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What’s the score? Our in-house pundits take another look at Quality Score and Optimisation Score.

The Euros are well underway now, and we’ve seen some fantastic, exciting, free-flowing football… just unfortunately not from England, so far.

This was surely the one where it comes home though. Talent across every position, including the Premier League’s best player, La Liga’s best player, and the Bundesliga’s top scorer. A whole nation united, pushing aside any election differences, poised ready to back their team like never before.

But for whatever reason, it just hasn’t clicked yet. Lack of energy in midfield? Lack of left-footed LB? Foden playing out of position? Kane carrying a back injury? Poor quality pitches? Substitutions too late? Playing too defensively and deep? It seems there are 101 potential reasons. Pundits, journalists, fans, marketeers, anyone across the country really (and evidently including Southgate…) can’t seem to pin-point why.

But should we really be so critical, when really all that matters at the end of the day, is the result? We’ve topped our group, made it through the last 16, and have our eyes set on a quarter final match against Switzerland.

Yes, we’ve been subjected to some pretty painful viewing, but ALL that matters in these matches is the score.

Much like with Google, really. The most important thing is the score – to be specific, Quality Score and Optimisation Score – right?

 

So what are Quality Score and Optimisation Score?

 

Quality Score – the G.O.A.T

 

As my colleague Dan explained in his recent excellent blog examining Quality Score:

“Quality Score is a value assigned to a keyword, between 1 and 10, and is based on three factors: Landing Page Experience, Ad Relevance, and Expected Clickthrough Rate (CTR).

Quality Score is essentially multiplied by your bid in the ad auction, so if you doubled your Quality Score you would essentially double your competitiveness in the auction. This is why Quality Score is such a key metric, and why we want it as high as possible.”

We do have a more back-to-basics style blog on Quality Score right here, if you’re wanting a refresher on the 3 different factors. The solid back 3, if you will.

Now, while there are some potential flaws or unknowns with how to improve certain aspects of your Quality Score, it still remains one of the most (if not the most) important metric in a Google Ads/Paid Search account.

It provides a window into where and how improvements can be made to your campaign performance, which is becoming increasingly rare given Google’s general trend towards a black-box approach to managing Google Ads. The important takeaway being: if you do improve your Quality Score, you are likely to see improvements in results.

Note: be more fox in the box, less black box.

 

Optimization Score

 

On the other hand, Optimisation Score is:

“An estimate of how well your Google Ads account is set to perform. Scores run from 0–100%, with 100% meaning that your account can perform at its full potential.

Along with the score, you’ll see a list of recommendations that can help you optimise each campaign. Each recommendation shows how much your optimisation score will be impacted (in percentages) when you apply that recommendation.”

The idea here is that Google will expect a number of settings and features to be applied to your campaigns (based on your chosen objective) and so will give you a score to show how well you have adopted those settings. It will then show you recommendations on what other settings and features to apply to improve your score. You can then choose to review and apply these changes at the click of a button.

Some suggestions may include:

  • Add dynamic images to your ads automatically
  • Remove redundant keywords
  • Remove conflicting negative keywords
  • Review x number of ad groups’ missing ads

These are all arguably sensible suggestions that can be automatically applied. Even just flagging that some RSAs could be improved by including more headlines, and offering some AI-generated options, can be a helpful time-saver (if still reviewed before applying).

Seems fairly simple, somewhat helpful, and certainly harmless. But just remember, it’s a game of two halves…

The issue comes more with recommendations such as:

  • Add broad match keywords
  • Expand your reach with Google Search Partners
  • Use Display Expansion
  • Create a Performance Max campaign
  • Raise your budgets (!)

You’ll notice all suggestions that appear say something along the lines of ‘get more conversions’ or ‘more potential customers’, and often include a tagline ‘This recommendation is an AI Essential’.


To an inexperienced advertiser, that seems like an obvious change to make? Of course, I’d like more conversions and customers.

But here lies the issue. From our experience, these suggestions are seldom best for actually improving your results – they generally only increase your costs. That’s not to say using broad keywords or PMax campaigns can work, but generally they need to be well considered and applied and tested appropriately. Not applied on a whim, at a click of a button because an automated system says to.

In the above examples (and what we generally find is) the suggestions don’t consider any context about the advertiser either, whether they can actually afford to increase their CPA an extra £2.26, or even if they have more budget available.

 

Do I need to be concerned about my Optimisation Score?

In most cases, no. You should not be optimising campaigns solely according to your Opti-Score.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, there can be some good recommendations. At minimum, we still suggest reviewing the ‘Recommendations’ tab every few weeks, to see if there are any noteworthy potential optimisations. Occasionally we find some quick wins or elements missing from accounts that we may have overlooked. But you need to:

a) Not get carried away with trying to improve your score for the sake of it.
b) Take any recommendations with a pinch of salt. Carefully consider whether they will benefit your account/campaigns.

The only case where Optimisation Score can matter, though, is as an agency, if you are a Google Partner. This is because Google Partners must maintain an Optimisation Score (measured as an average across their whole MCC) above 70%, as one of their requirements to remain a Partner.

Sometimes if you want to be a big game player, you have to follow the rules…

 

Why does my Google say I need to improve it? (I detect match-fixing!)

If Google are promoting a big shiny box that says CLICK HERE TO IMPROVE THIS, yet many of the improvements only lead to higher costs and not necessarily to better results – our cynical reaction is a fairly obvious one. It’s designed (at least in part) for Google to make more money.

It’s suspicious that most Google ‘Account Strategists’ are technically working on behalf of their sales department, and their advice is usually to enable auto-apply on the in-account recommendations. For advertisers blindly following their advice, we can maybe call this an own goal.

It should be noted you can still improve your Optimisation Score by simply dismissing the suggestions too – you don’t have to apply them. However, given it’s quite hidden and the fact it literally makes no difference whether you apply the feature or not, it still feels quite deceptive.

As another aside, you might be interested to know that Meta have also introduced a similar metric in the last few months, called ‘Opportunity Score’. It’s essentially the same thing – equally optimistic (and gimmicky) sounding, and potentially equally likely to encourage you just to spend more.

Don’t get caught sleeping. Be cautious when optimising!

 

Are Quality Score and Optimisation Score related in any way?

In short, no. I should firstly caveat however, that Google make clear:

“Quality Score isn’t an input in the ad auction. It’s a diagnostic tool to identify how ads that show for certain keywords affect the user experience.”

That being said, Quality Score still has its basis in actual performance data. Generally, better set-up campaigns lead to better Quality Scores, which generally lead to better results. It has a real-world implication on your day-to-day as a Paid Search advertiser.

As Dan also said in his blog, “you should care about your Quality Score, and you should put time aside to try and improve it as much as possible”.

On the flip-side, your Optimisation Score does not have any bearing on your actual results. Yes it can provide some interesting recommendations and offer guidelines, but it can mislead advertisers just as much. It simply is a vanity metric.

And in an age where we’re all stats-focussed, be it pass-completion %, expected goals/xG, or expected CTR (maybe I should call it xCTR), as marketers we want the data that matters to help us make informed decisions.

 

So that’s full time – what’s the verdict? Is all that matters the score?

To sum up, I think it would be helpful to quickly jump back to the definition of Optimisation Score.

“With 100% […] your account can perform at its full potential”

The important part here is ‘potential’. It’s like saying (bear with me…) given how much potential Theo Walcott* had, we should’ve already won a Euros years ago. The ‘potential’ is merely an estimation of what may or may not happen if you follow some of their guidelines. Whereas all that matters are the actual stats (like Quality score) when it comes to optimising campaigns.

 

*Jude Bellingham stepping up by scoring an overhead kick goal in the 95th minute to send us through to the Quarters? That’s not potential. That’s the real deal.

And while Google might be losing fans amongst the chaos of their anti-trust trials, no amount of poor performances will stop us from losing faith when it comes to England playing in tournament football.

Let’s follow the footsteps of our Lionesses, and bring it home, boys.

 

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    Quality Score on Trial: What Does the Data Tell Us?

    If you were to ask me what the single most important non-conversion metric for account performance is in Google Ads, I’d probably choose Quality Score.

    Google has always said that Quality Score and CPC bids are what define your ad rank, which is what defines how powerful your ads will be in the ad auction. In today’s world, with automated bidding taking so much of the CPC bidding process away from advertisers, it’s more important than ever to make sure Quality Score is as high as possible on as many keywords as possible.

    But what actually is Quality Score? How does it work? Is there anything that Google aren’t telling us about it? And what can we do to ensure that our Quality Scores are as high as possible?

    Well, I took every keyword that received a Quality Score in any of our Grants Accounts in 2023 , and set out to find out if there were any insights hiding inside that data. Along the way, I’m going to explain the basics of Quality Score, why it is so important, and how you can work to get the highest Quality Score possible for keywords.

    So, if you want to find out who would win: 20,000 keywords or one data analyst with a spreadsheet? Keep reading…

     

    Back to Basics (or, How I Lost My Mind About Expected CTR)

    Before we get into the numbers, I’m going to explain the basics of Quality Score, so that the many (many) graphs that follow make sense.

    Quality Score is a value assigned to a keyword, once it has received a low number of impressions. It is a value between 1 and 10, and is based on three factors: Landing Page Experience, Ad Relevance, and Expected Clickthrough Rate (CTR).

    Quality Score is essentially multiplied by your bid in the ad auction, so if you doubled your Quality Score you would essentially double your competitiveness in the auction. This is why Quality Score is such a key metric, and why we want it as high as possible.

    To go into a little more detail in the factors, Landing Page Experience is a measure of how well your landing page is related to your keyword, along with general landing page best practices like short load times and low link density. Ad Relevance is a measure of how relevant the ad that the keyword serves is to the keyword. Expected CTR is a measure of…

    Well, Google says: “how likely it is that your ads will get clicked when shown for that keyword, irrespective of your ad’s position, assets and other ad formats that may affect the prominence and visibility of your ads.”

    But this is confusing. CTR is already a measure of how often your ads get clicks; are Google saying that this is a guess about how your CTR will change? Or is it a measure of your CTR against your competitors? Or is it something else entirely?

    This was a large part of the motivation to do this analysis. Expected CTR has always been a huge black box in the Quality Score system, which has very unclear definitions and no clear explanation for how to make it go up. For years I’ve sat, watching this value in my accounts go up and down without knowing why. What did I do well to make it go up? What can I do when it goes down? My answer, up until now, has been to do everything else right, and hope it follows along.

    But let’s see if the numbers can tell us more than Google has.

     

    Quality Score Distribution (or, Why We’re Pretty Great at Google Ads)

    The first, and most basic, graph to look at is just what the Quality Score distribution looked like across the 20,000 keywords that had a Quality Score in 36 of our Grants accounts, which encompass a range of different charity causes:

    graph of quality score across 20,000 keywords in Ad Grants accounts

    And already we begin to see some interesting results.

    Firstly, we note that 7 is the most common Quality Score in our accounts, followed by 8 and then 10. This is all in the top half of the Quality Score range, and in particular the number of perfect Quality Scores is encouraging!

    More interesting than patting ourselves on the back, however, is the fact that Quality Scores 6 and 9 are relatively rare in our accounts. This is especially surprising for 6, as it’s immediately followed by the most common Quality Score. This piqued my interest – is there a reason 6 and 9 might be so unlikely? Is there something more subtle at play here that can be investigated? It is a little beyond the scope of this blog, but stay turned for a follow-up blog where we delve into this in far more detail.

    But let’s get into more important graphs. First of all, let’s ask the simple question – how much does Quality Score actually affect results?

     

    Performance Metrics (or, How Quality is Quality Score?)

    Let’s start with CTR:

    graph of quality score vs click-through rate

    The overall results are as expected. CTR is higher for high Quality Scores than for low ones, but it’s interesting that CTR doesn’t really begin to increase until we reach the highest Quality Scores of 8, 9 and 10. From the description Google gives of Quality Score, we would likely expect a more linear increase from low to high.

    To an extent, this is unsurprising – the higher Quality Scores have gained those Quality Scores precisely because their CTR is so high. But the fact that it has collected in the final few scores is interesting.

    On to Cost per click (CPC).

     

    graph of quality score vs cost-per-click (CPC)

    For the most part, this one is completely as expected. The higher your Quality Score, the lower you have to bid to outperform your competition. It’s somewhat interesting that Quality Score 1 keywords were abnormally high compared to the rest of the trend. Potentially, Google will only let these low-quality keywords show if you really show you want it.

    It’s also notable that the CPC for Quality Score 2, 3 and 4 keywords is relatively flat. It’s only once you hit Quality Score 5 that the decreases begin in earnest. Our expectation was always that the graph would be an even decrease across all Quality Scores, but this data suggests you have to reach the higher Quality Scores before you begin to see significant drops in cost.

    But all of these graphs were just the prologue. What I was really interested in were those Quality Score factors – how do they work, and which matter the most? Let’s get into that.

     

    Quality Score Factors (or, The Main Event)

    Let’s start with the basics. Each subfactor can be assigned a score of Below Average, Average, or Above Average. We can plot the different amounts of these scores for each subfactor, to see the numbers of above- and below-average scores achieved.

    graphs of CTR, Ad Relevance, and Landing Page Experience

    The fact that the average scores above  are dominant in all metrics is unsurprising. We already saw that our overall Quality Scores are high, which would suggest good subfactor scores.

    Far more interesting here is that Expected CTR deviates from the other two factors in its distribution. Both Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience show a high number of above-average scores, and then a roughly equal, lower amount of average and below-average scores. Expected CTR, however, shows a far smaller dropoff from above-average to average, before it drops to a small number of below-average.

    This tells us two things. Firstly, it reinforces what I already said at the start of the blog. Expected CTR is the least understood subfactor, and therefore the one hardest to optimise towards. That means less of a push towards above average in the score split.

    The second point it proves, however, is that it is a ‘picky’ factor, more willing to drop to average even when the other two factors are high.

    But maybe that is unimportant, if having a low Expected CTR has little or no effect on results. Let’s take a look at that, shall we?

     

    graphs of CPC vs CTR, Ad Relevance, and Landing Page Experience

    We’ll start with CPC. A reminder that here a lower value is better. Our expected result here is that higher factor scores should lead to a lower CPC, as you are able to be more competitive with a lower bid.

    When we look at Expected CTR, we see what we expect. Above-average has the lowest CPC, and it increases for each following factor. But when we look at Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience, we see a different story. Both show far less adherence to the expected trend, with Ad Relevance having average scores achieve lowest CPC, and Landing Page Experience having average achieve the highest CPC.

    This indicates, at least to me, that Expected CTR has far more effect on your final CPC than the other two factors.

    Let’s take a look at CTR.

    graphs of CTR vs Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience

    Now this is some interesting data. When we look at CTR statistics, both Expected CTR and Landing Page Experience show what we would expect – highest CTR occurs when the factors are above average, and it decreases as the factor score gets lower. However, Ad Relevance shows no relationship to CTR at all. All the scores have similar CTRs, and above-average actually has the worst performance.

    This is an indication that Ad Relevance has, at least, a lower impact on your CTR than the other two factors of Quality Score. This is a very interesting result as we would expect this to be the metric that Ad Relevance influences the most strongly. It has been proven that Ad Relevance is the ‘weakest’ Quality Score factor when it comes to calculating final Quality Score (something I’ll back up in that follow-up blog I mentioned earlier) and this data shows that the theory matches our real world performance data.

     

    Quality Score Factor Association (or, Relationship Counselling)

    The last thing I want to investigate in this blog is a matter of correlation. If I have an above-average score in one factor, how likely is it that I will have above-average in another factor?
    I did this using pivot tables, which are a good way of comparing the correlation of two different dimensions.

    comparison of factors affecting quality score

    This data is quite insightful. However, of all of my visualisations, I think that this is the hardest to actually read, so let me go through this piece-by-piece.

    The first two tables compare Expected CTR to Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience. They both show broadly similar data. The values are concentrated in the first cell, where both Expected CTR and the other factor are both above-average. Next most likely is expected CTR, being average with the other factor being above-average, and then several other factors are in third place.

    But this is not nearly as interesting as the question of what’s lowest likelihood. On the Ad Relevance graph, it appears quite easy to have a below-average Expected CTR, with an above-average Ad Relevance. This was the 4th most common combination in our data, and over 5 times more likely than any other Ad Relevance score getting a below-average Expected CTR. This is one of those times where the data baffles me – why is this so concentrated?

    For Landing Page Experience, the below-average Expected CTR scores are far more evenly distributed between all Landing Page Experience scores. It seems that these two scores are largely independent of each other.

    The final table shows Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience against one another. Although the heatmap looks more correlated, the data here is full of little deviations. For example, you’re more likely to have a below-average Landing Page Experience than average when you have an above-average Ad Relevance, for example.

    This is, again, due to the fact that this is not random Quality Score data, but data pulled from our actively managed accounts. For this reason we’re likely to see more high scores as we are actively improving Quality Score at all times.

     

    Conclusion (or, No More Graphs, I Promise)

    So, what are the conclusions we can glean from all these graphs? Data is only as good as what you can learn from it, and I have three main conclusions to draw:

     

    1. Quality Score Works

    This might seem like an obvious conclusion, but in recent times, where Google explaining how their systems work feels increasingly like a conspiracy theorist explaining how the Earth is flat, it is reassuring to see performance data match to what Google states should happen. You should care about your Quality Score, and you should put time aside to try and improve it as much as possible. From our data, getting your Quality Score to 7 or above is ideal, as this appears to be where the biggest performance improvements occur.

     

    1. Expected CTR is the most powerful factor.

    The data shows that Expected CTR is the only Quality Score factor to have a strong correlation with all performance metrics. It seems like achieving a high Exp. CTR is the best way to guarantee higher performance. However, we also saw that expected CTR seems to be the hardest factor to improve.

     

    1. Quality Score factors should be treated as separate entities.

    This is the gift of the final pivot tables. We don’t see major correlation between any of the Quality Score factors, even ones we would expect to see relationships between, such as Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience. This means that improving one factor to above-average is not necessarily going to pull other factors up along with it. If you want to improve a subfactor score, you’ll have to focus on it.

     

    This is all great information, but at the end of it I found myself still frustrated. None of this tells me what Expected CTR actually is. So, I knew I wasn’t done. There was more to find. Perhaps it was time to do some real spreadsheet magic.

    But that will have to wait for following blogs. In my crusade to shine a light on Expected CTR, I have at least been able to show you some interesting features of Quality Score, and how it relates to other performance metrics. Happy quality scoring!

     

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      Something Doesn’t Ad Up: Google Admits to Manipulating Its Auctions

      In 2015, Jerry Dischler, VP of Google Ads (at the time called AdWords), was keynote speaker at the SMX Advanced conference. He was given a question about why CPC prices seemed to be rising arbitrarily, and whether that was due to Google’s own internal profit goals.

      That was because a speaker earlier in the day had claimed that they believed Google was manipulating auctions to increase CPCs for profit. Jerry responded: “Full stop, we are not manipulating search results or manipulating the ad auction in order to increase profits. That’s just not what we do.” You can watch the question and answer right here if you want the full conversation.

      This is really encouraging to hear. If Google were raising prices artificially, that could really harm the trust in the auction process. We can all take this statement as the final word on it, and I’m sure nothing will counteract it, right?

      Right?

       

      Setting the Scene

      transcript of questions and answers from Google Antitrust Trial

      Jerry… That’s not very helpful.

      So, this is the news that Google actually does make changes to the auction to inflate prices. This is a pretty scandalous admission, and if the American Department of Justice logo in the top left of that image hasn’t tipped you off yet, Google aren’t coming out with this information because of a sudden push for transparency. They’re admitting it under oath.

      If you’ve read John’s excellent blog from a few months ago, you’ll already be up to date, but in case you haven’t yet, I’ll give you all the gory details.

      Google is currently being taken to court by the US Department of Justice. It claims that Google is engaging in anticompetitive practices, and essentially operating an illegal monopoly. In the process of this trial, a number of high-ranking members of Google’s search team are being forced to give public testimony under oath, and they are revealing some inner workings they perhaps would rather not, such as meddling with the ad auction and search results page, purely for profit.

      So we know that Google have been inflating prices. But why? Why would a well-meaning company like Google do such a thing?

       

      The Motive

      Money. The answer is money.

      Well, a desire to hit quarterly revenue targets that were supplied to Wall Street, at least. In a 2019 email, Jerry said:

      “If we don’t meet quota for the second quarter in a row and we miss the street’s expectations again, which is not what Ruth signalled to the street, so we will get punished pretty bad in the market.”

      Ruth is Chief Financial Officer at Google, and in case it isn’t clear, “the street” in question is Wall Street. He is essentially saying that quarterly earnings reports have to align with the projections provided to Wall Street. If they do not, their stock will likely take a hit, and that will have negative impacts on the company.

      The motive is important. Google Ads has always had an overtly pro-customer emphasis, and this is one of the few times we have seen a clear example of Google doing something to the ads scheme exclusively for their own benefit, at the cost of the customer’s ad performance.

       

      The Method

      So, what exactly did Google do? This was a bit vague at the start of the trial, but by closing arguments the DoJ had a list of changes made by Google since 2017 to show us.

       

      Project Momiji

       

      The first method was an update to the auction called “Project Momiji”. This update aimed to inflate the bid made by the runner up in the auction. By inflating this bid, the eventual winner of the auction would be forced to pay more for the position 1 slot. Supposedly this led to a 15% increase in cost to the winning advertiser.

      Internal Google documents show Google staff talking openly about using this feature to increase prices without any mention of how the system is intended to improve user experience or advertiser performance.

      Project Momiji explanation

      But hey, omission is not admission. Maybe project Momiji does improve user experience, but that was not the subject of discussion. At least they didn’t admit that the update had no user benefit at all. No one would publish an update like that right?

      Right?

       

      Randomised Generalised Second-Price Auction System (henceforth, RGSP)

      Randomised Generalised Second-Price auction system

      Well… That’s awkward.

      Now bear with me here; the RGSP auction isn’t the easiest thing to explain.

      Imagine that you’re at an art auction. The auction house has decided that it’s not going to conduct a normal auction, or a second-place auction (where you just have to pay a set amount more than whatever the second highest bid was), but a RGSP auction instead.

      To do this, the auction house collects a lot of other data about you, like how you will use the art, where you will store it, if you have a good history of art buying, etc. It then combines this with your bid to decide where you place in the auction.

      Now comes the confusing bit. Say you and the second-place bidder bid quite close together (£180 and £200 for example) and your other factors are quite similar too. The auction says that, randomly, it might swap you and decide to give the second-place bidder the item instead of you. Now, this might seem counterintuitive –the auction house is just making less money this way– but the devil is in the details.

      There are two ways to avoid losing out to second place in RGSP auctions. You can try to improve the quality of all those factors that I mentioned get collected, but this is vague and difficult to do. Alternatively, you can simply bid more.

      Most bidders end up taking the second option, and rather than bidding £200 to win against a £180 second bid, people might bid £400 instead, just to guarantee they acquire that painting.
      This is the slightly sneaky way in which RGSP auctions can increase Google’s revenue, and in the antitrust trial, Dischler has confirmed that not only does Google do them (which we knew) but that these methods increase revenue when utilised (which we didn’t).

      Of course, all of this gets so much easier for Google when automated bidding is being used, as they know exactly how the bidding strategies will react to changes.

      But hey, maybe Google released updates that purely improved profits without improving search quality, so what? A company with an annual revenue in 2023 of $305bn just needs to eat, you know?

      At least we can all sleep safe in the knowledge that Google never released updates that knowingly harmed user experience just to increased profits, right?

      Right?

       

      Squashing

      negative user experience

      Ah… Well…

      Google, I’m struggling to defend you on this one.

      This is squashing, and of all of the updates we learned about in the trial (so far), this is probably the most egregious.

      The basic principle, according to Google’s own internal documents, was that squashing would “increase an advertisers lifetime value based on how far their predicted clickthrough rate (pCTR) is from the highest pCTR on query”. So, if your CTR were lower, it would actually boost your ranking. Why would you boost the ranking of an ad you predict is worse than another? Simple: by boosting that ranking, you force others to bid more to beat them.

      As the image above shows, Google themselves were aware that boosting ads which the system knew were worse quality was a dangerous move from a user experience perspective. They also quite rightly assessed that, in the long term, this could reduce the need for advertisers to chase high quality ads at all, as long as you didn’t care about position 1, the system would boost you artificially to higher slots regardless.

      But Google published the change anyway. In internal documents for teaching new users how the auction system works, they said they were “working on using it to engender a more broad price increase”. Or in other words, using it to make money

       

      The Opportunity

      Despite all of this being very worrying, this is the part that the trial cares most about.

      How are Google able to increase prices by up to 10% on a whim? The DoJ are arguing that this is because there is really very little competition elsewhere. Bing Ads does exist, but its market share is tiny compared to the goliath that is Google, in 2023 it held a 3.63% market share, compared to Google’s 91.5%. The DoJ are arguing that this makes advertisers a captive audience, who simply must comply with the whims of Google rather than switch to a viable alternative.

       

      The Verdict

      So, what is my opinion on this?

      Undoubtably the admissions are troubling. Even taking the charitable view that Google reps have never knowingly lied when they denied (at the time) inflating prices, they have still given advertisers incorrect information through ignorance of the true facts . I think it should have at least warranted an announcement telling users that their advertising costs would go up, and by how much. Otherwise, how are we to know if performance changes in an account are due to search environment changes, or merely Google themselves fiddling with the auction?

      I think this also might be the best time to abandon the ad auction messaging altogether.

      With RGSP, squashing, automated bidding, smart campaigns, and now Google’s price tweaking, the idea that the system for placing ads is in any way similar to an auction process is somewhat deceptive. I think this whole mess is as much a product of this bad messaging as it is a product of deceptive practices.

      But do I think that Google’s users are a captive audience, unable to move anywhere else with their advertising? That part I’m not so sure about. Even now, Google Ads still sits as the most efficient form of digital marketing possible for many advertising areas.

      Particularly for charities, donation and legacy giving campaigns always perform best on Google Ads, even compared to Bing Ads, its closest competitor.

      However, much of this comes down to one simple factor: the user base. Google has far more users than any other search engine, and with more users comes more data to train machine learning models; an easier task to analyse that data for optimisation opportunities; and a faster reaction to changes in user behaviour. The fact that user base makes the job of building a good search engine easier means that the industry is always going to be filled with the equivalent of rolling snowballs, where the largest has the best opportunity to grow even larger.

      Ultimately, I do think that Google has damaged the trust between its advertisers and itself with this news, and I hope this moves Google to implement a new, more transparent system. However, in the context of this trial, I am not so sure that the DoJ are going to be able to leverage the revelation in the way they want. We have seen closing arguments now, and we are waiting on a verdict form the Judge. Regardless of the verdict, however, the effects of this trial will be with us for some time.

       

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        Running Meta ads on the election, politics, and social issues

        protestor holding placard advocating for climate change policy action

        The Context

        With the general election looming, many charities have been asking how it might impact them.

        In theory, increased competition on Meta caused by political parties entering ad auctions could drive up costs (both higher CPCs and CPMs). A more expensive platform would, by extension, result in CPAs increasing. 

        It’s worth noting though, this won’t impact Paid Search, given the nature of the platform only targeting specific searches vs. targeting audiences.

        Moreover, with more ‘noise’ on Meta vying for people’s attention, this could (again, in theory) reduce ad engagement and conversion rates. You could also argue, uncertainty about the future could mean people might be hesitant to donate to charities at this stage – and potentially large donors could even be donating to political parties instead of charities. 

        If you’re interested, you can actually see what ads political parties (or any organisations, for that matter) are running, including their estimated spend and targeting. You can visit the Meta Ads Library: https://www.facebook.com/ads/library. It’s a great tool for reviewing competition generally, and we’re actually in the process of developing scripts to pull this data into our reporting through an API.

        In reality though, it’s difficult to exactly measure the impact. Even if you can see what ads are running.

         

        So why are we writing this blog?

        As the blog title suggests, there are pretty clear restrictions and guidelines for running political ads on Meta. What charities might not be aware of, however, is that this also applies to ads about ‘social issues’. These are defined by Meta as:

        sensitive topics that are heavily debated, may influence the outcome of an election or result in / relate to existing or proposed legislation […] These ads can come from a range of advertisers. They include activists, brands, non-profit groups, and political organisations.

        Ads about social issues, election and politics seek to influence public opinion through discussion, debate or advocacy for or against important topics, such as health and civil and social rights.”

        That criteria extends to any ads that aim to call on the government or specific MPs to enact change aligned with their cause, often through petitions. We have also found many charities still require the extra verification, even if ads are not directly related to politics. This particularly impacts homelessness, environmental, humanitarian, and animal welfare charities.

        This isn’t a blanket policy though – the focus is on the content of the ad and, as such, certain ads do or don’t require authorisations and disclaimers.

         

        So what do you have to do?

        In short, in order to run ads about social issues, elections, and politics, the page you’re running the ads for needs to have a ‘disclaimer’ created – and then that page needs to be linked to the ad account you’re running ads from.

        The aim of a disclaimer is to help increase transparency on the platform. All ads about social issues, elections, or politics must be clearly labelled with a ‘Paid for by’ disclaimer from the advertiser, communicating the organisation or person behind the ad. This information is linked in the ad itself via an ‘About this ad’ icon, which gets appended. More info about what a disclaimer is can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/198009284345835?id=288762101909005.

        Disclaimers were first introduced in the US in May 2018. This was following controversy around the 2016 US election, where it was discovered ads had been bought and run on Facebook by a Russian Influence Operation, designed to sway the election results. Disclaimers were introduced in the UK later in October 2019, although this was pushed back (eventually in March 2019), owing to concerns around the reliability of their identity checks.

         

        What does a disclaimer on Meta look like?

        Firstly, you will see a link appended to the ad which says ‘Paid for by [name of organisation]’:

        It will then open up a menu of options in Meta, with a link to see ‘Who paid for this ad?’:

        Within this, you will be able to find key information about the organisation: 

         

        How do you set up a disclaimer in Meta? 

        As you can imagine, there are quite a few steps involved to get verified and approved to run ads on social issues, elections, or politics. Meta has clear instructions on how to do this, so I won’t go into all the details below, but will outline the basic steps and link to the relevant instructions.

         

        1)

        Firstly, a page admin will need to have their identity verified on Meta. 

        This doesn’t actually take very long, and is normally approved within 24 hours. The key thing to note is you will need to provide a photo of some form of ID, e.g. driving licence or passport.

        Meta may ‘periodically’ ask you to reconfirm your identity in the United Kingdom, but this normally isn’t within 1 year.

        There are a few options to confirm your identity, although I have found ‘Option 2’ to be the easiest.

        All details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/2992964394067299?id=288762101909005

         

        2)

        Once finished, you will then need to create the disclaimer for your organisation’s page.

        This is probably the trickiest part, with a couple of layers (mobile and email) of verification needed. Key information you’ll otherwise need to provide is your organisation’s name, a phone number, email address, and website.

         

        3)

        Then, you’ll need to link your disclaimer to an ad account you want to run the ads from.

        All details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/488070228549681?id=288762101909005

         

        4)

        The last step is to set up your campaign, but make sure to select the ‘special ad categories’ option.

        You’ll notice there are other options for credit, housing, and employment – but the category to select is of course ‘social issues, elections or politics’.

        If your identity has been confirmed and your page disclaimer set up, you will see all authorisation options approved to run ads:

         

        FAQs

        There are a few considerations to note and questions that frequently come up, so I’ve detailed the most common ones below:

         

        Can only page admins create ads about social issues, elections, and politics then?

        No. Once you have created the disclaimer for your page, anyone with access to ‘create ads’ for your page can continue to do so – provided they have also verified their ID (in step 1). Similarly, any edits to ads will need to be done by someone who’s verified.

         

         

        I’m not sure if my ads fall under ‘social issues, election and politics’. Should I select the ad category or not?

        If you’re not sure, I’d suggest trying without selecting the special ad category first. You can always turn on the special ad category if your ads do get flagged for this. Just be aware that your ads will need to go into review again if updating the category.

         

         

        Do I always need to choose a special ad category if my ads have previously been disapproved? 

        No. Again it’s about the content of the ad. That being said, if your ads have always been flagged (and your charity’s cause is highly aligned with bringing about change) then it might be more time efficient to do so from the start.

         

         

        What should I do if my Meta ads get disapproved for being issue, electoral or political, but they belong to this ad category?

        If you believe your ad was incorrectly rejected, you can request a manual review. If your ad rejection is successfully overturned, this will not count as an ad violation. More information about the ad review process here.

        It’s worth noting that if you are verified to run ads about social issues, elections, and politics, and they are frequently being rejected – it might be worth selecting the category anyway to prevent frequent issues.

         

         

        Will running a charity campaign under a special ad category impact the performance?

        Choosing the ‘social issues, elections or politics’ special ad category shouldn’t drastically impact performance in itself, as it shouldn’t affect your ranking going into an auction. However, it can limit placements where your ads can run. Also, users have the option to request seeing less ads about social issues, election and politics, which could mean you don’t reach certain users.

         

        Will running a charity campaign under a special ad category limit my options with targeting?

        According to Meta, only the credit, employment or housing ad category comes with limitations to targeting options e.g. not being able to target based on age, gender, postcodes, as well as certain interests. 

        It’s worth noting however, you can only run ads for social issues, elections and politics in the country in which your identity has been verified. That means if you are verified in the UK, you can only runs these ads in the UK and not outside. 

         

         

        What can you do if you’re an international charity wanting to run ads about social issues, election and politics?

        This becomes tricky. You would need an advertiser with their ID verified in each country you’re wanting to target, to then set-up a campaign each individually targeting that country.

         

         

        If I’m running ads for a homeless charity, should I select the ‘housing’ specific ad category?

        As mentioned above, there are additional special ad categories for credit, housing and employment. If running ads for a homelessness charity, the correct category would still be ‘social issues, election and politics’. The housing element refers more to property listing, insurance and mortgages. 

         

         

        What kinds of charities are likely to use Meta’s special ad categories? 

        It really depends on the content of the ad itself, whether it falls under Meta’s description of ads about social issues. As previously mentioned in the blog, we have found this most likely to affect homelessness, environmental, humanitarian and animal welfare charities in particular.

         

         

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          Choosing the right metrics to target for your charity’s marketing strategy

          two digital marketing specialists inspecting a bar graph

          Start at the beginning.

          It’s easy to get pulled into a conversation where all anyone cares about are how many new followers your charity’s social channels have acquired that week, or what the click-through rate is on the latest ad campaign. But what’s more important is not the stats that answer these questions – it’s whether these questions are the right ones to ask. 

          To get to a point where you have everyone in your charity lined up behind the stats you are reporting on, you need to start at the beginning. Go back to the organisation’s overall strategy.

          A good example here is Samaritans. (And just to note, I’m using this purely as an example, we’ve not worked with them at all on this, so full credit to the Samaritans team!)

          vision mission values infographic for marketing

          Their vision:

          Fewer people die by suicide.

          Their mission: 

          Here every day and night for anyone struggling to cope. They make sure people have support and somewhere to turn when they need it most. They work with communities to let people know they’re there for them, and they campaign to make suicide prevention a priority. 

          Their strategy: 

          Tackling suicide together: providing a safe space in uncertain times.

          From these bedrocks, they’ve built out five strategic priorities: 

                  1. Access
                  2. Reach
                  3. Impact
                  4. Capacity
                  5. Sustainability

          Each of these areas could (and potentially should) have specific digital marketing metrics aligned to them. 

          Looking at the first area as an example: 

          Access: Make sure anyone who needs us can access our support.

          The challenge: We cannot always meet the demand for Samaritans’ services and there is a risk that people who are trying to contact us can’t get through or get the response they need.

          Ambition: People will be able to access our support whenever they need it and get through to us in a way that works for them.

          Samaritans have six action points to achieve this: 

          • Recruit more volunteers
          • Expand digital services
          • Improve service to callers
          • Review and improve accessibility to hubs
          • Undertake targeted recruitment campaigns to increase diversity
          • Improve rotas

          Some of these areas link to digital marketing and metrics that could be used to measure progress.

          Recruitment needs reach, click-through, landing page sessions, and conversion. To hit the diversity metrics, you could look at specific demographics within the conversion regarding marginalised groups.

          Digital service metrics could look at awareness of these offerings through snapshot surveys, landing page sessions (again), conversions around opening the chat option, and the length of engagement.

          OKR framework for marketing - diagramTo make the most of these stats, I’d suggest using an OKR framework (objectives and key results). Setting an overall objective for each of these areas (which is already done in this instance – Samaritans could use their Ambition here as the objective) and then key results, including targets for each operational area. This is then measured quarterly, with relevant targets in place.

          So in this instance, it may look something like this: 

          Objective: People will be able to access our support whenever they need it and get through to us in a way that works for them.

          Key results: 

          • Improve reach of recruitment campaign from x to y by Q2
          • Reach xx,xxx landing page sessions on samaritans.org.uk/volunteer
          • Improve conversions of those on the support page, who go on to use the live chat support by x%
          • Hit x% conversions from target demographics

          Setting these key results out for each area that you, as Marketing, are responsible for contributing to, is vital in ensuring you can report on areas that matter without being distracted by vanity metrics. If they are tied back to the original organisational strategy, it’s far easier to get buy-in from relevant stakeholders too. Win win!

          If you need any support in working out which digital metrics are best to focus on for your charity, get in touch with our strategy team. We’d love to chat. 

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            Optimising For Humans: Why Should SEO and UX Join Forces?

            SEO and UX teams collaborating together among other digital marketing teams, sitting with their computers open on the table.

            Unpopular opinion: SEO and UX have always overlapped.

            That doesn’t mean, though, that these teams don’t have their own specialisations. After all, there’s a reason why these essential acronyms have emerged as prominent players. Providing a seamless process on a website is achievable only when we optimise for humans.

            Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and User Experience (UX) might seem like two separate domains, but they’re more intertwined than you might think. In this article, we will explore the intrinsic connection between SEO and UX teams and (hopefully) convince you that they need to work hand-in-hand.

            The Synergy of SEO and UX

            Both specialisations highlight the importance of users flowing like honey through the website and everything working smoothly. SEO mostly focuses on whether users find websites and content easily, and that it’s relevant to their search intent , whereas UX puts more emphasis on the intuitive actions the user is influenced to take.

            Even though the deriving points differ, the actions to make sure all these goals usually come down to the following criteria.

            Page Speed

            You must know how painful it is to wait for a slow-loading site. It frustrates users and increases bounce rates, which adversely affects SEO rankings. Search engine algorithms consider page speed, making it an essential factor for SEO. This synergy ensures that smooth user experience enhances a site’s visibility in search results.

            The most common pitfalls we see on pagespeed include:

            • Unoptimised images, not using lazy loading where applicable
            • No or minimal caching for static items
            • Not using a CDN

            Image Optimization

            One of the biggest culprits of poor page speed performance, SEOs have a love / hate relationship with images. Optimised images are crucial for faster loading times and  smoother UX. In addition, they contribute to SEO by providing alt text with relevant keywords. 

            This dual benefit aligns with both SEO’s need for keyword optimization and UX’s desire for a visually appealing, fast-loading site.

            This is not to say that neither SEO nor UX take image optimisation seriously for accessibility. Accessibility features provide a more positive UX, not to mention that it’s an influential factor for ranking as well.

            Mobile Friendliness

            A responsive website design isn’t just a UX necessity; it’s an SEO ranking factor. There are many options you can choose, like responsive design and PWAs (progressive web apps).

            As Google prioritises mobile-first indexing, making sure your content renders and provides users with a seamless experience across devices is a priority.

            High-Quality Content

            Content is queen in the realm of SEO. But from a UX perspective, high-quality content also means valuable, informative, and engaging content. The user’s journey is greatly enriched with informative content, and it’s equally favoured by search engines. When you marry SEO’s quest for relevant keywords with UX’s pursuit of informative content, you strike a balance that appeals to both humans and algorithms.

            Keyword Integration

            We don’t just talk about keywords anymore – it’s all about the search intent now. To appeal to users, we want to integrate keywords strategically, not just for SEO purposes but to enhance the user’s experience. By offering content that matches search intent, a website should ensure that visitors find value and relevance.

            Content Creation

            There’s always an interesting quarrel between SEO and content teams regarding what high-quality, informative content means. It’s a delicate balance between user needs or entertainment and including the right keywords for SEO. This way, your website serves as a valuable resource for your target audience and search engines alike. 

            At Uprise Up, we believe the best content is coupled with strong technical SEO implementation and various other strategies. These include the following:

            • Taking advantage of rich results
            • Incorporating FAQ questions to relevant pages
            • Implementing structured data
            • Utilising informative anchor texts for internal linking

            Information Architecture and User-Friendly Navigation

            Miller’s Law, a famous UX principle, suggests that it’s better to divide a huge chunk into smaller pieces for users to understand and engage with it better.

            Structuring a clear and intuitive website architecture enhances UX by making it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Easy navigation, resulting in lower bounce rates and higher SEO rankings.

            Search engines love Marie Kondo-ing your website – a well-organised, structured set of pages. Logical information architecture helps crawlers index your content effectively, resulting in better SEO rankings.

            Why Should SEO and UX Join Forces?

            One more unpopular opinion: Collaboration of SEO and UX isn’t just a pleasant coincidence, it’s a strategic necessity. It’s about ensuring your website is not only found online but appreciated by your target audience. This then feeds back to SEO via lower bounce rates and improves the rates a website is found. 

            Weaving together these essential principles creates a virtuous cycle of improving user satisfaction and climbing the search engine rankings Here is further information for charities to enhance user experience.

            At Uprise Up, we understand the significance of SEO and UX synergy, and take it as the cornerstone of our approach. Our SEO team incorporates UX processes to create tailored digital strategies to get found online for charities.

            Remember, your website isn’t just for the search engines; it’s for the real people behind the screens, seeking information, engagement, and support. The seamless blend of SEO and UX is the key to unlocking their hearts and minds.

            So, are you ready to take your charity’s online presence to the next level? Contact us, and let’s embark on this exciting journey together.

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              How To Create A Link Strategy For SEO

              Creating link strategies for SEO

              Creating a link strategy to enhance your SEO efforts is essential to ensure your website is getting as much organic visibility as possible. We have created a guide to help your charity perform to its maximum potential.

              The importance of SEO

              SEO is crucial for all charities with an online presence as it helps your website become more visible in the search results. The more visible you are, the more traffic you are likely to receive, opening up more opportunities for your site users to perform the conversion you want them to.

              There are hundreds of charities and websites out there, all competing to be visible, so without best-practice SEO implemented throughout your website, you are less likely to appear for your target keywords, and hence lose out on potential traffic. 

