Amanda Farley, Author at Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Thu, 03 Mar 2022 20:44:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Welcome to the Golden Age of competitive research /welcome-to-the-golden-age-of-competitive-research-316842 Tue, 14 May 2019 12:00:24 +0000 /?p=316842 One of the largest opportunities we have as PPC marketers is to seize the moment when competitors have stopped paying attention.

The post Welcome to the Golden Age of competitive research appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Robert Brady, founder of Righteous Marketing, presented at HeroConf this year on what he’s calling the the Golden Age of competitive research.

The competitive research discussion focused on four main things:

— The process of using Google Scripts to pull Auction Insights

— How to tap into the Bing competitive lab

— How to monitor and leverage competitor Facebook ads

— And, how to tap into your competitors’ funnels

Regarding Google scripts, we should focus on trends instead of exact numbers, see some detail on Google Scripts here.

Are your competitors paying attention?

By reviewing trends you can note not only when new competitors come into the space (whether temporarily or for the long haul) as well as which of your competitors are essentially asleep at the wheel. One of the largest opportunities we have as PPC marketers is to seize the moment when competitors have just stopped paying attention. If you notice sudden changes, you can analyze what the potential reasoning is behind the change and capitalize on it. Monitoring things like average position and top of page rate can be a great way to identify this.

Microsoft Advertising competition tab (basically auction insights)

A few things to take note of here. On competitive action items, are your competitors behaving differently here? Are they less active? This can make it much easier to exploit and deploy conquest campaigns. Who are the new competitors in the space? If they have smaller budgets or are generic, it will be easy to “flex the muscle,” after they’ve exhausted their daily budget, according to Brady.

Facebook Ad Snooping

Did you know you can see all of your competitor ads that are running right now?

You can see not only what they’re running, but you can start to find out how targeting is happening by reviewing the “why am I seeing this ad” option. Types of information you can see include behaviors, and also clicking on other ads or liking pages.

The Facebook ads library

The completely searchable library for anything that is potentially relatable to our campaign. This data can include spend by advertiser, and detailed data about the ads that are running, including where the ad is being shown and allocation of spend by ad.

The new Facebook transparency gives us a lot of powerful information for:

  • Competitive budget comparisons
  • Messaging reach efficiency
  • Guidance for keyword A/B testing

Also, by clicking on “See Details,” we can see if a competitive ad campaign is:

  • Active or inactive
  • Approved or disapproved
  • Number (range) of impressions received
  • Amount spent
  • Demographic information
  • Locations where the ad was viewed

Some additional action items:

  • If  you like their targeting, you can add to your campaigns, or you can exclude the ones you don’t
  • Creative review – try opposing colors and themes to stand out

Getting into the competitive funnel: The catfishing of competitive research

Become your competition’s ideal customer (and yours right!). Here’s how you can go incognito…

  • Always use a VPN with incognito mode of Chrome; set to impersonate a user in Dallas, TX (or wherever you need it to be)
  • Create new Google accounts; use age & gender as selected for personas; leave all data collection settings in default configuration (be the customer)
  • Visit “clean” sites (,,, to check on what ads we’re seeing
  • Check “clean” sites to see how ads change
  • Check to see how Google is bucketing the persona
  • Fill out your competitors contact forms, download their white papers… see what happens next :)

With the vast amount of information available through smart data mining, there is just no excuse for employing a strategy that does not thoroughly exploit competitor intelligence. It’s there for the taking. You just have to know where to look and what to do with it when you find it!

The post Welcome to the Golden Age of competitive research appeared first on Search Engine Land.

image2 image3 image1 image4
Maximize Facebook performance by leveraging the algorithm /maximize-facebook-performance-by-leveraging-the-algorithm-312830 Tue, 26 Feb 2019 13:00:54 +0000 /?p=312830 A successful Facebook campaign structure is based on objective, budget and target audience, which was explained in detail by Michelle Morgan during her SMX West session.

The post Maximize Facebook performance by leveraging the algorithm appeared first on Search Engine Land.

In this SMX session recap, Michelle Morgan of Clix Marketing covers Facebook ad tactics, along with tips for driving results with other Facebook ad formats.

This session definitely packed a punch.

Finding the right amount of volumes in the Facebook algorithm is similar to a space shuttle landing. You don’t want to overshoot it, but you don’t want to crash and burn by undershooting it either. You want to enter just right for landing success.

Before getting started you should note that traditional search structures do not work inside of Facebook. They are either too broad or too restricted. For success, you should follow structure based on these three components.

