Getting Dynamic with Google Ads

Getting Dynamic with Google Ads+Ad Writing Automation

The inevitable switch from Google AdWords to the new Google Ads is here; since October 18th 2018 the new Google Ads experience has fully replaced Google AdWords. This is the third in a series of three posts on the new Google Ads with a focus on utilizing Google’s dynamic ad features. The other posts focus on 4 tips and tricks in Google Ads and outlining campaign creation, reporting and optimization in Google Ads. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Ads we recommend you read both of those posts, which will get you up to speed in no time.

The new Google Ads experience is all about automation. From reporting to recommendations, Google has put a lot of work into doing the heavy lifting for advertisers, allowing us to get more strategic with our media buying. So it’s no surprise that Google has taken this automation further with the ability to dynamically create ads, on-the-fly, that are tailored to a Google user’s specific search.

While these features may not be unique to the new Google Ads experience – a Google search for ‘dynamic search ads’ yields results dating back to 2014 – these features are much more prominent in the new Google Ads interface. Therefore, now’s the time to learn about what they are and how you can leverage them in your own Google Ads accounts.

Dynamic Search Ads in the new Google Ads

In a nutshell, Dynamic Search Ads allow advertisers, especially those with larger websites and sets of products/services, an easier and more scalable approach for creating ads, while maximizing relevancy for the end user. Advertisers provide their URL or list of landing pages, along with a bit of descriptive text for ad creative (sans headline) and Google does the rest dynamically based on the user’s specific search query.

An example that Google provides is a large hotel in a big city. Rather than creating a campaign and ad groups in the traditional way, with numerous keywords and multiple ad sets for split-testing, the advertiser would instead provide the URL for their hotel (or one or more preferential landing pages) and a bit of ad copy. When the user’s search query matches with the dynamic ad, Google then cobbles together a headline and pairs it with a landing page that it deems to be most relevant to the search term. Not only cool stuff but also extremely useful for us: this ultimately frees the advertiser up for getting more strategic with their media buying rather than spending time on setup, leverages Google’s own AI to create relevant ads for us, and allows us to leave work early for the ever-popular Friday After-Work Beers.

How to Enable Dynamic Search Ads in the new Google Ads

Here’s a breakdown of how to enable Dynamic Search Ads for a new campaign:

  • Create a new campaign and select the Search network
  • One of the first things you see in the Settings menu is titled Dynamic Search Ads. Click into it to expand it and check the box up near the top to enable Dynamic Search Ads
  • Plug in the domain of your site. Alternatively you can create a Page Feed in the Shared Library to provide Google Ads with the URLs you want it to select for your landing page. For simplicity we recommend providing your URL, but if you want to create your own page feed you can download the CSV file to do so here.

That’s it! You’ve now enabled Dynamic Search Ads in your campaign. But you’re not done yet; we’ve still got a bit more to do before Google starts dynamically working its magic.
Enable Dynamic Search Ads

How to Set Up Dynamic Ad Groups – no keywords required!

After opting into Dynamic Search Ads, you’ll be taken to the ad group creation screen. From here you can either create your dynamic ad group for your ads, or you can bypass this and create the ad group later once the campaign creation process is done. Either way, you’ll need to create a dynamic ad group at some point if you want to run these ads. But don’t worry: creating a dynamic ad group is about as easy as enabling Dynamic Search Ads.

When creating your new ad group for your campaign, select Dynamic for the ad group type from the drop down menu (if Dynamic doesn’t appear you still need to enable Dynamic Search Ads in the campaign settings). What follows will be a list of ad group targeting types that you’ll be choosing from. It’s important to note that this targeting is based on the specific pages you want Google to be creating your ads around and sending traffic to.

There’s three types of targeting to choose from:

  • Categories recommended for your website – Google Ads will essentially group your site into different categories based on its content, and you can choose which of those categories you want to target with your ads. For our site we will choose categories based around our service offerings – SEO, PPC, Social media etc.
  • Specific Web Pages: You’ll provide Google Ads up to 20 URLs to target, or create rules for targeting for your web pages
  • All web pages: For advertisers who want to target every product and service offering on their website, across every web page

Set up a Dynamic Ad Group - Stikky Media

Once you’ve saved the website targeting you’ll then create your ads. This is one of the coolest features of Dynamic Search Ads. Up until now, writing and testing ad creative has been one of the most onerous tasks in Google Ads. However with Dynamic Search Ads Google actually writes the headline, the path for your URL (i.e. everything that comes after the first slash) and picks your ad’s destination URL (based on the targeting you selected above), thus doing all the heavy lifting for you.

Google is pulling all of this information from your website’s content and the specific search query that the user typed in and it’s all done near real time, so that the end user has no different experience than if they were served a traditional search ad. Have we mentioned that we think this is pretty cool? All you need to provide Google Ads is a couple 90 character descriptions. After creating you can preview it, create a few more and save them to your account and that’s it, you’ve created a dynamic ad group for your Dynamic Search Ad campaign – no keywords required!
Preview Dynamic Ad Group - Stikky Media

Understanding Dynamic Ad Reporting in Google Ads

Reporting for your dynamic ad groups in Google Ads is pretty straightforward. Much like how clicking into a standard search ad group would display numerous keywords for your reporting, you will instead now click Dynamic Ad Targets to see the targets you’ve selected for your ads. For our example we would see the specific Stikky Media service offerings that we’ve selected to promote, such as social media marketing. On the reporting screen you’ll see all the familiar metrics, including clicks, conversions and cost, and you can of course change the columns that you want displayed.

Much like keywords, if you find any of these targets not performing well for you there’s an option to add them as category negatives from the reporting screen. Simply click the Negative Dynamic Ad Targets menu item near the top of the screen, click the plus sign and plug in your negatives. Also much like the keyword report you can see the actual search terms that triggered your dynamic ads. Click the Search Terms menu item next to the Negatives and view which terms have triggered your ads, along with associated metrics. We’re seeing a CTR of 2.94% for one of our dynamic ad groups, compared to an overall search ad CTR of 1.30%. Not bad!

