6 SEO Considerations for Web Developers

SEO is an essential part of developing any website. Without proper implementation of SEO practices the  website and its content will not be findable on search engines. Without showing in in search engines or in search queries – what was the point in developing the website? 

If you want the website to be seen and used by the target audience, then you should be considering SEO from the very start of the project. Web developers often view SEO as an item that the digital marketing team will work on after development has been completed – but there are a few key SEO considerations web developers should keep in mind as they develop the website.

Here are the top six SEO considerations for web developers and web development teams to keep in mind DURING the website development process.

1. Mobile First Web Development

This should come as no surprise, Google prioritizes Mobile First Indexing. This means that the Googlebot scans the mobile version of a website before it scans the desktop version for search engine indexing. Furthermore, the mobile version of a website is used in Google’s search ranking calculation rather than the desktop version of a website. Prioritizing mobile first development best practices will help the website rank once it has gone live.

Mobile First Web Development Best Practices

  • Make sure Google can access and render your content
    • Use the same meta tags on mobile and desktop.
    • Don’t lazy-load primary content on user-interaction.
      • Google can not see lazy loaded content.
  • Make sure content is the same on mobile and desktop
    • If the mobile site has less content than your desktop site, consider updating your mobile site so that the primary content is the same as your desktop content.
    • Use the same headings, make them meaningful & clear.
    • Use the same meta titles & descriptions on mobile and desktop.
  • Structured data
    • Make sure your mobile and desktop sites have the same structured data.
    • Use correct URLs in structured data.
      • If the URL’s change from desktop to mobile use your mobile URLs.
  • Check visual content
    • Use high quality images but in small file sizes.
    • Use supported image formats.
    • Mobile sites should have the same alt tags and titles tags on images as they do on desktop.
    • Place videos high up on the page.

2. Website Speed and Page Speeds

Site speed and page speed are two top Google ranking factors. Google especially prioritizes mobile site speed, as Google indexes mobile websites first.

Page speed is not only crucial for user experience but impacts a crawler’s ability to navigate your site. Slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages. Resulting in a negative effect on website page indexing.

Page speed has a large impact on user experience. The longer pages take to load the higher the bounce rate and the lower the average time on page will be. Long load times have also been shown to negatively affect conversions. Conversion rates drop about 4% for each additional second of page load time over 5 seconds. 70% of users polled said that slow page load times affect their willingness to complete a purchase on a website.

Site/Page Speed Key Metrics

  • First Contentful Paint ( FCP ):
    • When the browser rendered the first bit of content.
    • Goal: 1.2 seconds or less
    • Font load time is particularly important for FCP
    • Ensure text remains visible during webfont loads
  • Time To Interactive ( TTI ):
    • The amount of time it takes for the pages to become fully interactive.
    • Goal: 2.2 seconds or less
    • Deferring or removing unnecessary Javascript can help with TTI.

  • Speed Index:
    • How quickly the content of the page is visibly populated.
    • Goal: 3.4 seconds or less

  • Largest Contentful Paint ( LCP ):
    • Measures perceived load speeds
    • It marks the point in the page load time when the page’s main content has loaded ( usually the largest image or text block ).
    • Goal: 2.5 seconds or less
    • Contributing factors :
      • Server Response Time
      • Render Blocking Javascript & CSS
      • Resource Load Times
      • Client Side Rendering
  • Total Blocking Time ( TBT ):
    • The total amount of time that a page is blocked from responding to user input. Such as mouse clicks, keyboard presses, etc.
    • Goal: 200 milliseconds or less
    • Reducing Javascript payloads, removing unused code and efficiently loading third party scripts can help improve TBT.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift ( CLS ):
    • Measures the visual stability of a page, quantifies how often things move around the layout unexpectedly
    • Goal: 0.01 seconds or less.
    • ou can improve CLS by including size attributes on image/video elements, animate transitions in a way that provides continuity.

Site/Page Speed Best Practices

  • File Compression
    • A configuration of files on the website that allows the website to serve smaller files via gzip compression and improve page load times.
  • Minify CSS, Javascript & HTML
    • Removing any unnecessary characters from the source code to reduce the file size.
  • Reduce Redirects
    • Redirects create an extra step while loading a page more so redirect chains create several extra steps while loading a page which increase page load times.
  • Remove Render Block Javascript
    • Prioritize scripts that are necessary for the initial page render, after critical elements are rendered other elements will begin to render.
  • Optimize Images
    • Keeping image sizes small, and ensuring they are the right format and compressed for the web.
  • Leverage Browser Caching
    • Specify how long web browsers should keep images, CSS and JavaScript stored locally so a user’s browser will download less data while they navigate through the pages on your website.

3. Website Structure

Website structure is an important area to consider when optimizing for SEO. Website structure is how both users and crawlers will understand your website and its content. In the sense of its categorization, hierarchy and logical flow of information – these items are crucial to plan out in the development process of the website in order to avoid major structural problems post site-launch.

Page URLs

Page URLs are more than just the address you use to reach a page. It establishes your website structure. A clear site structure helps both search engines & crawlers understand your website from a high level.

In particular, it identifies how users travel around the website and the content hierarchy. Because Google is moving towards automation a well crafted URL should provide both humans and search engines with an easy to understand indication of what to expect at the page destination. Additionally, URLs carry some weight as a ranking factor. Google uses URLs to determine a page’s relevance to a search query.

Planning out URL structure during the development process creates clarity to the website structure, and helps to avoid URL changes after website launch which may create 404 errors or require additional 301 redirects.

Website Navigation

Website navigation should be a clear path of links to access the website pages. From how URLs are broken out into categories to how you link those URLs into pages and menus. This should be intuitive. Neither users nor crawlers should not have to work very hard to find out what they are looking for.

Common Website Navigation Mistakes

  • Having a mobile navigation that shows different results than your desktop.
  • Any type of navigation where the menu items are not in the HTML, such as JavaScript-enabled navigation.
  • Personalization, or showing unique navigation to a specific type of visitor versus others, could appear to be cloaking to a search engine crawler.
  • Forgetting to link to a primary page on your website through your navigation.

4. Crawling, Indexing & Robots.txt File

A search bots’ ability to crawl a website is the first step to being indexed and subsequently ranking – bots get their crawling rules from the Robots.txt file.

If you are not seeing a website show up in search results this could be due to several crawler related issues:

  • Your site is brand new and hasn’t been crawled yet
  • Your site isn’t linked to from any external sites
  • Your site’s navigation makes it hard for a robot to crawl it effectively
  • Your site contains some basic code called crawler directives ( found in the robots.txt ) that is blocking search engines
  • Your site has been penalized by Google for spammy tactics ( looking at you keyword stuffers )
  • Your site content is hidden behind a login

Crawling vs. Indexing

Crawling and indexing are the fundamental steps that take place while a robot is processing a website. It is important to know what these two processes are and what the difference is between them.

Crawling is when search engines scour the Internet for content. They are looking over the code/content for each URL they find. Indexing is when search engines store and organize the content found during the crawling process. Once a page is in the index, it’s in the running to be displayed as a result to relevant queries.


Robots.txt files are located in the root directory of websites ( ex. ). It tells crawlers which part of your site search engines should and shouldn’t crawl. As well as, the speed at which they crawl your site.

Robot.txt Must Knows

  • In order to be found, a robot.txt file must be placed in a website’s top-level directory. Robots.txt is case sensitive. The file must be named “robots.txt” not “Robots.txt” or “robots.TXT or any other iteration.
  • The /robots.txt file is publicly available. You can add “/robots.txt” to the end of any root domain to see a website’s directives.
  • Each subdomain on a root domain uses separate robots.txt files. This means that both and should have their own robots.txt files.
  • It’s best practice to indicate the location of any sitemaps associated with the domain at the bottom of the robots.txt file.

Crawl Errors

Web development teams should be aware of different crawl errors and how to resolve them. These errors are either 400 or 500 level http status errors. These are errors that make pages entirely inaccessible to site visitors.

  • 400-level errors mean that the content cannot be found or it is gone altogether.
  • 500-level errors indicate an issue with the server.

5. Website Redirects

Redirects include permanent ( 301 redirects ), temporary (302 redirects & 307 redirects ) and redirect chains. Setting up proper and appropriate redirects is essential. They impact user experience and crawlability.

