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Google Discovery Ads Now Available to All Advertisers

Last May, Google made big waves at their annual Google Marketing Live event and announced tons of planned new features and tools to help advertisers find customers online. Among these announcements was a new ad type called Discovery ads, designed to help advertisers get their products discovered by potential audiences across Google’s popular properties.

These new discovery ads allow advertisers to show their products to targeted audiences for the first time ever on Google’s Discover feed as well as prominently at the top of YouTube and Gmail. These prominent ad placements reach audiences in the moments even before they search. According to Google, nearly 85% of people will take action within 24 hours of discovering a new product so these ads can significantly impact your customer’s journey to purchasing from you.

It might sound like a branding play at first, but Google’s automation can deliver high direct ROI as well. The campaign not only drives conversions, but it does so inexpensively—the average CPA on Discovery campaigns today is only $12.19!

Last week, Google announced these Discovery ads are now available to all advertisers globally! Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of this ad type.

What are Google Discovery ads?

Google’s newest Discovery ads are an easy way to get your products shown to your highest value customers. Discovery campaigns streamlines much of the ad testing, targeting, and campaign optimization with robust machine learning to target your ads across YouTube, Gmail, and the Discover feed all in one campaign type.

Advertisers still control their daily budget, target audiences and guide Google in crafting ad creative and campaign conversion goals to optimize towards across their networks.

Google Discovery ad formats

Google’s Discovery campaigns offer 2 unique ad formats, standard (single image) Discovery Ads and Discovery Carousel Ads. Much like Responsive Search ads and Responsive Display ads, advertisers provide Google with several different assets for Google to dynamically test different ad variants to show different customers more customized messaging.

Standard Discovery ads

A Discovery ad needs to have several unique assets:

Final URL: After clicking on your ad, this is where the ad directs. To ensure a higher ad quality and conversion rate, set your final URL to a page where someone can learn more about the specific product you are advertising, and they can potentially buy it. Avoid sending people to your homepage.
Images: Discovery ads are meant to inspire and stop your audience mid-scroll on these high traffic pages, so tap into your creative resources. Don’t play it safe – this isn’t the search engine results page and you’re not just competing against text on these pages. Stand out with bold colors and visual contrast, like you might in a Facebook ad. Google has plenty of creative suggestions to get your ideas flowing.
You can upload up to 15 different images for Google to test in a Discovery ad. Test out different images and sizes (Square 1:1 and Landscape 1.91:1) to get the most reach.

You can choose to upload your own images, search for stock images on Shutterstock, have Google scan images from your website, or even use images from your social media feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

Headlines: Your headline will be featured as the first line of your ad in bold. You can provide up to five headlines, each with 40 characters.
Descriptions: Your descriptions will appear below your headlines and is your opportunity to provide more compelling messaging to your ad copy. You can provide up to five descriptions, each with 90 characters.
Business Name: Your business name will appear alongside your ad. Keep your business name consistent to how people would call or search for you.
Call to Action (optional): You can choose from several popular call to action buttons (such as “Shop Now” or “Get Quote”) to include alongside your ad. Alternatively, you can allow Google to test and optimize this call-to-action for you.
Discovery Carousel ads

The carousel ad format is very similar to the standard Discovery ad format but allows for users to scroll through all the images you provide in a carousel format. Advertisers can upload between two and 10 images to be used as cards in the carousel, and Google will display them in the order you upload them.

Keep in mind that Google only allows square images or landscapes with an aspect ratio of 1.91:1 to be used for cards and all the images within a Discovery Carousel ad must either be square OR landscape. You can’t mix square and landscape ads in the same Discovery Carousel ad or the entire ad may be disapproved.

Google Discovery ad targeting

Unlike search campaigns, Google Discovery ads aren’t targeted by keywords. Instead, advertisers can choose which audiences they want to reach with their ads. Advertiser can target their ads to specific audiences including:

Remarketing: Remarketing allows you to target your ads to past customers or website visitors. You can create different remarketing audiences based on their past interactions (visits to a key page, shopping cart abandoners, recently purchased from you) to reengage prospects who are already familiar with your brand.
Detailed Demographics: Demographic targeting on Google allows you to target your ads to users based on their age, gender, parental status, relationship, education, and homeownership status.
In-Market Audiences: In-market audiences reach users whom have recently begun to search, browse, and are actively considering making a purchase. Google has hundreds of different in market audiences for people ready to buy everything from a new car, computer, or payroll system.
Life Events: Life events lets you target people who just are about to have a major milestone, such as starting a business, changing jobs, graduating, getting married, or buying a home.
Affinity & Custom Intent: Affinity audiences and custom intent audiences reach users based on the topics and interests that people have searched for and browsed in the past.
Alternatively, if you do not choose any specific audiences, Google will target your ads to a wide audience and do leverage its own signals to optimize who sees your ads.

If you want to target more than one audience, you can create several ad groups or discovery campaigns to do so.

Google Discovery ad bidding and budgets

Google’s Discovery campaigns are built machine learning and rely upon Google’s Smart Bidding strategies. Currently, Discovery campaigns only support two bidding strategies:

Target CPA: Google will attempt to drive conversions at a specific cost per conversion. It’s recommended you use this strategy if you’ve got budget that’s at least 10 times your target CPA.
Maximize Conversions: Google will attempt to drive as many conversions at the lowest CPA possible. This is best for advertisers who may have smaller budgets or wouldn’t expect to see 10 conversions a day.
The average CPA on Google Discovery campaigns is only about $12, so most advertisers can get a lot out of small budgets. Still, industries that normally see higher CPAs on search and display should expect CPAs more in line with their account norm.

When first launching or making changes to a campaign, Google advises to wait two or three weeks between testing new bids or changing ads so that it can learn how users react and adjust to shifts to performance in real time.

How do I create Discovery campaigns in Google Ads?

Creating a Google Discovery Campaign is straight forward if you are familiar with the Google Ads interface.

