First, I want to thank everyone who submitted their questions for #AskPPC – even if we don’t get to your question this week, odds are we’ll address your question in a future post.

Here are the questions for this week:

“Is Match-type segmentation still a viable account structure or have recent relaxing of match-type definitions rendered ineffective/obsolete?” – Joel from Atlanta, GA

“One of our clients insisted on creating a pure broad brand keyword…their reason was they wanted new terms to be added (they do not negate this from existing campaign ). Can you share your views?” – Rahul from Maharashtra, India

Selfishly, I had to use these two beautiful questions as the first entry.

Match-type theory – and the evolution of how to think about keyword choices and campaign structures – is near and dear to my heart.

I never liked segmenting campaigns/ad groups by match-type because:

  • Every campaign is a net new budget/another entity for a shared budget to support.
  • It’s rare that a campaign can support more than 5-7 ad groups per campaign, and match-type specific ad groups take up valuable real estate.
  • I’m lazy by nature, and prefer less negative and creative work.

Close variants have actually been a thing since 2014 and have influenced how keywords match on all match-types.

Yet it’s only recently that we began to notice because:

  • Exact match allows for keyword phrases to be in any order, implied words are allowed, and articles can be added or removed in the user query.
  • Phrase and Modified Broad allow for implied words and articles to be included or removed from the user query.
  • Close variants (singular, plural, slight misspellings, abbreviations, one word turned into two/two words turned into one) apply to all match-types.

Negatives present an extra curveball – they do not account for close variants, while active keywords do.

This means adding in far more negatives to protect a given keyword/match-type.

If you’re going to have match-type ad groups/campaigns, you’re eating into the 10,000 maximum negatives per campaign.


My recommendation is to think about the core 3-5 keyword concepts that represent the buyer persona the ad group is targeting.

How you choose the correct match-type comes down to your love of negative work and query auditing, as well as your honest limit for wasted spend.

A flexible budget (read high thresholds for waste) will adopt the following:

  • Single words (for example, “lawyer” “gym” “coffee” “marketing”): Exact only
  • Two words (for example: “dog trainer” “IT Management” “DUI Lawyer”): Modified Broad and Exact
  • Three to Four words (for example: “personal injury attorney” “weight loss program”): Phrase and Exact

A more focused budget that cares about efficiency in time (negative work) and marketing dollars will prefer this structure:

How has the competitive landscape changed?
Find out if your competitors secured their market positions in recent months.

  • Single words (for example, “lawyer” “gym” “coffee” “marketing”): Exact only
  • Two words (for example: “dog trainer” “IT Management” “DUI Lawyer”): Phrase and Exact
  • Three to Four words (for example: “personal injury attorney” “weight loss program”): Modified Broad only

You’ll notice that single words are always on exact and two words get to be on exact regardless of objectives.

That’s because any single word on any match-type less than exact inherently is wasteful, and two-word keywords can be powerful on Exact (given the inclusiveness of articles/any order).

Where Is Broad Match in All of This?

This is a great time to bring up the second question of the post!

Broad match isn’t inherently evil and can be a powerful way to acquire data.


When you use broad match to acquire data, you want it to be a long-tail keyword (read 5+ words long) and have all the other keywords added as exact and phrase match negatives to the ad group where the broad match ad group lives. This keyword should be alone in the ad group.

I never have more than one broad match key-word ad group per campaign (the only time you’ll see me advocate for a SKAG).

Having a broad match version of a brand is a recipe for disaster because there’s no way to protect your brand or the other campaigns intended for non-branded queries.

Branded keywords should only ever be on phrase and exact to ensure the query includes the brand correctly.

By including a phrase match variation of the branded keyword, you ensure you’ll be able to get additional ideas without waste.

To Sum Up

No, match-type campaigns/ad groups don’t make sense anymore and branded keywords should be protected with phrase and exact match.

Source : Search Engine Journal

Word Count: 754

If you’re new to the world of paid search, it can be overwhelming. Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing – also known as search engine marketing (SEM) – is complex. It’s easy to blow through your budget and have nothing to show for it if you don’t know what you’re doing.

There are so many:

  • Advertising formats: Text ads, Responsive text ads, Video ads, Image ads, Call-only ads, and so much more!
  • Ad networks: Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Adroll, Gemini, etc.
  • Terms and acronyms: Quality Score? Ad Rank? CTR? ROAS? CPC?

PPC, done right, is incredibly valuable for businesses and brands of all sizes who want to grow and be profitable.

Want to drive more qualified visitors to your website who are further down the buyer funnel and more likely to convert? Paid search advertising can help you do that!

Here are comprehensive 50 Tips for Mastery of Google Ads Management

Do Get Lean

Start by taking steps that will make managing your account simpler and easier.

Look at Your Ad Schedules

If your ads are turned on all the time, it’s not a bad idea to tighten these schedules to those days and times that are your best bets. For example, you may want to stop running ads on weekends if those are historically less productive. Tightening up these schedules can also help alleviate pressure to monitor these accounts 24/7.

Turn Off Broad Match Keywords to Limit Your Ad Spend

Or limit broad match only to hot revenue producing campaigns rather than development focused campaigns. Again, this will help to alleviate pressure and keep spending under tighter control.

Tighten up Location Targeting

Again, this is the time to focus on your best bets and keep things simple – at least until you get a better handle on things.

Define Budgets Carefully

Remember, even if you set your daily ad budget to maximum $100 (as a simple example), you can, in practice, spend more than that each day.

In case you missed it, in 2017 Google Ads changed its rules so that your campaigns can spend up to twice your average daily budget.

The “max daily budget” is now calculated over the course of a month, not day by day.

You won’t go over your monthly charging limit (which is the average number of days in a month multiplied by your average daily budget), but you might go over your daily limit on certain days.

If all this makes you nervous, consider lowering your daily ad budget from $100 (for example) to $75.

Don’t Expect Exact Match to Be Exact

Depending on when you last had your hands on a PPC account, you may still think of “exact match” (as a Google Ads keyword matching option) as exactly that – an exact match.

In other words, a match has to include the specified keywords, only those words and in the same order for an exact match to be made. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.

Google has updated its exact match rules to allow close variants.

Those variants allow for changes in word order or slight variations in spelling. And since September 2018, exact matches now allow for keyword variations that share the same meaning.

