The new attribution model for AdWords was the talk of the town when it was first announced in 2016. But since then, it hasn’t received as much attention.
Even so, I was surprised recently when a colleague in the pay-per-click industry confessed that he wasn’t aware of it.
I can understand how he missed it. After all, it’s one of those AdWords settings that you can easily overlook if you don’t know it’s there.
Therefore, in this article, I’m going to recap what attribution settings are and reveal what you can expect if you start using the new models.
What is Attribution?
Basically, “attribution” is about assigning credit to clicks that lead to conversions.
For example, say “Dan” wants to buy a baseball jersey. So he searches “baseball jersey” and clicks on an ad.
After a few more searches, he decides he wants a Red Sox baseball jersey. So he does some more searching and clicks on another ad from the same company. He then buys a jersey from that company.
How do you want to attribute credit for the sale? Should the first ad Dan clicked get the credit or the second? Or a combination?
That’s what attribution is all about.
Problems with the Old Model
Before Google rolled out its new attribution model, attribution was given to the last ad clicked. But this didn’t always accurately reflect what was happening in the account.
In the baseball jersey example above, the last ad would have gotten all the credit for the sale.
At the time, we could use Google Analytics assisted data to give us a fuller picture of what was happening. But it could be a hassle to try and “meld” Google Analytics data with what we were seeing in AdWords.
Google’s New Attribution Model
This all changed when Google rolled out its new attribution models.
As Google explains:
Most advertisers measure the success of their online advertising on a “last click” basis. This means they give all the credit for a conversion to the last-clicked ad and corresponding keyword. However, this ignores the other clicks customers may have made along the way.
Attribution models give you more control over how much credit each ad and keyword gets for your conversions.
With this change, PPC pros could now choose which attribution model to use.
These attribution models include:
- Last click
- First click
- Time decay
- Position based
And now instead of having to cobble together data from AdWords and Google Analytics, all this functionality now resides in AdWords!
Here are more details from AdWords about the different attribution models:
Changes You May See With the New Attribution Models
When we first tried some of the new attribution models, we noticed some changes in our accounts. You may also experience the following:
1. Your Branded Conversions May Drop and Non-Branded May Rise
Under some of the new models, you may see a drop in branded conversions but an increase in non-branded conversions (i.e., credit given to a branded ad versus credit given to a non-branded ad).
This isn’t a bad thing. We were always convinced that non-branded ads contributed to conversions, but it wasn’t always easy to show that with the data.
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But now, the contributions of non-branded ads are more obvious. It confirms what we always suspected: It’s not uncommon for people to click on a non-branded ad earlier in the path to conversion and then click on a branded ad later as they get to know your brand.
Under the last click model, branded campaigns would often get all the credit. (“All our conversions are coming from branded campaigns!”) And we might be tempted to pause our non-brand campaigns.
But now the data shows that would be a bad idea.
Having this fuller (and more accurate) picture of what’s going on makes it easier to optimize client accounts.
2. You May Need to Experiment to Find the Right Model
While having multiple attribution models to choose from is great, it isn’t always easy to know which ones to choose.
We were happy to move away from the last click model, for all the reasons explained above.
We decided that first click wouldn’t make any more sense for most of our clients – it would merely shift the overemphasis from the back end of the conversion path to the front end.
Therefore, we’ve been mostly using position-based attribution and linear attribution for our clients. We like these two options because they give credit to clicks that are distributed throughout the conversion path.
Unfortunately, we haven’t yet had the opportunity to use the data-driven attribution model as none of our clients have accumulated large enough amounts of data to make it available to us.
As explained in the Google help file:
Data-driven attribution gives credit for conversions based on how people search for your business and decide to become your customers. It uses data from your account to determine which ads, keywords, and campaigns have the greatest impact on your business goals. You can use data-driven attribution for website and Google Analytics conversions from Search Network campaigns.
If you’d like more guidance on choosing the right attribution model for your campaigns, check out the Search Engine Journal article, “Searching for the Perfect Attribution Model.”
3. Your Data May Show up Differently
Because some of these models are attribute portions of credit to different clicks, we often see partial conversions (e.g. ¼ conversion, ½ conversion) in accounts.
To minimize confusion, we’ve taken to rounding up these fractions when reporting to clients. We don’t want to get into a lengthy (and distracting) discussion about what, exactly is a “¼ conversion”!
How to Change Your Attribution Model
If you’re inspired to play around with the attribution setting on your accounts, you’ll find it under Conversions in AdWords.
From the table, select the conversion action you want to change. You can then select the desired attribution model from the dropdown menu:
With AdWords changing every day, it isn’t surprising that some industry folks (even experienced ones), might have missed the boat on different attribution models.
While these models might seem a bit confusing, they’re well worth exploring. You may end up with a more accurate picture of which ads are driving your conversions.
Wondering where to focus your efforts this year in order to gain an edge over your competitors? Columnist Jeremy Knauff has some ideas.
We’re just about three weeks into the new year, and the momentum you establish now can easily set the pace for the rest of your year.
I’d like to help you start 2018 off with a bang by earning three simple wins that will set the stage for further success and growth, not just for this year, but long into the future.