1. Create a new campaign by hitting the “+” blue icon on the campaigns page.

2. When selecting your campaign’s goal, choose “Sales,” “Leads,” or “Website Traffic.” Alternatively, you can create a campaign without a goal’s guidance.

3. Select the “Discovery” campaign type.

4. Name your new campaign. Select which languages and where you would like your ads to run.

5. Set your daily budget and which bidding strategy you’d like Google to rely on to optimize your Discovery campaign (Currently only Maximize Conversions or Target CPA options are allowed).

6. Review “additional settings” if you want:

Your campaign to have a set start and end date
Your campaign to only run certain hours of the day or days of the week
You only want your campaigns to optimize for certain conversion actions in your account.
7. Create your first ad group and audience targets. Mind that you can create more than one ad group later if you want to target more audiences.

8. Upload your Discovery ads.

You will then be prompted to review your new Discovery campaign before launching it. Smash that continue button and your campaign goes live!

Google’s Discovery campaigns harness sophisticated audience signals and machine learning to find you more customers in an easy to manage campaign type. Our clients got a lot out of Google’s Discovery campaigns while they were in beta, so we’re excited to see them globally available to all advertisers today.

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5 Clever Strategies for Restaurant Marketing During COVID-19

“Heard!”

If you have worked in restaurants in the past, you know this saying—and probably have flashbacks of the head chef yelling! An expeditor or lead calls out an order, and the rest of the crew yells, “Heard!” Pretty simple, but what people don’t know is what lies beneath the surface of this statement. A noisy kitchen with communication like this is a sign of a well-oiled and healthy machine. But in the age of COVID-19, restaurant kitchens across the world are quiet for the first time.

During the pandemic, the hospitality industry has been looking for new ways to stay agile while also staying true to their mission. As a past restaurant manager myself, I know it isn’t easy to try and change the core of your operation. We’re in the age of third-party delivery services and roadside pickup—we were already talking about the ways the industry needs to modernize, and stay-at-home orders have forced restaurants to do so quickly. For restaurants looking for ideas or inspiration, here are five of the best strategies I’ve seen:

Sell meal and cocktail kits
Host your own online cooking classes
Share your recipes
Switch up your social ads
Add donated meals to your menu
Let’s talk more about each of these.

1. Sell meal and cocktail kits

Buying a meal is a perk in itself, but buying the experience is something that is hard to replace. Some restaurants have begun to sell meal and cocktail kits that allow consumers to craft their own restaurant-quality meals and drinks right from their home. The best part? This doesn’t replicate the experience of dining in a restaurant, but it does offer an appealing alternative.

Take Sugar & Spice, a local restaurant around the corner from our Boston office. They have curated a menu of “survival kits,” or meal kits that allow you to enjoy their top menu items handcrafted in your own kitchen. By offering an activity, as well as a meal, restaurants are able to offer a fun date-night idea, family bonding session, or a creative alternative to bingeing another TV show.

And the consumer isn’t the only one who benefits from this type of strategy. When properly analyzing if a restaurant is making money, managers and owners look at three crucial elements: rent, labor, and food costs. When restaurants across the world were shut down, labor was drastically cut in the industry—but what about the food? It almost breaks my heart to think of the empty walk-ins with food that had no choice but to spoil. 

By handing off the labor to the consumer, restaurants can focus their workforce on sanitizing their locations and developing a phase plan for when they can reopen their doors for dine-in service. Sure, not everyone is going to want to pay to make their own meal, but in these times it is always worth offering. People dine at restaurants for comfort, and if they can supply that comfort to their friends and family (and take the credit), both parties can win.

2. Host online cooking classes

I had a bartender colleague of mine post on Facebook the other day that they would charge $10.00 on Venmo to teach a lesson on how to make a cocktail for an hour. Although I knew she was trying to be funny in her post, it got me thinking about other ways restaurants can bring the experience of new cuisine to the public’s home. MasterClass and YouTube have supplied tutorials for any culinary knowledge level, but it’s hard to mimic the perfect dish from the mom-and-pop from across the street. I have always learned best from someone guiding me, but during these times when I can’t even visit my grandma’s house so she can teach me how to make her famous snickerdoodles, we need to rely on video sharing.

Bully Boy, a local distillery, has been offering a series of virtual cocktail classes to fill this need, get people interacting with their brand, and encourage bartender hopefuls to purchase their goods. Although this may not be an instant revenue stream, this can help protect their brand by continuing to offer that connection while people are home.

Famous chefs around the world are taking the public into their homes through Facebook and Instagram live for the very first time to teach recipes and procedures that were once “secret,” which leads me to my next point.

3. Share your recipes—yes, even those secret ones

One of the most coveted pieces of a restaurant’s puzzle are the recipes. Some are constantly changing, some have stayed the same for generations. Even big brands have a cult following around some! Social distancing has not stopped the foodie cravings, so brands both large and small have released their recipes to the public for the very first time. Not only is this a way to remind people that brand’s care, but to also remind them that they aren’t going anywhere!

If you are a Disney fan like me, you probably immediately think of the hundreds of treats you can enjoy when you are exploring the parks. My favorite by far is their famous Dole Whip recipe that I enjoy at least twice a day when I visit. Like many others, I was forced to cancel my trip later on this year, so I thought I would have to wait to enjoy my favorite treat. As a great way to boost excitement and keep people engaged while their parks were closed, Disney’s blog started to release recipes for the Dole Whip, their famous churros, and other meals that people (like myself) miss dearly.

Does this replace a vacation? No, but it reminds me that when this is all over, I will be able to enjoy them again.

If you are a restaurant that has its own similar cult-like following in your local area, you likely have consumers who also want to be in on the secret recipe. Meal kits are a great way to send the items over and not completely reveal the recipe components, but if you are willing to open yourself up to the public this could be a great way to keep your customers engaged.

