Talha Fazlani

Talha Fazlani

Freelance SEO Consultant & Designer in London

Using Extensions To Improve Adwords Performance

Displaying ads on a pay-per-click model can be expensive. Companies, and people, who manage Google Adwords campaigns know the effort required to achieve good performance. Saying that, the payoff of from Google Adwords can be immense. It can help you get a constant stream of bookings, orders or whatever you count as a conversion for your company.

Maximising Performance

There is a large number of factors which influence Adwords performance. In this post we’ll be looking at the use of ad extensions to improve the performance of your ads. Ad extensions provide more information on your text ads. This information can include your reviews, phone number, information on other services, etc. The following list briefly discusses the extensions and who should use them.

  • Call extension – A simple method of displaying your phone number on the ad. It appears alongside the URL and can be measured for incoming calls. This is useful for businesses which need to speak to their customers for sales or support purposes for e.g. a law firm.
  • Location extensions – You can display your address for customers to easily find your store or office. As expected, this extension is useful for businesses which require customers to visit them in person for e.g. a restaurant.
  • Seller ratings – This is a very effective way of improving the appearance of your ads by displaying star ratings collected from a third party service like Trust Pilot or Reviews. The latter is the more affordable service. You’ll need at least 30 verified reviews before your ratings are displayed, and they are  automatically displayed; so not something you have control over.
  • Callout extensions – These extensions display bite sized information about your service or product. They need to be one or two word features/benefits about your service or product.
  • Sitelinks extensions – These extensions are useful for showing links to other pages on your website. They can be very useful in displaying relevant information and features of the product/service, while directing users to the relevant pages.

The screenshot below shows an ad which is using multiple Adwords extensions.

Screenshot showing a TrademarkHub ad with multiple Adword extensions

The use of extensions can help improve the performance of your ads through an increase in clicks at potentially lower costs. The lower costs can be achieved through improved quality scores. Extensions are necessary, but you’ll also need effective ad copy, a well designed PPC landing page and clear marketing to communicate with your audience.

If you don’t already, you should look into using extensions to improve your Adwords performance. Your competitors are likely to be using them already.

Creating the perfectly optimised content

Link building is now a fairly difficult activity in SEO. Obtaining natural links through press articles or high quality blogger outreach is not something everyone can achieve. As a result, small to medium sized businesses will suffer the most because of limited resources and marketing budgets. So what’s the alternative you might ask ? Content marketing is your answer.

Creating on-site content

The strategy is simple. Create enough content around your primary keywords and start ranking for long tail keywords. But, there is a method to creating such content. It needs to be comprehensive and written to inform, educate and provide expertise in your subject area.

An example of this could be a website that sells market research services. The content that needs to be created should cover all aspects of market research from creating a market research survey to analysing market research responses. The more topics you cover with in-depth knowledge, the better your chances of ranking for long tail keywords.

How to create the perfectly optimised content

  • Topic of the content – As stated above, the content should be around your primary keywords. You need to cover all different aspects of your primary keywords. This involves answering questions around your keywords, educating others about your subject area and sharing expert knowledge. This will help build relevancy for your website and help improve rankings. By writing such content, you should be able to cover all related keywords (look up Latent Semantic Indexing) for e,g. if your primary keyword is ‘social media’, then related keywords will be ‘Facebook’, ‘Twitter’ and ‘hashtags’.
  • Content structure – It should be easy to read and follow a post. Content that is broken down into digestible paragraphs works best. Make use of bullet points and interactive elements like accordions, tabs or hover over text to display content in a cleaner format. For mobile SEO, it is important to follow such guidelines for a good user experience on mobiles.
  • Outbound & internal links – There are varying opinions on how useful outbound links are. Some consider outbound links to be an important factor in indicating relevancy to search engines while others don’t see much value in them. I think they are useful and the quality of the outbound links is the most important aspect. The same applies to internal links which helps search engines find relevant content on your own website. Use keyword rich anchor text naturally in content to create such links.
  • Length of content – In a recent study conducted by BuzzSumo for Moz, it was found that content between the range of 1,100 to 1,300 achieved top ranking on search engines. Neil Patel from KissMetrics follows this content strategy, and has achieved significant success.

Sharing knowledge is important and what could be better then covering your subject area in-depth for marketing purposes. It will help increase traffic and generate leads/conversions for your website. Further, if you write enough content and share it amongst a relevant audience on social media, your reputation will grow online. With SEO becoming even more competitive, following such tactics will help you achieve your SEO goals.

A guide to SEO in 2016

SEO has continued to evolve since it become a popular online marketing strategy. Most SEO tactics that were used 5 to 10 years ago are now considered obsolete. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing, directory submissions and link exchanges. As we get inch closer to 2016, lets look at the SEO tactics that you should use to continue to perform strongly on search engines.

