Daily Search Forum Recap: March 31, 2017

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:

  • Search Buzz Video Recap: Google Confirmed Fred, Never Denied An Update, Won’t Use Machine Learning & More
    This week in search, I covered how Google confirmed the Fred update and cited quality several times as the issue. Google also said they never denied an update to the algorithm. Google said machine learning wonât take over the search algorithm…
  • Google: Our Duplicate Detection & Clustering Is Stable

    Paul Haahr, a lead search ranking engineer at Google, said on Twitter that there haven’t been many changes to Google’s algorithms around duplicate detection and clustering in the search results. He said “we make improvements to our code over time…

  • Google Search Snippets Showing “Tags”

    I think I found something new myself that Google is testing or maybe have launched in the mobile search results snippets. A new line called “tags.” I can’t click on them but they show above the description/snippet block and below the title and breadcrumb URL…

  • Google Tests Breadcrumbs At Top Of Search Results Snippets

    Yet another Google user interface test to add to our list. Google is testing placing the breadcrumb/URL at the top of the snippet…

  • Meet Gary Illyes Of Google In Boston Next Week

    Gary Illyes, the Googler we cite here way too often, is going to be in Boston part of next week. He posted on Twitter that he is open to chatting with folks about “internet things” over coffee, lunch and/or dinner.

    So if you are in town…

  • The Google Nooooooodle Cafe
    Google’s Hong Kong office has a cafe named “Nooooooodle” – I assume they serve noodles and accessories. This is in the Hong Kong office and the Nooooooodle logo is Googley as you can see. This was

Other Great Search Forum Threads:


Source: SEroundTable

Getting the most bang for your buck: 11 CRO opportunities

Improving marketing performance often involves a lot of spot treatment: you spend some time working on your paid search campaigns, then you spend some time working on your organic search, and so on and so forth. One of my favorite things about conversion rate optimization (CRO) is that so much of it is channel-agnostic. How often do we get the chance to work on one central project that stands to improve the performance of all of our channels at once?! Not often enough!

Plus, no matter how well your channels are already performing, there’s always opportunity to generate more business by facilitating conversion. Check out the suggestions below to uncover pain points and actionable tips for increasing conversion rate.

Put your best foot forward

The likelihood of conversion begins before a prospect even reaches the website. We all know that different keywords are likely to perform differently; that’s why advertisers bid differently on different keywords. But this understanding isn’t often translated to conversion optimization, though it should be. For example:

Understanding keyword intent can have an impact on conversion rate. Why? Because understanding keyword intent provides insight into where the prospect is in the buying cycle and, therefore, the type of information that they are looking for. Aligning conversion actions with the prospect’s stage in the buying cycle allows advertisers to provide the right content to increase the likelihood that the prospect will take action.

Depending on marketing strategy and profit margins, some advertisers may want to go as far as to align conversion actions with keyword intent — but that could be a whole post in itself, and it is understandably not feasible for all advertisers, either due to profit constraints or marketing nurture resources.

Ads play a role in conversion optimization, too! Ads help manage the expectations of visitors. This is one of the reasons I like to look at ad performance by analyzing conversions by impressions instead of click-through rate (CTR). The fact is, CTR can be misleading. It’s still a valuable health metric, but if the visitors don’t ultimately take an action, then it isn’t such a valuable KPI in the grand scheme of things.

On-page optimization tips

This is the most commonly discussed part of conversion rate optimization. In fact, when CRO comes up in conversation, it seems like the discussion typically goes straight to landing page layouts. That’s because landing pages play a huge role in conversion rate — and therefore provide some of the biggest opportunities for improvement.

Prioritize your conversion actions and create a hierarchy. Doing so helps facilitate conversions by making it clear and obvious what the visitor should do next in order to continue the buyer journey.

To do this, consider what your primary goal is for each page that you create. The action that you require from the visitor in order to achieve this goal is considered your highest priority. They won’t always be quite ready for the sale or the demo, or whatever your highest priority action is, but that’s a great reason to provide micro-conversions, which allow them to continue to engage with you in the meantime, all while you are tracking their behaviors and providing useful content.

