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iOS 14.5: The Impact on Facebook Advertising

A phone showing the Facebook logo.

If you advertise on Facebook, you’ve probably heard about the iOS 14.5 update and the apparent havoc it’s wreaked.

In the latest move towards championing user privacy and first-party data, Apple introduced the iOS 14.5 update to limit third-party data and tracking.

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to the iOS 14.5 update and its impact on Facebook advertisers.

Keep up to date with the latest industry news and trends by following us on Twitter.

 

 

What is the iOS 14.5 update?

 

In April 2021, Apple released a software update that requires Apps in the App Store, like Facebook, to show a prompt to users in accordance with their ‘App Tracking Transparency’ framework.

The prompt asks users if they would like to allow third-party cookies or ask the App not to track.

iOS 14.5 notification on an iPhone. Allow Facebook to track your activity across other companies' apps and websites.

If users opt-out of third-party cookies, certain data collection and sharing is prohibited.

 

 

What are third-party cookies?

 

Cookies are text files that hold small pieces of data about a user and their interactions on a site.

First-party cookies are ones created by the website you’re currently on, usually for their own digital purposes, like analytical reporting or saving your preferences such as a password.  Website cookie policies often refer to strictly necessary cookies, functionality cookies or performance cookies, and these are usually first-party cookies.

Importantly, first-party cookies can’t track your behaviour across different sites they visit.

Third-party cookies are created by other websites and these can track your activity across different sites. For advertisers, these third-party cookies are extremely useful. For instance, they allow the creation of retargeting lists of past visitors or people with similar interests. These are often referred to as targeting, tracking or advertising cookies.

The industry is increasingly moving towards first-party-only cookies, in an attempt to prioritise user privacy.

In January 2020, Google announced that it would scrap third-party cookies by late 2023. The technology giant followed the lead of other web browsers including Firefox and Apple’s Safari.

 

 

How has the iOS 14.5 update impacted advertisers on Facebook?

 

If a user asks Facebook not to track them, their data cannot be shared or collected by third parties.

This means that there’s less data being sent to Facebook pixels, which is the code used to record conversions and optimise campaigns for specific actions.

With less data gathered, Facebook’s algorithms will be less efficient and effective, and campaign results could suffer.

Remarketing pools will also be smaller, lookalike audiences less reliable and reporting capabilities limited

 

 

How much data is actually being lost?

 

It’s difficult to say exactly; Facebook/Meta hasn’t published official figures on opt-in rates, and it will likely vary from advertiser to advertiser, depending on the region and audience demographic for example.

To clarify, data is only ‘lost’ for users who are using the Facebook or Instagram App on an Apple mobile device with iOS 14.5 or later installed and have opted out of tracking.

To give a ballpark of how much of your audience this equates in reality; around half the users on Facebook and Instagram use Apple mobile devices, and around 40% (and rising) of these are on iOS14+.

Then there is the question of how many users actually opt-in to the tracking. Initial estimations showed that only 2% of these users opted into tracking. However, more recent estimations have put this figure higher, at around 15 or 25%.

So in essence, not all user data is being lost, but potentially enough to make a noticeable and lasting impact on your results.

 

 

What has Facebook done to ease the impact of the iOS 14.5 update?

 

Facebook has tried to ease the impact of Apple’s iOS 14.5 update by implementing a protocol that allows for the measurement of web events in iOS 14+ devices.

This is called ‘Aggregated Event Measurement’. However, only up to 8 conversion events can be prioritised for conversion optimisation per domain.

To set up event configurations and use your conversion events for ad optimisation, you must verify your domain – another setup process within the Facebook Ads interface.

 

 

 

Summary

 

It’s clear that Apple want to be seen as the industry leaders on increased privacy and putting users, rather than platforms such as Facebook, first.

It’s likely that this is just one update that advertisers will have to navigate in the journey towards increased user privacy and scrapping of third-party cookies.

We can’t foresee any major moves away from advertisers using Facebook ads – as long as Facebook continues to be a widely-used social media platform, there will be the opportunity to effectively target relevant audiences.

In the follow up blog we will delve deeper into how advertisers can respond, watch this space and subscribe to our email news to get the next article sent directly to your inbox.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the iOS 14.5 update and the industry trend towards prioritising first-party data. Send us a message through our contact page or email us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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    SEO Highlights for November

    As ever, there was plenty of change going on in November, with a Core Algorithm update released just weeks before Christmas.  If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

     

     

    Core Algorithm Update

    Google’s Twitter announced another algorithm update in November! With the last update released in July, it’s been a few months since Google made any big changes to their search algorithm. Having got back into the rhythm of regular updates to the core algorithm, November saw the arrival of one of these updates. Roll out started mid-month and finished on the 30th, but any volatility to rankings was recorded right at the start of roll out.

    Search Engine Land accumulated data from several sources, all of which fed into the same narrative: the rollout hit hard in the first day or so, but then impact slowed down quite quickly. For example, SEMRush record ‘very high’ volatility on the 18th, one day after rollout. This then drops down to ‘normal’ the next day.

    SEMRush SERP volatility for the last 30 days in November 2021 after Google Core Algorithm update graph
    Source: SEMRush

     

    SEMRush’s sensor defaults to US search results, however when compared against the UK volatility levels aren’t too disimilar.

    This is equally very similar to how rankings reacted to the July update, but with an even quicker cool down. So despite it being the worst timing for ecommerce sites, this update hasn’t caused too much upheaval. Within our charity clients, we also haven’t seen any massive changes.

    SEMRush SERP volatility for the last 30 days in November 2021 after Google Core Algorithm update graph
    Source: SEMRush

     

    This is equally very similar to how rankings reacted to the July update, but with an even quicker cool down. So despite it being the worst timing for ecommerce sites, this update hasn’t caused too much upheaval. Within our charity clients, we also haven’t seen any massive changes.

     

     

    Disavowal Files: they may take longer to update than you think

    In a recent hangout session, Google’s John Mueller touched on the topic of disavowal files. Specifically, how long it can take them to affect search rankings.

     

    What is the disavowal file?

    The disavowal file is a list that is submitted to Google. It contains pages or entire domains that link to your site, that you don’t want Google to associate with you. It’s intention is to help Google avoid associating your site with spammy websites, although Google has gotten better at recognising these types of links itself (and ignoring them).

    The disavowal file is not a tool to be used lightly; if used incorrectly it can do a fair amount of damage to your organic performance. This happens when you accidentally disavow links that were giving your site authority, and therefore good value opposed to bad.

    Rather than disavowing random links you think look bad, Mueller said you should be using the disavowal file for links where you are potentially responsible (through outreach activity).

     

    How quickly can it impact rankings?

    Mueller actually confirmed on this hangout that the file is only taken into account when they re-process the links pointing to your site, which isn’t an everyday occurrence. It also isn’t all done in one go, so incremental change occurs rather than a singular update. Meaning, the impact of the disavowal file is ongoing over several months.

    So, if you update the file and see an immediate change to your rankings days after, you might want to look further afield. The disavowal file is unlikely to be the cause.

     

     

    Better Job Descriptions, better visibility!

    Google have revealed they have ‘uncovered an opportunity to improve your job posting pages, and it only takes a few changes to the description field’.

    If you publish job vacancies on your site, then through the application of JobPosting Structured Data you can target Google’s job search. This can help your site gain higher visibility in a competitive search environment. Google uses the data you include in your JobPosting Structured Data to populate the listing, so it’s worth ensuring it’s as informative and relevant as possible.

    To help make this possible, Google have published a little extra guidance to make the description contains everything a user may need to know to make a decision. That guidance is to review the description field in the JobPosting Structured Data and ensure it contains all information you’ve included in additional, specific fields (like the qualifications listed under the qualifications property). Essentially, duplicate information included in other fields so description encompasses it all.

    By doing this, the description box on Google’s job search becomes a much more insightful place! This sounds like a useful little tip to us and is one we look forward to testing in the future.

     

     

    Did we miss anything?

    If there was anything else that happened in November that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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      SEO Highlights for September and October

      SEO written on paper with pencils

      Autumn is here, bringing with it thick jumpers, PSLs and SEO highlights galore. If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

       

       

      Continuous scrolling on mobile

      Continuous scrolling has rolled out to mobile search results in the US. Now, when you reach the end of page 1 more search results load automatically without you needing to do anything. In fact, you can scroll through up to 4 pages of results before needing to click a ‘load more’ button. If your pages are ranking just off page 1 at the moment, then your visibility just got the opportunity to be greater.

      Continuous scrolling is an interesting change as it does open up the competition between search results. Users are given more options to browse before needing to click anything. There’s some debate over how much this will affect CTR and traffic, though we can’t see this update stealing too much traffic from the top positions at this stage. Though we’ll understand more when this update is released more worldwide.

       

       

      12 Structured Data Fields no longer used by Google

      In October Google removed 12 Structured Data fields from their help documents, claiming the fields removed were ‘unused by Google Search and Rich Results Test doesn’t flag warnings for them’. In other words, they no longer do anything for your SEO.

      For those not in the know, Structured Data is a piece of code embedded in the head of a page. Visible to search engines only, it is used to provide search engines with the key details they need to know from that page, helping them understand the page much quicker during crawls.

      The fields being removed are:

      1. Structured Data type: HowTo

      Field: description

      1. Structured Data type: QAPage

      Fields: mainEntity.suggestedAnswer.author, mainEntity.dateCreated, mainEntity.suggestedAnswer.dateCreated, mainEntity.acceptedAnswer.author, mainEntity.acceptedAnswer.dateCreated, and mainEntity.author

      1. Structured Data type: SpecialAnnouncement

      Fields: provider, audience, serviceType, address, and category fields.

       

      Do you need to do anything in response to this?

      As Google is simply ignoring these fields now, you don’t need to worry about removing them, though please be aware that Google equally won’t inform you of any issues with these fields either. Instead, we recommend simply refraining from using these fields in any future Structured Data added to your site.

       

       

      Core Web Vitals: What was the impact?

      As one of the most anticipated changes to search this year, there’s been discussion in the SEO community as to how extensive the impact of the Page Experience Update is since it finished rolling out for mobile in August.

      The result is disappointingly, but not unexpectedly, vague. Many sites responded to the planned update by having their developers focus on improvements that would enable their sites to fall inline with target scores for the Core Web Vital metrics. Where site changes were deployed with the specific intention to improve scores for Core Web Vital metrics, it is almost impossible to isolate the impact. Summer 2021 saw a lot of change on Google Search, with many confirmed and unconfirmed updates going live, leading to a search landscape that was already full of temperamental rankings (see Mordy Oberstein’s Tweets on ranking volatility in 2021). And with the update release taking several weeks, the introduction of Page Experience was also too gradual for any ranking changes to be attributed to the release of the Page Experience update.

      From a data perspective, this has proven to be quite frustrating, with clients wanting to know the impact of putting time and resource into improving the page experience of their site. An impact we can’t honestly provide at this stage.

      Discussion is also revolving around how we measure this impact too. Though an organic change would be reflected in rankings, this update looks at the usability of the site. Usability affects all channels, at which point metrics such as conversion rate perhaps become more telling. Though indicative of UX improvements generally, conversion rate won’t tell you if Core Web Vitals are affecting your organic performance in search results, just that you’re converting well with the audience you do attract. So a telling metric, but not one that gives the full story for SEO.

      Though some tools claim they can see improvements in sites which pass the CWV assessment (meaning your site meets criteria for all 3 metrics), that improvement still appears to be quite minor, with Sistrix seeing a 3.7% improvement in visibility by the end of the update rollout (this is just for domains that pass CWV). And even then they admitted they couldn’t isolate it from other ranking factors.

      So, the advantage of optimising for CWV, from an organic sense at least, still remains unclear. As others have argued, page experience helps with conversions, making it a factor you still need to consider outside of your SEO. Perhaps the desktop rollout planned for February 2022 will provide more insight?

       

       

      Google Chrome testing new features

      Google took to their Chromium blog last month to reveal two new features they’re testing: Side Search and Journeys. Both are designed to help users engage with search results and find the information they want.

       

      Side Search

      Side search is a feature that means the user can now access the search results page for their query whilst viewing one of the pages, seeing both at once. The search results are shown in a side panel, enabling the user a more fluid ability to jump between different pages. Google claim the intention behind this feature is to enable better comparison of search results. It’s a feature I’d imagine will be utilised more with transactional queries – people looking for a restaurant or gift hunting for example.

      With this feature I think bounce and exit rates will be the metric to monitor – it’ll suddenly become a lot easier, and perhaps more tantalising, for the user to jump around. Engagement will also become much more paramount – capturing the user’s attention quickly and efficiently will be necessary to reduce the distraction side search will offer.

      To try this tool yourself, you need the Chrome OS Dev Channel on your desktop. Happy jumping!

       

      Journeys

      Google also revealed Journeys, a tool which will help group together your search history into relevant groups. This can make it easier for you to re-visit pages, rather than needing to sift through your search history or trying to recreate your original search journey. Though this isn’t a feature I can see impacting organic search for individual sites, it is a change likely to impact UX in search as a whole.

      This will only work for searches on a given device, Journeys doesn’t work across devices yet. Google speculate there may be potential for that adaptation down the line, but for now Journeys is restricted. To try Journeys for yourself, Google are rolling it out as an experiment on Chrome Canary on desktop. I’d imagine pending on feedback this will be rolled out more widely soon.

       

       

      Did we miss anything?

      If there was anything else that happened over the last few months that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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        Core Web Vitals

        Core Web Vitals

        Google added the core web vitals into its algorithms earlier this year, but many organisations are finding it labour-intensive, confusing and time-consuming to improve their scores. So we asked our friends at Pedalo to explain how you can maximise your core web vitals in the simplest and most effective ways…

         

        What are the core web vitals?

         

        With the core web vitals, Google is trying to evaluate website user experience (UX) and prioritise the most user-friendly sites in its search rankings. They want searchers to have a seamless, high-quality experience both when searching and when clicking on a website in the results listings.

         

        The core web vitals judge UX in terms of the speed at which content becomes visible and interactive for users. This is important because as page loading time increases, bounce rate increases and user satisfaction decreases; research suggests that a five-second increase in website loading time is responsible for a huge 106% increase in bounce rate.

         

        Unlike some other search engine ranking factors, the core web vitals are based on user/field data. In other words, they reflect how real people experience and interact with your website. By improving your core web vitals scores, your website will feel faster and better for users.

         

        As the core web vitals affect SEO, it’s important to make your site fast and user-friendly or you’re likely to see reduced search engine rankings and less organic traffic.

         

        What makes up the core web vitals scores?

         

        The core web vitals are made up of three website speed and user experience measurements. It’s worth noting that Google gives separate core web vitals scores for each of your webpages, and separate scores for mobile and desktop.

         

        The three core web vitals are:

         

        • Largest Contentful Paint

        Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how long it takes for a page’s heaviest content element to appear. The score is based on the loading experience for real-world users, rather than on technical or backend speed performance. A good LCP is considered to be under 2.5 seconds.

         

        • First Input Delay (FID)

        First Input Delay (FID) measures how long it takes your website to respond to user interactions, such as clicking links or pressing buttons. A good score FIP is 100ms or less.

         

        • Cumulative Layout Shift

        Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures how visually stable your site is. The higher your CLS score, the more your content moves around – for example, by text shifting to make space for images, or message boxes popping up. A good CLS measurement is considered to be 0.1 or less.

