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Understanding Google’s New Emphasis On “Helpful Content” Related To SEO

As we’ve shared on social media and with our SEO company’s clients, Google announced in September 2022 a key revision to their search algorithm (the algorithm they use to decide which websites to serve up, and in which order, for search terms entered in their search engine) to which each and every website owner should pay close attention. And, that is that they, as the #1 search engine used by individuals (92% or more of individuals use Google as their primary search engine), will be paying greater consideration to whether or not a website’s content is “helpful” or “unhelpful” when making search engine results listing ranking decisions. As you would expect, sites with “helpful content” are more likely to be served up and rank well in search results for relevant terms.

Impact of Google’s September 2022 “Helpful Content” Algorithm Change

We know first-hand how much of a shift in ranking can take place when Google views your site as one that shares “helpful content.” Our site now rank approx. 50 spots higher in Google search results for a high-volume, relevant keyword and that shift happened almost overnight. We believe that the positive shift was due to Google recognizing that our Boston digital marketing agency consistently publishes blog posts that are easily understood by a “lay person,” but also provide enough instruction to implement some of the marketing tactics we describe and recommend in our posts.

Shared below in Google’s “own words” is information from Google’s Search Central blog about how to ensure your website content is “helpful.” We’ve highlighted (via bold italics) what we consider to be the most critical policies to apply when making decisions about what topics to write about — and how to write about them — to make sure your content is beneficial to the various audiences who visit your site. All of their recommendations should improve your website’s “bounce rate,” i.e., the percentage of people who land/start on your site without interacting it in any way, such as clicking on a link or call-out, or visiting another page of your site. When prospective clients or clients are bouncing too quickly from your site, it’s an opportunity for a competitor to win them over on their site, right?

Unhelpful Website Content And How It Impacts SEO

The flip side of the positive practice of regular production and posting of “helpful content” is to eliminate content that Google may deem as “unhelpful (which could negatively impact how your website ranks for “desirable” search terms).” Such “unhelpful” content includes:

  • Short content that is “stuffed” with keywords and was primarily loaded to your site to support your site being found on Google for those keywords.
  • Content that is outdated — think events that have already passed or information that is no longer relevant or accurate, particularly pre-pandemic information since the pandemic greatly changed both business and consumer behavior.
  • Content that is all “about you,”, i.e., too focused on selling your products and singing your praises or sharing your differentiators without explaining how your prospective clients or clients would benefit from your products, services, and solutions, i.e., explaining what pain points of clients they would address.

Our team is here to help you interpret this most recent Google algorithm change, and put the right steps in place to make sure you respond to, and take advantage of, this recent Google algorithm change appropriately, promptly, and effectively. It’s very much in keeping with what we shared years ago in one of our very first SEO blog posts about making sure your website is “authentic.” So, please reach out if we can help you effectively navigation this change in algorithm — one we think makes is warranted, was a long-time-in-coming, and will provide for a far better user experience on all websites.

Google’s Explanation Of What “Helpful Content” Is

Source of information below: https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2022/08/helpful-content-update#:~:text=The%20helpful%20content%20update%20aims,successful%20with%20our%20new%20update%3F

Focus on people-first content

The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.

How can you ensure you’re creating content that will be successful with our new update? By following our long-standing advice and guidelines to create content for people, not for search engines. People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value. Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
  • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?

Avoid creating content for search engines first

Our advice about having a people-first approach does not invalidate following SEO best practices, such as those covered in Google’s own SEO guide. SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content. However, content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying.

How do you avoid taking a search engine-first approach? Answering yes to some or all of the questions is a warning sign that you should reevaluate how you’re creating content across your site:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
  • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?

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Is Your Website Holidays-SEO-Ready?

Where did 2022 go? It’s hard to believe it’s late October, and that means that consumers are already starting their holiday shopping. Regardless of whether your target audiences are shopping for Christmas, Hanukkah, or some other holiday celebrated towards the end of the calendar year, it would be a huge marketing mistake to not capitalize on the year-end uptick in online shopping by making sure your website ranks as well as possible for terms related to it.

While the focus of this post is related to retail, e-commerce, and B2C organizations offering physical products, as you read thru it, you’ll see there are applications for organizations trying to sell services, tickets to events, or even looking for someone to make a donation to their non-profit organization as a gift to someone else.

SEO Tactics For The Holidays

Below are both easy, and more time-consuming/complex SEO tasks your organization should complete by early November to support having a successful holiday sales season.

  • Conduct keyword research to determine the search phrases your target audiences are using most related to holiday shopping or holiday gift giving. If you don’t have access to a keyword planning/research tool, reach out and we will share holiday-shopping-related keyword research with you that we already conducted for FREE (a more extensive list than what we share further on in our post.) That’s our holiday gift to you!
  • Incorporate high-volume keywords (search terms) that are relevant to your target audience in:
    • the public-facing content found on a holiday-related landing page (if you plan to have specials/sales/discounts or want to promote certain items that make great holiday gifts) and/or incorporate such terms on existing product-specific pages.
    • website product and landing page headers (H1 and H2), as appropriate.
    • page title tags, particularly if you have a distinct landing page or several such pages for holiday shopping and specials.
  • Use structured data to support your products appearing at the top of Google search results when someone searches on a very specific product need like “yellow pocketbook.” As a result of the aforementioned fall 2022 algorithm change, use of Google “Shopping ads,” a Google Merchant Center Account and/or Google Surfaces is no longer mandatory to have your products shown to individuals who are shopping. This article details Google’s reason for making the change and where your product information may appear when you properly use “structured data.”