4. Switch up your social ads

With millions of Americans working from home, people have been sticking to the same routine day after day. I have been trying to break the vicious cycle of monotony, but sometimes it can be hard when I am stuck in the walls of my apartment. I spend some of my free time scrolling through social media (like many others who can’t spend time with family and friends), and have encountered some pretty clever ads along the way. Make sure to use high-quality photos, and consider adding a promo code like Pink Taco makes me realize that I miss the familiar cuisine from local restaurants even if I didn’t think I was hungry at first!

You can also use these ads to take people to your own website instead of operating through third party apps like UberEats and GrubHub. This can help decrease the amount of fees you have to pay to these third-party apps, which can help optimize your revenue. For more ideas, check out our Facebook advertising strategies for restaurants.

5. Add donated meals to your menu

Although restaurants have taken a huge hit in revenue due to COVID-19, the industry has largely chosen to give back during these hectic times. Nurses and doctors from around the world are working overtime and, unfortunately, it’s often in high-risk and hazardous conditions. Sometimes the best way to say thank you is by offering a warm meal free of charge.

Pagu, a Japanese and Spanish Tapas restaurant, has been making enormous amounts of paella and other warm meals for the nurses on the front lines. They give the specific hospitals a shoutout through Instagram and Facebook stories, and also have a little segment about their initiative to provide comfort to these heroes. Knowing the brand that I want to purchase from (and miss terribly) is working to support emergency room workers not only boosts my confidence in them, but also secures consumer brand loyalty.  

Other restaurants are letting users buy donated meals for healthcare workers, adding the option right to their delivery or pick-up menus. Either way, start serving up donated meals if you can.

Focus on connecting with your customers and your community

According to the National Restaurant Association, over 1 million restaurants are fighting to survive during this uncertain time. By implementing strategies to help reinforce the connection between restaurants and the diner, brands can stay agile while also keeping true to their mission. Danny Meyer, the famous restaurateur and author of Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality and Business says it perfectly: “Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.” During these tough times, the public is still looking for restaurants to provide that same level of comfort and feeling they experienced just a couple of months ago. Although the process may be a little different for the time being, restaurants are beginning to “hear” the consumer more than ever. The public is still desiring that element of normalcy, which shows the mark that certain chains, local hubs, and large brands have left on their life. And their response?

“Heard.”

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4 Tips for Better Display Advertising During COVID-19

Like most online advertising channels, I have seen my clients shift how they’re using the Google Display Network to help them implement their evolving marketing strategies during the pandemic. I know each account is different, and our approach to optimization should be customized for every single account. But I wanted to take the time to share some of the tactics I have used the most since COVID-19 started impacting my clients’ accounts.

From our post on online advertising trends during COVID-19.

The best part about this post is that many of these display tactics can be used and tested for almost any account, whether you have been affected by COVID-19 or not. Let’s hop in.

1. Test pay-per-conversion bid strategies

Pay-per-conversion is only available if you are using a target CPA strategy, but it is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You only pay if someone converts on your website, and if you have not tried this option yet, I highly recommended testing it out. If your Google Ads account has at least one-hundred conversions in the past thirty days, you can change your target CPA strategy to focus on conversions.

I have had several clients that had to lower their ad spend right when COVID-19 hit. To avoid going completely dark, we shifted the display campaign bid strategies to pay-per-conversion to allow us to keep building awareness, but not spend a lot.

In the image above, this client has a target CPA of $100. Since we launched this small campaign in March, we have received over four million impressions, over eighteen thousand clicks, but just one conversion. So we only paid $100 for all that brand awareness and traffic with a quality conversion as icing on the cake. But it gets even better.

Pay-per-conversion bidding only applies to direct conversions. If your display campaigns using this bid strategy rack up view-through or cross-device conversions, but you do not see any direct conversions, you will not have to pay a cent. This can help you stretch your ad budgets further and help your other sources increase their conversion, so it would be good to test even if your account has not been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

2. Monitor your placement reports more frequently

This section is going to be the shortest of this blog post, but it is still important: User behavior during the coronavirus pandemic has changed. With that being said, we have to review if the audiences we are targeting with our display campaigns have changed. Hopefully, you are already checking your placement reports in Google Ads frequently. But if you feel your target audience is seeing a shift in performance, you should be checking where your ads are being shown much more frequently than you were before COVID-19 hit.

Some people may have more time on their hands right now—we know that, overall, people are spending more time online. This additional amount of traffic could either benefit your campaign performance, or possibly hurt you. I have seen both ends of the spectrum in my client accounts. Monitor your placements to see what optimizations you should make and, remember, not all changes needed to be made will be negative. Yes, you will most likely see more placements to add to your exclusion lists. But you might take your new findings to either block out more, or target more, placements based on the recent data. You simply won’t know the actual trends if you are not checking your placement reports much more frequently than you were before the pandemic hit.

3. Get proactive with your exclusion strategy

This next recommendation comes with some additional help from my friend Kirk Williams and the Zato Marketing team. They recently wrote a blog post that included a coronavirus placement exclusion list. Please go and check it out for a full explanation. The thought here is there are many news sites that are part of the Google Display Network. And some of these news sites have large ad spaces. Check this one out from The New York Times.

Demographic targeting updates would fix this, but still.

Our data suggests that CTRs for clothing and apparel are back to pre-COVID-19 levels, but even if I was in the market for this product, I’m not going to be in the mood for it while I’m trying to read about economic recovery. While the exposure on these sites could still be valuable, you may have an account where you do not want to waste ad spend on potential users who just want to read about the latest pandemic updates. As always, you will have to decide depending on your account goals.

If you do decide to use the Zato exclusion list, you will be able to block out a variety of URLs, such as news organization URLs or common URLs with pandemic-related terms.

