How To Remarket 70+ Ways Using Segments and Conditions in Google Analytics

Remarketing in Google Analytics Using Conditions and Segments

I know what you’re thinking. Can you really remarket more than 70 different ways using segments in Google Analytics?  Yes, you can!  Actually, when you combine the methods I’ll cover today, there are many more types of Remarketing lists you can build!  So the total number is much greater than 70.

My post today is meant to introduce you to segments in Google Analytics (GA), explain how you can use them to remarket to people who already visited your site, and provide important Remarketing tips along the way.  I hope once you read this post, you’re ready to kick off some Remarketing campaigns to drive more sales, leads, phone calls, etc.

What Are Segments in Google Analytics?
Many digital marketers know about Remarketing already.  That’s where you can reach people that already visited your website via advertising as they browse the web.  For example, if John visited Roku’s website, browsed various products, and left, then Roku could use Remarketing to advertise to John as he browses the Google Display Network (GDN).  The Google Display Network is a massive network of sites that run Google advertising, and includes Google-owned properties like YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail, etc.  According to Google, the GDN reaches 90% of internet users worldwide.

Remarketing via The Google Display Network (GDN)

By the way, if you’ve ever visited a website and then saw ads from that website as you browsed the web, then you’ve been remarketed to.  As you can guess, this can be an incredibly powerful way to drive more sales, leads, etc.  It can also be extremely frustrating and/or shocking to users.  So be careful when crafting your Remarketing strategy!

When Remarketing first rolled out, you could only set up Remarketing lists in the AdWords interface.  That was ok, but didn’t provide a massive amount of flexibility.  That’s when Google enabled marketers to set up Remarketing lists via Google Analytics.  That opened up an incredible amount of opportunity to slice and dice visitors to create advanced-level Remarketing lists.  For example, you could create Remarketing lists based on users who visited a certain section of your website, or lists based on users completing a certain conversion goal, etc.  Needless to say, tying Google Analytics to Remarketing was an awesome addition.

Now, I started using Google Analytics Remarketing functionality immediately to help clients build advanced Remarketing lists, but I had a feeling that Google was going to make it even more powerful.  And they did.

Along Came Segments… Remarketing Options Galore
You might already be familiar with segments in Google Analytics, which was originally named “Advanced Segmentation”.  In July of 2013, Google released a new version in Google Analytics and simply called it “Segments”.  But don’t get fooled by the simpler name.  Segments enable marketers to slice and dice their users and traffic to view reporting at a granular level.  For example, I often set up a number of segments for clients, based on their specific goals. Doing so enables me to quickly view granular reporting by removing a lot of the noise residing in standard reports.

Using Segments to Create Remarketing Lists in Google Analytics

But starting in January of 2014, Google rolled out an update that enabled marketers to use those segments to create Remarketing lists.  Yes, now marketers had an incredible number of options available when creating Remarketing lists.  In addition, you could easily import segments you are already using! This means you could leverage the hard work you’ve already put in when creating segments in Google Analytics.

Although I thought I had a lot of flexibility in creating Remarketing lists leading up to that point, the ability to use segments opened the targeting flood gates.  I remember checking out the list of options when segments for Remarketing first launched, and I was blown away.

For example, using segments you could create Remarketing lists based on:

  • Demographics like age, gender, language, location, and more.
  • Technology options like operating system, browser, device category, mobile device model or branding, and more.
  • Behavior like the number of sessions per user, days since last session, transactions, and session duration.
  • “Date of First Session” where you could create lists based on the initial session date or a range (sessions that started between two dates).
  • Traffic Sources based on campaign, medium, source, or keyword.
  • Ecommerce options like transaction id, revenue, days to transaction, product purchased, or product category.
  • And you can combine any of these options to create even more advanced Remarketing lists.

 

Now, the options listed above are based on the major categories of segments in Google Analytics.  But you can also set Remarketing lists based on conditions.  Using conditions, you could leverage many of the dimensions or metrics available in Google Analytics to build advanced Remarketing lists.  Actually, there are so many options via “conditions” that I can’t even list them all here in this post.

For example, there are eight major categories of dimensions and metrics you could choose from, including Acquisition, Advertising, Behavior, Custom Variables, Ecommerce, Time, Users, and Other.  And each category has a number of dimensions or metrics you can select to help craft your Remarketing lists.

Using Conditions to Create Remarketing Lists in Google Analytics

Note, it can definitely be overwhelming to review the list of options when you first check this out.  Don’t worry, I provide some tips for getting started later in this post.  For now, just understand that you can use segments and conditions in Google Analytics to craft Remarketing lists based on a number of factors (or a combination of factors).  Basically, you have the power to remarket however you like.  And that’s awesome.

Examples of What You Can Do
Enough with the introduction.  Let’s get specific.  I’m sure you are wondering how segments in Google Analytics can be used in the real-world.  I’ll provide a few examples below of Remarketing lists you can build to get back in front of people who already visited your website.  Note, the lists you build should be based on your specific business and website.  I’m just covering a few options below so you can see the power of using segments to build Remarketing lists.

Example 1: Remarket to users who came from a specific referral path (page).
Imagine you knew that certain referring webpages drove a lot of high-quality traffic on a regular basis.  Based on the quality of traffic coming through those referring pages, you decide that you would love to remarket to those users as they browse the web (since you have a strong feel for the type of user they are based on the content at hand).

Using segments, you could create a Remarketing list based on the original referral path (i.e. the referring pages).  And once that list reaches 100 members, then you can start getting targeted ads in front of those users and driving them to your preferred landing page (whether that’s current content, campaign landing pages, etc.)

