Today is the official launch of Apprenticeship.com.au inspired by the words from the Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie ‘Let There Be Light’. I quote from words of Andrew Carnegie:
“I spoke again at Dunfermline, July 27, 1881, when my mother laid the foundation stone there of the first free library building I ever gave. My father was one of five weavers who founded the earliest library in the town by opening their own books to their neighbors. Dunfermline named the building I gave “Carnegie Library.” The architect asked for my coat of arms. I informed him I had none, but suggested that above the door there might be carved arising sun shedding its rays with the motto: “Let there be light.” This he adopted.
From working in a mining pit without light as a kid after emigrating from Scotland at age 12, he built the Pittsburgh Carnegie Steel Company, which he sold to J. P. Morgan in 1901 for $303 million. It became the U.S. Steel Corporation. After selling Carnegie Steel, he surpassed John D. Rockefeller as the richest American for the next several years.
He became a leading philanthropist in the USA and British Empire, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education, and scientific research giving away 90 percent of his fortune.
Most of us know this flywheel has been used to power energy output (steam, water, etc) from the industrial revolution, maybe earlier. The concept of a flywheel to help deliver energy to a machine (steam train, windmill, turbine, etc) is part of history and science lessons at school.
Yet it has a place in the minds of the information architects in the age of Google and the rotational force of search engine algorithms. Lets unpack what we see here for content optimization and audience engagement.
In July 2020, we re-archictected Help.Sellercloud.com and after several months compared the post go live Google Analytics stats for the past 3 months versus the previous period. There are some impressive stats worth noting.
1. Bounce rate has fallen 5%
2. Pages viewed per session is up 25% (that’s 1 in 4 visitors viewing an extra page on average)
3. Each user is staying on the site for 1 whole extra minute (up 37%)
If you take the total number of users (12,303) and multiply it by 1 min, you get an extra 205 extra hours that users were on the site. So what were they doing?
For many clients, we calculate branding and engagement this way. Google like to see increased engagement and this gets rewarded with higher rankings for all pages.
Undeniably, Google Adwords (the pay per click engine) is one of the greatest money machines of all time. In 2019, Google’s ad revenue amounted to almost US$ 134.81 billion. I’ll do the math for you…. it is $256,487 per minute. Not bad right?
So you might argue with this type of volume and velocity with over 5 million advertisers participating in concurrent online auctions for keywords (Google advertisers bid for keywords in real time auctions), that sometimes, somethings can go wrong.
Like when you place a $10 a day budget and Google automatically spend 4x that which happened this week for a client of ours. Or when $1400 in one day was spent on an Ad Group that has $270 daily budget. That was last week for another of our clients. Or this morning when we explained to a software company servicing the K-12 educational sector that the first thing we do for clients inside Google Ads Account is turn OFF all the ads showing on ’sensitive content’ and that it is tragic that Google (#DoNoEvil) make this a default setting in every Adwords account.
Sadly, most folks are not going to go inside ‘Settings’ click on ‘Additional Settings’ where this is buried inside the Google Adwords dashboard. No wonder, most people don’t know it is even their. Here’s the screenshot attached so you too can turn it off.
I hope the US Justice Department via the Anti-Trust Lawsuit against Google filed this week helps Google to do the right thing and make this ‘sensitive content’ setting an opt in and not an opt out default.
Google holds 82% market share on desktop in search engine market in the USA and 88% on mobile – as per page 31 of the Justice Department Complaint Against Google which you can read at https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1328941/download. When you have that much market dominance, you can take people’s money in a blind closed auction with zero transparency and show ads on content that advertisers don’t even know where its been shown.
As an early user of Google Voice since they rolled it out locally to business around the Google Head Office in Mountain View, California in 2010 we like the features of it. While Google Voice isn’t mainstream, “voice optimization” is a topic of ongoing discussion as Google Assistant, Google Home, Alexa and other voice based in car technologies permeate our lives at home, at work and on the go.
That said, the translation of voice to text still has a ways to go. Here’s a prime example. mmmm!
Covid is giving us more time to do many more things. Now we’re not commuting, entertaining or hanging out at conferences, we’re pouring over more of the features inside dashboards that drive customers to our clients websites. One simple suggestion for online traffic optimization experts is to create Audiences inside Google Analytics and then target those audiences inside Google Ads to create more targeted audiences seeing more focused ads.
Here’s an example for one of our software clients. You can see audiences were created for key sections of their website (pricing page, features pages and integrations pages). You can create Audiences in the Google Analytics > Admin > Property section (click on the menu ‘Audience Definitions > Audiences) and then create them using the URL string for each section of the site you wish to segment an audience for. You can select Google Ads as were you want the Audience to be imported to.
Over time, Google will keep count of the visitors to those section/s of the website and when there is enough traffic, they will publish the audience number. You can see below the Display Audience is 240.