These wins are simple, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy — because while the concepts are not complex, a lot of work will be required to accomplish them.
That may seem like a bad thing, but it’s actually a blessing in disguise because it means that most of your competitors won’t even put in the effort, which will give you a significant advantage over them.
Improve page speed to improve ranking
Google just recently announced that beginning in July 2018, mobile page speed will be a ranking factor for its mobile search results. Page speed also has a significant impact on user experience, and several aspects of user experience are direct ranking factors, too.
Studies show that the faster a web page loads, the longer visitors will remain, and in most cases, more of them will convert to paying customers compared to visitors on slower websites.
Most people have a tremendous opportunity for improvement in this area because they don’t realize how poorly their website is performing. I was recently talking with a potential client about SEO for his website, and when the topic of page speed came up, he proudly insisted that his website “loads super fast — usually in under one or two seconds!”
If that were true, it would have been phenomenal; however, it was actually closer to thirty seconds, according to the tests I performed using several different tools.
It’s important to point out that when I talk about page speed, I’m not specifically talking about Google’s PageSpeed Insights. I’m talking about how long it takes a web page to load in general.
Some ways you can improve page speed include:
- investing in high-performance web hosting.
- properly scaling and compressing images.
- implementing server caching, browser caching and Gzip compression.
Leverage a personal brand for link building
If you’ve managed a website for any length of time, you’ve most likely been on the receiving end of a lot of link requests, and I think it’s a safe bet that most of them were probably terrible. Now I’m going to say something that might hurt your feelings: If you’ve sent a link request, it was probably terrible, too.
Cold link outreach is challenging, and you generally don’t earn very many links in relation to the number of emails you send out. This is because you’re asking for something from a stranger before you’ve built any rapport, which is an almost certain recipe for disaster. Effective link building depends on relationships, not brute force and volume.
Rather than cold link outreach, a more effective strategy is to develop a personal brand that others want to connect with. This is easier said than done because it will require a tremendous amount of work, performed consistently over a relatively long period of time.
However, once you’ve developed a personal brand, it will be much easier to leverage the kind of relationships you’ll then develop, to efficiently build links. In fact, if your personal brand becomes powerful enough, often, people will link to your content without you even asking.
A few ways you can develop a personal brand include:
- creating consistently branded profiles on key social networks.
- regularly sharing valuable content from others in your industry, along with your insight on it.
- engaging with your audience, both those below and above your stature within your industry.
- regularly publishing amazing content, both on your own website and in industry publications and top-tier business publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company.
Incorporate video into your SEO efforts
Video is a driving force in digital marketing today, and we’re quickly approaching a point where it’s just as essential as having a website and social media presence. It can play a significant role in your SEO efforts in two distinct ways.
The first is that video often helps to keep interested visitors on your website longer. Google sees this as a sign of a positive user experience, which has a beneficial impact on your organic ranking. A side benefit here is that you’re also giving visitors more of a chance to truly connect with your brand.
The second is that by publishing your videos on YouTube, you have the potential to put your brand in front of a larger audience through YouTube’s search results. (YouTube is often referred to as the “second-largest search engine in the world” due to its position as the second-most-visited website globally after Google, according to Alexa rankings.)
On top of that, you’re leveraging the authority of YouTube’s domain, so you also have the opportunity to get your videos ranked in Google’s search results.
I know a lot of you right now are saying, “Whoa, Jeremy! There’s no way in hell I’m getting on video!”
Look, I understand that being on video can feel uncomfortable, awkward, and even terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be any of those things. Once you start doing video regularly, you’ll get used to it, and besides — it’s become a necessity, so unless you want to lose ground to competitors, you have to step outside of your comfort zone.
Video expert Holly Gillen of Holly G Studios says, “Video is one of the most powerful tools you have in business today! The race has begun, and if you’re not running you are now getting left behind. At the end of the day, you can have video or you can have excuses, but you can’t have both.”
Some ways you can incorporate video into your SEO include:
- creating videos that answer questions your prospects have about your products, services and industry, as well as videos that demonstrate who you are and why you do what you do.
- optimizing your videos on YouTube so they’ll show up in YouTube’s search, in conjunction with that, building relevant, high-quality links to them so that they show up in Google’s search results.
- embedding your videos from YouTube on your own website to keep visitors engaged and on your website longer.
They get better rankings with fewer links. They get “penalized” for improper conduct, only to resurface a few weeks later.
Small brands, on the other hand?
Never get the benefit of the doubt. Need to earn twice as many links. And never resurface. Ever.
And this is only accelerating. It’s only getting more pronounced.
So much so, that there’s virtually nothing else you should focus on in 2018, besides building a brand. Big brands will get showcased in the SERPs. And small companies will be left in the dust.
SERPs Are Changing Dramatically
Google is known for tinkering. Thousands of times a year.
But it isn’t just the algorithm updates we should pay attention to. The cause and effect of layout adjustments also changes user behavior.
For example, featured snippets have been on the rise.
Moz found that they’ve risen from 5.5 percent to 16 percent in just two years. But they recently saw a 10 percent decrease in featured snippets in a matter of four days.
