Tag Archive | "Audiences"

How to use new Google Ads Combined Audiences

Combine affinity, in-market, retargeting and other audiences to create personas for Search targeting.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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How Serious Writers Expand Their Audiences with Guest Blog Posts

Note: While we encourage you to explore guest posting to grow your audience, Copyblogger does not currently accept guest post…

The post How Serious Writers Expand Their Audiences with Guest Blog Posts appeared first on Copyblogger.


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The growing importance of remarketing audiences in Google paid search management

With the explosive growth of click share coming from remarketing audiences, contributor Andy Taylor feels it’s important to consider both incrementality and personalization when using audiences for paid search management.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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No, Paid Search Audiences Won’t Replace Keywords

Posted by PPCKirk

I have been chewing on a keyword vs. audience targeting post for roughly two years now. In that time we have seen audience targeting grow in popularity (as expected) and depth.

“Popularity” is somewhat of an understatement here. I would go so far as to say that I’ve heard it lauded in messianic-like “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” reverential awe by some paid search marketers. as if paid search were lacking a heartbeat before the life-giving audience targeting had arrived and 1-2-3-clear’ed it into relevance.

However, I would argue that despite audience targeting’s popularity (and understandable success), we have also seen the revelation of some weaknesses as well. It turns out it’s not quite the heroic, rescue-the-captives targeting method paid searchers had hoped it would be.

The purpose of this post is to argue against the notion that audience targeting can replace the keyword in paid search.

Now, before we get into the throes of keyword philosophy, I’d like to reduce the number of angry comments this post receives by acknowledging a crucial point.

It is not my intention in any way to set up a false dichotomy. Yes, I believe the keyword is still the most valuable form of targeting for a paid search marketer, but I also believe that audience targeting can play a valuable complementary role in search bidding.

In fact, as I think about it, I would argue that I am writing this post in response to what I have heard become a false dichotomy. That is, that audience targeting is better than keyword targeting and will eventually replace it.

I disagree with this idea vehemently, as I will demonstrate in the rest of this article.

One seasoned (age, not steak) traditional marketer’s point of view

The best illustration I’ve heard on the core weakness of audience targeting was from an older traditional marketer who has probably never accessed the Keyword Planner in his life.

“I have two teenage daughters.” He revealed, with no small amount of pride.

“They are within 18 months of each other, so in age demographic targeting they are the same person.”

“They are both young women, so in gender demographic targeting they are the same person.”

“They are both my daughters in my care, so in income demographic targeting they are the same person.”

“They are both living in my house, so in geographical targeting they are the same person.”

“They share the same friends, so in social targeting they are the same person.”

“However, in terms of personality, they couldn’t be more different. One is artistic and enjoys heels and dresses and makeup. The other loves the outdoors and sports, and spends her time in blue jeans and sneakers.”

If an audience-targeting marketer selling spring dresses saw them in his marketing list, he would (1) see two older high school girls with the same income in the same geographical area, (2) assume they are both interested in what he has to sell, and (3) only make one sale.

The problem isn’t with his targeting, the problem is that not all those forced into an audience persona box will fit.

In September of 2015, Aaron Levy (a brilliant marketing mind; go follow him) wrote a fabulously under-shared post revealing these weaknesses in another way: What You Think You Know About Your Customers’ Persona is Wrong

In this article, Aaron first bravely broaches the subject of audience targeting by describing how it is far from the exact science we all have hoped it to be. He noted a few ways that audience targeting can be erroneous, and even *gasp* used data to formulate his conclusions.

It’s OK to question audience targeting — really!

Let me be clear: I believe audience targeting is popular because there genuinely is value in it (it’s amazing data to have… when it’s accurate!). The insights we can get about personas, which we can then use to power our ads, are quite amazing and powerful.

So, why the heck am I droning on about audience targeting weaknesses? Well, I’m trying to set you up for something. I’m trying to get us to admit that audience targeting itself has some weaknesses, and isn’t the savior of all digital marketing that some make it out to be, and that there is a tried-and-true solution that fits well with demographic targeting, but is not replaced by it. It is a targeting that we paid searchers have used joyfully and successfully for years now.

