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Archive of ‘Google’ category

Checklist for Migrating to a New Site Design

Launching a redesign of a website is an exciting time for many companies. Whether it’s freshening up an old look or presenting a new brand, you want to make sure it’s done right! Before you flip the switch on your newly designed site, you need a plan for redirecting your existing URLs.  Having this plan is important so you do not lose your SEO ranking or negatively impact website traffic. Below are nine items to include on your site migration checklist.

Start with a site crawl

Start with a site crawl to understand the architecture of the existing website. Note the different page types on the existing site, such as PDFs and identify which URLs are disallowed in the robots.txt file.

Download the XML sitemap

A sitemap lists the pages a website wants to have indexed with the search engines. If you want index the new pages, then you will want to map them. The sitemap is a good place to start. (more…)

How to Optimize your Remarketing Lists for Search Ad Campaigns

Many visitors leave a website without converting, which is why remarketing campaigns with Google AdWords are valuable.  And since these visitors also visit multiple sites before making a purchase, you want to make sure they do not forget you. As they get closer to that decision point, you want to remind them that they visited your site in the process, and bring them back to your conversion funnel.

To use RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads), start by creating remarketing lists from segments of your audience based on an attribute, such as their location in your conversion funnel or transactions. This is data you can glean from your Google Analytics account.

In your initial RLSA campaigns, bid based on audience behavior by choosing the “bid only” option rather than “target and bid”. With this strategy, you are bidding based on behaviors that are the most valuable and can adjust bids based on the performance. For example, you would bid differently for home page visitors versus those who viewed a specific product or even abandoned their cart. People who visit on a category page may be one a bucket of users with a moderate bid and a higher bid is given to those who got as far as adding something in the shopping cart. You may even want to have a group specifically for bounced traffic. Your strategy with this type of group would be less aggressive with your ad spend, and you wouldn’t aim for a direct conversion as your goal since they have not yet indicated a strong interest in what you offer.  Instead, with the bounced audience, bid lower and have a different goal, such as driving them to landing pages with a softer CTA that invites them to download a free guide rather than asking them to commit to a purchase.

Remarketing lists picture

With “target and bid”, ads are displayed only if the search is for one of your keywords and the searcher is on your remarketing list. It’s more focused because you are targeting a very specific audience. You bid differently on these users depending on which particular audience list they fell into. This could be the time to include competitor terms, higher funnel search terms and broad match types.  Although broad match can bring in a lot of irrelevant terms in your standard Search Campaigns, in this case, you are able to get in front of an previous visitors again in a broader way.  Once you’ve defined these groups, make sure your messaging speaks to them specifically rather than using one message for all your audiences.

The final step is optimizing and expanding the campaign depending on performance and after you have collected 2-4 weeks of data.  If the CPA on the RLSA list is lower than the regular search, you could be missing out on conversions, so it might help to bid more on those. Try increasing your bid to reach your CPA goal with more conversions.  With keywords that have a 1.5 position or higher, there’s really no need to increase the bid since you are already staying in those top three spots.

Some best practices with RLSA include utilizing different membership durations. You don’t need to stick with the default of 30 days because people may do research for longer than 30 days. When setting bids, look at ROAS, then optimize for that. A mistake with remarketing for Search or Display is oversegmentating – going very niche – rather than broad first and optimizing later. It can cut out too many potential buyers.  And finally, if you are unsure of your usual buying cycle for your site visitors, view the Time Lag to Conversion Report which is available in AdWords under Tools > Attribution  before creating your audiences.

Breaking Down AdWords Demographic Targeting for Search Ads

*This blog was originally posted on and can be accessed here.

Reach ideal customers in AdWords with demographic targeting

Reach ideal customers in AdWords with demographic targeting

A few months ago, AdWords demographic targeting for search ads was introduced, including the ability to segment by age and gender. This brought joy to many brands and marketers, because they could better match ads to audiences while gaining more control over who saw their ads.

It was a definitive moment for sure. Yet if your head’s still not in the game, then this quick explanation should help.

Let’s start with an example. Say your software company has a new product and you want to advertise it. In the old days, a user would type in a keyword and, if your keyword matched theirs, it could trigger your ad to appear on the search engine results page. Now, with demographics targeting you can refine who sees the search ad, based on who has the greatest propensity to buy your product. (Careful, your targeting should reflect data on user intent, not who you assume are your buyers.)