So, what happened?
The knowledge panels got a serious boost in visibility, for starters. Search terms like “Graphic Design,” that once had featured snippets, now have gone full knowledge panel:
And all those related searches above have it now, too. Even a generic search for “travel” will net you this:
Moz also found a 30 percent increase in knowledge panels for SERPs without a featured snippet in the first place.
So what’s happening?
Google is trying to answer the query. With content from other people. Without requiring them to click to view the source.
Where searches for “travel” would once net travel-based blog posts or definitions on branded sites, Google now pulls data directly into the SERPs.
And most of that content is coming from huge brands and definition-based sources like Wikipedia.
That means the pool of helpful content is narrowed down to a few big players.
People don’t have to click on an organic listing to get information anymore. And currently, only one brand is being featured in a given knowledge panel.
Spoiler alert: It probably isn’t you.
Less and less people are clicking on actual search engine listings now. We’re currently at a 60/40 split.
Only 60 percent of searches on Google results in a click. That’s 40 percent generating zero clicks. And smarter people than me expect that to hit 50 percent soon.
And for smaller fish trying to swim past the reef, that’s bad news.
Google’s implementation of the Knowledge Graph is solving user problems without the need to click. And the majority of brands ranking in the knowledge panels are the big ones.
That means less traffic, fewer clicks, and more importantly: less organically-driven sales.
Brand Recognition Is Critical to Getting Clicks
Do me a favor real quick:
Perform a basic test right now on Google. Perform an obscure, long-tail search for an industry keyword and analyze the SERPs.
What do you see? What sticks out instantly?
HubSpot. Search Engine Journal. Marketo.
bestmarketingblogger.com? Not so much.
Even if bestmarketingblogger.com is ranking #1, you’re probably going to skip right over it to a familiar site.
Just like you’d choose Coca-Cola over your local grocery store’s generic version.
Brand recognition is a powerful thing. Powerful enough for you to skip on Google’s top ranking post. Powerful enough to drive a more expensive sale.
We can’t help it. We’re creatures of habit.
We do what feels comfortable. What we know and what we can trust.
For example, a Nielsen study found that global consumers are far more likely to buy new products from brands that are familiar.
Sixty percent of consumers would rather buy new products from a familiar brand that they recall, rather than switching to a new one.
Take this “basketball shoes” sponsored search result for an example:
Which shoe would you buy? Probably Nike.
They’re a familiar brand that’s known for producing high-quality basketball shoes. Plus they’ve got Lebron and Kobe and Jordan.
Champion on the other hand? C’mon, son.
The Champion shoe could be cheaper. And you’re still more likely to click on Nike, first.
Trust is one of the most important factors in making a purchase decision. And it’s no different when it comes to organic search results.
You’re going to click on what you know and trust. And that all comes down to branding.
For example, with this SERP below, nearly every article is the same.
“XX SEO tips for small businesses.” The content is virtually the same. Meaning clicks are going to come down to one thing:
Does Forbes instantly stand out in your mind as a popular source of information? They get the click. Even though it has nothing to do with their content quality (another spoiler: It’s not good).
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Research from Search Engine Land and Survey Monkey again proves this underlying trend. They surveyed over 400 consumers on one specific question:
What is most important in helping you decide which results to click on in a search engine search?
According to their data, nearly 70 percent of U.S. consumers said they look for a “known retailer” when deciding what search results to click on.
The stronger the brand recognition, the higher the odds of generating clicks. Which means the higher the odds of getting the sale.
SERP CTR Is Beginning to Outperform Rankings
Ranking number one doesn’t mean what it used to anymore.
The stats I referenced above prove that’s not the case anymore.
If nobody knows who you are, you aren’t generating 30+ percent of the organic clicks. The content might be amazing. But you’re a nobody. So nobody’s giving you a chance.
SERP CTR is becoming more important than traditional rankings, too.
And in fact, SERP CTR likely has an impact on rankings.
While links and content are the top two direct ranking factors, SERP CTR is creeping up as an indirect factor.
Check out this tweet from Rand Fishkin of Moz:
That’s evidence of Google analyzing search queries and clicks to see what content users preferred.
No click on the first position? That’s a signal to Google that it’s not performing like a top piece of content.
More clicks might, in fact, result in a rankings boost.
And WordStream’s own data just backed this up, finding that the more your pages beat the expected organic CTR for a query, the more likely they are to appear higher in organic listings.
But when you don’t have the luxury of brand awareness, people don’t see your content until they click. So they really don’t know how amazing it is.
And sadly, they probably never will:
The vast majority are clicking because of brand recognition, not content strength.
It’s the same with digital advertising and purchase behavior too. Brand aware users are 2x more likely to purchase from you.
If HubSpot is two spots below you, you can bet that the lion’s share of “your” traffic is being stolen.
Those fancy headline hacks and meta description tweaks can improve your CTR, sure.
Going against the grain and producing clickbait-esque headlines might get you a 1-2 percent increase:
But not enough to have a big impact.
Not enough to take your traffic and double it.
Small changes won’t net massive results.
