The lowdown on driving app downloads with Universal App campaigns

Universal App campaigns (UAC) help you find new app users across Google’s largest properties: Google Play, Search, YouTube and Gmail, as well as millions of websites and apps across the Google Display Network. Back in August, Google (my employer) announced that all app install campaigns in AdWords are becoming UACs.
Whether you’re starting UACs for the first time or are looking to get the most out of existing UACs, here are some best practices that I’ve discovered from talking with a bunch of other Googlers.
Getting up and running with UAC
The first key step is defining your goal. You’ll need to set a target based on one of these key performance indicators:

If you care about different metrics in different situations, create separate campaigns for each desired outcome.
From there, you’ll need to set up a few more items:

A daily budget. When you’re driving installs, this should be your target CPI multiplied by the number of daily installs you want (shoot

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AMP: A case for websites serving developing countries

Like Taylor Swift, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) have a reputation. In a not-very-official Twitter poll, 53 percent claimed AMP was “breaking the web.”

What do you think about AMP?
— Maximiliano Firtman (@firt) March 23, 2017

The mobile ecosystem is already complex: choosing a mobile configuration, accounting for mobile-friendliness, preparing for the mobile-first index, implementing app indexation, utilizing Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and so on. Tossing AMP into the mix, which creates an entirely duplicated experience, is not something your developers will be happy about.
And yet despite the various issues surrounding AMP, this technology has potential use cases that every international brand should pause to consider.
To start, AMP offers potential to efficiently serve content as fast as possible. According to Google, AMP reduces the median load time of webpages to .7 seconds, compared with 22 seconds for non-AMP sites.
And you can also have an AMP without a traditional HTML page. Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller has mentioned that AMP

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Shopify meets call tracking

As we enter the 2020s, e-commerce is set to generate more than $480 billion in the US and nearly $2 trillion globally. And while Amazon takes a lot of credit for online everything, they’re hardly the only game in town. A significant chunk of online retail is generated by smaller players, thanks in part to platforms like Shopify that make it easy to sell in the digital space, as well as in person — and that have the potential to merge the online and offline experience into an omnichannel version of commerce. Let’s take a look at how we got here, and how e-commerce platforms and retailers should be operating in this new, seamless marketplace.
Shifting to Shopify
In 2004, Tobias Lütke, a purveyor of fine snowboards, wanted to sell his wares online. Today, that would be simple; in the pre-Shopify world, e-commerce platforms were clunky and difficult to integrate with other services and platforms. Rather than continue to

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The evolution of phone marketing

In the beginning, there was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. And it was not good. By 2017 standards, it was barely a phone. Virtually zero coverage, a price tag that translates to almost $10,000 of today’s dollars, and completely devoid of apps. It also had a 10-hour charge time that only translated into about a half-hour of use. Truly a pinnacle of technology.
From town criers to SMS
While 1983’s big breakthrough was a far cry from the iPhone X, it was a harbinger of things to come — a personal telecommunications device that could be carried outside the hardwired home. It took another 10 years to make cellphones that you could comfortably — well, somewhat comfortably — carry in your hand. And it would take a few more years still before the advent of the flip phone. Ultimately, it was almost 25 years after Motorola’s original mobile phone before smartphones appeared and mobile marketing as we now know it

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Apple Search Ads expanding to Canada, Mexico & Switzerland

The Apple App Store has announced it is expanding support for Search Ads into Canada, Mexico and Switzerland.
Apple released Search Ads for the App Store a little over a year ago, with previous support limited to the US, the UK, New Zealand and Australia.
Apple’s Search Ad product is the iOS version of what Google Play has offered in its store for Android devices since 2015. Both are aimed at driving app discovery by users.
Search Ads are generated automatically from app metadata, with advertisers setting a daily or total campaign budget. Ads appear based on keyword searches specified by advertisers, along with demographic segments such as gender, age and location. Advertisers can also separate bids by device: one bid for iPhone users, another for iPad users.
A hands-on review of Apple’s Search Ads upon its release in the UK outlines the pros and cons of the platform, along with some items to look out for.
Apple is still offering a $100 USD

