Do you struggle to properly attribute your sales to your marketing efforts? Do you want to learn more about attribution with Facebook and Google? To explore the concept of attribution on Google and Facebook, I interview Chris Mercer. Chris is the world’s leading authority on Google Analytics, founder of Measurement Marketing IO, and the exclusive […]
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Want more people to see your videos in YouTube search? Wonder how YouTube advertising can show your videos alongside related content? In this article, you’ll learn how to promote your videos with YouTube TrueView discovery ads. Why Run a YouTube TrueView Discovery Ad Campaign? YouTube TrueView discovery ads appear in the places where users discover content […]
The post How to Set Up YouTube TrueView Video Discovery Ads appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.
Are you curious about WeChat? Wondering how to get your business in front of over a billion people on WeChat? In this article, you’ll discover how WeChat’s features can help you market your business. Why Marketers Should Consider WeChat Is your business looking to raise brand awareness or drive direct customer engagement with Chinese-speaking audiences? […]
The post WeChat for Business: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.
Looking for a faster way to visualize and make sense of your marketing metrics? Have you heard of Google Data Studio? In this article, you’ll learn how to build a reusable report in Google Data Studio. Why Use Google Data Studio to Simplify Marketing Measurement Analysis When you’re a small business with a limited marketing […]
The post How to Build a Google Data Studio Dashboard appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.
There are two ways you can buy advertising to promote eBay listings. One is to buy a promoted listing on eBay itself. The other is to buy third party advertising to point to your listing, in some form or another. However, there’s a little more to it than that.
Paying for Promoted eBay Listings
The first and the simplest option is to just pay for a promoted spot in the eBay search results. Whenever you search for a product, you’ll see a handful of promoted listings, all of which someone is paying eBay to put near the top of the list. You have to scroll down to see the organic listings.
“Paying for an auction listing? What if my item doesn’t sell? Then I’m out money when I’m just trying to make money!” This is a valid complaint, and eBay understands the situation. That’s why their promoted listings only charge you when your item sells.
Unlike traditional advertising, when you’re bidding on promoted listings, you’re choosing a percentage – called the Ad Rate – of your item’s sale price that you’re willing to spend. This means that the higher the price your item sells for, the more you pay for the ads that got it to sell. You aren’t setting a bid cap or a specific amount of money to pay to promote your item.
In order to help you decide how much you should be willing to spend, eBay maintains a list of Trending Ad Rates. The trending Ad Rate is the average percentage people are bidding to promote their listings, within various categories. For example, as of the time of this writing, Antiques are trending at 10.49%, books are trending at 2.97%, and computer items are trending at 6.2%. These are figures within the USA; there are different figures for different geographic regions. You can see all of the current trending ad rates on this page.
It’s generally a good idea to adjust your Ad Rate on a weekly basis to better fit the trends. If the trend is going up, you should adjust upwards to compete. If the trends are going down, you can adjust downwards to avoid over-spending. Of course, you need to calculate how much you can afford to take off the top. For people selling random household products they’re trying to get rid of, any profit is better than keeping the item, so it doesn’t matter. For a business trying to sell through eBay, you need to calculate your profit margins and determine how much you can cut into them.
Are promoted listings a good choice for your products? That depends on what kinds of products you’re trying to sell. You can use promoted listings for just about any category, but there are some restrictions. Auctions, unfortunately, do not qualify. You also have to be a subscriber to eBay Stores, or you need to be a seller with either Top Rated or Above Standard feedback status. If your status drops too much, you’ll lose access to the system.
Generally, eBay recommends using promoted listings for new product lines and new listing ideas, seasonal items you want to sell as quickly as possible, old product lines you’re trying to clear out, and products that are already selling well but which you can sell more of more quickly.
Conversely, items that have a poor sales history aren’t going to benefit as much from promoted listings, and rare items, collectibles, and unique items aren’t great targets due to the smaller audience.
It’s also worth noting that eBay’s promotion auction is not simply “whoever bids the most gets the top spot.” In fact, they consider elements like the relevance and the quality of the listing to the search, how well the item is selling in general when the ad rate is set, and some other factors.
So in general, you should use promoted listings when:
You have an item that has a high conversion rate but generally low traffic.
You have a new item you want to establish a baseline level of traffic and sales history for.
You have a best seller that you want to sell more of, even if you sacrifice some profit to do it.
You have a seasonal product you want to get sold as quickly as possible.
You have overstock of a product you want to liquidate.
You have stock left over of an item you no longer want to sell, and you want to liquidate.
Promoted listings are just normal eBay listings, so you don’t need to do anything special to create ads. All you need to do is choose which products to promote and what ad rate you want to set. There’s an art to choosing the right ad rate, which involves knowing your profit margins and knowing what percentages are good to sell. You’ll gain a feel for it after you promote for a while.
What’s truly important, however, is the quality of the listing itself. Thankfully, I know exactly where you can visit to learn about optimizing eBay product listings.
Paying to Advertising Listings Directly
Unfortunately, paying for ads through platforms like Google Ads, pointing those ads directly at eBay listings or eBay stores, is notoriously ineffective. You can find thousands of people online talking about paying to promote their listings and getting nothing out of it.
