The Search Agency Team Spotlight: Technical Operations

The Search Agents Feed - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 10:18

Every online marketing campaign and strategy requires tracking and measurement as basic infrastructure pieces. These are essential for performance and effectiveness measurement. The Search Agency’s Technical Operations team helps clients set up these very core infrastructure pieces for their online campaigns and optimizations. From tag management to business intelligence (BI) dashboards, we handle it all. This exposes our team to help and support every TSA discipline, like SEM, SEO, CRO and even IT. We also work with clients on various marketing platform integrations and help drive effective solutions to complex problems.

TSA’s Tech Ops team has members with diverse backgrounds and tons of know-how in online media tracking, various marketing platforms, BI reporting, software development, QA, as well as data warehousing technologies. We bring decades of tracking experience to the table to help decide the right tracking strategies for clients’ goals. Our team helps clients visualize this by providing accurate reports and dashboards built around KPIs and campaign performance metrics.

Here’s how it comes together in terms of services provided by the TSA Tech Ops team:


Tracking Implementation and Audits


Marketing a campaign’s performance is measured through tracking pixels from vendors such as DoubleClick, AdWords, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook and Google Analytics. In order to track within these venues, a small JavaScript snippet (tag/pixel) needs to be added to the site for each venue. This is where our team provides our expertise and insight. With our tag tracking knowledge and deep understanding of these venues, we provide various insights and alternative methods to track KPIs for the client. We also provide technical documentation and post-implementation QA help for these tags to ensure proper tracking.

Nowadays, many clients use a tag management system (TMS) to maintain such tracking tags. Google Tag Manager (GTM) and Tealium are the most common. As time goes on, these containers can get cluttered with outdated tags and triggers, requiring an audit to clean them up. We typically perform an audit while onboarding a new client. An audit is performed to determine what tags are on the client’s site and which pages have tags firing and to identify any additional tag implementation needs. After the analysis is done, while working with the client’s marketing and dev teams, we help clean up the container by removing legacy tags, consolidating multiple tags/triggers or even by migrating any hard-coded tags through the TMS.

These services help our online efforts to drive the correct KPIs and provide true measurement of performance to run various marketing strategies.


Analytics Services


We also perform audits for website analytics such as Google Analytics and Omniture. In addition to the KPIs provided by the above tags, analytics platforms provide deeper insight into website engagement, user analysis and conversions. However, like tag management systems, website analytics systems can become cluttered over time by collecting data/KPIs that are no longer useful or relevant. Our audit process consists of interaction with the right teams and understanding their primary and secondary KPI needs. Once identified through the audit process, we further help our clients clean up their analytics set-ups and establish new KPIs, as well. This always involves QA and tech support for our clients’ marketing and dev teams. We also provide setting up attribution models for the various teams based on their specific needs, and, to the extent possible, leverage existing marketing platforms such as DoubleClick, Google Analytics and AdWords.


Call Tracking


Tracking calls from your client’s website back to a specific ad click used to be close to impossible because the user transitions from an online experience to an offline phone call. There are now many vendors that offer call-tracking solutions for this problem. The vendor requires a JavaScript tag to be placed on the site that makes this functionality possible. Some of these vendors provide integrations into various marketing platforms such as DoubleClick. We’ve helped many clients in selecting the right call-tracking vendor based on technical needs as well as the implementation of these platforms on their sites. Whenever needed, we provide custom solutions to facilitate data integrations between these vendor platforms and various marketing platforms such as DoubleClick.  We have also worked with well-known vendors such as Invoca, CallRail, Marchex and DialogTech.


Offline Conversion Tracking


Some conversions take place offline, after a client’s marketing team follows up with a web-generated lead. These types of conversions are typically tracked in the client’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, to which marketing platforms usually don’t have direct access. To leverage these types of hard-to-get data, while respecting regulatory guidelines, custom solutions and platform integrations are needed. These integrations quickly become technologically challenging. Our team helps clients and internal marketing teams with such issues by driving innovative solutions. We also work with clients’ dev teams to help build necessary back-end infrastructure for these integrations. Such rich data sets have helped marketers optimize campaigns towards the more qualified conversion metrics that are pertinent to the client.


Business Intelligence Dashboards & Reporting


Our team provides our clients with BI dashboards and reports with information that’s used to track KPIs, metrics and other relevant data points. These dashboards are capable of consuming data from various sources, like Google Sheets, client databases, cloud drives and vendor APIs. We use cutting edge BI tools to prepare these dashboards. They range from executive-level “topline” aggregated views that can be filtered by channel, vendor, engine, device, etc., down to specific vendor-level creative dashboards. We work with clients to determine their reporting needs and deliver the most accurate, relevant and timely dashboards tailored to them; we utilize these dashboards and tools to manage campaign budget pacing by account and vendor to make the most out of clients’ budgets; and we work with internal account management teams to provide daily pacing updates through these dashboards and set up alerts as needed.


Using our tools and infrastructure, we automate report creation and delivery to provide key stakeholders relevant daily, weekly and monthly performance reports. We help schedule dashboards, reports and even individual KPIs to be delivered to specific recipients on a regular reporting cadence. We also work with various client teams to provide any ad hoc analysis and can output the data in a variety of different formats, depending on client needs (Excel, .CSV, .PDF, .PNG, .PPT, etc.).

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The Search Agency Team Spotlight: Feeds

The Search Agents Feed - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 16:20

Getting your products in front of interested users is the name of the marketing game. No application encapsulates this idea as much as products like Google Shopping or Amazon’s Marketplace. The tools and processes that make your products come to life on these engines require deep technical knowledge of the respective systems as well as marketing expertise. The Search Agency’s Product Feed Management team carries extensive industry experience and technical knowledge to provide our clients with the critical infrastructure to excel in this arena.

Our partners have come to rely on these services for success:

Google & Bing Product Listing Ads: PLA’s are a critical component of any ecommerce client looking to expand their business online and compel users to convert more quickly. Google uses your data feed and bid structure to match products to user searches. Because of this, feed management and campaign management go hand-in-hand, forming a symbiotic relationship that we understand.

Marketplace Advertising: With over 50% of product searches beginning on Amazon, it must form a cornerstone of any successful ecommerce strategy. Navigating Amazon’s system can be tricky and formatting a data feed to Amazon’s specs can be a real challenge. We can help place your products on the most searched marketplaces on the internet, from Amazon to Rakuten.

Comparison Shopping Engines: Third party platforms like Pricegrabber and Shopzilla can offer a tremendous amount of traffic – if done properly. Careful feed structure and campaign management are critical to ensuring this traffic is high quality and nets our clients a positive ROI.

Keyword/Ad Customization: Do you wish you could bid on all ten-thousand model numbers you have as keywords? Are you frustrated with manually updating hundreds of ads when a price changes? We’ve developed proprietary functionality that allows us to take your product feed and use it to super-charge your existing marketing efforts.

The Product Feed Management team is dedicated to helping clients achieve their goals online. You can learn more about us and our work on our Product Feed Management Services page.

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Top 5 SEO Tools Not Named ‘Google Something-Something’

The Search Agents Feed - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 13:41

Like anyone with children, everyone has their favourites, and it’s no different with SEO tools. This is by no means a definitive list, but a collection of my go-to tools that help me do my job as best as possible.

As they are utterly essential to accurately report on performance and glean insights from, I have excluded all Google properties from the list as to not clog it up with tools you should already rely on as standard.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get on with the list.


Screaming Frog


Starting with the technical SEO’s bread-and-butter that keeps them in fur coats and diamonds, Screaming Frog should be your first stop for any website auditing process. A website crawler, Screaming Frog allows you to replicate a search engine crawl and gather all URLs together in one spot, giving you the platform to quickly identify and diagnose the health and status of a website.




Whenever you need to perform competitor analysis or retrieve as much data as you can ahead of a pitch process without access to their Google properties, SEMrush is there for you. From position tracking to site auditing and from benchmarking to keyed-in recommendations across both on-page and from a technical perspective, SEMrush has it all and I wouldn’t leave home without it.


Authority Labs


There were other keyword tracking tools before, but Authority Labs is my current squeeze. Easy to navigate and manage, Authority Labs allows for ease of reporting and monitoring through its clean appearance and flexible, customisable features. With the ability to track keyword fluctuations on a day-to-day basis and the option for unlimited tracked domains with the potential to monitor over 5,000 keywords depending on the package you have, Authority Labs gives you everything you need to relay this information to a client in an easy-to-comprehend format.


Crazy Egg


With the aid of mouse-tracking technology, Crazy Egg allows you to see how your visitors are interacting with your site and is, for me, the best heatmapping tool out there. Capable of providing you with data on what your visitors are clicking on and how far down a page they scroll, as well as other valuable insights, Crazy Egg offers a clear visual presentation of your visitor’s journey throughout your website, allowing you to optimise accordingly with ease.




Backlink analysis is a common task in SEO and when I go to work on this, Ahrefs is my and many others’ top choice. With an enormous backlink database at its disposal, clear data representation and ease of use, Ahrefs ticks all the boxes. But don’t just limit this gem to backlinks — Ahrefs also provides great value in keyword analysis and on-page assessment. Ahrefs is simply majestic.