It is the keyword.

Whereas audience targeting chafes under the law of averages (i.e., “at some point, someone in my demographic targeted list has to actually be interested in what I am selling”), keyword targeting shines in individual-revealing user intent.

Keyword targeting does something an audience can never, ever, ever do…

Keywords: Personal intent powerhouses

A keyword is still my favorite form of targeting in paid search because it reveals individual, personal, and temporal intent. Those aren’t just three buzzwords I pulled out of the air because I needed to stretch this already obesely-long post out further. They are intentional, and worth exploring.


A keyword is such a powerful targeting method because it is written (or spoken!) by a single person. I mean, let’s be honest, it’s rare to have more than one person huddled around the computer shouting at it. Keywords are generally from the mind of one individual, and because of that they have frightening potential.

Remember, audience targeting is based off of assumptions. That is, you’re taking a group of people who “probably” think the same way in a certain area, but does that mean they cannot have unique tastes? For instance, one person preferring to buy sneakers with another preferring to buy heels?

Keyword targeting is demographic-blind.

It doesn’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did, as long as you love me… err, I mean, it doesn’t care about your demographic, just about what you’re individually interested in.


The next aspect of keywords powering their targeting awesomeness is that they reveal personal intent. Whereas the “individual” aspect of keyword targeting narrows our targeting from a group of people to a single person, the “personal” aspect of keyword targeting goes into the very mind of that individual.

Don’t you wish there was a way to market to people in which you could truly discern the intentions of their hearts? Wouldn’t that be a powerful method of targeting? Well, yes — and that is keyword targeting!

Think about it: a keyword is a form of communication. It is a person typing or telling you what is on their mind. For a split second, in their search, you and they are as connected through communication as Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson on the first phone call. That person is revealing to you what’s on her mind, and that’s a power which cannot be underestimated.

When a person tells Google they want to know “how does someone earn a black belt,” that is telling your client — the Jumping Judo Janes of Jordan — this person genuinely wants to learn more about their services and they can display an ad that matches that intent (Ready for that Black Belt? It’s Not Hard, Let Us Help!). Paid search keywords officiate the wedding of personal intent with advertising in a way that previous marketers could only dream of. We aren’t finding random people we think might be interested based upon where they live. We are responding to a person telling us they are interested.


The final note of keyword targeting that cannot be underestimated, is the temporal aspect. Anyone worth their salt in marketing can tell you “timing is everything”. With keyword targeting, the timing is inseparable from the intent. When is this person interested in learning about your Judo classes? At the time they are searching, NOW!

You are not blasting your ads into your users lives, interrupting them as they go about their business or family time hoping to jumpstart their interest by distracting them from their activities. You are responding to their query, at the very time they are interested in learning more.

Timing. Is. Everything.

The situation settles into stickiness

Thus, to summarize: a “search” is done when an individual reveals his/her personal intent with communication (keywords/queries) at a specific time. Because of that, I maintain that keyword targeting trumps audience targeting in paid search.

Paid search is an evolving industry, but it is still “search,” which requires communication, which requires words (until that time when the emoji takes over the English language, but that’s okay because the rioting in the streets will have gotten us first).

Of course, we would be remiss in ignoring some legitimate questions which inevitably arise. As ideal as the outline I’ve laid out before you sounds, you’re probably beginning to formulate something like the following four questions.

  • What about low search volume keywords?
  • What if the search engines kill keyword targeting?
  • What if IoT monsters kill search engines?
  • What about social ads?

We’ll close by discussing each of these four questions.

Low search volume terms (LSVs)

Low search volume keywords stink like poo (excuse the rather strong language there). I’m not sure if there is any data on this out there (if so, please share it below), but I have run into low search volume terms far more in the past year than when I first started managing PPC campaigns in 2010.

I don’t know all the reasons for this; perhaps it’s worth another blog post, but the reality is it’s getting harder to be creative and target high-value long-tail keywords when so many are getting shut off due to low search volume.

