Our industry is ever-changing. Get insights and perspective from our experts as we share our knowledge and experience on how to successfully navigate the marketing landscape.
In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for November 2019. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. Whoa – Some Non-Google Doodle Related Phrases Made It To The Top Within the last two months, the top searched terms were related to Google Doodles online. These queries were initiated by users clicking on the updated Google logo, which brought the user to Google’s search result page about the subject of the Doodle. In November, we saw some actual inputted user queries make the 10 Million mark: Day of the Dead - Nov. 1st - 10 Million+ queries History of Thanksgiving - Nov. 27th - 10 Million+ queries Walmart - Nov. 27th - 10 Million+ queries The first query above was generated by Google Doodle clicks The other two appear to be honest-to-goodness user queries. The Google Doodle for Thanksgiving day led to a query of Thanksgiving 2019, so people really did want to know more about the history of the holiday. With the gift buying season starting at the end of November, we saw a number of different retailer brands entering the top searched queries of the month. Walmart led them all and was the only retailer brand that had more than 10 million queries. People Still Love Searching For Sports Over half of the 90 phrases we collected in November were sports-related. While the NFL was the most popular subject with 23 of those phrases, the top spot for most popular sports-related queries was for college football. For two days straight, the same phrase was queried most frequently: 11/8//2019 - LSU vs Alabama - 5,000,000+ 11/9/2019 - LSU vs Alabama - 5,000,000+ This college football rivalry has been going on for many years and this year, LSU won for the first time since 2011. The Tigers’ win may have been the reason there was an additional spike in query volume for the game. Other Top Queries By Category As we record queries, we categorize them by subject matter. Here are some of the top phrases by category: Entertainment The phrase related to Entertainment that had the largest query volume for the month of November was used by people looking for the latest video streaming platform: 11/11/2019 - Disney Plus - 5,000,000+ Technology The biggest technology-related query was driven by users seeking information about an electric powered vehicle: 11/21/2019 - Tesla Truck - 2,000,000+ Politics With a contested election, an Impeachment inquiry, and a presidential campaign heating up, there was a three-way tie for the top political queries in November: 11/5/2019 - Kentucky governor race - 2,000,000+ 11/19/2019 - Quid pro quo - 2,000,000+ 11/20/2019 - Democratic debate - 2,000,000+ Holiday Shopping Drives Queries Lastly, we saw a huge jump in the Shopping query category during the month of November. As previously mentioned, Walmart was the biggest phrase in this category. Here is the list of the other queries that made the top three of their specific dates: 11/14/2019 - Walmart Black Friday - 1,000,000+ 11/18/2019 - Walmart Black Friday 2019 Ad - 200,000+ 11/28/2019 - Best Buy - 2,000,000+ 11/29/2019 - H&M - 500,000+ 11/30/2019 - Cyber Monday 2019 - 2,000,000+ The most notable aspect of this list is the use of retail brand names as queries. These retailers either had strong promotions for their holiday sales, or their sales spoke for themselves and drove search interest by word of mouth. In any case, it’s clear from the search volume that people are still interested in shopping at traditional retailers for the holidays. As the holiday shopping season progresses, AMP will keep an eye on search query trends for our clients to inform our campaigns during this busy season. See you next month!
