Why Your Average Cost Per Click is So High and How to Fix It
There are a lot of different elements that go into a successful PPC account, but few things are more frustrating than setting up your account only to have your clicks limited by a high cost per click (CPC).
In this post, we will examine what causes high CPCs, and some cover a handful of strategies you can try to drive them down.
Max CPC vs. Actual CPC
Before we start, it’s best to make the distinction between Max CPC and Actual CPC. Max CPC is the maximum amount of money that you’re willing to spend on a click. Actual CPC is what you end up paying.
Example: If your Max CPC bid is $2.00, but you can secure the top spot with a bid of $1.65, you’ll only pay $1.65 per click instead of $2.00.
Of course, there are other factors that go into bidding, but we won’t get into them in this article. You can read about those factors here.
What Causes High CPC?
Before you can work on improving your average CPC, it’s essential to understand the factors that influence it. There are three primary considerations:
Google Ads runs similarly to an eBay auction. Every time someone searches, the auction takes place. Several things determine the winner, but your bid is one of the most significant factors. The more people that are bidding on a keyword, the more expensive it will be.
This is one that you can’t really control, but it’s vital to understand. Using Google’s Keyword Planner can give you an idea of what the expected CPC is for keywords in your industry. In general, industries that have a higher value per conversion have higher average CPCs because advertisers are willing to pay more per click.
Example: For law firms, one conversion could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars for the business, so it makes sense to pay a much higher cost per click. Compare that to a retailer selling boxes of gelatin for $2 a piece. They have to pay a much lower cost per click to remain profitable.
Quality Score is a metric given by Google to rate the quality of your keywords. It combines your historical performance and the overall relevance of your ads, landing pages, and keywords. The end result is a score from 1 to 10 that directly affects what you will have to pay to reach a specific position on the page. The more relevant you are, the less Google will charge you to rank high. We’ll talk about improving your quality score later in the article.
Strategies to Lower CPC
Understanding why your CPC is a specific price empowers you to begin to improve it. Here are a few strategies to keep in mind when attempting to optimize your campaigns and drive down average CPC.
The most straightforward tip to implement is to aim for a lower ad position. Experiment with showing up in position 1, 2, 3, etc. Does showing up in position 3 seriously decrease your clicks? If users are still clicking even when you aren’t in position 1, it may be worth it to settle for a lower position if it means significant decreases in CPC.
Another solution to high CPC is to bid on keywords where your competitors aren’t. The more specific you can get with your keywords while still being relevant, the cheaper your cost per click will become because fewer people are bidding.
Example: If you are running an e-commerce gelatin company (pretty niche, I know), you might think of bidding on the word “gelatin.” Makes sense, but it’s likely that every other online gelatin retailer in the country is also bidding on that keyword.
Instead, bid on “sugar-free strawberry gelatin.” Still relevant, but much less likely to be bid on by competitors.
Improve Ad Relevance
Look to improve your quality score by improving your ad relevance. The closer your ad resembles a user’s search, the higher your rating will be.
Example: Let’s revisit my online gelatin retailer. Say a user searches for “strawberry sugar-free gelatin,” and this ad shows up:
It’s relevant, sure, but it could be better.
Now, what if I changed the headline to this:
Much more relevant to the search.
I know what you’re thinking: “But how can I make an ad that specific for everyone?” I’m glad you asked, that brings us to our next point.
Make Your Ad Groups More Specific
When creating campaigns and ad groups, separate your offerings into small, related groups so you can target each group individually.
Doing this gives yourself the flexibility to create ads tailored specifically to each ad group. This increased ad relevance will provide your quality score a boost, and decrease your average cost per click.
Example: Gelatin Town offers many different types of gelatin, for many different, gelatin-related needs. It’s important to distinguish between all our diverse offerings. So, I would create ad groups like “sugar-free gelatin” and “flavored gelatin” and tailor my ad copy to those specific ad groups.
Test New Landing Pages
If you have multiple landing pages or have the budget to create them, testing new ones can be a fantastic way to improve CPC. Landing pages influence two factors in the quality score: ad relevance and landing page experience. You can find more information on how to create a killer landing page here.
Example: Back to Gelatin Town. If I have an ad group for “sugar-free gelatin,” I want my ads to go to the most relevant landing page possible. So, instead of having the ad linking to my site’s home page, it should link to a page displaying all of Gelatin Town’s delicious sugar-free gelatin.