This seems like a fairly smooth way being paved for Google/Bing to eventually “take over” (i.e., “automate for our good”) keyword targeting, at the very least for SMBs (small-medium businesses) where LSVs can be a significant problem. In this instance, the keyword would still be around, it just wouldn’t be managed by us PPCers directly. Boo.

Search engine decrees

I’ve already addressed the power search engines have here, but I will be the first to admit that, as much as I like keyword targeting and as much as I have hopefully proven how valuable it is, it still would be a fairly easy thing for Google or Bing to kill off completely. Major boo.

Since paid search relies on keywords and queries and language to work, I imagine this would look more like an automated solution (think DSAs and shopping), in which they make keyword targeting into a dynamic system that works in conjunction with audience targeting.

While this was about a year and a half ago, it is worth noting that at Hero Conference in London, Bing Ads’ ebullient Tor Crockett did make the public statement that Bing at the time had no plans to sunset the keyword as a bidding option. We can only hope this sentiment remains, and transfers over to Google as well.

But Internet of Things (IoT) Frankenstein devices!

Finally, it could be that search engines won’t be around forever. Perhaps this will look like IoT devices such as Alexa that incorporate some level of search into them, but pull traffic away from using Google/Bing search bars. As an example of this in real life, you don’t need to ask Google where to find (queries, keywords, communication, search) the best price on laundry detergent if you can just push the Dash button, or your smart washing machine can just order you more without a search effort.

Image source

On the other hand, I still believe we’re a long way off from this in the same way that the freak-out over mobile devices killing personal computers has slowed down. That is, we still utilize our computers for education & work (even if personal usage revolves around tablets and mobile devices and IoT freaks-of-nature… smart toasters anyone?) and our mobile devices for queries on the go. Computers are still a primary source of search in terms of work and education as well as more intensive personal activities (vacation planning, for instance), and thus computers still rely heavily on search. Mobile devices are still heavily query-centered for various tasks, especially as voice search (still query-centered!) kicks in harder.

The social effect

Social is its own animal in a way, and why I believe it is already and will continue to have an effect on search and keywords (though not in a terribly worrisome way). Social definitely pulls a level of traffic from search, specifically in product queries. “Who has used this dishwasher before, any other recommendations?” Social ads are exploding in popularity as well, and in large part because they are working. People are purchasing more than they ever have from social ads and marketers are rushing to be there for them.

The flip side of this: a social and paid search comparison is apples-to-oranges. There are different motivations and purposes for using search engines and querying your friends.

Audience targeting works great in a social setting since that social network has phenomenally accurate and specific targeting for individuals, but it is the rare individual curious about the ideal condom to purchase who queries his family and friends on Facebook. There will always be elements of social and search that are unique and valuable in their own way, and audience targeting for social and keyword targeting for search complement those unique elements of each.

Idealism incarnate

Thus, it is my belief that as long as we have search, we will still have keywords and keyword targeting will be the best way to target — as long as costs remain low enough to be realistic for budgets and the search engines don’t kill keyword bidding for an automated solution.

Don’t give up, the keyword is not dead. Stay focused, and carry on with your match types!

I want to close by re-acknowledging the crucial point I opened with.

It has not been my intention in any way to set up a false dichotomy. In fact, as I think about it, I would argue that I am writing this in response to what I have heard become a false dichotomy. That is, that audience targeting is better than keyword targeting and will eventually replace it…

I believe the keyword is still the most valuable form of targeting for a paid search marketer, but I also believe that audience demographics can play a valuable complementary role in bidding.

A prime example that we already use is remarketing lists for search ads, in which we can layer on remarketing audiences in both Google and Bing into our search queries. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could someday do this with massive amounts of audience data? I’ve said this before, but were Bing Ads to use its LinkedIn acquisition to allow us to layer on LinkedIn audiences into our current keyword framework, the B2B angels would surely rejoice over us (Bing has responded, by the way, that something is in the works!).

