With an ever-increasing focus on digital marketing, it can be hard to keep up on all the different tools at your disposal. You may have heard of retargeting (also called remarketing), but never quite got around to figuring out exactly what it was. Or you developed a retargeting campaign but didn’t have the time or knowledge to really segment your lists or create customized creative. And without those aspects, you probably didn’t get everything out of the campaign that you could have. In this blog post, we are going to discuss what retargeting is and how you should be utilizing it as a part of your marketing efforts.

What is Retargeting?

Google defines retargeting asa way to connect with people who previously interacted with your website or mobile app. It allows you to strategically position your ads in front of these audiences as they browse Google or its partner websites, thus helping you increase your brand awareness or remind those audiences to make a purchase.” Essentially, retargeting allows you to advertise specifically to anyone who has previously visited your website.

Research has shown that the average conversion rate across industries is around 2.35%. This means that nearly 98% of your visitors are leaving before checking out. When potential customers visit your site but leave without converting, retargeting allows you to recapture their interest and bring them back to your site. Because this audience is already familiar with your brand and products, they are more likely to make a purchase and convert than a first-time visitor.

How Retargeting Works

To set up a retargeting campaign, first, you can input a retargeting pixel in the backend of your website. This retargeting pixel will save user information by placing a cookie inside the visitor’s browser. This will then allow you to strategically place ads in front of those who have been on your website before. Retargeting campaigns can be set up on many different platforms like Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more.

Hands typing on a laptop with retargeting ads.

The other way to set up a campaign to retarget customers is by uploading a list of user information that you have gathered. If people have signed up for a newsletter or given their email address, you can use this information for retargeting. Upload the list of emails to the platform of your choice, which will convert them to hashed emails. This means that the email addresses will be converted into a string of numbers and letters to protect your customer’s privacy. Then you can serve those people ads across the web or even send them personalized emails convincing them to come back and make a purchase.

After you have either input the tracking pixel onto your website or uploaded contact information, you can start retargeting these users. The most basic retargeting campaign would be to retarget anyone who has visited your site at all. However, segmenting audiences allows you to more precisely target consumers.

One of the great things about retargeting is that it allows you to tailor your ads more specifically for individuals. When incorporating a retargeting campaign into your PPC strategy, make sure you are segmenting audiences. If your retargeting campaign is too broad, the value of the targeted ads is essentially lost. So, make sure you narrow your retargeting campaign to get the most ROI by increasing audience engagement and familiarity.

How to Segment Retargeting Audiences

Segmenting audiences is a crucial aspect of a successful retargeting campaign. There are many different ways to create audience lists. Here are a few ways to segment users that are extremely effective.

Behavior

You might have a customer that lands on your page and then immediately leaves after only spending seconds on the site. Or you might have a customer that hits your landing page, reads a blog, signs up for a newsletter, and looks through a few product pages. These customers are very different. The same ads are not going to appeal to both customers because they are in very different stages of the buyer’s funnel.

The Buyer's funnel showing how retargeting ads capture users in the desire and action stages.

Instead of using your retargeting campaign to retarget ANY visitor who visited your site, try identifying and refining a set of behaviors to be retargeted. This may be a certain URL that the customer visited. If a user spent time on a particular product page, they are more likely to purchase that product than someone who read a blog post. So set your retargeting campaign to target visitors that viewed specific URLs of product pages by showing them ads of the products they viewed. This makes the ads much more relevant to the consumer and may recapture their interest in the product, leading them to convert.

Between 50% to 80% of shopping carts are abandoned before buyers check out. These buyers are prime for retargeted ads because they are even further down the buyer’s funnel. You can target these people with ads that contain a discount code. Let them know that you saved their cart and now they can get 10% off. Or you can use email retargeting to send them a reminder that they have items in their cart. These reminders will bring the shopper’s interest back to your site and may be just the push they needed to finish their purchase.

Time on Site

Instead of segmenting audiences by behavior, you can also segment them by time spent on your site. Visitors who spend 10 minutes on your site are probably closer to converting than visitors who spend 30 seconds on your site. But every site and industry is different. For one site, a visitor spending a few minutes on the site may be great, but for another, that may be way below average.

So, how do you know what time you should be setting your retargeting campaign for? Take a look at your Google Analytics account to find the average amount of time visitors spend on your web pages. You can find this metric under Behavior > All Pages. You can use this time to set your initial criteria. If your average time on page is 3 minutes, maybe only retarget people that spend at least this much time on your site.

Existing Customers

Another easy way to increase your conversions using retargeting is to actually remarket to previous customers. Usually retargeting is only thought of as a way to reach visitors who didn’t actually make a purchase. After all, if someone bought dishes off of your website, you wouldn’t want to send them ads for those dishes. That is just wasting ad money- they aren’t going to purchase those same dishes again.