Types Of Redirects

There are 3 main types of redirects, permanent, temporary and redirect chains. They all have different uses.

  • Permanent Redirects: Or 301 redirects are a way to tell both searchers and search engines that your page has moved permanently. This option is best for SEO.
  • Temporary Redirects: Or 302/307 redirects divert users from one URL to another temporarily. These types of redirects do not pass much “link equity” between pages.
  • Redirect Chains: a redirect from one page to another that redirects to another page and so on. The problem with this is that it takes a few seconds for every redirect to load on the user side. As a result Google decreases the “link equity” each redirect. When a chain is too long, Google won’t even attempt to reach the final page.

Using 301’s Redirects To Avoid 404 Errors

301 redirects are the optimal choice in SEO. Without the redirect, the authority from the previous URL is not passed on to the new page. Which helps Google find and index the new version of the page. Additionally, this redirect ensures users find the page they’re looking for or something similar to it.

The presence of 404 errors on your site do not harm search performance. However it does impact the user experience. Allowing your visitors to click on “dead” links will take them to error pages instead of a page with what they were looking for or something similar, which can be frustrating.

6. On-Page SEO

On-page or on-site SEO is the practice of optimizing web page content for both search engines & users. These are the types of things that can improve search volume and rankings.

On-page SEO is key to gaining and improving SERP rankings and visibility. On-page SEO tells search engines about the content on your page and the value it provides to visitors.

Creating and publishing content is not enough. You must add value by optimizing for search engines and human experience. On-page SEO helps search engines find the most relevant search results for a query.

  • On-page SEO includes items such as:
    • Including page meta descriptions and titles
    • Proper title tag markup on links
    • Proper alt and title tag markup of images
    • Use of H structure
    • Use of internal links
    • Clear URL structure
    • Length and quality of content

So … Why Should Web Developers Care About SEO?

Simply put, just because you built a website does not mean people will see it. Nor does it mean it will just show up in relevant search results. Take the time to work with an SEO early on in a website development process. Working with an SEO or with the guidelines we worked through will ensure each page on your site has proper SEO structure and markup.

If you are responsible for building a website you are also responsible for making sure it has the ability to rank. Many site ranking factors come into play early on in the development process. Such as site navigation, mobile development, url structure, etc. If you are in the habit of circling in an SEO at the end of the project or solely assigning SEO tasks after the site is built, you are creating problems that do not need to exist.

Furthermore, site maintenance involves ongoing SEO practices. Things such as crawl errors, redirects, etc. Understanding the best practices and how to accurately address them without harming site visibility is an essential part of working with SEO as a website developer.

Looking for SEO savvy developers? We have those. Looking for development savvy SEOs? We have those too. Connect with us today to get started.

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    5 Ways To Improve Accessibility On Your Website

    Accessibility elements are easy to overlook on your website. Most of the changes that make a website more accessible won’t appear to do much visually, but rather help improve the usability of your website to people using assistive technology. By optimizing your website to be more  accessible, you make a significant amount of people have a better experience, and you also protect your website from being sued for lack of compliance with accessibility standards and legislative requirements.

    We have gathered five tips on how to get started with improving accessibility on any website.

    #1 Use Alt and Title Tags On Images

    What are alt and title tags for images?

    Alt tags are  a text description of what an image looks like that gets shown if an image fails to load. Screen readers can read the alt tags, helping people with visual impairments understand what is being shown on the screen. Alt tags should be a description of what exactly an image looks like.

    Why are alt and title tags on images important?

    Visual impairments are very common. According to the WHO, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment.

    How do I implement image alt and title tags?

    If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, just make sure you’re filling out the alt option when uploading media. To check if an image has an alt tag in the code, right click it and look for alt=”The alt text” in the <img> element.

    Descriptive hyperlink text means that the text you apply your hyperlinks to should describe where the link is going. Avoid the classic “click here” pitfall, and instead write your sentence first, then go back and choose a logical place to put the link. If done properly, linked text should make sense when read out of context.

    Screen readers can be used to skip around every link on the webpage and if one of them was “click here” the user, presumably vision impaired would have no idea where the link may lead to. In addition to benefiting accessibility, descriptive hyperlinks are good for SEO.

    #3 Ensure Sufficient Color Contrast Ratios

    What is color contrast?

    Color contrast ratios refer to how visible two colors are in relation to each other.

    Why is color contrast important?

    Color blindness affects a large amount of the population, it’s important to make sure everyone can see elements of the page well. This is especially important with text, if the user can’t see it they could miss key information on the web page. The WCAG requires that most text, or images of text have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 to meet the second level of compliance, except in the case of large text (3:1 ratio), incidental or decorative only, or brand logos.

    How can I fix my color contrast?

    There are tools available to check your colors when picking out your palette. Several can be found online including the WebAIM Contrast Checker and If you already have a website, and want to check all the pages for color contrast issues, theres an excellent tool available on There’s also a built in way to scan your website in Chrome based browsers. To use this, go to developer tools, hit the settings button, then go to experiments and enable CSS Overview. This tool checks the color contrast ratio across an entire page and automatically finds compliance issues. For example, this is what the results of a page’s contrast issue scan might look like:

    example of website color contrast analysis

    #4 Ensure Your Page Structure Follows a Logical Order

    What page structure?

    A logical page order is when the elements of the page are presented in the order that they’re laid out in the markup code.

    Why is logical page structure important?

    Screen readers are expected to read things in the order they’re presented visually, but they just parse the markup code. So if the page elements are out of order it causes issues when using a screen reader . This also affects people using the tab key for navigation.

    How can I improve my page structure?

    When initially creating a website, try to avoid using CSS to move things out of their natural flow. A search element that is at the top of the page should be towards the top of the page in the markup. This isn’t quite as common but you can sometimes find it by tabbing through elements where you will run into issues.

    #5 Use Descriptive Headings

    What does it mean to have descriptive headings?

    Descriptive headings means that you are using headings that are clear as to what information you can expect to follow the heading. Being clear and concise is important here. Headings should not be too long but should not be too short that it becomes too general. The headings should be descriptive enough that anyone reading themselves or with a screen reader will have a good idea of the information to follow.

    Why are descriptive headings important?

    Many people that use screen readers jump between paragraphs of text without reading the content in between. This makes it important to have descriptive text, but we often avoid that because it doesn’t look as clean. This is more important than visuals, it affects usability, it should be prioritized.

    Get Started With Website Accessibility Improvements

    Looking for a team of developers who have experience in making websites more accessible? We have a Solution for that. Connect with our team today to get started.

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      Basics of Inclusive Design

      It’s important for designers to take on a position of social responsibility when it comes to inclusive design. It is easy to forget about the limitations of a system or service design and get lost in our own biases. Inclusive design expands your business potential  reach to include those whose needs are not represented in traditional audience segments.  Utilizing an inclusive design strategy when designing your website and other digital brand materials gives your business the ability to reach a wider audience, and to meet the needs of those who have non traditional ways of interacting with your site design.

      Here are the basics of inclusive design and how to get started with integrating it into your design strategy.

      Inclusive Design Vs. Accessible Design

      Although they are closely related, inclusive design is not the same as accessible design. Inclusive design focuses on the process of creating a design that can be used by a diverse group of people. While, accessible design is a design process in which the needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered. 

      Both types of design thinking have a target goal of creating and finding solutions for the largest possible group of people.  Accessible design can be  seen as a piece of inclusive design. Inclusive design is the overarching concept of creating a design for a diverse group of people while accessible design looks at the specific needs and barriers of users who might not have access to a typical design. While one is part of the other they are not synonymous.

      Where Inclusive Design & Accessible Design Overlap

      For digital designers specifically, inclusive design looks at the diversity of experience that may exclude some people from using an interface effectively. Designers have to imagine different circumstances in which a user is excluded from using their products or services. Users who need inclusive design run into barriers that were initially created by those who were designing only for people who do not have barriers. When designers seek out and try to fix these inclusivity issues, they also address accessibility issues as well.

      For example,text-to-speech audio is where inclusive and accessible design meet. This solution addresses both people who may have a disability, and those who are in a situation where they cannot or do not want to read. It is not uncommon for situational and ability-based impairments to produce overlapping pain points and user needs.