Dynamic Ads reporting - Stikky Media

We’ve covered Dynamic Search Ads, dynamic ad groups and how reporting works for these features. Now it’s time for you to log into your Google Ads account and start experimenting with these cool features and seeing how well they do against your standard search ads. If you’re like us you might be surprised to see a substantial lift in performance!

Want to Take your Pay Per Click Campaign to the Next Level?

While a DIY mindset is a great way to approach pay per click campaigns, with the digital media industry changing constantly, augmenting your team with knowledgeable experts can makes it easier to outpace your competition. There are a lot of subtle nuances that can make a big difference.

If you need help optimizing your next pay per click campaign read more about our paid search marketing services. Of course, if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to reach out.

AdWords Optimization: 4 Tips to Maximize Google Ads Experience

AdWords Optimization: 4 Tips to Maximize Google Ads Experience
Here at Stikky Media we have a great relationship with the Google Ads team, and one of the perks is that we get calls from the team whenever new features are rolled out. We got one such call when Google AdWords switched over to Google Ads, and as well as getting the rundown on the new Google Ads experience we also received a few great tips that we thought you’d want to know about. Keep in mind a couple of these tips are only available in the new Google Ads interface, so before you read on make sure you’ve switched to the new Google Ads Experience, and if you’re not sure click that link to learn how to tell the difference between the two.

And the top four Google Ads optimization tips for 2018 are (drumroll please):

1. Enable Parallel Tracking

Parallel Tracking might be an unfamiliar term but it’s good to learn about it now as it will be required of all Google Ads accounts come October 30th 2018.

Essentially, Google Ads’ tracking to date has been implemented by loading a Google Ads tracker followed by a tracking URL prior to the end user seeing the landing page. This leads to customers seeing one or more redirects (more depending on if additional tracking is loaded), leading to a longer load time of the actual landing page.

A key benefit of the new parallel tracking is the landing page is loaded right after the ad is clicked, with all the tracking loading in the background – in parallel – to the actual page being loaded. This improves the overall user experience for users clicking on ads as the page load time is quite a bit faster. An improved user experience correlates with better CTR.

How to Enable Parallel Tracking

Google Ads Parallel Tracking is buried pretty deep in the interface but once found is very easy to implement. So if you’re reading this prior to the end of October 2018 you only need to do the following to opt in for each of your accounts:

  1. In the main navigation column on the left that starts with Overview, click on Settings
  2. Click on Account Settings in the menu near the top of the screen
  3. Click Tracking near the top of the page, then click to enable Parallel Tracking

That’s it! If you have more than one Google Ads account you’ll be enabling Parallel Tracking the same way across each account.

How to enable Parallel Tracking

Learn more about Google Ads Parallel Tracking here, or to get some in-depth developer notes on what’s happening behind the scenes click here.

2. Link Google Ads and Google Analytics

If you haven’t already linked Google Analytics and Google Ads now’s the time. Linking the two accounts allows for Google Ads metrics to be imported seamlessly into the Google Analytics interface. However even if you’ve linked the two accounts the flow of data is generally a one-way street: aside from being able to easily import goals from Google Analytics as conversions in Google Ads, there isn’t much of a role for Google Analytics to play in the Google Ads interface. That is, until you import Google Analytics Metrics.

When Google Analytics metrics are imported into Google Ads, we start seeing some familiar website KPIs, such as bounce rate, appearing in our Google Ads reports. While Google Ads provides some excellent reporting out of the box, such as conversion tracking and ad click through rate, without importing Google Analytics metrics there’s a bit of a black box in the Google Ads interface with the actual traffic quality we’re receiving and how users are actually interacting with the site. Linking Google Analytics and Ads will open this black box and enable you to get stronger ROI from each pay-per-click campaign.

How to Import Google Analytics Metrics into Google Ads

So, to link the two accounts, and to import Google Analytics metrics into Google Ads, simply do the following:

  1. Click on the Tools icon in the Google Ads top nav, then click Linked Accounts
  2. You’ll see a group of accounts that you can link to Google Ads. Locate the Google Analytics one and click Details
  3. Scroll down to the Google Analytics view that corresponds to the Google Ads account you’re using, click the pencil icon next to that view to edit it and check off Link and Import Site Metrics so they both turn blue. (Note: if you have a lot of properties in your Google Analytics account you may need to show more rows than the default, which you can do near the bottom of the page).
  4. Click Save and you’re done

how to import Google Analytics metrics into Google Ads

If you haven’t linked these accounts before you’ll now start seeing Google Ads metrics in your Google Analytics account, under Acquisition > Google Ads. And if you haven’t imported site metrics before you can now start enabling those in your reports, as you’ll see in the next tip.

How to mport site metrics into Google Ads

3. Enable Bounce Rate in Google Ads

If you’re importing Google Analytics site metrics into Google Ads you might not be seeing anything different in your reports right off the bat. That’s okay; we actually need to pick a specific metric we want to see in Google Ads and enable it by editing the columns of our reports. If you don’t have experience tweaking your Google Ads reports then this is a great way to get your feet wet.

Why Add Bounce Rate to your Google Ads Reports?

I find one of the most helpful metrics to import into Google Ads is bounce rate, and one of the most relevant reports to add that metric to is the Ads report. This will give you a bit of insight that will help you in split testing your ads and testing your landing pages. For instance, if you have two ads that have similar click through and conversion rates, but one with a substantially lower bounce rate, you’ll know which one to delete and which to keep. As an example, when pausing a high-bounce rate ad and changing the landing page for one client, we saw bounce rate change by -37.5%, meaning bounce rate is now 37.5% lower. Pretty substantial!

Adding Bounce rate to Google Ads reports

Here’s how to add bounce rate to your Google Ads report:

  1. Click on Ads and Extensions. You can do this at the account, campaign or ad group level.
  2. Underneath the graph click Columns, then Modify Columns
  3. Scroll down and click on Google Analytics, and enable Bounce Rate. (You can also experiment with enabling other KPIs, such as Pages / Session.)
  4. Click Apply and that’s it

how to Enable Bounce Rate in Google Ads

You should now have Bounce Rate added as a column to your Ads report, and can sort your ads by highest/lowest bounce rate.

