Article:

What is it? A Look at SEO, Google Ads and social advertising in 2020

This year we are taking it back to basics, with a guide to the foundations of digital marketing, for those new to the game.

SEO

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising a website in order to increase the website’s visibility in search engines (like Google and Bing), and ultimately, to increase the volume of relevant traffic to it. Traffic from search engines such as Google are classified as Organic, as opposed to other sources including Paid (Google ads), Direct (visiting directly using the websites URL), Social (visiting via social media platforms), and Referral (visiting through links from other websites). SEO is also responsible for the additional information blurbs that you may have encountered, which are called ‘featured snippets’:

Example of Organic Results

How does SEO work?

To understand how SEO works, it’s important to understand a search engine’s primary function – to deliver relevant results based on the search query. In order for these search engines to deliver relevant results, they must first be able to identify the most relevant pages from billions of different pages and websites across the internet, and categorise them based on how relevant they are to each query.

There are over 200 ranking factors that Google’s search engine algorithm uses in order to determine the best results for each search query, in real-time. These ranking factors can be broken down into 6 main categories:

  1. Content – do you have enough content on your website (not just words, but images, video, and audio too)? And is it quality content, or just filler-text?
  2. Architecture – is your site well organised and structured well? Is it easy to navigate for search engines, let alone people – can they find what they need easily or in fewer clicks?
  3. HTML – is your site and pages optimised well? Do you have the right keywords on the right pages? Or possibly too many keywords? And are the headings optimised and structured correctly? (Amongst many other factors).
  4. Trust – how trustworthy or credible is your website? Are you an authority in your particular industry? How much experience do you have?
  5. Links – do many websites link to your site? Google treats these ‘links’ as trust signals or ‘votes’ of approval that your site is relevant for a particular keyword or topic it is linked from, especially if they are coming from a high-quality website.
  6. Users – does your site actually meet the needs of your ideal customers, and is it functional enough for them?

Once you’ve optimised your website based on these 6 categories as best as you can, you may start to find that your site starts appearing on the first page of Google. So what’s next? From there, it’s down to how engaging the title and descriptions are in determining whether or not they will visit your website. Below is an example of an organic result for a “plumbers perth” search:

Body of an organic search result

  • URL
  • Meta title (page title)
  • Meta description
  • Review Snippet (similar to featured snippet)

Why is SEO important?

Search engine optimisation is important simply because it is where almost every potential customer starts the informational search stage of their buying. In a simple sense, the buying journey follows this process:

  1. Need recognition – they become aware of a product or service and develop a need for it
  2. Informational search – they conduct research to find out more about the product or service
  3. Consideration – they consider their options (who has the best price, features, convenience, etc.)
  4. Purchase – they make a purchase of the product or service
  5. Post-purchase – they evaluate how that purchase went – did it meet their needs or not?

Keep in mind that people can enter the journey at different stages, and don’t necessarily follow the journey from 1 – 5. What is important to note, is that the majority of people conduct their informational search through Google, and that’s where you want your business to be in order to engage and develop a relationship with them so that when they are ready to purchase, they will be familiar with your business and more likely to buy from you.

 

Search Engine Optimisation
Benefits Challenges
  • Organic traffic is free (you don’t need an advertising budget)
  • Organic traffic tends to be clicked on  a higher rate than paid ads (give or take the higher volume or organic to paid results that appear)
  • Organic traffic (unpaid traffic from search engines) is commonly associated with informational searches, which is an important point in consumer journey to be engaging with customers
  • Long tail (uncommon) searches make up over 70% of the searches, which have a higher click-through rate and are more easy targetable organically than with Google ads
  • Organic results tend to rank for long periods of time (give or take fluctuations), as opposed to Google ads, which stop displaying when the budget runs out
  • It can take time to rank well for certain keywords
  • Regular updates to Google’s algorithm may affect a websites rankings, which usually requires on-going maintenance
  • Organic searches appear below Paid and Local search results
  • Organic results aren’t very dynamic in the sense that it is more difficult for you to create different ad copies for for different audiences (than it is in Google Ads)

Google Ads

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads (previously known as AdWords) is an online advertising platform, from which you can deliver ads in Google search results, Gmail, YouTube and across the Google Display Network.

Advertising through Google Ads is:

  • Highly measurable and accountable
  • A way to reach your consumers and target audience while they’re active online

Seamless reporting through Google Analytics as part of Google’s business development suite of products means you have complete control and understanding of how your Ads are performing.

How does it work?

Using a pay-per-click (PPC) model of advertising, advertisers are able to input their target audience and phrases to prompt their ads to appear at the right time to the right people.

With Google Ads’ online portal, you design targeting (through keywords and interest groups) and ad copy with a budget that you set. All of these elements can be changed instantly at any time, making it a powerful tool that you have complete control over.

Factors of targeting that can be adjusted include, but are not limited to:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Time of day
  • Day of week
  • Keywords a user searches for
  • Interest groups based on a user’s online behaviour
  • Previous interaction with your brand (e.g. visiting your website or watching a video)

While advertisers can control all of these settings manually, Google has recently been making moves to incorporate automation, AI and smart learning into the Google Ads products. What does this mean for advertisers managing their brand with Google Ads? The role is becoming more strategy-based and knowing how to make the most of these new tools, as opposed to changing nitty-gritty settings, and getting down and dirty in Google Ads’ minutiae.