The above task/tactic may be a more complicated and difficult one for your organization and may require your website developer’s help. You can learn more about structured data (also known as “schema markup”) via these resources:

Google Search Podcast

Crowdcontent.com

How To Incorporate High-volume Holiday-Shopping Keywords In Your Website Content

Recent holiday-shopping keyword research we conducted indicated the following as being among some of the highest-volume search terms used related to holiday shopping or gift shopping, in general (the number shown represents the average # of monthly searches in Google for that term):

  • gifts for men – 301,000
  • gifts for mom – 201,000
  • gifts for dad – 135,000
  • gifts for women – 135,000
  • Christmas gifts for mom – 90500
  • Gifting ideas for men – 90500
  • mens gifts ideas – 90500
  • gift ideas for women – 90500
  • mom Christmas gifts – 90500
  • women’s gifts ideas – 90500
  • women’s gifts for men – 74000
  • Christmas gifts for men – 74000
  • Gifts for mens Christmas – 74000
  • Christmas gifts for dad – 49500
  • Gifts for girlfriends – 49500
  • Christmas gifts for boyfriend – 40500
  • Christmas gifts for womens – 40500
  • Gifts for womens Christmas – 40500
  • Gifts for wife Christmas – 33100
  • Best Men gifts – 33100
  • Gift ideas for mom – 33100
  • Husbands gifts – 33100
  • Unique gifts – 33100
  • Best Christmas gifts 2021 (note you can use this phrase but change to 2022) – 33100
  • Gift for Christmas for wife – 33100
  • Unique gifts for men — 27100
  • Christmas gift idea for her — 27100
  • Christmas gifts for a girlfriend — 27100
  • Christmas gift ideas for her — 27100
  • Best gifts for men 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
  • Best gifts for women 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
  • Christmas Gifts 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
  • Christmas gf gifts (change to 2022) (reminder people use acronyms like bff, bf in searches) — 27100
  • Gift ideas for boyfriend – 22200
  • Gift ideas for dad – 22200
  • Best gifts for mom – 22200
  • Top gifts for guys – 22200
  • Best gifts for moms – 22200
  • Secret santa gift ideas – 22200
  • Fun gift – 22200
  • Ideas gift boyfriend – 22200
  • Christmas gift teenagers – 22200
  • Gifts for husbands Christmas — 18000
  • Best gifts for dad — 18000
  • Best gifts for dads — 18000
  • Gift ideas for girlfriend — 18000
  • Unique gifts for women — 18000
  • Christmas gift ideas for mom — 14800
  • Ideas for mens stocking stuffers — 14800
  • Good gifts for mom—14800
  • Gift ideas for wife — 14800
  • Christmas gift ideas for moms — 14800
  • Unique Christmas gifts — 14800
  • Secret santa gifts — 14800
  • Mom’s Christmas gift ideas — 14800
  • Christmas gifts to her — 14800
  • Christmas gift ideas for him — 12100
  • Cool guys gifts — 12100
  • Cool gifts for guys — 12100
  • Presents for mom — 12100
  • Gifts for mother — 12100
  • Women best gift — 12100
  • Best gifts for women — 12100
  • Gadgets for men — 12100
  • Cool Christmas gift — 12100
  • Christmas fun gift — 12100
  • Christmas gift ideas 2021 (change to 2022) — 12100
  • Best gift 2021 (change to 2022) — 12100
  • Gift ideas him Christmas — 12100

As mentioned above, we are glad to provide a much more extensive list of holiday shopping terms and their associated average monthly searches in Google. You can e-mail us at gail.moraski@allintheresults.com to have the list sent to you. As we share all the time with our new SEO clients and attendees of our SEO classes, and as we did in this previous blog post, keyword research can also help you identify new products, services or solutions you should offer.

As alluded to above, be sure to use the term 2022 once or several times related to holiday shopping, and also be sure to include terms for non-Christmas holidays that are celebrated in December. Plus, think about what acronyms or abbreviations someone might use related to a loved, such as “bff” for “best friends forever.”

Before you begin incorporating high-volume keywords in your content, think about whom would most likely be the recipient of a gift of your product, services, event or class tickets, or a donation, and use terms that the searcher of your product or service might use. Let’s say you offer hand-made jewelry for women, you’d want your site to rank well for terms above like “Christmas gifts to her”  and “Christmas gifts for mom” and should incorporate such or similar terms in your website content. 

We’re Here To Help You Rank Well For Holiday Shopping Search Terms

Got questions or need our help. Reach out today as holiday shopping has already begun!

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Why Combining Keyword Research With An SEO Audit Is A Recipe For SEO Success

Anyone who knows me well, knows I love watching cooking shows on Food Network, particularly ones where competitors have to combine ingredients that are given to them to make a dish that is appealing to both the tongues and the eyes of the particular show’s judges. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I’m watched pretty much every episode of “Beat Bobby Flay,” and countless episodes of “Chopped.”

So, what does food have to do with me, my company, and search engine optimization (SEO)? While my digital marketing agency isn’t just an SEO company, we’ve definitely gotten to be known, particularly in the last five years, for helping organizations (both for-profit and non-profit) in the Greater Boston area and beyond be found better and rank better on Google. Due to more than 10 years of being responsible for how websites rank in Google and other search engines, I’ve learned thru hands-on experience what combination of ingredients, i.e., what SEO tactics/activities, make for a winning SEO recipe!

Keyword Research: Your First and Most Important SEO Ingredient

I’ve given to, or shared with, Massachusetts chambers of commerce and SCORE chapters, as well as existing and prospective clients, a number of SEO presentations about the importance of keyword research. I’ve also written blog posts about it, and have a Word doc I’d be glad to share with you if you reach out to me to ask for it (hey, we don’t want to give out all the secret ingredients in our special SEO sauce too easily!) As we’ve shared in all the aforementioned documents and activities, keyword research ALWAYS needs to be a first step or ingredient in implementing an effective SEO strategy and recipe.

