Recently we’ve had several new customers with existing paid search campaigns come to us. As we have taken over these campaigns, we’ve come across a basic mistake that other providers make: failing to weed out negative keyword phrases.
This is a pretty basic tenet that, when done diligently, helps ensure that your ads appear in front of your target audience. When you set up your campaign in Google, you enter the keyword phrases that your customers search for (when looking for you or what you offer). Letting the algorithm automatically add keywords to your campaign appears to be where the issues arise. So instead, turn that off and monitor what search terms Google shows your ad for.
Note here that keyword phrases and actual search terms are different. If your company is an HVAC company located in Denver and you set a phrase of “Air conditioning repair near me”, the algorithm mostly gets it right. But if someone searches for Air conditioning repair Gainesville, and Google can’t determine where the searcher is, your ad may show. And get clicked on. And cost you.
But if you mark that term as a negative keyword phrase, that won’t happen again. And geography is just one way the algorithm is imprecise. Going with the same concept of an HVAC company, if someone search for RV heater repair, that probably isn’t a good lead. Marking it as a negative keyword means that Google won’t show your ad to future searches for that phrase.
Need help managing your campaign or understanding how to do this? Give Brian at call at 303-268-2245 ext.4
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) continues to mature as a discipline and as it does, the things that one must do continue to change. Some of the work of SEO is quite straightforward and in fact the single most important thing you can do to boost your rankings is to have quality content about what you do.
No search engine will send visitors your way if you don’t explicitly tell them what you do using the keyword phrases that people would naturally use in the search bar to look for a company doing what you do or selling what you sell.
But it used to be all about getting a page to rank. Earlier this year, Google rolled out “passage ranking” which is where Google tries to provide the one passage on a web page that answers the question the searcher has. I guess one example of that would be if you searched for “to be or not to be” you wouldn’t want the result to be the script of Hamlet. You want to get straight to Act 3, Scene 1 where Hamlet opens with “To be, or not to be, that is the question . . . “. And those are the passages that Google seeks to show you for specific searches.
Google’s ability to index pages and understand the content well enough to know that, buried deep in the page is a specific answer to someone’s search is powerful (and a tad scary). But what it really points back to is the importance of having quality content.
Another key to both SEO and user engagement is using a mix of content types. Text, yes, we’ve already addressed that. But having images, videos and perhaps infographics to help illuminate your content will help both getting traffic through the search engine AND in engaging the visitor once they get to your page.
Pretty much everyone has heard of cookies. They are those (nasty?) things that track you on the internet, right? It’s just a part of internet marketing, yes?
Well kind of. But they are also those nifty things that once you’ve logged in to a site mean that you don’t have to keep logging in. They are the cool things that mean you are less likely to see ads completely unrelated to who you are and what you like to buy.
A cookie is a small file that can help a website remember who you are – great for online shopping when you put something in your cart and then leave. When you come back, your stuff is still right there in your cart. It can also be used to track you across other web sites or even across all the sites you visit.
Privacy Concern or Just Internet Marketing?
And that is where the trouble lies. Privacy is becoming an ever-increasing concern for folks as they surf the web – it isn’t anyone else’s business what sites I visit.
Now browser developers (like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla, Safari, Brave, etc.) are ending their support for 3rd party cookies to help protect consumer privacy.
What does this mean exactly? No one is sure just yet. As tracking 3rd party cookies goes away, you can be pretty sure advertisers will find new ways to target their market appropriately. And Google certainly won’t lose out as they will still be able to track searches on their search engine and track users who use the ubiquitous Google Analytics tracking for websites.
Does this mean that your privacy is better protected? Not necessarily. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in targeting and delivering ads simply moves the protections to a different level. But this is a step intended to protect consumers.
How it will all play out is yet to be determined but if you are not sure if your site will be affected, contact us.
Over the course of the last several years, we have had many customers come to us asking for Search Engine Optimization. We do SEO (and we do it well) so we are happy to accommodate.
But as a part of our marketing assistance, we seek to understand the goals of the SEO program. On a few occasions the customer’s goal has not been to get a higher ranking with the search engines. Those conversations go something like this:
Customer: I would like you to do SEO for my site. EduCyber: Sure thing, let’s take a look at your numbers. First, what is your conversion rate for your web site? C: ??? E: How many leads are you generating from your site on a daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly basis? C: I’m not. E: So if we get you ranked in the top ten for all of your keywords and you are still at a conversion rate of zero, will you be happy? C: Of course not! E: So let’s look at what you want to accomplish. C: I want the phone to ring! E: Ah, we can help with that.
And in many cases what we do is first tweak or in some cases redo the site to clarify and simply the Call To Action (CTA). Once we’ve done that we can establish a conversion rate. Once the conversion rate is established, then we can look at whether SEO, Pay Per Click, Social Media or some combination of those is the appropriate solution in order to get more business.