Unlike promoted listings, paying for PPC ads to point to eBay can waste a lot of money. You don’t have a “pay only when it sells” clause to protect you, and you can often end up paying far more than the value of the product in clicks that don’t convert. Google doesn’t really like people linking directly to eBay stores, so they don’t promote those ads quite as much, and it really doesn’t work out for anyone involved.
On the other hand, eBay and Google had a deal with each other. Products listed on eBay will be funneled into Google’s marketplace, and Google can plug them into Google Shopping. You can use a Google Merchant Center account to promote your listings through that system instead of using Google Ads.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with paying Google Ads to promote eBay listings. It’s not against the terms of service for either site. It’s just not the most effective solution.
The trouble is, you’re paying to send people to eBay, and everyone knows eBay as a site where it’s easy to find the cheapest version of a product. People can click through your ads to your product, and then go to buy that same product from another seller instead of you. You also don’t get any benefit for referral traffic to products other than your own, like you might with something like an Amazon Affiliate link.
There’s nothing really unique about advertising an eBay listing through Google Ads compared to advertising any other site. You still need to pay attention to the usual factors, like ad relevance, keyword selection, budgets, and click-through rates. Don’t be afraid that I just linked to dummies.com, either; their guide is actually really good.
An Alternative Strategy
The best alternate strategy for dedicated eBay sellers is to create your own website. Creating a website gives you a larger degree of trust than a typical no-name eBay seller, and that trust allows you to leverage additional marketing channels. You can run a Facebook business Page for your website, even though all of your products are just eBay store listings.
You can go as light or as hard into a marketing website as you want. I’ve seen people be perfectly successful on eBay with a microsite that is little more than an About page, a few testimonials, and links to product pages. I’ve also seen brands build up their entire business around their sites, using eBay as a convenient storefront up until they’ve stabilized enough to transition to their own store on a Shopify plan. These people have blogs and everything.
The benefit of using your own site is that you can set up landing pages for individual products, and then you can direct advertising from Google Ads and other ad networks to those landing pages.
Of course, managing your own site is a lot of work and a lot of additional expense. You need to pay for hosting and a domain, you need to set up a back-end framework – even if it’s just WordPress – and you need to maintain it with enough content that it doesn’t stagnate. Plus, paying for ads is an additional expense, as I’ve already mentioned. On the other hand, having a more total level of control over your web presence and your branding puts you ahead of most of the competition on eBay.
One potential roadblock you may run into is that eBay’s links policy prohibits you from linking to your website within your eBay listings. Unless a user already knows your brand and that you have a website, they might not find you. You get the on-site benefits of the user seeing other products in your storefront or in your listings, but you can’t send them off-site for other benefits.
You can get around this by including items with your URL on them in the products you ship. Thank you notes included in your packages, URLs on labels and on invoices, and URLs in your email communications are all good ideas.
Utilizing Social Media
With social media, you get both organic and paid means of promotion at your fingertips.
For Facebook, you can set up a business Page for your business, and link directly to your eBay store and your individual eBay listings. You can also link to pages and posts on your website. You won’t necessarily have the best exposure doing this, since Facebook tends to demote overly promotional content, but if you get into content marketing, Facebook becomes an excellent channel.
Facebook ads can point directly at eBay listings, so long as they’re relevant and aren’t dynamic URLs. You shouldn’t have any issues with multi-stock products, but you’ll have a hard time advertising single products for sale; if someone buys it, your ad will still be running, so you may pay for clicks to an invalid listing. This can hurt both your bottom line and your ad relevance score.
Twitter can be used in a variety of different ways. You can post links to your listings and treat it basically as an RSS feed for when you add new products or items, or when items are back in stock. You can link to pages and content on your own site. You can pay for Twitter advertising, either to your website or to your eBay store. You can even just focus your time on becoming a Twitter joke account and whenever a tweet goes viral, do the “here’s my soundcloud” thing but for eBay listings.
Pinterest can be a good site for eBay listings because of it’s highly visual nature. Instagram is similar, but since Instagram doesn’t allow links in their image captions, I wouldn’t recommend it.
In general, social media becomes the top of your sales funnel, pointing people deeper in to your website, landing pages, or storefront. From there, you can point people specifically to products they’re interested in, and use paid advertising to reach them in other locations. A broad top leads to a greater stream at the bottom.
The post How to Buy Advertising to Promote Your eBay Listings appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore enhanced LinkedIn Advertising features and analytics, why web browsers are blocking third-party tracking, and more. Our special […]
The post LinkedIn Updates Ad Features and Mozilla Blocks Ad Tracking appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.
When you’re running Google ads, you want to make the most of your budget. Every dollar needs to perform, either giving you information you can use to make other dollars perform better, or bringing you in a defined, positive return on your investment.
This leads to the common adjustment of increasing bids when your budget increases, which in turn may have an astonishing effect on your ads. I’ve seen it a few times, and it’s not an unheard-of situation: a higher budget leads to lower conversions.
Why does this happen, and what can you do to prevent it?
Part of the root cause of this issue is Google’s recommendations for ad success. Google is biased, of course. They want people to spend as much money as possible, so they can make as much money as possible. Google is smart, though. They know that if they just cranked up prices and left you with middling results, you would stop using their service. They strive for quality in their ad program so that no one walks away dissatisfied. One customer paying $10 a month for a year is worth more than another customer paying $50 once and leaving forever.
