Customize your Google News Home Page

Customs Sections Directory

Google News has recently made it possible for you to customize your Google News home page! They have created a Custom Sections Directory, which can be modified and changed by its user. Simply click on the “Add a section” link on the far right side of your Google News page and you will be relocated to your custom sections directory where you can begin making modifications.

How to Customize to your Interests

The directory includes various sections to choose from such as “Social Networking,” “Computer Security,” “US Foreign Policy,” etc. By adding particular sections you find interesting, your Google News page will become more personalized to you and your interests. The custom sections directory also allows you to sort by: highest rated, most users, and newest. Starting there can give you a sense of what other users are finding to be of interest. If you wish to browse the directory according to category, this is possible as well! Simply click on the category of your choice and find exactly what you are looking for. The categories include: business, science, technology, sports, entertainment, health, politics, and society. Within these categories are sub-categories so that you are able to narrow your preference down to specifics. Also offered is keyword search. If you wish to create your own customs section or sections this is also possible! Simply enter your city, state and zip code to create a local section or enter a keyword and they will be added to the public directory.

News Worth Reading

After you have completed customizing your Google News home page, the sections you have requested to add will be visible as links on the left-side menu. They will also appear on the bottom of your Google News home page. Customize your Google News home page today and enjoy the convenience of reading about what you want!

Competition Among Top Search Engines

Google Dominates

Google continues to dominate as the top search engine in the United States. While a select few reign over the search engine industry, there is a great range between the top three largest companies. As of September 2009, about 70.5% of users use Google, 17% used Yahoo! and 9.3% sided with Bing. With such discrepancies, the number two and three search engines are losing a great deal of market share to the Google giant. In the past, Google and Microsoft have been fiercely competitive. From competing web browsers to applications, Microsoft has jumped directly into Google’s game with the unveiling of their new search engine in summer of 2009.

Does Bing Size Up?

The commercials seem promising, but does Bing really size up to Google? Formerly Windows Live Search and MSN Search, the new search engine has boldly labeled themselves as the “decision engine”. Some experts believe that Bing is a great improvement from what it used to be, and that it has the potential to threaten Google’s success. While the size of that threat is arguable, Bing offers relevant results that are competitive to those of Google. Another obstacle for Bing to overcome is attempting to win over loyal Google users. Bing is relatively young to Google and time will tell whether or not their technology and measurable marketing efforts will pay off.

New Competitors

Although Google is all we hear about when it comes to search engines, the market outside of the United States is drastically different. For example, did you know that AltaVista is the number one preferred search engine in Canada? The Swiss prefer Abacho, while China is no stranger to altogether banning access to Google. Google is great at recognizing competitors and making valuable additions to their company. Did you know that Google acquired Google Earth from a smaller company in 2004? New technology is emerging all the time and Google is definitely keeping their eyes peeled for new competitors.

Making Use of Local Search Results

Local Search Marketing

Increasing advances and improvements have made local search engine results more relevant than ever. When you’re browsing online for restaurants or hot shopping spots, you want results that are relevant to your geographical location. Google recognizes consumer demand for this relevancy and is working hard to become more local. With that being said, it would be foolish for businesses to downplay the importance of local search. A focus on your local search efforts means taking a close look at your campaign in specific geographical locations. As a small business owner, your recognition on the Internet relies on how well you do in local search results. Even on a nationwide level, a corporation, such as World Gym, can greatly benefit from ranking higher on local search results.

Improving Your Results

There are simple steps that you can take to improve your local search results. First, take advantage of free local Yahoo! and Yellow Pages business listings. You can make sure that your business is listed in other local business directories and listings from your local Chamber of Commerce. When it comes to keeping your website updated, always make sure to include your address and local telephone number, along with an 800 number. This way, customers and search engine results can easily tell exactly where you’re located. Local SEO efforts will also be appreciated in the long run. It can be as simple as adding your city to title pages and including in keywords and while link building.

What the Future Holds

Local search will only get more accurate with time. Earlier this year, Google has even begun to add pictures to their local search result pages. While this will help put local businesses on the map, it means This means that businesses will have another task of monitoring their activity on local search results and websites. If that’s not enough for you to keep up with, there’s much more. Twitter’s search engine allows users to search in real time. When local search is integrated with real time technology, who knows what the future holds!