Sort bounce rate as column in Google Ads report

4. Change Match Type for High Average CPC Keywords

There isn’t anything too new about this tip, however it may simply be something that you had never thought to done as it involves using the search terms report slightly differently.

The search terms report is the place to go to find what searches actually triggered your ads. From there you can easily add these keywords to your account if you deem them relevant, or add them as negatives if you don’t. And if you have Broad Match keywords in any of your keyword sets, another use for this report is to sort your search terms by average CPC in descending order. Often you’ll be surprised at the high average cost of some of your broad match keywords, which may only be getting one or two clicks. From there you can either add the keywords as negatives or, if you like them, change the match type to something more specific like Phrase Match and add them to your account that way. For example, one of our agency’s own paid keywords, which is driving traffic to our SEO eBook, broad matched for the rather awkward phrase ‘how to make your website seo optimized’ – at a cost of $9.81 for one single click with no conversion! Needless to say that high cost, low performing keyword phrase is getting added as a negative.

how to Change Match Type for High Average CPC Keywords in Google Ads

To see these high CPC keywords do the following:

  1. Click into your keywords and above the graph click Search Terms, then Search Terms from the menu
  2. Sort by average CPC so that the keywords appear in descending order
  3. Note your low click, high CPC keywords, which may be broad match. Click the check box next to the keywords and either add them as negatives, if you don’t like them, or click Add as Keyword if you do
  4. If you’re adding broad match keywords, you can edit the keyword with quotation marks to change the match type to Phrase. You can also eliminate some of the words from the keyword phrase, and even set a max CPC if you felt a little sticker-shock from the price that you paid for the click
  5. Click Save and you’re done

As always keep an eye on the new keywords you’ve added and make sure they’re performing well. Dial up or down the bids accordingly.

How to Change Match Type - Keywords in Google Ads

Those are our top four keyword optimization tips for 2018, as discussed with the pros over at Google Ads. If you’ve got any questions leave us a comment, or let us know what your top tricks of the trade are!

Want to Take your Pay Per Click Campaign to the Next Level?

While a DIY mindset is a great way to approach pay per click campaigns, with the digital media industry changing constantly, augmenting your team with knowledgeable experts can makes it easier to outpace your competition. There are a lot of subtle nuances that can make a big difference.

If you need help optimizing your next pay per click campaign read more about our paid search marketing services. Of course, if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Get Started with the New Google Ads Experience in 3 Easy Steps

Computer screen displaying Google logo - new google ads experience

Here at Stikky Media we’re big fans of adopting new technology (read: colossal geeks) and, given that we have several PPC clients using Google Ads, we’ve had quite a bit of time to play in the new interface.

Overall, the changes made from AdWords to the new Google Ads interface in 2018 have been welcomed, right down to the name: as we shift more attention away from traditional, text-based searches and use features such as re-marketing more, we see that we’re often not paying attention to keywords at all, at least not in the traditional sense.

If you haven’t yet delved into the wild world of the new Google Ads experience yourself, here’s a quick rundown on what to expect, from creating a campaign and setting a bid strategy to reporting and optimizing.

1. Creating a new campaign in Google Ads

When you log into Google Ads and click Campaigns from the left nav, you’ll be greeted by an inviting blue plus sign (very ‘appy’). Once clicked you’ll choose between creating a new campaign or loading another campaign’s settings, and off you go.

When you create a new campaign, you’ll notice a huge difference between AdWords and the new Google Ads: there’s a new campaign creation tool that is entirely goal-driven. Though there’s still an option to create a new vanilla campaign without using being goal-focused, you can tell that Google put goals front and center, and for good reason: goals are how we measure the performance of campaigns as advertisers, and allow us to make educated decisions on where to shift marketing budget.

Goal Types

Each of the goal types are relatively self-explanatory, from driving sales to app promotion. When you hover over each goal you’ll notice that the campaign type that’s associated with that goal is displayed. For instance, the website traffic goal is available for search, display, video and shopping campaigns, as each of these drive traffic to an advertiser’s website. The two goals associated with brand are only available for display and video campaigns, which makes sense given that brand-building campaigns typically run across the display network, rather than the search network which is the domain of direct response campaigns. Cool huh?

Goal types screen - new adwords interface 2018

After clicking into the goal type, you then choose between different campaign types and are then greeted with a few different options depending on the goal type. For this example we’re going to create a Sales-focused campaign, on the Search network, and can now select how we want our goal to be measured.

Dynamic Search Ads Feature

We’ve selected our goal and campaign types and are now off to the races. The next screen should look familiar – it’s fairly similar to the previous Settings screen in AdWords. However, in the new Google Ads experience a few things may stand out, including the front and center Dynamic Search Ads feature, which was previously buried in the settings. We’ll cover this in a separate post, but in a nutshell Dynamic Search Ads involves leveraging Google Ads technology to cobble together the appropriate landing page and ad headline, based on the user’s search query.

More Streamlined Bidding Options

Further, you’ll notice that bidding options are more straightforward, easier and tailored to the previously-selected goal type. For example, since we’re creating a Sales campaign here, the bid strategy drop-down defaults to conversions. Unlike the bad old days where an advertiser needed 15 conversions during a 30 day window to opt into CPA bidding, we can now select conversion bid strategies right from the get-go, including conversions and conversion value. Clicking on Select a Bid Strategy Directly reveals all the bid strategies available to us, most of which have some level of automation. You’ll notice the old favorites Target CPA, Enhanced CPC bidding and Manual CPC, and may also meet some new friends such as the sneaky Target Outranking Share.

Bidding options screen - new google ads interface

Ad Groups

After optionally creating site links we enter the familiar workflow of setting up ad groups (standard or dynamic depending on whether or not we opted into Dynamic Search Ads) and ads (text ads in the case of our Search campaign), and are then greeted with a nice little overview screen prior to pulling the trigger. With all those cheery bright blue checkmarks and buttons along the way we’re definitely encouraged to jump right in.