Those’re my favourites, but be sure to let us know your most trusted SEO tools in the comments!

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The Search Agency Team Spotlight: Creative SEO

The Search Agents Feed - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 11:43

The Search Agency’s Creative SEO team helps clients get in front of customers wherever they happen to be online, including Google, social networks and YouTube. Our content and promotions experts make sure customers and search engines can find what they need: helpful resources that answer questions, address concerns and remove any obstacles to a purchase. Creative SEO subject matter experts (SMEs) take time to understand each client’s industry, customers, business needs, and competition.

The Search Agency’s Creative SEO team comes from diverse backgrounds including journalism, consumer psychology, marketing and creative writing. We’ve worked with leading brands in a variety of industries, including beauty, real estate, retail, finance, fashion, entertainment, sports and technology.

How does all this experience come together to improve your digital presence? Here’s what clients can expect from their Creative SEO partner:

Semantic Keyword Research: We take the time to understand how customers search for your products or services so that your site is poised to catch their clicks. This goes far beyond traditional keyword research to include related topics and searcher intent.

Gap Analysis: Where is your website excelling, and which blind spots are keeping you from achieving business goals? We’ll dig into the details, including site navigation, content quality, user experience, social presence, metadata and competitive threats.

Content Creation: We write high-quality, authoritative content designed to rank well and push customers towards a purchase. We cover a topic from every angle so that customers and search engines recognize your site as a valuable resource. Our Creative SEO team can even help you gain Featured Snippets so your content appears above the first organic search result.

Metadata and Page Optimizations: Are bland title tags and meta descriptions working against you? Your Creative SEO contact can fix that. Existing pages usually need some attention, too. You’d be surprised at how big a difference a bit of SEO TLC can make.

Off-site Promotions: A company’s online presence extends beyond the borders of its own website. Bloggers, journalists and customers are talking about your brand, and you need to join the conversation. Let us help you benefit from a holistic SEO strategy that involves content marketing and relationship-building to promote the data-driven assets we’ve created specifically for your site.

The Creative SEO team is dedicated to helping clients achieve their goals online. You can learn more about us on our Search Engine Optimization services page.

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Audience Targeting in Primetime

The Search Agents Feed - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 15:00

Social media — and more specifically, Facebook — plays an integral part in the lives of over one billion people. We keep in touch with friends, RSVP to birthday parties, donate money to causes we care about and express our opinions on current trends and events. But somewhere down the line, things became a little muddy.

We’ve all become aware one way or another about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and how Facebook was used to sway the 2016 United States presidential election. Facebook has since made some changes and launched a campaign to go back to its roots of sharing what matters most to its users and doing its best to monitor the misuse of its targeting tools, but not before primetime television took a stab at educating the public on how this all happened.

As someone who works in a digital marketing agency I’m aware of the tools brands can use to best target their audiences. I’m also a huge TV buff and one of my favorite shows is The Good Fight, a spinoff of CBS’s hit show The Good Wife, which streams on CBS All Access.

In season 2, episode 8, titled “Day 457” (the show titles this season’s episodes by the number of days President Trump has been in office), the show dives into microtargeting (their term — we prefer to just say “audience targeting”). Entertainment Weekly describes it as “the process by which advertisers use ad dollars to zero-in on very specific groups of people in order to influence their actions (e.g., what Russia did with fake news during the 2016 election).”


Head to Entertainment Weekly to read a full recap of the episode or go to CBS All Access to watch. To make a long story short, the microtargeting angle in the episode revolves around two law firms using microtargeting to produce and push fake news articles on Facebook to members of the jury and the judge himself. At first, no one knows where these articles are coming from and how they’re appearing in front of the jury. An investigator from one of the firms figures out what’s happening by creating a fake Facebook profile and filling the personal information fields using the Likes and interests of the people on the jury. She then goes to a fake news generator website, creates a fake news story, then targets the fake Facebook profile organically by creating a very specific audience on the site. When she goes to the fake profile’s Facebook news feed, the fake news article is the first thing to pop up.

Once they found out where the articles were coming from and how they were reaching the jury, I paused the episode. I thought, “Wait a minute — this can’t be 100-percent accurate.” Granted, it’s a fictional show and they probably took creative license with how microtargeting actually works, but they kept using this angle and explaining further in great detail how it works throughout the episode. So, I decided to do some investigating.


Fake news


First, the fake news article. Are there really sites out there that generate fake news articles and use audience tools integrated with Facebook to target specific groups? YES — there are. All you need is a headline, a short description and an image, and you have a linked article ready to go. A few differences, though: The sites I found don’t create full-length articles. They only tease with a headline and description. When you click the link, it takes you back to the generator’s website. Most people nowadays will get their news from just the headline and description, so the possibility of someone clicking the link to get the full story is very low. Other sites make it so that you can edit real news stories from credible sites. You can edit the copy and images and create a linked page that will feature the edited story.


Audience tools


Do these generators offer tools to target audiences organically and post to Facebook directly from their site, or are they integrated with Facebook’s audience tools? First off, organic targeting isn’t a thing, and the fake news generators I found online aren’t actually equipped with any sort of audience tools for targeting. They offer buttons to share across almost every single social channel, as well as links to copy-and-paste, but nothing that would make it a one-stop-shop. Although, anyone with a small budget and knowledge of post boosting on Facebook shouldn’t have much trouble paying to get the fake news article in front of the right people. Which is probably why Facebook put out some tips to help users identify fake news stories from real ones.

Once I completed my investigation, I went back and finished the episode thinking that the microtargeting battle between attorneys would escalate into something major. Sadly, a huge twist in the end was revealed and the case was settled out of court, having nothing to do with the outcome of the microtargeting. Although, in later episodes of the season, microtargeting becomes a common tool used by investigators to sway judges and provide “proof” for claims in cases.

One takeaway from my stint as a digital marketing investigator was I realized how important it is to play close attention to what pops up in my Facebook feed. I personally don’t mind seeing ads pop up for services, products or events that I genuinely have interest in, but when it comes to news, or political ads, I’ll definitely take the extra time to click through and verify their credibility.



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AdWords Data Sharing and You: A Perspective

The Search Agents Feed - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 11:36

Starting at the end of May 2018, a setting in your DoubleClick account will be automatically switched “on” under your advertiser settings. This automated rollout will allow your AdWords representatives and sales teams to gain read-only visibility into your DoubleClick Search account’s data; more specifically, your conversion data. They won’t have the ability to make changes or sabotage your data, so there’s not really any real big risk involved. You can opt out of this rollout and keep your conversion data away from the AdWords team, but before you simply do this out of paranoia, there are a few positive implications to bear in mind.


What could this mean for my account?


Allowing your AdWords representatives to view conversion data in DoubleClick Search provides a new level of transparency between teams. I can’t count how many times one of my Google representatives would give recommendations for one of my accounts without having the level of visibility into the deeper conversion metrics we are held accountable to, many of which override optimization decisions against the AdWords conversion KPIs that AdWords tracks. This will empower Google’s recommendations with a deeper understanding of your conversion data, which in turn could become more strategic (and hopefully more actionable) for your accounts.

When we consider the data that Google teams cannot share with us directly (like a specific competitor’s keywords or account structure), the opportunities are even greater. Allowing the AdWords team to see your DoubleClick Search conversion data, then pair that information with the proprietary data only they have access to, empowers them to provide strategic recommendations tailored to your clients’ needs. Imagine how much more robust your upcoming quarterly business review would be if your AdWords team was able to elevate their level of partnership simply by using the same dataset as the rest of your team. This would drive stronger alignment between you, your Google team and your clients.


On the other hand…


As nice as these outcomes may sound, there could be some concern with Google having even more data at their fingertips. If your client is concerned with how much data Google has access to, then this may not be suitable for your account. It’s also important to keep in mind that this does not apply to Bing conversions, so Google will only be able to see conversions attributed to your Google media. If your Bing media makes up a significant portion of your account, know that the recommendations that this data supports will omit that much of your overall search profile.

Much like most Google opt-ins, there’s no room for red lines. It’s a take-it-or-leave-it-type feature, with no ability to customize which floodlights Google will be able to see. In a case where you have offline traffic being funneled into a floodlight, it is completely feasible not to want Google to have visibility/transparency into that level of offline conversion data.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your Google team wants you and your clients to succeed. In my opinion, sharing your data with the AdWords team doesn’t pose any risk, so don’t let the option to opt-out mislead you. Personally, the removal of this data barrier between me and my Google teams only raises my expectations from the AdWords teams to deliver.

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Engaging the Consumer Journey: Display and Paid Social Audience Targeting

The Search Agents Feed - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 14:32

Utilizing display and paid social marketing strategies allows brands to reach a large pool of users beyond the search engine results page — where most audiences have already evaluated their core brand set and are ready to buy. As marketers constantly push for maximum impact and efficiency, defining the right goals and segmenting display and paid social audiences is paramount achieving success with such full-phase consumer journey marketing initiatives.

Deciding which audiences to target depends on business objectives and what consumer journey phases are most impactful for your brand. Let’s look at a few ways to utilize various display and social marketing strategies to engage all stages of the consumer journey.


