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A Guide To Social Advertising Success

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A Guide To Social Advertising Success

Getting started with a paid social media strategy can be daunting and time-consuming.

As a social media advertising agency leader (say that three times fast), we often get clients asking if we can fix their existing campaigns to improve return on investment.

The problem?

They haven’t taken a step back to focus on an overall strategy.

They jumped into social advertising with an audience they thought was right, a platform they thought was right, and creative that they thought fit both this maybe-audience and maybe-platform.

Gathering data before creating ads is just as important as setting up and perfecting the ads themselves.

There are two primary data sets I recommend gathering to create an overall strategy:

  • Understand the landscape of social media advertising.
  • Understand your audience and how they relate to each social platform.

Once you understand the social media landscape and identify your ideal audience, you can create a social ads strategy with realistic goals that complement your SEO and other digital marketing efforts.

First: Understand The Landscape Of Social Advertising

Your target audience will not necessarily fall perfectly in line with the number of total social users. Still, some social networks have so many more active users that it may help sway you to include them in your strategy.

For example, if you know your target audience is on TikTok, start there.

Then, when it’s time to expand and test, you may want to consider Facebook because of the sheer number of users (and maybe you’ll learn something about a “new” target audience, after all).

Below is an insightful chart from Search Engine Journal that lists the top 10 social advertising platforms and their monthly active users worldwide:

Image from Search Engine Journal, August 2022

And here is another helpful chart from Accion Opportunity Fund that breaks down a few of the basics of the top social networks we’re seeing today.

Next: How To Get Started Crafting A Social Advertising Campaign

As discussed above, when getting ready to start social advertising, you don’t necessarily just want to choose Facebook, for example, because it has the most users.

On that same note, you don’t just want to assume your audience isn’t on Facebook because you think your target audience is younger.

The good news for advertisers is that each platform provides detailed audience insights that you can use to match your ideal audience without spending much money blindly testing. (More on this later.)

There are three major points, each with subsections, that matter when it comes to a paid strategy.

Audience Personas: Establishing Your Audience Demographics, Interests, And Behaviors

Audience personas give you an understanding of your ideal audience, including demographics, interests, and behaviors.

This step is always the first step for us, and there are a few different ways we gather this data:

Dig Into The Analytics

Google Analytics, to be exact.

The Audience section within Google Analytics is a great starting point since it has valuable insights that can guide your social advertising strategy.

It will show you who is currently interacting with your website, but more importantly, who is contributing to the conversions/transactions.

This data includes age, gender, location, and more.

For example, if you see that the age group of 18–24 is converting at a higher rate than 45–54, you may want to optimize your campaign for the younger age group.

Go To Where You Think Your Audience Is, And Interact

Believe it or not, some of our clients come to us with an idea for a social advertising campaign, but they aren’t actively engaging with their audience on that social network!

For example, with the rise of TikTok, it can take a while to build a presence.

So we always recommend building up your social media account first and getting out there to see what people are talking about – you may be surprised at what you learn.

Research Your Competitors

Observe where your competitors are active on social media and how they market their products or services.

This is an easy way to ensure you aren’t missing any opportunities and is usually a good starting point when beginning to craft a social advertising strategy.

You can learn more about how to research your competitors here.

Audience Segments: Understanding Where In The Customer Journey They Are (Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, Etc.)

Next, it’s essential to realize that while you may have one audience in terms of demographics, that audience can (and should) be further segmented down into where they are in the journey.

We usually segment an audience three times:

  • Those who have never heard of your brand.
  • Those who have engaged with your brand in the past, but only with blog posts or educational resources (which means they’re still learning).
  • Those who are ready to buy, which is often shown by having items in a cart or having spoken to someone at your organization on the phone and expressed interest in buying.

While these three segments are general, you can think about your business specifically to come up with more defined segments that you may want to target, often called “audience personas.”

This is a big topic, so you can learn more about creating audience personas here.

Audience segmentation usually coincides with prospecting, retargeting, and remarketing campaigns (more resources on different campaign types later).

Audience Personalization: Developing Content And Messaging Specific To The Audience At The Proper Time In Their Journey

In short, there should be different content and messaging for someone who hasn’t heard of the company versus someone who has previously engaged with it.

Once you’ve defined your segments, it’s time to start personalizing content, and the type of content you write depends on the platform.