Basically, Google has something called Recommendations. Recommendations are pieces of advice that good generates for you, based on the performance and situation of your account, and their wealth of historical data from other users in their ads system. Trust me, they’ve seen it all a thousand times. They can pick out your specific situation, identify potential improvements, and recommend actions for you to take that will lead to those improvements.
Recommendations are not provided by an account manager or in any personalized manner. Rather, they are generated algorithmically based on your account performance and site-wide Google trends. Recommendations are taken from a list, which you can read here. Here are some examples, if you don’t want to click through:
Add responsive search ads: Show more relevant ads to potential customers by creating responsive search ads.
Create new versions of your ads: Try new versions of your ads and let the best ones show.
Bid more efficiently with Enhanced CPC: Automatically optimize your bids at auction time for searches more likely to lead to conversions.
Change your device bid adjustments: Optimize your spend on specific devices and increase your return on investment.
Set audience bid adjustments: Optimize your audience bid adjustments based on how well they are converting.
Add negative keywords: Reduce wasted spend by not showing on searches that are irrelevant to your business.
Remove conflicting negative keywords: People didn’t see your ads because of conflicting negative keywords. Remove them so your ads can show.
Add keywords to each ad group: Get your ads running by adding keywords to each ad group.
Fix your audience source with no activity: Make sure you aren’t missing users on remarketing lists used by your campaigns. Fix the audience source so that users are added to your lists correctly.
All of the above are taken straight from Google. They’re just a small selection of the dozens of recommendations Google provides, contextually, to accounts in their system.
Some of these amount to “take advantage of advanced features in the ads system.” Some of them are “avoid conflicts that break ad visibility.” Still others work out to “spend more money in our system.”
Since so many of their recommendations end up increasing your conversions, giving you more search visibility, or dropping your cost per conversion, it makes sense to follow them. Google isn’t going to steer you wrong if they can help it, because a disgruntled user is a user tying up their support system or a user that leaves their program entirely.
How Increasing Budget Decreases Conversions
Now, I’m not going to tell you that increasing your budget will always decrease conversions. In fact, it’s a pretty narrow set of circumstances that cause the problem. I can think of two reasons why it might happen, so I’ll detail them below.
The first cause is when you simply run out of available traffic. This is by far the more common of the two causes, and it relates entirely to your chosen keywords. If your ads have a high quality score, you have a reasonable bid, and you have a budget sufficient to get plenty of conversions, increasing your budget will not increase your conversions.
Imagine you have a keyword with a monthly search volume of 800. That’s roughly 800 queries per month for that keyword. Maybe 5% of them will click through and convert, so you have about 40 conversions available. At a price of $2 per conversion, that’s a monthly budget of $80.
If you bump your budget up to $160, you’re doubling it. Your cost per conversion, if anything, goes up a bit as you have more money to spare and can be more flexible. However, there are still only 40 conversions available in that month, because there are only 800 people searching for your keyword.
It doesn’t matter if you have a million dollars to throw into your ads; if your keywords simply have no more available search volume, you cannot get more conversions out of them.
The second cause is when the math doesn’t work out in your favor, dividing up bids within your budget with a higher cost per click.
Let’s say you have a budget of $10, and your ads are hitting an audience that has a cost per click ranging from $2 to $3. You set your bid cap to $2, ensuring that every conversion you get costs $2 or less. With a budget of $10, you get five conversions.
Now you have a higher budget so you increase your bid to $3. Your $3 captures a new selection of your audience, those who are harder to reach and thus cost more. However, you can only fit three conversions in your $10.
This is a gross simplification, of course. You wouldn’t keep your budget cap at $10 with a higher available budget. Still, the idea is that your conversions aren’t increasing to keep up with the increase in budget. You double your budget and you expect double the conversions, but because your cost per conversion goes up – since you’re willing and able to pay more – your number of conversions goes down.
Basically, this is just a negative confluence of factors that can occur when you increase bids and budgets based on Google’s recommendations without actually playing with the numbers in the right way. You generally need to figure out what point you should cap your bids, despite what Google may want you to do.
Other Things to Check
If you’re having this issue – the lack of increased conversions, that is – there are a few other things you can check that might be causing it other than the two main causes I detailed above.
The first is to check to see if you happen to have daily budget caps, ad set caps, or other budget restrictions in place. Google will always abide by the smallest budget cap to avoid springing unnecessary or unexpected charges on their customers. If you set your overall monthly budget to $1,000 but your daily budget is still $10, you’re only going to spend $300 per month. Make sure all of your budget numbers are chosen in a way that uses them appropriately, or make sure you’re choosing one of Google’s automatic allocation strategies.
Another check you can perform requires a little manual finesse. Is position #1 in the search results actually the best position for your business? Sometimes it is, of course. The top of the line is the most visible and tends to get the most clicks. However, it’s also somewhat more expensive than #2 or #3. A higher position might get you a higher click through rate, but if your conversion rate doesn’t support it, it’s not going to do well for your budget. You may be paying too much for your position.
