Does Google Ads scheduling take into account time zones?
No. And with all this AI that Google applies to other areas, ( for instance, they can tell that I need reading glasses because of the movements I make with my phone (all true – I have the proof). So why can’t they handle time zones for ads? Thats seems so ’00 to me.
…your ads will be shown based on your default time zone settings and not as per the location’s time zone which you include.
You don’t have to be a cynic to believe that its lucrative for Google not to offer more precision in ad scheduling. A little shloshing-around of my ad dollars never hurts (Google).
Before we look at an example, lets level-set. There are plenty of Google Ads campaigns that target regions with multiple time zones (there are actually more than 24 around the globe). Even a US focused campaign is reasonably looking to handle 5 time zones.
So as an example, my company is based in New York (EST), but obviously California is a large target market. My target audience buying hours peak at 11PM (in any time zone) and run until about 2AM, tapering off @5AM (least sales).
If I need to schedule maintenance down-time for my online shop, I already have a problem loosing sales in a time zone. If I’m down @ 4AM EST, Im not selling to those late-night shoppers in California, Hawaii & Alaska.
Salt in the wound, I SURE DON’T WAN TO RUN ADS while I’m offline. How do I handle 5+ time zones?
Google is no help here. If I want to avoid wasting precious ad spend, I have to setup a campaign for each time zone, don’t I? That’s also expensive to setup and to maintain.
I’m not the first to run into this problem. What I wonder is why Google can’t handle this obvious problem? Its not a technological challenge is it?
Ad Fraud Is Off The Charts
28% of Website Traffic is Non-Human…says Adobe in a Wall Street Journal article.
Fraudulent Web Traffic Continues to Plague Advertisers, Other Businesses
Adobe found that about 28% of website traffic showed strong “non-human signals,” leading the company to believe that the traffic came from bots or click farms.
Anyone who runs a webserver would not disagree with that. It just takes a brand name company in tech to say it so that this stuff sticks to the wall.
So yes, Fraudulent Web Traffic Continues to Plague Advertisers, Other Businesses is true. Bob Hoffman says Ad Fraud Is Off The Charts. I love his stuff. Ya know, ten billion here, ten billion there…it starts to add up. Read more by Bob Hoffman.
According to another ad fraud expert, Dr. Augustine Fou, “No matter what you are hearing or reading about digital ad fraud, I can assure you it’s actually worse than you think.”
Keyword Enlightenment for 2018
You are a business owner looking at reports from your SEO vendor and they show you a list of 100 keywords that you rank #1 for. You feel good!
This article will explain how keyword volume and rank reported throughout the SEO industry is misleading because it is based on a source (Google) that is assumed to be respectable and accurate. Well, we can prove it is not accurate anyway.
You want to know that your SEO vendor isn’t selling you a feel-good story. Lets face it, most of those fancy reports don’t tell you anything actionable anyway – they are just pretty and somehow leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. But business decisions should not be based on “fuzzy feelings”. So lets cut through the crap.
- The truth is, those reports are just telling you what you want to hear, showing you what you want to see.
- Most Search Rank Reports highlight Zero Volume keywords that make you look good, 0 volume means noone uses those.
Your SEO is probably using Google’s Keyword Planner to find those keywords for on-site optimization and for PPC in Adwords? I’ll show you why Keyword Planner, the source of most reporting, is completely inaccurate to the degree that it is useless. ( remember this article is about local search, not global. Google Keyword Planner may be fine for huge volume keywords, but not for local small volume keywords. )
I know many SEO’s reading this will say, “Why bother? Just build more content and do more link building.” ( But that sounds very much “build it and they will come” – not much business acumen in that! )
The fact is, if we are going to do any Internet Marketing at all, blog more (build more content) and get more backlinks; we still want to know which keywords work and which don’t. OK. How do we find which keywords we should use?
Step #1 – What does Google say about our current exposure?
In Google Analytics > Acquisition > Search Console > Queries
(If you don’t have this menu option, it means you need another type of help first)
On the far right is the first level on our way to Keyword Enlightenment; our Average Position. Now think!
