Search Marketing Odds & Ends

For your Friday: here are some helpful tips that we all hope you can benefit from.

Don’t focus on just one factor: When it comes to metrics and analytics, it’s difficult but sometimes, you just have to pull through! Focusing solely on one measurement whether it is Page Rank, bounce rate, or clickthrough rate can cause you to lose focus of other measures as a whole and lose sight on the big picture. For example, it’s not uncommon to hear about a client who complains of being outranked by a competitor for 1 particular term… even if they are outranking that particular competitor for 10 different terms! In other words, pick your obstacles and choose wisely.

LinkedIn Answers and Avvo: These are both reputable Q&A sites for business professionals. Being active can help increase your credibility in the community. Bonus: as you become more active, your search engine visibility may also increase as these trustworthy sites are favored in search algorithm.

Don’t be intimidated by updates: Google Panda updates or algorithm changes can seem like a scary thing. The important thing is to stay in tune with what’s going on. As we’ve always said before, if you haven’t dabbled in black/grey hat linkbuilding methods, you should be in the clear. Many times, these announcements drum up anxiety and panic causing people to go out and make sporadic changes to their site. In the mean time, they may very well be doing unnecessary damage to their own site and blaming the drop in SERPs to the updates.

Put the most important things first: This goes with content, Facebook updates and Tweets and anything else you want to link. In a more specific example: we are conditioned to think of Twitter updates in 140 short characters. Think again – how about 45 characters, instead of 140. Many people have found that while whole Tweets are indexed, the messages are truncated in results at about the 45 character mark. While it’s tempting to please the search engines, remember to put real human readers first.

Don’t believe the SEO is dead hype: While the tactics of search marketing from 5+ years ago are “dead”, SEO is far from dead. An increasing number of these articles are showing up for many different reasons: link bait, shifting the focus on alternative search marketing strategies (local and social) or even just because SEOs who want to be disassociated with the myth that all search engine optimization is spam. Make sure to check out this article to see why SEO will never really die.

Stay tuned for more odds & ends and have a great weekend!

Spring Forward with Your SEO Efforts

spring forwardDaylight saving time – today marks change! Leaping forward one hour brings a sense of freshness that can revitalize your SEO goals and overall strategies for online marketing. As we transition from winter into spring, your business should also embrace this seasonal change and keep moving forward to see how you can improve.

Here are a few resources to inspire you:

For Spring cleaning: Google released 40 search quality highlights. Even though these rolled out late-February, they’re important because the changes are still being seen now, for better or for worse. You can use this list like a check list and take care of the ones relevant to your business.

Schema.org and video marketing: Although it can be time consuming, this code is easy to implement and highly effective. So effective that Google is actually recommending it. So, what are you waiting for?

Re-educating yourself about WordPress and other CMS: This article explains why a Theme could actually your your SEO. As with using any template, you have to make sure that a tag like rel=canonical or duplicate meta information is being applied the same way to every page. Image if the nofollow tag was accidentally applied all over your site without you knowing!

Find out why the iPad will transform web design: This means that you can expect higher quality, faster-loading websites with clean designs and crisp graphics. This means that you (or your designers) will have to work even harder to achieve the desired results!

So, enough about work… don’t forget that this springtime season of change also comes down to your personal life. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy time by yourself and your loved ones. As for me, I’m already looking to warmer weather and more daylight! What are you looking forward to?

What is SoLoMo and is Your Website Ready?

so-lo-mo

If there are 3 areas of online marketing you should concentrate on this year, these are it. If you don’t think your site is quite ready, you may be more prepared than you think!

Social – Focus on a few social networks that you can consistently update. You don’t want to be the website with dozens of social media publishing buttons. Instead, focus on quality over quantity. You’ll want to make sure that everything you post on your website is shareable and somehow linked back to your social media profiles. Remember, this isn’t just to be user-friendly, but search engines are paying more attention to these metrics as they play a factor in your search engine rankings.