Small Businesses Benefit from Facebook

How to Take Advantage

Large corporations may have a bigger brand presence on social media sites but that doesn’t mean that small businesses cannot also benefit. Setting up a Facebook page for your business is a cost effective way to keep up with the latest customer trends. Facebook is an easy to use forum which allows customers easy access to upcoming news or events. Additionally, creating a strong online presence can help you rank better in search engine results and bring more relevant traffic to your site. An example of a small business that uses Facebook to its maximum potential is the Beverly Hills based Sprinkles Cupcakes. Founder Charles Nelson relies on building buzz through the Sprinkles Facebook page instead of traditional paid marketing efforts.

Stay Connected with Your Fans

Sprinkles uses Facebook to create a unique and engaging
relationship with their fans. They have even come up with a fun code system which gives the first customers with the secret phrase of the day the opportunity to get free treats! This is a great way to build word of mouth advertising, as well as bring customers to the store. A part of social networking sites is being just that, “social” – and being active can help small businesses succeed in this area. The key is to engage customers by providing help and insight or offering incentives and other promotions. By having a Facebook page, you can monitor the good and bad that is being said about your business. This is better than knowing nothing at all about how your company is perceived. It is even an effective tool that will give you the opportunity to fix those problems.

Using Other User-Friendly Sites

Local references and review sites are popular amongst customers who are looking to try new things. Yelp and Yahoo! Local Listings are perfect examples of these popular sites. Although there are many social networking sites out there, it is important to practice restraint and don’t overdo your efforts. Like any other investment, it takes patience to see a return on your hard work. Whether it is Facebook or any of these other sites, the key to strong staying power is steady maintenance of your page. It is foolish to put in numerous hours one day and then completely stop your efforts. Instead,  view it as a long-term project and set aside a couple minutes every other day to monitor your growth.

What is Twitter?

At nearly three years old, Twitter is not new to the Internet world. Many individuals may not be familiar with the concept of tweeting and find themselves asking, “What is Twitter?”. This video accurately sums up how the social networking service works in very simple terms. Having heard so much about it, it’s refreshing to understand what makes Twitter attractive to such diverse segments of Internet users. Initially, Twitter really took off with working adults who like to stay connected to friends, colleagues, and peers. Nowadays, teenagers to people under 35 are also getting their tweet on.

Twitter has the advantage over other social networking sites because it is well-organized system, yet maintains a sense of informality which makes it so appealing. In September 2009 alone, Twitter received over 23 million unique visitors. So, why are so many people boarding the Twitter train? It’s always nice to hear updates from friends or acquaintances that we don’t see so often. What about news from celebrities, politicians, and even your favorite products? Twitter is a unique place where we can get all that and more in just one place.

Between catching up with text messages, emails, and blogs, Twitter posts are a 140 character package to fill in the void. The average visitor stays on Twitter for about seven minutes and that’s all you need to stay connected while doing everyday things. Twitter is about more than just tweeting what you had for lunch. It is a social phenomenon because users share interesting things that they encounter during the day with the people that they care about. Even when it’s sharing with strangers, Twitter tools allow you to create a bond that would have never happened otherwise. You may also learn new things about people and the tidbits are sure to brighten your day. So, if you’re looking for a social networking site that is simple and sweet, tweeting is the way to go!

Search Marketing During a Recession


Think Positive

What should you do when it comes to your search marketing efforts during a recession? Many marketers believe that search marketing is somewhat recession-proof, but it pays to do your own research. It may be too soon to tell, so it doesn’t hurt to do some analysis. First, talk to your peers and ask them how business is going. You can learn a lot from their personal experiences and networking is always a big plus. Keeping up with the latest news means that you won’t get left behind during the next economic upturn. Things may look slow in the meanwhile, but don’t be easily discourage. Innovations like Google Wave or advances in mobile search marketing thrive during times like these!

Recession Dos

Invest: Whether it is time or money, experts suggest that a recession is a time to invest more into search marketing efforts. Why? Competitors may significantly cut back on their expenditures, so that leaves room for you to take advantage of an open market.
Think “Free”: Take advantage of free help that can come from link building and social networking. These efforts take more time than money and will improve the results that you’ll see in the long-run. You can also take time to give your website that much needed makeover.
Organize: Regardless of the economic conditions, a well-organized business always runs more efficiently. Keeping track of what you cut-back on or increase will help you easily make changes and see results.