Fall in Love With Broad Match

The reality is that with the constantly evolving search landscape, our campaigns aren’t likely to reach their full potential using only exact or phrase match.

Did you know that every day on the Bing network (owned by Microsoft, my employer) roughly 20% of searches are from completely new queries? Google has reported similar numbers, saying that 15% of their searches each month are new. Can you really be sure your keyword coverage will capture these emerging keyword trends?

And it’s not just new keywords. With natural language becoming more common, we’re also seeing typed queries getting longer. On the Bing network, approximately 31% of search queries have five or more grams (or words.) People, helped by the auto-complete and suggested queries features that both Google and Bing offer, are increasingly comfortable typing in longer, more precise searches.

Spotting the rise of new trending queries can give a keyword strategy a big boost.

Remember, the goal with broad match is not conversions, it’s discovery.

By excluding broad match, you’re likely leaving potential new clicks on the table.

Why miss out when you can get a leg up over the competition?

If you’re still worried about the risks – or your agency/client won’t let you implement straight broad match – a much lower risk way to get started is Broadience.

What’s Broadience?

Broadience = Broad Match + Audience Targeting.

It’s a way of bundling broad match (pure broad, no modifiers) with remarketing to take advantage of the powerful reach of broad match, while controlling and limiting its scope to a set of highly desirable audiences.

Audience campaigns are already carving out a particular niche segment of the market – if we’re not on broad match, then we’re not hitting that whole audience.

This is where Broadience shines. With the audience as the control lever, the full exploratory power of broad match is curtailed.

Essentially, targeting highly qualified traffic enables you to strategically broaden keyword lists.

For example, if I were a shoe seller, I would probably hesitate to bid on the word “shoe” in my regular campaigns.

But I could add it to a remarketing campaign much more safely since that audience has already shown a high intent to purchase, reducing my risk while still allowing me additional opportunities to engage with past site visitors.

Broadience is ideal for marketers who have identified valuable audiences and are looking to expand the opportunities to engage and maximize their exposure to the audience.

By capturing new queries and those that the advertiser may not have considered, Broadience maximizes the opportunities to engage or reengage with valuable audiences identified by advertisers.

A Broad Match + Remarketing Case Study

Running campaigns using Broadience can help yield better performance results than when just using “exact match,” as Flipkey discovered.

Part of the TripAdvisor family, FlipKey is a challenger in the vacation rental sector. Its marketing is U.S.-focused, with international rental opportunities.

The FlipKey marketing team had lofty goals for its latest Microsoft Advertising campaign:

  • Grow brand awareness and win market share from competition, including a category leader.
  • With a long customer decision journey, cut down the amount of time it takes to convert a customer.
  • Make campaign management more effective by finding an easier and less time-consuming approach in handling its huge number of keywords.

Based on this, Broadience was chosen as a solution to test, since:

  • Broad match would:
    • Make it easier to manage huge keyword lists.
    • Help increase search term coverage.
    • Help boost brand awareness.
    • Cover keywords along multiple points of the customer decision journey.
  • With remarketing, FlipKey could target searchers who were more likely to convert, reengaging them at multiples points of their journey.

Without any campaign optimizations, the results exceeded all expectations:

  • Broad match was 50% of total impressions and 36% of total clicks.
  • Most importantly, it was 35% of total revenue.

The conversion rates for broad aligned with exact and mod broad, and while the CPA for broad match was higher than exact it was still within FlipKey’s targets.

That’s the power of Broadience.

Putting Broadience to the Test

Want to put Broadience to the test?

Follow these four simple steps:

1. Pull a search query report from one of your priority campaigns and review it to get ideas for potential broad match keywords.

Increase your chances of success by using high-performing keywords with low-funnel audiences.

2. Based on the keywords you choose, select a related Remarketing “Target & Bid” campaign (or create one if none exist.) Keep in mind:

  • It should be a remarketing campaign and not a regular campaign.
  • It needs to be target and bid.

3. Add these keywords as pure broad match (no modifiers) to the chosen remarketing campaign, and monitor over the next few weeks.

4. Check performance regularly and farm performing search queries captured by the broad keywords and add as Exact or Phrase. Remember:

  • Even if they are longtail keywords, add them to your account.
  • For anything irrelevant, continue to add them as negative keywords.

Make broad match work for you by minimizing its risk while maximizing reach with audiences. It’s as simple as that.

A Single Long-Tail Broad Match Keyword, with Every Other Word Added As Negatives

If there’s one universal truth to PPC managers, it’s that we value control over everything.

Broad match is the antithesis of that control.

Broad match keywords become grounded in the actual syntax of the keyword chosen when they have at least 5 words.

Additionally, broad match opens up access to keyword concepts that would be too expensive to actively invest in.

Broad match keyword leading to useful queries

When you adopt this strategy it’s crucial you take the following steps:

  • Every keyword you’re actively targeting gets added as an exact match negative. This will ensure your broad match keyword can focus on new query ideas/one off searches, while your core campaigns can deliver leads/sales via proven keyword concepts.
  • If an applicable in-market audience exists, layer it on the broad ad group/campaign so you can prequalify the data acquisition.
  • Audit your queries regularly, and be open to swapping keyword concepts you’re actively targeting for ideas your broad match keyword secures (provided there’s enough volume/the business case is there).
  • Campaigns should only have one broad match keyword (sequestered away in its own ad group). Any more than that, and the data acquisition will turn into waste.

Layered Audience: Demographics & Affinity

It’s no secret that a campaign will perform best when you clearly define who it’s meant for.

By using the combined power of Google Ads and Analytics, you’re able to give your campaigns a better chance of success by targeting those most likely to take the desired action. I look at demographics and affinity as a more of a passive “who they are” classification.

The screenshot below shows current site visitors who fall into the affinity category of “Pet Lovers”. Those specific customers convert 46% better than the average. That’s an audience worth engaging:

Top 10 Must-Try PPC Tactics for 2020An affinity audience within Google Analytics showing conversion rate for “Pet Lovers”

Layered Audience: In Market

While Demographics and Affinity audiences are more about “who they are”, In-Market audiences are about “what they’re doing”.

In this case, this an audience who is exhibiting certain online behavior consistent with those who are actively “in the market” for a product or service.

Top 10 Must-Try PPC Tactics for 2020Screenshot view of In-Market audiences

Layered Audience: Life Events

Anyone who has ever run a Direct Response campaign (even in the pre-digital days) knows that reaching potential customers at key life event stages can be critical to its performance.

