I recently had my 100th post published on the Crazy Egg blog. (In case you’re interested, here’s my first, published in 2012.) For me, that’s quite a milestone, as it’s the most posts I’ve written on someone else’s blog. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. In celebration, I’m recapping some of the most successful posts […]
We all love a good wallpaper to polish up our desktops. So to provide you with fresh artwork on a regular basis, we embarked on our desktop wallpaper mission seven years ago. Each month we challenge you, the design community, to get your creative juices flowing and produce some interesting, beautiful and creative wallpapers. And, well, it wasn’t any different this time around.
Just like every month, designers and artists from across the globe challenged their artistic abilities and contributed their designs.
If you want to be successful with PPC ads, you need to demonstrate that you understand what prospects are looking for and serve up a relevant ad experience to match.
If you fail to communicate a cohesive message or fulfill the promise you make with your ad, you could face some nightmarish consequences. (Even scarier than that time you accidentally sent out a marketing email with the intro “Hey <FIRST_NAME>.”)
To avoid an ad spend disaster, you want your PPC ads to be hyper relevant.
Relevance ensures you get the clicks you deserve, people find what they need, Google trusts your page (because you deliver what you say you do), and you earn a high Quality Score. Your ads could also cost less and earn better placement.
Fortunately – as we learned in a recent Unwebinar with Bloom Search Marketing’s Martin Perron and Andrew Alkhouri – you can convey relevance from ad to landing page by using AdWords Keyword Insertion. Even better? You can use this AdWords feature in combination with Dynamic Text Replacement (DTR) in Unbounce to extend the same relevance through to your landing page.
Keyword Insertion (the feature formerly known as Dynamic Keyword Insertion) is an advanced AdWords feature that allows you to create an ad that responds to search queries and updates based on Keywords in a specific ad group.
In other words, you can swap out your ads’ headline or description text based on the keywords prospects actually search for.
This feature is helpful because it takes less time to set up than creating separate ads for each possible query, but also because everyone searches Google differently. While one person might search for “Halloween house,” another might search for “Halloween castle”; still another might look for “ Halloween activities.”
If you set up Keyword Insertion correctly, you can appear as an exact match for each of these terms (your headline or description text keywords will swap) and more searchers will see your offer as especially relevant to their needs.
Selecting especially relevant keywords
As Martin pointed out in the webinar, the first step in setting up Keyword Insertion correctly is to decide on the most worthwhile keywords for your business, with the help of Google’s Keyword Planner.
As an example, let’s say you just published a landing page offering 15% off tickets to your annual Halloween attraction, the “ACME Haunted Castle,” and now you need to drive some traffic to your new page.
Ideally, you want some PPC ads to appear when someone searches Google for keywords like “Halloween House,” “Haunted Mansion,” and “ACME Castle,” for example, because people actively searching for these terms are demonstrating high purchase intent (they already know what they’re looking for), and are far more likely to click through from your ad to landing page and convert.
To get started, you’d navigate to the planner from the tools menu in your AdWords account:
Then, type in search terms relevant to your campaign.
Here Google will indicate the popularity of the suggested keywords. You’ll see the average monthly search numbers, how competitive a keyword is, and even suggested bids.
As Martin warns, not all of the suggested keywords will be a perfect match for what you offer, so be selective and ask yourself if each term is truly connected to your business.
Select the type of keywords that’ll work for Keyword Insertion
When setting up your ad, you can choose from four different types of keywords: exact match, phrase match, broad match, and modified broad match. In the webinar, Martin focused on exact and phrase match (but you can read about all four types here):
Exact match, as it sounds, ensures that your ad is only displayed when the user’s query matches your keyword exactly (i.e. “Haunted Castle”)
Phrase match applies to search queries with extra words either before or after the keyword. Phrase match would allow your ad to appear when someone searches “Best Haunted Castle,” or “Haunted Castle in Montreal,” for example.
When using Keyword Insertion, it’s best to stick with exact and phrase match as these types of keywords provide precise targeting and can help you attract those with a clearer idea of what they are searching for (i.e. quality leads more likely to convert). These types of keywords also prevent you from having misspelled or misplaced words in your ads.
Using broad or modified broad match can make your keywords appear out of intended order in your final ads, leading to some wonky headlines like this.