Three main components to Facebook campaign structure:

  • Campaign Objective
  • Budget
  • Target Audience

Campaign objective

First and foremost, you’ll want to determine the campaign objective to optimize performance.

The Algorithm’s focus: The conversion action
The algorithm will optimize for the conversion action chosen during the campaign. You will then be able to leverage any goal you create, including standard and custom.

Choosing the conversion action that best fits your needs
Determine what is important for your account and campaigns so Facebook can help you optimize for it. You can choose from custom actions such as:

  • Subscription Levels
  • Donations
  • Order Value
  • Number of Items Purchased
  • Employee Accounts
  • Annual Revenue
  • Industry

Thinking outside of the capsule (because in Michelle’s world it’s not a box it’s a space capsule): You can track and optimize for anything that Google Tag Manager can fire!

B2B company example: Driving in larger accounts
The company’s website had a sign-up form that provided a drop-down for users to input the number of employees they expected to manage with the tool (i.e. the more employees, the more money the company makes). This was used to leverage custom event audiences detailed below.

Use Google Tag Manager to get specific

Customize the Facebook script

Creating custom conversions
In order to create a custom conversion, the example changed the Website Event to the conversion action and then changed the Rule to Event Parameters > value. The rules were then setup for different employee counts.

The conversions were ultimately setup by employee counts.

Balance volume and specificity: Ideal conversion volume
To optimize for conversions you will need volume. One conversion a week will not cut it. Facebook recommends about 50 conversions. This may seem like a lot, but choose the action with the most volume and as specific as you can get.

Budgets: Find the happy medium

When it comes to budgets you want to consider not segmenting your budget too much. Here’s an example of an audience-segmented campaign that, from a high level looks great with a daily budget of $82.25 per day, unfortunately, it was segmented so much that each ad set only had $6.25 attributed per day.

Which ultimately lead to a terrible CPA… $527 when the goal was $150.

The Fix:

  • Condensed audience groups
  • Kept the same audience conversion action
  • Total daily budget actually decreased from $82.25 per day to $50 per day

The Results:

  • CPA dropped from $527.64 to $114.75

Lifetime budgets vs. daily budgets
If you are using a lifetime budget, the budget will be balanced out for the duration of the campaign. Facebook will optimize spend (increase/decrease) based on conversion action performance. If you are using daily budgets, the spend will be consistent each day. However, Facebook will work to spend the entire budget regardless of the conversion performance.

Lifetime budget: This can be perfect if you know your total campaign budget. It also is best for fluctuating conversion performance. You will want to ensure you are using ad scheduling and your conversion tracking is in place and functioning. *Not ideal for campaigns with changing date ranges or budget fluctuations. Every time you make a change, the algorithm has to re-evaluate.

Daily budget: Responds better to change than lifetime budget and there’s no need to use ad scheduling. While these will be the most consistent in regards to ad spend, budget may fluctuate during the run. This also can be used to share spend across sets without using the lifetime budget. *Great for evergreen campaigns or undetermined campaign end dates.

Budget optimization for daily budget

Take budget from the ad set to the campaign level. Facebook will optimize for the ad set that is performing best.

Budget optimization: Change in budget can mess with algorithm

Budget trend line: The top line is conversions, the bottom line is daily spend. As the budget scaled up, Facebook was also scaling up with conversions. Campaigns were then pulled back based on budget restrictions which resulted in a small dip. The campaign was left alone after the decrease and it still ultimately gained increased conversions. Then the campaigns were pulled back drastically due to budget restrictions and the results tanked.

Facebook budget best practices

  • Set your ad set daily budget at 5-10x target CPA
  • Ideally, you should shoot for 50 conversions per ad set per week
  • Do not alter daily budget by more than 20 percent unless absolutely necessary
  • Pausing campaigns or ad sets can hurt performance progress

Target audience: Start with low hanging fruit

Think of the Audience as Mission Supplies: The Longer Your Mission, the More You’ll Need

For longer run campaigns, you’ll want to test to extend reach without oversaturating your market.

Understanding scale in audience building
When we narrow our audience we make it tougher for Facebook. You can keep track using the sidebar “mission control” as you build out your audiences.

What if reach becomes unavailable?
It may be hidden for privacy reasons. You’ll want to test removing certain portions of an audience targeting, likely customer lists until it comes back into scale. When you’re ready for launch you can add other targeting back in.

Long term success in audience targeting
Start with the lowest hanging fruit and then expand out to find additional reach. If the audience is limited, those users will see the same ads again. To help guard against this, enable Interest Expansion.

Lookalike audiences: Lean in based on your root list

  • Engagement Audiences
  • Website Audiences
  • Page Audiences
  • Custom Audience Uploads

When using lookalike audiences it is important that you are starting with good root list data.

