PPC

Getting Around LinkedIn PPC Ads’ Poor UK Geographical Targeting Options

Update (15th April 2015) – I’ve just been alerted to the fact that Cardiff is now a target location (yay), making this entire post pretty much obsolete (boo)! Good news though.

Cardiff panoramic shot
I do a bit of work for Welsh ICE (as mentioned before) and recently looked into the possibility of launching a LinkedIn Ads campaign for them.

Fingers on map imageAssuming that it would have similar-ish geographical targeting options to Google AdWords (Google’s PPC platform), which allows you to target a city/town or a radius around any point (such as a postcode), I was surprised to learn that – as far as the UK is concerned – you can only target 30 towns/cities, ranging from Birmingham to Twickenham, and containing no Welsh or Northern Irish locations such as Cardiff or Belfast. Either side of where Cardiff would (should?) be, we have Cambridge and Chelmsford, the latter of which has half the population of Cardiff, and Hemel Hempstead (another one in the list) only has a quarter of the population of Cardiff. (Wikipedia population links for Cardiff, Chelmsford and Hemel Hempstead.)

LinkedIn Ads UK Location Targeting screenshot
Aside from the fact that it seems rather odd that they only offer a select few UK towns/cities, I honestly think that LinkedIn are shooting themselves in the foot by not offering more. While LinkedIn’s main focus is on B2B, and a lot of UK B2B businesses could probably cater to a UK-wide customer base, there are still businesses who are restricted by geography. For instance, for Welsh ICE, while they’d certainly like to attract more businesses to Wales as a whole, it makes sense to mainly concentrate on the South Wales region, given that they offer office space and co-working facilities. Similarly, I also have a Cardiff-based cleaning client and a storage facility provider client with two locations in South Wales – they’re only going to be interested in receiving leads from South Wales-based prospects as well, as they are also pretty much limited by geography. In other words, there could be a lot more businesses out there that’d happily use LinkedIn Ads if they sorted this out and improved their location targeting options…

However I dug a little deeper, looking at the LinkedIn Ads system’s other targeting settings, and while it’s not foolproof, I found a way that Welsh ICE can still target on a (sort of) geographical basis. Here’s how:

1) Target local/regional university graduates

A lot of people stay and live in their university town after graduating, so one way could be to target the alumni of particular universities. For the Welsh ICE campaign, we could focus on Cardiff Uni, Swansea Uni, Cardiff Met Uni, Uni of South Wales, etc. By doing so, they’re effectively saying: “you’ve graduated in South Wales… now why not start a business here?”

LinkedIn Ads School Targeting screenshot

Click to read more!

Google Help Needs UX Improvements, A Content Audit & A Better Attitude…

Help Wanted signAs someone who’s been doing SEO and PPC day in and day out for nearly 5 years, I’m no stranger to Google’s Help sections. While there’s a lot of great search engine marketing advice out there on other people’s blogs, sometimes it’s helpful to see what Google themselves suggest and recommend about Google-y things, especially if it’s a brand new feature or a confusing topic.

Of course, the info isn’t just intended for SEO and AdWords folk: it’s for your everyday webmaster (hence why one of their main Help blogs is called Webmaster Central). Your everyday webmaster (definition: the person responsible for maintaining a website) might be an individual working in marketing, web development or IT, however it might even be the business owner his/herself, especially if it’s a small business. Therefore Google should endeavour that all of its information is sorted in the best way possible for convenience and accessibility and that the sections in general are as easy-to-use as possible in order to reduce frustration.

…But that’s simply not the case.

What Google Help needs is:

  • UX (user experience) improvements,
  • A content audit, and
  • A better attitude…

Why UX improvements?

I had an incident recently that just screamed ‘frustrating user experience’ when I tried to contact the Google AdWords Help team, who – in their own words – are “here” and “love to help.”

Click to read more!

Is “Keyword” A Keyword In Your Google AdWords Account?

I noticed something amusing a while ago that I’ve been meaning to blog about for ages. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to work anymore if you’re using a computer or an iPad, but I have noticed it recently via my iPhone…

Have you ever just tried Googling the word “keyword”? Have you seen its ads?

iPhone screenshots for "keyword"

You might chance upon an ad or two offering keyword research services or a keyword tool, but what’s the likes of Audi, Southall Travel and Sky Protect doing there, bearing in mind that they’re completely out of context and irrelevant?