If you’ve ever gotten a mortgage (or even just moved to a new address), you’ve probably noticed an increase in the volume of offers you receive. There’s a very good reason for that – data shows it’s effective.

Google Ads allows you to run promotions for specific “life events” on a limited basis today. It’s limited because:

  • You’re restricted to life events concerning:
    • College graduation.
    • Marriage.
    • Moving.
  • It’s currently available for Gmail and YouTube campaigns.

They launched these targeting capabilities in the last couple of years and hopefully, it will eventually be expanded as a targeting layer for additional events and platforms.

Running One Responsive Search Ad (RSA) Per Ad Group 

I know. You tried it and were less than impressed. I get it.

Try it again, but this time on some keywords and audiences that might not be your core focus.

If your campaigns are anything like most, you have some core audiences and set of keyword variations that make up the bulk of the conversions and revenues.

Test RSAs to try and find success outside that core audience. The biggest things to remember:

  • The key word in machine learning is “learning.” In order to “learn” what works, the “machine” also must learn what doesn’t. That takes time and a bit of volume to get a good read.
  • You still need to input some quality headlines (minimum 3, up to 15) and descriptions (minimum 2, up to 4). If those are sub-quality, no amount of machine learning will help your campaigns.

Test Smart Bidding Strategies – Once you have that foundational element established, you can begin to let the system “do the grunt work” it takes to get the campaign there.

Establish a Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

This is a Marketing 101 principle that unfortunately even some of the largest companies in the world don’t complete (or at least complete properly).

The automation is now in place to optimize campaigns at scale to a specific CPA or ROAS, but that functionality is useless if you don’t have that figured out (and potentially even worse if you have a CPA or ROAS goal calculated with poor logic).

Is CPA a perfect metric? Nope.

Neither is ROAS.

I have challenges with both when we’re talking about a tactic like text search ads that usually play a role somewhere in the second half of a purchase journey.

Without proper context, CPA and ROAS are very incomplete numbers. However, you can get to a number that’s a reasonable mark for optimizing campaigns to once you take the time and effort to piece together the following:

  • The various marketing campaigns required to take a buyer from pre-awareness to a conversion.
  • The lifetime value of a customer.
  • Your margins.

Invest in Microsoft Ads Already, Will You?!?!

Microsoft Ads have come a long, long way since the early days of Bing when a lot of us in PPC treated them like an afterthought that we would “get around to” when we had time and as long they made it easy to copy our AdWords campaigns over.

Of course, there are no guarantees it’ll be effective for your brand, but I’m seeing more consistent success across my account base than I did five years ago.

They even have some features that Google doesn’t (and can’t) have. For more insight on that, check out the recent post from contributor Tim Jensen.

Using Google Analytics Data to Execute Remarketing Campaigns

Are you still remarketing equally to everyone who visits your site?

Are all your site visitors equal?

Of course not!

The example below is from a business that has both an ecommerce and physical retail presence.

A quality visit entering the site on a “store locator” page is an opportunity to present remarketing ads promoting the in-store experience.

Top 10 Must-Try PPC Tactics for 2020Landing pages report in GA

Report the Store Visits Metric (For Businesses with Brick & Mortar Locations)

While we’re on the subject of brick & mortar, leveraging the Store visits metric available in Google Ads is a great way to gain additional support for your campaigns.

Sometimes the management in the physical stores can feel like digital marketing campaigns are designed more for Ecommerce so it’s great to be able to present this kind of data.

Top 10 Must-Try PPC Tactics for 2020Store visits metric from Google Ads

Review & (Most Likely) Revise Your Campaign Structure

A campaign restructure is often one of the first things an experienced PPC pro ends up recommending once an audit is complete.

A poor campaign structure is much like a bad foundation on a house – if that’s in bad shape, not much else matters.

A proper campaign structure has always been important, but it’s absolutely critical if you want to take advantage of the automation capabilities to optimize and scale your campaigns.

In order to let the automation handle the grunt work and get you out of the weeds, you must be very strategic about how you structure the campaigns.

There’s not a handbook on one way correct way to structure a campaign for all types of businesses, but in general, you need to take into account:

  • Geography.
  • Seasonality.
  • Product mix.
  • Core terms.
  • Budget ownership.
  • Your ability/bandwidth to manage it all.

Proper setup requires a lot of heavy lifting but will pay the dividends of a long shelf life and program scalability.

Ironically, this last recommendation is something you’ll likely need to do before you can find success with the earlier ones.

Lead with Display, Remarket with Search

Not every business hast the budget for Google search as the first touch with a prospect.

Display is here to bring the curated audience worth investing in.

The beauty of custom intent, custom affinity, and in-market audiences is that they represent prequalified leads another brand paid for.

data on in-market audiences

Layering these audiences on a display campaign (where the cost-per-click are dramatically cheaper) allows your brand to curate a list of ideal prospects – ripe for the picking by branded search and/or RLSA.

All ad types should be aligned with the target audience, and display is no exception.

Display creative needs to be attention-grabbing, and can lean on image, text, or a hybrid approach.

Hybrid creative can look like this:

display ad leaning on text

This ad achieves the following:

  • Grabs the user’s attention with a bold statement with focusing images.
  • Highlights the product with a strong call to action.
  • Subtlety engages the user to think about their subscription model as opposed to a one-off purchase.

Leveraging text-heavy display well is tricky, but possible:

5 Innovative PPC Tactics to Try Today

This ad achieves the following:

  • Entices the prospect with an offer.
  • The call to action is clear and stands out from the rest of the creative.
  • The both the product brand and vendor brand are clearly displayed for ease of retention.

If you decide to leverage this tactic, it’s vital two considerations are in place:

  • Your industry is approved for remarketing. Full list of restricted industries is here.
  • You have your remarketing tag and Facebook pixel in place.

Depending on the initiative, the display campaign may be sending folks to a microsite or subdomain, so it’s important to confirm the tracking codes used on your main site make it over to your PPC landing pages.

Sequester Branded & Competitor Terms in Their Own Campaigns

Regardless of where you fall on the branded/competitor campaign debate, there is value in protecting your general service terms from false positive (branded) and false negative (competitor) metrics.

Most keywords are capable of adding in branded or competitor terms to their queries, creating false positives/negatives in the metrics.

