End of March Google Update

There were rumors of another Google update around March 28. Usually, I can’t feel most of updates but I lost around 500 daily visitors to this one. I am not sure what this update is about and I am pretty confident there isn’t anything wrong with my website, but it is what it is. Fortunately 500 visitors isn’t that of a big number for that website, so I certainly can take it. Of course it’s annoying and discouraging because I want it to grow, and it dropped instead.

In all cases, I need to move on and think about future and carry on as usual. I need to plan materials I want to publish on that website, links I hope to acquire and, perhaps, to revise my advertising strategy because whatever I did in March didn’t work for me.

We will see how things go; I can allow myself to become discouraged and stop working.

Targeted Advertising and Our Exciting Future

Only some 10 years ago all we had what is known now as interruption advertising — pizza and shampoo ads in between your favorite TV programs, ads on radio and huge billboards placed in hopes that someone will notice their message. That was, of course, better than nothing, but at the same time, it was incredibly expensive and not very effective. When I am driving on a highway, I don’t typically have mental focus to read billboards and even if I do, their message is not necessarily relevant to my life. The result was outrageous advertising costs and not so much revenue. Only Fortune 500 type of companies could afford interruption advertising, which was really more about branding rather than result- (read profit) oriented campaigns.

In the year 2018, even Fortune 500 companies advertise differently. With the power of keyword targeting, we are able to know users’ intent on many/most instances. This drives much better profits at much lesser cost. These days businesses have a luxury to focus more on their bottom line rather than some abstract branding.

Things can get as precise as you want them and examples are many: You could, for example, target a searcher who is looking to buy specifically pink polka dot socks or a heart-broken millennial who is trying to figure out how to get over someone. You could deliver food, rent apartments, offer private tutoring to those who are specifically searching for it for just a couple of dollars per click or even less. You could engage your future customers’ emotions and take things to the next level. The possibilities are overwhelming! Even better, you don’t have to be limited to people in your area; almost any product can be potentially sold worldwide.

The future of online marketing and advertising seems even brighter now that more and more of so-called second- an third- tier countries begin to develop a habit of buying things online, which potentially gives us exposure to billions of new customers in the coming years. Great time to be in marketing, indeed!

Turning Failure Into Success with Retargeting

If your latest Adwords campaign was a complete disaster, it might be that you still have a chance to turn it into smashing success, provided you prepared for your Plan B in advance.

There is one thing every successful online marketer should remember: Before firing a new campaign, or at all times really, retargeting pixels should be set in place. This holds true whether or not your marketing efforts are successful — if it is, you can squeeze even more conversions and sales from the same traffic; and if it isn’t, you get a second chance to advertise to already interested audience who knows you for less.

Steps to take now:

  • Rush to your Facebook advertising account and get Facebook pixel and place it on your website.
  • After making sure the pixel tracks properly, set up targeted audiences in Facebook, e.g., “People who visited page X” within last 30, 60 or 90 days.
  • Wait.

Once you collect a sufficient amount of data, you can hit your targeted audience with ads on Facebook and Instagram. You can narrow down by target location, gender and interests if you like. The most amazing part is that because these people have already visited your website recently, you know they are interested in what you have to offer.

So if you ran a disastrous Adwords campaign where losses were more than revenues, you can get a second chance with these very same people, thanks to Facebook retargeting.

My Adwords Ads Are Not Running — Here’s Why

For small businesses and individual entrepreneurs, it takes some serious courage to even start using costly Adwords platform to promote their business. Once they do decide to give it a shot, they are faced with lots of other obstacles on their way to targeted traffic and conversions. Very often, new advertisers find that their ads don’t get any impressions despite being approved by the system, and they have no clue why. Without being able to talk to actual humans, new advertisers are lost in the maze in Adwords support links, finally ending up in the official forum, which is, let’s face it, useless and frustrating. Posting in that forum will usually not attract answers from real pros; what you usually get is unnecessary questions from users who know even less than you. So why your ads could be not running and how to fix the issue.

First, I am assuming your ads were initially running and approved, then suddenly stopped getting traffic. If the ad is not approved, that is a whole other issue. For ads that where approved and stopped running, the first thing to do is to use Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool in your Adwords account. Set your keyword and country where you are advertising and make sure that you get green check for all devices — tablet, desktop and mobile.

Sometimes you will get an error telling you that your Ad Rank is too low. Ad rank is a combination of your quality score and your bid. If your ad rank is low, first thing to do is to make sure your quality score is high enough to compete. Your ad quality score is compiled of ad relevance, landing page experience, and CTR. The easiest to manipulate here is ad relevance, so please make sure your ad text matches the keyword of your choice. This will usually take care of CTR as well.

