Your search history, web browsing, social media habits, and online purchase data is all freely available. But beyond that, much more is known about you by those who know how to find it and are willing to pay for it.

Technology is continually reshaping the digital marketing landscape and paid search continues to evolve as an omnipresent influencer.

It has been well-documented fact that a  visitor will decide whether they will do business with a company within the first 21 seconds of visiting the company’s website.

What do your visitors perceive about your business when they visit your website for the first time?

1. The information on it is old or outdated.

Outdated information on your website can turn new and existing customers away, think you’re located where you’re actually not, you offer more or less than what you do, or that you’re not open when you are. Additionally, the outdated information on your site can (and will) send negative messaging such as “I just don’t care” or, worse, “I’m so busy that I don’t need to try to get your business by having a functional website.

2. Parts of it just don’t work correctly anymore.

The complex computer codes that make up your website don’t just sit there in the same order or configuration . When you make changes to website content, the code changes, too. Breakdowns can cause a site to move slowly, glitch or (most horrifying of all) crash a visitor’s computer. If portions of your site no longer work as intended, it’s time to look at a refresh.

3. Your brand has “evolved” since your website first launched.

Even worse than outdated information on your website is an outdated persona. Businesses and brand identities evolve over time and your website should keep pace. Whether your brand has undergone a complete overhaul or experienced a sea change over the years, your website should reflect your current identity — not who you were at the time the site first went live.

4. Your website lacks a social media presence.

Social media use is huge and ever growing; 65 percent of American adults use social media. Worldwide, more than 2.3 billion people are on social media. It’s a must-have for your website to have social media components, as well as interact well with established social media platforms. Your website needs to make it easy for users to move between social media platforms and your site. If it doesn’t do those things, if it’s static and anti-social (and nobody really likes anything anti-social), it’s time for a refresh.

5. The design is outdated and ugly (#sorrynotsorry).

Someone had to be the one tell you… Your website is ugly.

Multiple studies show that website design heavily influences more than just how a visitor perceives the attractiveness and usability of a website; and it reflects highly on your brand, too. If your design is poorly laid out, visually unappealing or just simply “old school”, incorporating updated and current design elements into a website refresh can breathe new life into how visitors perceive your business and your brand.

6. It’s not mobile-friendly (Really?! Come on… it’s time)

This is not a new thing: We do everything on our phones. Literally EVERYTHING.

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it can be difficult for users to find it in searches conducted through a mobile device. It can make it impossible for users to use your site if they do land on it and can’t read it because it doesn’t adapt for a smaller screen.  Another (very) important note: As of 2015, search engines actually penalize websites that are not mobile friendly, demoting site ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).  Search engines such as Google look to provide users with the most optimal and relevant content when they are searching, so if your site isn’t mobile friendly, Google says you won’t turn up in their search. Which leads to the next two points:

7. You’ve been slipping in search engine rankings.

It can be difficult to know the finer points of what search engines look at when they rank webpages in response to user searches. However, one point is crystal clear: search engines reward quality content. If you’ve been seeing your rankings decline, it may be an indication that the search engines no longer view your website as quality. Dated design, old content and mobile compatibility can contribute to lower search rankings, so refreshing your website could (will) help to improve your search engine ranking.

8. User traffic has been declining.

A decline in traffic to your site could mean it’s no longer as attractive to users as it once was. Taking steps to liven things up could make a big difference for your website traffic.

9. Visitors are moving on very quickly.

Of course, getting people to your website is only part of a website’s overall success. Once visitors arrive, you want them to stay for a while and then take action. If people are finding your page and visiting it, but leaving quickly or leaving without taking your desired action (making a purchase, signing up for your email list and so forth), it may be a sign your website isn’t as “nice” as you think it is.  Optimizing your site for visitor conversion should always be the number one goal; conversions = $$$.

