Ronald Dod – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Thu, 09 Apr 2020 14:18:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How SEO and PPC strategies can work together to drive business goals /how-seo-and-ppc-strategies-can-work-together-to-drive-business-goals-332496 Thu, 09 Apr 2020 12:46:27 +0000 /?p=332496 PPC and SEO are often handled separately. However, by combining these two tactics, retailers can obtain far greater business results and SERP outcomes.

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Many e-commerce retailers consider their PPC and SEO marketing strategies to be separate entities. Sometimes, they are even viewed as alternatives to one another, with brands only investing in one at a time.

Of course, this is a tragic mistake as PPC and SEO strategies are necessary to integrate into one another for a site to reach its fullest potential in the SERPs.

SEO is a method for increasing a site’s organic traffic through enhanced visibility and site authority. Alternatively, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising seeks to generate traffic through carefully created and targeted adverts in search engines, social and other popular online destinations.

While each is different, they both aim to achieve similar goals. Moreover, SEO and PPC strategies are often reliant on one another, feeding the other with vital information for helping to improve the performance of the other.

To fully understand the symbiotic relationship between these two marketing methodologies, let’s explore these two tactics in-depth, how they are different, how they are alike and outline precisely how SEO and PPC feed each other’s outcomes.

SEO and PPC: The differences

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the discipline that aims to increase the quality and quantity of traffic that a site receives from search engines such as Google or Bing. There are a variety of SEO techniques for improving rankings, including content creation, technical optimization, link building and other such activities.

On the other hand, PPC advertising is a model of digital marketing where advertisers pay an allotted amount each time an individual clicks one of their adverts.

While these two tactics are both encompassed under the umbrella of search engine marketing (SEM), there are some key differences between these two concepts.

Firstly, paid adverts (usually) appear at the top of search engine listings–above the organic rankings–which are influenced by search engine optimization implementations.

Secondly, advertisers who generate traffic from their ads must pay for those site visits. The same is not true of organic listings that obtain clicks as a result of earning visibility by utilizing SEO best practices.

Thirdly, the results generated from PPC campaigns–be it awareness, traffic, conversions or all of the above–is immediate. However, once the promotion ends, a site’s metrics will likely revert to pre-campaign levels.

Alternatively, SEO strategies often take a long time to gain momentum and businesses may not see a return on their investment for many months or even years. However, once a company’s search optimization strategy begins producing results, those changes tend to be long term and extremely prosperous.

SEO and PPC: The similarities

While PPC and SEO are different in many ways, they also share some obvious commonalities.

First off, both tactics aim to drive traffic to a website and are often aimed at generating conversions as well. While one does this through paid means and the other through the slog of climbing the SERPs organically, the end goal remains the same.

Secondly, SEO and PPC are both keyword-driven strategies. While advertisers will conduct keyword research to identify prosperous phrases to bid on and irrelevant ones to exclude through negative keyword lists, SEOs will also analyze relevant terms to understand how to optimize titles, content, technical elements and other critical on-site aspects.

With the differences and similarities of these two strategies outlined, let’s explore how using SEO and PPC together is the formula for search engine success.

How PPC and SEO help each other

Not only is it true that SEO and PPC are often in pursuit of the same ends, but each tactic is actually supportive of the other, producing gains in both campaigns. PPC aids SEO efforts by:

Maximizing SERP coverage

When a site runs PPC advertising, they appear at the top of the search results, thereby being the first thing that searchers see.

When coupled with SEO efforts, a brand can potentially consume a large portion of the SERPs, showcasing adverts at the top and organic listings below. Therefore, if a searcher skips over the ad section and goes directly to the organic rankings, they will find the business there as well.

This effectively allows sites to gain double the exposure they would if only one of these strategies were employed, thereby increasing the chances that the user will click-through to the brand’s site.

Moreover, given that a particular company is so well-represented in the SERPs, this provides consumers with enhanced confidence that the business is a reputable one that provides quality products or services.

By combining PPC and SEO, organizations can more effectively guide prospects to their site and encourage engagement among consumers.

Keyword symbiosis

PPC and SEO are both heavily dependent on keyword optimization to surface for related searches. For businesses to surface in the SERPs for relevant queries, they must target the correct words and phrases.

For brands that have been optimizing their sites for search for quite some time, they already possess keyword data that can help inform their PPC campaigns to produce better outcomes.

However, for those that are new to SEO, gauging the effectiveness of their efforts can be a challenge given that results take time to show. But, since PPC campaigns generate immediate results, advertisers can harvest keywords that have proven to be profitable and pass that information along to SEO teams to optimize pages for enhanced visibility and traffic.