         

         

         

        Do you need all ‘green’ core web vitals?

         

        You can check your core web vitals in Google Search Console. However, we’ve noticed that Google keeps changing the way it scores, meaning that your results may fluctuate from day to day.

         

        The core web vitals use field data, which is accumulated over a period of time. This makes it tricky, and slow, to improve your scores, as field data takes a while to catch-up with any website changes.

         

        Whilst it’s definitely worth doing what you can to improve your core web vitals – both for SEO and better user experience – you’re unlikely to need full ‘green’ status across all of your webpages. Following our tips below and getting into the ‘amber’ is good enough for most websites and will save you hundreds of hours making technical changes without worthwhile results.

         

        We also find that the core web vitals scores often don’t seem to tally with other measures of website speed and performance, such as Google PageSpeed (which uses lab data reflecting a specific moment in time). It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s often quicker and more effective to make improvements to these scores instead.

         

        Easy and effective ways to improve core web vitals

         

        Here are our top three ways to improve your core web vitals.

        1. Focus on images

         

        You’d be surprised at how many website-owners forget to optimise their imagery and still wonder why their website is slow. As images are usually the heaviest elements on a webpage, they’re often responsible for slow loading times and poor LCP scores.

         

        Fortunately, optimising your images is one of the quickest and simplest ways to improve site speed and core web vitals.

         

        Firstly, make sure to resize and compress your images. If you have a WordPress website, you can do this with an image optimisation plugin, such as Smush. Alternatively, use a tool such as Photoshop or Pixlr to crop and shrink your images before uploading to your site.

         

        Secondly, enable webp image conversion. Webp images are super-rapidly loading versions for mobile. With the majority of internet sessions taking place on mobile devices, speeding up your site’s mobile image performance offers a huge boost to your core web vitals.

         

        If you have a WordPress website, you can install the WebP Express plugin. For non-WordPress sites, try converting images to webp yourself or speak to your web support agency for other solutions.

         

        Thirdly, make sure to enable lazy loading. This delays the loading of images which are out of sight until users scroll down, dramatically improving initial loading speeds and LCP scores.

         

        2. Minify CSS and JS

         

        Web developers use Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) and JavaScript (JS) files to mark-up and add comments to your website code.

         

        To improve your core web vitals, it’s important to minify these files – in other words, to reduce their size and remove any unnecessary information. This increases site speed and improves user experience whilst preserving the key information needed to ensure your website loads correctly.

         

        If you have a WordPress site, minification can be done simply and easily with a free plugin, such as WP-Optimize. For other websites, you can try minifying the code yourself with a free online tool such as minifier.org.

         

        3. Reduce third-party scripts

         

        Google Analytics, Google Maps, YouTube and many other common third-party services add a lot of additional scripts to your website. Whilst some are crucial for functionality, others may be unnecessary or may be significantly slowing down your site.

         

        We recommend removing any third-party services which are non-essential. For essential scripts, you can try removing the script on webpages where it’s not specifically needed, or loading the script using the async or defer attribute.

         

        For more information, check out this Google article about how to minimise the impact of third-party scripts.

         

        Core web vitals: the bottom line

         

        The core web vitals are a measure of your website’s user experience, particularly in terms of speed. As your scores impact your Google search engine rankings, it’s well worth following the tips above to improve site and SEO performance.

         

        However, most websites would need hundreds of minor changes to gain full ‘green’ core web vitals status. And even if you reach ‘green’, Google could change its scoring system the next day!

         

        So, action our suggestions and keep an eye on your core web vitals scores but don’t worry too much. The core web vitals are only measure one small component of website and search engine performance.

         

         

        Pedalo is an award-winning London-based digital agency with two decades of experience. It specialises in providing support, development and maintenance for WordPress and Drupal websites.

         

         

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          SEO Highlights in August

          SEO New Round Up August 2021

          Has everyone been enjoying the summer holidays? Whilst we might have taken time off to relax over the past few weeks, SEO has continued to be hard at work. If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

           

           

          Page Experience is live!

          The roll out of the long-awaited Page Experience update is complete! Starting in mid-June, Google took to Twitter to announce the update was complete 2nd September.

           

          Impact?

          Since the roll out began we have yet to see any significant changes to rankings for any of our clients. This isn’t surprising, as Google deliberately released this update gradually to prevent any abrupt changes to results. Though page experience is important, it is but one of many ranking factors Google considers. This is helpful in some ways, but it does make the impact difficult to isolate. Despite the lack of apparent change we’re still pushing for clients to update their sites and meet Google’s targets. After all, page experience doesn’t just affect organic traffic – there’s an omnichannel benefit to having good page experience.

           

          Search Console data glitch in August

          Google admitted to a little mishap on 23rd-24th August, where:

           “An internal problem caused a data loss in Search and Discover performance during this period. Users might see a significant data drop in their performance reports during this period. This does not reflect any drop in clicks or impressions for your site, only missing data in Search Console.”

          The performance report is a key Search Console report used in SEO. It gives us insight into how the site is performing and provides a lot of data around keywords such as clicks, impressions, CTR and the ranking position. All integral information to knowing what’s working and what isn’t.

          Frustratingly, this isn’t data that will be backfilled; that data is permanently lost. This means that performance data for that period should be taken with a pinch of salt. Where you might see a drop on those days, there’s a good chance the data simply hasn’t been recorded and the data is incorrect.

           

           

          Page Titles

          Page titles seem to be getting some headline space this month!

           

          An update to Page Title generation

          First, Google published a blog where they announced changes had been made to how they generate page titles for search results. Google usually does this when they believe the page title you’ve provided doesn’t describe the page well.

          Previously, titles could be changed depending on the search query. So where a page title is optimised for Keyword A and shown for Keyword A, Google might generate it’s own page title for Keyword B, which it believes better helps the user. The new system doesn’t have this approach.

          The new system focuses more on the on-page copy and content visible to users. To be specific Google “consider the main visual title or headline shown on a page, content that site owners often place within <H1> tags or other header tags, and content that’s large and prominent through the use of style treatments”.

          Use of generated page titles shouldn’t affect rankings. John Mueller confirmed this following SEO chatter on Twitter. Though the title displayed changes, Google does not take anything different into account when ranking the page. CTR, however, may still be affected and is something to monitor.

          However, Google say they’re making this change to help provide relevant page titles to users, which they don’t believe is consistently achieved by websites at the moment. I don’t find this explanation to be particularly helpful. When developing page titles keyword research, target audience and page contents is taken into consideration; by myself and countless other SEO individuals. So it would be useful to know how Google decides your page isn’t clear enough.

          Google’s generated meta data often reads quite fragmented too, with bits of text cobbled together. Here’s hoping their generated copy reads more fluidly with this update.

           

          A Twitter Study

          A couple days later, SEO-er BowTiedWookie took to Twitter to share their findings in a little page title study they had conducted. The study looks at ten sites and five hundred keywords – a small scale experiment but the takeaways piqued our interest. Particularly the following: If Google changes the title it is pulling in the H1 >50% of the time.

          This places even more emphasis on optimising your H1s and getting them right, which Google themselves have done in their latest statement on Page Title Generation. H1s shouldn’t be exact matches of your page titles – page titles may not provide good UX in a heading function. But it’s an ideal spot for the target keyword and should provide contextual relevance.

           

          Spam is Nullified

          Another update Google completed in August was the spam update. Originally planned to take 2 weeks, the roll out ended up extending across 4 weeks.

          In part of their bid to cleanse our browsers of spam, Google release this latest update, designed to nullify spam. So rather than penalise sites that partook in dodgy link schemes or had built up spammy backlink profiles, they would simply ignore them. This has been an ongoing focus of Google’s since 2016. Spammy sites beware.

           

           

          Did we miss anything?

          If there was anything else that happened in August that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

           

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            SEO Highlights in July

            SEO News Round Up July 2021

            After a month of updates July wasn’t much quieter, with updates to search continuing to rollout. Google also released more details around their roadmap and plans for MUM, so all in all a month of exciting news for SEO! If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

             

             

            Core Algorithm Update Part II

            In our June round up we discussed the introduction of the June Core Algorithm Update and the planned follow up rollout to follow in July. Google again took to Twitter to announce the launch of this update bang on the 1st. Roll out completed on the 12th.

            As usual Google said no specific site or factor was targeted with this update. It was considered to have less impact to rankings and performance than its June counterpart, which saw a higher level of volatility in the rankings. Of all the updates over the last year July sat in the middle in terms of impact to rankings, having had a higher impact than the December 2020 update. Generally, the consensus seems to be that those investing in good on/off-page SEO practice are reaping the benefits by maintaining stable rankings throughout and after the update, a statement we agree with whole-heartedly.

             

             

            Spam Update Part III

            On the flip side, there’s also conversation around more spam results rising to the top ranking positions in search. Google has already been taking action to remove spam from search results, with 2 spam updates preceding the July update. Despite these actions is seems some spam is continuing filter through to the search results, though with the amount of spam out there that is unsurprising.

            Google has now taken further action and released a third spam update; this one aiming to fight link spam more broadly and across multiple languages. The update will nullify link spam – meaning rather than penalise a site for having spammy links, the spammy links will simply be ignored. This will render any efforts to build links through questionable methods (such as link schemes), pointless.

             

             

            MUM’s Roadmap Revealed

            Back in May Google announced a new AI being introduced to search: MUM. In July Google’s VP of Search, Pandu Nayak, spoke to Search Engine Land about the short and long-term plans for the development of the AI.

             

            Short Term: Removal of language barriers

            One of the early insights we had into MUM is its capability to go through all content, regardless of the language, and serve us the pieces that will best serve our needs. As part of this it can translate articles written in languages that aren’t the users native tongue. By being able to transfer knowledge across language barriers, MUM will open up a lot more content to global prospects. In fact, many of Google’s internal teams are using MUM in their own projects for this insight.

             

            Medium Term: Multimodality

            Moving further down the line, the focus then moves to include multimodality functions. This will see image and text results and search queries become more intertwined and informative. He’s also suggesting it would reduce the number of 0 click searches that are cropping up, by providing more information for users to dig into. As 0 click searches provide minimal value to SEO, this is an exciting prospect.

             

            Long Term: Connect the dots

            The longevity behind MUM will be its ability to provide users with a more detailed and satisfying search journey. At the moment restricted, with MUM Google will be able to tackle more complex queries and provide users with more detailed and diverse results that pertain to their needs. So, rather than a user breaking down their question into several sub-questions to get all the information they need, they should be able to search their initial question and have all the information available in one go.

             

            No dates put to any of these different elements yet, but MUM looks set to bring some big changes and catch up with how users want to interact with search.

             

             

            Did we miss anything?

            If there was anything else that happened in July that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

             

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              Paid Media Highlights in July

              The last few months have seen a variety of changes to the paid media world. From Google announcing a new 3 strike system for ad policy violations to LinkedIn updates, there’s been a lot of change in the paid media sphere in July.

              If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

               

              Google Image Extensions

              The image extension feature within Google Ads is now out of beta and it can be implemented across all accounts!

              However…in reality, we are still finding that not all accounts have this feature enabled yet. It appears to be quite hit or miss as to which accounts have this functionality and which ones don’t.

              The ability to attract more customers by enhancing text ads with images is appealing, with this potentially increasing both quality score and CTR. Advertisers should know, however, that these images are dynamically inserted, so keeping on top of what types of images are showing for each ad is important!

               

               

              Ad Account Certifications Audit and the New ‘Strike’ policy

              At the end of June, we were notified by Google that they were performing an audit of restricted verticals for which they require certification. Essentially, we were warned that any accounts that have certificates in a variety of restricted areas, such as healthcare or financial services, could be impacted or have their certification revoked. Since then, we, along with the rest of the digital marketing community, have seen an increase in ad disapprovals as Google have tightened up their compliance policies.

              To take things even further in the coming months, Google announced in July that they are planning on piloting a new ‘strikes’ system to address repeat ad policy violations. From September 2021, strikes will be issued for violations of Google’s Enabling dishonest behaviour, unapproved substances and dangerous products or services policies.

              Each time your account violates a policy within 90 days of their first policy warning, Google will apply sanctions of increasing severity. On the first warning, only the relevant ads are removed. Strike two sees your account placed on a temporary hold for three days during which ads are not eligible to run. This increases to seven days on strike two before account suspension on strike three.

              Based on the tightening of policies over the past few months, the introduction of this new strike-based system is quite intimidating… It will be interesting to see how Google plans to couple these strikes with their existing appeals system.

               

               

              Covid-19 Ad Grant Funding Continued

              A pleasant surprise that we experienced at the beginning of July was that the additional Covid funding for Google Ad Grant accounts has remained in place. Despite the fact that it was expected to run out in June, all of our Google Ad Grant accounts that had received additional funding still have it.

              Google have yet to announce when this funding will come to an end, but we are grateful for the additional opportunities that it is providing to our accounts.

               

               

              Ads Creative Studio

              At the end of June, Google introduced its new creative management tool; Ads Creative Studio. Google heralds the software as ‘a unified home for Google’s creative advertising tools, to help you build compelling experiences for video, display, and audio ads’, but what does this actually mean?

              In Essence, Google is unifying aspects of its products to create a more cohesive and easily manageable platform for creative teams. So, features that were previously only available within certain products and to limited advertisers, such as Director Mix, are now available in one place.

              Google claim that it will ‘create one process across display, video and audio’ as well as ‘improving collaboration across teams.’ We would love to hear from anyone who has been using Ads Creative Studio to see if it has improved the unity of your processes and teams.

               

               

              New Google Partner Badge

              In June, Google responded to the calls of Google Partners who already believed that they meet the February 2022 Partner Requirements. Google have now allowed Partners who already met the new requirements to gain early access to the new partner badge.

              Partners still need to spend $10K across managed accounts for 90 days and ensure that 50% of account strategists are certified by Google ads, but now, advertisers also have to maintain a 70% optimisation score.

               

               

              LinkedIn Introduced Event Ads

              LinkedIn recently introduced the Event Ad Format to its users. Like events in Facebook, the event appears in a user’s feed if a user’s mutual connections have shown an interest in the event and gives them the option to register themselves.

              In conjunction with this, they have also revealed that they will soon be launching an Event analytics Tool where you can measure the performance and return on investment of an online LinkedIn Event that you have organised. We’re excited to see these developments in the advertising options available within LinkedIn and we are looking forward to see how this new events feature will change the LinkedIn landscape.

               

               

              Did we miss anything?

               

              Tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected], or send us a message through our contact page if you think we missed something important. We would love to hear what’s got you thinking this month!

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                The Drum & Third Sector Business Charity Awards Winners 2021

                Award Winners

                To top off a fantastic first half of the year, we’re proud to have added 2 award wins to our list of accolades. After being nominated for Best Buy Side Team or Agency and Social Purpose at the Drum Digital Advertising Awards 2021, Uprise Up’s paid media team won Best Buy Side Team or Agency. Uprise Up were also winners at this year’s Business Charity Awards by Third Sector, winning Marketing Partnership of the Year for our work with Catalyst on Crisis’ Christmas campaign. This work also earned us a nomination at this year’s Campaign Media Awards in the Charity category.

