How to Get Started With LinkedIn’s New Website Demographics

I don’t know about you, but I have an odd fascination with LinkedIn’s “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature.

There’s a natural curiosity about who’s checking it out, and why. A fan of my writing? My manager? An ex-boyfriend who’s feeling remorseful as a result of seeing all the great things I’m doing with my life?

Regardless of my own profile viewers, the fact remains that LinkedIn has always served as an interesting platform to digitally network, share information, recruit, and advertise.

It’s that last part where one of the newest developments have taken place. LinkedIn has provided helpful insights and ad tracking for some time now, allowing advertisers to view details about the composition of who this promoted content has reached. But now, LinkedIn has developed new tools for marketers who want to see that same information about the users visiting their websites.

Click here to learn about using social media in every stage of the funnel.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to LinkedIn’s Website Demographics.

What Is LinkedIn’s Website Demographics?

LinkedIn’s Website Demographics is a free tool that allows advertisers to monitor and analyze which LinkedIn users are visiting their websites. In other words, it sheds light on which types of professionals are visiting the site, to help you better target content and ad campaigns. It filters this audience according to eight criteria:

Job title
Job seniority
Job function
Company size

Getting Started With LinkedIn’s Website Demographics

1. Make sure you have a LinkedIn Ads account.

Website Demographics are only available to those who already have a LinkedIn Ads account. If you don’t have one, check out this beginner’s guide to setting up and running LinkedIn Ad campaigns.

2. Generate your Insight Tag and add it to your Website.

Once you’ve established an Ads account, go to your Campaign Manager, and click “Website Demographics.”

Screen%20Shot%202017 11 27%20at%204.23.53%20PM.png?t=1512745811696&width=600&name=Screen%20Shot%202017 11 27%20at%204.23.53%20PM How to Get Started With LinkedIns New Website Demographics

If you haven’t previously set up Website Demographics, you’ll receive this message prompting you to set up an Insight Tag:

Screen%20Shot%202017 11 27%20at%204.24.10%20PM.png?t=1512745811696&width=600&name=Screen%20Shot%202017 11 27%20at%204.24.10%20PM How to Get Started With LinkedIns New Website Demographics

The Insight Tag is essentially a short blurb of JavaScript code that allows Website Demographics to track visitors to a page, as well as conversion and analytics that are crucial when evaluating the performance of a LinkedIn ad campaign. In other words, without it, Website Demographics won’t be able to track any visitor behavior or insights.

Screen%20Shot%202017 11 27%20at%204.35.33%20PM.png?t=1512745811696&width=600&name=Screen%20Shot%202017 11 27%20at%204.35.33%20PM How to Get Started With LinkedIns New Website Demographics

Copy and paste this code, and it to every page on your domain. According to LinkedIn, the optimal placement for the code is right before the end of the <body> tag, in the global footer.

Once the code has been added to your web pages, add your domain (or domains, if you added it to multiple pages) to the area to the right of the code, where it says “Domains,” as per the image above.

LinkedIn will have to verify that the tag has been added to these URLs correctly, which could take up to 24 hours, but once that’s done, each URL will have the word “verified” next to its name in the domain list.

Be careful: According to LinkedIn, domains must not include “www” when you’re adding them.

3. Build your audience.

Once your Insight Tag has been added and all associated domains have been verified, you’ll need to create a website audience. Don’t let the name of this step fool you — rather than customizing the desired composition of your audience, you’ll actually just be segmenting different URLs for which you want to analyze visitors.

It’ll look like this:

linkedin create an audience.jpg?t=1512745811696&width=600&name=linkedin create an audience How to Get Started With LinkedIns New Website Demographics

Source: Distilled

For example, you might want to drive a different audience to a specific landing page than you do to a certain blog post. That’s where segmenting audience analytics becomes helpful.

You’ll need a minimum of 300 LinkedIn members to visit a given domain that you’re tracking — until you do, there won’t be any data available in the Website Demographics section of your Campaign Manager. How long that takes really varies — it depends on each page’s average traffic.

4. Monitor and analyze the data.

According to Distilled, “LinkedIn developed and released Website Demographics because it anticipates that with this new information, companies will be more likely to spend on their platform.” That makes sense — the demographics available to track within this new tool match the same targeting criteria available for LinkedIn Ad campaigns. 

That said, the purpose may also be to help LinkedIn advertisers spend more effectively. Let’s say, for example, that prior to setting up your Website Demographics, you already have a LinkedIn Ads campaign running. Once you’re able to capture more detailed data on which types of users are visiting your web pages — according to job title, industry, and more — you’ll be able to see if that information aligns. Does the Website Demographics match the targeted audience criteria you used in your Ad campaign? If not, you now have the data to better inform your audience targeting.

The best part is that this information isn’t restricted to your promotion efforts within LinkedIn. Now, you’re newly equipped with details about the actual human beings visiting your website (with respect to member privacy, says the platform). And while every social media channel has its own trends and patterns of users, having these insights can help you gain a better idea of who’s clicking, and why they might be seeking information from your brand.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the results as more advertisers begin to use and track the results of this tool, but as always, feel free to reach out on Twitter to share your own experience with it.

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4 Super-Useful New AdWords Features You Need to Try


AdWords Features

Google just unleashed a gang of new AdWords features to help you improve performance in every cranny of your paid search campaigns.

Today, I’m going to run through everything you’ll need to know to implement these super-useful changes throughout your account.

#1: Promotion Extensions

Since the advent of AdWords, folks like you and me have been forced to use their ad headlines and description to share promos with prospective patrons. No more!

We wrote about AdWords promotion extensions back in May (when they were still in beta), but Google has finally decided to release them to all advertisers.


Promotion extensions allow you to update (drumroll) promotions that you can append to your text ads. Whether you’re sharing a discount code or simply sharing a site-wide discount, these ad extensions will send your CTR’s skyrocketing.

Let’s say you sell the best granola in all of Vermont. Hand-rolled oats. Dried quinces. The silkiest cacao nibs. Ounces of love infused into each delicious cluster. You get the picture. Instead of creating holiday-specific ads to share your Black Friday sale with prospective customers, apply an account-level promotion extension, like so:


Sure, this’ll help your ads take up more space on the SERP and make your sale pop off the page with a neat little price tag vector and some additional bold copy. But there are some additional benefit to using promotion extensions.

Promotion extensions allow you to keep your business’s sales and promos up to date without having to adjust your ad copy. Your headlines and description can be used to boost ad relevance and you won’t have to take stalwart top-performers out of rotation (which means you aren’t starting from square one when it comes to expected CTR). Both factors mean that amplifying your holiday sale on the search network doesn’t come at the cost of lowered Quality Scores and higher CPCs.

Promotion extensions also allow you to maintain your headline CTA. Instead of foregoing “Buy now” in favor of “40% off this holiday weekend,” you’ve got space enough to say both.

#2: Ad Variations

Speaking of adjusting ad copy (for better or worse), Google has decided to give you the power to test ad variants en masse.

Note that last bit.

Any PPC practitioner worth their salt is constantly A/B testing. Unfortunately, doing so has long been a bit of a pain, having to upload multiple copies of a given ad in which single components (a headline, a CTA, the inclusion or absence of holiday cheer) are altered and rotated against a control ad to determine its effect. With ad variants, conducting this split testing is a breeze.

Provided you’re leveraging the power of the new AdWords experience (soon to be theAdWords experience, full stop), you’ve now got access to the new ad variations tab. From here, you can test and make alterations at scale, fast.


Within the ad variants interface, you can:

  • Find and replace certain key words (or keywords, for that matter) in your ads
  • Update entire textual components (headlines, description, paths)
  • Invert your headlines

I’m a big fan of that last one, particularly when it comes to testing which headline should be doing the ad relevance legwork (containing your target keyword) and which should compel your prospects to act.