On the flip side, this exclusion list can also work great as a managed placement list for targeting users. If you have a product or service that can be really helpful during COVID-19, use this list to try and target users while they are actively reading or thinking about the pandemic. The intent to buy might be higher with this strategy. And while we are on the topic of implementing more managed placements…

4. Work on your managed placement campaigns

If you have seen audience behavior change in any of your campaigns (this could be for both display and YouTube campaigns), then you may be more hesitant testing out different audiences. While I have found custom intent, auto-created, and in-market audiences to be pretty valuable for my awareness campaigns, I have seen performance for some of these audiences dramatically change since COVID-19 really hit. That being said, you may want to spend more time researching new managed placement options beyond the ones that have converted in your current campaigns.

I currently have a client that wants to target moms. It is easy enough to start creating a display campaign and start searching for “mom” websites. It does not take much effort to type in one keyword and scan through the initial list of results.

Searching for just the exact audience is easy, but our researching efforts should not end there. When COVID-19 hit, schools closed. Many parents were automatically forced to add “homeschool teacher” to their resume. (It’s important to note that the responsibility of being a homeschool teacher is not solely on a mother’s shoulders, and not all families with a parent or parents homeschooling children include mothers. But mothers are parents, too, so that factors into our targeting. We can also control our efforts as much as possible with gender-based targeting.) With this in mind, we used the current scenario to come up with new research ideas for managed placements.

We now see there are several websites that are part of the Google Display Network that are all about homeschooling. I can start pulling these URLs over to my targeting selections, and oh, we are not done yet. Even when the kids do not have any homework to do, we still have to keep them entertained right? (I am still looking for ideas so, fellow parents, please help me).

So in the case of my client, I can easily try and look for projects I can have the kids do, too. Parents are probably looking for art projects, science activities, and sports to keep their kids occupied. Even if stay-at-home restrictions are getting lifted, it does not mean life is going to go back to normal anytime soon. So I want to make sure my client has ads on websites for parents in this situation.

This is just one example for one particular client. Think about all the ways user behavior has changed because of COVID-19. More importantly, think about how behavior for your specific audience has changed. Would they visit different sites now? What features, services, or needs are more important to them right now? Does this shift in behavior justify finding different placements to use as a new strategy? These are the questions you will want to ask yourself. Once you truly take the time to research what is important to your target audience during the pandemic, the more options you have for managed placements to stay top of mind wherever your target audience likes to be online.

Check on your display strategies as things keep changing

Even though it seems like life is slowly getting back to normal, we have a long way to go until COVID-19 is not on our minds. I understand each account is different. Depending on the industry, some accounts are hurting right now while others are experiencing an increase in volume during the pandemic. No matter which bucket you fall in, hopefully this post gave you a list of ideas to consider. This industry has always been an ever-changing one. But when you add a pandemic to the mix, there seems to be a lot more to be done in each account. If there are strategies you have implemented during the pandemic that has helped your account, please share it with the rest of the PPC community in the comments below.

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Understanding & Fulfilling Search Intent