Using Referring Path to Create Remarketing Lists

And if you find several referring pages that target similar categories of content, then you could use Boolean operators to combine those pages from across different websites.  For example, {referring path A} AND {referring path B}.  For example, if three referring pages are all about Category A, then you could combine them to create a Remarketing list.  You can also use regular expressions to match certain criteria.  Yes, the sky’s the limit.

Using Boolean Operators to Create Advanced Remarketing Lists

Example 2: Reach a certain demographic that has visited your website.
Let’s say you just launched a new product targeting 18-25 year olds and wanted to remarket to users who already visited your website that fit into this category.  You know they showed some interest in your company and products already (since they already visited your site), so you want to reach them via display advertising as they browse the web.

Using segments, you could create a Remarketing list based on age using the Demographics category.  Simply click the checkbox next to the age category you want to target.

Creating Remarketing Lists Based on Demographics

Or to get even more targeted, you could combine age with gender to test various messaging or visuals in your ads.  Going even further, you could add location as another selection to target users based on age, gender, and geographic location (down to the city level if you wanted).

Combining Demographics to Create Advanced Remarketing Lists

Example 3: Target users of specific campaigns, ad groups, or keywords.
Let’s say you are already using AdWords to drive targeted users to your website.  Using segments in Google Analytics, you could build a Remarketing list based on specific campaigns, ad groups, or keywords.  For example, if you have an ad group targeting a specific category or product, then you could create a list containing the users that already searched Google and clicked through your ads related to that category.  It’s a great way to get back in front of a targeted audience.

Creating Remarketing Lists Based on Previous Campaigns

And by combining the targeting listed above with ecommerce conditions like the number of transactions or amount of revenue generated, you could create advanced Remarketing lists targeting very specific types of users.

Creating Remarketing Lists Based on Revenue

Example 4: Pages or Page Titles
If you have been building a lot of new content and want to reach those visitors as they browse the web, then you could create a Remarketing list based Pages or Page Titles.  For example, let’s say you have 25 blog posts about a certain category of content.  They rank very well, have built up a nice amount of referral traffic, etc.  You could build a Remarketing list by select a grouping of pages via urls or via page titles. Then you could reach those users as they browse the web and drive them to a targeted landing pages, knowing they were interested in a certain post (or group of posts) about a certain subject.

Creating Remarketing Lists Based on Page Titles

And you can combine those pages with conversion goals to add users to a list that completed some type of important action on the site.  For example, users that signed up for your email newsletter, users that triggered an event, downloaded a study, etc.

Creating Remarketing Lists Based on Page Titles and Conversion

Remarketing Tips

Based on the examples listed above, I hope you see the power in using segments and conditions to craft Remarketing lists.  But as I said earlier, it can quickly become overwhelming (especially for marketers new to Remarketing).  Below, I’ve listed several important tips to keep in mind while crafting your campaigns.

  1. Remarketing Lists Require 100 Members
    A list requires at least 100 members before you can start showing ads to users.  Keep this in mind when building lists to ensure you can reach that number.  If not, you will never get back in front of those users.
  2. Start Simple, Then Increase in Complexity
    Based on the 100 member requirement, start with simpler Remarketing lists and increase your targeting as you get more comfortable with Remarketing.  Don’t start with the most granular targeting possible, only to have a list of 3 people.
  3. Refine Your Tracking Snippet
    Google requires that you refine your Google Analytics tracking code in order take advantage of Remarketing.  Review the documentation to ensure you have the proper technical setup.
  4. Craft a Strategy First, and Your Lists Should Support Your Strategy
    Don’t create lists for the sake of creating lists. Always start by mapping out a strong Remarketing strategy before jumping into list creation. Your strategy should dictate your Remarketing lists, and not the other way around.  Spend time up front mapping out who you want to target, and why.  And once you have a solid plan mapped out, you can easily build your lists via Google Analytics segments and conditions.
  5. Use Display Advertising In Addition to Text Ads
    Remarketing enables you to use both image ads and text ads.  Definitely use both when crafting your campaigns.  There are a number of sizes and formats you can use.  I recommend hiring a designer to build your ads unless you have in-house staff that is capable of designing high-quality ads.  Use image ads where possible to grab the user’s attention and provide text ads as a backup when a site doesn’t support image ads.  You don’t have to choose one or the other.
  6. Measure Your Results! Don’t “Set It and Forget It”.
    Remarketing is advertising.  And advertising campaigns should have a goal.  Don’t simply set up Remarketing without knowing the intended action you want users to take.  Instead, make sure you set up conversion goals to track how those users convert.  Do not set up the campaign and let it run without analyzing the results.  Understand the ROI of the campaign.  That’s the only way you’ll know if it worked, if the campaign should keep running, and if you should base other campaigns on the original.

 

Summary – New and Powerful Ways to Remarket
After reading this post, I hope you see the power in using segments and conditions for creating Remarketing lists.  In my opinion, too many marketers keep going after new eyeballs and easily forget about the eyeballs that already showed an interest in their company, products, or services.  I believe that’s a mistake.  Instead, marketers can craft advanced Remarketing lists to get back in front of a targeted audience.  Doing so provides another chance at converting them.

Remember, a warm lead is always more powerful than a cold call.  Good luck.

GG

 

In-SERP Hover Cards – How Google Could Surface Your Answers, Products, Downloads, Reviews, Events, and More Directly in the Search Results

New Google Hover Card in SERPs for Beats Music
Last Wednesday, Google rolled out new functionality in the search results, which sure got the attention of SEOs across the industry.  Now when searching for information, you will sometimes see an additional link directly in the search results for specific organizations and/or websites.  Users can click on that link to view additional information about that organization right in the search results (via data from Google’s Knowledge Graph).

