What You Must Know About the New Google AdWords Redesign

If you don’t log into AdWords often, then you may be surprised when you do. Google is completely revamping its advertising platform’s user interface (UI) in an effort to streamline features while optimizing for smartphones. After announcing the new interface last spring, Google started rolling it out to advertisers in August — ahead of schedule — with the goal of being fully rolled out by the end of 2017.

google adwordsIf you don’t log into AdWords often, then you may be surprised when you do. Google is completely revamping its advertising platform’s user interface (UI) in an effort to streamline features while optimizing for smartphones. After announcing the new interface last spring, Google started rolling it out to advertisers in August — ahead of schedule — with the goal of being fully rolled out by the end of 2017.

Why did Google feel the need to change the UI? For starters, the last major redesign was back in 2008, when more people still used desktops and laptops. Smartphones were popular, but market penetration wasn’t what it is today. Marketers interacted with AdWords differently, while also taking completely different approaches to their campaigns. Meanwhile, Google was expanding AdWords by hundreds of features per year without UI changes to make those features more intuitive. AdWords was easy enough to use in its most basic form, but unlocking the platform’s true potential wasn’t nearly as efficient.

3 Goals for the Redesign

News of the redesign caused quite a stir after being unveiled last spring. Samantha Lemonnier, Google’s Director of Engineering for the AdWords Platform, outlined the purpose of the overhaul during the company’s May 2016 summit. She highlighted three goals specifically:

  1. The data that business owners and marketers need must be immediately accessible. Under the old UI, too much of that data was buried under layers of screens.
  1. AdWords campaigns must be easier to optimize. It needs to be about advertisers’ businesses, without Google’s products getting in the way.
  1. The old UI was too cluttered. The new UI is designed to be more simple and intuitive.

In a nutshell, Google set out to make AdWords leaner, more intuitive and more efficient. The previous UI was none of these things. The old Campaigns tab had a sidebar navigation with sub menus, a top menu, menu tabs with subtabs and a host of other clickable links — all of which culminated in a nightmarish mobile experience, especially on a tiny smartphone screen. Meanwhile, the most easily accessible campaign data (after clicking on the Campaigns tab) included impressions, CTR, CPCs, costs and other superficial metrics. These metrics are important, but they don’t truly reveal how campaigns are performing, especially given today’s mobile marketplace.

A Simple, Smarter User Interface

Log into AdWords now. If you’re looking at the new interface, you see the changes are night-and-day. Gone are the stark greens, the confusing menus and the graphs of costs, traffic spikes and clickthrough data. The new interface is much cleaner and far simpler, almost minimalistic by comparison.

The top-level account home page has been completely revamped. Right away, you see important insights about your top-performing campaigns. These insights include conversions and costs as well as whether your campaigns are performing best on smartphones, tablets or desktops. You also see which times of day your campaigns get the most traffic. And that’s pretty much it.

But what’s more striking than the data itself is its presentation. Gone are the tables and numerous clickable links and tabs. Rather than overwhelm with numbers, the new UI presents a simplified focus on graphs and charts using soft-yet-discernable reds, blues and yellows.

Go beyond the pretty visuals and simple navigation, and you’ll find all-new campaign creation tools that can better help you meet specific marketing objectives. Do you want visitors to convert by calling your business, signing up for emails, making a purchase or downloading an app?

If you’re like me, then you’re likely freaking out about losing the numerous tools available in the old AdWords interface.  Well don’t worry — you can still use them. They’re all still there, but you’ll have to relearn how to get to them. For example, you’re always just a single click away from your ad scheduling and device/location targeting settings.

Conclusion

Google AdWords will look significantly different than it did a year ago, but you know what they say — the more things change, the more they stay the same. In many ways, this is true with AdWords, despite the new UI. Google’s ad platform is going to be cleaner and (hopefully) easier to use, but most of what changed is ultimately cosmetic. The core functionality of AdWords remains unchanged.

Want to learn more about how to improve your Google AdWords campaign performance?  Click here to grab your copy of our Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.

Penguin 3.0 Is Coming and It’s Time to Clean House

Anyone who’s involved in Internet marketing can tell you that Penguin is more than a cute little seabird that lives in Antarctica. The Penguin 2.0 algorithm was released by Google in October 2013 and basically penalized websites for having unnatural, irrelevant, low-quality, spammy backlinks. Those that may come from link farms or sites that pay for backlinks.

Anyone who’s involved in Internet marketing can tell you that Penguin is more than a cute little seabird that lives in Antarctica.