If you put good data in, essentially you’ll get good data out

If you put in a good patterned list where people behave similarly, you’ll get a good lookalike audience back. If you put a list of just anyone who shows up, you have no idea what’s going to come out the other side.

Finding meaningful segmentation
Don’t just target anyone who comes to your website, unless you have relatively low traffic. Use some of these root examples:

  • Thank You Page Visits
  • Pricing Page Visits
  • Video Viewers
  • Company Size
  • Returning vsbefore One Time
  • Service Used
  • Product Category
  • Job Title
  • Industry
  • Geography
  • Sale vs Regular Price

These type of roots will provide a good audience model back. However, you’ll want to find the happy medium when building. You’ll want to ensure it’s not too narrow or broad when determining what these should be.

So how many users in a root list? Facebook’s official answer is 10,000 to 50,000 users in a root audience list. However, 500 should be at the low end. If you are under that number you can still upload the list to see what happens. However, if you are in the high end of 50,000, you should see how you can segment the list better.

Houston we have a problem: 3 most common issues with campaigns

Low conversions: If your campaign experiences low conversions, you should revisit the conversion action you’ve chosen to optimize for. You may need to determine if there is something with higher volumes you can use.

Small budgets: Look to condense small budget ad sets where possible. You also should revisit the budget modeling you are using. Does another model make more sense to use?

Small target audience: Lower budget for this group so you don’t oversaturate. You can create lookalike audiences from converters to have a larger, constantly refreshed audience to target.
When things are going well: Ad testing
There are some challenges when testing ads on Facebook. You always end up with one ad with a ton of impressions and the rest with not nearly as many, and then it doesn’t really correlate with the cost per result. This is due to Facebook only caring about relevancy score.

Challenge: Cost per result

Actual focus: Relevance score
To impact your ad testing you have to understand how Facebook rates the relevance score.

Relevance scores are based on how well your ad is performing as well as its positive feedback and negative feedback. However, it’s completely estimated based on only 500 impressions. Here’s an example of what it might look like (this is only to provide an idea: NOT SCIENTIFIC):

How to avoid negative feedback: Don’t oversaturate people so they hide your ad.

How to leverage positive feedback: You can use top-performing, existing posts in your ads by using the post ID or you can set up an engagement campaign, let it run for a few days and use those top performing post IDs.

Getting your top post IDs:

‘They’re not just going to find a bunch of losers on Instagram’ – On placements

The audience and quality set is the same across placements. Choosing placement prior to understanding performance can limit results.

Before deciding, make sure you understand the placement options and that they differ by device. The best test for knowing if you should run the placements is asking yourself “would my ads look good here?” If the answer is no (looking at the preview), remove the placement from the list, or you also may decide to create new media for those placements.

Concluding SMX insights:

  • Leverage the algorithm in every way
  • Focus on the goals you really want
  • Keep budgets and target audiences to scale within duration of the campaign
  • Ad testing takes a lot of work
  • Change your perspective on placements

The post Maximize Facebook performance by leveraging the algorithm appeared first on Search Engine Land.

image5 image11 image13 image7 image23 image22 image20 image10 image14 image1 image4 image2 image16 image17 image19 image18 image21 image9 image3 image8 image12 image6 image15
Advanced YouTube tactics: Create custom audiences to pursue, and watch that fine print /advanced-youtube-tactics-create-custom-audiences-to-pursue-and-watch-that-fine-print-312559 Wed, 20 Feb 2019 13:00:13 +0000 /?p=312559 In this SMX West session, Joe Martinez shared YouTube ad tactics and advice about targeting: Be leery of default settings and avoid copy and paste campaigns.

The post Advanced YouTube tactics: Create custom audiences to pursue, and watch that fine print appeared first on Search Engine Land.

YouTube offers unprecedented reach and sophisticated targeting options for advertisers. In this session, SMX West expert speakers shared successful YouTube video ad tactics, along with tips for driving results with other ad formats. Joe Martinez from Clix Marketing covered YouTube development and targeting, new options, measurement and reporting.

The first thing you need to know about YouTube success is that you have to have realistic expectations. If you are someone who thinks YouTube doesn’t work, you’ll need to ask these three questions:

  1. How am I targeting?
  2. Who’s actually seeing my ads?
  3. How am I encouraging users to take action?

You have to understand who you are targeting and encourage those audiences to take action. Using basic keyword and topic targeting first does not necessarily lead to success. According to Joe, if you still think your targeting is OK, you’re probably not paying attention to the fine print. You need to be leery of default settings and avoid copy and paste campaigns.