Google states that this can occur for websites that are “widely recognized as notable online, when there is enough information to show or when the content may be handy for you.”  When clicking the link next to the URL in the search snippet, a small window opens providing the information.  It’s basically a hover card that provides additional information.  This is an important move by Google, since users don’t need to leave the search results to find more information.

Here’s an example of the info card for Netflix:
New Google Hover Card in SERPs for Netflix

The information displayed in the hover card is based on Google’s Knowledge Graph, or data that Google has collected about “real world things”.  Knowledge Graph data comes from a variety of trusted sources, including Freebase (which Google acquired), Wikipedia, CIA World Factbook, etc. As of July of 2012, Google had collected information about 570 million entities, including 18 billion facts and connections.

To quickly summarize the new addition to the search engine results pages (SERPs), if you are searching for answers, and Google has information in its Knowledge Graph about the sites ranking in the search results, you just might see that new link appear directly within the search listing.  And if you click that link, you’ll see Knowledge Graph data in a small window directly in the search results.

Hover Creep: Your Content, Answers, Products, and Downloads Directly in the Search Results?
As I was testing these new “Info Cards”, I started to think deeper about what was occurring, and how this might be the next phase of a monumental shift for Google.  Over the past few years, SEOs have seen Google provide more and more information directly in the search results.  For example, check out all of the types of answers Google will provide right in the results (courtesy of Pete Meyers).  Based on this shift to the all-knowing SERP, many SEOs believe that at some point, Google won’t need to drive users to third party websites anymore.  Instead, maybe it could provide all the information directly in the results.

Don’t believe me?  How about this search for “calories in bananas”:
Nutrition Information in the Search Results

 

Expanding Hover Cards – Coming Soon to a SERP Near You
Based on how much information Google is already providing in the search results (driven by Knowledge Graph data), combined with new hover card functionality in the search results, is it really far-fetched to think Google could expand this approach?  Sure, it won’t happen overnight, but as Google collects and trusts more information from trusted third parties, it could absolutely start providing that data right in the search results.

And that little popup window (hover card) is the first sign that Google isn’t afraid to add more information directly in the SERPs for specific listings.  Let’s face it, providing author details (based on authorship markup) is one thing.  But using a hover card to provide more content per search listing is another.

And maybe this is just a test to see how users react before rolling out more and more content directly in the search results.  And maybe it’s not limited to content… maybe other types of functionality are coming, like ecommerce functionality, downloads, sign-ups, etc.  Now that would be interesting, unless of course, you’re the owner of that content, download, etc. who gets cut out of the process.  Yes, beware the hover card.

So, let’s have some fun and explore what this could look like and how it could work.  It just might be closer than you think.


Trusted Sources, and a Note About Publishership
Some of you reading this post might be wondering how Google could verify typical websites, especially since it’s using trusted data for the recent release of “info cards”.   For example, Google trusts the data in its Knowledge Graph, so it’s comfortable providing the popup window with more information about certain entities.  But will it do this for the average site on the web?  If Google is going to provide more information directly in the search results, then it’s going to have to trust those third party websites, and their content, to do so.

Although many website owners have been focused on authorship markup, where author details can show up in the search results, there is publishership as well.  By claiming publishership (rel=publisher), Google can connect a website to an entity in Google Plus (similar to the way an author is tied to a G+ profile).  That connection could possibly be the basis for providing more content in the search results.  And yes, this could drive even more people to Google+ over the next few years.

By the way, just last year Google tested out showing publisher images in the search results (similar to author details).  I saw the test live, and others did too.  I almost fell out of my seat when I saw client logos in the search results.  That test was removed quickly once word started getting out, but here’s a screenshot of what that looked like.  Check out the publisher image in the search results below:

Publisher Markup in the Search Results

So, if Google understands more about a website via publishership, maybe it can use data from the website to provide more information directly in the SERPs.  Hey, it’s entirely possible.

Now, if this was the case, at least website owners could remove publishership from their sites (if they didn’t like Google providing more data directly in the search results).  But that could be a double-edged sword for content owners.  Sure, you could stop Google from providing your answers in the search results, but maybe Google won’t rank your listings highly anymore (since it’s getting more engagement from listings that provide the in-SERP functionality).    Who knows, I’m just thinking out loud here…

Now let’s take a look at what could potentially appear in the SERPs if this comes to fruition.

Hover Cards and Google – The Various Types of Content and Functionality That Could Appear Directly in the Search Results
Based on what I explained above, how could Google implement additional content or functionality directly in the search results?  And what would it look like?  I started brainstorming a few different ways this could happen and have provided some possibilities below.  Note, these are just some logical options based on what I’ve seen happening with Google and its search results over the past few years.  There are definitely more possibilities than what I’m listing below, but this is a good start.

And yes, in-SERP content and functionality could have a huge impact on websites and businesses.  I’ll cover more about that later in the post.

1. Direct Answers (From Your Site)
There are a lot of companies receiving traffic from users based on queries for direct answers to questions.  Again, Google is already providing many answer boxes for various topics (as covered earlier).  But that’s not per listing in the search engine results pages…  it’s usually via an answer box at the top of the search results.  That’s much different than a hover card per search listing (or for certain listings in the SERPs).

Let’s use my website as an example.  How about a search for “how many dmca requests google impact”?  That’s a search related to the Pirate Update, which I covered extensively in a post in December.  If Google provides the answer in the SERP via an “Answer Card”, it could look like this:

Google Answer Card in the Search Results

If this type of answer card rolls out, and the hover card provides enough of the answer, users will never hit your site.  So, if you are hoping that users visit your site to find the answer, and then take some other action on your website, good luck.  You better start thinking of another way to get that to happen.

2. How-Tos  or Tutorial Segments
If someone searches for how to perform a certain task, and that task is limited in steps, then maybe that information could show up in the search results via a “Tutorial Card”.  Or maybe someone is searching for a specific step in a tutorial.  Google could provide just that step in a hover card directly in the SERPs.