- if our website is getting an Average Position of 1st place for this keyword, shouldn’t our website be seen EACH time someone SEARCHed using that keyword?
Correct. So in that 2nd column are the Impressions we got. Next logical step would imply;
- if our website is seen for each search, then IMPRESSIONS = SEARCH VOLUME
So lets verify the Search Volume for our keywords using Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
Step #2 in Keyword Planner we must narrow our view to a Geo ( otherwise Google will give us global volume instead and we are not interested in what happens more than 100 miles away from our business ).
We copy and paste our keywords from Search Console > Queries into Keyword Planner, we download our results, sort in a spreadsheet, correlate the two sets of data (the tedious part and why good SEO work is so time consuming – and because Google is not really trying to help ) and we get an interesting juxtaposition.
- Why is Google telling us there are 390 searches (Search Volume) for a keyword that our website got the #1 spot for yet was seen only 83 times?
That does not make sense. That is a 470% inflated “estimate”. Why does Google report two different results for what is essentially the same thing? I’m inclined to believe that Keyword Planner is a feel-good tool. And that is why I think it is useless for doing any keyword research. I could extrapolate further whether anything Google reports is accurate, including the clicks a website “supposedly” gets in analytics. This all means that SEO vendors using Google data for their prettier reports (which is almost everyone) are even more useless.
BTW, this is why we built SearchStation. At least with SearchStation we get accurate search rank (which means Impressions in both Organic and Paid results). I would suggest employing a 3rd Party Analytics tool to track clicks as the other reporting we would need to get some realism back into our keyword research and SEO reporting.
We can now cut the crap and conclude that the only way to To Do Keyword Analysis For Local Search Engine Optimization is to derive it locally from actual SEARCH RANK and TRAFFIC that actually hits your website.
Having reached our goal of Keyword Enlightenment we know that Google’s Analytics and most SEO Vendor Reports are feel-good reporting and not the real world. We also now know that if our website consistently ranks #1 for a keyword, then visitors reported in our analytics is the most accurate measure of Search Volume for that Keyword.
Coming soon, in Part II of this series, we will take a look at the accuracy of Search Rank Reporting in Google Search Console.
Google Adwords Revelation 98% of Business Comes From 22 Keywords
How would you like to cut your PPC ad spend by perhaps 90% and get the same net revenue?
This is not a cheap come-on. This tsunami is ripping through the digital marketing space as we speak. In case you have missed it, there have been three significant stories recently; Proctor & Gamble, then Restoration Hardware, now today Uber has filed a law suit against its advertising agency – all concerning waste and fraud in the Pay-Per-Click ad market.
The Restoration Hardware story summarizes the situation best; Restoration Hardware generates almost all of its Pay Per Click traffic from only 22 keywords.
“We’ve found out that 98% of our business was coming from 22 words. So, wait, we’re buying 3,200 words and 98% of the business is coming from 22 words. What are the 22 words? And they said, well, it’s the word Restoration Hardware and the 21 ways to spell it wrong, okay?”
I’ve been going up against agencies for years as they boast of their superior ability to manage 10,000 keywords (no kidding, 10,000). Well these revelations kind of put that selling point to rest once and for all. RIP!
You may not hear one peep about this from the usual Internet Marketing cheerleaders. Those “Internet Marketing Cheerleaders” include every agency and eZine that blogs about Search Engine Marketing daily. Not only do they seldom write anything worth reading, they never write a negative word that might impact their standing with Google. Obviously Google does not want this kind of news circulating, so 1) don’t expect the cheerleaders to blog about these high-profile corporations and their experiments cutting ad spend by 90% and 2) expect these headlines to be scrubbed from search results (or found on page 7).
The large advertising agencies are wishing these things were never published. They make too much money on the status quo (meaning the same fraudulent practices) because fees are based on a percentage of spend, and most clients are ignorant of the workings of the digital ad marketplace. Ignorant clients are good clients!
I want to plug HARTENSTINE right here because we have always charged a flat fee for our PPC services. That is so we have no incentive to spend client money recklessly.