One of the most common occurrences I encounter is a business striving to spend all of their budget to reach position #1, when it doesn’t have a tangible benefit to outweigh the increased costs and competition. Letting your ads “languish” at #2 or #3 will still get you a reasonable amount of conversions, without over-spending on advertising to get there.
Another issue you can check on is if you have any keywords that are draining your budget without bringing in conversions. It’s easy for an ad with 80 broad match keywords to have one or two performing terribly, and you might never know until you look at your keyword-level analytics. You generally want to make sure that your keywords all meet a minimum level of performance. Any dramatically underperforming keywords should be removed or added to a negative keyword list.
Other Considerations for Google Ad Conversions
Ads grow stale, they grow old, they can wither and die. Increasing your budget isn’t going to revitalize them, it’s just going to show a stale ad to more people who aren’t interested. You need to change up your ads, and that means split testing.
Incomplete split tests are a common problem with ads testing. I give an example in the article linked. Essentially, if you test different variations of different variables, only to come up with a result that points at a new confluence that you didn’t test, you don’t actually know if that confluence is better.
It’s easy to catch all of the options when you’re testing one or two variables, but the more you add, the more you need to test, and that grows exponential very quickly. It’s why tests should be limited, and it’s why you need a proper budget to get the proper kind of data.
Conversions are also susceptible to concerns outside of the ad ecosystem. I’ve talked to a few marketers in the past who have issues they dig deep trying to figure out, only to step back and realize their conversions dropped because they sell school supplies and school is out for the summer, or some other seasonal shift.
When temporal concerns aren’t at issue, there’s also the possibility that some public perception has shifted. Maybe a competitor has hit the field and is trashing your business in their marketing. Maybe one of your customer service reps made a bad decision and their response has gone viral. Maybe you sell something that the public is slowly moving away from, and there’s not much you can do to claw back those sales.
Another thing you should consider is ad keyword groups. All too many people throw all their keywords into one soup and hope it all works out on the other side, but that leads to a lot of ads with copy that doesn’t quite line up with the query, ads that don’t quite work. That means your conversions are going to be harder to come by, which in turn means their cost goes up. A higher budget will get you more high cost conversions, but you’re wasting a lot of opportunity.
The fact is, the ads ecosystem has a thousand different factors at play, which is why so many of Google’s recommendations point at automatic adjustments they can perform algorithmically to get you the best results for the given money and copy you feed into the system. Any adjustments you make need to keep this in mind.
The post Can Increasing Your Google Ad Budget Lower Conversions? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.
Do you want to learn more about Quora? Wondering how Quora can enhance your marketing efforts? To explore how to use Quora for marketing, I interview JD Prater. JD is Quora’s full-time evangelist, a speaker, and host of the Grow with Quora podcast. JD shares what Quora can do for your business. You’ll also find […]
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Do you have more than one person handling your Facebook marketing? Wondering how to share access securely to your Facebook pages and ad accounts? In this article, you’ll discover how to give people access to your Facebook business assets in Facebook Business Manager. Create a Facebook Business Manager Facebook Business Manager is a powerful tool […]
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Want to learn more about how people on YouTube engage with your channel? Wondering which YouTube video links drive the most website traffic? In this article, you’ll learn how to set up Google Analytics to analyze and assess the effectiveness of your YouTube marketing. Why Use Google Analytics to Track YouTube Channel and Link Traffic […]
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Wondering how to appear consistently in your audience’s Facebook news feed while limiting the impact of ad fatigue? Looking for a Facebook ad campaign you can model? In this article, you’ll discover how to run a Facebook advertising campaign that consistently puts your business in front of your target audience with unique messaging at every […]
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Images SEO in visual search has been around for a long time, but why is it becoming more important to marketers?
In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Jess explains changes Google has made to their search result pages to show more visual content and how it may impact rankings.
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Eric: So, Jess, images SEO in visual search have been around for a long time. Why are they becoming more important now? What’s changed recently?
Jess: In a macro sense, the technology surrounding image hosting, image recognition, visual search, and that kind of thing has really improved. Image processing has become faster and you can get better quality images. And Google has noticed. In the “Next 20 Years of Google Search” post, Google signaled a switch from text to a more visual way of search. You can see this with their commitment to a much more visual mobile SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
Eric: A lot of these changes have happened over the last year. What changes have you seen most recently?
Jess: Some major changes have been with Google Lens, SERP experiments and changes, the Google Discover feed, and Google Collections.
Eric: Tell us about Google Lens.
Jess: Lens is Google’s built-in image recognition and search product. It’s accessible through the Google app and it lets you search for objects, image first. Say I want a version of a shirt—I can just take a picture of it on my phone and search for it online.
Eric: And we’ve also seen it in Discover and Collections. Both are services used by Google. Discover shows a feed of topics related to what the user’s interests are, and Collections lets the user save search results to boards. It’s kind of like Pinterest in that way. Both display search results with large visuals, titles, and then short amounts of text. They’re usually extremely visual-first, especially compared with traditional SERPs. So how is this showing up in the SERPs?
Jess: We’ve seen massive fluctuations in visuals in the SERP results. Image thumbnails, increased importance of images on the page, all that kind of thing. But the million-dollar question is, “Does this impact rankings?”