Campaign overview screen - new google ads interface

2. Reporting through the Overview Page

One of the cool new features and arguably the biggest change to the new Google Ads experience is the Overview page. Think of this as your reporting dashboard, with Google Ads curating several performance insights based on your campaigns. It’s like having your own personal PPC assistant feeding you custom reports on a custom dashboard. If you haven’t checked it out already, click Overview right near the top of the page and delve right in. Here’s some of the things that we’re seeing on our Stikky Media account right now:

  • A nice big graph top and center for which I can easily choose metrics through drop downs
  • New words pulled in from actual Google Searches – a nice feature for building up new positive or negative keyword lists
  • Biggest changes – great for seeing trends in campaign spend
  • Campaigns and Search Keywords – high level data on cost, clicks and CTR
  • Ads – both search and display ads
  • Demographics – this one is interesting and worth a look. See both the gender and age distribution of your visitors
  • Devices – a nice chart with the different devices and a few drop down options to select
    Day and hour – a breakdown of when your ads were clicked

All of these sections of the Overview report link into the section of Google Ads they correspond to, and have drop down menus for drilling further into the reports or seeing different data associated with them. By clicking the three vertical dots on the top right corner of each report you can tell Google whether or not the information was useful. You can tell Google put a lot into these reports and wants feedback from us advertisers on whether or not we like them. I think it goes without saying that they’re a pretty big hit with the Stikky team.

Most-shown search ads feature - new google ads interface

3. Optimization through the Google Ads Recommendations

We’ve covered account creation and reporting, so lastly we’ll get into optimization. As you’ve probably noticed, the new Google Ads experience really leverages automation, from the automated bid strategies to the automated reporting. Much like the previous Google AdWords interface, we’ve got Google’s own automated recommendations for reporting. Though the new Google Ads Recommendations may not be much different from the old, it is much more visually exciting, as with the Overview reports. If you haven’t used Google’s recommendations now’s the time to take a look.

We won’t get into each and every recommendation as they are very straightforward, but there are a few things we can mention in general. You’ll notice that they’re laid out in two columns featuring the same pleasing blue calls to action and links as we’ve seen throughout the rest of the interface, with plenty of breathing room to avoid looking cluttered. The recommendations themselves, such as adding keywords, can be applied directly from the Recommendations landing page, or dismissed or exported from the three vertical dots at the top.

Clicking into Viewing the recommendations plunges us deep into Google’s automated suggestions. For instance, Google Ads thinks that one of our ad groups is getting too broad, and has a recommendation for splitting it up into two separate ad groups. When I click further I can see how they’ve divvied up the keywords, and I can click further from there and actual select keywords and ads for a new prospective ad group. Very streamlined. Google Ads clearly wants to make our job easier in creating campaigns, ad groups and ads, and has given us multiple places to do so.

Optimization score in Google Ads - new google ads interface

Finally, up at the top there’s an optimization score, telling us how well optimized our accounts are. This is very encouraging and gives us something to strive for, and even gamifies Google Ads to a degree. (If my boss is reading this, how about some nice local craft beer in the fridge when we hit 100%?)

If you haven’t gotten time to play around in the new Google Ads interface yet, or have simply been too shy to create your first campaign, you’ll now have a pretty good idea of how to create a campaign, view reports and even optimize. The new Google Ads experience is definitely more streamlined than the previous AdWords interface and we’re definitely looking forward to any new features Google might roll out.

Need help with Google Ads?

It can be hard keeping up with the changes to Google AdWords and getting the most out of pay-per click campaigns. If you want to augment your existing team or even just let our experts do the work, learn more about our paid search advertising services.

Google Mobile-First Indexing: Optimize Your Mobile Site

mobile-first SEO

Most searches are made on a mobile device.

Earlier this year, Google announced that it was beginning to transition sites to mobile-first indexing. Increasingly, Google will crawl, rank and index the mobile version of a site instead of the desktop version, as was previously the case. Google Search Console will notify you when Google enables mobile-first indexing on your site.

What Does Mobile-first Indexing Mean for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Directly, not much; indirectly, a lot. There will continue to be just one index that Google uses for serving search results. As well, mobile-first indexing has no bearing on ranking in itself. However, since the mobile version will now be the primary version, it will also be the one that is ranked in most cases. A site that is mobile-friendly is more likely to be ranked higher.

Most Google searches are now made on a mobile device. Mobile-first indexing is one step towards forcing web development to respond to these new conditions and even to future scenarios that will likely involve AI. The amount of information on the web is increasing at an exponential rate. Google needs more efficient methods to catalogue information in order to respond to and prepare for the ways we access and consume information.

In the short term, it makes sense to optimize your website specifically for mobile devices. Looking further ahead, web development may move away from an organization based on URLs in favour of using Schema, on-page structured markup and XML feeds and with a greater reliance on Google cloud hosting. To read more about these concepts, Cindy Krum of MobilMoxie wrote an interesting series in 2017.

SEO Optimization for Mobile Devices

mobile-first indexing

Geotargeting is important since people often search using their cell phone for facilities and resources that are near them.

Mobile users want to find the information they need quickly and easily. These four tips will help optimize the mobile version of your site so it performs better:

    1. Make sure your mobile site loads fast. This criteria has become even more important since July when Google announced it’s Speed Update. Google will now focus on the loading speed on mobile devices to influence ranking. Try running your site through Google’s updated mobile speed test that measures the mobile speed of your website and compares it with standards in your industry.
    2. Pay attention to user experience (UX) on your mobile site. Make sure the page displays properly, with plenty of room to navigate by touch and with content that is legible and comfortable to read.
    3. Understand the mobile context. Users are often searching for facilities and resources such as stores, events or services that are near them. Geotargeting is important.
    4. Include meta titles and descriptions that take into account the mobile context.

Need help optimizing your mobile site?