Once you’ve selected some exact and phrase match keywords to use, you’ll add the keywords to your ad group. At Bloom Search Marketing, Martin noted that he tends to use ad groups containing about 15-20 keywords per group.
As a rule of thumb, if you can swap out one keyword for another in the same ad and still have it make sense, then you’ve got a good group of keywords for a single ad group.
Pay close attention to the search terms used in conjunction with keywords related to your business, because they can say a lot about the searcher’s intent.
For example, someone searching for “Halloween costume ideas” is likely to be in the research phase, whereas someone searching for, “Halloween vampire costume” could be ready to buy.
Different sets of keywords with different intent will require their own ad group, ad, landing page and offer to match.
Adding Keyword Insertion to your text ad
Once you’ve selected the keywords you want to target and have added them to an ad group, it’s time to build your ads.
In your ad group, click the big red “+AD” button to get started writing a new text ad.
From there, you can enter your copy.
Add the Keyword Insertion feature by adjusting the headline using the syntax Google recognizes: “KeyWord: Default Text.” (Make sure to replace “Default Text” with something generic that will appear if none of the other keywords do).
Dynamic Text Replacement: Serve up a relevant landing page
Finally, you’ll add the URL for the landing page your ad will direct to.
DTR allows you to swap out the text on your landing page – so that your ads and landing page will present exactly what visitors searched for.
Clicked an ad about a Haunted House? That’s what you’ll find in the landing page headline! This allows you to ensure that your prospect is seeing an exact match to their query, from the ad all the way to the landing page headline.
Maintaining this sort of message match increases conversions because it reassures people they’ve come to the right place.
If you’re using a landing page with DTR, make sure you update with the URL containing the DTR parameter, like this:
In this screenshot, “Haunted+Castle” corresponds to the name of the list of keywords in that ad group. “Haunted House” corresponds to the default text that would be swapped out if none of the other keywords in that ad group appear.
Anyone else fed up of hearing about shopping cart abandonment? Me too. So why, you might ask, am I writing this piece on the very topic we’re all so fed up of? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s because, as far as I can see, the general advice given on shopping cart abandonment is a […]
It can be done by a single person in just one day, all with free tools from Google and a bit of research.
It all starts with finding out what people are already looking for.
Use Google Keyword Planner to assess demand for content
One of the “fairy tales of content marketing” that Dan described is that producing content is an art that is informed primarily by gut instinct. But as Dan put it:
If no one is looking for your content, no one will read the content you write.
So how do you write the kinds of content that your target audience is looking for?
Google’s Keyword Planner is a powerful go-to tool for pay-per-click marketers, who use it to measure search volume for specific keywords and plan their campaigns. But it’s not only useful for PPC. Dan explained that it can be used to learn what kinds of content your prospective audience is demanding in just a few simple steps:
Enter keywords relating to your product and industry. This includes the names of competitors or types of services that might overlap with yours.
Create a list of the highest-volume keywords. Google will let you know the monthly average searches for every term you search. Depending on how niche your subject matter is, what constitutes an acceptable level of traffic will vary, but Dan sets the threshold for content that people care about at 10,000 monthly searches minimum.
These high-volume keywords form the core of your content direction, since it’s the type of content that your audience is likely to search for.
Generate keyword ideas based on the highest-volume keywords. Take the list of high-volume keywords you created and enter them into the Keyword Planner under Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category. Google will use its omniscient cloudmind to discover related keywords and hand them back to you.
Working these keywords into your content will be critical for generating organic traffic. But the research doesn’t end here; the keywords are just the key.
Generate even more keywords with predictive search results
Now that you have your list of totally-targetable keywords, it’s time to check out the competitive landscape with some good old Googling. But make sure you’re using Incognito mode, or whatever your browser’s private browsing mode is called: Google personalizes search results based on your history, and you don’t want that interfering with your research.
You can then start performing searches of your keyword list, and you’ll realize something wonderful happens: Google will tell you exactly how people are phrasing their searches by displaying the most popular searches as recommendations.
This is the information that will inform you on what specific subjects people are interested in. After all, “analytics” is just a keyword, but “how to add google analytics to WordPress” is nearly a fully-formed post idea.
Plus, knowing exactly what people are searching for will also let you know exactly what they find.
