What Brands Need To Know About Local Service Ads Part 1

For most businesses, advertising on Google takes place on Google Ads or Google Ads Express. But if you’re a plumber, a locksmith, or another type of local contractor, Google offers an alternative platform that’s perfectly tailored to your needs: Local Services ads.

Local Services ads are precisely what they sound like — an ad format built exclusively for local service providers.

Google originally launched Local Services ads for a handful of service categories in select cities back in 2015. Since then, the program has expanded to every almost major metro area in the U.S., and it has added numerous service categories to its roster. More importantly, it has proved a major success with both service providers and consumers in the markets where it has launched.

If you’re new to Local Services ads and aren’t quite sure where to start, this guide will tell you everything you need to know.

What Are Local Services Ads?

Google’s Local Services ads are a special ad format and platform for local service providers, such as locksmiths, plumbers, and electricians. Local Services ads are distinct from usual Google Ads, offering a different appearance, different features, and a different pricing model.

Many of these differences resolve problems that local service providers have with Google Ads. In the past, the ad formats and pay-per-click model of Google Ads have hurt local service providers. Text ads lack features that consumers are looking for from local contractors. Meanwhile, these ads generate low conversion rates for a number of local service industries, leading to higher costs and limited returns.

With Local Services ads, Google has created a format that encourages clicks and conversions. What’s more, Google doesn’t charge for Local Services ads on a pay per click basis. Instead, it charges per lead.

How Do Local Services Ads Work?

When a user performs a Google search for local service providers — e.g., “plumber in Bronx” or “HVAC technician Anaheim” — Google will include a Local Services section in the search results.

This section will appear at the top of the results, ahead of text ads and organic results. Google will display its top three ads (on desktop search) or its top two ads (on mobile search), as well as an option to explore more results.

Each Local Services ad contains the following information and features:

  • Your business’s name
  • Your Google Reviews rating
  • Your approximate location
  • Your Google Guarantee badge
  • Your business hours
  • Your contact information

When a user clicks on one of your Local Services ads, Google directs them to a detailed business profile that includes the above information, as well as additional information like your list of services, a short business bio, and your Google reviews.

Rather than click on one of the top-ranked Local Services ads, users also have the option of exploring a longer list of Local Services providers. This list is presented based on the type of job needed and the user’s ZIP code. The user can then choose from a full list of Local Services providers in their area.

In addition to appearing in the search results, Local Services ads also appear in results for Google Assistant. Searches made using Google Assistant prompt the user to confirm the type of job they need performed and their address, minimizing the chance of a mismatch.

How Are Local Services Ads Priced?

Unlike other Google Ads, businesses are not charged when a user clicks on a Local Services ad. Instead, Google will only charge your business when the user sends you an email or text, calls and leaves a voicemail, or calls and speaks with a representative. This way, you pay per lead instead of per click.

The average cost per lead varies from service category to service category, and from region to region. Some leads cost as little as $6. Others can cost upwards of $30.

If you receive an invalid lead, you can dispute the lead. If Google finds that the lead was a case of solicitation or spam, from a customer outside your service area, or from a customer who needed a service that you do not provide, Google will credit the cost of the lead to your business.

What Is the “Google Guarantee”?

Business that use Local Services ads can build trust with users through the Google Guarantee. This results in a badge on your Local Services ads.

Under this policy, Google guarantees customer satisfaction on any job booked via a Local Services ad. If a customer is dissatisfied with the results of a job, Google will refund the customer up to the amount of the invoice. This way, customers can book jobs through Local Services ads with greater confidence.

However, each business has a lifetime cap for coverage of $2,000 under the Google Guarantee. If a business exceeds its cap, Google rescinds the guarantee and removes its “Google guaranteed” badge from your Local Services ads.

Thankfully, you’ll have the opportunity to make things right with any dissatisfied customer before Google provides a refund. Additionally, Google will only issue a refund after investigating a claim.

Why Use Local Services Ads?

Wondering whether Google’s Local Services ads are worth it for your business? Below are five of the biggest reasons why the Local Services platform has been a hit with many local service providers.

  1. Pay per Lead Instead of per Click
    Local services providers usually struggle with the cost of traditional PPC ads, since many clicks result in poor leads. By using Local Services ads, you will only ever pay for actual leads, so you don’t end up wasting money on useless clicks.
  2. Visibility in Google Search Results
    Google has designed its Local Services ads for visibility, appearing at the top of search results in an eye-catching format. This makes them much more prominent and noticeable than standard Google Ads.
  3. Integration with Google Voice Search
    In addition to appearing in Google desktop and mobile search results, Google also provides Local Services results via Google Assistant. According to Google, the number of Google Assistant users quadrupled in 2018 — a market uniquely available to Local Services providers.
  4. Increased Trust with the Google Guarantee
    Trust can be an obstacle for local service providers who advertise through regular PPC ads. The Google Guarantee on Local Services ads gives customers a greater and more immediate sense of confidence.
  5. Simplified Campaign Management
    PPC campaigns on Google Ads require extensive keyword research, compelling ad content, and split-testing different ad groups. For Local Services ads, Google takes care of keyword research and ads are automatically generated. The result is a much simpler and easier approach to paid search ads.