If mobile-first SEO seems overwhelming or you simply don’t have time to do this on your own, we’re here to help. Drop us a note today.

Why YouTube for Nonprofits?

One-and-a-half billion people come to YouTube every single month. That is the equivalent of one in every five people around the world. YouTube will enable your nonprofit organization to reach members of this large and passionate audience the world over. YouTube’s built-in tools will help improve your video’s performance and subsequently allow you to connect with even more viewers.

  • Engage the Next Generation: YouTube reaches more 18 to 49 year-olds than any cable network in the US, with YouTube’s fastest growing demographics being adults aged 35+ (40%) and 55+ (80%). YouTube is where today’s most influential audience goes to learn, laugh, and be inspired every day, with Millennials preferring YouTube over traditional television by a 2-1 ratio.
  • Create Deeper Engagement: YouTube is the place where the most video viewing occurs every day. On average, YouTube viewers spend over an hour a day watching YouTube on mobile devices, meaning that unlike passive viewership, viewers are much more likely to deeply engage with the message presented.
  • Spark Action Through Empathy: YouTube’s easy-to-follow explainer videos assist and encourage involvement and action.

YouTube Nonprofit Program Overview

The YouTube for Nonprofit Program gives nonprofits access to unique YouTube features to help connect with subscribers, members, and others who will be interested in your brand and message.

Take advantage of powerful tools like G Suite for Nonprofits (a cloud-based productivity suite that allows real time collaboration from anywhere in the world) or YouTube for Nonprofit Program (a suite of tools allowing for optimization of video content, dedicated technical support, and other features).

In addition, your organization will have access to:

  • YouTube Creator Academy lessons
  • “Link Anywhere” Cards
  • Earlier Access to YouTube Spaces
  • YouTube for Nonprofits tools
  • Your cause may be featured in Impact Lab
  • Dedicated email support

Why Google Grants for Your Nonprofit?

Google Grants can bring greater visibility to your organization, resulting in more subscriptions, more service involvement, and a wider awareness of your organization’s brand and message. This happens because Google Grants will display your organization’s ads at the top or bottom of the search results page when people search for terms that relate to your organization.

“…it has helped us reach thousands of supporters around the country, helping us effect change through awareness.” – Ping Lo, The Fred Hollows Foundation

Insights into Your Analytics

Google Grants gives you access to in-depth analytics tools. The more you know about how people are coming to and using your website, the better you can adjust your approach to connect with those people. Analytics will show you which pages are performing well and which are confusing.

Profound and Simple

Even if you are new to Google Grants it is easy to launch effective campaigns, with custom messages crafted specifically for your nonprofit organization. Google Grants offers a range of methods to create campaigns, from Google Grants Express that will automatically manage your ads for you, to a more traditional Adwords approach where you have total control.

Google Grants Success Story: Make a Difference (MAD)

The mission for Make a Difference (MAD) was to increase awareness of children in orphanages and street shelters. MAD was established in 2006, and has operations in 23 cities in India. The organization is based out of Bangalore, India and empowers children to discover their true strengths and unleash their full potential. MAD provides creative learning spaces for these children and works to improve the quality of their education and career opportunities.

To reach their goals, MAD used Google Grants to recruit passionate volunteers that can make a one-year commitment to the organization, raise awareness, drive online donations, and identify and prioritize locations for international expansion.

Google Grants had a tremendous impact on MAD’s growth. Data showed which cities and countries had the highest interest in MAD, and the organization used the data to identify where they should expand. In addition, it allowed them to build a network of volunteers that they would not have been able to reach through traditional methods. In the end, approximately 30% of their website traffic came from their new efforts.

Penguin 3.0’s Action and Reaction Guide

Penguin_3.0

As you know, the digital marketing world is a big, fast-moving place. It seems that every channel evolves every day. So one of the biggest parts of any digital marketer’s job is to keep up with headlines in their area.

At North Studio, a number of people work on SEO, but it is mostly my specialized area of knowledge, so it’s my job to keep up with trends, best practices and updates by Google.

Recently, Google has released major updates to their antispam algorithms. However, the biggest headline was the update to the Penguin algorithm.

(more…)

Eye-Tracking Study: How Searchers View SERPs on Google

The SERP (or "search engine results page") is the Holy Grail of all SEO and SEM professionals. (Well, the first page is.) And deciphering how ordinary people read and analyze these pages is golden information for anyone who's concerned about his or her business' rank on the Google results page.

I really like eye-tracking studies; they've informed a lot about how I write my content–and how I teach others to write content as well. So whenever a new one's out, I take a close look, because it could potentially change the way I do my job. (more…)

PayDay 2.0 and Panda 4.0–What Changed on Google?

It’s always an interesting time in the digital marketing and SEO industries when Google rolls out algorithm updates. Professionals get all abuzz on social media and blogs, everyone begins to search for information on the update, and then we check our own metrics and our client metrics. Sometimes Google tells us when they are rolling out these updates, but more often we are kept in the dark.

This week, Google has confirmed that they have rolled out two webspam algorithm updates: Pay Day 2.0, and Panda 4.0.

"Do you know what today is [spammy websites]? Payday.” Okay, that might not be the thought behind the naming of the algorithm update (I’ll explain the reason below), but it actually works. Google is essentially giving a little payback to spammy areas of the web.

Payday 2.0

Search Engine Land was among the first to post an update confirming that Google had indeed rolled out an update to their Pay Day 2.0 algorithm update. They stated a Google spokesperson told them: 

Over the weekend we began rolling out a new algorithmic update. The update was neither Panda nor Penguin — it was the next generation of an algorithm that originally rolled out last summer for very spammy queries.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team confirmed on Twitter:

 

The first Payday Loan update started to roll out around June 11th 2013. Both Pay Day updates target niche spammy areas of the web. Google specifically mentioned that the keywords around payday loans and porn-related keywords would be targeted. It should only affect a small percentage of websites, but we will keep our eyes peeled for more affected keywords.