How has the competitive landscape changed?
Find out if your competitors secured their market positions in recent months.

queries ranging in price based on keywordsExpensive competitors driving up the cost of queries

When branded and competitor terms live in their own campaigns (and are made negatives everywhere else), campaigns are able to focus on the main job they’ve been given.

Campaigns jobs range from:

  • General service/product: Core service offerings and products offered – ad groups are different ways of referring to that service/product.
  • Location-based: Campaigns have very similar structure but are targeted to different location so they’re not competing with each other and can have ads/keywords that account for how that location searches/thinks.
  • Buyer Persona: While this usually makes more sense at the ad group level, if the buyer persona represents different margins/profit potential, it can make sense to set campaigns in line with prospect potential value.
  • Branded: A safe space for the cheaper and higher converting queries revolving around your brand, as well as a focused spot for branded creative.
  • Competitor: Top five to seven competitors with a competitor per ad group that allows you to set specific messaging in line with why you’re better.
  • Experimental campaigns: Safe spaces for crazy ideas that you don’t actually want to run but are “forced” to by team members/clients

Every campaign represents additional budget, so it’s important to choose the jobs that will serve your brand best, as well as allow you to have an account that’s easy to manage.

Use DSA for Keyword Research

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) represents a beautiful hybrid approach between SEO and PPC – empowering PPC campaigns through well SEO’ed sites.

DSA functions by allowing Google to crawl the site, and match the best landing page to the user’s query (if it was included in the dynamic target).

Example of dynamic search ad (DSA) targeting

There are two main benefits to DSA:

  • Empowering budgets to support hundreds/thousands of landing pages without needing hundreds of campaigns.
  • Teaching us how our prospects search and at what cost.

All keywords you’re targeting in other campaigns need to be made negatives in the DSA campaign.

By making the keywords negatives, you ensure your actively chosen keywords get a fair shake to be profitable, and DSA can focus on net new ideas.

It is vital regular audits of the search term reports accompany DSA. You’ll be checking for the following:

  • Keyword concepts you want to actively target.
  • Keyword concepts that need to be made negatives.
  • Auction price range of valuable queries.

dynamic search ad queries leading to conversions

Invest Aggressively in the Beginning and Then Roll Spend Back

Most campaigns begin with a small testing budget – advertisers are loath to invest until they see results.

Yet if there isn’t enough fuel for the keyword concepts/targets chosen, the learning period can drag causing waste.

If the campaign is operating at less than 30% impression share (of all available impressions, the amount it’s securing), that means at least 70% of potential prospects aren’t getting access to your brand.

impression share lost to rank

Sometimes, new campaigns need to be less ambitious in scope (targeting only part of the offerings/some of the market) to allow the budget to fully fuel their learning periods.

The first month of a campaign should get a 15%-20% increase in budget for data acquisition (how prospects search, what they will cost, and to teach the ad networks the value of the campaign).

After the initial learning period (minimum of two weeks but can go for the full month), you’ll have the intel to make educated and profitable decisions about the account.

This can mean:

  • Rolling back spend to ideal parameters.
  • Leveraging a smart (conversion-oriented) bidding strategy.
  • Campaign optimizations (negatives, new keywords/ad groups, creative choices).

Campaigns Should not Have Incorrect (or Absent) Audience Targeting

Often we come across campaigns with incorrect targeting – or no targeting at all.

For example, we find Display campaigns that were named “custom intent” but didn’t have custom intent audiences. Same problem has been seen with remarketing campaigns.

Just because a campaign is named “custom intent” or “remarketing” doesn’t make it so.

You have to actually set up the correct audience targeting.

Campaigns Should not Have Hundreds of Ad Groups & Duplicate Keywords

As a general rule, we should only have about seven to 10 ad groups per campaign (and only 20 or so keywords per ad group). We shouldn’t be creating hundreds of groups within the same campaign. When we do, the groups become unwieldy and impossible to manage.

Duplicate keywords are also a problem. Years ago, it was common practice to have plural and singular forms of keywords (“car” and “cars”), but that was a long time ago. And if we see them now, it’s a major warning sign.

Here’s what Google has to say about duplicate keywords:

“Duplicate keywords happen when one of two or more of your ads are using the same keyword list. It’s best to avoid having duplicate keywords in your account. Google shows only one ad per advertiser for a particular keyword, so there’s no need to include the same keywords in different ad groups or campaigns. It’s okay to have the same keyword in different match types in the same account if you want to use different bids or creatives.

Location-Based Campaigns should not Have Incorrect Ad Extensions

While some PPC mistakes are only obvious to people who have access to the account, some are obvious to everyone when ads are displayed.

Mismatched locations and ad extensions are one of those errors.

For example, one account was a law firm with three locations: Boston, Chicago, and New York. The firm had ads targeted to those three geographic regions, but the extensions weren’t matched correctly. So ads that impressioned in Chicago, for example, had extensions with information about the Boston office.

Reporting Should not Focus on Unimportant (or Misleading) Metrics

Some signs of mismanagement don’t become obvious until you look beyond the Google Ads account itself and examine what managers are reporting to executives.

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual to see a reliance on less important metrics with misleading conclusions as proof of the program’s success.

For example, I’ve seen reporting that equates number of page visits to number of conversions where the goal is to generate leads. Obviously, this is misleading.

You could have millions of page visits, but if you’re not getting any conversions (whether that’s making a sale or getting a lead), then you’ve got a problem.

Account Strategy should Align With Broader Marketing or Business Goals

Sometimes mismanagement isn’t evident until you examine the account in the context of your company and its goals.

When you do, you discover that your goals aren’t supported by the PPC strategy.

For example, I talked to a business owner who told me that an important component of his business was brand awareness and development.

But then I found that 60 percent of his $93,000 budget was going to Shopping campaigns, 37 percent to search and only three percent to remarketing.

Shopping campaigns are great for making sales but not so great for brand awareness.

Remarketing, however, is great for brand awareness.

So what gives?

How has the competitive landscape changed?
Find out if your competitors secured their market positions in recent months.

Shouldn’t these percentages be split more evenly?

Also, I was surprised by the absence of GDN campaigns as they would have been a perfect fit here.

When you see this kind of mismatch, it can be a warning sign that the account managers either don’t know what they are doing, or they’re applying the same strategy to all of the accounts they’re managing.