If your quality score is fine, then it must be your bid. Here’s the tricky part: You might be charged very little but for some reason the system still wants you to raise your bid on maximum CPC. Just yesterday I was paying only about $0.4 per click when my ads stopped gaining impressions and I got a nasty Ad Rank error. My maximum bid was $3 and my budget was $300 per day. Yet, Adwords wanted me to raise the bid even more in order to get impressions. That felt uncomfortable but I rose it all the way to $10. At this point I didn’t know what I was doing, I only knew I wanted my ads to run. I wanted to see what happens. Surely enough, it took care of the problem. Was I charged $10 per click? Nope. Actually, my average CPC went down all the way to amazing $0.34 cents per click!

I don’t have any explanation, but it worked. So if your ads aren’t running and you get a frustrating red X and Ad rank warning, it might be worth a shot. Otherwise you will not be getting any traffic and it will take you ages to collect any statistically significant amount of data.

Useful: Guide to Adwords Quality Score

Three Steps to Optimizing Your Adwords CPC

Adwords is not what it used to be, or so they say. Back in the day, Adwords was an excellent way to promote your website or product; it was cheap, convenient and, most importantly, immediate. It offered an instant feedback on your advertising campaign. It was great!

But as time went by, more and more advertisers became aware of the power of Adwords and jumped on Adwords board so that not to miss all the opportunities out there. This lead to stiff competition and skyrocketing prices per click.
Many abandoned the platform for the sake of cheaper and, typically, less effective advertising mediums, such as Facebook, Outbrain and other forms of native advertising.

Not everyone left, however. It’s March 2018 and Adwords is still alive and well. Yes, the prices rose, but there is no shortage of sophisticated users who learned the ropes and are still killing it with Adwords. Thanks to the power of user intent, only Adwords can offer laser-targeted traffic that converts several times better than any other advertising medium.

Here are some steps you could take to optimize your campaign while lowering your CPC and maximizing your returns:

1. Bid on exact match and phrase match only.
Broad match will bring tons of irrelevant traffic and burn your money quickly. Broad match only makes sense when your goal is general brand awareness and not a specific action, such as purchase of your product. With exact match, however, you get less traffic but more control. With exact match keywords you know exactly what the user entered and have a pretty good idea what he or she is looking for.

Phrase match helps to get even more targeted traffic but allows for some interpretations. You need to be more careful with phrase match keywords by specifying negative keywords. Negative keywords could be something like “free” since people who are searching for free something obviously aren’t going to buy. Regularly revise your keyword report in your Adwords account to find any keywords that don’t make sense for your business and add them to negative keyword list. This is a continuous process!

2. Have one-keyword groups.
It doesn’t come naturally to new advertisers, but it really makes more sense to have only one exact or phrase match keyword in each campaign. This allows you to craft the ad text exactly for that keyword, earning you higher ad relevance scores and higher quality score overall. Higher quality score means lower CPC — exactly what we are looking for!

3. Narrow your location target.
When you don’t have tons of money to spend on Adwords, narrowing your geo target can become very handy. Try to figure out which locations converted for you best in the past and advertise only there. This will bring higher returns and possibly lower CPC due to less competition.

Happy bidding!

2012 Facebook Experiment Raises Questions

Facebook experiment raises questionsFacebook has been widely criticized for their latest experiment and rightfully so. At the core of their experiment was manipulating users’ news feed to display either positive or negative posts from their contacts. About 700,000 unsuspecting Facebook users were served altered feed to manipulate their emotions in 2012, which triggered a complaint filed by privacy activists insisting that this type of practice violates users privacy agreement and messes with people’s minds and, obviously, emotions.

Normally scientists would need to obtain users permission for this type of experiment but back in 2012 anyone using Facebook had to sign privacy agreement that stated that their data could be used to improve Facebook products, which was later modified to agreeing to use this data for research.

Wondering about results of this controversial experiment? Well, the conclusion was that people who were served more positive messages were more likely to write positive posts, which sounds pretty much like common sense but scientists wanted a proof and now they have it.

It’s not a first time that Facebook runs experiments on their unsuspecting users. Years ago thousands of Facebook users received a message that they were logged out because they appear to be using fake names. To be able to continue using social network users had to prove they were real people using real names. This may sound like a usual thing these days, except that Facebook actually knew these people were real people using real names. The purpose of that experiment was to test their new security system, which of course falls nicely under TOS agreement.

While their login experiment was probably only minor annoyance for users, their 2012 experiment on emotions raises more questions. With 1.3 billion users one may expect all kinds of people using this social network, including severely depressed people and suicidal individuals. It doesn’t take a PhD in behavioral sciences to figure that serving negative feed while avoiding most or all positive messages to such people is not the best idea.