How it happens

Well, when using AdWords and constructing/editing ad groups, you have the option to switch to ‘Spreadsheet edit’ mode to make bulk changes. It comes in handy if you’re essentially duplicating ad groups but maybe changing a word here or there, but not to the extent that requires AdWords Editor – e.g. “online marketing services” / “digital marketing services” / “internet marketing services” could all be done by using the Find & Replace function in something like Notepad or Excel and changing the first word in each instance.

However, the top row itself contains the word “Keyword” as a header to the first column. So you want to copy and paste everything from row B downwards…

AdWords screenshot

Notepad screenshot(Click to enlarge)

Of course, it’s very easy to accidentally grab row A as well, so that your new semi-duplicated ad group contains all your desired keywords as well as just the word “keyword”. On broad match. Ouch…

It really threw me when I first noticed it – I think I was typing in “keyword tool” and Google Instant showed the results (and the ads) for “keyword” before I’d even finished typing the full phrase. But for a digital marketing geek like me, I guess it made me chuckle!

How to check it

Want to check that you’re “keyword”-less? Of course you could check by doing a Google search for “keyword” and making sure that you’re not there, but if there really is a difference between the ads showing or not showing depending on which device you’re using then it could be rather time-consuming.

Your best bet is to check at the source: in your AdWords account. There might be a quicker way, but if it were me, I’d do this:

  1. Log in to your account,
  2. Go to Campaigns,
  3. Click the Keywords tab (note: at account level, not campaign/ad group level),
  4. Sort columns by Keyword (i.e. A-Z),
  5. Look under ‘K’,
  6. Pause or delete the offending keyword (if it is there).

If you were affected, then hopefully impression/CTR data as well as Quality Scores will improve – at ad group level and higher – with its removal.

Brighton SEO

My Top 10 Takeaways from #BrightonSEO April 2012

Brighton SEO
The only pic I took – terrible quality, I know!

Having been in SEO for over 3 years now, attending a conference was long overdue. Thankfully, we won some tickets to Brighton SEO and so I headed there with Liberty colleagues Andrew (@Andrew_Isidoro / @SEOFoSho) and Ceri.

While Andrew tweeted like a madman (this tweet sums it up well!), I made a ton of notes, equalling 1,000 words – good fun on an iPad, let me tell you…!

Anyway, here are my top 10 takeaways from the event:

1. Bing: Social is a “strong signal” for content
Talk: Panel – Ask the Engines with Pierre Far, Dave Coplin, Martin McDonald, Rishi Lakhani & Tony Goldstone

Straight from the horse’s mouth – Bing’s Director of Search Dave Coplin explained that social is used as a ranking signal in Bing. He even specified that they definitely take Facebook and Twitter into account, and those whose efforts are “bloody good” will be rewarded with better rankings.

2. ISO DateTime gives search engines context to dates
Talk: Microformats & SEO – Glenn Jones, @glennjones

I’m still fairly new to the head-scratching-inducing world of schema.org and rich snippets, but I thought it was cool that “ISO DateTime” can give context to dates that search engines will understand. With so many ways to write a date (17th Apr 2012, 17/04/12, 2012-04-17, and so on), it can be used to clarify a date in one standard format. It can even be used when a date isn’t actually written, but a date is still suggested (e.g. “next Tuesday”).

Glenn’s slides can be found here. See slide 17 for more info.

3. What info to include when reporting on online PR
Talk: How you can get BIG links from BIG media sites – Lexi Mills, @leximills

Lexi’s talk was by far my favourite at the event. In terms of reporting on online PR efforts, one should consider including:

  • Domain Authority of the site (not PageRank of the page: the article/content will be brand new on the site – as a brand new page – and therefore PageRank will be low (n/a) for that page to begin with, so for that reason, DA is a more sensible metric to use),
  • Whether the link is dofollow or nofollow,
  • Whether the link is an image or text,
  • The anchor text of the link.

I think the same easily applies to guest blogging as well.

4. Follow #prwin, #prfail and #journorequest for potential online PR opportunities
Talk: How you can get BIG links from BIG media sites – Lexi Mills, @leximills

Another gem from Lexi. Keep an eye on the above hashtags for an opportunity to strike.

My tip: Want to filter it by industry? Add a keyword after each one, e.g. #journorequest fashion. You could have one (or a few) per client/site.

5. Tell clients their month-average ranking as well as/instead of their current ranking
Talk: Maximizing your SEO Agencies – James Owen, @jamesoSEO

It’s happened to all of us… When we give our client their end-of-month report, they’ve performed consistently well all month, and then Sod’s Law strikes and on the 29th or 30th they’ll drop a few places. We give them their current rank and they wonder it’s been like that the whole time…

In those situations, it might also be worth including their average ranking over the month, so that you can say “yes, it is nth right now, but look at where it was before…!” Especially handy if it’s a temporary dip.