The Penguin 2.0 algorithm was released by Google in October 2013 and basically penalized websites for having unnatural, irrelevant, low-quality, spammy backlinks. Those that may come from link farms or sites that pay for backlinks.

The “penalty” Google issued directly affected the website’s search engine results ranking and website traffic, which of course would affect the company’s sales and lead generation efforts. So needless to say, this little bird was devastating to some businesses.

If you’re not sure if your site’s traffic was affected by Penguin, you can visit this free tool to see if in fact your website traffic had dropped in correlation with the time of Penguin’s 2.0 release: http://reconsideration.org/penalty-tool/

Now with talk of Penguin’s big brother, 3.0, coming down the pipeline, it’s prudent to do a link audit on your website to avoid possible fallout.

So where do you start?

You can check your own website’s backlinks to ensure those sites that are linking to you are relevant and synergistic to your own site’s content.

To do this, you can use several free backlink checkers, such as: http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/,http://www.backlinkwatch.com/, or http://www.iwebtool.com/backlink_checker .

You can also go into Google’s Webmaster Tools and select your website.

Then, go down the list and see who’s linking to you. This may be laborious, but well worth it. Sites like Removeem.com have free “predictor” tools, where you can see how many bad links your website may have. And it also offers paid-for self-service and full-service link removal options.

Next, it’s literally a manual process of visiting the “bad” link’s website and contacting its representatives to remove the link going to your site. If there’s several “bad links,” it’s best to create a form letter. According to searchenginewatch.com, the letter should state that you are a website owner trying to recover from a Google penalty and would like the following links removed. Then, list the URLs where the links can be found, the URL on your site they point to, the anchor text ─ all the info needed to easily find the link you’re requesting be removed.

Sometimes, it’s easy to find contact information of “bad links.” You simply visit the site and can find email or similar information in the footer or “Contact Us” area of the website.

Other times it’s harder, and you may need to engage in some free tools to help determine a bad link’s website owner. According to searchenginewatch.com, such tools are:

  • Domaintools.com: If you want to find out who owns the site your link is on, visit domain tools or type “whois.sc” in front of a URL.
  • C-Class Checker: If you have a list of all the links you want to get rid of, you can run them through a bulk C-class checker to see how many of them are on the same C-class.
  • SpyonWeb: If you only have 1 URL to work with, this tool lets you find out what other domains they are associated with. Just put in a website URL, IP address or even the Google analytics or AdSense code and you can find all of the websites that are connected to it. Keep a record of all efforts to contact “bad links,” as it will show Google you’ve been making a good effort to get rid of these irrelevant links.

If you find that Google’s last Penguin update has affected your website and you believe there may have been an error of some sort, there is a form on Google you can fill out to pinpoint search terms that you believe you shouldn’t be penalized for.

Just remember, when it comes to SEO backlinks, it’s all about quality not quantity. Relevance is key. As long as you keep it lean and clean, all should be fine when our little seabird friend comes to visit again.

What Social Sites Should YOU Be Using?

Most people know about mega-popular social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. However, I get a lot of questions about other, underutilized sites that are on the tipping point of mass popularity—specifically, how these sites can be leveraged for marketing purposes.

Most people know about mega-popular social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. However, I get a lot of questions about other, underutilized sites that are on the tipping point of mass popularity—specifically, how these sites can be leveraged for marketing purposes.

But before I go into that, I’d like to clarify the differences between various “social”-type sites:

Social bookmarking, news and tagging are sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious and Pinterest. These websites allow users to “bookmark” things they like—content, images, videos, websites—and allow others in the community to see what’s been bookmarked and “follow,” if they wish. This is the epitome of viral marketing and community interaction. When groups of people are like-minded, it’s fun and easy to share feedback of things of common interest. For business purposes, it’s also a strong way to bond with your audience through content, news and images that are synergistic and leverage those interests for increased website traffic and more.

Social networking sites are communities like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. It’s a way for groups of people to meet and stay in touch with each other, for personal and professional purposes. People can friend, follow or fan someone based on affiliation or interest. Another new site is Quora.com, which is a social question and answer site. Users can view by category and post questions or answers on virtually any business-related topic.

Social media refers to sites like Youtube, Flicker or Tumblr, where groups of users share media content such as video, audio or pictures (photos). There’s also new sites like Spotify.com, which are social music sharing sites, where users can listen to mp3 files themselves, as well as with friends, via Facebook.

