Mike's Tuesday Tips:
I have been amazed over the past few years how many nonprofits I have encountered that were not aware of the Google Ads Grant Program.
What could a nonprofit do with $10,000 per month in advertising on Google Ads? Could they get the word out about their cause to more people who might be in need of their services? Could they recruit more volunteers? Could they bring in more donations?
The Google Ads Grant Program provides nonprofits with the opportunity to advertise on Google Ads for free. The program gives qualified organizations up to $10,000 per month to promote their initiatives on Google.
This can be a great source for extra traffic to your website to share your cause with your community or the world. It’s an opportunity that every nonprofit should be taking advantage of.
In order to qualify for the Google Ads Grant Program, nonprofits must meet the following criteria:
-Hold current and valid 501(c)(3) status.
-Acknowledge and agree to Google Grant’s required certifications.
-Have a website that defines your nonprofit and its mission.
-Hospitals, medical groups, academic institutions, childcare centers, -and government organizations are not eligible.
-(Google does provide a similar program specifically for educational institutions.)
In 2018, Google made changes to the Google Ad Grant Program and there are new guidelines that nonprofits must follow to remain eligible:
-Maintain a minimum 5% CTR account-wide. Accounts that dip below 5% for 2 consecutive months will be suspended.
-Maintain a minimum keyword quality score of 2.
-Have a minimum of 2 ad groups per campaign.
-Have a minimum of 2 ads per ad group.
-Utilize at least 2 sitelink ad extensions.
The primary one that nonprofits struggle with is maintaining the 5% CTR. It is account-wide, so it is always advisable to have a brand campaign running for the nonprofit as those will usually have a pretty high CTR.
Think about your outreach targets. This one may seem very obvious to many of you, but I still see people making this mistake pretty regularly.
Outreach for links is one of the most popular forms of link building out there. It’s also one of the most difficult, time consuming, and frustrating.
I did a consulting call with another SEO in early May with the main thing they wanted to talk about being link building. They really wanted to talk about their outreach approach because they were getting horrible results. We are talking about close to zero percent response rates.
I was not shocked at the results when we started talking about what they were doing, and they are far from the only people I have seen do this over the years.
I asked them how they were finding their targets for their outreach.
They were making a pretty big mistake. They were using different combinations of search terms and search operators, but all of them included their primary keywords.
In other words, if they were trying to rank a page on a recipe site for “dessert recipes”, they were reaching out to other sites that already ranked for “dessert recipes.”
Just think about that for a moment.
I’m trying to rank my own page about dessert recipes and someone is reaching out to me asking if I will link to their dessert recipe page. Even if I was clueless about SEO, that sounds like a bad idea. Why would I want to lead my traffic to a similar page on another site?
If the website owner does understand a little bit about SEO, they are going to know that doing so could potentially help you to outrank them. Why would they want to do that?
Your outreach should not be to direct competitors. Many times it shouldn’t even be to sites that are directly in the same niche if you want to have a good success rate.
Let’s use an example to illustrate what I am talking about.
Say you are doing outreach for a local mortgage lending company in Philadelphia.
The last thing you want to do to find outreach targets is to search for things like “mortgage lenders in Philadelphia” or “FHA loans Philadelphia”.
Instead, look at businesses that are related to and in many cases rely on mortgage lenders to operate. Title companies and real estate agents would be good examples. Construction companies that focus on home building would be another good one. Content on their site that educates their web visitors about topics such as FHA loans, improving credit scores to qualify for a mortgage, what to prepare in order to get a pre-approval, or why they should get a pre-approval before home shopping, can help to position them as knowledgeable within the field and someone a prospect would want to work with.
At the same time, neither title companies, real estate agents, or construction companies are going to be heavily focused on trying to rank for mortgage-related keywords.
Going back to the recipe example, and specifically the “dessert recipes” example, there are plenty of branches within this market you can look at.
For example, there are a bunch of websites (and YouTube channels) devoted entirely to recipes for pressure cookers. These are site owners that probably care about ranking for search terms like “dessert recipes for pressure cookers” but not as much about just “dessert recipes”.
You can also find sites that do reviews and tutorials of cooking gadgets like pressure cookers, air fryers, slow cookers, etc. They could be good targets to reach out to.
There are also all kinds of bloggers covering topics like eating healthy, being a stay-at-home mom (or dad), etc. All great outreach targets.
You can get even more creative than this. Think a little outside the box.
Remember that the entire website you are reaching out to does not have to be relevant to your site in order for the link to be useful.
There are lots of sites popping up that are devoted to providing information about becoming an online streamer. Most of the content on these sites revolves around what equipment to use, how to set up that equipment, setting up a schedule, engaging your audience, finding an audience, etc.
Many streamers will stream for 8-12 hours at a time. You could reach out to some of these sites and pitch them the idea of publishing a piece of content about some great bite-size, healthy snacks you can make to eat while streaming.