  • Keyword research – Finding keywords that you should optimise your website for remains important. Using tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool, SEMRush and many others, you need to find keywords that help drive traffic/conversions. Rather than stuffing your content with these keywords, you need to write content around these keywords for e.g. if your primary keyword is ‘trade mark registration’, you should write content on subjects like ‘how to register your trade mark online’ etc. Google will put emphasis on user intent so providing content that answers the intent will help you perform well organically.
  • Website optimisation – The stronger a website from a technical perspective, the better your chances of performing well on search engines. Website loading times have always been very important and will continue to play a prominent role in 2016. Mobile accessibility is going to become a major player owing to increasing mobile traffic. Make sure your website is mobile ready and complies with Google’s standards.
  • Content – The more information you share, the more relevant your website will be for your keywords. User intent is a growing focus of search engines. Developing content that focuses on user intent is the way to go. If you sell mobile phones, you should write content on the best budget mobile phones or mobile phones with this best cameras. This will help you answer information searches and target long tail keywords.
  • Link building – It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get links and rightly so. The link building tactics used a few years ago should not be used anymore. Getting links through blog posts is still effective, however the focus should be on creating content that gets interaction. Creating blog posts and guest posting for the sake of links is not a strategy to pursue. Shareable content, journalistic pieces and methods which generate links naturally will be the strategies to pursue. For smaller businesses that struggle with link building, the focus should be on creating great content for their website.
  • Mobile SEO – Mobile optimisation will overtake desktop optimisation this coming year. Mobile searches have overtaken desktop searches which naturally makes mobile the greater focus for search engines. Websites which are fast, light and provide content in a mobile friendly format will get a better organic reach. Focus on building light websites which offer a good mobile user experience and bite seized content.

SEO is ever evolving. Following the above tactics will help you perform well this coming year. SEO is a long term effort which means that building a better website and great content will be part of a greater marketing and promotion strategy. It goes without saying that old habits die hard, but changing your SEO habits will make sure that your website doesn’t suffer organically.

The perfectly optimised PPC campaign

PPC can be very costly if it isn’t managed correctly. If you are not familiar with Adwords or Bing Ads, setting up a new campaign can seem like a difficult task and it is. Simply put, a new campaign should focus on the keywords you want to convert. The mini infographic above illustrates how you can create the perfectly optimised campaign. You can also follow the steps below to set up a campaign that performs:

  • Select a range of exact and phrase match keywords, which are closely related
  • Create a campaign focusing on a specific product or service and target the campaign towards a relevant country or region
  • Create at least two ads for the campaign at a group level; this can help you create two different messages and measure performance
  • Create a separate group for exact and phrase match keywords, and make sure you add the exact match keywords as negative keywords in the phrase match group
  • Add the relevant extensions for the ad, and schedule them if necessary
  • Create a landing page focused on the product/service which has good keyword relevance
  • Once the campaign is activated, closely monitor the cost per click (CPC), costs, cost per acquisition (CPA), quality scores (QS) and positioning

This is an overview which I will expand on, in parts, at a later stage. Once you get the basics done, you can obtain data to improve and expand your campaigns.

Why CRO is essential for websites?

SEO and, to a lesser extent, PPC are commonly used by companies with an active online marketing plan. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO), or conversion optimisation, on the other hand doesn’t often get the attention it deserves. CRO is the process of converting more of your visitors into customers. It involves identifying what your website users are looking for and providing it to them. The infographic above illustrates this point by giving an example of an e-commerce site, which heavily relies upon CRO to increase conversions. From a business perspective, the reason CRO is essential is obvious, it maximises sales or leads from an existing pool of visitors.

The focus on getting more traffic is fine, but there are always issues on websites that limit conversions. There are a number of reasons why CRO should be part of an online marketing plan. The ones I think make the best case for it are listed below:

  • It reduces the cost of acquiring a new customer because you get more from your existing expenditure
  • It allows you to find and improve customer experience issues which will leave a positive impact on customer satisfaction

I am of the opinion that CRO should come before any traffic generating work is started. The reason is simple, there is no benefit in getting a lot of traffic when you cannot convert it. Online giants like Amazon, eBay and Airbnb focus greatly upon this and their success is testament to effective CRO. I would just leave it at that.

What work does SEO include?