Either way, I hope I’ve demonstrated that far from being on its deathbed, the keyword is still the most essential tool in the paid search marketer’s toolbox.

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How Google’s Evolution is Forcing Marketers to Invest in Loyal Audiences – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Given Google’s recent changes to SERPs and their April 21 mobile deadline, does SEO still come first? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand walks you through tactics you can use to build a loyal audience before you need to do SEO.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard.

How Google's Evolution is Forcing Marketers to Invest in Loyal Audiences Whiteboard

Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video transcription

Howdy Moz fans and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting on some of the changes that Google has made that are forcing marketers to invest more and more in building loyal audiences before they do SEO. This is kind of a reverse of years past where we could use SEO as that initial channel where we attracted visits who would become our customers, our email subscribers, our social media fans and followers. All of these things have kind of switched direction.

Why move SEO later in the process?

There are some reasons why. First off, Google has for a lot of broad, head of the demand curve queries, they’ve taken some of the value and equity away from those with things like instant answers and Knowledge Graph, along with lots and lots of other verticals.

Knowledge Graph

I do a search for “plaid shirts” and I get this instant answer showing me what a plaid shirt looks like and a Knowledge Graph. This is a fake example. I don’t think they actually do this for plaid shirts yet, but they will.


Personalization by history, we’re seeing a ton of personalization. I think history is one of the biggest influencers on personalization. Google+ still is a little bit, but your search history and what you’ve clicked on in the past tends to be big predictors of this. You can see this in two areas, not just in the results that Google shows, but also in what they’re suggesting to you in your Search Suggest as you type.

Now, where Google is trying to predictively say, “Hey, we think you’re going to want coffee right now because we see that you stepped out of your office and you live in Seattle, and you are a human being. So you must want coffee.” They have these ranking signals, that are relatively new over the past few years and certainly much stronger than in years past around user and usage data, around search volume and what you searched for using quality raters and human and manual controls. Signals that are heavily correlated with brand, even if brand itself isn’t necessarily a ranking factor.

Fewer results

Of course, there are fewer results now. I don’t know if you guys caught this, but I thought one of the most fascinating things that Dr. Pete showed off recently in his MozCast data set was that it used to be the case that Google would show 10 results even if they had a set of images, a news result, and a local pack. Now basically these count as individual results. So you’re not getting 10 results on a page. If you’ve got images and a couple of news things, you’re getting seven results that are web results. Ten domains appear, ten big domains, powerful domains, places like Amazon and Yelp and those kinds of things, at least for U.S. search results, appear on 17% of all page one queries. There are a little fewer results to work with and more results biased to these bigger, better-known sites.

All of these things are contributing to this world in which doing SEO first and then earning loyalty through two other channels through SEO is really, really hard. It’s making the value of having a loyal audience before you need to do SEO that much more valuable, which is why I figured we’d run through some of the tactics that you can use to build a loyal audience.

This is actually a question from one of our Whiteboard Friday loyal audience members. Thank you very much. Much appreciated.

How to build a loyal audience

Some tactics to build loyalty, we talked about a few of these, but creating an expectation that you can consistently deliver upon is a huge part of how loyalty is created. Humans love to form habits. Thankfully for marketers, we’re terrible at breaking those habits.


If you can form a habit, you can create a loyal member of your audience, but this is very challenging unless you deliver consistency. That consistency needs to be created through an expectation. That could be when you publish. That could be what you’re going to do. That could be the format of the content that you’re providing. That could be how your solution or problem or product is delivered. But it needs to create those things in order to build that loyal audience.

Reach your audience where they are

Secondly, provide your content through the channels, the apps, the accounts, the formats that your audience is already using. If I say, “Hey, in order to get Whiteboard Friday, you need to sign up for a Moz account first,” the viewability of Whiteboard Friday is going to go down. If on the other hand, which we don’t have this but we really should have it, there was a subscribe on iTunes and you could get each Whiteboard Friday as a podcast, gosh, that is something that many Whiteboard Friday viewers, in fact, many people in the technology and marketing worlds already have access to. Therefore it reduces the friction of subscribing to Whiteboard Friday. We might build more people into our loyal audience.