Panda 4.0

 

The Panda algorithm update first rolled out in February 2011. Since then, there have been dozens of updates to it. This algorithm targets on-page issues such as thin content, content farms, and other content quality metrics. More than ever, Google emphasizes clear, relevant and original content written by experts; this is the time to rethink your approach to content production to ensure that you follow Google's guidelines and produce the type of content that attracts good rankings.

Some previous updates have been on 10-day roll outs, so we'll keep an eye for any changes in our metrics and our clients'.

Are you curious about more algorithm updates? Moz has a good record of Googles Algorithm change history

Google’s Long History of Forcing You To Use G+

When Google+ was launched with much fanfare in 2011, the social media world was abuzz with praise and high expectations. Tech Crunch called it "social, bold, fun and looking good". Early reviews praised the functions and circle features, but had issues with the lack of activity (which was probably just because Google rolled out Google+ only to a select few at first). Most reviewers thought it was a good network, but that it wouldn't be enough to break Facebook's hold on social media; Business Insider concluded that "At the end of the day, Google+ is a solid product on its own. But it's not rich or new enough to get people to make the switch."

Not discouraged on its mission to dominate the web, Google+ has not only maintained its mildly (on Internet terms) popular service (with about 300 million active users) but has also attached numerous services and features to Google+ functionalities. For example, a +1 on a piece of content raises your search ranking position much more than a Facebook or Twitter share, and so does a share on G+'s feed. But these were only the first steps of Google+'s user acquisition strategy, which Dave Llorens of Fast Company has called "the carrot and not the stick". What other carrots are there, and how does the new Gmail/G+ messaging scheme enter into that strategy? Let's take a look.

Google Authorship–Get the writers!

The next step of Google's strategy was to help content producers (mostly writers) to claim their content and help publicize their writing online. By adding a Google authorship tag (attached to a Google+ profile, of course), both the writer and the publication received an SEO bonus. 

Google Authorship promises a boost in SEO rankings for verified writers of high-quality content on respectable websites. However, it REQUIRES a Google+ profile to work. If your author doesn't have a G+ profile, Authorship can't happen, and you would lose the nice ranking boost. So, here's one way to force all respectable web writers to get a Google+ account.

Happily, Google Authorship has positive consequences for respectable content writers around the world: it is slowly smothering the low-quality, link-baiting guest post industry, as explained by Rohit Palit in Search Engine Journal. So, someone like me who cares about useful content and good writing is willing to humour G+ with an account if it helps kill the industry that's hurting our reputation and keeping our wages artificially low.

Google Places–Business does G+

The next step was to get at the business listing industry. We usually suggest to Stikky clients who have a brick-and-mortar store or office to claim and populate their Google Places listing… which becomes a Google+ page for the business at the same time. And with automatic integration to Google Maps, Google made it very hard to resist getting a Google Places account.

As claiming your Google Place automatically claims your Google Plus page for the business, Google strongly suggests that you use your G+ page to connect with other users. And using Google+ on a regular basis also improves your SEO.

More importantly, Google Places business listings now integrates information from a bunch of other business listing and review sites such as Zagat and ratings left on Google Plus. By using everything it knows about you and the people you interact with on Google Plus, Google is able to give you the information that's most likely to be relevant to you through its own ratings and reviews system. It's basically like Yelp, but better.

Google Apps–Communicate at work

Instead of using a number of communication and collaborating tools like Yammer and Skype, many businesses have made a complete switch to Google-based communications. They use G+ circles for chatting among teams and the company, Hangout for video and voice calls, Google Docs for collaborative writing and document management, and of course Gmail for email. When everything's in the same place with the same accounts, everything's just easier… and Google makes it easy to do just that.

Adding the circle functionality of Google Plus to manage work teams in a company, especially if workers are remote, is an especially strong way to use G+ once companies switch to Google-only communications. 

Gmail integration–Talk to strangers

After all these integrations between all Google tools, it should come as no surprise that Google came up with yet another way to "interest" people in Google Plus: the ability to send an email to any Google Plus user through Gmail. Although no email addresses are exchanged in the process, it still gives total strangers the ability to send you an email that you will get in your Gmail inbox.

Like most of Google's features, this will happen automatically to anyone with a G+ account–and thus by extension anyone with a Gmail account. When the feature is rolled out, you will be able to opt out of it through your settings. However, automatically enrolling everyone in the feature raises privacy problems. As Dante D'Orazio notes, "it turns a private space — your inbox — into a social one." 

Personally, I'm not quite sure I'm ready to let random strangers email me. I already get enough strange events that randomly appear on my Google Calendar through G+. I would feel better about it if it went into a different folder of my email so it doesn't clog my inbox. Not that I think I will get emails from strangers, because I don't really have that kind of clout on Google Plus (or elsewhere) and I don't really spend time on it either.

I imagine that this will mostly affect major influencers, thought leaders and other "social-media-important" people who have tons of followers. The ability to email your favourite blogger or writer directly instead of leaving a comment in an already busy timeline seems attractive, for sure. But maybe they will be the ones to push back against this new feature, since they are probably the ones who will see their inboxes filled with emails from their fans. Or maybe they'll just turn the feature off and forget about it.

What do you think? Should Google turn back on this feature or is the ability to opt out enough for you? What do you think is the next step to Google's internet domination?

The Importance of Digital Analytics

Google Analytics – Get the facts about your website

I recently participated in a free course offered by Google Analytics that went over the importance of digital analytics as well as some basics of how to use their system. The course reviewed Avinash Kaushik’s definition of digital analytics:

"Digital analytics is the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from your business and the competition to drive a continual improvement of the online experience that your customers and potential customers have which translates to your desired outcomes (both online and offline)."

The main takeaway from this definition is that the customer is now the centre of the marketing concept. A customer can start their purchase journey at any point along their decision path. Therefore, a marketer’s job is to anticipate where customers will appear and what messages they need to hear. Analytics is integral to analyzing and interpreting data to make business decisions about what you should be doing online to understand and connect with your customers.