If you can generate business from the internet, you need to have a website and an SEO campaign in place. SEO can be likened to fuel as it drives your website towards achieving higher rankings. Many businesses which invest in SEO are often not aware of what work needs to be done to achieve these rankings. The image above illustrates what tasks are a standard part of SEO. I’ll expand on the descriptions below:

  • Keyword research – gone are the days of creating a list of 8 keywords which are targeted on and off the site; the process now involves constantly finding keywords around a select set which define your product or service
  • Website optimisation – apart from the initial work on improving the websites speed and resolving technical issues; the process includes finding technical areas for improvements, internal linking and development
  • Content – this can come in many forms from text to image or video; the more resource intensive and elaborate the content, the higher the costs, but it works better than standard text pieces
  • Link building – getting links to your site can be a difficult task in todays world, get the wrong links and you’ll suffer or put in an effort to get good links and benefit from its results; one thing remains true, never pay for links
  • Reporting – apart from the standard reports including numbers, there should be a comparison to projections, what helped drive the rankings/traffic and future scope for the campaign

You should expect this from any SEO consultant or agency working on your campaign. Working on a single element from the above won’t achieve much results. And once again, never pay to get links unless you don’t care about the future.

Estimating the ROI for a SEO Campaign

A big part of working as a freelance SEO consultant is to convince potential clients on how much revenue they can generate from it. It’s very simple to estimate the revenue if you have the following numbers:

  • Search volume of the keywords that will be targeted
  • Average click-through rates (CTRs) which can be found easily online
  • Average conversion rate of the clients website (you’ll need access to client’s Google Analytics if they have it setup properly)
  • Average conversion value of the product or service (again, you’ll need this from the client)

As the image above illustrates, you multiply the search volume with the average CTRs and you’ll get the estimated traffic. The estimated traffic can be used to calculate conversions by multiplying it with the average conversion rate. Finally, multiply the conversions with the average value and you have the amount of revenue you can generate from just one keyword.

It’s best to make sure that the keywords you target are different from each other. This way there won’t be any overlap between the search queries. Its also wise to be clear about the time it will take to get certain ranking positions. Not every SEO campaigns results in the top position being occupied by your client.

My opinion is that SEO isn’t a process that can easily be held to ROI targets. It includes tasks that will help drive sales from other methods and not just organic search listings. But, for the sake of convincing clients of its potential, the above method ought to do.

Why Schema markup matters for SEO?

Lets start with some background information on Schema (officially known as Schema.org). It’s a collaborative project between Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex. It was created by these search engines so that you can add the information they need to provide the best search results possible. If this doesn’t make you realise the importance of Schema, then nothing else will.

Schema tags improve the search engine result page listing by displaying the added information. Although there is no conclusive evidence of Schema having any impact on rankings, I have personally noticed improved results when I have implemented them for certain clients. The use of Schema added to the overall quality of webpage improving its rankings.

How can you implement Schema?

Schema tags need to be inserted into your HTML code. This requires a little coding knowledge and are best done by a web developer. Some CMS like WordPress provide plugins which will allow you to add Schema markups directly from the WYSIWYG editor. What needs to be added can be found on the Schema.org website. Google also provides a Structured Data Markup Helper, which is limited to specific Schema types.

In my opinion, whatever that helps search engines get more information about your site is a plus for SEO. Even without any impact on rankings itself, its proven effect on click-through rates (CTRs) is reason enough to implement it.

Multilingual SEO – An Honest Opinion

I have had a few opportunity to work on large-scale multilingual SEO projects for well-known brands. It makes sense to pursue a multilingual SEO strategy or even a multi language online marketing strategy if your company has the ability to do so, but it’s not as easy as you might be led to believe.

Having advocated multilingual SEO on behalf of a language services company. I can vouch for the fact that if done correctly and consistently, it can pay off. However, it’s not something that will work for SME’s who do not put in the time and effort required to develop an effective strategy. Even before starting a multilingual SEO campaign, a number of things need to completed. I will list some of them below:

  • a local domain for e.g. website.de if you’re targeting a country; language targeting doesn’t work
  • a local address is required in some cases; France requires a business to have a physical presence in the country to get the country code top-level domain (ccTLD)
  • a completely localised site tested and approved by a native speaker of the language
  • a local presence is necessary to answer any customer queries and engage with the local web users etc
  • complying with the local rules and regulations

The list can go on but you get the idea. Having a multilingual strategy is a part of an actual expansion to foreign markets. It’s not an exclusive practice that will open up a market for a company. It might give you an idea of what it is like, but in order for the market to make a profit, the effort should be sustained.

I am still an advocate for multilingual SEO but only for companies which can pursue a longer term strategy. Most SMEs should make the most out of  the market they start in before expanding abroad. The costs, time and effort required might just not be readily available.

Why User Intent Matters?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) seems to change very often in how its practiced but some things remain the same. Keyword research is still done the way it was five years ago. The same applies to other elements which make up SEO as we know it today. Going back to keyword research, an overlooked part of it is user intent, which basically describes the purpose of a user’s search query. Its easy to get lost in big numbers with broad keywords, but they are often the wrong keywords to rank for and target. The infographic above describes why user intent is so important when keyword research is being conducted.