A Breakdown of Google Maps Marketing

According to Google, local searches on Google and Google Maps drive consumers to 1.5 billion destinations each year. That makes Google Maps a uniquely potent tool for local digital marketing. In fact, many brick-and-mortar businesses now treat Google Maps marketing as its own marketing channel.

Google Maps marketing takes a combination of local SEO, paid search, and reputation management, with an assist from local listings management. In this post, we’ll look at how local businesses can use these tools to boost their visibility on Google Maps.

The Basics of Google Maps Marketing

Before we get into the details of Google Maps marketing, let’s cover some basics.

When we talk about Google Maps marketing, we’re not talking about a single platform. Google Maps results are shown on multiple platforms, including the Google Maps app and the Google Maps mobile and desktop sites. Google also includes Google Maps results in a feature called the Local 3-Pack on Google.com search results, which includes the top 3 local search results from Google Maps.

The good news is that your Google Maps marketing efforts can pay dividends across all of these platforms. The same actions that boost your visibility in the Google Maps app will also boost your visibility on the Google Maps website and in the Local 3-Pack.

But is Google Maps marketing really worth it? That depends on the type of business you run. But for most local businesses, the answer is a resounding YES!

Just consider the following stats:

  • 84% of Google users conduct local searches
  • 46% of all Google searches are local queries
  • 75% of local searches result in a store visit within 24 hours
  • 28% of these store visits result in a purchase
  • 92% of local searchers choose a business on the first page of results

Based on this data, it’s clear that Google Maps drives a massive amount of purchase traffic. So, let’s examine how Google Maps marketing efforts can boost your organic visibility in local search results.

Organic Google Maps Marketing

There are two types of organic results on Google Maps: proximity results and ranked results. Here’s a quick look at how both work…

Proximity Results. If a user performs a local search with location data enabled on their device, Google will use that location data to serve results based on proximity to the users’ device. In simple terms, this means that if you search for “coffee shop” on the Google Maps app, Google will show you the coffee shops closest to your current location. The closer the coffee shop is, the better it will rank in the results.

Ranked Results. Ranked results in Google Maps include all businesses within a given area, with no preference given to proximity. Google Maps will generally serve ranked results for one of two reasons. The first is when a user has location data disabled, so Google can’t judge their proximity to local businesses. The other is when a user is in one location, but they’re performing a local search for another location (e.g., when a user in Houston searches for “restaurants in Memphis”).

Google Maps Optimization

So, how can you boost your rankings in Google Maps results?

In proximity results, the distance between the user and your business is the biggest ranking factor. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to change that. However, if you have strong Google Reviews and an excellent Google My Business profile, you can leapfrog nearby competitors in proximity results.

For ranked results, optimizing for Google Maps can give you a significant boost. These results are mostly based on your Google Reviews and Google My Business profile. So if you optimize these two areas, you can dominate ranked results.

For higher rankings, your Google Maps marketing strategy will need to focus on these three areas:

  • More & Better Reviews. The higher your average rating on Google Reviews, the higher you’ll rank on Google Maps. But Google also rewards businesses based on their volume of reviews. A 4.4 rating based on 100 reviews is more valuable than a 4.6 rating based on 10 reviews.
  • Optimized GMB Profile. Google rewards businesses with rich Google My Business profiles by awarding them higher positions in Google Maps. Make sure that your profile is as detailed as possible and includes multiple photos.
  • Local Listings Management. To avoid confusing Google, you need to make sure that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) are listed exactly the same across the internet. If your NAP is inconsistent from one website to another, Google may exclude your business from Google Maps listings. Alternatively, it might overwrite your preferred NAP with one that it scraped from another website.

Paid Google Maps Marketing

Every local business should invest in a strong organic strategy for Google Maps marketing. But once you’ve done this, there’s an easy way and cost-effective way to further boost your visibility: local search ads. These ads appear at the top of local search results on Google and Google Maps, ahead of organic results.

Local search ads are part of Google Ads. So if already have a Google Ads account, it’s easy to start advertising through Google Maps. However, you’ll need to make sure that you have location extensions enabled on your Google Ads account, and you’ll need a complete Google My Business profile. When running local search ads, you’ll also need to use location targeting, bid by location, and optimize your keywords for local search.

Starting in January of 2018, Google introduced three new features to local search ads that can be used for Google Maps marketing.