The next steps include:

  • Match your audience with two or three platforms, and then expect to produce different ad creative based on your audience personas. By this point in your journey, you should have already analyzed the landscape of the social media options and researched where your audience is!
  • Advertise on each of these platforms to see what works. You may only want to focus on one social platform, but we recommend at least two, as they can complement each other well. Also, since each platform has unique ad formats, we suggest creating ads specific to each channel while keeping the same look and feel for consistency.
  • Refine your ads. Once again, this is a big topic. Tweaking your audience segmentations, your content, the time of day you post that content, etc., is an optimization skill all of its own. Keep in mind that you don’t want to make too many big changes without collecting enough data.
  • Expand your strategy. Don’t be afraid to try other networks as you grow and refine your ads. You’ll start to see what’s working and what isn’t – and while this won’t be identical on every social network, you will start to get a baseline for where to begin your tests. This will help you save money and time in the long run as you expand.

Lastly: Setting Up Ad Campaigns

While this article focuses on the strategy for social advertising, being able to set up your ads successfully isn’t always as cut-and-dry as it should be because there are so many different campaign types.

Pro Tip: When setting up the campaigns, I recommend starting with three campaigns (prospecting, remarketing, and retargeting) to ensure you engage with your audience at the right time along their journey.

Below is an example to help get you started:

Prospecting (Awareness)

  • Audience segment: Those who have never heard of your brand.
  • Campaign objective: Reach, awareness.
  • Messaging: Focus on the user. What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Content types: Educational articles, industry news, research stories.

Retargeting (Consideration)

  • Audience segment: Those who have engaged with your brand in the past, but only with your website, social media, or educational resource.
  • Campaign objective: Engagement, clicks.
  • Messaging: Focus on the benefits of using a product or service to solve the problem.
  • Content types: Ebooks, whitepapers, company events.

Remarketing (Decision)

  • Audience segment: Those who are ready to buy, which is often shown by having items in a cart or having spoken to someone at your organization.
  • Campaign objective: Conversions, purchases.
  • Messaging: Focus on why they should choose your solution to solve their problem versus your competitors.
  • Content types: Testimonials, reviews, case studies.

For step-by-step instructions for each individual social network, see the resources below:

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, creating an effective paid social media strategy will take time, and you will consistently be reiterating, revising, and optimizing.

As with anything, a successful business is about testing, but researching before jumping into paid media – and then using paid media as another part of your testing – is crucial for a successful overall strategy that complements your SEO and other digital marketing efforts.

Always define your goals, consider the engagement you want and expect, and then use the steps above to make it happen!

More resources:


Featured Image: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock



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9 Common Technical SEO Issues That Actually Matter

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9 Common Technical SEO Issues That Actually Matter

In this article, we’ll see how to find and fix technical SEO issues, but only those that can seriously affect your rankings.

If you’d like to follow along, get Ahrefs Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console (both are free) and check for the following issues.

Indexability is a webpage’s ability to be indexed by search engines. Pages that are not indexable can’t be displayed on the search engine results pages and can’t bring in any search traffic. 

Three requirements must be met for a page to be indexable:

  1. The page must be crawlable. If you haven’t blocked Googlebot from entering the page robots.txt or you have a website with fewer than 1,000 pages, you probably don’t have an issue there. 
  2. The page must not have a noindex tag (more on that in a bit).
  3. The page must be canonical (i.e., the main version). 

Solution

In Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT):  

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to the Indexability report 
  3. Click on issues related to canonicalization and “noindex” to see affected pages
Indexability issues in Site Audit

For canonicalization issues in this report, you will need to replace bad URLs in the link rel="canonical" tag with valid ones (i.e., returning an “HTTP 200 OK”). 

As for pages marked by “noindex” issues, these are the pages with the “noindex” meta tag placed inside their code. Chances are most of the pages found in the report there should stay as is. But if you see any pages that shouldn’t be there, simply remove the tag. Do make sure those pages aren’t blocked by robots.txt first. 

Recommendation

Click on the question mark on the right to see instructions on how to fix each issue. For more detailed instructions, click on the “Learn more” link. 

Instruction on how to fix an SEO issue in Site Audit

A sitemap should contain only pages that you want search engines to index. 

When a sitemap isn’t regularly updated or an unreliable generator has been used to make it, a sitemap may start to show broken pages, pages that became “noindexed,” pages that were de-canonicalized, or pages blocked in robots.txt. 

Solution 

In AWT:

  1. Open Site Audit 
  2. Go to the All issues report
  3. Click on issues containing the word “sitemap” to find affected pages 
Sitemap issues shown in Site Audit

Depending on the issue, you will have to:

  • Delete the pages from the sitemap.
  • Remove the noindex tag on the pages (if you want to keep them in the sitemap). 
  • Provide a valid URL for the reported page. 

Google uses HTTPS encryption as a small ranking signal. This means you can experience lower rankings if you don’t have an SSL or TLS certificate securing your website. 

