Privacy Changes Create Challenges for Google Ads Advertisers

Solutions Ahead Privacy Forward Marketing

Privacy challenges and changes are causing a paradigm shift in advertising. Not only is Google Ads impacted but all online advertising platforms including Microsoft Advertising, AdRoll, and others.

This is a complex topic, but I will work to make it easy to understand. Regulations and expectations have changed. The Chrome browser will be retiring the use of third party cookies in 2022. Many browsers like Firefox and Microsoft Edge are already providing users expanded privacy protection. With Google serving nearly 80% of digital advertising, it and the Google Ad platform will be hurt the most by these new privacy initiatives.

The bottom line is that third party cookies which are being degraded drive conversions as a user travels the web. Knowing more about you and what you share with Google (via cookies) and what browsers record about your activities online – drive conversions for advertisers. Take that away and advertisers will be less relevant to your needs. When advertisers struggle to make conversions and drive sales, Google is impacted as advertising dollars are moved to other advertising products.

81% of internet users this year became more concerned about privacy and personal data. 59% of internet users feel that their privacy is not sufficiently protected by the companies that they do business with. (From the Google Partner seminar on Planning for Privacy-Safe Growth.)

The challenges are real. Google has introduced an initiative to be used in Chrome and is hoping other browsers will embrace it. It is called FLoC Federated Learning of Cohorts. This initiative plans to anonymize data and then group users into clusters which it will use as audiences for ad serving. Already, Microsoft Edge and possibly even Firefox have said they will block FLoC tracking.

The difficulties are real for businesses advertising digitally. With less direct information, that was previously delivered by third party cookie tracking, the less relevant ads will be. Remarketing lists will be smaller as many users will not be able to be tracked.  Fewer conversions will be recorded in the Google Ads control panel to be used by the bidding algorithms to adjust bids to deliver optimized results. There will be less personalization and fewer personalized ad served to you after you have done a recent search for a product.  Google will have limited ability to create audience lists that will be meaningful that can drive additional conversions and sales. The list goes on.

These privacy changes are great for consumers, but for advertisers will require a shift in approach to reach relevant audiences to promote their products and services in a new privacy-safe way.

The key to this new world is the use of first party data. Here are my recommendations.

If you are not collecting email address for interaction with clients through form fills or purchases, you should plan on implementing that right away.

If you are not collecting client emails on a spreadsheet for marketing use, start now. If you are using customer relationship management software you should be downloading and then exporting your properly formatted customer list into Google Ads every six months (Google’s recommendation).

All businesses should be using Customer Match in Google Ads and then layer this audience over all campaigns. This first party data will help the modeling that Google will be doing in your account to help your advertising be more productive.

Review your Google Ads and Google Analytics tags – Google recommends use of the global site tag and an  upgrade to Google Analytics 4. You may want to consider moving to Tag Manager as Consent Mode will be turned on in the USA in the very near future. Add the  Google Tag Assistant to Chrome as an app then visit your website to see what tracking code version you are using now. You may need an updated.

Without data, Google expects to see conversions recorded in Google Ads decline. With data the hit may only be 5% or so. Google has stated that what data it cannot get from first party information, it will model. The less modeling the better.

It is important to know that even with these changes, your website is not impacted or your sales just your advertising. You still get the conversions it is just that the data on the sale or form fill no longer flows to Google Ads as it has before. With bidding algorithms using conversion/lead data to make bidding decisions it simply means that these tools become less effective in controlling costs and bidding effectively.

Overall, I want to express that I am not worried by these changes. In many cases I feel that the increased level of data protection is a good thing for the end user. What we want to do is to help all our advertiser embrace this new privacy environment and work to use that tools that are available to control the impact on their business.

We will be reaching out to our clients with an action plan to help address a number of these changes. Many of our clients have already been approached with a request to refresh customer match lists. More will be contacted in the near future to help them create customer match lists for the first time.

Our recommendation is to simply start by reviewing are you keeping a list of email address for customers and prospects. Can you offer a special download and get an email address in return to start building your first party data list? That is a great place to start.

Our team will guide you through the process in the month ahead with suggestions on steps you can take to have a privacy forward focus for the future.

For more information about McCord Web Services, a Google Partner, please visit our website to learn more about our mission and our services.