Are you wondering if you might be practicing misguided marketing? Some of the comments we hear from folks include:
We tried social media, it didn’t work.
I don’t get any feedback from my SEO firm.
I get all kinds of reports from them but I don’t understand any of them.
We’re paying a lot of money but not getting any tangible results.
I’m told we rank high but the phone isn’t ringing
I’m paying for clicks and I see the reports but no one is contacting us.
On the Internet, content is king. If you want to be ranked in the search engines, the best thing you can do is put original content on your website.
We often have existing or potential customers get very enthusiastic about generating content for their site as we extoll the virtues of doing so. And they often follow their content generation plan very religiously . . . for at least a week or two. But then other bright shiny objects grab their attention and they wander away from their schedule. Sometimes they never return.
Everyone can write, right? Sure we aren’t all the best spellers or best grammaticians. But who knows your business better than you? So it can’t be that hard to write a few lines of content. Or maybe you love to write. You can easily fill page after page about what you do.
But is your content web-ready? Is it optimized for search? Have you considered the placement of key words and key word phrases? There are a myriad of web specific things to understand and implement into your web site content.
Is it in a web-friendly font?
Is it broken up into digestible chunks?
Do longer paragraphs have visual cues to help readers quickly grasp the main points?
Have you used headings?
Have you used subheadings?
What is the call to action in your text?
How much information is too much?
Will your content look good on mobile devices?
How much information should you include so search engines can properly index your page?
Are there any visuals you can use along with your text to illustrate key points?
Did you actually use any of your key words or keyword phrases?
Does your keyword phrase appear in the first paragraph of content?
And the list goes on . . .
And what happens if you don’t consider any of these questions?
Most likely your site will be lower in the search rankings than you would like. Most likely you will attract fewer visitors. Most likely the visitors that you do attract will not be as meaningfully engaged as you would like. Most likely your site won’t perform for you. It won’t help you grow and attract new business. It won’t help you engage existing customers. And then you’ll blame your web design team for building a poor site.
Don’t get in trouble with your content. Instead, turn to someone who gets content and understands how the web works. If you choose not to have us do it, choose someone who is well-qualified. If you do choose to work with us, contact us today to get started.
We work with a lot of smaller companies who tell us straight up that they are too small or below the radar to have a brand.
We say hogwash!
Every single organization – for profit or non-profit – has a brand. Included in the brand are tangible and intangible things like:
Standing of the leaders of the organization
Presence on the internet (web site)
Presence on social media
A song or ditty that represents your organization
What your customers think of you
A particular phrase or tag line that people associate with you
You can control a lot of these aspects of your brand digitally and those that you can’t control, you can still influence.
If you hear of a company or meet someone interesting at an event and immediately do an internet search for them or their website, you can understand the power of your digital brand. Sure it is easy for the big brands. I actually rewrote the first sentence of this paragraph, changing “google” to “do an internet search for”. We get the big brands, from Nike’s swoosh to McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” to the theme song for “Game of Thrones”. But for “little brands” like you and I, what are we to do?
First thing is to do a search for your name. Don’t add a “.com” or “.org” on the end. Just your name. And look at the results. Check beyond Google. At least add Bing into the mix. Do you like what you see? Here are some things to look for:
Does your company or organization dominate all the listings? It should.
Have you claimed your location on each site you search on?
Are the images the location associates with you appropriate to your brand?
Are there reviews of your business? If so, are they favorable?
Do any of your competitors appear in the results?
If you don’t like any of the answers to these questions, we can help. Want to do it yourself? Here are key things to do:
Claim your location in search engines like Google and Bing (and any others that pertain to you)
Upload photos and other images that are related to you in your location profile
Encourage happy customers to provide favorable reviews on sites like Google and Yelp
Make sure you have a social media presence. If for no other reason, do it so that your search listings will have more links to your brand.
Make sure your website is optimized for search engine indexing so that all of your pages will appear in search results.
In the Internet world, Big Data is a big buzz word. With the right tools huge volumes of data can be digested, analyzed, and summarized with amazing speed. Technology like this is what is driving technical inroads in an array of industries from understanding the human genome to making digital currency like Bitcoin to understanding shopping patterns of given demographic segments.
But what about Little Data? Your little website. It may not be as big as Facebook or have as many visitors as Amazon or Walmart but there is still an incredible amount of data that is available from your slice of the Internet. So how can you turn little data into a big benefit?