So what may be a pivotal nail in this coffin, today Uber announced that they are the victim of not only wasted ad spend, but click fraud as well. The entire law suit filing is at that link detailing just how it is perpetrated. Its a worthy read.
Don’t be an ignorant-good client!
Obviously these are large corporations utilizing equally large ad agencies, but the percentage of waste is probably proportionate across the board. So even if you are a small business, you could be wasting 80% or more of your money on pay-per-click ads that do not impact your bottom line.
What are your 22 keywords? Lets find out and save some $
Geofencing vs Hyperlocal Search Confusion
There is a bit of confusion about Geofencing. It is a new advertising methodology after all and that newness has spawned misleading usage of the word. Many are confusing it with the act of searching using a mobile device. Let’s see if we can’t clear up some marketing BS floating around in the blog-o-sphere.
Android has some training for the technically inclined that is useful to understanding how it works.
For the rest of us, Geofencing encompasses advertising to an audience that happens to be in your targeted area but is not searching per se. The advertiser is trying to catch the attention of this audience while they are in a usually small target area (the geofence).
For the advertiser to apply a geofence on a consumer, the consumer must either a) use an application (APP) on a mobile device or b) visit a website with geofencing capabilities.
If the consumer has downloaded an APP for receiving alerts, they are actively shopping and aware that they are targeted. We aren’t so concerned about this active/passive consumer because they are not the most coveted consumer. Its the unaware passive shoppers that are more interesting and valuable to the advertiser. Lets take a look at why that is the point of what makes geofencing attractive to advertisers and why this is where all online advertising is headed.
The Passive Consumer
Lets use a contemporary example and the best representation of geofencing (proximity advertising). I’m shopping for a car and I’m at a dealership talking to a salesperson about the price. They of course says this is the best price anywhere and I of course whip-out my mobile device to see if that’s true. ( BTW, what I am doing as a consumer is called price comparison shopping, not searching! )
As it happens, the nearest competing dealership has geofenced the location of the dealership I’m standing in. The geofence could be very small and is identified by the IP address or GPS coordinates of my device. When I visit the website of the competing dealership, I’m greeted with a pop-up ad that says “We’ll beat that dealer’s price”. Hmm! That’s pretty compelling. I think I have to check what that competing dealer is going to offer me. Don’t I?
As an advertiser, that’s about as good a lead as any. This is a confirmed buyer because they are far into the funnel – they are price shopping. As an advertiser, I’m all-in for Geofencing! And I’ll pay more from these highly qualified leads.
The Hybrid Consumer
The hybrid scenario means the consumer is active in the sense that they downloaded an APP for, lets say, car shopping onto their mobile device. This consumer would get a passive alert on their mobile device that the car they are looking for is on sale near by when they enter a geofence setup by the car dealer.
While there are a few APPs for car shopping, they are not all-encompassing and therefore not too popular. My guess is that for this capability to mature it will have to be offered by search engines – probably in the not too distant future. This explains many changes Google has made recently; particularly the change to Places listings that are now entirely based on distance from the consumer/search. Google is polishing its location services with regard to the consumer’s location as communicated by the device.
The Active Consumer
Search has been around for a long time now. I search on my computer/mobile device for the car I want and I see an ad from a nearby dealership. While that ad is shown to consumers in a limited geographic area, this is NOT what is referred to as geofencing. That is a typical PPC (Adwords) ad. That geo-targeting capability has existed for about 14 years now. The car dealer simply specifies where those ads appear depending on a) a radius from a location or, b) a zipcode, city, county, or entire country. Thus far, Adwords cannot alert you. You must search first. That is why I call this an “active” consumer. They are searching.
OK! Now that we have all that clarified, here is as example of how a so called marketing “professional” does not understand that geofencing has nothing to do with search.
In this post 3 Geofencing Stats You Need To Know:
#3 is > 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their smartphone.
Yes, that statement is true, but…it has NOTHING to do with geofencing. (or maybe its how marketing people just cant help themselves when the ability to use misleading context arises. You know. “Baffle them with bullshit”.)
Note the word “search” there? It is outright misleading to include this item in the list of benefits of geofencing. Search is how you FIND new businesses. Geofencing by itself does not help you FIND what you want.