10. Updating your current site is a painful and costly experience.

In the early days of website development, you pretty much needed a supercomputer and an advance programming degree to make changes. Of course, back then, only professionals had the expertise to make the changes for site owners, and paying a professional to design and maintain your site was relatively costly. Today, updating your site is much easier and cost-effective. If making minor changes to yours is still a painful and expensive process, it’s time to look into better, more modern options for your website design, operation, hosting and maintenance.

11. Your competitor is doing a better job than you. 

Hopefully, as a business operator who is savvy with digital marketing, you’re looking at your competition’s websites on a regular basis. If theirs look, work and convert better than yours, it’s time to refresh your website into something that will be able to really compete.

12. Guests need a map to navigate your site. 

According to a 2017 study, the average person has the attention span of eight seconds. If you aren’t getting users what they are looking for in those 8 seconds, POOF– They are gone. Bye, bye.

These studies show that when people land on a website, they want to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. If your site requires users to go through multiple pages or close repeated pop-up prompts before they get to what they want, it’s not performing as well as it should. Navigation should be fast and intuitive, leading visitors smoothly from your landing page to the individual areas within the site that are of interest to them.

A final word about warning signs and solutions

Sometimes, things that start out well can go awry for reasons beyond your control. Other times, initial poor choices lead to the slow (or speedy) demise of something you hoped would be good: you bought that costly sports car because you loved the way you look in it, despite the fact that its consumer reviews all said NO WAY. Just like that, the need for a website overhaul can also stem from initial poor decisions, too.

If you design the website yourself, or hire a “professional” with dubious credentials (e.g., your brother-in-law or the college kid across the street) to do the job, you’ve got a higher chance of needing a thorough redesign sooner. Be smart and cost-effective. Going with an established website design professional can help ensure all the signs you see will be pointing toward website success, rather than impending trouble. You’ve been warned.

There were still many questions about the impact of this sudden change. Here’s a look at several scenarios and changes advertisers might need to consider.

Following last week’s sudden announcement that Google AdWords campaigns may now spend as much as twice the daily budget that advertisers set for their campaigns, many advertisers now find themselves heading into the fourth quarter with some unanswered questions about the implications of this new structure.

The change went into effect on October 4, the same day Google announced it. The impact the change will have on campaign spend depends on several factors. Many advertisers say they or their clients won’t be affected much at all, while others say they will need to make budget-setting changes. Piecing out these scenarios has raised questions we still don’t have clear answers to

The basics:

First, let’s recap the fundamentals that we do know about this change:

  1. It’s aimed at accounting for daily fluctuations in traffic throughout the month: “If your ads don’t show up much because of low traffic, then we’ll make up for that by showing them more when traffic’s higher.”
  2. Previously, Google’s overspend threshold was 20 percent above the daily budget.
  3. For campaigns that run continuously throughout the month with no daily budget changes, advertisers will not be charged more than the “monthly budget limit” (daily budget x 30.4 days). If the campaign does exceed the monthly budget limit, advertisers will be credited for “overderlivery” charges at the end of the month.
  4. For campaigns that do not run an entire month, advertisers will be responsible for paying any “overdelivery” charges, up to 2x the daily budget. That’s because the “monthly budget limit” does not apply in this case. Update: Google says this is highly unlikely to actually happen.
  5. Campaigns that run all month but with budget changes will have the “monthly budget limit” reset to the new daily budget for the remaining days, as it always has.
  6. Note, in addition to changing the daily budget, there are three other changes that will trigger the monthly budget limit to reset: changing the campaign end date; changing the ad delivery mode; or choosing a different time zone for an AdWords account.
  7. There is no way to opt out.

The scenarios

Now, let’s look at some common campaign scenarios and what advertisers could expect from this change.

Scenario 1: Campaign runs the full month and the daily budget is constrained (meaning the advertiser is comfortable with the monthly budget limit)

Implications: This is the the most straightforward scenario. If the campaign spends its daily budget every day for the month, the advertiser pays that amount. If the daily budget overspends on several days, it will eventually even out to the monthly budget limit. Advertisers will not experience any overdelivery charges.

