Daily Search Forum Recap: September 30, 2015

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

  • Google: We Are Still Experimenting With Mobile Only Index

    Gary Illyes from Google put down a pretty interesting tweet on Twitter saying that Google is still working on a mobile only index even though right now they only have a desktop index…

  • Google My Business Updates Navigation Elements

    Marissa Nordahl from Google announced in a Google Business Help thread that they have updated the navigational elements within the Google My Business section…

  • Google First Click Free Program Adapts For Multiple Device World

    John Mueller from Google announced on the Google Webmaster blog that Google has made the first big change to the first click free program since 2009.

    Now, instead of allowing 5 articles for free, Google is dropping that to only 3 articles for free…

  • Google News No Longer Requires 3 Digits In Your URLs

    For as long as I can remember, Google News publishers needed to have 3 digits in their URLs in order to be included in the Google News Index. There was an exception to the rule, but overall to be indexed and accepted into the Google News index…

  • A Panda Plate
    Google’s Gary Illyes was showing off his new dinnerware set the other day on Twitter. Yep, as you guessed, Pandas. He posted the picture showing off the Panda plate next to the Pope book.

Other Great Search Forum Threads:


Source: SEroundTable

New AdWords Audience Insights Report Offers Deeper Dive Into Audience Demographics

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During today’s SMX keynote with Brad Bender, Google’s vice president of product management for the Google Display Network, Bender announced a new Adwords Audience Insights report that outlines details like demographics, interests, locations and device usage for people included on an advertiser’s remarketing lists.

Bender said the new Adwords tool will allow advertisers to look at people who have bought from them, and better understand their audiences.

Bender’s announcement was accompanied by an Adwords blog post, defining how advertisers can use the new Audience Insights report, along with the a screenshot of what it looks like.

If most people who converted on your site are jazz enthusiasts, you may wish to add this affinity audience to your campaign. Or, if many of your customers are females between the ages of 25 and 34, you might want to customize your ad creative to appeal to this demographic.

Inside Adwords Blog

Google Adwords Audience Insights

Adwords audience insights

The Adwords blog post included two quick case studies of advertisers that are already taking advantage of the Audience Insights tool. One was from Base, a Belgian telecommunications company that used data from Audience Insights to drive more mobile phone subscriptions, and the other from Sony PlayStation, which used Audience Insights to lift its GDN click-through rate 31 percent by targeting classical music enthusiasts.

Bender said the Audience Insights report is rolling out now, and should be fully available for advertisers during the next few weeks.

In addition to the Audience Insights report, Bender made a number of other announcements during the keynote session, along with comments on Ad Blocking – which are being covered on our partner site at Marketing Land:

You can also read the live blog of the SMX Keynote with Brad Bender on Marketing Land as well: SMX East: Google Announces AdWords Audience Insights, 100% Viewability For Google Display Network & More.

The post New AdWords Audience Insights Report Offers Deeper Dive Into Audience Demographics appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

How To Resolve Issues With Flexible Bid Strategies In AdWords

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In November 2014, Google quietly rolled out an AdWords update that provides more detailed status information for flexible bidding strategies.

The detailed reporting allows you to see when updates and changes made to the bid strategy caused it to move from an active status into a “learning” mode, as well as why a bid strategy is “limited” and therefore unable to be used for optimization.

If you are troubleshooting performance issues in your AdWords account and you are using Flexible Bid Strategies, these status updates might be the key to understanding why performance has gone awry — or at least, not as you planned.

How Do You Find Your Bid Strategy Status?

Bid Strategies are located within the “Shared Library” in AdWords. The status can be found by hovering over the speech bubble (SpeechBubble) in the Bid Strategy Status column and in the performance charts within a specific strategy.

FindBidStrategyStatuses

[click to enlarge]

Why Do Flexible Bid Strategy Statuses Matter?

To explain why it matters, I want to tell a story — a story where a manager was very frustrated by stagnant performance.

At the beginning of the year, the manager set up multiple flexible bid strategies across her AdWords account. She segmented the top performing keywords into specific ad groups, used a “Target CPA” flexible bid strategy, set a fairly aggressive CPA target, then activated it and let it run free in the wild.

Month after month, the manager continued to add and remove campaigns, ad groups and keywords within the ad groups associated with the strategy to try to get it to meet performance targets, to no avail. The performance for their top converting keywords was pretty flat, and CPCs swung up and down but didn’t seem to be able to optimize against the CPA target.

The manager spent hours digging into the account, doing campaign settings audits, Quality Score reviews, and looking at various segmentation via the dimensions tab — yet was unable to find a smoking gun that explained why the account wasn’t performing to expectations. It didn’t even cross the manager’s mind to look at the status and settings within the flexible bid strategies to see if that was causing the issues with optimization.

Here is the performance timeline view of the flexible bid strategy for the Top Converting keywords:

TopConvertingKeywords-NotOptimizingStatusUpdates

[click to enlarge]

The manager didn’t realize that the bidding strategy was limited. It was stuck rotating between a “learning” state of gathering data (due to the regular composition changes) and a “limited” state (due to too low maximum CPC thresholds and too-small daily budgets).

