A Short Guide to Google’s New AdWords Recommendations

Google has always had a place to showcase recommended changes to your account. In the old interface, this was the Opportunities tab. Over the years, many account managers trained themselves to ignore this tab because most of the recommendations seemed to be suggestions on how to spend more money without regard for an account’s strategy. As AdWords users have been migrated over to the new user interface, these suggestions have also migrated to a new place: the Recommendations tab.

adwords recommendation tab screenshot

While PPC managers might not have paid much heed to the “Opportunities” of the past, paid search professionals will do well to get familiar with the new “Recommendations” section. There is a wider range of recommended changes to your account that fall into four broad categories:

  • Repairs
  • Bids & Budgets
  • Keywords & Targeting
  • Ads & Extensions

Each category makes suggestions that affect different groups of common problems in AdWords campaigns.

adwords a logo shaded


Repairs are technical issues keeping your ads from serving properly. These include broken URLs, disapproved ads, and empty ad groups. If you are actively monitoring your accounts, you’re probably on top of these things, but it’s nice to have all of these potential issues consolidated in one spot.

Bids & Budgets

Bids & Budget recommendations will probably look the most familiar to users – and are probably one of the things that annoyed you about the old Opportunities tab. Most of these can be described as alerts that Google has sent when they found places where you could be spending more money, but are limited somehow. There are also generic recommendations about switching to a bid strategy such as Target CPA.

Keywords & Targeting


Things start to get more interesting as we move into the Keywords & Targeting set of recommendations. There are some holdovers like “add phrase or broad match versions of your keywords,” of course. But there are also some useful new additions. Remove redundant keywords is a useful tool, for example.

adwords redundant keywords recommendation screenshot


Over time, your account can start to accumulate lots of keywords. As Google’s algorithm has evolved over the years, the need for multiple variations on a theme has been reduced, so finding opportunities to reduce duplicates and other redundancies can make managing your accounts easier.

There’s also a tool for alerting you to non-serving keywords – keywords that have been active for at least a year without serving a single impression. Once again, eliminating these extreme low-traffic keywords can help ease your job as an account manager.

adwords non-serving keywords recommendation screenshot

Ads & Extensions

adwords seller ratings recommendation screenshot

The last category of recommendations is Ads and Extensions. Here Google alerts you to ad groups with too few ads for effective testing, as well as opportunities to increase your use of Ad Extensions. AdWords will even create suggested ads for you in some cases. One important note here: AdWords will also automatically add these to your account after a certain time unless you change this setting.

adwords relevance recommendation screenshotadwords ad revision recommendation screenshot

It’s a bit annoying, but you have to explicitly opt out of this if you don’t want AdWords writing your ad copy for you. For most businesses and AdWords managers, it’s best to keep full control over the copy in your ads.

In the end, the AdWords Recommendations tab is a step toward greater understanding of your AdWords campaigns without shamelessly pushing you to spend more money, but it still requires careful navigation and decision making to make maximum advantage.

There’s no need to learn the ins and outs of AdWords Recommendations when you’ve got the paid search team at Leverage Marketing on your side. Let us show you what we can do.

What Is the Future of Google Search?

It’s not hard to see where the internet is headed in 2018. Years ago, our imaginations could run wild dreaming up Hollywood-style scenarios in which the internet experience becomes vastly surreal. But today, Google is setting some hard and fast rules that are pushing content producers and distributors to focus on delivering top-notch content all the time, and the future is clear.

As long as Google’s goal continues to be to build a better internet, we can expect integration with the latest technologies, faster and friendlier experiences across devices, and relevant, accessible content fast. But how exactly will Google achieve such an end? We have a few ideas.


imaginative interpretation of googlebot

AMP Pages Will Work with Mobile-First Ranking


Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are already in use by more than a few major publications, and even small to medium businesses are converting select pages to AMP status to see how qualifying for AMP affects traffic as a whole.

Google rolled out mobile-first indexing alongside a rise in popularity of AMP pages. Without explicitly saying so, the search engine giant may have subtly plugged the efficacy of AMP pages as a tie-in with mobile-first indexing.

Since the version of a web page that appears on mobile will be the new standard for Google ranking, pages optimized for mobile viewing receive an immediate advantage. So if AMP aims to set a new standard for mobile viewing, it’s not unreasonable to hypothesize that AMP status will one day become a concrete ranking factor in Google’s infamous algorithm.