Be creative. Think outside of the box. You will have a lot more success in your outreach.
Sticking with PPC this week, specifically Google and Bing Ads.
This is a technique I have been using for a long time. I came up with a catchy acronym for it when I teach it to people.
A.I.M.: Analyze, Identify, Move
Then several years ago I was reading Perry Marshall’s book on Google Ads. He uses the same method, but calls it Peel & Stick. Admittedly, his name is much more catchy.
Call it whatever you want. The concept is the same.
The way you implement this is simple.
(STEP 1) You first Analyze the keywords of an ad group. What you are looking for is any keyword that sticks out. We are primarily looking at CTRs here. Note, most people who I have encountered that do use this method only do this for the top performers. However, you should also use this for keywords that are not performing well.
(STEP 2) You want to Identify keywords that are outperforming the rest of the group or underperforming the rest of the group.
(STEP 3) The third step is to Move these keywords into their own single keyword ad groups (SKAG).
In the case of over performing keywords, you are doing this hoping that if you write an ad targeted specifically for this keyword you will be able to boost its performance even higher.
In the case of underperforming keywords, you are moving them into their own ad groups hoping that by putting the keyword by itself with ads specifically suited for that keyword, that you can boost its CTR to something more respectable.
Depending on the situation, I will go a step further and create a unique landing page for each of these as well. The thinking being that I can improve the Quality Score, which means potentially higher positions in the ad listings, which can then lead to higher CTRs.
You do not want your ad groups cannibalizing one another. This is even more common with Google’s expanding definition of exact match. Make sure when you pull a keyword out of an ad group, you add its exact match as a negative keyword to that ad group.
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Mike’s Tuesday Tips:
These are just a couple of common mistakes I see when auditing Google Ads accounts. This is going to be strictly for search based text ads. I’m not going to get into shopping ads or display ads here. All of this would apply to BingAds campaigns as well.
#1 Campaigns are Where You Control What You Spend
One of the most common mistakes I see is in the way that an account is organized. Always remember that it is at the campaign level where you control the budget.
If you are advertising multiple products or services, each one of them should have their own campaign. The reason for that is simple.
Let’s say you are selling men’s clothing: shirts, pants, socks, and shoes.
You would have each of those in their own campaign. In fact, you may even divide it up further. One campaign for dress shirts. One campaign for tshirts. One campaign for running shirts. And so on.
Same thing for pants. A campaign for dress pants. A campaign for jeans. A campaign for sweatpants. A campaign for exercise pants.
The mistake I see people frequently make is they make one campaign for shirts, and then divide things up at the ad group level. They create an ad group for dress shirts, another for tshirts, and another for running shirts.
The problem with that organization is simple. What if your highest converting or most profitable shirts that you sell are dress shirts and you want to increase your ad spend on them? If you increase the money on your shirts campaign, it is going to be spent on all the ad groups. You have no ability to funnel the money towards a specific ad group.
Depending on your inventory, you may even get more granular than what I suggested above. Instead of just dress shirts, you might want separate campaigns for short-sleeve dress shirts, long-sleeve dress shirts, dress shirts for boys, and campaigns for button-down collars and non-button-down collars.
However you do it, always keep in mind that you control the budget at the campaign level and any products or services that you want to have complete control over the ad spend on need to have their own campaign.
But Mike, I can just move products into their own campaign if I need to in the future.
Sure, you can, but you lose the historical data (Quality Scores, conversion data, automated bidding data, ad performance, etc.). You are basically starting from scratch with a new campaign when you do that.
#2 Keep Your Ad Groups Small
The second most common mistake I see is ad groups with tons of keywords. Over the years, I have lost count of how many accounts I have seen where they just had one ad group in a campaign and all their keywords were thrown into it.
Generally, your ad groups should not be more than 3-5 keywords each. I don’t go over 10 max.
The reason for this is Quality Scores and Ad Rank. Your Quality Scores are impacted by several factors. The most common and important ones:
Click-through rate of your ads.
The relevance of each keyword to its ad group and to its ad text.
The relevance and quality of your landing page.
Historical Google Ads account performance.
It is easier to control those relevance factors with tightly constructed ad groups and landing pages. The more broad your keywords get, the harder it is to make the ads and landing pages hyper-relevant. This is also good for conversions. It’s easier to convey a consistent message from search to ad to landing page this way.
Today with the expanding definition of exact match search queries in Google Ads, it becomes even less necessary to have lots of different keywords in the same ad group.
Why should you be worried about Quality Scores? Well, that’s the next one.
#3 Not Worrying About Quality Scores
This is a huge mistake costing advertisers a ton of money. I have often audited ad accounts and found lots of search terms with Quality Scores of 3 and less.
