes bids to get the most conversions within budget and the desired cost per action.

7. Try Display Only Campaigns

display ads for small ppc budgetsScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

For branding and awareness, a display campaign can expand your reach to a wider audience affordably.

Audience targeting is an art in itself, so review the best options for your budget, including topics, placements, demographics, and more.

Remarketing to your website visitors is a smart targeting strategy to include in your display campaigns to re-engage your audience based on their behavior on your website.

Let your ad performance reporting by placements, audiences, and more guide your optimizations toward the best fit for your business.

audience targeting options for small ppc budgetScreenshot by Lisa Raehsler from Google Ads, May 2024

8. Performance Max Campaigns

Performance Max (PMax) campaigns are available in Google Ads and Microsoft Ads.

In short, automation is used to maximize conversion results by serving ads across channels and with automated ad formats.

This campaign type can be useful for limited budgets in that it uses AI to create assets, select channels, and audiences in a single campaign rather than you dividing the budget among multiple campaign types.

Since the success of the PMax campaign depends on the use of conversion data, that data will need to be available and reliable.

9. Target Less Competitive Keywords

Some keywords can have very high cost-per-click (CPC) in a competitive market. Research keywords to compete effectively on a smaller budget.

Use your analytics account to discover organic searches leading to your website, Google autocomplete, and tools like Google Keyword Planner in the Google Ads account to compare and get estimates.

In this example, a keyword such as “business accounting software” potentially has a lower CPC but also lower volume.

Ideally, you would test both keywords to see how they perform in a live campaign scenario.

comparing keywords for small ppc budgetsScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

10. Manage Costly Keywords

High volume and competitive keywords can get expensive and put a real dent in the budget.

In addition to the tip above, if the keyword is a high volume/high cost, consider restructuring these keywords into their own campaign to monitor and possibly set more restrictive targeting and budget.

Levers that can impact costs on this include experimenting with match types and any of the tips in this article. Explore the opportunity to write more relevant ad copy to these costly keywords to improve quality.

Every Click Counts

As you navigate these strategies, you will see that managing a PPC account with a limited budget isn’t just about monetary constraints.

Rocking your small PPC budgets involves strategic campaign management, data-driven decisions, and ongoing optimizations.

In the dynamic landscape of paid search advertising, every click counts, and with the right approach, every click can translate into meaningful results.

More resources: 


Featured Image: bluefish_ds/Shutterstock

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SEO

What Are They Really Costing You?

Published

on

By

What Are They Really Costing You?

This post was sponsored by Adpulse. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

As managers of paid media, one question drives us all: “How do I improve paid ad performance?”. 

Given that our study found close variant search terms perform poorly, yet more than half of the average budget on Google & Microsoft Ads is being spent on them, managing their impact effectively could well be one of your largest optimization levers toward driving significant improvements in ROI. 

“Close variants help you connect with people who are looking for your business, despite slight variations in the way they search.” support.google.com

Promising idea…but what about the execution?

We analyzed over 4.5 million clicks and 400,000 conversions to answer this question: With the rise in close variants (intent matching) search terms, what impact are they having on budgets and account performance? Spoiler alert, the impact is substantial. 


True Match Vs. Close Variants: How Do They Perform?

To understand close variant (CV) performance, we must first define the difference between a true match and a close variant. 

 

What Is a True Match? 

We still remember the good-old-days where keyword match types gave you control over the search terms they triggered, so for this study we used the literal match types to define ‘close variant’ vs ‘true match’. 

  • Exact match keyword => search term matches the keyword exactly. 
  • Phrase match keyword => search term must contain the keyword (same word order).
  • Broad match keyword => search term must contain every individual word in the keyword, but the word order does not matter (the way modified broad match keywords used to work).   

 

What Is a Close Variant? 

If you’re not familiar with close variants (intent matching) search terms, think of them as search terms that are ‘fuzzy matched’ to the keywords you are actually bidding on. 

Some of these close variants are highly relevant and represent a real opportunity to expand your keywords in a positive way. 

Some are close-ish, but the conversions are expensive. 

And (no shocks here) some are truly wasteful. 

….Both Google and Microsoft Ads do this, and you can’t opt-out.

To give an example: if you were a music therapist, you might bid on the phrase match keyword “music therapist”. An example of a true match search term would be ‘music therapist near me’ because it contains the keyword in its true form (phrase match in this case) and a CV might be ‘music and art therapy’.


How Do Close Variants Compare to True Match?

Short answer… poorly, on both Google and Microsoft Ads. Interestingly however, Google showed the worst performance on both metrics assessed, CPA and ROAS. 

Image created by Adpulse, May 2024

1718772963 395 What Are They Really Costing You

Image created by Adpulse, May 2024

Want to see the data – jump to it here…

CVs have been embraced by both platforms with (as earlier stated), on average more than half of your budget being spent on CV variant matches. That’s a lot of expansion to reach searches you’re not directly bidding for, so it’s clearly a major driver of performance in your account and, therefore, deserving of your attention. 

We anticipated a difference in metrics between CVs and true match search terms, since the true match search terms directly align with the keywords you’re bidding on, derived from your intimate knowledge of the business offering. 

True match conversions should therefore be the low-hanging fruit, leaving the rest for the platforms to find via CVs. Depending on the cost and ROI, this isn’t inherently bad, but logically we would assume CVs would perform worse than true matches, which is exactly what we observed. 