Micro-conversions could be things like downloads, video plays, email subscriptions and more. Determine which of these are most relevant to your goal, or otherwise most valuable, and prioritize accordingly.

As you lay out your landing page, you should place appropriate emphasis on the calls-to-action (CTAs) and where they fall on the page, based upon the hierarchy that you’ve created. The key to micro-conversions is to ensure that they aren’t competing against your highest priority CTAs. This brings me to my next point.

De-clutter & keep it simple. One of the ugliest things in the worldwide web is a cluttered website. Cluttered websites are overwhelming and hard to follow. In some cases, they lack credibility because they look unprofessional. In other cases, even when they are known to be professional, they lose visitors among all of the options.

For example, think about a government site. Whoa. Talk about a house of glass — and I’m not talking about the glass houses that people throw stones at! I’m talking about the carnival glass house mazes that are so hard to walk through because right when you think you’re headed down the right path, you run into a window.

We’ve all been there: At least 10 links seem semi-relevant to what you are looking for, so you choose the one that you think is most relevant. The page loads, and it isn’t what you were looking for, but there’s a link on it that reads like it may have the information you need. You click on it, and it wasn’t what you were looking for, either, and the cycle repeats until you realize that you’re back to where you started.

Cluttered sites can occur for various reasons, but try to keep in mind that sometimes less is more. Providing too many options can create a frustrating experience for visitors. Instead, stick with providing the few that are most relevant.

Consider all devices. Every year, this gets closer and closer to being an unwritten rule, but we’re not quite there yet — so it is still written! As you build your landing pages, and ultimately your site, keep in mind that different devices are used, well, differently. Elements of a page that might be perfectly reasonable on a desktop could be very challenging or frustrating on a mobile device — like a long form or clickable links that are close together. Being without a mouse or a keyboard changes the experience drastically.

In addition, consider the mindset of the consumer when on desktop vs. mobile. Depending upon your business, a consumer may be more likely to take certain actions at certain times of the day, which may or may not coincide with certain device usage. For example, some B2B companies may find that long-form content is more likely to be consumed during the day (and therefore on a computer), whereas those using a mobile device in the evening may just want a short synopsis or a video, and the ability to submit a quick form with questions.

Want to get a second opinion on whether or not your page is mobile-friendly? Check out Google’s free mobile-friendly checker. Although it can’t give you a comprehensive breakdown of tips around intent, it can help you to ensure that the structure of the site facilitates a positive mobile user experience. For more information, dig into the mobile usability section within Google Search Console, which will provide tips for improving mobile-friendliness.

Establish credibility and develop trust. One of the best lessons I’ve ever learned was from a paid search client. They said, “We don’t include the word ‘trust’ in our ads because we don’t believe that we can simply tell someone to trust us.” While I won’t make a case one way or the other for using the word in your ad copy, there is something to be said for the sentiment.

When visitors arrive at your site, they have no reason to trust you beyond your word. Trust symbols can help give them peace of mind. There are plenty of ways to portray trustworthiness: display testimonials, offer references, provide (and maintain) satisfaction guarantees. Displaying awards and badges of trustworthy organizations (such as the BBB) can help, too.

Even beyond the symbols, there are a few things that can help a business look credible at first glance. One is a modern, clean website. Rightly or wrongly, a good-looking website portrays more credibility than an outdated site. In addition, certain secure payment options can also provide a level of trust simply because the visitor can be confident that even if the site is not legitimate, they have a way of refunding their money through a source which they already trust.

Know your audience and write for them. This one ties in nicely with some of the other considerations, but it warrants the individual mention. When you write your copy, use words and language that are relevant to your consumer. As product experts, we sometimes write over our consumers’ heads, which isn’t good.