              The role links play in SEO

              Links play a pivotal role in SEO by acting as pathways that connect different web pages, enabling search engines to crawl and index content effectively, ultimately influencing a site’s visibility in search results.

              In SEO, the quality of links to a website serve as a key indicator of its authority and relevance, with well-crafted link strategies not only improving rankings but also establishing a webpage’s trustworthiness in the eyes of both users and search engines.

              The more credible the website that is linking to you, the better reward you will see in the search results.

              Why a well-thought-out link strategy is beneficial for optimal SEO performance

              A well-thought-out link strategy is crucial for any website’s success because it enhances a site’s visibility in search engine results, improving the chances of attracting organic traffic. 

              Link strategies not only contribute to higher search engine rankings, but also establish a website’s authority and credibility within its niche, ensuring your website is deemed trustworthy.

              In the competitive online landscape, a robust link-building strategy serves as a powerful tool to navigate algorithms, ensuring sustained growth and relevance for a website in the ever-evolving world of digital marketing.

              What is link building?

              Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from external websites to your own domain with the end goal being improving a website’s visibility, authority, and credibility.

              These links should be acquired naturally and not be part of any paid link schemes – as that can have detrimental consequences on your organic visibility. 

              Understanding the different types of links

              Understanding the difference between dofollow and nofollow links is crucial. Dofollow links are hyperlinks that allow search engines to follow through and crawl the linked pages. These links pass on authority and influence search engine rankings. 

              Nofollow links instruct search engines not to pass authority or credibility to the linked page, essentially signalling that the linked content is not necessarily endorsed. 

              Website owners commonly use these nofollow attributes for user-generated content, advertisements, or links that they don’t want to vouch for. Striking a balance between dofollow and nofollow links is vital for a well-rounded link strategy, as it not only influences a site’s SEO but shapes its overall online reputation.

              Prioritise the quality of links over the quantity

              This is always a popular topic of debate  in the SEO world. However, while accumulating a large number of links might seem appealing to many, the emphasis must be on the quality and relevance of those links to make any impact on your SEO.

              Search engines, especially Google, will always prioritise the quality of the backlinks over the number of backlinks your website has. The reason being, the higher quality the backlink, the more weight they carry in influencing a website’s organic performance. This means you may only need a handful of high quality backlinks to move the needle on your performance. 

              It’s more valuable from a time perspective to focus on securing a small number of high quality backlinks than an abundance of easy-to-gain, low-quality links that offer no long-term value. 

              These high-quality backlinks must come from reputable and contextually relevant sources to make a meaningful impact on your organic performance. These links signal the trustworthiness which helps when optimising for E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness – an algorithm update which you can read more about here).

              Setting smart link-building goals

              The first fundamental step is to set clear and strategic goals to craft an effective link-building strategy. Defining your link-driven objectives —which could be along the lines of improving search engine rankings, increasing organic traffic, or enhancing online authority—will provide a foundation to keep your efforts aligned. Remember, these objectives should be specific, measurable, and aligned with the broader charity goals.

              Link-building goals not only provide a roadmap for the implementation of the strategy, they enable you to evaluate success  and afford you time to adjust and refine  your strategy throughout its timeline 

              Researching keywords and competitors to focus your link-building strategy

              Researching keywords and competitors is a pivotal phase in developing a robust link-building strategy.

              Identifying relevant keywords for a specific niche is essential for understanding the language and topics that resonate with the target audience. This knowledge forms the basis for creating content that not only aligns with user intent but attracts natural and authoritative backlinks. 

              Simultaneously, by analysing competitor link profiles you can discern valuable insights and include them within your strategy to maximise success. By understanding where competitors are earning their backlinks, you can uncover potential opportunities and gaps in the market to take full advantage of.

              By leveraging advanced tools (such as Ahrefs and SEMRush) and techniques for keyword and competitor research, you will develop   a link-building strategy that is informed and poised for success in the competitive digital landscape. 

              Creating high-quality content to attract links

              Creating high-quality content is the forefront of any successful link-building strategy. Quality content serves as the magnet that naturally attracts backlinks from authoritative sources. It’s not just about information provided; it’s about crafting engaging, informative, and shareable material that provides real value to your target audience.

              Linkable content that is forever valuable, such as answering questions, solving problems, or presenting unique perspectives, is the secret sauce to success here.

              In short: Understand  the dynamics of your target audience and cater to their needs through content that becomes a go-to resource within the industry. 

              Incorporating visual elements, such as infographics and multimedia, further enhances the content’s appeal, making it more shareable across various platforms. By focusing on creating content that stands out in  quality and relevance, link builders can organically cultivate a diverse and authoritative backlink profile, contributing significantly to the success of the link-building strategy.

              Building internal links to spread the value

              Now you have written appealing content for your readers that will also attract backlinks naturally, you need to ensure this content is visible on your website. This is where internal linking comes in.

              Not only will internally linking to and from this content enhance user experience across the website, it will allow the authority gained from your backlinks to flow through the website, giving other important pages on your domain a boost.

              Outreach and relationship building

              Outreach and relationship-building are how you generate these powerful backlinks, and they work  best when they are personalised with the human touch.

              A one-email-fits-all approach isn’t always the wisest. Crafting personalised emails is a strategic art and one that involves reaching out to potential link partners in a genuine and compelling manner. 

              The best approach to building relationships within the industry is to put effort into establishing a long-term relationship, as opposed to a one-time short in the dark . Ideally, you want to ensure you are always engaging with influencers, connecting with other industry professionals in online communities, or networking through social media to build relationships that can lead to valuable backlinks. 

              By establishing long-term partnerships, it will not only open the doors for future link opportunities but also go beyond this and contribute to the overall growth and credibility of a website which will benefit all in the long run.

              Why you need to track and analyse link-building results

              Tracking your link-building performance will allow you to prove success and get buy-in from stakeholders for future projects or even more budget. 

              Monitoring the growth of backlink profiles, understanding the sources of incoming links, and assessing the anchor text diversity are essential metrics checks for evaluating the effectiveness of your strategy.

              You have the SEO performance to consider here also. A successful link strategy means increasing several metrics, including  organic traffic,search rankings, and the overall authority score of your domain. 

              Analysing performance on a regular basis allows time to refine and optimise strategies to ensure improvement is continuous and moving in the desired direction. 

              There is no use continuing with a link strategy that is clearly not working for your particular industry. What works for one will not necessarily work for another so it’s best to try a range of tactics, monitor performance, and then tweak where needed to ensure you are reaching your initial link-building objectives.

              Link-building can be hard, so no need to get disheartened over one tactic. Simply try another until you find what works for your website in your industry. 

              What does the future of link building look like?

              The landscape of link building is constantly evolving, and understanding future trends is crucial for staying ahead of the game in SEO.

              One emerging trend that is repeated to us with all the latest Google core algorithm updates, is the increasing importance of user experience as a ranking factor, emphasising the need for links from websites that enhance overall user satisfaction. 

              As search engines continue to become more sophisticated, there is a growing emphasis on context and relevance, making niche-specific and contextually relevant links more valuable than ever. 

              The rise of AI is also expected to influence how search engines interpret content, which will more than likely impact the way links are evaluated. 

              However, we think the integration of multimedia elements like video and interactive content is likely to play a more significant role in link-building strategies as we move into 2024. 

              It’s crucial to keep an eye on these ever-emerging trends and proactively adapt your approach to link building to align with the evolving SEO landscape.

              Key takeaways

              In summary, there are 8 questions you need to ask yourself when crafting the perfect link-building strategy for your charity.

              1. What is the end goal you want to achieve?
              2. How do links play a part in this?
              3. Who are you competing against in your industry?
              4. What are they doing to stand out?
              5. What do you need to create that will naturally attract links?
              6. How will this be integrated with your wider website?
              7. How are you going to build mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships?
              8. How are you going to track performance to show those all-important results?

              By developing a plan based on these questions, you will have a solid foundation by which to execute a successful link strategy. Remember: link building is all about testing what works and iterating with different tactics until you achieve the desired outcome.

              Contact us if you are keen to grow your organic presence in your industry. Our SEO experts will help you develop a link strategy that will increase your website’s authority and trustworthiness.

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                Why Do Dynamic Marketing Personas Matter for Charities?

                Dynamic marketing personas crafted for digital marketing campaigns for charities.

                The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and trying to keep up with the most recent trends can cause brands to derail from their path. Understanding audiences and keeping the focus on solving their problems is one of the most effective strategies for staying true to your mission and strategy. In a world where users and their search behaviour changes so rapidly, the question is, how is that even possible?

                While creating static marketing personas has long been a staple, it’s time to take a step further and embrace personas that reflect changing user behaviours. In this article, we’ll explore how dynamic marketing personas can revolutionise the marketing strategy of charities and keep them ahead in their competitive landscape.

                The Limitations of Marketing Personas

                Traditional marketing personas are like snapshots frozen in time, offering a static view of your audience. They provide valuable insights initially but fail to keep up with the ever-changing dynamics of search. Relying solely on static personas can lead to missed opportunities and stagnant growth, as user preferences shift and trends evolve.

                Understanding Dynamic Marketing Personas

                Dynamic personas, in comparison to traditional marketing personas, have the same function but are fluid and responsive. We observe and constantly analyse the shifts in user behaviours online and continuously adapt based on real-time data and user interactions.

                Harnessing the power of data analysis and the audience insight from marketing teams, you can identify dynamic marketing personas that evolve, and whose behaviour patterns you can track. Close monitoring ensures that your marketing efforts are always finely tuned to user needs and keep resonating with them.

                The Benefits of Dynamic User Personas

                Dynamic user personas provide a clear understanding of the target audience, allowing companies to tailor their marketing efforts precisely to the preferences and needs of potential customers – and to keep them up to date. Here are the benefits of creating dynamic user personas for brands:

                • Lead to Informed Decisions: Adapting to the queries of ever-changing audiences encourages marketers to look for data patterns and helps them make more informed, data-driven decisions.
                • Encourage Real-Time Insights: Dynamic personas are built on the most recent datasets, allowing brands to capture the latest trends and user preferences. This enables them to stay agile and respond quickly to changes in the trends.
                • Help Craft Personalised Messaging: With dynamic personas, charities can deliver highly personalised content and experiences to individual users. Once the personas are identified, AB tests can be performed to see which messages resonate more with different audiences, allowing the message to be  refined over time. Personalising messaging in line with evolving personas  enhances both engagement and conversion rates.
                • Improve ROI: By targeting audiences more precisely, brands can optimise their marketing budget and achieve a higher return on investment. Understanding dynamic personas helps brands allocate resources where they will have the most impact.
                • Help Gain Flexibility and Adaptability: As user behaviour shifts, dynamic personas adapt accordingly. This flexibility ensures that your brand stands out from the competition and your marketing strategy remains relevant and effective.

                Integrate Personas to Marketing Strategy

                To create dynamic personas, start by collecting and analysing real-time data from various touchpoints, including website analytics, social media interactions, and customer feedback. Utilise AI and machine learning algorithms to identify patterns and segment your audience dynamically.

                We work with charities to identify their dynamic marketing personas and create content that resonates with each segment, all while keeping  up with the changing trends in their search behaviours.

                Steal Our Strategy to Create Your Dynamic Personas

                We take various data points into account and merge the findings with our existing knowledge of the user profiles. Our strategy consists of 4 steps:

                Step 1:

                Get the basic marketing personas from the brand and note all essential traits and interests down. Next, dive into GA4 to identify personas that may stand out.

                  1. This can be as simple as creating custom audience segments, or
                  2. Targeting users based on interest and then retargeting them to track  the actions taken by users.

                Step 2:

                Identify the use cases and  patterns associated with each action.

                  1. Hotjar can also be a good option here to track the user behaviour across pages
                  2. Look at how different actions are preferred by each sub-segment created 

                Step 3:

                Identify a select group of individuals within each audience segment, using relevant social media channels that fit the profile – e.g. a ‘representer’. Keep an eye on what they’re talking about and engaging in – and build out your SEO plans accordingly to cover any content gaps.

                Step 4:

                Check in on your site demographics quarterly. Make sure that your groups are still similar sizes and  are still performing the same actions. If not – react accordingly.

                 

                via GIPHY

                Case Study: The Power of Understanding Audience Interests

                Pedalo are a London-based web development agency specialising in WordPress and Drupal site development and management. They needed to better understand their audience’s pain points and needs, as well as demonstrate their expertise and authority through informational content and cater to their audience’s searches.

                We helped them identify their marketing personas and what they are likely to search for. This helped us craft a more tailored messaging for Pedalo and create content to reach their audiences more effectively.

                Pedalo earned new Page 1 rankings, including the featured snippet for ‘How to increase page speed in WordPress’ in June 2021 (it was in position 32 in June 2020).

                We credited the success of this page to our understanding of what level of technicality would resonate with Pedalo’s audience and by catering to it accordingly. The announcement of Google’s Page Experience Update meant Pedalo’s new content was a trending topic, accruing additional traffic. 

                By understanding and accommodating their target audience, Pedalo increased engagement, achieved higher conversion rates, and sustained growth. Read Pedalo’s marketing persona and content marketing case.

                Create Dynamic Marketing Personas for Your Charity

                In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, static personas are no longer enough. Embracing dynamic personas is the key to staying competitive, relevant, and responsive to your audience’s evolving needs.

                By continuously adapting to real-time data, our SEO services for charities can help you create highly personalised, engaging, and effective marketing campaigns for your dynamic marketing personas. Reach out and let’s create a tailored strategy for your brand together.

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                  Playing in Traffic: Treading the Line Between Ethics and Engagement

                  A recent conversation we had with members of the Fairsay Campaigning Forum raised some challenging questions around the increasing controversy surrounding Twitter [X].

                  Since the finalisation of Elon Musk’s takeover in 2022, turbulent waters have been the order of the day, with mass layoffs, major product changes (bring back the block feature!) and some seriously rash decisions. The question remains for charities: do we stay, or do we go? 

                  I think the answer here is not as simple as it initially looks, and it depends entirely on what your charity is designed to do, and your current relationship with Twitter users. It’s easy to say, “it’s not ethical, back out” and cite the near-half loss of advertising spend alongside Musk’s checkered past. But what if your charity community is hugely engaged on Twitter and organic traffic from there makes up a massive chunk of your digital footfall?  

                  I think the answer lies in understanding your positioning and keeping a close eye on any changes. The main aim of your charity is your unique focus, and wherever your supporters are, is where you need to be. Sure, if you are actively promoting Human Rights, I would argue there is an ethical standpoint here that’s more important – but for all other areas? Stick it out. For now. 

                  The responsibility must be on your focus to your own goal. If you lost donations or signups for your own cause because of the ethics of the owner of a marketing channel, does that bring your own priorities into question? It’s a tough call for sure, and not one with a simple answer. It’s that horrible ‘would you rather’ that you don’t want to get into.  

                  There was a lot of conversation around an alternative. Twitter (sorry… X!) is great for conversational microblogging which fundamentally drives chat. It has its place and currently no-one else is remotely close. Threads seem to have lost their sewing pattern, Mastodon is just too tricky to use right now, and Bluesky is Twitter with a bouncer at the door, and if you’ve not got an invite…well you ain’t getting in mate.  

                  So have a look at your data. How’s Twitter doing for your traffic? How does it look for conversion? What would the impact be?  

                  The data we are seeing on the Charity Digital Benchmark shows an obvious shift from lows at initial takeover, rising back up earlier in the year. Now though, it’s declining fairly rapidly. We are, however, still seeing significant traffic despite the loss in ad spend – so bear that in mind.  

                  Graph showing Twitter driven traffic over the last twelve months, in bell curve

                  It is still driving traffic, but you could suggest that if this trend continues it is worth looking at your overall mix and shifting focus. That said, you must weigh up what staying on the platform would mean in relation to your core message.  

                  So, in the (slightly modified) words of the Clash – if you go, will there be trouble, but if you stay… will it be double? That is the key bit you need to work out for your charity, and if staying isn’t at odds with your core mission, well, I would be Clamping Down. (Yes, I know… another shamelessly doctored song title pun!). 

                   

                  *Session data averaged from benchmark users over date period. Adjustments were made for data differences due to shift from UA to GA4. 

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                    Data Analysis News

                    Data Analysis News

                    Whether you’re a charity, a business, a digital marketer, or simply a data enthusiast, it pays to stay up-to-date and in-the-loop with news and insights from the ever-proliferating world of data analytics.

                    Data analysis is the bedrock of good business strategy, allowing you to effectively allocate resources, know exactly where and how to optimise content, identify trends and patterns in their early stages, and make predictive assessments that’ll help you get ahead of competitors.

                    Especially with the recent move from Universal Analytics to GA4, it’s vital for advertisers to keep up with new GA4 features as they’re rolled out and refined.

                    Discover all the latest developments here, with succinct commentary by our industry experts.

                    Civic Cookie Control May Be Inflating Your Sessions Data

                    09/08/23

                    We’ve recently noticed in some clients’ accounts an issue with Civic Cookie Control and GA4, causing discrepancies between actual and reported sessions data.

                    Civic’s cookie implementation has been overwriting Google Analytics cookies, so that on each page a new cookie is generated. Because the current page’s cookie is completely new, Google is reading and reporting that as a new session, meaning sessions are being inflated in GA4.

                    If your cookies are being hosted by Civic, or you’re unsure which service is hosting them, this is definitely worth a check.

                    From what we’ve seen, the fastest method to check whether your cookie implementation is affecting your sessions, is to go to Engagement Overview in GA4 and compare page_view and session_start. If session_start is almost the same or higher, that’s a sign to then compare your GA4 data against UA.

                    The fix to the problem on the backend is for your web developers to go into Civic cookie settings and manually set the _ga_<Tag Manager ID> cookie to a wildcard.

                    For a refresher on the role of cookies and how they work, who not take a look through our Cookie Explainer Series?

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                    The Mysterious Decline of Google Ad Grants

                    Ad Grants – what on earth is going on?!

                    Google Ad Grants are one of the best assets a charity can have in its arsenal. They allow charitable organisations and non-profits to run paid search campaigns free from media spend, and are often used to promote information, petitions, campaigns, and fundraising.

                    Yes, they have restrictions -which have dampened their impact in some key areas- but they are vital to many charities, big and small.

                    We know all about Google Ad Grants; we are one of a handful of Google Certified Partners (for running Google Ad Grants) and we regularly work on over 30 every month. Having visuals on all those accounts allows us to identify and investigate trends when we see them.

                    … And we’ve started to see a substantial change.

                     

                    Why we’re writing this blog

                    School holidays always have a profound impact on search; dwell time suddenly disappears for a large audience, and users focus more on quick, action-based behaviour such as buying tickets, recipes, and activity ideas. The sort of searches typically not related to Ad Grants.

                    So coming into Easter, we communicated to clients: “Expect a drop, but we expect it to pick up after the holidays.”

                    And sure enough, we did see the drop:

                    Clicks year-on-year from Google Ad Grants

                    Clicks from Ad Grants year-on-year.

                     

                    Except, we didn’t see the bounce back. In fact, Ad Grants clicks continued to decline from there…

                    Some accounts did return to pre-Easter levels, but enough didn’t. Enough continued declining to cause us to have a look into why that might be. And what we found were three likely isolated events all contributing to this trend.

                     

                    Investigating the data

                    Ad Grants trends are hard to judge for a number of reasons:

                    • Google occasionally gives out an increased Grants budget to organisations who meet certain criteria.
                    • Account changes, such as moving priority or brand campaigns to a separate Paid account, have a significant impact on traffic.
                    • New priorities or focuses to align with new organisational strategies.
                    • New agency taking on and optimising more effectively.

                    As a result, you need to review the data from a few angles before you can accurately identify a trend or change in behaviour (whether user or platform).

                    However, we can see a significant change in data since mid-April which indicates this change in behaviour (platform side).

                    Specific points of interest for Google Ads in recent years have been:

                    • Christmas 2021 and 2022 (increase spend granted).
                    • Removal of Modified Broad Match (the ‘secretive’ fourth match type).
                    • Google pushing Performance Max campaigns.
                    • Google’s changes to Broad match (2023).

                    If we line these up with the graphs, we start to understand a bit more:

                    Google Broad match keyword impressions 2021-2023

                     

                    So there is correlation with some of these updates. Most notably:

                    • Broad match
                    • Removal of modified broad match

                    Both have a significant impact on the way in which the keywords we bid on are matched to users’ searches. So we wondered, if we examine the keywords in the account and how well they are performing based on their relevance to the actual searches, do we gain more insight?

                    Now, helpfully, here this aligning keywords with actual searches is called the ‘search term match type’, and uses the same three match types as our ‘keyword match types’.

                    They are different things, trust me:

                    Google match types explained
                    Source: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/7478529?hl=en-GB

                     

                    Google ad grant clicks 2021-2023

                    You can see that from August 2021 to March 2023, when our keywords have exactly matched the user’s search, we’ve seen very little decline. However, when we didn’t match the search closely, and relied on matching ‘broadly’ to the search term, our clicks had declined by around 100k/month.

                    Google broad match clicks 2021-2023

                    If we compare the two ‘match types’ metrics side-by-side we can see a similar decline, but over a longer period.

                    The direct correlation between the two graphs is that although those were broad match keywords (left, in blue), commonly they were matching exactly what the user was searching. This is interesting because a decline here, without any substantial changes in an account, is either a drop in searches or a change in the frequency of ads showing.

                    Impressions for different Google keyword match types 2023

                    Impressions for different Google keyword match types 2021-2023

                    Another place where we are seeing the sharpest drop-offs is on keywords for which the website isn’t organically ranking highly – or at all. As Google puts increasing emphasis behind ad strength and landing page experience, this trend will likely only magnify, as landing pages that don’t align with keywords get increasingly penalised and aligned with organic results.

                     

                    Potential causes:

                    Broad search and other match type updates.

                    The most obvious likely cause has been that change in broad match, which we cover in our blog here: https://upriseup.co.uk/blog/how-google-ads-match-types-are-changing/#summary

                    It’s a reasonable shift which has more widely reaching changes, but the following couple of changes will likely have the most substantial impact on Ad Grants:

                    1.

                    Google Ads (through broad match) will now not enter another keyword (from the same account) into the auction if a keyword matches the search exactly.

                    This could have a sizeable impact in Ad Grants as they typically contain more keywords than Paid accounts, which means there’s greater chance that multiple keywords are entered into an auction.

                    It could be the case that a keyword was actually outperforming the exact searched term previously, because it had a better ad rank.

                    how google auction has changed for ad grants

                    In this example scenario, going forward only the ‘Donate to Colon Cancer’ keyword would be carried forward to the auction, and its ad rank is not good enough for page 1 – which results in the account receiving fewer impressions (and thus fewer clicks) for this search term.

                     

                    2.

                    Broad match was typically the widest matching match type. Now, it will still match to a wider array of terms compared to the other match types. But this will now only be in relation to trying to achieve more conversions. This means that broad keywords that aren’t generating many conversions and are using a conversion-focused bid strategy will start seeing considerable volatility in their bidding, as the machine learning tries to optimise both the search terms it matches to and its bids to maximise conversions.

                     

                    There’s far more going on with the broad match changes, so I do recommend reading the blog – it’s a great read. (Yes, I also wrote that one…)

                     

                    Results page updates

                    2023 has also brought some substantial changes to the results page. Whilst you wouldn’t make an immediate connection between SEO updates and the performance of Ad Grants, they are intrinsically linked because they share the same ‘space’.

                    There was a core algorithm update that coincided with the start of the volatility (March 2023), but the most aligned update is the April Review Update, which necessitates a focus on promoting quality content to users. The interesting part about this update is that it moved the review algorithm out of a focus purely on product, and more onto content and services.

                    The alignment here for the Ad Grants is that we saw health and cancer organisations hit harder than other organisations, which could potentially increase the likelihood of a no-ads results page for more informational, health-based searches.

                    Impressions for different keyword match types 2021-2023

                    Cancer charity search term matches dropping since the April update.

                     

                    Connected to this update is the relationship that Google has with the NHS and US-based health organisations. As covered in our blog on E-E-A-T, Google has been increasingly likely to favour NHS and US-based organisations on organic results for health information searches. Again, if we combine this with a potential move away from showing ads for those searches, we would expect to see a reduction in impressions (which we are indeed seeing).

                    All of these results page updates hit Ad Grants harder than Paid accounts, as Grants are penalised by Google Ads against paying advertisers. This means that when Google Search builds its results page, the chances of an Ad Grants ad appearing appear to have been lowered.

                     

                    Summary

                    Google Ad Grants have always faced considerable challenges. This is just one more on the pile.

                    We’re definitely seeing a reduced ‘place’ for Ad Grants in Google search – one which will have a larger impact on some organisations than others. However, there is still a place. 

                    Content has always been key to an Ad Grant’s success, and those who have been impacted most are the ones who boast the least content, or who are utilising keywords that, whilst relevant, don’t have a focused landing page.

                    So as we move forward, my three takeaways are:

                    1. Ensure you have enough relevant content on your website. Think of your Ad Grants account as an extension of your website’s SEO. For a keyword to perform well, it needs to have a relevant and aligned landing page.
                    2. Embrace the new Broad Keyword Match Type. It’s here, and Google are only going to increase its use and prominence. Also ensure you minimise (or better yet, eradicate) phrase and exact match conflicts.
                    3. Ensure you utilise conversions in your account. They don’t always have to be transactional, and can be engagement-focused, but all effective bid strategies start with conversions.

                    Finally, for all business priority objectives we recommend testing running a Paid account. Paid accounts have not been as affected by the new changes and are not restricted by the Google Ad Grants rules.

                    I hope this has been helpful and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

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                      How Google Ads Match Types Are Changing

                      Broadly go where no man has gone before!

                      Google Ads has changed the way that broad match types work, and for some reason no one is really talking about it!

                      Google search is changing. Google says it’s all for the good, and you’ll get more conversions for less money. But what does it all mean, how has it changed, how can you navigate all the jargon? And what even is a keyword anymore!

                      Looking for the TL;DR version – click here.

                       

                      1. What is a keyword?

                      In paid search (also commonly referred to as Google Ads), a keyword is a specific word or group of words for which an advertiser wants to show their ad when a user searches them. A search term is the actual wording used by the user when searching on Google.

                      However, as an advertiser, you will not be able to cover every possible variation of way in which a user could search for you, your service, or your product. 

                      Match types are therefore used by advertisers to allow Google Ads some flexibility in its ability to match a keyword to a match type. An exact match means the keyword and search term need to be the same (ish). Phrase match allows for the order of words to move around and some words to change, as long as it doesn’t change the basic meaning of the keyword. And broad… well broad means you give Google the keys and you let it drive off into the sun.

                      …at least, it used to.

                       

                      2. What we know

                      How have broad keywords been used to date?

                      Most experienced advertisers have always been averse to using broad match keywords; they regularly resulted in budget being squandered on irrelevant searches and the keywords underperforming against match types you had control over.

                      • If you wanted to spend your budget, you could use broad.
                      • If you wanted to achieve your targets, you didn’t.
                      • Additionally, in the charity sector, broad could be seen as too risky, given the limited control.

                      But things have changed – quite considerably.

                       

                      3. How broad match is changing

                      In March of this year, a Think with Google blog dropped to limited noise. It covered two engineers who had been using AI and Large Language Models to improve Google Ads.

                      The article details the overall history of broad match but specifically highlights three developments we need to be aware of:

                      • The use of Large Language Models helps broad search understand the importance that the order of words in a search can have. A to B is very different from B to A when it comes to user intent.
                      • Prioritising the keywords’ relevancy first, before considering ad rank.
                      • Utilising multilingual search.

                      The most interesting development here is the prioritisation of relevancy over ad rank in auctions. This development means that Google may put in a keyword with a lower ad quality, if it believes it’s the most relevant keyword you have. It also means that if you have the keyword which matches the user’s exact search (no matter the match type), that keyword is the only one put forward, regardless of the potential ad rank performance.

                      Without oversight on your keywords and their impact on your accounts, this change could be significant. If you have similar keywords within an account, you will likely see a change in usage among those keywords – with a reduction in impressions for some of your better keywords as their usage is limited by weaker keywords.

                      how google keyword auction works

                       

                      4. Further developments

                      Google Ads has also produced a weightier documentation called Unlock the Power of Search.

                      (It’s a good read!)

                      It has a lot going on, and more than its fair share of hyperbole and salesy talk, but I’ve picked out some of the key points:

                       

                      Auction change (keyword matches)

                      The auction process now starts with relevancy to determine what keywords to even put forward for the auction. This also means Google will only put forward keywords from what it determines to be the most relevant ad group, to the user’s search. This means that even keywords which are relevant, and have a better ad quality might be blocked from entering the auction by a ‘more relevant’ ad group.

                      Google signals are introduced

                      Broad match is now the only match type to make use of all the available ‘signals’. It uses these signals to understand both the intent of the user and to gain a deeper understanding of the keywords’ meaning. These signals include but are not limited to: previous search history, time of day, location, and user search habits.

                      Keyword grouping

                      The combined context of the keywords in an ad group is now a factor. For example, if you added a more generic keyword into an ad group, Google would understand the context of that keyword and apply relevancy, based on the other keywords within that ad group.

                      For example:

                      If you added ‘rose’ as a keyword into an ad group which contained broad keywords around wine, Google Ads alleges that it would understand that the context of this keyword is wine and not the flower, the colour, or the name – and would therefore only show that keyword against users searching for wine.

                      Focus more on ad strength

                      In an interesting move, and one which will certainly be met with scepticism by a few people, Google recommends you to view Ad Strength metrics when looking for optimisation tweaks, and reiterates that Quality Score is meant only as a diagnostic tool.

                      However, Google’s own support pages still indicate that Ad Strength, too, is just a diagnostic tool.

                       

                      And finally, the subtle language change that could be nothing but is probably everything

                      Google makes many references to Keyword Themes within the documentation. Keyword Themes had previously only been referenced in Google Smart Campaigns, where the user provides the relevant themes (such as ‘online bereavement’ or ‘breast cancer symptoms’). The Smart Campaign will then match to searches it believes are relevant to that theme and will help you achieve your conversion targets (typically CPA).

                      5. What we can do about it

                      Review match types

                      This is a substantial shift in direction for Google Ads, which has

                       spent a considerable amount of time in recent years making each match type broader and broader!

                      With the introduction of smart bidding, Google Ads now treats the same keyword equally across match types (assuming ads and landing pages the same). This means that if you are splitting out match types, you will actually just be splitting out your data up to threefold – and thereby limiting learnings and optimisation potential. Google tells you to simply remove different match types and just run with broad, nut if you have a strongly performing account with good account history, our recommendation would be to test this process over time.

                      The last thing you want is to make a sudden, drastic change and lose all the benefit of historical performance.

                       

                      Review your keywords

                      Your keywords should be grouped into similarly themed ad groups already. But it’s now even more important (if using broad match) to ensure there is limited crossover in keywords (and their associated search terms) between these ad groups. Being tight on keywords used here will help you keep control of which ad shows in those searches – and where users get sent.

                      Remember – if a keyword exists that matches the user’s search exactly, Google Ads will use the matched keyword and not (necessarily) the best keyword.

                       

                      Test!

                      If you, like many of our clients, have account structures meticulously crafted over many years, then you don’t want to be making substantial changes on an impulse. You start by testing on some lower risk campaigns, assess the keyword structure within, and then utilise Google Ads Experiments to see the impact of this new AI-driven approach.

                       

                      6. What we’ve seen

                      We’ve not seen a huge change in our Paid accounts – especially the ones with good account history and prolonged performance.

                      However, we are seeing Google Ad Grants being affected. We discuss this in more detail in a separate blog, but we are seeing a substantial change in Google Ad Grants’ performance, though this is due in part to some additional factors.

                      The biggest impact here lies in health-based searches, where there isn’t as strong a focus on conversions.

                       

                      7. What’s the future of broad match?

                      Google trials new broad campaign type

                      Google has recently introduced a new campaign type to select accounts whereby, during account creation, you can opt to remove keyword match types in their entirety. This means that any keywords applied to the campaign will be broad match, with no alternative option. Whilst this is a beta test, ultimately this is likely the first step in removing the ‘keyword management’ element of Google Ads. We’ve already been removed from bid management, and it seems that match types are the next component to go.

                      The death of keywords

                      Myself and Dan have often prophesied about the inevitable demise of keywords with Google Ads. The fact that, in this article, Google Ads are talking about keyword themes as much as individual keywords is a strong indication that this is coming.

                      This is certainly a deliberate use of language and is likely the first step in moving to this ‘keyword-less’ model. We’re already well on the way to the removal of match types, with Google suggesting that only in specific circumstances should you be using Exact and Phrase matches:

                      Content is king

                      There I said it. In a Paid Search blog! But it is true. As we lose more and more control over the keywords (and their matched search terms) that we want to bid on, our skills as paid search experts will come increasingly from the ad copy we write, as well as our ability to optimise landing pages.

                      That involves ensuring the content is aligned to the ad copy and the paid search keywords (or theme, once keywords go), but equally that the content also represents a good user journey and user experience.

                      We should also look at testing the copy – can we manipulate the search terms our ads match to by implementing new keywords in the copy? Or by changing the hierarchy of those keywords in the copy? There are abundant possibilities for new testing!

                       

                      Summary

                      To summarise:

                      • Match types are all but confirmed to be on the way out, with Google making it clear that (in its best practice) you should only use exact or phrase in specific cases.
                      • Keywords now match for relevancy first and if a keyword matches the search exactly, that is the only keyword to be put forward.
                      • Keywords themselves are likely on the way out, with Google set to pursue a ‘keyword theme’ model instead of individual keywords.
                      • The ad and its landing page become even more important- and the main places you (as an advertiser) can make an impact.

                       

                      Those are some enormous changes; there really is nothing like digital media to keep us on our toes.

                      On a personal level I’ve been screaming into the void about some agencies’ ill-formed use of broad matches over the years. To feel that those agencies are now potentially on the front foot through negligence is a very bitter pill to swallow.

                      However, it’s an exciting challenge. We’ve just gone through (still going through) the death of our beloved Universal Analytics, so it makes sense that we now prepare ourselves for the inevitable death of the keyword.

                      To discuss the demise of keywords, and how we can best manage this new approach, why not contact us for a chat.

                       

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                        What to do with the Facebook Meta Pixel

                        Facebook Meta Pixel Lead Image

                        In this article we discuss what a Facebook Pixel is and why it’s so powerful for charities marketing online. We look at why you use it, why it needs data, and what mitigating steps you can take when it comes to reducing the amount of personally identifiable data being captured.

                        I have tried to keep this focused on facts and clear information, and where opinion or recommendations are offered they have been labelled as such. As a charity-focussed digital media agency, we understand the concerns and considerations charities and nonprofits must consider when it comes to personally identifiable information and marketing sensitive topics.

                        It’s important to say that no UK organisation has been fined by ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) due to its use of the Facebook Pixel. In addition, the recent fine issued by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) related to concerns that whilst EU user data is protected by law in the US – it could still be accessed by US intelligence agencies. This ruling has no impact on Facebook in the UK.

                        This article starts with introducing the pixel, what it does and why you use it. So for those among you who just want to know how they can tailor it and the recommendations going forward, you can jump further down: 

                         

                        1. What is the Meta Pixel (formerly the Facebook Pixel)

                        The Meta pixel is a piece of code which is placed on a website, in order to track the actions users take on your site, such as viewing a page, pushing a button or making a purchase. It allows you to optimise and measure the performance of your campaigns across Facebook and Instagram.

                        It’s worth noting that the Meta pixel is gradually being phased out, with Facebook recommending you use the new conversion API. We will cover this new API later on.

                         

                        2. Why you use it

                        So why do organisations such as charities and nonprofits use the Meta Pixel? Primarily, it’s down to performance in your marketing campaigns. We understand that charities are under continual pressure to ensure every penny of marketing budget is spent wisely and efficiently; and the Meta Pixel allows that. 

                        Its power comes from conversion tracking, where you define actions on your site which are core to your business and then review your performance against those actions. 

                        With enough data, the Meta Pixel can even optimise itself towards those conversions using signals and data to show your ad to people more likely to take those actions. You can then enhance it further by feeding it data such as revenue (donation amounts for example), and it can optimise towards getting higher value conversions.

                        Reporting on performance

                        The pixel allows you to measure the performance of your campaigns. It gives you real time feedback on what is working, what needs improving and what needs stopping. This means you can avoid wasted spend and improve your ROI.

                        Directly within the interface you can see which ads and audiences are hitting your KPIs and which ones aren’t. You can then use that data to make decisions to improve your campaigns, making you more likely to hit key KPIs such as revenue targets, volunteer sign ups or legacy gifts.

                        Optimising performance

                        As mentioned above, the pixel can use the data it collects to optimise its performance to hit specific KPIs. This makes your marketing more efficient, and more likely to hit relevant targets.

                        For example, if you ask the pixel to get volunteer sign ups at no more than £20 per sign up, it will use its data and understanding of your users to help achieve that for you. Spending more on users it thinks are more likely to convert, and less on those it’s more unsure of.

                        It’s important to note that it can only do this with a sufficient data set. Typically, this is around 9 conversions per day, and more than 50 in total.

                        Strategic planning

                        This data can be used on conversions, to help you plan for next year, or the next run of the campaign. You can review where performance exceeded targets and where you can make savings without impacting your KPIs.

                        Without access to valuable data such as this, it’s much more challenging to identify areas for improvement in your marketing (much like more traditional offline advertising). Offline, often you know there are improvements and optimisations to be made, but you don’t really know where they are. 

                        As we continue through a cost of living crisis, and pressure on marketing budgets increases, many charities could very likely see marketing budgets being cut by larger amounts than the targets you set. Having access to data on what works and what doesn’t can be vital to your organisation hitting its targets and objectives in the coming months.

                         

                        Facebook Meta Pixel - Analysing Data

                        3. How it works

                        It might seem scary, and most of the information out there is borderline scare mongering, but it’s important to understand the pixel in order to be able to make a decision on how to best use it for your organisation. 

                        Data is its power

                        From a marketing perspective, utilising the pixel can be incredibly powerful. It enables Facebook to connect actions on your website with its vast database of users. 

                        This allows it to understand the characteristics of those converters. What they like. What they don’t like. Where they live. What content they consume. Their age range. Crucially though, this isn’t data you can use at an individual user level but it’s aggregated, and data used in mass, which gives it more weight.

                        The pixel helps you understand your audience. It could be that those users who like Waitrose tend to donate more money to your campaigns compared to those who like Sainsbury’s. This allows you to steer your digital media and can also help impact future out of home marketing activity, such as billboard placements. 

                        Ultimately if used efficiently and strategically, the pixel can help charities save money and become more efficient in their spending – which is what we all want!

                        This power has been limited in recent years

                        Everyone in the charity and nonprofit sector has felt the impact of the increased audience restrictions from Meta. It has pushed up the price charities need to pay per click for advertising on their platforms, and therefore has had a real impact on the perceived performance of those campaigns. 

                        On the face of it, those changes were a positive move forward in protecting sensitive audiences and user characteristics. The idea that corporate organisations could use the fact that users liked mental health charities in order to sell them products or similar, is horrifying. But we know that those audiences were also vital for a lot of charities, allowing them to reach those who might be in need as well as potential new supporters. 

                        The removal of this specific targeting doesn’t mean those users won’t get to see those ads; you can still use other characteristics to narrow down your targeting. It just means that your ads are less efficient, and more money is spent on audiences which are less likely to convert or resonate with your cause.

                        The power has also been restricted due to a move towards opting-in to user cookie tracking. The language used at the point of request often steers users to opt-out of sharing that data without really knowing what it is or why an organisation might need it.

                        Reduced data has led to reduced performance

                        For those of you who haven’t read Will’s fantastic analysis of paid media performance for charities across the festive periodFacebook (and Instagram) advertising is getting more expensive. Less targeting options has increased competition on what remains, pushing up cost per click (CPC). 

                        However, the remaining options don’t provide as relevant targeting – meaning lower user conversion rates. This can lead to your cost per action (CPA) skyrocketing. We personally saw up to 4x the CPA for Christmas 2022 v previous years and, unfortunately, this is likely to rise.

                        With costs continuing to climb, it’s more important than ever to be able to accurately identify successful elements of your campaigns to make them as efficient as possible. Currently the only way to do this is with the Facebook pixel. Without it you’re stabbing in the dark, in an environment in which costs are spiralling – it would be hard to justify and make it viable.

                        Hashing and grouping to store personally identifiable information.

                        What is hashing, you ask? Hashing is when you take data gathered from a site, and run it through a generalising algorithm to anonymise and abstract the data so it is no longer directly identifiable. 

                        Example diagram of how hashing anonymises data to protect user's personally identifiable information.

                        Hashing is similar to encryption. The main difference is that hashing is never intended to be translated back into the original data. Many different inputs can have the same output which makes it near-impossible to know exactly what the original data was.

                        This means that data is not viewable to you as a marketer or anyone else within the platform. For example, although it may read a user’s date of birth as 02/10/1999, it wouldn’t collect and send that data. Instead it would categorise this user as falling into the 18-25 age bracket.

                        Meta also has systems which try to spot and remove ‘hidden’ personable information such as when names or email addresses are passed through urls. It also says it tries to stop the collection of data from users on what it deems as ‘sensitive topic’ pages. However, it’s unclear how this is managed.

                        4. How to tailor it your needs

                        Ensure your tags are connected to your cookie policy.

                        This can take numerous forms, but the most popular tools (such as One Trust and CIVIC) allow Google Tag Manager integration in some form.

                        Typically this is done through ‘consent_given’ or ‘consent_not_given’ variables. You can then connect these to all your marketing tags and ensure that what a user agrees to is what they actually experience on the website. 

                        If you are using Google Tag Manager (which we recommend), you could also consider using Google’s Beta test of ‘consent mode’ which will fire a tag when the desired action has taken place, but remove anything personable to that user in what it sends. As this is still in beta, you may wish to wait for it to be fully released before utilising it – but it is certainly an intriguing development.

                        Focus on Cookie Policy wording

                        A lot of focus is given to the wording on your policy page (and rightfully so), but actually you should be focusing on the consent prompt itself. Ensure that this is aligned with your organisational policy as well as ensuring that you present enough information to give users an informed decision. If you have the room, it’s always worthwhile explaining the ‘why’ to.

                        In the long term, it would be worth considering running tests to discover the impact of your wording. Can you test longer or shorter text? Different colour schemes? Ultimately you want to try and move the dial towards increasing the number of people who consciously consent to your tracking.

                        Move to server-side tracking

                        This is where we get a bit more technical, but I’ll do my best to keep it light. Server-side tracking will be necessary for future Meta Pixels and is now recommended by Google Analytics.