Posted by BritneyMullerGoogle houses the world’s information, and it’s their goal to serve the best answers to searchers’ questions. That means that understanding what your target audience is searching and why is more important than ever — but how do you effectively analyze and fulfill true search intent?
In this brand-new Whiteboard Friday, Britney Muller shares everything you need to begin understanding and fulfilling search intent, plus a free Google Sheets checklist download to help you analyze the SERPs you care about most.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription
Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going to be uncovering understanding and fulfilling search intent, and this is a really important topic to understand and better prepare your content around.
I want you to think about this idea that Google houses the world’s information. They very likely know what the majority of people searching X are seeking, and they’re going to continue to get better and better and better at that.
Understanding search intent
What I would suggest you do and what you arm yourself with is this idea of really leaning on Google to better understand the intent behind any given search. You’re probably very familiar with the informational, navigational, investigational, and transactional-related intent types, and you can pull this information, like I said, directly off the SERP.
Analyze: informational, navigational, investigational, transactional?
You’re probably very familiar with the informational, navigational, investigational, and transactional-related intent types, and you can pull this information, like I said, directly off the SERP.
Is there a featured snippet? Is there a knowledge graph? You can pull that sort of information. Are there site links? Is it navigational in nature, people just trying to go to one destination? Is there a comparison table? Are they perhaps investigating?Transactional, are there tons of ads? Are there lots of product pages showing up in the results? Is there a shopping carousel? You can pull intent types directly from the search. What’s interesting though is any given SERP doesn’t necessarily have one intent type.
In fact, it likely has a couple of nitty-gritty intent types that Google themselves haven’t quite totally figured out. I want to pull back the curtain on how Google is actively trying to get better at understanding intent within questions and answers within content.
They put up a competition to a bunch of data scientists to determine if anyone could build a model that can accurately weight these various intents with the content. 
Question information
There’s question information that they wanted the model to predict around: Is this fact-seeking? Does it have multi-intent? Is it not really a question? That’s my favorite. Is it well-written? 
Asker intent understandingBody criticalConversationalExpect short answerFact-seekingHas commonly accepted answerInterestingness to othersInterestingness to selfMulti-intentNot really a questionOpinion-seekingWell-writtenQuestion type
Then they’re also trying to understand the type of question. Is it a definition? Is it instructions? Is it spelling, which is most of my searches? 
ConsequenceDefinitionEntityInstructionsProcedureReason explanationSpellingAnswer information
Then they get into answer information. Is the answer intent helpful? Is it plausible? Is it relevant? Does it satisfy the question? 
HelpfulLevel of informationPlausibleRelevanceSatisfactionAnswer types
They even drill a bit deeper into answer types. Is it instructions, procedure, well-written? 
InstructionsProcedureReason explanationWell-writtenAgain, you see these sort of themes occur. So it’s important it’s not just these four. It’s great to know these and sort of run with them a bit. But put these in your back pocket and know that it goes a lot deeper and it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Search Intent Checklist
Let’s dig into this checklist of sorts. The idea behind this is that there’s a Google sheet that you can have today, make a copy and tweak however you’d like, that walks you through really this first process of understanding the intent and then fulfilling it.
Make a copy of the Search Intent Checklist
Once you do this a couple of times, you’re not going to need this checklist. This will become second nature to you. Let’s just walk through what this looks like. 
1. Uncover the SERP intent
First, what is the primary SERP intent? For my example, I have phonetic alphabet, informational. Secondary intent might be investigational for the types of content people are looking for.
2. List any SERP features and other SERP notes
I list the SERP features that I notice in the search results. I’m really just making mental notes of what I’m seeing. So for this particular SERP, there were a lot more visuals than I expected, and so I made note of that. That kind of surprised me. I also made note this is the order of the features that are showing up.
3. Read, consume, and take notes about the ranking URLs
The next thing you do is to read and consume all of the ranking URLs. This is so, so important if you’re serious about ranking for a particular keyword. You should actively be consuming this content and making notes about topics and entities covered. 
What sort of multimedia are they using?What are the layouts? What does it feel like? You can really start to have a better checklist of what does that content look like and what are those expectations. 
4. Scan ranking URLs’ Domain Authority with MozBar
Then, ooh, my favorite secret hack is to activate MozBar for the search result page. You can see the Domain Authority and the backlinks for every single URL on a SERP.
A lot of people don’t know you can use MozBar directly within Google search results, and it’s fantastic. What I use this for, if I want to rank for something like this, I would just evaluate all of the organic DAs, and I would really evaluate that range and see if the website or my client’s website might be competitive with it.
If they’re not even close, maybe I pivot this and I try to target something more appropriate for them to rank for in the short term. 
Fulfilling search intent
Now the fulfill part, are you fulfilling this intent? 
Page goal
What is the page goal? Every page should have a goal.
Outline scannable framework
I want to just briefly explain what I mean by this. Scannable content is so, so important. More and more people are on mobile. Our attention span is getting shorter and shorter. 
1. Generate 10–20 title ideas and use the extras for social
This idea that you should generate multiple title ideas to come up with the best one, but then use the others for social media. Shout-out to Andy Crestodina, who came up with that, which I love. 
2. Use the inverted pyramid
Use the journalistic style where you tell people the most important information at the top. 
3. Succinct summaries
Make sure you have succinct summaries. Omit needless words, whether that be at the top or at the bottom of your content. It’s so important to have. Google loves pulling that information for things like featured snippets. 
4. Scannable subtitles
Make sure you have scannable subtitles. Copyblogger does this beautifully, where you can just scan one of their articles and you quickly understand what the content is about like that. That’s incredibly helpful for users. 
5. Leverage multimedia
There’s no reason why you couldn’t also take a piece of content you’re working on and provide other options or other forms for your visitors to consume it. We don’t know what any given visitor might be or the position they’re in to consume content at that time.
Maybe they’re going for a walk and they want to hear audio. It’s really great to provide different media types. 
6. Provide relevant next steps
Then lastly, I have this here and here, are you providing relevant next steps? So I really thought about this for someone searching phonetic alphabet that are looking for information.
What might be relevant next steps? It sounds like they’re sort of in a learning mode. So why not quiz them on it? Why not entice them to learn more about aviation jargon and language? You can start to like put yourself in the mindset of the user and really try to cultivate logical next steps for someone to go through on your site, so really building out that supportive content.
Make sure you have a CTA
Then lastly, make sure you have a CTA. Hopefully, it’s to fulfill the page goal that you set for yourself. But ideally this should become second nature after a couple of passes, where you just have these kind of mental checks in your head and you can quickly and better evaluate search result pages to target and rank and succeed in search. 
 I really look forward to hearing your thoughts and your comments down below. Thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I will see you all soon. Thanks.
Video transcription by Speechpad.com
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Five SEO content types to power and grow your business through 2020 –

Search friendly content that is targeted, optimized, and engaging differentiates front-runner brands from the rest of the crowd. Jim Yu shares five content types that add value.
The post Five SEO content types to power and grow your business through 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
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Content, SEO, content, content strategy, E-A-T, Google, Video content, visual content, voice search

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Preparing E-Commerce for the Post-COVID Bounce Back