The internet continues to change all the time. This is something we all know but are we taking advantage of these changes? Not only do businesses need a website these days but they need a blog and social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and even possibly Vine Videos. To manage all of these pieces properly, we need scheduling, objectives, and proper reporting.

Measuring Data

Businesses need to be looking at both quantitative and qualitative data, measuring the outcomes, and implementing a continual improvement process. This may sound like a lot of work and no doubt it will take time, but with the internet becoming the first point of contact for any customer (B2C or B2B) it is critical to being successful. Traditional analytics has given us access to quantitative data about your website, but new models such as Google Analytics, is capable of collecting quantitative data on websites, mobile applications, cloud-connected point-of-sales systems, CRM systems, video game consoles, and even home appliances, like refrigerators. 

Google Analytics promotes continuous improvement

The Google Analytics course concludes that this needs to be a cyclical process or continually improving. The steps included are:

  1. measurement
  2. reporting
  3. analysis
  4. testing
  5. repeat

If your business objectives are solid, the rest should be a breeze (so to speak). You want to be consistently reviewing your measurements and analyzing whether they have reached your goal or not. Then you want to be testing these to see what to do next. Finally, you should repeat the process and implement any changes that need to be made. 

No matter what analytics system you are using, the bottom line is that you should be using one. Your business needs to have an online presence and you need to have a way of tracking your efforts. Clearly define your business objectives then test those objectives based on what your customer’s wants and needs are and adjust accordingly.

If you're interested in learning more about how Google Analytics can benefit your business. Check out our digital marketing strategy services

Image attribution: Search Engine People Blog

Google Places for Business Changes

Has your Google places dashboard changed recently? Google constantly introduces new ‘products’, but tends to remove and change them just as fast. If you're a local business and don't know about Google Places, we have some useful information for you as well.

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Google’s Penguin 2.0 Update: What You Need to Know

There's been a bit of panic in Internet marketing circles lately. SEO experts around the world have been blogging about changes they noticed in search ranking patterns, and some of them have been somewhat panicking.

Although some worry is normal when something as important as Google changes drastically, the best response is never panic. As professional SEO experts and internet marketers, we can stay ahead of these changes and help our clients adjust to them.

This update is being nicknamed "Penguin 2.0", which means that it's a major update. Here's a bit more information about what we know of the update for the moment.

What will change? An overview

Well, according to Search Engine Journal, there will be several major changes

In a nutshell, most of these changes have to do with unscrupulous techniques that shady internet marketers have developed to get around Google's guidelines. Some techniques like

  • Paid links
  • Advertorial pages
  • Spam of all kinds
  • Keyword stuffing (a personal nemesis of mine)

will be more severely penalized. 

On the positive side, Google will reward

  • Organic, natural links
  • Secure, non-spammy sites
  • Authority and expertise

The goal, as it always is with Google, is to provide the most relevant and informative pages for any search term. Being relevant and informative is hard work, but it's not rocket science.

What you can (and should always) do

As a website owner, the one thing you should focus on is, and has always been, interesting, relevant, informative and factual content. Google rewards this work every time. Outstanding content gets more links. More links improve your ranking and increase your authority.

Unfortunately, the work of producing that kind of content can't be done once and then left to its own devices. Constant updating through blogs or news, participating in social media (watch for things shared on Google+ gaining more importance in search rankings) and working every day to be helpful and informative is still the most prudent and effective strategy.

The Internet changes constantly, and so we must change with it. If you feel like your search rankings may be hurt by this update, it's not too late to make the necessary changes to control the damage. 

Photo by xrayspx

Google Apparently Penalizes Exact Match Keywords in Links

Exact Match Keyword Penalty - Stikky Media BlogPart of the work we do at Stikky Media is monitoring our clients’ analytics patterns and SEO results. We check for keywords, organic or referred visits, and many other factors including monitoring when pages get penalized to determine why and fix it fast.

Lately, though, we’ve noticed that something has changed in Google rankings and referrals. It seems that the technique of using exact keywords in incoming links is getting penalized by Google. We haven’t found any official news on that matter from Google, but we think we’ve caught on to something here.

What exactly does this mean, though? Here’s an overview explaining what an exact match keyword penalty is and some easy steps you can take to avoid it.

What are exact keywords in incoming links?

One of the big parts of SEO is developing incoming links from reputable websites. This is why we have link-building strategies. One SEO technique is to have the incoming link use keywords related to your product or website, i.e. keywords you want to rank for on Google.

So, before we noticed the change, it was desirable to have your incoming links use your keywords as anchor text. It told Google that your website was relevant to that keyword.

So, what changed?

For the past few weeks, it seems that Google doesn’t quite like those exact anchor text keywords anymore. In fact, we’ve seen some of our websites penalized for them.

Why did this happen? Our basic theory is that exact match keyword anchor text is a sign of a paid (therefore “unnatural”) link. And paid links are a big no-no. As Google realized that companies offered links for a price, they looked at what these links looked like most of the time, and discovered that they almost always use exact keywords.

In the world of natural and organic linking, when websites link to other websites, they almost never use keywords that exactly match those the website wants to rank for. Instead, they insert the link in a series of words or a phrase that describes the content or the relevance of the link to the content around it. Google considers these kinds of links more “natural”, therefore more desirable. These links are less likely to be sponsored or paid for, hence also avoiding an exact match keyword penalty.

What can you do to avoid an exact match keyword penalty?

For links coming from external websites, there isn’t much you can do, since you don’t control the content. However, when dealing with internal links, you want to start using more natural sentences instead of trying to fit the keyword in your text.

For example, imagine I’m writing content about Victoria attractions for a local bed and breakfast’s blog. Instead of writing “There are many attractions at a walking distance from our Victoria bed and breakfast“, which feels stilted and a bit salesy, I can now write something like “Because Victoria is so compact, most downtown attractions can easily be accessed from your accommodations.” Basically, your keywords should not define your links anymore. Simply write your content, find a logical and relevant place for your link, and add it there.

Do you have any questions about the effect of this apparent change in Google’s algorithm? Contact us to discuss with one of our SEO experts.