Even if you believe you already know what search terms (known as keywords) your various target audiences are entering into Google’s search engine to identify an organization or individual that offers the products, services, or solutions to problems you do, you should still make the time to confirm your intuitions about target audience’s search behaviors are accurate for these two key reasons:

  • you may be ranking well or trying to rank well for terms that target audiences are truly searching on, but are you missing out on terms that audiences are searching even more frequently on (high-volume search terms), and therefore, missing out on being found for desirable, relevant search terms because you don’t include those in your website content, page headers, meta tags, or other SEO real estate?
  • while you believed prior to keyword research completion that individuals were actively/regularly searching to identify an organization that offers the products, services, and solutions you do, your keyword research ends up indicating that the number of people entering relevant terms into Google is very low or negligible. The aforementioned scenario means all the SEO tactics in the world aren’t going to solve an immediate challenge of wanting and needing to generate more sales and leads for your organization since a “push” vs. “pull” strategy is warranted. You’re not going to drive a lot of “organic search” (search engine) traffic to your site, so traffic to your site will need to come from clicks on social media posts, display ads, links/banner ads on other external sites, e-blasts, and other marketing activities that put the idea of your products, services, and solutions in the minds of relevant target audiences who aren’t actively searching to find you.

Keyword research allows you to take a preliminary set of keywords/search terms you believe your audiences are searching on, and generate a much larger list of relevant search terms and the average # of times a month someone is entering that particular term into Google, for a particular geography. By reviewing this research, organizations can identify the keywords for which they most want to be found, and then make sure, as explained above, that those terms are included in SEO tactics/activities such as meta tags and public-facing website content and headers.

SEO Audit: An Ingredient That Adds Depth To Your SEO Recipe and Strategy

My Greater Boston SEO company employs a paid vs. free SEO audit tool to accurately determine for which of the keywords/search terms our clients most want to rank in a particular geography (identified thru the keyword research process above) they already rank well. We used to conduct SEO site audits for clients manually, but as our client list grew and the number of terms for which clients wanted to rank grew, we knew we needed to, and did invest in, a more cost- and time-efficient way to conduct SEO audits.

I consider an organization to rank particularly well for a particular keyword in Google if a listing with a link to its website or its Google My Business Profile/Google Search & Maps listing appears in the first 10 – 12 listings (for a particular geography) that Google serves up for the high-volume keyword in-question, i.e., appears on the first page of Google search results. I consider an organization to rank well, versus particularly well, if a listing with a link to its website or Google My Business Profile/Google Search and Maps appears within the first 25 listings Google serves up for desirable search terms, i.e., on the first two pages of Google Search results.

Identifying the intersection of relevant high-volume search terms and ranking on Google on pages BEYOND the first two (in positions 26 or higher in Google, and depending on the nature of an organization’s products and services, it may be critical to rank in position 1 – 12 in search results) allows us to know where there are areas for SEO improvement — therefore, areas where our client could be experiencing sweeter SEO success and for what terms we need to apply our secret SEO sauce to support ranking better in the future for those important keywords. The aforementioned secret sauce includes, but is not limited to, applying tactics such as employing the high-volume keywords in meta tags, page headers, and page content.

Why You’ll Want and Need To Repeat Your SEO Audit

Once you’ve set up your initial SEO audit, you’ll want to repeat it monthly to see if and how your organization ranks for the high-volume keywords regarding which you’re applying a lot of your SEO energy. Repeating this SEO audit will allow you to continue to tweak your SEO strategy and where you spend your SEO time, so that you continue to rank better and better for the keywords that are most important to the success of your organization and to your target audiences. Read why SEO is not a one and done marketing activity.

Why You Need This Winning SEO Ingredient Combo

Why does combining keyword research with an SEO audit make for a winning SEO recipe? Why spend time trying to rank well in Google for relevant, high-volume terms you’re already ranking well for? Sure, SEO is not a one and done marketing tactic and you should continue to employ appropriate-to-the-page-or-post-in-question content, headers, and page title tags that include those keywords for which you already rank well, but why not put the majority of your SEO energy into trying to rank well for high-volume search terms your organization currently isn’t ranking well for so you’re not missing out on important opportunities to reach your various target audiences?

Here’s an example from my own business. Two high-volume keywords I want my own site to rank well for are “digital marketing agency Boston” (average monthly search volume whole U.S. = 480/month), and “Boston SEO company” (average monthly search volume whole U.S. also = 480/month) since both of the aforementioned keywords have the highest average monthly search volumes among keywords/search terms that are relevant to the products, services, and solutions to problems we offer. Based on an audit we conducted today, we learned that we rank better for the term “digital marketing agency Boston” than we do for “Boston SEO company” — hey, Boston is fortunate to be a place that a very large number of SEO experts call home, so we are always competing with the best of the best SEO experts to rank for relevant terms. Anyhow, given the aforementioned audit information, while we’ll want to continue our efforts at ranking for “digital marketing agency Boston,” we’ll put extra effort into tactics to rank for “Boston SEO company (for the time being anyhow since rankings constantly change and shift depending on your marketplace and competition to be served up for certain keywords.)

Continuing with our food metaphor, we know this was a lot to “digest,” We’d be glad to walk you thru a recent case study we put together about the above winning combo, so please don’t hesitate to use our calendar app to schedule a time to chat https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.

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Our Favorite Marketing Blogs and E-Newsletters

Note: This post was updated on July 15, 2022 to also incorporate favorite marketing podcasts, and also on November 25, 2022 to incorporate key places to obtain information on the new G4 Google Analytics property type (vs. UA/Universal Google Analytics property type).