                 

                Best Buy Side Team at the Drum Awards 2021

                Uprise Up added to their awards cabinet in April, with a win at the Drum Digital Advertising Awards 2021. The Paid Media Team won Best Buy Side Team or Agency, beating Semetrical agency and Universal Music Group’s Consumer Marketing team. The award was for the best team or agency who work in buy side advertising. Uprise Up were awarded the accolade as the Paid Media team demonstrated great internal and external relationships, the ability to go the extra mile, flexibility, and efficiency.

                 

                Uprise Up Paid Media Team

                In our entry, we conveyed our core belief that revolution is needed in the world of digital advertising. Digital needs to be better for charities and non-profit organisations, with effective and transparent data at the core. In 2020, Uprise Up strived to continue this revolution by creating exceptional campaigns for socially positive organisations, and more than succeeded. This success was only achievable through the hard work, diligence and camaraderie demonstrated by our paid media team of 10 throughout the year. A data–focused technical approach, phenomenal charity sector and client understanding, propelled success in 2020, and warranted this fantastic award win.

                Uprise Up’s award entry was centred around our revised values, which were introduced this year to better illustrate our vision, purpose and identity.

                • Champion heartfelt camaraderie.
                • Bravely grab the standard, and run.
                • Relentlessly pursue continuous improvement.
                • Lead the charge for effective, transparent data.
                • Make the world better.

                These values demonstrate a clear intent to do good and help others to do good. By aspiring towards these values in 2020, Uprise Up experienced outstanding growth and success.

                 

                We also drew upon our portfolio of projects and ongoing work throughout the year to demonstrate excellence in digital advertising. This included:

                Please visit our case studies section to read more about our work.

                 

                Marketing Partnership of the Year at Third Sector’s Business Charity Awards

                 

                Uprise Up Crisis at Christmas Campaign

                 

                Uprise Up won Marketing Partnership of the Year at this year’s Business Charity Awards by Third Sector, for our work with Catalyst for Crisis on their Christmas campaign. The successful digital campaign beat other nominees including partnerships between Johnson & Johnson and NSPCC, Pringles and Movember, Ford and RNLI and Tesco Mobile and Crisis.

                Uprise Up team with Business Charity Marketing Partnership of the Year award
                The Uprise Up team with the Business Charity 2021’s Marketing Partnership of the Year award.

                The judges were looking for a marketing initiative between a business and a charity that helped to promote a charity’s work or raise funds. In our entry, we demonstrated that Catalyst’s strategic direction and our delivery of the digital advertising campaign went above and beyond for Crisis, in the end raising over £6 million in vital revenue for the charity.

                Despite initial concerns over the ability to achieve strong results in light of the pandemic, the campaign more than exceeded goals through creative thinking, fast decision-making, adaptability, and the pursuit of continuous improvement. The combination of paid social, search and programmatic advertising for the campaign succeeded in raising vital awareness, bringing in donations and acquiring new supporters.

                The revenue raised for this year’s Crisis at Christmas digital advertising campaign will go on to change the lives of homeless people all year round across the UK.

                 

                Want to chat?

                If you want to find out more about our award-winning work, or find out how we can support your organisation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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                  SEO Highlights in June

                  SEO news highlights in June

                  Google kicked it up a notch in June, with updates being released left, right and centre! There’s a lot to keep track of as we start to measure the impact of these updates to SEO over the upcoming months; no lazy summer for us. If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

                   

                  Core Algorithm Update Part 1

                  At the start of June Google unveiled plans to release not one, but two updates to their core search algorithm. This is the first algorithm update of 2021, following the December update 6 months previous. Roll out of the June update started on the 2nd June and completed 12th June, taking just under 2 weeks.

                  Be aware that this update is to be followed up with another core update in July. Google said they chose to do this owing to some updates not being ready for June. Seems there was some changes Google wanted live sooner rather than later. This does mean there’s a slight chance that any impact websites saw to performance in June could be reversed. So we’ll be waiting with bated breath for a few more weeks yet.

                  Generally speaking, early data indicated that impact was predominantly felt in the first few days of the roll out. The depth of impact of the update seems to be up for debate; some claim it was bigger than the last update in December, yet others only saw an impact to a small collection of niches. In fact, the difference with this update was that the SEO community was relatively quiet the first 24 hours following the announcement. Many didn’t notice a change, suggesting this update wasn’t as big as some claim.

                  At Uprise Up we have a strong focus on the charity sector, though we do also have non-charity clients. So far, we’ve seen minimal impact to the performance of our clients, with no drastic changes to rankings or traffic, as a result of the June update. With a sub-focus on health and YMYL, out data suggests these niches saw little impact from the update.

                   

                  Page Experience began rolling out

                  The long-awaited Page Experience update began rolling out this month, on 15th June to be precise. Changes have already happened on search, with non-AMP pages now eligible to feature in the Top Stories carousel. It’ll be interesting to see how many sites continue to use AMP, as its benefits start to be pushed onto regular pages.

                  This update will see a continual slow roll out with all Page Experience elements, including Core Web Vitals, set to be full ranking factors by the end of August. If you’re still in the process of updating your site, that’s your deadline.

                   

                  Introducing Search Console Insights

                  Google have a new report live: Search Console Insights.

                  The report itself seems to act as an accumulation of key insights available on Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics (GA) in one place, with some insights around Social Media as well. Google stated the report is designed to provide ‘an easier way to understand how your content resonates with users’.

                  The report essentially pulls out the key stats from your GA and GSC property to show website owners what their top performing content pieces are, how people are finding them – from top performing channel to insights within these channels – and the time people spend engaging with the content.

                  It does require a bit of set up to work; if your GSC and GA property aren’t linked then you won’t receive the full benefits of this report. So, it’s not a seamless start if you don’t have your GSC and GA properties associated.

                  This tool is currently in beta; no doubt we’ll see further adaptations to the interface in the future. For me, there is value in the interface; if you want to get a quick understanding of site performance it provides just that. However, there’s no individual feature that stands out as being new and intriguing.

                  But I don’t think this tool was built for me. This report seems more targeted to people that aren’t as a familiar with GA and GSC, and therefore would benefit from having a single interface that allows them to see the content and keywords that perform best for them.

                  A nifty interface for some, I want to give this tool more time to grow on me in the upcoming months.

                   

                   

                  Did we miss anything?

                  If there was anything else that happened in June that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

                   

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                    SEO Highlights in May

                    SEO News May 2021

                    After being relatively quiet for several months, Google announced a broad core update and their plans for a new language model, called MUM. That’s a lot to digest from an SEO perspective! If you would like regular updates from Uprise Up on the world of digital marketing, follow us on Twitter.

                     

                    Rollout of the June and July broad core updates

                    On 2nd June, Google announced a core algorithm update. This is a general update to Google’s search algorithm, with no indication provided of what could be affected. This time, the announcement mentioned that this update was being split in two, resulting in the June Core Update and the July Core Update, as not all of their planned improvements were ready for a June based rollout.

                    Over the next few weeks, Google has warned that although most sites won’t experience any changes, some could experience drops or gains as the update rolls out. However, they also noted that a few sites may notice changes this month that could then reverse in July due to the two-part nature of this core update.

                    Technically, this update was announced at the beginning of June, but we thought that this announcement was worth mentioning now so that you can be on the look-out for any changes to your content’s performance over the coming weeks. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you notice any particularly interesting side effects of the algorithm update!

                     

                    Google announced their new language model: MUM

                    If we didn’t know it already, Google have confirmed this month that MUM’s the word. In this case, MUM stands for Multitask Unified Model and the technology has been designed to understand more complex search queries so that in future, it will take fewer searches for Google to understand the User’s intention.

                    At the moment, we don’t have a definitive date when MUM will be implemented, but Google has stated that it will ‘bring MUM-powered features and improvements to our products in the coming months and years.’

                    How will MUM work?

                    MUM uses Transformer Information and builds on the BERT update. Designed to be 1000 times better than BERT, Google claims that the technology will be able to understand and generate language. MUM is also multimodal, so it understands information across text and images. In future, Google also hopes that it will have the capacity to understand audio and video. In layman’s terms, this essentially means that Google will be more able to understand the language and context surrounding a search query, with the aim of being able to answer more complicated user queries in fewer searches.

                    Another aspect of the product that could have a dramatic impact on SEO in years to come is the fact that MUM aims to remove the language barriers that currently exist in search. As MUM can understand multiple languages, when a user submits a query, it will look for the most relevant content in any language. Therefore, SERP results could now show webpages written in different languages and translated back into the into the User’s native tongue. The impact of this could be huge, especially for companies seeking to attract an international audience!

                    What does this mean for SEO?

                    It is unclear how the SERP will be affected by these changes overall. MUM will use the most relevant content, whether that’s images or articles written in multiple languages to inform the different aspects of its answer. We don’t yet know how this will affect the search results page. For these complex searches, how will MUM determine which source of information or which part of the answer is the most relevant to the user? Is our current model of having 10 ranked answers becoming outdated?

                    After the MUM update was announced, users took to Reddit to voice these concerns. However, Google’s John Müller tried to alleviate worry by stressing that he didn’t ‘really see how this would reduce the need for SEO. Things always develop… and yet the SEO people still have enough to do.’ So, whilst the impact of MUM is still uncertain, what is for certain is that SEOs should be prepared for the changes that MUM could bring in the future and adapt their processes accordingly.

                     

                    Google continues to roll out ‘About this result’ worldwide

                    Google announced its intentions to make us all more judicious in February 2021 with the ‘About This Result’ feature. The tool is designed to help Users determine credible and reliable information at a time when ‘fake news’ hides around every corner. ‘About This Result’ has been rolling out since then but in May, Google officially announced that they had started implementing this feature to all English results worldwide.

                     

                    About This Result Google

                     

                    They have also promised to implement this feature to other languages in the future and they have teased more details that will be included within the tool later in the year, such as related articles, what other sources say about the site and how the site describes itself. We are excited to see how the expanded use of this tool will help or hinder websites based on Google’s added votes of confidence or concern.

                     

                    Did we miss anything?

                    If there was anything else that happened in May that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseUPSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

                     

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                      Paid Media Highlights in April

                      Want to find out the latest news in the world of paid media? Grab a cuppa and let us bring you up-to-date on some of the key highlights across paid search and paid social during April 2021. 

                       

                      There’s been some interesting developments with Apple’s introduction of iOS14 updates and its’ subsequent effects on Facebook advertising. We’ll also take a look at the latest news involving Microsoft Advertising, as well as some changes to bidding strategies within Google Ads.

                       

                      iOS14 Update

                      What does it mean for paid media?

                      The iOS 14 updates scheduled during the first half of 2021 has been a hot topic for advertisers across the industry, but particularly for those advertising on Facebook. We have seen some of these changes start to take effect on Facebook, with accounts being equipped with a ‘Resource centre’ to help house a number of tasks that need to be actioned as a result of the update. 

                      These range from verifying your website domain to reviewing the number of website events across pixels installed in an account to reviewing affected automated rules. We’ll be tackling this topic in a soon-to-be-released blog, so do stay tuned for more content on this key issue!

                       

                       

                       

                      Streamlining of target ROAS and target CPA bidding strategies

                      Bidding on Google Ads continues to change in a push towards greater automation on the platform. From now onwards, Target ROAS and Target CPA will no longer be their own bid strategies, but instead will be options within the Maximise Conversions and Maximise Conversion Value bidding strategies instead. 

                      The upshot is that this is unlikely to have any actual impact on performance, think of this as more of just a streamlining of strategies within the interface. But given that more emphasis is now placed on the Maximise Conversions and Maximise Conversion Value strategies, we may expect more users to take up these options, with or without the target constraints. To get the best out of these strategies, do ensure that you have sufficient conversion data available in your campaign for the bid strategy to optimise towards.

                       

                       

                      Dynamic placement exclusion lists

                      What are they and why do I need them?

                      Google Ads currently has the capacity to block display network ads from being shown in particular placements, however, this is something that you would normally have to implement manually. Now, Google has introduced dynamic exclusion lists, which gives advertisers the ability to use exclusion lists created by third parties such as advocacy organisations and industry groups. Any updates to the list by these third parties can then be automatically updated to your own Google Ads account, helping to save time by not having to go through this process manually. We hope this will be a good time-saver!

                       

                       

                      Changes to phrase match and broad match modifier also apply to Microsoft Ads

                      This is fairly unsurprising news, given the close alignment between Microsoft Ads and Google Ads, but Microsoft have given the go-ahead to remove broad match modifiers from ad accounts. From August 2021, “you’ll no longer be able to create new BMM keywords”, but  “your existing BMM keywords will continue to serve under the new phrase match behaviour”. The changes also encompass the tweaks made to phrase match keywords too, with those terms now also showing for searches that include the meaning of your keyword. Check out our blog from earlier this year for more information on what we think the effects that these changes (on Google, and now Bing) will have for advertisers.

                       

                       

                      Video ads and Facebook imports for Microsoft ads

                      Following on from Microsoft’s update to keywords, they have also released a bunch of new features to their ad platform. This includes video ads launching in the Microsoft Audience Network in the UK and US, with 6-to-120-second videos that can be used to reach an audience of 300m daily users. Interestingly, Microsoft is also enabling the function of being able to import single-image ads directly from Facebook into Microsoft Ads, functioning in a similar way to the Google Ads import function. This may prove a handy time-saving tool for multimedia campaigns.

                       

                       

                      Did we miss anything?

                       

                      If there was anything else that happened in April that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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                        Data Drives Digital Media Success

                        Data drives digital media success

                        Unsure how to best utilise your data? Not sure how to structure your digital campaigns? Look no further. We’ve detailed below our comprehensive guide to constructing a plan for analysing and utilising data from your digital media campaigns.

                         

                        How to use data to your advantage for your digital campaigns.

                        The most successful campaigns have clear objectives and Key Performance Indicators. These KPIs are tracked via the user’s journey from their initial interaction with your media to the completion of a conversion. For the best success, it is vital to understand and track the journey that each user takes; data can help you with this process.

                        With an understanding of your objectives in place, you’re then in a brilliant position to begin implementing your data tracking processes and future-proofing your site.

                         

                        Planning: Objectives and KPIs

                        We start the planning process by defining clear objectives to the campaign. Knowing what we need to achieve, who the audience is, developing personas and outlining success.

                        The below diagram analyses your user’s journey through your site. It begins with their first exposure to your media, looks at how they behave with your site, and finishes when they complete a conversion aligned with your mission.

                         

                        User Journey Funnel

                         

                        Conversions

                        We recommend that you start with the end in mind. What do you ultimately want your audience to do? If it revolves around a transaction, you want to capture that and the amounts through ecommerce reports. If you are still suffering from a lack of data because your transition is on a third-party payment site you can’t track, get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help you change that. Other objectives that you might have for your campaign include volunteer sign-ups, petition fills, newsletter signups, using a health calculator, calls or downloading a free guide.

                        All campaigns, including those based around communication, information and awareness, should have targets and hold themselves to account. You might need to innovate, but there are a variety of actions you could use to track your engagement. For example, tracking a users’ scroll depth to check that your user is reaching the bottom of your page, using a timing tracker to check that the user is reading your content or, some of our clients have started adding a ‘was this helpful’ button, to give a simple ticker that we can track.

                         

                        Behaviour

                        You want to understand website behaviour and improve the site User Experience (UX) and Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). It’s important to remember that creating conversions isn’t just about dropping people onto a landing page, the full journey of the conversion needs to be tracked and tweaked.