      Designers should be aiming to create experiences that are all-inclusive. This means taking into consideration those who are outside of a target demographic, those with disabilities, those in particular environments with differing abilities, and other unique circumstances. Look for cases of exclusion to address that are about context and ability.

      Email and text messages were initially created to include those with disabilities. Now these features are used by everyone and include elements of inclusive design. Creating design solutions that are both inclusive and accessible can change the way we all interact.

      A Visual Of The Differences Between Permanent, Temporary and Situational Disabilities

      It takes time and effort to create with all of these factors in mind. But it is always worth it in the end to make customers happy and to keep up with competitors. It has become standard practice for businesses such as Microsoft and IBM to utilize inclusive design in all their work.

      How Can Designers Incorporate Principles of Inclusivity Into Their Designs

      The opposite of inclusive is exclusive, and logic follows that those who exclude customers lose those customers.

      A place to start is by imagining the context or environment in which your user is interacting with this design experience. What is the user doing at that moment and what is their end goal? Where are they and what are the environmental factors? These are vital things to keep in mind to ensure that you are covering all the bases. Finding solutions that apply to certain scenarios may also apply to much broader audiences.

      a visual of different looking people in the same location

      How to Recognize Exclusion In Design

      Although there is no clear way to begin, a common way of starting to implement  inclusive design is by recognizing exclusion in the first place. Listen and learn from one’s audience, then find and tackle the issues that you can control. Make sure you listen to all perspectives early and often. Designers should be thinking about inclusivity from start to finish. Don’t make inclusive design an afterthought. Imagine the challenges it would bring to make these changes after a project is almost complete.

      Being proactive in identifying points of exclusion is essential in integrating an inclusive design. Take the time to understand how users are actually using your site and how those who cannot see, hear or type may be excluded from using your site due to limitations with design. Understanding where they are being excluded is the beginning of recognizing exclusion in your design. From there you can begin to adjust and include features for those identified users. These can turn into steps in your process of making all designs inclusive.

      Ready to Get Started with Inclusive Design?

      By taking the time to really think about inclusivity in your designs, you are opening up doors to more users, new markets, and bettering your own design practices along the way. It is all about how personal attributes are shaping the market of your product or service. Make sure that you are watching and listening to a diverse range of people, then develop your roadmap for design, development, and production.

      Looking for a team that has experienced designers who are open-minded and listen to your needs? We’ve got the solution for that. Connect with our team today to get started.

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        How The Domain Name System (DNS) Works & Common DNS Records

        Here at Solution Agency we have launched hundreds of websites during our 25-year existence.  One of the most misunderstood tasks of a website launch is making DNS changes. DNS is one of the most critical parts of any company’s website uptime and unfortunately, most people don’t even know that it exists. So we here at Solution we thought it would be beneficial to take a moment and explain DNS and how it works.

        What is DNS?

        DNS stands for Domain Name System. Think of your DNS as a traffic cop of the internet. DNS handles pointing web traffic in the direction it needs to be going in order to keep things streamlined.

        Think of it this way, the DNS has two hands. One is pointing emails to your email IP address and the other hand is pointing website viewers to your website IP address. Now, there is a lot more to it than this, but these two principles are a good starting place when you are new to working with DNS.

        Most people only care that their website and email are working. Typically, when it’s not working, they call their web or IT person and have them fix it. However, it is still good to know some basics about your DNS regardless of if you are the CEO or the IT person. I have included some terms as well as some brief explanations below to help you get a basic understanding of DNS .

        A Visual Overview of How DNS Works

        a visual overview of how DNS works.

        Where is Your DNS Located and How is it Managed? 

        DNS is a series of records that are most commonly hosted on your website registrar’s(like GoDaddy or Network Solutions) nameservers. Nameservers are servers intertwined with the Word Wide Web that store DNS records. Every single domain name is linked to nameservers. Often nameservers are thought of as phone books containing the IP addresses associated with domain names. Nameservers connect your domain to your hosting provider. They let the internet know what specific server hosts a particular website.

        The Most Common DNS Records and What They Do

        A Records

        The A records are used to point a domain or subdomain to a certain IP  address. The A record is the most common type of DNS record used – and the one you are most likely to encounter. Its main function is to point a domain or a subdomain to a particular IP address. In other words, thanks to the A records you are capable of reaching a website on the internet.

        Why is it called an A record?  The “A” actually stands for Address, because this kind of record helps your computer find the correct server when you try to access a website.

        For example, if you have a site called “” and its A record points to, it means that when someone makes a request to it will be directed to the server which has assigned the IP address

        Here is an example of an A record:

        screenshot of an example of what as A Record looks like

        If you have not correctly set your A record for your domain to the server your website is actually hosted on, your domain (website URL) will not be linked to your website and people will not be able to travel to your website when our domain name.

        MX Records

        MX records stand for Mail Exchanger. This record is vital to the proper functioning of your email system. MX records tell the internet which mail server is responsible for managing and hosting your emails.  

        Most MX records have more than one record and are ranked in priority order. The reason for this is that if the first priority MX server is unavailable then the next priority server will be used to ensure that your email is working properly.

        A very commonly used mail service is Google’s G Suite. See below for an example of Google’s MX records:

        screenshot of an example of what Googles MX records look like

        CNAME Records

        CNAME stands for canonical name and this kind of record is used to create an alias between two different domains.

        For example, you can point and to the same website hosted on the same server by using a CNAME record. Here is how this would be implemented:

        An A record would be created for and pointed to the server IP address. You would then create a CNAME record called and point that to The advantage of doing this is that if you needed to change the website IP address you would only have to make that change to one record instead of two.

        A couple of important notes about the CNAME DNS record:

        1. If there’s no A record, then the CNAME record won’t display anything when you try to access the record.
        2. You must always put a period at the end of the CNAME record. The period at the end of the domain name is very important because if you don’t use it, then the DNS server will assume the domain is a subdomain.  So instead of you will get Some systems include the dot automatically, but if you are not sure about it is always better to type the dot on your own.

        Here is a sample CNAME DNS record with corresponding A records:

        a screenshot of an example of what a CNAME DNS record with corresponding A records looks like

        TXT Records

        The TXT, or text records, have different functions, but all of them are used to display certain kinds of information or data for sources outside of your domain. The TXT records are used to manage important records such as SPF and DKIM records discussed below.

        SPF Records

        The SPF record, also known as Sender Policy Framework record, is one of the most important records in regards to email.  SPF records are important because they will tell which hosts are authorized to send emails from a particular domain. 

        If an SPF record is not created in your DNS records, chances are that your emails will be rejected or blocked by email recipients. To create an SPF record you will need to use a TXT record.  One of the most common  SPF records is for Google mail.

        Here is an example record: 

        screenshot of what a SPF record looks like

        If creating a record like this seems daunting, don’t worry!  Many third-party email services providers like Google will provide you with their SPF record. All you have to do is add the TXT record to your DNS. Keep in mind that there shouldn’t be more than one SPF record per domain. If you try to create more than one it could lead to an error in the DNS zone or it will create a conflict for other servers where they are unable to detect which is the correct record.

        There are some nice tools available to check and see if your domain has a valid SPF record. MX toolbox has a great tool specifically for this purpose.

        DKIM Records

        DKIM records, which stands for Domain Keys Identified Mail, is an authentication mechanism for email. DKIM records were created as a way to fight SPAM emails. 

        When a company utilizes this type of TXT record it is making itself responsible for the emails that are sent from its domain.  The DKIM record provides an encryption key and digital signature that verifies that an email message was not forged or altered in any way. This will improve the security of your email and increase deliverability.

        Here is an example of a DKIM record:

        screenshot of an example of what a DKIM record looks like

        As you can see, a DKIM record is a long encrypted TXT record that is unique for each domain. Fortunately, email service providers such as Google have instructions on how to easily create DKIM records

        Managing Your Web Presence Doesn’t Have to Be Daunting

        Though this article only scratches the surface of the power, and various aspects of DNS, hopefully, it provided you with a little more information on the basics of what DNS is and how it works.

        Have DNS questions? Need help on your next web development, design or digital marketing project? Contact Solution Agency, we are your partner solution for all things digital. Our expert team of web developers, designers, and marketers is standing by to help you with any project that you have in mind.