Voice Search Will Play a Bigger Role

We took a deep dive into how digital voice assistants will change marketing tactics, but improved natural language processing has greater potential than just standard marketing applications. Organic search could be ruled by voice search one day.

It’s a lofty claim, but voice commands continue to improve, and improvements continue to accelerate. When questions enter your mind, you’ll likely one day be able to quickly ask your voice assistant and receive an immediate answer.

Users Will Consume More on a Better Internet

The evolving role of optimized content in building a more robust search engine will, if it continues, lead to a better internet. By better, we mean:

  • More easily accessible – Content optimized for all devices in all capacities using all means of search will eventually make the mammoth-sized library of digital information accessible to anyone anywhere. That’s far in the future, but we’re at the beginning steps of it now.
  • Faster – It’s not just about internet speed, it’s about how well we can use upload and download speeds to make information more available on-demand. Content will become more dense, images will take up less space, and data will squeeze alongside the physical size of technology.
  • More relevant – Google has pioneered one of the cleverest ways to force people to make information matter. The search engine rewards quality content that contains usable information with rankings at the top of the SERPs, which in turn brings in customers looking for integrity and expertise.

With a better internet at their fingertips, consumers will be able to take in and learn from greater amounts of information on an ongoing basis. Smarter consumers will demand higher-quality products and more fully-realized services, and the cycle of improvement will continue.

The future of Google search isn’t so much a question of what new features upcoming improvements will entail – it’s a question of what impact search domination will have on internet quality. And if our predictions are correct, the internet is looking like a pretty amazing place in the near and far future.

We love search, and it’s part of what we do every day at Leverage Marketing. Let us help you become part of a better internet – starting today.

The 6 Biggest Myths About Buyer Personas

Whether you’re in marketing, sales, product development, or customer service, creating buyer personas can help you deliver what your customers want. However, your buyer personas may not give you the insights you need if you’re going about them the wrong way. There are several pervasive myths that can cause businesses to waste time on poorly-conceived buyer personas:

  1. Buyer personas are entirely fictional.
  2. Buyer personas are only representations of a company’s best customers.
  3. Buyer personas should contain as much information as possible, even if it’s not obviously relevant.
  4. It’s best to have as many buyer persona segments as possible.
  5. Each buyer persona represents a specific person.
  6. Once you create your initial buyer personas, you’re done.

We’ll look at each of these myths in greater depth, but let’s pause for a moment to define the term “buyer persona” for the purposes of this article. Inbound marketing pioneer Hubspot sums the buyer persona up nicely as a “semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” You can use customer interviews and other historical data to create profiles for different segments of your target audience. You can even give them names like C-Suite Cecily and Freelance Freddy if you want (Hubspot is really into this). However, what’s much more important than the names is determining how and why the persona makes certain purchasing decisions. By figuring this out, you’ll get better at developing marketing materials that strike a chord with your audience.

Creating accurate buyer personas is harder than you might think, and there are a lot of misconceptions that can lead both novice and seasoned marketers astray. We’ve debunked six of the most common myths about buyer personas below.

Myth #1: Buyer personas are complete works of fiction.

When creating buyer personas, you shouldn’t be polishing your creative writing skills. Don’t just write personas based on what you think you know about your customers or what your sales team has told you. Look at real customer behavior, from time spent on different pages of your website to survey form fills to purchases. Conduct interviews with a large swath of prospects and customers. Interview team members from different departments within your company (sales, marketing, customer service) as well. These team members interact with customers at different points in the buyer’s journey, and bringing their insights together will give you a clearer picture of the path to purchase your customers take.

Myth #2: Buyer personas should represent your ideal customers only.

satisfied customer five star conceptAccording to Hubspot’s definition, buyer personas represent your ideal customers, but we politely disagree on this point. It’s easy to call up a few of your company’s best customers and let the praise wash over you. But that’s not going to give you insights into your typical buyers. It’s okay to reach out to your biggest fans, but you should also interview the people who make infrequent purchases, started as prospects but didn’t close, and even those people who have had a bad customer experience with your company. Figuring out the stumbling blocks that prevent people from making a purchase will help you develop better personas—and that may help you remove those stumbling blocks.