The exact method for calculating Ad Rank is not shared publicly by Google, but Quality Score is a factor. In fact, they use a real-time Quality Score that does not get shared with you and takes into account things like proximity of the searcher, the time of day, nature of the search term, etc.
What we get to see and work with is a general Quality Score. Why this matters is because it helps to determine how much you will pay per click. Higher QS’s get discounted positions in the advertising auctions.
Lower QS’s have to pay more than other advertisers in order to show in the same position. Lower QS’s also means that oftentimes your ad just won’t be shown at all.
These are a few common mistakes I see people make in doing keyword research for SEO.
Mistake 1: Only targeting keywords with X number of searches per month.
I commonly see people say to look for at least 1000 searches per month. Whatever the number is, this thinking ignores two very important factors: buyer intent and what are you selling.
I don’t think I need to explain buyer intent to anyone here. What I mean by what you are selling is simple.
What if the lifetime value of one customer/conversion is $10,000? Do you really care about search volume then?
I’m going after any keyword where the buyer intent is high. I don’t care if it gets 10 searches per month. I just need one conversion each month and that will generate a 6 figure revenue stream.
Now on the other hand, if you are building a made-for-AdSense type site, then yes, search volume is going to matter a whole lot more. In fact, I would probably ignore anything less than 10,000 searches per month as a primary keyword.
Mistake 2: Looking at the number of results in the search index.
I covered this one before in another Tuesday Tip, but it is worth mentioning again. The number of results in the search index has absolutely nothing to do with the level of competition for a keyword. It does not matter if there are 100,000 results or 100,000,000 results.
All that matters is the strength of the top 3 pages (or in really high search volume keywords maybe top 5). If you can beat #3, then #4 through 100,000,000 do not matter.
I don’t care what search operators you use either. Inurl:, Intitle:, etc. It tells you nothing about the level of competition.
The KGR is BS.
Mistake 3: Using competition level from Google Keyword Planner.
Over the years, this might be the mistake I see most often repeated. The competition column in the Google Keyword Planner has nothing to do with the level of competition in organic search. The Keyword Planner is a tool for Google Ads, not SEO.
It is telling you the level of competition among Google advertisers.
If you ever see a third-party tool with a “Competition” column and it ranks them as Low, Medium, or High, they are most likely pulling this data from Google. Same thing applies.
If anything, and I would still be careful about this, that data can be used to gauge buyer intent. The thinking being that if advertisers are willing to pay for ads, then that probably means they are making money off their ads. In other words, people doing that search are looking to buy something.
Mistake 4: Not checking the plural or non-plural version of a keyword.
Sometimes, when you change a search term to its plural version, the search intent changes in Google’s eyes and so do the results. Based on this you might want to create different content on another page to target the plural version or you may want to not target it at all.
For example, when I search ‘insurance agent’ I do get the local search box, but in the organic searches I get things like job listings, job descriptions, how to become one, and some local search results mixed in.
When I search for ‘insurance agents’, I see nothing but local results on page one.
If you just glanced at the search terms, they may seem closely related, but based on what Google is showing I would not create the same content to target both of those searches.
This is an easy one, but one I get asked about a lot.
How many links should you build per day?
There is only one correct answer.
As many good links as you can possibly get each day. Period.
There are no exceptions. No buts. I don't care if the site is brand new or 20 years old.
Google does not care about link velocity.
Notice that I said good links.
If you are using spam like blog comments, profile links, social bookmarks, etc., then yes link velocity matters because the faster you build them the faster you are likely to tip over the Penguin threshold. On the other hand, if you go slow, you will likely never rank anyhow.
On top of the fact that Google doesn't care how many links you build per day, they also are not going to find all of your links at once anyhow. Some they might find the same day they go live. Others it might take them 3-4 weeks to discover. You can't control when links will be discovered, so trying to stick to some arbitrary number per day is silly anyhow.
A few people have approached me over the past 1-2 years about starting a private group on Facebook. I'm in enough groups on Facebook, and frankly I don't love their discussions or the flow of the conversations. I don't like that conversations cannot be grouped by topics. However, I know that not everyone loves forum formats either.
So as a compromise, I created a Slack group. I know a lot of people are using Slack or something similar daily, so figured it would be easy to use. If you have never used Slack, it's free and easy to use. I'm in a few private Slack groups on different topics and for the most part they are great.
This one right now is open to discussions about SEO, local SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, branding, and tools. This one may expand in the future or if there is interest branch off into other Slack groups on other topics.
The goal of the group is to be kind of a mastermind group for people to share ideas, insights, and get help from one another. It's not necessarily going to be the ideal place for people new to digital marketing. That doesn't mean they won't be welcomed, but it's more ideal for people who want to have some higher level discussions and get away from the "How to increase my DA?" type of questions.
If you are interested in checking it out, you can drop your email address here: https://clickedmarketing.com/join