“What keywords are trending?” It’s the question people ask me all the time SEO. That’s why, in an effort to answer it, I have been collecting Google Search Trends data since the beginning of the year. As anyone who has used Google Trends will tell you, this tool provides quick information to see directional data on anywhere between one keyword to five keywords presented over time. When you want to gather information on trending terms around topics, however, things get a bit more time-intensive. I believe you really need to put in time to pull data on a regular basis and review it as you go to get the best insights – so that’s precisely what I’ve been doing. To-date, I have two initiatives going – one is at a macro-level, and the other is at a micro-level. The micro-level initiative is focused on understanding search volume growth around keywords that are related to some of my client’s top products and services. We’re constantly digging in to see what the latest rising and top terms are and then conducting further research and analysis on them using the Google Trends tool. The macro-level initiative is structured towards gaining a better understanding of the most popular queries are on any given day. With the help of my teammate Brandon Ma, we have been pulling the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google every day. This data pull and analysis has given us some understanding of what drives people to query Google in the moment, what topics people have been interested in this month, and what we can learn from it. Ultimately, we are putting in the work to provide insights for our team and our clients to utilize this free Google tool to its full extent. In this blog post, I am presenting the findings for the top searched terms from the US in the month of September 2019 from Google’s Daily Search Trends found here: https://trends.google.com/trends/trendingsearches/daily?geo=US Each of the top three terms was recorded with the number of queries that keyword drove for that specific day. Google reports estimations in round numbers with a plus sign next to the number to denote the exact count is somewhere above the number shown. The scale that we saw for the top three keywords last month topped out at 10,000,000+ and the lower limit was at 200,000+. Here are some of the observations we had after looking at the data. Google Doodles Drive Searches Google drives searches in its engine by changing its logo via its long-running Google Doodle program. Changing their logo entices users who visit the homepage of Google, open their app, or open a new tab in Chrome to click on the Doodle and, in turn, query the engine. The majority of the keywords that were reported to have 10MM+ queries for the month of September in the US were presented as Google Doodles: Ynes Mexia – Mexican-American botanist and explorer in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (9/15) Rugby World Cup – Opening Day of the tournament (9/19) Junko Tabei – First woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, celebrating what would have been her 80th birthday (9/22) Fall Season – Noting the first day of Autumn (9/23) Google – A doodle to celebrate the engine’s 21st birthday – somebody buy it a beer! (9/27) Sports Interest Fuels Queries With the NFL season kicking off in September, it has dominated as the top trending topic of the month. An NFL related phrase took the top queried term of the day 11 times throughout the month. Here are some of the highlights: Antonio Brown – 2MM+ (9/4) NFL – 5MM+ (9/5) NFL – 5MM+ (9/7) Thursday Night Football – 2MM+ (9/12) Antonio Brown – 2MM+ (9/20) Eagles vs. Packers – 5MM+ (9/26) Since I have been looking at these top phrases since the beginning of the year, Google Trends data certainly supports the popularity of the NFL over all other American professional sports leagues. As for most popular teams, the Cowboys are the top driver of team name search queries. The Patriots come in second for the month of September, but I am sure they’ll be number one again when it matters. TV Show Premieres Are Search Worthy With the new Fall TV season, people are still Googling their favorite network TV shows. American Horror Story – 500K+ (9/18) This Is Us – 500K+ (9/24) Masked Singer – 500K+ (9/25) Some other TV events also made our list: AGT Winner 2019 – 500K+ (9/17) Emmys 2019 – 2MM+ (9/23) Although their popularity is waning, Primetime TV shows still get attention for their premieres. The Top Tech Keywords Hot new video platforms and the latest iPhones drove millions of queries last month. Tiktok – 2MM+ (9/6) iPhone 11 – 5MM+ (9/9) iPhone 11 Pro – 2MM+ (9/10) Marketers have been keeping an eye on Tiktok as a new platform to reach audiences. With the spike of search interest in early September, Google Trends is showing that user interest is increasing. Searches Related to Politics Queries related to the national politics made the top daily searches in the month of September. Democratic Debate – 2MM+ (9/11) Impeachment – 1MM+ (9/23) Trump – 2MM+ (9/24) Whistleblower Complaint – 1MM+ (9/25) News stories typically drive queries as people seek to learn more about events as they happen. It’s fascinating to see the progression of the presidential impeachment inquiry. Conclusion After pulling the top three queries each day for 30 days, we garnered a list of 90 phrases by the end of September. Looking over these phrases as a whole and segmenting them by our own categorization, it’s clear Sports and Entertainment related keywords spur the most searches. Sports keywords made up 38 of the 90 phrases. They were mostly NFL related with instances of college football, tennis stars, and Champions League soccer (sorry, football). Entertainment keywords took 26 slots of the 90 total keywords. Sadly, celebrity deaths made up a good chunk of those queries (RIP Eddie Money and Ric Ocasek). Other queries were related to premieres or releases. Just like TV shows, movie titles also made the list. We probably could have predicted big opening weekends for It: Chapter 2 and Ad Astra based on the keyword search volume each of them had in September alone. Now that we have this collection of data and high-level analysis, we are eager to know more. Was the search interest around this year’s season opener bigger or smaller than last year? What are the top rising phrases related to Fall? Was the release of the iPhone 11 as big as X? Once we dig in further, we’ll have some valuable insights to share with our teams and clients. See you next month!