The moral of the story? As search managers, we get so used to digging into the weeds that we don’t always start our investigations at the top (or in the most obvious place). If you have flexible bid strategies implemented in your account and you are experiencing performance issues, start by looking at the bid strategy status and then dig into the account.

On a separate note, digging into the bid strategy makes it easy to understand the impact of changes to a given bid strategy and to see how often the elements are not being optimized due to moving into a “learning” state.

Bid Strategy Statuses & Troubleshooting Tips

Let’s review the various statuses for flexible bid strategies and discuss when you can ignore the status and when you need to dig in and make some changes.

The first three statuses — Not Limited, Inactive, and Unavailable — are good to know, but it’s the latter three that demonstrate the value behind Google providing us with more information.

If your flexible bid strategy is showing a status of Learning, Limited, or Various, then I’d recommend digging in to better understand what changed and what you need to do to get your bid optimization back online and running.

Not Limited

This means the flexible bid strategy is active, without any restrictions.

Inactive

This is straightforward — your bid strategy is not active because either campaigns, ad groups or keywords assigned to the strategy are paused or because it has not been assigned yet.

Unavailable

There is no status. I can’t explain it and neither can Google. Good luck and check back again either tomorrow or in a few days.

Learning

A change was made to the strategy, so AdWords is gathering performance data in order to start making bid optimization changes. If you make changes to your bid strategies often, the learning status will show you how long it takes AdWords to learn and adjust bidding to meet your new strategy.

What are the various learning statuses, and what do they mean?

  1. New Strategy. A strategy was either recently created or reactivated.
  2. Budget Change. The budget was recently changed.
  3. Setting Change. One of the settings for your bid strategy was changed.
  4. Composition. Campaigns, ad groups, or keywords have been added to or removed from your bid strategy.

The most frequent learning status that I see in our accounts is the composition changes that stem from moving elements like keywords, ad groups and campaigns into and out of bid strategies based on performance changes to meet a target CPA or ROAS goal.

Limited

The bid strategy needs to be edited to start optimizing campaigns because of one of the following 5 potential reasons:

1. Bid Limits. Either your Maximum CPCs are too low and/or your Minimum CPCs are too high so AdWords cannot optimize bids.

How to resolve the “Bid Limit” status: Check your minimum and maximum CPCs. Adjust accordingly based on your strategy. If you are targeting maximum clicks, be careful to avoid adjusting the maximum CPC too high, you could accidently and easily increase your spend [and Google’s revenue] quickly.

2. Not Enough Data. There aren’t enough conversions to optimize your bids. There need to be at least 15 conversion in the last 30 days.

How to resolve the “Not Enough Data” status: First, check your conversion tracking pixel to make sure that it is still enable and firing correctly. If you dig into the performance chart looks like the one below, it might be a strong signal that something went awry with your conversion tracking pixel.

Next, check to see if you are/were using the conversion optimizer in conjunction with the flexible bid strategies for CPA targeting. In the example screenshot below, the manager originally suspected an issue with the conversion pixel, however, digging into the website revealed that it was caused by adjusting the Campaign Strategy Bid Strategy for Conversion Optimizer.

NotEnoughData-Status

It could mean that the elements that have been opted into the strategy aren’t converting frequently enough or at high enough thresholds to be optimized with the current strategy.

My fellow contributor Frederick Vallaeys wrote an in-depth overview to bid management in March that addresses a few different approaches to optimizing bids with little data. If you are using the “Target CPA” or “Target ROAS” approach you could add in additional campaigns/ad groups/keywords that are at or near your current strategy target to meet the minimum conversion threshold.

3. Low Priority Spend. The campaign budget is, too low and it needs to be adjusted or the target spend thresholds need to be increased or removed to allow AdWords the ability to optimize the campaigns. Low priority spend could appear when you have keywords within the same campaign with multiple bid strategies or manual bidding that when combined together exceeds the campaign daily budget.

How to resolve the “Low Priority Spend” status: Adjust either the campaign daily budgets or the target spend level.

4. Budget Constrained. Too many keywords within this strategy are “Limited by Budget” so AdWords doesn’t have the ability to raise bids.

How to resolve the “Budget Constrained” status: Adjust either the campaign daily budgets or the target spend level.

5. Low Quality Score. Too many keywords have a low Quality Score.

How to resolve the “Low Quality Score” status: Fix issues with low Quality Score keywords! No, seriously, evaluate your Quality Score; if the keywords aren’t meeting your KPIs, pause them or remove them from your account.

Various

Most likely this means that your strategy is limited for multiple reasons such as having both Low Quality Score and low Max CPC Bid Limits. If your status is “Various,” then I’d recommend digging in and editing the strategy so it can be reactivated for optimization.

Final Thoughts

I must acknowledge the humor in the fact that many of the fixes for a “Limited” bid strategy status involve increasing your AdWords budget.

For a minute or two, I thought that perhaps I had gotten a new job as a Google rep, because it sounds so very much like a recommendation that they would provide to any advertiser.