This has led many people to believe that retargeting users who previously bought something a waste of money and resources. However, retargeting customers to cross-sell or up-sell is actually a great way to create loyal, repeat customers. It would look like this: Someone buys dishes off of your website and then starts seeing ads for glassware that matches. By retargeting previous customers, you know that they are already familiar with your brand and products.

Things to Remember when Implementing a Retargeting Campaign

A credit card reader and credit card representing a purchase

After you have built your audiences for your retargeting campaign, there are a few things you want to remember before you start retargeting them.

Frequency Capping

Frequency is the average number of times a unique user sees your ad. You don’t want to be the brand that is basically stalking users. This only leads to ad fatigue and a decrease in click-through rate. If a user ends up seeing an ad that they aren’t interested in over and over again, it only makes them angry. So make sure you are utilizing frequency capping in your campaigns.

Frequency capping will let you adjust the number of impressions you want to show users. You can usually adjust your frequency settings by the day or week. Your frequency caps will be different for the type of campaign you are running. If you are an e-commerce site that is having a weekend sale, your frequency caps will probably want to be a little higher. So, decide what is the right number of impressions for your business.

Customized Creative

Again, retargeting allows you to specifically target consumers who have already shown an interest in your products or services. You don’t want to use the same ad for these users as you would use for a first-time visitor. Design your creative to provide new information for those you are retargeting.

This could be a discount code like we discussed earlier. Or you could provide new details and functions of the product or service. Make sure you are displaying your USP (unique selling proposition) and helping customers to further understand why they should choose your brand over others.

Brand Continuity

Lastly, make sure that you are designing your ads in the same style and format as your website. The whole point of retargeted ads is that users will be able to associate the ad with your brand because they have seen and interacted with your brand before. If your ad does not resemble your website, users are going to have a harder time making this association.

Make sure the colors and fonts you use are the same. Also, make sure you have a clear call-to-action (CTA) on your ad. You want users to see the ad, immediately recognize the brand and product, and understand what the next step is. There should also be a link on the ad that takes the user to a landing page that makes it incredibly easy for them to then make a purchase without having to jump around your website.

So, Now You Know

If you haven’t already been including a retargeting campaign in your digital marketing strategy, now is the time to do so! Retargeting is an efficient and cost-effective way to target consumers who showed interest in your product or service but never quite converted. It really is a great way to persuade users to move down the buyer’s funnel to ultimately make a purchase. Use the strategies above to create a killer retargeting campaign, or contact us today and we will do all the hard work for you!

This article is a follow up to our previous blog post, “What You Need to Know About the Google Algorithm Update.” That blog post covered when the most recent Google algorithm update was released and two main theories about the purpose of the update, so make sure to read that if you haven’t! Now let’s get into the steps you can take in an attempt to either recover your website rankings after the update or just try and optimize your website using the new update as a guideline.

1. Update Your “About” Page

First things first, to potentially increase your website rank after this algorithm update, refresh (or add entirely) the “About” section of your website. In Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG) it states that in order to be a high-quality website, there should be clear information available telling the user about the site and making them feel comfortable using it and trusting the information provided.

There needs to be a section of your website that visitors can go to that explains the intent and purpose of your site and establishes who is responsible for the main content. Take your time and add small details. Clearly tell the visitor what your website is about, when and why it started, and what need it fulfills for them. Add any certifications or accolades the company has achieved. This will show the visitor (and Google) that your website is a trustworthy source.

Adding headshots and bios for employees and executives at your company will help users trust your site more. This gives a face to the brand and company, informing visitors who are behind the business. Talk about the education, experience, and role of each member of the company. Google wants to know who is responsible for your site and business.

A professional headshot of a business woman for the google algorithm update

2. Add Bios for Main Content Writers

Adding bios to your site is just another way of showing Google your E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). If you run your own site, make sure you have a bio explaining your credentials and why you have the authority to provide whatever it is that you are providing. Add any awards you have won or distinctions that set you apart as an authority in your industry.

If multiple content creators post to your site (or if you have guest bloggers that post occasionally) list their full names and credentials as well. You can show snippets of their bios in blog posts they write and you can also link back to their full bio page if readers want to see even more evidence of the author’s credentials. Google wants users to feel comfortable and confident in the information they are receiving, and providing an author helps to do this.

Make sure that you are avoiding anonymous posting to your site and any blog posts. If the post is anonymous, it makes it much harder for users and Google to trust the information that is provided. Clearly state who the author was, why they have the authority to be writing that content, and anything else that will help build their credibility.

3. Add Fresh, Accurate Content to Your Site

Another way to increase your E-A-T is to ensure that your content is up-to-date. Google does not want old information and this is especially important if you are in the medical, legal, or financial industries. You don’t want medical advice that is outdated on your site.  Make sure you are constantly aware of what is happening in your industry and that your content reflects that. Any evergreen content on your site should be edited to reflect current information.