It’s rare to go a full day without reading a headline in your email inbox or on a news site highlighting the rapid demise of the retail industry. Many brands that have become household names are undergoing massive business restructuring or shuttering their doors altogether. Shopping malls that once served as go-to destinations for many communities are experiencing increasing vacancies. The perception largely driven by the media is that brick and mortar retail is a sinking ship, but what is the reality? Deloitte set out on a nearly year-long study to better understand the state of retail as it stands today and the driving forces behind recent changes. And what did they find? The silver lining. Despite the onslaught of negative press, retail is still growing and in many places, thriving. Backed by a stable and growing economy, consumer confidence is at an all time high. Experts predict that in the next five years, online sales will grow 11.7 percent annually, and in store sales by 1.7 percent.1 That’s healthy growth across the board. Deloitte found that a big contributor to the success of brick and mortar stores actually comes down to income. Today, shoppers in lower income brackets prefer to to buy in physical stores. As the wealth gap continues to widen, more and more Americans are losing their discretionary incomes and landing in this low earning bracket. The purchases they make will likely be in person, so brick and mortar stores stand to benefit the most from this change in the distribution of wealth. With this in mind, here are a few marketing priorities to consider: 1. Fine tune your customer acquisition strategy Yes, you know a lot about your customers, but are you investing into the right channels that will lead them (and other audiences who look like them) to make a purchase? As mentioned previously, even details like household income (HHI) play a significant role in the way people shop. Consumers with a low HHI may compare prices online before ultimately going into a nearby store to make a purchase. Your marketing dollars should be aligned with these behaviors. For many brands, it may be time to reevaluate how consumers search, and ultimately buy. Find an agency that can help you understand the unique features of your most profitable audiences, and then identify the right mix of channels to activate them. Small optimizations on the front-end can have a big impact on long-term growth. 2. Make it easy for consumers to compare prices and find inventory at nearby stores Eighty-one percent of consumers do online research before making a purchase.2 Whether shoppers are becoming more cost conscious or simply cost aware, the fact is they are more informed than ever before. Retailers should leverage local ads to motivate store visits. Solutions like Google’s Local Inventory Ads and Brand Showcase Ads allow shoppers to quickly locate information on the products they’re looking for as well as their availability in nearby stores. Google also has a feature that allows advertisers to adjust bids for individuals with a certain income range (from the top 10% to the lower 50%), who live within a certain geography. If you’re a multichannel retailer who sells discounted items, you may want to increase bids for searches that originate in an area in the lower 50% household income level. To measure the impact these ads are having on driving purchases in stores, check out Google’s Store Visits tool. Store Visits uses anonymous, aggregated data to measure the number of people who click or view ads and later visit a store. 3. Build superior storefront shopping experiences The digital and physical shopping experience shouldn’t be planned in silos, rather they should be developed as a consistent end-to-end experience. Forty-two percent of in-store shoppers search for more information while in a physical store3 and savvy retailers like Sephora are combining digital elements into their physical stores to make it easy for shoppers to explore, find and purchase the products that are right for them. Discount retailers like Marshalls are making the physical shopping experience more social by encouraging store visitors to share their unique finds with their social networks using the hashtag #marshallssurprise. 4. Leverage partnerships to grow awareness and sales Brands and retailers often market to the same consumers, so by working together, their power is magnified. With ecommerce set to experience double-digit growth over the next five years, digital co-op investments are a great way for brands to increase their exposure online and drive sales across channels. The right agency can help you identify, manage, and measure the outcomes of these opportunities. While the Retail industry is alive and well, we are seeing a massive shift in the way multichannel retailers operate to meet the changing needs of their consumers. And let’s not count out pure-play e-tailers. Amazon is working hard to turn low income shoppers into loyal customers. Individuals who receive government assistance can qualify for a reduced $5.99 a month Prime membership, and EBT cards can now be used to pay for qualifying groceries. We expect that as brands compete more on price and free shipping becomes more universal, consumers from all income brackets will begin to make more purchases online. As Socrates once said, “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Here’s to building the new. You can access a copy of the Deloitte study, The Great Retail Bifurcation, here. 1 IBIS World 2 GE Capital 3 Google, Ipsos