Anyone who provides digital marketing services, like our digital marketing agency, or has a role at a organization where they are responsible for the planning, execution, monitoring, and reporting on of digital marketing tactics, knows that the landscape keeps changing. New social media platforms get introduced. The interfaces or management tools you use to execute activities or monitor results change regularly. It can all have your head spinning.

To help you “keep calm and carry on,” we thought we’d share a list of some of the organizations whose websites we go to when we are in need of answers and help or whose e-newsletters we read to stay on top of all things digital marketing and e-commerce. Since Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are two of our Greater-Boston-Area digital marketing agency’s specialties — we love any digital marketing work that is technical or analytical — you’ll see a number of websites that focus on those topics below. Note: use the scroll bar underneath the table below to see right-most columns.

Cheerful, Pretty Woman Reading A Book Related To List Of Best Digital Marketing Blogs and E-newsletters

We hope the below makes your life as a digital marketer easier and welcome ideas for organizations we should add. We expect to continue to update this list as we discover more digital marketing experts to learn from. We’re all in this together as the digisphere continues to evolve! Note: use the scroll bar underneath the table below to see right-most columns.

Best Digital Marketing Blogs and E-newsletters

Publication/URLSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM/Google Ads)Social MediaE-mail MarketingOther
https://searchengineland.com/X
https://www.emarketer.com/XE-commerce, Retail
https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/X
https://www.searchenginewatch.com/X
https://iab.comBranding, Consumer Goods Research
https://thirddoormedia.com/
XIncludes A Variety of Brands That Address Marketing Technology and Conferences
https://www.hootsuite.com/X
https://www.marketingprofs.com/Marketing events and Training
https://corp.smartbrief.com/Industry Updates, Including: Small business, Food, Finance, Healthcare, Education
https://www.smarketingconnect.com/XXXMarketing & Sales Podcasts and Training, Opportunities To Meet and Collaborate With Other Marketing Professionals
https://npdigital.com/XXX
https://www.seoblog.com/
X
https://ahrefs.com/XContent Creation & Marketing
https://seo-hacker.com/X
Favorite Digital Marketing Blogs & E-newsletters

Since we shared the info. above, we’ve come across some other very helpful and informative sites, including the following:

Digital Marketing Podcasts:

https://www.linkedin.com/company/bwg-strategy-llc/

SEO Guide For Lawyers:

G4 Analytics Info. Straight From Google:

Google Analytics Official Blog

https://blog.google/products/marketingplatform/analytics/

Google Analytics Help Center

https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9164320

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Growing Your Nonprofit With A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant

Knowing that I and my Boston-area digital marketing agency team help clients obtain, maintain, and optimize Google Nonprofit Ad Grants, a few weeks ago a fellow digital marketing consultant asked me if I ever had a client utilize the entire $120,000 in free Google Ads search advertising available thru the Grant. While I knew generally that a few of our nonprofit (NPO) clients who offered products and services across all of the U.S. (vs. in a smaller city/town or state geography) were able to really capitalize on the free advertising $/media buy available annually via their Grant, it prompted me to both dig deeper on what % of their Grant dollars were being used, and to detail in this blog post, the various ways our marketing agency’s Google Ad Grant clients have used their search-advertising funds.

I hope that, by documenting here the types of nonprofits we’ve worked with who have obtained a Grant and successfully employed Google Nonprofit Grant monies, I might inspire other NPOs to either apply for a Google Grant, or use their Google Ads Grant differently or better to maximize it.

What Types Of Nonprofits Qualify For A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant

Let’s start with the types of nonprofit organizations we’ve helped obtain and/or capitalize on their Google Nonprofit Ad Grant:

  • religious organizations
  • organizations that offer training programs/coaching to at-risk women/women in-transition
  • organizations serving those with special needs and/or disability
  • organizations that serve financially challenged/at-risk teens in both the U.S. and abroad
  • arts organizations
  • environmental organizations

Most non-profits who apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant will qualify for one unless they are a government agency/entity, a healthcare provider like a hospital, or an education institution (philanthropic arms of colleges and universities may qualify for a grant). We’d be glad to coach you thru the Google Nonprofit Ad Grant application process. The initial part is pretty simple, and starts with applying for a Google Nonprofit Account and joining Tech Soup if you haven’t done so already. But, you do need to know how to set up a campaign that effectively meets certain Google Nonprofit Ad Grant search advertising requirements, including using certain available advertising features.

Does Anyone Ever Use Their Entire Annual Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Funds?

The answer to the above is likely “yes,” or close to it. As alluded to above, the broader the geographic area in which a nonprofit offers support, services, and products, the more likely they are going to be able to employ much of the available monthly $10,000 in free paid search advertising, particularly if the volume of individuals searching on terms relevant to what the nonprofit offers is significant.

We just conducted an audit of several of our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant clients who are able to offer all or some of their products and services across the whole U.S. All three of them sell products and services that are available for purchase by anyone in the U.S. For example, one sells mass cards to fund the great work they do; another sells curriculum and online training programs; a couple have online gift stores whose sales allow them to provide the services they do to constituents. One client will likely use 70% of their annual Google Ad Grant dollars ($120,000) by year’s end; another about one-third; and another, about one-third. It’s not easy to properly and effectively employ those large search advertising budgets, but it shows it is possible! And, of course, we’d be glad to brainstorm with you to come up with creative ideas for optimizing Grant dollars.

A Happy Google Nonprofit Ads Grant Optimizer

How Can I Use My Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Dollars?