Recession Don’ts

Don’t carry on as normal but don’t be afraid. Does that make sense? It is foolish to think that the recession doesn’t have some impact on a part of your business. Disregarding external factors is not beneficial and you won’t learn anything new. The worst thing that a business can do is to cut costs in blind fear. If you cut back or eliminate new content and a paid advertising campaign, why would you be surprised if your business suffers? It’s time think smarter and you can take these tips with you as you move ahead.

PPC Negative Keywords: Maximizing the Positive Effect

Just this morning, we sat in on a webinar titled, “PPC Negative Keywords: Maximizing the Positive Effect”.  It was hosted by Marin Software and Ken Jurina, the co-founder and CEO of of Epiar, Inc.  Here are some of the gems we plucked from our experience – some we know, but some of it was a kick in the pants to spend more time thinking negative.

Negative keywords instruct search engines to not display your ads, decreasing irrelevant queries, impressions and most importantly clicks and spend.

An interesting reverse logic idea that was mentioned: you may want to consider using negative keywords for legitimate terms.  Maybe these terms are spending a lot of money and bringing lots of traffic but they are expensive and converting poorly.  Other great reasons to use negative keywords are:

  • Expensive conversions
  • Expensive clicks
  • Limited budget
  • Bad brand association
  • Not relevant for the user
  • Quality improvements
  • Lowering costs

An important, sometimes hard to find tidbit for each of the search engines is:  What are their negative keyword limits?

  • With Google – 10,000 negative keywords in Ad Campaign or 5,000 at Ad Group Level
  • With Yahoo – 250 negative keywords at Ad Campaign Level or Ad Group Level
    • Singular term covers plural and misspellings
  • With Microsoft adCenter – 1024 character including spaces and commas
    • Campaign, ad group or keyword level

A major lesson seemed to be that ultimately, a combination of exact phrase broad and maximized negative keywords is the best way to target paid search.  Keep in mind that negative keywords have no impact on exact match terms.

So – I’m sold on the idea of switching to more broad and phrase matching and adding negative keywords to all of my accounts.  After adding broad and phrase match and negative keywords, what can I expect?

  • Your ads will now appear on the relevant long tail phrases
  • Your ads will get better exposure to better prospects, which means increased leads and increased revenue!
  • You can now advertise on long tail phrases where your competitors dare not tread, meaning more cheap clicks for you without the dangers of broad match.
  • Once your ads get impressions deep into the long tail phrases, your advertising reach may double, triple, or more!

OK – great, now how do I build these lists?  What tools are there for me to use?

Manually, using intuition and industry knowledge.

Scan through past referring phrases that did not convert, had bounce rates or were trash

So – In the end, negative keywords is a simple concept, important part of every campaign and can according, to today’s webinar, save up 20-40% on spend.  Wow, that’s a “no-brainer”.

A Social Media Mix for Politics

Is This It?

Years ago, marketing experts predicted that social networking sites would be the next big thing when it comes to politics. It is safe to say that we are now of that age. In the booming era of social networking, politicians are concentrating their efforts on websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. You may know that Governor Schwarzenegger has a Twitter account, but are you a fan of your local congressman on Facebook? Social media sites are popular because they are user friendly and people like using them to keep up with the latest news. Politicians are experimenting with all sorts of mediums in order to reach their audience and their efforts are paying off.

Spreading the Word

We have seen how social media has changed the tactics of politicians. Viral videos circulate the internet praising striking speeches and mocking officials at the slightest misstep. Smart politicians are adapting to these new changes and using the internet to their advantage. Getting the interactive audience involved is an important aspect of social media and getting creative doesn’t hurt. Turning to a popular site like Flickr is a sensible alternative. There is even a political photo pool among many others. Blatantly asking for e-mail addresses is unlikely to work, but what about asking them to vote for your campaign theme song? In this modern age, it still pays to be different from your competitors and offer the public something new.