Check all content for up-to-date information and make sure it is provided by an expert in the subject of the content. If you are posting a blog that prescribes medical or health advice, this advice should be backed by science and the medical field, and the author should be clearly noted. Also, the author needs to have the correct credentials. Continuing with the medical site example, the author should be an M.D or D.O, otherwise, they will need to have an extremely high reputation in the field.

Blogging is a great way to keep up-to-date content on your site. Make sure that if you do blog, you post consistently and frequently. You don’t only want to post once a year when you remember to. Put together a posting schedule and stay on top of it. The more accurate and current information you have on your site, the more relevant your site will be.

Woman adding content to a website for the google algorithm update

Lastly, make sure you are featuring any disclaimers on your site. This is especially pertinent for the financial, legal, or medical industries, but really any website should attempt to be completely transparent to their customers. If a page or product is sponsored or an affiliate, let users know! You don’t want Google thinking you are trying to hide things from your customers. Disclaimers will hint to Google that you are a trustworthy source of information because you are being honest and clear with your visitors.

4. Build Your Reputation

Another thing to look into is the reputation of your website. Google pays very close attention to this and they state in the QRG that even a mildly negative reputation will result in a low rating. “Pay attention when there is evidence of mixed or mildly negative—though not malicious or financially fraudulent—reputation. The Low rating should be used if the website or the creator of the MC has a mildly negative reputation.”

Google also notes that reputation is especially important for YMYL sites. They state that for YMYL sites, even a mixed reputation, as opposed to a mildly negative reputation, is a cause for a low rating. This may be a factor in why YMYL sites seemed to be affected by the update to a greater extent than other industries. So, if your site is a YMYL site, you have to take great care in making sure you have a high reputation. Audience engagement and feedback is becoming more and more important too, so find ways to connect with your customers.

A few negative reviews most likely won’t hurt your ranking- almost every business has them! Just make sure that you are responding to them and putting forth an effort to resolve conflicts or disputes. This will show current and future customers that your business is genuine and committed to customers. Also, reviews can help you improve your business and lead to more positive reviews in the future. If you do have a large number of negative reviews, you need to address them immediately. Figure out why your customers aren’t happy and fix it quickly in order to maintain your reputation.

Five Stars to signify a five star rating for a business

Other ways to show Google you have a good reputation is by adding a few client reviews or testimonials to your website. You also want to make sure you are encouraging clients to leave reviews across the web- Google reviews are an honest and credible source. You can even integrate Google reviews into your website, adding more E-A-T to your site. Make sure you are not relying on fake reviews though, Google is extremely good at determining what is an honest review and what is not. If Google finds that you have fake reviews for your business it could end up hurting your site. You will also want to build your reputation using other platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

5. Consider Topical Depth and Breadth

On your site, make sure you have a variety of topics and keywords in your content and blogs. The more you know of the different facets of your industry, the more credible and authoritative your site will be to users and Google. Show users that your site should be the go-to resource for anything related to your industry because you have so much knowledge and expertise. This will not only build brand loyalty in your customers, but it will show Google that you are, in fact, an expert.

Also, the more variety you have, the more likely you are to have a page that will closely match a user’s intent. Varied content will allow for more niche, tail-end keywords that will hopefully drive customers to your site. When customers use these long-tail keywords in their query they are likely further down the buyer’s funnel and ready to make a conversion. Often, broad keywords that are easier to use in the main content of your site bring in customers who are still at the top end of the buyer’s funnel. Varied content allows you to use both types of keywords though, hopefully pulling in different and more traffic.

The other aspect to consider is topical depth. Like stated above, first and foremost you want to match the user’s intent. If the information you are providing is simple and straightforward, let that inform your content choices. Research has shown that Google does tend to favor longer blog posts, however, that doesn’t always have to be the case.

Most of your informative blog posts will be longer- in the 1,000+ word count. This is great because it gives you more room to incorporate keywords and links. Links are an extremely important aspect of SEO and longer content does allow you to use more of them. Vary your links by using internal, external, and backlinks; this a great step to increase your website ranking on the SERP.

Again, always be thinking about the user’s intent. What information are they looking for and what are you giving? Are you giving too little information that still leaves them confused and questioning? Or are you giving too much information that leaves the user frustrated trying to search your content for the simple answer they were looking for? You want to give the user the exact right amount of information to answer their question and fulfill the need of their query. Looking at the competition can be a great way to gauge how long your own piece should be. Type your target keywords into Google and see what comes up. Then you can look at the word counts and see what is working for the top ranking results.

In The End…

So, although it is unclear what exactly the Google algorithm update was targeting, it seems to be targeting the E-A-T of websites and/or trying to more accurately match user intent with results. No matter what, the guidelines listed above are good SEO practices with or without the algorithm update. It does seem that the factors are more important now than they were before the update, so if you dropped in website ranking after the Google algorithm update or are just looking for ways to make your site even better, follow those guidelines. We offer SEO services here at Firetoss that tackle these issues as well as many others. Click here to sign up for a free SEO consultation with one of our digital marketing strategists!

