The Importance of SEO – NMPi by Incubeta partners with Alibris

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is often overlooked by advertisers for the ‘quick wins’ that paid media can offer. Whilst a PPC campaign does have its advantages, it’ll only get you so far, and disregarding the benefits reaped by SEO could come at a major detriment to advertisers. With approximately 75% of searchers ignoring paid advertisements on the SERP (choosing to focus solely on the organic results), identifying how Google crawls your site, and optimising your website to compliment Google’s algorithms has never been so important. 

Here is an example of the impact that SEO can have on your site, and how NMPi by Incubeta helped online book merchant Alibris obtain actionable recommendations to help improve their website’s performance. 

Server Log Reporting for Alibris.

Alibris is an online store that sells new books, used books, out-of-print books, rare books, and other media through an online network of independent booksellers. Due to the nature of Alibris’ separate mobile and desktop configuration, it was not possible to emulate how Google crawls their website.  Having access to this data is fundamental to the SEO process as it would allow us to identify any indexing issues Alibris was having, and implement solutions to fix them which would boost their product ranking on the SERP.  Even Google’s own analytical platforms such as Google Search Console couldn’t provide Alibris with a clear, single source of truth when analysing their website’s crawlability. NMPi by Incubeta was tasked with determining how often the website (both mobile and desktop) was being accessed by various web crawlers and agents (including Google’s own web crawlers). 

Without the availability of this data through Alibris’s analytics platforms,  NMPi by Incubeta had to access the logs kept by their cloud security company, CloudFlare. These logs generate over 100 million rows of data every single week, and the report we created needed to be updated in near real-time, which involved storing and processing large quantities of data. We used Google’s BigQuery database to hold the gigabytes of data for processing and Google’s DataStudio service to handle the reporting. We then partnered with Incubeta’s technology team to partner up to produce a server log report.

The problem we faced was that CloudFlare purged its data fairly regularly. We had a good source of fresh data within the logs, but no historical data. This meant that the report was unable to show any historical trends. To combat this we worked with the client to gain access to their web server logs. The data stored in these logs weren’t purged often, so we were able to find enough information here to satisfy our historical data requirements. However, the web server logs didn’t store data in a “clean” manner, so when we tried to import a sample directly to BigQuery, the import job failed. We had to spend time writing rules that identified what the errors were, so that we could fix them in the huge raw files. Once the logs were imported, we then had to familiarise ourselves with the CloudFlare API, and write a script that checked CloudFlare every 5 minutes and imported the latest log events.

Returning to the server logs, we then wrote code that converted the server log format into the CloudFlare format. We also now downloaded all of the server logs (going back to July 2019), cleaned them, and converted them to match CloudFlare’s data. Alibris now had a real time database of server events, with historical data going back to July 2019. With the data in place, we connected it to DataStudio and worked with the SEO team to create a final report.

Knowing that high volumes of raw log data would be difficult to interpret, we processed the data so that it could be presented in a digestible manner through dynamic charts and tables. This allowed us to better analyse the data which would inform our SEO strategy and way forward. 

The server log report gave us access to unbiased, real world data, to compare against site crawls, Google Search Console and data from other 3rd party tools – allowing us to identify a high number of crawlability roadblocks and errors originating from Googlebot requests such as:

  • Server-side redirect chains and loops (72% of Googlebot requests, June 2020)
  • Broken resources & inaccessible pages (1 % of Googlebot requests, June 2020)
  • Working pages (only 27% of Googlebot requests made in June resolved with a 200 status)

Through our combined efforts, we were able to provide Alibris with a clear, actionable strategy to tackle their website’s crawl inefficacies and boost indexation numbers which in turn improved their website’s performance across all channels.

To view the full case study please click here.

Shouting Joe Bloggs doesn’t work. Get personalised and relevant with dynamic creatives

We all know that life has a tendency to throw situations at us which are simply out of our control, and for every person those situations cause an unfathomable variety of possible outcomes.

For Freeview (the nation’s most popular television platform), when your target audience includes almost everyone in the UK, you become no stranger to working with a variety of possible outcomes.

With so many combinations of consumer interest and behaviour, we were tasked with helping Freeview reach their audience in an engaging and relevant way, in order to help improve their brand awareness. Luckily, we had a fortunate starting point: their wide selection of channels offered us a range of high-quality shows. This gave us only the best watercolours and sharpened pencils to produce our digitally-tailored masterpiece.

Creativity Meets Data

Working in DoubleClick Studio, our strategy was to use dynamic creatives to meet the idiosyncrasies of whoever was viewing our personalised, moving adverts – something my contemporaries in the digital marketing industry like to refer to as a data-driven, granular approach.  