But even if you do, some pages and/or resources on your pages may still use the HTTP protocol. 

Solution 

Assuming you already have an SSL/TLS certificate for all subdomains (if not, do get one), open AWT and do these: 

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to the Internal pages report 
  3. Look at the protocol distribution graph and click on HTTP to see affected pages
  4. Inside the report showing pages, add a column for Final redirect URL 
  5. Make sure all HTTP pages are permanently redirected (301 or 308 redirects) to their HTTPS counterparts 
Protocol distribution graph
Internal pages issues report with added column

Finally, let’s check if any resources on the site still use HTTP: 

  1. Inside the Internal pages report, click on Issues
  2. Click on HTTPS/HTTP mixed content to view affected resources 
Site Audit reporting six HTTPS/HTTP mixed content issues

You can fix this issue by one of these methods:

  • Link to the HTTPS version of the resource (check this option first) 
  • Include the resource from a different host, if available 
  • Download and host the content on your site directly if you are legally allowed to do so
  • Exclude the resource from your site altogether

Learn more: What Is HTTPS? Everything You Need to Know 

Duplicate content happens when exact or near-duplicate content appears on the web in more than one place. 

It’s bad for SEO mainly for two reasons: It can cause undesirable URLs to show in search results and can dilute link equity

Content duplication is not necessarily a case of intentional or unintentional creation of similar pages. There are other less obvious causes such as faceted navigation, tracking parameters in URLs, or using trailing and non-trailing slashes

Solution 

First, check if your website is available under only one URL. Because if your site is accessible as:

  • http://domain.com
  • http://www.domain.com
  • https://domain.com
  • https://www.domain.com

Then Google will see all of those URLs as different websites. 

The easiest way to check if users can browse only one version of your website: type in all four variations in the browser, one by one, hit enter, and see if they get redirected to the master version (ideally, the one with HTTPS). 

You can also go straight into Site Audit’s Duplicates report. If you see 100% bad duplicates, that is likely the reason.

Duplicates report showing 100% bad duplicates
Simulation (other types of duplicates turned off).

In this case, choose one version that will serve as canonical (likely the one with HTTPS) and permanently redirect other versions to it. 

Then run a New crawl in Site Audit to see if there are any other bad duplicates left. 

Running a new crawl in Site Audit

There are a few ways you can handle bad duplicates depending on the case. Learn how to solve them in our guide

Learn more: Duplicate Content: Why It Happens and How to Fix It 

Pages that can’t be found (4XX errors) and pages returning server errors (5XX errors) won’t be indexed by Google so they won’t bring you any traffic. 

Furthermore, if broken pages have backlinks pointing to them, all of that link equity goes to waste. 

Broken pages are also a waste of crawl budget—something to watch out for on bigger websites. 

Solution

In AWT, you should: 

  1. Open Site Audit.
  2. Go to the Internal pages report.
  3. See if there are any broken pages. If so, the Broken section will show a number higher than 0. Click on the number to show affected pages.
Broken pages report in Site Audit

In the report showing pages with issues, it’s a good idea to add a column for the number of referring domains. This will help you make the decision on how to fix the issue. 

Internal pages report with no. of referring domains column added

Now, fixing broken pages (4XX error codes) is quite simple, but there is more than one possibility. Here’s a short graph explaining the process:

How to deal with broken pages

Dealing with server errors (the ones reporting a 5XX) can be a tougher one, as there are different possible reasons for a server to be unresponsive. Read this short guide for troubleshooting.

Recommendation

With AWT, you can also see 404s that were caused by incorrect links to your website. While this is not a technical issue per se, reclaiming those links may give you an additional SEO boost.

  1. Go to Site Explorer
  2. Enter your domain 
  3. Go to the Best by links report
  4. Add a “404 not found” filter
  5. Then sort the report by referring domains from high to low
How to find broken backlinks in Site Explorer
In this example, someone linked to us, leaving a comma inside the URL.

If you’ve already dealt with broken pages, chances are you’ve fixed most of the broken links issues. 

Other critical issues related to links are: 

  • Orphan pages – These are the pages without any internal links. Web crawlers have limited ability to access those pages (only from sitemap or backlinks), and there is no link equity flowing to them from other pages on your site. Last but not least, users won’t be able to access this page from the site navigation. 
  • HTTPS pages linking to internal HTTP pages – If an internal link on your website brings users to an HTTP URL, web browsers will likely show a warning about a non-secure page. This can damage your overall website authority and user experience.