 

Recently, Google confirmed the release of a broad core algorithm update. This update was one of the more major changes Google has made to its algorithm as of late, and many different websites saw their website ranking affected (both positively and negatively) virtually overnight. Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Round Table dubbed this Google algorithm update the “Medic Update” because of the correlations found between the change and health/medical websites. However, this does not mean it only affected these types of sites. More broadly, Marie Haynes believed the algorithm update also affected Your Money or Your Life sites (YMYL). Google has not specified what the update was exactly, or which sites it is more likely to impact, but looking at trends before and after the algorithm update we can get a sense of which sites are doing better or worse, and why.

Google Algorithm Update Theories

Because Google has not specifically announced what the core algorithm update addressed or the ways sites could adapt to increase their website ranking under the algorithm change, there has been a lot of speculation from different webmasters and SEO experts about the update. Most of this speculation falls under two categories: E-A-T and user intent.

E-A-T Theory

When Google’s Danny Sullivan was asked how to recover a website’s ranking on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) if it dropped after the algorithm update was released, he did not give any specific answers but told webmasters to turn to Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG) to create better content and overall sites. Google’s QRG was revised prior to the Google algorithm update to include a heavier focus on what Google calls E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness).

The word "trustworthiness" written on a paper

Many SEO practitioners believe that the shift in website rankings for many sites after the algorithm update were and are related to E-A-T principles. They believe that the Google algorithm update has placed a premium on the E-A-T of a website, leaving sites to take a big hit if they don’t have quality content on their sites explaining their credentials and authority in their niche.

When discussing E-A-T in the QRG, Google states that “High E-A-T medical advice should be written or produced by people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. High E-A-T medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.” This shows how important Google believes E-A-T is, especially in the medical and health fields.

On top of that, the QRG defines YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages as “types of pages [that] could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users.” Medical sites do fall under this category, but so do many other types of sites. Google listed the sites that fall under YMYL as:

  • Shopping or financial transaction pages (basically any site where you can buy something)
  • Financial information pages
  • Medical information pages
  • Legal information pages
  • News articles or public/official information pages important for having an informed citizenry
  • Other (this could include car safety information, blogs giving advice on parenting, child adoption sites, etc.)

So, almost every industry falls under the YMYL category.

As a search engine, Google’s main goal is to provide users with the best possible search experience so that they continue to use Google. So, Google has an extremely high interest in providing users with safe, trustworthy information. This is one reason why Google might update their algorithm to place a higher value on the E-A-T of a website, especially for YMYL sites that could affect the happiness or safety of the user.

User Intent Theory

The other main theory behind the algorithm update is that Google is trying to more accurately match the searchers intent. This theory could explain why even some non-YMYL sites were affected by the update as well. In this theory, the Google algorithm update would be aiming to provide the user with the exact answer he or she is looking for based on the query.

Google Search Bar on a tablet.

This would relate to content length and even keyword choice. If a user’s query is broader, Google will presumably pull up results with longer content that will thoroughly describe the subject and provide the user with the information he or she is looking for. However, if a user looks up something much more specific, like, “When is the Superbowl on?” the user most likely isn’t looking for a thousand-word blog post just to tell them that it’s on Sunday, February 3rd.

Query intent should inform the type and length of the content provided. The length of different pieces of content is becoming more important based on user needs. Google wants users to find the information they are looking for without being overwhelmed by too much information. This is why many SEOs believe that the Google algorithm update was not primarily focused on E-A-T, but instead on trying to mirror the types of results received with the query intent.

Ultimately, we will probably never know the exact intentions behind the Google Medic Update. All we can do is try to understand the trends that followed the change and make choices in an effort to improve our websites and our rankings. To dive into the steps you can take to increase your website rankings following the change, read our blog post on how to recover from Google’s algorithm update. Also, check out the SEO services we offer here at Firetoss and let us help you grow your digital traffic and increase conversions.

The introduction of smartphones greatly impacted the world in which we live. Today, our phones are rarely more than two feet from our sides. We look at our phones first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Smartphones have changed the way we live our lives- and they have changed the way we use Google.

So, what does this mean for your business? It means that your marketing and mobile SEO efforts also have to change. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing in an attempt to make it onto Google’s first results page (although keywords are still vital to any SEO strategy). Now, you need to have a user-friendly, mobile optimized site to even think about making it into Google’s top ten.

On top of that, Google recently changed the way they index websites to mobile-first indexing. This basically means that Google is crawling your mobile site before they look into your desktop site. If your mobile site isn’t up to par, it will affect your ranking.

So, how do you get a mobile optimized website, increase your rank on Google’s search engine results page (SERP), and ultimately generate more engagement and conversions for your business? The best way to do this is with mobile friendly SEO practices. Here are five tips we have compiled here at Firetoss to help you along your mobile SEO journey!