  • Promoted Pins. In addition to displaying your ad in Google Maps results, Google will display a custom pin with your logo in the Google Maps display.
  • In-Store Promotions. If you’re running an in-store promotion, you can list this promotion in your local search ad.
  • Local Inventory Search. Users can tap a button to search your store’s inventory and find out if a specific product is in stock.

If you’re just introducing local search ads to your Google Maps marketing strategy, we suggest starting with basic ads. But if you’ve had success with paid ads on Google Maps, these features could drive additional traffic to your location.

Everything You Need to Know About Google Job Search

When you’re searching for a new job, where do you look first? While some job seekers head to sites like Monster or Glassdoor, a lot of candidates — if not most — start their search with Google.

The launch of Google Jobs in the summer of 2017 reshaped the landscape for sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Monster. These sites depend on Google for a huge chunk of traffic, so they had to adapt quickly to this change. To do so, many of these websites decided to integrate their postings directly into Google’s new search engine, ensuring they appeared in search results.

But Google’s job search also affected other businesses, like staffing firms, recruiting companies, and employers who post jobs to their own websites. Unfortunately, many of these businesses have struggled to adapt. Their job postings either rank poorly on Google, or they don’t rank at all.

If you’re one of these businesses, you’re probably losing out on a huge chunk of qualified applicants. To regain these candidates, you’ll need to rank well on Google job search. And to do that, you’ll need an SEO strategy tailored specifically for Google’s job search engine.

The good news? That’s not nearly as tough as it sounds…

How Google Job Search Works

Before we get to how your job postings can rank well on Google, let’s take a look at how this service functions.

While Google uses a distinct search engine for job postings, this service is integrated into the company’s main search engine. This means that when a user searches for jobs using Google, they get slightly different search results.

  • While the user will still see the usual organic search results, they will also see a “Jobs” panel above the organic results. This panel will include the three top-ranked job listings. The job listings include basic information, like the job title, the job location, and the site on which the job was posted.
  • If the user clicks on a job listing (or clicks on the link for “more jobs”), they are taken to a separate page of search results. On this page, they can view job details for individual listings. If a user is interested in applying for a job, they can click a button that allows them to view the job posting on its original website.

That might seem fairly simple. Where things get a little more complicated is on the back-end.

One of the key features of Google’s job search engine is the information that it includes for each job listing. To ensure this information is accurate and complete, Google relies on structured data markup. This means that your job postings won’t appear in these search results if they don’t include the right kinds of markup.

On a very basic level, this means you have two options if you want your job postings to appear on Google:

  1. You can post your jobs on a site like Monster, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. These sites are integrated into Google’s search engine, so their postings automatically include the right markup.
  2. You can implement markup on job postings by yourself, either through in-house efforts or with the help of an outside agency. This means you’ll be responsible for including the right markup.

Whichever route you choose, you’ll need to do further work on your posts. Even if you include the right kinds of markup, you won’t rank well unless you’ve taken further steps to optimize your job posts. That requires a specialized form of SEO designed specifically for Google job search.

Optimizing for Google Job Search

search algorithm picture

Search engine optimization for Google job search is a niche form of SEO, similar to local SEO or eCommerce SEO. You’re targeting a specialized search engine, which requires a unique SEO approach.

Given the specialized nature of Google job search, you can’t rely on generic SEO strategies. While job search SEO uses some of the same strategies, job postings won’t rank with basic SEO methods.

We’ve compiled a few steps that we take when optimizing our multi-location brand clients SEO strategy for Google job search:

  • Essential Markup. There are eight types of structured data markup that Google’s job search engine requires. If any of these tags are missing or incorrect, Google will exclude the job posting from search results.
  • Additional Markup. There are several other types of markup that you can include in job postings. Strategic use of additional markup can boost your rankings in Google job search. However, it’s important that any additional markup is both relevant and properly implemented.
  • Keyword Targeting. As with any other form of SEO, you need to target the right search terms. First, you’ll need a sense of which terms job seekers are using to search for the types of jobs you offer. After that, you’ll need to include these terms in the right parts of your job postings.
  • User Experience. Google’s search algorithm will rank job postings based on how useful and relevant those postings are to users. Top-ranked postings will be easy to read, include detailed information, and answer job seekers’ most pressing questions about the position.
  • Campaign Tracking. Google Analytics now includes specific tools for tracking the performance of job postings. However, many third-party SEO tools aren’t built for job search. Chances are, you’ll need to set up a DIY system for tracking your job search campaigns.

Given the distinct nature of Google job search, you’ll need specialized talent if you want to optimize your job postings. If recruitment plays a critical role in your multi-location brand strategy, connect with one of our digital marketing experts  to learn more about our SEO and Google job search solutions.