Oh! In the event you choose to run with ad variants, don’t forget to pay exceedingly close attention to the Experiment split section buried at the bottom of the third step (in which the most prominent actions you can take are assigning start and end dates).


Experiment split refers to the percentage of your campaign budget that’s “allocated to your variation and the percentage of auctions your variation is eligible to participate in.” If you only want to conduct an experiment with a small subset of your advertising budget (which may very well be the case during a time of year in which many eCommerce businesses make a substantial share of their total annual profits), adjust your split accordingly.

#3: Custom Intent Audiences

The Display Network can feel like a bit of a crapshoot at times. Without either artificially limiting or diligently manicuring your ad placements, your killer banner creative goes unnoticed amid the dross of random websites that exist solely to funnel fractions of pennies to industrious basement dwellers.

This is less of an issue when it comes to remarketing, because the relative intent and previous activity of your prospects makes up for the fact that your ads may very well be floating in front of their eyeballs amid a flurry of fake news and photoshop-fueled celebrity rumors.


If only there was a way to reach people on the Display Network who were actively searching for a product or service that only you could deliver…

Well, now there is!

Per Google, custom intent audiences use “Google’s machine learning technology to analyze your existing campaigns and auto-create custom intent audiences… based on the most common keywords and URLs found in content that people browse while researching a given product or service.” Once created, these new audiences will live among your other Display network audiences.

For example, here are a handful of the auto-created custom intent audiences that have surfaced in our own account:


Basically, Google uses data from your AdWords campaigns, website, and YouTube channel to determine what you sell, then cross-reference that against HUMANITY to auto-generate new, qualified (at least as far as Display goes) audiences. This kind of audience creationfurther cements Google shift towards a Facebook-like, audience centric mode of targeting on the Display Network, in which characteristics take the place of intent as a primary means of targeting net-new prospects.

In addition to these Skynet-created targeting options, you can also generate your own custom intent audiences using a combination of URLs and keywords.

#4: Gmail Remarketing

Finally, we’ve got Gmail Remarketing. I was despondent earlier this year when I learned that Google was stripping the domain targeting feature from my beloved Gmail ads (for my money, there was no better way to rail against the competition).

The ability to remarket—and, more importantly, do so dynamically—via Gmail has turned my frown upside down.

Google’s calling it “an immersive shopping experience” in your prospects’ inboxes. I’m calling it a Black Friday boon. If you’re an eCommerce advertiser looking for a leg up as we approach the busiest shopping days of the calendar year, the ability to bring a prospects’ shopping cart into their inbox is just that.

About the Author

Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan.

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The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Keyword research is the foundation upon which all good search marketing campaigns are built. Targeting relevant, high-intent keywords, structuring campaigns into logical, relevant ad groups, and eliminating wasteful negative keywords are all steps advertisers should take to build strong PPC campaigns. You also need to do keyword research to inform your content marketing efforts and drive organic traffic.

Sometimes, though, you really need to figure out what your competitors are up to.

ways to find competitor keywords The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Competitive keyword analysis is one of the most effective ways to compete in a crowded space and gain a crucial advantage over other businesses in your industry. So how do you actually find those keywords that your competitors are targeting in their paid and organic search campaigns?

Here are eight tools and tactics you can use to find competitor keywords, so you can keep up with the Joneses (or leave them in the dust).

1. BuzzSumo

We’ve talked about BuzzSumo numerous times in the past, and that’s because it’s awesome. (And no, BuzzSumo didn’t pay me to say that.) For content marketers, it’s pretty much the perfect tool for competitive analysis, and one of BuzzSumo’s strengths is identifying potential competitors you may not have been aware of.

For example, most digital marketers are familiar with Moz. They produce excellent content, develop their own suite of awesome tools, and also lay on a pretty great annual conference, too. If you run an SEO blog or publish SEO-related content, you almost undoubtedly already know that Moz is among your most fierce competitors. But what about smaller, independent sites that are also doing well?

Enter BuzzSumo.

In the example search below, I entered “SEO” as my initial query – an incredibly broad term with millions of potential results. Here’s what BuzzSumo unearthed for me:

ways to find competitor keywords buzzsumo The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Obviously, we’re not interested in the top two results, as they both pertain to South Korean actress Park Seo Joon. But what about the next two results? Both were published by Mike Johnson at a site called – a site I’d never heard of prior to conducting this search. Check out those social share numbers, though – more than 35,000 shares for each article! This gives us a great starting point for our competitive intelligence research, but we need to go deeper. Fortunately, BuzzSumo’s competitive analysis tools are top-notch.

We’re going to use BuzzSumo’s Domain Comparison tool to compare two different domains across a range of parameters. For the sake of example, I’ve chosen to compare the Content Marketing Institute’s site against Copyblogger:

ways to find competitor keywords buzzsumo domain comparison The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

BuzzSumo will then provide you with a breakdown of how to two domains compare to one another. There are a range of reports available in the Domain Comparison tool, but two of the most interesting are the Average Shares by Content Type and Average Shares by Content Length reports:

ways to find competitor keywords buzzsumo domain comparison results 1 The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

As you can see, the most popular content type for both the Content Marketing Institute and Copyblogger are lists, followed closely by how-to articles. This is already proving to be valuable data, but we can go deeper to see which articles are being shared the most by length:

ways to find competitor keywords buzzsumo domain comparison results 2 The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Now we’re getting a much clearer picture of what’s working for these two publishers. As the graph above illustrates, long-form content performs well in terms of social shares, even at lengths of between 3,000-10,000 words.

But what about specific content and those sweet, sweet keywords? Let’s dive into BuzzSumo’s Content Analysis tool:

ways to find competitor keywords buzzsumo content analysis The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

In the example search above, I’ve chosen to examine CMI’s website. First, we’re provided with an overview of content on the domain we’ve specified, which includes a detailed summary of that domain, including the number of articles analyzed, total and average social shares, and average shares by platform and content type as we saw in our domain comparison query earlier:

ways to find competitor keywords buzzsumo content analysis overview The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

This overview is certainly interesting, but it’s not what we’re looking for – we want to know which individual articles have performed strongly during the past year. We can see this data by scrolling down past the dashboard summary to the Top Pieces of Content report:

ways to find competitor keywords buzzsumo content analysis top content The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

The top result – 50 Best Social Media Tools From 50 Most Influential Marketers Online – is far and away the most popular article published by CMI within the past year with more than 10,000 shares, twice the share volume of the second-most popular article. Armed with this knowledge, we can use the URL of that article in another keyword tool to examine which specific keywords CMI’s most popular article contains. Sneaky, huh?

When it comes to competitive keyword research, BuzzSumo doesn’t offer a great deal of keyword-specific data. It has, however, given us an excellent starting point for further research.

2. SEM Rush

Our next competitive intelligence tool is SEM Rush, an impressive suite of keyword research tools that can help you identify competitor keywords quickly and easily. You can search by keyword or URL, filter results by geographical area or country, specify different match types for PPC keywords, and examine domain analytics data for entire sites.

ways to find competitor keywords sem rush overview The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Let’s say we want to continue the research we began in BuzzSumo to find CMI’s top competitors. We can do this by selecting the “Competitors” dashboard, which can be found via the Domain Analytics > Organic Research menu:

ways to find competitor keywords sem rush competitors The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

For this example, we’re analyzing CMI’s organic keywords from data for desktop searches within the United States. You can change this to localized British, German, or French Google results if needed, and you can also choose between desktop or mobile traffic data.

Next up, I want to see how CMI stacks up against similar publishers in terms of their organic keywords in relation to their organic search traffic. I can find this data by examining the graph that SEM Rush generates as part of this report.