Here is another in my diary of marketing companies that either don’t know what they are talking about or they should just not blog. You decide.
What Is Geofencing and Does It Matter? in which they write “The smallest location you can target in AdWords is a one-mile radius.”
What? A radius in Adwords is not a geofence (nor is it a recent innovation). And there is a lot of other useless information in that post too. In the article is a Premier Google Partner badge. I guess you can trust anyone with a badge.
Long-Tail vs Short-Tail Ad Campaign Considerations
After a recent experience with a (3rd party/agency) PPC vendor that specializes in product-level ad campaigns, I can share some observations about these services.
Product-level ads mean automatically generating long-tail keywords and corresponding ads with links to those product pages. Because when there are 10’s of items (perhaps thousands) or there is high inventory turn-over, this job is not something a human can keep on top of. Thus the 3rd party that specializes in this sort of thing, with black-box tech of course.
Black-box or Mechanical Turk?
Automated PPC services are typically two services packaged together that should be analyzed separately. There is keyword & ad generation. There is also campaign management. It turns out, the later is the really tricky part.
So we look at efficacy – can the “black-box” do what it claims to do? (turn inventory pages into ads with long-tail keywords) In that narrow description, it appears so, but the human-to-black-box interface presented obstacles.
There is a lot more mechanical-turk going on at the campaign management layer than is admitted. That means there is a human behind the black-box doing a percentage of the work. This was the first area of dissatisfaction as the “magic” required a human being with “expert” skills (the mechanical-turk) at PPC campaign management. Then we found the application layer between the black-box and the mechanical-turk prevented certain fine-tuning – tuning we would have done ourselves except the application would not accommodate our tuning. We were left knowing what to do to get better results, but unable to put those changes into effect.
Cost of these services is a critical consideration. A greatly improved ROI cannot be guaranteed when the service costs between $600 to an unlimited (thousands) per month fee. A basic campaign of short-tail keywords can work just fine if one has an unlimited budget, so we only consider implementing a complex service such as this in order to sell more products. Right?
So our quest for a better ROI by using long-tail keyword, more relevant ads and deep links to our inventory comes down to selling more products for the same or a lower cost of advertising.
Remember that click-share is only a matter of the overall budget, whether it goes to long or short-tail keywords. We can always spend more money to get more market-share irregardless of “method” to get it. So we need to see significant increases in conversions = increase in ROI if we are to justify another layer of agency-service.
I cannot easily publish numbers here without revealing sources, so suffice to say, the devil is in the details. In our case, while the increases in CTR and ad position improved, we found the service to be a bit too expensive because we did not see an increase in sales.
Remarketing Pay Per Click Explained in Plain Terms
Remarketing: should you do it?
Remarketing is a term you’ll hear most often from those selling PPC services. They usually recommend allocating some of your budget, in addition to what you are already spending on Pay-Per-Click ads, just to Remarketing ads. ( read between the lines, and it means “let’s spend more” )
Well first, what is Remarketing?
Here is a screenshot of a real-life situation as it actually happened to me (click to enlarge).
I wanted to read-up on Ebola because it came up in a conversation and I had no real knowledge about it. I had only heard bits and pieces in the “news” (which explains why I knew nothing substantial about it) and therefore could add nothing to the conversation. I later Googled “ebola”, and clicked on md-health website. Suddenly I notice this ad from a bike shop on the right. What the heck does a bike shop have to do with ebola? That’s Remarketing.
Bookmark this concept ==> the ad is not relevant to what I’m doing right now! It’s an interruption – similar to ads on TV – which means this ad has low conversion potential to start with.
Lets take a look at how this works
I had recently been searching online for a particular bike part that I could not find locally. I had visited that very bike shop website; one of many bike shop websites. That website placed a cookie on my computer (in the browser). It happens that Md-health places Google ads on their website to make money on visitors like me (you can do the same with Google Ad-Sense).
When I visited Md-health, Google recognized the bike shop cookie in my browser, put 2+2 together, Google served up the ad. That’s Remarketing, cool! Some think its creepy, ( like the fact that Google has now tagged me as a potential ebola case or a hypochondriac ! )
So think of Remarketing as advertising that “follows you around” online, kind of a “reminder” ad.