                        Currently the vast majority of pixel and tag tracking is done in the user browser, leaving organisations with little control over what is sent or isn’t sent by those pixels(or tags). In essence if you add the pixel, they receive everything they want in any way they want.

                        There is a shift in this though, as organisations look for more control on specific aspects of that data. In essence, they are happy to share some of it, but not all of it. And those platforms are responding.

                        Google and Meta both already recommend using a server container to run your tracking, and I’m sure this will soon become the default. A server container doesn’t run in the user’s browser or on their phone. Instead, it runs on a server that you control, and only you have access to the data in the server until you choose to send it elsewhere.

                        For Meta, utilising a server container means the platform only gets data you have chosen to pass on, enabling you to have more control over the data shared. This allows you to identify anomalies or block data before it’s sent to Meta. 

                        Facebook is actively encouraging users to move over to its conversion API tracking methodology – which is only available via server-side implementation.

                        Exclude specific users and actions

                        If you are worried about utilising your pixel alongside users who view sensitive content or take sensitive actions on the site, you don’t need to review the pixel entirely.

                        If you fire your Meta Pixel through Google Tag Manager, you can use exception rules to stop tags from firing on specific pages. This includes removing those users from remarketing ads – so you don’t have the situation of someone who is looking up support content asked to give a donation.

                        Within Meta itself you can remove the Universal Event Tracking (UET) element of the tag, which will mean that the pixel will only record actions taken on site that you specifically set up tags for. This again means you can avoid collecting information on things such as links or forms which are a constant presence in footers for example.

                        Be aware

                        Whilst you can take these steps to remove data points, be conscious of the fact that it’s this data which drives the power of Meta marketing. Removing any of those data points will have an impact – this could be small, but it could also be substantial. It should therefore be discussed and agreed across teams before you start to limit the data being collected.

                         

                        Facebook Meta Pixel - Next Step Recommendations

                        5. Recommended next steps

                        There’s a lot to unpack here. But it’s definitely valuable as these things are constantly under scrutiny, so it helps to take a step back and look at what it does and why it does it. I wanted to lay out 5 key recommendations to take away with you, and help you navigate the ever developing world of the Meta pixel.

                        • Move to server-side tracking using a server container. Google Tag Manager has a server-side variant which is the way we would recommend going. Unfortunately server-side tracking will likely come with a cost for you as you do need to host the container on a server, but this methodology for running marketing pixels will be the default (and maybe only) way very soon.
                        • Review your cookie management tool. Ensure that your tag firing rules match the policy, and are managed in such a way that the users preference do impact on their firing/non-firing. The amount of websites I’ve been on where I refuse consent, and yet still get tracked is worryingly high!
                        • Test using ‘consent mode’. As mentioned above, this is a way of still sending conversion data to your marketing platforms without sending any personally identifiable information. It’s still in Beta but definitely one to keep an eye on and we would recommend testing.
                        • Ensure you discuss your marketing needs alongside the need for data protection. it could be that you can find a compromise which helps mitigate personal information being passed and minimises impact on your campaign performance. Especially with the use of server-side tracking it should be very rare that you need to remove the pixel entirely from your website, to satisfy a desire to protect users information.
                        • Constantly be looking to test and optimise. Test the wording on your cookie policies, test using new channels to grow awareness, test different settings or structures, and test using ‘consent mode’ on Google Tag Manager.

                        Have any questions?

                        We’ll be advising our clients to move to server-side tracking across the next couple of months (once everybody gets over the grieving of Universal Analytics). So if you have any questions on the best way forward for you and your organisation, or any questions about the above, we’d love to hear from you. 

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                          Impact of E-E-A-T on UK Health Charities

                          Impact of E-E-A-T on UK Health Charities

                          In the vast and ever-evolving landscape of the internet, establishing trust and credibility has become a paramount concern for businesses, content creators, and online platforms alike. Especially with the rise of fake news entering the digital sphere.

                          This is where E-A-T evolved; an acronym that encapsulates three vital components that contribute to the credibility and expertise of online content. E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, was first introduced by Google in its Quality Rater Guidelines in 2014 and has since become an essential factor in SEO.

                          In recent months, Google updated E-A-T to include an additional E for experience. Google is now looking to see if the content writer and website have first-hand experience on the topic. Take a look at this article to read more about the E-E-A-T update and its widespread impact across all industries.

                          We’ve taken the time to specifically review the impact E-E-A-T is having on UK health charities and have highlighted ways they can future proof their website for upcoming tweaks to the quality rater guidelines.

                          Keyword ranking trends for UK  health charities

                          From working with numerous health based charities, we started to see a decline in rankings for their priority keywords. No recent changes had been made to the target pages that had seen a hit that could have caused such a significant decline.

                          For example, one charity targeting ‘ovarian cancer’ was typically ranking in the middle of page one. Suddenly, rankings started to deteriorate rapidly without an obvious explanation. Upon investigation, it was clear the search landscape here was changing, and more and more American based health websites were making their way into the SERPs.

                          We examined the ranking history over time to see if any other website saw a decrease in rankings at the same time. And they did. Below are two screenshots of rankings overtime and you can see on the same date in November, the two UK charities started their decline as American website, Cleveland Clinic, started climbing.

                          Keyword: Ovarian Cancer

                          Graph displaying the decrease in ranking position for the keyword 'ovarian cancer' for a UK ovarian cancer charity, whilst the US website increases in ranking after the E-E-A-T update.

                          • Cleveland Clinic (YELLOW)
                          • UK Ovarian Cancer Charity (PINK)

                          Decrease in ranking for 'ovarian cancer' keyword for UK based cancer charity compared to increase for US based charity after the E-E_A-T update.

                          • Cleveland Clinic (YELLOW)
                          • UK Ovarian Cancer Charity (GREEN)

                          Keyword: Ovarian cancer symptoms

                          Decrease in ranking for ovarian cancer symptoms for UK based charity compared to US charity after E-E-A-T update.

                          • Cleveland Clinic
                          • UK Ovarian Cancer Charity

                          We can see this is happening for other health-bases charities too. In some cases, you can see at the end of November there is that step up from ranking bottom of page one to within the top 3 positions.

                          Keyword:  Skin Cancer

                          Changing trends in ranking position for the keyword skin cancer comparing UK and US based charities.

                          • MayoClinic
                          • UK Skin Cancer Charity

                          Improving E-E-A-T for health-based charities

                          Does your content demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person experienced? There are some situations where the most valuable information to users is content from someone who has first-hand, life experience about the topic.

                          To enhance the E-E-A-T of your online content and bolster its credibility, several best practices should be followed.

                          • Ensure new content demonstrates your experience on the subject matter. When it comes to health-based content, consider sharing personal experiences or other people’s testimonials, including examples or using technical language that is well explained.

                           

                          • Establish yourself as an expert in your field by consistently producing high-quality, accurate, and insightful content on a frequent basis. This can be achieved by conducting thorough research, citing reputable sources, and showcasing your expertise through in-depth analysis and unique perspectives.

                           

                          • Build authoritativeness by showcasing your credentials, experience, and qualifications, such as including author bios and linking to your professional profiles. If your charity has a single professional in your sector who writes most of the content, creating an author bio stating who they are and credentials will work well. If you have multiple writers whose content is checked by scientists or researchers then a branded author bio may be best.

                           

                          • Actively seek opportunities to contribute guest posts or collaborate with respected individuals and organisations in your industry to make yourself more well known. The more people cite your work or reference you as an authoritative source, the more Google will trust what you have to say.

                           

                          • Create trustworthiness by being transparent. Make sure your website is as up-to-date as possible, and ensure your content is free from spelling or grammatical errors. Include clear authorship information, privacy policies, and secure website features to encourage confidence and trust among your audience.

                          Key content elements Google wants to see!

                          • Dates. Published date, updated on date, or reviewed on date associated to all pages. Especially those with health-based support and advice. Google likes to see up-to-date content so if you find content doesn’t need a refresh, ensure it has been reviewed!
                          • Author names. An authoritative name to state who published, updated or reviewed the content.
                          • Author biographies. These author bios should either be specific to the individual or to the brand.
                          • References. A section, preferably at the bottom of the content that shows your references and sources you have cited throughout the page.
                          • Backlinks. Backlinks to your pages to show third party websites agree and are sharing your content with their readers.

                          These signals demonstrate to Google that you’re abiding to their quality rater guidelines and will help you to be visible and climb up the search results.

                          Noticed a change in your keyword rankings?

                          If you think your charity has been impacted by this E-E-A-T update, feel free to get in touch and speak to our team of SEO specialists who can guide you through updating your content. We would love to hear from you and are eager to help!

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                            Top Benefits of GA4 for Charities

                            Benefits of GA4 for charities

                            The time is nigh! The reign of GA4 is officially here, as of July 1st 2023. As such, it’s important to make sure you have your GA4 analytics in order before Universal Analytics (UA) loses its ability to collect data. A lot of clients are asking “is GA4 actually better than UA?” Or in some cases (from die-hard UA users) it’s more of a statement on the lines of “GA4 is so much worse!”.

                            In reality, a lot has remained the same; it’s still free and it’s not a complete change in functionality. Excluding the odd feature, effectively anything you could do in UA is present in GA4. It also provides a good opportunity to take a step back and review your current conversion and ecommerce set-up, to allow for better donation optimisation and reporting. As someone that believes GA4 will offer some key improvements from UA, I’m here to give you my top five benefits of GA4 for charities.

                            What is GA4?

                            GA4 is the latest evolution of Google Analytics. Google analytics is a Google tool which gives website owners a comprehensive breakdown of traffic and user behaviour on their site. It tracks key metrics for charities such as number of sessions, which pages have been visited, engagement rate and different types of key conversions (such as how many people have donated on a particular page).

                            This vast source of data allows charities to get a deeper understanding of their target audience, whilst monitoring the effectiveness of and optimising various marketing campaigns such as Paid, SEO or email. There are a number of new features in GA4, or reimagining of old features, that should help support you in your quest for cleaner, more meaningful analytics. This includes general tracking all the way to setting-up ecommerce for better donation optimisation and reporting.

                            1. Accuracy in Metrics

                            Whilst not all UA parameters and metrics exist in GA4, the overall accuracy of GA4 measurement is a big benefit of the new analytics system. For example, sessions now don’t double count over midnight, and also use unique identifiers to further estimate what should be considered a new session. Though this may initially lead to lower session counts, these two aspects combined have resulted in a greater accuracy of session measurement across nearly all accounts.

                            One of the biggest changes and perhaps the hardest to convert to is the fact that not all your UA parameters and metrics exist in GA4 and those that do might be reported on differently. Although these new metrics and methods of measuring them may be more accurate, it can be difficult to adjust.

                            For example, GA4 no longer reports on bounce rate. Instead, it reports on the more app-friendly engagement rate (what is now ‘GA4’ originated from Google Analytics Web+App property which was originally designed to combine app and website analytics). Whilst engagement rate is just the inverse statistic of bounce rate, the new name and measurement is still something to get used to.

                            Screenshot of the metrics available in some of the GA4 reports, including views, users, views per user and average engagement time

                            All of this is a result of GA4 moving to a more “Active User” approach than UA’s “Total User” approach prior. This is partially to implement one of the main features of GA4, which is the consolidation of websites and apps within a single reporting property. Gone are the days when you have to sift through half a dozen properties and thrice as many views to gain useful data insights. The new one property fits all approach is a great deal slicker!

                            2. Custom Reporting

                            Part of the GA4 push for users to have a more bespoke experience within their analytics tool, is the emphasis on building your own reports. Something you may have noticed is that compared to UA, GA4 has less default reports. This is a design choice that encourages users to modify their reports to better suit their needs.

                            Whether this change is beneficial to you will depend on how you report in the first place. If you report via a dashboarding tool such as Looker Studio, then this change will make very little difference to you. However, if you often investigate your own analytics, then having easy to navigate KPI focused reports within analytics that are completely tailored to you will be extremely useful. You can have all your different team’s reports in one, easily navigable location. You can organise them so your fundraising team can find and analyse their key information and your communications team know where to find theirs for example.

                            3. Other Explorations

                            Something completely reimagined and heavily requested prior is improvements when seeing user “journeys”. Through explorations within GA4 you are now able to create your visualisations such as funnel and path explorations. Starting with a number of templates you can now easily construct visualisations that let you see information such how many people made it to the end of a petition form and at which points they may have dropped off. You could also select multiple events and construct Ven-diagrams showing information such as what proportion of people signed up to your newsletter were likely to then go on to donate.

                            Example of user journey flow in GA4.

                            A key point to emphasise is that when we say user journey we explicitly are talking about a collection of users. GA4 was built with privacy at the forefront and as such we are able to see segments but never how someone individually moved about your site. In some cases, GA4 may not display any information at all if Google deems your data to be insufficient for anonymity, such as user demographics. This is vital for charities, especially those that may handle particularly sensitive information.

                            4. Consent Mode

                            On the case of privacy, Google still strives to gather as much data as possible, while remaining on the right side of GDPR. One way that this has been done is within Google’s Tag Manager when setting up new GA4 events.

                            GA4 tags now have the ability to use a feature called Consent Mode. Although it is technically still in beta, there is a decent list of Cookie providers that have partnered with Google in order to use Consent Mode. What it does is effectively still track users who decline or, as the newest regulations sate, not accept cookies but does not gather any information that is identifying and as such would not comply with European GDPR laws. This means Google is protecting privacy, whilst still striving to gather as much data as possible.

                            Consent Mode in GA4

                            This will allow for more useful reporting whereby GA4 will estimate metrics based on similar users. This is something many people may already be attempting to do manually if they find their cookies are excluding a large number of users. Furthermore, this will change the cookie acceptance process in Google Tag Manager from a tedious and error prone method of manually changing each individual event’s triggers to a simple checkbox. Far more efficient in both time and money.

                            5. Automatic Anomaly Alerts

                            Finally, we have GA4’s new alerting system. Previously, alerts could be set up if certain metrics dropped or reached certain pre-set values. This is useful to see if your analytics have stopped working, but has no way of identifying potentially if there were anomalies that, however important, may not have been captured. This works on a predictive forecast of what GA4 expects to see on a given day, and if your actual results fall outside of that range then you can set up email alerts so that you are kept in the loop.

                            One of the most useful benefits of GA4 is automatic anomaly alerts.

                            These can be extremely useful to alert you to potential issues with your website, apps or if your conversions have unexpectedly dropped off. It also has the added benefit of being able to notify you when particular pieces of content are exceeding expectations and performing beyond expectations. These insights could be really useful to help influence marketing decisions. In any case, knowing when something isn’t quite right, regardless of the reason behind it, it is never a bad thing to keep on top of your analytics.

                            Bonus Benefit: Enhanced Event Measurement

                            It’s also worth mentioning enhanced event measurement. This allows for basic events to be configured without the need for additional development of GTM work. This can be a big help for charities with less resources or Google Analytics skills. We would always recommend a more customised tracking approach where possible though.

                            These are five of my top benefits of GA4, which are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the fantastic features available to users. Whilst this may be new, different and a little bit intimidating, I truly believe that in the long term, GA4 will be a step forwards in analytics. At its core, it offers greater accuracy, active user insights and has a more user-friendly interface compared to UA.

                            Want to take your GA4 data to the next level?

                            The Charity Digital Benchmark offers UK charities a private dashboard where they can share and learn from each others data in a secure way to the benefit of the whole industry. Members of this private community can share their GA4 analytics data into a central database which fuels an overview dashboard. This data provides a comprehensive overview of key performance metrics for charities compared to others in the industry. Charities can analyse their data by benchmarking against similar organizations based on size or sector, such as ‘animal charities’ or ‘health charities.’  If you want to enquire about signing up – you can find the contact page here.

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                              Chatbots, Generative AI and the Future of Advertising

                              AI and the future of paid media - lead blog image

                              Do Chatbots Dream of Effective Ad Copy?

                              Welcome to our blog, where we explore the realm of generative AI and its potential impact on Google Search Advertising. In this article, we dive into the exciting possibilities that arise when charities embrace this innovative technology to enhance their advertising efforts.

                              Say Hello to Generative AI

                              Generative AI, a field of artificial intelligence focused on creating content, offers a wealth of opportunities for charities looking to engage with their target audience in a unique and compelling way. By leveraging the power of generative AI in Google Search Advertising, charities can create dynamic and personalized ad experiences that resonate with potential supporters.

                              Imagine an ad campaign where every impression is accompanied by a custom-generated message, tailored to the individual user’s interests and preferences. Through generative AI, charities can craft highly relevant and persuasive ad copy that captures attention, inspires action, and drives engagement.

                              How do I know this works? Well, I didn’t write that introduction for starters.

                              Generative AI is probably the fastest moving and most exciting technology in the digital space at the moment. Whilst that may sound like a big claim, I truly believe it. It’s revolutionising the world of content creation, with the capability to generate the content like the above from fairly simple prompts.

                              We’re also going to play a little game in this blog. Sprinkled throughout this blog are going to be batches of commentary generated (using ChatGPT) from prompts I give the software. See if you can work out where they are. For any of you who have somehow avoided the mass amounts of discussion about chatbots, generative AI, and the seismic shifts that these technologies are making in the online world, let me give you a quick primer.

                              Can a Machine Talk like a Human?

                              This question lies at the heart of AI development. The idea has been around for about as long as the concept of AI, and as early as the 1960’s programs that we would now call chatbots were being created (you can try chatting to ELIZA, a programme written in the 1960’s). However, in the last few years, advances in technologies such as neural networks and natural language processing have allowed generative AI to explode in complexity.

                              ChatGPT is currently the frontrunner in this field, but others, such as Google’s Bard, are beginning to have significant time put into them. The reason for this is that these systems are very effective at delivering information to a user in a conversational way. This is a potential goldmine for search engines. With Bing already implementing ChatGPT into its new Bing experience and Google announcing a similar change in the near future with project Magi, you can see that the digital gold rush is well and truly on!

                               

                              Using Chatbots and Generative AI for Ads

                              Why does all of this matter to us search advertisers? Well, we can take advantage of the generative AI built in to chatbots to do some pretty interesting things, which can help us enhance and refine account optimisations and management. This includes:

                              • Using chatbots for keyword research
                              • Using chatbots to generate ad copy
                              • Conducting competitor analysis
                              • Optimisation recommendations for campaign landing pages
                              • Ad extension support

                              Chatbots and Keyword Research

                              Chatbots can assist you in keyword research for Google Ads accounts. Just have a conversation with it, share details about your charity, and ask for keyword suggestions. It can generate relevant keywords, provide insights on variations or trends, and help you refine your keyword strategy.

                              For example, you could ask, “What are some keywords related to our charity’s mission?” It’s like having a virtual brainstorming session to uncover new keyword ideas and optimize your Google Ads campaigns effectively. Let’s give it a go!

                              For this blog, we are going to imagine we are working on the Google Ads account of a charity named Mobility UK, which aims to support those with low mobility around the UK (this charity doesn’t exist, but it will work well for this example).

                              Here’s the prompt:

                              “Our Charity is called Mobility UK. Our mission is to ensure that all people, young or old, are free to move despite of illness, old age or disability. We provide people with the tools and support to enhance their mobility and allow them to live independent lives. What are some keywords related to our charities mission? Provide your answer in the form of a bullet point list.”

                              And here is ChatGPT’s response:

                              ChatGPT output for keyword research for the hypothetical charity, Mobility UK.

                              Those keywords look pretty good to me! These could also work great as Ad Groups, allowing you to use each as a topic to generate new keywords around, for example:

                              “What are some keywords we could use in a google ad group around Accessible Transportation? Provide your answer in a bullet point list with a pirate accent”

                              ChatGPT output for keywords relating to the hypothetical charity Mobility UK written with a pirate accent.

                              The pirate accent is optional.

                              You can repeat this process of picking a keyword and asking for more keywords around that topic as much as you like. Do bear in mind though, if you go too far down the chain the system may start producing some strange results. If you start to see these, it’s a sign that you are at the limit of the Chatbot’s knowledge on the topic.

                              So, we can generate keyword ideas, but what about the ads?

                               

                              Chatbots and Ad Copy

                              Chatbots can assist advertisers in generating copy for Google Ads by providing creative ideas and suggestions. Through interactive conversations, advertisers can discuss their goals, target audience, and key messaging with chatbots. Based on this input, the system can offer alternative phrasings, highlight unique selling points, or propose compelling call-to-action statements.

                              Let’s try the prompt: “Write an ad for Mobility UK for the keyword “Disability Inclusion”

                              Here’s what we get back:

                              ChatGPT output for a prompt asking it to 'write an ad for Mobility UK for the keyword 'Disability inclusion'".

                              The copy itself is good, but this isn’t going to fit to a Google Ad. Lets try refining our prompt:

                              “Write an ad for Google Search for the keyword “Disability Inclusion” with 2 headlines and 2 descriptions. Each headline can be 30 characters including spaces maximum, and each description can be 90 characters including spaces”

                              ChatGPT output for an ad copy request, including parameters such as number of headlines, descriptions and character limits.

                              These don’t look too bad! But when we take a closer look, there are some issues. The big one is that headline 2 is 1 character over the limit, at 31 characters, including spaces. Is the AI gaining sentience, and deciding to go over the limit? Let’s ask it:

                              “Headline 2 is 31 characters long, are you beginning to gain free will and decided to write the headline longer than the limit?”

                              ChatGPT output when asked if it has gained sentience by not adhering to the character limit set out in the previous prompt. This output demonstrates a limitation of AI in adhering to clear instructions.That’s the same headline. It’s not self-aware, it’s just really stupid…

                              This is a known issue with Generative AI at the moment. It seems to find it very hard to stick to exact character limits. The best options we have found to work around this is to ask the system to generate 10-15 headlines and cut the ones that end up above the character limit.

                              You can also give it existing ad copy to suggest alternates to:

                              “Can you suggest 3 headlines, of 30 characters or less including spaces, that you would suggest testing against the headline “Mobility For All””

                              ChatGPT alternative headlines to test against keyword 'mobility for all'.

                              These are even all within the character limit!

                               

                              Chatbots and Competitor Analysis

                              So, who are we going to be putting these AI generated ads up against? Who better to ask than the AI:

                              “What are the biggest UK competitors to Mobility UK? Present your answer in a list, with the website and why they are a great company”

                              ChatGPT output listing competitor websites for the hypothetical charity Mobility UK, including unique selling points for each company and why they are considered great.

                              These all look quite relevant! You might think that the query around why the companies are great is a comedic touch, but it’s a good way to have the AI summarise it’s best guess at that company’s USP’s.

                              So we’ve covered the keywords, structure, ads and competitors. Surely there’s not much else that an AI can do for us, right?

                               

                              Landing Page Optimisation

                              Landing page optimization involves enhancing the performance and effectiveness of your landing pages to achieve better conversion rates and user engagement, whether it’s improving the layout, content, call-to-action, or overall user experience.

                              Let’s see if the chatbot can help us here. Unfortunately Mobility UK doesn’t have a website to test this, on account of being made up, but we can try it for Uprise Up’s own site

                              “What changes can be made to improve the conversion rate performance of this page: https://upriseup.co.uk/paid-media/google-ad-grant/ for google ads”

                              ChatGPT output when asked to optimise the Google Ad Grants service page on the Uprise Up website

                              This is a lot of information! Some of these points are generic, and show up every time, but they are still all good suggestions for improving a page, It’s even given some specific call to action suggestions to test. But surely that’s everything chatbots can help us with. Surely there’s no further extension of this support, right?

                               

                              Ad Extension Support

                              Ad extensions can be a time-consuming task in large accounts. Let’s see if ChatGPT can help us with this for the same ad grant page we looked at in the previous example.

                              “Can you produce a set of Sitelink extensions for the same page, making sure the pages come from the same site”

                              ChatGPT output when requested to produce a set of Sitelink extensions for the same page in the previous example.

                              Once again, we’re likely to not get usable descriptions here, but the pages it suggested are all relevant, and are going to save us time over working them out ourselves.

                              What about callouts? No Problem

                              “Create 5 callouts for the page, no more than 20 characters each. For each, write a line that rhymes with the callout”

                              ChatGPT outputs when requested to create rhyming page callouts.

                              I don’t think AI will be putting poets out of a job any time soon. Terrible rhymes aside, the callouts here are relevant, and would be a good baseline to start your account with.

                               

                              Limitations of AI in Advertising

                              You might think that the pirate accents or the poems were purely for fun. However,  they show quite clearly that there are limitations on what these systems can currently give us. Pirate accents are easy, but poetry? Poetry it finds very hard. In a similar way, there are elements of Google Ads that the AI finds very difficult to manage.

                              We’ve already seen character limits be a difficult aspect of ad copy creation, but something we haven’t touched on is how these generative AI systems sometimes have a loose understanding of the truth. There’s even a disclaimer on the ChatGPT console about this:

                              “Free Research Preview. ChatGPT may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts.”

                              This is potentially very dangerous, especially in the charity sector where the topics being discussed are often delicate and false information could be very damaging. Similarly, in keyword research, we’ve found certain prompts where the AI has provided completely irrelevant search terms. This varies client to client and means that you should check every keyword list generated by these systems.

                              Final Thoughts on AI and the Future of Advertising

                              AI may not be ready to take over the world, but its getting pretty close to taking over marketing. Even in the process of writing this blog, Google announced a raft of new generative AI implementations into multiple marketing channels. These systems are still simply tools, however, and like any tool requires skill to operate well. Like it or not, as marketers it is going to be important to learn how to use these tools to adapt to the new world we are rapidly approaching.

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                                New DV360 Fee: 2% fee on all UK Served Ads

                                The exterior of a Google building with trees and grass in the foreground - DV360 2% fee blog lead image

                                Google Introduces 2% Fee on DV360 Ads Served in the UK

                                Google announced earlier this month that additional fees will now be added for Display Video 360 (DV360) ads serving in specific countries. More specifically, a ‘Digital Service Tax’ (DST) 2% surcharge will be added for ads served in the UK.

                                If you’re unfamiliar, Digital Service Tax was actually introduced by the government (back in April 2020) designed to tax on the revenues of search engines, social media services and online marketplaces. Disappointingly at the time, but somewhat unsurprisingly, Google simply passed this cost onto their customers.

                                You might be asking “did Google not already do this back in 2020?!”, and you would be correct.

                                However, this was only added onto the Google Ads platform initially. We discussed this in detail at the time and raised questions about whether Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing) and Social Networks would follow suit. Fortunately this did not happen.

                                Yet, what most people hadn’t considered at the time, was whether this would be rolled out to alternative advertising products from Google’s Marketing Platform. Like DV360…

                                Our advice remains the same as before. Costs within the DV360 platform will remain the same, and the fee will be added on top. This therefore needs to be factored in when planning budgets. Furthermore, if your total campaign budget remains the same, this does mean media spend on the platform will need to reduce, which means the possibility of reduced traffic and conversions as a result. 

                                If you have any questions about this new DV360 fee and how it may impact you, you can email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk or send us a tweet @upriseUPSEM.

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                                  Above the Fold Content for Charities

                                  Above the fold blog lead image

                                  Get to know your above the fold

                                  How much do you think about your above the fold content? When developing pages for your site, do you consider the above the fold vs below the fold split? If it’s an area you’ve not considered in too much detail, then here is our introduction to above the fold content, and why you should be looking at it.

                                   

                                  A description of where 'above the fold' originated as a phrase, with the title highlighted in orange.

                                  What is above the fold content?

                                  Above the fold content includes everything that you can see on your screen as soon as a webpage loads. Any content that isn’t visible when the page first loads and requires the audience to scroll to be seen, is labelled as below the fold content.

                                  ‘Above the fold’ is a concept that originated in printed media with newspapers. Historically, newspapers were usually sold folded in half, showing the headline story. This meant when the customers viewed the different newspapers, they weren’t showing all stories – just the top half of the front page.

                                  In digital content, the ‘fold’ of the newspaper is the bottom of the screen; anything that falls below that screen edge is deemed below the fold.

                                   

                                  Why does above the fold content matter?

                                  Above the fold content is the first thing your audience see when a page loads, making it core real estate on any page. From an SEO perspective, we know search engines expect the most important content to be at the top of a page too. It’s also important to consider how this content impacts user’s experiences on your site.  The content you include above the fold needs to be eye catching and able to immediately grab your audience’s interest.

                                  It’s been a mass reported trend that user attention spans are shrinking. With so much content available at user’s fingertips, only to be inflated with the growing volume of rapidly generated AI content, attention spans are becoming shorter to help user’s filter through the noise.

                                  What’s more, a user can form an opinion on your charity’s site after 1 second of seeing it. Just 1 second. That’s not a lot of time, so your page needs to work hard and work fast to engage the minds and hearts of your audience.

                                   

                                  What do you typically see above the fold for charities?

                                  For most charities, you will see some common themes in above the fold assets. This will include:

                                  • Charity branding elements (logo, fonts and colours)
                                  • Navigation menu, which may include donate or shop buttons
                                  • Main Header
                                  • Lead imagery, whether it be a banner image or side image

                                  Often, above the fold content is kept simple and minimal with the elements listed above. Sometimes though, charities may also wish to include a short sentence or two of text to give users more context about the page when they first land on it. Additionally, if your charity has other visual assets, such as emotive videos, you may wish to opt for these instead of images.

                                  What should charities consider when designing above the fold content?

                                  When it comes to the performance of above the fold content, AB testing is key. Trial out different above the fold designs and actions to see which ones your audience responds best to! We have provided some questions below to help you brainstorm the best content when trialling different above the fold designs for individual pages or templates.

                                  Is there a clear action?

                                  Do you have a clear action you want your audience to take when they land on the page? If so, you can include it above the fold! Websites that include CTAs above the fold have found they have higher conversion rates than those that don’t.

                                  Take the Royal Voluntary Service’s homepage for example; the above the fold is bright, engaging and has a clear objective with a CTA inviting their audience to learn more about the coronation champions awards 2023. By including this CTA at the top it is one of the first things users see on the page, which gives them a clear next step on their journey.

                                  Royal Voluntary Service homepage above the fold content highlighting the coronation champion awards 2023.

                                  Does it engage your audience?

                                  Above the fold content should be engaging; in fact it should be the most engaging part of the page. The content at the top of your page should have a clear focus that is supported by the content below the fold. You want it to be easy to use, relevant and to help meet your audiences needs right from the start, to increase the likelihood of users staying on the page.

                                  Some charities don’t include enough information above the fold, meaning that user’s don’t connect with the content and will bounce off the site in search of something more engaging. On the other hand, some charities go the other way and try to fit way too much information into this area. This failure to prioritise the true purpose and actions wanted from a specific page can also have a bad impact, overwhelming your audience and making it hard to understand what they should do.

                                  A good example

                                  Take the above the fold for Dementia UK’s homepage. As a charity focussing on providing nursing support to both individuals with dementia and those supporting them, they have opted for a topical and relevant angle with their above the fold. As soon as you land on the homepage you are immediately presented with a link to their page on admiral nursing support – information many people will be seeking on the site. The relevancy of this link means many users that land on the homepage will engage with it.

                                  The Dementia UK homepage, which presents a link for users to discover more about admiral nursing support for individuals with dementia.

                                   

                                  Top tip: We recommend keeping above the fold content focused on your organisation. Whilst it may feel tempting to link to external sites, especially if they provide relevant information, overall, this will result in your audience landing on a page only to be immediately be directed off-site. Instead, you can include references to external sites below the fold as part of the pages supporting information. Use the prime real estate at the top of the page to showcase what your own charity provides!

                                  Does it contribute to your objectives?

                                  Your above the fold content should aim to help meet your charity’s objectives and KPIs. Whether you want donations, volunteers or fundraising event sign ups, the content at the top of your page should contribute to your targets.

                                  The objective you focus on will differ depending on the page you’re reviewing. For example, if a user has landed on on of you blog pages, a CTA offering them the opportunity to sign up to your charity’s newsletter may be more likely to convert than a hard CTA asking for donations. Considering the type of information your user will be consuming on that particular page and how far along they will be in the conversion funnel will help guide the choice of CTA you may want to place above the fold to meet specific objectives.

                                  Does it look good on all device types?

                                  Don’t forget to consider how this content looks on different device. Where the fold falls on a page will always differ slightly, depending on whether users visit your charity on mobile or desktop and taking into account different screen sizes  However, with sites deploying responsive designs, where that ‘fold’ falls on sites is roughly the same across desktop and mobile layouts of a page.

                                   

                                  Final thoughts

                                  User’s will only scroll down a page if they feel there is a good reason to. When user’s see a lack of valuable information, they will stop scrolling. If your content above the fold doesn’t succeed in capturing user attention, there’s a high chance they’ll exit your site and bounce back to the search results. So it’s an area you need to get right.

                                  Hopefully the insights above have given you some good starting points for you to begin optimising your own charity’s above the fold content – we’d love to see some of your examples in the comments below!

                                  Looking for love at first *web-sight*?

                                  Have a chat with us about how you can refresh your above the fold content to enhance SEO and user engagement on your site! You can email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk or visit our contact page to drop us a message – we can’t wait to hear from you.

                                   

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                                    Google’s Performance Max Campaigns: The Need to Knows

                                    Robot hand holding up a tablet with a lightbulb, representing machine learning in Performance Max campaigns

                                    Performance Max or Mad Max?

                                    Recently, there has been a concerted effort by Google to move Paid Media advertisers towards more automated solutions, from bidding strategies to responsive search ads. One element of this automated push is the Performance Max campaign type. Google claims that this campaign is the crowning achievement of automation; it’s able to perform complex advertising tasks with minimal input and produce strong results for advertisers. We therefore want to give you the inside scoop on what a Performance Max campaign is, how it works, and share our initial impressions are after testing them ourselves.

                                     

                                    What is a Performance Max campaign?

                                    Performance Max campaigns are essentially a merging of many of the different “smart” campaigns that previously existed in the Google Ads system. It allows an advertiser to combine search, display, video and shopping in a single campaign, which will utilise those channels to try and maximise results. Depending on the creative you supply to the campaign some of these channels may not be used (video requires video creative for example).

                                    Additionally, many of the smart campaigns previously mentioned, such as smart shopping and smart video, no longer exist. The only way to advertise on these channels in an automated manner is through Performance Max.

                                     

                                    How Does a Performance Max Campaign Work?

                                    Asset groups are at the core of performance max campaigns. These are assets that you supply to the campaign to use in advertising. This includes text, such as headlines and descriptions, images, videos and product feeds.

                                    Table of asset groups for performance max campaigns

                                    These are then mixed and matched to create the ads used by the campaign. For example, an image might be combined with a headline and a call to action to create a display ad.

                                    Very recently, internal documents from Google suggested that they were testing using generative AI to change your submitted asset groups based on audience signals. This is very new tech, and likely won’t be implemented for months, if at all, but keep a close eye on this. If it does get implemented, it may mean that your asset groups become more of a suggestion than a rule.

                                    In addition to asset groups, you can add targeting options such as audiences to the campaign. You cannot manually set bid adjustments on these audiences, but any audiences added will be used by the campaign to optimise performance.

                                    Once your campaign is live, rather than seeing results broken down to individual keywords or ads, you will be viewing the insight page:

                                    Screengrab of the performance max campaign insights page

                                    These insights will change depending on the data of your specific campaign, but they will always be broken into aggregated buckets, such as the search term report above. Don’t expect to be drilling into the data in the same fashion as you would in a manual campaign.

                                    It’s important to note that advertisers cannot manually bid using Performance Max campaigns – you must use one of the available automated bidding strategies. The amount of granular data and targeting options available to you will be less than a manually ran campaign (for example, you will not have as much search term data as you would from a manual paid search campaign).

                                     

                                    Our First Impressions

                                    From our tests, Performance Max campaigns had a rocky start. Initially, results didn’t seem to be able to compete with manually managed campaigns. However, as is often the case with new Google Ads features, after around a year of development the system appears to have improved significantly. Now, they have reached the point where a well-managed performance max campaign can at least equal manual control, whilst saving on the need to do granular management.

                                    On the surface, Performance Max campaigns inhabit a strange spot in the Google Ecosystem, requiring large amounts of preparation to set up, but low amounts of time to manage. However, we found that significant changes needed to be made before any of our campaigns were performing similarly to manual campaigns. Do not treat these as a set and forget solution to marketing, they still need optimisation on a manual level.

                                    We also found that Performance Max campaigns don’t necessarily suit all advertisers and may only fit best for certain scenarios. So, let’s dive in to who these campaigns are for, and some strategies to maximise their effectiveness.

                                     

                                    Who Are Performance Max Campaigns For?

                                    The first key requirement for running a Performance Max campaign is that you must be an advertiser wanting to run ads over multiple channels. Although you can run a Performance Max campaign through a single channel, we have found that performance is never as good as manually running a single channel campaign.

                                    Performance Max campaigns also require enough data to optimise it’s algorithm, like any machine learning solution. We wouldn’t recommend Performance Max campaigns for advertisers with a tight, minimal budget, as you won’t be able to provide the data necessary to feed the algorithm to achieve effective learning. Once again, manual campaigns would be the better option for you.

                                    If you are an advertiser willing to run over multiple channels and are happy to push a reasonable amount of spend through your campaign, you’re ready to go! Let’s move on to how to make these campaigns shine.

                                     

                                    Tips for Successful Performance Max Campaigns

                                     

                                    A Well Fed Algorithm is a Happy Algorithm

                                    The single most important factor in Performance Max success is ensuring that you are giving the algorithm as much data as you possibly can. This starts with asset groups.

                                    Making sure you are adding as many assets here as possible is a vital step in ensuring performance. The more assets added to the campaign, the more variations of ads the campaign will be able to test, and the more optimised the ads will become.

                                    Similarly, the more targeting options you can give to the algorithm, the better it will be at targeting the most relevant users. Things like locations and audience definitions should be included, even if you’re not looking to target those segments specifically. If the Performance Max campaign sees that users from these segments convert more readily, it will target them, but if they do not it will ignore them. The important thing is to give the campaign this lever to pull.

                                     

                                    Organisation Still Matters

                                    Although a Performance Max campaign says it can run all your activity through one campaign, that doesn’t mean you should let it. We’ve found that performance Max campaigns have a tendency to just focus on the top performing products or audience segments in its targeting, often completely ignoring others. This is fine if those other options are not performing well, but often they were performing just fine.

                                    The solution to this is to operate using multiple Performance Max campaigns, splitting out your targeting and ensuring that you are not condensing your spend into a few sets of targeting options.

                                    This also helps with tailoring creative. You only have a certain number of creatives you can add per campaign. Often you won’t have a one size fits all creative for your ads. Splitting your campaigns up can also allow you to tailor images and text in a similar way to ad groups in manual campaigns.

                                     

                                    Take Advantage of the Insights Tab

                                    The insight tab is the one window you get into the inner workings of your Performance Max campaign, and it’s critical to monitor it if you want to maximise your performance. Early on in a campaign’s life, this can be a great way to identify issues with the types of targeting the campaign is doing, whether that is audience segments, search terms or creative combinations. You should be able to nip these in the bud before they become a big issue.

                                    Later on, the insights tab can show you any changes in the targeting, as the campaign reacts to shifts in the environment, or to new assets being added. Make sure to check in on this tab every few weeks, it will often have new information to show you.

                                     

                                    Final Thoughts

                                    Performance Max campaigns are, at least at the moment, not for everyone. They require a level of investment, both in media spend and in creative creation, that some users may not be able to supply. However, for the users who can support such an investment, they appear to be a viable alternative to traditional campaigns when managed well.

                                    We’re still not fully comfortable with many of our normal optimisation tools being taken from us, but it is difficult to ignore that this seems to be the future of Google’s advertising efforts. Optimisation is shifting from directly improving performance to improving the data fed in to machine learning, which will end up with more conversions at the other end. Whether or not Performance Max is the final form of this sort of system is yet to be seen, but it is worth at least testing if they can work for you, because it very well might be.

                                     

                                    Want to Experiment with Performance Max Campaigns?

                                    Are you interested in trying out Performance Max campaigns for your charity? We’d love to help you! Send us a message on our contact page or email hello@upriseup.co.uk and we can have a chat about whether Performance Max campaigns are right for you, and how you can get the most out of them.

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                                      The Cookie Banner: A Cookie Explainer Series

                                      Cookies resting on top of an i-pad on a table which reads 'Cookie Banners'.

                                      The Cookie Banner Blog

                                      This blog is part of a series about maximising data insights from your website whilst still ensuring you respect people’s tracking desires (whether they choose to be tracked or not). In our first installment, we’re taking a look at the first stage of cookie acceptance. This includes the most common thing users typically think of when it comes to controlling how they are tracked online – cookie banners.

                                      Any recommendations, suggestions or ideas within this blog should be consulted past your designated organisations GDPR specialist before implementation, to ensure they are appropriate for you and your organisation.

                                       

                                      What is a Cookie Consent Banner?

                                      A cookie banner is a notification that displays on your website which informs users about the cookies being used on your website, which gives them the option to provide consent before you deploy tracking cookies.

                                      We will cover how banners can work correctly (or not as is so often the case) in a later blog. For now, we’re keeping things simple and light! We’ll discuss what its function is, how it can aid users in their consent choice, and how your company can aid users in understanding the importance of cookies.

                                      Please be aware that any installation of a banner which is connected to cookie consent will have an impact on your data. This can massively vary depending on how the banner is installed and its function. Within this blog we approach this as marketers and strategists trying to maximise the data you can obtain for your marketing. 

                                      Cookie Banner Examples

                                      The Function of the Banner 

                                      Cookie consent starts with one key decision: Ask users to opt-in or give them the ability to opt-out. Whichever method is the best one for your organisation, the first interaction users have with the cookie banner is crucial. It needs to be clear to the user what their options are (and if available) what non-interaction means.

                                      It’s essential to consider the impact of cookie banners on your website data. If you are asking users to opt-in to tracking, they will not do so if there isn’t a sense of trust between you and the user. So consider everything you can do to encourage users to opt-in, including emphasising the benefit to you as a charity. This helps to build trust between you and the user. There is nothing worse than a hard opt-in, but a soft banner.

                                      The Design and Placement

                                      The design and placement of your banner can have a substantial impact on the data you collect. Typically, there are three main ways website’s implement a cookie consent banner. Below we discuss the pros and cons of each:

                                      Banner at the edge of the page with opt-in/opt-out buttons. 

                                      • Advantage: Least disruptive to the user experience.
                                      • Negative: Has the lowest un-promoted interactive, leading to greater data loss. It can also lead to tainting data due to people iterating later after the attribution has gone.

                                      Sticky banner pop-up banner with opt-in and opt-out buttons.