Why Brands Can’t Afford to Ignore Similar & Lookalike Audiences

Modern digital marketing campaigns make extensive use of retargeting, showing paid ads to users who have already interacted with a brand’s website, paid ads, or social media content. When implemented correctly, these types of campaigns have far stronger metrics than their non-retargeted counterparts, making them attractive to business and marketers alike.

While retargeted campaigns are well worth the investment, there are drawbacks to retargeting. For one, it takes time and money to develop retargeting audiences. For another, these audiences are limited to users who’ve already interacted with your brand. If you’re looking for new prospects, you won’t find them in your retargeting audience.

While some digital marketers will use the terms “similar audience” and “lookalike audience” interchangeably, it’s important to note that these are two separate tools.

Similar audience is a feature on Google Ads. This feature is based on remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs), i.e., users you are retargeting because they’ve interacted with your website. When you use RLSAs in a paid search campaign, Google will analyze the search behavior of your RLSA audience. It will then give you the option of expanding your campaign to target a similar audience. This is a group of users whose search behavior closely mirrors your RLSA audience.

But what if there was a simple, low-cost way to double or triple the size of this audience? And what if you could target new users in the process? That’s where similar audiences (on Google Ads) and lookalike audiences (on Facebook) can make a huge difference in your digital marketing strategy.

Lookalike audience is a feature used for Facebook ads, which works similarly to Google’s similar audiences feature. However, Facebook isn’t using search behavior to build this audience. Instead, it bases your lookalike audience on features like user interests and demographic data. Facebook also allows gives you control over the size of your lookalike audience. Smaller audiences will mirror your original audience more closely, while larger audiences reach more users.

In both cases, there are limitations to these tools. Both features require a large enough sample size to create a mirror audience. Google will only give the option of a similar audience if your original RLSA has “at least 1,000 cookies with enough similarity in search behavior.” Facebook requires at least 100 users in your source audience, but it recommends using a source audience of at least 1,000 users.

These concerns aside, the question for marketers is simple: Do similar and lookalike audiences work?

Why You Should Invest in Similar and Lookalike Audiences

If digital marketers have learned one thing over the past decade, it’s that Google and Facebook know what they’re doing. So it should come as no surprise that brands who’ve adopted similar and lookalike audiences have seen impressive results.

In simple terms, these features allow you to target a larger base of potential customers while retaining the positive metrics of retargeted marketing. In numerous case studies, mirrored audiences on Google and Facebook have had similar engagement and conversion metrics to the audiences on which they were based. In terms of purchasing behavior, it’s almost like cloning your most promising leads.

Even better, mirrored audiences can significantly reduce the cost of acquiring new customers. While there is an investment of time and money to develop your initial retargeting audience, it costs much less to mirror that audience via Google or Facebook. Not only are you practically cloning your best leads, but the cloning process also costs pennies on the dollar when compared to traditional lead acquisition.

Ultimately, similar and lookalike audiences are a near-foolproof way to get more value out of your current retargeting data and increase the overall efficiency of your digital spend. However, there’s one important catch. For these features to work, you need to be targeting the right people in the first place. That means investing the time and money it takes to build high-quality source data for your brand.


5 Google Ranking Factors You Need to Know

Google Analytics ScreenIf your business relies on organic search traffic, Google’s algorithm can make or break your business. Websites that rank number one for popular search queries can rake in millions of hits per month. Meanwhile, websites that rank outside of the first ten results are often left fighting for scraps.

 

The good news? Effective search engine optimization (SEO) practices can launch you from the bottom of the pile to the top of the pack. The bad news? Google’s algorithm relies on literally hundreds of ranking factors. 

 

Thankfully, you don’t need to know every line of code from Google’s algorithm to boost your rankings in search results. So long as you optimize for the following five need-to-know ranking factors, you can achieve first-page rankings for key search terms.

 

1. On-Page Content

Bill Gates coined the phrase “content is king” back in 1996. Now, more than twenty years later, his words ring as true as ever. Content is far and away the biggest factor for Google search rankings. Barring a total-overhaul of Google’s algorithm, content will hold its crown for years and years to come.

 

When evaluating content for its search rankings, Google’s algorithm judges content in three key ways:

 

  • Relevance. To determine content relevance, Google looks for keywords from the user’s search query, other words and phrases related to the user’s query, as well as the density and placement of these keywords in the text.
  • Quality. In addition to content relevance, Google’s algorithm searches for signals that indicate high-quality content. These signals include the length and readability of content, user engagement metrics, and on-page errors like spelling mistakes or broken images.
  • Uniqueness. Google doesn’t want to show users several near-identical results of the same page. So if Google determines that two or more pages are overly similar, it will exclude all but one of those pages from search results.