As you can see below, CMI is very close to content marketing productivity app CoSchedule’s site in both organic keyword volume and organic search traffic. We can also see that there are more than 51,000 organic keywords across the CMI website, as well as traffic data and the estimated cost of attracting that traffic:

ways to find competitor keywords sem rush cmi graph The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

This data is definitely useful, but I want more – specifically, how CMI’s competitors rank for their keywords. This data can be found beneath the reports above, in the Organic Competitors report:

ways to find competitor keywords sem rush organic competitors The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

This is where things get really interesting.

As the table above shows, CMI’s top organic competitor is Curata. If we look at the traffic/keyword overview graph above, Curata appears to be of little threat to CMI; it ranks lower for both volume of organic keywords and organic search traffic, yet it’s listed as the top organic competitor in the above table. Why? Because SEM Rush doesn’t just factor in organic keywords and organic search traffic – it also factors in how many keywords a competitor’s site has in common with yours, as well as the number of paid keywords on the site (in Curata’s case, just one), as well as the traffic price, the estimated cost of those keywords in Google AdWords.

We can also see that Curata has approximately 15,300 search engine keywords on its site. What if we want to see what those keywords are? All we have to do is click on the data we want to examine:

ways to find competitor keywords sem rush keyword list The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

That’s more like it! With just a few clicks, we can now see a wealth of competitive keyword data for Curata, such as the keywords themselves, their average organic position in the SERP, approximate search volume, the keyword’s difficulty (how hard it will be to rank for that specific keyword), average CPC, the share of traffic driven to the site by a particular keyword (displayed as a percentage), as well as costs, competitive density, volume of results, trend data over time, and an example SERP. Incredible.

3. SpyFu

SpyFu is another popular competitive intelligence tool that can help you find competitor keywords. Unlike similar tools, however, SpyFu is a tool dedicated solely to competitive intelligence research.

ways to find competitor keywords spyfu overview The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

An overview of the domain dashboard within SpyFu

It’s actually pretty remarkable how much data SpyFu can provide, even for basic or cursory searches. Data on everything from local and global monthly search volume, CTR, ad spend, advertisement history, ranking history, backlinks, and ad groups is readily available, offering invaluable insight into your competitors’ keyword strategies.

Let’s continue our research by selecting “Competition” from the menu to the left of our domain overview as seen above. This brings us to a novel and very cool feature of SpyFu known as Kombat, which allows you to pit three domains against one another to determine how competitive they are:

ways to find competitor keywords spyfu kombat The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Even in a single click, we’re provided with a range of very interesting competitive intelligence data. These results are visualized as a Venn diagram, allowing you to quickly and easily get an idea of how CMI stacks up against Curata and CoSchedule, CMI’s two biggest competitors. On the right-hand side, you can select one of several submenus. Let’s take a look at the Weaknesses report, which lists all the keywords that both other competitors in our example rank for, but that CMI does not:

ways to find competitor keywords spyfu weaknesses The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

This list of keyword weaknesses (or opportunities, if you’re a glass-half-full kind of person) can be sorted by search volume, exact CPC, and keyword difficulty, and allows you to quickly and easily discover keywords your competitors are ranking for that your site is not – an invaluable part of your competitive intelligence analysis.

We can also drill further down into SpyFu’s keyword data to examine specific keywords from a competing site, in this case Curata. This is accessed by navigating to the Keyword Research > Related Keywords report:

ways to find competitor keywords spyfu related keywords The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

This brings us to a comprehensive table of keyword data for Curata. This table contains data on pretty much every keyword metric you could ever need, including difficulty, CPCs for all three major keyword match types, local and global average search volume, and CTR for each match type.

ways to find competitor keywords spyfu related keywords results The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

SpyFu is a seriously powerful tool, and when you use it alongside other tools as part of your competitor keyword research workflow, you’ll be amazed at the data you can dig up.

4. Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer

Ahrefs is one of the most widely read SEO blogs on the Web. In addition, Ahrefs is also the developer of a tool called Keywords Explorer, and while this isn’t a free tool, it certainly flexes a lot of muscle.

ways to find competitor keywords ahrefs keyword explorer The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Image via Ahrefs

Keywords Explorer offers users tons of functionality and data that is invaluable to advertisers and SEOs alike. One of the coolest features, however, takes a slightly different approach to keyword research that is gaining traction in the SEO community, known as “Top Pages.”

This feature allows users to identify dozens or even hundreds of relevant keywords by focusing on the topic of a page or article, rather than the individual keywords themselves. Let’s see how this works courtesy of an example from Ahrefs.

Let’s say you already know who at least one of your top competitors is. You want to know what topics and keywords that competitor site ranks for, so you browse organic keyword data for that site – in the example below, our good friends at Moz:

ways to find competitor keywords ahrefs top pages The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Image via Ahrefs

As you can see in the image above, one of Moz’s articles – a Whiteboard Friday videofocusing on how to choose a domain name – has decent enough traffic, but look at the number of keywords this article ranks for (highlighted in blue). More than 1,000 keywords in a single article! Each individual keyword has accompanying volume data, meaning you can see new potential keyword ideas and their approximate search volume in the same table – very handy.

Conventional SEO wisdom might suggest targeting each specific keyword with a separate page or article, and you could certainly take that approach if you have the time and resources for such an ambitious project. Using this technique, however, allows you to identify new competitor keywords by parent topic – in the above example, how to choose a domain name – as well as dozens or even hundreds or relevant, semantically related keywords at the same time, allowing you to do what Moz has done, which is target many different relevant keywords in a single article.

In addition to other useful data, such as search volume, CPC, traffic, and search result volume, Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer also offers a wealth of historical keyword data such as SERP Overview and Position History to provide additional context to keywords that have waned in interest, volume, or average SERP position over time. This data could help you identify not only which specific topics and keywords have waned in popularity, but also how strongly each topic performed at its peak.

ways to find competitor keywords ahrefs parent topic The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Even cooler is the fact that you can “reverse engineer” this technique; you can enter the keywords identified in the example above into Keywords Explorer, and the tool will show those keywords’ parent topic. This allows you to identify strongly performing articles and pages based on clusters of semantically related keywords – very cool.

5. AdWords’ Auction Insights

Our next technique for discovering competitor keywords is platform-centric, but it’s too useful to overlook – using AdWords data to find out who your top-performing competitors are and what they’re ranking for.

To do this, we’ll be using AdWords’ Auction Insights functionality. Experienced AdWords advertisers may already be familiar with this report, but newcomers to PPC often overlook this data. To access it, simply navigate to an active AdWords campaign, then select “All” under the “Auction Insights” tab:

ways to find competitor keywords adwords auction insights tab The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Once you’ve accessed the Auction Insights report, you’ll be able to see a range of competitive analysis data from your AdWords competitors, including impression share, average ad position, overlap rate (how often your ads are displayed alongside those of a competitor), position-above rate (how often your ads outperformed a competitor’s ad), top-of-page rate (how often your ads appeared at the top of search results), and outranking share (how frequently a competitor’s ad showed above yours or when your ads aren’t shown at all).

ways to find competitor keywords adwords auction insights The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

This data will be displayed in an easy-to-read read report that shows you at-a-glance how your recent campaigns have performed compared to your competitors’ campaigns.

AdWords’ Auction Insights reports can be filtered and refined based on a wide range of criteria. For one, you can view Auction Insights reports at the Campaign, Ad Group, and Keyword level. We’re most interested in the Keywords report, and by selecting the Keywords tab, you can filter the results to display the data you need. You can filter results by bidding strategy, impression share, maximum CPC, Quality Score, match type, and even individual keyword text, alongside many other filtering options:

ways to find competitor keywords adwords auction insights keyword filters The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Image via Google Support

One drawback of AdWords’ Auction Insights report is that it only displays data for advertisers that have participated in the same ad auctions that you have, not all competitors with the same account settings or targeting parameters. This means that, by default, you’ll be missing some data regardless, as not every advertiser will compete in a given ad auction.