YouTube targeting best practices

Unless you have an unlimited budget here are some best practices to start.

  1. Never start with the broad stuff like basic keyword and topic targeting
  2. Use custom intent audiences first
  3. Pay attention to the fine print
  4. Encourage audiences to take action

How to make the best YouTube targeting options even better

Start with custom intent audiences. Custom intent audiences can help you reach new customers on YouTube based on the terms your audiences use to search for your products or services on Here are a few ways that you can start with custom intent audiences in your campaigns:

  1. Start with converting search queries – Then try converting keyword. (Yes, they are two different targets)
  2. Localized terms – These may not apply for every account but these are great for local shops, but make sure your video content matches.
  3. Top selling products in Google Analytics
  4. Site search queries – When people are on your website what are they looking for? This can be a great target base.

Your creative should match the intent

Video campaign structure example for custom intent audiences

Set your campaigns so you can optimize bids based on custom intent audience.

Video placements can still work: However, you must really understand how they work

A lot of change has happened for the past year. You have to make sure you are paying attention or you can waste money here. A common misconception is that video ads from Google can only be shown on YouTube. When in fact, these can and are shown on the Display Network. When planning for your campaigns you can search for specific Display Network Placements; however, remember results will show all Display Network placements (not just URLs with only video ad space). Keep in mind if we create too small a target, Google will just start showing us for broader items under keywords and topics.

YouTube placement is not always exact:

When you have to read verbatim what Google says on YouTube and Display Network placements:

In a nutshell what this means: Google will essentially still run wherever it seems fit.

What to do now that Google killed Display Network Planner

Here’s the not ideal way to find display placements: Review current placement performance from other YouTube campaigns in Google Ads.

Review where your ads are actually shown so you’re not wasting your money

The group stealing your ad budget: Children

Joe makes a point to bring up where we are all wasting our money. This is very common. People give their phones and tablets to their kids. Be proactive! Exclude these on the account list!

Keep an eye on devices

TV screens may not drive a lot of traffic now, but we should monitor the performance.

With TV launching as a device on YouTube in October it is especially important to keep on eye on our device performance. However, even though you can segment by device in the campaigns view of the devices report, it will not give us all of the good column for video campaigns.

And, even though you can review the TV screen data in YouTube and get better data, we still can’t do bid adjustments here. Another option is to use YouTube Studio to provide additional insights on all videos:

This will show both paid and organic video campaigns.

Encouraging audiences to take action: TruView for Shopping Ads

Your Ads will now appear alongside the video ad and stay up even after the video is skipped or completed. These campaigns are perfect for helping drive ecommerce revenue.

Having proper goal expectations

Product and brand consideration: This goal recommends settings and features designed to get more people to consider buying your products and services. This can be used to influence potential customers when they are researching, engage with people who have been interested in your brand, and encourage people to consider your brand in the future.

Choosing products:

  • Select up to 10 products maximum
  • Only six cards will show at a time
  • Out-of-stock products will show, but only after feed is updated

Currently custom filters only pull from Merchant Center feed labels. See example below:

Choosing labels that matter: Review your current labels and ask “do these align with my business goals?”

Structuring your campaigns for custom filters: Here’s an example of how the campaign structure should look when using custom filters.

Unfortunately, when you are getting ready to build these campaign types, quick creation or editing through AdWords Editor is not available.

New call to action extensions

CTA extension appears while the TrueView In-Stream ad is playing, the extension also stays visible after the ad is completed or skipped. These are especially important to take note of due to the fact that Call to Action Overlays went away in January 2019. In order to use the new extension option, you will need to ensure your YouTube campaigns have the Leads campaign goal. Unfortunately, there is no way around this.

Campaign goals

Another change is that once you choose your campaign goal, it cannot be changed.


You can now use both CPA and Max Conversion bidding on these campaigns.

Measuring the value

When looking at the value, you can’t just look at direct conversions and revenue, as they are the icing on the cake and don’t show the entire picture. When looking at YouTube we also should be considering View and Earned metrics.

Creating audiences from video views

You can pull audience lists from the engaged audiences who view your videos. This can either be by viewing any video (as an ad) from a channel, or when certain videos as ads are viewed.

Add “Observation” audience to all search campaigns:

See how your YouTube ads impacted search

In order for RLSA to work you’ll need at least 1,000 users every 30 days.

In conclusion, here are the SMX insights:

  • The basic targeting options in YouTube are just okay. Create your own custom audiences to pursue.
  • Make sure you know exactly where your YouTube ads are being shown.
  • After your targeting is set, drive action by encouraging users to visit your site.
  • Monitor the performance of your YouTube ads beyond direct conversions.