Dynamic creatives in and of themselves are at the heart of programmatic. Using real-time technology, it allows us to change elements to better suit those who are viewing the advert. This can be done in reaction to:

  • Location
  • Time of day
  • Device
  • Weather
  • Demographics
  • Behavioural Targeting
  • Retargeting information
  • And more

To consider the full capabilities of dynamic creatives at scale, let us consider a hypothetical: the Mona Lisa. Da Vinci’s masterpiece – arguably the most sung about and best known of paintings – is not exempt from criticism, with a handful of pundits not sold on her mystifying smile. Through dynamic creatives, we could optimise this feature: using consumer data points, we could learn who appreciates the enigmatic smirk and the critics who prefer a stern face. As the campaign matures, the 77x53cm creative would become increasingly relevant to consumers.

Hypothetical situations aside, studies have shown that performance improves by adapting and speaking to each user. A report from McKinsey found that personalisation can deliver “five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend and lift sales 10 per cent or more.” Furthermore, a study by Adobe affirmed that 78% of consumers like personalised ads however only 28% think they’re tailored correctly, further highlighting the growing need to merge creativity and data.

When Speaking to All

As part of our brand awareness strategy, we focused on reaching fans of different shows using contextual keyword targeting. Since dynamic creatives are naturally flexible, we could then adjust each impression according to the contextual targeting. For instance, someone on a football page may receive an ad which features the programme Britain’s Got Talent. This allowed us to align our creatives with the user’s preference.

Once we had segmented each audience, we could change different variables of the creative to run A/B tests. As the ads continue to run, we are constantly learning which combinations work best and tailoring messaging accordingly.

As the dust begins to settle and the results come in, the stats prove that a personalised approach is more effective. Compared to a more generic ad copy, targeting users with tailored messaging improved CTR by 42%.

Moving forward, the flexibility of dynamic creatives means that they are lasting and adaptable. Working from the comfort of DoubleClick Studio, the same template can be used and adapted to different promotional offers and seasons. This allows us to save on time and costs.

Whether you’re looking to bring classic art to the masses or to target each user with their favourite show, dynamic creatives offer a method to do so. Come rain or shine, each impression comes with an unknown amount of possibilities. The options available from your targeting, ad copy, call to action, colour and more can make the process seem out of your control. Yet, through segmentation, these possibilities offer opportunities to engage and hold audiences. When life gives you lemons, introduce personalised ad copy.  

Case Study: Search Automation Finds the Back of the Net for Fanatics

Automation can change the way advertisers manage repetitive tasks and refine their campaign optimisation within their search strategies. It has the ability to handle a multitude of tasks including, bid management, reporting, routine checks, and pulling data. Furthermore, its bespoke nature can be used to fine tune your paid search campaigns to your personal goals.

Our very own Will Hamilton, PPC Analyst, shares why automated search campaigns can drive campaign performance on an even greater scale,

“Within the digital marketing industry search automation is becoming increasingly important. Having the ability to make automated and reactive adjustments to externally influencing factors can allow for maximum performance efficiency. Changes to the market or consumer behaviour can be capitalised on in a fraction of the time compared to non-automated activity. This not only helps maximise performance but also allows account managers to spend more time focusing their efforts on expansion opportunities and strategic planning.”

NMPi has been working with Fanatics International for the past three years, offering them international and domestic strategies and solutions for successful paid search campaigns. Fanatics International are the leading e-commerce partner for many of the world’s top football teams including Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United.

See how search automation has improved revenue and driven real results for Fanatics.

Challenges

Account performance for football merchandise fluctuates significantly based on how individual players perform in matches. The majority of games are played on weekends and in the evenings, making it difficult to keep paid search ads up-to-date and as relevant as possible.

Our Objective

NMPi set out to build a solution that allows us to optimise our paid search activity based on live player performance.

Our Solution

NMPi created a bespoke Google Script that automated the bidding process, enabling us to continually optimise campaigns for every football match played in the UK. As player performance affects the sale of their football kit online, the script would adjust keyword bids based on the live point system from the official Premier League Fantasy Football API. These points determine the impact a player has on a match using goals, assists, clean sheets, cards received, minutes played and additionally awarded bonus points. This data was used to increase bids for players who performed well and decrease bids for those who did not, ensuring the optimal ad rank was achieved. The script was set to run an hour after each match played in May 2017 and bids were altered for 15 different players, as well as for non-player specific keywords using the team performance as a whole.

The Result

Month on month the account experienced a 21% increase in revenue and a 47% rise in traffic. For player specific keywords, traffic grew by 294% during this period. Revenue and sales experienced an uplift of 284% and 189% respectively. With the success of this campaign, we will now be rolling out the script to international markets.

“NMPi has been handling over 15+ of our accounts in numerous languages, since 2014. During which time it has grown under NMPi’s care. In May this year, the team suggested an innovative approach to bidding which really showed their understanding of our industry. This approach has seen even greater uplift and I am thrilled with the success of the campaign. NMPi has been a great agency to work with, helping to expand our PPC accounts into other territories.” ~Sahida Aarndell, Acquisition Executive at Fanatics