Image by Xanthi Syrakou

4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Google+ Business Page

If you haven’t yet created a Google+ page for your business or brand, now is the time to hop on board. With over 250 million users and counting, Google+ is another great way for your company to connect with customers and the fans who love you.

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8 Handy Google Search Tips and Tricks

In 1998, Google reported that it handled 10,000 global searches a day. That number jumped to 4 billion searches a day in 2010, according to a report from comScore. That’s 175 million Google searches per hour, or 2.9 million per minute.

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Google Doodle History: It All Began with a Stick Man

The first Google Doodle was born in the summer of 1998, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin took a vacation to the Burning Man Festival. The Doodle they created was simple, with the festival’s iconic stick man loitering behind the ‘O’, but users loved the playful addition to an otherwise simple logo.

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Setting up your Google+ Brand Page

Google’s social network is ready for business. And while Google+ is still getting off the ground, word on the street is that Google+ Pages will soon trump those of the other, more popular social networks. Simply put, Google+ has the most to offer your business. So why not jump the boat and get your presence established on Google’s social network now?

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More Than Barrel Roll: 9 Other Secret Google Tricks

Unless you’ve spent the last few days hanging out in a cave somewhere with nothing but a paperback novel and a stick of beef jerky, you’ve probably been exposed to Google’s “Do a Barrel Roll” gimmick. And you probably know that the amusement only lasts for 4 seconds. So sad.

To help put a smile back on your face, I’ve compiled a list of Google’s other magical tricks. They should keep you entertained for at least 3 minutes, depending on how much time you spend playing YouTube snake. Enjoy!

Askew/Tilt

Search for “tilt” or “askew” and prepare to feel nauseous.
 

ASCII Art

A search for “ASCII art” will reveal a deliciously nerdy Google logo. Savour it.

Once in a Blue Moon

Google "once in a blue moon" and Google will reveal the mathematical value. Also try “number of horns on a unicorn,” “baker’s dozen” and “the loneliest number.” And if you’re a fan of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, type in “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.”

Anagram

Google “anagram.” That’s all.

Recursion

Google “recursion” and you will be blown away by the cleverness of it all. That, or you will have to look up “recursion” in the dictionary.

Legoland Pegman

When checking out Legoland on Google Street View, the yellow pegman is replaced by a little Lego dude.

Spam

Check out your Gmail spam folder for tasty Spam recipes like fajitas and primavera. I know this is really old news, but it still amuses me on a daily basis. Why? Because sometimes I’m horrified by the obscene nature of spammy subject lines, and sometimes it takes a good ol’ fashioned canned meat recipe to restore my faith in humanity.

Googleplex

The scene outside Google’s corportate headquarters. Check out 1775 Amphitheatre Parkway in Street View to admire their enthusiastic employees.

YouTube Snake

Open up any video on YouTube (Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” is ideal) and hold down the left and up arrow keys while it’s playing. Snake!

Google Maps Unveils Its Coolest Feature Yet: Helicopter View

Getting driving directions just got easier, thanks to Google Maps’ latest feature. Helicopter view, known in tech circles as 3D Preview, lets you see your drive from the comfort and safety of a fake chopper. Compared to the 2D, top-down view we’ve become so accustomed to, helicopter view is a more realistic portrayal of how we see the world—horizontally, not vertically.

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Google Flight Search Finally Takes Off

Google has launched its new airfare tool, dubbed Flight Search, that allows users to search for cheap flights in a simple, attractive way. The new service was supposed to be rolled out quietly in true Google fashion, but an unfortunate snafu involving the World Trade Center made for a very bumpy takeoff.

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Facebook Has More Pluses Than Google+

Who’s the most popular person on Google+ right now? Mark Zuckerberg. Believe it or not, his numbers beat out Google CEO Larry Page and company co-founder Sergey Brin, probably due to the media circus surrounding his sign up. But as Zuckerberg told tech blogger Robert Scobie, “Why are people so surprised that I’d have a Google account?”

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Google Makes Science Fairs Cool Again

Kids, put away your hand-me-down baking soda and vinegar volcanoes—science fairs just got a whole lot more interesting.

Google is about to hold the first ever global online science fair, which means first place no longer depends on the child’s ability to use poster board and scotch tape. Kids aged 13-18 submit their work via Google Sites, and must include either a slideshow or a video on their homepage. They can also use YouTube, Docs, Maps, Earth, Search or any other Google-y tools.

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Victoria Rides The Google Transit Bus

Last week, BC Transit rolled out a new trip planning tool, Google Transit, for its Greater Victoria schedule. Although it’s a pilot project, users have access to the entire system and its bus stop locations, route numbers, departure times, arrivals, trip lengths and walking routes.

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A List of Google Ranking Factors

As an SEO, I often assume that others know what the Google Ranking Factors are. It became clear to me on a recent sales call that there is no way that the general public, or even many web designers, would hold even any knowledge of the kinds of things that Google takes in to account when ranking a page. To most people it is so magical system that some ultra smart people came up with that could never be understood.
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What’s New From Google?

Google has been busy this week releasing a few new features on various platforms that are of significance to web marketers and surfers alike. What’s new from Google? Added features in Google Analytics, a light weight YouTube option for slower computers, region tags within the SERPS, and Site Performance in Google Webmaster Tools that will help you speed up your site.

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Top 12 Google Doodles

Over the years Google has come up with some pretty creative logos. They refer to these temporary rebrandings of their logo as Google Doodles. Today’s Google Doodle of the cookie monster inspired me to make a list of the Top 12 Google Doodles. You can visit the Google Logos page to see all of them. The current Google logo was re-created in 1999 and has been going strong ever since.
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Voice Recognition with the Google Mobile App

Matt Cutts of Google recently released a video on the Google Mobile App which uses voice recognition to return Google search results. The application is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Nokia S60 and Android phones. The voice recognition system appears to work very well for Matt in the video below. Most voice recognition systems have been frustrating to say the least. I know I have had my fair share of frustration with the 1-800-GOOG-411 phone system.
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