Every mass emailer (aWeber, iContact, MailChimp, Robly , etc) has a variety of tools that can help you track the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Some of the key metrics you should look for include Total Opens, Unique Opens, Unique Clicks, Click to Open Rate, and Device type (responsive)
Social Media tracking
You can track just about everything with social media. Some of the key things that will be of value to you though include: how many visitors to your website you got from social media, how many friends, followers or fans you have on your profile or your company profile, how many shares or views your posts or articles got and so much more
Site analytics (Google Analytics or some other analytics package)
What started off as a way to track the number of visitors has now become a very sophisticated way to track any number of activities both on your website and prior to arriving – and even after leaving for that matter. You can learn what your visitors do, what devices they use, how fast your site is, create funnels and track actions
There are a variety of services that you can set up that will help you to track where your calls are coming from – from a specific landing page for a specific campaign, from a social media campaign or even from a print campaign
Campaign tracking (with specific landing pages or domains)
You can create custom urls or even custom domains to run and track specific campaigns. Running an end of the year campaign to boost sales? You could have a special url (sometimes called a purl for personalized url) like http:// <your-domain>/christmas and track all the clicks to that link.
So even with Little Data (the data that you have available to you on your little slice of the internet) you can harness the power of Big Data and get a much clearer picture of what is actually happening. You can then design a specific plan to get that traffic to take the action(s) that you want them to – whether it be make a purchase, fill out a form, make a phone call, sign up for a seminar or some other factor that is part of your conversion process.
Need help figuring out how to do this for your site? Call us at 303-268-2245 ext 4.
Not long ago I wrote an article on Page Speed. Since then, page speed has continued to climb in importance. How Google’s algorithm for ranking pages works is the secret sauce that makes them who they are. But we do know that pages that load fast are moving up in importance in the algorithm.
So what can be done?
There are a few things you can do that can have a dramatic impact on your web page loading time.
Optimize your images. Nearly every site we test has images that can be better optimized for display on the web. Remember, more and more people are using mobile devices as their sole connection to the internet. So having big images will slow them down and often not display as well as images that are optimized for mobile.
Tell your site to use browser caching. While there are different ways of doing this from the technical – like manually editing your .htaccess file – to much simpler – like installing a caching plugin, this one change can score you points with page speed and ultimately provide a better user experience.
Make sure you are displaying the proper size of images. Together with point # 1, you can become the ace of images by making sure that you are displaying an image at 300 pixels wide by 400 pixels tall, that your image is 300 pixels X 400 pixels. If you’re loading an image that is 600 X 800 and then displaying it at 300 X 400, you can get a 50% reduction by resizing that image. This is pretty easy to do. I sometimes do this in Windows using the Paint program and it can be done in seconds, not minutes.
Deliver your files with compression. Windows users will be familiar with zipped files. That is pretty much the same concept here. Telling your web server to deliver files using gzip usually improves your page speed a bit.
Why do you want to have a fast site? There are two main reasons. First comes the user experience. If people visiting your site are met with spinning icons as your page slowly loads, they’ll likely feel like they’re spinning their wheels and go elsewhere. Second is search engines. Having a fast-loading web page is one of the “search signals”. A search signal is a factor that Google or other search engine uses to determine how to rank a page for different key words. While it is but one of many signals, since it also fits with a better user experience, we HIGHLY recommend optimizing your site for speed using one of the tools in the previous article
You have all seen it. It is an integral part of search these days. You are out and about. You decide to look for a good place for lunch. Searching for “restaurants” works but if you want to be clear with your search, you can say “restaurants near me” and up comes the list. This is “near me” search and you need this for your listing.
While this makes a lot of sense for local sensitive places like restaurants, coffee shops or (my favorite) brew pubs, it is important for businesses all across the spectrum.
A mantra we often hear in business is “Shop Local” because by supporting local businesses we support local jobs. I know several people who will not go for coffee at Starbucks and will not have lunch at whatever the convenient big chain is. Instead they go out of their way to find the local coffee shop and independently owned restaurant to do business at.
In the same way people go out of their way to select the independent hair stylist, the local plumber, the local cpa and yes a local (or at least domestic) web design firm.
Still not convinced it matters to you? Let’s dig in a bit deeper. From 2014 to 2015 the traffic from “near me” searches doubled. At the same time, Google’s organic listings are LESS likely to have the magic 10 on the first page or results, opting instead for, on average, 8.5 listings. So being ranked 9 or 10 in the “organic” listings can bump you from the first page but being near where someone searches for you can pull your site or business up.
How do you optimize your local business listing for near me searches? Here is a high level overview of what you need to do:
Claim your business if you haven’t already: www.google.com/business for Google or www.bingplaces.com for Bing (we recommend avoiding the Yext and YP type services that will do this for you – you’ll pay a lot for an ongoing service that usually just needs done once)
Make sure your address is IDENTICAL everywhere – on Google and Bing, on your web site, on any other sites or groups that might list you. This leaves no room for ambiguity as to whether it is the same business or same address. No ambiguity is a very good thing when it comes to search.
Complete the business profile as much as you can. Put in your hours. Put in all of the information that is asked for, including photos. Make the images be real photos of you and your office and your team.
Encourage happy customers to give reviews for you. If you Google your business, you should see it on the right. From there your customer can click on Write a Review and tell the world how happy they are with you.