The post Advanced YouTube tactics: Create custom audiences to pursue, and watch that fine print appeared first on Search Engine Land.

image9 image10 image2 image7 image6 image15 image11 image1 image8 image5 image4 image12 image16 image18 image17 image3 image14 image13
Update your match types and account structure to improve performance, here’s how /update-your-match-types-and-account-structure-to-improve-performance-heres-how-312110 Thu, 14 Feb 2019 19:43:17 +0000 /?p=312110 The relationship between search terms matter and so does your choice between the funnel and category structures. Ted Ives and Adam Seybold explain their management approaches during SMX West.

The post Update your match types and account structure to improve performance, here’s how appeared first on Search Engine Land.

The building of a perfect campaign structure to silo inbound SEM traffic by match-type to meet your ROAS goals requires some new strategies after updates with Google Ads and Bing Ads. Ted Ives and Adam Seybold offered insights into how to handle these issues during their SMX West session.

Adam Seybold opened the session with an examination into the relevancy and context in search. His account structure strategy for success includes:

  • Contextually relevant search advertising
  • Minimizing disconnect between user search and advertising content
  • Leveraging growth with hyper-focused bidding strategies

Context: To drive results we need to have the correct relevancy to the content that we’re serving to an individual. Audience context matters just as much as search-term context. He shared a location-relevant search example that walked through the difference between searching to book a hotel room when you’re planning on traveling to a city, if you live in the city, versus if you are already in the city.

Living in San Jose: Search for info on hotels

Planning Travel to San Jose: Researching

Travel to San Jose: In need hotel in the city

The summation is that a user’s location in their own purchase journey impacts campaign performance. It can show how close they are to making the decision and you can optimize your bids and campaigns on that.

Minimizing disconnect: He walked through an example search result for someone searching for a navy blue t-shirt and maroon shirts showed up in the result. The way to resolve this is to organize your account not just by groups but by intent.

What not to do: Using a category example, we don’t want to see chocolate cake if we are looking for ice cream.

Single keyword Ad Group not optimal structure example:

All of these variations shouldn’t necessarily be in one group, but instead, be goal-oriented.

Better structured Ad Group example:

Adam spoke about the iceberg effect when it comes to search term density. The relationship between search terms matter, the closer the terms are related, and the smaller the list, the better results.

Focused growth:

To structure for success you have to have a more blended model.

Create a separate Ad Group for the broader terms when you are focused on volume or exploring new variations and add the exact match as a negative. This keeps the high performing exact match in a separate Ad Group.

Recommendation: Review any branded campaign builds.

The intent of the brand search varies, and structuring your account accordingly can improve ROI.

Next, Ted Ives from SEM Copilot discussed the philosophies behind organizing your campaign structure. Some of the reasons we’ve used match types in the past don’t work in the new landscape.

The first thing you need to know about optimizing keywords and match types is having the right keywords to begin with. Comprehensive research is key, but also allowing for broad modifiers to help pull in other relevant keywords is impactful.

Ted’s tips for keyword research:

  • Take 8-10 bigrams
  • Visit top ranking pages
  • Identify other high-frequency terms using keyword density tools
  • Combine all unigrams found backward and forward
  • Use Google Suggest to find complete queries from these
  • Combine most important bigrams with commercial terms
  • Run original set through the AdWords Keyword Planner
  • Then when you’re all done, use the Keyword Planner to get volumes

Some of Ted’s philosophies:

  • Quality score: If you’re going for volume, you’re bound to have some lower quality scores. But you should definitely pause or address your 1s and 2s.
  • Match types: Use them all, except for broad

The new world of match types

  • Use them all (except for broad)
  • Reload keywords back into the system as exact match
  • Bid exact match higher but it’s fine to keep them in the same groups as others
  • Isolate your exact keywords that are top performing and converting.

In the new account structure world you have two options: The funnel approach or the category approach

B2C funnel organization example:

B2B funnel organization example:

If you can’t organize by funnel because of company or client reporting needs, you can still organize by service or category.


  • Consider the funnel approach to research and organize keywords
  • Break out high-volume queries with exact match Ad Groups
  • Consider whether it’s wiser to use category approach to “talk the lingo” of others

In conclusion, according to Ted, if you have an account that’s 12 years old you should just rebuild it because that is older than his car.

The post Update your match types and account structure to improve performance, here’s how appeared first on Search Engine Land.

image7 image6e image9 image4e image3 image11 image10 image1e image2 image8 image5