Many of our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant clients are using their Google Grant in a number of simultaneous ways, including the following:

  • Drive sales of products, therefore, tangible goods, such as those available in an online store/shop that fund their good work in our communities
  • Cause use of the organization’s on-site services or online/virtual services
  • Recruit volunteers for their organization
  • Through general/branding messaging, create awareness of their organization among appropriate audiences in an attempt to secure donations (keep in mind that ads specifically asking for donations aren’t effective; but letting individuals and orgs. that are interested in your cause know about you can be effective with development efforts)
  • Support attendance at paid or free events, including webinars, seminars, workshops, courses, and classes
  • Cause target audiences to visit/read/use resources/information on their site, or download information
  • Cause appropriate individuals to fundraise on the organization’s behalf/participate in the organization’s fundraiser
  • Cause target audiences to be an advocate for the organization’s cause or the general/broader cause with which the organization is associated
  • Cause other desired “conversions,” i.e., desired behaviors, such as:
    • e-mail/e-newsletter sign-up
    • podcast listening
    • visits to organization’s physical site for a variety of reasons
    • survey taking

We think Google Nonprofit Ad Grants are a well-kept secret and are often under-utilized by nonprofits — either because they don’t apply for and employ one to see if it will work for them, or they obtain one and don’t use it for the many purposes they could or should.

As an affiliate member of the MA Nonprofit Network, the team at Results C & R gets great satisfaction from helping nonprofit organizations obtain and maximize their Google Advertising Grant to support achievement of a variety of objectives. Want to learn more? Set up a complimentary time to chat today! And, check out these two additional resources:

Watch A Video About A Google Nonprofit Success Story.

Read More About The Benefits Of A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant.

Being Found on Google, digital marketing agency, Google Ads, keywords, marketing best practices, Marketing Planning, online advertising, online presence, paid search, pull marketing, search terms, SEM, Target Marketing, User experience

Why It Pays To Be Responsive, Particularly When It Comes To Google Search Ads

There’s little downside that we can think of to being responsive. When not used in a digital marketing context, being responsive means to “react quickly and positively.” Responsiveness, and therefore, the ability to be flexible and adapt, is usually a much-envied attribute or characteristic, whether it pertains to a person, product, or service.

While we encourage our readers to be responsive on all fronts, given the nature of our business and our blog’s following, this particular post’s intent is to address responsiveness as pertains to the world of online marketing & presence. To be responsive in the digital marketing world means to present the digital content in-question in a fashion that makes it presentable (from an appearance standpoint), logical, legible and appropriate, regardless of the device on which the information is served up or viewed.

It used to be, as recently as 15 years or so ago, that when new websites were launched, the developer and/or the owner of the site did not give as much attention to the “responsiveness” of the website, i.e., how website page content would appear when viewed on a SMART device (devices that can access the internet) such as a mobile phone or tablet. Today, any web developer worth his or her salt would never launch a website that isn’t responsive to the various devices that might access it. And, most content management systems like WIX, Weebly, WordPress, Square Space, and Joomla, are designed to ensure that sites built and launched in them are mobile-friendly.

How and Why Google Ads Supports Search Ads That Are Responsive

Another digital marketing tactic/activity that rewards and supports responsiveness is Google search advertising, and it’s this digital marketing tactic’s responsiveness that’s the focus of this blog post.

I’ve been involved with Google Ads advertising — either in corporate roles or in my role at Results Communications & Research — for an estimated 12 years or more now. During the last 12 years, Google has continuously made revisions to its advertising platform, known as Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), and I expect that to continue.

In the days when I first was involved with Google Ads search advertising, the amount of information you could include in a search ad — an ad that is presented at the top or bottom of search results when an individual in an advertiser’s target geography enters relevant search terms (keywords) into Google’s search engine — was very limited. If I recall correctly, there were only three lines of text and a website URL that appeared in the ad. These short ads were “static” and advertisers knew exactly what lines of text would be presented to their target audiences, and in what order the lines would appear. While Google has enhanced this advertising opportunity to include a couple of additional lines of text via two description lines, plus various ad extensions (such as what’s known as site links that appear below ads and allow for self-triaging), even these “expanded text ads” still require advertisers to set up a large # of “static” text ads within the Google Ads Manager tool in order to test various combinations of ad headlines to see which combinations are most effective as far as generating clicks or “conversions (desired visitor website behaviors or phone calls)” goes.

In 2018, Google rolled out Responsive Search Ads or RSAs. My experience managing paid search campaigns that include RSAs is that Google rewards you from an optimization, and ultimately a cost-per-click, and even possibly an impressions (frequency of serving up ads to relevant searchers) standpoint. Due to the aforementioned, you’ll see it literally does pay to be responsive.

Responsive Search Ad Served Up on Mobile Phone

I’m a big fan of responsive search ads and tend to employ them in all Google search ad campaigns for the above-mentioned performance and budget optimization reasons, but also because it ultimately saves my agency and my client set-up time. And, as they say, “time is money.” Why go thru the cumbersome, long process of setting up a number of static text ads to address various combinations of ad headlines, when Google will create and test the effectiveness of ad headline combinations for you? And, should you choose to test a variety of description line combinations as well, Google can do that for you too.

In addition to allowing for an organization to test various ad headline and description line combinations, RSAs are referred to as “responsive,” because they respond to the real estate that’s available on the device on which the ads are being shown. Sometimes, only two headlines will be served up; sometimes three.

Another reason it pays to start employing responsive ads in your Google Search campaigns now? Google announced on 8/31/21 that, as of 6/30/22, responsive search ads will be the only type of “new” search ad that advertisers can create. And, any static/expanded text ads that were created prior to this June date will not be able to be edited. So, that’s an additional incentive to start creating and using responsive ads now. Why set yourself up now, or prior to 6/22, to not be able to edit static ads you create in the future? Plus, why not get accustomed to creating responsive ads now?

Key Inputs For Responsive Search Ads

Google will serve up two, and possibly three, of the headlines you provide, along with two of your provided description lines, each time it presents a responsive ad to an appropriate searcher.