Update: as of late 6/24/21 Google announced that is delaying the Chrome cookie update until late 2023 due to advertiser concerns in embracing the new tracking technologies.

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What to Do About a High Bounce Rate Part Two

High Bounce Rate – Continued from Monday April 3, 2017.

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McCord Web Services is a Google Partner.

Dealing with a high bounce rate on your website? Here are my recommendations for what to do to try to solve the problem.

 

First, don’t get spun up. Not every page needs to have a low bounce rate of 40% to 65%. I have found that blog posts and informational articles, which may be driving traffic to your website, may also have a high bounce rate.

If this is the case, I recommend the following actions:

Put the page to work for you. Feature your newsletter subscription link, video links, and even AdSense advertising ads on those high traffic, yet high bounce rate pages. Understand that they are doorways into your site and work to market your own site on these pages with banners, icons, and interactivity like video embeds.

Second, if you have content and service pages that are really meaningful to your business and they have a bounce rate in the high 70%’s, I would tag them for a content review.

If this is the case, I recommend the following actions:

Review your meta tags, you may be getting traffic that is not targeted to your page content. Review your meta title and meta description tags. Do they make sense based on the content of the page? Should they be updated to be more reflective of what the reader will find when they click in?

Review your page content with a careful eye for detail. Are you supplying content that is engaging or just supplying information. Do you have a call to action on the page, do you have links to your contact form, are you using an app like Drift to get the person online chatting with you, are you addressing a pain point and supplying solutions with related information on other pages drawing the reader in farther to your content?

Are you driving untargeted Google AdWords traffic to your page and paying for a click where what you are offering on your page does not match keywords that are being triggered? As AdWords experts find out more about our programs to solve this issue.

We offer professional by the hour content consulting and website content writing services. I invite you to visit my website to learn more about how we can help you to lower a high bounce rate on your website.

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What to Do About a High Bounce Rate Part One

Bounce rate is determined to be high if it is over 75%, however there can be acceptable reasons for a high bounce rate, but a high bounce rate does  require careful review.

What is the Bounce Rate?

What's your page bounce rate? Is it too high?
What’s your page bounce rate? Is it too high?

The bounce rate is recorded for you in Google Analytics by page in the Behavior section > Site Content section, and as a site average on the overview page.

 

Several years ago the average and target bounce rate for a good website was 46.9%. Now with more users on mobile devices, the bounce rate has skyrocketed.

Google states that this drastic change to bounce rate is due in part to the fact that mobile users may start a search on your site and move to a desktop to finish up a review or purchase. Page views have also decreased in this same time period from over 3 or so pages viewed per session to now about 1.5 pages per session – all driven by mobile activity.

Identifying a High Bounce Rate

To address a website’s high bounce rate, knowledge is power.  First, it is important to understand what causes a high bounce rate.

  1. You’ll get a high bounce rate if the page content does not engage the reader. This is a good flag to review your page and consider additions, video, additional links to other information.
  2. You’ll get a high bounce rate if the content is not what the reader was looking for. This is a good flag to review your content, your meta tags, and your paid advertising.
  3. You’ll get a high bounce rate if you supplied the content the reader wanted and they had no need to go further. It is not uncommon to see how bounce rates on articles and blog posts.

What Should You Do Next?

You’ll want to look at the pages that have a high bounce rate score and identify if changes should be done to the content. Check out my Wednesday post this week for the continuation of this article.

 

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What Should You Watch in Google Analytics

Educate yourself on the value of monitoring your site in Google Analytics.
Educate yourself on the value of monitoring your website in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a free tool from Google. Insert a small snippet of code in your website files and statistical tracking starts immediately. Over time you can start to identify important trends that you can use to leverage exposure for your business.

Here Are the Areas I Watch in Google Analytics

1. Audience on Left > Overview
Use this page to identify the overview of what is happening on your website from total visits, unique sessions, to time on page and bounce rate.

2.  Audience on Left > Mobile > Overview
Use this page to monitor the technology people are using to visit your website. Monitor the percentage of mobile devices and desktops.  Make sure you are aware of the technology used when visiting your site so you can make sure you are catering to your reader trends.