Content audit your competitors
This is one of the most time-consuming aspects of crafting your content strategy, but it’s also one of the most important. If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, how can you out-do them?
Dan suggests performing searches using your list of keywords and the recommended search phrases, and take note of what pieces of content appear on the first page of results. Then:
Read the three most recent articles on the first page. You’re likely to see articles that are anywhere from a few months to many years old. Focus on the most recent ones.
Write down three things that suck about each of them. And that doesn’t mean poor formatting or ugly images (though those are important to get right). This is not about being self-congratulatory, but about finding opportunities to capitalize on. If there’s some crucial fact or brilliant revelation missing from your competitors’ content, you want it to be in yours.
Then write down three ways your content piece could be better. This can be elaborating on a subject that your competitors glazed over, introducing a new bombshell piece of information, or experimenting with formatting in a way that makes content more engaging.
But you don’t have to stop here. By combining your keyword research with defined goals based on your audience’s needs, you can extrapolate your keyword research into even more content ideas.
Create new content ideas based on your keyword research
These are the tactics that Effin Amazing used when they took on client ChupaMobile, a marketplace for app templates that can be re-skinned and released as new apps. Ultimately, they formed four core blog topics addressing the wants and needs of their audience:
Hiring a mobile developer
How to launch a mobile app
How to make money from apps
Building apps with no code
And with the knowledge of both the highest volume keywords and the specific phrases used to search those keywords, they were able to create a series of blog post ideas addressing exactly the questions people were searching for.
And you can do the same.
Combining all of the previous research you’ve done, you’ll now have both a clear list of both which existing pieces of content you need to compete with and what types of new content to create to attract your target audience.
Converting through content, via landing pages
Once you’re growing traffic through smart content production, what do you do with it? Is there a clear pathway from your content to conversion?
Dan recommends an approach we also use here at Unbounce: designating a specific piece of gated content (like an ebook) per post, building a landing page for each, and directing to those landing pages with various calls to action in each post, like at the end of the post or with an exit intent overlay.
It’s not about exerting pressure, but about creating an opportunity. If you don’t ask, you cannot receive. Create great content, link to relevant “content upgrades” with dedicated landing pages, and nurture the leads you collect from said content. (You can learn more about the nurturing part in the full webinar.)
The white-hat school of growth hacking
Dan ended his webinar with this quote:
Growth hacking isn’t one tactic; it is how you string tactics together and automate them. That’s how you create growth!
“Growth hacking” is a term that has always made me bristle. The word “hack” implies a shortcut or workaround, an easy path to success.
But if the term is to stick around, I feel pretty happy with this interpretation of it. One that views growth not as just a series of quick wins, but of building a sustainable strategy based on data; a definition that benefits our businesses as much as it benefits our readers, prospects and customers.
What’s going on in the industry? What new techniques have emerged recently? What insights, tools, tips and tricks is the web design community talking about? Anselm Hannemann is collecting everything that popped up over the last week in his web development reading list so that you don’t miss out on anything. The result is a carefully curated list of articles and resources that are worth taking a closer look at. — Ed.
My friend Tobias told me of an interesting approach a few weeks ago. If you work on a big project with a team, just force all developers to delete the project before they leave on Friday, and have them reinstall and set it up every Monday morning (or every other week). This way, you’ll ensure that the process of onboarding people and the whole project’s setup is as simple as possible. And you will love it if the server crashes and you can set up the whole thing again within a couple of minutes. Now, enjoy this list and have a great weekend!
Many of us struggle silently with mental health problems and many more are affected by them, either directly or indirectly. It’s Geek Mental Help Week and we would like to help raise awareness with a couple of articles exploring these issues and offering solutions. – Ed.
Everywhere we go, from ground to sky, we are surrounded by noises. Cars, planes, trains and people are just a few examples of what can be heard throughout any city or town. These noises stimulate our ears almost 24 hours a day, and few choices are available to us for avoiding them — one being specialist equipment, such as noise-cancelling headphones. Being aware of the noises around you will increase your comfort and ability to work more efficiently.
This article will help you become more informed about the impact that noise has on your life. We’ll discuss the good and bad sides of noise and sound (yes, they are different), so that you can use both to benefit your personal well-being. We will look into the science behind why we get distracted by noise and how we can reduce and even negate it.