Google Tutorial Card in the Search Results

3. Product or Service Information
If someone is interested in a certain product category or service, then maybe that information is pulled directly from sites in that niche.  For example, if someone searches for “IT consulting” or “computer science” or “4K television”, Google could provide that information directly in the SERPs via a “Product or Service Card”.  For example:

Google Category Card in the Search Results

4. Ecommerce – Fighting Amazon via the “Ecommerce Card”
Information is great, but let’s talk about ecommerce.  Google and Amazon battle heavily in the ecommerce space.  Sure, Google doesn’t sell anything directly, but they make a boatload of money via paid search.  And product listing ads (PLAs) are at the heart of that growth right now.  On the flipside, many people go directly to Amazon to search for products.  That’s the result of a huge inventory, a boatload of review data, and Prime membership (with free, two-day shipping).

But, what if Google decided to provide one-click ecommerce functionality directly in the SERPs?  This could be handled by connecting your Google profile to Google Wallet and buying products directly in the SERPs via the “Ecommerce Card”.  This would be amazing for people that already know which product they want to buy.  It could look like this:

Google Ecommerce Card in the Search Results

And yes, this would be like AdWords on steroids since Google could generate revenue via the organic listings by earning a percentage of the sale.  Holy cow.  :)  More about the ecommerce impact later in this post.

 

5. Reviews
Going even further with our ecommerce example, if someone searched for reviews of a product or service, Google could surface that information and provide it directly in the “Review Card”.   For some people, the review snippet below would be enough.  And that could drastically impact the downstream traffic to pcmag.com.

Google Review Card in the Search Results

6. Downloads
Along the same lines, what if you were looking to download content via pdfs (or other formats)?  Imagine Google provided this download functionality via a “Download Card” directly in the search results.  Google could scan each file for malware and tee it up for users to download.  And if you want to charge for that file, then you can combine the “Ecommerce Card” with the “Download Card”.  That would be a smart combination for sure.

Google Download Card in the Search Results

7. Sign-ups/Registration
Looking to sign up for a webinar, join an email list, or confirm you’ll be attending an event?  Registration functionality could also be provided directly in the search results.  Actually, Google has already been testing functionality for joining email lists in AdWords (via ads in the search results).  This could easily be included in a “Registration Card” directly in the organic search results.

Google Registration Card in the Search Results

I can keep going here… but I think you get the picture.  And these hover cards don’t have to be limited to Knowledge Graph data.  If Google can verify certain entities, then it can feel comfortable providing more information to users directly in the search results.  That data could be answers, information, coupon codes, medical information, pricing, reviews, downloads, list signups, ecommerce functionality, and more.

 

What Happens if this Rolls Out?
Website owners will riot in the streets.  :)  Ok, maybe not literally, but this could cause serious problems for many business owners.

Publishers with an Ad-Driven Model
Let’s start with websites earning advertising revenue based on traffic.  Well, if a site is charging a CPM (or cost per thousand impressions), and 40% of its traffic goes away, their revenue will take a huge hit.  And as their traffic numbers plummet, so will their ability to sell advertising on the site.  Publishers will once again need to figure out other ways to monetize, which is no easy feat.

Ecommerce Retailers
Next on the list are ecommerce retailers.  The once pure, ROI-driven organic results will now be asking for a commission.  If Google does roll out the ability to buy directly from the search results via one-click “ecommerce cards”, then it will surely want a cut of the sale.  Remember, advertising comprises a huge percentage of Google’s revenue and product listing ads are doing extremely well for them (via AdWords).  But having the ability to sell via the much larger set of organic listings could be huge for Google.

Blogs and Resources
For those writing great content on blogs and resource websites, then the possibility of having that content surfaced in “answer cards” could be a big problem (although not as big of a problem as large publishers and ecommerce retailers).  The real downside here would be users gaining answers based on your hard work, without needing to visit your site.

And if they don’t visit your site, they can’t find out more about you, they can’t subscribe to your feed, find your social accounts, or contact you.  I’m sure some users will decide to visit the site, but a certain percentage surely won’t.  This could lead to a drop in awareness, which could impact multiple channels for content owners.  i.e. less subscribers, twitter followers, facebook fans, etc.  And of course, this could impact leads and new business for the organizations publishing content.

Hover Card Extensions – A Note About Ads
It’s hard to write about Google without bringing up advertising.  Again, advertising drives ~96% of Google’s revenues, so these new hover cards would probably have some type of advertising component.  I already mentioned the revenue that ecommerce cards could drive (via a percentage of the sale), but Google could absolutely add sponsored information to hover cards.

For example, imagine having the ability to promote certain pages on your site (to increase click through), provide the ability to subscribe to a feed, follow you on Google+, etc. right from the various hover cards.  This type of ad extension could easily be included in the AdWords platform.  And if that happens, Google could expand AdWords-like functionality to the organic listings.  As long as it’s clearly labeled, and it’s actually helpful to users, then it’s a huge win-win for Google.  Users get what they are looking for, and Google just added a massive new source of revenue.

Hover Card Ad Extensions in Google

 

Summary – Hover Cards and the All-Powerful SERP
The addition of “info cards” in the search results caught serious attention last week across the industry.  But is this just the beginning?  Is it merely a test to see how users react to providing more information directly in the search results per listing?  And if it works well, it’s hard to say how much information and functionality Google could provide in the SERPs.

Time will tell how much of what I listed above becomes a reality.  Until then, I recommend continuing to diversify your digital efforts.  If not, you run the risk of transforming from a website with a lot of traffic into a hover card sitting in the search results.  And there’s not much room to play with there.