                                      • Advantage: Forces the confirmation of the users cookie preferences as they have to select to opt-in or opt-out before engaging with the website. It provides the least risk on data issues.
                                      • Negative: Could lead users to leave the site as they don’t want to engage with a cookie banner.

                                      Cookie consent pop-up with granular cookie management options.

                                      • Advantage: Gives the user full control over their cookie preferences, with the ability to manage individual categories immediately.
                                      • Negative: ICO specifically references that you should not be using pre-ticked options for non-essential cookies. Having too many options can also be overwhelming for the user, and may lead to people leaving the site.

                                      The impact of the banners placement and design will be tenfold if you are asking users to opt-in to cookie consent. When a user ignores or does not see the banner, then you lose the opportunity to gain that insight. If your site asks users to opt-in, consider having a pop-up which restricts access to the website until the user confirms their preferences:

                                      Screenshot of the cookie banner in place on the Royal Voluntary Service website.
                                      Example of cookie banner placement and website access restrictions.

                                       

                                      Wording of Cookie Banner Text

                                      We’ve all been to sites where the trust immediately leaves your body as soon as you hit enter. The first impression you give users is vital to creating and maintaining a positive interaction, with the aim of developing a long-term relationship.

                                      One of the first interactions a user has with your website is the cookie banner. This should clearly explain what it is, what its purpose is and what the benefit is to the user of confirming their preference.

                                      Too much jargon here and you risk scaring off the non-tech savvy. On the other hand, if you don’t provide enough information, people will assume you’re being deliberately vague. It’s best to keep things simple:

                                      • Explain what this pop-up is for
                                      • Make the users’ available choices clear
                                      • Provide the benefits to both you (as an organisation) and the user of them accepting cookies.
                                      • Ask them to confirm their choices
                                      • Provide details of how they can adjust their choices in the future.

                                      It’s also important to make it clear what entities of your site they are opting in for cookie tracking. Most people will assume that their preference will be respected across any mini-sites, sub domains or any other websites your organisation owns. 

                                      They may acquiesce to a request to re-confirm their choices on one of these sites, they will not accept their previous choice being ignored entirely.

                                       

                                      Test, Test, Test

                                      The above is not a black and white, one-size-fits-all methodology. You need to factor in your organisations data privacy policies and requirements, as well as your own individual audiences’ needs.

                                      You should be looking to continuously improve on your cookie opt-in uptake, and supporting users in understanding the importance of cookies. This isn’t about coercion, it’s about education.

                                      Some key things to test:

                                      1. The wording, and phrasing of the banner. Tweak how you describe cookies and monitor the impact on your cookie opt-in. How does it impact Opt-in if you provide more specific detail versus more generic descriptions?
                                      2. The colours used in the banner. Does aligning with the theme of the website work better than more traditional traffic light colours?
                                      3. The interactions available on-site without interacting with the banner. What impact does completely removing interaction have, versus allowing scrolling but no clicking?

                                      There’s many more elements to test, and allow you to continuously improve your data collection, once you’ve done these why not start back at number one and test some new phraseology. 

                                       

                                      What’s next?

                                      That’s it for Cookie’s part #1: the banner. Next we get a bit more technical about the impact of the banner on your tracking (including some admittedly scary numbers). We’ll explore: 

                                      • The immediate impact a banner can have on performance
                                      • How to use platform data to understand your data-loss
                                      • Why you might see direct/(none) traffic jump!
                                      • … Or worse direct/(none) become your top converter!
                                      • Other common mistakes and pitfalls

                                      In the meantime if you have enjoyed the read please hit the like button, and if you have any comments, questions or queries please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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                                        Project Magi: Google’s Plans to Compete with AI Rivals

                                        Project Magi - Lead Blog Image

                                        Can Google Bring the Magic with Project Magi?

                                        Google recently announced plans for a brand-new search engine and further development of search features, with the aim to provide a more tailored user experience to their current search engine under Project Magi.

                                         

                                        A New Google Search Engine?

                                        Google has announced that it is in the process of building a brand-new search engine using the power of its new AI technology. This new search engine will look to give users a more personalized experience than we currently have when searching on Google.

                                        Once again, Google intends to get ahead of the competition and set the future for search with a new personalised searching experience which aims to truly understand what the users want to know, based on searching habits. There will be an addition of preselected options for things to purchase, information for research and other elements.

                                        There haven’t been any timelines or further information regarding the new search engine releases as of yet. So for now, SEOs should focus on optimising their site for Google as we know it. We would definitely suggest keeping an eye out for developing updates in the near future though.

                                         

                                        Google’s Project Magi

                                        As well as the announcement of a new search engine, Google also said they are making updates to add new features to the current search engine.

                                        Magi’s main project will focus on users purchasing products/services by allowing users to complete these normal financial transactions all whilst still being served paid ads.

                                        Search engine land have listed other Google projects being developed under project Magi such as:

                                        • Google Earth’s mapping technology with help from AI and search for music through a conversation with a chatbot.
                                        • GIFI would use AI to generate images in Google Image results.
                                        • Tivoli Tutor, would teach users a new language through open-ended AI text conversations.
                                        • Searchalong, would let users ask a chatbot questions while surfing the web through Google’s Chrome browser.

                                        What does Google have to say?

                                        Lara Levine, a Google spokesperson had said to the New York Times, “We’ve been bringing AI to Google Search for years to not only dramatically improve the quality of our results, but also introduce entirely new ways to search, such as Lens and multisearch. We’ve done so in a responsible and helpful way that maintains the high bar we set for delivering quality information. Not every brainstorm deck or product idea leads to a launch, but as we’ve said before, we’re excited about bringing new AI-powered features to Search, and will share more details soon.”

                                        For now, we’d recommend optimising our site for current search ensuring you keep content and user experience at the forefront of your SEO strategy. It’s important to keep an eye out for further developments. As Lara Levine said, these are only ideas currently, and not every idea leads to a launch.

                                         

                                        Want to prepare your SEO strategy for the future of search?

                                        The SEO industry is constantly changing, with new search trends emerging year by year. If you want to prepare your charity for future search trends, we’d love to help you! Take a look at the benefits of ongoing SEO management or email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk for a friendly chat.

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                                          To B or not to B: Our B Corp Certification Journey

                                          B Corp Certification Blog - Lead Image

                                          Achieving B Corp Certification

                                          One day, back in lockdown in 2020, our Owner & MD John asked me to research whether Uprise Up could potentially become a B Corp. He had heard lots of positive things being said about B Corp Certification. We’d also been feeling the buzz (pardon the pun) about the movement from others in the marketing agency sector. And so began our journey into the world of B Corp!

                                          What is B Corp?

                                          The B stands for Benefit and it is a global movement to reinvent capitalism so that it works not just for shareholders but also for workers, communities and the environment. B Corp is working hard to change the very bedrock of business globally.

                                          Since starting in 2006, the movement has really grown. It’s amazing to be part of a community which spans 75 countries, with over 1,200 B Corps in the UK alone. London is actually the B Corp capital of the world!

                                          Uprise Up only works with socially positive organisations, most of whom are charities, with the purpose of making the world a better place. We were immediately struck by what we felt was a natural fit. This was even before we had explored the movement further and understood all the benefits of B Corp certification.

                                          The B Corp Certification Process

                                          Becoming a B Corp is a tough process. But, we believe that this rigorous assessment is fundamentally why it works.

                                          When a company becomes B Corp certified, both you and they know that they’re standing shoulder to shoulder with companies meeting high standards for social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Meeting this standard pushes businesses to really challenge themselves and create a more substantial positive impact for employees, customers, the wider community and the planet.

                                          The information required throughout is hefty and the scale of the project means companies must take it seriously. It’s a time investment for prospective B Corp certified businesses, with financial investments also being needed along the way.

                                          Stage 1: Completing the B Impact Assessment

                                          The first step on our B Corp journey was completing the B Impact Assessment. This is available for anyone to sign up to and fill out online. The assessment measures your impact in several areas, including:

                                          • Governance
                                          • Workers
                                          • Community
                                          • Environment
                                          • Customers

                                          Key impact areas that B Corp companies focus on enhancing

                                          Companies that hit the magic score of 80 points or more care eligible to begin an application.

                                          For us, the assessment highlighted areas where we could improve the company. We found there were some opportunities to improve in every area. Some suggestions were larger and would require more time and resources to enhance. Others were smaller and simpler to improve. In some cases, simply creating more awareness within the company was a step in the right direction.

                                          A few things we reflected on after this initial assessment included:

                                          • Ownership and staffing of the company. This focused on ensuring we are operating fairly and considering equity, diversity and inclusion.
                                          • Our carbon footprint. Our offices used to be a old Victorian teddy bear factory! Whilst full of character, the building’s age makes energy efficiency a challenge. So,l we started work with our landlord to find ways to make improvements.
                                          • Our human resources policies and identifying what else we could put in place.
                                          • Our suppliers. Taking the time to ensure we are purchasing ethically, and considering the social and environmental impact of our suppliers.

                                          It was great to see that there were many areas we were already doing well for. Helping socially positive organisations and charities if at the heart of our organisation, so we  scored particularly well for the Customers section. Still, since the company was born in 2011, we’ve continually been making great strides to improve how we operate, especially for our staff. So, in some instances it was simply a case of tidying up processes and making small adjustments.

                                          Useful Resources

                                          If you are thinking of embarking on the same path and are looking for further information, we found the best place to start was B Corp’s UK website. They have loads of useful information about the movement, community and application process.

                                          Stage 2: Making Improvements

                                          Once we had undertaken the initial assessment, the next stage was prioritising and implementing improvements to enhance the company. Not a small task – and often easier said than done! But we persevered, and with time, made the necessary changes so we could then submit our application.

                                          The Big Plastic Count - monitoring our plastic usage in office and at home
                                          To help increase awareness about our environmental impact as a company, we took part in The Big Plastic Count. Click on the image above to discover more about the event and the lessons we learnt.

                                          Stage 3: Application Review

                                          We submitted our B Corp certification application in March 2022. This then underwent several reviews by members of the B Corp team and including the submission of several corroborating documents. The whole of the process took several months to complete.

                                          Stage 4: Certification Achieved

                                          It took us a year from our initial application, but we are extremely proud to announce that we achieved our B Corp certification in March 2023 Our final score was a (very impressive we like to think) 105.9!

                                          The Benefits of B Corp Certification

                                          One of our company values is to ‘relentlessly pursue continuous improvement’ and this element of the B Corp movement really aligns for us. We’re doing well enough to be B Corp certified and we’re incredibly proud, but it doesn’t stop there.

                                          Each year we’ll be required to write a B Impact improvement report and recertify every 3 years. It’s also worth highlighting that there are currently plans in the pipeline at B Corp for changes to the certification process. This will help to make sure B Corps are all performing at their very best.

                                          Being B Corp certified is certainly going to affect positive change for us. It’s a driving force to make things even better for our employees, our community, and the environment.

                                          Many of our new joiners are aware of B Corp and its benefits through their studies. We believe we are a great company to work for and our B Corp certification certainly gives that rubber stamp. We’re looking forward to all our staff getting involved personally by joining online B Corp communities and groups too. Our new certified status will also help our clients, and be seen as a positive sign by procurement departments.

                                          B Corps own research data indicates that B Corp businesses in the UK outperform their non B Corp counterparts, including seeing a faster growth in annual turnover. All whilst being a ‘force for good’ and having a positive impact on employees, customers and the planet.

                                          What’s Next?

                                          Whilst we’re only at the start of our journey for us it’s already been worth it. We’re excited for the future as we are committed to improving our performance and are confident we can take things further.

                                          Work With Us

                                          If you are a charity looking for a responsible, data-driven digital media agency, we’d love to hear from you! You can either contact us with an enquiry or take a look at the digital media services we offer. If you like the sound of our company, and want to work as part of our award winning team getting up in the morning to make a real difference, you can also take a look at available roles on our careers page.

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                                            Lessons from Christmas Paid Media Campaigns 2022

                                            Desk full of paid media reporting documents representing lessons learnt from Christmas Paid Media Campaigns in 2022.

                                            What have we learnt from Christmas Paid Media Campaigns?

                                            A few months have passed since our Christmas fundraising campaigns and appeals have ended. Now the dust has settled, we’re taking a step back to review how well they’ve performed and what lessons we can take. From campaign design and technical set-up to best-practice ‘pre-campaign’ processes, we’ve shared our findings to help charities with their festive fundraising appeals. 

                                            We know many charities struggled with generating digital donations during the 2022 Christmas period, especially on platforms like Facebook. We were no exception to this trend and had to work exceptionally hard and innovate to achieve the results we did. That’s why we wanted to share our lessons with you, to help enhance your future campaigns. Whilst it may feel early to be considering 2023 Christmas campaigns, now is actually the ideal time to start having initial conversations. Getting a good head-start in the planning process is key to getting the most out of the crucial period.

                                            2022 Christmas Campaign Results:

                                            Overall, we had a wide range of results. We’ve sampled some of these below using anonymised client data. The below graph contains the Facebook and Instagram campaigns we worked on (in addition to 1 Display campaign, E) plotted next to their target Cost Per Acquisition/Donation (CPA). 

                                            Paid Social Campaigns Performance (*Not adjusted for cookie/data loss)

                                            Graph displaying target CPAs and actual CPAs for client Christmas paid media campaigns*Black lines indicate the CPA when adjusted for cookie data loss.

                                            Notes: There are of course, some big caveats. The sample above covers a wide-range of charity causes, charity size, different levels of spend, slightly different timings, and even promoted different fundraising products, e.g. single donations, monthly donations and sponsorships. The main purpose of the graph though, is to illustrate the huge range in CPA, despite operating within a very similar timeframe, industry and overall approach. Bearing this in mind, the breadth of results seen is a learning in itself.

                                            We’ve also included Paid Search performance below, using Return-On-Ad-Spend (ROAS) which again show a wide range of results. All of these were above their targets, and all but 1 were a positive ROAS. 

                                            Paid Search Campaigns Performance (*Not adjusted for cookie/data loss)

                                            Graph showing target ROAS and actual ROAS for client Christmas paid media campaigns 2022

                                            Top Lessons

                                            Cookie/data loss

                                            The first thing we want to highlight is the impact of cookie and data loss. Limited data sets impact machine-learnt optimisation for ads, which ultimately has a negative effect on overall performance. It also has the potential to drastically change the overall reported results. 

                                            This is most notable with Clients B and C, which had the strictest cookie policies. When we added this data ‘back in’, by comparing platform clicks vs Analytics sessions, as well reviewing the CRM data – their CPAs halved. This massively changes the narrative, highlighting the importance of reviewing all available data before making decisions and drawing conclusions. 

                                            High Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

                                            CPC’s were generally higher than usual across all Meta Ads campaigns, not just fundraising, whereas conversion rates were still strong (and in-line with our projections). This suggests that even if your targeting and strategy are successful at gaining conversions, it’s costing you twice as much to secure the site traffic. A number of factors outside of advertisers control have impacted this:

                                            1. The Winter World Cup brought more advertisers, with large budgets into an already saturated marketplace. 
                                            2. Opportunities for more granular targeting have decimated over the last year. This has caused target audiences to be broadened and an increase in competition due to more charities entering the same auctions.
                                            3. Tightening budgets, which has seen things such as new creative being dropped. Reusing old creative, without variation, can lead to a poor click-through-rate (CTR). In turn, this increase the CPC Facebook wants you to pay.

                                            Paid Search Success

                                            As you can see from the above graphs, Paid Search has continued to be a top-performer. It’s the channel to use as a foundation for any acquisition campaign.

                                            We recommend capitalising on the optimisation opportunities by using Google Search Ads 360 (the premium level of Google Ads). Its utilisation of Google’s Floodlight Tracking improves automated bidding strategies, attribution and reporting. 

                                            Paid Search can also ensure you capture users who have been triggered by your other advertising (such as OOH, Radio or Display Ads).

                                            Recommendations

                                            Enhance Technical set-up

                                            We have discussed many of the below points in our previous blog about rising Facebook CPAs (we’d definitely recommend giving this a read for more in depth insights). The key takeaways, are:

                                            • Include a range of creatives (formats, style and messaging) to test across the campaigns duration. Don’t limit yourself to newsfeed placements. You should also ensure you include Christmas-specific messaging, especially in the run-up to Christmas eve.
                                            • Avoid changes and duplication where possible. Campaigns where we were splitting into multiple smaller campaigns, with different split-tests, and lots of unplanned stop/start changes, struggled most. Creating a set campaign timeline and testing matrix in advance can help minimise this.
                                            • Review Attribution.  We have started moving more campaigns over to a click-only based attribution windows. This is especially effective when there is a high click-to-conversion rate, and low consideration period, which lends itself to a user making an impulse donation at Christmas. You can compare the attribution windows for your Christmas campaigns (or any similar campaigns you have run) to see when your conversions are occurring. This means you can see whether they happened within 1 day of an ad-click, within 1 day of a view or within 7 days of a click. You can do this by adding in a custom column (top right of interface) and then clicking ‘Compare attribution settings’. Screenshot of compare attribution settings window showing 1-day view, 1-day click, 7-day click and 28-day click options.

                                            Refine pre-campaign processes

                                            We would also recommend factoring in some important pre-campaign steps, which we have found to impact how smoothly a campaign launch is. Below, we have shared our best practice suggestions (timings are just examples):

                                            • Ensure briefs are sent at least 1-2 months prior to launch. These should include details on budgets, objectives/targets, key messaging, timings and all other key considerations.  This ensures enough time to discuss the approach, develop a campaign plan, agree key timings/phases and any allows for any required testing.
                                            • Ensure landing pages have been considered and sent at least 2-4 weeks prior to launch. Being prompt with landing page details allows adequate time for us to review the user-journey and provide any conversion rate optimisation feedback. It’s also vital to check that tracking for key actions is working as early as possible and to allow time for pixels to start collecting data if needed.
                                            • Ensure creatives are delivered on-time, at least 2 weeks prior to launch. This gives us time to provide any feedback to help enhance the creatives, time to upload and check their approval from Meta, and ensure launch dates can be met.
                                            • Aim to get campaigns live by early November. Starting 1st December is often too late, This does not allow enough time to gather insights, pivot a campaign if needed and be ready for the peak period. We also usually suggest pausing campaigns after the 24th, as we often see performance drop off significantly after this date. However, it is worth considering contingency budget, to allow the campaign to continue into January if needed.

                                            Final thoughts on 2022 Christmas Paid Media Campaigns

                                            While it’s been a challenging year for Facebook Ad campaigns and fundraising in general, we plan to continue testing our paid media across the year, taking onboard the shared learnings. We’ve been implementing many of the steps mentioned above and from our last blog, and have been seeing some promising results.

                                            We’re already looking forward to the start of planning for Christmas 2023! If you would like to discuss plans for your 2023 Christmas campaigns, we’d love to hear from you and discuss how we can support your Paid Media needs. Email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk or you can drop us a message on our contact page.

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                                              Paid Media News

                                              The Paid Media team table in the Uprise Up office against the backdrop of the company logo on the wall - Paid Media News and Updates

                                              Paid Media News

                                              We know that maximising the return on investment for Paid Media campaigns is a key priority for the majority of organisations, especially charities. Therefore, we’ve shared all of the latest Paid Media news with you below, to enable you to create the most effective and efficient campaigns possible.

                                              The End of GA4 Config Tags

                                              27/09/23

                                              Google Tag Manager are moving the GA4 Configuration Tags to a more generalised Google Tag. The purpose of this change is to allow the Google Tag to be used in wider contexts, such as within Google Ads, making multiple different systems and services integrate easier and more intuitively. However, this does have an effect on how the tag works in the context of GA4.

                                              First of all, when creating a new Ga4 tag, there is no longer a tick box to send a pageview event, as this is now controlled by a parameter called “send_page_view” which, when supplied with the value “true”, will fire as the config did prior. Also, you can no longer select the config tag to load the measurement ID of your GA4 property, which now has to be entered either manually within each event, or by selecting a variable.

                                              Worth noting that for any existing tags, this update should have been automatically updated and function as before.

                                              Google Announces Discovery Campaigns Upgrade

                                              11/09/23

                                              Google announced that Discovery campaigns are upgrading to Demand Gen starting in October 2023, with automatic upgrades from early 2024.

                                              Discovery ads were introduced in April 2020, allowing advertisers to reach users across all Google feeds, including Discover, Gmail and parts of YouTube. The Demand Gen campaign format was later introduced in May 2023 to ‘drive performance beyond what you’ve come to expect from Discovery ads’. What that means is more conversion-focussed performance, more granular targeting, and more efficient use of budget, relying on AI to do so – as well as expanding to YouTube In-Stream and Shorts and offering more video formats.

                                              While Demand Gen aren’t a campaign type we have experimented with much, they are a natural fit for advertisers who rely on more Paid Social advertising platforms, so one to be open to as we embrace AI more and more into paid media.

                                              New Meta-PayPal Partnership Could Disrupt Charity Donations

                                              05/09/2023

                                              Meta announced that they’re partnering exclusively with PayPal Giving Fund UK (PPGF) to support donations benefitting charities in the United Kingdom.

                                              Charities enrolled with Meta Charitable Giving Tools must accept the new terms by 1st November 2023 and switch to PPGF in order to receive donation payouts. Also worth noting that from 15th September, charities won’t be able to receive donations via Facebook or Instagram (or allow fundraisers to be set-up) for new donors unless they have accepted the new terms.

                                              Advertisers running On-Facebook donation ads, will need to reconfigure their campaigns to avoid disruption. Existing ads can continue to run, but after 15th Sept won’t be able to receive donations from new donors, whereas campaign delivery will stop entirely from 1st Nov.

                                              TikTok Ends Personalised Ads for EU Users

                                              07/08/23

                                              In an important but inevitable move, TikTok has unveiled a set of measures in response to the European Union’s forthcoming Digital Services Act. The platform will cease personalized advertising for users aged 13 to 17 across Europe, ensuring compliance with regulations.

                                              Additionally, users of all ages will have the ability to disable personalized content discovery. This move aligns with TikTok’s existing safeguards for younger users, such as defaulting accounts of those under 16 to private settings, limiting content visibility in other users’ feeds, and offering the option to opt out of personalized ads.

                                              Advertising to minors has been a contentious issue for TikTok; they’ve previously received fines in the UK and USA for mishandling children’s data.

                                              The platform will, however, continue running personalised ads for users under 18 outside the European Union. To offer more transparency, TikTok plans to furnish EU users with enhanced information on content moderation decisions. Furthermore, it intends to introduce new content reporting mechanisms, enabling European users to flag content violating TikTok’s policies.

                                              If you’re curious about how a TikTok ads strategy can improve your organisation’s reach, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us today.

                                              Improvements to the TikTok Pixel

                                              10/07/23

                                              A new TikTok update has rolled out, which will bring their pixel more in line with Meta’s in terms of amount of data collected. On top of data such as interactions and reach being collected, the TikTok pixel will now also gather information directly from the website you are advertising for. This can include information from the site’s metadata, as well as how the user interacts with the site such as if they click certain buttons or fill out specific forms.

                                              By doing this, TikTok will now have a) the ability to see and provide insight into how users reach certain goals, b) an increased data set to feed their machine learning algorithms, leading to better campaign optimisation. The update has rolled out for all new pixels, and any older pixels will be updated by the end of the month, if not opted-out.

                                              From a performance perspective, this could significantly benefit advertisers by brining down CPAs, however advertisers need to be mindful of their website data collection/cookie policies. Read our full blog here on the potential problems and our solutions regarding data collection through pixels.

                                              Google: Brand Controls For Search & Performance Max Campaigns

                                              03/07/23

                                              Google Ads is working to give advertisers more control over their ad placement using brand keyword restrictions in Search campaigns for broad match globally and brand exclusions in Performance Max campaigns.

                                              This is in response to advertisers wanting more control over their ads as the use of AI technology plays an increasingly key role in online advertising.

                                              You can read more about how you can make the most of these features here.

                                              Google Marketing Live 2023

                                              23/05/23

                                              It won’t come as a surprise to anyone, that the key theme of Google Marketing Live this year was AI.

                                              Like it or not, soon enough, AI will be a central part of your Google Ads account. Some key highlights from the talks include:

                                              • Creating Google Ad Campaigns using conversational AI
                                              • Search Generative Experience integrating Search and Shopping Ads
                                              • Performance Max using generative AI to create copy and image assets
                                              • Merchant Center Next to replace Merchant Center
                                              • Google Ads adds video views and demand gen campaign types
                                              • AI and LLM’s in Smart Bidding

                                              Discover the in depth details of these key paid media developments and how they will impact your advertising in the upcoming months.

                                              Shopping Ads Policy Update

                                              31/03/23

                                              Google recently updated their ‘About our policies’ section of their Shopping ad policies to include a section addressing the responsibility of advertisers to ensure that the content or products they are promoting poses no risk to users or employees.

                                              We know that almost everyone will already be following these guidelines, but if you would like to read more to keep yourself up-to-date, you can view the policy here.

                                              Microsoft introduces category-based targeting

                                              22/03/23

                                              Recently Microsoft have been testing the effectiveness of keywords within the retail space. Whilst proving the most effective way (currently) to advertise your product to an engaged audience, it doesn’t consider the way consumers act in the build up to a purchase.

                                              Often, consumers will browse products online in a similar fashion to how they would have in a brick-and-mortar store, browsing the aisles before settling on a product.

                                              Using Microsoft’s new category-based solution, advertisers will be able to target consumers based on the categories they browse, leveraging keywords as a booster for campaign bids. Advertisers can boost bids with keywords to allow them a better chance of winning the auction on specific products where the audience has shown intent based on their browsing habits.

                                              Unlike traditional keyword targeting, running category-based targeting requires smaller keyword lists, allowing advertisers to focus on a few high performing keywords.

                                              Ad Grants Data Trends

                                              21/03/23

                                              The Google Ad Grants scheme has gone through many big changes and unprecedented challenges in the last 3 years. It’s weathered the COVID pandemic, seen the rise of Responsive Search Ads, and has adapted to the removal of broad match modifiers.

                                              So, what impact has this had on Google Ad Grants data trends and performance of the scheme as a whole?

                                              Our in-house data analytics expert, Dan Biggs, has reviewed data from 40 Google Ad Grants accounts under our umbrella, and has highlighted some key insights for charities to take note of. You can read his full report on the current and future trends of the Ad Grants Scheme here.

                                              Enhanced GA4 Conversion Imports

                                              18/03/23

                                              The platform has recently updated how it imports web conversion data; it now supports fractional, cross-channel conversion imports.

                                              Previously, conversions were only imported into Google Ads if the last click came from Google Advertising, meaning advertisers were missing out on data from other channels.

                                              This latest update means that Google Ads will import partial cross-channel conversion data, even if the final non-direct click wasn’t from Google Ads. This allows for more precise measurements, enables advertisers to better optimise their ads which in turn will increase returns.

                                              In order to set up conversion actions to utilise this capability, advertisers must have migrated to GA4. You can discover more about these enhanced conversion imports here.

                                              Microsoft launches Bing Local Search Ads

                                              07/03/23

                                              Microsoft has developed a new way of displaying location extensions in local searches.

                                              The new ad experience aims to help businesses gain a greater amount of real estate on the SERP. These are run on Bing’s search results page and Bing’s Maps.

                                              Businesses will able to promote their products/ services to potential customers in the area whilst displaying their essential business information such as location, opening hours and contact details. This is great for charities with physical buildings or storefronts.

                                              As well as this new extension, Microsoft is rolling out updates throughout March to help advertisers better track conversions, clean up UET tags and create combined audience lists. If you are running ads on Microsoft, we recommend keeping a close eye on these updates.

                                              Google's AI powered Search Ads

                                              27/02/23

                                              Google has announced two new tools to enhance search ad performance with AI; automatically created assets and customer acquisition goals.

                                              Automatically created assets generated using Google’s AI, allows responsive search ads to display asset combinations. Currently available to all English advertisers as an open beta.

                                              The customer acquisition goal for search campaigns enables us marketers to build a consistent income of new customers through Smart bidding and first party data. We are able to target new customers this way if we combine it with other search strategies such as maximized conversion value with a target ROAS.

                                              There are two new modes within this new tool, one which targets new customers only and one where you can bid higher for new customers than you can for existing ones giving you complete control over where your budget is spent.

                                              Both of these tools are already benefiting marketers by improving the ad relevance, connecting with new users and boosting overall campaign performance which is vital in such a competitive digital world.

                                              Instagram Explore Home Ads via API

                                              13/11/22

                                              Previously, Meta announced that companies would be able to have ads on the Instagram Explore home.

                                              It has recently been announced that ads can be placed on the ‘Explore’ home via the Instagram Marketing API, with the feature also bringing 3 new capabilities for advertisers:

                                              • Ads creation
                                              • Ads insights
                                              • Ad preview

                                              You can read more further details about this update here.

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                                              Want to level up your Paid Media?

                                              If you want to increase the efficiency of your spending whilst maximising return on investment for you paid media campaigns, give us a shout! We’d love to have a chat about how we can help you achieve your goals.

                                              You can either contact us via our website form, email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk or ring us directly on 01494 778664.

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                                              SEO News

                                              Search engine optimisation mug full of pens sitting on a desk in the Uprise Up office - SEO News and Updates

                                              We want to share the latest SEO news and updates with you to help you stay at the cutting edge of the Search landscape. You can discover all of the latest developments here with our added expert commentary so you can get a more in-depth view of how they may impact you and your business.

                                              Google's June 2024 Spam Update: What Charities Need to Know

                                              25/06/2024

                                              Google recently announced an update to its spam policies, which will take a week to roll out. The update focuses on improving SpamBrain, Google’s AI-powered spam-prevention system.

                                              What Does the Update Focus On?

                                              The update aims to:

                                              • Improve search results by targeting websites that violate Google’s spam policies.
                                              • Enhance Google’s automated systems to detect spam more effectively.

                                              Google has told us this update is not about algorithmic changes related to site reputation or link spam but rather focuses on improving the detection and management of spam through advanced AI.

                                              What should charities expect?

                                              As the update rolls out, which is expected to take about a week, charities might observe:

                                              • Fluctuations in Search Rankings: Some websites may experience changes in their search visibility over the next few weeks. This is a normal part of the update process as Google’s systems recalibrate. Watch out for Google’s update once the rollout is complete on the Search Status Dashboard.
                                              • Decline in Visibility for Non-Compliant Websites: Websites that engage in spammy practices or rely heavily on AI-generated content that violates Google’s policies may see a drop in their rankings.
                                              • Potential Benefits: Charities that follow best practices might benefit from reduced competition from spammy websites, potentially improving their visibility. Be prepared for gradual improvement. It might take a few months for Google’s automated systems to fully recognize and reward the changes you implement.

                                              Google’s latest update to SpamBrain is a significant step towards enhancing the quality of search results by targeting spammy practices. For charities, this means an opportunity to refine their online strategies, ensuring compliance with Google’s policies while improving visibility and engagement. By staying proactive and adhering to best practices, charities can leverage this update to strengthen their digital presence and reach their goals more effectively.

                                              While you’re here, why not learn more about how SEO can boost your charity donations?

                                              The Secrets of the Google Algorithm Leaked

                                              29/05/2024

                                              The SEO industry is buzzing with the news that an API containing over 14,000 attributes (potentially ranking factors Google uses within its search engine) was accidentally leaked to the general public.

                                              It is always worth thinking about this type of information leak critically. Crucially, this is NOT the recipe for Google’s search algorithm, as the documentation does not contain any weightings or prioritisation. We do not know whether this is part of an internal testing tool, a specific system like SGE, or if it is the (much juicier) full ranking factor list for its search ranking algorithm.

                                              No matter what, some morsels of information change our understanding of how Google evaluates pages.

                                              The most interesting parts of the document pertain to factors that Google has insisted for years that it doesn’t use.

                                              • Long Clicks. This attribute measures how long a search engine user stayed on specific results before returning to Google; the equivalent of dwell time.
                                              • Site Authority. This attribute appears to be similar to metrics like Domain Authority and Trust Flow, which Google has previously said it does not have an equivalent for.
                                              • Google Sandbox. This is a system in place to apply extra consideration to new websites and make sure they are easily visible until Google has confidence that it has understood them properly. It has previously been speculated that this could take weeks, if not months, and is another great reason to not change your domain.

                                              The industry is still digesting all the data and what it means for our strategies and tactics. However, along with the revelations from the DOJ trial in the United States, it has certainly eroded some of the trust placed in Google.

                                              Google to Crack Down on AI-Written Content in Search Results

                                              12/03/2024

                                              Last week, Google announced their latest Broad Core Update, and the message it’s enforcing is clear: If you want to rank, your quality better not be rank.

                                              These latest algorithm changes, currently being rolled out, are intended to purge sites “using automation to generate low-quality or unoriginal content at scale” (read: AI-written bilge). 

                                              Google hopes to improve the quality of search results by 40%, as declining relevance in recent years has left many users feeling increasingly discontent.

                                              Google are also updating their spam policies to crack down on the following:

                                              • Scaled Content Abuse (mass autogenerated content, whether AI or programmatic)
                                              • Site Reputation Abuse (otherwise known as parasite SEO)
                                              • Expired Domain Abuse (buying and repurposing expired sites purely to boost the search ranking of low-quality or unoriginal content – effectively the necromancy of the SEO world)

                                              It’ll be interesting to see how this affects sites using programmatic SEO to deliver templated content, such as product descriptions and property listings.

                                              It’s also worth noting that Google is caught in a slight conflict of interest here: they’ve been eager to brand themselves as an AI-driven company, making strides to develop their own generative search. Just last month they paid news sites to test their unreleased AI platform. How serious can their efforts to ban AI-generated content afford to be? Only time, and profit margins, will tell.

                                              Crucially, this update should help elevate your rankings above highly optimised but ultimately vacuous content you may have been competing with before. If you’re concerned, or even just mildly curious, throw us a question on LinkedIn or Twitter. We’re always up for a good discussion.

                                              Google Completes Switch to Mobile-First Indexing

                                              31st October 2023

                                              Since 2015, Google started to shift its focus and monitor the performance of mobile devices considering the upward trend of searches being conducted via mobile opposed to desktop. This trend has continued, and the use of desktop has gradually faded out for a lot of websites. In light of this, Google has been working hard to transition its indexing process to look at solely the mobile version of sites and have announced that this switch over is not complete.

                                              With Google now prioritizing mobile versions when crawling and indexing web pages, it is crucial that all websites are mobile friendly and ensuring this is a focus for their online strategies. In most cases, websites have adapted their site to become accessible by mobile but there are websites that exist that do not function on mobile. Google has said, for now it will keep crawling desktop versions but hasn’t given a clear indication of when this will end.

                                              For Charities, it is crucial that your site is mobile friendly to ensure you are visible in the SERPs and not missing out on potential traffic. If you have a mobile friendly website, our top tips for maximum performance would be to make sure page speed is optimised, images are an optimal size, and you think about things such as button sizes and the placement of these to ensure the website doesn’t have that cluttered feel.

                                              You can read more about the mobile first announcement on Search Engine Journal.

                                              Google Releases A Spam Update and A Core Update Consecutively – October 2023

                                              October 4th, rollout complete as of 20th – The Spam Update
                                              October 5th, rollout complete as of 19th – The Core Update

                                              Google continues to refine its algorithms and systems to ensure that users receive the most relevant and high-quality search results. In recent updates in October, Google has doubled down on two key areas: spam prevention and quality content.

                                              What does it mean for websites: This definitely put more emphasis on useful, unique and quality content that is promoted without the frowned upon tactics. Let’s take a look at what each update means for the websites.

                                              • Spam Update: Google’s ongoing efforts to combat search spam have resulted in notable improvements to their automated systems. Violations can result in lower rankings or exclusion from search results. However, implementing necessary changes can lead to improvements if the site complies with the policies over time – usually seen after a following algorithm update.
                                              • Core Update: Google’s periodic updates that aim to enhance the overall quality of search results to provide helpful and reliable information to users have been much more common in the past few years – thanks AI revolution. Unlike spam updates, core updates do not target specific pages or websites for punitive actions. Instead, they improve how Google’s systems assess content as a whole, allowing previously under-rewarded pages to perform better in search results. This might mean that as long as you have a solid digital marketing strategy, you are not expected to get hurt from these updates and even benefit from them if your industry is par standards.

                                              Applicable Steps After Algorithm Updates

                                              To adapt to these recent Google updates and improve your website’s performance, consider the following steps:

                                              1. Comply with spam policies head on.
                                              2. Periodically review your content to make sure it provides value and remains relevant.
                                              3. Keep an eye on the updates on the updates and Search Quality Rater Guidelines

                                              Google’s Helpful Content Update Rollout – September 2023

                                              September 14th – 28th

                                              September saw Google roll out another helpful content update which altered AI and third-party guidelines. This update took place between September 14th – 28th and was aimed at promoting people-first content and demoting content specifically written for search engines such as Google.

                                              The key changes Google made during this update are the following:

                                              • Guidance on machine generated content – Google has softened its preference on human generated content and made AI generated content more consistent with other advice on creating helpful content.

                                               

                                              • Updated rules for hosting third part content – Google is now suggesting that if this content isn’t related to the mains website purpose, then to no index it to avoid the domain getting penalised.

                                               

                                              • What to do if you’re hit by the update – Google is now hinting to review all content on our websites and if the content isn’t helpful, to consider removing it or replacing it with content that will benefit the users.

                                              Next steps for website owners:

                                              Audit content on your website. Decide if your content is useful and helpful to your users – if not, improve it or remove it. And if you host third party content such as guest blog posts or articles, consider the connection to your website and if useful and relevant, keep and if not, no index it.

                                              Google Releases Broad Core Update

                                              22/08/23

                                              Google has announced their second core update of 2023, the last one having been in March. Core updates affect the search ranking algorithm on a fundamental level, so could have a positive or negative influence on your site’s ranking.

                                              Like all core updates, this is expected to take 2 weeks to fully roll out. During this period, we recommend monitoring your website’s analytics and ranking to see whether performance has been affected.

                                              The specifics of the update are yet to be released – however, we suspect it will be related to content and the experience users will have when landing on your site.

                                              Google Research Proposes New Search Ranking Model

                                              08/08/23

                                              Google has announced a potentially important development in its search ranking optimisation research. A new ranking framework called TW-BERT (the first two initials standing for Term Weighting) has been developed, which improves search results and is easily deployable in existing ranking systems.

                                              The model works by assigning scores (or weights) to words within a search query, to more accurately align with the user’s intended meaning and hence deliver more accurate, relevant results.

                                              Google’s research paper gives the example of the search term ‘Nike running shoes’. Emphasising the ‘running’ part of the search would return search results from brands other than Nike, which are clearly irrelevant to the user’s interests. The challenge, then, is to ensure that ‘Nike’ is weighted sufficiently highly while still providing running shoes in the returned results.

                                              TW-BERT resolves this problem by using n-gram (probability-based predictive language) modelling to ensure that ‘running shoes’ is upweighted when scoring pages.

                                              TW-BERT improves ranking processes across the board, including in query expansion, which refers to the process whereby the search engine restates a search query or adds words to it to better match the search query to pages. Adding scores to the query helps the search engine determine the intent of a given search term.

                                              Although this new ranking framework has not been implemented yet, the fact that it can be deployed easily does increase its likelihood of seeing active duty.

                                              Google's Search Generative Experience

                                              15/06/23

                                              Google has opened up access to it’s new AI-powered search engine experience that it announced as part of Project Magi. 

                                              This new Search Generative Experience aims to make search results more “visual, snackable, personal and human” for users. From what we can see so far, it seems to be able to generate answers for most topics, including local searches, ‘how to’ queries and shopping.

                                              It even provides answers for some YMYL content relating to health, finance and legal searches, although this is limited in some cases and also comes with many disclaimers about the accuracy of information. One area it doesn’t seem to touch on as much are queries for extremely sensitive, controversial or political topics.

                                              It’s now also uses data from Google Business Profiles, such as photos and reviews, to include in its AI generated summaries.

                                              You can discover more about the Search Generative Experience here.

                                              Google Bard adds citations to responses

                                              15/05/23

                                              Google have been developing citations to add into the responses and summaries it generates for users.

                                              Many site owners have been concerned about content being scraped from their site by generative AI systems, such as Bard of ChatGPT without being referenced or having links to their site in place.

                                              Google Bard is now showing sources using numbers, like true citations, and is making use of ‘learn more’ links. Users can follow these links to find the exact source for specific pieces of information.

                                              This is a welcome feature to see – and it would be great to see it roll out across other AI and chatbot systems, such as ChatGPT.

                                              April 2023 Reviews Update

                                              25/04/23

                                              Google rolled out a reviews update, which started on April 12th and finished on April 25th.

                                              A key point to note about this update, is that it expanded well beyond the realm of just product reviews. This update also focussed on reviews for non-product content, including:

                                              • Services and business reviews
                                              • Destination reviews
                                              • Media, such as games of movies.

                                              This was quite different from previous review updates, which focussed mainly on products. Google has since changed the name of its ‘product reviews system’ to ‘review system’ and has updated language throughout.

                                              This focus on reviews means sites should ensure their review content is truly useful and valuable to users. You can read more about Google’s reviews system here.

                                              March 2023 Core Algorithm Update

                                              15/03/23

                                              Google began rolling out another core algorithm update on March 15th.

                                              It is as yet unclear as to exactly what elements Google is updating. However, we know there are a few elements that are key to get right such as user experience, quality content and showing you are an authoritative source. If you are focusing your marketing efforts around these key areas, we would hope your website remains stable during the update rollout.

                                              It’s normal to see ranking fluctuations throughout this time which is why we recommend holding off on any changes you wish to make to your site until the update is fully rolled out and rankings have stabilized.

                                              Read more here.

                                              Nesting Structured Data

                                              20/03/23

                                              Nesting your structured data to better demonstrate to Google what the page is about.

                                              As we know, structured data is a format that provides information about a page and its page contents. For example, product schema is going to tell Google information such product name, price, and stock levels. This helps it to understand the specifics of the product and able to display some of this in the search results.

                                              Nesting structure data is where one page may have more than one type of structured data. For example, if you have a recipe on your website and this recipe contains a review, which structured data are you going to list first? With nesting, you combine both structured data’s so Google knows the review is of the recipe.

                                              Discover more about nesting structured data.

                                              OpenAI release GPT-4

                                              14/03/23

                                              GPT-4 is the latest evolution of artificial intelligence chatbot developed by Open AI. This is the most advanced system to be produced and allows you to ask more complex question and receive more accurate responses. The AI is multimodal which means it can process our natural human language as well as process sound and visual.

                                              It also works across multiple languages too meaning you can ask a question in one language and ask for the answer to be in another.