Two of my favorite things, outside of my wife and daughter (of course), are 1) beer and 2) creating content from high volume keywords. I can hear you saying, “Really, Greg?” and I would say, “Yes, really.” So, what a better blog topic that combines these two and gives some tips for creating content that people actually want to read? You might have guessed, but I’m a beer snob. I used to be ashamed to admit that because I hate being trendy, but I can’t hide the fact that 2017 is the height of craft beer mania. Check out how the term “craft beer” has trended since 2004 according to Google Trends. Craft beer may as well be Taylor Swift, pointy fake nails, Herschel bags, or one of those undercut haircuts with a tiny ponytail on top.* *For the record, I’m currently drinking a Lamplighter Stardust IPA brewed with Simcoe, Summit, and Amarillo hops. I love Lamplighter Brewing Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Lamplighter employees: Hit me up to coordinate my free cases). Cool chart, huh? It's free courtesy of the Googs' Trend tool. You can get a graph on anything you want there. Let’s imagine I came up with the really unoriginal idea to start a beer blog. For the sake of this blog, let’s assume I want to be a source of education for beer newbies. So, where do I start? I can hear you saying, “Greg, it must be really overwhelming to figure out what to write about, right?” And I would say, “Wrong.” With the right (mostly free tools) and a little bit of SEO know-how, you can figure out exactly what you should be writing about and how to drive traffic to your site over time. The best part is - it’s all based on real data and what people really want. I bet a lot of beer newbies see a porter and a stout as being similar. Looking at Google Keyword Planner, we can see that “porter vs stout” gets 5400 searches per month. BAM! I’ve written my first article entitled “What is the Difference Between and Porter and a Stout?” For those of you who aren’t aware, Google Keyword Planner is linked to an existing Adwords account. If an Adwords account doesn’t exist, there’s a great free keyword research tool through “The Hoth.” When should I write this article? In the chart below, it looks like search interest around the term “stout” peaks in the cool/cold weather months - not surprising since a stout is a hearty beer. It’s also not a surprise that searches peak around St. Patrick’s Day. Guinness is a stout and it’s one of the most famous Irish beers. With this knowledge, I’ll likely publish my article in the fall, and then maybe I’ll do another feature on stouts around St. Patrick’s Day. BAM! Who am I? Emeril Lagasse? Punch me… Ok, so now my mind is working. What about summer beers? I see a lot of people drinking shandy-style beers in the summer. Since I actually have no idea what a shandy is, I’m going to Google “shandy” now. Based on Google’s “Auto Complete,” many other people have the same curiosity as I do: Based on this tip, I confirm that many people are curious to know what a shandy is. After doing some keyword research, I see that 1600 people per month type in the exact query “what is a shandy?” Sweet. Check out the shandy search trends below. There’s no surprise that queries around “shandy” peak in the summer since it is a light, fruity, and refreshing beer. Search data is great and all, but what is actually resonating with the public? What have people been sharing over the past year? Using BuzzSumo (which just got acquired by Brandwatch), we can see the most shared content pieces pertaining to a given topic over a preselected period of time. I love using this tool to understand the types of content that actually resonates with the public. Check out the results below for the query “craft beer.” An article entitled “IPAs Are Giving You Man Boobs” was shared over 93K times. This list has some great inspirations for fun and lifestyle content that I can add to my blog. Most importantly, I’m currently rubbing my chest and thinking that I might need to go to the gym. TLDR: Use keyword data to discover and create awesome content. Google Trends to see popular searches Google Keyword Planner to see the volume of searches for particular keywords BuzzSumo to see what’s being shared in social