Let’s take a look at how AdWords breaks down demographic targets for search ads: (more…)

Takeaways from Google Marketing Next

There were some exciting announcements from Google Marketing Next this week about Google technologies for marketers.  Some offerings are available now and others are coming soon. Read below for key takeaways from the event.

One second or one step

When it comes to the online experience,  brands need to stay ahead of customers and offer a solution within one step or one second.


Google’s internal research shows that a slow page load time – especially on mobile – significantly impacts the probability of a high bounce rate.  If a page takes more than three seconds to load, half of visitors will not stick around.  Online brands need to respond quickly to searchers online with a google web experience.


Google Analytics for Content Marketers

When you create content, you write not only for your website visitors, but also to reach their connections so you want to make sure your content is worth sharing.  With Google Analytics, you can see what people like based on engagement metrics and how often your content is shared.  Using the below metrics can help you make decisions about which content you want to create next.

Content Grouping

An advanced feature of Google Analytics, Content Grouping, lets you aggregate your content into categories as defined by you. You determine these categories based on how you want to report out on the content people engage with on your site.  For example, if you primarily write about Google Analytics, SEO, and AdWords, you can create three groupings and see the performance of your posts by the main category they fall into.  You can create these in the Admin section of Google Analytics by defining groupings by URL and WordPress users can easily do this with a plug-in. However you set this up, you are now able to see the bigger picture with your site content.

Social Sharing


How to Measure Behavior with Google Analytics Cohort Analysis

I introduced the Cohort Analysis in an earlier post, noting that it is a Google Analytics feature that lets you “look at a group of users based on a shared acquisition date”.  I noted that my preference has been to create segments, but I wanted to explore this beta feature in Google Analytics a bit more in this post and offer some use cases for it. You will still want to spend time getting familiar with segments because they make this feature more useful.

A Cohort Analysis is worth exploring if user retention is a key metric on your site since this feature measures behavior over time.  If you see a significant increase in traffic, this helps you determine if a cohort is responsible for the majority of that change.  You can also determine if a specific group completed an action on your site after their initial visit.

If you are interested in doing a Cohort Analysis, you can decide the size of your cohort by day, week or month; the metric (the number you want to measure), and the date range (how far back you want to analyze).  With a size of day, the cells in your resulting table will each display a single date. With a metric, you can only select one number at a time and these are displayed as columns in your table.  And the date range determines how much data will appear and corresponds to the number of rows that are in your table.

Although I primarily look at the tables, you can also view your data in a chart, which is a cumulative metric for your particular cohort. In the below example, you can see a significant drop in pageviews for each user after the initial visit, which could imply there is not enough compelling content that brings people back to the site.




Identifying micro and macro trends

Are you wondering how a specific campaign impacted your sales? Do you also want to know if a visitor from a campaign took action immediately or came back a month later? Since your cohort groups visitors by similar dimensions (such as traffic source), you can view them by a particular source, such as Paid Traffic by selecting that segment.


For this Paid Traffic group, session duration increases in some weeks after they first came on the site.  The darker color in each cell indicates the value of the metric when compared to other values in the table.


Behavior by Device

You do not need to be told that a mobile-friendly site is non-negotiable for today’s businesses. But have you wondered how behavior varies on a mobile device?  Here we can see that more purchases are made in following months for desktop users than mobile users. It’s worth exploring why that could be.


Analyzing by Channel

With segments you can select multiple channels at a time. Here we can see goal completions for this account’s paid traffic versus organic traffic. Both channels are bringing people back, but organic channels perform better when it comes to the goal completion metric.


One of the more useful features of a Cohort Analysis is that it helps you understand how long it takes for a visitor to make a decision. These views can also help you determine if a remarketing strategy is good for your business.  If you notice that traffic declines after a certain day, you may want to start remarketing at that time.

If you discover that a Cohort Analysis is useful for your business, you can save a view as a shortcut, email it, or add it to a dashboard like you would with other reports in Google Analytics.  To reiterate, this helps you analyze group behavior on your site based on common attribution.  In my opinion, it is still limited since only Cohort Type is Acquisition Date. If Google makes other options available, it will increase the usefulness of this tool. In the meantime, use segments to drill into your data for a Cohort Analysis.