GG

 

 

You Might Be Losing Out – How To Make Sure Sitelink Extensions in Bing Ads Are Tracked Properly [Tutorial]

Bing Ads released sitelink extensions in October of 2012, which enables advertisers to provide additional links in their text ads.  Google AdWords has had ad sitelinks for some time, so this was a great addition by our friends at Bing Ads.  For example, if you were an ecommerce website selling sporting goods, you could provide ad sitelinks for your top categories, like football, baseball, basketball, etc. right beneath your standard text ad.  Sitelink extensions are great usability-wise, while they also provide a nice advantage in the SERPs (since they take up more real-estate).

Here are two examples of sitelink extensions in action (2 Formats):
Example of Sitelink Extensions in Bing Ads for Lucky Jeans

 

Example of Sitelink Extensions in Bing Ads for Adidas

So, let’s say you set up sitelink extensions for some of your campaigns, and you’re basking in the glory of those beautiful ads (and the click through they are getting).  But, maybe your reporting isn’t lining up clicks and visits-wise.  Sure, there are several reasons that could be happening, but maybe it got worse since you launched sitelink extensions.  Well, the reason could very well be the lack of tagging on your ad sitelinks.  If those additional URLs aren’t tagged properly, then your analytics package could very well be reporting that traffic as organic search.  And that would be shame.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through why this could be happening, and how to rectify the situation.  After reading this post, you might just run to Bing Ads today and make changes.  Let’s jump in.

Sitelink Extensions and Tracking Parameters
In Bing Ads, you can include sitelink extensions several ways.  First, you can add them manually via the Bing Ads web UI.  Second, you can use Bing Ads Editor to add them locally, and then upload them to your account.  And third, and possibly the top reason ad sitelinks don’t get tagged, is that you can import them from AdWords via the “Import from Google” functionality.  Note, the import from AdWords functionality is awesome, so don’t get me wrong.  It’s just that it’s easy to import ad sitelinks and not know they are there.  Then you run the risk of uploading untagged sitelink extensions.

How To Create Sitelink Extensions in Bing Ads

So, you need to make sure that your ad sitelinks are tagged properly, based on the analytics package you are using to track campaigns.  For example, if you are using Google Analytics, then you need to make sure that you identify each click coming from your sitelink extensions.  That means you should be appending tracking parameters to your sitelink URLs.  For Google Anlaytics, you can use URL Builder to tag your landing page URLs.

Tagging Sitelink URLs Using URL Builder

 

How To Tag Your Ad Sitelinks in Bing Ads
Again there are various ways to include sitelink extensions in your campaigns, from using the web UI to using Bing Ads Editor to using the “Import from Google” functionality.  I’ll quickly cover each method below to make sure you know where to apply your tracking parameters.

1.  The Bing Ads Web UI
You can currently apply ad sitelinks at the campaign level in Bing Ads.  When you access a campaign, you can click the “Ad Extensions” tab to include ad sitelinks.  Once there, you can click “Create” to add a new sitelink extension.  If you have other sitelink extensions set up across campaigns, you will see them listed (and you can apply those to your campaign if it makes sense).

Creating Sitelink Extensions Using the Bing Web UI

If you want to add a completely new sitelink extension, then click “Create New”.  When adding the sitelink extension, Bing Ads provide a field for link text and then a field for the destination URL.  When you add the URL, make sure your tracking parameters are added!  If not, your visits will show up as “Bing Organic” versus “Bing CPC”.  Good for the SEO team, but not so good for the paid search team.  :)

 

Adding Sitelinks Using the Bing Web UI

 

2. Bing Ads Editor
I love Bing Ads Editor.  It’s an awesome way to manage your campaigns locally and then sync with the Bing Ads web UI.  And as you can guess, there is functionality for adding and editing sitelink extensions in Bing Ads Editor.  You can access your sitelink extensions by clicking the “Ad Extensions” tab for any selected campaign.

Once you click the “Ad Extensions” tab, you can add sitelink extensions by clicking the “Create a Sitelink Extension” button from the top menu.  Then similar to the web UI, you can add the link text and the destination URL.  When adding your destination URLs, make sure your tracking parameters are added.

Adding Sitelinks Using the Bing Ads Editor

 

3. Import from Google (in Bing Ads Editor)
As I explained earlier, I love having the ability to import campaigns, changes, etc. from AdWords directly into Bing Ads Editor.  It makes managing campaigns across both platforms much more efficient.  But, I’ve seen advertisers import campaigns from AdWords that have sitelink extensions, but they don’t realize it.  Then they upload their campaigns to Bing Ads and don’t understand that prospective customers are clicking their sitelinks, visiting their sites, etc., but those visits aren’t being tracked correctly.  Again, those visits will show up as “Bing Organic” in your analytics reporting.

When you go through the process of importing your campaigns, make sure you double check the “Ad Extensions” tab for the newly-imported campaign.  You just might find sitelink extensions sitting there.  And yes, they very well could be left untagged.  Make sure you add your tracking parameters before uploading them to Bing Ads (from Bing Ads Editor).

You can also uncheck the “Ad Extensions” radio button when importing your campaigns from AdWords.  Then you can add your sitelink extensions directly in Bing Ads Editor (via the second method I covered earlier in this post.

Importing Sitelink Extensions in Bing Ads Editor

 

Sitelinks Are Powerful, But Only If They Are Tracked
Sitelinks extensions are a great addition to Bing Ads, and they absolutely can yield higher click through rates.  But, you need to make sure those clicks are being tracked and attributed to the right source – your Bing Ads campaigns!  I recommend checking your campaigns today to make sure your sitelink extensions have the proper tracking parameters appended.  If not, you can quickly refine those links to make sure all is ok.   And when everything is being tracked properly, you just might see a boost in visits, orders, and revenue being attributed to Bing Ads.  And that’s always a good thing.