Still, considering that all this data is available from directly within the AdWords interface, without the use of third-party tools, the Auction Insights feature is very powerful – be sure you don’t overlook it as part of your competitor keyword research workflow.

6. Crowdsourcing Keyword Research

Here at WordStream, we often tell our readers that hard data about how people behave is always better than baseless assumptions about how we think users will behave. This is why A/B tests are so important; they show us what users are actually doing, not what we think they’re doing. But how can you apply this principle to your competitive keyword research? By crowdsourcing your queries.

Seed Keywords is a free tool you can use to crowdsource your keyword research. The tool allows you to create custom scenarios by posing hypothetical questions to your friends or coworkers, which can then be used as the basis of actual searches from which we will pull our data.

Here’s an example scenario provided by Seed Keywords:

ways to find competitor keywords seed keywords scenario The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

This is what your friends or coworkers will see when you create your own scenario. In the example above, users are asked what they would search for if they discovered a fault with their computer.

Seed Keywords then allows you to specify which search engine you would like to use in your scenario. By default, the tool offers results for, but since I’m located in the United States, I selected as the search engine I wanted to use, which gave me the following results:

ways to find competitor keywords seed keywords results The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

As you can see, some of these results are very broad and predictable, such as “pc repair” and “faulty pc fix.” Others, however, are more specific, and may be more revealing of how users would actually behave in this scenario, such as “hard disk corrupt.” The tool also allows you to download your keyword suggestions as .CSV files for upload to AdWords and Bing Ads by match type, which is very handy.

Before you get too excited, it’s worth remembering that although this tool allows you to see what people actually search for within the parameters of your scenario, this information may not be truly representative of an actual audience segment; unless you ask hundreds of people to complete your custom scenario, you won’t be working with a statistically significant data set. This doesn’t mean the tool – or the data it gives you – is of no use, it’s just something to consider if you’re seeking representative data.

As its name suggests, Seed Keywords is designed to help you find – you guessed it – seed keywords, or keywords that help you identify potential keyword niches as well as competing advertisers or sites as a starting point for further research. That doesn’t mean you can’t use Seed Keywords as the basis of competitive keyword research – it all depends on how you structure your custom scenario.  

7. Tag Clouds

Ever seen those word clouds that show you the most commonly used words on a page or site? Although this technique is usually reserved for creating inexpensive infographics or visual assets, they can also be used to find keywords on your competitors’ pages.

There are plenty of tools that you can use to create word or tag clouds. For example, let’s say you run an SEO blog and want to find out which keywords your major competitors are using. You can use a software program such as Tag Crowd to see which words are used most frequently on a specific site.

In the example below, I used Tag Crowd to see which are the most commonly used words on the official John Deere website by entering the URL into the appropriate field.

ways to find competitor keywords tag crowd The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

Based on our criteria, Tag Cloud presents us with a visualization of the most common words on John Deere’s website. As you can see, the keywords “attachments”, “equipment”, and “tractors” all feature prominently on John Deere’s site, but there are other frequently used keywords that could serve as the basis for new ad group ideas, such as “engine”, “loaders”, “utility”, and “mowers parts.”

ways to find competitor keywords tag cloud results The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

This technique is also very effective for content marketers seeking to identify new topic areas that your competitors are targeting, and can be used in concert with functionality offered by tools such as BuzzSumo in our examples above.

8. WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool

One of the best ways to find competitor keywords (if we do say so ourselves) is by using WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool.

How can we use WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool to find competitor keywords? Just enter a competitor’s URL into the tool (instead of a search term) and hit “Search.” For the sake of example, I’ve chosen to run a sample report for the Content Marketing Institute’s website by entering the URL of the CMI website into the Keyword field, and I’ve restricted results to the United States by selecting it from the drop-down menu on the right:

ways to find competitor keywords wordstream free keyword tool url The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

You’ll then be shown a range of competitive keyword data based on your search. This keyword data can be sorted and displayed by any of the four metrics included in the report – Google search volume, Competition, CPC, and Opportunity Score:

ways to find competitor keywords wordstream free keyword tool results The 8 Best Tools for Finding Competitor Keywords

In this example, our results are displayed in descending order based on Opportunity Score, a unique metric proprietary to WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool.

These reports can be downloaded as .CSV files for easy uploading to your AdWords or Bing Ads account (which you can do directly within WordStream Advisor, too), making the Free Keyword Tool an excellent launch point for further competitive intelligence research.

Seek and Ye Shall Find

These are just a few of our favorite tools and tactics for discovering the keywords our competitors are targeting and ranking for. Whatever tool you choose to use for keyword research, don’t forget about your competitors; they might be doing something you can learn from!

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Google Optimize now offers more precision and control for marketers

Savvy businesses review every step of the customer journey to ensure they are delivering the best experience and to find ways to offer more value. Today, we’re releasing two new features that will make it easier for you to improve each of those steps with the help of Google Optimize and Optimize 360.

AdWords integration: Find the best landing page

Marketers spend a lot of time optimizing their Search Ads to find the right message that brings the most customers to their site. But that’s just half the equation: Sales also depend on what happens once people reach the site.
The Optimize and AdWords integration we announced in May gives marketers an easy way to change and test the landing pages related to their AdWords ads. This integration is now available in beta for anyone to try. If you’re already an Optimize user, just enable Google Optimize account linking in your AdWords account. (See the instructions in step 2 of our Help Center article.) Then you can create your first landing page test in minutes.
Suppose you want to improve your flower shop’s sales for the keyword “holiday bouquets.” You might use the Optimize visual editor to create two different options for the hero spot on your landing page: a photo of a holiday dinner table centerpiece versus a banner reading “Save 20% on holiday bouquets.” And then you can use Optimize to target your experiment to only show to users who visit your site after searching for “holiday bouquets.”
If the version with the photo performs better, you can test it with other AdWords keywords and campaigns, or try an alternate photo of guests arriving with a bouquet of flowers.

Objectives: More flexibility and control

Since we released Optimize and Optimize 360, users have been asking us for a way to set more Google Analytics metrics as experiment objectives. Previously,
Optimize users could only select the default experiment objectives built into Optimize (like page views, session duration, or bounces), or select a goal they had already created in Analytics.
With today’s launch, Optimize users no longer need to pre-create a goal in Analytics, they can create the experiment objective right in Optimize:

custom objectives Google Optimize now offers more precision and control for marketers

Build the right objective for your experiment directly in the Optimize UI.

When users build their own objective directly in Optimize, we’ll automatically help them check to see if what they’ve set up is correct.
Plus, users can also set their Optimize experiment to track against things like Event Category or Page URL.
Learn more about Optimize experiment objectives here.

Why do these things matter?

It’s always good to put more options and control into the hands of our users. A recent study showed that marketing leaders – those who significantly exceeded their top business goal in 2016 – are 1.5X as likely to say that their organizations currently have a clear understanding of their customers’ journeys across channels and devices.1Testing and experimenting is one way to better understand and improve customer journeys, and that’s what Optimize can help you do best.

>>> Check out these new features in Optimize now<<<

1Econsultancy and Google, “The Customer Experience is Written in Data”, May 2017, U.S.
Posted by Rotimi Iziduh and Mary Pishny, Product Managers, Google Optimize

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Whether you’re the most novice paid advertiser or a seasoned vet, the question “what do I do now” has likely come up numerous times. Maybe you feel that you’ve done all you can do and are stuck. Maybe you’ve been so busy driving strategy that daily/weekly account maintenance has fallen by the wayside. Maybe you’re working through the learning curves of managing your first PPC account. Either way, it is good to have a checklist of initiatives that you should be at least thinking about on a regular basis.

In this post, I have provided a quick list of the things I try and always think about. Each account manager and account will be very different. So, my list is broken down into more of a general scale with a few specific examples. Again, whether you are brand new to PPC or a paid advertising pro at a crossroads, this list should hopefully help organize your thoughts and get those PPC optimization gears turning.