                        The most obvious tool is Google Analytics. Analytics needs to be audited every couple of years and there are always opportunities for improving the data quality – usually substantially. Other helpful tools include Search Console, Tag Manager, Optimise, Hot Jar or Crazy Egg. All of these tools can be fed into a dashboard, allowing you to easily display all of your data.

                        In particular, we have seen significant improvements to campaigns just from utilising User Journey Data. These campaigns consider the actual behaviour of your user and can be used to update the user journey to make a conversion more likely. For example, you could make the call-to-action clearer or experiment with the default donation amounts to see whether altering these actions results in a higher conversion rate.

                         

                         

                        Media

                        Conversion flowchart

                         

                        Next, it’s important to understand the performance of your media. This includes emails, social media, organic search and paid search.

                        You can see a simple journey in the diagram above. Programmatic (display ads using a machine learning) could be the first impression, then a video ad, another programmatic impression, a click via Paid Search, a Facebook ad view and then finally maybe converting following a search and clicking an organic listing (as displayed above in red).

                        As default, Analytics will attribute the last click made when someone converted. But we want to understand all the touch-points, including Impressions. Media channels will all count a conversion as being down to them; this would duplicate the credit, which can make it very hard to really understand how effective each channel is. For multi-channel campaigns we need a more sophisticated Ad Management system, such as Campaign Manager.

                         

                        Implementation: Infrastructure and Technology

                         

                        Process Infratructure

                         

                        It’s important to have data sources such as Analytics, Conversion Rate Optimisation Tools, media channels and (for larger campaigns), Ad Management software to feed into your dashboard so that it can all be viewed and analysed in one place.

                        Key to extracting this data is using a ‘connector’ that can get what it needs through the software’s API. You could run that straight into your dashboard, but if you have multiple data sources, you’ll likely want to customise the data, dedupe it and sort it into a useful format first.

                        Dashboards are designed for front-end display. They aren’t so hot at handling the calculations, so this is better done first by use of a data sorting tool, such as Google Sheets. This is where your data analyst will get involved, making sure that all your data is compiled and structured; before being pulled into your dashboard.

                        In terms of the technologies involved in these processes, these are our initial recommendations. For big campaigns that need an ad management solution, Campaign manager with it’s Floodlight Tracking is our favourite. It tracks across your media, website activity and conversions, integrating with DV360. As an Ad Serving tool, Campaign Manager is about as future-proof as it gets, being integrated with Google’s Marketing stack. We also strongly recommend this if you are managing Programmatic Campaigns.

                        Supermetrics is our top tip for a connector. It’s paid, but very stable and versatile. It will usually work with non-Google programs such as Facebook and also some Google programs that even data studio can’t connect with, such as My Business.

                        There are several great Data Visualisation (or dashboard) tools out there. Google’s Data Studio is likely going to be the most appropriate, but Microsoft’s Power BI is more powerful. However, if you are using Sheets, you won’t need the extra power that Power BI can provide. Google Data Studio makes sharing reports easier and the big advantage is that it handles integration with other Google tools pretty seamlessly, including Google Sheets, or if you are feeding it directly, other Google tools.

                         

                        Implementation: Futureproofing

                        Data handling policies are constantly changing, and we need to keep an eye on all future developments. For example, there have recently been a lot of changes surrounding Privacy and Consent. IOS 14.5, ‘The Privacy update’, which was released very recently requires app developers to explicitly receive consent for any ad tracking. Additionally, Google Chrome is removing 3rd party cookies by 2022. We are still awaiting clarification on what this will mean exactly, but we can assume that there will be more use of first party cookies.

                        In the meantime,

                        • Investigate ‘Civic UK’ to ensure that Tag Manager operates in line with cookie policy.
                        • Google Analytics 4 is now released. Google is moving away from sessions and page views to users and events. Upgrade to GA4 (but for now also run existing account in parallel).
                        • Also upgrade to Bing and Google Ads first party cookie pixels to your site, you’ll need them for when 3rd party tracking is removed.

                         

                        In our experience, having a clear dashboard makes driving campaigns a lot more fun. Putting the work in at the beginning, to track the important metrics, sort them and have them ready for your convenience will make you feel more relaxed, and in control.

                         

                         

                        We are very keen to support non-profits get this right. We’re available for a free conversation which often solves organizations’ issues straight away.

                        We are also running a number of free webinars, and when Covid allows, breakfast roundtables. Some of those are going to be focused around setting targets and measuring performance with a lot of peer-to-peer conversations. You can also signup to our newsletter from here too. If you subscribe, we’ll keep you up to date with Technologies, Strategies and Privacy Updates.

                         

                         

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                          SEO Highlights in April

                          April 2021

                          April was a good month for SEO. With deadlines extended and the 2020 Spam Report published, there’s been a lot of information to digest. For regular updates on the world of digital marketing and Uprise Up, you can sign up to our Newsletter.

                          Rollout of the Page Experience Update delayed to June.

                          No doubt many website owners breathed a sigh of relief when Google announced their decision to delay the rollout from May to mid-June. Time pressures have been eased as websites have longer to ensure their pages provide a good page experience. Search Console has also updated to include a new Page Experience Report, which makes it much simpler to see how your site currently performs and understand the areas you need to prioritise.

                          The rollout will now be a more gradual process, with Page Experience not expected to be a full ranking factor until the end of August. This change in tactic will make it harder to measure the impact of the update, as the ranking factors slowly merge with the search algorithm. This change does mean there won’t be any drastic changes to results, which for some sites should soften impact and give them a better chance of resolving any ongoing issues with their performance before the update has any serious detrimental effects.

                           

                          What does the update include?

                          It’s been previously revealed that the Page Experience Update  will consider several signals for page experience, including the metrics included in Core Web Vitals (FID, CLS, LCP).

                           

                          We can see Google is making a clear move away from favouring AMP, with the update set to bring regular non-AMP pages into the results more. AMP will no longer be required to feature in the Top Stories Carousel; once the update goes live all news content will be eligible for this feature. The AMP badge will also be removed from AMP results, removing that distinction. So, if you’re a site that relies on AMP I’d suggest really focusing on guaranteeing your non-AMP pages have similar load times on mobile, because from June onwards AMP is unlikely to provide you the value it once did.

                           

                          Webspam Report 2020.

                          Another year, another Webspam Report was published! As expected, the presence of spam has only continued to grow over the past 12 months, from 25 billion pages being discovered daily in 2019 to 40 billion in 2020.

                           

                          This growth includes increasing levels of hacked spam. Big or small, there’s no discrimination when it comes to being hacked. All sites are vulnerable. In fact, Google found that sites Search Consoles’ were being hacked, with the culprit posing as the Owner and using the ‘request indexing’ feature to get the spammy pages crawled and indexed. A good tool being misused. Whilst Google can take action against hackers, websites can also help through the practice of good security.

                           

                          In the report more emphasis was placed on fighting spam ‘smarter’. As a part of this we can see the continued evolvement of AI, as Google developed a spam-fighting AI. They consider this to be a revolutionary update to their approach to spam and as a result, have reduced sites with auto-generated or scaped content appearing in the SERPs by more than 80% (compared to a few years ago). This advancement definitely highlights the clamping down on low quality content; spam or even content that fails to serve the needs of the user will not be shown.

                           

                          Google has also been focusing their anti-spam efforts more on important topics, such as queries related to Coronavirus. Having spent most of last year in a global pandemic, it was pretty crucial that everyone had access to the right information. Whilst this meant ensuring spam wasn’t given the opportunity to distract and waste the time of users, it also meant curating the SERPs so only high quality up to date information was shown.

                           

                          Though the figures don’t show any big surprises, the latest webspam report does give an indication of Google’s continued restrictions on content they deem low quality. Maintained, high quality content continues to be placed at the forefront of searches.

                           

                          Content Case Study.

                          Towards the end of the month a case study was published that highlights the need to place users at the centre of any SEO strategy. Conducted by Sterling Sky, the case study examines the performance of a local injury law firm in Canada. They had not been ranking well for their target keywords and wanted some help boosting results.

                           

                          The case study flagged that the issue lay in the strategy that had been implemented to date. The site had multiple templated pages, each targeting a different city and service. The content was difficult to access and very similar owing to the template approach. It’s clear this content was built with a focus on ranking, but not on being useful to those that landed on it. By creating content for search engines rather than users, the content didn’t meet expectations.

                           

                          I found this article to be valuable in its takeaways, one being that publishing lots of content can be a bad thing. Quality will always override quantity, websites need to ensure that the content they publish serves a purpose outside ranking in the search results. If the user experience is poor and leaves visitors unfulfilled, then it provides no value to your site.

                           

                          The case study also highlights the need to measure your strategy continuously. Just because you’ve agreed and begun implementation of a strategy, doesn’t mean the strategy is done. No strategy is finite. Measuring and adapting a plan is vital to ensure you stay on track and meet your established objectives.  By testing different tactics you can start to understand what will work for your site. In the case of this example, removing the templated content and redirecting to other built out, informational pages on the site helped the client meet the ranking requirements and increase their levels of organic traffic. A simple, but effective solution.

                           

                          Did we miss anything?

                          If there was anything else that happened in April that caught your eye, feel free to tweet us at upriseupSEM, email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

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                            A Review of the Ad Grant Scheme’s Transformative Last 2 Years

                            Google Ad Grant Scheme 2 Year Review

                            2020 was not an easy year for anyone, but in the Google Ad Grant world, many accounts were reporting huge year on year increases in traffic. Our Paid Media Consultant, Dan, runs through the many changes Google made to the ad grant scheme over the last two years and what it could mean for the future.

                            The story starts in January 2018, when new requirements were placed upon Grants to remain active. Of these, both the limitation on single word keywords and the minimum of a 5% account-wide CTR reduced the total traffic available to some accounts, but the biggest change that affected traffic in accounts around this time was initially undocumented by Google.

                             

                            Google Ad Grant Traffic timeline
                            An example of one of our client’s Google Ad Grant traffic over the past 2 years.

                             

                            The change involved the Ad Grant Quality filter, a rather minor part of the ad auction system. Google describes the Ad Quality feature as being “based, in part, on the general ad quality level of the standard ads in the country where you’re showing your ads”. This seems to be a system by which Google limits how much Ad Grant ads show in comparison to paid ads.

                            Around the same time as the new policies were implemented (in Nov 2018), Google significantly changed how many ads the Ad Quality filter was limiting in grants. This generally affected the lower priority informational content that makes up the bulk of traffic for many accounts. This caused a significant drop in traffic across the Ad Grant scheme as many accounts lost up to 50% of their daily traffic.

                            The community were unhappy about the changes, to say the least. The timing of the announcement (after many charity staff had left for Christmas) and the short amount of time given to adjust to the drastically different set of rules was not the best Christmas present Google could have given. The Google Ad Grant scheme realised they would have to start giving rather than taking after this change, and over the next year we would see a drastic turnaround in the prospects of Ad Grant accounts.

                            Most recently Google has offered extra budget in several periods for Grants during peak performance times such as Christmas. In addition to extra budget, the addition of the maximise conversion bidding strategy being allowed to exceed the $2 bid cap, and the introduction of responsive search ads (which seem to be preferred greatly by the Ad Quality Filter) have allowed us to improve traffic levels across many accounts.

                            In addition, Google have seemed to relax the initial change they made on Nov 2018 to the ad quality filter, causing traffic to climb back up even without any officially announced new changes. You can see the large increase in traffic between the implementation of the policies and the release of Responsive Search Ads as a result of this.

                             

                            The Future of the Ad Grant Scheme

                            So, what does all of this tell us about the future of the Ad Grant scheme? In our opinion the message is quite clear from Google: adopting new features, such as automated bidding and Responsive Search Ads, will allow you to mitigate or bypass the restrictions being placed on accounts. It is now more important than ever to be quick to adapt to new features and changes being implemented in the Grant scheme, as they often seem to come paired with changes which limit accounts not using them. For example, the ad quality filter change has been mitigated by responsive search ads and being able to bid above the $2 limit allowed higher priority content to bring in more traffic during times of increased budget.

                            In recent times we have seen changes to search term reporting and keyword match types, reducing how specifically we can target user searches. However, we have been granted access to demographic targeting, which was up until now not allowed within Grant accounts. This will once again require a change in how you operate a Grant account, focussing less on what people are searching and more on who those people are. Moving into the future, it is important to remain up to date on what changes are happening in the Ad Grant scheme and coming up with ways to maximise the benefit these new changes can give to your accounts.

                             

                            If you have any questions on future implications for your ad grant, or are interested in working with us to apply for your non-profit organisation’s own Google Ad Grant, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

                            Why not follow us on Twitter for the latest updates to the Google Ad Grant scheme?

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                              Brighton SEO

                              Once again the SEO Team took to their laptops for 2 days attending the different talks available at Brighton SEO last month. There was a great range of talks to choose from, all delivered by expert talkers, opening up topics for debate and enabling SEOs from across the globe to hone their skills.

                              Our Takeaways

                              After 2 days of attending talks brimming with information, here are the insights and tips we took away from virtual Brighton SEO:

                              1. An internal search results page could end up ranking better than a dedicated category page. As SEO’s, we usually try to have a suitable landing page to help us rank for our target search terms – but after all the optimisation, Google may still opt to prefer the internal search page if it believes it provides a better answer to the user search queries.
                              2. GPT-3 from OpenAI is scarily good at generating human-like text from a prompt. But how can this help us as SEOs? Using GPT-3, it is possible to copy & paste content from a web page and have it summarise the article within ~160 chars for a meta-description. While it may not be perfect, this could be a great timesaver for a situation where you would need to create meta-descriptions for a large number of pages.
                              3. Google cache aggressively and probably won’t listen to your cache-control headers. Images, CSS, JavaScript and API crawls can all be cached and Google may hold onto these for some time to help preserve the crawl budget. Use the URL inspection tools in Search Console to see if Google is seeing your page the way you expect them to.
                              4. Use data to drive your user-centric navbar design! You have plenty of data within Google Analytics that shows how users navigate around your site. Make sure you pick out the most important pages and ensure they are easily navigable to the user.
                              5. We use DevTools regularly, but it’s always been something we pick up as we go. It was great to hear some tips about how we can use this powerful feature of Google Chrome to help within SEO. For example, local overrides can allow you to changes elements of the page locally and run lighthouse tests with your changes. This could be great to see the impact of your Core Web Vitals recommendations before they are handed over to the developers.
                              6. Longform content doesn’t belong in FAQ’s. This area is for users who have been unable to find the content that they were looking for in your existing content and are looking for a pithier response.
                              7. When pitching your new content via email, password protect your articles or emphasise when your post is due to be published. Doing so means that you avoid clients accidentally referencing your content prior to your article being published!
                              8. Image Tags need to go beyond identifying the objects in the image. Consider using topic mapping to identify the links between the objects you are trying to describe, and the areas that you might be missing by keyword search terms.
                              9. Make use of pagination on the comments on your article posts to reduce the DOM size and improve loading speeds.
                              10. Create a Pivot chart in excel based on user traffic to decipher which pages are the most popular on your site. Organising the information this way helps you to identify popular pages that you might have missed from your navbar or highlight the need for a restructure.
                              11. The bigger your site the more at risk you are of index bloat. Rather than letting Google crawl everything, it’s good to have more control over the different pages and sections Google indexes to ensure the focus is on pages that have the potential rank well and bring in leads.
                              12. Neural matching impacts 30% of queries and is used to understand the patterns and concepts behind various search terms. This means your page doesn’t need to match the text, it needs to match the idea behind the search. So think less about keywords and more about the topic.
                              13. When looking at your content, look beyond the keyword. Instead focus on how users interact with the site and products. This can inform any necessary changes to your content. It also allows you to embrace the ‘fuzzy’ keywords: Google wants to match you to users with unclear search terms.
                              14. Accessibility is crucial! Currently, 70% of UK and US sites do not meet accessibility standards, whilst 90% of sites don’t meet accessibility standards worldwide. There’s also data to show that if a disabled person visits a site that isn’t easy to use, there’s only a 12% chance they’ll return.
                              15. When developing an internal linking strategy, consider the pages your backlinks point to. Backlinks are more likely to point to the informational pages on a site, rather than the transactional ones. It’s important that the link equity and value of these backlinks is passed onto the pages more likely to convert.