If they did, we’d all be dominating the competition, and I wouldn’t be writing this post.
Simply A/B testing or changing a button color won’t do it either.
Large-scale changes are needed to produce better SEO results.
Branding is the only way to do it, and it’s the most viable SEO strategy on the market today.
Focusing on branding will help drive higher click-through rates in organic SERPs, which correlates with higher conversion rates.
A fantastic, cheap way to put this into practice is using cheap social ads to drive brand awareness.
Facebook has the cheapest CPM out of any advertising platform ever created.
You can get away with spending $1 per day, reaching up to 4,000 new users with brand awareness ads.
That’s roughly 120,000 new faces coming across your brand monthly for just $30.
There’s no cheaper way to build brand awareness than with social ads.
Use them to drive traffic to your latest content and build a brand reputation in the process.
Branding is an investment in your company’s future. Sure, the effects won’t be instant.
But when your organic traffic is declining, and brands are starting to overpower you, you’ll wish you’d invested in it sooner.
Google has given brands preferential treatment for years now.
And that preferential treatment only increases with each minor and major update.
It’s a vicious trap where the rich keep cruising, and the poor keep drowning.
Branding is our only hope for conducting better SEO in 2018.
The vast majority of consumers cite brand recognition as driving clicks and sales.
And that means those typical organic CTR graphs are a heaping pile of BS.
Brand recall drives more clicks and sales than positioning.
As Google SERPs shift more toward favoring big brands, it’s time for smaller brands to invest more of their SEO budget and strategy into building a memorable brand.
Due to the degree of difficulty and ever-increasing complexity of search engine optimization, you can’t fully erase the qualms of small businesses when it comes to ROI.
You can’t really blame them though. After all, if I’m pouring in over a thousand dollars a month on a strategy that doesn’t improve my sales, I’d begin to question my investment decisions, too.
But before you hit the brakes and abandon ship, you need to understand that SEO is a “go big or go home” kind of commitment. It’s not something you can casually do on the side — overshadowed by a collection of other marketing strategies — and expect it to produce substantial results.
Statistics show that the top result on Google has a 33.64% click-through rate. This is significantly reduced to only 5.61% on the fourth position — tapering off to only 0.95% by the tenth.
In other words, you either go all-in with everything you’ve got, or give up SEO altogether. Just do yourself a favor and decide now — will you keep pressing on, or call it quits?
Still here? Good.
It’s time to set the direction of your SEO campaign straight. But first, you need to identify the top reasons why it’s not producing results in the first place.
1. Your Campaign Is Led By Amateurs
It may sound harsh, but in SEO, there’s no room for amateurs.
You can’t expect to win against a stacked, full-service SEO agency if you only have a subpar “specialist” or team with half-baked strategies and truckloads of guesswork.
Sure, a budget SEO services company might be capable of putting your brand on Google’s first page. But even if they do manage to help you secure one of the top three spots, then they were most likely only targeting unprofitable keywords just to get you excited.
Remember that effective SEO requires a tremendous amount of work. It requires a team to be well-equipped and ready to take on even competitive keywords.
More importantly, they can design a system wherein your SEO efforts can directly translate to sales. This means they already know everything else in this list like the back of their hand.
2. You Didn’t Build Enough Branded Links
Here’s An Inescapable Fact: You’ll Never Snag One of the top three positions until Google trusts you.
From an SEO angle, brand building can be reflected across multiple areas. One of which is in the science of link building — more specifically, the aspect of keyword optimization.
A lot of new businesses make the mistake of optimizing too much for niche-related keywords. As a result, they build an unnatural backlink profile that doesn’t establish brand authority.
To help you understand this, let’s take a look at the homepage backlink profile of one of the biggest brands in the e-commerce space — Amazon:
- Amazon.com – 30%
- Amazon – 28%
- www.amazon.com – 16%
- https://www.amazon.com/ – 12%
- Niche-relevant keywords – 6%
- Others – 8%
Notice anything peculiar? Yes, up to 58% of their homepage backlinks contain a branded anchors — 86% if you include the naked URLs.
Put simply, you need to optimize for branded anchor texts on your homepage if you want to .
Think about it — authoritative brands that legitimately draw the attention of online users would naturally amass branded links to its homepage. That’s why you should aim to have at least 80% of your homepage links to have a branded anchor text.
3. You Forgot To Build Your Brand
In online marketing, brand building can pertain to different activities.
Influencer marketing, for example, is one endeavor that will definitely benefit your brand. It describes practices that will let you leverage the authority and online reach of other experts, brands, or other customers to improve your reputation and boost buyer confidence.
Granted, being on Google’s first page is impressive in its own right. But the influx of traffic you can achieve is meaningless if your visitors don’t have even an ounce of trust in your brand.
A common solution is to have a steady supply of relevant and useful content for your target audience. The more valuable and accurate information you freely provide, the easier your content consumers will turn into paying customers.
Another area of brand building is investing in social signals that incorporate social proof numbers and user-generated content.
For instance, if one of your posts have garnered thousands of likes, re-shares, and positive comments on social media, other users would become more receptive of your value propositions. Your content’s potential for links would also exponentially increase as more people share and engage it.