3. Behavior on the Left > Site Content > All Pages
Use this page to identify the top visited pages of your website.  On this page I monitor my bounce rate by page of content. Where I have a high bounce rate I may want to review my content to make sure it is targeted and concise. Too high of a bounce rate may indicate that AdWords is not targeted enough for you (if you are using AdWords to drive traffic to your website) or that the reader simply did not quickly find the information that they wanted.

4. Behavior on the Left > In Page Analytics
Use this page to actually see an overlay of your own website pages with click traffic indicators and link popularity over the links and navigation of your pages. You can navigate through your entire website. I use this page to identify if I have hot sections of my website or sections that don’t get much attention.

If you need help understanding what is important on your own website and how you may be able to improve site traffic, make sure to review our services for site evaluation.

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Keyword Blackout in Google Analytics Makes It Hard to Know Your Traffic

Over six months ago, Google announced that for users signed into their Google account using https:// at Google.com Google, would no longer have their search terms or activity shown in Google Analytics. Matt Cutts at that time mentioned that this would not be a big impact for website analysis but would however provide secure searches for users.

Fast forward now about six months, and if you are like me, in Google Analytics I cannot see upwards of 54% of my website traffic’s search keywords. That’s no small number! So, what’s a website owner to do to understand what is happening on his or her website and to try to know what keywords are popular to your web presence.

Here are three things you can to to try to get more keyword data:

1. Make sure to link your Google Analytics account with your Google Webmaster control panel account and verify your access. When you do this, Google Analytics will show more keyword information under the Search Engine Optimization links from the left side bar. Although this is simply not as much data as before, it does give you additional insight into the traffic and keywords popular for your website.

2. In Google Analytics add query parameters to you can track activity on your own site search function. This article found at SiteProNews written by Nell Terry explains how to do just that; track searches in Analytics.

3. Advertise on Google AdWords for keyword and conversion keyword discovery. Using AdWords, and if you link your AdWords account to Google Analytics the data will flow into the section called traffic and then advertising and will give you more keyword insights.

Unfortunately with keyword blackout in Google Analytics, and the “not set” descriptor, even site owners find it hard to understand what keywords are driving search traffic. However, these tips will allow you to glean a little bit more knowledge into what is driving your own traffic so you can further evaluate activity and change accordingly.

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Web Page Bounce Rate Explained and What to Do About a High Rate

Website page bounce rate is defined by Wikipedia as ” the percentage of visitors who enter the site and ‘bounce’ (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.” You can view your own website bounce rate figures on the “Audience Overview” link in Google Analytics. As a point of reference, Google Analytics reported that last year the average global bounce rate was 46.9%.

If you look at your own website and see a bounce rate figure like mine (which is 84.95%) don’t get worked up. The most important next step is to go to the “Content”  link and select “Site Content” and then “Pages” in Google Analytics to see where the truth to your bounce rate lies.

In my own personal case, I have been writing for my website and adding white papers and instructional how-to’s since 2001. I have some interesting free content that I offer such as how to change your signature in Outlook, how to set up multiple email accounts in Outlook, how to create an address group in Outlook, and many other similar topics that are not focused on my own services. Many of these pages get several thousand unique visitors each month but are associated with high bounce rates. I have provided these special pages in my website as link bait and traffic multipliers, but as a result some of these high traffic pages have boosted my website’s aggregate average bounce rate.

In my case, important service pages in my website do have bounce rates that track closer to the global average of 46.9% or are lower.  What I feel is more important to mature websites, such as my own, is to evaluate the bounce rate on a per page basis. That being said, once you have identified high traffic pages in your own website, use those pages to drive social media traffic by encouraging Facebook likes, newsletter subscriptions or consider putting banners advertising your own services on them to try to take advantage of the high one time traffic. You may be able to convert some of these one-time visitors at least into newsletter subscribers.

Although I want to continue to offer some informational content for free, I have started to try to put these pages to work for me so that I get a benefit from the traffic while trying to move some of these visitors into helping to promote my name through social networking. You don’t necessarily want to remove these high bounce rate pages from your website, but instead need to identify what they are and then use them to your long term strategic advantage. Google likes authoritative, informational, high traffic websites and rewards them with organic search placement, but it is still important to keep a careful eye on your bounce rate just to make sure important pages aren’t slipping into irrelevancy.

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