Write content in a way that is most meaningful to your audience. If you aren’t sure how to do this, start by writing with them in mind. After it’s written, read it and make sure these questions are easy to answer from the consumer’s standpoint:

  • Why should I care?
  • Does this solve a problem that I have?
  • What are next steps to obtain more information or purchase?

Look at site speed. Slow load times can lead to a frustrating user experience. As consumers, we want to find information quickly. If a site takes too long to load, we’ll look elsewhere. You can easily test your site speed with this free Google tool. The tool will test both desktop and mobile site speeds. Bonus: it not only gives you a score but provides suggestions for improvement.

Strategically leverage images. Well-placed, relevant images can transform the appearance of a text-heavy landing page. I recommend testing new images, as well as the placement of the images on the page.

Test, test, and then test some more! I contemplated whether I should put this bullet first or last. It’s arguably one of the most important, but it’s also the most often stated. Everyone knows that landing pages should be tested, but developing tests can still be tough. Hopefully, the above points have provided some inspiration.

Continuing the conversation

Think of the buyer’s journey as a cycle — not a linear trajectory. What difference does it make to view it in this way? The fun doesn’t end after the conversion — the cycle just starts over! After the conversion (or the sale), there are often immediate opportunities to upsell, cross-sell or continue engagement through blog posts, content and social media. A few suggestions:

Cross-sell and upsell. With every sale’s end comes a new beginning. Now that you know more about the types of products or services that the consumer is interested in, you are well positioned to provide recommendations about complementary products. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to provide them with suggestions while they are in the buying mode.

Provide opportunities for them to join in conversation. There are truly endless opportunities for doing this. Here are a few examples: invite them to follow your social channels, invite them to share content, engage them with user-generated content, share your blog or tips, or even facilitate discussion with other customers through the use of a shared hashtag or group.

The post Getting the most bang for your buck: 11 CRO opportunities appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

Paid search analytics: What treasures are hiding in your data?

On the surface, paid search analytics seems pretty straightforward. You just drop a code snippet on your page and go, right?

Unfortunately, while setting up paid search analytics is fairly simple, using that data in a way that benefits your business can be quite challenging. Few people get into marketing because they think, Gee, I sure love number crunching!

However, while setting up and evaluating analytics data may not be the sexiest part of marketing, if you aren’t taking the time to understand your paid search analytics, you could be missing major opportunities in your paid search account.

To show you why, let’s take a look at some case studies.

Attribution problems

A few months back, we started working with a new client. They had spent about $50,000 on AdWords over the course of about seven months, and their account seemed to be in decent shape. Things were working acceptably well, but they were hoping that we could help them take things up a notch.

In addition to paid search, this client had also hired an SEO agency and invested quite a bit into driving organic traffic to their site. That seemed to be working fairly well, too, so it looked like everything was running smoothly.

Well, looks can be deceiving.

Although they were technically “tracking conversions” in Google Analytics, they hadn’t kept a close eye on how GA was attributing those conversions and didn’t realize that a lot of paid search leads were being improperly attributed to organic traffic. In addition, they weren’t tracking calls — one of their most important sources of leads.

As a result, we initially had a bit of a hard time optimizing the campaigns. We’d make strategic moves in their AdWords account, and… organic leads would increase.

That was a problem.

The longer we worked on the account, the more frustrated we became. Something just didn’t seem right. Finally, we convinced the client to let us set up call tracking and take a hard look at their Google Analytics configuration. Once we saw what the situation was, it didn’t take us long to figure out the problem and get things sorted out.

That was when things got interesting.

Before we fixed their conversion tracking, our paid search campaigns were averaging around 28 leads per month. That meant our cost per lead was about $286:

After we fixed the attribution problem, the same campaigns drove 129 leads at a cost per lead of $73:

Now, admittedly, some of that increase was due to the fact that we were now tracking phone calls. However, the combination of inaccurate attribution and incomplete conversion tracking meant that our client had been underestimating their paid search performance by a significant amount.

And, to make things even better, now that we could actually see which keywords, ads and campaigns were driving conversions, we were able to start optimizing their AdWords account.