Local – Paying more attention to local marketing means proper keyword research so that you use terms that are relevant to geographical areas. Additionally, you’ll want to encourage customer reviews and testimonials that will be linked and crawled from Google Places, Yelp, Yellow Pages and more. Remember, the goal isn’t to FAKE reviews… because it is totally noticeable as well as unacceptable. Instead, you might want to create a short, standard questionnaire to send to satisfied customers/clients. These blurbs will help boost your brand reputation without taking forever to complete.

Mobile – If it isn’t totally obvious by now, you need a mobile website! You can read more about some recent mobile trends here. With the growing trend of browsing the internet via phone and tablet, experts believe that mobile browsing will soon surpass desktop usage! If you’ve been wondering why mobile optimization is so popular, it’s because of the potential that you can claim. Google indexes the desktop and mobile version of your website separately, so that your results can differ depending on what device your customers are using. Take advantage of mobile SEO today before your competitors do!

Funny name aside, SoLoMo is going to be an important part of marketing goals for 2012. Make sure that your business is prepared before another year slips before your very eyes!

5 Common SEO Myths

seo mythsOld SEO myths never seem to really die and it doesn’t help that new ones are being created. Let’s take a look at 5 common myths about search engine optimization:

1) SEO is a set it and forget it processAre we done yet? Many online marketing services have a completion end date or end goal – web design project, PPC campaigns etc. But what about SEO? An effective SEO campaign is an on going process that never really ends. It helps to think of web copywriting and content creation as a regular process, like a more traditional marketing campaign that changes with the seasons and consumer trends.

2) More keywords will get you a higher ranking – More is NOT always better and this is exactly the case when it comes to optimizing content. You can’t just throw in random keywords because you want to cover as many areas related to your business as possible. Keyword stuffing isn’t going to impress people or search engines – not to mention that it’s a dead giveaway that your site is spammy page that’s not helpful.

3) Search engine rankings can be guaranteed – Have you ever had an SEO company guarantee you #1 positions? Talk about shady… As frustrating as it may be, there’s no such thing as a 100% guarantee when it comes to SEO. Rather than focusing on the top spot, a reputable SEO company will give you a detailed plan about how to achieve top rankings within a realistic time frame using white hat methods.

4) Once you reach the top, you’ll stay there – Search engine algorithms are changing all the time and you can bet that your other businesses are making changes to keep up. Success is possible but staying in the top ranks is a constant and time consuming process. Related to Myth #1, we recommend a consistent SEO plan so that you can stay in the top rankings once you’re there. If you stop your efforts after reaching the top, it will be a waste because your rankings could easily slide and your competitors will surely be thankful!

5) Linking Out to Other Sites Will Help Your Rankings: I’ve heard this more than a handful of times so it must be a common misconception! Some people believe that linking out to well-known sites and brands will help their rankings. Not sure where this idea came from but it’s definitely not true. Incoming links from relevant and trustworthy sites will give your site the link juice that you’re looking for, not the other way around.

Do you have any other myths about organic optimization that you’d like to share or debunk?

Online Marketing and The Minor Details

The devil is in the details. We’ve all heard this saying before and it can relate to online marketing in so many ways. What this idiom means is that it’s the small details that can often make a relatively simple task more difficult and time consuming. As you look closer, there are more things that can be worked on and you’ll understand why an internet marketing campaign can always be changed and made better!

Here are a few minor but important aspects of online marketing that can be easily skipped over or even forgotten:

  • You only focus on optimizing for Google – If you completely skip out on Yahoo and Bing, you’re missing out on a smaller but still very important demographic. Ranking well on these sites will help your business if you’re struggling on Google.
  • You ignore free, local resources – I went kayaking at a local rental place after seeing good reviews on Yelp. However, I was surprised to see a comment by a customer stating that the address in the listing was wrong. This means that the business has not claimed the listing or bothered to correct this mistake. When resources like this are free and you’re already receiving numerous positive reviews, it can only reflect negatively on your business if you choose not to be more involved.
  • You focus too much on organic rankings – Search engine rankings can be volatile and unpredictable depending on competitors, search trends and even holidays. I’ve known people who obsess over their rankings on a day-by-day basis – as in yesterday I was number 2 but today I’m number 3, what happened? This is not an effective way to gauge your progress and your efforts can be more helpful to your long term brand presence in organic searches.
  • You always use exact keyword matches – It can be tempting to always use exact keywords when linking in anchor text. But with the Google Panda updates, Google is on the lookout. This mean that you can be penalized for excessive exact match anchor text. The bottom line is that Google wants more natural linking keywords that are actually helping people instead of just appeasing their Google bots.