                               

                               

                              Our Thoughts

                               

                              We checked in with some members of the team so see how they found the experience. For our recent joiner Ellie, it was her first time! When we asked if it lived up to expectations, this is what she had to say:

                              “Overall, I really enjoyed my first Brighton SEO Conference as it gave me a great insight into the many different specialisms that exist within the industry. I’m looking forward to being able to (hopefully!) attend the event in person next time!”

                              Eleanor, Digital Marketing Assistant

                               

                              We also spoke to one of our more senior members of the SEO team.

                              “Having been with Uprise Up for a few years, I’m fortunate enough to say this is not my first time attending Brighton SEO: both off and online. There’s always something to learn from these talks, it’s never time wasted! Over the last few conferences there’s been a growing focus on automation. Whilst it’s generally agreed automating where possible is the way forward, there still seems to be contradiction over what should be automated and what still needs human interference. This is a conversation I can see progressing more in the future.”

                              Aimee, SEO Consultant

                               

                              As lovely as it is to attend Brighton SEO in loungewear, we collectively look forward to having the opportunity to go in person once more.  What were your favourite takeaways? Did something stand out to you that we haven’t mentioned? Feel free to get in contact today and start a conversation, we look forward to hearing from you.

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                                  John at The Engaging Digital Comms Conference.

                                  John Engaging Digital Communications Conference

                                  On 27th April 2021, we attended the Engaging Digital Comms Conference. Although the conference was held virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions, the talks throughout the day presented new and exciting perspectives on Digital Communications for today’s changed reality.

                                   

                                   

                                  Steering Digital Media to Success

                                  Our Founder and Managing Director, John Onion, was a speaker at the event and gave a fantastic talk on ‘Steering Digital Media to Success’. He covered how to use information to plan measurable objectives and KPIs, as well as the use of data to construct dashboards as a way of tracking media performance.

                                   

                                   

                                  Event Speakers

                                  We were thrilled to be a part of an array of charity sector expert speakers at this year’s Engaging Digital Comms event. The programme included 32 charities, not-for-profits and public sector organisations, contributing to a wider discussion of how to deliver high-impact, inspirational and engaging digital communications.

                                  Engaging Digital Comms Conference Event 2021
                                  Speakers at the Engaging Digital Comms Event 2021.

                                   

                                   

                                  If you’d like to know more about how we steer digital media to success for our clients, please do get in touch. If you’d like to sign up to future Uprise Up events, please register your interest below.

                                   

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                                    Upcoming: Webinar discussion. How will digital media step up?

                                    Digital Media Webinar

                                    How will digital media step up?

                                    Tuesday, 25th May, 2021

                                    A discussion about what charities have been going through and where they are finding the answers. With open debate about the mission that now faces us and how we are going to deliver.

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                                      Upcoming: Webinar Discussion. Tracking, data and effective attribution.

                                      Digital Media Webinar Event and Discussion

                                      Tracking, data and effective attribution.

                                      Friday, 25th June, 2021

                                      Having the data available to understand the performance of campaigns and channels is crucial to improving results. A discussion on the best strategies and tools for tracking activity, understanding it’s impact on conversions and bringing the clarity needed to unlock digital media’s potential.

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                                        Upcoming: Breakfast Roundtable.

                                        Breakfast Roundtable Event

                                        The New Normal in Digital Media

                                        An open discussion for Heads of Digital Marketing / Digital Marketing Managers who now have a mission.

                                        We’ll discuss method for getting the most from digital media, from Strategy, data tracking and attribution, through to specific channels including programmatic, social media, paid search and SEO.

                                        Sign-up to this roundtable here…

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                                          Goodbye To Broad Match Modifiers

                                          Goodbye to Broad match Modifiers

                                          Google’s Retirement of Broad Match Modifiers: Paid Media Team’s Reactions

                                           

                                          On 4 February 2021, Google announced that broad match modifiers, a keyword match type available to advertisers in Google Ads, is to be retired. In this announcement, Google described the move as ‘making it easier to reach the right customers on Search’, explaining that this update would simplify keyword match types as well as provide advertisers ‘more control and better reach’. 

                                          Google began to phase out broad match modifiers, merging their targeting with phrase match keywords, from February 2021. In July 2021, advertisers will no longer be able to implement new broad match modifiers. 

                                          But, is this a welcome departure or a heart-breaking farewell? And what will the impact of this be for advertisers and account performance? Our Paid Media Team gives their thoughts on Google’s announcement. 

                                           

                                           

                                          Jonny – Paid Media Consultant

                                          “This move from Google is not an entirely surprising one, given some of Google’s other recent moves around restricting search term reports, gradually limiting users’ ability to review and control elements of campaigns. For me, I’ll be sad to see broad match modifiers go.

                                          Using BMMs is all about control and for those who have been creating Google Ads campaigns for years and want the ultimate control over their campaigns, this change will definitely come as an annoyance rather than a benefit. The ability, in particular, to manually select individual words within a phrase that have to be included in the user’s search query is useful, particularly when trying to attract a high search volume with broad keywords but maintain an effective, relevant search funnel.

                                          The main benefit for me is that it will be slightly easier to manage campaigns, without another match type to worry about. But my main worry is for smaller, more focused accounts where only phrase and exact match keywords are currently used. I expect to see an increase in traffic (and overall cost) for phrase match, where BMM traffic will now filter through. With this broadening of search terms, I also expect to see an increase in irrelevant and spam search traffic, so keeping an eye on those search term reports will be even more important…oh wait…

                                           … search term reports are getting restricted *sad face*. Well, I say, keep those negative keyword lists updated and keep an eye on your campaign budgets too.”

                                           

                                           

                                          Aisha – Paid Media Assistant 

                                          “One of the beauties of Paid Search is that we’re able to specifically target ads to the right people and help the user find exactly what they’re looking for. However, with the phasing out of the Broad Match Modifier match type, it seems that there will be a proportion of search queries that won’t lead users to relevant ads, which is quite disappointing. On the bright side, I’m glad we still have access to a variation of match types, allowing us to still implement keywords in a strategic way.”

                                           

                                           

                                          Dan – Paid Media Consultant

                                          “As someone who has always been a big fan of broad match modifiers, especially for grant accounts and larger reach paid campaigns, I am very sad to see the match type go the way of accelerated delivery and strict campaign budgets. Many of the recent changes have been helpful for us in Google Ads, but I struggle to see a way this change is going to benefit accounts.”

                                           

                                          Do you agree with Jonny, Dan or Aisha? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please do leave a comment below, or Tweet us @upriseupSEM

                                          For further information on Uprise Up’s Google Ads management services, including ongoing support and targeted campaigns, please do contact us. We’d love to hear from you. 

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                                            Is procurement preventing you from finding a good agency?

                                            Is procurement preventing you from finding a good agency?

                                            Common Issues With Procurement Procedures

                                            I’m writing this following continued frustration. This year we’ve had an increase in organisations inviting us to pitch. Often we have been perfectly positioned to demonstrate expertise and provide significant value. But, we’ve had to pull out because of their process.

                                             

                                            Problem summary

                                            We are not the only agency finding this. Regularly procurement procedures are stopping organisations from getting the agencies they deserve. Pitch requests are becoming increasingly demanding, opaque and don’t enable agencies to demonstrate expertise. Good agencies will drop out of these processes altogether.

                                            Procurement Departments are not used to purchasing ‘expertise’. Not in digital marketing. They attempt to simplify and commoditise agencies into a criteria that they are more used to: Value vs. cost; without the expertise to evaluate value.

                                             

                                            Common issues with procurement procedures and their inevitable results:

                                             

                                            Procurement Rule

                                            Issue it causes

                                            Requesting an incredible amount of work, (unpaid), including plan the strategy

                                             

                                            Unless the pitch process is remunerated, this will act as a filter to deter agencies that value their (strategic) time.

                                             

                                            Email questions, answered to be shared with all

                                             

                                            This will prevent thought going into pitches and will prevent agencies from being able to check they are on the right lines before developing a proposal.

                                             

                                            You can’t speak to Stakeholders before writing the proposal

                                             

                                            Any responses won’t meet all requirements.

                                             

                                            You can’t have any conversation, questions on the brief must be written

                                             

                                            Any responses will meet few requirements.

                                             

                                            Turnaround must be quick

                                             

                                            The response from agencies  will be rushed apart from those who are under booked.

                                             

                                            There is no budget, we are waiting to see what the cost will be from  the responses

                                             

                                            This will filter out agencies focused on quality. Agencies focused on price, or with little confidence of their abilities will compete on getting rate down, not on appropriate quality of work.

                                             

                                            We need to know what the results of the campaign will be in proposals

                                             

                                            This will filter out agencies that aren’t prepared to exaggerate results.  Proposals that are received will have exaggerated responses.

                                             

                                            We can’t give you access to our data for preparation

                                             

                                            Expect uninformed proposals.

                                             

                                            We are inviting several (over three) agencies to respond to brief

                                             

                                            Organisation won’t have enough time to communicate effectively with all agencies. They will appear unsure about what they want. Good agencies won’t feel confident in being able to establish expertise under such conditions, and concerned about the time investment, will pull out.

                                             

                                             

                                            john-on-the-phone-frustrated

                                            As an example, a recent conversation went like this:

                                            Client:   “Our marketing department has done some research and would like you to be one of the ten agencies to pitch for our SEO and Google Ads business. You’ll receive a brief on Friday. You’ll need to respond within two weeks and if you make it to the next stage the account team should come to Birmingham to present. You’ll need to have all your questions asked within 3 days of receiving the brief, we’ll publish everyone’s answers together…”

                                            Me:       “Great, can we have a conversation with the Stakeholders once we’ve received the brief.”

                                            Client    “If we let you have a conversation with the stakeholders we’d have to let everyone have a conversation with Stakeholders. They don’t have the time for that”

                                            Me:       “This is a considerable amount of work, over a week’s worth. Unplanned, and unpaid, without being sure of the details that we are working too. Then an extra ½ day per person, for four people to travel to Birmingham and discuss the proposal.

                                            We really would need an hour of  the stakeholders time before making that investment.

                                            Client:     “They are very busy, we are inviting ten agencies to pitch.”

                                            I don’t know how many agencies that organisation had contacted to find ten that they could send the brief to. Any agency with the slightest confidence in itself would have dropped out after that initial call. And this is common. Often pitch requests involve many days of work, to the (very real) cost of thousands of pounds to the agency. A brief alone is never enough. A conversation with stakeholders to understand requirements is essential.

                                            Agencies need to be able to ask follow-up questions; clarification questions; big open ‘setting the context questions’, small little minutiae detailed question. We shouldn’t spend time writing about content development to later discover a content writer inhouse and an internal video team. We wouldn’t recommend a full SEO audit of the site to find out that it is migrating two weeks later.

                                            We need to understand complex situations and prescribe complex solutions.

                                             

                                            Marketing and Communication needs to demonstrate leadership

                                            Marketing and Communications decision-making processes should not be decided by departments that don’t know the sector. I think that fear of making a poor decision focuses agency selection on numerical quantifiable which don’t fit the nature of the decisions that need to be made. Marketing and Communications leaders should have the expertise to evaluate agencies themselves and therefore should take ownership of the process.

                                            Expertise needs a degree of expertise to be understood. A procurement lead process may appear to be working, whittling agencies down to a list of 6; but hidden might be that the four strongest agencies didn’t want to take part.

                                            A small number of agencies should be approached, no more than three. Otherwise the ones that agree to take part won’t be any good. Effective communication needs to run throughout the process. Any solutions should be arrived at together, so that the proposal details a combined solution. In digital strategy development, a ‘Grand Reveal’ isn’t appropriate.

                                             

                                            What do you think?

                                            I really would appreciate any feedback on this blog, from other agencies, clients, Marketing departments, Communications departments and definitely any Procurement departments.

                                            Please email us at [email protected]

                                             

                                            Have I missed something? Have I failed to see another perspective?

                                            It feels to me like there is a trend here and that organisations are being impeded in finding good agencies as a result. I think something is broken and it would be good to get clarity on the issue and fix it.

                                             

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                                              Page Experience Update

                                              Page Experience Update

                                              As we said in last month’s Round Up, May was a busy month for SEO! We started the month with a Core Update and finished it with Google revealing the upcoming arrival of another search update: the page experience update.

                                               

                                              What is the Page Experience Update?

                                              The Page Experience update will update the signals Google examines and considers when ranking a page in organic search. Page Experience is a part of User Experience (UX) and looks at the how well different elements of a webpage perform to determine how accessible and engaging the page is for users. If a webpage performs well, it will get a good page experience score. Following the update, achieving a high page experience score will be important for good rankings in search.

                                              Basically, Page Experience is joining SEO and UX in search matrimony.

                                              As part of the update a new ranking signal will be included in Google’s search algorithm, one that looks at metrics associated with the page experience of a webpage. Confirmed metrics that will be considered are the ones observed by Google’s Core Web Vitals.

                                              Some page experience signals already taken into consideration by Google include:

                                               

                                              • Mobile Responsiveness
                                              • HTTPS
                                              • Intrusiveness

                                               

                                              These signals are being extended upon on a yearly basis as Google identifies more areas that contribute to a good page and user experience.

                                               

                                              Graphic highlighting the different page experience ranking signals

                                              Source: Google

                                               

                                              What are Core Web Vitals?

                                              Core Web Vitals (CWV) are the metrics Google uses to quantify user experience. They’re the universal usability dimensions that apply to all websites.

                                              CWV is a step closer to understanding and gaining a better ability of measuring page speed. It’s also a confirmation for us that page speed is a ranking factor for Google (which we’ve always suspected!), with a revealed target load time of 2.5 seconds.

                                              Metrics included in CWV are:

                                              Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures perceived load time and identifies when the majority of content has loaded.

                                              First Input Delay (FID): measures responsiveness and interactivity by identifying the time between a user initiating an interaction and that the page responding to that initiation.

                                              Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability and the unexpected layout shift of visible page content.

                                               

                                               

                                              Why focus on Page Experience?

                                              Google has always placed emphasis on creating websites that appeal to the user rather than search engine algorithms. To do this the user needs to be the centre focus of any content or design implementation. The better a page experience is, the happier a user is and the more likely they’ll return to your site on another occasion.

                                              Informative, relevant content is a vital step to bringing users to your site and engaging. However, this can easily be thwarted by other on-page elements.