Posted by MrLukeCarthyCOVID-19 has switched up life as we know it, and it’s unlikely to stop doing so for some time.
E-commerce shopping is a perfect example of how things have changed, and in a number of ways.
If you feel like Shopify has been dropping huge, disruptive news bombs practically each week now, you’re right!
And who’d have guessed that in the UK, the exclusively online supermarket, Ocado, is now worth more than brick-and-mortar grocers Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, and Marks and Spencer combined.
The speed of transformation in e-commerce since the COVID-19 outbreak (an already fast-paced industry) has been savage.
Supply chains are under strain for many brands selling online (especially where demand is high and supplies are low). How do you best manage expectations and maximize every opportunity to sell to your target audience?
With your consumers now relying on the world of online shopping more than ever, how can you be sure you’re getting your fair share of that online retail pie?
Well, this post is designed to help you answer precisely these questions. Whether your sales have taken a hit or you have “off the wall” levels of demand, here are some ideas to help you navigate that bounce back and to help customers stay in love with your brand.
Pay close attention to changing on site search behavior
Your site search is a goldmine of insight, especially right now. Seriously.
Frequently checking in to understand how and what your customers are looking for once they get to your store can reveal a bunch of opportunities.
It’s possible that before COVID-19 took a stronghold on everyday life, customers had different contexts in mind when searching for your products.For example, searches for “gloves” today vs. in January are likely to be visitors searching for two separate products entirely. It’s important to ensure that you’re serving today’s customer sufficiently and addressing their context correctly to remain relevant and to improve conversion.
Here’s an extreme example, but it’s a poignant one nonetheless. For context, Holland and Barrett are a popular, high street healthcare retailer with a strong web presence here in the UK.
When searches for “coronavirus” had skyrocketed and demand for hand sanitizer and Paracetamol (another brand of acetaminophen, like Tylenol) were painfully high, what I found incredible was that searching for “coronavirus” on their website yielded no results.
This seemed particularly jarring for a retailer that, first, sells items that have been scientifically proven to kill and help prevent the spread of the virus and, second, is a dedicated healthcare business.
Not only does this throw a huge wrench in the works when it comes to CX and customer perception, this tiny yet costly oversight is likely to have cost them sales and customers too.
Customers are also searching for products that aren’t typically associated with a certain brand or online store due to exhausted stocks elsewhere.
For example, the top three search terms for one of my e-commerce clients are now “Mask”, “mask”, and “PPE”. The search terms “mask”, “PPE”, and close variants were practically non-existent prior to mid-May.
Kit and Ace, a clothing retailer, has responded to precisely this changing behavior. After seeing a huge spike in the number of site searches for masks, they’re now introducing a new, premium, scientifically-derived mask that also fits their brand. They’re donating 100% of profits from the masks, but this tactic will likely to drive more sales in their other categories too.
This is a great move, especially since apparel sales have shrunk during this time. It’s important to find emerging opportunities when typical product lines are no longer in demand.
The point I’m trying to make here is that, in order to succeed coming out of the other side of this pandemic, you need to ensure you’re fully in tune with the wants and needs of today’s customer — whatever that looks like for you. Using site search can absolutely give you a huge window into their demands and interests.
If products are out of stock, offer excellent alternatives (where possible)
As touched on earlier, supply chain management is going to be increasingly challenging — especially in areas where demand is outstripping supply — yet so many retailers miss out here.
For some products, it doesn’t matter how hard you try, every retailer has them listed as “out of stock.”
For branded items that have stock issues globally, being the retailer that offers a perfectly good alternative could be enough to win over that visitor and win the sale that other retailers have lost.
To use a specific example, FTX is a manufacturer of radio-controlled cars, and is a brand sold on Europe e-commerce site Wheelspin. There’s an FTX item that you cannot get before the end of June (for love nor money) on any website due to COVID-19. The pandemic has forced factories to close and that disrupts production for many goods.
Specifically, in this example, it’s the FTX brushed motor that’s become victim to supply chain issues. However, there’s a brand that has a perfectly suitable alternative item that’s identical in specification, and it’s in stock:
Proactively offering solid alternatives with as few compromises as possible can be a great way of winning sales and delighting customers in a way that your competitors likely won’t be.
Add an “in stock only” filter
Continuing on the topic of store stock and managing a turbulent supply chain, a simple but welcome feature is to add an “items in stock” filter.
It goes without saying that allowing customers to browse items they’re able to get their hands on quickly will go down well and could help improve conversion on your website.
Another benefit of adding such a filter is the ability to bring light to other lines that are typically overshadowed by more popular (but now out of stock) items.
Taking this a step further, you could also help your customers experience by adding a filter for products expected to arrive within a certain timeframe, or filter out those that can be backordered.
Add an “email me when back in stock” CTA
If you’re a retailer struggling to get stock of popular lines, there’s a good chance you’re not the only retailer with that problem. Although it may not be possible to get stock any quicker than your competitors, you can absolutely ensure that you’re the first to let potential customers know that it’s back in stock.
Sweeten the deal by personalizing the back-in-stock email
Letting a potential customer know that the item’s back in stock is great, but why not suprise and delight your customers by taking the opportunity to personalize this email too?
Offering personalized cross-sells of the item that’s now back in stock can be a great way to not only give them the good news, but give them additional reasons to visit your shop and potentially increase basket value simultaneously. It’s certainly a win, win here.
Remarket to people when items are back in stock
People are spending more time online — fact. So it makes sense to reach your audience where they’re most likely to be spending time for the foreseeable future.
Depending on the popularity of an item (and how much traffic is going to it whilst it’s remained unavailable), you could create a retargeting list based on visitors that expressed an interest in it now that it’s back in stock.
This can prove to be a great way to reach people, say on social media, that aren’t particularly responsive to email but are spending increased amounts of time on their favorite social platforms.
Although this may not be scalable, or at least I haven’t found a way to make it so, doing this across your top-selling lines or lines with greater margins could prove to be a successful way of pulling engaged and semi-invested visitors back to your site.
Don’t be afraid to increase prices where necessary
Let’s not forget the basic principles of commerce, right? High demand (coupled with low supply) increases prices.
Businesses shouldn’t feel guilty for increasing prices, but of course, there’s a difference between a justifiable increase and straight ripping people off (as demonstrated below):
For context, four tins of 400g Heinz Spaghetti Plus Sausage would retail at around £4 in UK supermarkets (that’s about $5 at current exchange rates).
Think about this scenario for a second: You and your staff are potentially working in environments that could pose serious health risks. Plus there’s additional costs to consider in order to keep people safe. PPE, cleaning products, masks, sick pay for unwell staff, etc., all these factors will push up the cost per sale and erode your margins.
Equally, there are no guarantees right now. Those all-time high levels of sales could come slamming to a fierce halt at any time. Whether that’s caused by a change in demand, decrease in stock, or your business is no longer able to fulfil orders due to an internal COVID-19 outbreak.
Increasing prices fairly to better protect your business against these mostly uncontrollable factors is not a bad thing. In my opinion, it’s just good business sense.
You’ve got to ensure your business is as robust as it can be when faced with these potential eventualities. Increasing your prices fairly can help to better protect it.
Discover creative ways to connect with your audience
As the saying goes, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. It’s a huge cliché, but it absolutely rings true and remains a powerful statement today.
Finding ways to be creative, cut through the noise, and engage with your audience is essential to staying relevant. Especially if your customer’s cash is heading elsewhere right now.
Here’s an example of a potentially powerful idea that I’ve been working on for a client in the world of apparel — one of the more fiercely affected industries during the pandemic.
People are spending less on fashion, and even less at the luxury end of the scale. So, why not let your audience build themselves a virtual dream wardrobe? Something they’d consider buying for a night out, things they’d have in their suitcase for a summer vacation, etc. It’s a fairly simple idea, but let’s think about the impact this could have for both customer and business:
You’re throwing down a few slices of “feel good”So many people miss going out, right? Heading to bars, clubs, celebrating a milestone, going on a vacation, or even just getting back to the office, so many of us associate buying new outfits as part of those moments.
Allowing your loyal fans and customers to pick out their money’s-no-object dream outfits based on some predetermined wardrobes (office attire, night out, summer holiday) is naturally going to invoke some positive emotions and memories — especially if you inject a social element into it by allowing people to share their collections.
But other wins can be extracted from such an idea too:
You’re collecting valuable user data: You’re getting some valuable insight into the sort of clothing people may buy when lockdown policies begin to wind back. This could help to get a better understanding of demand so you can work on reinvigorating your supply chain successfully.
Plus, you’re getting an idea of what items visitors would put together to help educate new fashion trends and inform “recommended for you” personalization.
You’re helping to alleviate boredom: In some ways, this kind of activity is adding an element of gamification to apparel. With so many people stuck indoors experiencing high levels of procrastination and boredom, it can help to cut through and detach from the realities of lockdown.
You’re creating an opportunity to welcome sales when things pick back up:
Offering an incentive (say 15% off your dream collections) once we’re on the cusp of restoring “normality” could be a really powerful way of encouraging and helping to re-energize apparel and fashion spend online. It’s also a great way to celebrate the comeback.
Last but not least, you’re building brand affinity: I’ve said it before, but it’s extremely important, so I’ll say it again: remaining relevant and keeping marketing efforts up is essential to ensure you remain in good shape when society heads towards the new normal.
Having your audience resonate with your brand and remember your positive actions whilst they’re away will be a major influence on your ability to maintain and deepen those customer relationships post-pandemic.
Final thoughts: the rise of big brands diving into D2C eCommerce
What’s amazing to see is a huge move by big household names and brands. They’re now setting up their own direct-to-consumer (D2C) e-commerce outfits, and on the surface, appear to be going head-to-head with supermarkets.
To highlight a few of my favorite examples, there’s snacks.com — created by Frito-Lay — shipping their brand’s snacking staples across North America.
Then there’s Heinz to Home, delivering popular Heinz products to households in the UK.
How these new D2C e-commerce brands fare in the long term will be interesting to see, but what’s certain is the pandemic is accelerating and evolving e-commerce in a way that’s not been seen before.
As a final note, to those of you hit hard by COVID-19, may I wish you a speedy recovery — personally and professionally.
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Content creation guide: How to effectively think of SEO at every stage –