Solution

In AWT, you can:

  1. Go to Site Audit.
  2. Open the Links report.
  3. Open the Issues tab. 
  4. Look for the following issues in the Indexable category. Click to see affected pages. 
Important SEO issues related to links

Fix the first issue by changing the links from HTTP to HTTPS or simply delete those links if no longer needed.

For the second issue, an orphan page needs to be either linked to from some other page on your website or deleted if a given page holds no value to you.

Sidenote.

Ahrefs’ Site Audit can find orphan pages as long as they have backlinks or are included in the sitemap. For a more thorough search for this issue, you will need to analyze server logs to find orphan pages with hits. Find out how in this guide.

7. Mobile experience issues

Having a mobile-friendly website is a must for SEO. Two reasons: 

  1. Google uses mobile-first indexing – It’s mostly using the content of mobile pages for indexing and ranking.
  2. Mobile experience is part of the Page Experience signals – While Google will allegedly always “promote” the page with the best content, page experience can be a tiebreaker for pages offering content of similar quality. 

Solution

In GSC: 

  1. Go to the Mobile Usability report in the Experience section
  2. View affected pages by clicking on issues in the Why pages aren’t usable on mobile section 
Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console

You can read Google’s guide for fixing mobile issues here.  

8. Performance and stability issues 

Performance and visual stability are other aspects of Page Experience signals used by Google to rank pages. 

Google has developed a special set of metrics to measure user experience called Core Web Vitals (CWV). Site owners and SEOs can use those metrics to see how Google perceives their website in terms of UX. 

Google's search signals for page experience

While page experience can be a ranking tiebreaker, CWV is not a race. You don’t need to have the fastest website on the internet. You just need to score “good” ideally in all three categories: loading, interactivity, and visual stability. 

Three categories of Core Web Vitals

Solution 

In GSC: 

  1. First, click on Core Web Vitals in the Experience section of the reports.
  2. Then click Open report in each section to see how your website scores. 
  3. For pages that aren’t considered good, you’ll see a special section at the bottom of the report. Use it to see pages that need your attention.
How to find Core Web Vitals in Google Search Console
CWV issue report in Google Search Console

Optimizing for CWV may take some time. This may include things like moving to a faster (or closer) server, compressing images, optimizing CSS, etc. We explain how to do this in the third part of this guide to CWV. 

Bad website structure in the context of technical SEO is mainly about having important organic pages too deep into the website structure. 

Pages that are nested too deep (i.e., users need >6 clicks from the website to get to them) will receive less link equity from your homepage (likely the page with the most backlinks), which may affect their rankings. This is because link value diminishes with every link “hop.” 

Sidenote.

Website structure is important for other reasons too such as the overall user experience, crawl efficiency, and helping Google understand the context of your pages. Here, we’ll only focus on the technical aspect, but you can read more about the topic in our full guide: Website Structure: How to Build Your SEO Foundation.

Solution 

In AWT

  1. Open Site Audit
  2. Go to Structure explorer, switch to the Depth tab, and set the data type to Data table
  3. Configure the Segment to only valid HTML pages and click Apply
  4. Use the graph to investigate pages with more than six clicks away from the homepage 
How to find site structure issues in Site Audit
Adding a new segment in Site Audit

The way to fix the issue is to link to these deeper nested pages from pages closer to the homepage. More important pages could find their place in site navigation, while less important ones can be just linked to the pages a few clicks closer.

It’s a good idea to weigh in user experience and the business role of your website when deciding what goes into sitewide navigation. 

For example, we could probably give our SEO glossary a slightly higher chance to get ahead of organic competitors by including it in the main site navigation. Yet we decided not to because it isn’t such an important page for users who are not particularly searching for this type of information. 

We’ve moved the glossary only up a notch by including a link inside the beginner’s guide to SEO (which itself is just one click away from the homepage). 

Structure explorer showing glossary page is two clicks away from the homepage
One page from the glossary folder is two clicks away from the homepage.
Link that moved SEO glossary a click closer to the homepage
Just one link, even at the bottom of a page, can move a page higher in the overall structure.

Final thoughts 

When you’re done fixing the more pressing issues, dig a little deeper to keep your site in perfect SEO health. Open Site Audit and go to the All issues report to see other issues regarding on-page SEO, image optimization, redirects, localization, and more. In each case, you will find instructions on how to deal with the issue. 

All issues report in Site Audit

You can also customize this report by turning issues on/off or changing their priority. 

Issue report in Site Audit is customizable

Did I miss any important technical issues? Let me know on Twitter or Mastodon.



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New Google Ads Feature: Account-Level Negative Keywords

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New Google Ads Feature: Account-Level Negative Keywords

Google Ads Liaison Ginny Marvin has announced that account-level negative keywords are now available to Google Ads advertisers worldwide.