How do you make YouTube better? Personalization and authenticity in real time. It's no surprise that Google seems to have mastered the art with the launch of their latest offering, Google Helpouts, personalized Q&A sessions from certified industry experts. So, what makes Google Helpouts different than YouTube? With over 600,000 how to videos on YouTube, it would seem an answer for everything already exists, but what Helpouts revolutionizes is real help from real people in real time through video. As Greg and I were talking about the endless possibilities of Google Helpouts and its core differentiators, he shared this touching anecdotal example. I'm 32 years old and I still type 'How to Tie a Tie'? into YouTube's search box once a year, and even then I can't follow the directions. Imagine if I could pay some style guru named Marcel in France to give me a personalized tutorial on all the funky knots I know I'll never use? In his awesome French accent he'll say, 'No, you're doing it all wrong. You were supposed to make a loop with your left hand first. Watch me!'? With the advent of Helpouts, I look forward to Greg's perfected Windsor knot. More importantly, what do Helpouts mean for brands? By now, most of us understand content truly is king. Content Marketing has taken both social and SEO to an elevated level over the past few years ' operating under a simple premise - write about stuff people search for and promote it where people can find it. Now, our brains really started working, if content is king, what is personalized real-time content? Preliminary hypothesis led Greg to the following: 'Personalized Content is the King on Steroids.'? But, really, at its core, personalized content is personal. This means, Helpouts allow brands to create personal connections with existing and potential consumers. Now you're not just a long tail keyword that pops up in search results, you are a video adding value in the moment a consumer is looking for it. And over time you have the ability to become their resource, someone they trust. These Helpouts provide added visibility for your brand and branded content and if it is actually helpful, these videos will drive some serious social chatter, establishing you as a thought leader in your space. How Can You Start Using Helpouts now? One way brands can get attention on Helpouts is by sponsoring content creators who align with their offerings, and offer these sessions for free. This allows for some creative freedom, but also provides brands an opportunity for increased impressions. Another way a brand can take advantage of Helpouts is by applying a YouTube-like approach. Brands can own the Helpout and provide critical information about the goods and services it owns and show consumers the value of their products and services as well as how they maximize their efficiency. Additionally, similar to YouTube, Helpout videos can be embedded into websites, which further increases SEO value by having valuable content pieces available on the company domain, rather than on the main Helpouts platform. Final Thoughts from the SEO & Social Corners Greg's thought: As digital marketers rooted in SEO, Google Helpouts speaks to the most important element in the evolution of SEO over the past few years, giving users what they want. Give users what they want and the social chatter, meaningful blog posts, authoritative inbound links, and earned organic traffic will follow. It's simple marketing really. Rachel's thought: And simple marketing is about integration, which is why as a digital marketer rooted in social, Google Helpouts compliment everything that makes social exciting - connecting to consumers in an authentic in way in real-time. It now longer provides brands the opportunity to hide behind a tweet or a YouTube tutorial. It's real two-way communication, which we both think is pretty exciting. I wonder if there's a Helpout on how to make AMP agency your marketing agency? No need, just click here.
Last week, quite a few AMPers attended MITX's Future M, a conference that brings together marketing and technology innovators to contemplate and celebrate the future of Marketing. See below for a few highlights from the conference and AMPers' thoughts. Session: Are You Kidding Me?! Speaker: Victor Lee, VP Digital Marketing, Hasbro Favorite Quote: 'I'll be interested if you'll be interesting.'? ' From Victor Lee's presentation Takeaway: I thought this bit of insight was a great reminder to not get stuck in 'data land.'? Data is an invaluable resource for marketers, and it's great for measuring success and recognizing trends, but often times we get so buried in data that we lose site of the story that the information is telling us. It's important to remember to take a step back and really bring the data to life. At the end of the day, numbers are just numbers unless you use them to tell a story. Session: Find Your Golden Thread Speaker: Jim Speros, EVP, Fidelity Communications and Advertising Highlight: I drew a ton of inspiration cultivated from case studies presented. The standout cases were Dove, Coca Cola and Fidelity. These cases are successful because they leverage consumer insight and human emotion to connect with the target audience. Takeaways: Brands are becoming more and more integrated, and those who aren't will fall by the wayside. It's vital to keep one driving point to a brand or campaign message ' one point will always drive home the hardest and be the most effective. Dove Real Beauty Sketches Coca-Cola Happiness Without Borders Fidelity Saving For Skydiving Session: Building to Learn with Art, Copy, & Code Speaker: Aman Govil, Head of Advertising Arts