Post-Click Elements Should not be Ignored

Maybe the PPC account is set up perfectly and the CTR is amazing.


But if post-click elements – such as landing pages – aren’t carefully designed and in place, that’s a problem.

For example, I was recently auditing the PPC accounts of a business that sells an expensive, personalized service.

It’s the kind of service that requires a lot of thought, research and trust before someone will buy.

When I checked out the landing page, I was shocked to discover that it only had some stock photography and a contact form. It had no contact information, no reviews, and no testimonials.

They didn’t even have a link back to their home page.

If someone had never heard of this company before, and landed on its landing page, would they buy?

I really doubt it.

Instead, they’d keep looking and researching, which is a lost opportunity.

Do not Use Google Ads Optimization Score as a Crutch

Google Ads’ optimization score has gotten a lot of attention recently.

Google has been promoting it as an easy way to see how well your account is being managed and get recommendations on how to improve it.

If only it were so simple.

Unfortunately, Google’s assessments and recommendations aren’t always in your best interest.

Your managers should take them with a healthy dose of skepticism.

So when your PPC managers use a high Google Ads optimization score as proof that everything’s going great, that’s a strong indicator that problems lie below.

Most PPC pros (including this one) agree that getting a 100% optimization score shouldn’t be your goal.

Are some of the recommendations helpful?


Should you accept them across the board?

Definitely not.










Microsoft Advertising (formally Bing Ads) has come a long way in the last year as they rebrand the advertising platform and look to let everyone know they are still an option. Plus a refresh of the Advertising Editor was a welcome change last year as well.

What has been the biggest change since last year is updating the new UI within the ad manager itself. This UI update does not include the Microsoft Merchant Center platform, which is still only accessible through the old UI. However, you can still import from Google into Microsoft and that should not change when the Merchant Center gets an update.

Bulk operations are also not available in the new UI but hopefully that change will come sooner rather than later. Changing any ad manager, let alone one that has stood the test of time is not an easy feat. Shout out to the Microsoft PM working on this because I can only imagine how hard this change is and all the code and backend fixes that need updating.

So what has changed is what you want to know? I know I did when I came in one morning and saw the option to switch over to the new UI.

I got a cool little popup/icon asking if I wanted to switch over. It was subtle I would say…I imagine they are doing this in phases for the rollout. Of course, I said yes because who doesn’t want to try something new and shiny?

Overview section

Something we come to expect from Google, and even paid social platforms like Pinterest, is an overview tab that looks at performance for that ad account or across all your ad accounts in your Business Manager.

I will be the first to admit I don’t use this screen and actively ignore it as I like to get into the trenches with ad accounts. Plus a general overview of all my ad accounts does not help tell me who is winning and who needs more TLC this week.

However, I’m not everyone and I’m sure some will find this a useful addition to the ad manager.

Account summary

There has not been any major changes to the Account Summary section. All the buttons and dropdowns have the same name but maybe the order they are presented in has been tweaked.

The search field box has been brought front and center, while options for custom columns, segments and downloads are all farther to the right of their usual spot. This is similar to other ad managers. That has been one thing Microsoft has tried to do well, knowing when to minimic other ad managers and knowing when to chart their own path.

One great thing to know is your custom and modified column views should get ported over to the new UI. They did for me at least! Whoever the PM is on this should get an air high five. Such a small detail but tons of time saved!

Double sidebar navigation

Every ads manager from Facebook to Google has been working hard to make their UIs easier to use in the last few years. Some have fared better at it then others and I know this is not an easy change to make.

You may have even seen me tweet my love for the Snap Ads manager. It’s honestly the easiest paid social ad manager to use out there right now. Very intuitive and makes logical sense. Totally not sorry Facebook. I ended up telling my Pinterest AMs to just copy Snap and be done with it on our last team call.

I digress. What does this all have to do with Microsoft Ads Manager? They are nailing all the small details that take you from good to pretty bloody awesome for an update.

The double sidebar is here! Love it or hate it; this makes context switching a lot easier as you move between ad accounts or from other search engines.

Plus when you move from an open to a collapsed view in the sidebar. All the little icons just make sense across Search, Shopping and Dynamic Ads. Really love the little shopping bag icon for Microsoft Shopping Ads.

Microsoft Ads tools

This is similar to Google Ads but a few things that make it different is that the Merchant Center link is in a different spot. There is also a link to Microsoft Ads Editor, intelligence tool and of course the naming convention is all Microsoft!

Plus the Import and Reports options are still giving you the same features you are used to in the old UI. One thing I don’t see in the new UI is the Opportunities button, which may be getting a new home in this UI. That is waiting to reveal itself….as I don’t see it in the new UI right now.


This is just a taste of what is changing the Microsoft Ads Manager. There are a lot more changes coming in 2020 when you consider Merchant Center needs a new UI and other areas of the ad manager. What do you think of the new UI?

Source: Marketing Land


Google explains how to ensure links work properly with JavaScript in the first episode of the new Lightning Talks series.

Google Lightning Talks are short versions of presentations that might have been shared at Google Webmaster Conferences around the world.

Given that in-person events are cancelled for the foreseeable future, Google is adapting its conference content for the web.

Videos in the Google Lightning Talks series are scheduled to be published throughout the year.

Google’s Martin Splitt on Links & JavaScript

Splitt dedicates the first installment of Lightning Talks to discussing “everyone’s favorite” topic: links.

More specifically – links in JavaScript web apps.

Splitt goes over the important role links play for both users and search engine crawlers.

He also lists the do’s and don’ts of combining links with JavaScript functionality.

Links Matter to Humans and Bots

Links serve the obvious purpose of letting users navigate between pieces of content.

But site owners must be mindful of the role links play for bots and search engines as well.

First and foremost – links allow crawlers to find other pages of a website.

Crawlers discover and index other pages of a website by following links from one page to another.

By following links, the crawler gains an understanding of site structure and information architecture.

This is helpful for understanding what pages might be relevant for a given topic.

Creating Links With JavaScript – Do’s and Don’ts

Creating a link is not as straightforward as you might think, cautions Martin Splitt.

That’s especially true when it comes to adding JavaScript functionality to a link.

JavaScript allows sites to customize links in different ways, but doing so may render the link unusable to crawlers.

Here’s what Splitt recommends.

Do: Keep it Straightforward

The most straightforward way to put a link on a site is to use an ahref tag.