1. Increase your Text Size

A few years ago, Google searches on a mobile device outnumbered searches on a desktop. This metric was a long time coming, as users started wanting information whenever and wherever they were. The problem that many businesses ran into after this shift, was that their site was optimized for a desktop experience, but mobile site optimization is a whole different ball game.

One of the easiest and first things you can do to optimize your site with mobile friendly SEO is to increase the text size of your content. Users don’t like having to pinch and zoom to read content on your site. So make it easy on them! Increasing your text size seems like a small, insignificant change, but it makes a big difference.  

2. Use a Responsive Design

There are three options to optimize your website design for mobile: a responsive design, dynamic serving, and a separate site developed specifically for mobile devices. If set up correctly (and in conjunction with other mobile friendly SEO best practices), any of these options will work and Google should start noticing your efforts and rewarding your site with an increase in rank. However, the most foolproof option and the one recommended most by Google is a responsive design.

 

Comparing the screen size of a mobile device and laptop

Responsive Design

A responsive design does pretty much what it says it’s going to do – it responds to the conditions under which the website is being viewed. Regardless of whether your website is being viewed on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device, it will automatically fit the dimensions of that device. With this method, you get to keep the same URLs without having to create multiples pages designed just for a mobile experience.

Mobile Website

Unlike a responsive design, businesses can set up a separate site requiring a different, mobile-friendly URL for viewing on a smartphone. In some ways this is great – it means you can adjust your content to be exactly how you want it on a mobile screen without sacrificing any of your desktop efforts. However, be aware of the amount of work you will have to do in order to optimize for both sites. You will have your mobile site to optimize in addition to your desktop site.

Another issue that is often overlooked is the potential for duplicate content, which could have a negative impact on your SEO ranking. Google does not like duplicate content and in order to avoid this, you would have to establish canonical tags. So, while it seems like a great idea for mobile site optimization to create a mobile website completely separate from your desktop site, this tactic could end up hurting your SERP rank if you don’t do it correctly and implement canonical tags.

Dynamic Serving

The last option, dynamic serving, is also supported by Google, however, it’s more complicated and a lot easier to make a mistake than a responsive design. Dynamic serving uses the same URL for the site, like responsive design, however, it sends different files and codes depending on what kind of device you are accessing the site from.

So, although you can optimize your website for mobile friendly SEO practices using any of these options, a responsive design is the easiest to set up, easiest to maintain, and the design recommended by Google.

3. Think About the Goals of the Mobile User vs. the Goals of the Desktop User

One thing that gets easily overlooked when optimizing websites with mobile friendly SEO is the actual intent of the user. SEO experts and amateurs alike agree that the main goal of your website should be to create an amazing user experience. When a user visits a site that is inherently easy to use and gives them value, they then respond. This leads to greater engagement and overall conversions.

So, think about the call to action(s) on your site and how they affect the usability of your mobile site. When visitors are accessing your site from their smartphone, often it is because they are on the go and ready to call or stop in.

So, that phone number that you have on your site? Make sure that it is near the top and is an easily seen, clickable link that will make it easy for customers to get in touch quickly. This is the same for your business address. You want users to have a convenient, quick way to get directions. When users have to search deep in your site to find these things, often it results in them leaving your site and going to a competitor- where this information is much easier to find. Mobile friendly SEO practices can help you keep visitors on your site.

Lastly, if you have a physical address for your business and serve customers face to face, make sure you have a Google My Business set up. This is how searchers can easily find your phone number and address when they search for your brand. It makes it super convenient for them to get the info needed to call or come in and possibly make a purchase.

4. Increase your Page Speed

Page speed, page speed, page speed. When it comes to mobile friendly SEO practices, we can’t say it enough! One of the biggest factors Google looks at when ranking sites is page speed. Google wants users to have the best user experience (and I’m assuming you do as well). And this means that your site can’t take more than a couple seconds to load.

We’ve all been on the user end when dealing with a slow-loading webpage- we have clicked on a site from the SERP and see a blank white screen in front of us. And because we are used to lightning fast loading speeds, we are too impatient and can’t stand sitting and waiting for the page to load. So, what do we do? We go back to the SERP and find a different site to meet our needs. So, how do you fix this?

One easy way to increase the speed of your site for mobile site optimization is to use AMP. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and loads content quicker for mobile users. AMP delivers content from cache servers instead of the original site, which is how it is able to deliver content faster.

Another mobile friendly SEO practice to improve your page speed is to optimize the images on your site. Images are a major reason for slow loading web pages. Make sure you are using image compression, choosing the right image format, and optimizing image alt text. This way users won’t be sitting there waiting for your page to load, or even worse, moving on to a competitor’s page.

Don’t let your site be the one that users immediately leave because the page speed is too slow. Use AMP and optimize your images to increase your page speed and keep users on your site instead of going to your competitor.