However, not every advertiser is comfortable with or even able to operate on a CPL or CPA target basis in which the goal is to get as many leads or sales as possible within a certain cost per target. Consider this example from the AdWords Community board:

As an HVAC contractor in Southwest Florida, the volume of work frequently exceeds our ability to process it. For this reason, we use a daily budget to limit the amount of incoming sales leads.

In the past, if we wanted more work, we simply increased the budget.

That advertiser will now have to consider that his campaigns may generate up to 2x the number of leads he’s planned for on a given day unless he lowers his budget. Google says that, in general, advertisers will not see additional days of overspending with this change. While lots of businesses want to drive as many leads and conversions as possible within a cost target, this example is not an uncommon one for smaller teams and businesses.

Potential changes needed: In most cases, no changes will be needed, since the daily budgets are not over-set. The advertiser is already prepared to spend the full daily budget each day and won’t be charged more than the monthly budget limit. There will be exceptions like the one detailed above, but Google says if those campaigns haven’t been overspending already they’re unlikely to start doing so as a result of this change.

Senario 2: Campaign runs the full month but daily budgets are unrestricted/not limited

Implications: Again, Google will absorb “overdelivery” charges above 2x the daily budget in this scenario. But the advertiser’s daily budget is already set to account for spiky traffic days. In many of these cases, there’s the expectation that the daily budget will rarely be reached on a daily basis, and the advertiser’s budget may not accommodate reaching that daily budget regularly. Bids and/or automated bidding strategies like Target CPA or Target ROAS are used to constrain spend.

The change won’t likely have an impact on ad delivery or ad spend throughout the month for campaigns that typically never topped out on their daily spend prior to this change, since they were already set to account for days with high interest volume. It’s something to keep an eye on always. From the Google FAQ: If your campaign isn’t limited by budget, your monthly spend will remain the same. There are no changes to how your budget is spent for these campaigns.

Potential changes needed: Monitor these campaigns to see how they are spending. Advertisers on tighter budgets may want to consider resetting daily budgets or adjusting bids and/or ad scheduling to account for the true monthly budget ceiling. Otherwise, expect little to no variation.

Scenario 3: Short-term test and promotional campaigns that don’t run a full month

Implications: Say an underperforming campaign gets paused mid-month, or a free shipping promotion runs for five days. This is when advertisers could find themselves on the hook for up to double their daily budgets. It’s not likely a campaign will overspend, much less by 2x, every day of a campaign, but it could conceivably happen if daily budgets are capped or well under-set. Google says this is highly unlikely.

Potential changes needed: Advertisers need to at least consider the outside possibility of paying up to 2x their daily budget for the duration of the campaign. This is may cause some advertisers to set their daily budgets at roughly half what they had planned and/or to lower bids, with the expectation that the budget will be exceeded regularly and they’ll end up spending the same as the initial budget. Cutting the budget in half will ensure it isn’t exceeded, but it could end up limiting ad delivery and hurting performance.

Scenario 4: Evergreen campaigns that run continuously, but daily budgets change regularly or seasonally

ImplicationsUpdate: It does not depend when the budgets change. There should be no impact because the monthly budget limit formula is the same, with the updated daily budget multiplied by the remaining number of days after a budget change is made. From Google’s FAQ: There’s no change to how adjusting your budget impacts what you’ll be charged for the rest of the month. As before, when you change your budget, your spend for the rest of the month won’t exceed your new average daily budget multiplied by the remaining days in the month.

Potential changes needed: No change should be required. There are also AdWords scripts, for example, to help advertisers automate budget overdelivery settings on a daily basis.

Impact of various optimization settings

Apart from the daily budget setting, there are other machine learning-driven factors advertisers need to consider such as bid strategies and ad rotation settings.