 

2. Strong Backlinks

While Google’s algorithm measures certain signals of content relevance and quality, the search engine still relies on users to tell it which pages are best. This is accomplished by evaluating a page’s backlink profile:

 

  • How many backlinks point to this page?
  • How trustworthy and popular are the sites where these backlinks are found?
  • What keywords are used in the anchor text of these backlinks?

 

To achieve a first-page ranking for a competitive search query, both your page and your overall website will need a strong backlink profile. You’ll also need to make sure that your profile isn’t filled with low-quality or untrustworthy links, which can result in Google punishing your page in search rankings.

 

3. Social Signals

Google has spent more than a decade telling users that social media signals are not a part of its algorithm. Yet multiple studies have shown an undisputable link between a website’s social media signals and its rankings in Google search results.

 

Despite these studies, many SEO experts believe that Google is telling the truth and that it doesn’t measure social media signals. Instead, they hypothesize that social media helps drive other factors that Google does measure. The more a news story is shared on Facebook, the better that page’s engagement metrics will be, the more backlinks it will accrue, etc.

 

So, while Google might not be tracking your Facebook share counts, social media plays a big — likely indirect — role in the search engine rankings. To rise in Google’s rankings, brands are wise to focus on social media.

 

4. Mobile-Friendliness

Over 60% of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices, and that number continues to grow year after year.

 

Google knows that most of its users are viewing pages on mobile devices, and its algorithm reflects this. Back in 2016, Google switched to a mobile-first format, meaning pages with mobile-friendly design would rank higher than pages with poor mobile functionality.

 

More than 80% of all webpages now meet Google’s standards for mobile-friendly content, and pages that meet these standards perform far better in search rankings. So, if you want to rank well against these pages, you’ll need invest in mobile-friendly design.

 

5. Technical Factors

In the past, technical factors played a bigger role in Google’s search rankings. While the impact of these factors has diminished in the past decade, they still play a big role in the search engine rankings.

 

Here are three of the most important technical ranking factors right now:

 

  • Meta data. Meta data continues to have a big impact on Google rankings. For best results, your title tag and meta description should include important keywords, encourage user engagement, and fit Google’s character limits (roughly 70 characters for title tags and 160 characters for meta descriptions).
  • Crawlability. Google captures data by crawling the web, jumping from link to link to link and capturing page data as it goes. If Google’s robots can’t find your page due to poor site structure, or if your page blocks them from crawling, you won’t appear in search results.
  • Encryption. Google now expects HTTPS encryption on every website. If you don’t have HTTPS encryption in place, Google will lower your pages in search results. It may even block users from visiting your website through Chrome.

 

Click here to learn more about search ranking factors and Qiigo solutions to help you navigate and manage your online presence.

Local Search Tactics That Give You A Competitive Edge

As more businesses compete for a spot in the Google local 3-Pack, search ads, online directories, and local search engine optimization (SEO), it can become increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by your customers and prospects. If you’re worried about your ranking and thinking about what direction to take in your overall strategy, it might be time to focus on Local SEO tactics that can set your business apart from the competition.
 
Below, we’ve outlined some local SEO strategies you can implement to help jump ahead of your competitors.

Take Advantage of Your Google My Business Page

Claiming your Google My Business (GMB) listing is an absolute MUST for local search success. If you don’t claim your GMB listing, you are severely limiting your chances of showing up in local search results.

 

But it’s also important to do more than just claim it and walk away. You need to take some additional steps including monitor the insights that Google delivers on how your prospects are engaging with your GMB. Look at the following stats to see how people are engaging with your listing:

  • Did you load good quality photos of your facility, products, and staff?
  • Do you keep your business hours for holidays or other unforeseen closures up to date?.
  • Are consumers reaching out using the click-to-call option?
  • Are consumers using the new Q&A feature? Are you responding?

Be sure to check which GMB category you choose for your business. The category set to your page can have a significant impact on your Google ranking. If you find your competitors are surging ahead of you in the 3-pack, check out their listing category. Are you in the same category? Is their category a better representation of your business? Consider making a change to see if it has an impact on rankings.

 

Don’t forget to use Google Posts to promote your business. Posts are like small ads that include a description, picture, offer, URL link, and call to action. Use posts to share information about products and services, promote sales or specials, communicate good wishes with customers, promote events, and more. Each post should include relevant keywords and your target geography.

 

Use URL Best Practices

URLs play an important role in your SEO ranking as well as the users’ experience with your site. The page URL tells visitors to your site, as well as search engines, what the page is about and guides your website structure.

 

Any new pages or blogs created should have a concise, yet descriptive structure. If you’ve written a blog post with the headline of Our Wide Variety of Custom Framing Options, you don’t need the whole headline in the URL. Reduce the URL structure to the keyword and a target geography if used.