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          4 Easy Tips to Help Your Business Succeed on Social Media (and Avoid Frustration)

          Getting started with social media for your brand or business often has the misinformed reputation of being a low maintenance and a low strategy task. In reality, that is not the case.  If you are going to utilize social media for your brand, giving it the same access to time, resources, and qualified personnel as any other business asset is key for success. 

          Everything and everyone is online, it is crucial for a business to consider social media management as a core part of your business strategy for a number of reasons. Having fully fleshed out social media profiles can act as a trust signal for your brand – this is what we call “social proof” – showing people that your brand is legitimate on a platform other than your own website. Social media can also be a key way to engage with your customers, a place to source reviews, answer questions, take polls, and more.

          Having active and relevant social media profiles can also help your business on the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) side of things – it’s basically impossible to get all of your website traffic from organic search alone, having other sources, like social media profiles, that support driving website traffic is important. Google takes into account your social presence (factors like follower counts, post shares, likes, etc) when determining SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings – a good social media presence can help your brand rank higher in the search results and get more traffic.

          We see many clients get frustrated with social media – it can seem simple enough in concept to spin up a few profiles and make a few posts. However, what we most often see is brands spin up their profiles and make a few posts…and then inevitably let the profile go dormant when it doesn’t immediately take off with a huge following, or interaction rates. This common lifecycle of social media frustration does not need to be your business’s trajectory. 

          Here are four simple tips to help your brand be successful on social media platforms…

          1. Think About Your Business Goals & Relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

          First, think about what goals your business is hoping to achieve by utilizing social media platforms. Your business goals are going to be unique to your business, and having a clear understanding of what you are hoping to achieve is going to set the foundation for which social media platforms you choose to engage with, and how you choose to do so.

          Once you have determined what your goals are, you need to determine what data metrics define success for those goals. For example, if your goal is to drive awareness to a new product you might create a post talking about that new product, and your measurement of success might be how many people interacted with that post (likes, shares, comments). 

          Some common goals and their KPIs might include:

          • Brand Awareness: increase in page followers, increase in social platforms driving website clicks
          • Build an Audience: increase in page followers
          • Customer Interactions: post interactions (comments, likes and shares), page interactions (review posts, question & answer posts)
          • Product Sales: increase in traffic from social sources driving website purchases
          • Career Recruitment: job applications received through social platforms
          • Leads: Contact initiated through social media (i.e. Facebook Chat function), or leads through website traffic from social media (i.e. customer clicked through a social post and submitted a contact form or phone call through your website)

          This is not an all-inclusive list of goals – need help determining the goals best for your business and setting up advanced goal tracking? Connect with our Digital Marketing team today to get started!

          an illustrated key takeaway image 1

          Key Takeaway: Understand the business goals you are trying to reach through social media before getting started.

          2.  Take a Look at Your Target Audience & Competition

          Part of the idea behind having social media profiles is to get in front of and engage with your target audience in places where they are already hanging out online. It is very unlikely that your audience is active on every single social platform.

          Different social media platforms warrant different types of engagement and are sought out for different types of information. You want to make sure that you are choosing the right social platforms that are relevant to your business, and are natural channels for you to communicate with your audience on. If you are trying to be on every single social platform – chances are you are wasting a lot of your time and energy screaming into the void because your audience isn’t actively engaged on that platform.

          Although it can seem like it – your competitors aren’t on every social media platform either. That can give you one of two indications. One is that there is unclaimed territory. The other, that the platform is not worth it for the mutually shared audience you are after. You should research each platform carefully to determine which platform you can compete on if there are any platforms that are low-hanging fruit or platforms that will simply just not be worth your time.

          Here is a breakdown of a couple of the major social platforms, what they are all about, what types of content perform best, and the pros and cons of each platform.

          a table break down of how to succeed on Social Media
          A breakdown of a couple of the major social platforms, what they are all about, what types of content perform best, and the pros and cons of each platform.
          an illustrated key takeaway image 2

          Key Takeaway: Your audience and your competition are not on every social media platform – you don’t need to be either.

          3. Understand Your Available Resources (Including Time!) for Social Media Management

          You’ve taken the time to understand your goals, audience, competition, and which social media platforms might be right for you and have created your profiles on those platforms…so now what?

          What you should avoid doing is creating a profile on a social platform and then ignoring it. Letting it go can be detrimental to brand reputation and trust – not to mention your business’s bottom line. A dormant profile can communicate a myriad of things very quickly to anyone who finds it. For instance, maybe this brand is no longer in business or they do not exist anymore. It sounds dramatic but a dead profile can be the end of the road to gaining a potential customer. It can also communicate the way your business engages with their customers – that you are unresponsive or have poor customer service.

          Having social media profiles is a modern business requirement but when it isn’t maintained it has the potential to turn customers away.  Successful brands on social media are posting consistent brand-relevant content and engaging with their audience.

          It is key when building your social media strategy that you have adequate time and resources to give to it. Building an audience, building good content, and engaging on social media platforms doesn’t happen overnight – it is a consistent effort over time. Think about things like:

          • Who will be creating the content
          • How often you plan to post new content
          • What types of content do you have the resources to create
          • How much time will you need to put aside each day or week to engage and interact with your audience on the platform
          an illustrated key takeaway image 3

          Key takeaway: If you do not have the resources & time to manage each social media profile effectively –  don’t create that profile.

          4. Build The Correct Content for the Platform

          We are all users of social media in our daily lives – it’s easy to see that different social platforms house different types of content. For example, Youtube is used for posting videos, whereas Twitter is used for posting short text-based updates. Typically, content is not 100% interchangeable across platforms – you need to create content that is relevant for each platform.

          A big mistake we often see is businesses that try to use one piece of content on every platform. Without making any significant change to the content or the way it is being presented. This is not using each platform to its full potential nor is it giving the content the chance to thrive in the right format to the right audience.

          an illustrated key takeaway image 4

          Key takeaway: Tailor your content to the platform. The message and the intention can be the same but it should have some visible delivery differences that are unique to the social media platform you are posting on.

          Get Out There and Be Social!

          Building out your social media strategy can seem daunting, but understanding a few simple principles can help your business see social success. Give your social media strategy the same access to time, resources, and personnel as any other business asset. Do the research and choose the right platform for your business so you stand a better chance at implementing a successful social media strategy. Good social media management requires time, resources, and a high-level strategy to become a valuable business asset.

          Need help with your social strategy? Don’t have the time or resources your business needs to thrive on social media? Connect with a member of our strategy team to get started with social media management today.

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            Surviving Your First 90 Days as a New Developer: Top 5 Tips

            Landing your first job as a developer is exciting, but it can also be scary diving into a new career. You’ve been through months, sometimes even years, of learning and practicing all to land your first job. Your first day of work is finally here, you are feeling nervous, your confidence is low, and imposter syndrome kicks in. It’s completely normal to feel nervous – I know I was for my first day. As a new developer working at a digital agency, here are the top 5 tips I have learned in my first 90 days that have helped me.

            5 Tips To Help New Developers

            1. Communication

            I used to think that being a developer was sitting at a desk all day just coding. I couldn’t have been more wrong in that assumption. Communication is a big part of being a developer. You have to be able to communicate effectively with your clients and with your team. 

            As a new (and even as a veteran!) developer it is very important to communicate if, and when, you need help. Don’t pretend to know everything – everyone was new once and even your senior developers don’t know everything!. Communicate with your senior developer(s) and ask a lot of questions! Don’t be afraid to be the newbie – be confident to ask the right questions to get the information you need to succeed at your tasks

            2. Keep Learning

            No matter how much you think you know, how many certificates you’ve acquired, and courses you’ve completed –  you will never be done learning. Thinking that you have nothing left to learn is a dangerous mentality for any developer, especially a new developer. 

            There is so much to learn in the world of web development and technology as a whole. In the world of tech, things are constantly changing and improving. As new technologies and frameworks are released, you’ll have to keep yourself informed to remain competitive and able to provide solutions for your clients that meet current industry standards. 

            Jump into Stack Overflow and GitHub to find the answers to questions you have, or just to scan through the questions other developers are asking. Develop a reading list of industry blogs and magazines. Take a course on new technology. Most importantly – code every day!  

            Here are some resources I like to keep my knowledge up to date:

            3. Tools You Need (And Should Get Good At!)

            Every agency will have different tools and processes that they prefer – but there are a couple of tools that I wish I had a better grasp on before starting my first development job. 