Some of the best ways to generate social proof is to launch social media contests and track brand mentions with a social listening tool.
4. You Don’t Score Your Seo Leads
Keep in mind that brand discovery through search engines is only the first step in the customer’s journey. They may not complete a purchase during their first visit, but you can show them the path to conversion by delivering content that matches their needs.
This is where the art of lead scoring steps in.
According to statistics, companies that have an effective lead scoring system can improve their lead generation ROI by up to 77%. It’s a marketing strategy that involves giving points to leads whenever they perform actions, and then sending them off to the sales team whenever they reach a certain “point threshold”.
For example, if one prospect clicks to a webinar landing page via a newsletter, then they can be attributed a point. But once they do attend your webinar, then their lead score can be increased by 5-10 points.
With SEO in mind, lead scoring begins by assessing the search terms and links they used to find your site.
If they used a keyword that signals a high purchase intent, then it might be ideal to send them off to the quickest path to sales. But if they arrived at your homepage via a branded link, then they most likely need a more proper introduction to your brand’s story and unique value propositions.
Remember, SEO is an incredibly intricate mechanism with a lot of moving parts. Considering the
fact that SEO can be bloody expensive, you can’t really blame small businesses who are hesitant to adopt an SEO strategy in their marketing.
Hopefully, learning the reasons why SEO isn’t affecting your bottom line would set your direction straight. If you’d like to know more about the SEO landscape in 2018, feel free to check out this post. Good luck!
The future of search is visual, whether it’s on Amazon, Pinterest, or Google. Learn what this shift means for SEO and how to adapt.
I want to tell you a story about a young Google algorithm.
He was born blind, in a world where a picture is worth a thousand searches. This little algorithm had one dream. To be able to see. So he got his friends to describe him images, but still he couldn’t see.
He built magical Google Goggles, but these didn’t work. Then one day, he built a learning machine and finally, after years of struggle, he could recognize images.
That little algorithm who could is named visual search and has taken on a job as the world’s personal shopper.
Image Searches Are Now Commonplace
Look at the two options below, which is more useful if you wanted to buy a handbag?
Slyce asked that question to consumers. 74 percent of them replied that text-based keyword searches are inefficient in helping to find the right product online.
A 2017 report by Jumpshot & Moz further supports that discovery through pictures is alive and well, with around 27 percent of all searches being for images. MozCast reports image blocks in around 11 percent of Google results. While Jumpshots’ data shows images earn 3 percent of all Google search clicks.
Image SEO: The Early Years
Let’s be honest, image optimization is the dinosaur of the SEO world. Sure you sayyou implement image SEO for additional ranking opportunities in Google image search, but in most cases, you don’t truly believe this will have a significant impact on your KPIs.
When is the last time you looked at the sessions from image search in Google Analytics? Did you even notice years ago the change from the referral path /imgres under google.com referral to a fully fledged source medium as images.google.com?
Most of the image SEO best practices are more for user experience than search engines rankings. Take a critical look at common image optimization tips:
Primary Reason Behind Common Image Optimization Tips
- Rankings OtherShy away from stock to use original, high-quality images
- Shy away from stock to use original, high-quality images
- Context is key, be relevant to surrounding text
- Appropriate file format so images are crisp
- Optimize image file size for web page load times
- Use standard image ratios
- Use image dimensions large enough to be clearly visible on any device
- Add descriptive captions for users who scan
- Descriptive image file names
- Descriptive alt text
- Descriptive image titles
- Submit an image sitemap
- Schema markup
- Open Graph tags
- Twitter cards
- Beware of copyright
And one can argue descriptive image file names, alt text, and image titles are used as an opportunity to add a keyword in order to rank the page, not necessarily the image itself.
Not to say the image optimization tips above are not valuable. You should still do these things.
The hard truth is SEO professionals often neglect image optimization as an afterthought to page-level optimization, if it’s considered at all. And this level of image optimization alone is not going to be enough to win users.
So why are you reading about it…
The Rise of Visual Search
In the past there was image search, where search engines took a text-based query and tried to find the best visual match.
In the present there is visual search, where search engines, social networks, ecommerce powerhouses, startups and many companies in between take an image as the query.
A change in consumer behavior is happening. In the words of Jeffrey Gitomer “people don’t like to be sold to, but they love to buy.”
When you see something you’re interested in, whether it’s online or offline, you want a fast an easy way to get more information.
For example, you see a pair of shoes in a magazine. With image recognition, you can take a photo and find similar item for sale online.
This see-snap-buy behavior is becoming commonplace and has opened up opportunities for companies to enter the purchase cycle with the photo as the search query. This places them higher in the conversion funnel than a text-based search query.
Visual search is fast becoming a staple of shopping apps. And with the impact on KPIs, it’s no surprise why.
BloomReach found that visual search is associated with 48 percent more product views. Consumers are 57 percent more likely to make a return visits and spend on average 9 percent more on mobile than those who do not use it.
Amazon, Pinterest, and many more have launched visual search capabilities on mobile. There is a battle of the brands to be your snap and shop app of choice.