5. Manually Test your Site

Our last mobile friendly SEO tip for you today is to manually test your site from a mobile device and fix what you don’t like. You may go on to your site and keep accidentally clicking the wrong button on the menu because they are too close together. Or maybe you notice that your “Contact Me” form looks great, but you can’t actually fill it out correctly from your mobile device. All of these things add up to users.

With the number of websites that currently exist and new ones being created every day, competition is only getting fiercer and making mobile friendly SEO practices more important. If a visitor gets frustrated trying to use your site, they aren’t going to stick around and wait for you to figure it out. They will go out and find someone else who gives them a better user experience while still meeting their needs.

One way to look at how your site is performing in the user’s eyes is to explore your exit page reports using a mobile device filter. This report can be found in Google Analytics under “Site Content” reports. Notice which page(s) users are exiting most frequently. If this is a purchase confirmation or thank you page, great! That means most of your visitors are not exiting your site until after they have made whatever conversion you have set up. However, if most users are exiting a product page, you will want to figure out why. Is some function of the page not working correctly? Exit page reporting can help you identify the pages that might have issues with the user experience.

One of the first things we do for our clients here at Firetoss is a manual mobile SEO audit. This allows us to go into the site just like a customer would and see what works and what doesn’t. Putting yourself in the user’s shoes will give you some of the greatest insights into how you can improve your mobile site.

A young woman is looking at a mobile optimized website on mobile device

Conclusion

So, although a lot goes into optimizing your website for mobile users, these are five easy, mobile friendly SEO tips to get you started! With the new mobile-first index, Google will be crawling your mobile site before they crawl your desktop site. This means that it’s more important than ever before to have a great mobile site. So, take these tips and get started optimizing your own website for mobile users! If you feel like you don’t have the time or energy to tackle these tips, you can always contact us about our own SEO services where we audit and fix all of the issues listed above as well as many others!

 

 

 

 

When used effectively, Google Adwords can be extremely profitable to your business. Unfortunately, there are often mistakes that end up costing your business and leaving you extremely unsatisfied with your ROI from Google Adwords.

1. Using Too Much Broad Match

When choosing your keyword targeting, Adwords gives you four different options for how you can target each specific keyword. These match types are exact, phrase, modified broad, and broad match. Each of these match types serve a purpose depending on the structure and goal of your campaign, but the one match type I try to stay clear of as much as possible is broad match. Here is a statement from Google about why using broad match in your keyword targeting is beneficial:

google-adwords“When you use broad match, your ads automatically run on relevant variations of your keywords, even if these terms aren’t in your keyword lists. This helps you attract more visitors to your website, spend less time building keyword lists, and focus your spending on keywords that work.”

Initially, this sounds great. You get to spend less time building complex keyword lists, and you are able to bring in more traffic to your website. This is all fine and dandy except for the fact that a sizable portion of this “additional” traffic you are bringing in may not even be in the market for your product or service at all. A prime example of this is an Adwords campaign I took over for a company that sells products related to horse jumping and dressage. They had been bidding on the keyword “horse jumps for sale” using broad match. When I dove into the search terms that were triggering this keyword I noticed there were many search terms where it was obvious people were looking for something other than the products this company sold. Some of these examples were: “horse jumping simulator”, “horse games for girls”, “girl horse for sale”, “toy bouncing house”, “3d horse games”, and the list just kept on going. This company had been wasting money for months on end, simply because they put too much faith in broad match.

So how should you go about combating this? I am a big fan of using the modified broad match type. This still gives Google some flexibility so you don’t have to spend days of your life building exhaustive keyword lists, but it still gives you enough control to eliminate the irrelevant searches.

2. Not Tracking Conversions

google-adwords

One of my favorite things about Google Adwords is how well you are able to track the effectiveness of this advertising method. Which is why you may be shocked to learn that not tracking conversions is the most common Google Adwords mistake I see. You would be amazed at how many companies are spending thousands of dollars a month using Google Adwords, without tracking what benefit they are getting from that traffic. Are they buying products? Are they filling out the ‘Contact Us’ form? Are they requesting a free demo? Without proper conversion tracking your guess is as good as mine. Tracking what the users do on your site after clicking on your ad, is key in determining if Google Adwords is profitable for your business.
Not only is this an essential step to determining overall ROI of the campaign, but it also gives you insights into which keywords or ads are performing best for you. With conversion tracking in place you are able to see which keywords are bringing in visitors that convert, as well as, which ads have the highest chance of bringing in a converting user. You may learn that people who are searching for “maids in salt lake city” are much less likely to convert than people who are searching for “cleaning service in salt lake city” or that your ad mentioning Free Shipping is bringing in more converting users than your ad talking about Quality Guarantee. The goal of Google Adwords is to bring in converting users for the lowest price, but if you don’t know which users are converting, how will you ever achieve this goal?