Types of Google Ads

As mentioned above, Google Ads is the platform used to run ads on:

  • Google Search results
  • Google Display Network
  • Google Shopping Network
  • Gmail
  • YouTube

Let’s take a look at the specifics of each, what they look like and could be used for!

Google Search Ads

This is a Google Search Ad:

Google Ad Example

  • They appear above the organic (unpaid) result
  • They are signified by ‘Ad’ in the top left corner of the advert.

Ad copy and extensions are chosen carefully by the advertiser to convey the message they want in a limited number of characters, in order to capture the attention of users and bring them to their website.

Google’s Search Ads are predominantly used for lead-driven objectives where you want to generate an enquiry or purchase as a result of the ad being seen and clicked.

Google Display Ads

These are all Display Ads:

Display Ad Examples

These will be viewed across the internet on sites that are part of Google’s Display Network, shown to people that meet your targeting criteria.

Display adverts can be comprised of images, animated imagery, text, or a combination of all of the above! Ads can be a singular image/graphic, or dynamically-created by providing images, videos and copy. Where ads are dynamically created, they are automatically optimised by the system to show the best ad for that user (the same goes for text-only Search ads where dynamic copy is chosen).

While Display has traditionally been for driving awareness, recent changes to Google’s automation means that Display can also be used for action-driven objectives like driving leads and enquiries.

YouTube Ads

YouTube Ad Examples

YouTube has grown to one of the most popular social networks of a generation so it makes sense to be harnessing it to reach your audience with powerful visuals.

Ads on YouTube can be skippable or non-skippable, depending on the settings chosen and the desired outcome. You can find out more information about when you would use different types of YouTube ads here >>

Video for YouTube advertising should be front-loaded with a strong message and a hook, differing from TV and other video adverts where there is a long lead up to the brand reveal and call to action. So while the same video material can be used for YouTube as TV, it should be recut to get the best results.

 

Google Ads
Benefits Challenges
  • Traffic can be immediate from launch with a quick lead time from decision to launch.
  • You have control over how much you spend and can adjust it quickly if needed.
  • Search ads capture people actively searching for your product or service.
  • Unlike organic, Google is upfront about how to do better with Google Ads so you can get the results you’re after without too much fuss.
  • Appear above organic results.
  • Control over what your ads say and how your brand is presented, unlike organic which can pull any information and may not put your best foot forward.
  • Traffic is paid for.
  • Users may be reluctant to click on ads over organic results.
  • Competitors are always evolving their strategies and Google is always tweaking their systems, so it requires regular maintenance to stay in tip-top shape.
  • Once you stop your ads from running, you see the impact immediately. With organic if you stop maintaining your SEO you will still see the impact for some months before it tapers off.

Facebook & Instagram

What are Facebook & Instagram?

Facebook and Instagram advertising are paid ads that will appear on a range of placements across the Facebook and Instagram networks. Unless you are boosting a specific page post, adverts will not appear on the pages that they are linked to but will be served to a targeted audience specified by the advertiser.

Of course, there are other social platforms available, but for B2C marketing in Australia, these are the primary options you should consider.

How do they work?

Facebook and Instagram advertising is managed from within Facebook Ads manager. This portal allows you to easily set up campaigns and track progress with comprehensive analytics. During your campaign set up, you will set a budget and you will be charged per result you achieve (i.e Per ad click). The quantity and cost of your results will be impacted by a number of factors including the objective of your campaign, the budget set, the size of your target audience, auction bid, schedule and ad creative and messaging.

Facebook will automatically serve your ads to people who are likely to find your content relevant, ensuring you get the most out of your spend. You can define your audience based on criteria such as, but not limited to:

  • Age
  • Interests
  • Geography
  • Re-engage with people who have previously interacted with your business (remarketing)
  • Reach new people who have similar interests to those of your current customers

To get the most out of your campaign, you should regularly check in on performance so that you can make adjustments and look for opportunities to optimise and improve where possible.

When would you use them?

If you have a clear target market in mind who are likely to have regular interactions and a strong presence on these social platforms, then Facebook and Instagram could be a great tools to assist in getting in front of your audience.

Both platforms require strong imagery to stand out and capture audience attention, so if you have a visual product or service then these platforms would be well suited to promoting your brand.

 

Facebook and Instagram
Benefits Challenges
  • Traffic is immediate and campaigns can start generating results in 24 hours.
  • You can “boost” organic posts from as little as $50.
  • Dynamic advert creation means that the system can optimise on your behalf, for the best results.
  • You can target, with micro accuracy, specific groups of people based on location, interests and lifestyles.
  • You need high-quality imagery to get strong results.
  • Feed algorithms have changed in recent years so users interact more with their friends and family and less with brands, meaning that organic content has less reach.
  • Not automatically tagged in a way that Google Analytics can quickly categorise and UTMs must be used to combat this.