The first on my list is search query reports. SQRs are among the most basic PPC optimizations, but they are still important. You can run these account-wide (but beware of an excel crash if your account is somewhat large). However, I prefer to break them down to the campaign-type level. More specifically, I find SQRs for DSA and Shopping campaigns to be the most beneficial. Obviously, they can help you arrive at negative keywords. However, on the other side, they are great for account expansion. DSA and Shopping SQRs can help advertisers uncover themes in their account that they would have never thought of. Here’s a tip on how to excel your search query reports.


Next is Shopping. Since we’ve already discussed SQRs, I’ll move right to bids. Depending on the size of your product line and how campaigns are organized, this could be a very tedious process. So, if you don’t have any sort of automated bidding in place (see “Bidding” section), consider a couple of things. If a product group/product is high-spending and non-converting, lower the bid or exclude it. On the other side, if you aren’t getting satisfactory traffic, make sure you’re bidding high enough to get your desired impression share.

Also, if a Shopping campaign has a large number of conversions, dive in and see what’s driving them. Often times you’ll find that a single product, or even product group, is driving the majority of conversions for a campaign that has multiple product groups. In this case, I will give that high-converting product group its own campaign and budget with a higher priority.  Then, I will exclude it from its old campaign. This will allow greater emphasis on the higher performing product group and free up some budget for other products in the older campaign. If you have any further questions on Shopping, here is the complete Google AdWords Shopping campaign settings breakdown.

Search Ads

A popular item for search ads is split-testing, but I’ll refrain from regurgitating the same old A/B split, repeat. Instead, here are some other tips for ad optimization. For one, you can try setting up automated rules. They can be anything from emailing you when an ad has received 50 clicks, but not converted to pausing an ad that has over 100 impressions with no clicks. I’m not the biggest fan of fully automating, but their customizable nature can tailor to just about any account’s needs (even beyond ads). The second ad optimization you could consider trying is testing a different ad rotation. I haven’t fully bought into the “optimize for conversions” option, but it’s definitely worth a shot if your campaign is struggling.


There is a little less you can do with Display campaigns from a quick optimization or maintenance perspective. This is of course excluding audiences and targeting options, as that could be a post on its own. However, two things come to mind when I want to find quick wins in my display efforts. One is to cycle in new ad creative. Obviously, if it’s performing well there’s no need to update; but if conversions have dropped, try some fresh creative. The second is excluding placements. While we would like to think our targeting is always spot on, it is unrealistic to think we have complete control over where our target users go and furthermore, where our ads follow them. So, be sure to regularly keep a pulse on the high-spending/non-converting sites.

Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are probably forgotten the most often when it comes to optimizations, especially when schedules get busy. So first and foremost, ensure that all of your search campaigns are hitting as many extension types as possible (obviously within the realm of keeping them relevant). From there, just be sure to periodically check them and cycle in new extensions for those that aren’t performing as well. Finally, don’t forget that extensions can be a part of your promotion strategy. Sitelinks can be great for highlighting promotions, however, you can utilize the promotion extensions specifically for it as well.


Similar to SQRs, what kind of PPC checklist would this be if I didn’t include something on bidding? Similar to search ads, I have automated rules in place that help throw a flag on situations concerning impression share, average position, conversions, spend, etc. That essentially streamlines how I arrive at bidding decisions and I optimize from there. However, if you prefer more of an all-encompassing automation, with a little bit of research you can find numerous third party platforms or bid templates that automate nearly everything based on your goals.

Browse The Site

My final item on the checklist is better served in situations where you find yourself blanking on ideas, or in the rarer case when you are ahead on account initiatives. The actual site for the account you manage can be a great place to mine for new ideas and help drive strategy. By browsing the site, you could arrive at items like discovering certain new products/categories, new verbiage for ads, ad extension opportunity, discontinued products that are still showing ads, new keyword ideas, new audience ideas, and many others. Again, this is more general and less straightforward, but still an important element of any PPC checklist.


In closing, I realize this list is a little sporadic and generalized. However, as I previously mentioned, every advertiser and account will vary. So, my primary goal was to provide more of a high-level checklist that could serve as a foundation or starting point. From there, it can be customized to the specific situation. Feel free to follow-up if you have specific questions on any of the aspects of this checklist!

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How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively (and Make Them Last)

Posted by Bill.Sebald

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

I read The Art of War in college, written by the Chinese general Sun Tzu (author of the quote above). While his actual existence is debated, his work is often considered as brilliant military strategy and philosophy. Thus, The Art of War is often co-opted into business for obvious reasons. Throughout the book, you’ll realize tactics and strategy are not interchangeable terms.


- A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.
- A plan of action or policy designed to achieve an overall aim.
- The art and science of planning and marshaling resources for their most efficient and effective use.

These definitions vary slightly, but the essence is the same. A strategy is not constrained by size or application but promoted by planning and effectiveness. Let’s be honest, the word “strategy” is a term that isn’t always used the same way in the English lexicon (or our industry).

On the other hand, tactics can be isolated or serve as components in your strategy. They are actions you would impart as a step in the plan, or used as a stand-alone, typically with limited resources.

For some this is straightforward, but for others new to marketing or traditionally focused on tactical work, a strategy can be a difficult concept that requires practice. Perhaps understanding the purpose is key to dividing these terms. Let’s try this:

“The purpose of a strategy is to identify goals and build a plan of attack towards achieving those goals. The purpose of tactics are for smaller goals that could feed something bigger.”

Before you read on, please note: this is not an article devaluing tactics over strategy (despite the Sun Tzu quote). My goal is to inspire thought that can help you be more effective as a modern SEO, and possibly consider a strategy where you haven’t before.

A military analogy

I find analogies go a long way in describing lofty concepts. I could easily go with a football or legal example, but a military example might be the most comparable to what we do in marketing. And because I know my audience, I decided to go with Star Wars.591f4f9e6730f3.11567475 How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively (and Make Them Last)

The Galactic Empire thought they could take over the galaxy with fear and brute force. They developed plans for a space station with firepower strong enough to destroy a planet. Under the command of Governor Tarkin, the Death Star was created. They tested the completed Death Star on Princess Leia’s home planet of Alderaan, which gave Obi Wan Kenobi shivers.

However, the Rebels put together a counter-strategy. Piecing together intelligence about a deliberate design flaw, and developing a plan featuring waves of small battalions, the Rebel ships would take passes at the target. They would work together in designed waves to equally defend and attack during this campaign.

As basic as that scene was at the end of Star Wars, it’s a strategy nonetheless (albeit a small one).

Confusion of strategies versus tactics — a real-world example

To make this a bit more relevant to SEO, here’s an email shared with me by a prospective client. They were looking for a new agency after they received this from their current agency:

sample 24150 How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively (and Make Them Last)

I object to several things written here. Guest posting is a tactic, not a strategy. There is no plan here, just an action. A measurable or attainable goal is never made clear.

We need to do better. *desk flip*

Selling the SEO strategy

Whether you’re an agency, consultant, or in-house at a company, getting buy-in for an SEO strategy can be challenging. SEOs tend to rely on the support of several different departments (e.g. developers, copywriters, business managers, etc.), usually with their own predetermined goals. Enter the SEO to add more complexity.

boss graphic 92547 How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively (and Make Them Last)

There’s often a top-down marketing strategy already baked before you get to pitch your SEO work, to which you may find opportunity on a battlefield where access is not granted. It’s reckless to assume you can go into any established company and lob a strategy onto their laps, expecting them to follow it with disregard to their existing plans, politics, and red tape. Candidly, this may be the quickest way to get fired and show you’re not aligned with the existing business goals.

Instead, you need to find your areas of opportunity that work with the company’s business goals, not against them. Effective marketers don’t try to be a square peg in a round hole. Get to know the players, the existing playbooks, the silos, and the available gaps.