Team at Google Highlight: As described through Google's project 'Art, Copy, & Code,'? we're in the midst of a 2nd creative revolution, driven by technology. Code is being added to the core creative process, enabling new forms of brand expression and engagement. Takeaway: Art, copy and code is the creative team for the connected world. Session: Mobile + Consumer Loyalty Insights from JetBlue Airways Speaker: Jonathan Stephen, Head of Mobile and Emerging Tech at JetBlue Highlights: Mobile is, of course, everywhere and travelers are looking for simple on-the-go solutions. Given this insight, JetBlue conducted a digital rebrand - making a mobile app and redesigning the desktop experience to match the app. The app knows where you are in your travel cycle, so every time you open it, it gives you the info you are looking for without clicking anything (i.e. when you go through security then open the app, it will tell you what your gate is and if your flight is on time. When you land, it will tell you baggage claim information. Just by creating an app option, JetBlue loyalty program sign ups increased by 10%. They created a similar system for their pilots and crew. The mobile app for the crew is hosted on iPad that each crew member/pilot has on board. For pilots, the app holds all flight manifests, maps, etc. For crew members, the app will take orders and the usual things. The coolest thing about it is that it shows where people are seated and can highlight things about them (i.e. Steve is in seat 5A and has traveled with JetBlue 100 times. He only orders Ginger Ale). This functionality enables crew members to deliver top rated customer service. Takeaway: The key takeaway for me was that before implementing ANY new feature on mobile or elsewhere, brands need to poll their customers (Facebook/in app/surveys/everywhere they can) to find out exactly what their user needs in order to create the best experience. To read more about the conference, visit http://blog.mitx.org/
According to a blog post released by Google on February 6, 90% of Internet consumers accomplish tasks through the use of multiple devices (desktop, tablet and mobile). On Wednesday, in an attempt to stay ahead of this changing user behavior, Google announced its most recent 'upgrade'? to AdWords ' enhanced campaigns. By June 2013, AdWords will be removing its campaign level device-targeting setting and will instead target all device types together. This announcement has left many advertisers up in arms and for good reason. As a common best practice, paid search campaigns have been managed differently across mobile phones, tablets and desktops due to varying consumer intent, performance results, and costs. The roll out of enhanced campaigns will force advertisers to combine tablet and desktop performance and pay the same cost per clicks (CPCs) for both, regardless of previous efficiency advantages of targeting the devices separately. Additionally, mobile bids will be set as a multiplier of desktop and tablet bids, but knowing what that multiplier should be is still unclear to most advertisers. And if one device type is experiencing particularly high bounce rates, it will likely negatively skew total conversion rate performance if reporting can no longer be broken out by individual device. Stripping advertisers of their campaign control in this way begs the question: Is this just a ploy for Google to drive up CPCs across the board in the face of revenue concerns? That is not to say that everything about the new interface is bad. By determining whether a user is browsing on their home/work computer or on-the-go, Google has the ability to tailor the most appropriate ads for the consumer's situation. For example, users searching for a restaurant from a desktop or tablet are probably interested in browsing the menu, whereas a mobile searcher is most likely looking for an exact location or directions. By having insight on where the search was initiated you can appropriately tailor search results to different situations, including the ability to bid higher or lower based on a user's location. Additionally, Google's enhanced campaigns will include reporting on an individual sitelink level. This is great news for advertisers who were frustrated with only being able to see performance data for a block of sitelinks, instead of having the ability to identify the best and worst performers. And by creating a less confusing AdWords experience, Google will likely boost their retention of new advertisers. At a high level, the theory behind the AdWords changes sound great. But will the increased simplicity of ad creation and campaign management across multiple devices present new control challenges for paid search advertisers? Almost undoubtedly, yes. But isn't finding creative workarounds and new ways to 'beat the system'? half the fun?
This week in the Insights Lab, Megan Walsh, Account Supervisor, Paid Search, gives an overview of contextual design for paid search campaigns as well as tips and tricks on how to improve search listings through contextual design. Tweet us @AMP_Agency to let us know what topics you want to hear about!