So now that you know how this works, and you will begin to recognize the ads you see on other website as Remarketing, you can judge if it has an influence on your behavior. I have found that Remarketing ads have never caused me to act (click). If I search for something to purchase online, I usually buy it, or look up the address where I’m going to physically buy it – done – I’m now offline – and no longer a potential customer for the Remarketing approach.
But should you do Remarketing?
You can answer that question precisely only if you have a strictly online business.
Unfortunately, if you are like most local businesses, you have walk-in customers, or take telephone calls to complete sales. In that case you cannot measure if those Remarketing ads are leading to sales. Yes you can spend more money on clicks ( just as you normally do with your Google Adwords campaign) but you still can’t see if the any of your ads turn into sales. So don’t let your PPC advisor tell you Remarketing is proven to increase sales. That has never been proven for local businesses.
Bottom line ==> You can probably prove that more ad spending will lead to more sales. Now that is Rocket Science at work!
Products with long purchase cycles ==> such as automobiles, can benefit by repeatedly exposing your business name to customers who have already visited your website while shopping online. In this case you are building brand awareness, often without paying for clicks.
Chances are the brand(s) you sell are already engaged in Remarketing at a global or national level. Its what they do, and they can do brand advertising more effectively than a local business.
Remarketing may be best for Brand awareness ==> a local business’s brand is really it’s name ==> Remarketing ads using your business name may make sense – but Remarketing product oriented ads may not be so effective.
So how do you go about it?
I have found that most ( actually all – as in 100% ) Remarketing ads I have sampled out of professional interest are implemented poorly. The bike shop ad in this example, linked to a completely different product page than anything I was interested in. So while I clicked because the keyword “XTR” was visible ( part of my search term ), I was disappointed to NOT FIND something even remotely relevant on the landing page – so I’m out-a-there. The bike shop just wasted money because they setup their keyword attributes very broadly and did not have appropriate landing pages.
==> Poor landing pages and appropriate keyword attribute settings are common weaknesses for most ordinary Pay-Per-Click advertising campaigns everywhere. If you’re not doing the basics well, reaching harder and farther with Remarketing is like trying to run before you can walk.
My bottom line
- If you have absolutely mastered your PPC advertising, then Remarketing is a worthwhile experiment. But its not for the pay-per-click beginner, and its not for products with impulse buys or short purchase cycles ( like bike parts ).
- Having good (specials) product pages, and getting more 5 star reviews will increase conversion and sales for a lot less spend than Remarketing. That advice may seem unrelated to the topic, but conversion into sales is going to happen because the customer chose your physical store front over the many others they visited online because they liked what they saw the first time, not because they saw the same ad over and over again.
What is a Blog Post Worth
Does Blogging Pay? Its the most common directive issued in SEO. Blog! If you want free traffic, Blog! If you don’t have a big budget to pay Google Adwords or Bing Adcenter for clicks, BLOG!
But does blogging really payoff? Here is your real-world-local-business answer. Not only can we see exactly how many clicks a blog post is bringing every month, month after month; we can calculate the exact value of those clicks, and therefore calculate the exact value of the blog-post. (which means how much could you pay someone to blog for your business) Here is our Query Report from Google Webmaster or Google Analytics.
A single Blog-post about how swimming pools can pop out of the ground, brought our business 31 clicks from natural searches last month.
Therefore if our blog-post brought 31 visitors and we are paying a nice round figure of $3.30 per visitors in our PPC campaigns, the blog is worth $102.30 per month or $1,227.60 per year. With this data, we can now make many more assumptions about our marketing spend.
Brilliant! Hold on! What you may have missed is that there are 4 blog-posts on this website, but this is the only one that is performing to bring us a measurable number of free visitors. That is a variable that needs to be included in our overall marketing calculations to determine what a blog-post is really worth (paying for).