Audiences at the top of the funnel are not necessarily looking to buy or fully engage with a brand, so the goal of this stage should be growing brand exposure. Goals in this phase may range from creating brand awareness (clicks, new visitors, page views) to promoting a time-specific event or product launch of an already-established brand.

Targeting segments: Location, demographic and custom lookalikes (users who are similar to users who have taken actions on your site).


Users may be shopping around and exploring brands they’re considering for their purchase. Goals like time-on-site, specific-product page traffic and various non-conversion site behaviors can be used to judge performance in this phase.

Targeting segments: Custom affinity (users that could be receptive to your ad through previous actions online), in-market (users who have online actions that show they may be ready to engage with a product or service) and interest (users who have demonstrated an interest relating to or directly with your product or service).


These users are ready to invest in a product or service but are still comparing the value propositions between brands. These audiences are pre-qualified and on the cusp of investing in a brand. Since they’re more qualified, there’s an expectation of more competition, so capturing these users requires more aggressive and focused targeting.

Targeting segments: Keyword contextual targeting (serving ads to users who are viewing web pages that align with your product or service), remarketing through paid search ads (users who have been served search ads) and competitor targeting.

Goal Completion

Previous site visitors who haven’t taken a desired action (remarketing audiences) should be targeted in the Goal Completion phase. These audiences are highly qualified because they have researched your brand and may have started to take a desired action, but left your website (cart or form fill abandoners).

Targeting segments: Previous site visitors and valuable CRM audience segments.


Previous purchasers who have invested in your brand through product or service (remarketing audience) are perfect to reengage for a product upsell, upgraded service or companion product.

Targeting segments: Existing customer lists within internal CRM platforms.

How do I access the right audiences for my brand?

Applying and testing the appropriate audiences for your display and social campaigns is the best way to ensure you’re reaching the right users at the right time. In the early stages of the Consumer Decision Journey, broad audience targeting (like utilizing demographic and geographic targeting) is available through data native to advertising platforms. In the middle stages of the Consumer Decision Journey, more focused audiences are modeled from brand and platform data via lookalike and affinity audiences. The different advertising platform technologies now create targeting segments for campaigns through anonymous aggregated user data – modelling audiences from predefined attributes or customer lists owned by a brand. In the later stages of the Consumer Decision Journey, highly relevant and most focused audiences are built from brand-owned data and existing media campaigns via remarketing initiatives and existing customer audiences.

If you currently have ads running, the platform you’re using will have tools that’ll give you insights on the users who have interacted with your ads. One powerful tool you can use is Facebook Audience Insights. You can learn how to use this tool in one of our other blog posts, “Master Facebook Audience Insights to Become a Targeting Genius.”

Knowing the purpose of your campaigns, building the most efficient audiences and targeting the right users will allow your campaigns become more successful. One thing to remember: Audiences and the digital space are constantly evolving, so testing different audiences and creative assets should always be top-of-mind (but that’s a different post for a different day).

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The Search Agency and the GDPR

The Search Agents Feed - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 17:20

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) comes into force on May 25, 2018 and brings with it the most significant changes to EU data protection law in two decades.


The GDPR aims to give citizens of EU countries stronger, more consistent rights to access and control their personal information. While the GDPR is limited in scope to citizens of EU countries, we believe the GDPR is ushering in new best practices for the protection of personal data, and we pride ourselves on being in line with such practices.


Our Commitment

The Search Agency is committed to ensuring the security and protection of the personal information that we process, and to provide a compliant and consistent approach to data protection. We have always had a robust and effective data protection program in place and we are updating and expanding this program in line with the heightened standards of the GDPR.


What We Are Doing

The Search Agency has established a data privacy team to promote awareness of the GDPR across the organization, assess GDPR’s impact, identify potential gap areas and implement new policies, procedures and measures that we decide are desirable to ensure we maintain best practices in data protection worldwide. Here’s a snapshot of what we are doing:

  • Information Audit – carrying out a company-wide information audit on the personal information we hold, where it comes from, how and why it is processed and if and to whom it is disclosed.
  • Policies & Procedures –updating data protection policies and procedures, as needed, to meet the standards of the GDPR, including:
    • Data Protection – updating our data protection policy and procedure manual to enhance accountability and governance measures with a dedicated focus on privacy by design and the rights of individuals.
    • Data Retention & Erasure – updating our retention policy and schedule to ensure that we meet the ‘data minimization’ and ‘storage limitation’ principles and that personal information is stored, archived and destroyed in accordance with GDPR principles.
    • Data Breaches– updating our breach procedures to ensure our existing safeguards identify, assess, investigate and report any personal data breach at the earliest possible time.
    • Employee Education – educating employees through employee training materials to ensure a company-wide understanding and approach to all data protection policies and enforcement.
  • Information Security & Technical/Organizational Measures– ensuring we have several layers of security measures in place to protect personal information from unauthorized access, alteration, disclosure and destruction, including: access controls, secure file transfer (sFTP), pseudonymization, and CRM integration.


The Search Agency and The GDPR: Q&A  __ Is The Search Agency a Data Controller or Data Processor Under the GDPR?


The Search Agency is a Data Processor with respect to EU customer data that The Search Agency clients control and request we process in various ways. In certain limited instances, The Search Agency may also be a Data Controller under the GDPR. We understand the requirements of both roles under the GDPR and will work with our clients to help them achieve their compliance goals.


How will the GDPR impact The Search Agency operations?


The GDPR imposes strict requirements on the way businesses collect, store, manage, and process personal data of citizens of EU member countries. As Data Processors for clients, the GDPR mandates the implementation of stricter data handling processes, with a focus on security and accountability.


Is The Search Agency currently GDPR compliant?


The Search Agency views the GDPR requirements as the new standard for best practices in personal data collection and protection. While compliance with the GDPR is required with respect to personal data of citizens of EU member countries, The Search Agency aims to applythe GDPR standards to its entire business regardless of the nationality of the subject. The design of The Search Agency’s revised processes reinforce the core principles of the GDPR:

  • Lawfulness, Fairness and Transparency
  • Purpose Limitation
  • Data Minimization
  • Accuracy
  • Storage Limitation
  • Data Security
  • Accountability


What steps were taken towardsGDPR compliance in Q1 – Q2?

  • Appoint a data protection officer
  • Internal analysis & strategy
  • Ensure technical and organizational measures
  • Audit of data security processes
  • Ensure only necessary data is collected
  • Ensure top level security of data
  • Data breach plan & procedure
  • Finalize data handling processes
  • Internal training


Can clients use The Search Agency to obtain the explicit consent needed for processing of customer data under GDPR?


Since client properties (i.e. websites and apps) capture customer data directly, by GDPR definition, clients are Data Controllers which carry the responsibility of obtaining consent (GDPR Article 4).


Will The Search Agency make updates to their data handling practices to restrict customer data from being available to employees who don’t need it in their role?


Yes. The Search Agency will appoint one member of the account team to process customer data on behalf of the client. That individual will ensure proper processing of customer data, based on GDPR processing guidelines, and will be responsible for the removal of client customer data from The Search Agency servers.


Will The Search Agency make process updates to allow for the deletion of all customer data upon request?


Yes. The Search Agency has instituted processes that require immediate deletion of client customer data from The Search Agency servers as soon as it is processed. Additionally, The Search Agency will work with clients to maintain an “exclusion list,” to be used for marketing purposes, which will consist of users who have exercised their right to be forgotten.


Does The Search Agency have a personal data breach notification process?


Yes. We have a specific data breach notification procedure in place and respect the deadlines of the GDPR in communicating a breach.

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Maximize Your Bing Reach with DSA Campaigns

The Search Agents Feed - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 10:27

Keyword targeted campaigns still dominate most search accounts, but dynamic search ads can help marketers efficiently increase traffic with minimum effort. Bing’s dynamic search ads (DSA) became publicly available to advertisers in the US in the fall of 2017. Like Google DSA campaigns, Bing recognizes the searcher’s intent, dynamically generates an ad headline for your ad and then directs the searcher to the most relevant landing page on your site.

Benefits of Bing DSA Campaigns


  • DSA campaigns do not require an advertiser to spend time building out exhaustive keyword lists or customizing ad titles.
  • Bing reports, on average, DSA campaigns deliver a 7-percent incremental increase in clicks at a 45-percent lower CPC compared to phrase and broad-match types in regular search campaigns.
  • DSA is an excellent option for advertisers with a large inventory of website pages looking to capture long-tail queries not represented in their keyword campaigns, as well as advertisers looking to quickly build out support for new product lines with minimal set-up effort.


How to Get Started


  • Create a Dynamic Search Ads campaign and input your website domain.
  • Choose your targets. There are three types of auto-targets that can be used. If you wish to utilize category targeting, keep in mind that the first time an advertiser registers their domain with Bing, it’ll take three to four days of the campaign being in “Active” mode for category targeting to populate.
    • Target recommended categories
    • Target all webpages
    • Target specific webpages
  • Specify the ad text. Remember: Both the headline and “Final URLs” are dynamically generated by Bing, so you only need to input the ad text line.