In less than five months, we more than doubled their conversion volume while cutting their cost per lead by around 20 percent.

But imagine what would have happened if we hadn’t invested time into looking at this client’s analytics setup. No matter what we did, we never would have been able to drive decent results, and SEO would have kept looking more and more effective.

After a few months, the client might have given up on AdWords entirely in favor of driving more organic traffic only to discover that — inexplicably — their SEO lead volume disappeared! However, by taking the time to assess and refine their analytics setup, we were able to identify the true source of their leads and use that information to deliver even better results from their AdWords account.

Misdirected ad spend

A couple of years ago, I did an audit for a potential client. Unlike the client in the preceding example, this company had good analytics data — they just weren’t using it effectively.

When they came to Disruptive, they were in a bit of a frustrating situation. Their campaigns were driving a lot of high-value sales, but they just couldn’t seem to get their campaigns to produce better than break-even results.

In fact, the month before they approached us, they had tried to solve the problem by increasing their budget by 30 percent. Unfortunately, if you don’t make money on a sale, it doesn’t matter whether you have 100 sales or 130 sales — you still won’t make money!

I’ll admit it: their situation didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Over the past 90 days, their ads had received almost 100,000 clicks, and they had a conversion rate of 17.44 percent. For most businesses, that would be a major win!

So, I asked the million-dollar question: “How many of those conversions are actually turning into sales?”

As it turned out, only 1 percent of their leads became paying customers.

With that one discovery, it became clear what the problem was. They were paying for the wrong traffic and the wrong conversions. I dug deeper and discovered that well over 40 percent of their budget was paying for clicks and conversions that never turned into sales.

In other words, by adjusting their targeting in fairly simple ways, they could have redirected that wasted ad spend and cut their cost-per-sale by 40 percent while increasing sales by 24 percent! All they had to do was use the conversion data they already had on hand.

Growth opportunities

Early in my career, I had an AdWords client who worked in an incredibly competitive industry. In fact, during the first year that I worked with them, their cost per click, cost per conversion and cost per sale doubled.

And I couldn’t seem to do anything about it!

Now, the client had a great sales team and excellent margins, so my campaigns were profitable, but watching my cost per sale inch its way upward every month drove me crazy. I don’t like losing, and I hate “unsolvable” problems, so I started poring through my client’s analytics data in search of a clever way to turn things around.

As I hunted through the data for options, I discovered something unusual. A large number of our clicks and conversions were coming from search terms that had little to do with our core offering. However, these search terms indicated a big market need for a service that my client could easily provide.

More importantly, no one else in the industry was competing on those search terms, which meant our cost per conversion was 67 percent lower.

I talked to my client and explained the gold mine I had just uncovered. He decided to create a new offering around the opportunity, and I built out campaigns focused on addressing this unmet need.

In a matter of days, our cost per conversion dropped through the floor:

We had so many cheap, high-quality leads that the issue changed from “How do we cut cost per lead?” to “How do we hire enough sales people to field all these leads?”

For this client, going through their analytics data uncovered a growth opportunity that took their company from 25 employees to over 250 employees. They made millions in profit and received multiple rounds of VC funding.

Conclusion

While setting up paid search analytics may be straightforward, if you aren’t using your data effectively, you may be missing out on major opportunities to improve the performance of your paid search account.

It may not be the most exciting part of running a paid search account, but it can certainly be one of the most profitable uses of your time. In each of these case studies, taking the time to look at their analytics data unlocked enormous unrealized potential in the client’s paid search account.

The only question is, what treasures are hiding in your paid search account?