                                              It is no longer enough to just have good content. The content needs to be accessible. Google is zooming out and looking more and more at the overall performance of the page. If a page is slow to load or has poor interactivity, users can be quick to escape the poor UX and bounce off your page. Taking page experience into account will help prevent usability and accessibility from restricting your website’s potential.

                                               

                                               

                                              What will change as a result of the update?

                                              There will be more requirements for your page to rank well in organic search. Page Experience looks at more than the content on your site, it looks at how that content is presented, how it can be interacted with and how accessible it is to users of all capabilities. Usability and accessibility are elements websites have already been encouraged to incorporate in their digital marketing; ones that have done so shouldn’t expect too much to change.

                                              As part of this update, Google will be making additional amendments to Top Stories eligibility. Once the update is rolled out AMP will no longer be needed to be eligible to appear in Top Stories on mobile devices. This will increase competition for Top Stories, but those with AMP implemented now shouldn’t expect to see any change to behaviour (according to Google).

                                              Google’s developer tools, such as Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights will also be updating to help websites with optimising and identifying where page experience issues are.

                                               

                                               

                                              How will the page experience update affect SEO?

                                              This update is placing the user right at the centre (as if they weren’t there already?!) and by extension your SEO should be doing the same. By doing this a lot of your SEO strategy doesn’t change, as nothing should be subtracted from your current plan. But, your plan should grow as more areas need to be reviewed to ensure your landing pages consider page experience in order to rank well in organic search.

                                              Content will still be key; page experience will not usurp this signal. Google have stated that they will prioritise the pages that have the best content and information overall, even if some of there page experience elements are subpar. Page Experience is not replacing any current SEO requirements, your content still needs to be top notch.

                                              Accessibility will become more integral to your SEO strategy. This includes elements such as accurate captions on videos, alt tags that accurately describe images, clear easy to read font and a user journey that is easy to follow and enables a high conversion rate. We recommend speaking to your agency or in-house experts about User Experience. You’ll want to review the conversion journeys on your site too, so CRO is another service to consider.

                                              In terms of service relations, your developers may find themselves working more closely with your SEO team. The page experience update will involve reviewing the usability and accessibility of your website design, by ensuring it loads quickly, is responsive and that the design isn’t intrusive. For all this to be optimised, your web developers need to be aligned with your SEO team.

                                               

                                               

                                              When will the update be released?

                                              Google have said we should not expect the update to roll out before next year, and that they will provide at least 6 months notice ahead of rolling out the update. This means we have plenty of time, with the update potentially not even launching until 2022. This early notice period is to ensure websites have plenty of time to prepare, review and update their websites ahead of the update. Google does not believe there is any need for immediate action, and we agree. However, it is important to start discussions now to ensure your SEO strategy takes this update into consideration over the upcoming months.

                                               

                                              Update April 2021

                                              In April 2021, Google announced that introducing the page experience ranking signal for search would begin a gradual rollout in mid June 2021.

                                               

                                              Want to chat SEO?

                                              We recommend you make the most of this opportunity to get ahead, and we’re happy to help. If you want to talk to us about your SEO and the UX of your website, please do email us at [email protected], or simply send us a message through our contact page. We’d love to have a chat and find out how we can support you.

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                                                A letter and offer of support during the Covid-19 outbreak

                                                A Letter from John, Uprise Up MD

                                                Dear Friends,

                                                I hope everyone reading this is safe, and also your family, friends, colleagues and the organisations you work at. This is a message to let you know where Uprise Up is at and possibly how we could help if you need it.

                                                 

                                                The ‘business has changed a bit, but we are still able to deliver’ message

                                                It is business as (almost) usual for us. We had plans to increase flexible and home working already. Not this quickly, not on this scale, but we have the technology in place and we’re rolling with it. We’re also loving the increased video conferencing with pets, partners and children often making a cameo!

                                                 

                                                Uprise Up are good

                                                Financially speaking, we are OK. The company is stable and has an emergency float kept aside. We are also extremely fortunate as many of the organisations that we work with still have a big role during this time. This includes several charity and health-based organisations who have had to increase some of their marketing, communications and fundraising activities to support their efforts in dealing with the crisis.

                                                 

                                                Many clients are also on a stable footing and are using marketing to support the short-term changes they are making to their business model, or they are taking the long-term view and are strengthening their brand for when the recovery comes. (Marketing strategies during these odd times can be found on my recent blog).

                                                 

                                                Some clients are scaling back activity, and from our perspective we can accommodate that, and provide some extra support.

                                                 

                                                We’ve got your back

                                                We are grateful that Uprise Up is still able to operate and work with clients right now. This is enabling us to keep the lights on and ensure our staff are still fully employed, which is brilliant as we’ve built an amazing team. If you are one of our clients experiencing income and cash flow issues and need to ‘hibernate’ or some other help right now, we’ve got your back.

                                                 

                                                Let us know what you need: Reduce services during this time? Put campaigns on complete hold (outside of contractual commitments)? If you need digital marketing to get through this (and be in a strong position on the other side), but now have cash-flow issues, tell us how we can help.

                                                 

                                                We can look at reviewing terms, maybe we need to give you a bit extra to get you over this hump. As I say, we are in a fortunate position and as such can support you during this time.

                                                 

                                                We’d very much like to too; let us know what you need.

                                                 

                                                Thanks for taking the time to read this. Stay safe.

                                                 

                                                john

                                                John

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                                                  Following Covid-19, good marketing is needed now more than ever

                                                  Marketing during coronavirus empty office

                                                  Marketing pivots needed in an economic crisis

                                                   

                                                  The situation we face

                                                   

                                                  Coronavirus (Covid-19) has had an unprecedented impact, on our health, social habits and on our economy. But we need to keep the lights on. During an economic crisis we need to adapt effectively and quickly to survive and to do this, effective marketing is crucial.

                                                   

                                                  We need to adapt in the short term and plan for the long term. Turning the marketing tap off to save cash now is not an option. Even if the whole organisation is able to go into a cost-free hibernation, when that time ends, the brand will be in tatters.

                                                   

                                                  Conversely, companies that are able to adapt and continue their marketing will find that these moments offer the brave the most potential for developing the brand and increasing market share at relatively little cost. Communication, awareness and demand generation are crucial.

                                                   

                                                  It’s not just about self-interest. Society is built on commerce, to keep people employed and fed. Many of the industries (and charities) we support now have a vital function in getting information and essential supplies to people that need them. Some of the organisations Uprise Up work with are really coming into their own, helping communities through volunteer recruitment, raising money for highly vulnerable people such as the homeless or people with a specific illnesses. These organisations and others rely on the wheels to keep turning. Marketers must step-up.

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  Office cactus delivering digital marketing training

                                                  At times like this our office cactus provides useful training (via video)

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  Dust ourselves off and review where we are at. It’s time for a new strategy

                                                   

                                                  Organisations are going to make changes, and marketing needs to support that. There are a few considerations that need to be made:

                                                   

                                                  The operating environment

                                                   

                                                  Thousands of companies need to make significant changes to their business model, for the short term at least. Others may still be able to focus on the same core products or services, but will find that their audiences and the nature of their environment (see the PESTAL model for external influences) have changed significantly.

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  The organisation’s position

                                                   

                                                  Organisations need a swift team SWOT analysis on the new situation and a plan based on the SOSTAC model is an excellent place to start. When devising that, this is where I see the answers as to future success likely to be.

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  Changing audiences and markets

                                                   

                                                  Now is a good time to review target audiences, as their current circumstances are likely to have changed significantly. At the same time your proposition may have changed altogether, which might open up a whole new audience. Revised personas relating to current conditions would be very useful about now and when we are through the bulk of coronavirus shut-down, audiences will need to be revised again. From economics through to patterns of behaviour, the world is going to be a different place.

                                                   

                                                  An important thing to mention here – if your business model is changing, unless that change is going to be permanent, don’t neglect your traditional audience. If you had a training business with a limited sphere of influence (say Manchester), and are now temporarily providing online training where you can target nationally (or further), keep your brand going strong in Manchester for when your business gets back to normal.

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  The long-term strategy

                                                   

                                                  The instinct is to think short term – cut costs or throw everything into increase sales. However, companies that are going to survive beyond this crisis need a longer-term strategy, and there are opportunities to doing so.

                                                   

                                                  If customers or clients aren’t buying right now it might be wise to reduce paid advertising that focuses on short-term sales. However, there is high demand for content around how the world is changing as a result of COVID-19, and what people and organisations can and should do. Any content created should be genuine and helpful, serving your audience in this way will keep exposure levels high in the short term, at reduced cost. Beyond the crisis the brand awareness and continued SEO will benefit from the links and interest your new content has generated could see you in a much better place when we come out of this.

                                                   

                                                  Also, as immediate demand has dropped, inventory (ad space, especially digital ad space including display and video), is very cost effective right now. If you are focused on long-term market growth through driving brand awareness, there is now an opportunity to do so at a far reduced cost. Any campaign should be sympathetic to current times, should be carefully worded and demonstrate warmth and positive social values. But get this right and you will be well-regarded when things pick-up.

                                                   

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  office orange tree with low hanging fruit

                                                  Any business should still have some low-hanging fruit

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  A new approach

                                                   

                                                  Pivoting needs to be quick. The competition is going to be setting themselves up in a similar way. There is significant early mover advantage here as markets and industries are shifting and new marketing opportunities are opening up, ready to be owned. Develop your channels with your audiences now, when they need you the most, and it will build a relationship. As time goes on your audiences will start to feel inundated, and it will be much harder to break through.

                                                   

                                                  Priority areas I think all organisations should be considering are:

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  A lot of this represents a speeding up of best practice initiatives. That’s what this crisis will do to us: compel us to trim off the fat and propel our marketing practices into where they needed to be, only much faster. Those that can adapt quickly will benefit – and be in a better place when this is all over too. Here’s a rundown of each point.

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  Focus on digital

                                                   

                                                  I manage a digital marketing agency, so I have a vested interest in this sector. I didn’t start in digital; I began media planning and buying across print and outdoor, TV, radio and ‘ambient’. I moved into digital once I realised just what it could do: rich messaging, high engagement, significant reach. But the superpower advantages are pinpoint targeting, and full transparency (data, analytics and attribution modelling), which allow strategies to be effectively honed and optimised.

                                                   

                                                  Where businesses are stretched and every advertising pound needs to hit the mark, you know exactly what digital is achieving, which elements are working and which aren’t. In times of tight cash-flow, targeting the bottom of the funnel can keep the lights on.

                                                   

                                                  In 2019 digital accounted for over 50% of media spend for the first time. It was already predicted that this would grow in 2020, and now, (following coronavirus), more than ever. Out-Of-Home (including tube advertising, busses and billboards) are going to see a big reduction as ‘out-door’ and commute time is almost halted. Similarly, magazine and newspaper sales will slump significantly. But the real rise in digital (in-home) will be because marketing budgets are going to be forced to be more accountable; better targeted and with better data, and the sooner organisations adapt, the further ahead they will be.

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  Make sure that tracking and Analytics is perfectly set up

                                                   

                                                  Organisations are going to need to make every penny count, and that means having Analytics set up to clearly record web traffic and activity. From our experience, most organisations are far from this point. We review the Analytics accounts for every one of our clients on commencement of engagement. 95% of the time we are able to make setup improvement recommendations that will significantly improve the quality of the data being reported.

                                                   

                                                  Unless your organisation has a real expert in Analytics setup, get your account reviewed.

                                                   

                                                  Remarketing lists should be getting generated. A view should be created to filter out internal and agency traffic, and spam. There should be a clear process for labelling links, from all emails and also social media. Tag manager should be used – in a sophisticated way, tracking all important activity, mouse movements and engagements.

                                                   

                                                  Conversions also need to be tracked. Financial ecommerce transactions or B2B service lead contacts. Now is the time to know exactly what is working and its impact. This will help significantly through the hard times, and when normality finally returns, your organisation will be in a very good position.

                                                   

                                                  Finally, this is the perfect opportunity to work on CRO (conversion rate optimisation) developments on your site. Run user A/B testing through Google Experiments, analyse site usage through Crazy Egg or run live user-testing programs against your target audience. We find that CRO is typically underperforming for many organisations, and where that is the case it represents a huge opportunity.

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  Go Big on Content and SEO

                                                   

                                                  Content relating to coronavirus is important right now, whatever your industry: Investors need to know how the crisis will affect their portfolio. Health conscious people need to know how to keep fit at home. Many parents are desperate to improve their home-schooling abilities. We might all be looking for optimal strategies with toilet paper…

                                                   

                                                  It might be that your industry has been flattened by this. You might have shut the doors completely, but utilising whatever spare time you now have to provide useful content for your audiences will keep the brand alive and continue the conversation with your consumer. If you do it in an effective way, there are considerable long-term benefits. Conceivably, a fifth page keyword placement could be on the first page within three months. In addition to providing ‘free click’ traffic in the short term, an effective content / SEO strategy now will see your organisation fly when the normal world resumes:

                                                   

                                                    • The media is crying out for content about how coronavirus and resulting disruption is going to impact on their audiences. People’s media consumption on all of this has increased hugely.
                                                    • There is an opportunity for high quality, genuine content to generate coverage – in news and on social media. This is time to serve. In time of crisis, content must be caring, understanding and helpful. The audience needs to be at the centre of any communications.
                                                    • When done well, thought-leadership exposure will generate traffic from link clicks and SEO rankings. Such an opportunity for climbing SEO rankings so quickly (as now) will not come again for a long time – if ever.
                                                    • This could reduce the impact on their business over this difficult time, particularly if done in conjunction with new products, services or an appeal related to Covid-19 and the resulting shut-down. For some organisations this content will be very effective at delivering traffic in significant volumes.
                                                    • When we start to come out of this, organisations which have delivered useful content for their audiences will have leap-frogged several positions in search.

                                                   

                                                  It is the same for all organisations. Marketing needs to continue, but it needs to adapt, and it needs to be effective. Even more so with content marketing – but those that get it right quickly will be in a much better place compared to the competition.

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  Get into video

                                                   

                                                  Digital video has been growing for some time. The demand for professional quality clips has dropped, and organically video is used often, self-shot, giving the human, authentic touch to marketing communications. Platforms such as Facebook and YouTube have brought this sophisticated media within reach of all advertisers.

                                                   

                                                  In terms of video advertising, the amount of video content Organisations have available to show does not match the inventory (advertising space) available. This means (considering what video ads can do) that right now promoting video ads is exceptionally cheap.

                                                   

                                                  It’s also a channel that’s growing and worth investing in. Last year spend for non-video digital display grew by 8%, whereas spend for video grew by 27% to a total of £1.32 bn. This growth means video now almost accounts for the same as non-video display (£1.45 bn).

                                                   

                                                  In an organic context, with the current crisis and subsequent isolation, video is poised to go insane – and the landscape will never be the same again. Video will be used in training (professional skills, fitness, home schooling). Businesses and individuals who haven’t been using it will become full adopters within a few weeks.

                                                   

                                                  Organisations and consumers may re-evaluate themselves after this. Once society has made it work, I don’t think things will go back to how they were. Consumers will get used to intangible video products and organisations will be keen to keep some of the efficiencies that video offers.