It’s not about being a yes-man; it’s about best playing the hand you’re dealt. You simply can’t successfully sell a strategy until you know where your strategy will fit and support the current business goals.

Before you begin mapping out the strategy

If I’ve done my job, you’re eager to put pen to paper, but you still have digging to do. Get your shovel.

Some people are better suited to design plans in a non-linear fashion. If I’m writing anything, be it an article or a piece of music, I’m bouncing back and forth throughout the piece as inspiration strikes. But for others who are more straight-minded and less frenetic, a reference of considerations and characteristics might be helpful.

Enter the mind map. Simply stated, a mind map is a visual representation of concepts and connections. As defined here, it is a visual thinking tool that helps to structure information, helping you to better analyze, comprehend, synthesize, recall, and generate new ideas.

It’s your sketch pad. Jot down all the ideas, concepts, and relationships you can possibly think of.

untitled 1 158646 How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively (and Make Them Last)

(Developed using a trial of

Think of this document as a living communication between you and your client or boss. It is a document you should refer to often. It keeps all parties on the same page and aligned. I recommend sharing it in a collaborative platform so updates are shared between all viewers without having to constantly send out new copies (nothing sucks the life out of efficiency faster than “versioning” issues).

There’s no shortage of things to consider in your mind map. Here are a few common items from my experience:

  • Timeline details
  • Details about the industry or different channels
  • Other marketing learnings
  • Customer/visitor details
    • Demographics and psychographics
    • Details about the customer journey
  • Competitive details
  • Product demand details
  • Current search visibility

My fellow marketers, this is not an exhaustive list by any means. Gather all the information that is meaningful to you.

Drafting the strategy

At this stage, your initial gathering is complete, so now you’re on to development. Hopefully you’ve had some visibility and buy-in by your clients or boss to date, so it’s crucial to keep that momentum going. Don’t build a strategy in a silo.

Remember, a strategy is a plan. A plan has steps, dependencies, and future considerations throughout. I think it’s very important for your team and the client to “see” the strategy in a visual format, and not just conceptually. Use a spreadsheet, slides, or Word document — whichever tickles your fancy. At Greenlane, we’ve been using Google Sheets:

sample strategy 129342 How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively (and Make Them Last)

For demonstration purposes, flesh yours out as you see fit. Click for larger image.

If you work in an agile framework, the strategy is going to change. Everyone should be able to see revisions to the strategy with an indication of what’s been changed and why. That’s a benefit to documenting every important detail.

Earlier you put together a mind map to put preliminary ideas on the table. You considered things that you’ll now need to thoroughly scrutinize. Here is a list of considerations to hold your SEO strategy against. Make sure your final draft of the SEO strategy can clearly speak to each of these.

And since we’re on a Star Wars kick already, I present my dusty childhood toys (recently found in my mother’s basement).

Consideration 1 – Understand the client

audience 92521 How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively (and Make Them Last)

Each business is an entity. Each entity has characteristics. You need to know these characteristics if you’re going to build anything for the company. So, make sure you know the answers to these questions:

  • What’s your company vision? A great vision statement can inspire great things, including an SEO strategy. And why not? If properly developed and executed, the company has already set you up for a better chance of success.
  • What are the company’s core values? Every company can only be so many things to so many people. A well-branded company knows exactly what they are and what they aren’t. Use these core values in your campaign, as they should serve as your campaign perimeter.
  • What is the leadership like? What kind of culture do they cultivate? In smaller companies, the leaders tend to influence the culture. In larger companies, unfortunately, this can get lost. But if you have access to the leadership, spend some time learning about their vision. It should match up to the company’s core values, but sometimes there are more gems locked in their minds.
  • What are the pain points? What things drive the members of this organization to drink? From the customer support to the higher-ups, there are things that knock the company down. How do they get back up? Why are the pains they’re looking to work around? It may not be realistic to interview the whole company, but ideally you can get a representative to answer these.

Let’s pause for a moment.

If you’re at this part of the article, and you’re thinking, “Whoa — why the hell would I do all this to get a few rankings?” then you’re not thinking strategic yet. True, it’s possible these bullets aren’t all relevant to what you’re building, but the bigger your strategy needs to go, the more you need to know your client.

Consideration 2 – Understand the goals

smart graphic 82185 How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively (and Make Them Last)

If we’re going to be creating goal-oriented plans, it make sense to start with a smart goal or two. And by smart, I mean SMART. For those who aren’t familiar with SMART goals, it stands for the following:

Specific: This is for the “why” and “how” of your goal. What exactly are you trying to do, and why? If you were a retailer who sells a little of everything, you might have a statement like this:

“At the end of February, we noticed our customers begin researching lawn and patio furniture. Customers are favoring items that look more elegant and can resist weather.”

Measurable: Be very detailed. Are we trying to make money, or are we trying to make five hundred dollars? Are we trying to draw traffic, or are we trying to bring 500 new visits that engage with our website?
A retailer might have a statement like:

“Our goal is to increase organic conversions of the Lawn and Patio section by 15% YOY in Q2 and Q3, with lawn chairs driving 75% of those sales. Target revenue $500,000 in Q2, and $300,000 in Q3.”

Achievable: Make sure you’re grounding your goal in reality. Sure, you can’t control a massive Google update, but using the history of your sales and competitive data, you can make some inferences. You also need to make sure you have agreed-upon goals. Get buy-in before you set the goal in stone, leveraging the thoughts from the leaders, merchandisers, analysts, and anyone who might be able to provide insight into the likelihood of hitting your goal.

Realistic: (There is some blend between realistic and achievable.) Do you have the appropriate resources in place? Does your client have the flexibility to make the necessary changes within the proposed timeline?

A statement to help framing could be:

“We are going to rely on resources including copywriters, researchers, merchandisers, and developers to make on-page changes within the time frame of this plan. We expect to need 40 hours of time from copywriters, 50 hours from web development.”

Time-bound: We will need deadlines for dependencies. Assign due dates to each step of the plan, and keep the players accountable. Make sure you have an appropriate start-to-finish date.

Consideration 3 – Understand the audience

characteristics 135432 How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively (and Make Them Last)

This is critical. If you don’t know what your searchers are looking for, you’re guessing. That’s a bad idea. Especially today, where we have troves of data.

But it’s important to find the stories in-between the numbers. With that said, your audience can’t be measured solely by the 0s and 1s that comes into analytics platforms. I’ve written about this in The Down Side of Analytics in Marketing.

But I’ve recently heard some chatter voicing the polar opposite. I’ve heard the sentiment to wholly ignore certain data points because they don’t represent the real person. To me, that’s bad advice — directional data is better than the romantic notion of success based on your “gut” feel. Estimated search volume, clicks, and even impressions give credence not only to a keyword, but a bigger theme. This starts to create direction and an understanding of need, which leads to your next few rounds of audience recognition.

Using the available data helps a marketer understand which dollars are more effective than others, and how to identify different audience groups within the buying cycle.

With the demographics and site usage details from GA, different types of users (researchers, comparers, buyers, customers) can be grouped and classified, and the marketing dollars and messaging appropriately tailored.

AdWords and Facebook are further vehicles for reaching the appropriate audiences with more refined messaging. I think it’s important to create personas for your current visitors and the type of visitors you want to attract. It might be valuable to create personas of those you don’t want to attract, to keep in the back of your mind as your content and advertising calendar is being built following the delivery of your overall strategy.

Consideration 4 – Understand the competitive landscape

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Without knowing the landscape, you really don’t know what opportunity lies ahead. Understanding your competition’s success allows you to learn from their wins (and mistakes). Reinventing the wheel burns unnecessary minutes.

There are a few competitive tools we tend to gravitate towards in our industry. SEMrush is a fantastic tool allowing anyone to look up a website and get an estimated search visibility and traffic share. Drilling in shows how well pages perform independently. Gleaning through exports can quickly reveal what topics are driving traffic, to which you might replicate or improve your own version.