3. Using Poor Landing Pages

The homepage of your website looks great. No really, it does. However, it may not be the best page to send your Adwords traffic to. When evaluating a landing page I look at three criteria; is it relevant to the search of the visitor, does it provide enough information to answer their question or solve their need, and does it have a prominent call to action? If your homepage is built to do this, then I encourage you to use this as your landing page, but in many instances this won’t be the case. This is especially true with a company that has different categories of their product or service.

If you are an eCommerce clothing store that is bringing in traffic for people searching for men’s shirts, men’s hats, and men’s pants, then I implore you to send that traffic to those relevant category pages rather than the home page. If there’s one thing I have learned throughout my time of being a digital marketer, it is that people on the internet are inherently lazy. When they click on result for their search term, they want the answer to be in front of them immediately. They do not want to have to click into the category page, regardless of how easy you think it is to navigate there. If someone clicks on your ad and is sent to a page that doesn’t solve their need, they will more than likely click on the back button and try a different listing. This is a wasted click that costs you money.

Sending traffic to the most relevant landing page possible in relation to the what they are searching for is key to Adwords success.

4. Not Using Proper Location Targeting

seo-location-targeting-adwords

There is no easier way to waste money on Adwords than to show your ads to people who are outside of your serviceable location. If you are an online store that only ships within the USA or a local business who only operates in a particular city, then location targeting is a must. Adwords makes it easy to target either a particular location or a radius around a particular location.

Ensure that all of your campaigns are only targeting the locations that make sense for your business. You can also double check that this is the case by going into Google Analytics. If you segment out only traffic coming in from Google Adwords, and look at where these users are coming from, you will quickly be able to tell how effective or accurate your location targeting is.

5. Not Using Enough Negative Keywords

In Google Adwords, negative keywords are your friend. Hell, they may even be your lover. Adding negative keyword lists allows you to filter out traffic that may fit your keyword targeting but doesn’t fit your target demographic. In other words, they save you money. For instance, people search online for many products or services using the word “free”. If you do not offer a free option for users, then this may be a great opportunity for a negative keyword.
When building out campaigns, think about what keywords may trigger your ads that you want to block out. Do you not sell used items? Are your products specific to either men or women? These are examples of things to think about when building your initial keyword list. Once you have your campaign built out, the negative keywords don’t stop there. I routinely examine the Search Terms Report looking for search terms that don’t fit my target customer. If there is a word or phrase that you routinely see that makes these users not your ideal customer, simply add that word or phrase to your negative keyword list. The more you build out this list the less irrelevant traffic you will be paying for, saving your money for the customers that matter.

6. You’re Trying To Be #1

talladega-nights-the-ballad-of-ricky-bobby-5052bda01243bRicky Bobby from Talladega Nights lives his life by the phrase, “if you ain’t first, yer last.” This may be true in some instances, but definitely not when it comes to Google Adwords. Being the top position may be a great confidence booster, but it doesn’t always mean you are getting the best ROI out of your Adwords campaign. For many highly competitive markets, paying for the #1 spot means you are shelling out some serious cash. Many times you will be able to get enough clicks to exhaust your budget by routinely being in the #2 or #3 spot. This means you are getting clicks at a cheaper cost than the #1 spot. There have also been studies done to show that conversion rate does not vary with ad position.

Too many people keep raising their bid price until they see that average position hit 1.0, which is a great way to overpay for your clicks. I like to keep my average position somewhere between 1.8 – 2.5 to ensure that I am not being buried at the bottom of the page but I am also not overpaying for my clicks.


Feel free to contact us! We would be happy to help with any of your marketing or website needs.

At Pubcon Las Vegas 2016, Gary Illyes sat down with author Eric Enge for a casual conversation about a not very casual topic.  Gary answered direct questions about the Penguin 4.0 integration into Google’s core algorithm and how real time processing will affect ranking changes going forward.  Gary also took many questions from engaged viewers on a wide variety of topics.  The following are highlight topics that were discussed in the morning segment.

Real Time Updates in Penguin 4.0

Gary clarified the concept of “real time” as is applies to Penguin’s new processing power.  Although Penguin 4.0 is identifying problematic links faster than ever, Google still may look deeper into certain links and a sites overall link profile.  Your websites historical link profile still plays the major role in your ranking and is not necessarily altered or discounted by new real time capabilities.  Sites that have a history of poor or spammy links won’t be saved by Google’s new real time link processing.  New links will be instantly taken into consideration but actual ranking changes will occur slowly over time.  The calculation process has become more advanced but faster processing doesn’t equate to erratic or frequent changes.  With the increase in links processing is a greater need to disavow poor links by webmasters and the disavow tool is an important way to do so.

Negative SEO Calculations by Penguin 4.0

The questions about negative SEO once again were raised.  And, once again there was a general tone of “What negative SEO?”  It was explained that poor links will still be evaluated as poor links and great links will still hold their value.  Reviewing your sites link profile is an important exercise in managing your website.  The cases of nSEO are so sparse that almost no one at Pubcon Las Vegas 2016 has had a great example with an accompanying prescription.