Utilizing keyword information from PPC campaigns can help SEOs to understand the types of terms that users are searching to uncover a company’s pages. Instead of waiting on SEO data to begin rolling in, marketers can utilize PPC data to make the necessary adjustments to SEO campaigns.

Then, when SEO results do begin to show, that information can be fed back to PPC advertisers to help elevate the effectiveness of their promotions.

Elevated brand awareness

When a consumer clicks a PPC advert, they are taken to a landing page where they learn about a business and its offerings. From there, they might explore a site further to get a better gauge for the brand. In other instances, they might get distracted and bounce from the page.

While this may feel a bit disheartening, that consumer just became aware of the company and what it offers through the PPC ad. When that individual searches for similar products or services in the future, they are likely to remember their interaction with the company’s website and click on its organic listings.

As prospective customers grow increasingly familiar with a brand, they are more likely to engage with its organically listed content, thereby resulting in elevated levels of traffic and (potentially) conversions.

In the end, PPC advertising helps to generate awareness for a business, even if prospects don’t immediately convert, which can lead to more organic traffic in the future.

These are just a handful of the ways that SEO and PPC benefit one another.

However, if business owners don’t understand how to track and measure this information, this explanation is all for naught.

How to track and measure performance

The fact is that different businesses are going to have different objectives. Since the KPIs used to measure these goals will vary, we will explore this topic through the two most common targets of an online business: Traffic and conversions.

A business’s SEM goals don’t have to be complicated. However, they shouldn’t be overly simplistic, either.

Therefore, goals should cover information like:

  • The desired amount of traffic to generate
  • The budget to be spent on such leads
  • The timeline to earn the traffic within

There are a variety of important PPC KPIs that advertisers should measure. However, in the context of this conversation, the most critical ones to monitor are click-through rates and conversions.

By analyzing the click-throughs and conversions generated by specific keywords, advertising can understand which terms are proving fruitful in getting consumers to take the desired action and generating revenue for a company.

Keywords that have shown to be the most beneficial can then be fed to a business’s SEO department for on-site optimization and content creation.

From the SEO side of things, Google Analytics is going to be their primary resource for measuring the outcomes of optimization efforts. The KPIs that these individuals will want to analyze include:

  • Keyword rankings
  • Time spent on page
  • Organic traffic
  • Organic conversions

Measuring these metrics through Google Analytics will let site owners know if they are targeting the right keywords, if consumers are finding a site with those terms, if users find their on-site experience engaging and if visitors are converting as a result.

By measuring and tracking this information, PPC and SEO teams can work together to elevate the performance and profitability of each methodology.

SEO and PPC have a lot in common, mostly that they each work in driving business goals.

Since these two tactics are intrinsically linked, it is imperative that retailers learn how to feed information back and forth between their SEO and PPC teams as this is the true secret to dominating the competition in the SERPs.

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5 tactics that encourage customer reviews /5-tactics-that-encourage-customer-reviews-319740 Tue, 23 Jul 2019 14:40:53 +0000 /?p=319740 Make sure your business pages are claimed and ready for reviews – then be ready with a strategy to respond to them.

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In the crowded and ultra-competitive world of e-commerce, there’s one thing that almost everyone agrees helps you stand out: reviews. According to one study, 97 percent of online shoppers surveyed said that customer reviews factored into their buying decisions, and 73 percent said written reviews were more useful to them than star and number ratings. In other words, you don’t just need good ratings – you need detailed reviews that are helpful to your customers.

That can be a bit of a tall order, and the bad news is that there are no shortcuts to a glowing reviews page on Google, Amazon or any other platform that customers use to find your product. Any service that promises big, instant increases in reviews is probably selling snake oil. But there are simple steps that you can take to gradually build your reviews presence into a selling point for your brand that will also improve your SEO presence.

Here are five relatively easy, common-sense ways to get started.

1. Make sure your business pages are claimed and ready for reviews

The first steps toward getting more reviews involve making sure that it’s as easy as possible for customers to leave them. One part of this is something you should be doing anyway – making sure you have easy-to-find pages on Google, Facebook and other major review platforms. If a customer can’t easily find your profile, they’ll almost never leave a review. You can use the established best practices of local SEO to claim your business listings and ensure you’ve got easily accessible pages on Google My Business, Facebook Business and Yelp.

2. Ask customers for reviews (but don’t push)

Sometimes, you’ll need to reach out to customers and ask them for reviews. This doesn’t have to be painful, and it should never be intrusive. This is one area where it’s easy to annoy a customer if you go overboard. But it’s a good way to get some momentum on your reviews page.

Follow-up emails asking for a review are one common way of doing this. They’re usually sent after the customer receives their purchase, and they usually offer a direct link to the page where a customer can review the product or service. You can also add a “thank you” page to your site that asks customers to review once they’ve made a purchase. This is good for software downloads and other goods or services that the customer receives instantly.