Backlinks can actually serve as a proxy for interest. In Google’s vision of a democratic web, they considered links to function like votes. Google wants editorial votes to influence their algorithm. So, if we assume all links are potentially editorial, then looking up backlink data can illustrate content that’s truly beloved. Grab your favorite backlink data provider (hey — Moz has one!) and pull a report on a competitor’s domain. Take a look at the linked pages, and with a little filtering, you’ll see top linked pages emerge. Dive into those pages and develop some theories on why they’re popular link targets.

Social media — it’s more than cat memes. Generally, non-marketing folks share content that resonates with them. Buzzsumo offers an easy interface for digging through the depths of social media. Have a general topic you’d like to pursue? Enter it into Buzzsumo and see what you get.

buzzsumo1 How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively (and Make Them Last)

Let the creative juices flow. Look for topics you can improve under your own roof. Even the nichiest of niches can have representation in Buzzsumo.

Maybe this feels a bit too scattershot for you. Buzzsumo also allows you to find and observe influencers. What are they sharing? By clicking the “view links shared” button, you’ll get a display of all the unique pages shared. Sometimes “influencers” share all types of varying content crossing many topics. But sometimes, they’re pretty specfic in the themes they share. Look for the latter in this competitive research stage.

buzzsumo2 How to Build SEO Strategies Effectively (and Make Them Last)

Consideration 5 – Understand the roadblocks

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Every company has obstacles. Each one has built its own labyrinth. Don’t try to blanket an existing labyrinth with your ill-prepared strategy; instead, work within the existing inroads.

Reality bites. You could draft up an amazing strategy, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to which you’re rebuilding an entire category structure of one of the website’s most lucrative lines… only to find out there’s a ticket queue for the necessary resources that’s more than 6 months long. Despite your brilliant idea, you’re going to look bad when the client calls you out on not understanding their business.

The best way to avoid this is proactively asking the right questions. Ask about resource support. Ask about historic roadblocks. Ask to be introduced to other players who otherwise hide behind an email here and there. Ask about the company’s temperature regarding a bigger SEO strategy vs. short, quick-hit campaigns. Don’t be your own biggest obstacle — I’ve never heard of anyone getting angry about over-communication unless it paralyzes progress.

A few final thoughts (from my experience)

It’s time for my Jerry Springer moment.

Not all strategies have to be big. Sometimes your window is small, and you’re forced to build for a distinct — or tiny — opportunity. Maybe you don’t have time for a proper large-scale strategy at all; a tactic or two might be all you can do to carry in a win. Just make that very clear with your boss or client. Don’t misrepresent what you’re trying to build as an SEO campaign.

I understand that some SEO agencies and departments are not built for the big SEO campaigns. Strategic work takes time, and speeding (or scaling) through the development stage will likely do more harm than good. It’s like cramming for a test — you’re going to miss information that’s necessary for a good grade. It would be my pleasure if this post inspired some change in your departments.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that paralysis by over-thinking is a real issue some struggle with. There’s no pill for it (yet). Predicting perfection is a fool’s errand. Get as close as you can within a reasonable timeframe, and prepare for future iteration. If you’re traveling through your plan and determine a soft spot at any time, simply pivot. It’s many hours of upfront work to get your strategy built, but it’s not too hard to tweak as you go.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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If you are ever told that the goal of an ecommerce account isn’t to improve ROI, you are probably being lied to. Generating more revenue is the driving factor behind the majority of businesses and the marketing efforts they push. It may not be the be-all end-all with other goals such as newsletter sign-ups and calls, but it’s vital.

How can you improve ROI? If the answer was simple, we’d all be rich. Every account is different and some tactics that work for one account may not work for another. That being said, below are 3 tips to get you on the right track to success.

1. Improve Account Structure

Account structure can either make or break an account. From the way the campaigns are segmented to the match types being used in each ad group, it’s important. You want to stay organized to easily accommodate for future builds and stay efficient to increase CTR and reduce CPAs.

Staying organized is first and foremost. If you are in a room that has items scattered throughout, it’s impossible to know where anything is and to know where to place new items that make the most sense. It’s the same in your account. Make sure that campaigns and ad group have fluid themes (and names, but that’s for another blog post) that align with the site.

Once you are organized by themes, segmenting by match type at either the ad group or campaign level will give you additional benefits. These include but aren’t limited to:

Screen Shot 2017 06 08 at 4.15.46 PM 701x460 3 TIPS TO IMPROVE ROI FOR PAID SEARCH

  • Better control when it comes to search queries matching to keywords and the ad copy being displayed to users.
  • The use of embedded negatives to direct keywords to the appropriate ad group.
  • The ability to control budgets and adjust based on performance at the campaign level.

While this may be beneficial to some, there is some debate on what the actual impact of segmenting by match type is. Below are three articles to get your brain moving.

2. Reduce Non-Converting Spend

This is a quick, yet effective move. Regularly perusing your account for keywords that just aren’t driving conversions is a sure way to improve ROI if you maintain revenue. While I’m not going to go into a tutorial on how to do this, there are a few tips to keep in mind when determining if something is worth pausing.

  • Look out for click assisted conversions. While they aren’t direct conversions, they play a role in the overall flow.
  • Sometimes looking at a longer date range will paint a bigger picture. When looking at a 30-day window you may see that a relevant keyword has only spent $20 and hasn’t converted so you keep it because of its relevancy. However, when looking at a 6-month period of time you realize that it’s spent $300 and hasn’t converted. Imagine if you have just 10 keywords that haven’t converted in 3 months. You have now spent $3k on 10 keywords that gave you $0.
  • Don’t forget to look at search queries. A keyword might be bringing in conversions but what does the traffic behind the keyword look like? Here is a great article on Non-Converting Cost %: Illuminating Trends in Your Account (Jacob Fairclough), that walks through looking at non-converting spend at the search query level.

3. Utilize Remarketing Lists For Search Ads (RLSA)

This is another quick yet effective move. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), are audience lists that can be layered on search campaigns to target those within your remarketing lists. If you are unfamiliar with RLSA, check out this article.

Screen Shot 2017 06 08 at 4.10.05 PM 770x124 3 TIPS TO IMPROVE ROI FOR PAID SEARCH

Once set-up, RLSA lists can help improve ROI. With RLSA audiences, we have the ability to increase bids for users who are more likely to convert than your average Joe on the street who has never heard of your brand. This gives you the ability to potentially bid down across your Search campaign as a whole but bid higher on audiences more likely to convert.


While the tactics above may not be game changers and may be considered elementary, they could be the quick win you need to improve ROI.

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Introducing Smart display campaigns

There are now over 3 million apps and websites on the Google Display Network (GDN), from popular news websites to the latest gaming apps. No matter what your customers are doing to stay informed or entertained across the GDN, it’s important to reach them with timely and relevant messages. In order to do that, you need to find the right customers, tailor your creative to them and set optimal bids.

Starting today, Smart display campaigns begin rolling out to all advertisers, letting you reach more customers easily on the GDN. Smart display campaigns use the power of Google’s machine learning to automatically:

Only Google provides automation like this at scale, helping you deliver richer experiences to consumers and better results for your brand. In fact, advertisers who use Smart display campaigns are seeing an average 20% increase in conversions at the same CPA,1 compared to their other display campaigns.

trivago, a hotel search platform, is using Smart display campaigns to help travelers around the world find hotel rooms that meet all their travel needs—like a room large enough for a family of four, one with hi-speed Wi-Fi for a business trip, or one with an ocean-front view for that well-deserved beach vacation. The travel brand provided:

  1. Creative assets: Headlines like “Find Great Hotel Deals,” descriptions of its hotel listings, beautiful images of destinations like Rome and London, and its logo

  2. Business goals: A target CPA and daily budget

AdWords did the rest—creating over 25,000 tailored ads and showing them to travelers shopping for hotel deals. For instance, people browsing a travel blog might see a message with trivago’s “Find Great Hotel Deals” headline and a breathtaking image of the Coliseum. With Smart display campaigns, trivago drove 36% more conversions at the same CPA, compared to its other similar display campaigns. The brand now uses Smart display campaigns across markets in Europe, Asia and North America.