 

Check Site Security

Google is firm in their insistence on secure websites. Sites that do not have security protocols in place will not rank as high. Users may see a “Not Secure” warning generated by Google if https:// protocols are not in place. As a result you could be losing a lot of business. When your site is secure, the https:// and the green locked padlock that appear next to your URL in Chrome demonstrating to visitors that you take their security seriously.

 

Add Quality Local Content to Your Site

Google rewards sites that have fresh content added to their site regularly. The added benefit here is that so do you customers. Adding blogs regularly to your website can help to create interest as well as improve your local rankings. Get more detailed information on creating content here.

 

The good news about maintaining your online competitive edge is that it’s relatively simple to do. Focus on increasing your visibility, monitor your traffic and traffic patterns, rely on analytics to help you improve the impact of your online presence, and you will generate more leads with the opportunity to transform them into paying customers.

 

3 Easy Ways to Create Google Friendly Content

google friendly content

Its no secret that getting your content to rank  higher on Google Search leads to more views and converts more readers into customers. Improving your rankings can be a challenge, but in this case knowledge is power.

 

Learn to “speak Google’s language” by making your content more engaging, improving your Google score, and avoiding common SEO mistakes.  You’ll be on your way to higher rankings and improved organic search traffic when you’re designing your content to be Google friendly.

 

1. Make Your Content More Engaging

Engaging your reader in content that stands out is the first step to more sales, shares, and backlinks. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make content more engaging:

 

Make a Good First Impression
When a reader lands on your page, the first few seconds are crucial. In fact, for a delay of a single second, the bounce rate increases 56%. If you have high quality content and your page fails to load, no one sees it. Also watch out for ads that fill the above-the-fold space on your page; immediately seeing ads can turn readers off before they even see a word of your content.

 

Take Care in Presentation

The way your content looks affects how the reader engages. Use high quality typography with font types, sizes, and colors that are easy to read. You can also improve the readability of your content by incorporating whitespace.

 

Use a Hook

Engaging the reader in the title and introduction makes it harder for them to stop reading, leads to longer time on the page, and makes it more likely that their time on the page will end with a call of action.

 

Make it Visually Appealing

Use visual aids including images, illustrations, screenshots, infographics, maps, and charts to instantly make your content more visually engaging.

 

Add Credibility

Referring to research and developments in your industry lends credibility to your page, which makes it more appealing to readers (and to Google).

 

Provide Solutions

“How To” posts are incredibly popular because people like finding solutions to problems. Creating content that provides answers for your target audience makes it instantly more engaging. Add videos, screenshots, and illustrations for even more appeal.

 

Use the Right Tone

Maintain a positive tone in your words and be genuinely interested in your target audience. Make content easy to read and encourage dialogue by giving opportunity for the reader to speak about their likes and dislikes.

 

2. Improve Your Google Content Score

Experts now believe that Google assigns a “content score” to every page on your website. The criteria they use for rating content appears to boil down to these five metrics:

 

  1. Actions – The actions a reader takes on your page, usually a click or conversion, matters to Google. Having a clear call to action at the bottom of your page is probably the single most important thing you can do to improve your content score.
  2. Bounce Rate – Google has been tracking bounce rate, the percentage of visitors to your site that only view one page, for years. To improve your bounce rate, make sure you’re not only giving your readers engaging content, but be sure they have somewhere else to go on your site, instead of straight back to Google, with a strong call to action.
  3. Time Spent on Page – The longer a reader stays on your page, the more valuable Google views your content. The best scenario for Google is when a reader spends a good amount of time on a page and then goes to another page rather than back to Google.
  4. Links – The more people point to your page, the higher Google views it. Building quality links is vitally important, and you can get there with good quality content.
  5. Traffic – A high SEO ranking will bring more organic traffic, but until you have more organic traffic, you won’t have a high SEO ranking. To kickstart the process, engage in content promotion by driving traffic to your site with:
    • Paid social media (Facebook, Instagram)
    • Paid article promotion
    • Email newsletters
    • Influencer promotion (quote someone of influence, get them to retweet the article)
    • Free social media promotion (post it yourself)
    • Manual promotion (reaching out to other website owners, writers)  

 

3. Avoid Simple SEO Mistakes

Rank higher, faster by avoiding seven common mistakes that cause delays in the creation of organic search traffic:

 