Google Analytics: The Big Picture

Since I spend a lot of time in Google Analytics accounts, I can easily get bogged down by the all the data available. Occasionally, I need a reminder to step back and look at the big picture and the overall marketing strategy for each client. What exactly are clients hoping to accomplish and what actions on their web sites will lead to meaningful outcomes? Rather than looking at numbers that are subjectively judged as “good” or “bad”, they need to be viewed in the context of the client’s big picture.


5 Google Analytics Performance Dashboards

Google Analytics Dashboards are a great tool for my clients who do not like logging into their accounts. They often become overwhelmed with the amount of data in analytics and prefer to see data at a glance.

I have a previous post on how to use the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery for dashboards. The gallery permits you to use dashboards created by other Google Analytics users.  But even that can be overwhelming with hundreds of dashboards to choose from.

Below I’ve listed five of my favorites for measuring performance with Google Analytics. Please note that I did start with some dashboards I imported from the gallery and modified them to be a better fit for my reporting needs. Each heading below links to a dashboard you can automatically add to your account as long as you are logged into Google Analytics when you click on the link.


Organic Search Performance

How often are people finding you through organic search?  With this dashboard, you can see the behavior of people coming to your site through organic search results. And yes, it probably will primarily be Google for your organic source, but you can see other sources of organic searches such as Bing, Yahoo, or AOL. You can also measure how this source impacts the number goals completed and pages viewed.

Paid Search Performance (AdWords)

Advertisers will definitely want to see how their paid campaigns perform when compared to other channels, such as organic or email. It’s also valuable to drill into paid campaigns to compare them to each other. Are visitors performing a desired action in one campaign more so than the others?  Although this dashboard is for AdWords, it can be modified to also view other paid campaigns, such as with Facebook or Bing.

Social Media Performance


How to Measure Display Campaign Performance in Google Analytics

When it comes to online marketing, measuring the performance of an ad on the Display Network is similar to measuring the performance of any other traffic source, such as Search Network ads. But what needs to be considered when viewing these metrics is that display ads are often better for branding rather than a direct conversion. When you analyze your data, it is important to keep this in mind when deciding whether your display ads are worth the investment.

In general, ads on the Display Network have a slightly higher bounce rate and fewer pages per visit than other traffic sources. Users who respond to a display ad often were not looking for your product or service at the time so their response is more passive than a visitor who is actively searching for something. As a result, your visitors are somewhat interested in what you have to offer but they are not actively seeking it.  As a side note with these ads, you want to write compelling headlines, but not click-bait headlines. With a click-bait headline, visitors click only out of curiosity, not necessarily a genuine interest in what you have to offer so it is probably not worth paying for those clicks.


With the bounce rate, you may see a bounce rate for your display campaigns of 80% whereas the bounce rate for your other sources of traffic is only 50%.  Rather than focusing on that single number of 80% for display ads, drill into this and look at the specific placements, ad copy, and and targeting methods.  Google Analytics provides this granular data about behavior by each of these dimensions.  As you drill into your data, you might find there are several placements that are responsible for the highest bounce rate which you can then exclude in your Google AdWords campaign.

Also, as you review your Google Analytics data, give a little more credit to your engagement metrics, such as pages per session, for people who come from display ads. When people arrive on your site they’re passively searching somewhere else and they spend time surfing your site, it’s a good indicator of the effectiveness of your ads on the Display Network.

The value of this initial introduction, or branding, is seen when someone does make a purchasing decision. Because they saw your ad earlier, they remember what it is that you offer and are willing to visit your site again when it comes time to make a purchase. They may bookmark your site when they reach it through a display ad to revisit at a later date when it is time to buy. Or it could be they may not even remember you when they are ready to buy, but in doing an internet search at a later date, your brand does comes back to mind when they see your results again. Keep these factors in mind when you review the performance of your display ad campaigns.

Of course, everyone who runs paid ads for a site wants to see conversions in AdWords or goal completions in Google Analytics. It makes sense. When you are using cold hard cash in your marketing, you want to see results. But when you look at completed goals with display ads, look beyond just the straight conversion metrics. Make sure you set engagement related goals which include pages per session, mentioned above, or time on site. This is also when it makes sense to have a goal value set for valuable behavior that is not revenue-generating.

Remember that your metrics for display campaigns are going to be different than your metrics on your search campaigns with fewer clear-cut conversions. This is a campaign type that is still worth using because it can attract people who have an interest in what you offer and it could get you to the top of their mind when it is time for them to make a decision about their purchase. So go ahead and try the Display Network but keep these differences in mind when reviewing your results in Google Analytics.