Now, Go Do It!
So, what did we learn today?
Hopefully, you learned a bit about what causes your actual CPC to be what it is, as well as a few ways to improve the overall health of your account. Following these tips should help you begin to make progress driving your CPC down.
The post Why Your Average Cost Per Click is So High and How to Fix It appeared first on Portent.
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How Long Should Your Blog Post Be for SEO?
300 words? 800? 1,600? What is the SEO “sweet spot” to make sure your blog post ranks high in search results? Questioning the relationship between the length of a blog post and search result ranking implies that Google sets a minimum word count for blogs. Yet, no such standard actually exists.
I get it—the idea of a magic number for content length is incredibly appealing. To tempt this notion further, logically, the more words there are the more opportunities there will be to rank for keywords. But at what point does your content become a page full of keywords and content fillers in an attempt to satisfy search engines instead of fulfilling user needs?
The need to assign an optimal standard content length reflects the amount of effort people are willing to put into their SEO practices. In an attempt to stop you from drinking the Kool-Aid (i.e., to resist low-quality cookie-cutter SEO), this article will teach you how to determine the best content length based on search intent, how to create quality content, and how to monitor your content’s performance.
Let Search Intent Be Your Guide
Most SEO experts have opinions on what constitutes the optimal content length. Some will tell you that “300–500 words are best,” or “2,000 words should be the minimum for a blog,” or claim that they’ve found the “sweet spot” at 1,890 words.
However, knowing how long your content should be depends strongly on what is typical for the industry you are writing for, and what fulfills the intent of the search query.
Does the intent behind a keyword require long-form content to answer? If so, write long-form content. But, maybe, the intent is better answered in less text and more images. If that’s the case, then optimizing your images for SEO and reducing the number of words on your page is the best answer.
An effective way to determine the searcher’s intent in googling a keyword may be quite different from how Google interprets it. Perform a SERP (search engine results page) analysis and see if Google finds the blog content valuable for your target keywords. If Google does value the blog content, what does that content look like?
Performing a SERP analysis can teach you a lot about what kind of content succeeds in the search results for a given keyword. Here is an example of a SERP analysis measuring the content length of the top five results for one of my target keywords:
Of course, some pages included a comment section and videos, and have higher authority and credibility, so there is more to look at than the content length word count. However, this should give you a comprehensive idea of what length of content the target audience prefers and what you’re going up against to rank on the first page. For the keyword example used in my SERP analysis “when to use Oxford comma,” I can tell that people want the content to be direct and to the point without all the fluff. When I looked at the second page of Google (as we all know, nobody else does), I found articles with content over 1,200 words.
Create Content With Substance
Blog posts that perform well and rank well are the ones with high-value content. So, do the blog posts that are exactly 1,890 words long motivate people to make a purchase? Probably not. That is why you need to be innovative and consistent in creating high-quality content. When you create unique and valuable content you have the opportunity to build rapport, authority, trust, and brand awareness every time a searcher lands on your page.
In other words, if you can write your blog post and fulfill your reader’s intent in 300 words, then maybe you should. If it requires 3,000 words to make the reader feel the blog post was of value, then that’s perfectly fine, too.
The writing style you choose will influence your content’s length as well. Some blog topics and writing styles tend to be short, concise, and to the point. Others aim to be more conversational and interactive, which often lend to longer content.
Measuring Content Performance
It is important as you are writing blog content that you monitor your blog’s content performance. Some marketers are comfortable measuring the success of their blog with keyword rankings and organic traffic. In reality, your blog analytics give you access to pools of data beyond that. By getting information on whether your content is performing well, you can make the necessary adjustments to bring value to your users and maintain your rankings in the search results.
For more information on how to determine if your content is performing well, check out our guide to 16 content KPIs.
Don’t Believe the Word Count Myth
There is no perfect blog post length for SEO. It all comes down to the searcher’s intent and how detailed they expect the answer to be. It just so happens that long blog posts tend to answer the searcher’s question comprehensively. But it is not the length of the blog post that leads to higher rankings; it’s the fact that the blog post satisfies the question being asked. It is not uncommon to find top ranking pages for valuable keywords that are no more than 500 words in length, as my example above displayed.
Remember, the advice given here consists of guidelines, not requirements. The best thing you can do for your blog is to fill it with unique and valuable content and get rid of everything you don’t need.