Now, inside Google Ads > Audience Manager, you can see the corresponding Audience as per below. See how the audience equals 240. It typically takes 30 days to build up a good audience that is big enough to start displaying ads to.
This is a great way to create more targeted banner display ads for niche audiences across a client website instead of just targeting ads to “All Website Visitors”. Thanks Covid!
Bounce Rates. Experienced people know that higher bounce rates on paid search traffic can impact organic rankings. Generally the rule of thumb is to lower bounce rates on paid campaigns to reduce low quality traffic. As display remarketing also impacts organic rankings (i.e. the number of visitors who click on a remarketing ad and return to your website), the quality of traffic is super important.
Let me unpack this more. The below graph shows the 90% bounce rate a client had been strangled with for several months after spending $7,000 a month on Google Adwords. That’s $6,000 wasted per month.
Now let us have a look at the impact of the reduction in bounce rate on organic and direct traffic once the high bounce rate ads inside Google were turned off. Notice there was a 78% improvement in overall bounce rate. Organic bounce rate reduced from 24% to 10% and direct traffic bounce rate dropped from 24% to 4%. You don’t often get to see the causality between paid traffic bounce rates and organic / direct traffic bounce rates yet they are correlated. Oh and the conversion rates on paid traffic were 5x as a result and 6x from organic.
You can think of Google as a foghorn. What you do in paid echos across all other audiences. Remember, if you allow your paid search traffic to put non qualified traffic in the top of the funnel, it affects all the other non paid traffic quality and conversions coming to your website. Simply put, rubbish in rubbish out !
Google recently announced a new algorithm update that will roll out in 2021 that ranks websites on the quality of a user’s experience on a web page. Didn’t they always do this? The new “Core Web Vitals” and it can be broken down into these components below.
Google suggests Best Practice should be where a website Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) should occur within 2.5 seconds when a webpage starts loading. First Input Delay (FID) measures interactivity and pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds while Cumulative Layout Shift (ClS) measures visual stability and pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
The focus is on speed again and content as always. Interesting, there is a new focus on the stability of content as the page loads. SO what does this mean? So when we found this CLS issue inside Google Search Console for one of our clients across 46 URLs, we followed all the links to ‘Learn More’ yet the links just take you back to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ which then doesn’t reference Core Web Vitals. NICE!
So you’re stuck at home during Covid-19 lockdown / shelter and realize you need some board games for the kids to play with. So do go to Google or Amazon. You know Google shows products under the Shopping Tab and yet Amazon has everything as well right? That split second decision is worth hundreds of billions to both companies as they fight for consumers to visit their website to discover, browse, search and ultimately buy.
Up until April 2020, Google allowed product data feeds to be uploaded to their Google Merchant Center and advertised at a cost. These would appear as Sponsored Shopping Ads on Google. Then in January 2020, Google announced that products in some categories (shoes, apparel, accessories) would eligible for display in results on Search and Google Images for FREE. That’s right ‘organic listings’ which they put under a ‘Popular Products’ tab – see below.
Why is this a BIG DEAL?
Because Google want the all product brands and manufacturers to upload their products to their Google Merchant Center to fight Amazon, the largest online marketplace in the world. Amazon is able to monetize their traffic not only by taking a percentage transaction fee on each product sold, warehoused and delivered but also on the data collected via their advertising search platform.
If you are advertising on Amazon, you should review dash / APPLICATIONS. Built by Amazon ex-employees, the software include data studio, advertising studio and inventory planning, all of which help you sell more on Amazon.
We’ve been using Firefox ever since version 1.0 came out in 2003 as it was born out of Mozilla Corp based here in Silicon Valley.
We did because we felt (before Chrome existed) that because 90% of their revenue came from royalties revenue paid by Google, we would glean insights into Google for our clients. In 2006, the Mozilla received US$61.5 million from Google and for 2011-2014, Google paid Mozilla nearly US$300 million annually! From 2015 to 2017, Yahoo Search became the default search engine for Firefox until they cratered as a business and finally in November 2017, Mozilla announced that it was switching back to Google as the default search engine. History lesson over.
What is alarming is the below pop up shown to Firefox browser users this week! As a colleague noted about Facebook not liking all the talk about regulators breaking their business up, “its a bit like an arsonist who doesn’t like the sound of fire engines!”
At some point, design matters to optimization and while we don’t lead with design in client engagement, we know once the plumbing of the website is fixed, Googlebot want to see some improvement in design components. Particularly Googlebot for mobile which will be switching to mobile-first indexing for all websites starting September 2020.
The most important element is to have mobile first content. People are on the move and the information needs to help with their intent to find a store or location. The design needs to be bite sized as people on mobile devices wont read long text. Meta tags need to be the same on desktop and mobile. Show phone numbers straight up. People want to call, particularly if they are driving! Images help convey on mobile phones the text. Tip: Choose images and then write the copy! Here’s a design our in-house designer did recently for a client..