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  the upriseUP team together

                                                  A still from our upcoming video, Uprise Up is sticking together (but not too close)

                                                   

                                                  We are in this together

                                                   

                                                  There is a genuine togetherness that current conditions have brought to the marketing community. There is plenty of support out there, and some great advice (it seems that many in marketing have realised the importance of adding to this debate!). Among some of the great pieces I have read, Mark Ritson’s Marketing in the time of Covid-19 serves well as an inspiring call-to -arms, and Smart Insights have Creating a Marketing action plan for a recession.

                                                   

                                                  If anyone reading this would like to talk through their thoughts for our industry – or their organisation specifically during these times, I’d love to hear from you. It seems an odd thing to say under these circumstances, but I think our way through this will come from much closer collaboration.

                                                   

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                                                    Google Ad Grant Hits The Mark At Christmas

                                                    Extra Funding for Google Ad Grants at Christmas

                                                    Extra Ad Grant Funding available from Google.

                                                     

                                                    Uprise Up christmas eve 2019

                                                    The Google Ad Grants program hasn’t had such good PR in the last couple of years, following new policies in 2018, and even more restrictions placed on new accounts since then.

                                                    However, towards the end of last year, Google announced a program to give certain Ad Grant accounts extra funds for the last few months of 2019 (‘Giving Season’).

                                                    What a great Christmas present from Google! – the only catch was that your account needed to be invited to apply for this opportunity.

                                                    It was not clear which accounts were sent invites, but from looking at the accounts that we manage which were chosen, it seemed like a high usage of the available budget and adoption of advanced conversion metrics were two important factors in this.

                                                     

                                                    Christmas edition of Google logo

                                                     

                                                    How to apply?

                                                     

                                                    Once the organisation received an invite, the application itself was a reasonably lengthy form, asking about what the non-profit in question would do with the funds. There were also five requirements listed that were needed before applying:

                                                    1. Conversion tracking set up optimally to measure all the site’s goals
                                                    2. Smart bidding being utilised (eg. maximise conversions)
                                                    3. 90-day conversion windows
                                                    4. Use of an attribution model other than Last Click
                                                    5. Seasonality adjustments in place for Giving Tuesday

                                                     

                                                    Overall, we were happy to implement these changes (with the agreement of our clients), as they were in line with best practices for paid search campaigns. We’d have preferred, however, fewer blanket rules being applied, because different accounts with different objectives may not always want to follow these rules. Quite likely the Google Ad Grant team is using this scheme to ensure its general take on Google Ad Grant ‘best practice’ is adhered to, but this feels a bit too much like a blanket approach.

                                                    Also, most of our UK based charity clients do not promote Giving Tuesday in any respect, meaning there was little to be gained by making adjustments for this date.

                                                    Then, it was a case of waiting. The original deadline was pushed back by Google, probably because they were overwhelmed with applications from enthusiastic charities!

                                                    Our final stats were:

                                                    • 27 accounts invited
                                                    • 17 accounts applied for
                                                    • 6 accounts successful

                                                     

                                                    What is slightly disappointing is that the program was closed quite abruptly, seemingly because the total funds allocated to this program had been exhausted. We also cannot find a trend that linked our unsuccessful applications. More feedback from Google would have been welcome, so that charities that were unsuccessful in their applications can analyse where they fell down and improve their application process for any future funding programs. When the program closed it was also revealed that Globally there was $25 million allocated to this opportunity. This sounds like quite a lot, but this meant accounts we manage were allocated 3.8% of the global total! While this is very much a positive, we can’t help feeling that it may have been fairer to limit the total amount a single charity could receive and instead allow this extra budget across more accounts.

                                                     

                                                    Results

                                                     

                                                    Across our charity clients, results were very positive.

                                                    We were able to make use of the extra funds well and drive relevant traffic to various pages which wouldn’t otherwise have been achieved.

                                                    For instance, YoungMinds were normally able to achieve up to 1,000 clicks a day from their Ad Grant on a normal weekday. The extra funding allowed this figure to increase by 25% for most of December, up to 1,250 clicks per day. In December we recorded just shy of £13,000 in donation revenue from the Ad Grant account – the highest donation month to date.

                                                    Breast Cancer Now were another charity who were able to make great use of the funds. As an organisation they’ve had an exciting year, having been formed by the merger of two charities. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the extra Ad Grant funds came at a perfect time to capitalise on the awareness raised until the end of the year.

                                                    On a typical day this account is able to achieve around 600 clicks per day and the extra funding was able to boost this consistently beyond 900 towards the end of 2019. We saw great improvements in conversions too, with £18,500 of revenue raised in Q4 2019, compared to £2,200 in Q4 2018.

                                                     

                                                    As a bonus, we found the extra funding actually continued into the first week of January, despite being advertised to finish at the end of 2019 – a pleasant surprise!

                                                     

                                                     

                                                    The Future

                                                     

                                                    It’s great to see a program like this being introduced by Google. It gives non-profits a bit more confidence that Google still wants to give them a helping hand.

                                                    Hopefully we see a program like this again. If so, next time, we’d like to hear more feedback on unsuccessful applications from Google themselves. We think this will spur on everyone to make further improvements to their campaigns and provide extra motivation to be successful. Otherwise, it may be that some organisations will be confused as to where they have gone wrong and will simply not bother in the future.

                                                     

                                                    We would love to hear about your experiences, please email us at [email protected]

                                                     

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                                                      Say Goodbye To Accelerated Delivery

                                                      The end of accelerated delivery

                                                      The End Of Accelerated Delivery

                                                      Google have just announced that both search ads and shopping ads will shortly no longer be able to use the accelerated delivery campaign option. This change will come into effect on September 17th, where all campaigns currently using accelerated will be switched to standard. Standard delivery will now be the only option available. On the face of it, this is a confusing choice given that accelerated delivery is commonly used and considered best practice by many.

                                                       

                                                      Standard delivery will pace your impressions evenly throughout your day, which removes the possibility of a campaign exhausting its budget before the end of the day, but also means that you can potentially miss out on impressions. The most common use of accelerated delivery is to guarantee an ad shows every time it is eligible, which is obviously the desired outcome for most advertisers (to reach as many of their target audience as they can)

                                                       

                                                      A well-managed campaign with appropriate budgets would not see much difference in performance, so in the grand scheme of things this change is not going to affect how your campaigns behave. If your campaigns weren’t being well monitored, then the switch to standard might actually be a good thing for them.

                                                       

                                                      However, along with the removal of the average position metric, this again is a case of Google removing choices from advertisers without offering any replacement option. This can only be seen as a negative, and continues to highlight ways that automation is being pushed on advertisers. Similar to when Google made changes to daily budget behaviour, there is an air of mystery about what Google is forcing upon advertisers, and it’s unclear why they have made their decision.

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                                                        Five Great Talks At Search Leeds

                                                        Search Leeds Conference 2019

                                                        Search Leeds Conference 2019

                                                        This year’s Search Leeds conference didn’t disappoint. All the talks I went to were great, and reflected the continuing journey of SEO from being an opaque technical skill, as it was often seen in the early 2000’s, to the business-critical discipline that it is today.

                                                        Here are my notes from the five talks that I found most useful:

                                                         

                                                        1. Why most SEO audits are sh*t

                                                        The speaker, Bastain Grimm, is an experienced SEO who went directly from the conference to the EU Search Awards where he won ‘Search Personality of the year’. Over the years we’ve put a lot of work into the style and readability of our SEO audits and continue to do so. Several of the points he made resonated with me:

                                                        • Include an executive summary – a snapshot of why you’re doing this audit, what you’ve found and what you recommend
                                                        • Put detailed technical findings into an appendix
                                                        • Report on causes, as well as symptoms
                                                        • Ensure your recommendations are actionable, prioritised and include an estimate of impact

                                                        Check out Bastian’s slides here

                                                         

                                                        1. The business value of SEO

                                                        Jenn Hoffman, Marketing Director at Deepcrawl, covered the familiar problem of showing the value of SEO work to stakeholders and decision makers. She proposed three solutions:

                                                        • Becoming customer obsessed
                                                        • Reporting on business impact metrics
                                                        • Making friends with your Development team

                                                        Key points for me were around how we can further develop the relationship between our SEO team and our clients’ / partners’ tech developers. When did an SEO last take a developer out for a beer? Do they know:

                                                        • If devs work to sprints, or how their workflow works?
                                                        • What comms platforms they work on?

                                                        Full slide deck here

                                                         

                                                        1. Personalisation in a search journey

                                                        Gary Arnold, Strategic Consulting Director at Edit, (the agency behind Search Leeds). A possibly confusing title to this talk, Gary discussed the need for employees in an agency to have multiple skills.

                                                        Partly it’s the responsibility of agency owners to keep their staff motivated, happy and fulfilled (and with better career prospects), partly to give your agency the edge, and partly because in 5-10 years’ time a good deal of SEO work will be done by machines. SEOs need wider skills to maintain their employability.

                                                        He used the ‘comb-shaped skills’ analogy: what process understanding do your people need – the base of the comb, and what technical skills do they need – the multiple teeth of the comb.

                                                        Check out Gary’s slides here

                                                         

                                                        1. Put your money where your data is

                                                        Samantha Noble, a paid media expert currently at Biddable Moments, formerly Director of Strategy at Koozai.

                                                        She talked about the wonders of  Google Data Studio (‘GDS’) and came up with some great ideas I’d not thought about:

                                                        • Supermetrics is a clever tool that allows you to pull data into GDS from multiple sources. We use it a lot at Uprise Up, but I’d not personally thought about using it to pull in data from Google My Business to report on local SEO performance.
                                                        • Supermetrics also enables you to report on site speed (from Google Analytics) and shows you which section or pages of the site is slowing it down. Whilst GA is never in my experience that accurate at reporting site speed, it’s the relative reporting here that is so useful
                                                        • Embed a URL into GDS so you can see the page you’re reporting on
                                                        • Mailchimp (or other email marketing tool) integration – showing how your email campaigns are performing, without having to login to anything other than GDS
                                                        • Google Ads auction insights: reporting on campaign performance, and interestingly, which other organisations the campaign is competing with
                                                        • Deals with conversion windows for Facebook ads & Google Ads. The problem, in summary, is that advertising platforms in general will take the credit for a website conversion using last click attribution. For example, imagine if someone first sees your website on Google. They visit your site and follow you on Facebook. After a few weeks they go back to your site from Facebook and make a purchase. Very often a performance report will attribute that sale to Facebook, when in fact it should be attributed to Google. Samantha explained that Data Studio deals with this ‘attribution’ issue. This is one I need to investigate further!

                                                        Full slide deck here

                                                         

                                                        1. One Search – Combining your organic and paid strategies for greater effect

                                                        Sarah Barker, Head of Biddable Media at StickyEyes. She covered a few different themes including the benefits of PPC and SEO teams working together.

                                                        Some examples:

                                                        • Using PPC to do keyword research, and test SEO title-tags and meta-descriptions.
                                                        • Using a different mix of SEO & PPC according to:
                                                          • where a buyer is in the sales funnel – see slide 14
                                                          • …and what kind of keyword / intent there is – see slide 21
                                                        • The classic sales funnel isn’t really a funnel any more – see slide 6 for how Stickyeyes visualises it

                                                        Deck here

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                                                          Digital Fundraising Strategies for Charities

                                                          Fundraising Strategies for Charities

                                                          Charity Fundraising

                                                           

                                                          Fundraising is not only a key source of income for charities, but it is also an opportunity to engage with members of the public on issues they care about. For many charities, creating an effective digital fundraising campaign, that successfully engages with your target personnel can be a challenging prospect. But fear not, we’re here to help! Below we’ll explore some key fundraising tasks and suggest some initial strategies to hopefully achieve success in digital.

                                                          Don’t forget to share this post with others, to spread the message that good digital for charities and non-profits is needed now more than ever.

                                                           

                                                          Charity Lottery

                                                          Lottery activity can work exceptionally well, which has caused them to become increasingly popular across larger charities. We know the market is extremely competitive, therefore In such a crowded space, it is crucial to allocate spend wisely.

                                                          The priority for allocating budget should be Paid Search, as this provides the best Return on Investment (ROI), by targeting people who are looking to play a lottery at that moment. Think of personas such as ‘Lottery Liz’.

                                                           

                                                          Lottery Liz Charity Persona

                                                          Liz has very predictable online habits and her browsing habits are mainly based around fashion sites and online newspapers. She regularly takes part in charity lotteries with her friends. Her first interaction with the activity could come through Display Advertising on sites such as dailymail.co.uk. She may not click on these ads, but when she sees paid search ads for your charity when looking for a new lottery for her friends, she’ll remember the ads she saw and decides to investigate more.

                                                          Both Google Paid Search and Bing Paid Search can be utilised in this strategy. In addition, display marketing should be employed to raise awareness of the product during key periods, such as a Superdraw or Christmas draw. Although the CPA on the awareness side of the activity will be high, the increased awareness should drive an increase in searches and therefore improve Paid Search results.

                                                          Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) would also prove effective for long term revenue generation. Start with an initial website crawl or a more thorough technical audit, then prioritise tasks to improve website performance, which will also have knock-on benefits to the other activity.

                                                           

                                                          Legacy Giving

                                                          Deciding to leave a gift in your will is a long process, with users unlikely to commit on their first few visits to the site. However, continued updates and content based on what your charity does in a broader context together with well-timed asks should help convert this audience. Successful campaigns are reliant on attracting users by having relevant and engaging content with a strong call to action to find out more.

                                                          Based on our research, we have identified a target online consumer for legacy giving – ‘Giving Gordon’. Gordon uses the internet to look up sports results and regularly visits the BBC Sport page. He doesn’t use many social media channels, but he uses Facebook to keep in contact with his children. He worries that his affairs are not in order, and the death of his mother has spurred him to consider writing a will. He doesn’t know much about the process, and so searches for a guide to writing a will online. Whilst browsing Facebook, he notices an ad for a free downloadable will guide from your charity. With a strong connection with your charity, he downloads the guide and it gets him thinking about leaving a gift in his new will to the charity.

                                                           

                                                          Giving Gordon Charity Persona

                                                           

                                                          For this type of activity, the majority of investment should be focused around Facebook advertising. This is because Facebook allows for careful targeting around people who have just experienced specific ‘life events’, which allows you to target users in line with our research. Other channels should include both Paid Search and SEO. By providing high quality content supporters would be encouraged to stay engaged with your charity. Then through automated marketing and email, they can be up sold to the free will writing service at the appropriate time.

                                                           

                                                          Challenge Events

                                                          Fundraising events are a great way to engage supporters and raise revenue. An effective marketing strategy for challenge events should drive sign ups, predominately by using a combination of paid search and bursts of display activity and Facebook Ads. In addition to this, both existing content and new content, along with automated marketing, should be utilised to aid these channels in increasing event sign ups and to provide value to those that sign up to your fundraising events.

                                                          Based on the research we have conducted, we have initially created the following example personas based on the people we believe are most likely to sign up to your charity’s fundraising events.

                                                          ‘Event Ellie’ spends a lot of time on Facebook, sharing links to her fundraising page and encourages others to sponsor her while sharing the work that your charity does. In the lead up to the event, she posts updates on her training regime. When the event is over, she updates her photos from the big day.

                                                          ‘Challenge Colin’ spends plenty of time on events forums reading about others’ experiences, sharing his own stories and looking for the next crazy challenge he can take part in. He regularly logs into Facebook and likes pages of his friends who take part in events.