Quality Score can be a frustrating concept for a Paid Search Marketer. We are used to immediacy and hard results, but Quality Score is always a little less tangible. The other day we were brainstorming ideas for an account that has broad keyword targeting and therefore low CTR's and poor Quality Score. We decided to make a small tweak to our Display URL and move the term after the forward slash, in front of the domain. In the previous format the domain was the only text extended to the headline but when keywords precede the domain, Google also allows them to show in the title. This resulted in a format similar to extended headlines and significantly improved metrics. During the two week test, we ran the exact same ads with two different Display URL's. The new URL had a CTR 28% stronger, CPC's 13% lower and Conversion Rate 67% stronger. However, the biggest gain that came from the test was improved Quality Score. Our highest volume keyword had been at #1 since launch and moved to #2 during the testing period, a major improvement that has now shown even further improvements on CPC's. While a large majority of Paid Search is data and analysis driven, this experiment exemplifies how it can also be very basic graphic design. Figuring out how you can manipulate your ads to drive the right format can lead to a substantial increase in site traffic. This is a practice that Google is constantly using and becomes extremely apparent in a 10 year difference of the Google Search Results Page for the keyword 'flight'. Their constant tweaking has lead to a 12% increase in Paid Search CTR this past year, which is something Paid Search Marketers should be taking advantage of within their own creative units. It will not only lead to naturally improved metrics, but Google should also reward you with improved Quality Score for following their own best practices. Source: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2092677/Google-AdWords-CTR-Improves-Yahoo-Bing-Both-See-PPC-Spending-Increase
On May 30th, Google officially rolled out 'Google+ Local' to replace Google Places. With the change, Google is providing a more interactive and informative way to search for local restaurants, businesses, and venues- all while taking steps to make their own social network, Google+, more relevant and powerful. This could be a smart move for Google to drive up the user base of Google+, which still trails Facebook by roughly 800 million users. By integrating local capabilities into Google+ and feeding that information into popular Google Applications (i.e. Maps, Local Search Results, etc.), Google can expose and introduce users to Google+ as they search for local information. In addition, a new user-friendly layout has been implemented, along with the ability for users to see what local establishments their friends visited, liked, and reviewed. One of the more interesting enhancements to the platform stems from the newly formed partnership between Google and Zagat, a well respected restaurant and entertainment review service. With the addition of Zagat, Google adds more credibility to their local listings while offering users an informative alternative to sites like Yelp, which only offers user reviews based on a 'star'? rating system. Below is an example of how these changes are unfolding within Google. In this example, we did a search for 'Cheers,'? a Boston bar and tourist landmark. Once a user clicks on reviews, they are taken to a Google+ Local Page. Since users and businesses are now being forced to use the Google+ interface, it is critical for businesses to embrace Google+. For those businesses who have already contributed information to Google Places, Google will be transferring these accounts over to new Google+ Local pages. Over 80 million 'Places' pages have already been converted to 'Plus Local' pages, and eventually all existing Google Places accounts will be converted. As of now, businesses can still manage their listings through Google Places for Business. If a business does not currently have an existing Google Places account, then they should establish a Google+ account and update their listings as soon as possible. Once the account has been created, businesses can enhance their listings with a wide variety of assets that will be critical to engaging their audience. Specifically, businesses should consider taking these steps: Make sure the phone number and address associated with the business are accurate Identify a business category that best fits the company's objectives Upload a profile image that has a strong connection to the brand Customize the Google+ 'About' tab to include: A keyword rich introduction, which can include a hyperlink back to the company website Hours of operation Website URL Contact information Related links (if applicable) On the 'Photo' and 'Video' tabs, photos and videos should be uploaded to showcase the brand. Promote the new Google+ page on other established social profiles such as Facebook and Twitter. This will help to build brand followers. Google+ allows businesses to group these followers into 'circles'? if they wish to segment this list. Be sure to add Google+ sharing buttons on the business website in addition to Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons. Be sure that these buttons are featured on all articles, blog posts, and press releases, as well as on the homepage. Share content on Google+ in a similar fashion as sharing content on Facebook and/or Twitter. In conclusion, while Google's intentions with this enhancement are largely driven by the need to increase the user base of Google+, there are many opportunities for smart business owners to leverage the new features, expand their presence, and drive increased engagement with their target audience.