At present, early adopters Amazon (turning the world into a hyperlink) and Pinterest (promoting on online discovery) are leading the pack. But Google isn’t taking this lying down.
Visual Search & Google
Google has been quietly adding machine learning and image recognition capabilities to mobile image search over the last years. Plotting the updates, you can see clear stepping stone technologies building on the theme of visual search.
- Related images (April 2013): Click on a result to view visually similar images.
- Collections (November 2015): Allows users to save images directly from Google’s mobile image search into folders. Google’s answer to a Pinterest board.
- Product images in web results (October 2016): Product images begin to display next to website links in mobile search.
- Product details on images (December 2016): Click on an image result to display product price, availability, ratings, and other key information directly in the image search results.
- Similar items (10th April 2017): Google can identify products, even within lifestyle images, and showcases similar items you can buy online.
- Style ideas (April 17, 2017): The flip side to similar items. When browsing fashion product images on mobile, Google shows you outfit montages and inspirational lifestyle photos to highlight how the product can be worn in real life.
- Image badges (August 1, 2017): Label on the image indicate what other details are available, encouraging more users to click. For example, badges such as “recipe” or a timestamp for pages featuring videos. But the most significant badge is “product” – shown if the item is available for purchase online.
These developments highlight that Google is making a play to turn image search into shoppable product discovery. It’s easier to show than tell.
The new visual search capabilities are all algorithmically selected based on a combination of schema and image recognition. Google told TechCrunch:
“The images that appear in both the style ideas and similar items grids are also algorithmically ranked, and will prioritize those that focus on a particular product type or that appear as a complete look and are from authoritative sites.”
How To Get Your Brand’s Images Featured
1. Implement Schema Markup
Badges are simple enough to win:
- For the recipe badge, use recipe markup.
- For the video badge, use video markup.
- For the product badge, use product markup.
Getting into the Similar Items and Related Items sections are a touch more challenging. To do this, ensure you have product markup on the host page with the meta-data minimum requirement:
But the more quality detail, the better, as it will make your results more robust. How product markup elements are populated into Google image search is shown below.
2. Validate Your Implementation
Run a few URLs through Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Don’t simply scan if there are no errors and move on. Be sure to look at the information itself to ensure it’s user-friendly.
It can take up to one week for your site’s images to be crawled. Like all schema markup, how items display in search results is at Google’s discretion and not guaranteed. However, quality markup will “increase the chance” of your images showing up.
4. Do a Site:Yourdomain.Com Query
Why your own site? To confirm your images have been indexed. Be sure to do this image search on mobile web or in the Android Search app. It is a mobile-first world. Not all image search functionality is visible on desktop.
If you see no image results badges, you likely have an implementation issue. Go back to step two.
If you see badges, click a couple to ensure they show your ideal markup in the details. Once you confirm all is well, then you can begin to search for your targeted keywords to see how you rank and if you are eligible for Similar Items or Related Items.
Note: While Badges and Related Items are common, Similar Items only cover a limited number of products in fashion. Google says it will expand in the coming months.
The Next Steps for Visual Search
The future is “Lens” – using your smartphone to translate real world input to digital action. No more QR codes or snap tags.
Markerless image recognition is coming. A world where nothing needs to be done to an image or object to turn it into a visual trigger to cue digital content. The static world becomes digitally connected simply by pointing your phone at it.
Both Pinterest and Google have the functionality, but I’ll let Google CEO Sundar Pichai explain in more detail:
I can envision:
- Product packaging coming to life. You point your phone at the product and it displays recipe possibilities, maps to nearby stores with the item in stock or coupon for an online order.
- Billboards of celebrities endorsing products will naturally connect you to the store to buy the product, but may also provide the latest gossip on that celebrity.
- Stranger’s outfits become walking ads when I can snap a pic and literally buy the shirt off their back. This will be a world where you can spontaneously buy most items you can see.
That is the power of visual search.
So, what are you doing to make your brand more visually appealing?
The best advertising strategy is one that helps the advertiser in delivering the message to a maximum number of people at a minimum cost. That is why from startup companies to large corporates; digital advertising is the first choice of smart businesses all over the world.
Almost a year back, the IT giant Cisco saved $ 100,000 when it decided to promote the newly launched router on digital platforms only. These days’ advertisers bet on digital advertising solutions because they help them accurately analyse the return on cost and the overall impact of an advertising campaign. A forecast made by PwC USA also claims that digital advertising is growing exponentially and American companies are going to spend $38.6bn by 2019 in this domain. In contrast, newspaper advertising is going to have a tough time and could experience a negative growth of 33% during the same period.
A major advantage of digital advertising is Pay per Click (PPC) payment mode, which means advertiser does not pay any extra amount to the partner website other than the number of clicks on the advertisement. Besides, display of an ad on both desktop and mobile screen ensure maximum outreach of a brand. Also, the mass appeal of social media and the availability of advanced analytical tools on social networks make Digital Advertising highly cost-effective and result oriented.
Strategies that Bring Results and Save Money
The cost of digital advertising is significantly cheaper than traditional advertising and businesses can save a great amount of if they carefully focus on the following things.