                                              This tool looks as if it could come in very useful to support marketing channels such as SEO, but we would always recommend a human to read over and make tweaks before it is used!

                                              Updated Desktop Search Design (Google)

                                              08/03/23

                                              Google have announced updates to how desktop search results will be displayed. The new results will display brand favicons and site names above the search result.

                                              This is in addition to providing clearer labelling of ads with the word ‘sponsored’ in bold above paid ads.

                                              Google’s overall aim is to help make the source of search results simpler and quicker for users to identify, and to improve distinction between organic and paid search results.

                                              You can discover more about their new desktop search design here.

                                              Feb 23 Product Review Update.

                                              21/02/23

                                              Between 21st February and 7th March 2023, Google ran an update to product reviews.

                                              The aim of this update was to further promote product reviews that are above and beyond. This meaning the more detailed and insightful product review, the more likely Google will show it.

                                              Research conducted by Semrush and Rank Ranger shows this update was more significant than the same update in July 2022. This update was deemed more volatile with the average ranking change of 3.63%. You can read more about their research here.

                                              Google Maps Becomes More Immersive and Sustainable

                                              08/02/23

                                              Google has started using AI to bring an intuitive navigation experience to its users by adding features such as Immersive and Live view. These views us AI and computer vision to create a digital model of the towns in a whole new level of detail so people can explore locations virtually before they arrive at their destination.

                                              There has also been updates rolled out for those users who drive electric vehicles pinpointing where charging stations are located on maps so users can effectively plan their routes and go via charge stations where needed.

                                              Say hello to E-E-A-T!

                                              15/12/22

                                              Google announced significant changes to the Quality Rater Guidelines. There have been many updates made to their guidelines, however, there is one key update we all need to take notes of…

                                              E-A-T as we knew it, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness has been updated and given an additional E!

                                              • Experience
                                              • Expertise
                                              • Authoritativeness
                                              • Trustworthiness

                                              Experience shows the content creator has their own experience with the topic so is a trusted source. This really shows how important the trust aspect is and that Google really needs to be shown that the content creators really know what they are talking about and that they are able to give out this advice, especially for sites in YMYL industries.

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                                              SEO for Charities

                                              If you’d like to have a chat about any recent updates or about how we can support your changing SEO needs, we’d love to hear from you! You can visit our contact page or drop us an email at hello@upriseup.co.uk.

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                                              5 Ways SEO Can Help Charities Increase Donations

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                                              Increasing Donations with SEO

                                              Online donations are continuing to increase and are now often preferred over in person giving. Charities therefore need to give thoughtful consideration about how they will compete for audience donations in search engine result pages. Building SEO into your fundraising strategy will help to increase your organisations rankings, traffic and donation revenue by optimising your pages for both users and Google.

                                               

                                              Quick Recap: What is SEO?

                                              SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and essentially, it involves optimising your website to improve its visibility in search engine results pages such as Google or Bing. The more visible your charity is online, the more traffic you will receive.

                                              The more traffic you receive, the more meaningful engagement you will have with your charity. Meaningful engagement looks different for each charity, but may typically include volunteer sign ups, fundraising events sign ups or donations.

                                              There are many aspects to SEO, including content, technical and digital pr. Focusing on these areas of SEO on your website should help to increase donations to your charity. Below we have shares 5 ways in which SEO can help support charities fundraising and donation efforts.

                                               

                                              Reaching Relevant Audiences with Donation Content

                                              Reaching a relevant audience to increase donations to your charity

                                              SEO can help your content reach target audiences who are already warm to your cause. Potential donors who are more aligned with your charities’ purpose will be more likely to engage with your content and convert into active donors.

                                              Keyword Rich Meta Data

                                              Creating page titles, meta descriptions and header tags that contain the target keywords for you donation or fundraising pages page gives both users and search engines a greater top-level overview of what your content is about. This will help search engines serve your page to relevant users in search results. It will also help increase click through rates to your page, as users will have a better understanding of what to expect from it.

                                              Longtail Keywords

                                              Following on from this, longtail keywords are more likely to be higher converting terms than broader umbrella keywords. For example, in the UK the keyword ‘donate’ has 3900 monthly searches. At first glance, this keyword looks very enticing due to its high search volume. In reality it’s actually highly competitive and the user intent isn’t very clear.

                                              Does the user want to donate money? Or do they want to donate blood for hospitals?

                                              Do they want to donate to a cancer charity? Or do they want to donate to a climate action event?

                                              ‘Donate’ as a keyword covers multiple topics. It could mean anything really. In contrast, a longtail keyword such as ‘donate to cancer research’ has 1500 monthly searches and a clearer user intent. They want to donate to cancer research. Despite having a lower monthly search volume, a cancer charity would be more likely to get users to donate who have searched for ‘donate to cancer research’ than you would for just ‘donate’.

                                              By targeting longtail donation keywords that are more niche to your specific charity, you are likely to increase the number of donations as users searching for these terms will be closer to a point of conversion.

                                               

                                              Enhancing User Experience on Donation Pages

                                              Using SEO to increase donations for charities

                                              Charities should aim to make the user experience on donation pages as easy and efficient as possible. If you have multiple long complicated forms that need filling out, or it’s not clear what users need to do in order to move on to the next step, they are more likely to drop out of the donation process.

                                              Some simple things charities can do to enhance the user experience of donation pages include:

                                              • Clear CTAs to donate, with secondary CTAs for people who are still unsure about why or how to donate (such as a link to more information).
                                              • Optimise donation forms so they are easy to complete.
                                              • Optimising page speed to make donating a quick process.
                                              • Include social proof. Sharing stories from people or projects which have been supported by donations.
                                              • Tell users what their donations will be used for.

                                               

                                              Fix Technical SEO Errors on Donation Pages 

                                              A simple, yet often overlooked factor. Unintentionally having pages as no index can have a big impact on fundraising campaigns and donations.

                                              This is a common problem that can occur after moving your site in a website migration. Pages may have been tagged as no index in the staging area, and then not changed to indexable once the new site went live.

                                              Charities can carry out technical SEO checks on their key fundraising pages to ensure the pages are visible and able to be indexed by Google.

                                              You should also ensure that all donation forms on your page are actually working. When users enter their information and hit submit – are the donations actually coming through? If users are sent to another platform to donate – does the link work and is the donation site fully functioning?

                                              Carrying Out Technical SEO Checks

                                              A simple way for charities to carry out some basic technical checks on their fundraising and donations pages would be to use the URL inspection tool in Google Search Console.

                                               

                                              Internal Links to Donation Pages

                                              Internal links make your donation page more visible to users and signals to Google that the target URL is an important page on your site. Charities can use this to their benefit to highlight fundraising pages and increase donations.

                                              Completing an internal linking audit, you can see how many times your donations page is linked to within your site already. You can then conduct a search your sites content for donation related text, such as ‘donate now’, ‘donate today’ and ‘give a donation’. Create a list of these page URLs and use these phrases as anchor text to link back to your donation page.

                                              By increasing the internal linking to your main donation page on your site, you can help users to naturally dig deeper into your site and make it easier for them to travel further down the conversion tunnel to donating.

                                               

                                              Gain Local Attention for your Cause

                                              Link building - Increasing donations with SEO

                                              Creating content that can be posted on other websites about your charity can help to increase awareness about your organisation. This can be really valuable to highlight your donation page or any fundraising campaigns you are running.

                                              You can also secure beneficial backlinks to your site, either to the homepage, fundraising information page, or directly to your donation page. There are two main benefits to this:

                                              1. Creating a direct stream of traffic to your site from your target audience. These users will be more likely to donate than people who have just viewed your site on a results pages. Sites that are publishing your content and linking back to you are likely aligned with your goals in some way. Therefore, the audience on their site will also likely be interested in your content too.
                                              2. Increasing the E-E-A-T of your site. Backlinks indicate to Google that your site is trustworthy, and an authority on the topic being discussed. Google places a lot of value on E-E-A-T. Securing backlinks from sites with authority in the same field as you will help to increase your domain rating score.

                                              Bonus tip: You can also search for unlinked mentions of your site or fundraising campaign online, by using site search in Google search results. To do this:

                                              • Open Google
                                              • Type site: and then the domain of the website you’re searching for mentions about your charity of campaign. E.g. Site:upriseup.co.uk
                                              • Type the search term after your domain

                                              Screenshot of results for using the site search function in google to find references about SEO

                                              When you find mentions of your charity online that don’t link back to your site, you can contact the site owners to thank them for the coverage and ask if them to add a backlink. This is a very cost-effective way to secure backlinks. As they have already mentioned you, they will likely be happy to add in a link.

                                               

                                              Creating a Sustainable Donation Income

                                              Overall, SEO is an excellent, cost-effective strategy for charities that will provide sustainable benefits to increase donations and fundraising engagement, including:

                                              • Helping your fundraising content reach relevant audiences
                                              • Enhancing user experience on donation pages
                                              • Fixing technical SEO errors on donation pages
                                              • Using internal links to highlight donation pages
                                              • Securing attention for local fundraising events

                                              The above areas are key to consider when optimising your donation page(s), but this is by no means an exhaustive list. Fancy a more in-depth chat with us about how you can use SEO to boost donations for your charity? Send us a message via our contact page or email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk.

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                                                Charity Digital Benchmark: Using Data for Good

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                                                The Greatest Charity Digital Benchmark

                                                We’ve got some exciting news to share. Uprise Up have created a subsidiary, Digital Benchmark Limited, to use as a focussed vehicle to manage and grow the Charity Digital Benchmark, as we take on the mantle from CharityComms. Some of our clients and friends are members of the Digital benchmark already.

                                                For anyone not aware though, the CharityComms Digital Benchmark has been established since 2013, when CharityComms got together with a number of other charities and charity digital consultant Bertie Bosredom to share their Google Analytics data in a common dashboard.

                                                 

                                                What is the Charity Digital Benchmark?

                                                The basic premise of the benchmark is that by sharing their data with each other in a closed group dashboard, all members will be able to learn from each other, spot opportunities and understand charity sector digital media trends.

                                                Since I first heard about it, I loved the idea. Uprise Up got involved in 2017, when we advised that Data Studio would be the most effective means by which to create a dashboard. Shortly afterwards we were volunteering on the CharityComms Digital benchmark to develop the dashboard, and later, a database to process the data. Since then it’s been a passion project for us, and amazing to have been involved. In 2021 we won the Drum Award ‘Best use of Data’ beating John Lewis, ITV and the NFL!

                                                The new organisational structure

                                                Digital Benchmark Limited’ is now going to manage the CharityComms Digital Benchmark, (now named ‘Charity Digital Benchmark’).

                                                Digital Benchmark Limited is owned by Uprise Up and I am now the MD of both. We created Digital Benchmark Limited as a separate entity that can focus on developing and improving the Charity Digital Benchmark. Also, as a separate legal entity, we can share its financial accounts with CharityComms.

                                                We are still working in close partnership with CharityComms, who will be on our new Advisory Board, and have access to our quarterly financial accounts. Also on the Advisory Board will be Bertie Bosrédon, who has been working on the Digital Benchmark since its inception.

                                                 

                                                Developing the Charity Digital Benchmark

                                                We believe that the cooperative sharing of data in the charity sector will supercharge the rate at which we maximise on the potential of digital media. This will help member charities realise their vision – and it will drive the positive impact of digital campaigns across the sector.

                                                This benchmark database is going to be a significant component to the digital strategy toolkit of all UK charities; and by extension, it will be instrumental in supporting the development of best practice in the industry.

                                                Currently there are four areas of opportunity where we are looking to enhance the Charity Digital Benchmark:

                                                Making a GA4 Analytics compliant version. UA Analytics stops altogether at the end of June, so this is an absolute must. We’re all systems go on developing the new dashboard. Our team are working hard to have it functioning in April.

                                                Improving the existing dashboard.

                                                Because the new dashboard will be using Google Big Query, we expect it to be faster as well as have a greater range of data.

                                                Over time we’d like to increase the metrics we report on, including adding common conversion metrics, such as membership sign-ups, online donations, or volunteer recruitment. We’ll also be able to separate Google Ad grants from Paid search, pull more audience demographic data, nullify the impact of various cookie policies on the data and improve the separation of paid and organic social media.

                                                There will be improved data visualisation and design. We’ve a member of the team focussed on developing this.

                                                Growing the membership. The more members we have, the more robust the sample size. Also, increased membership will help us to better cut the data in various ways, just as by type of charity, size or location.

                                                Deliver greater value to the membership. This includes training and supporting members using the Benchmark, arranging peer to peer meetings, (such as roundtables to discuss sector trends), and sharing more commentary and insight on the benchmark data..

                                                To ensure the benchmark data is accurate, we’ll also be providing a free Google Analytics review and monitoring service for all members, which will act as your third-part check for any data inaccuracies.

                                                 

                                                Join the Advisory Board as a charity member representative

                                                If you’re as excited about the potential of this project as us and can spare a few hours each year, we would love your support to help develop the benchmark further. We’re looking for two charity member representatives to join the Advisory Board. The Board will meet every quarter (online) and discuss improvements to the benchmark, the annual survey and the annual conference.

                                                Members of the Advisory Board will have additional influence over shaping the benchmark for the future. They would also have first sight of modifications, annual survey data, and be able to raise the profile of their charity within the group. Please let me know if you might be interested in joining and I’ll send more details.

                                                 

                                                Timeline for Charity Digital Benchmark development

                                                Timeline for Charity Digital Benchmark Developments

                                                 

                                                Below, we have highlighted key milestones and deliverables we’re looking to achieve over the next few months. As of now, Digital Benchmark Limited are actively managing the current (UA Analytics) benchmark. If you need anything or can see any issues, please let me know.

                                                March

                                                New website. Launches by the end of March. This will be a library for blogs and insights and will be an important tool as we increase membership.

                                                 

                                                April

                                                New GA4 Benchmark operational. We expect this to be ready in April (we’re currently aiming for early April).

                                                New member agreements. New agreements need to be with Digital Benchmark Limited. We’ll also be moving to a monthly subscription model to provide you greater flexibility as members. Continuing members of the current benchmark will be on a £35 rate for at least a year. Our rate for new members will increase in 2024, but the lower rate for current members will be locked-in until at least 2025.

                                                 

                                                May

                                                New Community Manager. Once things are up and running, we will recruit a Community Manager to be your first point of contact. They will keep everything organised, including project management of the continuous developments to the benchmark and onboarding new members. We’ll likely start recruiting for this post in May.

                                                Annual survey. We’d love to reinstate this as it will help us to deliver increasingly better insights and service to our members. We’re aiming for the survey to go out in May.

                                                 

                                                June

                                                Annual online members meeting. We would like to reinstate this meeting too. Our current plans are to host the first one in June.

                                                Updates to the UA dashboard will stop at the end of June. This is because UA Analytics will stop processing data at the end of June as Google moves to GA4. Existing data (up to the end of June) will still be available until 2024, and we are exploring ways to keep the old data on our record. If you would like guidance on how to keep your UA analytics data available after Google deletes it next year, please let us know.

                                                 

                                                Digital Benchmark Feedback

                                                If anyone has any feedback on the digital benchmark, we’d love to hear from you. This is very much a collaborative effort, initially created by its membership. It can be of tremendous value to charities, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

                                                 

                                                Help drive change for the charity sector

                                                If you’re not in it already, we’d love for you to join the Digital Benchmark. There has never been a better time. We are keeping the benchmark free until at least August, so the GA4 benchmark has a chance to demonstrate its value before charging.

                                                All members of the benchmark at that time will have their rate fixed at £59, until at least 2025. In 2024 we expect the monthly rate to increase to £90 for new members. If you sign up now, we’ll be able to add you to the UA Analytics benchmark, as well as the GA4 benchmark which should be live before May.

                                                With a lot of developments coming up across the next few months, sign up now to gain access to the greatest resource of charity data and insights! You can email us at hello@digitalbenchmark.co.uk to discuss becoming a member.

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                                                  Google Ad Grant Data Trends: Reading Between the Lines

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                                                  The Latest Google Ad Grant Data Trends

                                                  The Google Ad Grant scheme has gone through many big changes and unprecedented challenges in the last 3 years. It’s weathered the COVID pandemic, seen the rise of Responsive Search Ads, and has adapted to the removal of broad match modifiers. So, what impact has this had on Google Ad Grant data trends and performance of the scheme as a whole?

                                                  Luckily for you, I’ve analysed the data of over 40 ad grant accounts currently under our umbrella, and have highlighted key data trends which give us an insight into where the ad grant scheme currently sits. In some cases, we’re even seeing where it may be headed in the future.

                                                   

                                                  The Top Line

                                                  Graph of Google Ad Grant Data Trends showing a decrease in perfromance after the removal of additional Covid-19 funding.

                                                  You always have to view data trends within the correct context, or you risk drawing incorrect conclusions. COVID funding was removed in July 2021, which was a large source of additional budget for many Grant accounts. This is the main reason that both traffic and costs were so high during the lockdown period. Add to this that users were stuck at home, and often had little else to do that browse the internet, and you have a recipe for very high performance.

                                                  As you dive deeper into the data, there is also a particularly interesting trend across 2022:

                                                  Graph showing cost / click increases over a 12 month period in 2022. Cost increased by over $200,000 with only a 50,000 increase in traffic sessions.

                                                  From February to October, we can see that cost increased by over $200k for only a roughly 50k increase in traffic. To explain why this is so different we have to talk about the rise of automation, and a bidding war.

                                                   

                                                  The Maximise Conversion Arms Race

                                                  Now this is what I call a data trend! Over the last 3 years, cost per click (CPC) in grant accounts has increased by almost 60%, with most of this increase happening in 2022. We have never been bidding higher than we are now in grant accounts.

                                                  Graph showing a significant trend of increasing cost per clicks over the past three years. A large amount of this has happened across 2022.

                                                   

                                                  As you can see, clicks increased, but not by a lot. So, it doesn’t seem like this increase has led to us being able to outbid more advertisers and achieve more traffic. So, what’s going on?

                                                  The answer is very simple: Maximise Conversions.

                                                  What is a Maximise Conversions Bid Strategy?

                                                  Maximise conversions is a bidding strategy which, since 2017, has allowed advertisers to bid above the usual $2 maximum bid limit in grant accounts. We tested this strategy at the time, and found that it exhibited some strange behaviour which made us and many advertisers hesitant to fully utilise it. However, since then, an increasing numbers of advertisers have opted to use this bidding strategy.

                                                  This has led to cost per clicks rising across a vast majority of the search environment. It has now reached a point where many grant accounts rely on maximise conversions simply to be able to compete on searches they wish to show for. In 2022, 33% of our grant accounts had an average CPC over $2. This is up from 20% in 2021. For grant accounts like these, maximise conversions no longer becomes a choice, but is instead a necessity.

                                                  It is inevitable that maximise conversions will only become more ubiquitous in the coming years, and with it a further rise in cost per clicks. It will become increasingly important to manage your use of the bidding strategy to ensure that you get the most efficiency out of your account.

                                                  A cynical view of these change sees a calculated move by Google to cause all grant advertisers to bid more, leading to lower clicks in Grants and therefore increased incentive to turn to paid accounts to make up the difference. An optimist sees this as an opportunity to bid above the competitors and appear for searches that they otherwise could not (in some cases, more on this later).

                                                  Whether this is a good thing or not is yet unclear. Regardless, the data doesn’t lie, and the cost per click arms race has shown no signs of calming down.

                                                   

                                                  The CPC Event Horizon

                                                  Google have reiterated in recent years that grant ads should always appear below paid account ads in auctions, regardless of what the ad rank is of those ads. Combined with the rising cost per clicks in the grant scheme, this has led to a sort of competition event horizon:

                                                  Graph demonstrating how impression share in the Google Ad Grant scheme has reduced to 10% since 2021 and has been unable to recover.

                                                  Impression share is the percentage of total impressions on your keywords that you showed for. There is a hard limit in Google Ads that if your impression share drops below 10%, you are no longer able to see the exact number. Impression share in the Ad Grant scheme has never been high – the limitations on the accounts makes that an impossibility. But in early 2021, what small impression share there was plummeted to the 10% level, and has rarely climbed out since.

                                                  The message is clear from Google. Grants are not allowed to effectively compete with paid accounts. It is precisely this that has led to an effect I like to call the event horizon.

                                                  If there are too many paid accounts bidding on a keyword, then no matter how highly you bid on a term, you will never receive traffic. This is because, even bidding $5 or $6 per click, you would still only show on the third or fourth results page. This trend  can be most easily viewed when looking at donate keywords:

                                                  Google Ad Grant Data Trend showing low click volume for donate related keywords, due to ineffective competition against paid accounts.

                                                  Clicks from donate keywords have never been high in Grants due to competition, but 2022 was an all time low. Most months failed to achieve over 300 clicks, and a majority of clicks achieved came from branded searches which included donate phrases. These terms are often lowest competition, allowing the grant to at least show some of the time.

                                                   

                                                  Advert Additions And Crashing CTRs

                                                  So what has been happening to ads during this period? Well, the biggest change can be seen when we look at the different types of ads generating traffic in our accounts:

                                                  Graph showing trends in clicks for expanded text ads, responsive search ads and expanded dynamic search ads between January 2020 and December 2022.

                                                  Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) have seen a steady rise in traffic since the start of 2022, and are now the only format new ads can be made in. Since April last year, this type of ad has been bringing in the largest amount of traffic. This will only continue in the future as expanded text ads, which can no longer be edited, become defunct and have to be paused. Google is also likely deprioritising these ads in favour of RSAs.

                                                  These ads are touted by Google to produce a better clickthrough rate (CTR) than manual ads. So, surely we should be seeing a steady increase in CTR across time?

                                                  Graph showing a large decrease in click through rate for responsive search ads over time, with a big drop in September 2021 due to a Google edit.

                                                  Well, this trend definitely isn’t steady…or an increase. Of all the graphs in this blog, this is the most difficult one to analyse. The first drop from September 2021, appeared to be due to an edit made by Google themselves, which was an unusual event that occurred across three days. There was an initial period of recovery up until April 2022. Responsive search ads then became the top ad format in terms of traffic, at which point we it start to drop back to the same level as October 2021.

                                                  An additional factor is undoubtably the large number of new, less optimised ads being added to accounts. But, this cannot be the only explanation for such a big drop. We have our own ideas on how you can successfully run RSAs, but these have taken time to develop and there is always more learning to be done. Let’s take a look at the CTR for each of these ad types:

                                                  Click through rates for responsive search ads, expanded text ads and expanded dynamic search ads. We can see steep reduction in Sep 2021, a gradual recovery till June 2022, which drops back down again.

                                                  Here we can quite clearly see that responsive search ads seem to have suffered most from this drop. Indeed, for a time in 2022 dynamic search ads, usually the lowest performing ads in our accounts and used in a very specific manner, actually jumped to the top spot in terms of CTR. In 2023 this seems to be starting to recover, but it seems we are in an age where CTR will remain far more volatile than it has been in the past. Close monitoring is going to be vital to react to changes in the environment.

                                                   

                                                  Beyond the Data

                                                  It’s crucial to remember that data can only tell us so much. There are trends we are seeing in grants that are very important, but have no direct affect on the results we see.

                                                  Throughout Google Ads the age of automation seems to have well and truly come, and the Grant scheme is no different. Responsive search ads, maximise conversions and dynamic search campaigns are all indicating this shift.

                                                  Also, the removal of much of the search term data which advertisers used to fine tune their keyword targeting means we have less tools to manually make changes ourselves. Make sure that you take time to test and learn these new automation systems, so that you find the best way for your charity or nonprofit to utilise them.

                                                  Many of these automation options rely on conversions as a primary source of data. However, in a post GDPR world, conversion data has become harder to come by and more inconsistent. Now more than ever, it is important to ensure that your conversion selection is comprehensive. Remember, lower level engagement conversions may not be useful in your reporting, but could be vital in feeding your bidding strategies and automated campaigns the information they need to succeed.

                                                   

                                                  Get to Grips with your Google Ad Grant Account

                                                  It has been a hectic three years in the grant account, and the data shows that much has changed from the start of 2020 to now. If you want to find out how we can support you in making sure your Grant account is fully prepared for the next three years, then why not have a friendly chat with our expert paid media team.

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                                                    Facebook Ads: How to reduce CPAs

                                                    Reducing CPAs for Facebook Ads - Blog Lead Image

                                                    How can charities improve Facebook Ads performance

                                                    In our last blog we discussed our predictions for paid media in 2023, which included a bleak outlook of the Facebook Ads landscape, with CPAs continuing to rise. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

                                                    The most significant reason for rising CPAs is due to a general decline in third-party cookies, especially following the iOS 14 changes, whereby loss of data has resulted in less precise targeting and worse machine learning.

                                                    We’ve therefore shared some of our best tips and tricks you can start employing in your own campaigns, with the aim of reducing the cost of your Facebook Ads whilst actually improving results. We’ll touch on both settings and strategies to utilise on the platform which largely aim to help improve Meta’s own AI, by playing to its strengths.

                                                    Below are some questions for you to consider about your current Facebook Ad campaigns.

                                                    Are you maximising opportunities with automation?

                                                    As third-party cookies have declined, so has performance on Facebook Ads, meaning advertisers have reduced their reliance on the platform. Meta have since invested heavily into improving their AI, and developing their automation offerings – as seen by the frequent new automation features (labelled advantage+) in 2022

                                                    The general theory is, the more you resist the way Meta wants you to run your campaigns, the more your ads will be penalised. So these features have to be considered. They should be actively considered in your strategy, and not simply pushed aside. 

                                                    That being said, you don’t need to adopt every single feature. Take the time to understand what each release can do, and whether it really is going to limit your campaign overall. Meta push the importance of the Power 5, so we would recommend starting here: Graphic on how to reduce CPAs

                                                    This suite of tools includes:

                                                    • Auto advanced matching (this can be toggled in Events Manager)
                                                    • Campaign budget optimization
                                                    • Automatic placements
                                                    • Dynamic ads
                                                    • Simplified account structure

                                                    While the last point isn’t exactly a feature, Facebook advise against splitting out into multiple campaigns and ad sets, where the objective is the same. This approach allows for greater data pools per campaign/ad set, which improves machine learning, by reducing the ‘learning phase’. Exactly how broad or granular can be dependent on the situation and is something we highly recommend still testing. We will discuss this in more detail later though.

                                                    Can you pivot the campaign to utilise lead-gen forms?

                                                    The loss of data following the iOS14 changes has impacted Meta’s ability to effectively optimise. At least for click or conversion-optimised campaigns that rely on the pixel. Using a campaign format like lead-generation, can help minimise this impact.

                                                    By keeping your users and data on the platform, their data will not be subjected to cookie-policies. This greater quality data pool can improve the machine learning as well as build better first-party audiences. 

                                                    Lead focussed generation strategies Facebook ads

                                                    Lead-generation focussed strategies do still need to be relevant to the objective, and rely on a good email strategy. For charities, we have found gift in will or legacy campaigns to work particularly well using this format.

                                                    Are you leveraging first party data where possible?

                                                    Remarketing or re-engagement is an extremely salient component of paid-social advertising. It’s vital to ensure these are well set-up and appropriately used. This includes audiences built on the platform, via the pixel or conversion API, as well as customer upload files from a CRM. This could be website visitors, Facebook engagers or previous sign-ups for example.

                                                    Using high quality, first-party data to create lookalikes is still a great place to start when prospecting and scaling ad campaigns.

                                                    Whilst ensuring your pixel is set-up to capture first-party data, it’s worth mentioning Aggregated Event Measurement. This is Meta’s protocol designed to allow for the measurement of events from (and improve delivery and reporting of) users on iOS14.5+ devices. If you haven’t already, it’s highly recommended you verify your domain and prioritise your AEM Events.

                                                    Are your audiences too granular?

                                                    We have historically adopted a highly granular and insight focussed approach, however, this is becoming increasingly challenging. Given the trend over the last year or so, we expect audience interests to be further decimated, and trying to target granularly, will start to seriously limit your reach and ability to effectively optimise, and may not even be possible. Allowing machine learning to tap into a wider pool of users speeds up the learning phase and improves results faster.

                                                    Sure, we’re moving away from singular interest ad sets and multiple lookalike segments. But we still like to keep some level of granularity within our ad sets, where creative can be tailored (e.g. for remarketing).

                                                    This is not a fixed rule though. We highly recommend testing and will continue to do so ourselves. Using entirely broad or run of network audiences will be more applicable in certain cases. One example could be if you are simply trying to reach a niche audience but relevant interests aren’t available. Another case could be you have large budgets available and need to scale. Or, you may have limited first-party data to create lookalikes.

                                                    Are you utilising all creative formats?

                                                    Different users need different messages, and may engage with content very differently depending on their format and placement. It’s key to ensure you’re offering Meta the greatest chance to test, learn and optimise messages for the right user.

                                                    This extends to all standard formats (single images, carousels and video). You should also ensure you have placement-specific sizes, in particular for stories and reels. This is essential for optimal user engagement, which can ultimately impact how competitive you can be in an auction environment. If your CTR suffers, so does your CPC/CPM, and thus raising your costs.

                                                    Examples of multiple creatives for Facebook Ads

                                                    Are you reusing the same creative? 

                                                    We can’t stress enough the importance of ensuring the creative concept and assets designed are high quality. Your technical set-up and Facebook strategy is only as good as the ad being run.  

                                                    The best creatives are bespoke, stand-out and work in harmony with the ad as a whole and landing page. Poor quality and over-used creatives will receive poor engagement and increase overall costs. Similarly, if your fundraising message simply doesn’t resonate with your audience, you will be fighting a losing battle. We’re happy to recommend additional creative agencies who can help, so please do reach out to us.

                                                    Have you tried alternative attribution settings?

                                                    In response to limited data after the iOS14 changes, Meta also updated how their reporting worked. This included changes to attribution and conversion windows, which determine whether a conversion is recorded depending on how soon after a user clicked or viewed your ad.

                                                    Attribution windows were reduced across the board, from 28-day click +1-day view as the default to 7-day click + 1-day view attribution. This means a conversion will be counted (and used for optimisation) if it falls either within 7-day after the ad was clicked, or 1 day after the ad was seen. However, due to reporting delays, the inclusion of the 1-day view makes use of statistical-modelling, which doesn’t always benefit Meta’s optimisation due to lower quality data being fed back.

                                                    Testing click attribution for Facebook Ads

                                                    There is a growing argument to suggest moving to a 7-day click only attribution setting, as this can drive higher volumes of quality traffic, and benefit performance in the long-run. This is especially effective when the consideration period for the service being advertised e.g. a donation, can be short, and the post-click performance (checking GA data) is fairly strong.

                                                    Our above recommendations focus on in-platform changes. Yet, it’s worth noting that Facebook Ad performance is dependent on other factors, such as landing pages and general website. Considering your SEO, CRO and UX is extremely important (and are all services we’re keen to support on!) although that’s a post for another day!

                                                    Want to optimise your Facebook Ads?

                                                    We’d recommend testing our above suggestions to see what works best for your specific charity. Although, it might not be long until Meta make many of the automation-based suggestions compulsory anyway…

                                                    If you’d like support to make the most out of your Paid Media budget for Facebook Ads, then we’d love to help you! You can contact us or send us an email at hello@upriseup.co.uk. We can’t wait to hear from you.

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                                                      Improving Internal Linking for SEO

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                                                      How to improve your internal linking for SEO

                                                      A perfectly placed internal link can offer boundless benefits to your site. They are a must if you want to gain the maximum benefit from organic search traffic. Internal links allow your audience to navigate their way around your site. They’re also used by Google to improve its understanding of your site structure and content. If you want to elevate your website, look no further than our guide to achieve internal linking greatness.

                                                      What is internal linking?

                                                      Internal linking is where you add links that point to URLs that sit on the same domain. For example, if a website links to service page from their homepage that is categorised as an internal link.

                                                      Screenshot of the internal linking pointing to the different services offered by Uprise Up digital media agency
                                                      Examples of internal links pointing to the range of digital media services offered by Uprise Up on the homepage.

                                                      Google has recently updated its link best practices documentation to highlight the importance of internal links. They emphasised that “every page you care about should have a link from at least one other page on your site”. When trying to decide where you should internally link to “think about what other resources on your site could help your readers understand a given page on your site, and link to those pages in context”.

                                                      Internal linking vs external linking

                                                      Internal linking should not be mistaken for external linking. Whilst internal links connect to pages that sit on your own site, external links are where a link points off-site to a different domain. Though external links are also valuable, they carry a different type of significance to internal links and are not our main focus today.

                                                       

                                                      Why is internal linking important?

                                                      No one wants to land on a site and then have to go searching further for information. If your audience can’t find what they need on your site, they will go find it elsewhere. More often than not, they will end up on your competitor’s site. To avoid this and keep your audience, look at your internal linking.

                                                      By signposting all of your priority content clearly across the site and having it linked to from all relevant points, you make simple for your audience to visit the site and engage with it. The easier is it for your audience to find what they need, the better user experience (UX) they have. The better the UX, the more likely they are to return the site in the future.

                                                      You want to make your site as easy as possible for search engines to see. When Google crawls your site you want to ensure your most important pages are easy to find. This allows Google to index and serve them in the organic search results. Orphaned pages, which are pages on your site not internally linked to, are isolated and difficult for search engines and users to find. Often, this means they won’t rank very well.

                                                      Internal linking also helps to unify your content. You can signpost other relevant pages on your site and create ‘hubs’ of content around specific topics or themes. Having all related pages inter-linking makes it easier for Google find these pages, and also helps your organisation demonstrate its expertise about a topic. By positioning your site as an authority on a given topic to Google, you can boost its ranking for related target keywords.

                                                      How to approach internal linking

                                                      To tackle the internal linking on your site, we recommend reviewing the following steps on your site:

                                                      Review the setup of your navigation menu

                                                      The navigation menu is the primary way your audience will find their way acround your website. Templated into the top of every page, a link included in the navigation menu can be accessed from any page on the site. Therefore, you want to make sure all your priority pages are being included in this menu.

                                                      You also want to make sure the structure of the navigation menu is clear and easy to read. Search engines and users both read pages from left to right, top to bottom. So you’ll also want the site’s top priority pages, such as service and core evergreen pages, to be to the far left of your navigation menu. Lower priority pages, such as the ‘about us’ section, should sit to the far right.

                                                      An example of using internal linking within a website navigation menu to highlight key services. This is the service section of the Uprise Up navigation menu.
                                                      The Uprise Up navigation menu places our services in the top far left, indicating those pages to be most significant.

                                                      Have a look at your footer menu

                                                      The footer is the space at the bottom of your page. This space can be utilised by including a menu, offering yourself more opportunity to internally link to pages on your site. With the main navigation menu linking to your priority pages, the footer menu is a useful option to link to other pages on your site.

                                                      Internal links you may want to feature here include generic links such as cookie and privacy policy pages, and other pages that, whilst valuable, didn’t quite qualify to sit within the nav menu. It can even double up on links included in the main navigation menu, offering those pages double visibility.

                                                      Internal links from the homepage

                                                      The homepage is the most important on the website when it comes to internal linking, as it typically brings in the most traffic to websites. If people search for a specific brand, the homepage is usually the page that ranks highest in organic search results. The homepage is also usually the default page other websites will link to when referencing your organisation, making it one of the most externally linked to pages and a top page for referral traffic. Ultimately, the homepage carries a lot of weight within a website.

                                                      Because it’s such a powerful page for your site, you want to utilise it fully to point your audience in the right direction. By linking to your site’s priority pages on the homepage, you make it very clear to visitors where they should go next on their journey.

                                                      A link from the homepage not only helps a page get more traffic within a user journey, it also helps the linked pages rank better in organic search. When reviewing internal links on the homepage, you should consider if there are any relevant or popular pages on the site that could perform better in organic search, and determine if they should be signposted on the homepage.

                                                      Create a hierarchy within different sections on your site

                                                      Your website is very likely split into different sections, each focusing on a particular topic or theme. Within each section you want to have a clear primary page. The function of this page is to act like a hub, linking out to all relevant pages within that section.

                                                      In turn, you want all the pages to inter-link between each other. The links tie the content together help form your content into hubs on the different topics covered. Equally, having all relevant pages inter-linking between each other increases their visibility on the site, enabling your audience to engage more and increase traffic levels.

                                                      Visualisation of topic hubs created by internal interlinking. Shows a central primary hub page, with several secondary interlinking pages.

                                                       

                                                      You could also consider reviewing your blog content. Blogs frequently receive high levels of traffic as they address very niche topics that your audience are searching for. However, they are often under-utilised as they serve up large amounts of information, but don’t pull the user any deeper into your site. Often, you’ll find the user will read the blog then leave your site without any further engagement.

                                                      To improve your audience retention, review your blog and see if you can add any internal links to other priority areas of the site. Providing more opportunity for engagement not only helps retain the interest of the user, but it can also increase the likeliness that they convert into website leads.

                                                      Review the anchor text

                                                      Anchor text is the word or phrase used to embed a link. When you are writing page copy and considering where to add links, consider the phrase you want to use as your anchor text for each link. A common mistake we see with anchor text usage is websites defaulting to generic anchor text. Examples of generic anchor text include:

                                                      • Click here.
                                                      • Find out more.
                                                      • Read more.

                                                      Though each of these examples do no harm, they aren’t ideal as they don’t provide any context around the page you’re linking to.

                                                      Contextual anchor text is where the keyword or phrase used hints at what the linked page is about. For example, using ‘symptoms of bowel cancer’ to link to a page discussing the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.

                                                      As best practice, you want to strike a balance between the use of generic and contextual anchor text. Google suggests that “good anchor text is descriptive, reasonably concise, and relevant to the page that it’s on and to the page it links to” whilst also setting “expectations for your readers”.

                                                      Beneficial to your audience and search engines, a contextual anchor text helps indicate what the contents of the linked page is about. For search engines, using contextual anchor text can help associate the page with the keywords and topics it’s targeting in organic search.

                                                      Make sure your links are crawlable

                                                      Increasing and improving the internal links you have on your site is one task…another is making sure they are crawlable! This check is purely for the benefits of search engines; if they can’t crawl the link then they can’t access the linked page, minimising its benefit.

                                                      Google can only crawl a link if it uses the href attribute within an <a> tag. The link should also use a full address. Links embedded in any other condition cannot be crawled.

                                                      Take a drop-down menu for example. Often these are built using JavaScript. Google has a tenacious relationship with this programming language, it can’t read all content coded in JavaScript. This includes links. So, links embedded on a site via a JavaScript developed drop-down menu are often invisible to search engines – unless the menu incorporates <a> tag links!

                                                      When you encounter issues with links being non-crawlable, we recommend recruiting the help of your developers. Your web developers will be best placed to review the setup of these assets and improve their functionality.

                                                      Want help with an internal linking plan?

                                                      These steps will hopefully place you in a good position to review your internal linking. You’ll be internally linking like a pro in no time!

                                                      If you do want a bit of extra support, drop us an email at hello@upriseup.co.uk for a friendly chat. You can also check out our Digital PR services if you’d like a deeper dive into how we can support you to use links to enhance your site.

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                                                        The Future of Search: SEO Predictions for 2023

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                                                        SEO predictions for 2023

                                                        This year promises to hold many new and exciting developments in search. As the landscape of the industry continues to evolve and change, we wanted to put our heads together and share our SEO predictions for 2023 to help you keep ahead of the curve.

                                                         

                                                        User Experience will take centre stage

                                                        2023 is going to be the year of user experience (UX). It’s something search has been building to over the last couple years. Since 2020 we’ve seen UX be tied in more and more to SEO, with the release of the page experience updates to Google’s search algorithm.

                                                        Nowadays, for your site to rank well, you need to make sure your site not only provides the content a search user wants, but that they also have a good experience when using your site. This is key for websites if they want to build a long-lasting relationship with a returning target audience.

                                                        UX encompasses a whole range of factors on your site: it’s much more than the design of your website. Rather than just looking at how easy it is for your audience to view and engage with content, user experience should consider how useful the content is for a site’s audience. When users land on the site, are they getting the information they expect or not? Providing information that doesn’t meet audience expectation often leads to a poor user experience.

                                                        Then there’s the structure. UX also needs to consider how well the content on a site ties together. User friendly sites will have a clear, navigable structure in place making their content easy to access (for their audience and for search engines alike).

                                                        We feel user experience has a lot to offer and sometimes isn’t considered enough across the majority of sites. As UX work has crossover with many SEO goals and has an ever-increasing sway over organic rankings, we feel UX is a process that will be at the forefront of SEO in 2023.

                                                        • Aimee Cuthbert, Senior SEO Analyst

                                                         

                                                        AI-generated content

                                                        Increasingly sophisticated models of AI (artificial intelligence) continue to be rolled-out in search, making it a key factor for SEOs to consider in 2023. The industry has to be able to evolve and adapt to accommodate this. Take ChatGPT for example.

                                                        ChatGPT and SEO

                                                        When it was launched in late November 2022, ChatGPT caused a huge stir in the SEO world. Some thought it was the future of search. Others thought it was the beginning of the end of the industry. From what we have seen below, it can produce some pretty reasonable content.

                                                        ChatGPT output for SEO predictions for 2023

                                                        As you can see, in a world where content is king, the ever growing capabilities of AI’s presents some uncertainty. It can produce endless amounts of content around every topic imaginable, at a rate faster than possible for any individual human SEO.

                                                        But the thing is, when we talk about artificial intelligence playing a bigger role, we don’t mean it’s taking over. This isn’t going to turn into a Terminator, where we wish we could come back and destroy these super intelligent AI’s. Man vs machine. If you learn to harness the power of AI, it has the potential to be one of the strongest tools in an SEOs arsenal.

                                                        Benefits of AI for SEO

                                                        AI presents a whole host of opportunities to enhance and streamline SEO processes. It’s even capable of sharing the benefits with you itself:

                                                        1. Keyword research: AI-powered tools can help identify the most relevant and profitable keywords for a website, which can improve its visibility and ranking on search engines.
                                                        2. Content optimization: AI-powered tools can analyze website content and suggest improvements to make it more search engine-friendly.
                                                        3. Link building: AI-powered tools can help identify potential link building opportunities, such as relevant and high-quality websites to reach out to for link building purposes.
                                                        4. Website optimization: AI-powered tools can analyze a website’s structure and performance and suggest improvements to make it more search engine-friendly and improve its ranking.
                                                        5. Predictive analytics: AI-powered tools can predict and analyze search engine trends and changes, which can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and adapt their SEO strategies accordingly.
                                                        6. Rank tracking: AI-powered tools can track the ranking of a website’s pages on search engines and provide detailed analytics that can be used to improve SEO performance.
                                                        7. Auditing: AI-powered tools can scan a website and identify technical issues that can negatively impact search engine rankings and provide suggestions for fixing them.
                                                        8. Optimize user experience: AI-powered tools can analyze the user experience of a website, such as bounce rate and click-through rate, and offer suggestions to improve it.