            Code editors –  

            As a developer, you’ll be writing a lot of code, so a proper code editor is a must. The code editor can make a big difference when you’re writing code. It will ease your life as a developer by helping easily navigate and edit code, especially if you learn the keyboard shortcuts to make coding a project just a bit faster. I love to use VS Code, here are some Keyboard shortcuts for VS Code.

            Command line/Terminal – 

            Command-line experience is a must for a developer.

            A lot of your work will be dependent on the command line (git), as well as some technologies requiring you to have command-line knowledge. There will be only a few commands that you’ll have to memorize and as much as you will end up using them, you won’t have a problem memorizing them. For everything else, there’s always our best friend – Google.

            Browser Dev Tool –

            You should be proficient with different browser’s Dev Tool or Developer Tools. Being a web developer is not only about writing code or working with the command line. But also debugging!

            My favorite browser to work with is Chrome. Here is the complete documentation on Dev Tools for Google Chrome.

            4. Stay Organized (Good Planning)

            Organizational skills and good planning can help you save a lot of time, reduce stress when the deadline is approaching, and help you finish on time every day. Making a simple project-based to-do list will allow you to: stay organized, keep your head clear and focus on the task at hand, highlight any roadblocks early, and easily keep your senior developers, managers, and clients in the loop. As the old saying goes – proper planning and preparation prevent poor performance!

            Here are a couple of tools I like to help keep me organized:

            • Trello
            • Note – VS Code extension
            • Notion
            • And of course….when all else fails, pen and paper!

            5. Be Confident

            It’s sometimes easier said than done to remain confident as a new developer – but being confident in the skills/knowledge you do have, and confident in asking questions about the ones you don’t is key to success.

            Stay open to all the new things and be willing to make an effort to explore and understand them. Being a great developer takes time and consistent effort. Be confident in knowing you will reach that senior developer level if you keep practicing, learning, and asking questions.

            Come Code With Us!

            Are you a developer looking for your next opportunity? Check out our job openings – we’d love to have you on our growing development team.

            Are you a client looking for a rockstar development team to provide you with the solutions that will help take your website to new heights? Connect with our sales and strategy team today.

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              What to Expect When Working with the Solution Agency Development Team

              Getting started working with a new development team at a digital agency that your team has never worked with before can seem daunting. You want to make sure that you are getting a development team that is going to take the right approach to ultimately meet your development goals. A team that is agile, and able to work easily with your internal teams is key for most clients.

              Our goal at Solution Agency is to constantly be learning, adapting, and fine-tuning our approach to both our development process and our project management process. Not to mention – making sure we are staying up to date with the latest development trends and technologies to provide you with solutions that are relevant and meet industry standards.

              Curious about what it might be like if you choose Solution Agency as your development partner? Read on…we are going to break down our core development services, how we manage those internally, and how the development team interfaces with our other in-house teams to deliver successful results for every client.

              What Types of Development Projects Does Solution Agency Work On? And HOW Do We Work On Them….

              Full Development Projects

              A full development project encompasses anything from new site builds website site redesigns, implementation of new site functionality, and more. Basically – anything that is not an emergency support request or ongoing site maintenance. These projects are our bread and butter – we love to help our clients build (or rebuild!) their websites into something functional and beautiful that will help them reach their digital goals.

              Managing Full Development Projects

              Full development projects are typically the hardest type to manage. There are a lot of moving parts to full development projects, and depending on the project timelines can be lengthy. Full development projects require a consistent approach from the very start of the project to ensure that our development team, and the client’s internal team (your team!), stay aligned in terms of goals and expectations.

              Don’t worry though – with over 15 years of web development experience, we make sure our process is easy to follow and clearly outlines the expectations every step of the way. Here is how we breakdown the phases of our full development projects:

              Phase 1: Strategy, Technical Discovery and Sitemap/Content Mapping

              The first phase in any full development project is the discovery phase. The discovery phase allows our team to accomplish a couple of key things before we actually begin development including:

              • Understanding your brand’s goals and industry positioning.
              • Collecting your brand’s assets and guidelines – think colors, logos, font styles, and more.
              • Understanding the technical needs (and constraints) of the website. Defining the technologies, frameworks and third party integrations that will be used. For example, does your site need a booking plugin integration? How will that work from a technical standpoint and a user experience perspective?
              • Outlining any specific WordPress backend customizations needed for ease of updating the website longterm.
              • Reviewing any previous website analytics to determine visitor device usage, traffic sources, etc. that may influence end design and responsiveness.
              • Working with the client to determine key content pages, keywords, CTA and messaging used throughout the website. This helps us begin building our initial user flow/sitemaps and content maps.

              We devote a considerable amount of time to this strategy and discovery phase as this phase is crucial to the success of every team that will be working on the project and informs the design and development decisions we make moving forward. 

              The bigger the project – the more time is needed to devote to the management of discovery and strategy. You can expect this to be a highly collaborative phase, between not only our internal teams but with you – the client – to make sure that all of the information we are collecting is correct and aligns with your end goals.

              The end goal of this phase is to gather and record all of the information needed to actually begin the execution of your project. This phase sets every team – not just our development team – up for the successful completion of your project.

              Phase 2: Design

              Most – if not all – full development projects include some sort of design phase. During this phase, our in-house design team will begin to leverage the materials gathered in phase one to start designing your website look and feel concepts.

              While we won’t dive into all the nuts and bolts of the design phase – this article is mainly focused on development team processes – during this phase you can expect our design team to build out a series of page templates, and mobile templates that our developers will use as the basis to begin building your website.

              Our development team likes to be a part of the design conversation and review all designs prior to client review, to confirm that the designs can be executed as expected.

              Phase 3: Development

              After completion and sign-off of the design phase, we start phase three – the development phase. This is where we begin actually building your website – and where the process really starts to get exciting, as things become functional and you see your vision come to life.

              The Solution Agency development team primarily focuses on custom WordPress development. No two sites are the same – and you won’t see any premade or out-of-the-box themes used here. As such, each development phase is going to look a little different depending on the client’s needs and build goals.

              Once we are in phase three, we’ve got our technical strategy, sitemaps, content maps, and site design hammered out. The development process begins with setting up our development environment on our servers. This development environment is our testing grounds and is completely password protected and non-indexable so that our team (and your team!) can work on, and review the site before it goes live for the world to see.

              Once the development environment is set up – we always start with the basics. Building out the core UI of the site (items like headers and footers). From there we start developing the global styles (items like typography, vertical spacing, button styles, etc) and page templates – providing us with a consistent base to load content and specific functionality components into.

              A typical full development timeline might look something like this:

              1. Set up the development environment.
              2. Build base UI and global styles.
              3. Build page templates.
              4. Input website content.
              5. Build any custom functionality and integrate third party plugins or eCommerce functionality.
              6. Present to the client for review and revise as needed.
              7. Client approval to head into QA testing and launch preparations.

              Phase 4: QA Testing & Launch Preparation 

              Once the client has approved the website development in phase three, we move on to phase four: QA testing and launch preparations. In this phase, the Solution Agency development team will do a thorough review of all the website pages and functionality. Looking specifically for UI/UX issues that need to be addressed before the website launches.

              QA testing involves a manual process of clicking around every single page of the website, testing all contact forms, search functionality, plugins, and other third-party integrations. Anything an actual viewer on your website might do – we test it to make sure it works correctly. We also test the website on a variety of popular modern devices, browsers, and screen sizes to ensure that the experience remains consistent for every type of user.

              During phase four we review site performance, utilizing Google developer performance and speed testing tools to assure that our websites meet current performance standards. 

              At the end of phase four, we work with our digital marketing team to ensure that the SEO basics (as listed in your SOW) are met before the site launches. This might include items like:

              • Connecting Google Analytics
              • Connecting Google Search Console
              • Basic on-page SEO optimizations:
                • Meta titles
                • Meta descriptions
                • Alt tags on images
                • H structure
              • Set up any 301 redirects as needed
              • Configuration of Yoast SEO plugin

              Once our development team has completed the QA phase, we then pass the website on to the client for a final review before we take the website live.

              Phase 5: Launch

              The launch is the most exciting phase for most clients – this is when our development team takes your website live on the internet for the world to see. 