It’s also fine to upgrade standard links with JavaScript functionality, as long as some conditions are still met.

Google SEO 101: Do’s and Don’ts of Links & JavaScriptExamples of straightforward links

Don’t: Leave out the ahref attribute

When adding JavaScript functionality to a link, you might consider leaving out the ahref attribute

“That’s not a good idea,” Splitt says.

How has the competitive landscape changed?
Find out if your competitors secured their market positions in recent months.

The reason for that is because the link will only work when the JavaScript works properly.

Without an ahref attribute, crawlers will not be able to determine where a link goes to because the crawler doesn’t run JavaScript.

Don’t: Use Psuedo URLs

It also doesn’t help to add an ahref attribute without a useful URL, or with a “pseudo URL” like in the example below:

Google SEO 101: Do’s and Don’ts of Links & JavaScript

The result is the same as a link without an ahref attribute, which means it’s not a good idea.

Don’t: Use Buttons

Using a button may seem like a viable option for adding a link to a page, but that’s not a good idea either.

The rule of thumb is – if a link triggers something to happen on the current page it should probably be a button.

On the other hand, if a link takes a user to another piece of content that wasn’t on the page before, then it should be a standard link.

Don’t: Rely on click handlers

Site owners also shouldn’t simulate links by using other HTML elements and using a click handler in JavaScript, for example.

This breaks the built-in accessibility features and isn’t a good idea.

Do: Use Semantic HTML

The bottom line to all of this is – use semantic HTML markup and point your link to a proper URL.

What’s a proper URL? That’s explained in the next section.

Using “Proper” URLs

These URLs are typical examples of what is considered a “proper URL”:

Google SEO 101: Do’s and Don’ts of Links & JavaScript

Those are proper URLs because they contain the following attributes:

  • A protocol
  • A host
  • A path to a specific piece of content
  • A fragment identifier (optional)

Beware of Fragment Identifiers

Given that fragment identifiers are optional, and point to locations within the same piece of content, crawlers ignore them.

That’s especially important to note if you build a single page application with links full of fragment identifiers.

Crawlers will not follow the links, so they will not be able to understand the web app.

In Summary

Google SEO 101: Do’s and Don’ts of Links & JavaScript

Here are your key takeaways from the first installment of Google Lightning Talks:

  • Use proper link markup.
  • Do not use fragments to load different content in single page apps.
  • Build websites that work well with JavaScript and the links will be found.

Source: Search Engine Journal

Word Count: 749

Google Trends can help understand and predict consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Director of SEO at Stella Rising, John Morabito takes a closer look at these and suggests how businesses can use it in their content strategy.

With the coronavirus pandemic now nearing its peak in many parts of the U.S., search trends are rapidly evolving in ways many search marketers have never seen before. Changes are happening almost daily, and traditional search volume as a monthly average metric has become practically useless. Google Trends, however, offers useful, daily analysis of what’s trending in search. At present, Google Trends can be an invaluable tool, as it helps to uncover opportunities for e-commerce brands, publishers, and local businesses.

In this post, we’ll cover ways that search marketers can use Google Trends and other tools to discover opportunities in today’s fast-moving landscape, and review how the team at Stella Rising has been using Google Trends to inform our strategy during the pandemic.

The obvious Google Trends

Medical suppliers will be aware that, amidst the overall demand for masks, behaviours have shifted from favouring N95 masks to surgical masks. The CDC recently revised their recommendation. In this case, we see that search demand for masks is already starting to decrease.

Surgical Masks (7 Day View) – Down 68% (April 5-11th vs Feb 16th-22)

COVID-19 Google Trends

Full Year View

 The less obvious: Search evolution in unexpected places

The real benefit to Google Trends is that it can help us understand and predict consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Additionally, we can see how categories are evolving. For example, at first glance, one might not think that the beauty segment would find success in a pandemic. However, social distancers are turning to self-care. “Peel masks” are seeing a huge increase in interest with a 58% increase in over the last few weeks. Google Trends - Peel masks search

Searches for skincare are skyrocketing, as are those for foot care. Consumers need help finding resources they often rely on salons for. Note the following trends from Spate:

Search trends - Foot care search graph by Spate

Hand moisturizer has similarly seen an even larger increase, jumping up 156% since February (April 5-11th vs Feb 16th-22).

COVID-19 search trends - Moisturizer Leveraging the trend

When it comes to the growth in demand for skincare products, skincare brands have a number of options at their disposal when it comes to their content efforts. Make sure your product pages are being listed in Google shopping’s new free listings, and ensure that you have robust on-page content for each of your skincare product or category pages. Lastly, in a time where making returns is not an easy task, and consumers want to minimize contact with the outside world, content that helps guide users to the right product selections can be extremely valuable.

For example, this article from Bucklers Remedy, a skincare brand ranks top three for “choosing the right hand lotion”. In another example, we see a Vaseline article about how to deal with dry cracked hands ranking for a total of 1,100 keywords.

Example - Vaseline hand moisturizer search trend

For apparel companies

Apparel companies should shift their messaging as consumers browse for clothing on their devices. Right now, leisurewear is king and we have seen an abnormal increase in demand for sweatpants over the last month.

COVID-19 Google Trends - leisurewear is the king

Consumers also want to know “how to look good on zoom”. That term has increased from 0 to 100 from March 14th onward.

"how to look good on zoom" search trend in COVID-19 times

Leveraging the trend

Everyone from publishers to apparel and beauty brands can get in on the need for Zoom/video conferencing related content. If you fall into one of those categories, consider producing looks and tutorials for your captive audience.

For instrument makers

For instrument makers like Fender and Les Paul, there has never been more interest than now in learning how to play the guitar.

instrument related search trends

Leveraging the trend

Fender and Les Paul both offer instructional content, but now is the perfect time for them to ramp-up efforts and even consider partnering with musicians who are out of work and can easily produce tutorial content on their behalf.

People are also interested in learning about all sorts of topics. As a “topic”, interest in tutorials has increased by 72%.

Leveraging the trend

If you’re a brand with a product that has any sort of instructions or bares any type of explanation in how to use it, I would recommend using this time to produce tutorial content for each of your products or for the things your products help people to do. For example, makeup brands can not only product tutorials on how to use a specific product which can help them to rank for both nonbrand and branded terms, but they can also target things like “zoom makeup looks” which can help them to rank for an even broader set of nonbrand terms.