Eric: Probably. Maybe. Well, we don’t know directly, and we don’t know how much, especially when compared with other ranking factors. But recently, I did have a chance to talk with Bing’s Fabrice Canel, who confirmed the concept that a page with a high-quality relevant image on it could be seen as a higher-quality page, as a result. And as for Google, we know they also care about a user’s experience. Having relevant, well-optimized images can create a much better experience than just a big block of text. We do know that speed is a ranking factor and is clearly very important to Google. Won’t images slow down your page? Maybe that would impact rankings.
Jess: You can use good compression and next-gen image formats like WebP and JPEG 2000. But you can also think about the speed of the information making its way to the user. In that way, images are speed.
Eric: Can you explain?
Jess: You can explain what the Mona Lisa is in 1,000 words, or you can just show what the Mona Lisa looks like.
Eric: If images are important, how can publishers best implement images on their pages?
Jess: The usual rules for image optimization still apply. Make sure your images are a good size, that you use alt text correctly and accurately, and make sure that your images are a good quality. Beyond that, for speed, you can try implementing lazy loading while still making sure Googlebot can see your images. Try next-gen image formats and use unique images. And even run your images through the Google Image Recognition API to see if it sees what you want it to see.
Eric: Images can be useful in different ways for different niches. You have to think about how your images can be used, for users to find you—and then how they can help your user when they have found you. E-commerce sites, for example, should make sure their products are discoverable using a reverse image search. Financial pages should use images and visual storytelling to help their users understand their text, as well.
Jess: Yes, exactly. You can use images to stand out in the SERPs, help your users take advantage of visuals and take advantage of search features like Collections and Google Discovery.
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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore horizontal video support for IGTV and other video broadcasting updates with special guests, Luria Petrucci and David […]
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Do you need a better content marketing plan? Wondering how to improve your content strategy? To explore creative ways to regularly create content, I interview Melanie Deziel. Melanie is a former journalist, storytelling expert, and founder of StoryFuel, a company that helps marketers become better storytellers. Discover different ways to create content both on and […]
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Fabrice Canel is a Principal Program Manager at Bing, Microsoft where he is responsible for web crawling and indexing. Today’s post is the transcript of an interview in which I spoke with Fabrice. Over the 60 minutes we spent together we covered a lot of topics.
During our conversation, Fabrice shared how he and his team thinks about the value of APIs, crawling, selection, quality, relevancy, visual search, and the important role the SEO continues to play.
Eric: What’s behind this idea of letting people submit 10,000 URLs a day to Bing?
Fabrice: The thought process is that as our customers expect to find latest content published online, we try to get this content indexed seconds after the content is published. Getting content indexed fast, is particularly important for content like News. To achieve freshness, relying only on discovering new content via crawling existing web pages, crawling sitemaps and RSS feeds do not always work. Many sitemaps are updated only once a day, and RSS feeds may not provide full visibility on all changes done on web sites.
So instead of crawling and crawling again to see if content changed, the Bing Webmaster API allows to programmatically notify us of the latest URLs published on their site. We see this need not only for large websites but for small and medium websites who don’t have to wait for us to crawl it, and don’t like too many visits from our crawler Bingbot on their web sites.
Eric: It’s a bit like they’re pushing Sitemaps your way. And the code to do this is really very simple. Here is what that looks like:
You can use any of the below protocols to easily integrate the Submit URL API into your system.
Fabrice: Yes, we encourage both, pushing the latest URLs to Bing and having sitemaps to insure we are aware of all relevant URLs on the site. Pushing is great but the internet is not 100% reliable, sites goes down, your publishing system or our system may have temporary issues, sitemaps is the guaranty that we are aware of all relevant URLs on your site. In general, we aim to fetch sitemaps at least once a day, and when we can fetch more often most sites don’t want us to fetch them as often as every second. Complementary to freshness, RSS feeds is still a good solution for small and medium sites, but some sites are really big, and one RSS can’t handle more than 2500 URLs to keep its size within 1 MB. All of these things are complementary to tell us about site changes.
Eric: This means you will get lots of pages pushed your way that you might not have gotten to during crawling, so it should not only enable you to get more real time content, but you’ll be able to see some sites more deeply.
Fabrice: Absolutely, every day we discover more than 100 billion URLs that we have never seen before. What is even scarier, these are the URLs that we normalized– no session ids, parameters, etc. This is only for content that really matters and it’s still 100 billion new ones a day. A large percentage of these URLs are not worth indexing. Some simple examples of this include date archives within blogs or pages that are largely lacking in unique content of value. The Bing mechanism for submitting URLs in many cases is more useful and trustable than what Bingbot can discover through links.
Eric: For sites that are very large, I heard you make reference that you would allow them to form more direct relationships to submit more than 10,000 URLs per day.
Fabrice: You can contact us, and we’ll review & discuss it, and how it bears on business criteria of the sites. please don’t send us useless URLs, as duplicate content or duplicate URLs, so we won’t send fetchers to fetch that.
Eric: How will this change SEO? Will crawling still be important?
Fabrice: It’s still important to ensure that search engines can discover your content and links to that content. With URL submission you may have solved the problem of discovery, but understanding interlinking still matters for context.