  1. Short Content
    Google is looking for long-form, in depth content because there’s a better chance that longer content is more comprehensive and will be able to answer a user’s question. Be sure that your content is long enough to be thorough, well thought out, and concise.
  2. No Design Elements
    Google will favor your website if it’s updated and modern with pages that are thoughtfully designed. Break up content with design elements to keep users on your page longer and Google is more likely to rank the content higher due to dwell time.
  3. Grammatical and Content Errors
    One of the best ways to get your content to the top of the search results is by acquiring links, and your chances of being linked to will be lower if you have spelling and/or content errors on your page. Spell check and proofreading are your best friends here.  
  4. No Content Breaks and Long Paragraphs
    The average web page reader has an incredibly short attention span. Keep them on the page longer by making your content more visually appealing. Use headers, lists, bullets, and images to break up the content and keep paragraphs short. The more interested your reader is, the longer they’ll stick around and the happier Google will be with your content.
  5. No External Links
    Content that cites sources using external links generally appears higher in search results than content without external links. The thinking here is that content with external sources is more researched and therefore more credible.
  6. No Promotion
    Even if you have great content, great SEO rankings don’t happen overnight. Readers need to find your content and give it a boost with comments, social sharing, and links. Give that whole process a nudge with a solid promotion strategy and those rankings will come quicker.
  7. No Meta Optimization
    Leaving your meta title and descriptions on default will result in Google using the header and first two sentences of your content, which is a mistake. Instead, take the time to write unique titles and descriptions, it’s well worth the effort.

 

Making your content more engaging, improving your Google score and avoiding common SEO mistakes will make your content more appealing to Google and improve your organic search traffic.

 

Google AdWords Budget Change: What’s The Potential Impact?

Google Adwords Budget Change

Recently, Google announced an immediate change to average daily budget caps in AdWords and it has many advertisers wondering about the potential impact.

 

In a tweet, Google Adwords announced, “To help you hit your advertising goals, your campaigns can now spend up to twice your average daily budget.”

 

How this change will impact campaigns depends on a number of factors, but it’s important to note that Google also states “over a month-long billing cycle, you won’t be charged more than your daily budget would’ve allowed for over 30.4 days”.

 

This is a key point that bears repeating: any overages above the expected monthly budget that come from this change will not be charged back to the advertiser.

 

While Google has always had the ability to exceed a campaign’s daily budget, this change gives them more flexibility on how to maximize its impact. On days when search traffic is particularly high, your daily spend can double to reach as many customers as possible. The assumption being that this overage will be counteracted on days with slower traffic where spend will come in below the daily budget.

 

How Will This Change Affect My Campaign Budgets?

 

Monthly Campaigns With No Daily Budget Changes: These campaigns will not be charged over the “monthly budget limit” (your daily budget x 30.4 days). If the campaign does exceed the “monthly budget limit”, overdelivery charges will be credited back at the end of the month.

Monthly Campaigns With Budget Changes: These campaigns will continue as they have in the past, with the “monthly budget limit” being reset for the remaining days.

Short Term Campaigns: For campaigns that do not last a month, or are paused mid-month, advertisers will be responsible for over delivery charges at up to 2x the daily budget because the “monthly daily budget” does not apply. Although Google states that this is unlikely to happen, it is possible, so advertisers should take it into consideration when setting the budget.  

 

Takeaways About The AdWords Budget Change:

  1. This new budget structure changes Google’s overspend threshold from 20% above the daily budget to twice the daily budget, or 100%.
  2. The change went into effect immediately on October 4, 2017, with no way to opt out.
  3. This change is an attempt to account for daily fluctuations in traffic, allowing campaigns to be better equipped to handle peaks and lulls. According to Google, “If your ads don’t show up much because of low traffic, then we’ll make up for that by showing them more when traffic’s higher.”  
  4. Advertisers will not be charged overages above the expected monthly budget. “You might see that your advertising costs each day are a little higher or lower than what you set for your daily budget. If you do, don’t worry — over a month-long billing cycle, you won’t be charged more than your daily budget would’ve allowed for over 30.4 days,” explains Google.
  5. When setting up short-term campaigns that do not fall within the “monthly budget limit”, advertisers should be aware that they could potentially pay up to 2x their daily budget for the length of the campaign, although Google says this scenario is highly unlikely.

 

This is a significant change to Google AdWords budgeting, but shouldn’t be cause for panic. Just keep in mind when checking in on current and upcoming campaigns that your daily ad spend will be fluctuating more than ever, but should even out by month’s end.

 

Google My Business Posts: Tips for Optimization

Google My Business OptimizationIf you’ve logged into Google My Business in the past few weeks, you might be looking for tips on a brand new feature: Google My Business Posts.

Google My Business Posts are short, social-media style posts that your search engine marketing team can post to Google for free. When someone searches for your business in Google search or Google Maps, your posts appear directly in their search results. Google calls Posts “a new way to share relevant, fresh content with the people who are searching for you.” But in terms of search engine marketing, you might as well call them “free ad space.”

Sound enticing? We think so too. But before you jump in feet first, here’s what you need to know about this new feature. We’ve also included five crucial Google My Business Posts tips that you can use to optimize your results.

Google My Business Posts 101

While Posts is a new feature for Google My Business users, Google has been toying with this product for over a year. It was first available to candidates in the 2016 presidential primaries, and Google has been testing it with different types of verified users ever since.

