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Can You Guess What Was The Most Shared AdWords Content In 2015?
Columnist Frederick Vallaeys recaps the hottest AdWords articles of the year based on social share data from BuzzSumo. How many have you read?
With 2015 wrapping up, let’s take a look at what articles related to AdWords got the most social sharing activity. I used BuzzSumo to look up the combined number of shares on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. Judging by the most shared articles, here’s what people in the PPC world thought was noteworthy in the past year.
AdWords is constantly changing, and while most updates seem to get a shockingly low number of social shares — for example, an article about AdWords Scripts support for shared negative lists was shared just 31 times — there were a few topics that stood out and got thousands of shares.
This new type of audience list was the most shared new feature in AdWords (shared 7,500 times) and also one of the top shared topics about AdWords in general.
One of AdWords’ strengths has always been its ability to target searchers at the moment of relevance when they’re searching for the right keyword. Now, with Customer Match, targeting gets even better by layering in who the user is. With Customer Match, advertisers can show different ads or set different bids for a user who’s already in their sales pipeline or who’s already purchased from their site in the past.
It seems that at least once a year, Google rolls out an update that requires all advertisers to make a big change to how they work with AdWords. In 2013, that was Enhanced Campaigns; in 2014, it was the change to how exact match keywords worked; and in 2015, it was Upgraded URLs, a change to how destination URLs work.
Because this was a change that every advertiser had to think about (even if they decided to leave their URLs as they were), this launch understandably picked up a lot of social sharing activity.
Over 25 percent of small businesses still don’t have a website, according to this study. In states like Colorado, that number is even higher, according to Google. That’s why it’s no surprise that the introduction of Call-Only ads was a big deal. Now, even small businesses who just need more calls can use AdWords without having to make a website first.
Nearby Businesses Ads
Continuing in the vein of better experiences for mobile users and new ways for local businesses to drive more traffic, the new mobile ad format that shows nearby businesses based on location extension data got shared quite a bit on social networks, as well.
Location In Ad Customizers
Staying on the topic of local, but with a slant towards power users, the ability to add location targeting data to Ad Customizers was another much-shared new AdWords feature in 2015. It makes it easier to show different ads based on where the user is located. This was previously possible by creating separate campaigns with different targeting, but that could become cumbersome.
Keywords are the original targeting method of AdWords, and while there were no major changes to how they work in 2015, they still were the topic of some of the most shared content.
With CPCs rising another 5 percent year over year in Q3, according to RKG|Merkle’s quarterly Digital Marketing Report, talking about how expensive some keywords have become was the topic of a WebPageFX and SEMrush collaboration on the 100 most expensive keywords on Google.
Reminiscing about my Google days for a moment, I remember the product meeting at Google when we realized that a $100 CPC limit was too low because in certain verticals, like legal, some advertisers were using exchange rate fluctuations to bid more than $100 so that they could outrank their competition.
Because AdWords runs all auctions in USD, the front-end fields for entering bids were capped at roughly the equivalent of US $100 in every local currency. But because it doesn’t make sense to frequently change the maximum bid that is allowed to be entered in the interface, over time advertisers in one currency were able to place higher bids than those in other currencies because the exchange rates had diverged.
Now, “San Antonio Car Wreck Attorney” carries a price tag of $670.44 per click, according to the study, and is considered the most expensive keyword on AdWords.
Coming up with great new keywords usually relies on either analyzing query data or using algorithms to do some semantic analysis. For those who like Google’s approach in their Keyword Planner tool, Moz reveals some of the tool’s secrets — like how it has 85 buckets of estimated volume, making the data a bit less reliable than some may have expected.
While basic for loyal readers of this site, another popular post in 2015 reminds advertisers that queries and keywords are not the same thing.
Not many posts about display ads got a lot of attention in 2015, based on how often these articles were shared, but there were two that I could find that broke the 1,000-share count.
The post announcing that Google converts Flash ads to HTML5 automatically was probably mostly shared because it signaled another nail in the coffin for Flash, and not so much because advertisers were excited. This news should still be exciting for display advertisers because it opens up all the inventory on devices and browsers that don’t support Flash, including any website viewed on iOS devices.
Also important to advertisers (and frequently shared) was the news that AdWords will only charge CPM for ads that are viewed. Paying only for what you get is a basic tenet of PPC advertising, so this was certainly good news for brand-focused advertisers who prefer paying CPMs.
Metrics & Conversions
The measurability of AdWords remains one of its key strengths, and some of the most shared content related to how Google deals with conversions and other metrics.
To help justify the aforementioned rise in CPCs, Google’s update about what types of conversions can be tracked, like “store visits,” picked up almost 6,000 social shares.
While not as widely talked about as the forced migration to final URLs, there were changes to the definition of “Conversions” that required advertisers to change how they think about them. For example, “Conversions (many-per-click)” are now simply called “Conversions” and include all conversions for which the advertiser selects to count them.
The ability to choose which conversions to use for bid management has existed in AdWords for some time, but it’s getting more prominence with this update. Conversions now also appear as fractional values because AdWords is preparing for changes to how attribution works that could cause certain types of conversions to only receive a fractional value. These changes will make AdWords data more useful for making the right optimization decisions.
Another post that’s too basic for readers of this site but that nonetheless gained a lot of traction through shares on Facebook listed the top 5 AdWords metrics to monitor daily.
Rounding out some of the most shared posts about AdWords are an article and infographic about AdWords turning 15, which got around 3,400 shares, and my own post about the secrets to AdWords success which got just under 3,000 shares and was the 14th most shared article related to AdWords in 2015. Since I’ve now reached my own post in this roundup, I will end my final post of 2015 here and leave you with my goal for 2016, which is to break back into the top 10 so that next year my end-of-year roundup can be shorter.
Happy holidays, and thanks for reading and sharing my posts in 2015!
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.