These are just a few things I could think of at the top of my head at the moment and the list is never ending. Even if you don’t have time to sit down and digest all the details at once, it’s good to go over what you can from time to time so that you have a clearer view of the bigger picture. Don’t like the minor details overwhelm you!

Mix It Up: Social, Email Marketing and More

marketing mixAccording to a survey by Pitney Bowes, 76% of small businesses believe that their ideal marketing mix should include a combination of both physical and digital communication.

A marketing mix is usually made up of 4 P’s:
Product, price, promotion and place.

The emphasis on this term is mix – meaning that there is no “right” combination of marketing methods. But the frantic nature of a  “mix up” is not always a bad thing. In the business world, it allows you to reach a different/wider range of customers.

Businesses Get Social

The popularity of social media marketing doesn’t mean that it is replacing all traditional forms of marketing but rather, complementing them. After all, small businesses can’t expect to find success by just using one marketing channel. That would be like having a website without SEO or PPC. Or distributing promotions without a website or customer service!

While social media serves as a great starting point for businesses to introduce themselves to customers, a small business cannot expect to succeed by solely relying on this channel. This will mean that you leave other customers behind. You’ll be surprised at the amount of customers who still rely on physical coupons, emails and even Yellow Pages listings!

Co-existing Marketing Channels

58% of small businesses in this survey use multi-channel marketing. While a slight majority of the businesses are optimizing their use of different marketing channels, that number may grow as owners see more options and opportunities available. The survey also suggests that 72% of small businesses would do more for marketing their business if they had the right tools for managing customer communication.

What are you waiting for? Take a look at our FREE whitepapers for a better idea of what you can do to help your business get found by using different marketing strategies.

Life After Google Panda Updates and Link Building

link building

Love it or hate it, link building is still an important part of SEO after the massive Google Panda updates.

The quality of your inbound links is becoming more important as Google Panda updates have shown us.  Although these updates are aimed at getting rid of “content farms” and lower quality links, many people’s rankings have been hurt by the recent Google Panda 2.2 updates.  For example, many people who used to rank well for certain phrases using article submission sites have now seen drastic drops. Of course, you know Google is already preparing version 2.3!

Because of these updates and changes to Google’s search algorithm, quality links have become increasingly important. Overall, the point of these updates is to help you recognize and ultimately remove low ranking on site pages and off site content in order to improve user/customer experience.

And with the debut of Google +,  you bet that social media activity is becoming more important in determining your search engine rankings! Back to my point of link building – it’s crucial to continue your efforts on a consistent basis. Here are a few good link  building resources that are sure to be helpful.

5 Pay Per Click Advertising Questions Answered

Emarketed pay per click advertising PPCAre you interested in learning more about how your business can benefit from a pay per click campaign? Join our PPC manager, Dillon Zachara, as he answers the top 5 questions about pay per click advertising.

1) What are some advantages of having an agency manage your PPC campaign rather than doing it yourself?

One, search agency’s have already gone through the process of finding certified professionals that have the skills to optimize and manage a PPC campaign in a way that will maximize business opportunities. An agency also has dedicated representatives at the major search engines that can be contacted directly and quickly when technical issues arise. Finally, web marketing agency’s generally have more resources and tools for research available than individuals do, leading to a higher quality ad campaign.

2) What are the top misconceptions that people have about PPC?

The top misconception is probably that you can just choose a bunch of keywords, toss them in one ad group and one campaign, write an ad or two, and let it run without tweaking it. While this may seem obvious to some who’ve done work with PPC, it isn’t known or practiced by many newcomers to the trade.

3) Tips for creating effective PPC ads?