              A lot can go into a launch process – and each site is different – so we won’t be detailing all of the launch steps in this article. However, you can expect a couple of things after we have launched your new website including:

              • Immediate installation of SSL certificate
              • Submission of final sitemap to Google Search Console
              • Final review of website functionality and 301 redirects, immediate fix of any post-launch issues.
              • A 2-hour virtual WordPress training for your team to make website content updates (if requested)

              Okay…but what if I don’t need a full development project? What other development services does your team offer?

              We’re happy you asked – our development team also handles support requests and ongoing website support services.

              Support Requests & On-Going Support Services

              What is website support?

              Anything from an existing client regarding a site we made for them (or one we inherited). This could be a report of an issue, a request for a new page, a request for a menu change, content changes, etc.

              What is the most crucial aspect to successful support services?

              Communication. We always aim to let a client know an estimate, target start/end date, and any potential challenges we anticipate. Communication is key to a successful support relationship.

              How does our development team manage support services?

              We have a quick 30-min huddle every morning to make sure that our team is always aligned on support request timelines, and to review new support requests that come in. We use project management software to track the hourly progress, from estimate to confirmation, and that the request is completed as expected. 

              Every new approved task (or set of tasks) is entered into our project management software as a new support project. This allows budgets, due dates, and notifications to be set on a granular project level. This provides a system for making sure that nothing gets lost in the shuffle and allows for easy billing transparency (something our clients enjoy!).

              Support requests are a shared responsibility that our entire development team takes on. Our goal is to get tasks in and out efficiently and correctly. With clearly defined estimates, start and stop dates – our clients always know what to expect from our development support services so they can plan accordingly.

              The Development Solution You’ve Been Waiting For

              We believe in our processes, and tools – but what makes our development team a success is the people on it. Our combined experience and ability to work in unison as a cohesive team is what sets our web development services apart from the rest.

              Ready to get started on your next development project? Need some development support? We’ve got the solution you need – from big to small our developers can tackle it all – connect with our team today.

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                Reaching Your Audience with Google Display & Google Video Ads

                Digital Ad Targeting in the Wake of iOS 14.5

                The recent iOS 14.5 data tracking privacy update from April 2021 has advertisers scrambling to figure out how to change up their digital advertising mix. The iOS 14.5 update allows iOS device users (basically, anyone that uses an iPhone!), to opt-out of data sharing on apps on their device. While this update affects all apps on iOS, this update poses a significant threat to the efficacy of Facebook and Instagram ads in particular, which heavily rely on collecting user data for its ad targeting options. 

                Facebook is projecting that only 20-25% of iOS users will continue to opt-in to data sharing. Once a user has opted out of data sharing on the Facebook platform you are no longer able to target personalized ads to them through interest, demographic, and lookalike targeting. Since the rollout of this iOS update, early data is showing nearly a 60% drop in Facebook ad performance. 

                Along with reducing the availability of target audiences for personalized ads on Facebook and Instagram, this update also makes it harder for advertisers to collect and measure data from ads — data like conversions — making it harder for advertising to see how many sales or lead conversion actions were attributed to their Facebook or Instagram ads.

                While this update has not yet affected Android platforms, we can likely expect to see similar privacy updates rolling out on Android phones sometime in the future as global privacy standards continue to evolve. In the meantime, cost-per-click prices for Android users are skyrocketing, as they make up the bulk of remaining target-able audiences.

                image of laptop with text of key take aways

                Key takeaway: Facebook and Instagram now have a much smaller sample size of audience data available for ad targeting. Advertisers may be paying more to reach someone who doesn’t totally fit their target audience. For the foreseeable future, we can expect to see Facebook and Instagram ads less effective for the amount of money spent.

                (Re)Mixing Your Digital Advertising Mix

                In the wake of the iOS 14.5 update, I’ve had many clients asking me about different advertising options that will help them reach their target audiences, particularly ad targeting options for Google Display and Google Video (Youtube) ads. Many smaller advertisers had previously opted to spend less on these channels in favor of Facebook and Instagram, as the targeting was more granular and costs were typically lower. 

                A lot of our clients are local businesses and do not have huge advertising budgets to waste on generalized Facebook campaigns that are not helping them reach their target audience and are unable to correctly track results. Google Display ads and Google Video (Youtube) ads present a way to continue targeting audiences with some granularity in places online where your audiences are already hanging out; these campaign types are also able to utilize visual ad formats similar to Facebook. 

                Do we think that advertisers should abandon Facebook and other social advertising altogether – absolutely not! But we do think it’s a good idea to reevaluate your digital marketing strategy and advertising mix frequently to determine if your digital mix is delivering you the best possible ROI for your ad spend.

                Thinking about adding Google Display ads or Google Video (Youtube) ads into your digital marketing mix but don’t know where to start? Read on…

                Google Display Ads

                What are Google Display Ads?

                Google Display ads are ads that are shown on articles, websites, or videos that consumers browse. With Google Display ads your ads are shown across the Google Display Network (GDN) — over 2 million websites that reach 90% of the internet.

                You may already be familiar with Google Search ads; these are the ads that appear in search results when you enter a search query (keyword, question, etc.). Google Search ads target people actively searching for a specific query. Google Display ads, however, are a little different. Google Display ads show ads to people who are in set targeted audiences, or on websites of specific topics passively, when people are not actively searching. 

                Since Google Display ads are not predicated on a search query, they can be a fantastic way to spread awareness about your brand/product to a larger audience who may be interested in your products/services.

                Google Display ads can also be a fantastic tool in your remarketing mix, targeting people who have previously visited your website or completed a conversion action to help keep your brand/product top of mind by following these users around the web and displaying ads to them.

                What Do Google Display Ads Look Like?

                Google Display ads are (typically) a visual ad format. You can utilize both animated and still ad assets, as well as video assets in your Display ads. There are a couple of different ad types you can choose from within your Display campaign — we recommend using a mix of both for best results.

                Google Display ads have two main ad types you can choose from:

                1. Image Ads: These are still or animated images that have no additional ad copy or call-to-action (CTA) text associated with them. You create your ad assets in a variety of sizes that fit within different ad spots within website headers, sidebars, or main content.

                For example, this banner ad was spotted within the content of a blog article on our client’s website:

                Interested in getting started making money showing Google ads on your website? If you want to be one of the websites in the Google Display network, you can apply through Google AdSense. Need help getting Google AdSense set up on your website – not a problem, reach out to our team today.

                2. Responsive Display Ads: Responsive display ads combine still images or video assets with text and CTA buttons. Within Google Ads, you can choose up to 15 images, and up to 2 video assets to combine with a selection of headlines, long headlines, descriptions, and CTA buttons. Google then dynamically picks and chooses assets to display together based on available ad sizes, audience, and past performance data.

                For example, a responsive ad may look like this furniture company ad — with an image, a headline, a description, and a clickable button:

                Google Video (Youtube) Ads

                What are Google Video (Youtube) Ads?

                Google Video (Youtube) ads are video-based ad campaigns that allow you to reach your audience on Youtube and other Google video partners. With Google Video ads you can choose for your video to appear within Youtube search results, Youtube videos, or on other video partners within the Google Display Network. Video ad content must be hosted on YouTube.

                Google Video ads work in a very similar way to Google Display ads — they appear to targeted audiences passively and most formats do not require a search query to appear.

                What Do Google Video (Youtube) Ads Look Like?

                Video ads are exactly what they sound like: a video is your ad creative. Videos can vary in length based on which ad format you choose.

                Google Video ads have a few different ad formats you can choose from:

                Skippable in-stream ads: appears on Youtube and on Google video partner websites. Skippable in-stream ads play before, during, or after other videos. After 5 seconds the viewer has the option to skip the ad. 

                Non-skippable in-stream ads: appears on Youtube and on Google video partner websites. Non-skippable in-stream ads must be 15 seconds or shorter, and they are able to show before, during, or after other videos. The viewer does not have the option to skip the ad. Non-skippable in-stream ads can also appear on Youtube TV depending on eligibility.

                Both types of in-stream ads might look something like this: 

                If the ad is skippable it will have the “Skip Ad” button, if it is non-skippable then this button will not be there.

                Video discovery ads: appear within Youtube search results or on the Youtube mobile homepage. Video discovery ads are a thumbnail image from your video combined with text that invites people to click the video to watch.