Related to that is selection, SEOs should include links to your content and selection. The true size of the Internet is infinity, so no search engines can index all of it.
Some websites are really big, instead of adding URLs to your sites to get only few of the URLs indexed, it’s preferable to focus on ensuring the head and body of your URLs are indexed. Develop an audience, develop authority for your site to increase your chances of having your URLs selected. URL submission helps with discovery, but SEOs still need to pay attention to factors that impact selection, fetching, and content. Ultimately, your pages need to matter on the Internet.
Eric: So, even the discovery part, there is still a role for the SEO to play, even though the API makes it easier to manage on your end.
Fabrice: Yes, for the discovery part there’s a role for the SEO to remove the noise and guide us to the latest content. LESS IS MORE. The basics of content structure still matter too. For example, you:
still need titles/headers/content
still need depth and breadth of content
still need readable pages
still need to be concerned about site architecture and internal linking
Eric: On the AI side of things, one of the things I think we’re seeing is an increasing push towards proactively delivering what people want before they specifically request it– less about search, and more about knowing preferences & needs of users, serving up things to them real-time, even before they think to do a search. Can you discuss that a little bit?
Fabrice: You might think of this as position “-1”, this is not only to provide results, but to provide content that may satisfy needs of the people, information that is related to you and your interests, within the Bing app or Bing Home page. You can set your own interest via the Bing settings and then you will see the latest content on your interest in various canvas. I am deeply interested in knowing the latest news quantum computing… what’s your interests?
Instead of searching for the latest every five minutes, preferable to be notified about what’s happening in more proactive ways.
Eric: So Bing, or Cortana, becomes a destination in of itself, and rather than searching you’re getting proactive delivery of content, which changes the use case.
Fabrice: Yes. We prefer surfacing the content people are searching for based on their personal interests. To be the provider of that content, to have a chance to be picked up by search engines, you have to create the right content and establish the skill and authority of that content. You must do the right things SEO-wise and amplify the authority of your site above other sites.
Eric: There’s always the issue of authority, you can make great content, but if aren’t sharing or linking to your content, it probably has little value.
Fabrice: Yes, these things still matter. How your content is perceived on the web is a signal that helps us establish the value of that content.
Eric: Let’s switch the topic to visual search and discuss use cases for visual search.
Fabrice: I use it a lot, and shopping is a beautiful example of visual search in action. For example, take a picture of your chair with your mobile device, upload the image to the Bing Apps and bingo you have chairs that are matching this model. The image is of a chair, it’s black, and the App will find similar things that are matching.
Visual search involves everything related to shopping, day to day object recognition, people recognition, and extracting information that is matching what your camera was capturing.
Eric: For example, I want to know what kind of tree that is …
Fabrice: Trees, flowers, everything
Eric: How much of this kind of visual search do you anticipate happening? I’d guess it’s currently small.
Fabrice: Well, yes, and no. We use this technology already in Bing for search and image search– understanding images we are viewing on the Internet– images with no caption or no alt text relating to the image, if we are able to recognize the shapes in the image, people may put in text keywords, the image may have additional meaning, extracting information that can advance the relevance of a web page.
Going beyond Bing and search, this capability is offered in Azure and articulated in all kinds of systems across the industry, this is offering enterprises the ability to recognize images, also camera inputs, and more. This can also extend into movies.
Eric: You mentioned the role images can play in further establishing the relevance of a web page. Can visual elements play a role in assessing a page’s quality as well?
Fabrice: Yes, for example you can have a page on the Internet with text content, and within it you may have an image that is offensive in different ways. The content of the text is totally okay, but the image is offensive for whatever reason. We must detect that and treat it appropriately.
Eric: I’d imagine there are scenarios where the presence of an image is a positive quality identifier, people like content with images after all.
Fabrice: Yes, images can make consuming the content of a page more enjoyable. I think in the end it’s all about the SEO, you need to have good text, good schema, and good images, Users would love to go back to your site if it’s not full of ads, and not too much text with nothing to illustrate. If you have a bad website with junky HTML people may not come back. They may prefer another site with preferable content.
Eric: Integration of searching across office networks is one of the more intriguing things we’ve heard from Bing, including the integration with Microsoft Office documents. As a result, you can search Office files and other types of content on corporate networks.
Fabrice: When you search with Bing and you are signed up to a Microsoft/Office 365 offering enabling Bing for business, Bing will also search your company data, people, documents, sites and locations, as well as public web results, and surface this search results in a unified search results experience with internet links. People don’t have to search in two three places to find stuff. Bing offers a one-click experience, where you can search your Intranet, SharePoint sites for the enterprise, and the Internet all at once. You can have an internal memo that comes up in a search as well as other information that we find online. We offer you a global view. As an employee, this is tremendously helpful to do more by easing finding the information.
Need to find the latest vacation policy for your company? We can help you find it. Need to know where someone is sitting in your office? We can help you find that too. Or, informational searches that we do can seamlessly find documents both online and offline.
Eric: Back to the machine learning topic for a moment – are we at the point today where the algorithm is obscure enough it is not possible for a single human to describe the specifics of ranking factors.