To ensure best returns from a digital advertising campaign, it should be targeted to the right audience. Advertisers who carefully select their target audience using the first-party data, second-party data, and third-party data as per their relevance receive impressions from the potential customers only. Data-based audience segmentation empowers advertisers with informed bidding decisions which ensure the success of an ad campaign and save money for the businesses.
Chase the Majority with Dayparting
Dayparting means dividing the scheduled week/day into multiple time slots and selecting those time slots when potential customers are expected to view and click on the ad. Various analytical tools help to study and predict the media consumption behaviour of the target audience and enable the advertiser to broadcast the ad at the right time. Dayparting ensures maximum return from a digital ad campaign because it empowers the advertiser with effective bidding strategies.
Keep the Campaign Fresh with Frequency Capping
Frequency capping decides that how many times the ad will be displayed or broadcasted to the particular audience during the total duration of the campaign. Advertisers who strategically fix the frequency capping usually get better attention of the people and they positively influence the decision of the prospective buyer. Low-frequency cap is considered beneficial for new campaigns with fresh creative while in the case of repeat/revised campaign frequency capping should be increased moderately.
Choose the Right Destination with Geotargeting
Geo targeting means more qualified leads and maximum utilisation of the ad spends because it allows the advertiser to run a campaign in selected geographical locations. The target area can be finalised within a particular state, city or even a selected region of the city which ultimately reduce advertising waste. Geotargeting is an ideal way to control advertisement investments in digital landscapes as it enables the advertiser to develop a customised campaign for niche segments. Geotargeting is ..
Owning more paid search spots on search results can increase your clicks by 30–50 percent for each additional spot that you occupy. To get this type of monster click growth from paid search, tap on your affiliates, partners and resellers to make a paid search land grab. For example, if your CTR (click-through rate) alone is 2 percent, removing one competitor and replacing it with one affiliate with a CTR of 0.8 percent grows your additive CTR to 2.8 percent — a 40 percent gain!
The learnings I am about to share come from years of working with search marketing clients through my position as CEO of The Search Monitor.
Growth hack 1: Use affiliates to protect brand terms
One of the most effective ways to use your affiliates is to box out competitors on your brand and brand+ keywords. In this hack, you will grant a trusted list of affiliates with brand bidding rights. Typically, you will also restrict ranking so that your ads always appear on top. By utilizing affiliates to fill in competitive ad spots on your brand+ keywords, you effectively reduce the reach of your competition.
The big benefit: More page real estate for you
This tactic works best if you are in a highly competitive space with three or more advertisers bidding on your brands. If you are already dominant — i.e., the only advertiser on your brand and brand+ keywords — then this tactic does not make sense for you.
The big challenge: Cannibalizing your clicks and messaging
To protect yourself from cannibalizing your SEM team’s efforts, you need to ensure a few safeties are in place:
- Your affiliates are granted limited rank rights so that you are always at the top.
- Your affiliates stay on message so that there are no conflicting offers showing.
Below is an example of Verizon taking advantage of this tactic. All of the top positions are for Verizon — nicely done!
By contrast, the screen shot below provides an example of ADT getting taken advantage of by not using this tactic. Positions 2, 3 and 4 are occupied by competitors.
If the cumulative CTR for ads on this keyword is 6 percent, then assuming the off-brand competitors are able to snag 2-3 percent CTR as a group, ADT has lost ~50 percent of its potential clicks. Given that SimpliSafe has a better offer at $15/month versus ADT’s offer of $9/week, the click loss might be higher than this.
Growth hack 2: Use affiliates to bid on brands you sell
To extend your reach, consider granting your trusted affiliates with direct linking rights to brand bid on brands that you sell. Direct linking involves an affiliate using your display URL in the ad (so that the ad looks like yours), and then driving the clicks through an affiliate link as the destination URL, then directly to your website.
The big benefit: More reach for you, no SEM budget changes
This tactic extends your paid search reach without extending your paid search budget. Your affiliates take on the risk and the budget, while driving traffic, branding and attention to your own website.
Amazon uses this tactic a lot. Amazon’s reach is tremendous because it uses this tactic across nearly every brand where you see an Amazon ad. The ads below are all direct linking ads from Amazon’s affiliates marketing on non-Amazon brands: Nike, Keurig, DKNY, Logitech and Verizon:
The big challenge: Direct linking is risky
Allowing affiliates to link directly is a bit risky, which is why most advertisers do not allow their affiliates to do it. A few problems can arise without careful monitoring:
- If the keyword lists overlap with your SEM team’s list, direct linking will cause tremendous channel conflict between the affiliate and paid search teams.
- Ad copy and messaging need to be carefully monitored to ensure that the messaging is on-brand.
- If the affiliate direct links on your own brand name, you have defeated the very purpose of this tactic; you should never allow affiliates to direct link on your own brand name.
To showcase these challenges, here are a few Amazon backfires:
- Here, Amazon gave its affiliate too much leeway. The resulting keyword choice and ad copy messaging makes no sense:
- Here, an Amazon affiliate sneaked up on Amazon’s own branded keyword. Brand bidding should never be allowed by direct linking affiliates. We call this problem “URL Hijacking”:
Do your homework
If you are going to deploy either of the above tactics, be sure to do your homework so that all goes well and you can sleep easily at night.