Tips and Reminders


  • If you already have DSA campaigns set up in Google, you can mirror the same set-up when creating your initial Bing DSA campaigns.
  • In addition to setting up auto-targets which target specific webpages or categories on your website, it can be beneficial to also create a “catch-all” auto-target which targets all webpages with a lower bid. This will ensure that the campaign is always eligible to serve, even if your more-granular auto-targets become invalid due to future website modifications.
  • Exclude any webpages that aren’t relevant to your marketing KPIs. For example, most advertisers will want to exclude the “careers” section of their website if they aren’t looking to drive job inquiries.
  • Layer in remarketing and in-market audiences on DSA campaigns for more granular bidding control.
  • Keep an eye on search query reports. You can mine the non-converting queries to add as negative keywords in your DSA campaign, as well as positive keywords to add to your keyword-targeted search campaigns.
  • If you utilize a tool provider, make sure that Bing DSA campaigns are supported, or implement workaround tracking as needed to ensure that conversions will be recorded.

It’s estimated that 15 percent of daily searches are brand-new and have never been seen before.  Especially with the rising adoption of digital assistants and voice searches, DSA campaigns are a powerful way to bridge the gaps between keyword campaigns and capture incremental conversions.

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Microsoft Excel and You, the Analyst: Beginner Marketing Applications

The Search Agents Feed - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 09:05

Excel serves as a powerful tool for digital marketers, who can use the application to fuel analytical thinking. In my early days of digital marketing, figuring out formulas, pivot tables and all the exciting things that Excel has to offer took time; time which, previously, could’ve been saved had someone given me some direction and purpose around all the unfamiliar capabilities of Excel. In this article, I’ll be discussing some of the foundations that go into setting up data to then be used in a pivot table, including some common formulas and shortcuts to help us get there.

Step 1 – Group and Join Data

Let’s say you already have raw data pulled out of your favorite platform/search engine, like a campaign report out of AdWords. You’ve already segmented the data by day, and you’ve included fields like “campaign name” and “labels.” The first step is to make sure you’ve grouped the data into segments that you’re trying to look at (such as brand, non-brand, competitors, etc.), which should be defined already by your labels. If any segment labels haven’t already been created, or you need to make new segments, no need to panic! We will use VLOOKUPS to configure the missing spaces (if you aren’t sure what a VLOOKUP is, it’s a formula that looks at a cell for a value within another range to return a value in a specified adjacent column).

Let’s say your data is organized as such:

Labels are already being used, but we also want to roll up brand against non-brand, which isn’t already included. Let’s add in a new column on the left and call it “Search Type”:

The VLOOKUP formula will be looking for a cell with a value that matches another value in a separate array, which it will then return that matched value’s definition. At this point, it’s a good idea to create a second tab and call it “lookups.” This will be used to store your lookup tables (I say tables in the event you want to make more lookups later).

In this example let’s base our definitions off the “Campaign” column, which can be accomplished using this formula:


To give clarity on what each field does in the formula above:

  • [D2] = refers to the cell we are looking up; in this case, it’s the campaign name
  • [Lookups!A:B] = the name of the lookup tab and the range to look up from
    • *NOTE* a VLOOKUP always looks up a cell in the left-most column of an array, then pulls values going to the right
  • [2] = the lookup array has two columns (A through B), and this number specifies the column within the array that we want to pull a value from
  • [FALSE] = For our purposes we pretty much always use “false,” since we want exact matching fields returned

Now that we have the VLOOKUP formula created, let’s drag the formula down to span all the rows in the dataset.

*Pro Shortcut* Select the entire blank range from the bottom-most cell and up to the VLOOKUP cell, then use “CTRL+ D” to quickly “drag” the formula all the way down!

Anytime data is added to this file, you’ll want to drag down the formulas to make sure all rows are defined. For this reason, I typically “bold” every column in my datasets that contain formulas, so it’s easy to spot which columns need to be applied down.

Step 2 – Specify Definitions

Now that you have a ton of #N/As, let’s edit some definitions so that these cells actually mean something. Copy the whole column called “Campaign” and paste them as values on the second tab we created earlier (you did make a lookup tab, right?) over column A.

*Pro Shortcut* When pasting the campaign column into the lookup tab, right click header of column A and press “S” and then “V” to quickly paste the data in!

Let’s call column B “Search Type” and then de-duplicate the campaign names in column A. A VLOOKUP will only pull the first matching value of a table, so if you have a campaign name listed multiple times, only the top campaign will be used by Excel.

*Pro Shortcut* Click on the column A header, then press “ALT,” followed by “A,” followed by “M” to quickly open up the de-duplicate menu!

After removing the duplicate values, apply the labels to each campaign. In my example we only have two unique values — “NonBrand” and “Brand”:

Now that this table has been filled out, we can return to our dataset to see that all rows now have the definitions applied to them, making our dataset pivot table ready!

NOTE: Using a VLOOKUP is helpful when you need data to appear differently! For example, Google Analytics exports date formats that are in the format “YYYYMMDD”. These dates can all be assigned a new value that is easier to read, such as “MM/DD/YY.”

Step 3 – Create the Pivot and Add Basic Views

Now we’re finally ready to create our pivot table. Select the whole set of data (column titles and all) and under the “Insert” tab at the top of Excel, click on “PivotTable”:

*Pro Shortcut* Select the entire area you want to make into a pivot table and then “ALT,” followed by “N,” followed by “V” – then press ENTER! A new PivotTable will be quickly created under a new tab!

When the dialogue window pops up, just press ENTER to create the table under a new tab. Right now, it doesn’t look like much; we need to add in fields from the “field list,” which appears on the right side of Excel. The field list is visible by default if you click anywhere inside the pivot table area. Hint — it looks like this:

Notice how our custom VLOOKUP column’s title appears in the list (it’s called “Search Type”). Let’s say we want to see how our brand impressions have changed over time. Drag “Search Type” under the columns area, and then drag “Date” under “Rows.” Once you have done both, drag “Impressions” under the “Summation Values” area. Your pivot table should look something like this:

Right-clicking either of the months will give an option to “Ungroup,” which will show the dates by day instead of by month. At this point we have some decisions to make regarding what we’re wanting to look for. Something handy that I wasn’t taught early on in my career was the function to show values of a pivot table as something else. Right-click any of the impression values and you’ll find a selection called “Show Values As” hiding in the contextual menu. Hovering over that will open up a plethora of choices, which I find very exciting. For example, select “% Row Total” to change the table from this…

…to this…

This function changes the values in the table to a predefined calculation. This view gives us the ability to easily spot the percentage of our impressions being delivered by day between the two segments we’ve built. This idea can be expanded as much as your imagination is willing to explore!

NOTE: You can add data into a pivot table after it has been created. Simply add new data at the end of the raw data tab, and then, under the pivot table settings, make sure to change the data source to select the new range. Then simply refresh the pivot table to update (shortcut: “ALT” > “A” > “R” > “A”).

Step 4 – Add Formula Columns

The last step is to add formulas to the pivot table. This is particularly helpful when adding more data into this file — for example, if this file is going to be used as a daily pacing file and new data will be added daily.

Click inside the pivot table area, and at the top there’s a tab called “Analyze.” Click there, then click on “Fields, Items, & Sets,” and then finally on “Calculated Field…”:

Like using formulas as you would normally in Excel, you can predetermine formulas that are built into the pivot table which will automatically update all related values depending on how you shift the fields around in the field list and filters. This is critical to making sure your figures are updating depending on how you aggregate, drill down or adjust views. For example, “click through rate” or “cost per click” cannot simply be added into a pivot table if the raw data is pulled at the keyword level but the table is setup to view data aggregated by day. A pivot table will roll these values up as a sum/count/average/etc., which cannot be done. Well, it can, but it’s wrong.

Let’s name this formula “CPC Steve” for simplicity, then write out the formula like so and click add:

Close this window and “CPC Steve” should be automatically added into the table. Let’s remove impressions and change the view from “% Row Total” back to “No Calculation.” The view will now adjust to show you costs-per-click by day, or by month if you group them back up again (go ahead, try it). In my dataset, CPCs have decreased over time and it’s easy to see the split between both “Brand” and “NonBrand.”

Keep in mind that certain metrics such as “Average Position” must be calculated through a custom formula, since no matter how you pull average position from a data source, it’ll already be delivered as an average (unless you pull impression-level data, which is absurd to try to push through Excel, anyways).

But we’ll have to wait for my next blog post for more about that!

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the capabilities that’re offered through Excel, but this tutorial should serve as a solid foundation to get started. Try to get creative and look for ways to incorporate some of these functions into your daily life. These are some of the fundamental tools that a digital marketer will use day-in and day-out to search for those needle-moving insights that make agency life so exciting.

The post Microsoft Excel and You, the Analyst: Beginner Marketing Applications appeared first on The Search Agency.

Master Facebook Audience Insights to Become a Targeting Genius

The Search Agents Feed - Wed, 05/16/2018 - 12:55

Facebook offers a variety of ways to target valuable audience segments for your business. Although many resources on the web provide insights, Facebook provides powerful tools necessary to understand and connect with your audience at scale. Facebook utilizes their own first-party data to better inform advertisers on valuable audience insights. Besides using your own first-party data to target customers, utilizing the platform’s immense data and toolset is a helpful way to prospect new users and target attributes of Facebook users essential for brand growth.