In truth, though, if you aren’t allocating enough budget to a given strategy or set of keywords to auto-optimize, then you should probably focus on manual bid optimization.

If you are optimizing with flexible bid strategies, I recommend including a monthly check-in in your optimization plan to check their status and performance.

I also find it helpful to identify how frequently the bidding strategy is learning and gathering performance data, so that I can prepare to have conversations either with my clients or the leadership team on what might be impacting our overall performance. Either way, make sure that you’re regularly checking your strategies and their health so you can adjust as needed.

The post How To Resolve Issues With Flexible Bid Strategies In AdWords appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

Google: We Are Still Experimenting With Mobile Only Index

Gary Illyes from Google put down a pretty interesting tweet on Twitter saying that Google is still working on a mobile only index even though right now they only have a desktop index.

The way Gary said it was like when a teacher gives a student a strict warning about what might or might not be on the upcoming final.

Gary said, “please don’t assume we WON’T have different indexing for mobile.” Adding “we are still experimenting, but it may happen.”

Today Gary is on a panel at SMX East specifically around mobile SEO topics, so maybe I’ll bring it up, if he does not.

Do you think Google will eventually release a mobile only index?

Forum discussion at Twitter.


Source: SEroundTable

Google My Business Updates Navigation Elements

Marissa Nordahl from Google announced in a Google Business Help thread that they have updated the navigational elements within the Google My Business section.

Marissa said the new design will make it “easier to access the primary features, and more straightforward to access multiple locations if you use Google My Business Locations.”

At the top of the page, you will see this breadcrumb and then toggle to manage where you currently are within the portal:

You can choose to display your Locations or Pages in a card view or a list view:

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On an individual listing, youâll also be able to more easily jump to “Edit Info”, “Insights”, “Reviews”, and “Photos”.

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Linda Buquet said in the Local Search Forums “One really cool thing too is that it unifies everything into one dashboard now. So for big agencies you can see your single location clients AND your big chains AND listings you manage all in one central dashboard.”

Forum discussion at Google Business Help and Local Search Forums.


Source: SEroundTable

Google First Click Free Program Adapts For Multiple Device World

John Mueller from Google announced on the Google Webmaster blog that Google has made the first big change to the first click free program since 2009.

Now, instead of allowing 5 articles for free, Google is dropping that to only 3 articles for free. John wrote, “today we are announcing a change to the FCF limit to allow a limit of three articles a day.” “This change will be valid on both Google Search and Google News,” John added.

Why the change? It seems because publishers have asked for it. Why now are they asking for it? Because users are accessing content on multiple devices, their desktop, mobile phone, tablets, etc.

John Mueller from Google expanded more on the program and some FAQs on the blog post if you partake in it or if you are interested in partaking in this program.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.


Source: SEroundTable

Google News No Longer Requires 3 Digits In Your URLs

For as long as I can remember, Google News publishers needed to have 3 digits in their URLs in order to be included in the Google News Index. There was an exception to the rule, but overall to be indexed and accepted into the Google News index, you need your URL structure to have 3 digits.

That is no longer the case!

Google’s Stacie Chan said in the Google News Help forums that they are doing away with the rule. Stacie wrote:

Weâre happy to announce that Google News no longer requires you to follow the â3-digit rule,â which previously required you publishers to have a unique number of 3 digits in your article URLs. This means more news content indexed in Google News, however you structure your URLs.

Your URLs still need to be unique and permanent but you do not need the arbitrary 3 digits in the URL anymore.

Why did Google finally remove this requirement? Stacie wrote:

Over the years, your article URLs have evolved and not all news content had a set of unique three digits. Our team took this into consideration, and decided to remove this rule in order to include more of your great news content. And we believe more of your great content means more happy readers.

Forum discussion at Google News Help.


Source: SEroundTable

Daily Search Forum Recap: September 29, 2015

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

This post was pre-written and scheduled to be posted today.


Source: SEroundTable

Google: Using A Google Service Doesn't Help You Stay Penalty Free

Google’s John Mueller addressed a myth in a Google+ hangout saying that just because you are on a Google service, such as Blogger, it doesn’t mean Google won’t penalize your web site.

John said there are plenty of Blogger sites that are doing things against Google’s guidelines and many, I am sure, were penalized. So don’t think you can host your site on Blogger and violate Google’s guidelines and get away with it.

John said at the 6:43 mark in the video:

To say, I have a blogger blog and I doubt Google would penalize it because it is blogger and Googleâs own product…

From our point of view, from the search side, we kind of take the neutral approach with that.

If you are doing something wrong and youâre using one of our products than that is just as wrong as if you are using someone elseâs products.

We look at the web site separately. So we donât say that this is on blogger therefore it has to be good. There is probably lots of spam on blogger and not a lot of great content on blogger. Because it is hosted with Blogger platform, doesnât necessarily make it good.

So Iâd kind of separate what Google would take action on from what Google product it is on.

Here is the video embed:

Forum discussion at Google+.

This post was pre-written and scheduled to be posted today.


Source: SEroundTable