Define your search policy. Your affiliate agreement must describe exactly what is and is not allowed, including keyword bidding, messaging and direct linking.
Pick trusted affiliates. Pick affiliates who have the ability to manage SEM properly. To gauge trust, ask these questions:
- Is your affiliate monitoring its own activities? A huge credibility win is when your affiliate uses a compliance monitoring utility to police itself.
- Is your affiliate risky to other merchants? Try to gain insight into the brand bidding behavior that the affiliate poses towards other merchants.
Monitor for compliance and report often. For this plan to work, all of your affiliates must comply with your rules. Carefully monitor search results pages, automate reports, get alerts and fire off complaints if affiliates are not following your rules.
How will you know if this strategy is working?
Below are signs that your plan is working:
- Your traffic increases from the paid search channel.
- Your reach increases — your ads appear on more search results.
- You see fewer competitors on your brand terms.
- Your CPC (cost per click) decreases — our clients expect to see a 50-60 percent decrease in CPCs.
- Your CTR increases — our clients have seen 30-40 percent increases in clicks.
If they find your brand, it is because they want to, not because they were lead there by advertising or flashy marketing tactics.
As a content marketer, I am a huge fan of letting new customers find your company naturally.
It’s basically “permission marketing.”
If they find your brand, it is because they want to, not because they were lead there by advertising or flashy marketing tactics.
But there is a problem.
The competition has risen so much in recent years that the odds of you being heard through the noise without some sort of paid marketing are slim to none.
I know that outbound marketing is thought of as a four letter word.
But here’s the thing.ADVERTISING
Most consumers do not hate outbound marketing.
They hate irrelevant and pushy outbound marketing.
So how can you create paid marketing campaigns that engage potential customers and generate positive feedback?
Let me show you.
1. Improve Your Ads Quality Score
It doesn’t matter how amazing your landing page is, how well optimized your home is, or how kickass your product it.
If users are ignoring your advertisements, all of that effort is in vain.
You have to create engaging and high quality ads if you hope to compete in the crowded online business world.
So how do you measure and improve the quality of your ads?
By analyzing the quality/relevance score.
There are five major ways that Google determines the quality and relevance of your ad.
You need to understand and master all of them.
The quality of your ad will determine how much you pay per click, your maximum bid, and your rank in auctions.
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I hope so.
Anyways, here are the five things that Google uses to determine your quality score.
- The past performance of your account
- Relevance of your keywords based off of the advertisement
- The relevance of your ad’s copy
- The click through rate
- The quality of your landing page.
Optimizing all 5 of these metrics is extremely important if you want to stand any chance at succeeding with Google Adwords.
So do your research and improve that quality score!
The way that Facebook ranks ads is a little bit different from Google.
Instead of focusing on the quality and relevance of your ads, Facebook predominantly cares about relevance.
What this means is that you can have a mediocre ad perfectly targeting a selected demographic and Facebook will love you for it.
If you want to maximize your Facebook relevance score, you first have to understand whoyou are marketing to and then build your ads accordingly.
Have you ever heard that Jack Johnson song “3 R’s”?
Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Well, with Twitter ads, they determine your quality score based off of another 3 R’s.
Except this time, they are resonance, relevance, and recency.
These three metrics can be summed up quite easily.
Resonance: Is your audience resonating with your content? Are they retweeting and sharing on a regular basis?
Relevance: Does your audience care about your content?
Recency: Is your content new?
If you can master those three R’s, then you can master Twitter ads.
2. Utilize the Power of Emotion in Your Advertising
Most ads suck.
Like they really suck.
Don’t let this be you.
If you want to have any hope of standing out in the overcrowded marketing of social media and PPC advertising then you have to learn how to create great ads.
The key to a great ad is to spark emotion within your audience. The two emotions that generate the most conversions among advertisements are awe and laughter.
If you can create a sense of awe among viewers or make them fall out of their chair laughing then conversions are all but guaranteed.
While the exact methods for doing this will vary based off of your target market, a good place to get started is by watching Super Bowl Ads from years past.
Analyze the ads that evoke emotion — ads that made you laugh and the ads that made you sit back in awe.
Take note of how the ads accomplished this and then learn to replicate the effects in your own campaigns.
3. Master Demographic Targeting
One of the most important things that you can do when you are trying to create successful PPC advertising campaigns is to target the right demographic.
If you are not targeting your ideal audience than you are wasting precious time, money, and ad impressions.
Nearly every advertising platform allows you to specifically select your target demographic for your ad.
You want to make sure that you are as specific as possible.
Not only will a well targeted ad improve your overall ad quality/relevance score, but it will lead to more conversions because you are targeting people who actually want to buy.
The world of paid advertising is not an easy one.
There is a steep learning curve and you will probably lose money before you make it. But in the modern market, it is an absolute necessity.
Equipped with these three tips, you are off to a good start.
So do your research, get in the trenches, and start mastering paid ads now so that you can sit back and enjoy the rewards later.
What is your best paid-marketing secret?