Audience Insights, a tool in the Facebook platform, allows advertisers to gather information on audiences before devising a thoughtful marketing plan to connect with them. This tool helps brands understand the attributes of their audience and offers targeting segments to consider when creating Facebook advertising strategies.

Gain Insights Into Audiences Valuable to Your Business

Facebook allows marketers to view audience information in a few different ways. The primary way is by looking at Facebook as a whole. By users inputting a variety of specific types of interests, Facebook provides relevant information and trends that are associated with the interest for all its users. Going further, if you want to view details only for your desired audience, Facebook will provide relevant data on demographics, page Likes, location and activity.

Besides looking at interests, Facebook allows you to look at data regarding occupation, relationship status, education and more. For example, by looking at the insights for users who have classified their relationship status as “Single,” we can then gain a deeper understanding on their job title and education level. You can then layer on additional parameters to learn even more about your audience, such as adding a “Dog” interest on top of the “Single” relationship status. Make sure to browse Facebook’s immense amount of targeting data to further investigate insights on your audience.

If you only want to focus on audiences connected to your Facebook fan page, simply select “Pages Connected to” under “Pages,” and select the Facebook pages where you would like to gather insights.  This is great to understand what types of Facebook audiences are engaging with your brand so you can extend and test these targeting segments within your next campaign.

Utilize Insights to Tailor Your Messaging and Attract Your Audience

Looking at Audience Insights is helpful to providing the appropriate type of content and messaging to your desired audience. Understanding exactly who your audience consists of will help you to drive the perfect message as a marketer.

For example, if you’re marketing a specific beauty product and notice that fans of a particular business beauty page/interest are 25-35 years old and live in Los Angeles or New York with a certain job title, you can look at related beauty pages and gain ideas on how to better connect.

This tool helps you understand competition, as well. If a company or page has enough traffic, you can search for them in the “interests” section and look at data like age, gender and even education level of their visitors.

Thinking Outside the Box and Advertising to the Right Users

Although messaging is important, if you’re going to advertise your business page, you need to find unique ways to target your audience in order to stand out. By viewing insights of your business page, you can gather information about who on Facebook most interacts with your brand. If a certain age group with specific interests are trending within your insights, test that audience in your advertising efforts. Advertisers would definitely benefit from this tool in the first phase of planning to help guide audience targeting.

Sadly, sometimes Audience Insights doesn’t provide the exact information you’re seeking. For example, Facebook doesn’t have the targeting capability to target expecting mothers. By thinking outside the box, though, you can discover interests that would appeal to mothers-to-be. By typing in “pregnancy,” you can view categories and pages generally associated with this topic.  By noticing that pages such as “Babies ‘R’ Us” and “Gerber” normally involve children, you can then test new audiences by layering these interests on top of your targeting.

Be Ready for Your Campaigns

A lot goes into marketing and prepping your campaigns, so analyzing and coordinating your messaging and targeting will help formulate your strategy. Don’t be scared to test new audience segments and messaging to find the perfect strategy for your brand.

Overall, though there are many resources to gather insights on your market, Facebook’s Insights platform is still a great place to start. Think creatively and spend time researching different interests and the other targeting capabilities Facebook offers. If you’re prepared and informed before launching campaigns, you’ll have a greater chance to truly connect with the right audience segments and grow your brand.

The post Master Facebook Audience Insights to Become a Targeting Genius appeared first on The Search Agency.

Marketing Mix: Cross-Channel Reporting and Executive Dashboards

The Search Agents Feed - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 08:05

One of the most important aspects of reporting is the ability to see and analyze an aggregated view of your marketing data across all channels. With the continually expanding marketing mix, it can be easy for your data, and therefore your marketing teams, to become siloed. This approach can often obscure the bigger picture and result in a reactionary “fire-drill” environment as opposed to a proactive, strategic and data-driven management style.

With this in mind, it’s essential to unite your marketing data across all channels for an aggregated “Topline” view that can then be filtered by channel, different slices of time, regions, products, vendors, campaigns, etc.

Research and Identify Your Reporting Solution

The first step to uniting your marketing data is to find the right tool to use for your cross-channel marketing performance solution. This main source of the truth must work with all of your marketing channels and should bring together your data from all channels such as search, display, social, CRM, offline sources, etc. In order to effectively manage a cross-channel marketing campaign, your solution must be cross-channel, as well. Fortunately, there are many possible tools and solutions in the marketplace such as Datorama, Tableau, MicroStrategy, Domo, etc. that can be used for this purpose.

While researching the best tool/solution for your organization, keep in mind your actual data sources/vendors and how you plan to retrieve this data and how often. Most of the BI tools on the market today can connect to APIs or scheduled reports, so you should find the tool that most aligns with your data sources and needs. The goal is to make the data collection process as efficient and automated as possible while allowing flexibility to scale as strategies, campaigns, vendors, etc. change and evolve over time.


Work Your Way Backwards


Now that you’ve selected our reporting tool/solution, you’re almost ready to begin creating the dashboard, but first need to put together a “mock-up” of the dashboard layout and data you’d like to present. This will make your life much easier when building the dashboard and allow you to focus on the data accuracy as opposed to the presentation of the data. I prefer doing mine the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, but you can also use Excel or a tool like SnagIt for more specific mock-ups.


Build Your Dashboard


Once you’ve selected your reporting solution, brought in the raw data from each of your data sources and created your mock-up, you’re now ready to create a cross-channel executive dashboard. This view should provide a topline “snapshot” of your most important KPIs and how they’re performing relative to your target goals in the current period.

To increase the value of the dashboard, I recommend including filters that will allow you to segment this topline data by channel, engine, device, etc. Just be sure that there’s a common key across data sources so the data segments properly.


Make Your Data Work for You


While it’s great to have these powerful reports and dashboards available at your fingertips each day, sometimes you don’t always get a chance to look or catch everything. Your cross-channel marketing performance solution should alert you when something significant (good or bad) happens. You should be able to define low and high thresholds and have the software let you know when you cross them – work with your marketing teams to determine these thresholds and set up automated alerts to direct their attention to any potential issues before they escalate.


Continuous Improvement


Now that you have your beautiful dashboard and automated solutions, you may think your work is done. If only it was that easy. In the world of marketing, we know there’s constant change, which will cause the way you analyze your data to change. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open between your marketing and analytics teams as things change to ensure everyone is on the same page. There’s no value in data-driven decision making if the data you’re providing isn’t relevant and accurate.

The post Marketing Mix: Cross-Channel Reporting and Executive Dashboards appeared first on The Search Agency.

Improve Your Performance with Landing Page Personalization

The Search Agents Feed - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 11:03

When executing paid campaigns, there are, unfortunately, limits to what you can do to increase conversion rates. You can update ads and bid down on under-performing keywords and audiences, but these basic optimizations can reach a point of diminishing returns. Your media may become more efficient, but reach declines. Or you may grow volume, but become less efficient.

If you’ve hit a performance plateau, try looking beyond the click to the landing page experience. Are the calls-to-action and content as relevant as possible for users clicking on ads? One way to generate increased campaign efficiency without sacrificing volume is to serve a personalized landing page experience to the various audiences you’re targeting with paid search advertising.


Specific > Generic

Often, marketers use a generic landing page for a wide range of audiences with varying goals. Modifying the experience based on your audience can make for a more relevant user experience and increase your conversion rate, resulting in increased media spend efficiency. If a new landing page experience generates a 20-percent conversion rate boost, that under-performing ad group you paused a month ago suddenly might be able to help you meet your overall campaign goals.

When marketers introduce personalization into their strategy, they can achieve significant results. A 2017 survey from Evergage revealed that 88 percent of marketers had realized a measurable lift in business results” through personalization programs, with 53 percent reporting a lift greater than 10 percent.

So, where to start? There are many ways to make your landing pages more personal, but which method you use will change based on your business needs. Start out by defining what’s important to your company and customers, then personalize from there.

Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

Look at underperforming keyword themes

If your team has paused keywords in your account because of poor performance, dig them back up again for a second look. Ask yourself: Was the problem really the keywords, or was it that your landing page information/offer wasn’t highly relevant to what those users were searching?

Look at competitor terms. Many marketers bid on these to maximize their product’s market share, but it’s hard to provide a relevant experience. Instead of sending those users to a generic landing page, create a landing page where you compare your product to your competitor’s product.

Making it easy for potential customers to see why they should pick your brand over your competitors is a great motivator for conversion. In addition, mentioning your competitors on your landing page could increase your quality score for competitor terms, while decreasing your need to overbid for visibility.

Location, location, location…

As marketers, we need to keep in mind that users are increasingly looking for online experiences that are relevant to where they are, especially in an age where internet use is increasingly becoming mobile.

If you’re a business with multiple locations, personalize your pages by showcasing the locations that are closest to the user via a landing page, along with a way for the user to call or get directions to that location.

You also want to be aware of the type of product or service you provide, and the radius the geo-targeted experience should include. Users are fickle and may be more willing to travel for certain items — like a new vehicle purchase vs. buying potting soil, for example.

Brand vs. Non-brand

One of the most basic ways search marketers execute paid search strategies is by breaking out brand campaigns vs. non-brand campaigns.