In addition to basic campaign and ad group targeting and budget inputs like geography, demographics, daily budget, and keywords, at a minimum, advertisers need to provide Google Ads with the following responsive search ad components:

  • Up to 15 headlines (30 characters or less per headline)
  • Final URL that ad clickers will land on (landing page address)
  • Display path – this differs from the above as it does not need to be a live/active URL, but rather should display the nature of the page that an ad clicker will land on, i.e., what content they can expect to find there
    • Google automatically fills in your organization’s domain; you must fill in 15 characters or less for each of the two display path fields. A display path example based on our own site: https://allintheresults.com/services/ongoing SEO. Both “services” and “ongoing SEO” are display path fields we would provide if we were running Google Search Ads and taking ad clickers to a page about our ongoing SEO services.
  • Up to 4 description lines (90 characters or less per description line) – think of this as boilerplate language that you might include in a press release, on an “About Us” website page, or in an elevator pitch.
    • We prefer to only provide 2 description lines to Google. That way we know what two description lines are appearing with each and every ad (since Google only serves up two at a time). That means the description portion of our advertising remains constant, allowing us to test the effectiveness of various headlines/headline messaging.

As you can currently do with expanded text ads, you can also set up a number of ad extensions to provide additional information about your organization. That’s a topic for another blog post, but a capability that does exist with responsive ads.

Need help preparing for next year’s June deadline related to expanded text ads? Want to brainstorm with us about how you’d benefit from running responsive search ads. Reach out today! We always welcome a good Google search advertising discussion.

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Spring Clean Your Online Presence To Support Sales and SEO – Part II

A JOINT BLOG POST BY GAIL SNOW MORASKI AND RYAN BRUDER

Our first blog post in this two-part series focused on capitalizing on “spring cleaning” inclinations to tune-up your website and your social media presence. The purpose of this second post is to remind readers who run any kind of online ads — whether they be Google Ads (also known as search ads/search marketing), social media ads, or banner ads purchased directly from another external website — to revisit them and give them a thorough look-over if you haven’t done so in a while.

Since SEM (search engine marketing) is one of our digital marketing agency’s specialties, the focus of this piece will be on Google Ads, but many of reminders can be applied to other forms of online advertising.

OPTIMIZING YOUR GOOGLE ADS TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE AND MAXIMIZE BUDGET

Often clients will engage our SEO company to analyze either current or past Google Ads campaigns to see what they could or should be doing differently or better. Or, to assume management of existing Google Ads campaigns. Because we are data geeks, we love getting under the hood of a Google Ads account — whether it be a paid account used by a for-profit organization, or a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant account that provides qualifiying non-profit organizations with $120,000 in free annual Google search advertising.

Elements of campaigns and associated ad groups within a Google Ads account that we review related to the above engagements that you should too, as part of spring cleaning your Google Ads, include:

  1. KEYWORDS — what terms have you indicated to Google are ones for which you want your ads shown and are these all still appropriate? Are there keywords you should remove? Are there keywords you should add?
  2. SEARCH TERMS — related to the above keyword element, what search terms (actual phrases that ad clickers put into Google’s search engine) have your ads actually been presented to searchers for, and are they the right ones? The “search terms report,” accessed via the keywords section of a Google Ads ad group, allows you to see the exact terms for which your ads are being shown. Are the terms appropriate? Should some of these terms be made “negative” keywords, i.e., terms for which you don’t want your ads to be shown?
  3. RECOMMENDATIONS — as shown in the printscreen at the bottom of this elements list, Google makes regular recommendations — via a recommendations report — regarding steps you can take to “optimize” your campaign, and therefore, improve click-thru rate, and reduce your cost-per-click. Types of recommendations we see Google regularly make include: removing redundant keywords (keywords that are very similar in nature) from ad groups, adding certain types of ad extensions (such as structured snippets or call-outs), adding conversion-tracking, and using responsive search ads, along with standard text ads you already have in place. Not just as part of your spring cleaning, but each and every type you log into your Google Ads account to check on campaign performance, you should review the various recommendations, and apply the ones that you think make sense for your account.
  4. SETTINGS — settings are assigned at the campaign level and allow for you to target specific geographies and set daily budgets, as well as other specifics about your campaign. At a minimum, as part of your sprng review, you should revisit your daily budget and the geography to see if they are still appropriate to the products, services, or solutions you are promoting via your ads.
  5. AD CONTENT AND LANDING PAGES — if you haven’t checked your Google Ads campaigns in a while, you may even be running ads that land ad clickers on pages that promote either events that have already passed, such as a fundaising one, or products and services that are seasonal in nature and no longer apppropriate ones to be promoting due to the time of year. As you conduct your spring review, be sure that the products, services, and solutions are still the right ones for your organization to be promoting, regardless of whether you are paying for ad clicks, or getting them free via your Google Nonprofit Ad Grant. Also, revisit what makes for an effective landing page, and consider making any appropriate tweaks to current ad landing pages.
  6. COST-PER-CLICK — as part of your review, give great thought to the cost-per-click associated with each of your active vs. paused ad groups. Does the profit you’d make from an actual sale to an ad clicker warrant the cost-per-click — therefore, what is the acquisition cost (this may be include other factors beyond the ad cost-per-click) associated with obtaining a new customer and does it make good sense from a profitability standpoint?
  7. CLICKS — this is likely stating the obvious, but if your ads aren’t generating a decent volume of clicks, therefore, visits to your website, does it make sense to continue to run certain campaigns, or certain ad groups within campaigns?
Google Ads Manager Dashboard

We know that Google Ads advertising, and other forms of online advertising, can be complex and confusing. If you are concerned that your campaigns aren’t set up right to maximize clicks, conversions (ad clickers taking desired actions on your website), and your advertising budget, reach out to us for a complimentary discussion or for us to undertake online advertising spring cleaning on your behalf.