The post Paid search analytics: What treasures are hiding in your data? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

Search Buzz Video Recap: Google Confirmed Fred, Never Denied An Update, Won't Use Machine Learning & More

This week in search, I covered how Google confirmed the Fred update and cited quality several times as the issue. Google also said they never denied an update to the algorithm. Google said machine learning wonât take over the search algorithm,. Gary Illyes from Google called out a link seller. Google said they havenât updated the clustering algorithm in a while. Google doesnât use Facebook likes for rankings. Googleâs search quality team doesnât talk to the AdSense team. Google Rich Cards are now available worldwide. Google said chat boxes and store locator pop ups on mobile can be considered intrusive interstitials and be penalized. Google may add voice search filters to Google Search Console. Google asked do you want them to separate out profiles more in Search Console. Google is testing breadcrumbs on mobile above the titles. They are also testing âtagsâ in the snippets. Google local pack may not show city name for all queries. Google warned YouTube creators their ad revenues may fluctuate over the next few weeks. Google AdWords DSAs aded features. Google tracked over 4 billion in-store visits. Gary Illyes will be in Boston next week and is open to meeting up over lunch, dinner or coffee. That was this past week in search at the Search Engine Roundtable.

Make sure to subscribe to our video feed or subscribe directly on iTunes to be notified of these updates and download the video in the background. Here is the YouTube version of the feed:

For the original iTunes version, click here.

Search Topics of Discussion:

Please do subscribe via iTunes or on your favorite RSS reader. Don’t forget to comment below with the right answer and good luck!


Source: SEroundTable

Google: Our Duplicate Detection & Clustering Is Stable

Google Cluster

Paul Haahr, a lead search ranking engineer at Google, said on Twitter that there haven’t been many changes to Google’s algorithms around duplicate detection and clustering in the search results. He said “we make improvements to our code over time, including duplicate detection.” “But that’s been mostly stable for years,” he added.

Here is his tweet:

We’ve covered many of the unconfirmed changes around clustering and duplicate detection within the Google search results since before 2007 and some confirmed ones including in 2012 and maybe in 2014.

I have not seen people talk much about how Google filters and clusters those results in a while. Which makes sense since Paul from Google said they really haven’t changed much there in “years.”

Gary Illyes from Google also happen to have posted a DYK explaining that it is rare to see two results from the same domain. But if you do, it is because the quality of the other sites are extremely low. Here is Gary’s tweet:

Forum discussion at Twitter.


Source: SEroundTable

Google Search Snippets Showing "Tags"

I think I found something new myself that Google is testing or maybe have launched in the mobile search results snippets. A new line called “tags.” I can’t click on them but they show above the description/snippet block and below the title and breadcrumb URL.

Here is a photo, same as what I posted in the other test I posted a few minutes ago:

I can’t click on the word “tags” nor can I click on any of the words after the tag section.

I assume these tags make up sections or something else based on the page they link to but why show them if they have no clickable function?

Do you guys see it?

Forum discussion at Google+.


Source: SEroundTable

Google Tests Breadcrumbs At Top Of Search Results Snippets

Yet another Google user interface test to add to our list. Google is testing placing the breadcrumb/URL at the top of the snippet, above the title and above the description.

Google has tested this and similar user interfaces like this before but now folks are seeing it again.

Paul Shaprio notified me of this and posted it on Twitter yesterday.

Here is a side by side showing on the left what most people see and on the right is the test showing the breadcrumb URL at the top:

I don’t think it matters much either way.

Forum discussion at Twitter.


Source: SEroundTable

Meet Gary Illyes Of Google In Boston Next Week

google boston

Gary Illyes, the Googler we cite here way too often, is going to be in Boston part of next week. He posted on Twitter that he is open to chatting with folks about “internet things” over coffee, lunch and/or dinner.

So if you are in town, hit him up by replying to his tweet.

I believe he is there in part to speak at the Stone Temple Conference but he probably has some Google offices to visit while he is there.

So if you want to unlock all the secrets of Google – speak to Gary. Okay, maybe I exaggerating a bit but Gary is a fun guy to talk to, even if he won’t divulge Google secrets.

Forum discussion at Twitter.


Source: SEroundTable

Daily Search Forum Recap: March 30, 2017

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:

Other Great Search Forum Threads:


Source: SEroundTable