Branded searches are obviously performed by users who already are familiar with your brand and typically closer to the bottom of the purchase funnel. They already know who you are and they’re actively seeking you out. Focus on giving these users a quick path to conversion.

Non-brand searches are typically performed by users who are higher up in the funnel, so you’ll need to devote more space on your landing page to educating the consumer on your brand and giving them a reason to trust you over the competition. The non-brand search space also tends to get cluttered, with multiple brands vying for paid search visibility.

Overall, executing a landing page strategy that focuses on some level of personalization is a great way to cater to your users while also aligning with your paid search goals. According to McKinsey & Co, “Personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent, lift revenues by 5 to 15 percent, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10 to 30 percent.” One generic experience won’t cut it anymore, so businesses must adapt to provide comprehensive and meaningful experiences to stay relevant. The benefits of using any or all of the personalization opportunities discussed are two-fold, since they provide a great user experience and create paid search efficiency. This strategic approach will go a long way to accomplish your business goals.

The post Improve Your Performance with Landing Page Personalization appeared first on The Search Agency.

Why You Need Brand and Non-Brand Segments for Your Shopping Campaigns

The Search Agents Feed - Thu, 05/03/2018 - 07:01

Ask any digital marketer worth their salt and they’ll tell you that creating separate campaigns for brand and non-brand media is critical. Doing so will improve your conversion rates, lower your costs-per-click, improve brand awareness and ensure those critical last click conversions go to you and not your competitor, who probably is bidding on your brand terms. This piece will discuss how you can replicate this best practice for your shopping campaigns, as well as the positive results that came out of a sports equipment retailer that we executed this strategy for. If you’re unsure how to get started with Google Shopping, our Product Listing Ads 101 article can help.


Why should I do this?


Because answering “why” is unavoidable, we’re going to address this briefly to put it to rest. If you don’t take measures to capture your branded searches, you’ll lose those customers. This is especially egregious because you’ve probably spent some amount of money attracting them in the first place through your prospecting media. There’s no reason to expose yourself to this risk — bid on your brand terms and capture these users!  There’s absolutely no guarantee that they’ll convert on an organic link (which, if I must remind you, appears below all paid ads, regardless), and excluding it will ultimately result in fewer brand searches across all channels overtime, a phenomenon that has been observed repeatedly.

On Google Shopping, the process is somewhat different. Because you don’t bid on keywords with product listing ads, your ads will appear for branded and non-branded queries as Google matches your goods to user searches. The challenge here is how to set separate bids on the same product for a branded or non-branded query. Rest assured – it’s easy, if not intuitive, and requires only a small amount of effort to maintain.


How do I do this?


To segment your shopping campaigns by brand and non-brand, you’ll need to create two versions of your shopping campaigns, make use of the “Campaign Priority” setting that exists for Shopping campaigns and manage a negative keyword list.


  1. Duplicate your campaign. To keep it simple, create two shopping campaigns and segment your products the same way for each. If you already have a shopping campaign active, just re-create it. The goal is to bid differently on the same product depending on the kind of query a user is searching. We recommend using higher bids for your brand campaign and lower bids for your non-brand campaign; bid lower on non-branded, upper funnel searches and increase bids when they are getting to your brand. If you manage text ad campaigns, this strategy should seem familiar to you.
  2. Utilize Campaign Priority setting. Your non-brand campaign needs to be set to the “high” priority while your brand campaign needs to be set to the “low” priority. This seems counter-intuitive, but these settings will tell Google which bid to use between the two campaigns when either one could show a relevant product for a user search. AdWords typically shows media with the highest bid, which means your higher-bid brand campaign would be generating impressions for non-branded queries, increasing costs-per-click. The campaign priority setting allows us to circumvent this; if a user searches a non-branded query, we want the lower bid “high” priority non-brand campaign to get the impression. This is the first critical step to proper segmentation.
  3. Negate brand terms from non-brand campaign. Because your non-brand campaign has the higher priority setting, it will be capturing your branded queries by default, which defeats the purpose. To address this, simply add your brand terms as negative keywords to your non-brand campaign. Now, any branded queries will automatically be relegated to your brand campaign.
  4. Manage a non-brand negative list. This is the most annoying part of this process, but the results are well worth it. The final touch is to produce and update a list of exact-match non-branded queries and apply it to your brand campaign to continue to force the traffic to their respective campaigns. The campaign priority setting, while effective, is less-than-perfect, and you’ll still get some non-branded traffic flowing to your brand campaign, or, if your non-brand campaign is budget limited, the traffic will flow to your brand campaign. Either instance is likely to result in higher CPCs due to the higher bids applied to your brand campaign. Your first few passes will eliminate the bulk of the high-volume keywords, so most of the heavy lifting will be done in the beginning, but consistency is the key to ensuring the best results.




We executed this exact strategy for a sports equipment retailer earlier this year. We compared metrics year over year, to a period in which the client had not been segmenting their media in this way, and discovered clear results in favor of this tactic. Year over year, the campaign CVR increased 28 percent, drove 17 percent more revenue and improved ROAS by 53 percent, driven by a whopping 389 percent increase in branded impressions. Because non-brand traffic exists in greater quantities, this traffic tends to crowd-out branded queries, especially if you’re operating with any budget limitations (news flash: you are). Without segmenting, you’ll over-bid on non-brand queries, under-bid on brand queries and miss a huge portion of your branded traffic! By segmenting the campaigns, you can ensure you’re fully funded on brand and use remaining budgets to focus on your top-converting products through your non-branded media, creating a positive feedback loop in which you retain control over CPCs and traffic.

The post Why You Need Brand and Non-Brand Segments for Your Shopping Campaigns appeared first on The Search Agency.

5 Ways You Can Benefit from Automated Alerts and Reminders

The Search Agents Feed - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 10:21

My day typically starts with the sound of my alarm clock ringing, prompting me to shut it down and check my phone. Reminders show up, regarding my meetings for the day. I get ready and drive down to work. Google Maps alerts me about traffic congestion on my route. I reach the office and open my laptop. A system update alert pops up. I check my emails and a gentle reminder about my contribution due to The Search Agency’s blog comes in. All of this makes me realize that alerts and notifications have become such an important part of our daily routines. This is true for paid search marketing, as well: Carefully-set alerts and reminders can be very useful for day-to-day account management. Let’s look at some interesting — and certainly helpful — ones.

1. URL Checking

There are automated AdWords scripts that will test all URLs for keywords, ads and sitelinks and send notifications/alerts based on your requirements. You can enter email IDs where you’d like these notifications to be sent and specify the notification setting (whether you want to be notified every time it’s run or only when bad URLs are found). These notifications are useful for catching broken URLs proactively, saving you time you’d otherwise spending checking these manually.

2. Budget Control

On platforms like AdWords, DoubleClick and Bing Ads, budget and cost notifications can be set to ensure optimum spend. You can choose to be notified in case of spend above, below or equal to your chosen amount based on a set number of days (e.g., the previous day, last seven days, etc.). This way, you can be alerted in case you over or under-spend or make changes, accordingly.

3. Impression Share Management

Many brands insist on maintaining a specific percentage of impression share. Therefore, notifications can be set so that if brand impression share drops below the set level, you’re immediately alerted. You can then make bid changes to improve impression share on time. This can be set for lost impression share based on rank and budget.

4. Google Analytics Metrics

For clients on Google Analytics, AdWords allows you to set alerts related to Analytics metrics, as well. Let’s say bounce rate is an important metric to track for a certain brand. You can set alerts to be notified each time the bounce rate is above a certain number. Ditto for pages per session, average session duration and percentage of new sessions.

5. Custom Conversion/CPA Management

Now that custom formula columns can be created, you can set alerts to be notified of changes in those column targets, as well. For example, if you have a target CPA for weighted conversions for your account, you can set alerts to be notified if it exceeds a certain number. Ditto if conversions fall below a certain number. This can help you catch non-performing campaigns or keywords, or help you easily track related issues.

Many of these can also be set to make changes in the account instead of just sending notifications. For example, certain rules can be applied to make bid strategy changes in the event that keywords fall below a certain position. Or if an ad contains a certain text, they can be activated or paused on certain dates at certain times. If used strategically, automated alerts can help save time, catch errors and highlight optimization opportunities.

The post 5 Ways You Can Benefit from Automated Alerts and Reminders appeared first on The Search Agency.

If You Think Voice Search Doesn’t Apply to B2B, Think Again

The Search Agents Feed - Thu, 04/26/2018 - 10:39

If you know anything about SEO, you know that voice search is where it’s at. Even if you aren’t an authority on the subject, chances are that voice search has become an increasingly regular, and perhaps even essential, part of your daily life. In fact, Google says that 72 percent of people who own voice-activated speakers use them every day.

Over the past few years, SEO experts have been observing this shift towards voice-enabled search and analyzing the effect it’s having on people’s habits and behaviors. Not only has voice search changed the way we communicate and seek information, it has also infiltrated and comfortably settled right into our personal surroundings — our homes, cars and pockets. Naturally, this is having a profound impact on companies that conduct business online. And I’m not just referring to local pizza shops and news providers: Voice search is growing within the business-to-business world, as well. The reality is, if you aren’t optimizing your B2B site for voice search, you’re doing your brand a major disservice.