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Making Infographics and Other Website Images Consumable by Search Engines

Infographics — images that are designed to condense and consolidate a bunch of complex information, and present that information in a fashion that makes it understandable by a variety of target audiences — have a variety of plusses, including, but not limited to, the following key ones:

  • they tend to get shared by others, whether it be in a social media post or on a website, so they have a lot of potential to go viral
  • they provide a vehicle for graphically/visually educating audiences on topics or concepts that may be hard to grasp when simply presented via text

The downside of infographics is when they are added to website pages without what’s known as “embedded text” or an “alt-tag,” they:

  • aren’t accessible to those with vision impairments or learning disabilities who use a screen reader to crawl a site and read the text aloud to them
  • can’t be crawled and indexed by search engines, so even though they may contain many high-volume search terms (keywords) for which you want target audiences to find your site, Google, Bing, and other search engines won’t know that the images contain those keywords or reward you from a search standpoint for using them

Spoon-feeding Google What It Needs to Index Your Infographic

Thankfully, there’s an easy solution to the infographic challenge described above. Regardless of what CMS (content management solution)/website platform your site resides on, your website solution should provide for the opportunity to enter an “alt-tag” or “image description” to describe to search engines or screen readers what an image is all about. This is an opportunity associated with all images used on your site, not just infographics.

How to Write an Effective Alt-tag for Website Images

So, what are some best practices for writing an alt-tag to accompany an image on your site? KEEP IN MIND THAT WITH ALT-TAGS YOU ARE BASICALLY DESCRIBING THE PICTURE TO GOOGLE’S AND OTHER SEARCH ENGINES’ SPIDERS/CRAWLERS WHO CAN’T SEE. Therefore, it’s important to adhere to the following:

  • Keep the tag simple, clean, and authentic, plus descriptive. Imagine describing the image to someone who has their eyes closed.
  • Don’t overstuff/use too many high-volume keywords. Google will ding you for that. Focus on one or two and only use them if you would fairly naturally use them in describing the image in-question.
  • You don’t need to include the terms “image of” or “photo of” in your alt tag – just by the fact that Google is crawling an alt tag, it knows it’s related to an image or photo.
  • Keep to 125 characters (including spaces) or less (you can use the “Word Count” function in MS Word to check for this.)
  • In general, only include the name of your business if you are writing an alt-tag to go with your Logo artwork/image. If you were describing a picture to someone based on what you are seeing, unless the name of the company were in the image/photo, you would not know what organization was associated with the photo and wouldn’t naturally mention it. Exceptions to this might be a photo where you described a staff member of your organization and the alt tag included a phrase like “Gail Snow Moraski of Results Communications & Research donates a check to…”

Alt-Tag Example

The below image which is found in my blog post “Defining Your Differentiator With Detail” employs an alt-tag “a bunch of white balloons with one red balloon standing out and rising above the white ones.”

a bunch of white balloons with one red balloon standing out and rising above the white ones.

For more help on writing alt tags, visit https://www.cincopa.com/blog/the-dos-and-donts-of-writing-image-alt-tags/

An Additional Opportunity to Increase the Positive SEO Impact of an Image

When and where appropriate, consider hyperlinking your images, so that when a visitor clicks on the image, it will take them to another page on your site. Google rewards sites from an SEO standpoint that effectively use “internal links” to support a good user experience (note that user experience is expected to be a key component of Google’s search algorithm in 2021). That said, don’t “link” just for the sake of linking. Only include links when image clicks take site visitors to appropriate content.

Help Implementing The Above and Other Organic/Technical SEO Tactics

Our team is always here to either train your team on implementing organic SEO tactics, such as those that are the subject of this post, or implement such tactics on your organization’s behalf. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We adore a good SEO challenge!

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What to Know Before You Engage Someone for SEO Services

How To Be Found on Google - Results Communications and Research

There’s two broad factors any organizations should ponder before they engage an external individual or organization to help them optimize their site to be found on Google, ideally on the first two pages of search results. These are:

  • The Reputation/Credibility of the Firm or Individual In-Question
  • The Nature of and Time Frame Associated With the Services Being Offered

How to Determine if An Individual or Firm Offering SEO Services Is Credible?

My current clients, prospective clients, and I all regularly receive e-mailed or LinkedIn requests from individuals or organizations claiming that they can and will get our website to appear on the first page of Google search engine results for terms relevant to the services or products we offer, or to the solutions to problems we provide. In fact, these SEO vendors, sometimes use the phrase “guarantee” or “guaranteed” along with it. That’s a huge, huge red flag. Without talking to you about your organization’s objectives, the target audiences and geography you serve, and the competitiveness of your marketplace — as well as researching whether or not individuals are even searching for an organization who offers your products, services, and solutions — it is impossible for these SEO vendors to know whether or not it is feasible for a listing with a link to your website to appear on the first page of Google search results.

Being Found on Search - Results Communications and Research

Another big red flag related to ascertaining the credibility of any organization who approaches you about SEO services is whether or not their initial sales pitch to you includes selling you backlinks, i.e., links to your site that will appear on external websites and blogs. As we discussed in a previous blog post, the only external organizations you want sharing a link to your site on their own site or blog are highly regarded organizations with which you have a prior relationship or with which there are some synergies. Allowing an SEO services provider to arrange for such “spammy” backlinks on your organization’s behalf will ultimately cause a decline in how you rank in search results vs. improve how you rank.

Before you engage an individual or organization to assist your organization with being found on Google, ask for examples of the types of organizations to which they have provided SEO services, how they have analyzed and documented/demonstrated the positive implications of the services they’ve provided, and the steps/tactics they took to achieve SEO success.