                Video discovery ads that appear on the mobile Youtube homepage might look something like this:

                Video discovery ads that appear in Youtube search results will be at the top of the search results. Here I searched for “real estate” videos and we can see that a video discovery ad is a top result:

                Bumper ads: appears on Youtube and on Google video partner websites. Bumper ads can also appear on Youtube TV depending on eligibility. Bumper ads must be 6 seconds or shorter and are non-skippable. Bumper ads can play before, during, or after another video. Bumper ads look nearly identical to the in-stream ads listed above, but they do not contain a “Skip Ad” button.

                Outstream ads: are mobile-only ads, and appear on websites and apps that are Google video partners. This ad format is not eligible to run on Youtube. Outstream ads can run in a variety of different mobile placements such as banners, interstitials, and more. Outstream ads begin playing automatically with the sound off, and views must tap to unmute the ad. An example of an outstream ad might look something like this:

                You’ll notice the volume button on outstream ads where the user can toggle sound.

                Targeting Options for Google Display & Google Video Ads

                Okay – so now that you know the basics of what Google Display and Google Video ads are and how they look….how do we get these ads in front of the right audience? We don’t want to waste time or money serving ads to people that are not going to perform the desired conversion action, so taking the time to understand your different ad targeting options is key.

                Google Display and Google Video ads have a huge range of targeting options to help you get your ads in front of the right audience. We do suggest going through some brand positioning exercises and having a good understanding of your consumer’s mindset to help you understand who your target audience is before this point.

                The two ways to target display and video ads are through:

                1. Audience Targeting
                2. Content Targeting

                Within those two buckets falls a number of subcategories. It can seem overwhelming when you are first jumping in (feeling a little TOO overwhelmed? Reach out to our team for help today.) – but stay with me! We are going to break down all of the different categories and how to implement each type of ad targeting below…

                Audience Targeting

                Google Display & Google Video (Youtube) ads allow you to set the audience that you want your ads to reach. You can select a range of features that fit your ideal target audience — such as their demographics (i.e. age, gender, income), personal interests (i.e. cars, real estate, hip-hop music), things they are actively planning or researching (i.e. someone who has added new running shoes to their shopping cart), lookalike audiences (audiences similar to your chosen audience), and remarketing audiences (people who have interacted with your ads or website previously).

                Key takeaway: Audience targeting defines who your ads are served to.

                Demographic Targeting

                Demographic targeting allows you to choose audiences that fall within specific demographic groups such as:

                • Age
                • Gender
                • Parental Status
                • Household Income

                Benefits of using demographic targeting:

                • Align ad delivery with your base target market.
                  • For example, if you sell orthopedic womens shoes, you might want to select an age and gender demographic that fits this product (i.e. Ages 45-54, 55-64, and 65+, Female)

                How to set demographic targets in your campaign:

                1. By default when you create a new campaign all of the available demographics will be active. To change targeting for your campaign, select the ad group within your campaign that you want to adjust. Then select “Settings” from the left-hand menu.

                2. On the settings page you will see a button that says “Edit ad group targeting.” When you click this button you will be taken to a screen where you can edit your demographic targeting. Once you have made your selections click the blue “SAVE” button at the bottom of the screen to apply your demographic targeting selections to your campaign.

                3. If you want to remove demographic targets, exclude demographics, or set specific bid adjustments for different demographics. You can do this within the ad group you want to edit, select “Demographics” from the left-hand column. From here you will see you can select the different demographics.

                4. To make adjustments to a particular demographic, select it from the list and click the “Edit” dropdown button. You will see a dropdown menu populated with the different options of things you can configure on that particular demographic. For example, if you wanted to bid higher on the 25-34 age range, you would select “Change bid adjustments” from the dropdown.

                Location Targeting

                Location targeting options allow you to selectively limit the availability of your ads by geographic areas. For example, a brick-and-mortar furniture store that doesn’t sell online might only be interested in targeting a 20-mile radius around their store — as any further than that and customers are unlikely to visit the store location.

                Benefits of using location targeting:

                • Target areas where your customers actually live
                • Useful for businesses that only serve certain areas
                • Useful for excluding areas
                  • For example, if you are a mental health services facility that only takes Ohio Medicaid patients, you would want to exclude all states other than Ohio.

                How to set locations in your campaign:

                1. To set location targets in your campaign, select the campaign you would like to add locations to in Google Ads and then select “Locations” from the left-hand menu.

                2. In this particular campaign, you can see we are targeting the USA by default. If we want to edit this, we will need to click on the blue circular pencil icon, and from here we can add in specific locations, or radiuses to target. Once you have selected your locations, hit the blue “SAVE” button at the bottom of the screen to add your location targets to your campaign.

                Interest Targeting

                Interest targeting gives you options for different categories that people have shown interest in. Ads will be shown to people with an interest in these categories, even if they are on a website/video/channel about another topic.

                Within interest targeting, there are several different interest categories you can choose from:

                • Affinity audiences: People who have strong interest in a specific topic.
                • Custom affinity audiences: Custom audiences that you can create that are highly tailored to your brand or product compared to the more broad standard affinity audiences. You can set custom affinity audiences with interests, URLs of related websites, and by linking related apps. 
                  • For example: if you are a store that sells Football memorabilia, you could select the broad affinity target of “Sports Fans”. Or you could add in additional specificity with custom affinity audiences by entering interests like: sports collector, football, football fans, entering “” as a related website and then connecting apps that Football fans might be interested in, such as the NFL Fantasy Football app.
                • Life events: Life events allow you to reach customers based on recent lifestyle or behavior shifts and life milestones such as: moving, graduating college, or getting married.
                  • For example: if you are a wedding planner offering services, you might want to target people who have the life event “getting married.”
                • In-market audiences: In-market audiences are groups of customers who are actively researching and considering buying products or services.

                Download the full lists of affinity categories, topic placements and in-market categories.


                  Benefits of using interest targeting:

                  • Reach users that have interests that align with your brand or product and avoid wasting advertising dollars on audiences whose interests do not align with what you are trying to sell.
                  • Reach users who have high-intent to buy
                  • Reach users whose recent life events your product or service

                  How to set interest targets in your campaign:

                  1. To set interest targets in your campaigns, select the ad group within the campaign you’d like to update. Then select “Audiences” from the left-hand column. Note: Interest targeting is set at the ad group level.

                  2. If your campaign is new, or has not previously had any interest audiences applied, this page will be empty to start. Click the blue circular pencil button to bring up the field to select audiences.

                  3. Once you have selected any affinity audiences, in-market, and life events you want to target, they will populate the right side of the field. Then click the blue “SAVE” button to apply the audiences to your campaign.

                  Lookalike Targeting (Similar Audiences)

                  Lookalike or Similar Audience targeting, is a targeting feature that lets you expand the reach of your best-performing audiences, or remarketing audiences by targeting new users with similar characteristics.

                  Benefits of using lookalike targeting:

                  • Expand the reach of your campaign to new users who are similar to your existing users.
                  • Similar audiences are updated in real time and use Google’s machine learning to analyze user signals to deliver your ads to people who are likely to convert.

                  How to apply similar audience targeting to your campaign:

                  1. To set up similar interest targeting in your campaigns, select the ad group within the campaign you’d like to update. Then select “Audiences” from the left-hand column. If your campaign is new, or has not previously had any interest audiences applied, this page will be empty to start. Click the blue circular pencil button to bring up the field to select audiences.

                  2. In the audience selection field, you want to choose “How they have interacted with your business (Remarketing and similar audiences)”, and then choose “Similar audiences” to see the audiences available to you. Available similar audiences populate automatically based on your active remarketing lists, and custom audiences.

                  3. Once you have selected your similar audiences, you will see them populate on the right-hand side of the audience selection box. After you have completed your selections, hit the blue “SAVE” button to apply similar audiences to your campaign.

                  Remarketing (Customer Match)

                  Remarketing is a powerful way to help you deliver ads and reach people who have previously visited your website, completed a website purchase, watched your videos, or otherwise interacted with your brand/business in the past.

                  Remarketing is a huge topic — we could write an article about remarketing alone. However, we are going to focus on the basics of remarketing audiences as it pertains to targeting for Google Display and Google Video ads. (Let us know if you are interested in a longer guide on remarketing!)