                                                           

                                                          Event Ellie & Challenge Colin Event Personas

                                                           

                                                          Nothing is more effective at driving sign ups than targeting people who are searching for these events, and this is where Paid Search comes in. Although Google Ads is an effective medium for this, Bing Ads can also be successfully utilised as there is less competition on Bing and you can reach a different, yet still relevant audience to increase sign ups.

                                                          We would suggest producing banner advertising, firstly to use as remarketing to users who have visited your site, but also to increase awareness and promote events on relevant websites. To save on costs, make use of responsive ads for smaller events.

                                                          Finally, utilise email marketing, combined with a continued supply relevant content, to allow your charity to maintain a relationship with users who have downloaded a guide or similar content. They can be encouraged to support your charity through fundraising for an appropriate event through communication when appropriate.

                                                           

                                                          Regular Giving

                                                          Digital Marketing is a very effective medium for driving donations, both single and regular. Paid search is again, going to be your most effective channel when it comes to ROI, but there is going to be a limited ‘relevant’ reach. So, you will need to couple this with some awareness activity across video, display and social.

                                                          As usual, try to identify your target personas. For example, ‘Donation Donna’ is a married mother of two, and her online habits involve visiting online news sites and the national trust page to find her next day trip location. Her children have recently moved out and she has more disposable income, which she wants to put towards a good cause.

                                                           

                                                          Donation Donna Charity Persona

                                                           

                                                          Video across social media and YouTube is currently exceptionally cost-effective and combined with its impact and focused targeting, we recommend it as a powerful tool with which to start engagement on fundraising products. In addition to this, social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter should also be used to benefit from their extensive targeting options. Finally, automated marketing should also be used to encourage the sense of community and friendship with the new product.

                                                           

                                                          As always, we’d love to hear more about your own specific strategies, so if you’d like to find out more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

                                                           

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                                                            SEM Cup 2018

                                                            SEM Cup

                                                            SEM FIFA World Cup Tournament 2018

                                                            In June and July, the world was taken over with World Cup fever, but here in the Uprise Up office we were overcome with something much more important – SEM Cup fever.

                                                            As I’m sure is the case for most companies, we have a number of self-proclaimed ‘FIFA Experts*’ who regularly bicker about their prowess and who is the best in the office. With the World Cup fast approaching, we thought it would be a great idea to set up a FIFA World Cup tournament, to once and for all, settle who was the best player in the office.

                                                            As these things often do, it quickly got out of hand – rather than host an inter-office competition, the decision was made to open the tournament up to all Search Engine Marketing (SEM) agencies across the UK. Thus, SEM Cup was born.

                                                            We were amazed at the response; SEM Cup had interest from some big agencies, including Screaming Frog, All Response Media, and Bulldog Digital Media. We even had international interest with the participation of Overdrive Interactive, an agency based in Boston! In total, 10 agencies battled it out for the title of ‘Best Search Engine Marketing Agency’.

                                                            Whilst we didn’t have a full roster of countries, we were able to scramble 16 individual teams together – meaning every team went straight through to the knockout stages. With a few quick friendly group games to warm up, Vertical Leap came out on top for Group A, with Purple Imps (B) taking Group B, Screaming Frog (B) taking Group C, and Vertical Leap PPC winning Group D.

                                                             

                                                            It’s A knockout

                                                            Uprise Up had two teams in the competition; Japan and Belgium. Although we had ‘some of the best FIFA players in the country’*, unfortunately, Japan didn’t make it past the first knock out stage. Belgium had slightly more success, reaching the semi-finals. But, alas, they were knocked out by Social Stork in a close, nail biting game.

                                                             

                                                            It’s the final countdown

                                                            The final came down to Social Stork (playing as the mighty Saudi Arabia) and Go Up (playing as Uruguay) – both of whom had finished 2nd in the group stages but proved to be powerhouses in the knockout stages. Social Stork were soaring high with the best game result at 8-2. Despite this, Social Stork were no match for Go Up, who won with a convincing 6-1 lead and were crowned SEM Cup 2018 champions! Their reward? A lovely vector image for their homepage!

                                                            What’s Next?

                                                            The tournament was great fun to participate in, and although we didn’t win, there was great team spirit, within the office and across all the agencies. It also proved to be a brilliant opportunity to network and speak to likeminded people in the industry.

                                                            To top it off, we also had messages from a number of agencies wanting more! With this is mind the idea of a SEM Cup league was thrown into the ring and quickly took off. To ensure that this time no agency would miss out by not owning an Xbox, we decided to set up two concurrent leagues – one for Xbox One, one for Play Station 4. The League is kicking off in September, with spaces still available across both Xbox and PS4 – if you are from an agency or know an agency that would like to take part, please visit www.semcup.co.uk or @SEMCup on Twitter to register your team!

                                                             

                                                            *completely unsubstantiated claims

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                                                              How to successfully email pitch to Journalists

                                                              How to successfully email pitch to journalists

                                                              Pitching to the Media

                                                              So, you’ve started your digital PR journey and you’re well on your way to building up your backlink profile. The ideas are there, the content is ready, and you’ve got a huge list of names of potentially interested parties… the next step is actually getting it out to the press. 

                                                              If you think about how many emails journalists will receive each day, it’s worth taking a moment to learn how to make sure that you’re moving from their inbox to article. Here are the top tips from upriseUP on how to successfully email pitch to journalists.

                                                              Don’t forget to share this post on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn if you enjoy our top tips!

                                                               

                                                              Do your research 

                                                              The first aspect of getting your story, product, or service noticed is making sure that the right people are finding it.  

                                                              Build up a targeted list of the influencers and journalists in your industry and make sure that you aren’t spamming people with press releases that are completely irrelevant to their publication. 

                                                              You might initially think it’s beneficial to get what you’ve worked on out to hundreds of different people – but more often that not, effective pitches are more personalised and targeted. 

                                                               

                                                              Remember the little details 

                                                              When you’re writing an email make sure that you’re paying attention to the details and to the people that you’re in communication with. 

                                                              Nothing will put someone off more quickly than being given the wrong name or getting the publication they write for, wrong! 

                                                               

                                                              Keep it simple… 

                                                              Journalists are busy people and their inbox is always going to be heaving with press releases, pitches, and interesting opportunities. They don’t have time to read everything, so make sure that you get the fundamental points across with a skim of the email. 

                                                              Make sure that you quickly get to the point of your story, why it would work for their publication and audience, and any relevant details attached. 

                                                              If they’re interested in taking it further, then that’s where you can build on the details and start writing longer emails! 

                                                               

                                                              But stand-out! 

                                                              As we said above, journalists skim emails. The biggest grab from your pitch will be in your email header. Make sure that your subject line quickly summarises the most interesting aspect of your story. 

                                                               

                                                              Ignore the traditional rules 

                                                              ‘Rule of thumb people’ will warn you to not email on Monday or Friday, as you’ll get lost in a sea of emails or ignored. We’re calling nonsense on that. 

                                                              If everyone else is playing by that rule, then make the most of the opportunity and get into an empty inbox! 

                                                              If the idea or content is good enough, then they will pay attention and will work on quickly turning it around! 

                                                               

                                                              Be willing to follow-up or pick up the phone 

                                                              If you feel that the journalist would benefit from having a few more questions answered and you’re looking for a successful pitch, then be prepared to follow-up or give them a call. 

                                                              Don’t be afraid to chase for the coverage if you think it’s worth getting. If you aren’t hearing anything? It might be time to re-frame how you’re selling the story in the first place. 

                                                               

                                                              Nurture the relationship 

                                                              Once you’ve managed to place a story, congratulations! You’ve got the coverage, and hopefully gained a valuable backlink, but don’t just leave it there! 

                                                              Building and nurturing a relationship with a journalist means that you could potentially contact the same person in the future with other things they might be interested in. 

                                                              Thank them for the work you’ve done together and acknowledge their help! You never know how useful that relationship could be in the future. 

                                                               

                                                              If you want to know more, or want to discuss a how we can help you with your digital PR strategy, then please do get in touch. As always, we love to hear from you.

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                                                                Big Hype, Big TV and Big Disappointment: Google Marketing Live

                                                                Google Marketing Live

                                                                Google Marketing Live Event : PPC’s Reactions

                                                                 

                                                                On Tuesday, Google live-streamed their Google Marketing Live event, which highlights their developments and innovations for the next 12 months on their paid platforms. Expectations were high, and Google were ramping up their marketing about it.

                                                                Maybe expectations where set too high, as in the end we all felt a bit underwhelmed. There wasn’t a lot of innovation or any sizeable developments delivered. In fact, what was a ‘announced’ in most cases was already known or was something which had already been in beta. If you have any questions on topics mentioned in the live event or about Google’s paid platforms in general, don’t hesitate to contact us.

                                                                Below I’ve detailed my takeaway from the event, and I’ve caught up with Alex and Will from our Paid Media team on their thoughts!

                                                                 

                                                                For me, I was expecting more in general. I know there’s been sizeable developments recently with the introduction of the new UI and the rebrand – but there was nothing really ground-breaking occurring here.

                                                                I’m interested by the developments in Google Marketing Platform, especially Display and Video 360.

                                                                As we start to get involved in more and more omni-channel campaigns, having a hub to co-ordinate between agencies, clients and even inter-agency departments sounds like a nice direction to take.

                                                                The highlight is the introduction of cross device and remarketing reporting within Google Analytics. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do with this level of reporting and how we can then apply this to our campaigns.

                                                                Finally, I’m disappointed by the direction they’re taking with the new responsive ads. It feels like another unnecessary squeeze on the organic space and feels like a tick boxing exercise to force users to use a more ‘machine learning’ by Google.

                                                                Ben, Account Director

                                                                 

                                                                I also caught up with our Account Manager, Alex on his thoughts on the event:

                                                                As usual these things are disappointing overall, with a lot of waffle without really explaining how these new developments actually work. We’re not in any way sure how useful anything announced will be to our clients – we’ll have to wait for more details to be able to comment further.

                                                                There was a focus on automation (as there has been recently), but Google just say that they will be better options for advertisers without actually explaining anything in detail.

                                                                I was disappointed there was no mention of Data Studio, as it is a product with a lot of clear potential and one that we use enthusiastically. We even received an email teasing this last week which makes it extra disappointing.

                                                                Alex, Account Manager

                                                                 

                                                                Finally, we spoke to Will on his thoughts:

                                                                I think the responsive search ads do have the potential to be quite useful and are an obvious move for Google, towards providing more machine learning capabilities. They allow advertisers to provide up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, and then tests multiple variations of your ad for you, to work out the best combination, per search query.  They also have the ability to display up to three headlines and two 90-character descriptions, which is 90% more text overall!

                                                                Google say that these will not only save time, but also improve ad performance, by providing more opportunities to show relevant messages to customers. We know that taking up more real-estate on a page can greatly increase CTR, so it will be interesting to see how effective they actually are.

                                                                It does raise further questions over the future of SEO, with paid ads taking up more and more space, and organic results being pushed further down. Moreover, there are also questions over how this will affect PPC; with more organisations turning to paid ads, and less room to get in a top-of-the-page position, surely cost-per-clicks will rise too?

                                                                Will, Digital Marketing Executive

                                                                 

                                                                For a full rundown of the event you can still watch the live on demand here: https://blog.google/products/ads/live-stream-2018/; as well as reading their blog on the releases here: https://blog.google/technology/ads/machine-learning-hands-advertisers/

                                                                It would be great to hear your thoughts and opinions! Tweet us @upriseUPSEM or send us an email at [email protected].

                                                                 

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                                                                  Tips For The New AdWords User Interface (UI)

                                                                  New AdWords Interface

                                                                  Getting Used to the New AdWords UI

                                                                   

                                                                  As we all know, change is awful and should never happen. However, Google are dragging us kicking and screaming into the new AdWords UI and no matter how much we protest the future of paid search is here to stay.

                                                                  Here are a few things to take note of amidst the transition.

                                                                   

                                                                  Promotion Extensions

                                                                  This has been a welcome addition – no more using up valuable ad text characters for your promotion, it will now appear below the ad next to an eye-catching price tag icon.

                                                                   

                                                                  AdWords Promotion Extension Example

                                                                   

                                                                  As in the image above you can apply a general promotion, or you can have a special occasion promotion as follows:

                                                                   

                                                                  AdWords Promotion Extension Occasions

                                                                   

                                                                  The promotion can be either a percentage discount or a monetary discount in a variety of currencies.

                                                                  Promotions wouldn’t exist if they didn’t work, and promotion extensions are already proving to work very well, with delighted digital marketers reporting dramatically increased CTR.

                                                                   

                                                                  Shortcuts

                                                                  Praise be to shortcuts in general – rewiring your brain to use them always takes some time but before long you’ll be jumping around the new interface while your mouse sits neglected.

                                                                   

                                                                  Google AdWords Keyboard Shortcuts

                                                                   

                                                                  Google will test and trial new hot keys over time and we expect this to be ramped up in the coming months!

                                                                   

                                                                  Dimensions rides off into the sunset…

                                                                  …As Predefined Reports takes its place. Most of the dimensions are still here but others have moved or been done away with entirely (the Search Terms dimension for example was a little redundant).

                                                                  One that has moved is Call Details – it now has its own columns.

                                                                   

                                                                  AdWords Call Details

                                                                   

                                                                  Being the superstar that it is, Devices now has a whole tab just for itself.

                                                                   

                                                                  Google AdWords Devices Tab

                                                                   

                                                                  Time is still included in the Predefined Reports but there is a new Ad Schedule tab which offers an easier-to-digest breakdown of day to day results.

                                                                   

                                                                   

                                                                  Landing Page Mobile Assessment

                                                                  We’ve all come across web pages that are the opposite of mobile friendly. High bounce rates and low conversions are a given, and they lower the quality score of otherwise brilliant keywords.

                                                                  In comes the new Landing Page tab to point them out to you, showing a ‘Mobile-friendly Click Rate’ next to each page, helping you to isolate problem areas. Considering most searches now happen via mobile these problem areas have a bigger impact than some might think.

                                                                   

                                                                  Google AdWords Landing Page Tab
                                                                  (Image courtesy of adwords.googleblog.com)

                                                                   

                                                                  The Overview

                                                                  Probably the most obvious change is the Overview. It’s colourful and bombastic, but is it useful?
                                                                  Yep. At least parts of it. You can now compare more than two metrics in the graph at the top, which is nice.

                                                                   

                                                                  Google AdWords Overview Graph

                                                                   

                                                                  There are also a few helpful modules such as Biggest Changes:

                                                                   

                                                                  Google AdWords Biggest Changes Report

                                                                  And a performance heatmap:

                                                                   

                                                                  Google AdWords Performance Heatmap

                                                                   

                                                                  See blog posts by Chantal and Dan for more on the Overview.

                                                                   

                                                                  Call Bid Adjustments

                                                                  With the new UI Google have rolled out call bid adjustments for mobile. This is welcome news considering calls convert more effectively than clicks do. The adjustments range from -90% to +900% and can be made right here:

                                                                   

                                                                  Google AdWords Call Bid Adjustments Tab

                                                                   

                                                                  Let’s Talk

                                                                  Did you find our tips for the new Google Ads user interface helpful? Why not share this post on Twitter, Facebook or