Each post is made up of a few, simple elements. When you make a post, you will be asked to choose a post type (i.e. “Event” or “Offer/Special”), add a photo, write content, and choose a call to action (i.e. “Buy” or “Learn More). You’ll also be able to assign URL or phone number for the call to action button. If your post is an “Event,” you’ll be asked to write a title.

Posts appear when Google considers your business the most relevant search result for a user’s query. This is usually when someone searches for your business’s name. It could also be for a product or service query where your business is the top local result. Posts are displayed in a carousel format within the knowledge graph in organic search. In Google Maps, they appear as part of your business listing.

This feature has a number of search engine marketing advantages. It’s free (for now), it’s a great way to take up real estate in search results, and it’s an effective tool for promoting offers directly within Google search. That said, it’s a new product so there’s minimal data on its effectiveness. You also might need a few tips on Google My Business Posts before you get started…

Google My Business Posts Tips

Posts is a new feature for Google My Business, so search engine marketing professionals are still testing the limits of what this tool can do. But if you’re looking for some quick tips on optimizing Google My Business Posts, the five tips below should give you a head-start:

 

  1. Optimizing Content. Posts have a limit of 15,000 characters, but Google recommends only using 150-300. What they don’t tell you is only 100 characters appear in search results — users need to click on your post to see the rest. So, put as much time as possible into the first 100 characters. And remember: Google will punish posts that use gimmicky language or formatting.
  2. Optimizing Images. Google allows images as small as 250 x 250 pixels, but your images will appear best at 720 x 720 pixels. To avoid ugly accidents with cropping when your image appears in search results, use square images with a central focal point.
  3. Optimizing Visibility. Your carousel will contain up to three posts, and users can scroll through as many as ten posts in the carousel. Have at least three posts at any given time to maximize visibility. Keep in mind that posts appear chronologically, so users will always see your latest post first.
  4. Optimizing Scheduling. Google Posts will disappear from search results within seven days, so successful use of this feature demands a commitment to regular posting. Unfortunately, there’s no way yet to pre-schedule your posts.
  5. Optimizing Analytics. Google Analytics cannot track posts. Even worse, Posts data is extremely limited for Google My Business users. To get around this, use UTM codes for your call to action URLs. This will allow you to track hard data within Google Analytics.

 

How to Harness AdWords’ New Quality Score Data

AdWords’ New Quality Score DataIn terms of driving clicks to your business, Google AdWords is one of the most cost-effective tools on the market. But like all Google products, you only have access to the AdWords data that Google decides to give you. This data can sometimes be frustratingly limited or tough to analyze at scale.

So, you can imagine how excited the PPC marketing team at Qiigo was when we learned that Google had added a host of new Quality Score metrics to AdWords reporting.

Quality Score is a big deal for anyone who uses Google AdWords. After the cost of your bid, your ad’s Quality Score is the most important factor when determining where your ad ranks. So, getting more data on how to boost quality score should help brands fine-tune their PPC marketing efforts.

Here are just a few of the ways this new data could be useful:

Google Adds Historical Quality Score Data

With this change, Google has made two basic adjustments to Quality Score reporting.

The first change is they’ve made some data more accessible. Three factors go into your ad’s Quality Score for any given keyword:

  1. The expected click-through rate
  2. Ad relevance
  3. Landing page experience

Previously, the only way to view these scores was to click on a keyword and see the data displayed in a bubble. Now, Google has added columns into AdWords reporting so that brands and PPC marketing professionals can view this data more quickly and analyze data at scale.

The second change is even more exciting for PPC marketing professionals: historical Quality Score data. AdWords reporting now includes Quality Score data dating back as far as January 2016. This historical data includes overall Quality Score as well as different Quality Score factors, with data tracked day-by-day. That means you can view a detailed history of each keyword’s historical Quality Score, plus its historical scores for expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience.

How This Changes PPC Marketing

Brands and PPC marketing professionals will benefit from this new data in a number of ways. On a basic level, it will make viewing and processing AdWords data much faster and easier. These changes will be reflected in AdWords’ Report Editor shortly, so you’ll now be able to capture data at scale in a way that you couldn’t before.

More importantly, these new metrics give brands and PPC marketing teams better data for testing ads. Previously, you would need to manually track a keyword’s Quality Score metrics day-by-day if you wanted to test how a change in your landing page or ad content affected these metrics. Now, you can pull up all of this data in a matter of minutes, without having to record it yourself.

This makes it easier for brands to track how ad changes affect Quality Score metrics. It can also help your brand avoid uninformed, panic-based decisions. If you’re seeing huge fluctuations in bid prices on a keyword, you can now check if those fluctuations are linked to Quality Score fluctuations or if they’ve been triggered by changes in the market itself.