GG

 

 

Enhanced Campaigns and Local Search | How To Use Bid Adjustments with Radius Targeting to Customize Bids Per Location [Tutorial]

Enhanced Campaigns in Google AdWords

On February 6th, Google AdWords released a major update to its platform called Enhanced Campaigns.  Advertisers can upgrade to enhanced campaigns now (as an option), but all campaigns will be upgraded by mid-2013.  Enhanced campaigns provide a radically different way to target by device, adjust bids for various targeting options, set up versatile ad extensions, etc.  Therefore, if you’re running paid search campaigns in AdWords, you should get up to speed sooner than later.

The major changes to AdWords with enhanced campaigns include the ability to combine targeting methods in one single campaign versus having to break out separate campaigns.  For example, in the past, it was optimal to separate your desktop and mobile campaigns.  This would enable you to tailor creative, drive users to mobile optimized pages, bid differently, etc.

In addition, if you were targeting various locations, you would also break those out to different campaigns.  For example, you might have had one campaign targeting New York and another New Jersey (in separate campaigns).  Using enhanced campaigns, you can use bid adjustments to control bidding per location versus having to break them out to additional campaigns.

Those are just two of the changes that enhanced campaigns bring, and you should definitely read up on the rest.  Again, you will be forced to upgrade at some point, and you don’t want to frantically get familiar with enhanced campaigns at the last minute.

Local Businesses and Radius Targeting
So, how do enhanced campaigns impact location targeting for local businesses?  Well, if you are targeting users located near your physical location, then enhanced campaigns provide a great way to control bids by location.  Specifically, you can use radius targeting to adjust bids based on the distance from your store, office, etc.

Radius Targeting in Google AdWords
Radius Targeting in Google AdWords

For example, let’s say you ran a plumbing service in the Princeton Area.  Since you need to travel to customer locations, and many need help immediately, you know that prospective customers located within 15 miles of your office are highly valuable targets.  But, you also know that prospective customers as far out as 30 miles can work for your business too.  But, time equals money, and 30 miles out isn’t ideal when you factor in travel time.  Again, this is all hypothetical, but you get the picture.

So, based on this situation, you could use enhanced campaigns to target users 15 miles out and 30 miles out, and set bids accordingly (using bid adjustments).  A bid adjustment lets you increase or decrease your bids, based on certain criteria.  In this case, you might set a standard bid that your 15 mile radius targeting could use, and then decrease your bid for users located up to 30 miles away.  Then AdWords would dynamically adjust your bids based on the location of the person searching for your services.

Below, I’m going to show you how to set this up in an enhanced campaign.  Note, you would obviously need to first upgrade your campaign to “enhanced” before being able to implement the steps listed below.  Google has provided an upgrade guide in case you want to upgrade one of your campaigns prior to following the steps below.

How to Use Radius Targeting in Enhanced Campaigns (with Bid Adjustments):

1. Access one of your campaigns that has been upgraded to an “enhanced campaign” and click the “Settings” tab.

Campaign Settings in Enhanced Campaigns

2. Click the “Locations” tab within your campaign settings.  Then click “Edit locations”.

Location Tab in Campaign Settings (in Enhanced Campaigns)

3. This is where you can add locations to target.  In the field labeled, “In what locations do you want your ads to appear”, enter the city or zip code you want to target.  For example, I will enter “Princeton, NJ”.   AdWords will autopopulate locations based on what you’re entering. When you see the city you want to target, click the “Nearby” link.

Adding a location to target in enhanced campaigns.

4. Click “Radius Targeting” in the top row of links and re-enter the city and state combination.  Then choose a distance away from your location for the first target location.  Let’s enter 15 miles and click “Search”.

Using Radius Targeting in Enhanced Campaigns

5. AdWords will show the custom location underneath the radius targeting field.  You can then click “Add” to add that location as a target for your campaign.  Click “Done” at the bottom of the location targeting window after you have added the first location.

Adding Radius Targeting in Enhanced Campaigns

6. But we’re not done yet.  We need to add a second targeting option for 30 miles away.  Then we’ll adjust bids based on location.    You should see your first location in the “Edit Locations” window (with the radius targeting you just selected).  You should only see one location at this point.  In order to add another location target, click the “Nearby” link next to the first location target.  This will bring up the location targeting window again.

Adding a second location target in enhanced campaigns.

7. Similar to what we did earlier, click the “Radius Targeting” link in the top list of links.  Then enter your city and state combination, or zip code, and enter a radius.  This time, we will enter 30 miles.  Remember, we want to still reach users up to 30 miles away, but we don’t want to pay as much per click.  Once you click “Search”, AdWords will show your location with the radius you selected.  Then simply click “Add” to add that as a second location target.  Click “Done” at the bottom of the location targeting window after you have added the second location.

Adding a second location target using radius targeting in enhanced campaigns.

8. Below the “Edit Locations” window, you should see your two location targets (one for 15 miles out and the other for 30 miles out).  You should see a column for “Bid adj.” which will enable you to include bid adjustments per target.  Our strategy is to bid normally for users located up to 15 miles out from our location, but we want to lower that bid by 30% for users located up to 30 miles out.

To do this, simply click the dashed line in the Bid adj. field for the 30 mile target and select “Decrease by” and then enter 30 in the percentage field.  Click “Save” to lock in the bid adjustment for the location target.

Adding a bid adjustment in an enhanced campaign.

Including bid adjustments for location targets in enhanced campaigns.