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AdWords app-install campaigns to sunset as Universal App Campaigns take over

Google launched Universal App Campaigns (UAC) roughly two years ago to help developers drive app downloads. UAC has co-existed with AdWords app-install campaigns since that time.
Now the company is moving all app-install ads under the umbrella of UAC. Google said that as of October 16, all app-install campaigns will run as UAC ads. All current app-install campaigns will stop running on November 15; so developers and publishers need to convert their campaigns accordingly. (Google’s blog post has instructions on how to do this.)
The two types of mobile-app campaigns offered different features and capabilities, with some distribution overlap. AdWords app-install ads offered more direct control over placements (single channel, multichannel) and bidding (CPC, CPI and so on) but were also more complex to create and manage.
UAC ads are automatically distributed across multiple Google channels (search, GDN, YouTube, AdMob and Google Play) and use a CPA model. UAC radically simplifies ad creation and optimization with automation and machine learning.

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Apple Search Ads: Still tapping after 6 months of testing

It’s been five months since Apple expanded their Apple Search Ads program to advertisers in three additional countries (UK, New Zealand and Australia). After its initial, US-only launch in October 2016, I was really excited to finally get to test out this brand-new platform when it finally launched in the UK.
Now that I’ve had some time to experiment with it, I’m going to discuss what I like, dislike and hope to see in the future across this new and exciting platform. I want to share my own experiences here in the hope that anyone looking to test some Apple Search Ads campaigns in the future can get started as soon as possible.
One of the reasons I was so interested in Apple Search Ads is how booming the app market is globally, with 2.2 million apps available in the App Store alone as of March 2017. Furthermore, according to research by Flurry, the mobile browser is effectively dead

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Designing content for the mobile-first index

Face it: You’re not a literary author, and people aren’t hanging on to every word you write. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have comprehensive information on a web page, but users also don’t want to scroll forever — especially on mobile.
Content on mobile needs to make it easier for users to get to the main points without cutting out the content, as users might want to dig into the details more at times. More than ever, the structure of your content is important, and your content needs to be navigable, skimmable and digestible.
Table of contents
A table of contents is a great way to show how you have organized your content, and combined with HTML bookmarks, it allows users to quickly jump to sections of a page that may interest them. For instance, my table of contents for this article would be:
Table of contents
HTML headings
Expandable content
Tabs
Filters
Summary, highlights, TL;DR
Bullet points or lists
Bold or italic text
Highlight important points
What

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How to tell whether a site is adaptive or responsive

As most SEOs are aware by now, there are three main techniques for serving mobile website content: responsive design, adaptive design (also called dynamic serving), and separate mobile URLs.
While it’s easy to identify separate mobile URLs just by looking at your browser’s address bar, telling responsive and adaptive sites apart can take a little more digging around.
In my mobile workshops with Shari Thurow at SMX West and SMX Advanced earlier this year, many of the participants were confused as to how to tell responsive and adaptive mobile configurations apart. So, I went through the exercise that I’m going to describe today. Hopefully, it will help some of you make the distinction.
If you’re not sure if the site you’re looking at is responsive or adaptive, ask yourself these questions:
Does it change shape when you resize your browser from a desktop computer?
Responsive sites are meant to change layout based on browser window size (regardless of device), while adaptive sites

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8 major Google ranking signals in 2017

 

It’s no secret that Google’s ranking algorithm is made up of over 200 components, or “signals.” And while the list is impressive, it can get daunting if you’re a just regular human with 24 hours in a day.
Luckily, SEO isn’t about getting every tiny thing right; it’s about getting your priorities right. Below, we’ve put up a list of top eight rankings factors, based on the industry studies by SearchMetrics, Backlinko and SEO PowerSuite. Read on to find what they are, and how to optimize your site for each.
Backlinks
Surprise, surprise, right? In 2017, backlinks continue to be the strongest indication of authority to Google. Let’s look at the things that can make or break yours.
1. Link score
How does Google turn the abstract concept of “backlinks” into a quantifiable ranking signal? In several patents, Google explains that this is done by calculating a “link score.” The score is made up by every incoming link’s individual quality score (aka

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