 Introducing Smart display campaigns

Smart display campaigns automatically created over 25,000 versions of trivago’s ad

and showed them to people across 55 countries shopping for hotel deals

 Introducing Smart display campaigns

Credit Karma, a free credit and financial management website, used Smart display campaigns to get more signups and drove 37% more conversions at a similar CPA.2 “Smart display campaigns help our team save time, engage new customers and scale our marketing efficiently,” says Andrew Tam, Senior Director of Marketing at Credit Karma.

Hulu%25E6%25A7%2598%25E7%2594%25BB%25E5%2583%258F Introducing Smart display campaignsHulu Japan, a subscription video service, turned to Smart display campaigns to reach new subscribers and drove a 37% higher conversion rate.3 “Smart display campaigns make it simple to set up and manage our campaigns using the power of automation. They’re a really effective way to promote our service to prospective customers,” says Mue Hasegawa, Online Communication Senior Manager of Hulu Japan.

Learn more about setting up your first Smart display campaign in the AdWords Help Center.

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Bringing programmatic buying to reservation deals everywhere

At DoubleClick, we’ve always focused on building solutions that help publishers and advertisers connect in better ways. Today, delivering on that goal means giving advertisers the programmatic tools to find and reach their audiences across their preferred publisher partners. It also means giving publishers the flexibility to negotiate a variety of different types of deals that can be delivered programmatically, including direct deals that were historically transacted via paper insertion orders and tags.

This was the premise for Programmatic Guaranteed. Advertisers gain guaranteed access to premium inventory on brand-safe publisher sites with the ability to optimize their campaigns programmatically. Publishers benefit from locking in revenue from preferred advertisers with greater efficiency.

With these benefits, it’s no surprise that Programmatic Guaranteed impressions served on DoubleClick grew at a monthly rate of 20% in 20161, making it the fastest growing transaction type on our platform. We’ve seen adoption from global advertisers like Turkish Airlines and Mercedes-Benz, and premium publishers like Conde Nast and Vox.

Building on our initial announcement last year, today we’re excited to share that Programmatic Guaranteed is now available to all DoubleClick Bid Manager and DoubleClick for Publishers users globally with two new key features—support for buyer audience lists and sponsorships.

Reach the right user with audience lists

Using Programmatic Guaranteed with audience lists, advertisers can target (or exclude) their own audience lists and secure guaranteed access to preferred publisher inventory while minimizing media waste. Publishers can forecast the inventory available against advertisers’ lists and guarantee they’re only serving ads to the buyer’s target audience. Since we announced this feature, advertisers and agencies such as i360 have used Programmatic Guaranteed with audience lists to meet their reach goals while targeting only their desired consumers on premium publishers. The net result: a 25% uplift in viewability and a 72% completion rate for their video ads.

Greater flexibility to transact fixed fee deals programmatically

Programmatic Guaranteed with sponsorships allows publishers to sell high-value inventory on a flat-fee sponsorship basis—a common practice among publishers transacting via traditional reservations. With this new capability, advertisers and publishers can maintain the control of a sponsorship transaction, while reaping the efficiency benefits of programmatic.

“Being able to sell sponsorships through Programmatic Guaranteed really benefits us. On one hand, we are able to transact high value placements through a new channel generating new business to Universo Online. On the other, we also see a lot of operational benefits for us and for our buyers. With this new feature, it is possible to bring agility to the entire workflow of booking, trafficking, credit checking and invoicing. Consequently, we have a more agile and efficient implementation process to run campaigns.”
-Adriano Marques, Head of Adtech at Universo Online (UOL)

Connect faster with Marketplace and Programmatic Guaranteed

Media buyers who use DoubleClick Bid Manager can discover and request to reserve premium inventory from any publisher participating in DoubleClick’s Marketplace. With the recent release of the new RFP workflow in Bid Manager, advertisers now have a simple solution to create a media plan. And with a single click, they can request quotes from publishers who they already know or from publishers whose inventory matches their campaign goals or their first party audience data.

With the launch of these new features, we’re excited to prove the value of programmatic in connecting advertisers with their audiences on premium inventory. Stay tuned as we expand the capabilities of our programmatic platforms to bring the full power of automation and machine learning to improve advertising performance for our partners.

Check out the latest Programmatic Direct trends in our newly updated report “The State of Programmatic Direct” or

Kurt%2BSpoerer Bringing programmatic buying to reservation deals everywhere
Posted by Kurt Spoerer
Group Product Manager, DoubleClick
Roshan Khan Bringing programmatic buying to reservation deals everywhere
Posted by Roshan Khan
Product Manager, DoubleClick

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A fast start to 2017 for click-to-call ads

Living in a mobile-first world has made it easier than ever to pick up the phone and talk to a business directly. That’s why we’ve continued investing in calls innovations based on the great feedback we’ve heard from you. From call-only ads for marketers who prioritize calls to imported call conversions that allow you to upload your own call conversion data directly into AdWords, we’ve strived to drive more high-quality calls to your business in three main ways:

  1. Simplified workflows so you can set up click-to-call ads faster
  2. Better ad experiences that make it easier for people to call you
  3. Detailed call reporting that shows which parts of your campaigns drive the most valuable calls

We have new updates coming soon across these areas to help you improve your calls performance.

Get your call extensions up and running more quickly

Account-level call extensions will begin rolling out this week to help you set up call extensions at scale. You can implement them once across your entire account rather than adding them multiple times to individual campaigns and ad groups.
In the coming months, we’re also rolling out automated call extensions to more advertisers globally to help you set up call extensions more quickly. AdWords will identify landing pages that already feature a prominent phone number, and automatically set up a call extension and call reporting for this phone number to help you drive more calls to your business.

New year, new look for click-to-call ads

In addition to making call extensions quicker to set up, we’re improving the ad experience to help consumers call you more easily. For example, we started testing business names in the headlines of call-only ads last year to help advertisers maximize high-quality calls from people who intend to call them.

wommster%2Blogo A fast start to 2017 for click to call ads

“Introducing business names to call-only ads has improved the quality of calls we drive from Google Search for clients across our agency. We’ve been able to showcase their brands more clearly and increase user trust, which has led to significantly higher clickthrough and call conversion rates.”
-Kevin Quinlan, President of
We’re now rolling this change out globally and will continue experimenting with other new features in click-to-call ads, including testing caller satisfaction ratings to show consumers which businesses are delivering a great user experience over the phone.

Updated%2BCTC%2Bad%2B %2Bcaller%2Bratings A fast start to 2017 for click to call ads

New reporting for keyword and ad-level call details

Measuring performance from your click-to-call ads is essential for making informed decisions about your spend and optimizations. AdWords call reporting is easy to set up and available in 23 countries around the world at no additional cost to show you useful insights and conversions from the calls you’re receiving. We’ll soon be adding new call details to your keyword and ad copy reports. Additional columns for “Phone impressions” and “Phone calls” will give you a more complete view of call performance and help you see where there are opportunities to improve. For example, consider using call-only ads on keywords with the highest phone-through rates, or decreasing wait times when you have customers on the phone to improve call conversion rates.
We hope these new updates to click-to-call setup, ad experiences and reporting will help you ring in 2017 with great calls performance. To learn more, visit the Help Center and read our best practices for driving phone calls to your business and optimizing the caller experience.
Posted by Manas Mittal, Product Manager, Mobile Search Ads

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