                                                        Note: The above content was generated by ChatGPT

                                                        As you can see, whilst this content can be quickly produced – it lacks some of the more in-depth analysis. Generally, it can’t replace the human expertise of professional SEOs who have spent years in the industry.

                                                        Whilst AI’s are quick to learn, it’s far more complicated for them to understand the minute nuances behind human language and user intent behind search queries. A key aspect to SEO success. They’re also not as quick at picking up on emerging trends and changes to search algorithms. And as SEOs everywhere know…the search algorithms change regularly!

                                                        Overall, the search engine optimisation community has more than gain from upskilling with AI than it does to lose. We’ll be keeping an eye out for websites to start sharing disclaimers around AI generated content over the next few months…

                                                        • Charlotte Agg, SEO Executive

                                                         

                                                        Changes to how we search

                                                        Google is trialling a growing number of different ways to display answers to users queries in search results pages. As we know, mobile and desktop searches give you different experiences despite conducting the same search. One of our predictions is that this will only continue to develop and evolve as time goes on.

                                                        User experience in search

                                                        With all the recent Google updates relating to it, we can confidently say that user experience will be at the heart of search and something SEOs everywhere will be encouraged to focus on. Bearing that in mind, Google will also continue working on its own ‘user experience’ of how we use the search engine meaning more chance for new search features to appear.

                                                        Whilst this may be great for users, it does make it more challenging for marketers to drive organic traffic to their sites. If Google starts showcasing more answers within its own platform, click-through-rates are going to take a hit, making the competition in the SERPs even harder.

                                                        Image based Search 

                                                        SERPs are being adapted to display more visual ways to search, increasing the need for brands to optimise for image and video based search results. The shopping experience is gradually evolving in search results with Google showcasing products in a more engaging way. This makes for great user experience and is excellent at capturing customers who might not necessarily be shopping for something specific but end up falling in love with a product and making that purchase anyway. The product images used will need to be more ‘lifestyle’ based to really capture the imagination of the user.

                                                        Multisearch - a more visual way to search in 2023

                                                        Video content is a must

                                                        Video content will be an absolute must have and will give you more opportunities to appear in front of your target audience. YouTube is the second most used search engine after Google, so your YouTube optimisation needs to be on point. Be sure to remember that there are other video content platforms, such as TikTok, that are growing by the day and may be worth incorporating into your organic strategy. Making strong videos is about creating content that matches your brand and using channels your audience are regularly browsing.

                                                        • Stacey Barton, SEO Manager

                                                         

                                                        Remember: Always cover your SEO Basics 

                                                        Even though we are talking about the future of search, there are still plenty of search engine optimisation basics that stand the test of time, which still need to be covered.

                                                        • Continue creating quality content that will be beneficial to the user
                                                        • Create content in other formats
                                                        • Keep analysing your paid media data – what’s working there?
                                                        • Really get to understand your users
                                                        • Ensure you can navigate your own website – if you can’t find that landing page, will your users or Google?

                                                        Looking to enhance your SEO for 2023?

                                                        If you need help with your charity’s organic presence, get in touch and we can have a chat. If you want to find out what trends to look out for with paid media, the team have also put together Paid Search 2023 Predictions.

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                                                          Paid Media Predictions for 2023

                                                          Paid Media Predictions for 2023 - Lead Blog Image

                                                          Paid Media Predictions for 2023: What Can We Expect?

                                                          We’re all excited to find out what 2023 will bring for the world of paid media. Our Senior Paid Media Manager, Will, takes us through his paid media predictions for 2023 below. The usual themes have cropped-up, 3rd party cookies, automation, Facebook CPAs… but we’ve also included some charity specific predictions as well and a good dose of helpful hints to carry forward.

                                                          More channel diversification

                                                          Channel diversification has never been more important. The removal of targeting options in 2022 (and 2021 before), and decline in pixel-based tracking in Facebook, has shown how devastating one platform’s update can be to your campaigns. This impact can be felt even harder in the nonprofit sector, where every penny counts.

                                                          We feel the key to success will be through omni-channel marketing, and not simply following the same routine from 2018. We expect charities will be wanting to branch out further and test more opportunities available to them. Paid Search will still be pivotal as a final touch-point, with Facebook still playing a role too. But platforms such as Tik-Tok and LinkedIn, with their alternative targeting methods, present the possibility to open more doors.

                                                          Increasing Channel Diversity - A table full of multiple different social media logos

                                                          Moreover, the available targeting and machine learning capabilities of programmatic display can be extremely powerful too, and even outperform Facebook in terms of direct-conversions in some situations. This year, we’re also expecting a continued expansion into more digital-audio channels such as Spotify, as well as more Connected TV (CTV).

                                                          Testing the channel-mix through 2023 will be vital to find the right approach to help you reach your KPI’s. Diversifying your channel mix should also soften the impact of any future platform updates. However, it’s worth noting that without time to properly test, and crucially, effective data reporting and attribution, channel diversification can sometimes fall flat.

                                                          We use Google Campaign Manager to report all omni-channel campaigns, and have seen best results doing so, by monitoring journeys, understanding the attribution, and appropriately assigning budget for the greatest impact. By ensuring you properly test and report on your omni-channel activities, you will be able to have confidence in your paid media plan and create a clear strategy to drive your campaigns forward.

                                                          Bonus data-analysis tip: Utilise all data sources available to help build up the most accurate picture. When running a Facebook campaign, we aim to compare and report on data from Facebook, Google Analytics (UA and GA4), Campaign Manager and a CRM.

                                                          Tik-Tok to become a key player

                                                          Tik Tok Logo - Paid Media Predictions for 2023

                                                          It’s definitely time to take TikTok seriously. We expect the rise both in terms of its market share against Meta generally and also for advertisers to start planning more TikTok into their advertising budget.

                                                          TikTok has evolved far beyond being simple homemade quirky, dance-videos only. It’s now a serious content and message delivery system, where ads can integrate seamlessly into the user’s browsing experience. It’s hard to ignore the growing audience, and simultaneously we expect faith in Facebook and Twitter to decline – opening the door for advertisers to explore TikTok further.

                                                          TikTok is also helping alleviate issues with 3rd party cookies, by tapping more into contextual audiences, and the launch of Pulse, which positions branded ads alongside top content creators. Some of the targeting options are still quite limited, especially for reaching some charity-specific audiences (often around more sensitive topics). However, we expect more and more advertising features will continue to roll out too, and amp-up Tik-Toks appeal further.

                                                          We also expect TikTok to have a wider impact on paid-social advertising too, with ad content more closely resembling Tik-Tok’s video formats. This includes more ‘reels’ (shorter form content) , and user-generated content (UGC) content. We would recommend factoring this into all future paid-social campaigns.

                                                          A passing thought, is that it will also be interesting to see what becomes of BeReal in 2023. Whether the platform will phase out, or continue to grow and mimic the success of TikTok – and eventually develop its own advertising capabilities… maybe one for 2024…

                                                          More opportunities and support for charities

                                                          With the introduction* of the Microsoft Ads for Social Impact scheme in August and the LinkedIn Ad Grant in 2022, the next year is looking promising for charities. After some initial teething issues with customer support, we’ve already started seeing the benefits for charities who have been awarded the Microsoft Grant.

                                                          We’ve also seen more opportunities offered to Google Grants in 2023. We feel this could be as a response to more competition from Microsoft, and LinkedIn to an extent. Regardless of the reasons, we hope to see this trend of growing support for charities and nonprofits continue.

                                                          Meta have also steadily released helpful updates for non-profits over the last year or 2, including on-Facebook donations and ‘Fundraiser Challenges’. In the US, a recent update included the ability for recurring on-FB donations which looks very interesting. Whilst we’re uncertain about whether dedicated support for non-profits will be constant, we do expect a steady roll-out of new features in the UK as well as more information and events for non-profits. Look out for their Education Conference later in 2023 too.

                                                          *As of Jan 2023, both the Microsoft and LinkedIn schemes have now actually closed to new applicants, due to the high demand. That being said, it seems Microsoft are destined to grow in 2023, especially following their lucrative Netflix deal. With this continued success, we will hopefully see more opportunities for charities to come.

                                                          GA4 panic in 6-months time or so…

                                                          …well, maybe for some advertisers. To recap, as announced in March, UA will be sunsetted this year. Data collection will stop in June, with access to data stopped from the end of the year.

                                                          While we have been helping our clients set up their GA4 accounts since the first announcement, there will many advertisers who have yet to set-up GA4 or come to grips with it. With June fast-approaching –  panic stations will hit. If you are reading this in early 2023 and are yet to have implemented GA4, this is your sign to get GA4 ready!

                                                           

                                                          How to prepare for GA4

                                                          • We strongly advise starting to use your GA4 properties as much as possible to become familiar with the new interface and also some of the new naming categories. We’ve got a bit of a kick starter on the language differences in our blog.
                                                          • It’s imperative to review your conversion tracking as soon as possible, as historic data will become more limited. Ensure tracking is set up which focusses on your key goals and priorities so you can start building a store of good-quality data. We also suggest looking out for data warehousing solutions (for the old UA data). If you’re unsure, please feel free to reach out to us and we’ll be more than happy to help.
                                                          • Also, as mentioned in our previous end of year paid media summary, Meta hinted at the death of the Facebook Pixel for conversion tracking. This will be replaced solely by the Conversion API. We expect this will also cause some mild panic amongst advertisers, and a mad rush to get the Conversion API in place, but timings aren’t clear at this stage. We will do our best to keep you updated as we learn more.

                                                          Automation won’t take our jobs…yet…

                                                          It’s obvious automation and machine-learning features are going to continue to expand at an ever-increasing rate. Digital marketing news-feeds’ are filled with debate around tools like ChatGPT and Performance Max campaigns. I expect the capabilities and effectiveness of automation to continually improve, and in-turn the adoption of said features to increase.

                                                          But this rise in sophisticated automated systems does raise some questions…what actually needs to be set-up now and are digital media agencies even required?

                                                          As we outlined in our Best and Worst of Automation blog, there are clearly some features better than others. This increase in automation comes with greater complexity, requiring a proper understanding of how they work and how to use them effectively.

                                                          Using paid media marketing automation:

                                                          • Still requires humans to review the data and assess the impact, whilst providing clear and actionable data analysis reporting.
                                                          • It still requires manual adjustments to ensure the settings are optimised, and minimise wastage.
                                                          • There still needs to be an effective paid strategy agreed and implemented, with the right channel mix and a clear testing plan.
                                                          • Expert knowledge is still required to help with CRO recommendations, as well as technical set-up. For example, ecommerce tracking (using target ROAS strategies) and Conversion API set-up on Facebook.

                                                          The point is, automation is a great tool which can be used to help advertisers enhance their campaigns, not replace them.

                                                          Rising CPAs on Meta

                                                          Paid Media Predictions for 2023 - Increasing CPAs

                                                          Increasing cost-per-acquisition. The big elephant in the room. Most advertisers don’t want to hear about rising CPAs on Meta. Yet, this is simply a continuation of trends we have seen over the last few years.

                                                          This has been the inevitable fall-out following on from iOS 14 changes and general decline in 3rd party cookies, whereby loss of cookie data has resulted in less precise targeting and worse machine learning. The impact of this has been further compounded as trust in Meta Ads and overall investment has dropped, and popularity of the platform declined too leading to less data.

                                                          You may have also noticed rising CPCs and CPMs in your campaigns as a result too. Again, weaker targeting causing less relevant ads, as well as smaller custom audience sizes causing greater competition have played a key role in this.

                                                          It’s also worth adding, that CPAs will obviously be higher with less data being reported. Be that in Facebook itself, or even in Google Analytics if website cookies have not been accepted – this doesn’t always mean though that results are poor.

                                                          Bonus data-analysis tip #2: It is possible to fairly accurately take cookie-loss into consideration when reporting results though. This can be done by comparing platform clicks vs GA session data, to estimate how much data is being lost, and then multiplying your conversion data by this difference.

                                                          Despite keeping CPAs down becoming more challenging, there are strategies on and off the platform which can help. We will run through our top-tips more comprehensively in our next blog.

                                                          What are your paid media predictions for 2023?

                                                          We’d love to hear your own thoughts on new or continuing trends for paid media in 2023! You can join the conversation by tweeting @upriseUPSEM. If this blog has injected some inspiration for your 2023 paid media strategy, we’d love to hear from you either through our contact page or via hello@upriseup.co.uk.

                                                           

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                                                            Technical SEO Tools: A Guide

                                                            SEO Technical Tools - Lead Blog Image

                                                            Our Top Technical SEO Tools

                                                            When it comes to technical SEO there are a vast number of different tools out there you can use. There are so many in fact that it can be difficult to filter through the options and find the ones best suited to your needs. In our guide we review some of the tools we personally use for technical SEO and provide our thoughts on them.

                                                            Crawling Tools

                                                            These tools are all useful for when you just want to crawl your entire site to get an idea of its overall health, as well as the specific areas that require work and improvement.

                                                             

                                                            Lumar (Deepcrawl)

                                                            View of graphs and data on the Lumar analyze dashboard. This is a Technical SEO Tools used by Uprise Up.

                                                            Previously called ‘Deepcrawl’, Lumar is a great option for those that want a tool that clearly highlights the issues with their site. It runs a crawl on your site, reviewing the different pages for different technical issues. At the end, you are then presented with reports, each focusing on a particular technical issue. Each report compiles a list of URLs affected by that issue, and they are presented visually in easy to understand graphs.

                                                            It’s a tool I’d deem user friendly, it’s very easy to navigate and requires minimal input from the user to get going. All you need to do is set up a crawl on your website, then Lumar takes over.

                                                            Lumar runs it’s crawls online, meaning you can set the crawl up and leave it. You can even shut the window and log off, the crawl will continue to run. This is useful as it means you can easily set up crawls to run during your down time.

                                                            It’s a great time saver, as you are able to very quickly see within the different reports what the issues are. Ideal for individuals or teams that are still getting to know the ins and outs of SEO.

                                                             

                                                            HTTP Status

                                                            View of Httpstuatus dashboard, one of an array of free technical seo tools available online.

                                                            Httpstatus.io is a free online tool that you can use to check the status code of your pages. This means you can see where pages are live, which pages redirect and where pages no longer exist.

                                                            I like this tool because you can easily get a quick snapshot of what’s going on with different pages. Simply enter your list of URLs and press ‘check status’. You then get the results, where you see if pages are live (200), gone (404/410) or redirect (301/302/307). The results even highlight when redirect chains have formed on pages.

                                                            It does come with some restrictions. It has a limit of 100 URLs per go, so if you want to check URLs en masse a paid tool may be the way to go. The formatting of the export also isn’t the best and could be clearer. However, for a free tool it provides good value.

                                                             

                                                            Sitebulb

                                                            Sitebulb is another crawler tool that we’ve used historically. It sits in between Screaming Frog and Lumar in terms or data output and user friendliness. Like Lumar, it highlights specific technical issues found on your site. However, it also gives you the detail of Screaming Frog. Sitebulb can identify technical issues Lumar misses, allowing you to provide even more detail when auditing your site.

                                                            It’s fairly simple to navigate, providing audit scores for different technical factors the crawl reviews. It also gives you an idea of how severe certain technical issues are, scoring them from critical to low. This is useful in the next stage, post-audit, when deciding which technical problems you should address first.

                                                            It’s a paid tool, but it’s not an expensive one; the ‘Lite’ version costs just £10 a month, with the ‘Advanced’ option coming in at £25 per month. For us this tool has always provided good value for money and is a great option.

                                                             

                                                            Screaming Frog

                                                            For those that love information, Screaming Frog is the one. One of the most popular crawler tools around, Screaming Frog goes through a website and pulls out every possible bit of information you could need. From the indexability of a page, through to where it’s being linked to on a site (and how), Screaming Frog offers an abundance of data about your website. It’s an invaluable tool and one we use frequently within our SEO team.

                                                            However, it is not a tool for the faint hearted. Screaming Frog is a tool I’d recommend to individuals that both:

                                                            • Regularly work with data
                                                            • Have a good understanding of SEO

                                                            The reason being, Screaming Frog produces a lot of data, but doesn’t provide any direction on what you should be looking at. It’s a fantastic tool for data and insights, but is one that comes with a strong learning curve. It can take a while to review the data you get (regardless of your SEO level), so if you’re time-poor, or are an SEO beginner, I recommend using different technical seo tools before advancing to Screaming Frog.

                                                             

                                                            Page Speed

                                                            Page speed is one of the top ranking factors Google considers when it comes to organic search. As such, it’s important to keep an eye on the page load time for pages across your site. These tools are great options for reviewing your pages and identifying opportunities for improvement.

                                                            PageSpeed Insights (PSI)

                                                            PageSpeed Insights is our go to tool when it comes to checking the page speed and Core Web Vital performance of a page. A free Google tool, it uses data from Lighthouse to provide optimisation scores for the mobile and desktop versions of a page. It tests pages in real time, so you can see how your page performs currently, which is great for measuring the impact of any changes you make to your site.

                                                            It’s an easy tool to use; you just enter your URL at the top and let it run. It scores your page out of 100, with 80 or above being a good score. It then follows up with recommendations for you to action in order to improve your score. As this tool is Google’s, the recommendations will in essence just be what Google wants and are often the same across different websites.

                                                            Unfortunately, you can only use PSI on a page by page basis, you are unable to check the performance of multiple pages. Additionally, the information on this page can initially be quite intimidating, as it’s quite dependent on you understanding coding. If you have web developers, you will very likely be working with them on these recommendations.

                                                            This is a tool I highly recommend people interested in SEO, or even in just working on a website in general, make sure they are familiar with.

                                                             

                                                            GTMetrix

                                                            GTMetrix dashboard

                                                            GTMetrix is another free tool that you can use to measure the load time of different webpages. Start by entering the URL and the tool runs a performance analysis, creating a report for you to view at the end. This tool also provides the option to download the report as a PDF; which creates a nice document for you to share with your web developers.

                                                            You can either access the website and use the tool straight away, or set up a free account first. The benefit of setting up an account is it stores any reports of crawled pages for you to re-access. You can also update the settings on the tool before it runs to change the location it measures the webpage’s performance for. This can be useful if you have a specific country you’re targeting (United States, Australia or India for example), or you’re a globally-targeted website; see how your site performs in each area to get an understanding of the overall picture.

                                                            The recommendations are very similar to PSI. In my opinion GTMetrix is a friendlier tool visually. On the summary page you get a nice ‘Speed Visualisation’. This is a nice graphic that breaks it down and shows the timings where different actions occur during the page load process, including the final time when the whole page is fully loaded.

                                                            You get a similar amount of information around the different recommendations as you would in PSI. Both tools provide additional documentation which contains in-depth information around the flagged issue, allowing you to learn and get a better understanding of what’s each issue entails.

                                                            This is a good tool if you want to check the results you get through PSI, however those new to SEO will still have some learning to do in order to get the most out of this tool.

                                                             

                                                            Keyword Research

                                                            We’ve previously discussed tools we recommend for keyword research, but our favourite is:

                                                            Ahrefs

                                                            Screenshot of Ahrefs broken backlink analysis data for Amazon.

                                                            Ahrefs is a detailed keyword research tool. It does more than provide you a list of keywords and accompanying metrics, it provides good insights into competitors. It also provides a lot of information around links. This is useful for technical SEO as you use it to:

                                                            • Find broken backlinks (links that point to 404 pages on your site)
                                                            • Support your internal linking work.

                                                            Ahrefs also provides details on your site’s organic rankings for different keywords. This can be beneficial as it helps you identify when rankings are dropping off; you then run some analysis to understand what the cause is, including checks for technical SEO!

                                                             

                                                            Ready to do a tech audit?

                                                            There are plenty of other tools out there still, but these ones that get a certified Uprise Up thumbs up. Technical SEO covers a diverse range of factors and can be challenging to understand if you are new to the area. If you ever want some help with your technical SEO, then do give our SEO team a shout! We are always happy to help.

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                                                              End of Year Paid Media News

                                                              Christmas Tree in the Uprise Up office - End of Year Pad Media News Blog

                                                              Paid Media Christmas Round Up

                                                              It’s that time of year again. A time to spend with family in front of the fire. A time for over-indulging on fantastically festive foods. And a time to take stock of all the latest Paid Media News to help enhance your digital marketing strategies for 2023. With exclusive news on Facebook pixel conversion tracking, Google Ad Grant spending trends and new Meta developments effecting paid media targeting, Will Rhodes shares our expert insights on all things paid media.

                                                              Ad Grant ‘Giving Season’ Funding

                                                              The ‘giving season’ is well and truly upon us, and Google is getting in the festive mood by generously awarding certain charities more money to spend on Paid Search advertising.

                                                              Whilst there is speculation that mental health and cancer charities may have been main beneficiaries this season, there has been no clear, official criteria announced as to which charities have been awarded funding.

                                                              A handful of the Ad Grants we manage were selected this year, with their daily spend being doubled throughout December and January. It was not possible to apply for the funding, however the numbers awarded were notably higher than last year.

                                                              Our Ad Grant representative informed us of any Ad grants connected to our MCC (My Client Centre) who had been awarded; emails should have also been sent directly to account owners too.

                                                              We have found previously that this isn’t always the case. We would therefore recommend checking your gmail, if you currently own and manage an Ad Grant, to see if you have benefited from this festive funding.

                                                              Bonus round: Sustainability Funding

                                                              We have also had one account that was awarded additional funding just ahead of the ‘giving season’ initiative. Google confirmed that they’re “supporting a set of organisations focused on sustainability, with increased budgets through 2023”. Again, this is not something you can apply for, nor is it clear the exact criteria for accounts being awarded – however it is a nice bonus for Ad Grants who do receive it.

                                                              Fluctuations in your Ad Grant’s Maximum Daily Spend

                                                              In October and November, we noticed odd fluctuations in some Ad Grant accounts. This impacted about 1/5 of the accounts we manage. Spend increased above the usual capped restrictions, $330 per day (for a standard $10k account), by between $10 and $40 extra. You can see an example below.

                                                              Graph demonstrating fluctuations in Google Ad Grant daily spend budget.

                                                              We initially suspected that it was related to extra funding being granted (as discussed above) however speaking to an Ad Grant rep, they confirmed that:

                                                              “it is possible that Ad Grants accounts will spend over the daily spending limit if there are high traffic volumes. However, the accounts will not spend over the monthly allocation when viewed from a 30d period”

                                                              We have not seen this behaviour previously in accounts, although Google have not suggested this was a new feature. Other accounts that can easily spend their limit were still strictly capped, so it seems like there is something occurring in the background for Ad account spend management.

                                                              Whilst the irregularities of this spend fluctuation are odd, it is nonetheless a welcome change, opening up the potential for Grant accounts to offer more flexibility in the future.

                                                              Getamine

                                                              Were you ‘Got by Get’ in November? You may have noticed some strange Google Ad Disapprovals last month. Many of our clients received a disapproval specifically on ad extensions flagging ‘get’ as an unapproved substance…

                                                              Unapproved Substances Disapprovals for Google Ad Extensions

                                                              As it was only on Ad extensions, it luckily didn’t have a major effect on ad performance. However, it does make us question how Google monitor their ad disapproval automation.

                                                              All appeals we made on behalf of our clients were approved quickly and it seemed like there was only a small window where this was happening. Despite many people being got by ‘get’, Google made no comment on the issue, meaning we still have no explanation as to why ‘get’ was flagged as an unapproved substance in the first place.

                                                              Changes to Similar Audience Targeting in Google Ads

                                                              Google has announced that lookalike audiences are going to be leaving the Google Ads targeting suite by the middle of next year. The targeting option, which would create a list of users with similar traits as one of your existing audiences, will stop being usable by May 2023.

                                                              Google also confirmed this feature will become a part of automated bidding – as long as you have an audience added to a campaign.

                                                              We don’t think this change will affect most charities’ accounts and no action is needed. Although, it is unfortunate that you will no longer be able to view the exact data of these audiences compared to your overall performance.

                                                              EXCLUSIVE: Facebook Pixel Conversion Tracking to be Sunset Next Year

                                                              During a recent call with a Meta rep, they confirmed that in order for advertisers to continue to make use of conversion tracking and optimisation, the Conversion API will need to become compulsory at some point next year. The pixel would still exist but for pageview tracking/optimisation only.

                                                              They mentioned that support would be available for organisations to help migrate over to the Conversion API in the coming year, however this is likely to extend to larger organisations/agencies first, who are least likely to need the support.

                                                              It’s not entirely surprising, given the transition has already begun, off the back of the iOS 14.5 changes and move to a 3rd party cookie free world in general.

                                                              As this news hasn’t been officially announced yet, unfortunately there’s no more information that we can provide at this stage. We will be keeping our eyes peeled for official updates on this from Meta, and will ensure we share the rollout process with you as soon as we know more.

                                                              New Meta Developments for Paid Media

                                                              Conversion Segmentation is Being Brought Back!

                                                              During the iOS14 updates, much functionality was removed or restricted. This included the ability to segment your conversion data by key demographics and breakdowns, including age, gender and placement/platform. Although not completely clear why, we believe it was likely due to issues with data reliability and modelling.

                                                              Whilst you could still segment performance data from the platform (clicks or video watches for example), you couldn’t for how your conversions were split. Even though using UTMs and GA effectively largely covers this (and is still a crucial step) but it was frustrating nonetheless. On many occasions we have set-up IG and FB in separate campaigns purely due to this lack of reporting, whereas we previously might run them inside the same campaign.

                                                              Which is why we are excited to see conversion segmentation now returning! This is in addition to the ability to compare attribution settings as well the longer 28 day click attribution window being available to use.

                                                              Conversion Segmentation window in meta

                                                              The return of conversion segmentation will enable advertisers to make more informed decisions quicker. Being able to report on how different placements and demographics are performing can save a lot of time, with attribution comparison offering more context too.

                                                              You can now target your Instagram followers directly

                                                              You can now select ‘People who started following this professional account’ for Instagram follower targeting. Previously, it was only possible to target Instagram users who had engaged with content, unlike on Facebook where you can reach your followers and page likes specifically.

                                                              Previously:

                                                              Old Instagram follower targeting

                                                              Now:

                                                              New option for targeting Instagram followers which includees 'people who started following this professional account.

                                                              Re-engaging warm audiences is a crucial part of paid social strategy, so offering more options to dig into and reach this subset is a win. Especially for charities with a younger audience focus, where reach is far greater on Instagram compared to Facebook.

                                                              It’s important to note that your Instagram account will need to be configured to allow for this.Also, you still can’t run a campaign with the objective of reaching new IG followers, like you can on Facebook. This is a development we feel would be a nice addition to Instagram targeting.

                                                              Further Updates to Leads Forms

                                                              Meta have recently announced their most significant overhaul for Leads Ads this year, offering ‘custom’ forms. This is a further development from previous Meta ads updates including Lead Filtering (asking additional qualifying questions) and then Gated Content (allowing users to download resources directly from Facebook).

                                                              Custom forms option for Leads Ads in Meta - Paid Media News

                                                              These ‘custom’ forms allow advertisers to completely tailor the look and feel of their lead form, which provides more opportunities to showcase product benefits and imagery, social proof as well as incentives.Tailoring options for showcasing products on Leads Forms in Meta.

                                                              Whilst we have seen some advertisers struggling to return to their former glory on Facebook Ads (more specifically conversion-optimised campaigns), many have found great success in using Lead Ads in their strategy.

                                                              Keeping users on Facebook, and retaining their data can be key, making the rollout of features such as this a noteworthy development. Moreover, combining the Conversion Leads optimisation could be instrumental in capture highly qualified leads.

                                                              Paid Media Services to Enhance your 2023 Strategy

                                                              Are you looking to up your Paid Media game in 2023? We’d love to help you get there! Tweet us upriseUPSEM, email hello@upriseup.co.uk , or simply send us a message through our contact page, and we can discuss taking your Paid Media to the next level in the New Year.

                                                               

                                                               

                                                               

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                                                                End of year SEO news round up

                                                                SEO News Christmas 2022

                                                                SEO News Christmas 2022

                                                                We can’t believe how quickly we are racing towards the end of 2022! But the updates in the world of search engine optimisation have been a steady and reliable certainty to help guide us through. From more updates about Helpful Content to Google giving us the inside scoop on which of their search ranking systems are currently live – we have plenty of SEO news to keep you up to date as the new year rolls closer.

                                                                Google Local Search Features have landed

                                                                Some exciting news in your local neighbourhood, some of the updates to local search we mentioned in our October SEO roundup are now live! The verdict is still out to see how these features affect organic performance, but with Google placing such a high importance on user experience this year, we feel these features are definitely worth taking note of.

                                                                Search for restaurants by dish

                                                                You can now search for restaurants that serve your favourite dish by either typing it in manually and adding ‘near me’, or by taking a snapshot of the delicious dish using Google Lens and adding ‘near me’.

                                                                Just think, you’re out at the weekend with friends or family and they make an incredible meal for dinner. If they can’t remember the name for it now you can just take a quick snap, and voilà – you have the name of a local restaurant back home that can serve it up hot!

                                                                Google maps live view enhancements 

                                                                Rolling out this week, Google’s search with live view will enable you to use your phone’s camera to discover information about the places around you in real time. This will be revolutionary for customers, who can review businesses before they even step foot inside the door. Is it open? Is it busy? How pricey is it? Just point your phone and find out!

                                                                Google Maps Accessible Places Feature

                                                                We’re also very excited to see the ‘Accessible Places’ feature on mobile roll out worldwide. This means when users switch on the feature in the Google maps app, they will see a wheelchair icon in business profiles if it has an accessible entrance. Businesses that aren’t wheelchair-accessible will have the same icon with a strike through it.

                                                                This feature is great for enhancing accessibility and making the world a more supportive and inclusive place. Charities with physical shops and businesses can make use of this feature to help support customers with limited physical mobility, enabling them to go about their day-to-day lives.

                                                                 

                                                                Update to Google’s Helpful Content System

                                                                Roll out of an update to Google’s Helpful Content System started on 5th December. Expected to take 2 weeks to roll out, the update is intended to improve Google’s classifier of what helpful or unhelpful content is.

                                                                Google Search Central Tweet announcing helpful content update released on December 5th 2022 - SEO News round up.

                                                                 

                                                                The Helpful Content System is one of many used to help Google rank content for users. It aims to reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, by ranking that content better in the search results, rather than content designed for search engines.

                                                                This means you want to ensure your content is offering users a valuable and unique experience, that is more useful than what is broadly available on the wider web.

                                                                With the update still rolling out, we look forward to seeing what the impact from this update is in the new year! You can read about the impact of the previous August Helpful Content Update here.

                                                                 

                                                                Google’s Guide to Search Ranking Systems and Updates

                                                                Once shrouded in mystery and often met with confusion, Google released a search rankings systems guide. The aim of the guide is to provide transparency of the different systems used by Google to rank content. With so many different systems, and updates to those different systems being released, they can quickly become difficult to keep track of.

                                                                Ranking Systems vs Updates

                                                                The guide starts with some clarification on the difference between ranking systems and updates.

                                                                Whole ranking systems are developed which look at various signals and factors of web pages for specific areas and compare it against all of the other related pages on the web. Updates on the other hand, are continual improvements to those individual systems.

                                                                Some systems look at unique factors, but several of them will look at overlapping signals as a ranking factor. For example, the majority of these ranking systems will be looking at the content on the page.

                                                                Google provided a list of the current and retired Google Ranking Systems, which SEOs everywhere were very quick to pick up on and celebrate – we certainly enjoyed having a good browse through the list and were interested to learn a thing or two ourselves!

                                                                Live ranking systems

                                                                • BERT
                                                                • Crisis information systems
                                                                • Deduplication systems
                                                                • Exact match domain system
                                                                • Freshness systems
                                                                • Helpful content system
                                                                • Link analysis systems and PageRank
                                                                • Local news systems
                                                                • MUM
                                                                • Neural matching
                                                                • Original content systems
                                                                • Removal-based demotion systems
                                                                • Page experience systems
                                                                • Passage ranking system
                                                                • Product review system
                                                                • RankBrain
                                                                • Reliable information systems
                                                                • Site diversity system
                                                                • Spam detection systems

                                                                Retired systems

                                                                • Hummingbird
                                                                • Mobile-friendly ranking system
                                                                • Page speed system
                                                                • Panda system
                                                                • Penguin system
                                                                • Secure sites system

                                                                Google use their automated ranking systems to look at ranking factors for billions of pages across the web. With a big focus on their developments and updates this year being on helpful content and user experience, these algorithms are now more important than ever when it comes to deliver users relevant content to their searches.

                                                                We recommend taking a look at these ranking systems, so that you can get more familiar with how Google is evaluating your content to keep yourself ahead of the competition in SERPs.

                                                                 

                                                                Will the strength of backlinks drop as a ranking factor?

                                                                According to the mighty Mueller they might! Early on in the month in a podcast, John Mueller suggested that as Google improves with understanding how your content fits into the wider context of the web, the strength of backlinks as a ranking signal will reduce. This reduction in value is due to the ranking algorithm becoming less reliant on backlinks as a ranking factor to determine the relevance and value of a page.

                                                                He mentioned in the podcast:

                                                                “I imagine over time the weight on the links, at some point, will drop off a little bit, as we can figure out a little better how the content fits in within the context of the whole web.”

                                                                Mueller did go on to say that “to some extent, links will always be something that we care about” in reference to making it easier to find and crawl pages.

                                                                We feel that whilst Google may be getting better at recognising how content fits within the context of the whole web, backlinks will still be valuable for helping sites demonstrate their expertise, authority and trustworthiness. Outside of SEO, backlinks also provide your site with referrals, creating another entrance point and traffic opportunity for your site.

                                                                 

                                                                An easier way of getting your products listed

                                                                Good news for charities looking to increase their sales over the holiday period! The process of getting your products listed in the shopping tab just became easier. A recent update to Google Search Console means merchants can link their Merchant Centre account to their Google Search Console property to target product listings in the search results.

                                                                For this work you do need the following:

                                                                • A Merchant Center account.
                                                                • Product Schema on your individual product pages.

                                                                This method allows you to by-pass several steps, such as uploading your feed and verifying your site making it a more accessible feature for merchants to use.

                                                                 

                                                                Continuous Scroll for Desktop Search Results in US

                                                                At the start of December, Google announced the rollout of continuous scrolling for desktop search results in the US, having previously introduced it to mobile search in October 2021.

                                                                Whilst sharing some similarity to infinite scrolling, continuous scrolling will automatically show up to 6 pages of search results before users will be shown a ‘’More results’ button.

                                                                As user journeys won’t be interrupted by having to click, we could perhaps see more users exploring beyond the first few search results as more content becomes more conveniently accessible.

                                                                It will be interesting to see what, if any, impact this may have on click-through-rates and impressions. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on the search results data for our American clients, and will wait and see if it rolls out globally too.

                                                                 

                                                                Looking to upgrade your SEO for 2023?

                                                                2022 has been a busy year for SEO, with an abundance of new challenges and exciting developments. Are you looking to enhance your SEO strategy for 2023? We’d love to hear from you!

                                                                Feel free to tweet us upriseUPSEM, email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk , or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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                                                                  ‘I call it Experiment 626!’ How to Set Up Google Ads Experiments

                                                                  Google Ads Experiments Blog Lead Image

                                                                  How to use Google Ads Experiments

                                                                  Adjusting and optimising your campaigns is key to getting the most out of Google Ads, but what if you’re not sure whether a change will be in your best interests or not? In Paid Media, you always want to ensure you are getting the most benefit out of your Ad spend. This is where Google Ads Experiments comes in. At Uprise Up, we’re always looking to continuously improve the accounts we work on and as a data driven agency, experiments allow us to learn directly from the data produced by these.

                                                                  What are Google Ads experiments?

                                                                  Experiments are a way to test a change that you’re not certain about in your Google Ads account. Whatever change you are debating, experiments are a way to test your theories without taking any major risks. For charities in particular, this is ideal in keeping costs down and not needing to spend any more than necessary in ensuring your campaigns are running the best they can. Experiments can also be used in either Google Ad Grant or paid accounts, meaning that charities only running Ad Grant activity can also benefit from these.

                                                                  This change could be from a range of areas, such as:

                                                                  • A change in bid strategy
                                                                  • Using pinning in your responsive search ads
                                                                  • Changes in your ad copy
                                                                  • Using dynamic keyword/location insertion headlines .
                                                                  • Using dynamic search ads
                                                                  • Different landing pages
                                                                  • Pausing/adding ad groups
                                                                  • Different keyword lists
                                                                  • Applying negative ad targets
                                                                  • Audience or locational targeting

                                                                  Google Ads uses A/B testing, also referred to as split testing, that allows multiple variants to run simultaneously to show which performs better. This uses a ‘control’ campaign (A) against a ‘variation’ campaign (B) to see what, if any, difference in performance arises between the two campaigns. All you need to start an experiment is an existing campaign and an idea of what it is you’d like to test.

                                                                  Before you start: Experiment limitations

                                                                  It’s worth noting that there are some limitations to which campaigns are allowed to use experiments. There are only a few restrictions but it’s important to be aware of them before you start, otherwise Google might not inform you until you’ve already put in most of the work in setting one up.

                                                                  Restrictions include:

                                                                  • Campaigns in a shared budget. Removing the campaign from the budget while the experiment is carried out is a route around this, but no experiment can be run if a shared budget is still attached.
                                                                  • Campaigns that include ‘Text Ads’, even if they’ve been removed. This is referring solely to the old style of ad referred to as ‘Text Ads’, rather than ‘Expanded Text Ads’ the latter of these function in experiments just fine. What’s unusual here is that this restriction applies even if the ads have been ‘removed’ from the account, so if these are in a campaign even in this state, you won’t be able to run an experiment.
                                                                  • Custom experiments are not available for App of Shopping campaigns. Experiments are only available for Search, Display, Video and Hotel Ads campaigns.
                                                                  • Only one experiment for a campaign at a time. However, you can schedule up to five experiments for a single campaign.

                                                                   

                                                                  How to set up Google Ads Experiments

                                                                  Let’s run through an example. You’re running a campaign focused on recruitment and volunteering and you want more application-based conversions for a campaign, but you’re not sure what effect a bid strategy change might have on your campaign. You decide to set up an experiment to test this and have directly comparable data between your original campaign and your variation.

                                                                  Here’s the set-up process:

                                                                  Creating a custom experiment - how to set up Google Ads Experiments

                                                                  First of all, select the ‘Experiments’ tab in the left navigation bar, while on the ‘All campaigns’ view as shown above. From here, we’ll make a custom experiment, allowing us to test as much or little as we like.

                                                                  Select the campaign you want to make into an experiment in Google Ads

                                                                  Next, choose the campaign you want to make an experiment for and name it something clear and to the point, such as stating the purpose of the experiment.

                                                                  Changing the settings for Google Ads Experiments

                                                                  Now, you can make your changes. Go into the campaign settings and change the bid strategy over to our desired option, just the same as you would to make any changes outside of an experiment.

                                                                  Setting a Google Ads Experiment live

                                                                  Then you can simply set it live! While you can choose the metrics you’re most interested in to see more directly in your results, you’ll still get a range of metrics to view once your experiment is running. Additionally, if you have a larger campaign or limited budget and only want to test this change on a smaller level, here you can set just how much budget you want to split between the base campaign and the experiment.

                                                                  Generally speaking, these experiments do need some time to learn, so we’d usually suggest running an experiment for at least 4 weeks, otherwise this simply won’t give enough time to see the effects of any changes, although this can depend on just how much data is coming through.

                                                                  It’s also important to note that while you can extend the duration of the experiment once it’s begun or choose to end it early, you can’t reenable an experiment once it’s ended, so always double check that you’ve given the experiment enough time to test your changes effectively.

                                                                  Another feature that’s incredibly useful here is Enable Sync. For most experiments, this allows us to continue optimising across both the control and experiment campaigns as we go, such as adding new keywords or adjusting copy. A case where you might not use this is in an experiment where copy is being tested, as you might not want any further tweaks in your copy to pull across to the experiment.

                                                                  Monitor performance in Google Ads

                                                                  As the experiment is running and learning, you’ll want to monitor performance. We would recommend regularly popping back into the experiments tab throughout the duration of the experiment, where you can easily take a look at the performance of your experiment compared to the base campaign.

                                                                  Summary data interface for Google Ads Experiments

                                                                  The summary, as shown above, will highlight whichever metrics you decided to look at earlier and will also display a range of metrics to compare. This can be customised in the same way as you’d customise columns within the regular campaigns view.

                                                                  You can also make any alterations to your experiment here (although we’d recommend keeping an experiment the same from start to finish), apply the experiment early or end the experiment early if you’d like to. Once the experiment is over, you can use this summary to get a clear idea of your results and then decide whether or not to apply your changes to the base campaign.
                                                                  And that’s all there is to it! Experiments are a great and adaptable way to safely test your ideas out and directly see just how your changes might affect a campaign.

                                                                  Need some support?

                                                                  Do you want some support setting up your Google Ads and running experiments? Or would you just like to talk about your paid media in general? We’d love to hear from you! Check out our contact us page or email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk, or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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                                                                    Website Migrations: Making sure SEO isn’t left behind

                                                                    A rocket launching into space representing website migrations

                                                                    Website migrations are a big project many sites have undertaken and will undertake in the future. They can mean a big change for any website and all too often we will see SEO be neglected until the end. This can potentially have harmful consequences for your site. Instead SEO should be discussed the moment your organisation decides to plan a website migration. Here’s how to include SEO throughout your migration process, from start to finish.

                                                                     

                                                                    SEO Pre Pre migration considerations

                                                                    Pre-pre Migration

                                                                    When we say pre-pre migration, we’re referring to the very start of your migration journey. This is when you’re having internal discussions with stakeholders, clarifying what you want to include in your migration and what the project objectives are. This is when SEO needs to be introduced into the conversation. At this stage of the migration you will be:

                                                                    Agreeing objectives

                                                                    When deciding what you’re doing in the migration, you should keep your site’s targets at the forefront of your mind. Bear in mind how much organic traffic contributes to these objectives.

                                                                    As organic traffic is usually a top traffic channel for websites, you want to ensure your website migration is SEO friendly. Avoid agreeing to changes that could be detrimental to your organic performance in the long-term. The mass removal of content from the site is a prime example of a change that can negatively affect your SEO.

                                                                    Confirming what the migration is

                                                                    A migration can start as one task, but very quickly grow into a big project. How extensive the project is informs how much SEO support it will require.