Myth #3: The more information you can cram into your buyer personas, the better.

You don’t need to include irrelevant information just for the sake of making your buyer persona seem like a well-developed character. You probably won’t ever need to know if your target customers ride motorized scooters or regularly eat French toast for breakfast (unless your company is in the motorized scooter or breakfast food industry). Getting too granular can be a waste of your team’s time.

That’s not to say that your buyer personas shouldn’t be specific: they just need to focus on the details that are most relevant to the buyer’s purchasing process. Here are a few things you probably do need to know:

  • What causes them to invest in your products or services
  • Concerns they may have when purchasing from you
  • What selling propositions (e.g. free shipping, high-quality materials) are most important to them
  • How they expect your products or services to solve a problem for them
  • Who or what influences them during their decision-making process
  • How they prefer to shop for your products (e.g. in-store, on their smartphone)

Myth #4: The more segmented personas you have, the better.

It’s easy to get carried away when creating buyer personas. You’ve collected all this data, and you start to convince yourself that maybe there really are 20 different buckets into which you could segment your customers. There’s no right or wrong number of buyer personas, but creating a bunch of microscopically specific personas is going to be confusing and unhelpful. Start with one or two core personas and build out from there as necessary.

Myth #5: A buyer persona represents an individual.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that Freelance Freddy isn’t a real person. In fact, Freelance Freddy (or whatever you’ve named your buyer persona) isn’t even supposed to represent a specific person. To paraphrase Hubspot again, your buyer personas come from an amalgamation of data provided by your customers. That means that there will be some variation within each persona (for example, some people who fit the persona might be Content Marketing Managers while others might be Directors of SEO).

Myth #6: Once you create your initial buyer personas, you’re set.

Maybe you and your team decided to create buyer personas as a marketing exercise a year or two ago but filed them away and haven’t looked at them since. If that’s the case, you’re wasting a tool that can be valuable across the sales funnel. Get those personas back out and bring them up to date. And even if you have been using buyer personas consistently, you should make a goal to update them periodically, especially when your business goes through major changes that could affect your personas (e.g. a new product offering, a subscription price increase).

Take the time to get your buyer personas right, and you’ll be able to use them to develop marketing materials that attract qualified visitors, leads, and customers.

Need help developing buyer personas or creating content that speaks to your audience’s needs? Contact Leverage Marketing to learn how we can help you target the right prospects.

How to Run Influencer Marketing Campaigns on Facebook

Facebook announced in January that its latest algorithm update would be de-emphasizing updates from business pages in users’ News Feeds. At the time of the announcement, many social media marketers expressed concern that brands’ organic reach, which had already been hobbled by past algorithm updates, would become a thing of the past on Facebook.

decline of organic reach on Facebook

The latest News Feed algorithm update certainly seems to point to a future where brands of all sizes view Facebook as a pay-to-play advertising platform. But while “free” Facebook marketing opportunities are being firmly nailed into their coffin, brands are getting creative and looking for more authentic ways to connect with their audience on the social media site. Influencer marketing—a strategy that involves partnering with influential social media users—is becoming a promising path forward.

Facebook has already introduced several features to facilitate influencer marketing:

  • Branded Content tags have been around since 2016 and allow influencers to clearly label posts that they’ve created in partnership with a brand. This helps keep both influencers and brands in compliance with FTC guidelines for sponsored content.
  • Facebook Groups for Pages lets brands create Groups that are linked to their business page. These Groups give brands a space to engage with their community organically (for example, Instant Pot uses their Group as a recipe-sharing space).
  • A new boost feature lets brands pay to increase the reach of a post that an influencer has created for them. Brands can target a specific audience, and the audience will see the post as originating from the influencer rather than from the brand. Previously, marketers had to share an influencer’s post through a brand’s account before they could boost it.

How Does Influencer Marketing Work on Facebook?

The idea behind influencer marketing on Facebook is, fundamentally, the same as influencer marketing on any other online platform. It starts with a brand identifying a Facebook user with a medium-to-large (and highly-engaged) follower base that overlaps with the brand’s target audience. The brand then reaches out to the influential Facebook user to see if they’re interested in posting about the brand’s products.