Raising Important Matters

Social media sites are not just for entertainment but are useful in raising important issues. Ever since its inception in 1990, Rock the Vote, has integrated online strategies to reach young voters. The non-partisan organization stresses the importance of voting and educating the public about politics. In recent light of the economic situation, awareness of a helpful government plan such as Making Home Affordable, would benefit citizens. Many people don’t know about this option and may be deceived by local refinancing companies. When it comes to informing the community about important political issues, it never hurts to have more options. From providing voting information to useful resources through social media sites, politicians as well as the general public can both benefit.

Preparing SEO for the Shopping Season

What Should You Expect?

For most companies, the last business quarter proves to be the busiest and most profitable time of the year. Knowing this, it is important to get organized and prepared for the stress that is to come. There’s no need to fret, as having a plan will save you time and anxiety during the holiday season. Consumers aren’t afraid of splurging on deals on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, pre and post Christmas sales. Now more than ever, consumers are finding search engines results helpful and it is something that smart retailers will definitely take advantage of. Here are some tips to help you with your SEO preparations for the shopping season.

Focus on Organic SEO

The shopping season is a crucial time to focus on organic SEO efforts. Although there is no definitive answer, most experts agree that failing to keep up with promoting targeted keyword phrases is a bad move to make. In most cases, keyword traffic is likely to decline if your content is not actively being optimized. Having a brand name is not enough to guarantee you success if your company is not showing up with relevant keywords. It pays to be committed and patient when it comes to your organic SEO arrangement. Not only will this method bring in customers who are familiar with your brand, but make other potential consumers aware that you exist! For this reason, many turn to SEO as a cost effective way to bring in the holiday success.

Understanding and Attracting Customers

First, get blogging! Active blogs that are helpful and entertaining will be valuable to consumers. Resist the temptation to flood your blog with self-promoting materials. The blog arena is a place where you can retain loyal readers and even make useful contacts with your peers. Blogs are an informal medium and readers will appreciate reading material that they can relate to. Instead of just trying to sell yourself, think of creating a win-win situation for yourself and your readers. In the world of social media, you can reach out in other forms. Whether it is funny blurbs on Twitter or viral videos on Youtube, using social media is a great way to spread the holiday spirit around. Christmas and Hanukkah are the big ones, but don’t forget about Halloween. What about National Boss Day or Winter Solstice? Don’t be afraid to get inspired with your blogs, but remember that there is a difference between getting creative and going overboard!

Making the Old New Again: Marketing Tips for Your Business

email

Many may struggle to find new ways to market their business. Although a cutting edge pay per click advertising campaign may help draw attention to your company, you can’t truly be successful without relying on the basic principles of marketing. Happy customers are crucial to the success of your company and a little can go a long way. Companies who work hard to maintain great consumer relationships will have much to benefit from for years to come. As it is known in the marketing world, a happy customer may tell one or two friends. But, an unhappy customer will tell everyone they know about their bad experience!

Strengthen your Reputation

– Guarantees for your products and services: Guarantees and warranties can increase the value of what you have to offer. In addition, these small improvements can easily enhance your credibility as a trustworthy business. Potential clients will enjoy the risk-free offer and you can gain more loyal regulars. Also remember, don’t make promises that you can’t keep!

– Outstanding customer support: Customers like to have their problems solved in a timely matter. The quicker a problem can be addressed, the happier bother parties will be. Devote time or designate someone to take care of customer queries and ensure that they are answered in a timely manner. Consumers will appreciate a reliable company that can help them in their time of need.

Innovative Ideas for Email

– Creative ways to collect email addresses: Customers appreciate being updated with useful information but may not always be willing to take the initiative to sign up for e-mail newsletters. Whether it is through using social media internet marketing or more traditional methods, it pays to find creative ways to collect emails. Offering free informative PDFs, sign ups for a birthday promotion, email only discounts, or creating other incentives will help you achieve this goal.

– Integrating videos in your email promotions: Using video in email is still in its early stages. Tutorials, informative, and testimonial videos are popular and early adapters are reaping the benefits. Embedded emails are played automatically when messages are opened. This can lead to problems down the road so many are finding it helpful to insert a photo of their video. This may spark customer curiosity and clicking on the image will lead them to the actual video.

Sometimes, you may find yourself in a creative marketing rut. It doesn’t hurt to take a break and review the fundamentals. Do you have any basic tips that you would like to share?