Offering discounts and coupons to customers who leave reviews is an option that can deliver good results, but businesses need to be careful. First, check your review platform’s policies regarding paying for reviews. Yelp, for example, has a policy that explicitly prohibits merchants from asking for reviews at all, and its algorithm targets reviews they believe have been solicited. Amazon, meanwhile, is a little more lenient, but still prohibits “any attempt to influence or manipulate reviews.” If you ask your customers to leave a review and want to offer them something for it, you’ll want to ensure that your customers are posting the reviews on a platform that allows it.

3. Focus on the platforms your customers are most likely to use

While having positive reviews on any platform can be a boon, remember that one of the golden rules of effective e-commerce SEO is to focus on the platforms that are most relevant to you and your customers. Consumer goods companies will likely focus on Amazon and other retail sites. Restaurants, bars and venues will want to keep a good Yelp rating, as will professional service providers like plumbers and accountants. (Businesses of the latter type may want to keep Angie’s List in mind as well.) Facebook and Google reviews, meanwhile, are broadly applicable across many types of goods and services.

4. Respond to the reviews you get

Responding to customer reviews on your page can be a great way to show customers that their opinions are genuinely valuable to you. Customers love to feel like they’re being listened to, so if they see that leaving a review is likely to get a response, it can help encourage them to go through with posting one.

It’s best to have someone with social media and PR expertise tackling this, as it can be easy to say the wrong thing in a review response if you don’t think it through carefully. But if you choose to do it yourself, follow some basic best practices of review responses. When responding to negative reviews, focus on addressing the customer’s complaint, take responsibility and be polite (but not fawning). If the complaint is about an unavoidable circumstance or something that is actually the customer’s fault, try to seed your response (subtly) with information on options available to mitigate the problem for other customers who might encounter it. With positive reviews, be sure to thank the customer, invite them back and use the opportunity to talk up the products or services mentioned in the review.

5. Investigate legitimate paid review programs

The phrase “paid reviews” might make you think of shady practices and even fake reviews, but there’s an interesting new legitimate service that can do this: Amazon Vine, an Amazon-run program that allows some vendors to send reviewers free product in exchange for honest reviews. Vine is rigorously controlled so that vendors have no contact with reviewers, and reviews are in no way guaranteed to be positive, so make sure the products you send out are your very best. You’ll also need to be a member of Amazon’s high-level Vendor Central platform.

The other potential downside of Amazon Vine? It’s not cheap – at all. Sources report that it costs as much as $2,500 to $7,000 per ASIN. But it’s worth crunching the numbers to decide whether it might be right for you. Hopefully, we’ll see more services like Vine pop up in the future, since there’s certainly an appetite among e-commerce merchants for more ways to get product reviews.

And just in case you’re toying with the idea of using an unofficial paid reviews program to pad your numbers and ratings, we strongly encourage you to reconsider. Getting caught paying for reviews through an unauthorized program can have serious consequences, including being penalized by the review platform or even fined by the government. Moreover, it’s the kind of stain on your reputation that’s hard to get out – so don’t risk it.

Reviews are an essential component of building relationships of trust with your customers, and they should be part of any comprehensive e-commerce SEO strategy. Getting a page full of great reviews isn’t easy, or fast – but like all of the best long-term investments, the results pay for themselves many times over. 

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Learn how to get better returns from Microsoft Ads /learn-how-to-get-better-returns-from-microsoft-ads-316350 Thu, 02 May 2019 16:47:15 +0000 /?p=316350 To get started, import a successful Google AdWords campaigns, do your research on keywords and optimize your current bids and budget for Microsoft’s platform.

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Note: On April 29, Microsoft announced the rebranding of Bing Ads to Microsoft Ads.

Microsoft Ads have always played second fiddle to Google AdWords, and the reason is seemingly obvious. Clocking in at 3.5 billion searches per day, the vast majority of searches go through Google and its related platforms.

Because of this, Microsoft Ads are incredibly underutilized by marketers. Since many aim to attain an abundance of high-quality traffic and conversions, they seem to think that Google is the only game in town.

However, what many fail to realize is that by using Microsoft, you can obtain just that while reaping the benefits of lower CPC (cost-per-click) and CPA (cost-per-action).

Why? Because there is far less competition and a wealth of consumers to target.

According to Statista, Microsoft processes over four billion searches per month. Additionally, Microsoft’s search sites tout 24 percent of the search market share in the U.S. That’s a giant chunk of the population that your brand is failing to reach.