Ad copy is incredibly important and often gets overlooked. Always A/B split test ads, having more than one running to test for the optimal copy. Everyone managing a PPC campaign should also look into new developments, such as adding addresses for local ads and sitelinks in ad copy. Also with mobile searches becoming increasingly popular, always add a phone number and enable the click-to-call option. Finally, make sure your landing pages look great, otherwise your money is being wasted on a click that won’t convert.

4) What are some common mistakes inexperienced marketers make regarding PPC?

In general, I would say the most common pitfall is just not checking a campaign enough. I like to look through what is happening both in Adwords and Analytics at least once/day for each campaign. That doesn’t necessarily mean that changes should be made that often, but each time the stats are analyzed, a bit more information is being gathered in order to make the correct change/adjustment when necessary.

That pitfall can go the other way too though, where businesses make way too many changes and don’t allow a campaign to find it’s ‘sweet spot’. PPC is all about finding the right balance between keywords, bids, ad copy, running times, and geo-targets. If you make a change and then undo it after only 20 clicks or so, you’re not letting the affects of that change be realized.

5) Favorite and least favorite aspects of PPC?

My favorite aspect of PPC is the amount of control and flexibility you can have over what is happening within the campaign. I love being able to change who sees any particular ad in a matter of minutes. Close after that, my next favorite aspect is the detail and specificity that you can get with reports in PPC campaigns. I also really enjoy monitoring the constant upgrades and changes in the industry. Right now is really an exciting time for PPC search advertising!

My least favorite aspect would probably be the fact that you can’t physically see who is clicking on an ad. Obviously this won’t be changing anytime soon, but the lack of personal interaction can be a little frustrating.

Learn more about how PPC consultants can help your business today. Dillon will be more than happy to answer some of your  burning questions, so feel free to ask!

Intel’s Advertising Overhaul


Listened in to a webinar this morning with Corey Carrillo of Intel Corporation and Craig Macdonald of Covario about Paid Search and Big Brand Marketing: How Intel Coordinated Search Into a Global Ad Campaign. Most of the time, I find that big corporate presentations are kind of dry because they only cover really general topics and give broad details.

Anyways, Corey admits that Intel is lacking in their brand power presence when compared to Dell or HP. They began an overhaul of their advertising campaign which portrayed their engineers as “rock stars”. Across video, online, email and other advertising platforms, Intel used the same format with familiar characters. This gave their new image a consistency. I personally like these new ads and how consumers can relate.

Consumers seemed to enjoy these ads and found them entertaining. BUT… when directed to the landing page, customers quickly bounced. Like we’ve talked about before, this landing page looked really cool and was flash based. From the consumer point of view, it was too slow loading and they weren’t finding what they were looking for. After a simpler revamp, Intel’s ad campaign improved. They tested, measured and learned from their mistakes and it’s something we all can learn from.

As Corey reminds us the 3 most important things he considers when it comes to a paid search campaign:

  1. keyword selection
  2. ad creative used
  3. landing page

Lesson learned: Integrating your SEO and PPC campaigns are easier said than done, especially for big corporations.

Tips from a Site Reviews Webinar

If you have an SEOmoz Pro account, you can submit your site for review and they just might include it in one of their upcoming webinars. There were about 100 people on the call and it was nice to see something different – analyzing user submitted websites. It’s a change of pace from other webinars who use Zappos and other big companies that make it hard for small businesses to relate to.

Definitely learned a lot from today’s webinar. Very useful info and I’ve bookmarked some tools for future research. These are definitely some things that you want to consider looking into:

  • Use Open Site Explorer to check the link popularity for your site
  • Learn how changing your meta tags strategy can be beneficial
  • Consider promoting embedded graphs or graphics as a way to get some link love (like Mint)
  • How to use hashtags to connect to more than one anchor link

The favorite part of these webinars is the Q + A section. I found it helpful that Rand Fishkin provided links and resources during the call. The chat box also allows attendees to directly communicate with each other. An hour and a half is a bit long for a webinar but I’m definitely looking forward to more helpful resources.