The feature, which was first announced last year and has been in testing for several months, allows advertisers to add keywords to exclude traffic from all search and shopping campaigns, as well as the search and shopping portion of Performance Max, for greater brand safety and suitability.

Advertisers can access this feature from the account settings page to ensure their campaigns align with their brand values and target audience.

This is especially important for brands that want to avoid appearing in contexts that may be inappropriate or damaging to their reputation.

In addition to the brand safety benefits, the addition of account-level negative keywords makes the campaign management process more efficient for advertisers.

Instead of adding negative keywords to individual campaigns, advertisers can manage them at the account level, saving time and reducing the chances of human error.

You no longer have to worry about duplicating negative keywords in multiple campaigns or missing any vital to your brand safety.

Additionally, account-level negative keywords can improve the accuracy of ad targeting by excluding irrelevant or low-performing keywords that may adversely impact campaign performance. This can result in higher-quality traffic and a better return on investment.

Google Ads offers a range of existing brand suitability controls, including inventory types, digital content labels, placement exclusions, and negative keywords at the campaign level.

Marvin added that Google Ads is expanding account-level negative keywords to address various use cases and will have more to share soon.

This rollout is essential in giving brands more control over their advertising and ensuring their campaigns target the appropriate audience.


Featured Image: Primakov/Shutterstock



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Google’s Gary Illyes Answers Your SEO Questions On LinkedIn

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Google's Gary Illyes Answers Your SEO Questions On LinkedIn

Google Analyst Gary Illyes offers guidance on large robots.txt files, the SEO impact of website redesigns, and the correct use of rel-canonical tags.

Illyes is taking questions sent to him via LinkedIn direct message and answering them publicly, offering valuable insights for those in the SEO community.

It’s already newsworthy for a Google employee to share SEO advice. This is especially so given it’s Illyes, who isn’t as active on social media as colleagues like Search Advocate John Mueller and Developer Advocate Martin Splitt.

Throughout the past week, Illyes has shared advice and offered guidance on the following subjects:

  • Large robots.txt files
  • The SEO impact of website redesigns
  • The correct use of rel-canonical tags

Considering the engagement his posts are getting, there’s likely more to come. Here’s a summary of what you missed if you’re not following him on LinkedIn.

Keep Robots.Txt Files Under 500KB

Regarding a previously published poll on the size of robots.txt files, Illyes shares a PSA for those with a file size larger than 500kb.

Screenshot from: linkedin.com/in/garyillyes/, January 2023.

Illyes advises paying attention to the size of your website’s robots.txt file, especially if it’s larger than 500kb.

Google’s crawlers only process the first 500kb of the file, so it’s crucial to ensure that the most important information appears first.

Doing this can help ensure that your website is properly crawled and indexed by Google.

Website Redesigns May Cause Rankings To Go “Nuts”

When you redesign a website, it’s important to remember that its rankings in search engines may be affected.

As Illyes explains, this is because search engines use the HTML of your pages to understand and categorize the content on your site.

If you make changes to the HTML structure, such as breaking up paragraphs, using CSS styling instead of H tags, or adding unnecessary breaking tags, it can cause the HTML parsers to produce different results.

This can significantly impact your site’s rankings in search engines. Or, as Illyes phrases it, it can cause rankings to go “nuts”:

Google’s Gary Illyes Answers Your SEO Questions On LinkedInScreenshot from: linkedin.com/in/garyillyes/, January 2023.

Illyes advises using semantically similar HTML when redesigning the site and avoiding adding tags that aren’t necessary to minimize the SEO impact.

This will allow HTML parsers to better understand the content on your site, which can help maintain search rankings.

Don’t Use Relative Paths In Your Rel-Canonical

Don’t take shortcuts when implementing rel-canonical tags. Illyes strongly advises spelling out the entire URL path:

Google’s Gary Illyes Answers Your SEO Questions On LinkedInScreenshot from: linkedin.com/in/garyillyes/, January 2023.

Saving a few bytes using a relative path in the rel-canonical tag isn’t worth the potential issues it could cause.

Using relative paths may result in search engines treating it as a different URL, which can confuse search engines.

Spelling out the full URL path eliminates potential ambiguity and ensures that search engines identify the correct URL as the preferred version.

In Summary

By answering questions sent to him via direct message and offering his expertise, Illyes is giving back to the community and providing valuable insights on various SEO-related topics.

This is a testament to Illyes’ dedication to helping people understand how Google works. Send him a DM, and your question may be answered in a future LinkedIn post.


Source: LinkedIn

Featured Image: SNEHIT PHOTO/Shutterstock



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