What’s more compelling is the fact that studies have shown that Microsoft’s cost-per-click is, on average, 33.5 percent cheaper than Google’s. This again relates to competition levels. Other studies have uncovered that Microsoft’s CPA is a whopping 63 percent less expensive.

All this is to say that when it comes to advertising, Microsoft may truly be a superior option. And since Microsoft Ads and AdWords are so similar, the learning curve is virtually nil.

If you’re ready to start utilizing Microsoft Ads to rack up sales, here are five effective methods for maximizing your campaign’s return on investment.

1. Import successful AdWords campaigns

One of the easiest ways to maximize your Microsoft investment is to stick with what you know already works. Since Microsoft is keenly aware that most of their advertisers utilize or have used Google’s ad services, they have made it super simple to import an AdWords campaign to their platform. This is even something the company recommends when setting up an account.

However, do be aware that some of the info won’t carry over. Microsoft notes that the following data can’t be imported and needs to be set up within the brand’s dashboard:

  • Automated rules
  • Ad-group-level Sitelink Extensions
  • Ad-group-level App Extensions
  • Ad-group-level Location Extensions
  • Ad-group-level Call Ad Extensions
  • Remarketing lists and associations
  • IP exclusions

When importing an AdWords campaign, be sure to go through your ads to ensure you have correctly re-activated the desired components that didn’t make the import process.

2. Utilize new keywords and negative keywords

Microsoft’s search engine touts different audience demographics than other search providers. There’s a good chance that your previously-successful AdWords will still perform well on Microsoft, but don’t overlook the potential to maximize effectiveness.

Conducting keyword research with Microsoft Ads tools is remarkably similar to working with Google’s toolkit. While the platforms are somewhat interchangeable, Microsoft gives you a leg up by still supplying exact search volume estimates. If you want to take a deep dive into conducting keyword research with Microsoft, Neil Patel has a stellar guide on the matter (as always).

Targeted keywords, however, are only half the battle. You also need to identify and apply negative keywords to your campaign to help protect your investment.

To properly vet these terms, allow your campaign to run for about two weeks so that you can harvest some data insights. After this timeframe has passed, study your analytics to see which terms and phrases are garnering lots of clicks but falling short on the sales front.

You’ve likely done a good bit of research in this area for your AdWords campaigns. All you need to do here is review your Microsoft Ads reports to pinpoint campaigns with high CTRs and low conversions as these can sap your ad budget and increase your acquisition costs. Add the identified terms for these campaigns to your negative keyword list to prevent your adverts from surfacing for those types of queries.

3. Leverage Microsoft Shopping campaigns

Similar to Google, Microsoft presents users with the option to sift through product catalogs for their shopping needs. Studies have shown that Microsoft has the highest ad conversion rate on orders over $200. Moreover, while the info is a bit older, PPC Wins found that conversions can cost 83 percent less with Microsoft.

If you have already run shopping ads through Google, import these campaigns like any other. If you have yet to establish a Google Shopping feed, however, be sure to do this too as Google is still top dog for comparison shopping engines.

Once you’ve completed this task, you can leverage this step-by-step guide to begin submitting your products to Microsoft.

4. Initiate revenue tracking

Even if you have set up your Google Analytics conversion tracking, be sure to establish this with Microsoft as well. Doing so will enable you to view pertinent performance data in Microsoft’s dashboard. This can be extremely helpful as many regard Microsoft’s Universal Events Tracking (UTM) system as a preferable option to Google’s offerings.

If you find this to be true and opt to leverage Microsoft’s UTM system for Google AdWords, be aware that Microsoft will convert the source name. Always monitor this to ensure your analytics platform is collecting accurate source statistics.

5. Optimize your budget and bids

Finally, before launching your campaign, be sure to modify your current bids and budget for Microsoft’s platform.

The reason for this is that – despite the achievements of your AdWords campaigns – you want to understand how the ad push will behave on Microsoft’s network. For the moment, lower your budget until you can establish the campaign’s effectiveness and make any necessary modifications before re-launching it with a bigger budget.

Additionally, it is highly likely that you will need to lower your bid amounts to align with the competitive rates featured on Microsoft. Since there is far less strife here, you will probably end up paying significantly less for prime keywords and long-tail phrases.

All of this is not to say that you should abandon Google AdWords. It is wise to employ both platforms to get the most coverage and highest returns. That said, while Microsoft is likely only to consume a fraction of your search marketing budget, the results you obtain can be a higher caliber than what you drive from Google.

With Microsoft, you will be competing against far fewer rivals while still reaching a large portion of the public. Failing to use Microsoft Ads is a terrible oversight for your brand. Through employing the strategies listed above, you are incredibly likely to engender scads of sales for your business at a fraction of what it would cost through Google. That makes Microsoft prime real estate for maximizing your brand’s PPC ROI.

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