The State of Voice Search


If you think the surge in voice search is just a fad, let’s review the facts:




…and Beyond


How is Voice Search Different?


Thanks to advancements in digital technology, we live in a world where instant gratification is the name of the game and time is measured in seconds, not minutes or hours. We work faster and produce more than ever before. People expect instant, easier and simpler access to information, and voice search makes that possible.




Voice search helps users avoid navigating complex websites, and it’s faster than searching by text. According to Purna Virgi, senior training manager with Microsoft, we speak nearly four times as fast as we type.


“You can type 38-40 words per minute on a mobile device, but you can speak at least 150 words per minute.” -Purna Virgi


Speed is the primary reason people like voice search. And with voice recognition quickly approaching 100-percent accuracy, it’s no wonder more and more searchers are using speech as their preferred method of search.



Text vs. Voice Queries


The biggest difference between text and voice search is tone. Text queries tend to be terse and robotic in nature, while voice queries are more conversational and personal.


Text – “hiccups and bread”
Voice – “Why do I get the hiccups after eating bread?” (True story)

Text – “seo benefits”
Voice – “What are the benefits of SEO?” or “Should I invest in SEO?”

Voice search queries also tend to be longer than text queries. The average voice query length is 4.2 words, while the average text query is 3.2 words.

Additionally, our experience tells us that long-tail queries usually have less search volume, but greater intent. What this means is that they’re more likely to convert.


Mobile Search


Voice search is available anywhere you are, as long as you have the necessary technology to power it. It’s typically mobile and conducted in private, but not always. In a recent study conducted by Stone Temple Consulting, 50 percent of respondents say that they use voice search in the office. And what’s really fascinating is that the study showed that while most people prefer to use voice search in the privacy of their own home or car, those who earn higher incomes are less shy about asking Cortana, Google, Siri or Alexa questions in public. Another win for B2B marketers!



What Does This Mean for SEO?


It means that all digital marketers should be optimizing for voice search. It doesn’t mean that you should ditch your current SEO best practices, but rather, make voice search an additional part of your overall SEO strategy.


Does Voice Search SEO Really Apply to B2B?

Yes! Don’t assume that just because your company doesn’t provide directions or weather updates, it doesn’t need to worry about voice SEO. B2B brands should absolutely integrate voice search optimization into their digital marketing plans.

Here are three ways to do this:

  1. Target long-tail, “ask” keywords. While it isn’t possible to parse out voice queries from text queries on most analytics platforms, it doesn’t take much to figure out which ones are which. Look for the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how” keywords and see where they’re landing on your site. Then ask yourself, are you adequately answering their questions? If time-on-site and bounce rate metrics look bleak, the answer is probably “no.” Take the time to understand your audience, identify target long-tail keywords and deliver relevant content that’s conversational and natural in tone.

  3. Optimize for Answer Boxes (featured snippets). When a query returns a featured snippet, voice-enabled devices will read it aloud. And while featured snippets are less likely to lead to clicks, they do increase brand awareness and authority. Put it this way: If Google features your answer first, you must be the industry expert, right?

  5. Focus on the mobile UX. The vast majority of voice searches are conducted on mobile devices, so this should be a no-brainer. Number one, work towards improving load times. Remember my spiel in the beginning of this article about speed? Yeah. If your page takes more than two seconds to load, you’ve lost a huge chunk of your audience. And, as much as some developers love the “one-and-done” responsive design concept, it can often be detrimental to your mobile user experience. Make sure you test it out to ensure its user-friendliness.


Key Takeaways


There’s no escaping the fact that voice search is here to stay. For consumers, it’s becoming an essential part of how we shop, communicate and navigate. For professionals, the convenience of voice search is creeping its way into our offices and mobile devices. And for B2B marketers, it presents yet another opportunity to get in front of target audiences and build brand recognition, so don’t miss the boat!

The post If You Think Voice Search Doesn’t Apply to B2B, Think Again appeared first on The Search Agency.

Microsoft Excel: Tips and Tricks They Won’t Teach You in School

The Search Agents Feed - Mon, 04/23/2018 - 07:58

With college graduations around the corner, we thought it timely to cover something colleges and universities tend to breeze past and something you learn mostly on the job: Excel. We’ve gathered our top tools, formulas and tricks to share. Some are pretty basic, while others… not so much.


Most-Used Tools


  • Pivot tables: Essentially, creating a table based off an existing table and reorganizing the data in a different view.
  • Sorting/filtering: In the “Data” tab, you can sort your data by number or alphabetically. You can also just filter.
  • Graphs: Visualize your data by selecting the rows and columns you want to graph. Then, on the “Insert” tab, select a graph.
  • Remove duplicates: Just like the name says, it takes columns of data and removes duplicate entries.
  • Freezing panes: Keep forgetting what your row or column titles are? This tool found in “View” > “Freeze Frames” will keep those cells in place while you scroll.
  • Conditional formatting: Color codes cells based on user-defined rules. For example, if you’re over budget on your campaigns, you can have your cells change their background color to red automatically.


Most-Used Formulas


  • Lookups: V-LOOKUP, C-LOOKUP, INDEX MATCH… These formulas help you avoid manually trying to match data from table to table and are huge time-savers.
  • SUMIF: Similar to a pivot table, this formula helps you add columns of data that meets characteristics you identify.
  • CONCATENATE: Combines text from two or more cells.
  • LEN: Counts characters in a cell. We use this when writing ads, as to not go over any character limits.


Formula Tricks


  • “<>” and “text”: Does not equal text.
  • “*” and “text” and “*”: Contains text.
  • =text(CELL CONTAINING A DATE, “ddd”): Returns the day of the week that date was on.

These are some of our most-used tools, formulas and tricks, but Excel is a beast — there’re always more formulas to learn or another way to do things. Watch how your friends and colleagues use Excel and you’re sure to learn a ton of new stuff.

The post Microsoft Excel: Tips and Tricks They Won’t Teach You in School appeared first on The Search Agency.

Ad Collision: Braking Before the Crash

The Search Agents Feed - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 11:21

Have you ever visited a site and witnessed the same ads displayed multiple times on the same page? If you’ve found yourself in this scenario, you’re experiencing ad collision. Ad collision is officially defined as a situation when several ads are served in multiple ad slots on the same page without the intention of buying a roadblock.

Stroke of genius or a waste of media dollars? While ad collision may be a good strategy for short-term and high-impact campaign objectives, limiting it is the most efficient option for your campaigns. But how exactly do you curb ad collision?


Reduce Campaign Frequency


Frequency is the largest contributor to high levels of ad collision. By allowing a high frequency, the system is understanding that multiple impressions can be triggered even if they’re on the same page and as long as they stay within established frequency caps. Setting a frequency cap is essential whether it’s set on an hour, day, week or month time frame — although it is recommended to narrow in to the smallest window. Account-level frequency caps may also be available, so check in your UI or work with your platform representatives.


Re-Evaluate Campaign Structure


Ad collision is often a sign of high audience overlap. Creating a hierarchy of audiences to prioritize and then applying audience suppression is key. For instance, your most valuable audience (i.e. similar audience 1-percent affinity) should be excluded from your second-most valuable audience (i.e. similar audience 2-percent affinity) to eliminate overlap and subsequently limit the amount of ad collision.


Exclude High Ad Collision Offenders


Run a placement report to identify which sites are the largest offenders of ad collisions by observing frequency per site. If your platform does not have a site report available in its UI, ask your rep, since many platforms can pull a report on the back end. Often, you can visit pages with high frequency after visiting your client’s site (and thus entering the retargeting pool) to force an ad collision experience.


Severely Limit Creative Sizes


By “limit,” I really mean only run one creative size per campaign. This is not recommended, but can serve as a last resort for a client that wants to significantly reduce the possibility of ad collision. Why does this work? Publishers typically only have one size per page available. By limiting the size of creative, you almost entirely eliminate the possibility of ad collision. However, withholding creative sizes also will negatively impact performance due to the lack of variety in creative options. In addition, inventory will be impacted due to the reduction in bid-to-inventory matches.

Implementing these changes can positively impact the appearance of ad collision, which ultimately saves media budget and supports more efficient performance. Not only will the client benefit, but the end user also benefits from less irritating experiences.

The post Ad Collision: Braking Before the Crash appeared first on The Search Agency.

Discovering How Your Content Is (and Isn’t) Being Indexed

The Search Agents Feed - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 08:14

In the earlier days of SEO, things were pretty black and white: Google indexed your HTML content, and if you searched for that content, you’d see it in bold type within the search results; your JavaScript content, on the other hand, was completely invisible to search engines.

Things have changed a lot since then, to the point where Google is so confident about their ability to render JavaScript that they are no longer going to support the workaround they developed for crawling AJAX content. However, JavaScript crawling is still far from perfect. Even when Google is able to render the content, it can take significantly longer for the fully rendered content to be indexed.

Furthermore, even when your content is completely loaded within the on-page HTML, Google takes CSS and JavaScript into account, and some indexed content may be treated differently depending on how it is displayed on the page.

In the past, Google’s cache was a reliable way to verify how your content was being picked up, but these days, there are sometimes discrepancies between the cached and the actual indexed version of a page. For example, a text-only cache will only display content loaded within the HTML source.