That’s it!
  You just set up a smart scenario for bidding normally for users located closer to your location, while lowering your bids for users outside your typical service zone.  Dare I say we’ve just covered an enhanced way to bid.  :)

Summary – Use the (Local) Power of Enhanced Campaigns
What I explained above is just one way for local businesses to take advantage of enhanced campaigns.  You can also mix various targeting methods with bid adjustments to create advanced-level targeting scenarios.  For example, combining desktop, mobile, and location to ensure you are bidding appropriately for the right devices, and for the right locations.  But that’s for another day, and another tutorial.

For now, I recommend familiarizing yourself with enhanced campaigns, and testing various location targeting scenarios.  Use bid adjustments by location to ensure you are bidding correctly, based on the user’s location.  Then you can expand from there.  Good luck.

GG

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) in Google AdWords – How Your Technical SEO Problems Just Impacted Your SEM Campaigns

Dynamic Search Ads in Google AdWords (DSA)

In October of 2011, Google began testing Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) in AdWords.  It was a bold move and signaled a change in how paid search could operate in the future.  Using dynamic search ads, advertisers could greatly expand their reach by enabling AdWords to match queries with content in Google’s organic index.  Instead of simply setting up keyword-based campaigns, you could dynamically provide relevant ads to users searching for content residing on your site.

Last week AdWords released Dynamic Search Ads to all users, so now everyone can expand their reach using DSA’s.  But before you run and set up your campaigns, there’s a catch you need to be aware of.  Your content must be indexed in Google’s organic search index in order for it to be eligible for dynamic search ads.  Yes, your SEO just impacted your SEM, and that’s what my post is about today.  Read on.

Targeting Dynamic Search Ads (DSA)
Targeting-wise, you can set up dynamic ad targets based on the content that’s been indexed on your site.  For example, you can target all webpages on your site, categories of content, pages by URL, content by page title, or simply by content residing on a page.  Depending on the dynamic ad targets you set up, AdWords will match up queries with your content that’s been indexed.  I bolded those last few words, since thorough indexation can be a big problem for some companies.  More on that soon.

You can target DSA’s by Category, URL, Page Title, or Page Content:

Dynamic Ad Targets in Google AdWords


Dynamic Search Ads Example
Imagine you sold shoes and had AdWords campaigns already set up for sneakers and boots.  I’m sure you would have more, but let’s keep this simple.  Now, let’s say you have 150 specific products that fall into these categories, but aren’t set up in your AdWords campaigns (you just have categories set up).  These products are essentially left out in the paid search cold… until now.  Using dynamic search ads, you could target those specific products that don’t have campaigns set up and let AdWords match up your content with targeted queries automatically (based on what’s indexed in Google’s organic index).  AdWords could dynamically build the ad title, include ad text written by you, and then determine the destination URL based on what’s indexed in Google.  Hence the “dynamic” part of Dynamic Search Ads.  :)

An example of creating a dynamic search ad in AdWords:

Example of Dynamic Search Ad in AdWords

Yes, it’s paid search less the keywords.  As you can imagine, this can have a major impact on how paid search is managed, optimized, and enhanced by AdWords advertisers.  But more importantly, now technical SEO issues can negatively impact your DSA’s, since they leverage Google’s organic search index.  That’s a good segue to the next section of my post.

DSA’s are based on Google’s Organic Search Index (Meet Your New SEO Problem)
As I mentioned earlier, in order for dynamic search ads to work, your content needs to be indexed.  Although that sounds trivial, it’s not for some companies.  And that’s especially true for large-scale sites with hundreds of thousands of pages (or more).  And if you add CMS problems to the mix, a site could very well have tens of thousands of pages not getting indexed properly.  And that could be a serious problem for advertisers trying to leverage DSA’s to expand their reach.

If your site has a crawlability problem, or other technical SEO problems, then those problems can now affect your SEM campaigns.  In addition, if your competitors don’t have those SEO problems, then they are at a big advantage with regard to dynamic search ads.  If they set up their DSA campaigns intelligently, then they can potentially reach a much wider audience than you can, since they have a much deeper set of content indexed.

Indexation Issues Impacting DSA's

Uh Oh, The Holidays Are Here
Did you just start to sweat?  Right, the holidays are just around the corner…  That’s perfect timing for some companies to boost sales, while others with technical SEO problems falter.  In the past, SEM was separate from SEO.  But now, SEO has crept into SEM.  Let’s take a look at some problems that could cause issues with your DSA campaigns.

7 SEO Problems That Could Affect Your DSA’s

1. Make it Clean and Crawlable, or No DSA’s For You
First, your content needs to be crawled and indexed.  I never thought I would be saying that in an SEM-focused post, but there’s a first for everything. :)  If your content cannot be easily crawled and indexed, you will be at a major disadvantage with dynamic search ads.  Again, AdWords will leverage Google’s organic search index to match content and queries, and then use that content to build dynamic ads.  If your content isn’t in the organic index, ads cannot be generated.  No DSA’s for you.

Ensure Googlebot can easily crawl your website:

Googlebot Encountering Errors While Crawling a Website


2. Poor Navigation and Internal Linking Structure
An important aspect to getting all of your content crawled is having a strong internal linking structure.  There are still many sites that don’t provide a robust drilldown into their content using text links.  If you simply provide a top-level navigation and don’t provide additional links to deeper content, then you could easily run into a situation where that additional content isn’t crawled or indexed.

If that’s the case, then that additional content cannot be used for dynamic search ads.  I highly recommend reviewing your navigation and internal linking structure to ensure you are providing a descriptive drilldown into your categories, products, articles, blog posts, etc.