How Can You Limit Wastage on Close Variants?

You can’t opt out of them, however, if your goal is to manage their impact on performance, you can use these three steps to move the needle in the right direction. And of course, if you’re relying on CVs to boost volume, you’ll need to take more of a ‘quality-screening’ rather than a hard-line ‘everything-must-go’ approach to your CV clean out!

 

Step 1: Diagnose Your CV Problem 

We’re a helpful bunch at Adpulse so while we were scoping our in-app solution, we built a simple spreadsheet that you can use to diagnose how healthy your CVs are. Just make a copy, paste in your keyword and search term data then run the analysis for yourself. Then you can start to clean up any wayward CVs identified. Of course, by virtue of technology, it’s both faster and more advanced in the Adpulse Close Variant Manager 😉.

 

Step 2: Suggested Campaign Structures for Easier CV Management  

Brand Campaigns

If you don’t want competitors or general searches being matched to your brand keywords, this strategy will solve for that. 

Set up one ad group with your exact brand keyword/s, and another ad group with phrase brand keyword/s, then employ the negative keyword strategies in Step 3 below. You might be surprised at how many CVs have nothing to do with your brand, and identifying variants (and adding negative keywords) becomes easy with this structure.

Don’t forget to add your phrase match brand negatives to non-brand campaigns (we love negative lists for this).

Non-Brand Campaigns with Larger Budgets

We suggest a campaign structure with one ad group per match type:

Example Ad Groups:

    • General Plumbers – Exact
    • General Plumbers – Phrase
    • General Plumbers – Broad
    • Emergency Plumbers – Exact
    • Emergency Plumbers – Phrase
    • Emergency Plumbers – Broad

This allows you to more easily identify variants so you can eliminate them quickly. This also allows you to find new keyword themes based on good quality CVs, and add them easily to the campaign. 

Non-Brand Campaigns with Smaller Budgets

Smaller budgets mean the upside of having more data per ad group outweighs the upside of making it easier to trim unwanted CVs, so go for a simpler theme-based ad group structure:

Example Ad Groups:

    • General Plumbers
    • Emergency Plumbers

 

Step 3: Ongoing Actions to Tame Close Variants

Adding great CVs as keywords and poor CVs as negatives on a regular basis is the only way to control their impact.

For exact match ad groups we suggest adding mainly root negative keywords. For example, if you were bidding on [buy mens walking shoes] and a CV appeared for ‘mens joggers’, you could add the single word “joggers” as a phrase/broad match negative keyword, which would prevent all future searches that contain joggers. If you added mens joggers as a negative keyword, other searches that contain the word joggers would still be eligible to trigger. 

In ad groups that contain phrase or broad match keywords you shouldn’t use root negatives unless you’re REALLY sure that the root negative should never appear in any search term. You’ll probably find that you use the whole search term added as an exact match negative much more often than using root negs.


The Proof: What (and Why) We Analyzed

We know CVs are part of the conversations marketers frequently have, and by virtue of the number of conversations we have with agencies each week, we’ve witnessed the increase of CV driven frustration amongst marketers. 

Internally we reached a tipping point and decided to data dive to see if it just felt like a large problem, or if it actually IS a large enough problem that we should devote resources to solving it in-app. First stop…data. 

Our study of CV performance started with thousands of Google and Microsoft Ads accounts, using last 30-day data to May 2024, filtered to exclude:

  • Shopping or DSA campaigns/Ad Groups.
  • Accounts with less than 10 conversions.
  • Accounts with a conversion rate above 50%.
  • For ROAS comparisons, any accounts with a ROAS below 200% or above 2500%.

Search terms in the study are therefore from keyword-based search campaigns where those accounts appear to have a reliable conversion tracking setup and have enough conversion data to be individually meaningful.

The cleaned data set comprised over 4.5 million clicks and 400,000 conversions (over 30 days) across Google and Microsoft Ads; a large enough data set to answer questions about CV performance with confidence.

Interestingly, each platform appears to have a different driver for their lower CV performance. 

CPA Results:

Google Ads was able to maintain its conversion rate, but it chased more expensive clicks to achieve it…in fact, clicks at almost double the average CPC of true match! Result: their CPA of CVs worked out roughly double the CPA of true match.                 

Microsoft Ads only saw slightly poorer CPA performance within CVs; their conversion rate was much lower compared to true match, but their saving grace was that they had significantly lower CPCs, and you can afford to have a lower conversion rate if your click costs are also lower. End outcome? Microsoft Ads CPA on CVs was only slightly more expensive when compared to their CPA on true matches; a pleasant surprise 🙂.

What Are They Really Costing You

Image created by Adpulse, May 2024

ROAS Results:

Both platforms showed a similar story; CVs delivered roughly half the ROAS of their true match cousins, with Microsoft Ads again being stronger overall. 

 

1718772963 395 What Are They Really Costing You

Image created by Adpulse, May 2024

Underlying Data:

For the data nerds amongst us (at Adpulse we self-identify here !) 

1718772963 88 What Are They Really Costing You

Image created by Adpulse, May 2024


TL;DR

Close variant search terms consume, on average, more than half an advertiser’s budget whilst in most cases, performing significantly worse than search terms that actually match the keywords. How much worse? Read above for details ^. Enough that managing their impact effectively could well be one of your largest optimization levers toward driving significant improvements in account ROI. 


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Adpulse. Used with permission.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

Trending