Businesses that are new to influencer marketing should keep in mind that influencers expect to be compensated. While some micro-influencers may be willing to produce branded content in exchange for free products, most influencers charge a fee. Brands may negotiate the compensation with the influencer after discussing the collaboration.

online sharing iconOnce the brand and influencer have reached an agreement, the influencer will create a specified number of Facebook posts about the brand’s product. They might share an unboxing video or a picture of themselves using the product. Because the content is coming from an influencer rather than a brand, it has a better chance of getting in front of an audience that is interested in the product. And that audience is more likely to trust a product recommendation from an influencer than from the brand itself. In fact, 85% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family.

Influencer marketing on Facebook starting to sound appealing? Here’s how you can get started with your own Facebook influencer marketing campaigns.

Finding Influencers on Facebook

There are two basic routes you can take to find influencers on Facebook: manually searching your existing Facebook fan base or tapping into tools that will search the entire platform for you.

If you decide to start with the manual search approach, you’ll need to identify a pool of Facebook users who have already engaged with your brand, perhaps by sharing or commenting on your posts.

After identifying these potential influencers, you’ll need to vet them yourself by checking out their social media presence. Do they have a large enough follower base to make a potential collaboration worthwhile? Does the way they present themselves on social media fit with your brand? If you answer yes, you can reach out to them directly to see if they’re interested in working with your brand.

audience target conceptThe manual approach to identifying influencers can be labor-intensive and may not make sense for brands that don’t already have a large, highly-engaged audience on Facebook. The alternative approach is to use influencer identification tools that are essentially search databases of bloggers and social media influencers.

There are dozens of these tools available, with prices ranging from free to thousands of dollars a month. Most offer a free trial so that you can see how they work before committing to them.

Defining the Goals of Your Campaign

As you begin finding and reaching out to power users on Facebook, you should be thinking about the goals of your influencer marketing campaign. Be specific. For example, rather than just setting a goal to “increase brand awareness,” you might set a goal to “get at least 15k impressions” on an influencer’s post. You may also want to set goals related to:

  • Social media engagement (e., likes, shares, or comments)
  • Website traffic (e., how many visitors did an influencer’s post drive to your site?)
  • Conversions (e., how many sales or sign-ups resulted from the campaign?)
  • Revenue from the campaign

You’ll need to work with your influencers to tailor a campaign to your goals. The type of content an influencer produces should directly tie into your goals. For example, if you’re trying to drive traffic to a certain promo page on your website, the influencer will need to link to that page in their post.

Ideas for Influencer Marketing on Facebook

Facebook gives influencers a lot of flexibility in terms of the types of posts they can produce. Below are a few influencer marketing ideas to consider.


Video accounts for an estimated one-third of all online activity, and 45% of internet users spend more than an hour watching Facebook or YouTube videos per week. As video consumption increases, it makes sense for influencers to use native Facebook videos to catch the attention of their followers and encourage engagement.

Facebook Live

Still a relatively young format, Facebook Live gives brands and influencers an opportunity to create video content that feels authentic and in-the-moment. An influencer could use Facebook Live to broadcast themselves trying your brand’s product or attending a live event that your company is sponsoring.


Contests can be useful when you’re trying to increase social media engagement and drive Facebook users to your site. An influencer could post photos with a product you plan to give away along with a link to the contest page on your website.


Most social media influencers are active on more than one platform and will likely be willing to run a campaign on several different channels. For example, an influencer might write a blog post about a product or use a food brand’s ingredient on a recipe on their site, then link to that content on Facebook and their other social media channels. This helps you reach a relevant audience at as many touchpoints as possible.

Looking for more ideas to use influencer marketing on Facebook? Need help setting influencer marketing goals and measuring the results? Leverage Marketing’s social media team is on it. Let’s start a conversation about how to succeed on Facebook as organic reach declines.

The Pros and Cons of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)

The AMP Project, another step forward on the road to a totally integrated internet experience, aims to build a framework for web designers to easily create mobile-ready web pages.

accelerated mobile pages amp symbol 3dAccelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are pages that meet or exceed guidelines set forth by the AMP Project. They include code provided the AMP Project that enables special search features in our most well-used internet search tool, Google. As of April 2018, AMPs enjoy placement above other search results in a carousel, or otherwise display the AMP lightning bolt symbol.