Provide a robust drilldown into your content versus hiding it:

Navigation Causing Indexation Problems


3. Gremlins in Your Content Management System (CMS)
In my experience, I’ve witnessed CMS packages hide content, provide serious crawlability issues, and create serious duplicate content problems.  And all of this won’t be good for your DSA efforts.  If your CMS hides content, then those pages will not be available for DSA’s.  If the CMS provides crawlability issues, then it can hide content from Googlebot, which means the content can’t be included in DSA campaigns.  And if your CMS generates massive duplicate content problems, then who knows what AdWords will match up with targeted queries (if it will match up any content at all).

Let’s face it, a great CMS can make your life a lot easier.  But a poor CMS can wreak havoc on both your SEO and SEM efforts.  And now with dynamic search ads, you can combine the two… I highly recommend having your CMS audited to ensure it’s not hampering your search campaigns.  I provide more recommendations later in the post.

Understand if your CMS is causing crawlability or indexation issues:

CMS Packages Causing SEO Problems


4. XML Sitemaps
During SEO audits, I still find sites that aren’t providing xml sitemaps that contain all of their content.  For example, I recently audited a site with 300K+ pages, but its xml sitemaps only contained 10K.  XML sitemaps are a great supplement to a traditional web crawl.  You don’t want to rely on them for getting all of your content indexed, but they can help Google identify new content and understand the canonical URL’s for your content.  In addition, you can view sitemap errors in Google Webmaster Tools, which can help you understand problems Google is having trying to access or index your content.

For dynamic search ads, XML sitemaps can help more of your content get crawled and indexed by Google.  And that can help you target more content via DSA’s.  Again, you shouldn’t rely on XML sitemaps to fix crawlability and indexation problems, but it’s a smart move to set them up.

Monitor xml sitemap errors in Google Webmaster Tools:

XML Sitemaps Should Contain All Canonical URL's


5. Poor URL Structure
As mentioned above, you can target content by all web pages, category, URL, page title, or page content.  If you want to logically launch DSA’s by URL, then your URL structure needs to be strong.  For example, you can target any page with /category/sneakers to target sneakers or /category/boots to target boots.  If you have something like /?nid=2343jieejd&sot=23jjdjdj  and you are going to try and find some common thread, good luck.  Chances are you won’t be able to target by URL.  Try and use clean and descriptive URL’s if possible.  Stay away from complex URL’s with a lot of querystring parameters.

Complex URL’s can cause crawlability, canonical, and indexation issues:

Complex URL's and Poor URL Structure Can Cause SEO Problems

6. Canonical URL Tag Issues
When used properly, the canonical URL tag can be a great way to address duplicate content issues.  You can tell the search engines which pages are the canonical url’s for the content at hand.  But when used improperly, it can be extremely destructive to your SEO efforts.  I wrote about this in my Search Engine Journal column titled, “Two Examples of How One Line of Code Could Kill Your SEO.”  You should read the post when you get a chance.  It’s fitting that I’m referencing that post on Halloween, since it’s horrifying.  :)

So, if you implemented the canonical URL tag incorrectly across your site, Google may only have a small percentage of your content indexed and available for DSA’s.  In a worst case scenario, you could be using the canonical URL tag to attribute all search power to just one page on your site.  Don’t laugh, I’ve seen this happen several times.  If that’s the case, then you might only have one page available for DSA’s.  And you might be looking at your AdWords reporting wondering why there are no impressions or clicks.

7. Poor On-Page Optimization
If you choose to target by page title, then you need to ensure pages are well-optimized.  I’ve completed SEO Audits on some larger sites that have thousands of pages with the same exact title tag.  If that’s the case, then AdWords might not be able to figure out what the page is about, and might not be able to match the content up with targeted queries.  If this is the case, then make sure you uniquely optimize each page, based on the content at hand.  If you do, then you can target DSA’s by page title and be in good shape.

Ensure all of your content is uniquely optimized:

Poor Content Optimization Can Impact DSA's


What Can You Do?  3 Things You Can Do Now to Help Your DSA’s
If you are reading this post and determine that you might have some of the SEO problems I listed above, then here’s what you can do now.

1. SEO Audits
First, and this is something I have advocated for a long time, have a technical SEO audit conducted.  Audits provide the most bang for your SEO buck.  They can be completed relatively quickly and provide a remediation plan based on the findings.  If you can implement the changes relatively quickly, then you very well could see some improvements in a short period of time.  That obviously depends on your specific situation, but some changes will yield strong results in a short amount of time.

And with the holiday season upon us, time is of the essence.  If you want dynamic search ads to help you this holiday season, then you need to make sure your content is being indexed, and that it’s optimized correctly.

2. Index Status in Google Webmaster Tools
Second, analyze Index Status in Google Webmaster Tools, which can help you identify the number of pages Google has indexed, as well as how many it counts as “not selected”.  Index Status won’t give you the answers, but can let you know how well your site is being indexed.  For example, if you have 10K pages on your site, but only 2K are indexed, you’ve got a problem.  If you have 5K pages on your site, but Index Status shows 75K as “not selected”, then you also have a problem.  I highly recommend reading my post about Index Status and analyzing your current situation.

Index Status in Google Webmaster Tools

3. Bypass DSA’s and Build Out More Campaigns Manually
Third, if you have indexation issues, but still want to gain additional targeted traffic via Paid Search, then you can focus your attention on fleshing out more campaigns and ad groups based on your own category and niche.  Perform thorough keyword research, understand which keywords you need to target, analyze the competitive landscape, and then build out more campaigns and ad groups.  Sure, this will take a lot of time and effort, but it provides the most control.

Summary – The End of Keywords in SEM?
Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) can help advertisers reach a broader audience by automatically matching up advertiser content and targeted queries.  Paid search without keywords could very well be the future of SEM, so it’s important to understand how DSA’s work now.  But as I explained throughout this post, your content needs to be crawled and indexed in order to be eligible for dynamic search ads.  And that means SEM will require strong SEO.  Go figure.  :)

GG