Sometimes, search trends are influenced by necessity. We’ve seen more interest in “how to cut your hair” than ever before.

The not so fun part

While there are search trends dealing with keeping consumers busy, there are also new trends around more serious subjects. Some of our clients at Stella Rising are writing about these. One of our clients in the small business formation space is writing about how their customers can get loans and stay in good corporate standing. Small business loans are seeing more search demand than ever before, with an increase of 2111%.

Estate lawyers may want to consider online-only services as “get a will online” has seen a steep rise.

How to get started

Now that you’ve seen some of the ways that search trends are evolving—and how to check—start by inspecting your website’s most valuable target keywords and see how searches are moving for those items. You may be surprised by what you find. Finding interesting trends can be tough, so think carefully about how behaviour will evolve in the future, not simply how it has changed today.

Bonus tool tip is a tool that shows exploding topics using Google Trends data and provides two key metrics: gradient and exponent. Essentially, the exponent is a mathematical expression that defines how much like a “hockey-stick” a curve is. The tool breaks up Google Trend data by category and presents which topics are “exploding” versus which have peaked in interest. This analysis is useful when wishing to stay relevant with content writing.

John Morabito is Director of SEO at Stella Rising. John has over nine years of experience in SEO, PPC, and other digital marketing channels. 

Source: Search Engine Watch

Word Count: 1055

In the SEO world, terms like natural linksquality links, and good links are thrown around like crazy.

Whether you’re going into a client pitch, attending a search marketing conference, or your boss asks you why you aren’t getting quality links, it’s important to know (and be able to explain) all the different types of links.

This chapter will help you:

  • Understand each type of link by providing you with definitions.
  • Determine which types of links may be able to help boost your rankings.
  • Figure out which types of links you may want to add to a disavow sheet.

Although there is normally debate on specific types of links (.edu and relevant, manually-updated directories, for example), this will be a good baseline for you to use.

Types of Links

Natural Links

A natural link is one that occurs organically (not easily seen as being placed by your company).

Natural links don’t:

  • Have tracking parameters.
  • Exist within sponsored or paid content.
  • Redirect through JavaScript or monetization tools.

A natural link exists as a reference to a piece of content, website, or source.

Unnatural Links

Unnatural links are any links that are paid for.

These types of links can be placed and tracked by PR firms and media buyers, or monetized through affiliate programs, CPC campaigns, influencers, or monetization scripts.

If these links aren’t nofollowed, Google can potentially take manual action on your site or your site could be negatively impacted algorithmically (most likely by Penguin), because they are not earned/natural.

What are unnatural links? Links:

  • With tracking parameters (e.g., UTM source and medium).
  • Within sponsored content on a site (because search engines do not know who paid for the content to be placed).
  • From sites using monetization scripts because scripts say you get paid for linking to retailers.

You can find these in the site’s code, outbound redirects, and other mappable techniques.

Semi-natural Link

On occasion, you’ll discover a “mixed” link pattern. For example, you may find a natural link that uses tracking parameters.

Let’s say you click through from an influencer who has been paid to share a link. That link will lead to the landing page that may have the tracking parameters in place.

Bloggers, aggregators, and others who follow that link may copy and paste it directly into their site giving natural links that also have these parameters. This could result in an unnatural but organic link scheme.

To help resolve this, make sure that as a person reaches your site through a tracked link, you set a redirect to pass the parameters but also resolve to the natural page structure. (i.e., the utm_campaign redirects to a version without any UTM parameters).

Now you’ll have the standard and non-tracked URL as the one they use and be able to properly attribute sales, traffic, and leads back to the original site.

You can still measure the halo effect of additional links and exposure by pulling a link acquisition report and crawling/scraping the likes, shares, and retweets from the initial influencer.

What Are Quality Links?

Quality links are links that come from high-quality sites.

This definition will change depending on the quality of the SEO you’re talking to. Here is what I look at to determine the quality of a website:

How has the competitive landscape changed?
Find out if your competitors secured their market positions in recent months.

  • The site is niche, or at least has a regularly updated section about the topic.
  • There are no outbound links to adult, illegal, payday, or scam sites.
  • You won’t be able to see that they allow sponsored content (with the exception of clearly marked advertorials).
  • Media kits and publicly viewable advertising sections do not have a price for or mention of text links or backlinks.
  • Finding them in the Google news feed is a good sign that they are trustworthy or high quality in Google’s eyes.
  • Acquired links will be by staff writers and not contributors. Contributors can be bought more easily and many large publications have begun nofollowing their links. Do a Google search for Huffington Post and nofollow and you’ll see multiple discussions from when they flipped the switch.
  • The links come from body copy. That has to be earned – unlike blog comments, forum mentions, press releases, and other areas where anyone can easily build or buy links.

What Makes a Good Link?

A good link is different than a quality link. It can be any type of link that can have a positive impact with a bit less risk.

The factors of a good link vs. bad link can also change based on the type of SEO you’re doing local vs. national and country-specific vs. international – Russia and Yandex vs. the UK and Google).

A good link for Yandex should be ones that are approved by the Russian government and aren’t also linking to sites that have banned content, contraband, and things that are forbidden in Yandex.

Alcohol gifts, for example, could potentially be bad for Yandex traffic, but good links for other countries and search engines.

Local directories that are managed, maintained, and don’t have a submit your site option may be good for local SEO, but probably not national because of the content relevance and potential quality.

If they have a lot of age and continuously clean out old sites, dead sites and 4XX errors they may be beneficial instead of harmful.

If you notice I’m saying <strong>may</strong> or <strong>might,</strong> it’s because there is no solid yes or no. It depends on the specific situation and website.

You could have a blogger who has great niche content but no age or authority and may quit blogging in a year. Although it looks like a good link, it would fall under “maybe” or “OK” for me. That is 100% debatable.

Then there is an established blog without a huge following that sticks to its niche. They are not doing well in Google though with organic even though they have great content. This would fall under “OK” for me as well.

Another could be a new blog that is content relevant but doesn’t have a ton of SEO traffic, but does have a lot of engaged readers.

This would be a good link for me because they have a quality audience and if they continue down the niche path they could be a great source of traffic/sales and also pass authority from their links for SEO.

The trick with good backlinks is to determine and watch how they impact you currently and what they may do in the future.