To compete in the race to the top of SERPs you need to make sure your target audience can find your content. Five essential tips for SEO content creation.
The post Content creation guide: How to effectively think of SEO at every stage appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
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Content, SEO, content, Content Creation, content editing, content optimization, content strategy, evergreen content, guest blogging, long-tail keywords, SEO Content, Strategy

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How to manage a high-performing content marketing team –

Kevin Payne shows you the exact steps and tips to build and manage your own high-performing content marketing team.
The post How to manage a high-performing content marketing team appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
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Industry, content, Content marketing, content performance, Strategy

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Eight great tips for internal site search optimization –

Discover eight great tips for internal site search optimization. Boost revenue and conversions by simply optimizing for your existing organic traffic.
The post Eight great tips for internal site search optimization appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
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SEO, conversion rate optimization (CRO), Google, Google Analytics, Google Data Studio, internal site search, search marketing, SERPs

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How to Create & Verify Your Google My Business Account

Your free Google business listing (known as your Business Profile) can do more than you think. When properly optimized, it showcases your best features and makes it easy for consumers to discover, learn about, and contact your business. But in order to properly optimize your Business Profile, you need access to it, and in order to access it, you need to verify with Google that you are the rightful owner.

While it seems as though it should be as simple as “step one create, step two claim, and step three verify,” the process is neither that simple nor that linear—which, if you’re reading this post, you have already figured out. That’s because it requires three different Google accounts and two different Google platforms, all of which have very similar names. Talk about a brain bender.

So, in this post, I’m going to first iron out for you exactly what’s what in Google, and then give you a clear-cut roadmap to creating a Google My Business account and using it to claim and verify your Business Profile on Google.

Why create a Google My Business account?

Your Google My Business account makes it easy for consumers to discover, learn about, and contact your business online.  These are the core benefits of a Google My Business account, and if that’s not enough to convince you, consider the disadvantages of not having one.

You risk losing customers. Without a Google My Business account, you don’t have control over the information displayed in your Business Profile, and according to a BrightLocal study, 68% of consumers would stop using a local business after finding incorrect information online.

You risk a poor reputation. Without a Google My Business account, you cannot respond to your Google reviews. And with reviews being both a Google ranking factor and the number one influence on consumer buying, being able to manage them is a must.

You lose out to competitors. An empty or bare-bones Business Profile is akin to having an unkept storefront. If you don’t take care of your business, how can consumers trust that you’ll take care of them? They’ll be much more likely to click on and engage with a Business Profile in the search results that has lots of attractive information and looks lively.

You lose SERP real estate. Google ranks Business Profiles according to their quality, and a Business Profile alone is not enough. A Google Business Profile managed through a Google Business account, however, can be optimized to rank above competitors for relevant keyword searches.

Which listing would you choose? The unclaimed one on the left or the one optimized by Google My Business account on the right?

What you need in order to claim and verify your business on Google

By now, it should be clear that creating a Google My Business account and verifying ownership of your business is crucial if you want to provide accurate information, respond to reviews, attract customers, and rank higher in local search.

As mentioned earlier, however, the process is not super simple. It involves two different Google platforms and three different Google accounts, all of which have similar names, and some of which you likely already have. So to get you off on clear footing, let’s first iron out the terminology.

Google Account: This is the free account you create with Google so you can have access to Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Photos, Gmail, and more. Many call it their “Gmail account,” but Gmail is just one of the features; you can actually use any email to set up a Google Account. In this post, I’ll use the term “standard Google Account“ to refer to this account type, just to avoid confusion. Most business owners already have two standard Google accounts—one they use for their personal life and one they use for their business.