                  The two primary types of remarketing audiences that apply in this scenario are:

                  • Website & app remarketing: Show your ads to past website visitors, converters etc. as they browse sites and apps on the Google Display Network.
                  • Video remarketing: Show ads to people who have previously watched or interacted with your videos or Youtube channel as they use Youtube and browse sites within the Google Display Network.

                  Benefits of remarketing:

                  • Show ads to people who have previously interacted with your business.
                  • Create remarketing lists for specific cases (i.e. someone who added something to their shopping cart but did not complete the purchase)

                  How to add remarketing audiences to your campaign:

                  1. To get started with remarketing, you will first need to set up some remarketing lists through your Google Ads Audience manager. You can learn more about setting up video remarketing audiences and website remarketing audiences through Google documentation.

                  2. Once you have added your remarketing lists to your audience manager, they will now be available to select in the audience selector for individual ad groups.

                  3. Select the ad group within the campaign you’d like to update. Then select “Audiences” from the left-hand column. If your campaign is new, or has not previously had any interest audiences applied, this page will be empty to start. Click the blue circular pencil button to bring up the field to select audiences.

                  4. In the audience selection field, you want to choose “How they have interacted with your business (Remarketing and similar audiences)”, and then choose “Website Visitors” Any available remarketing audiences that you previously set up in your Audience Manager will be available for you to select. Once you have made your selections, click the blue “SAVE” button to apply the remarketing audiences to your campaign.

                  Content Targeting

                  Google Display and Google Video ads allow you to set where your ads actually appear on the web with various content targeting options. From a really granular level, you can set whether ads appear on specific websites, Youtube channels, and Youtube videos. You can continue to drill down your ad targeting with keywords that target ad placements on content related to those keywords, and device-specific targeting options

                  Key takeaway: Content targeting defines where your ads will show.


                  Topics targeting lets you target your ads to a wide range of videos, channels, and websites related to the topics you select. 

                  For example, if you are targeting the topic of “Books & Literature,” you enable your ad to show on any website, video, or channel that includes content about books, book reviews, bookshops, and other similar themes. 

                  Benefits of using topic targeting:

                  • Show your ads on a broad set of videos, channels, and websites all related to specific topics.
                  • Quick to ramp up ad delivery.
                  • Ability to exclude topics to make sure ads do not show on topics unrelated to your business or topics that are not performing well.

                  Download the full lists of affinity categories, topic placements and in-market categories.


                    How to add topic placements to your campaign:

                    1. To set topics in your Display or Video ad campaign, select your campaign in Google Ads and then select the “Topics” item from the left-hand menu.

                    2. When you are working on a new campaign, or a campaign that has not previously had any topics selected, you will not see any data populated on the page. To add new topics to a campaign you will click on the blue circular pencil icon and a field will populate on the page where you can select your topics. In this field, you can search for topics by a word, phrase, URL, or you can browse through the available topics in the left-hand column.

                    3. Once you have selected your topics, you will see them populate on the right-hand side of the box. After you have finished making your selections simply hit the blue “SAVE” button to add your placements to your campaign.


                    Placement targeting allows you to select the Youtube channels, Youtube Videos, video lineups (this option is only available for video ads), websites, apps, or app categories that you would like your ads to show on.

                    Benefits of using placement targeting:

                    • Ability to show ads on specific websites, videos, channels, or apps that you have hand selected.
                    • Show your ads on websites, videos ,etc. where you already know your audience is. 
                    • The ability to set individual placement bids to be more or less competitive on specific placements.

                    How to Set Placements in Your Campaign:

                    1. To set placements in your Display or Video ad campaign, select your campaign in Google Ads and then select the “Placements” item from the left-hand menu.

                    2. When you are working on a new campaign, or a campaign that has not previously had any placements selected, you will not see any data populated on the page. To add new placements you will click on the blue circular pencil icon and select “Edit Placements” from the popup menu.

                    3. From here the field to select your placements will be at the top of the page. You can search for placements by word, phrase, URL, or video ID.

                    4. Once you have selected your placements, you will see them populate on the right-hand side of the box. After you have finished making your selections simply hit the blue “SAVE” button to add your placements to your campaign.


                    You may already be familiar with keyword targeting if you have run Google Search campaigns in the past. Google Display and Google Video campaigns also allow you to select keywords. When you select keywords for a Display or Video campaign, Google will find relevant websites, videos, or channels that include your keywords, as well as relevant audiences who are interested in those keywords.

                    Structuring keywords – examples:

                    When you are utilizing keywords in a Display or Video campaign you want to make sure your campaigns are effectively separated into ad groups by different products or services you offer.

                    For example, if you are building a campaign for your garden supply center your instinct may be to build a campaign with one ad group and lump all your keywords into that ad group – for example:

                    Ad GroupKeywords
                    Garden Supply Centerflowers, shovel, petunias, fertilizer, gardening gloves, potting soil, mulch, tulips, seeds, trowel

                    However, this structure may not produce the best results for your ads as you have keywords of many different themes within one ad group. A better way to structure this to ensure that your ads are showing in the most relevant places for your keyword sets would be to split your campaign into multiple, tightly themed ad groups. 

                    For example, for your garden center campaign you might break out into the following ad groups:

                    Ad GroupKeywords
                    Flowers petunias, flowers, tulips
                    Soilspotting soil, soil, mulch
                    Garden Suppliesgardening gloves, trowel, shovel

                    Guidelines for choosing keywords:

                    • Choose keywords related to the product or service of the ads in your ad group.
                    • Create a set of 5-20 keywords, two or three word phrases tend to work well.
                    • Select keywords related to the websites that your audience would be likely to see.
                    • If you have a well-known or recognizable brand, include some brand keywords

                    How to set keywords in your campaign:

                    1. To set keywords in your Display or Video ad campaign, select your campaign in Google Ads and then select the “Keywords” item from the left-hand menu.

                    2. When you are working on a new campaign, or a campaign that has not previously had any keywords selected, you will not see any data populated on the page. To add new placements you will click on the blue circular + icon. After clicking the icon a field will populate on the page where you can enter your keywords. In this field, you can enter your list of keywords or get keyword ideas from a website, product, or service.

                    3. Once you have entered your keywords in the box, simply hit the blue “SAVE” button to add your keywords to your campaign.


                    For your Google Video and Google Display campaigns, you can target your ads to specific devices. 

                    The available devices to target are:

                    • Computers: desktops or laptops larger than 7 inches.
                    • Mobile: handheld devices, including phones
                    • Table:  Mobile tablet devices (i.e. iPad, Kindle Fire)
                    • TV Screens: Devices that stream TV content such as a smart SV, gaming consoles, and connected Chromecast devices (this option is only available for video campaigns)

                    You can further narrow your device targeting by targeting specific operating systems, device models, and different wireless carriers.

                    Benefits of device targeting:

                    • Tighter bid control, insight into which device has the highest conversion rates vs which have lower conversion rates lets you set better bid strategies to not waste money on devices that historically perform poorly. If a device type is irrelevant to your product or service, you don’t have to waste money on serving ads to it.
                    • Ability to control relevancy of ads based on device.
                      • For example, if you are selling iPhone 10 phone cases, you might want to only target your ads to show to people on iPhone 10 devices.

                    How to set devices in your campaign:

                    1. To set devices in your campaign, select the campaign you want to edit devices for in Google Ads, and in the left-hand menu select “Settings”. If you scroll down the settings page you will see a drop-down menu labeled “Devices”. Note: Device targets are set at the campaign level. You must be on the campaign view, not in an ad group view in order to get to the device settings.

                    2. From here you can select to either show on “all eligible devices” or to “set specific targeting for devices”. If you select “set specific targeting for devices” you will be presented with the different device targeting options. Once you have made your selections hit “SAVE” in the bottom right of the screen to add your device settings to your campaign.

                    Navigating the Changes Tides of Digital Ad Targeting

                    For businesses of any size, navigating the waters of digital advertising has never been easy. As privacy standards continue to evolve, we can expect to see more challenges thrown our way. Understanding which advertising platforms can help you to reach your target audience in an ever-changing, and increasingly crowded digital space is just one step.

                    Want to get started with Google Display, Google Video ads? Need help setting up your target audiences? We can help you discover the digital marketing solution that is right for your business. Connect with a member of our team to get started today.