Taking My First Step to Becoming a Google Partner – Google Fundamentals Exam .

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There is a sort of mythical quality about the interior design of Google’s offices. Occasionally you’ll see things publicised in print or online about the more outlandish aspects of their workspaces, with things like slides, sleep pods and ball pits. It’s fitting that Google, forever the online trendsetter, has lots of interior imitators, with all sorts of offices trying to ape that “easy-going, hip” appearance, sometimes with ball pits or arcade cabinets of their own.

I’ve worked in such places in the past, and always found that the seductive “hip and trendsetting” veneer quickly peeled away to reveal old ideals and practices in the way those businesses conducted themselves. The ball pit gathers dust. The arcade cabinet is unplugged for being too loud. No-one wants to play, for fear of appearing lax or irresponsible.

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As the lecture began, table groups were instructed to find 5 things in common with each other*, then introduce our tables to the room by speaking those 5 things into a plush, throwable Bluetooth mic-box that projected our voice through the sound system. Having spent four years teaching English in Japan, I know the value of making learning fun, and seeing this value expressed in a room full of adults was really special.

_tv-on-wheels

During our lecture the phrase of the day was: QUALITY SCORE.

This is the secret weapon of PPC, and one I’m glad to say that Sagittarius have been focusing on behind the scenes of all our campaigns. The importance of Ad Extensions was also stressed, as implementing these will increase your Quality Score if used correctly.

In fact, Ad Extensions will increase your click-through rate by 33% (a statistic given by Google themselves is gold dust to people like me, exemplified by my spontaneous drawing of an amazed bird-thing at hearing it).

google20catch20box

During our lecture the phrase of the day was: QUALITY SCORE.

This is the secret weapon of PPC, and one I’m glad to say that Sagittarius have been focusing on behind the scenes of all our campaigns. The importance of Ad Extensions was also stressed, as implementing these will increase your Quality Score if used correctly.

In fact, Ad Extensions will increase your click-through rate by 33% (a statistic given by Google themselves is gold dust to people like me, exemplified by my spontaneous drawing of an amazed bird-thing at hearing it).

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After a full day of learning, it was time to take a quick break (amusingly, in a building that was all about helping people search, I had trouble finding the loo) and begin to take the hour-long exam that would put us on the path of becoming Google Accredited. The exam was surprisingly tricky, focusing on questions about methods, tricks and stats, but also presented us with hypothetical situations and asking us how best to act.

Here's an example:

Your campaign is consistently meeting its average daily budget. What should you do to maximise your budget throughout all hours of the day?

  1. Lower your bids
  2. Lower the daily budget amount
  3. Change the ad delivery method from “Accelerated” to “Standard”
  4. Increase the max CPC bid

Had a think about the answer?

In this case, the answer would be the third option. Standard delivery tries to show your ads throughout the entire day, to make sure that you don’t spend your whole budget in the morning and cause your ads to stop showing for the rest of the day.

Having managed and advised clients on PPC campaigns in the past, and with a notebook full of details from the day’s education, I managed to finish the exam with 12 minutes to spare and a triumphant PASS!

With the Fundamentals Exam out of the way, I’m now free to focus on other specialised modules and take more exams to become a fully-fledged Google Partner, an honour shared by some of my colleagues.

While I’m studying up, feel free to read on about why your own Google rankings may have dropped, or if you want to learn more about Google’s offices and what its like to visit and take the exam, give me a shout.

*We all checked Facebook that morning, we all got drenched, we all thought Batman V Superman was pants, we had all travelled outside Europe and we couldn’t think of a 5th.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
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Sagittarius
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Sagittarius

04 Jul 2016 - 5 minute read
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