In March 2018, Google began to roll out its mobile-first indexing features following testing and experimentation since 2016. Under mobile-first indexing, pages that are mobile-ready for multiple devices will receive priority during indexing by Google. Since Google is carrying out their mobile-first plan and they already support AMP features, digital marketing teams are exploring how AMP could change the way they build and maintain websites.

But in its early stages, the AMP Project still suffers from limitations. Creating content that is easy to view and navigate across a sea of internet-ready devices is a tall order, and in the AMP Project’s current state, it may not always be the best fit for your business.

Discover what digital marketers think are the advantages and disadvantages of AMPs; use our pros and cons list as a jumping-off point, then make your own to decide if you want to pursue a transformation to AMPs.

amp style lightning bolt in green for pros

Pros of AMPs

The AMP Project is, at heart, an effort to improve the mobile internet experience for users. It is well-intentioned, and the experts working on it don’t cut corners. AMP is beneficial to businesses and organizations with an internet presence in ways such as:

Standardized Mobile Optimization

In a world where AMP is the standard, there is no question what optimized for mobile means. But we don’t live in that world – at least, we don’t live in that world yet. Right now, we have to guess what works and what doesn’t for mobile users and build or retrofit websites accordingly. Accepting and using AMP standards gives us a ruler for measuring what’s mobile-ready and what isn’t.

Improved Ranking in Mobile-First Generation

It stands to reason that building pages to a mobile standard would help your website rank better in Google SERPs that are governed by mobile-readiness. Though AMPs may not be directly connected to better rankings, getting your pages prepared for fast mobile load times and user-friendliness is sure to improve performance site-wide.

Speed Improvement

Besides ranking better in SERPs, you might find that your users enjoy your site better when it performs better thanks to mobile- and AMP-readiness. Getting pages to load within five seconds seems to have the most positive impact on user engagement and conversion, which is especially handy if you run an ecommerce website or a site that makes most of its revenue from ads.

Placement in Carousel

AMPs also ride in a carousel placed above all other search engine results in Google SERPs. The carousel is horizontal, which allows users to scroll through AMPs sideways without ever having to scroll down. It appears for broad, high-traffic searches, but as the algorithm continues to learn, it may pull more and more AMP results. Beware, however, that like other search features, the AMP carousel may not be permanent.

amp style lightning bolt in red for cons

Cons of AMPs

In the infancy of any project, putting together all the pieces is a sizable undertaking. There are still moving parts to the AMP Project that make implementation and execution a challenge, including:

JavaScript & CSS Limitations

For the most part, AMPs contain very little in the way of branding and individuality. That’s in large part because load times suffer greatly when web designers use JavaScript and, to a lesser extent, CSS. By minimizing flashy extras, mobile pages speed up significantly, but it puts a strain on your branding and style.

Tracking Problems

AMPs don’t work with your already-implemented tracking. They are stored and tracked differently than standard pages, even mobile-ready ones. Solutions are bound to appear, but at the moment, tracking takes special effort and resources that you may not have immediately available.

Serving Cached Pages

One of the ways that AMP makes pages load so fast is that it allows Google to serve a cached version of an AMP-enabled page to users. The pages that appear in search results are held by Google, which means you’re not even serving up the content you originally created – it’s only a copy cached and stored elsewhere.

Implementation Is Not Straightforward

Though implementing AMP Project guidelines is designed to be user-friendly, conflicting information and consistent updating of the standard can make it confusing. Though some content management systems (CMSs), such as WordPress, have AMP-integration tools available, they often conflict with popular SEO tools like Yoast. Implementing AMP isn’t easy – yet.

Should I AMP or Not?

Most organizations that are not large are talking the wait-and-see approach, which is wise. Since Google hasn’t given out many clues as to the influence of the AMP Project on rankings, the risk may currently be too heavy for businesses that don’t have a backup plan.

But it’s not too early to start learning. We recommend finding out how the implementation process would work for your organization and weighing the resource cost to benefit if pros from our pro list apply to you. You may even consider creating a page or two to test in an AMP environment – it may be more telling than the sparse data that is currently available.

The Leverage Marketing team can help you build a remarkable content library worthy of high Google rankings, AMP or not. Talk to us to learn more!