Google’s Continued Mobile Evolution

26 Aug

What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Google’s Latest Updates

HandsPhones_Banner_8.25.16

CoreyMorris

Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Strategy

We’re getting closer to the day when we no longer separate or distinguish traffic by     device type—when the word “mobile” as an adjective becomes a thing of the past.       Google has been and continues to push forward changes intended to enhance the mobile user experience; consequently, it has become the standard for many web designers to take a “mobile-first” design approach. This week’s announcements are not likely a big surprise to most, but as digital marketers, we do need to take note of them.

First, and most importantly, Google officially published that in January 2017 they will begin evaluating popups and interstitials (aka “interrupters”) to determine whether or not they are too obtrusive to the user experience. If they determine interstitials are in fact too obtrusive, the website will not rank as highly. There are still ways to do interstitials, but it will need to be carefully executed to ensure the mitigation of risk. This is not a blanket statement or policy against popups and interstitials, but one that is focused directly on user experience. There are many tactics for utilizing them that sites currently employ that will not be impacted by this update as they don’t pop up until multiple pages have been visited or after a long enough delay, so as not to negatively impact the initial experience after landing on a mobile page from search results. Note that Google will be looking for this when indexing pages and judging the experience of users coming from a search results page.

We know that the initial experience for a user is important to Google (and should be important to us as well as webmasters), as Google does factor page load times into search rankings. There have also been debates in the past about Google’s use of stats on users bouncing back to the search results page quickly after clicking on a result as a negative factor for rankings (I won’t get into the heated SEO debate on that in this article).

The second and less significant update posted by Google this week is encouraging. With the “Mobilegeddon” event being far enough into the past, Google is now going to remove the “mobile-friendly” tag from mobile search results, as nearly 85% of sites qualify. This is a minor move and continued evolution of mobile becoming the norm in search results.

To read Google’s full announcement, click here.

If you missed my article last week about the significant Google AdWords change to text ad formats (also driven by mobile usage), you can read about that topic here.

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Go for the B2B Gold

11 Aug

Butterfly Stroke Swimming Champion

The Olympics Inspire B2B Excellence

The Olympics has become one of the most anticipated events throughout the globe. You may even have favorite athletes or events that you always enjoy watching. With such stories of triumph, unity, and humanity the Olympic brand is personal and inspirational. From watching some of the games with my family, I realized that they can teach B2B marketers a thing or two when it comes to creating a long-lasting brand and engaging audience experience.

According to Sponsorship Intelligence, the Olympics not only wins on appeal, but scores higher than many other global brands on values such as inclusiveness, inspiration, and excellence. The games strive to bring the world together through sport, and its overall movement is for a higher purpose—going above and beyond consumer expectations.

Although the colorful rings are one of the most recognizable and beloved logos, branding doesn’t just stop with a logo. Branding is essential because it shows the development and thinking behind who your company is and why people will connect. These days people are bored of perfection, and throughout the Olympics there is a healthy amount of achievement, as well as humanity. A powerful moment in Olympic history that captured hearts across the globe was Jamaica’s first-ever bobsleigh appearance, and although they went medal-less, their story was so inspirational that it even led to a Disney movie.

During the Olympic games, the moments that have been most memorable for fans have showcased the personality of individual athletes, their “brand,” like Carl Lewis or Michael Phelps—it’s the people who define the movement for fans. It’s important to realize that while you may be marketing for business-to-business, there are people who are making the decisions within each interaction and are who you need to build relationships with. By doing so, your business can create its own legacy.

Whether it’s watching Michael Phelps win eight gold medals in 2008 or fans being inspired by the 2012 London Olympics to get out and get active, the Olympic brand tells a story of inspiration that virtually anyone can relate to. Most importantly, the experience for both fans and athletes from around the world is unforgettable. As B2B marketers, we need to strive to create shareable moments, just as the Olympics did with record-breaking tweets during London’s 2012 opening ceremony. Engaging with your audience across your brand’s many different channels to reflect your brand’s true personality—and for transparency—results in winning the gold.

So whether you are a marketing giant, or a triumphant underdog, this year’s games serve as a great source of inspiration for both branding and customer experience. Take heart like an Olympian, and bring your brand center-stage with inclusiveness, inspiration, and excellence.

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AdWords Expanded Text Ads: What are they and why do they matter?

10 Aug

Google Advertising Program webpage on the browser

CoreyMorris

Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Strategy

This year has been a big one with Google updates and news across all platforms and products. Google AdWords has not been immune to large scale changes that have an impact on how advertisers manage accounts and campaigns. Earlier in the year Google removed all ads from the right side of the Google search results page. This update means that text ads are now only showing at the top and bottom of the page and while there was a lot of debate about what this would do to advertiser costs to remain in front of the targeted audience, it was accepted as an evolution toward a mobile-first mentality for Google and advertisers alike.

 Compare the Two…

First Image
Google’s New Expanded Text Ads
Second image
Google’s Legacy Ads

What are expanded text ads?

A natural evolution toward the mobile-first mentality was launched in late July and is rolling out to all accounts in the form of “expanded text ads.” This update by Google is available for advertisers to use when creating new ads featuring a new format and level of flexibility in ad creation and has a handy preview as you’re composing your ad for seeing how it might render on mobile and desktop. This update removes the need to check the mobile device box on text ads and for more detailed break-outs of campaigns by focus on mobile versus desktop.