The following are some social sites that you may want to include in your online marketing mix as well as some other tactical tidbits:

  • Pinterest.com is a social community where users “pin” (think of a bulletin board) things that they like. Quite simply, it’s a virtual pin board. Users can re-pin (which promotes viral marketing) or follow someone with the same interest. Pinterest is a fun site because it focuses on the visual element. You can leverage your keyword-rich content when you add your descriptive text to your “pin.” In addition, Pinterest asks for your URL, which will be a back-link to that webpage. This will encourage search engine marketing, branding and webpage traffic. Pinterest uses graphics, images (pics) and video pictures. And that’s what will grab community members’ attention, along with well-written descriptive text.

Important Tip! For marketing purposes, you can use Pinterest to promote your business or websites related to your business, such as landing pages, squeeze pages, product pages and more. What’s important to know is that if your website, or the webpages you’re thinking of pinning are flash (dynamic) webpages, you will be unable to “pin” it, as there’s no static images on a flash page for Pinterest to “grab” for posting.

So if you’re thinking about using testing Pinterest in your social marketing plan, make sure to pick websites or modify your own webpages to be graphic-, image- or video-rich. Also, like any marketing tactics you’re testing, make sure it’s in sync with your overall marketing plan and target audience.

If you’re target audience is an older crowd, then this may not be the best website, or channel, to reach them.

  • Quora.com is a great online resource community of questions and answers. If you want to reinforce yourself as an expert, you can search questions related to your area of expertise and post responses that are useful, valuable and actionable. If you have a legitimate question about any topic, you can post by category and view replies from others who may be versed in that field. Quora is a great way to create visibility for yourself. As well, it allows you to upload relevant back-links which encourage website traffic and linkbuilding.

Important Tip! It’s important to keep a steady presence on Quora. Stick to your areas of expertise (categories and topics). Make sure you have a keyword rich descriptive bio about yourself and include back-links to relevant websites. As with most all search, social and content marketing strategies—relevance and usefulness is key. All of these things help with credibility and branding. In addition, Quora’s pages are indexed by search engines and do appear in organic search engine results pages (SERPs). That, in and of itself, can expand your reach and visibility, which can lead to increased website traffic, which can then be parlayed into leads or sales.

  • Digg.com.com is one of my favorite content bookmarking sites. You can upload content “snippets” or news nuggets. The site will also pull in any images and well as back-links appearing on the same page as your content. Content can be given a “category,” so that the right readers will find it. The more popular your content (number of “digs”), the more people in the community it gets exposed to. Viral marketing and traffic generation (to the source website in the “digg”) are typical outcomes from this website. Reddit.com is a similar site, which allows users to upload a content excerpts (article, video, picture) and link to the full version. This is a great site to increase your market visibility and extend reach. It’s also a powerful platform to drive website traffic.

Important Tip! Use content that is “UVA”—useful, valuable and actionable, something newsworthy and/or interesting to your target reader. It’s very important to have a strong, eye-catching or persuasive headline that people in the community will want to read. There’s so much background noise on Digg that you want your content/headline to jump out at the reader. Also, include a back-link in the body copy you are uploading. This will help with branding, link-building and traffic generation. With Reddit, your content excerpt space is limited, so make sure to pick content that will not only resonate with the target audience, but also screams out to the reader to “click here” to read more. Then link to your full article, which should be posted on an inside page of your website.

  • Google+. Google Plus is Google’s attempt at social networking. It’s not as popular … yet … as behemoth Facebook (900 million users as of April 2012), but it’s got “teeth,” at around 90 million users. And because it’s Google, there’s some great search-friendly benefits built right in. For example, it’s indexed by Google, so your messages can get found faster. This helps with search engine visibility and website traffic.

Important Tip! For business purposes, you can share relevant information and personalize your “social” circles; thereby, targeting your message better for each group. It’s easy to share and rank (a combination of Digg and Facebook) content such as posts and messages. And there’s also a variety of sharing options like content, video, photos (similar to Pinterest, Flickr and YouTube).

With social marketing, it’s a matter of matching the content type to the most synergistic platform and audience. Social marketing may not be for every business. But I believe it’s certainly worth a strategic test. Just remember an old copywriting rule of thumb, which is “know your audience.” If you know who your target reader (prospect) is, then you can craft enticing messages and pick social platforms where those prospects are likely to congregate.

Most any social marketing site can be leveraged for marketing and business purposes. But make sure to keep your messages fun, entertaining, engaging and interactive. Because, after all, that’s what the “social” in “social marketing” is all about.