It doesn’t matter if your blog post is 300, 1,500, or 2,000 words, or 100 words more than the top ranking page. By creating valuable content consistently for your audience, over time, you will help Google identify your website as an expert, and a trustworthy source on a topic/industry, and in return will rank higher for competitive keywords.
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Marketing Tips For Bloggers in 2018 and How to do it in an Easy Way
- Positioning and recognition
- Direct and simple
- Register with your name
- Choose your preferred template.
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How to Measure SEO Performance: Vital Metrics & KPIs
How do you measure the success of your SEO campaigns? What are the best SEO KPIs (key performance indicators) or metrics to track?
I’m asking for a friend…
But seriously, how do you prove that when, or if, the changes you’ve made to your website have had any effect at all on your bottom line, or your top line for that matter? It’s not always easy to prove to key stakeholders that what we as SEOs are asking them to do isn’t some kind of fruitless shamanistic ritual or hand-wavey snake oil sales tactic.
Fear not fellow Search Engine Optimists! There are plenty of ways for us to show the impact of our work and the value of SEO.
Start With Your Goals
How we measure the success of our SEO campaigns depends on the goals of that campaign. For example, the KPIs will be different if you are trying to rank no. 1 for “wedding dress” than if you’re trying to cram as many people as possible into the top of your sales funnel by getting them to register for a webinar or book an online appointment.
I’ve broken out these SEO KPIs into four main groups based on the type of SEO campaign or initiative you might be running.
In SEO, visibility means getting your website in front of as many eyeballs and potential customers as possible. Visibility KPIs for SEO can include impressions in search results, organic ranking positions in search results, and your share of voice (I’ll talk about this later in this post).
Overall Visibility (Impressions)
Search impressions broadly measure your overall organic visibility. For example, if you are starting an SEO/content strategy that is turning out five new, high-quality articles a month, the number of impressions your website is making in search engine results pages (SERPs) might be the KPI you need to monitor.
Use Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools to benchmark your website’s number of impressions at the onset of any campaign or promotion. Be sure to annotate whenever changes or additions are made to the site so you can closely monitor the effects of the changes.
Topic and Keyword Rankings
The oldest and most recognizable SEO metric is keyword rankings. We hear it all the time, “Is my website ranking number one for Keyword V?!” “Are we ranking higher than Competitor Q?”
Tracking and reporting on individual keyword rankings can be a double-edged sword. If stakeholders become too focused on ranking for a specific keyword or phrase, your ability to prove the value of your SEO may hinge on the next Google algorithm update. We don’t want that. As long as you are strategic with which keywords, topics, and groups of topics you are tracking and reporting on, this can be an invaluable way to prove the success of your SEO efforts.
There are any number of tools out there that can track your individual keyword rankings: Moz, AWR, Raven Tools, etc. Personally, I love the way that STAT allows for the tracking of target pages and groups of tagged keywords.
Share of Voice
Like I mentioned before, it can be dangerous to focus solely on keyword rankings, since there are so many factors that are out of our control. Share of voice is one way to get your point across without putting all of your berries into one bowl. In organic search, share of voice is a calculation based on the search volume of a given keyword, your position in organic search results, and the expected click-through rate for the position. STAT does a fantastic job of tracking this SEO metric:
After you get your site in front of searchers in the SERPs, you need to get them clicking through to your website and converting.
Any analytics platform can get you the data you need here. Whether you’re using Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics 360, or Matomo, you can track and measure the organic traffic to your website. Be sure to put a focus on the pages or sections of the site that you are working on and don’t forget about Dark Traffic.
Click-Through Rate from SERPs
Click-through rate from search result pages is a good way to measure the effectiveness of your new title tags and meta descriptions. By this point, you’ve managed to get your pages ranking higher in the SERPs, but are searchers clicking on your shiny blue links?
Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools track all of the necessary metrics to show your improvements in driving people to your site from the search results pages.
Most of the focus for SEO is getting your website visible to your target audience and then getting them through to all of your wonderful content. Visibility metrics and traffic metrics are great for reporting on those SEO successes, but that’s not where the money is going to come from.
However, your success involves more than just SEO. It also relies on a coherent content strategy and conversion optimization. You need people to take action and convert on your website, and engagement metrics are about measuring those user actions.
So, to make sure users are taking the desired path through the website and eventually converting, we look at some of the traditional SEO metrics like pageviews, time on page, bounce rate, and conversions.