Plus there are a few noteworthy bullets to go with our numbers that can serve to flesh-out your Internet Marketing assumptions:
- The blog-post title, when written, did not reflect what those online searches would be that produces our traffic. This blog-post could potentially perform much better with the right title. That’s water under the bridge, but now that we know, we can still do some SEO to increase our page position and thereby, increase our clicks.
- The CTR for this post is exceptional. Combined with Average Positions (that are at the bottom of page 1) and that tells us the other results on the SERP (search results page) are not as appealing, and may also mean our meta description (SEO) is working well.
Another critical marketing variable not provided here is CONVERSION (into leads, into sales) but that’s something for another post. With conversion figures you can really dial-in your ROI – the ultimate in Internet Marketing Planning.
- Q: What should I blog about?
- A: What questions do your customers ask you?
- Q: Should you hire someone to write blogs?
- A: Can you produce the material for them and can they optimize the content?
I know those are not an answers, but they should point you in the right direction to the answer you need. Only you know your business well enough to make all this work. Everyone else can only help.
Well, without question, blogging works to bring (relatively) free traffic and save you the cost of paying Google and Bing for visitors. There is technique (SEO) involved in making it work to its full potential, but my experience is that everyone has moments of inspiration and motivation, but few can actually execute – consistently. Perseverance and persistence (lack thereof), not $, is what inhibits most Internet Marketing from real success.
But at least now you cannot say you don’t know whether blogging is worthwhile for your business.
Adwords Click Fraud Concerns Answered
How Do I Know Im not paying for Fraudulent Clicks?
How Do I Find My/Google’s Invalid Clicks Report?
A common concern for everyone, including me, is how can we be assured we are not paying for fraudulent clicks (click fraud) in our PPC campaigns. Well the short answer is, we can’t. Its entirely within Google’s purview to handle those odd-looking clicks and all the nuanced behavior of the “clicker”. Google does not provide even the originating IP address of the click. If we saw a bunch of clicks from the same IP address, we could dig deeper and maybe find the fraud. They could provide that information, but then there are issues of privacy, etc, that they don’t want to deal with. (Of course they do sell that data to advertisers who are willing to pay for it. Its all about the money after all. Privacy for sale!)
The obvious conflict of interest is that Google makes money when someone clicks. Refunding you for what looks like a bot or your competitor does to hold much incentive for Google does it? There have been lawsuits to stoke your fears too. In 2006 Google paid $90 million in a click fraud case. https://www.wired.com/2006/03/google-to-settle-click-fraud-case/ So there is THAT disincentive to prevent Google from turning a blind eye to the issue. But $90 Million (2006) out of annual sales of $111 Billion (2017) is .08%. Not much of a disincentive, is it?
We can find some comfort that Google is the master of algorithms, and it should not be too hard for Google to spot a bot or a competitor who has nothing better to do than click on your ads with their algorithms. They report those (refunded clicks) as Invalid Clicks in Adwords – more on that below.
The bottom line to the issue is, we can take Google’s word that they handle those clicks appropriately. We can also pay attention to our campaigns performance to spot poor ROI, which will greatly reduce the chance of paying for nothing-clicks. And finally, you can see how many clicks Google identified as fraudulent (invalid) here:
Does Google have a Invalid Clicks Refund Policy?
How does Google guard against click fraud?
How Do I Find My Invalid Click Reporting in Adwords?
Invalid clicks / Invalid click rate
These columns indicate the number and percentage of clicks that were classified as invalid and automatically filtered from your account. You aren’t charged for these clicks, and they don’t affect your account statistics. Data for invalid clicks is only available after January 1, 2006. Learn more about invalid clicks. This column is available on the Campaigns and Dimensions tabs only.
How To Display Invalid Clicks
- Sign in to your AdWords account
- Click the Campaigns tab.
- Click the Columns button above the statistics table
- Select “Modify columns” from the drop-down
- Under Modify columns > Select metrics
- > Performance
- > Invalid Clicks ( >> add to your Column List )
The World Goes Mobile-Local
Does that sound like old news? Needless to say, the search engine marketing business is always changing and marketing people being marketing people, write about every hiccup as if it were newsworthy. However this is different and I encourage you to read and think about recent changes to search results page-ad layout and how this change profoundly impacts your internet marketing reach.