6. Say “Did I explain that clearly?” instead of “Did that make sense?” or “Did you get that?”
Talk: Sell the Sizzle, Not The Search: Tactics for Appeasing Marketing Directors – Chelsea Blacker, @ChelseaBlacker

This is very timely for me. I’ve been meaning to write a post about sales/networking tips for non-sales people, and although Chelsea’s talk was applied to Marketing Directors and others within an organisation, I think it applies to any/all environments involving laymen.

After exploding someone’s head with overly-technical information, I’ll often say something like “do you know what I mean?”, which might leave the listener feeling a little silly (albeit unintentionally). However “did I explain that clearly?” is a softer approach and – chances are – I probably didn’t explain it clearly, so more accurate, too.

For me personally, this has been one of the most valuable takeaways of the event. Thank you Chelsea!

7. Use competitor downtime to your advantage…
Talk: Enterprise SEO Titties (was that a typo or the actual title of the event in the end?!) – Tony King, @ToastedTeacake

All’s fair in love, war and search…

We all know that competitors bid on each others’ brand terms using PPC (especially big brands), in an attempt to cheekily pinch each other’s traffic before it reaches the site. But Tony made a very good point – if you notice that one of your main competitors is experiencing website downtime, increase your bids on those terms. That’s the time to strike, offering yourself as a (functioning) alternative to frustrated customers who could use you instead of waiting for their usual port-of-call website to get themselves sorted and fixed…

It’s cheeky as hell (although brilliant, mind you), but hey – they’d probably do it to you, too!

8. Shape your response to emotional highs (and use SEO and PPC accordingly)
Talk: SEO & PPC Working Together in Harmony – Tim, @JellyfishAgency

Use SEO and PPC together, but for different reasons. As PPC can be turned on and off very quickly and ads can be shown at certain times of the day, it can be used to drive people to a website at a time when they might be feeling an “emotional high,” as Tim put it. Don’t just rely on SEO, when PPC could be used to draw in additional traffic that may be more inclined to read/react/buy compared to usual.

EDIT: Sorry, it was Tim who was speaking, not Craig! Cheers to @JellyfishAgency for clarifying!

9. Author Rank could be swayed by industry
Talk: I Believe Authors are the Future – James Carson, @mrjamescarson

James’ talk was interesting – it’s early days for the likes of Author Rank, rel=author, etc., but it’s clear that Google is becoming more and more fixated in this area as time goes on.

James has a theory that in the future, Author Rank could differ by industry. Rather than a well-respected, high-ranking author always ranking well no matter what they publish, Author Rank could be determined by the consistency of what they publish by industry, based on their previous successes. For example, if a famous fashion blogger suddenly blogged about football, it may not necessarily rank well – even if their fashion posts usually do – because it is inconsistent of what they’re known and respected for.

10. Mascots can cause a reaction (but be a distraction)
Talk: I appear to have started a sweetshop (and advertising company) – Dom Hodgson, @Thehodge

Dom easily wins the award for the most entertaining talk of the day (as I’m sure fellow attendeanales reading this will agree…)

Dom originally used a mascot – a “f***ing squirrel,” as he so eloquently put it! – on the first design of his sweet shop website. Although they had a lot of social media mentions revolving around said mascot to begin with (“did that squirrel just f***ing wink at me?!”), showing initial promising signs that his(?) inclusion was a good move, they decided to “kill” the squirrel and eventually removed it from the site. Why? Because an eye-tracking test showed that visitors were distracted by the squirrel, and in some cases it might’ve been such a distraction that it was putting some customers off from buying anything.

I found this fascinating. It just goes to show that even if people say something positive via social, it may not actually be a positive for the website or company.

11./Bonus: Advanced Search String Queries for SEO
Talk: Word from a Sponsor – Analytics SEO, @analyticsseo

Ok, so I lied – I’ve included an 11th takeaway, as while writing this post, I remembered another good takeaway from one of the sponsors – Analytics SEO – who used their ‘sponsor message’ section to share their list of advanced search string queries for SEO.