How Do I Know What SEO Services I Need: One-time/Initial vs. Ongoing?

As we described in this blog post, if you’ve never optimized your website for search or paid someone to do so, and particularly, if you’ve never conducted keyword research related to it, you should be starting from scratch with your SEO and engage an SEO expert to conduct an initial/one-time/one-off review of your website and execute appropriate technical/organic SEO tactics. These tactics include but are not limited to:

  • incorporating relevant high-volume keywords uncovered via keyword research within your website page content and in your behind-the-scenes/meta tags
  • help setting up and/or optimizing a Google My Business Profile, so that you rank well locally and support being found more globally on search.

Once you have completed the important SEO work outlined above, if keyword research has indeed revealed that a high volume of individuals are searching to identify someone like you, then you’ll want to continue to take actions on a regular basis — daily, monthly, or quarterly — to make sure your organization is as well-situated as possible to be found on Google for relevant terms.

Ongoing SEO Services Packages

Many SEO experts and SEO consultants, like us, offer ongoing (monthly or quarterly) SEO packages. Services offered via an ongoing SEO package engagement likely will vary, but at a minimum, we believe they should include:

  • checking to see your site has no broken internal or external links
  • testing to see that your site load speed or the responsiveness/mobile-friendliness of your site isn’t negatively impacting where your organization appears in Google search engine results
  • ensuring that any new images that are added to your site include an “alt-tag” so they will be indexed by Google
  • making sure that any new pages or blog posts that are added to your website are indexed by Google
  • writing content (that includes high-volume keywords) for blog posts, FAQs, or other site pages to support being found for those terms on Google
  • maximizing your Google My Business profile by keeping it comprehensive, current, and posting to it with the same frequency that your post to other forms of social media to support Search Engine Optimization efforts.

Got questions about what we shared above? Please reach out. We’re glad to talk you through all of this, and if appropriate, we’d love to present you with a proposal to provide you with one-time or ongoing SEO services.

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Why "If You Build It, They Will Come" Doesn't Always Hold True

Over the past six years, as a digital marketing agency owner and marketing consultant, I’ve had so many prospective clients approach me with a specific marketing tactic/activity that they’d like me to implement on their behalf. As I’ve repeatedly expressed on social media, in other blog posts, and in my website’s content, I never encourage clients to implement or continue with a marketing activity that doesn’t make sense for them. So, as part of discussing the particular tactic for which they’d like my help, I do a “preliminary check” to see if their website is “optimized for search,” and, therefore, likely to be found by individuals searching on relevant terms for the products, services, and solutions to problems the client in-question provides. Instead of a costly advertising campaign or direct mailer, the client might be better served investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which could have longer-lasting impact.

You would be amazed by the number of organizations — both large and small — who have spent significant $$ and time to launch a comprehensive, user-friendly, informative website, but didn’t realize they needed to implement off-page (behind-the-scenes tags) and on-page (content) SEO tactics in order for their site to be found on Google. Some website developers and designers are well-versed in SEO, others aren’t, and don’t offer the service automatically, or as an add-on when launching a new site.

The above means that a for-profit or non-profit organization may have invested in a beautiful, effective website as far as design, user experience, functionality (interactive tools) and content goes, but they won’t likely benefit from it to the degree to which they could/should. Their site becomes like a pretty little unknown island that no-one knows is there, and therefore, no-one visits. In sum, building their new site, didn’t mean people would come.

Another factor related to lack of visitors may be this. If the products, services, or solutions to problems an organization offers are not ones that individuals are aware of, and therefore, aren’t actively searching on, even the most-optimized-for-search website isn’t going to get a lot of visits that stem from search engine inquiries. If your product or service is a brand new one — think something you’d see on Shark Tank — your target audience may not even realize a product or service like yours exists. Or, particularly, if you’re a B2B (business-to-business) organization, prospective clients may identify an organization like yours by asking one of their contacts or colleagues for a referral.

Both of the scenarios outlined in the paragraph above equate to your organization not being able to rely on “organic search” to drive traffic to your website. But, if you want and need to confirm that individuals aren’t actively searching to find an organization like yours, read our recent post that explains how keyword research can help you figure out whether or not individuals are searching to find an organization with your capabilities.

So, what are the takeaways from everything we’ve shared so far in this post, i.e., how do you ensure “if you build it they will come?

  1. Don’t assume that searchers are searching to find you and/or what you offer. Take the following steps to determine if they are searching to find you, and how.
    • use your Google Analytics data to see what percentage of your traffic is organic (comes to your site as the result of a visitor clicking on a search engine results listing)
    • use your Google Search Console data to see for what search terms, if any, Google is presenting a listing with a link to your website in search engine results, and the # of individuals who are clicking-thru to your site as a result of it being presented
    • conduct keyword research for the specific geographies you serve to determine whether or not a significant volume of individuals is searching to identify an organization likes yours
  2. If the above exercises reveal that the percentage of organic traffic to your site is low (less than 30%), and your website isn’t being presented in search engine results for relevant search terms (keywords), but keyword research indicates a large number of individuals in your geography are searching for the solutions, products and services you offer, then you should optimize your website for search, i.e., implement organic/technical SEO tactics
  3. If keyword research indicates that only a small number of individuals in your geography are searching for an organization with your capabilities, it’s time to consider “push” vs. “pull” marketing. Push marketing is all about putting the idea of your product/service in individuals’ heads and making them aware that a your solution to their problem exists. Display vs. search advertising is just one form of this and this blog post explains the push vs. pull dynamic, but there are many other forms of push marketing, such as an e-mail campaign, print or broadcast advertising, or a direct mail campaign.

Results Communications & Research is always here to make sure your website isn’t an island onto itself, so reach out to make sure it gets the admiring visitors it deserves.