Fabrice: In 15 minutes it can’t be effectively done. We are guided through decisions we are taking in terms of quality expectations and determining good results vs. not so good results. Machine learning is far more complicated, when we have issues, we can break it down, find out what is happening per search. But it’s not made up of simple “if-then” coding structures, it’s far more complicated
Eric: People get confused when they hear about AI and machine learning and they think that it will fundamentally change everything in search. But the reality is that search engines will still want quality content, and need determine its relevance and quality.
Machine learning may be better at this, but as publishers, our goal is still to create content that is very high quality, relevant, and to promote that content to give it high visibility. That really doesn’t change, it doesn’t matter whether you’re using AI / machine learning or a human generated algorithm.
Fabrice: That will never change. SEO is like accessibility where you need common rules to make things accessible for people with disabilities. In the process of implementing SEO you’re helping search engines understand the thing, you need to follow the basic rules, you can’t expect search engines to do magic and adapt to each and every complex case.
Eric: There’s an idea that people have that machine learning might bring in whole new ranking factors that have never been seen before. But it’s not really going to change things that much is it?
Fabrice: Yes, a good article is still a good article.
Eric: A couple of quick questions to finish. John Mueller of Google tweeted recently that they don’t use prev/next anymore. Does Bing use it?
Fabrice: We are looking at it for links & discovery, and we use it for clustering, but it is a loose signal. One thing related to AI, at Bing we look at everything, this isn’t a simple “if-then” thing, everything on the page is a hint of some sort. Our code is looking at each and every character on each and every page. The only thing that isn’t a hint is robots.txt and meta noindex (which are directives), and everything else is a hint.
About Fabrice Canel
Fabrice is 20 years search veteran at Bing, Microsoft. Fabrice is a Principal Program Manager leading the team crawling, processing and indexing at Bing, so dealing with the hundreds of billions of new or updated web pages every day! In 2006, Fabrice joined the MSN Search Beta project and since this day, Fabrice is driving evolution of the Bing platform to insure the Bing index is fresh and comprehensive and he is responsible for the protocols and standards for Sitemaps.org and AMP on Bing. Prior to that MSN Search, Fabrice was the Lead Program Manager for search across Microsoft Web sites in a role covering all aspect of search from Search Engines technology to Search User Experience… to content in the very early days of SEO.
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Before we begin, I find that there’s a lot of confusion as to whether an ad-related topic is focusing on the publisher perspective or the advertiser perspective. Some topics are easy to identify; if I’m talking about the cost of ads, I’m talking about the advertiser side. If I’m talking about your earnings, it’s probably about the publisher side of things. Google sort of helped with this by keeping a separation between AdSense and AdWords as the publisher and advertiser sides, respectively, but they’ve been rolling them into Google Ads for branding purposes.
In any case, what I’m talking about today is AdSense, the publisher side of things, and the publisher side of other ad networks as well.
Like all things with Google, ads can be pretty complex. The list of ad policies for AdSense is a mile long, and there are a whole lot of different restrictions, guidelines, and placement policies for different kinds of ads as well. Let’s talk about how AdSense combines with other ad networks, and see where we stand.
Can You Use AdSense With Other Ads?
This is a pretty common question. Can you use Google AdSense ads on your site alongside ads from other ad networks? The answer is yes.
There are no restrictions in AdSense relating to the number of ad networks you can use on any given page. If you want to run ads from AdSense, ads from Adsterra or the other alternative networks, affiliate links, self-serve ads, or whatever else, you can. Google doesn’t care.
What Does Google Care About?
Google actually has a lot of different policies relating to ads that may be limiting your ability to use other ad networks. They don’t explicitly say “hey you can only have three ads on your page”, because they know there are different layouts for ads that can be reasonable. One site with three ads might be very unobtrusive, while another might have three large banner ads stacked on top of each other directly above the content, pushing it below the fold and making the site much less user-friendly.
A lot of it comes down to your placement, so here are the guidelines for ad placement, in summary form:
You are not permitted to place ads in a location that encourages accidental clicks. Accidental clicks can get your AdSense account banned, and there’s no way to recover from that ban.
You are not permitted to use site design elements to draw undue attention to ads. None of those arrows that point to ads, blinking banners highlighting ads, or weird animations drawing attention to them.
You are not allowed to label your ads in a way that is misleading, like “support us by clicking an ad” or “helpful links”. Anything that directly encourages users to click on ads is not allowed, and anything disguising the fact that they’re ads is bannable.
You are not allowed to place images aligned to look like they’re associated with non-image ads. Using a text element and then using CSS to align some images to make them look like image ads is misrepresenting the content of the ads and usually makes advertisers very angry.
You are not permitted to run ads in a layout that pushes content below the fold. If a user loads the page and all they see is ads and maybe your article headline – alongside your navigation – that’s a very poor user experience. Typically a responsive design will solve device issues that cause this, so if you have too many ads pushing content down, you need to move or remove some of them.
You cannot offer any compensation for clicking ads. Absolutely nothing. Remember that bit about encouraging clicks? Incentives are very much in that category and can get your account removed.
You cannot put ads in an element that refreshes itself automatically. Infinite scrolling pages can load new ads, but they can’t then refresh the other ads on the page; this would cause additional views for those ads, which throws off all the numbers and can be considered view fraud.