                                                                    For example, updating your CMS requires less SEO support compared to a migration where the entire site’s structure and URLs are changing. Understanding the scale of your project, means you can then consider the SEO support you’ll need to budget for.

                                                                    Be careful when it comes to removing content

                                                                    We’ve mentioned content removal can be detrimental to your organic traffic. In a migration it can be very tempting to streamline your site by removing content in bulk. As alluring as that clean up can be, we recommend caution and research before making any final decisions.

                                                                    To conserve valuable rankings, compile a list of pages you want to remove and then check how they perform for organic and other channels. If the page ranks well for relevant keywords and brings traffic in through those keywords, we strongly recommend you keep the page.

                                                                    If it’s a page that doesn’t rank well or bring in traffic, then removal is unlikely to have a strong impact on your organic performance. You can grab this data through your Google Search Console and Google Analytics properties.

                                                                     

                                                                    SEO Pre Migration

                                                                    Pre-Migration

                                                                    This is where development starts and you’re working on the staging site. At this point, SEO becomes more integrated into the physical work.

                                                                    You want to ensure any changes being created are reviewed from an SEO perspective to ensure they are optimising the site towards organic performance, rather than creating problems or hindering performance.

                                                                    Tasks that happen in pre-migration, where you want SEO involved, can include:

                                                                    Updates to your site structure.

                                                                    Quite often organisations will use a website migration as an opportunity to review and update the structure of their site. The structure of a website can refer to the navigation menu, the categorisation and arrangement of your pages, and the URL structure.

                                                                    Site structure is crucial to your SEO, as it has a big influence on the performance of your website. It can impact how easily users and search engines navigate their way round the site to find the content they want. Therefore, when updating the structure of your site you’ll benefit strongly from the input of your SEO team.

                                                                    Take your URL structure for example. Websites that utilise subfolders provide better user experience as the URL indicates straight away to someone where they are on a site. They can already start to see how content is categorised and navigated to. A flat URL structure, where the file path falls straight off the domain, doesn’t provide this clarification.

                                                                    With SEO support you can ensure your priority content is easy to navigate to and clearly signposted across the site. You can prevent pages from being (accidentally) orphaned and make sure content is logically structured out and connected. All with your site’s objectives in mind. In doing so, you’ll not only boost your organic performance but your user engagement too; encouraging visitors to click and engage on more content.

                                                                    Content removal, or changes to URLs

                                                                    Another frequent update we see in migrations are changes to site content. Often content from multiple pages may be merged onto a singular page, or a page may be moved to sit elsewhere on the site. When this happens the URL for the current page will change.

                                                                    Whenever any URLs change in a migration you will want to document this in one central place. We recommend creating a URL mapping document, where you have all the current URLs in one column, with the new URL in the adjacent column. Even when a URL is staying the same that should be documented, as this is useful intel to have noted down when it comes to launch day checks.

                                                                    When URLs are being changed on the site, URL redirect mapping is a must in order to help retain your organic rankings. A common migration mistake we see is that redirects aren’t done and a website will have an extensive list of 404s when their migration goes live.

                                                                    Missing off redirects can have devastating impacts on organic performance, especially if not immediately dealt with. With SEO support your redirect mapping will be supported and reviewed to ensure all pages are included.

                                                                    Updating wireframes

                                                                    If your site is getting a new look in this migration, then there’s a strong chance your wireframes will be updated. As your wireframes look at the overall layout of your pages, you want them to be optimised for SEO.

                                                                    Usually, as developers are more focused on the look of the site rather than the contents, templates can be designed that are not fully beneficial to SEO. We recommend developers work alongside your SEO team so your site gets the best of both worlds.

                                                                    Just some of the factors you should look at from an SEO perspective include:

                                                                    • Page structure
                                                                    • Header Tags
                                                                    • Alt tags
                                                                    • Internal linking
                                                                    • CTAs
                                                                    • On-page content
                                                                    • Unique vs templated content

                                                                    Incorporating these considerations into the development of your wireframes enables SEO integration at design level, which can make it much easier in the long-term.

                                                                    Staging site review

                                                                    Making changes to the staging site is always going to be quicker, cheaper and easier than making changes to a live site. It’s also more beneficial to your SEO, as it prevents Google from ever seeing and indexing any issues. Therefore, you want SEO support to review the staging site and catch any major technical issues ahead of going live.

                                                                    There will be some issues you won’t be able to see until you go live, primarily around the indexation of the site. However, some of the technical issues you can flag at this stage include:

                                                                    • 404s
                                                                    • Canonical tags
                                                                    • Internal links
                                                                    • Duplicate content
                                                                    • Page load time
                                                                    • Schema

                                                                    We recommend refining the site as much as you can in staging mode, so there is less repair work required once the site has migrated.

                                                                     

                                                                    SEO Migration Launch Day

                                                                    Launch Day

                                                                    Following all your hard efforts in the pre-migration stages, it’s now time for the migration to go live. You want SEO support on tap here, so any critical issues that occur can be identified quickly and resolved as a priority.

                                                                    Dubbed our launch day migration checks, the SEO factors you want to review on the day of a launch are:

                                                                    Indexation checks

                                                                    This is checking out any issues that could impact the indexation of your site. If a page is prevented from being indexed by Google, it will not show in organic search results for any keywords.

                                                                    If this happens to just one priority page you will see an immediate drop in traffic and rankings. Therefore, one of the first checks SEO support provides is to make sure the website is crawlable and indexable. These checks include looking at factors such as:

                                                                    • txt
                                                                    • XML Sitemap
                                                                    • Index vs noindex tags
                                                                    • Canonical tags

                                                                    The staging site will be blocked from organic search as a standard. A common mistake with migrations is that the block remains in place on the live site once the changes are finished. Flagging to developers that this needs to be remedied is an easy, but often missed, step.

                                                                     

                                                                    Redirect checks

                                                                    Time to put that URL mapping document to good use. With redirects now live you want to check that they work and point to the correct page. Often a migration has some bumps when going live: incorrect page redirects often account for a few of those bumps.

                                                                    If redirects do not point to the right page, this can have an impact on your rankings. Redirects signal where content has moved to. When content has been unpublished, a redirect should point to the most relevant page on the site. If redirects do not point to a relevant alternative page, then your site will see a drop in rankings.

                                                                    Often sites will be tempted to just 301 redirect to the homepage. Whilst this prevents a 404 error, the SEO and UX benefits of this are nowhere near as great as redirecting on a page by page basis to a relevant alternative.

                                                                    Redirect chains and loops can also appear if redirects are not managed correctly. These issues can affect page load time and even the indexation of your site – if Google can’t find the final page because there are multiple redirects in play it will give up. Make your site easy for Google to see, ensuring your redirects work correctly plays a core role in that.

                                                                     

                                                                    Analytics tracking checks

                                                                    Make sure your data is tracking correctly. With changes going live you want to make sure your analytics platform is still recording your data correctly. You not only want to ensure pageviews fire correctly, but also make your tracked conversions still function and fire correctly.

                                                                    You will need this data to be able to monitor performance for any changes, so make sure your tracking code hasn’t been removed by mistake.

                                                                    Is your site’s domain changing in this migration?

                                                                    Whether it be the domain name itself, or you’re changing from non-www. to www. (or vice versa), you will need to set up a new property on Google Search Console. You can create a new property for a specific prefix using the ‘URL prefix’ option. We also recommend creating a property at domain level: this one property will contain information for your domain and all submains in one place.

                                                                    'Select property type' panel in Google Search Console showing domain selection and URL prefix - Website Migrations

                                                                     

                                                                    If any of these launch day checks are not actioned, you are much more likely to see a change in your data. This is because either data isn’t recording properly, or a technical issue is causing a drop in traffic or conversions.

                                                                     

                                                                    SEO Post Migration Info

                                                                    Post-Migration

                                                                    Post-migration covers the initial 4-6 weeks after a migration. During this time Google will start to index the changes on your site and you’ll have a better view of what the longer-term outcomes of your migration are to organic performance. Post-migration is also the stage where the less critical, but still important, technical checks should be actioned.

                                                                    You will want SEO support at this stage to help monitor performance and react to any changes in keyword rankings or traffic. If you start to see a reduction in traffic or rankings, your SEO team will be able to delve in and identify where issues could be contributing to the change in performance. We recommend monitoring your top keywords for change; these are the keywords you know to bring in traffic and convert.

                                                                    Technical Audit

                                                                    SEO post-migration support includes a full technical SEO audit of your site. This audit should be fully comprehensive and covering all technical factors to see where issues are either unresolved still or have emerged following the migration.

                                                                    This audit will help to not only identify where issues are live, but also prioritise work. You’ll get an understanding of which issues need to be addressed as a priority and which are more long-term tasks.

                                                                     

                                                                    What happens when you don’t include SEO in website migrations?

                                                                    Website migration mistakes due to lack of SEO incorporation into the process means that websites can often see a negative fallout once their new site is live. This is usually a result of an accumulation of issues causing a drop in rankings for valuable keywords, leading to a reduction in traffic and conversions.

                                                                    We’ve been approached by multiple clients who have migrated, didn’t factor in SEO and then saw a drop in organic performance. This is costly for organisations, as fixing organic performance, and the impact of these changes to search results, can take months.

                                                                    If a migration goes wrong it can take up to and over a year to return a website’s organic performance to its pre-migration glory. Including SEO support throughout your entire process, helps prepare your site and make sure SEO basics are covered to reduce the impact of the migration to performance once live.

                                                                    Want a website migration checklist? We’ve got you covered

                                                                    For a full breakdown of the tasks you want to be undertaking when working on your website migration, download our website migration checklist.

                                                                    If you’re looking to undertake a website migration and want to discuss SEO support, we’d love to have a chat. Get in touch through our contact page or email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk.

                                                                     

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                                                                      October’s Spooktacular SEO News Roundup

                                                                      V

                                                                      It’s time again to share with you the latest, most important October SEO news updates. Has Google got a bag full of treats for you – or were there some scary tricks in there? Much to our relief – it was pure treats! Looking at the updates in search across the month, we can tell just how much Google truly cares about its users and the experience they are getting on the search engine.

                                                                      Google Shopping is becoming more visual for desktop

                                                                      Just in time for the start of the festive season, the Google shopping functionality has been updated to make it more visually appealing to consumers. Google Shopping Ads have been displaying in the SERPs for a while, but as a retailer, you can now have your listings pulled through in the organic results. A great way for potential customers to see your products without clicking through to your site.

                                                                      Visual Google Shopping Ad Results for 'white wardrobe' - October SEO News

                                                                      We quite like this feature from a user perspective as if you see a range of several products, you will definitely be more inclined to click on the more visually appealing one. Product imagery is going to be getting more important than ever as it will likely affect the CTR of results. We are predicting that the better the images you have, the higher the CTR your website will receive, despite your organic position!

                                                                      7 new updates for Google’s Local Search

                                                                      At the end of September, Google announced not 1, not 2, but 7 new updates to its local search functionality at its ‘Search On’ conference. As always, these updates are to enhance how we are exploring and interacting with local businesses, restaurants, and our local neighbourhoods in search.

                                                                      • Search for restaurants by dish – one for the foodies! Simply search for your favourite dish or one you are craving to eat, and the local results in Google will now serve you a list of restaurants that have it on the menu. A great way to feed your appetite with a simple Google search!

                                                                       

                                                                      • Discover restaurant specialities – we all know a restaurant that is known for a certain thing – be it the décor or its atmosphere. Google will bring this to life by adding a ‘people say’ function to the listing above the details. Saves us time messaging friends for recommendations in different areas.

                                                                       

                                                                      • More support for digital menus – Google has developed image and language technologies to gather menu information to add as digital menus without creating additional work from the restaurant. The popular dishes will be showcased with dietary requirements such as vegetarian made clear. Again, great for these smaller restaurant owners with less digital resources.

                                                                       

                                                                      • Enhancements to Google Maps live view – first brought in 3 years ago, Google has updated this feature of using the viewfinder on your phones camera to navigate from one place to another. It will also be adding features that allows you to search for things in your immediate location soon too.

                                                                       

                                                                      • Aerial views of famous landmarks – Google has added aerial views of global landmarks. A great way to check out the scenes in your dream destination and plan your next holiday.

                                                                       

                                                                      • Immersive view – we all love Google Street view, as it’s a great way of checking out an area before we visit. With Google’s new immersive view, we will be able to extend our experience from the streets and take it inside of buildings. Spooky huh! As Google loves to give us as much information as possible, it will also tell us busy periods and the weather at given dates and times.

                                                                       

                                                                      • Neighbourhood vibe checks – an upcoming feature yet to be rolled out but will give you an opportunity to get a feel for a place before for your first visit. Google will also give you all the information you may want ahead of your visit. It will show you what’s new, local places worth exploring whilst pulling in information and photos using a combination of AI and user-submitted information.

                                                                      There are a lot of user experience based updates here which will lead to a lot of people exploring areas more on screens before exploring them on foot. Although this may spoil the fun of accidentally stumbling across new and exciting areas by yourself, we think these updates will be loved and used by many. With the pressure and rush of daily life, they’re a helpful way to have a quick check and ensure places are worth a visit before users spend their valuable time.

                                                                      Site names to replace title tags on some mobile searches

                                                                      Google has been tweaking the way our meta data is being displayed in the search results on mobile. If we are searching for a specific website, Google is clearly understanding that we know what to expect from that site so instead of showing the full title tag, it is just displaying the site name.

                                                                      This definitely helps users to navigate to the exact website easier and reduces the amount of text showing up in the search results. Helps when other websites may be ranking for other brand names.

                                                                      This is currently only a feature on mobile and something that is only supported at domain level meaning subdomains will still display the full title tag.

                                                                      New Title tags and site names showing a Google result for Uprise Up - October SEO News

                                                                       

                                                                      We know what you might be thinking. ‘But how will Google know this?’ or ‘my website name is different to the domain URL, so it won’t appear for my brand’. WellGoogle uses structured data, current title tags, headings and the sites open graph to understand the true name of your website.

                                                                      As part of this announcement, Google ‘recommends’ all websites have ‘WebSite Structured Data’ on the root URL on the domain to help Google understand your website name and any alternatives.

                                                                      Google is giving us the opportunity to explain more about our website and the different names it may go by. We would definitely recommend this is something that is looked into by your SEO team.

                                                                      Google Search Essentials

                                                                      In other SEO news, Google Webmaster Guidelines has now been rebranded to Google Search Essentials, sticking to the theme of removing ‘webmaster’ from naming conventions. And what a treat! Google simplified everything for us and categorised everything under three main sections:

                                                                      • Technical requirements: continues to give us insights into how we can enhance pages to ensure they rank in search results.
                                                                      • Key best practices: the basics you need to follow to ensure people are finding your content.
                                                                      • Spam policies: highlights the tactics that can lead to a page being de-indexed from Google search. This includes all the old school black hat techniques such as cloaking, link spam and scraped content.

                                                                      As you can see, nothing fundamentally changed here, but it might take a while to get used to the hearing and saying the new name.

                                                                      So there we have it! Nothing too scary to encounter this month, with the exception of one massive office spider which caused some true Halloween horror… But in terms of SEO news, it’s been all treats and no tricks for October.

                                                                      Did we miss any October SEO news?

                                                                      Have we missed any of your key highlights from our October SEO news round-up? Or do you have any burning questions about how to implement effective SEO for your organisation? We’d love to hear from you!

                                                                      Join the conversation and tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk, or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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                                                                        Paid Media Developments in October 2022

                                                                        Laptop displaying 'get the most out of your marketing budget with Google Ads' on the Google Ads homepage.

                                                                        Our expert team of digital media specialists have put their heads together and assessed some of the latest paid media developments across October, and have shared their thoughts on the impact they might have for digital marketers. From a Data Studio rebrand to Google Ad updates – our paid media pros have got the latest for you. 

                                                                        Google Ad recommendation experiments

                                                                        Google announced this month that recommendations in Google Ads (from the recommendations tab) can now be implemented into experiments first, rather than straight into an existing campaign.

                                                                        This is a useful workflow improvement, as often these suggestions are not always guaranteed to result in improved performance. Being able to quickly create experiments to test implementing some of these more uncertain recommendations will allow us to more easily evaluate the success or failure of the suggestions.

                                                                        Optimisation of Google Ads keyword match types

                                                                        Google recently tested an option during account creation prompting users to not use match types in their keywords. This would mean every keyword would be using the broadest match type available. This spawned immediate questions from advertisers about whether this was a signal that match types would be disappearing.

                                                                        Google emphasised that this was not the first step towards the removal of match types, but just a workflow optimisation for users who did not use them. Although we are glad to hear that match types are not going away any time soon, it is frustrating that Google continues to add features that push users towards using broader and broader targeting. As always, we advise taking Google recommendations with pinch of salt.

                                                                        Data Studio rebranded to Looker Studio 

                                                                        The new Looker studio logo.

                                                                        Earlier this month Google announced the rebrand of Data Studio to Looker Studio. Google has stated this has been done to bring Google business intelligence products under the ‘Looker Studio umbrella’, having acquired the BI and data analysis tool, under the same name, in 2020.  

                                                                        Aside from the new name and updated logo, the Looker Studio update came with the announcement of a pro version, which includes:

                                                                        • Team workspaces, meaning all users within a team can access and edit a report, rather than needing individual access.
                                                                        • Ability to link to a Google Cloud project, meaning organisations will own the data sources and reports, rather than individuals who create them (and may leave a company)
                                                                        • Access to Cloud Customer Care, to help with any specific issues that may arise.

                                                                        With the regular updates Google has, we don’t find this change or the monetization of Data Studio surprising, although, we are not completely set on the name choice itself. We are, however, interested to see what else Looker Studio Pro can offer. 

                                                                        ‘Sponsored’ label being added to Google Ads for mobile

                                                                        Google have announced that they are replacing the existing black “Ad” label for text ads with a bold black “Sponsored” label, making it easier for users to distinguish between organic and paid results. The label will also be on a separate line to the top left of the ad to increase clarity for users. 

                                                                        Screenshot of the new 'sponsored' label which will be shown on mobile Google Ads.

                                                                        Given that the addition of a more distinguishable label may have an impact on your click through rate, we’ll be keeping an eye on how CTR’s may be impacted, especially for those with mobile-focussed sites and audiences. 

                                                                        Google Ads Content Suitability Center

                                                                        Google has just launched a new “Content Suitability Center” for YouTube and Display Network advertising. The aim of this is to allow advertisers to have greater control over their brand safety settings across campaigns in a single place. There are now 3 inventory options, with increasing levels of suitability and safety measures: 

                                                                        Screenshot of new content suitability center.

                                                                        Expanded Inventory: Allows you to maximise available inventory by showing ads with some sensitive content.

                                                                        Standard Inventory: Allows you to show ads on content appropriate for most brands.

                                                                        Limited Inventory: Excludes most types of sensitive content and limits your available inventory.

                                                                        While we usually default to using DV360 for most display/video campaigns (where brand safety settings are more in-depth) those using GDN should find it easier to find the right option; avoiding misapplication of settings and poorer results.

                                                                        Will Google increase Ad Grant spend this ‘giving season’? 

                                                                        For the last 2 years, Google has announced that they will be awarding Ad Grants additional funding during ‘Giving Season’ (Dec-Jan). In 2020, we saw most Ad Grants have their budgets at least doubled, and in some cases more than tripled. In 2021 though, the pool of selected Ad Grantees awarded with additional funding was significantly reduced.

                                                                        We are yet to receive any information about additional funding this year though, and are eagerly awaiting to see what is on offer – if anything. We would expect Google to make an announcement in the next few weeks, so will be looking out for this and keeping our clients up to date. We’ll otherwise be reaching out to the Ad Grant community and team if we don’t hear an update as we approach the end of November. 

                                                                        Did we miss any Paid Media developments?  

                                                                        Were there any paid media developments we haven’t mentioned that caught your eye? Want to talk about paid media in general? We’d love to hear from you! Join the conversation and tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk, or simply send us a message through our contact page. 

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                                                                          SEO Developments in August 2022

                                                                          A plant with some post it nots stuck to the pot and a pen holding up a post it note with a message on it.

                                                                          It has been an eventful summer for search, with lots of updates rolling out, and a fire that led to Google Search outages! Here’s the latest.

                                                                          Product Review Search Ranking Updates.

                                                                          Google began rolling out a product review search ranking update as of July 27th. Whilst there was speculation it may take 2-3 weeks to complete, Google quietly changed its update landing page to show that the update had finished rolling out on August 2nd.

                                                                          Impact of the July 2022 product review update.

                                                                          This particular update doesn’t appear to have made many changes to the ranking criteria. It’s most likely that Google has just been refreshing it and making small adjustments.

                                                                          This update is part of a continuing series of product review updates. All aimed at promoting review content that goes above and beyond most of the more basic templated information we see online as a standard. If you are interested, you can check out the previous product review updates, which were released on:

                                                                          • April 8th  2021
                                                                          • December 1st  2021
                                                                          • March 23rd  2022
                                                                          What is the purpose of these product review updates?

                                                                          Google has said that the aim of these updates is not to punish sites that have reviews with thin content but to focus on rewarding sites that have detail-rich and genuinely useful product reviews.

                                                                          If you offer product reviews on your website – it may be worth reviewing your rankings to see if you were impacted now that the update has fully rolled out.

                                                                          What to do if product review rankings have dropped?

                                                                          There is a lot of advice out there about how to evaluate and improve your site’s product reviews. Google has provided specific advice on how to write product reviews that are high quality, which you may find helpful to read if you have been negatively impacted by this update.

                                                                          Introducing Pros and Cons to Structured Data.

                                                                          A new update to structured data is now allowing additional information for snippets in editorial review pages.

                                                                          What is structured data?

                                                                          Structured data in SEO is a mark-up code which provides information about a page to help search engines better understand the content and display key elements in a more useful way in search results pages.

                                                                          Users often find pros and cons in product reviews a very useful way to quickly gain clear and concise summaries of the products they are searching for. Therefore, we’re very excited to see the introduction of pros and cons Structured Data, which can be added to your Product Schema to enhance the search results for editorial product reviews.

                                                                           

                                                                           

                                                                          At least two pro/con statements must be made for the information to pull through. This could mean either two pros, two cons, or one of each, and can be seen in the example above.

                                                                          Currently, only editorial product review pages are eligible for the new pros and cons update. This means it is only available to sites that do not sell products themselves but focus on reviewing them, leaving merchant and customer product review sites out in the cold for the time being.

                                                                          We would love to see this pros and cons update roll out further in the near future to extend to retail and commercial content, so that charities who sell products online will also be able to benefit from the likely increase in click-through rates this opportunity represents.

                                                                          Available languages for this structured data update include: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish.

                                                                          Google search quality rater guidelines update: What has changed

                                                                          Google has updated its Quality Rater Guidelines,  with changes coming to both E-A-T and ‘Your Money’ or ‘Your Life’ (YMYL) content. One area of particular interest to us is the changes to YMYL content rating, due to its potential to impact charity content addressing health.

                                                                          Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) Topics.

                                                                          Topics that pose a ‘high risk of harm’ due to the potential to significantly impact health, safety, finances or welfare/well-being of individuals or society are known as YMYL content.

                                                                          These can either be inherently dangerous topics or harmful due to the potential damage that misinformation and inaccuracies in the content could cause.

                                                                          Google has removed it’s previous 7 categories of YMYL topics and is now encouraging quality raters to consider four types of harm this type of content could cause to the user, including:

                                                                          • Health or Safety
                                                                          • Financial Security
                                                                          • Society
                                                                          • “Other”

                                                                          Google also announced that YMYL content assessments are done on a spectrum, including ‘not likely or unlikely YMYL topic’, ‘May be YMYL topic’ and ‘Clear YMYL topic’.

                                                                          Here is a link to a useful table from Google which shows clear definitions and examples of what it considers to be YMYL content which you may find useful.

                                                                          Due to the spectrum approach, not many topics will fall into the clear YMYL category. However, understanding YMYL content and how it is viewed by Google is important for the charity sector as many organisations function within the health or safety section. Such as cancer charities or dementia support. Content surrounding these topics has the potential to cause a negative impact on lives if it is inaccurate.

                                                                          Google Search Outage.

                                                                          Google search experienced a widespread outage over the course of the evening on August 9th, which is apparently linked to an electrical fire at a Google data centre in Iowa, United States.

                                                                           

                                                                          Indexability issues, extreme ranking fluctuations and pages either dropping out of search or not being ranked at all were also noted at the same time as this outage issue.

                                                                          It appears as though the main issue was resolved quickly, however, it is worth taking note of this event in case you did notice any distinct changes in your rankings, both positive or negative.

                                                                          Did we miss any SEO news?

                                                                          Have we missed any of your key SEO highlights from our round-up? Or do you have any burning questions about how to implement effective SEO for your organisation?

                                                                          We’d love to hear from you!

                                                                          Join the conversation and tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk, or simply send us a message through our contact page

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                                                                            Paid Media Developments August 2022

                                                                            Further Targeting Options Removed from Facebook Ads.

                                                                            Back in January, Meta announced that certain targeting options available on Facebook Ads around ‘sensitive causes’ were to be removed. Which was a big blow for non-profits, because it removed targeting options which were highly effective as part of colder acquisition in general, but more importantly, were extremely relevant for reaching a more charity-conscious audience. 

                                                                            This has meant advertisers have had to make use of broader interest-targeting options, which can provide less audience insight, and often worse performance. 

                                                                            Now, there appear to be even more targeting options removed. Over the last few weeks, we have seen first-hand that many ad set audiences are no longer able to run. We’ve also heard from multiple clients of these further restrictions also. 

                                                                            Some non-profits have been affected more than others with the interest options available. For example, there are still quite a few ‘animal-charity’ specific targeting options available, whereas any cancer charity options have been decimated. 

                                                                            Making more use of audience segmentation as well as lookalikes has become pivotal to campaign success, with lookalikes becoming increasingly more valuable and focal to ad campaigns. 

                                                                            In many ad accounts, a banner now re-appears (similarly to how we saw it in Jan-March) to say there have been changes. However, the ‘learn more link’ doesn’t seem to reference any new updates since the original announcement. 

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                            We did find this update, which mentioned further changes being rolled out at the start of April; so it has potentially just taken a few weeks/months to take effect.

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                            Either way, I expect this to be a continued trend over the next few months, so we’ll be continuing to explore and test alternative strategies.

                                                                            Will Rhodes, Paid Media Manager

                                                                             

                                                                            New Facebook Fundraiser Challenges. 

                                                                            Meta have now added ‘Fundraiser Challenges’ to Facebook which allows supporters to start their own individual fundraisers under one umbrella fundraiser. Non profit organisations can use this tool to set a fundraising goal and select an activity for supporters to get involved with. If the organisation sets the challenge of ‘running 1 mile every day in September’ for example, supporters can select their own individual fundraising goals to raise money on behalf of the organisation. 

                                                                            As soon as supporters join the challenge, they can begin raising funds and are added to a Facebook group for the challenge. Here, they can share pictures, connect with others who are taking part and rally supporters around the challenge activity. 

                                                                            One major benefit for non-profit is that they no longer have to pay to promote fundraising activity on Facebook. Previously, fees could be added or taken from the money that is donated. Charities could also expect to face fees for promoting fundraising challenges through major platforms such as Just Giving. Organisations can now capitalise on the new Facebook Fundraiser Challenges feature at no extra cost.

                                                                            Max-Leslie Smith, Paid Media Executive 

                                                                             

                                                                            Image Source

                                                                             

                                                                            Updates to Google Ads Keyword Planner.

                                                                            A new feature has been rolled out for all Keyword Planner customers this August. Initially trialled in 2021, the ‘Organise keywords into ad groups’ tool utilises an automated machine learning system where Google then suggests which ad groups are best for the keywords. 

                                                                            The aim of the update from Google is to save advertisers the time of sorting through keywords and trying to gauge where they would perform best, which traditionally would have done manually. 

                                                                            It has taken time and thought from Google as to which keywords are best suited to which ad group, so it will be interesting to see how well Google’s recommendations work and if it will provide more insight than we can garner manually. 

                                                                            We will be experimenting with this new tool and analysing the results to see if it is a tool we can confidently utilise.  

                                                                            This is another update heading in the ‘automation’ direction from Google. A trend that we suspect will continue in updates going forward. 

                                                                            Brogan Carroll, Paid Media Analyst

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                            New Twitter Ads Pixel 

                                                                            Twitter has released an update to their ‘Conversion Tracking’ products which are intended to improve setup and increase measurement capabilities. The new ‘Twitter Pixel’ is one of the biggest changes within the platform, with a simplified setup that combines the legacy Universal Web Tags (UWTs) and Single Event Tags (SETs) into one. 

                                                                            The update also includes improvements to the troubleshooting and event creation process as well as the ‘Twitter Pixel Helper Chrome’ extension.

                                                                            The main other change is the new ‘Conversion API’ (CAPI) which can run in conjunction with the ‘Twitter Pixel’ or on its own. It aims to connect advertisers to the API and track conversion events without using third-party cookies – a great move to enable more privacy.

                                                                            Twitter says these updates should not impact any existing setup. However, it is recommended to update from the older ‘UWTs’ and ‘SETs’, to the new ‘Twitter Pixel’.

                                                                             

                                                                            James Sherlock, Paid Media Analyst 

                                                                             

                                                                            Are there any other recent digital developments that caught your attention? Feel free to tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk, or simply send us a message through our contact page.

                                                                             

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                                                                              The Best and Worst of Google Ads Automation Options in 2022.

                                                                              Automation is an unavoidable word in modern Google Ads management. From something as small as site links to entire campaigns, Google is now giving us more ways than ever before to let them handle parts of our digital marketing.

                                                                              But anyone that has any experience in Google Ads will tell you that automation can often be a minefield, and blindly using it won’t guarantee the best results. Sometimes it feels like Google’s interest in automation is largely centered around taking control of campaigns, rather than necessarily what is going to work best for advertisers.

                                                                              Here are some of our favourite and least favoured automated features currently available in the Google Ads suite.

                                                                              We’ve also included some easy-to-implement tips to get the most out of them.

                                                                               

                                                                              An Honourable Mention – Responsive Search Ads.

                                                                               

                                                                              Our data shows responsive search ads are now working just as well as expanded text ads across our accounts

                                                                               

                                                                              Why are Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) an ‘honourable’ mention? For the very reason that this blog is about automation you can intentionally choose not to use. Since Google has recently switched RSA’s to being the only ad format you are able to create, this ad type isn’t applicable.

                                                                              I will say, however, that had this blog been written two months ago RSAs would have sat firmly in the favourites for us.

                                                                              At worst they performed equally well as the older expanded text ads, and they saved you valuable time over writing 5 – 10 different ad variations. The only downside is that their initial setup can take longer, and that ad readability can be an issue if you don’t make proper use of the pinning feature.

                                                                              We have a blog outlining how to successfully use RSAs if you’d like more information on this topic.

                                                                               

                                                                              The Favourites.

                                                                               

                                                                              Automated Bidding Strategies.

                                                                               

                                                                               

                                                                              We find maximise conversions particularly useful, often taking advantage of the target CPA (cost per acquisition) feature to further target the bidding.

                                                                              Automated bidding strategies were one of the first big steps toward automatic management Google made and therefore have had the longest time to be refined and improved. Although having a shaky start at the beginning (including a rather embarrassing introduction to the Google Ad Grant scheme) they have since become a mainstay of almost all our strategies.

                                                                              For those unaware, an automated bidding strategy takes control of the keyword level bidding, (usually accomplished by setting a maximum you are willing to spend per click) and optimises towards a particular goal you set. There are many different bidding strategies, which differ depending on what the strategy is optimising towards.

                                                                              These bidding strategies, particularly the conversion-focused ones, such as ‘maximising conversions’ and ‘target ROAS’ (Return on Ad Spend), have shown results at least equal to, if not better than manually editing the bids, (so long as there is sufficient data for Google to utilise). For a start these strategies get to use data that we as users simply cannot see to inform bidding, but they also can make adjustments at a user-to-user level, something that we simply would never have the time to do.

                                                                               

                                                                              Dynamic Search Campaigns.

                                                                               

                                                                              A useful trick is adding all pages currently advertised to their own ad group. That way, you can easily see when a search term not covered by the keywords in that ad group gets picked up by Dynamic Search Ads.

                                                                               

                                                                              A Dynamic Search Campaign (DSC), also known as Dynamic Search Ads, is Google’s fully automated approach to search advertising. You simply give the campaign a list of pages on your site, and Google will do the rest, matching pages to searches, generating ad copy, and posting the ad. This can save a lot of time, and potentially highlight unexpected sources of traffic.

                                                                              To be clear, a DSC is only favourable when used in the right way, and mostly for Google Ad Grant accounts. This should not be the entirety of your ad activity, and an account purely running off DSCs is never going to do as well as an account with more tightly targeted ads.

                                                                              However, there are several very useful ways to use a DSC.

                                                                              The first is that it can be a fantastic keyword research tool. Google will only match your ads to searches it thinks are relevant to a page, and so running through the search terms of a DSC can give you new areas of searches to target with keywords. Just remember to add them as negative keywords in the DSC after you do.

                                                                              The second use is as an extended SEO resource. DSCs operate in a very similar fashion to organic search, with Google matching your site pages to searches based on the content within each page. This can both highlight pages where the content is not well optimised to the keywords it’s supposed to target, and can also highlight pages that are well optimised. Which may be worth adding as new ad groups themselves.

                                                                              We’ve recently written a blog about the best ways to utilise these ads in Google Ad Grants, you can read it here.

                                                                               

                                                                              The Recommendations Page (Part 1).

                                                                               

                                                                              The recommendations around improving RSA’s can be very useful, with the recommended assets often being able to be added with only minor alterations.

                                                                               

                                                                              I’ve split the recommendations page into two parts here, for reasons that will become apparent soon. The recommendations page is where Google will suggest improvements to your Google Ads account.

                                                                              From improving ad copy, and increasing budgets, to changing bid strategies, a whole host of options will pop up on this page.

                                                                              There are some hidden gems on this page that can make managing an account both quicker and easier. In particular, the ad copy improvement notifications are great. A list of the lowest performance ads in the account, which you can click on to immediately begin editing the ad in question. Running through this once every few weeks is a time-worthy investment and can make Click Through Rate (CTR) improvements across the whole account.

                                                                              Similarly, the recommendations pane can highlight where important, but not vital, elements of campaigns haven’t been implemented, like ad extension types. Sometimes there is a reason (call extensions are only useful if you wish to receive calls, for example). But often these will have been overlooked simply because they are not a necessary part of campaign or ad group creation. It would be very difficult to spot this without the recommendations tab highlighting it.

                                                                              Unfortunately, the recommendations tab does also have it’s problems…

                                                                               

                                                                              The Least Favourites.

                                                                              The Recommendations Page (Part 2).

                                                                              For every useful thing the recommendations page does, there is another that is either pointless, or sometimes actively harmful to the account. It’s almost like these issues arise from the fact that Google wants you to spend more money on their platform.

                                                                               

                                                                               

                                                                              Implementing this recommendation would require a 33% increase in the budget of this account and reduce the cost per conversion by around 15%. Not exactly a brilliant recommendation

                                                                              From increasing your budgets and switching your keywords to broad match to utilising different bidding strategies, Google has shown a willingness to make risky recommendations if it is going to up your monthly spend.

                                                                              A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself “Will this change result in me spending more on the platform?” when looking at recommendations. If the answer is yes, be a lot more sceptical about whether the recommendation is actually going to help you.

                                                                              Often these changes come with a big increase in the “optimisation score” of the account. Do not be alarmed, the score is entirely arbitrary, and has no impact on the performance of your campaign. If you don’t think a change is needed, don’t make it. It’s as simple as that.

                                                                               

                                                                              Keyword Recommendations.

                                                                              For an advertising platform that has run for over 20 years using keyword-based targeting, at times it feels like Google has no concept of what makes a good keyword. In the last few years, the keyword planner has at least started to become credible as a research tool with some new data added and a better connection between the keywords you give it and the recommended keywords.

                                                                              the recommendations tab (which pops up next to the manual input of keywords) is still pretty questionable.

                                                                              Only ever recommending broad match searches (which are broader than they ever have been), and often recommending keywords that are vaguely related to the company, let alone the specific page you are attempting to advertise. Worst of all, the recommendations do not consider your other ad groups or campaigns and can often lead to heavy overlap between your different ad groups. This option can too often turn into a trap for the unaware rather than being a useful time saver.

                                                                              We would recommend actively avoiding this feature. Despite all the great tech advances in the last few decades, you still know what type of traffic you want to visit your pages, and you’ll do a better job of defining them than Google does here.

                                                                               

                                                                              Performance Max Campaigns.

                                                                              A performance max campaign (PMC) is what you get when you take a dynamic search campaign and turn the complexity up to 11. Where a DSC only operates as search ads, a performance max campaign will run across everything (Search, YouTube, Discover, Display, Maps and Gmail to be precise).

                                                                              These are a relatively new form of automation, covering a huge swathe of advertising in a single campaign, with only minor levers for you to pull to control and impact the performance.

                                                                              Our issue with the campaign type is not the concept or even the results often associated with this campaign type, but rather the concerning trend of it absorbing other, more targeted solutions.

                                                                              It was announced recently that smart shopping campaigns (the equivalent of a DSC for shopping ads) would be canned, and all smart shopping campaigns would become Performance Max Campaigns.

                                                                              We almost always object to the removal of options within Google Ads, and this is another example of that. We hope it will end here, but the idea that all automated campaign options will one day become a flavour of performance max, which requires more setup and contains less feedback data, is concerning.

                                                                              Final thoughts.

                                                                              So there you have it, the best and worst of what Google Ads automation has to offer in our opinion.

                                                                              One final note is that no automated system, no matter how good, will succeed without three things, time, volume of data, and effective goal tracking. If you do not have all three of these elements, do not be surprised if your automated systems act out, or sometimes do not work at all.

                                                                              Automation is not going away any time soon. In fact, it is becoming more and more integral to the way Google Ads work. We are increasingly seeing automated options becoming more available, and some options (like RSA’s) are becoming mandatory. Therefore, it is all the more important that you get to grips with these elements yourself, and decide which ones to lean on, and which to avoid.

                                                                              If you’d like any help with setting up your ad campaigns, feel free to contact us or drop us an email.

                                                                               

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                                                                                How to Refresh Your Content for SEO- The Explainer Series.

                                                                                Refreshing existing content on your site is a great way of ensuring the information you provide stays up-to-date and doesn’t become untimely. When it comes to optimising your site’s content, it can be very tempting to just focus on creating new pieces.

                                                                                But it’s important to know that Google loves seeing content be maintained. So much so, updated pages often get a ranking boost in the search results, which can help keep you ahead of your competitors.

                                                                                Here is my guide on how to update content on your site to get the best results from your SEO.

                                                                                 

                                                                                How to update existing content to benefit your SEO.

                                                                                The Strategy.

                                                                                Review your objectives.

                                                                                Before touching any content it’s worth having a conversation with your stakeholders to get an understanding of what the organisation’s key objectives and priorities are. This can have strong sway over the topics and areas of the site you decide to focus on.

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

                                                                                Conduct keyword research and benchmark your rankings.

                                                                                Once you know what the content needs to achieve, the best place to start is with keyword research. At this stage, you want to compile a list of all the different search terms that are related to topics you want to rank for. Along with the keywords you also want to gather information for each keyword, such as the average search volume, user intent and keyword competitiveness. This will help you deduce if a keyword is worth targeting or not.

                                                                                Once you have this data, you will want to take these keywords and get a ranking benchmark for your site and a couple of its main SEO competitors.

                                                                                The benchmark will tell you where you rank, and how you’re situated against key competitors in the search results. Knowing where you rank for a keyword can help inform whether that keyword is one worthwhile focusing on.

                                                                                With all this information, you then want to go through and select the keywords that best meet your needs and can be improved upon. To give your content strategy a clear focus we recommend a starting list of around 10-12 keywords; this list can be expanded upon once pages for those initial keywords have been worked on.

                                                                                Tip:  Categorise your keywords whilst you are gathering this research. This saves you precious time when you want to look at all keywords you have around a specific niche, such as ‘heat pumps’ or ‘loft insulation’.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Map your keywords to landing pages.

                                                                                You now have your list of target keywords. Through the ranking benchmark you’ll know where you rank, and which of your pages rank. However, before proceeding any further you’ll want to make sure the page that ranks is the most relevant one on your site.

                                                                                Sometimes, the page Google ranks isn’t the most suitable page. This can happen when you have lots of similar content for a topic, or you don’t have a directly appropriate page live. It’s worth reviewing the page that ranks for each of your target keywords to make sure the ranking page is the right page, or to identify if an alternative is required.

                                                                                Where an alternative is required you should then consider: does the right page already exist on your site, or do you need to create a brand new page? Note down in your master sheet whether you need to optimise the current ranking page, an alternative existing page, or create a completely new page. Once you know which pages you’re working with, you can start to optimise the on-page elements.

                                                                                 

                                                                                The Copy.

                                                                                Make sure your copy is up to date.

                                                                                When updating the content on your live page, you want to do more than make sure you reference your target keyword enough times. Review the copy in place to make sure all information is still relevant. Where information is no longer applicable or is incorrect, remove that copy or update it.

                                                                                 

                                                                                User Intent.

                                                                                You want to make sure the copy in place meets the needs and intent of the user. Whilst there can be temptation to focus on guiding them to your end goal for the page, with content you need to reach a happy medium; what does the user want to know? Answer that.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Be direct.

                                                                                Where questions are asked, make sure you answer directly and try to avoid going on a tangent. By maintaining a direct focus on the question you’ll make your content more targeted towards any long-tailed keywords. This helps group your content more and can make it more grabbable, increasing its chances of being pulled through to the search results in other search features, such as featured snippets.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Competitor Analysis.

                                                                                To get an idea of what you need to include in order to rank well, start with some competitor analysis. Look at the competitor pages that rank in the top positions for your chosen keyword. Take note of the type of pages that rank and the content they include. This gives you an idea of what Google is looking for. Through doing this you may identify some content gaps; where content for sub-topics is missing on your page but covered by your competitors. Populating these gaps is a great step toward updating your page and building it out.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Consider your target audience.

                                                                                You will also want to take into consideration your target audience and what information would be helpful for them. We recently reviewed a page discussing energy-saving tips for a client. The page focused on providing money-saving tips as well as energy saving, which had quite a short-term focus.

                                                                                There was no information for the audience that would benefit more long-term advice. To make the content more ‘evergreen’ we adapted it to cover where they might need to invest money initially but would save money in the long term. By including that type of content as well, the page was more rounded and provided options to the client’s target audience based on situations they may find themselves in.