In this article, we’ll go over different ways to determine if and how your content is being seen by Google.




  • Google’s “info:” operator
  • Google’s “site:” operator
  • Chrome’s DevTools (“Elements” panel)
    • Alternate: FireFox’s “View Selection Source” feature
  • The Fetch as Google tool in Google Search Console


Is Your Page in the Index?


The first thing to determine is whether your page is even indexed. Fortunately, this is easy. Google’s “info:” operator will give you details about a particular page. If the page is not indexed, no information will be displayed.

Simply type “info:” followed by the page’s URL. There should be no space between the colon and the start of the URL. The HTTP/HTTPS protocol is optional.



Be sure to use the canonical version of the URL. If a page exists at multiple URLs, it’s most likely to be indexed at the URL referenced in the canonical tag.

If a URL isn’t indexed, nothing will be displayed.


There are several reasons a page may not be indexed, including:

  • Google hasn’t found/crawled it yet.
  • It is blocked in robots.txt.
  • It has a noindex tag.
    • When looking for a noindex tag on the page, be sure to use Chrome’s DevTools (“Elements” panel) to search within the code for the fully rendered DOM, rather than just the HTML source.



Is Your On-Page Content Indexed?


Once we’re certain a page is indexed, we’ll want to determine if Google is actually indexing all of the content on the page. The easiest way to do this is by using the “site:” operator and searching for a snippet of text from the page, in quotes. If only some of the content on your page is loaded via JavaScript, be sure to test a snippet of that content to verify that it’s indexed. Simply type “site:” followed by the page’s URL. Again, there should be no space between the colon and the start of the URL, and the HTTP/HTTPS protocol is optional. After the URL, include a space, followed by a short snippet of the content you want to verify is indexed.

For example, we can verify that the main text on The Search Agency’s Search Engine Optimization page is properly indexed:



If the page being investigated doesn’t appear in these results, this indicates the content wasn’t indexed.


“Hidden” Content


You’ll notice the content we searched for in the above example is bolded in Google’s search result. This indicates that Google knows this content is immediately visible to users on the page. That is, they don’t have to click a “Read More” button or scroll through a carousel to view the content.

If Google doesn’t think your content is immediately visible to users, they’ll still index this content, and the page will still appear in the results for this type of search. However, the content may not appear in the snippet for the result.



This is important because research has shown that content that isn’t immediately visible to users isn’t weighted as heavily as content that is. See Moz’s article on CSS and JavaScript “hidden text” for more information.

That said, Google has stated this won’t be the case when mobile-first indexing rolls out. Per Google’s John Mueller, “So with the mobile-first indexing will index the the mobile version of the page. And on the mobile version of the page it can be that you have these kind of tabs and folders and things like that, which we will still treat as normal content on the page even. Even if it is hidden on the initial view.”


Is Google Technically Able to Render Your Content?


If the steps above show that some or all of the content on your pages isn’t being indexed, the next step is to find out if Google is technically able to render the content.


Fetch as Google


The easiest way to determine if Google is capable of rendering your content is to use the “Fetch as Google” tool available in Google Search Console. Just put in the URL of the page you want to check and click the “Fetch and Render” button.

It may take a minute to process, but once the render is complete, you can click on the URL to see an image of how Google was able to see the page. Here, you can verify that the content you want indexed appears in the screenshot.



Ideally, the screenshot under “This is how Googlebot saw the page” will match the screenshot under “This is how a visitor to your website would have seen the page.”

If the desired content isn’t included in Googlebot’s screenshot on the left, there may be an easy fix. Below the content shown in these screenshots, the tool tells you if any resources are being blocked by robots.txt. If any relevant JavaScript files are being blocked, this may prevent Google from being able to render the content. Any blocked scripts or CSS files with a medium or high severity should be unblocked to allow Google to fully render the page. Unblock and try again.

If there are no blocked resources and the “Fetch as Google” tool still doesn’t display your content, there may be other technical issues on the page, or Google may not understand the framework you’re using. Further investigation is necessary.

If the “Fetch as Google” tool shows that Google is able to see your content, and yet your content still isn’t being indexed, read on.


How Quickly is Your Content Being Indexed?


If your page is indexed and your content is rendered within the HTML source, chances are that content will be indexed at the time the page is indexed. However, when it comes to JavaScript-loaded content, it’s inconsistent.

If a page is indexed and “Fetch as Google” shows that Google can see the content on the page, but the content isn’t being indexed, it may simply take more time (several days or more) for Google to fully render and index the page.

If you publish content frequently, you can get an idea of how many pieces of your recently published content are indexed (and which ones) by using the “site:” operater to do a search of your site, then selecting “Tools” and a span of time from the first drop-down that appears. For example, you can see all content indexed in the past week:



Any delays in getting your content indexed can mean lost traffic. If your content is particularly newsworthy or time sensitive, you may completely miss your chance to appear in the results for relevant searches.

If you’ve made your content fully accessible to Google (i.e. the page isn’t noindexed and it and none of its resources are blocked via robots.txt) and you continue to see inconsistent or delayed indexation of on-page content, there are other options, such as:

  • Rebuilding the site to render all crucial content server-side
  • Using a different JavaScript framework that may be more SEO-friendly
  • Using a pre-render service to create HTML snapshots of your JavaScript-dependent pages

The alternative is simply waiting for Google to get even better at crawling all JavaScript-rendered content, but no one knows how long that will take. Can you afford to wait?

The post Discovering How Your Content Is (and Isn’t) Being Indexed appeared first on The Search Agency.

4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Paid Search Campaigns

The Search Agents Feed - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 10:39

Keywords still reign supreme in paid search, but audience targeting can take your campaigns to the next level. While display and paid social offer the largest number of targeting options, search audiences have come a very long way and offer many practical features which can help you reach your marketing goals. Here are some options for your audience-targeting strategy.


1. Demographic Targeting


You can target by age, gender, parental status, household income (HHI) or combinations thereof. Some examples:

  • A travel and leisure company catering to an older, more affluent audience, could increase bids for people over age 55 and in a higher income bracket.
  • A clothing store exclusively for young men could tailor ads specifically to them and have entirely different ads intended for the parents shopping for their sons.
  • Check out a great article by The Search Agency’s very own Ami Grant that dives further into demographic targeting.


2. Location/Device Targeting and Ad Scheduling


Location targeting helps you show your ads to customers in a selected geographic location. Device targeting allows you to adjust bids separately for computers, mobile devices and tablets. Ad scheduling allows you to control the day and/or hour your ads appear online based on when you’re there to handle customer inquiries. Combine all three elements into your targeting strategy as it applies to your business:

  • As a classic example, a pizza restaurant probably wants to show one ad to someone searching for “pizza” at 1 p.m. on their PC at work, and a different ad to someone searching for “pizza” at 8 p.m. on a smartphone a half-mile from the restaurant.
  • A financial services company sees the strongest conversion rates on Friday, for people searching on desktops in the LA and NY metros. Therefore, they should bid boost all three targets to get in front of these high-value customers.
  • Note: Multiple bid adjustments for device and location do not necessarily get multiplied together.


3. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads


Tailor bids and ads for people who have previously visited your site when they’re searching online.

  • Segment your RLSA audience by membership duration (i.e. zero to seven days, eight to 31 days, 31 to 180 days) and taper down bid adjustments or create tailored ads depending on how long ago they visited. Test different incentives and promotions to drive conversions.
  • Segment your RLSA audience by website interaction (researchers vs. high-intent) and re-engage these visitors with a message that will get them to take the next step towards conversion.
  • If an advertiser’s goal is to attain new customers, they could refine their audience strategy by excluding converters from brand campaigns and increase bid adjustments for non-converters.


4. Similar and In-Market Audiences


Apply auto-generated similar audiences to find new and qualified consumers who have shared interests with your remarketing audiences. Opt into in-market audiences to reach potential customers while they’re actively browsing, researching or comparing the types of products you sell.

Within each of these different methods of targeting, you can implement bid adjustments up to a 900-percent increase or as low as a -90-percent (-100 percent to opt out of a device) decrease based on where, when and how people search for your product or service. At the very least, you should be adding as many audiences as possible in an observational state to gather data and make informed decisions down the road. Based on this data, your next step would be to create a unique, customized strategy using the various targets. Throughout the entire process, there are some mistakes and pitfalls you should try to avoid when implementing your new audiences, lists and/or bid adjustments. Some of them are as follows:

  • Not Having a Strategy: Strategies should be specific to your overall business. Start with the basics by adding audiences to gather data and build out according to performance.
  • Be Aware of Settings: Incorrect targeting or observation settings can adversely impact performance if applied incorrectly. Use observations to gather data and guide further actions in your campaigns. Use targeting to narrow your reach to a specific audience which you’ve deemed valuable.
  • List Size Matters: Extremely niche lists can be ineffective as the list size will be too small to generate or gather enough data to provide meaningful analysis. Also, if a list is too small and has low volume, it won’t be eligible to have a similar audience list created.
  • Set Relevant Membership Duration: Select a duration equal to the length of time you expect your ads to be relevant for your visitors. In general, the membership duration should be similar to the length of your sales cycle.

The post 4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Paid Search Campaigns appeared first on The Search Agency.