Machine Learning isn’t the Only Solution

Machine Learning is great for some tasks but is not the solution for all algorithms.   Many times manually built algorithms out-perform machine learning pieces.  Gary used the analogy of the multi tool pocket knife.  You wouldn’t use a multi tool for burrowing into concrete.  As such, machine learning isn’t the right tool for every operation.  There are many components of search algorithms that are more efficient when they are built by humans.

The Future of Search Engine Optimization

A smaller but very engaged group of Pubcon Las Vegas 2016 attendees posed several questions to Gary Illyes about topics affecting the future of website rankings.  In no particular order, these are some of the responses that we given by Gary on issues facing websites moving forward.

No Index Tags on Key Pages

Gary Illyes mentioned in his discussion with Eric Enge Wednesday morning that he sends out around 20 emails a week discussing no index tags that are on key web pages on websites.  Often times websites will have the no index tag, which prohibits Google’s crawlers from crawling some of the website’s most important pages.

Server Error Messages

404 errors and other server errors are still an important issue around credibility and “crawlability”.  Gary recommended that webmaster check their search consoles for crawl errors of all types.  Persistent 404 errors will damage your sites reliability.  301 redirects and custom 404 pages need to be in place to correct potential dead ends in user browsing on your sites.

Crawl Data

Is your site easily crawled by Google?  Does your code allow Google bot to easily follow your content?  It would seem that an older topic in the world of SEO is still on the forefront of the minds of Google engineers because of how crawl issues can ultimately affect user experience and lead to lower engagement.  Having pages  cached on the server in simple HTML still remains an important way to increase speed and consumption.

Look into the Future of Mobile Page Delivery – Progressive Web Apps and Google AMP Project

Gary Illyes cautioned digital marketers to look to the future. How can we optimize the experience for the mobile user?  Mobile’s hottest issue right now is speed.  Gary mentioned two important new technologies in serving faster mobile pages —  progressive web apps and the Google AMP project.  Google is focusing a lot of resources on supporting optimized page delivery technologies.

accelerated-mobile-pagesAbout Google AMP

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, a Google-backed project designed as an open standard for any publisher to have pages load quickly on mobile devices.

On Feb. 24, 2016, Google officially integrated AMP listings into its mobile search results. Pages making use of AMP coding appear within special places in the search results and/or with a special “AMP” designation.

For more about AMP, see the AMP Project site, our How To Get Started With Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) article and our coverage below. See also our AMP category at Marketing Land for stories about AMP that go beyond Google.

What are Progressive Web Apps?what-is-pwa-img

Progressive Web Applications take advantage of new technologies to bring the best of mobile sites and native applications to users. They’re reliable, fast, and engaging.

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With the updates that have been rolling out as parts of Penguin 4.0 many of the core issues in SEO are being revisited in more advanced ways.  While these are topics that webmaster have dealt with in the past, Penguin 4.0 is tying these factors together tighter and creating more efficient valuation processes that will create further corrections for website that have been managed in accordance with Google guidelines.

Thank you to all that came to the SL Circle Marquee Event at the Zion’s Bank Founders Room.  To facilitate the distribution of information I have uploaded my slides to slideshare.net. Feel free to download and use them as you like. Thank you all for attending.

Our love for the Salt Lake City Arts Council runs deep. Our entire team enjoys working on projects with the Arts Council because the projects are local and they involve the places, people and art we care about.

Twilight Concert Series Website

The Twilight Concert site was designed for mobile accessibility and for quick access to information. Aside from those objectives, the site needed to be exciting and show off the style of this iconic Salt Lake City event. Timelines were short and expectations were high both internally and externally.

Twilightconcertseries2016
A few notes about the site:

With the huge list of dynamic artists that constantly change, we wanted to make sure that the website had an easy backend content management system that allowed the even managers to quickly edit their events and artists. This means that all of the pages and photos can be edited from the admin area. Each artist has a page of their own that is customized with photos and video. Their top level “featured image” is what appears on the homepage.

Twilight Concerts in Pioneer Park

The Twilight Concert Series is a weekly highlight to the summer. On Thursday afternoons the masses begin to descend into Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Park for music, people, food and drinks. The venue is outdoors and the stage and sound are top level. Thousands of people gather each year to hear a mix of musical genres, some that they’ve never heard of before because of the great environment. Twilight brings out the new culture of Salt Lake City to one easy location.

twighlight

See Other Projects with the Salt Lake City Arts Council

The Twilight website was 1 of 4 websites completed for the Salt Lake Arts Council in 2015.  Take a look at the write up on the council’s main site here.  Here is a quick list of the projects:

Salt Lake Arts Council

Twilight Concert Series

Salt Lake Public Art

Living Traditions Festival