Each site is unique and each link should be considered independently before disavowing it as bad or keeping it as good/quality.

How Can You Build Quality Links?

You’ll find a ton of posts on Search Engine Journal about building quality links, including a few I’ve written. (Use the search box and you’ll find them.)

What works best for me is always keeping a few things in mind when creating copy that I want to get links for.

  • Who have I empowered or made feel important or have an emotional reaction?
  • Why would that person want to share, link to or call out my content by tagging a friend in it?
  • Did I provide a solution to a common or unique problem?
  • What is unique, special, or different about how I’m presenting this content?
  • Which ways have I better explained, detailed, or given examples of something complex, funny, or useful?
  • How have I enabled people to easily share and link to this content?
  • Where have I advertised it so that I can keep it in front of people who can give me quality backlinks and references (sometimes this is an influencer who has a large following of bloggers and journalists)?

When someone mentions natural links, it’s all about quality. That means they can’t be easily acquired, they’re in a good SEO neighborhood, and that they are in topically related content sites that match your services, stores, site, or niche.

Focusing on quality over quantity is what can help to protect your site as Google updates.

More importantly, focusing on quality can help constantly bring in relevant readers through referring sites who may also become customers, engaged readers, and a new source of links and social media traffic.

Source: Serach Engine Journal

Word Count: 1377

Google’s John Mueller recently stated that a sitelinks search box is rarely shown for sites in search results.

Further, the appearance of a sitelinks search box is not at all influenced by implementation of structured data markup.

Mueller discussed this topic during a Google Webmaster Central hangout held on April 28.

A question was submitted by an SEO who mentioned their boss is upset with them.

After implementing all the correct structured data markup, Google is still not showing a sitelinks search box when the business is searched for.

Here’s what Mueller had to say in response to this issue.

Problem: Sitelinks Search Box Not Shown in Search Results

A sitelinks search box is a way for people to search within a specific site from the search results page.

Site owners do not have to do anything to get a sitelinks search box to appear.

However, there is structured data available for customizing how a sitelinks search box will appear when Google decides to show one.

Whether or not the structured data is used will not impact Google’s decision to show a sitelinks search box.

In fact, Mueller says this feature is “rarely” shown in search results.

That’s confirmed by a message in Google’s official developer document about sitelinks search box structured data.

Important: Google doesn’t guarantee that a sitelinks search box will be shown in search results. Additionally, using the sitelinks search box markup doesn’t make it more likely that a sitelinks search box will be shown.”

Keep Expectations Realistic

Mueller mentioned that he sees people struggling with this sitelinks search box issue from time to time.

But it sounds like the real problem stems from managing expectations.

In this case, the SEO may not have explained to their boss that the appearance of a sitelinks search box is not influenced by structured data markup.

That would help explain why the boss was upset when they didn’t see a sitelinks search box after searching for their business.

It’s important to keep expectations realistic when implementing any kind of structured data

There’s no guarantee Google will display a rich result just because the structured data exists on a site.

Structured data is a tool that can be used to communicate to Google how you want a rich result to be displayed.

Whether or not rich result is ultimately displayed is up to Google’s algorithm.

“With regards to sitelinks search box, this is kind of a tricky one and something I see people struggle with from time to time.

The hard part here is that adding the markup does not make it more likely that a sitelink search box will be shown. But rather, if we were to show one, we would use one that’s based on your markup.

So it’s very rare, or it feels very rare, that we would show a sitelink search box in general – for queries, for sites. And only for those cases where we would show it, if you have the markup we’ll try to use the markup, if you don’t have it we’ll just use the default setup.

So that’s something where, if you’re currently not seeing a sitelink searchbox at all, then adding the markup for that will have no effect.”

Source: Search Engine Journal

Word Count: 540

Google Meet, the company’s premium video conferencing product, is now free for anyone who wants to use it.

Previously known as ‘Google Hangouts Meet,’ the tool has only been available to G Suite customers until now.

Last month, the premium version of Meet was made free to existing G Suite users.

People could join a Meet call without paying for the product, but the call still had to be started by someone with a paid G Suite account.

That’s changing so everyone can start calls on Meet without having to pay for anything.

Google Meet can be used by groups, teams, businesses, organizations, schools, and higher-ed learning institutions.

For the first time, individuals will be able to broadcast a call on Google Meet for anyone to join.

Google is also offering some additional perks for those who are already G Suite customers.

Here’s more about how different categories of users can benefit from this now-free video conferencing product from Google.

Google Meet for Individuals

Originally designed to be a collaborative tool for businesses and organizations, Google Meet has never been available outside of G Suite before.

Now, individual users can create a Google Meet account and host their own video calls.

As examples of how individuals can use this product, Google suggests hosting fitness classes, book clubs, neighborhood meetings, happy hours with friends, and so on.

Ordinarily, meetings would be limited to 60 minutes for the free product, but Google is not enforcing a time limit until after September 30.

Groups and Teams

Organizations that aren’t already G Suite customers will now have access to G Suite Essentials.

G Suite Essentials allows organizations to access advanced features such as dial-in phone numbers, larger meetings, and meeting recordings.

Google is making G Suite Essentials available for free until September 30.

Businesses and Organizations

Google is providing three ways for new and current enterprise customers to access Meet through Sept. 30:

  • Free access to Meet’s advanced features for all G Suite customers, such as the ability to live stream for up to 100,000 viewers within your domain.
  • Free additional Meet licenses for existing G Suite customers without any amendments to their current contract.
  • Free G Suite Essentials for enterprise customers.

Schools and Higher-Ed Institutions

Schools that do not currently use G Suite for Education can now sign up for free.

Google Meet can then be enabled from G Suite for Education at no added cost.

Timed Rollout Over Several Weeks

This update to Google Meet will be rolling out over the coming weeks, with free users being able to sign up in early May.

“Starting in early May, anyone with an email address can sign up for Meet and enjoy many of the same features available to our business and education users, such as simple scheduling and screen sharing, real-time captions, and layouts that adapt to your preference, including an expanded tiled view.”

Google notes that some users may not be able to create meetings immediately after signing up.

That’s because the rollout process is expected to take several weeks.

A timed rollout is designed to ensure Google Meet continues to offer a secure and reliable experience as the product expands to more users.

Users can sign up at to be notified as soon as the free product is available.

Source : Search Engine Journal

Word Count: 548
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