Google has made a few changes recently, two in particular, that signal a monumental change in search marketing. Its not just a page-layout thing. Its a fundamental change in business.
The shot heard around the SEO world was the removal of local search filters from search. Forget about the “why” for the moment, Google never tells the truth about changes anyway. That change was followed by the radical change in paid search layout on the desktop – by doing away with side ads, the desktop now mimics the mobile interface. Some other noted initiatives point in the same mobile-local direction; re. Google Explorers and Google My Business road shows. All together these clearly focus on local business and that is because mobile search is now the largest search segment and growing. Its clear that in Google’s world, mobile is now the driver and mobile is local in nature.
We can therefore surmise some things that are unique to mobile that will drive all search optimization and search marketing going forward.
Page (Format) Strategies
If our space changes, our behavior must change. That would apply to a rat in a maze, just as it applies to an advertiser and ad formats. With the new “mobile” format, we must adapt new behaviors and strategies.
- Paid search strategies must be drastically overhauled. What you were doing last month won’t work anymore. With four (4) instead of about ten (10) potential spots for ads on a page, it is now a “Winner Take All” environment “Go Big or Go Home”. If you are not in the those 4 spots, you are out. Its even more dramatic than that. Some pages split the #1 spot at the top and #2, 3 and 4 spots are now at the bottom of the SERP, rendering them far less fruitful. (I have seen 8 ad spots total. 4 at the top and 4 at the bottom. But bottom ads? Really?) This means the deeper pockets and the more aggressive will win. Because if you don’t get the #1 spot, your clicks are going down dramatically. Those playing at the margins are out. Keyword knowledge will become more valuable than ever before.
- More important than Ads; the Knowledge Graph that sometimes occupies the top right of desktop display and the top of mobile is now the local elephant on the page. Also called a Business Card (or just Card) it gets the majority of SERP real estate. Therefore it gets more clicks that any paid ad. Getting your business into the Card is a matter of survival and needs to be the heart of your SEO (natural search optimization). If you don’t have your SEO ducks-in-a-row you are not getting the Card and therefore, your natural traffic may take a hit.
Search Footprint not Search Rank
Search rank tracking formerly could be content to display natural search rank alone. Are you #1 on Google? Today #1 in natural results doesn’t mean much. Who gets the Card gets most of the clicks, along with who gets the #1 paid spot. There are also places and sitelinks that take up real estate. Adding them all up signifies a Search Footprint, which better illustrates who gets the most clicks on a SERP.
Mobile is Local
Google has a tiered keyword approach to search rank, local, national and global, and perhaps others in between as well. Global can be understood as the Brand segment and Local could be understood as a Product segment. To get your head around a this tiered keyword-search segmentation, think in terms of how searches signal whether your want a Global or Local result.
We can see this with Toyota as an example. Search for simply “toyota” and Toyota Corporation will get the Card, which is our Global result. Search for “toyota for sale” and you get what I call a National result (re. autotrader, carguru, etc.). Search for “new toyota prius” and you get a Local result (local car dealers). There is overlap, but it is often not significant and it is rather logical.
You Ranking Strategy and Keyword Focus
Your search rank strategy must now account for which tier your business fits into. Forget what you want to rank for. You cannot expect to get into another tier easily. If you are a local business, you will not easily get into the Global keyword tier. If you are a local business you will seldom get into the National tier even in your local SERP. That is just how Google’s algo works at the moment. Those in the National tier are large enough to employ a full-time SEO team/strategy. As a local business you seldom have those resources available, so its more important than ever to know which keywords are in the Local tier and make sure your SEO efforts make use of those keywords most efficiently.
And to come full-circle, when you know the National and Global teir keywords (those which you cannot rank naturally for), those keywords should be in your Paid Search Strategy. But those Global keywords just went up in price significantly, while the National keywords went up in price too. What to do?
Local search is a local game that can be won by locals. While the Global and National players will be in your paid search backyard, they just can’t know your neighborhood the way you do. Use your local know-how and maximize your Local Search Footprint judiciously.