Campaigns set to the new default ‘Optimize’ for clicks ad rotation setting

Implications: The default now is to optimize for more clicks. That means the system will try to maximize ad delivery to people most likely to click on an ad and aim to accumulate as many clicks as the daily budget will allow. That could now be as many clicks as 2x the daily budget will allow on some days.

Campaigns using Maximize Conversions Smart Bidding

Implications: Google says automated bidding is not impacted. My point in mentioning the Maximize Conversions bid automation is that advertisers using it typically think about their budget setting differently than when using, say, Target CPA. The point of Maximize Conversions is to spend the entire daily budget in order to maximize the potential for conversions. Google will be aiming to meet the monthly budget limit, but advertisers using this setting now should consider the impact of potentially larger budget overruns on some days.

General effect on pacing and maximizing spend?

There were still unresolved questions about pacing and how budgets will be affected throughout the month, too.

The knee-jerk and not always unreasonable reaction when Google makes a change like this is that it’s more about Google’s bottom line than maximizing advertiser performance. In my initial coverage of this change, I laid out why I think the underlying thought behind it makes sense, but that the execution and messaging about it has been problematic — and seems detached from a connection to advertisers.

Additionally, there are still not great answers to questions about how pacing will be handled: (Responses now provided below)

What happens if a campaign overspends consistently in the early part of the month? Will the system pull back on ad delivery later in the month to come closer to or within the “monthly budget limit?” If that happens, advertisers might need to increase their daily budgets to counter this effect. Google says it is not possible to spend an entire monthly budget in the first half of the moth: Overdelivery provides flexibility during traffic fluctuations and isn’t intended to spend your budget quickly. Before the change, it was unlikely that you experienced 20% overdelivery every day and spent your entire budget for the month by day 25. Our algorithm continues to make sure your ads are delivered throughout the month by taking into account your past spending within the billing cycle. 

Or conversely, what if a campaign is coming well under the “monthly budget limit” in the latter part of the month? Will the system put ad delivery in hyper-drive to try to hit the “monthly budget limit?” This may not be problematic, but of course depends on the quality of that traffic. Google says that yes this will happen, with the aim being to meet the monthly budget target and that the algorithm also takes into account past spending within the billing cycle. 

And how will Google treat pacing in short-term campaigns that have an end date set? Here, the system “knows” the monthly budget limit won’t apply and that advertisers will be responsible for paying up to 2x their daily budgets. Is that what it will optimize for? I don’t think it will work this way, and Google would probably say that’s tinfoil hat talk, but it’s at least plausible and needs to be considered. Google says this won’t happen and that the algorithm isn’t designed to spend budget quickly but to meet the target budget — the daily budget x the number of days — over the course of the campaign. 

Will ‘campaign total budget’ roll out to other campaign types?

Google already offers a campaign total budget option that’s “currently” only for video campaigns that have a fixed start and end date, which I, for one, would like to see roll out to other campaign types, particularly in light of this change. When a video campaign is set with a campaign total budget, the system will account for higher-interest days while aiming to come in close to budget when the campaign ends. Advertisers are not responsible for overdelivery charges above the campaign total budget when a campaign ends. Per a Help Center page: “With a campaign total budget, you’ll only be billed up to the amount you enter for a campaign, even if AdWords serves more views or impressions than your budget allows.”

This option, along with the ability to set a monthly budget limit, would give advertisers more control over budget management while still allowing the algorithms to respond to the ebbs and flows of interest volume. Neither of these options seem likely to happen. In the meantime careful monitoring and automation through scripts and other tools can help advertisers maintain spending controls.

Originally posted  by Ginny Marvin on October 11, 2017 at 9:00 am at Search Engine Land

People prefer a customized experience. We no longer have only three TV channels that contain a little bit of everything- We have networks dedicated to cooking, survival skills, crime and any other topic imaginable.

The same goes for search engines. Users are looking for something more tailored to their interests. Something like… VERTICAL SEARCH.

But wait- What Is Vertical Search?

Vertical search is similar to universal search, except that a vertical search engine focuses  on a specific category, media type or genre of content.

