April 19 2017

Last month, a few members of the TopSpot team attended SMX West 2017 in San Jose, California. During the three-day event, they attended a variety of sessions with topics ranging from analytics to search engine optimization to in-depth PPC account management. Some of their takeaways were new pieces of information announced by Google’s Gary Illyes, some were statistics in-line with the trends we had been seeing in our own data, and others were strategies and ideas suggested by some of the speakers that reinforced what we are doing for our accounts on an ongoing basis.

Team Members at SMX

TopSpot Team Members (left to right): Israel, Will & Nick hanging out in between conference sessions

Always Be Testing!

All ideas should be tested and measured. As one of the early adopters of Google’s Website Optimizer Beta Program in 2007 and avid testers and measurers, we can’t emphasize this enough! When testing aspects of your PPC campaign, the use of Experiments in AdWords is a good way to equally test various aspects without the worry of disrupting any current success you are having with a campaign.

For those not familiar with Experiments, here is how they work. You may want to test out a new landing page for a series of ads in order to understand its impact on conversions and quality score before implementing it across the entire ad group. By utilizing AdWords Experiments, you equally split the activity between the control ads (with the old landing page) & test ads (with the new landing page). Then, at the end of the test period, move forward with the winning versions.

Utilize Shopping Ads 

Shopping ads are a fantastic option for e-commerce websites and something we encourage, implement and manage as a part of our Pay Per Click services. The growth in mobile is a rising trend that we have seen in the industrial marketing space so the team loved hearing the new survey results from Google’s latest study connecting mobile and on Google Shopping behavior.

Here were a few that resonated with our team:

  • 75% of shoppers use mobile to start their journey and 34% of purchases happen on mobile devices.
  • When surveyed, 58% of smartphone users reported using their phone to shop in the last 30 days.
  • Have a local business? 76% of people who search for something nearby end up visiting the brick and mortar store the same day and 23% end up purchasing.
  • How do you make sure your shopping ads are optimized? Do your products have good reviews (over four stars) associated withthem?  71% of people say that product reviews are important when shopping either in store or online.

This was also reinforced in other sessions that discussed maximizing the “shoppability” of your online products. Quality images, supplemental content speaking to the benefits and advantages of your products and of course, availability were touched on.

Key Steps to Improving Shoppability

Source: E-Retail Roadmap: Increasing Shoppability and Findability Beyond Google By Chris Humber

If Local Search is Important To You, You’ll Want to Be Doing These Things 

At TopSpot, we work with a lot of businesses that only advertise within a local area, so we understand the importance of the 3-pack results! As we mentioned in one of our previous blog posts, recent changes have made it even tougher to get visibility in Google’s local 3-pack.

With local 3-pack results getting more and more competitive, you need to keep your Google My Business Listing as optimized as possible by focusing on growing the number of quality reviews your business has and regularly adding new photos.

You will also want to make sure that the URL your Google My Business listing links to, which is usually the homepage, has a good amount of content and images that speak to your business.

Focusing Your Message on the Right Audience

Writing content is tough. Writing great content that connects to your target audience is even tougher! In the world of Search Engine Marketing, content strategy is an ongoing process and something our Project Managers, CRTs and Paid Search Account Managers discuss with their accounts every day.

If you’re writing content, and not sure your messaging is targeting your audience as much as you’d like, try asking the following people around you for input:

  • Sales Teams – They are the ones speaking with your prospective customers first
  • Internal Business Units – If you are creating content for a brand with multiple locations, check in with each of them. Different regions may have different needs.
  • The Customer – If you ask enough customers, you can better define their needs as a whole

Have your own voice – While there isn’t an official penalty for having duplicate content, Google’s Gary Illyes did say that it does dilute ranking signals, making it more difficult for a website to rank well.

Don’t be too broad, or as we like to say, use our B-SMART Method®  – In 2008, only 20% of search queries were “long tail” (3+ keywords). That percentage has consistently grown, and in 2017, the percentage is estimated to be over 66%! People are getting more comfortable knowing what to find/how to search and ranking for long tail keywords is more important than ever.

Evolution of Search

Source: ETAs: Evolved Text Ads – Tricks for Writing New Ads for the Next Age of Search by Mark Irvine

Take the time to make it brief – Quality is key when reviewing content and language within your ads. There is no set amount of content that must be on a page for it to rank well but rather what is most important is that the content is relevant to the user’s search.

Ask Me Anything with Gary Illyes, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst

Domain authority is not taken into account when ranking pages in Search Engine Results Pages. Individual landing pages, content and the quality of the page are the biggest keys to ranking for specific search queries you want to rank for.

Google does not rank on the first page for the query “search engine” while searching on Google. Gary referenced this when discussing the importance of ranking for long tailed, specific queries users.

The Mobile-First Index: As discussed in a previous blog post, 2017 will be the year that the mobile-first index is launched, but the algorithm is still being tested and could be months away. To get ready for the Mobile-First Index, Gary suggestion that:

  • Content be copied over from a desktop site to a mobile site if you want to continue ranking for that content
  • The mobile site be fully tested before launching to make sure it will render well on mobile devices
  • Structured data is implemented
  • If you have a responsive site, you should be all set for the mobile-first index
  • Click-to-expand content on mobile is okay and isn’t discounted as a ranking signal but on desktop, no content should be click-to-expand


About SMX – Search Marketing Expo –  The Search Marking Expo has been the leading event for SEO & SEM professionals since 2007, helping marketing practitioners find success with actionable tactics learned during conference sessions and training workshops.  The SMX Conference series takes place multiple times a year around the globe. View upcoming events near you.