Business Profile: This is your free business listing on Google that appears on Google Maps, the local results of Google Search, and the right-hand Knowledge Panel of Google Search.

An example of a Business Profile on Maps.

Google My Business account: This is the free account you create that gives you a dashboard to manage and enhance your Business Profile.

Your Google My Business dashboard.

How to verify your business on Google

Now that you have the proper terminology laid out, let’s put the pieces together to form a full picture of the process.

The goal is to gain full access to your Business Profile on Google.

The means by which you do this is your Google My Business account, which you sign up for using a standard Google Account.

The steps to complete the process are as follows:

Make sure you have a standard Google Account for your business.
Make sure you have a Business Profile.
Create a Google My Business account.
Request to claim your Business Profile.
Verify ownership of your business.
Now, with the groundwork laid out, you are armed and ready to successfully claim and verify your business on Google. The steps outlined below are written linearly, and in some cases, you’ll need to skip down a step. But I’d still encourage you to read them all carefully to avoid hitting roadblocks or creating duplicate accounts.

Step #1: Make sure you have a Google Account for your business

This is the standard Google Account we described in the terminology section above. If you already have one (make sure it’s not your personal-use Google Account), skip down to Step #2. If you don’t have a Google Account for your business, follow the steps below.

1. Go to accounts.google.com/signin.
2. Click “Create account.”

3. You’ll see a drop-down with two options. Choose “To manage my business.”

4, Supply the necessary information.

Step #2: Make sure you have a Business Profile

Your Business Profile is the official term for your Google business listing. As mentioned above, Google Business Profiles are separate from Google My Business accounts. A Business Profile can exist on its own, without Google My Business account. The problem with this is that the business owner has no control over the information in that Business Profile until they claim it, and this is done through Google My Business. Bottom line: You’ll want to make sure you have a Business Profile to claim once you’ve set up your Google My Business account.

If you know you’ve already created a Business Profile, skip down to Step #4. If you haven’t created one or are unsure, follow the steps below.

Note: Even if you didn’t create it, there’s a good chance your Business Profile already exists. This is because a Business Profile is simply a place on Google Maps, which any person or computer can add. So to check and see if you need to create a Business Profile, follow these steps:

1. Go to Google.com/maps.
2. Search your business name.
3. If your business name populates in the drop-down with an address next to it, this means your Business Profile already exists. Great! You can move on to Step #4.

If your business name does not populate with an address, select it and you’ll see something like this:

4. Select “Add a missing place,” and you’ll see a screen like this:

5. Provide the requested information. Notice that you’ll have the option to claim the business within that same window. Since you don’t have a Google My Business account yet, you’ll need to move on to Step #3. If you already have a Google My Business account, you can follow the prompts and you’ll end up at Step #5—look at you go!

Step #3: Sign up for a Google My Business account

The means by which you claim your Business Profile on Google is through a Google My Business account. Provided you have a standard Google account (see Step #1), here’s how to sign up for a Google My Business account.

1. Make sure you are logged into the standard Google Account for your business (and not the standard Google Account for your personal life).
2. Go to google.com/business.
3. Select “Manage now.”

4. Provide the basic information Google asks for, including.

Business name
Address
Website
Phone number
Delivery area (if applicable)
Category
Once you connect this account with your Business Profile (the final step of this post), additional fields will open up in your dashboard so you can provide even more information about your business. This information is the key to optimizing your business for local SEO and attracting more customers through your free listing.

Step #4: Request to claim your Business Profile

This is where we start putting the pieces together. Unfortunately, creating a Google My Business account (from Step #3) does not automatically connect it to your Business Profile (from Step #2). You need to tell Google to connect them, and you do this by verifying ownership of your business. To do this, start by locating your Business Profile on Google Maps or Google Search and requesting to claim it. You can do this one of two ways:

Claim request method #1:

1. Go to google.com and search for your business name and location. If your Business Profile appears on the right-hand side, find the “Own this business?” option and select it.

2. From there you’ll be taken to a screen that says “Manage this business so you can reply to reviews, update info, and more.”

3. Click “Manage now,” and follow the prompts to claim your business. Once again, make sure you’re logged in with the standard Google Account used for your business, and not for your personal life, referred to in Step #1.

Claim request method #2: Google Maps

1. Go to Google.com/maps.
2. Type in your business name.
3. Click on your Business Profile, which will expand.
4. You’ll then see an option to “Claim this business.”

Clicking on “Claim this business” will then overlay the same screen you saw in the first method, but this time right over the map.

4. Click “Manage now” and follow the prompts. Again, make sure you’re logged in with the Google Account you created for your business referred to in Step #1.

Step #6: Verify ownership of your business

This is the home stretch! If you need to grab a Gatorade or some orange slices, I’ll be right here when you get back.

When you click on “Manage now” as instructed in Step #5, you’ll be asked to provide information to prove you are the rightful owner of the business. Depending on the type of business you have, if you created the Business Profile and you’re logged into your Google My Business account, you might get validated on the spot. If you aren’t the one who created the Business Profile, Google will send you a verification code that you’ll enter into your Google Business dashboard. Depending on the circumstances of your account/security requirements of your industry, you may be given your verification code via regular mail, email, or text.

Once you receive the code and enter it into the box, you will have full ownership of your Business Profile on Google! You can now manage reviews, update information, add more attractive details, and optimize it for successful local marketing.

Take the time to verify your business on Google

Google is changing the way consumers find and engage with local businesses, so if you want to continue reaching your audience and attracting customers with your free Business Profile, be sure to follow the above steps. The process has different parts and pieces, but it doesn’t have to be quite so complicated with guides like this and options like doing it on mobile. Get started with creating, claiming, and verifying through Google My Business today so you can get the most out of this incredible and free tool available to you.

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