Ah, split testing. We love it. We swear by it. We do it. We tell other people to do it. We learn from it. We read case studies about it. And sometimes, we completely blow it. A/B testing is not quite as easy as buying some software, making some changes, and running a test. If […]
“Emotions have taught mankind to reason.” -Marquis De Vauvenargues Research done in the last 30 years shows that emotions “powerfully, predictably, and pervasively influence decision making” (Lerner et. al.). Recently, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied individuals who were damaged in the area of the brain that generated emotions. When asked, these individuals could not make even […]
This post will introduce you to Flat design, and the advantages it can offer.
Here we go.
What is Flat Design?
It is a design approach that involves creating minimalistic two-dimensional (flat) illustrations for web and mobile interfaces.
Flat design gets rid of unnecessary styling, and elements that give an illusion of three dimensions (such as gradients, textures, and drop shadows). This is in contrast to skeumorphism, another design practice, which involves creating designs that resemble real-life objects.
Flat design is all about crisp shapes, (both) sober and bright colors, and scalable illustrations. Even the fonts used in flat design are sans-serif.
Issues with Flat Design
In its early days, flat design was related too closely to minimalism and mobile-first design. While both these attributes contribute heavily to a successful flat design, they cannot be the only aspect in a flat design.
An example could be found with Windows 8 released by Microsoft. Metro design of Windows 8, considered by some as the pioneer of flat design, had some inherent flaws with it.
Regarding the OS interface (as seen in the above picture), the study says:
“Where can you click? Everything looks flat, and in fact ‘Change PC settings’ looks more like the label for the icon group than a clickable command. As a result, many users in our testing didn’t click this command when they were trying to access one of the features it hides.”
Additionally, the Windows 8 interface was biased towards mobile users. The big colorful rectangular tiles looked sweet on a mobile device. The interface was well-suited for finger gestures on a touch-screen. However, the same tiles on a big desktop monitor looked clumsy. Its usability with a mouse was in question, as well.
Flat Design 2.0
Fixing the usability issues associated with it, flat design has evolved over time. It has moved on from being absolute-flat to semi-flat.
Though the approach of Flat 2.0 is still flat, it employs layers, contrast, and subtle shadows to give a hint of depth in an interface.
Here’s an example:
Now that we are familiar with what Flat design is, let’s look at how it actually helps websites win over users.
Walnut is an expense managing mobile app for individuals. On its website, Walnut is clearly able to display their key differentiators using white space. Surrounded by ample white space, the flat icons and text are able to grab users’ attention, convincing them to try out the app.
Flat design makes it easy to prioritize and highlight content.
Slow loading websites and apps are irritating to use; users bounce away.
When you cannot cut on the content that you need to show to your users, and you still have to keep your website fast, you can either go for low-resolution images and graphics, or use flat design. Flat design seems like an obvious choice here.
Compared to websites that use heavy images and graphics, flat design loads much faster. With the absence of gradients, dark shadows, and other skeuomorphic elements in flat design, the page-load time of a website decreases. Mobile apps, too, perform faster in the same way.
Even from a developer’s perspective, flat design works quicker. It can shorten the code by 30 percent, leading to a lighter CSS stylesheet — further reducing the page-load time.
Moving further. A fast loading website affects the bottom-line of a business. It can actually help increase conversions and revenue for websites.
Fast loading websites can effect a higher number of conversions.
It means when users have spent only 0.05 seconds on a website, they decide whether they like the website or not.
So how does this work? Users can’t possibly go through the content of a site in such a short span.
They judge a website based on its look and feel. Users visit a website, look at its design/UI, and form an opinion about the website.
Flat design can help websites in shaping a favorable first impression on their visitors. Flat design represents a modern design approach. When users visit a website or an app, the modern (even futuristic) look and feel of flat design influences them positively.
More on this.
Flat design is the arguably the biggest design trend at this moment. The giants in the web and mobile industry such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc., have accepted flat design with open arms. Users can take this as a cue, and set flat design as a benchmark for all the websites they visit.
Flat design is the design trend prevailing across web and mobile space, presently. Though best known for improving user experience, flat design has various other benefits to offer: better readability, reduced page-load time, seo advantage, etc. We’ve seen industry giants incorporating flat design and tapping those benefits.
If these benefits make sense to you and your business, (only then) you too should consider branding your website or app with flat design.