Google is a universal search engine. It searches horizontally across different topics and media to find the best suited response for the user. When you do a search for “stars” in Google, you’re going to get a huge string of results, ranging from astrology, celebrities in Hollywood, the Dallas Stars hockey team and more.

Why This Is Important for EVERYTHING

The information on the internet is growing at a rapid pace. From 1 small website in 1991 to 4.73 billion pages in 2015, the amount of content out there seems unlimited (because it is). But when it comes to one general search engine, the ability to find all of it is limited.

Think about this: let’s assume you have a client meeting five hours away. It’s too far to drive there and back in one day so your employer suggests you stay in a hotel. Are you going to search in Google to reserve the room? Doubtful. You are most likely going to search on a specialized engine like Kayak or Hotwire because you already know what you’re looking for and where to find it. In order to reserve that hotel room, you’re skipping over Google completely and going directly to the source.

Google already utilizes its own vertical search features like image, video, and local.  The top 3-result group listing at the top of SERPs is an excellent example of vertical search.

Even though Google is a general search engine, they know that being able to search within a specific category is just as important for user satisfaction. So when we search for “restaurants near me” Google wants to give me a list a highly reviewed restaurants, not just results of publishers’ compiled lists of top 10 restaurants that might be located 10-20 miles away.

How Does It Affect My SEO?

As is the nature of the beast, there’s an upside and a downside to optimizing for vertical search:

The Bad News :(

To take full advantage of vertical search, you’ll have to submit your website to many specialized search engines. For example, if you sell houses, you’ll want to have an account on Trulia that is decked out with descriptions, beautiful images and contact information. You might also want a Houzz account and some profiles on sites relevant to your housing locations. It’s more work upfront, but the exposure you’ll get will be worth it in the end.

The Good News :)

As vertical search continues to grow in use, there are other options for getting your website in front of people. Niche product websites and vertical search engines provide additional opportunity to get discovered by new people (funny how that works, huh?).

Since Google uses vertical search, that’s a bit of good news for you as well- As long as you continue to optimize your site for Google, you get to take advantage of their specialized search features as as your campaign is optimized.

How To Optimize:

To optimize your website and its content for vertical search, think about what people are searching for on a regular basis and how that ties back into your business.

local search directories




1. Local Directories

Even if you don’t have a small business, it’s important that people can find you when they search for your company or a branch through Google or a directory. Make sure your business is listed in the following local directories:

(Big note: Be sure to update your business info if you relocate or make big changes)

2. Niche Sites

Pay attention to your industry. Are there online news publications, apps, social networks or other kind of sites targeting your industry? I’m sure there are. For example, Foursquare for restaurants, Houzz for housing and interior design, ThomasNet for manufacturers, UnTapped for the beer lovers… the list goes on. Don’t miss out on that party! The members and readers of those pages/apps are looking for everything you offer.

3. Images

This shouldn’t be a surprise: 65% of the population are visual learners. Do you know what that means? You should always optimize your images! All search engines use image information (file name, alt text, location, etc.) to determine which images are best to display to the searcher. They’re especially important for your local listings since 60% of consumers give more consideration to local results that have images.

4. Shopping

If you have an ecommerce site, you absolutely need to optimize for vertical search engines because this is the most competitive market.

About 44% of US online shoppers go to Amazon when looking to buy a product. Otherwise, 34% use search engines like Google and only 21% go directly to a retailer’s website to start their product search. So, on top of optimizing your own product pages, you have two good choices for getting your products on the big guys’ websites:

  1. Set up an account and get your products listed on Amazon, Google Shopping and Ebay.
  2. Advertise your products on those sites.

Remember how  65% of people are visual? Keeping that stat in mind, you want to consider advertising via the Google Display Network. It allows you target your audience with text, image or video ads and place the ads on websites that are relevant to your products. If you want to to be sure you are spending optimally on your Adwords campaign, let us take a look so we can help you see if there are any holes or areas that need improvement.