Why should I care?

I have boiled this down to the pros and cons for the new format. Regardless of how you feel about the format, it is something that must happen and we recommend getting on board as soon as possible so you can get any possible advantage during the transition period in having more real estate on your search engine results page.

Pros:

  • The ad creation process will be easier going forward
  • You gain more flexibility with how the ad text lines are formatted (one line and continuous statement versus two) and it is expanded to 80 characters
  • You can have multiple headlines (30 characters each)
  • The display URL allows for multiple directory layers (backslashes) providing the opportunity to work more keywords into the display URL
  • All ad extensions are still in play allowing for even more real estate for your ads

Cons:

  • If you have a lot of ads in your account, or if you manage multiple accounts, you’re going to have to invest time in creating new expanded text ads. There is not a way to have your ads automatically convert in format and you will have to go through them in detail.
  • You won’t be able to update legacy text ads after the October 26, 2016 deadline. While your ads will continue to run, they will be frozen in time.

The Data

ERM started building expanded text ads when our accounts became eligible and started A/B testing against the legacy format. We’re monitoring the tests and will follow up with another blog post in the next 1-2 weeks with the results of our testing and more information about how expanded text ads are performing across the board. Stay tuned!

More info from Google on expanded text ads and the transition: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/7056544

Help on setting them up on your own: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/6167115?hl=en

To read more, check out this article: http://searchengineland.com/google-expanded-text-ads-quirks-testing-results-255093

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When to Use PPC Advertising

4 Aug

PPC,pay per click written on blackboard

When so many obstensibly free options are available to promote your brand, it can feel like Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is a waste of money. However, there are a few things you can accomplish with a PPC campaign that would take months to accomplish with blogging, social media posting, and other earned media. Not sure if PPC is right for your goals? These are a few times when PPC is the right pick:

When You Want to Build Traffic Quickly

Organic traffic is highly sustainable once you build the content to get people to your site, but it can take awhile for your work to show results. PPC allows you to put your site in front of a lot of people all at once, giving your brand a giant traffic boost.

When You Want to Focus on Specific Geographic Areas

Trying to build traction in a new city? Geotargeted ads can allow you to use your PPC budget to hit exactly the audience that you want. Choose by city name or get even more granular by targeting zip code by zip code. You can also save money by incorporating negative qualifications, such as eliminating from your ad campaign any areas where you do not do business.

When You Have a New Product or Division to Promote

One of the benefits of PPC is that it allows you to build momentum quickly. If you want to give a new product a jump start, a PPC campaign that focuses exclusively on what’s new can give you a big boost. Create specific landing pages for this campaign so that you get maximum mileage out of your efforts.

When You Need to Show Measurable Results Fast

It can take a while for an organic campaign to show measurable results and even then, there will always be a need to continue content generation. PPC marketing, particularly on search engines, gives you results that are detailed enough that you’ll know which part of an ad is working and what kinds of users are responding. If you want data quick, a PPC campaign is the way to go.

PPC is part of a robust and healthy digital marketing strategy. By deciding on specific goals and using PPC for the right reasons at the right time, you can make the most of your marketing dollars.

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The Housing Economy Experiences Gradual Growth

2 Aug

Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Study Releases Important Data

Human hand add a  coin in the final row

With numerous housing reports coming out each month, many have debated what these new economic performance measurements will mean for the future of housing rates and for the building industry. According to Harvard’s The State of the Nation’s Housing 2016 report, new home sales are strengthening with a 6.39% increase to 5.3 million. Although these numbers may indicate that the housing economy is not back to where it once was, it does show that there is substantial improvement from recent years.

Major report findings:

  • Multifamily starts rose 11.8% to 397,300, the highest in 27 years. Single-family starts were also up, rising 10.5% to 715,000.
  • Sales of both new and existing homes are up. The existing homes inventory remains tight with a supply of 4.8 months.
  • The inventories of for-sale homes in the low and middle price tiers dropped 9% between 2014 and 2015, contributing to a total decline of 38% between 2010 and 2015.
  • The median price of existing homes rose 6.6% to $222,400. Rising home prices have contributed to a reduction in the number of homeowners with negative equity.

However, other issues have risen, specifically the cost burden for renters. According to the report, 36.4% of households in 2015 opted to rent, which is the highest numbers seen since the late 1960s. This stems from low-income rates, as well as millennials who still are deeply in debt with school. Many millennials say that they envision themselves purchasing a home of their own one day, but due to financial troubles do not see themselves buying a home in the near future.

The report also shows that US housing starts have risen more than excepted in June due to construction activity. Despite the rise in housing starts, data points show that there will be a leaner second quarter, especially with it being an election year. While we are still far away from a boom period in housing, the latest housing starts from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Study shows that we are on a gradual recovery path.

Key Takeaways:

  • Americans remain optimistic toward homeownership
  • Household growth is on the rise
  • Rental housing remains in high demand
  • New construction of single-family homes is on the rise

While the numbers show a gradual recovery, there’s still a lot of situations in which the housing economy may not reach the housing peak that it once was. Although, with those numbers being as unstable as they were, it’s possible that they may not be such a bad thing.

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