This is definitely something to think about. You need to be able to identify those channels and then be there.

Where SEO fits

I’m saying don’t start with SEO as your primary web marketing tactic anymore. I think we have to build into it. These challenges are too great. Not only are they too great, I think they could be overcome today, but they are growing. All of them are growing so substantially, instant answers and Knowledge Graph are becoming a bigger and bigger part of search results. Google Now is something that Google is pushing on so incredibly hard. I think they’re going to be pushing it with new devices. They’re clearly pushing it with app results inside of search results. I think these ranking signals are only going to get stronger. I think there’s going to be more personalization. I think every one of these you can see an up and to the right trend.

Therefore, when we do SEO, we have to think about it as, “How do I earn a loyal audience and then use their amplification to help me perform in search?” Rather than, “How do I do SEO for my website to earn visitors that I can convert into a loyal audience?” That’s a new a challenge, a new paradigm for us.

Be unique and memorable

Craft a stylistically unique and memorable approach to solving your audience’s problem. One of the things that I find is challenging in a lot of businesses that we talk to, that I get to interact with is that they think, “Hey, we’re the best player in this field. We’re the best at doing this. Therefore, we should be able to earn a great customer audience.” I think this ignores why marketing exists and ignores the power that marketing has and the power of influencing human beings overall.

The best really is not necessarily enough. We are not perfectly logical creatures where we go, “Hey, I am thinking about a new social media monitoring solution. I need to watch Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram for my business. Therefore I’m going to create my criteria. I’m going to evaluate all 716 providers that are in the market today that fit my price range and those criteria. Then I’m going to choose effectively the best one. No, we’re biased by the ones we’ve heard of, the ones our friends recommend, the ones we stumble across versus don’t stumble across, the ones that have a loud voice, the ones that have a credible voice. These things bias us. Therefore, being stylistically unique and memorable have outsized power to determine whether people will become part of your loyal audience.

More isn’t necessarily better

I’ve talked about this a few times, but I’m strongly of the opinion, especially when it comes to loyalty, that more content may actually be worse than better content. Moz publishes between 7 and 10 blog posts a week. That’s a lot of content. I think there are weeks where we published 12 blog posts. For me to say this is a little odd. But the challenge here is prior to building a loyal audience. Once you have a loyal audience, you can start to expand that audience by reaching out and broadening the spectrum of content that you create, and you can afford to be a little more risk taking in that. When you are trying to build loyalty early on, you need to have that consistency of quality.

People are going to return because you keep delivering great stuff again and again. When that suffers, your audience will suffer as well. If I watch my first three Whiteboard Fridays and then the fourth one is not great, I expect to lose a ton of those viewers. But if I have tens of thousands of people who are watching Whiteboard Friday and I deliver one bad one out of twenty, maybe I have a little more room to play there.

Focus your efforts

Focus. This is a big challenge because I think a lot of us think very broadly about who we want to appeal to, the types of content we want to create, the types of marketing we want to do. This is very challenging from a loyalty perspective because passionate fans tend to congregate around very, very focused causes and very focused creators of content or focused brands or focused organizations. Its much tougher to build that passion into a group of users if you’re trying to appeal to a very broad set. That’s just how it is.

Don’t forget engagement

Lastly, but not least, this is very tactical, but I found it extremely powerful when a brand is starting out, when a project is starting out, to engage and respond as much as possible with your customers. That could be over social channels, that could be in comments, that could be in emails, that could be directly in outreach, whatever it is. But if you see someone who you can reach out to engaging with you, replying to them, talking to them, conversing with them in some way, forming a connection is extremely powerful. It especially is important for first interactions.

I’m not going to say, “You need to respond to everything all the time, always.” If you can identify, “This is the first interaction that we’ve had with this person,” if you interact and if that interaction is positive, it can create loyalty just on its own. That’s a lovely way to start scaling up from a small starting point.

All right everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We’ll see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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