Pageviews give you an easy-to-understand view of user engagement: how many pages did a visitor to your site see during their session?
Depending on the nature of your website (B2B e-commerce vs. B2B SaaS, for example) the pageview metric can be interpreted differently. Ask yourself, are users engaging with the content in a way that you expect? If you are running a nurture, awareness, or educational campaign, you’ll be looking to see the number of pageviews per session increase. If your SEO campaign is focused on bottom-of-funnel, high intent traffic, the ratio of sessions to pageviews will be closer to 1:1. So every additional pageview earned is more valuable to the bottom line.
Time on Page and Bounce Rate
Once users get to your site, are they consuming all of the content they should? Time on page and bounce rate metrics can be used to show the quality and effectiveness of your on-page content. For more on engagement metrics, check out our guide to choosing content KPIs.
Conversions are where the ROI meets the road. If you’ve set up your analytics platform properly, you should be tracking all of your desired website conversions. So, is your organic traffic converting? You’ve got your pages ranking and people are clicking through to the website, but are people taking the desired actions when they get there? If not, this is an opportunity for some A/B testing and conversion rate optimization (CRO).
It may be a little more difficult to prove the value of technical SEO implementation. The challenge comes from making changes that very few people will ever see, and trying to justify the amount of effort that goes into those changes. Some key metrics to prove the effectiveness of your technical SEO fixes include page speed and performance, the number of pages indexed in search engines, and the number of crawl errors associated with your website.
Page Load Speed
Page speed is a ranking factor and it is critical for mobile traffic. If you are trying to make your site faster to capture and retain mobile users, start benchmarking now. Use tools like WebPagetest, Lighthouse, or even just use the DOMContentLoaded and Load times from Chrome’s developer tools to gather your data. Then, take those metrics and plug them into a data visualization tool to track your progress over time.
Depending on the current state of your site and the goals of your technical SEO efforts, you may want to see more or less pages indexed by the search engines. For example, if you’ve inherited an e-commerce website with millions of duplicate pages you’ll want to track your success in removing the cruft pages. Or you can track the success of a new website launch by monitoring how quickly your new content is getting crawled and indexed by the search engines. Google Search Console, or third-party indexes like Ahrefs, are useful for tracking which pages are being indexed.
If you need to tie your technical SEO work a little closer to major KPIs, line up the number of impressions from Google Search Console with the number of erroring pages. GSC even has that as a built-in functionality now.
Crawl errors (server responses like 404, 403, 500, etc.) on a website can be an indicator of a low-quality website. Too many crawl errors can add up and then start to drag down the overall quality of your website and start to negatively affect your rankings in search results. Using the number of crawl errors from a crawler tool like our very own RainGage or Screaming Frog is a great way to report on your day-to-day work.
Other SEO Metrics
I don’t want to forget about some of our tried-and-true SEO KPIs! Metrics like the number of backlinks and linking domains, Moz Domain Authority, and Majestic Trust Flow are a few of the more traditional SEO metrics that can still have a major impact on your SEO success.
The number and quality of backlinks and linking domains to your website will always be a core SEO KPI to track. If you are running a content promotion campaign, monitoring your new links to the target pages is one of the only ways to show how effective your investment is. Use a tool like the Moz Link Explorer to track the quality of your backlink profile.
Moz Domain Authority
Moz’s Domain Authority (DA) is another way to demonstrate your SEO and content outreach campaign effectiveness. Since DA is a good indicator of a website’s potential for organic visibility, tracking it in conjunction with the optimizations made on your website, and any of your link building work, will ultimately prove their worth.
At the end of the day, being able to measure the success of your SEO work is essential. By using any combination of these SEO metrics like share of voice, organic sessions, and conversions, you should be able to paint a picture of your SEO performance for your key stakeholders. What you choose to track ultimately depends on your business and your goals. With this list of SEO KPIs and reporting metrics, you are well on your way to being able to justify your SEO efforts to decision-makers, building your case for the value of SEO.
The post How to Measure SEO Performance: Vital Metrics & KPIs appeared first on Portent.
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Do you know the difference between means and outcomes? Between the journey and the destination?
I know. I know. Those are silly questions to ask.
Of course everyone knows the difference between means and outcomes. Of course everyone knows the difference between the means to an end and the end.
Or do they?
As I was driving to an appointment the other day, I saw a sticker on the back of a construction truck that read, in big red letters: Safety is the goal.
So, let me throw out some definitions here.
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