                                                                                 

                                                                                The Hygiene Factors.

                                                                                Once you have the content re-vamped, you want to start to look at other on-page SEO factors to make sure the page all relevant factors are optimised towards the relevant search terms.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Review your URL.

                                                                                As one of the first impressions users and search engines get of a page, you want your URL to be SEO friendly. When reviewing your URLs, you want to ensure they all follow a consistent format. This can include elements such as:

                                                                                 

                                                                                • All characters are lowercase; avoid including any uppercase letters.
                                                                                • Use of dashes to separate words rather than underscores.
                                                                                • No number or character strings; use keywords so users get a clear contextual understanding of the page’s contents.
                                                                                • Include a clear structure, so where pages have parent pages those parent pages are referenced in the URL structure. This makes it clear where you are within the architecture of the site.

                                                                                 

                                                                                For example:

                                                                                An SEO friendly URL:

                                                                                https://www.example.com/guides/epc-rating

                                                                                A not so SEO friendly URL: https://www.example.com/Hgknu4643466edgFaDjryt365g_epc_guide

                                                                                 

                                                                                Changing the URL can have an impact on that page’s rankings, so there should always be caution when making any edits. Generally, we only recommend changing the URL if the aim is to include a target keyword.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Check your meta data.

                                                                                Consisting of the page title and meta description, meta data is another first impression users receive of your site in the search results. Page titles are a ranking factor, and the meta description influences the click through rate (which is also a ranking factor). For this reason, they’re key elements to get right.

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

                                                                                Be aware of character limits – as a rule of thumb 70 characters are ideal for page titles and 155 characters for meta descriptions. Meta data that is too long will either be cut off in the search results or ignored completely. Meta data that’s too short also isn’t ideal, as it suggests you’re not utilising the full space available.

                                                                                As well as length, you also want to make sure the meta data features the keyword you’re targeting. Want to rank for the term ‘how to save energy at home’? Include that keyword directly in the page title. Referencing the same keyword, or a variation of it in the meta description, is also recommended.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Check your headings.

                                                                                Next, you want to review how headings are implemented on your page. Whilst headings can be formatted to visually demonstrate the main heading vs subsequent sub-headings, for search engines you need to add in header tags.

                                                                                Header tags are visible in the backend of the page only but allow search engines to see where you’re main heading is (H1), as well as any sub-headings that follow (H2-H6). The H1 is another ranking factor used by search engines, so you want to make sure the main heading includes the target keyword (or a variation of it). By using header tags in a hierarchal structure on the page you help to break down the content and provide a clear structure for search engines to follow.

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

                                                                                Optimise your images.

                                                                                Images can make a big difference to a landing page. Breaking up the copy and offering another avenue of presenting your content. Where you use images, you want to make sure they’re accessible to all users and SEO friendly. This means making sure images have relevant alt tags in place and making sure images are uploaded in appropriate dimensions and file size.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Alt Tags

                                                                                Alt tags help search engines ‘see’ your image. So, it’s worth having an alt tag in place. You should aim to include the keyword if you can, but only if it’s relevant to the image.

                                                                                When adding alt tags to images consider their function. Images intended for decoration only do not need an alt tag. However, images that contain relevant details and contribute to the user experience do need an alt tag.

                                                                                Historically alt tags were used as an opportunity to repeatedly include the target keyword; this is a method that is now detrimental to SEO. The prime aim of alt tags today, is accessibility. As assistant technology reads alt tags to users with visual impairments, you want to make sure they get a clear description.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Image sizing

                                                                                When uploading images to your CMS, aim to upload them in the dimensions used on the page. This can help massively with page speed; large images slow down page load time as browsers download the image and then need to re-size it. Check your images. If they’re hitting the 1mb milestone they’re way too big. Aim closer to 100-300kb, but make sure you aren’t compromising on image quality. No one likes a pixelated image.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Review your internal linking.

                                                                                Once you have the content reviewed and updated, looking at the page’s internal linking situation is the next step. This is a two-pronged approach. You want to look at where your page is linking to elsewhere on the site and you want to look at how your page is being linked to.

                                                                                 

                                                                                When writing the content for the page, consider if you have relevant content that can be linked to from this page. If the content is related to the topic and will provide valuable, additional information to the user, then we recommend adding a link.

                                                                                 

                                                                                When linking to another page, strive to use a target keyword for the page you’re linking to in the anchor text. This can help convey context of the page you’re linking to.

                                                                                 

                                                                                You also want to look at how your page is being linked to, and make sure it can easily be accessed. Blog content, for example, can easily get buried in the blog section under new articles.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Often, sites will link to important blog articles from evergreen pages to ensure they can consistently and easily be found by users and search engines alike. Make sure your page is visible within the site; this can make a big difference with the indexing and ranking of that page.

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

                                                                                If you have anything you’d like to share regarding our tips about optimising existing content, or just want to have a conversation about how we can support your content, get in touch.

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                                                                                  What It’s Like to Work in Digital Marketing in 2022- Part 2

                                                                                  We recently sat down with some of the newest members of the team to find out what they think about the digital marketing industry so far, and what their advice would be for individuals looking to land their first gig in digital.

                                                                                  Paid Media Executive, Ross Stratford shares his experience.

                                                                                  Starting out.

                                                                                  For me, entering digital marketing was a step into something entirely new. Coming from a post-graduation retail job, it was a huge difference to begin working in a space with more variety day-to-day. Admittedly, it was a scary step for sure. I hadn’t studied digital marketing beyond a short online course and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But with the right guidance and support, I was able to get stuck in straight away.

                                                                                  To prepare for starting at Uprise Up, I took a short course on Google Skillshop. This helped me gain a broader understanding of Google Ads as well as of digital marketing as a whole. It was a great tool for learning about the industry. I’d definitely recommend this for anybody looking to start a career in digital marketing. A few hours on a free course can really help provide you with that extra bit of insight before you start and makes all the technical jargon that bit less scary.

                                                                                  Since starting, I’ve come to realise just how much more there is to digital marketing than meets the eye. I always assumed that the vast majority of digital ads were automatic, so to find out more about the intricacies involved has really changed my view of the industry.

                                                                                  What do you do?

                                                                                   

                                                                                  I find myself often having conversations, and explaining to people what I do. My default is to simplify by telling people that some days I’ll be setting up “one of those ads at the top of Google” or setting up ad targeting on Facebook for a client. I find that people are always surprised by how much there is to it. It’s common that I’ll get the reply “oh I thought that was all automated.”

                                                                                  On an average day, work is constantly changing; one moment I’m setting up a new ad campaign for a client, and the next on a call discussing how a different client wants to approach their latest social campaign.

                                                                                  This ever-changing nature makes for very rewarding work. It’s a great feeling when you finally get the breakthrough you’ve been after in setting up a complicated bit of data tracking or seeing that a recent ad campaign has been really successful. Being part of an agency that supports charities makes this impact feels even greater. Being able to deliver a campaign that results in increased donations to an important cause really gives me the feeling that I’m helping people.

                                                                                  Being charity focused has really highlighted to me just how many meaningful causes are out there, and how important it is for all of them to be represented in the digital sector.

                                                                                  Rewarding work.

                                                                                  Being able to see the direct effect my work has within digital on these accounts is something I’ve grown to really like about the industry. Seeing the results quickly and being able to attribute how you got to that point is a huge benefit.  Seeing how this varies across different platforms is always really interesting as well.

                                                                                  In terms of the future of the industry, I’m interested to see the different platforms develop in their own ways. I think Facebook has so much power in its audience targeting and reach abilities, that any evolution within the channel have a considerable impact sector-wide.

                                                                                  If you have any questions about what it’s like to work in digital marketing or would like to share your experience, feel free to send us a message at hello@upriseup.co.uk.

                                                                                  Or get in touch with us through our contact form. 

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                                                                                    What It’s Like to Work in Digital Marketing in 2022.

                                                                                    We recently sat down with some of the newest members of the team to find out what they think about the industry so far, and what their advice would be for individuals looking to land their first gig in digital.

                                                                                    First up, SEO Executive, Charlotte Agg gives first-hand insight into her experience.

                                                                                    Starting out. 

                                                                                    Starting a career was difficult initially due to graduating at the start of the pandemic. I had secured a Psychology degree from university but most workplaces had a recruitment freeze or were working remotely. But this did give me the time to step back and really think about what my hopes were for my future career.

                                                                                    With a large overlap of knowledge from my degree and a passion for all things creative, I decided to discover a little more about the marketing industry by:

                                                                                    • Completing free online marketing courses on Future Learn
                                                                                    • Securing an E-mentor to learn about the industry (Rich Sutherland at sobananapenguin)
                                                                                    • Networking with like-minded graduates starting their marketing careers
                                                                                    • 3-month social media internship at Hull University Business School
                                                                                    • 6-month Kickstart scheme as a marketing executive and team leader

                                                                                     

                                                                                    By gradually building up my experience like this, not only did I learn more about the industry, but I also discovered which areas I enjoyed the most. In my last role as a marketing executive, I gained a lot of experience in on-page and content SEO and found that I really loved this type of work. This opened up my eyes to the world of digital media, and ultimately lead me to my role as an SEO executive at Uprise Up.

                                                                                    A day in the life. 

                                                                                    My day always starts the same.  With a nice hot cup of tea and organising my client work priorities for the day.

                                                                                    Working in an agency means my time is spent on multiple tasks across multiple clients. Often 3-4 different ones each day, so time management and organisation are some key survival skills for the role. We also have a lot of internal and client meetings, as clear and effective communication is key for driving projects forwards and achieving client goals.

                                                                                    As an SEO executive, my day-to-day covers a huge range of tasks. From keyword research, to running technical audits of websites to creating optimised copy for landing pages. I find it really fulfilling to be able to work on projects for charities that develop over time and see them through to completion.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Recommended networks and communities.

                                                                                    My go-to network for connecting with professionals outside of the company is Girls in Marketing. It’s an e-learning platform aimed at bridging the digital skills gap and equalising gender seniority in the marketing industry. I find it’s full of like-minded women who share experiences and support each other to develop professionally. This is also the platform I first heard about Uprise Up on, as one of their employees mentioned a job opening they had at the time here.

                                                                                    I also find free online learning resources are a great place to network. Many of them have comments for discussion throughout their courses. I’ve found these areas to be rather great as you can have brilliant conversations with other digital marketers. You are exposed to many different opinions and view points which is great to challenge your way of thinking about digital.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Advice for those looking to pursue a career in digital.

                                                                                    My main advice is to keep tackling small steps to get closer to your goals and to make sure you are always learning. The digital landscape evolves so quickly, keeping up to date with the latest trends or tools helps keep your work at the forefront of industry best practices. No matter how small, whether you study a full digital media course or are simply engaging in some online digital marketing communities. All the little steps eventually add up to help you forge your career path in digital.

                                                                                     

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                                                                                      Paid Media Developments In July.

                                                                                      The New Release of Microsoft Ads for Social Impacts. 

                                                                                      Microsoft has launched ‘Ads for Social Impact’, similar to the Google Ad Grant, which is offering approved nonprofits upwards of $3,000 USD in a monthly grant. 

                                                                                      Its goal is to help non-profits grow awareness, attract new donors and volunteers and accelerate mission outcomes. Interestingly, the grant can be used across all Microsoft products allowing activity not just on Bing but Yahoo, AOL, Outlook.com, MSN, and Microsoft Edge. 

                                                                                      Last year Microsoft launched something similar in the US – a 50% discount for the first 100 eligible non-profit applicants, but it looks like this was scrapped in favour of the full grant model. This new scheme will currently be offered to non-profits in Australia, Canada, France, Israel, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States only, but this may expand in the future.

                                                                                       The end goal of Microsoft Ads for Social Impact is very much the same as the Google Ad grant but it differs in the terms of the monetary value awarded. 

                                                                                      Google offers Ad Grants $10,000 per month, Microsoft states the value will start at $3,000, but has not stated if there is a maximum they will award; this could potentially supersede Google’s $10,000. Also, this has not been substantiated yet, it has been suggested that Microsoft grant ads can compete much more equally with paid ads, compared to Google grant ads. 

                                                                                      We will continue to monitor any differences and performance highlights of the new Ads for Social Impact campaign. 

                                                                                       

                                                                                      Brogan Carroll, Paid Media Analyst 

                                                                                       

                                                                                      More countries make Google Analytics Illegal. 

                                                                                      Italy has become the latest country to ban Google Analytics, following France, Austria, and more earlier in the year. The Italian SA has cited the USA as being “a country without an adequate level of data protection”, and as such stated the transference of data between Italy and the USA as breaking Article 44 of the GDPR. In Italy’s case, they deemed an IP Address to be personal data and so with Google able to read this (even if abbreviated) alongside other data, this processing has been declared unlawful.

                                                                                      This is effectively the same conclusion drawn by the Austrian and French data protection agencies. This could then suggest that while Universal Analytics is Google’s primary source of analytics, more European countries could make similar decisions, something likely to create big problems in the analytics area.

                                                                                      It’s also worth noting however, that these decisions currently only apply to Universal Analytics; with Google’s move to GA4 next year, these decisions may no longer be relevant but this is yet to be seen. 

                                                                                      Ross Stratford, Paid Media Executive 

                                                                                       

                                                                                      The Switch from Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) to Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) is in Full Force. 

                                                                                      On June 30th 2022, in their move towards automation, Google began sunsetting expanded text ads (ETAs), no longer allowing for creation, or editing of the ad type.

                                                                                      Although we can no longer edit ETAs, we don’t expect the change to have too drastic an effect on our clients, and we have been ensuring that we have made the changes required in the lead up to the deadline.

                                                                                      Moreover, while ETAs will continue to be delivered, we do expect them to naturally be faded out in favour of responsive search ads (RSAs), a trend we have already seen the beginnings of in the graph below:

                                                                                       

                                                                                       

                                                                                      All Uprise Up Managed Grant Accounts

                                                                                      As mentioned in our blog on the topic, while RSAs can be more time consuming to create, they can lead to better performance, whether that’s click through rates or conversion rates. We will continue to monitor the impact of the move away from ETAs, as well as continuing to ensure all ad groups contain RSAs with high Ad strengths.

                                                                                      Lucy Goodyear, Paid Media Assistant 

                                                                                       

                                                                                      Google Auto-Apply Dynamic Extensions. 

                                                                                      The trend of Google making automatic changes in paid accounts looks set to continue. Earlier this month we noticed that in one of our clients’ accounts, there was an issue where a sitelink was taking users to the wrong URL. After a lot of digging, we learnt that the sitelink had automatically been set up by Google. This was a result of Google launching Auto Apply Dynamic Extensions, a change that was introduced a few months ago. The list of automated dynamic extensions includes dynamic sitelinks, dynamic callouts, dynamic structured snippets and longer ad headlines.

                                                                                      Having these dynamic extensions switched on takes away the control from the advertiser and grants Google the freedom to apply changes that may negatively impact your account. It goes without saying that granting Google all of the power to decide on the messaging and URL of sitelinks extensions creates a risk of brand image being adversely affected.

                                                                                      As a result, we’ve been switching off most text-based dynamic extensions for our client to take back control. We have been opting to keep in the Dynamic Seller Rating, App, Location and Image Extensions for now though. 

                                                                                      To update these settings yourself, navigate to Ads and Extensions then click ‘Extensions’, scroll down to the bottom to ‘Automated Extensions’. Then click ‘More’ and ‘Advanced Settings’.

                                                                                      In similar news, Google also recently sent around an email letting some advertisers know that certain accounts will switch over to data-driven attribution models automatically. In most situations opting for data-driven is a sensible choice, but it seems odd to switch over advertisers by default, when the other 5 attribution options still exist. It’s easy enough to turn off this auto-apply feature, and we certainly would advise looking into how this change may affect your results, and review what is best for you; not what Google tells you is best. 

                                                                                      Max Leslie-Smith, Paid Media Executive 

                                                                                       

                                                                                      LinkedIn Ads Introduce Business Manager.

                                                                                      Earlier in June, LinkedIn Announced, at long-last, the introduction of a Business Manager. Similar to Facebook Business Manager (introduced in 2014!) this provides a centralised hub to manage all business assets such as your company pages and ad accounts, and easily provide access to users who need it. It also provides the ability to share ‘Matched Audiences’ (remarketing) across Ad Account contained within BM.

                                                                                      This might seem like a relatively small addition in the world of Social Advertising, but is a real boon for both agencies and advertisers working with agencies themselves, due to the vast improvement this will bring to gaining access and working across accounts. 

                                                                                      Previously, user-access had to be arranged individually by providing one’s personal LinkedIn profile, and also required different levels of access for pages and ad accounts. This created issues down the line if then other team members (new or existing) also wanted to quickly review an account and hadn’t previously gone through the process of being added.

                                                                                      Business Manager has started rolling out but doesn’t appear to be available to all advertisers just yet, with no confirmed launch date. We will be looking out for any updates but ultimately look forward to being able to work more seamlessly on this more niche, but very powerful platform.

                                                                                      Will Rhodes, Paid Media Manager 

                                                                                       

                                                                                      Were there any other recent digital developments that caught your attention? Feel free to tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk, or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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                                                                                        SEO Highlights in July 2022

                                                                                        Yep, there’s a new search engine on the block!

                                                                                        Ahrefs has delivered on its 2019 pledge to deliver a private and creator-friendly search engine. As promised this endeavour, designed to compete with the global giant Google, has two key features it proposes will set it apart from competitors:

                                                                                         

                                                                                        • Privacy: Yep has been set up so that it does not automatically collect and store your personal information as you are surfing the web.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        They will collect data on keywords, language preference received from the browser and approximate geographical area, but will not use this information to create a personal profile for targeted advertising.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        • Profit-Sharing: Ahrefs have proposed a 90/10 profit model for their search engine, meaning that 90% of advertising profits will be going into the pockets of content publishers.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        This is in direct contrast to Google, who often display content in their search results in such a way that means users don’t have to click through to the website to get the answer they are looking for. This means less site traffic for content creators – and less traffic often equals less revenue overall.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        Search listing for Uprise Up Digital Media on the Ahrefs search engine results page

                                                                                         

                                                                                        Despite some distinct differences from Google in terms of privacy and socially positive profit sharing, Yep still has a long way to go before it can become a real competitor.  The search engine itself presents results in a basic format still, looking very similar to original SERPs with just 10 blue links.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        Options are also currently restricted to web or news pages. However, there is the promise of an image index being close to delivery in July, which will bring Yep one step closer to being a serious alternative to other main search engines such as Google or Bing.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        Search Console is Being Simplified: Wave Goodbye to ‘Warnings’.

                                                                                        The most recent changes to Google Search console labels aim to simplify the interface, allowing users to more easily focus on warnings that will be of immediate threat to their content rankings in search results.

                                                                                        The old reports had three categorisations for URLs: Valid, Error and Valid with warning. This change affects the ‘valid with warning’ category. Whilst it was clear that valid URLs were okay and that error URLs had critical issues that needed addressing, there has always been a level of confusion about how critical these ‘valid with warning’ URL issues were, and whether these bits of content would still appear properly in SERPs.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        A report showing website warnings in search console

                                                                                         

                                                                                        In response, Google Search Console will now present items as ‘valid’ or ‘invalid’ at a top-level. This is to help businesses ‘focus on critical issues that affect your visibility in search’ and enable a better prioritisation of fixes.

                                                                                         

                                                                                         

                                                                                        Search Console Insights Now Supporting GA4.

                                                                                        Whilst we’re on the topic of Search Console, it’s great to see that Google Search Console Insights is now supporting Google Analytics 4 properties. Previously, Search Console Insights were only compatible with Universal Analytics (UA) properties. This marks another step towards GA4 taking the lead once UA is sunset in June 2023.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        What is Search Console Insights?

                                                                                        Search Console Insights use data to help content creators and publishers better understand how their content is performing with audiences. Some of the insights it can provide include:

                                                                                         

                                                                                        • Best performing content pieces
                                                                                        • New content performance
                                                                                        • How people discover your content online
                                                                                        • What people search for on Google before visiting your content
                                                                                        • Which article refers to your website and content

                                                                                         

                                                                                        You can access this feature via the ‘Search Console Insights’ section at the top of the overview page in your Search Console property.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        Tips on using Search Console Insights with GA4.

                                                                                        Make sure to link your GA4 property with your Google Search Console property, as otherwise you may only see 20% of possible content insights.

                                                                                        Also, remember to check your Search Console Insights regularly, as the data is frequently updated so regular checks will help you keep on top of new and emerging trends.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        Google bot crawling the first 15 mb of page content.

                                                                                        An update to the GoogleBot help documentation states that only the first 15MB of HTML files will be crawled and considered for indexing by Google. Anything after this point will not be used when calculating ranking positions.

                                                                                        The documentation states that ‘Googlebot can crawl the first 15MB of an HTML file or supported text-based file. Any resources referenced in the HTML such as images, videos, CSS, and JavaScript are fetched separately’. This suggests that the 15MB cut-off will only apply to HTML.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        How does this impact SEO?

                                                                                        This new documentation means that high priority content needs to be included closer to the top of webpages in order to be weighted in ranking calculations. Images and videos should also be compressed instead of encoded directly into the HTML where possible.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        What does Google have to say about the 15MB limit?

                                                                                        In response to a lot of questions from the wider SEO community surrounding this documentation update, Google published a blog addressing the 15MB limit directly. They emphasised that this is not a new threshold; it has been around for several years now. The update to the GoogleBot documentation was aimed at helping people when debugging.

                                                                                        It is also important to note that 15MB is actually rather a large amount of HTML. In fact, Google said in the majority of HTML files are only around 30KB, and there are a minimal number of pages online that are close to the 15MB cut-off point. So this update to GoogleBot crawling and ranking most likely won’t affect most site content, but is good to be aware of.

                                                                                         

                                                                                        Did we miss any SEO news?

                                                                                        Have we missed any of your key SEO highlights from our round-up? Or do you have any burning questions about how to implement effective SEO for your organisation?

                                                                                        We’d love to hear from you!

                                                                                        Join the conversation and tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk, or simply send us a message through our contact page.

                                                                                         

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                                                                                          Preparing for Google Analytics 4.

                                                                                          In March, Google dropped a data bombshell by announcing it will be removing all previous analytic formats such as Universal Analytics (UA). From June 2023, for most organisations, the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will be the only viable interface with which to continue collecting data.

                                                                                          To rub salt into the wound, Google then followed up by announcing it will be deleting all data predating GA4 from Google Analytics in January 2024. 

                                                                                          Focusing on the more immediate issue, we’re now less than 12 months away from when Universal Analytics will stop recording data. The clock is ticking.

                                                                                          At this stage we are advising to get GA4 up and running asap and also keep it running in parallel with Universal Analytics. This way there will be plenty of comparable data between the two, before UA is turned off.

                                                                                          Have you started preparing for the move? Is Google Analytics 4 still fairly new to you? In this blog, we’re unpacking exactly what GA4 is, how it differs from previous interfaces, and our tips to successfully make the move without jeopardising any data during the migration process.

                                                                                          A little side note: this article covers setting up from a more advanced, technical perspective. This will most likely beneficial for those in roles that involve managing websites, analytics such as analysts and web managers.

                                                                                          What is Google Analytics 4?

                                                                                          Interestingly, GA4 isn’t a completely new interface but a newer iteration of what was initially called ‘Google Analytics web+app’. The drive behind this new interface originated from the need for Data Analysts and Digital Marketers to view data in one central port.

                                                                                          Users typically move between apps and websites as they interact with various brand touchpoints, meaning data is created across many different mediums which can be difficult to capture in its entirety, hence the need for a more holistic interface.

                                                                                          With a growing focus on privacy in the industry, Google sought to develop more complex systems for ‘cookieless’ measurement, and behavioural and conversion modelling. 

                                                                                          In Google’s own words, “GA4 is designed for the future of measurement”.

                                                                                           

                                                                                          How is this different from previous versions?

                                                                                          • Events 

                                                                                          This ‘app data’ focus really separates the way GA4 works from ‘Universal Analytics’ (UA). At its core Google Analytics collected data through sessions and pageviews. But apps don’t have pages, and people use them in very different ways to a typical ‘session’ on a website. 

                                                                                          So this is where the key difference comes in, GA4 records everything as an event. Event-based tracking allows for greater insights to be derived about users and their interactions. Admittedly, as experienced users of Universal Analytics, we’ve found this to be the hardest part to adjust to due to familiarity. 

                                                                                          The move to event-based tracking allows GA to automatically track the majority of engagement events marketers have been used to manually setting up themselves. Now with the click of a button, marketers can automatically track ‘automatic enhancements’ such as: scroll tracking, outbound links, site search tracking, video engagements and file downloads.

                                                                                          • Goals are No More 

                                                                                          In what feels like a move to better align language, ‘Goals’ are no more in GA4, ‘Conversions’ will  replace them. The process for making conversions has also been simplified in comparison to how you would have previously setup a ‘Goal’. Now you will easily be able to turn an event into a conversion, without having to remember the exact ‘event label’ and ‘event category’ you have used! The move to event-based tracking does mean that destination url goals will be confined to history, and not make the port into conversions. These goals will need to be switched over to events when ported across into your new property. 

                                                                                          • A New Interface 

                                                                                          The new analytics format also brings with it a new User Interface (UI). This replaces the old interface  more visually inline with some of Google’s other products. This feels like an underlying theme in the more ‘front-end’ heavy changes you will experience with GA4, bringing one of Google’s old products inline with its growing product range.

                                                                                          There are changes to the default data retention period, shortening from effectively infinite retention to 2 months by default. This only affects user-level data (associated with cookies and advertising identifiers) so won’t impact basic reports, but will limit data reporting for any custom reports in the ‘Explore’ section. This change will likely see a reasonable difference when comparing repeat visitor reports between the two analytics types. Something to keep an eye out for.

                                                                                          GA4 also sees the ‘views’ function being removed. At a property level, you now add each website and app as a data stream. All settings that you would previously have set at a view level are now either property-level (IP filtering, conversions etc.) or view report-level filtering (domains etc.).

                                                                                          How to make the move:

                                                                                          Over time you will want to develop your use of more specific GA4 features but in the meantime the priority should be getting data collected, and in a way which is readily usable for fellow members of the marketing team and your organisation.

                                                                                          Here we detail our process that we have been using with our clients. But it is worth noting that our process includes two assumptions:

                                                                                          • You have an existing Google Analytics account (using Google Analytics Universal Analytics).
                                                                                          • You are using Google Tag Manager on your website to trigger your Google Analytics.

                                                                                          On this basis we have a 5 step process:

                                                                                          1. Audit your existing Google Analytics data and goal setup
                                                                                            1. You have the opportunity to start from scratch without any legacy issues. So this means you can leave old views and goals behind.
                                                                                            2. When auditing the goals our checks cover 4 key elements:
                                                                                              1. Is it still relevant to you?
                                                                                              2. Is it working correctly?
                                                                                              3. Is it recording data?
                                                                                              4. Is it transferable to GA4?
                                                                                            3. Get a second opinion. Before you decide to leave a goal behind, just make sure no one else is currently using this in their reporting.

                                                                                          This gives you a thorough understanding of what your data recording situation is and the scale of work needed for your migration to GA4.

                                                                                          1. Now you can create your new GA4 property
                                                                                            1. Google Analytics has a great wizard to help you (at a top-level) create a new GA4 property from your existing Universal Analytics property.
                                                                                            2. Create new data streams for each website or app that you will be using the new property for. You will find, for each data stream you get a new set of pretty useful settings, as well as extra reporting uses.
                                                                                            3. Make sure you match up some key settings for each data stream such as IP filters, with your corresponding settings in UA. So you can keep the data as actionable as possible without diluting with internal traffic sources (like employee site visits). 
                                                                                            4. This is also the place to enable automatic enhancements. Which we would definitely recommend doing (for beneficial reasons mentioned above in the events section)
                                                                                          2. Then head on over to Google Tag Manager, and enable your new GA4 configuration tag.
                                                                                            1. Copy across your new measurement ID and enable this tag to fire a pageview.
                                                                                            2. Then utilise the same triggers as you currently use on your existing Universal Analytics pageview tag.
                                                                                              1. Do make sure to use the exact same triggers as you currently use, including any connected to your cookie control management.
                                                                                            3. Data streams can take 24 hours to start showing data coming in so you will need to wait a day (or two) to check the data is coming in accurately.
                                                                                          3. Now that data is coming into the property, head over to the events report and check how many of your old goals are being automatically reported by GA4’s new events report.
                                                                                            1. For any events which are not yet being pulled through, you will need to create new GA4 Event tag in Google Tag Manager.
                                                                                            2. For the new GA4 tags, you just need to mirror the existing UA tags, but with the new GA4 Events tags. This means, utilising the same triggers (including any cookie consent requirements).
                                                                                            3. We always recommend previewing and testing those events before publishing the tags on site – just in case.
                                                                                            4. Then as before, wait around a day to see if that date is now pulling into the event report.

                                                                                          Once your old goals are pulling into the event report it’s time to ‘upgrade’ some of those organisationally important ones into conversions.

                                                                                          If you are currently using ecommerce tracking through Google Tag Manager then you may be able to port across to GA4 with limited technical support. GA4 ecommerce utilises events too, in specific, any event which is named ‘purchase’ GA4 will deem as Ecommerce and pull that data into its ecommerce report.

                                                                                          GA4 does come with more sophisticated ecommerce tracking, as standard it is similar to UA’s enhanced ecommerce. Currently you can’t utilise GA4 ecommerce (fully) and UA ecommerce, at the same time and we definitely wouldn’t suggest binning your UA ecommerce yet. As a compromise, you can gain the same data as standard GA4 ecommerce into GA4 through a couple of custom variables. Truthfully this will be enough for most people, for now.

                                                                                          1. GA4 in tag manager utilises the ‘data layer’s’ “purchase event” push. So you will need to adjust your trigger to utilise a ‘purchase’ event.
                                                                                          2. You then need to create some new custom variables in order to translate your existing datalayer into the relevant information for GA4. Then pull them into a new GA4 tag, so they look like this:

                                                                                           

                                                                                          A snapshot of configuration on Google Analytics 4

                                                                                          • In our experience the currency code is necessary to feed that data into the GA4, although (at the time of writing) this is currently missing from Google’s own support pages. In our tests, without it the value data fails to push to GA4.
                                                                                          • As always, you should then go into preview mode and run a test donation to check that the new ‘parameter names’ contain the relevant information. 

                                                                                          This should cover the essentials for you right now. As you go about the port to GA4 we recommend utilising preview mode on Google Tag Manager as much as possible, to ensure that you can see any issues prior to publishing.

                                                                                          If you do encounter any issues or want to talk through getting some support on your migration to GA4 drop us a message, we’d be happy to answer any questions, chat through the process, or see how else we can help.

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                                                                                            The Explainer Series: Featured Snippets.

                                                                                            Back in 2014 we first witnessed the introduction of featured snippets by Google, fast forward eight years, they have proven to provide a highly advantageous way to get content in front of searchers.

                                                                                            In this explainer series we will be taking a deep dive into different types of digital media and exploring how they work. In this blog we’re focusing on featured snippets, read on for an overview of how they work and how content can be optimised to feature in them.

                                                                                            What exactly are featured snippets and how do they work?

                                                                                            Featured snippets are the highlighted excerpts of content that appear at the top of a Google results page (above traditional organic results). This is known as position 0.

                                                                                            The featured snippet answer is taken directly from a website and displayed directly in the search results. The answers most likely to appear will be content that both answers the query concisely and with as much detail as possible.

                                                                                            Essentially, Google prioritises the website that it thinks best answers the search query. This information can be displayed as paragraphs, lists, step by step instructions or even tables!

                                                                                            A screenshot of a featured snippets search query

                                                                                            Optimising content for featured snippets.

                                                                                            To stand a chance at ranking for featured snippets, it is super important to optimise your content so that it directly answers queries. The more you can put across your answer in a natural, verbal tone the higher your chances of being picked to take the featured snippet position.

                                                                                            One way we would advise you to do this is by meeting the nature of conversational language, by ensuring you are incorporating longtail keyword approaches into your SEO strategies.

                                                                                            A great example of how you can achieve this is through utilising FAQs. You can create content around the exact question users are searching for followed by a direct response.

                                                                                            You can then optimise these FAQs further by wrapping them in FAQ schema (a structured data vocabulary that helps search engines better understand the information on your website) to further enhance their chances of appearing in the SERPs.

                                                                                             

                                                                                            A screenshot of a search query in Google asking how to do good keyword research

                                                                                             

                                                                                            How to know what search terms trigger featured snippets.

                                                                                            There are tools available such as SEM Rush which can help identify featured snippet opportunities. You can see at keyword level which Search Engine Results Page (SERP) features are present when that particular phrase is searched for in Google.

                                                                                            SEM Rush can also be utilised to see which featured snippet queries your competition has secured.

                                                                                            We would suggest starting by first, identifying what keyword is triggering a featured snippet that you already have content on.

                                                                                            Have a good look at the format of the result and how it’s being displayed (is it a table, paragraph, bullets, lists? etc). Then optimise the content you have around this query to ensure it is directly answering the question and is displayed in the same way.

                                                                                             

                                                                                            When your focus shouldn’t be on taking position 0.

                                                                                            If you are already ranking in the top 3 positions of Google, we wouldn’t actively suggest trying to gain the featured snippet position. They’re not always 100% reliable, one day a featured snippet could be appearing for a search query, the next it’s gone.

                                                                                            We would instead suggest focusing on remaining in the top 3 search positions as a key priority. The brand ranking can also change frequently so you could have position 0 for a week then in the following it’s switched to someone else in your niche.

                                                                                            This can also result in loosing your organic ranking, which would be the priority as it will ultimately provide greater return.

                                                                                            However, if you are ranking further down on the results page, then trying to increase the amount of organic traffic to your site by optimising for position 0 would be a great move.

                                                                                            So, there you have it. If you want to appear in featured snippets, you know what to do.

                                                                                            If you’d like further advice on this topic or some assistance with your current SEO strategy feel free to get in touch through our contact form or you can email us directly at hello@upriseup.co.uk.

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                                                                                              Dynamic Search Ads – A Powerful Tool For Google Ad Grants

                                                                                              laptop on standby resting on desk at Uprise Up office.

                                                                                              Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) are similar to standard search ads but instead of defining keywords, they are created automatically, based on the contents of your website or business product feed; and use this to match users’ search queries to your site. 

                                                                                              They’re also different from regular text ads due to the ad headline being dynamically created by Google rather than manually inputted. 

                                                                                              We’d usually prefer more manual control in ads, breaking campaigns into careful granular ad groups.

                                                                                              However, Google Ad Grants are often focused on informational campaigns, where a significant amount of website content needs to be promoted. As these campaigns aren’t often directly revenue-driven, there might be limited time and resources that can be allocated to them. Here automation can be invaluable.

                                                                                               

                                                                                              Why they’re a great tool for Google Ad Grants

                                                                                              For charities that are running the Google Ad Grant scheme, and may not be fully utilising their available budget, need new keyword ideas, or have frequent content being published but limited time to set up new ads, RSAs can be a great tool.

                                                                                              Below we delve into this in more detail and explore the good (and not so) bad of these often unnoticed bad boys.

                                                                                              The benefits of DSAs:

                                                                                              • They’re time savers

                                                                                              Dynamic Search Ads are predominantly created through automated systems, which requires less time to be spent on generating new ads. 

                                                                                              It’s worth noting because of the less focused nature of DSAs (and the fact that higher priority traffic campaigns will likely already be set up in the account) they’re likely to not generate as strong results in return.  However, they can still be a valuable tool for creating additional traction to awareness-focused content. 

                                                                                              • Creation is easier 

                                                                                              With this type of ad campaign, less manual input is required due to the way headlines are dynamically created based on the product or service being matched to the search query. 

                                                                                              Meaning there is less manual input required making creation a whole lot easier. 

                                                                                               

                                                                                              • They can help identify keyword and content gaps

                                                                                              DSAs can be a strong tool for filling in keyword gaps and identifying search terms that you’re not already targeting. 

                                                                                              Usually, gaps can occur by having an unintentional keyword blind spot.

                                                                                              Regularly reviewing your Dynamic Search Ad campaign, allows you to be able to easily identify these loopholes and find new keywords that your content is being matched for that aren’t already targeting intentionally. 

                                                                                              You can then bank these keywords and integrate them in campaigns elsewhere which will allow you to better optimise them. 

                                                                                              Similarly, it can help uncover content gaps in your account, allowing you to then set up new ads based on popular landing pages that haven’t previously been promoted in the account.

                                                                                               

                                                                                              They can help budgets to be fully utilised

                                                                                              The Google Ad Grant enables non-profits to spend up to $10,000 each month, or $330 per day but it may not always be possible to spend this. For example, if your account is relatively new, or you have been struggling with new keyword ideas (as above). DSAs can help make the most of any unused spend and therefore generate additional traffic and conversions.

                                                                                               

                                                                                              When DSAs are perhaps less favourable:

                                                                                              Budget is limited and you want tighter control over performance

                                                                                              As we briefly touched on above, Dynamic Search Ads may not be a great fit for all digital marketing strategies. Particularly in cases where budgets are tighter and you want more control over your account.

                                                                                              If you have very clear conversion-based goals, we would always advise opting for the traditional ad set-up approach first, in order to get the best performance for your priority pages. 

                                                                                              Limited control over messaging 

                                                                                              The dynamic headline element of this kind of ad campaign is a great benefit but it can also present challenges due to reducing the control you have on targeting and messaging. 

                                                                                              As the dynamic feature relies on the search systems understanding the content and matching this with the user’s search, it can result in displaying information from your website that isn’t as relevant perhaps as a different page or area of the site for that particular search query.

                                                                                              The pre-defined descriptions also may not be as tailored to the ad as you would like.

                                                                                               

                                                                                              Extra considerations to be mindful of when using DSAs

                                                                                              We’ve been using Dynamic Search Ad campaigns on behalf of our charity clients for some time now and here’s what we’ve learned along the way:

                                                                                              • Breaking down ad group targeting into different sections of a site, to see how each performs individually will allow you to gather effective learnings more easily. Particularly in areas like new keywords to target or the performance of landing pages. 

                                                                                              DSAs can be highly beneficial here, as they can allow you to quickly (by automatically generating ads) leverage any new content coming out.

                                                                                               

                                                                                              •  As well as being able to target specific sections of your site, you can also remove areas of your site for targeting using ‘Negative Dynamic Targets’. This gives you an extra level of control when using DSA campaigns. An example of this would be  promoting the careers section of your site is not a priority.

                                                                                               

                                                                                              •  We would advise keeping a close eye on your Negative Keywords, as a measure to prevent cannibalising traffic from the same keywords in other campaigns. Sometimes existing keywords in your account could be matched to a page on your site that you’re not already using. We often see this with brand keywords. 

                                                                                               

                                                                                              • It’s really important to frequently monitor the search terms reports, but as a safety net, we would suggest setting up a Negative Keyword list for all of your priority terms and applying it to your DSA.

                                                                                               

                                                                                              • A final tip: we often use the targeting option of using landing pages from your standard ‘ad groups’ as a good way of finding new, relevant keywords for ads and campaigns that are already running.

                                                                                               

                                                                                              If you’d like to find out more about how to get to grips with Dynamic Search Ads, or would like some assistance with your Google Ad Grant, drop us a line at hello@upriseup.co.uk or fill out our contact form.

                                                                                              If you found this blog to be useful, subscribe to our newsletter where we often delve into how charities can maximise their digital media.  

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                                                                                                SEO Developments in May-June 2022

                                                                                                Typing on laptop on a desk with notebooks on the table and plants in the background.

                                                                                                From the Core Algorithm Update to Multisearch adopting augmented reality here’s the noteworthy SEO developments from May and June.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                Google May 2022 Core Algorithm Update

                                                                                                Google formally announced a core ranking update for May 2022, but were characteristically vague on it’s purpose, (which is what we now expect from Google).

                                                                                                Measuring tools and data identified a strong amount of volatility in organic rankings initially, (within the first 24hours of the announcement), although this appeared to level out quickly after a day or two.

                                                                                                We are currently gathering data and coming together with the wider SEO community to develop a better understanding and compare learnings. We’ll let you know if as / and when we get any more clarity on how Google are looking to impact SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) rankings .

                                                                                                For an in-depth guide of what to look out for with core algorithm updates and how to react if you’re impacted take a look at our deep-dive into the Core Algorithm Update for May 2022.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                Developments in Multisearch

                                                                                                Later this year Google will be expanding the multisearch feature to gain the support of the ‘near me’ function, this function will allow people to take pictures or screenshots to match places, stores and array of businesses for ‘near me’ type queries via Google Maps and Google Search.

                                                                                                In addition to this, the new ‘scene exploration’ feature in multisearch will enable people to pan their phone cameras across the view in front of them and gain insights about multiple objects in the scene. This use of augmented reality is pulling us one step closer to the ‘metaverse’ setting that could be the possible future of search.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                How will multisearch impact SEO?  

                                                                                                Multisearch won’t necessarily have an immediate influence on how SEOs need to optimise content, that is if you are already following SEO best practices. This idea is supported further by John Muller’s thoughts on the impact of multisearch for SEO:

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                “…if your content is findable in search, if you have images on your content and those images are relevant, then we can guide people to those images or to your content using multiple ways.”

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                In response to this, it may be a good idea to conduct an SEO audit of your site to make sure your content is optimised and indexable so that Google can find and serve your content in multisearch results.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                Google’s training contributing to SEO misinformation

                                                                                                Google ruffled some feathers last month by presenting some guidance many considered questionable in their Digital Marketing Training Course.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                contents of keyword stuffing training material

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                Industry professionals were quick to identify some questionable SEO advice suggested by Google, including the 300 words plus for content length and ‘industry standard’ of 2% keyword density.

                                                                                                It’s not uncommon for advice on these areas to vary between individuals, however, a basic point that seems to have been missed here is that content is very subjective.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                The ‘correct’ volumes and density of keywords is completely dependent on the type of content, format, audience, industry, and end goals – an immeasurable number of factors in fact.

                                                                                                To the relief of many, Google has since removed this ‘keyword research and keyword stuffing’ section from its course and the takeaway very much is that a focus on quality of content is key.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                Did we miss any SEO new?

                                                                                                Do you have some thoughts to share on the impact of the May 2022 core update? Or do you have any questions about how to implement effective SEO for your organisation?

                                                                                                We’d love to hear from you!

                                                                                                Join the conversation and tweet us @upriseUPSEM, email us at hello@upriseup.co.uk, or simply send us a message through our contact page.

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