So that’s it! That’s some of the words from the 1,000-word tome that’s left me with aching fingertips and a low iPad battery…

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank a few people:

  • Analytics SEO, who ran the ticket competition and therefore the whole reason I managed to go,
  • Kelvin (@kelvinnewman), the event’s organiser, for his help and patience with the infamous ‘ticket confusion’ on Thursday,
  • The Brighton SEO blog (I’m assuming Kelvin again?), as I used their list of last-minute Brighton hotels when booking accommodation – a great idea for appropriate, helpful content,
  • Emily (@ems_ob), for the catch-up,
  • The man who bought me a shot of sambuca because I apologised for accidentally queue-jumping him at the bar at the afterparty. Alcohol + poor memory (generally) = I’ve forgotten your name, but if you tweet me and remind me then I’ll edit this post and link to you as promised. (And before anyone tries pulling a fast one, I’ll know the name when I see it!),
  • The magician (@mcrmagic), for blowing my mind to smithereens.

Oh and for anyone reading this who enjoyed the karaoke at the afterparty, I’m the guy who sang the Foo Fighters song. I apologise for the high bits!

EDIT (03/05/12): I thought I’d share this awesome infographic as well…

Brighton SEO Infographic April 2012

Infographic Design by ShellShock uk

A surefire PPC brand exposure tactic for AdWords advertisers

Yuri Gagarin logo

What’s a search term that – for one day only – will have a massive surge of search volume in Google?

Whatever the Google Doodle’s linking to.

“Google Doodles?”

Readers who aren’t familiar with the term are bound to be familiar with one of Google’s quirky and clever branding traits. Google Doodles are Google’s reworks of its famous logo. Yesterday’s was a tribute to Yuri Gagarin, the first human being to journey into outer space, 50 years ago.

Some Google Doodles aren’t obvious straight away. For those wanting to find out more about its presence, Google provides a link to a relevant search term, which will then give searchers an idea as why that particular topic is being paid tribute to. In yesterday’s case, the search term the Doodle linked to was “yuri gagarin.”

How AdWords advertisers can take advantage

I clicked on the logo, and here’s what I noticed when I clicked through:

Yuri Gagarin in the SERPs

Notice the PPC ad on the right-hand side of the SERPs? It says:

Out Of This World Deals
Whether You’re Building A Rocket Or
A House We Have The Tools You Need
www.screwfix.com

That’s a clever little exercise in brand exposure.

Using PPC advertising and AdWords to advertise on a search term that’s not relevant to a business or website but is very topical is not a new tactic, but it’s certainly not a widely implemented one. I’m reminded of the brilliant Ann Summers PPC campaigns on searches relating to last year’s UK Elections and this year’s Chinese New Year.

To quote the latter article, iCrossing – Ann Summers’ PPC agency – “knew that hanging paid search ads off the back of popular news-based searches would drive a lot of awareness, with relatively few clicks.” I bet this was Screwfix’s intention, too. A few people might click on it while a few people might not even notice it at all, but I bet more people were thinking about Screwfix more than usual yesterday.

Google Insights for Search indicates the impact of the surge:

Yuri Gagarin on Google Insights

Interestingly, it’s showing the rise on the 11th April, not the 12th (the actual day of the Doodle and the anniversary of Gagarin’s achievement). Whether this is due to the freshness of the data or the fact that the logo would’ve shown earlier in the UK than in the US, I can’t say. Either way, if you look at the Insights data for “harry houdini”, you will see that the rise takes place on 24th March, the date of Google’s Harry Houdini Doodle (note: refine the search to the last 30 or 90 days – I’ve linked to data showing the whole of 2011 otherwise the link will become obsolete for future readers).

The downside?

Surely the pros outweigh the cons: huge brand exposure, a low advertising cost (due to high impressions but low clickthrough rate) and a chance to be cheeky and funny and possibly throw in a pun or two – surely that’s a win-win scenario for a lot of advertisers! However I can see AdWords’ keyword Quality Score being negatively affected, unless an advertiser is actually a Gagarin biographer or has any other close connection to him, but what’s the harm if it’s only for a maximum of 24 hours?

Advertising for the quick thinker

I have to say that I am amazed that there aren’t more companies like Screwfix and Ann Summers jumping on opportunities like this, unless I’m just not aware of them. Compared to other topical events, the Google Doodles in particular will be difficult to predict, unless it’s a really obvious anniversary (although there’s nothing to say that Google will Doodle it), or perhaps a yearly occurrence, such as St. Patrick’s Day, which is usually a yearly tradition of the Doodle, this year notwithstanding (outside of Ireland).

I can see quick-thinking advertisers benefitting from this type of strategy, while those who aren’t so much on the ball or with too much red-tape to go through not being able to implement anything within the short 24-hour period. But for those who do, the result should be a nice – albeit fleeting – exercise in brand exposure to a large number of Google users.