You cannot place ads on exit-intent windows, log-in windows, or error pages. Anything that isn’t visible when the user loads the page cannot have an ad in it.
You cannot place ads in dynamic content, like chat windows or within software. If you want ads in an app, Google has ads that can do that, through AdMob.
You cannot put AdSense ads in emails. You can’t slip one by Google either, unless you just refuse to send emails to the entire Gmail domain.
You are not permitted to put AdSense ads in pop-ups, pop-unders, in software, or in new windows.
Additionally, while you can put ads on a site that uses pop-ups or pop-unders, the site cannot have more than three such additional windows spawning. Google knows that such techniques are effective enough that they can’t ban them completely, but they can ban excessive use of such techniques.
None of that directly mentions the number of ads that can go on a single page, so we have to dig a little deeper for that information.
Types of Ad Unit
AdSense has a bunch of different styles of ad unit, depending on how you look at it. I’ve seen some people divide them into three categories: display units, link units, and native units. I’ve seen others include search units. Given that Google themselves divide them into five categories when giving examples, that’s what I’ll be using for the moment.
If you want a deep dive into the variety of different ad sizes you can use with Google AdSense advertising, you can check out this page, which shows you all of the most common sizes with images so you know precisely what you’re looking at.
The type of unit you use doesn’t actually matter to Google in terms of ad density restrictions. They don’t say “oh you can only have three display ads but you can have up to five text ads.” Ad density is controlled entirely by their Valuable Inventory Policy.
The Valuable Inventory Policy
If you’re wondering why you remember there being a fixed number of ads you can run on a page, and why I’m not mentioning those numbers now, it’s because they changed a few years ago. Google changed their policies in 2016, to move away from fixed numbers, because as always, webmasters ruin everything.
Basically, if Google says “you can only have up to five ad units on your page”, webmasters read that as “you can pack five ad units into your page” and disregard any other considerations. The letter of the law is more important to them than the spirit of the law. They’ll happily make pages virtually unusable as long as they comply with the rules just right.
So, in 2016, Google decided they had enough and decided to roll out a more blanket policy that generalizes the rules and leaves them more up to interpretation. This gives webmasters more design flexibility, while also allowing them more leeway to program their algorithm. The algorithm can now make judgments for ads based on their density and position.
The Valuable Inventory Policy is their solution. Here’s what it says:
“Advertising and other paid promotional material added to your pages should not exceed your content. Furthermore, the content you provide should add value and be the focal point for users visiting your page. For this reason, we may limit or disable ad serving on pages with little to no value and/or excessive advertising until changes are made.”
Examples of unacceptable pages include mirroring pages, putting pages in frames with ads on them, rewriting or scraping content from other sources with no added value, pages with more ads than content, pages with automatically generated content with no curation, pages with no content besides ads, and pages that don’t meet the webmaster quality guidelines.
This includes all ads on the page. You must have at least as much content on your page as you have ads, and this goes by screen real estate, not by word count. It includes all AdSense ads as well as all non-Google ads. You can use 5 Google ads and 2 non-Google ads, as long as they’re tastefully positioned and are not obstructing content. You can also use 2 Google ads and 5 non-Google ads in the same way. Again, the focus is on content, with advertising taking a secondary role.
The fact is, the more content you have, the more ads you can support. One of the main arguments in favor of this new policy is the advent of websites that scroll forever, loading more content as they go. If Google enforced a 3-ads-per-page max or whatever, users would quickly be able to scroll down past where the ads are, giving you a lot of user traffic with no way to monetize it. Infinite scroll sites are allowed to load more ads as they go, as long as those ads are still in a reasonable proportion compared to the primary content of the site.
One thing you may need to concern yourself with when you’re running ads from more than one ad network is any limitations imposed by those other networks. Not all networks are as forward thinking or as adaptable as Google tends to be, and as such, they may have policies that they copied from Google in 2005 and have not updated since. Make sure to check policies for any individual ad network you want to use in conjunction with AdSense.
Another restriction you have will be the viability of your ads. Remember that ads will perform differently whether they’re above the fold or below it, and where they’re positioned on the page. They also have to compete with each other, as well as banner blindness.
There’s a point of diminishing returns, and that point varies depending on the website. If you tend to have relatively short content, having a small number of ads is probably better. If you tend to write lengthy case studies and longer content, you can fit in more ads without decreasing the viability of each of them.
Keep in mind the different kinds of ads you’ll be running as well. Affiliate links – which need to be disclosed as per the US Government guidelines and similar regulations around the world – may be valuable, but they do still count as ads, and Google can identify them even if you use redirects to hide them from your users. In-stream video ads also count against your ads level, though they’re going to be based on the play time of the video, not of the screen real estate used to display them.
Above all, the user experience is paramount. If you have so many ads that your users are leaving the page in disgust, or reporting the ads as spam, or are otherwise taking action to avoid them, you probably have too many ads. You want your users to engage with your content, and experience ads on the side. Adding more and more ads to counteract declining engagement rates on your ads will only accelerate the total collapse of your audience.
Pretty much every Google policy since 2011’s Panda update has been focused on improving the experience for web users, so as long as you keep that in mind at all times, you should have a good idea of what your limits are. Keep your users happy, and Google will be happy enough to reward you.
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