What We Think | TwentySix2 Marketing

Google Begins to Limit Paid Search Data – CUE THE JAWS THEME!!

paid-search-panic

Search marketers have been quite unsettled for a while now as Google has limited the amount of data available in Google Analytics. They have done so to “protect the privacy” of their users who use the Search Engine while logged in under a Google account. What used to be a wealth of keyword-specific data in our Analytics reports has turned into a list that gives you “Not Provided” as the major source of your traffic. This has caused tension amongst marketers.

The reason for this unrest is that one of the major advantages of online marketing is the wealth of data available that allows you narrow your reach to the most profitable niches of the internet and to eliminate any channels that are not spending your money efficiently. If you take that away, what’s left? You are just another advertising medium that has trouble pinpointing your exact reach and effectiveness.

The saving grace of all of this has been that we can at least still pull all data from Google Adwords. While Analytics may not give us the full story about how people ended up on our site, as least we still had a breadth of information about who clicked on what ads, and what they did when they got to the site.

Well, now that is about to change as well. Google announced recently that they are expanding the idea of secure search by “removing the query from the referrer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on Google.com”. SSL essentially just means “secure”, which means that, just as with Adwords, data will be limited for any users logged into a Google profile.

Now, Google claims that we will still have access to the Search Terms report, which gives a lot of helpful data regarding the search queries that ended up with Paid Search traffic to your site, but it is very interesting to note that Google is messing with this data at all.

After all, Adwords brings in an insane amount of revenue for the search giant, and advertisers are already gunshy about these privacy issues.

Only Google knows if this is the extent of the roll-out or if there is more to come, but we certainly hope that data does start to dissappear, as that negatively affects the ability of Search Marketing Agencies to make campaigns as profitable as possible.

Of course, here at TwentySix2, we will be dominating the Paid Search channels and achieving the highest possible ROI for our clients. We’re just preparing ourselves (and you, hence the blogpost!) for what may constitute a Brave New World in the online marketing community.

 

Information/Quotes pulled from: http://googleadsdeveloper.blogspot.com/2014/04/security-enhancements-for-search-users.html

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Google Rolls Out More Schema Support

One of the best perks of working at TwentySix2 so far, for me, was getting to attend SMX East 2013 in New York City. SMX East was a meeting of the minds of search marketing, headed by Danny Sullivan and Search Engine Land.

Sure, I got the flu the moment I got on the plane and was relegated to laying in my hotel bed when I wasn’t attending the conference- But it was NEW YORK. Pretty amazing. And the conference was very interesting.

My cohorts and I attended a number of events, meetings and speaking sessions and we all left with one major sticking point- Rich Snippets are important. Very important. If you aren’t adding rich snippets markup to highlight parts of your site, you are ignoring one of the most important parts of SEO in today’s world of Search Optimization.

If your company has not implemented rich snippets, do so. Now. Markup data essentially highlights important parts of your site to Search Engines, allowing you to specify your number, name, location, reviews, etc, as opposed to Google trying to guess that information based on what it sees on your site.

Google’s dedication to Schema.org and rich snippets was seemingly furthered with the announcement that they now support improved schema markup for location pages, including showing business phone numbers for customer service, technical support, billing support and bill payment. You can even specify if the numbers are toll-free, hearing-impaired friendly, and whether or not the number is country specific.

On your business website’s contact us page, you can also include additional markup to highlight you hours of operation.

Now, these changes may not be groundbreaking, but they are very important to keep up with. Google loves for you to play with it’s toys, and this toy is beneficial and easy to implement if you are familiar with Schema.org and Rich Snippets. The more momentum you can get on your site’s side, the better.

google schema update

Google Now Supports Markup of Business Hours

For more information, read this write-up from Search Engine Land or check out Google’s official announcement.

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Google Shopping Campaigns are the Future

According to Google, shopping campaigns are the future, and PLA campaigns will soon be in the past.

google shopping

Google Shopping campaigns were introduced to all advertisers running Product Listing Ads (PLAs) in February in an attempt to make PLA set up and management easier. The shopping campaigns do three things:

  1. Offer the availability to browse inventory directly in AdWords
  2. Report on performance down to the product-level
  3. Bid competitively with new metrics like benchmark data and impression share

Now, new features will begin rolling out in response to advertiser feedback, with the end result being that Shopping campaigns will take over legacy PLA campaigns.

Here are some of the next changes for shopping campaigns:

  1. Size your opportunity with Bid Simulator
  2. Options to create a Shopping campaign
  3. Multiple ad groups for advanced retailers

At some point in August of this year, the legacy PLA campaigns will be transitioned to Shopping campaigns automatically, so advertisers have approximately another five months to properly optimize their Shopping campaigns.

To learn more about shopping campaigns, read this blog post from Search Engine Land, or this blog post from Google.

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Get on the Mobile Train. Toot Toot!

carphoneEveryone’s doing it and it’s transforming the way we live, work and play. It’s mobile. Is your company taking all the right measures to ensure your mobile experience is the best for your audience?

It’s no longer the day and age when only adults age 25-35 surf the internet in their free time on a desktop, before or after work and on AOL. A beautiful and scary thing now lets a vast majority of the population come to your site, open your email newsletters and purchase your products at any time of the day as many times as they want thanks to mobile devices. How much is a “vast majority?” Well, right now more than 6% of the global population owns a tablet, 20% owns a PC and 22% owns a smartphone.

What do these numbers mean?

Global smartphone penetration has exploded from 5% in 2009, to 22% of the global population. That’s an increase of about 1.3 billion smartphones in four years. PCs have only grown 6% in per-capita over the last 6 years.

So, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

1. Do I have responsive design? Responsive design is an approach to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices. Since it is common for people to pull out their phone while waiting for an oil change or even during a business meeting to make a buying decision, it’s important to make sure your site is easy to navigate from a mobile device.

2. Are the buttons on my mobile site the most important ones to my customers? At the end of the day, it’s your customers who are trying to navigate quickly through your site while they’re on their way home or trying to quickly show someone your product. *Notice the keyword in there is quick. Are your products an option? Is “contact us” on there? What about your blogs? With the majority of things at people’s fingertips now, if your site is not up to par, the back button may be the one that visitors hit the most.

3. Am I sending out email blasts at the right time? No longer is it appropriate to randomly send out emails to your prospects or customers with no catchy tagline. Ever wonder why you wake up to many emails or why you get 5 emails on your lunch break with updates on sales? There’s a method to sending out emails nowadays and it’s because most people open them up on their mobile devices. So, be sure you’re sending out emails when your customers want to read them. Don’t know when the right time is? Run some tests. If you own a restaurant that only serves dinner, it may not be the best idea to send out an email blast at 5AM with your specials going on that evening. Instead, try a lunch time email when people start to make their dinner plans and have a better taste for that type of food.

No matter how optimized your desktop website is, it’s a good idea to really start focusing on mobile.

 

Follow more great advice from Tori here.

Got Google+ Authorship?

johnwaddyLink your Google+ profile to the content you create.

1. Make sure you have a profile photo with a recognizable headshot and complete your profile. After you’ve completed your Google+ profile, you’ll want to upload a high-quality photo that looks professional. Don’t forget that this picture will show up in the search results!

2. Make sure a byline containing your name appears on each page of your content (for example, “By Tori Barlow”).

3. Make sure your byline name matches the name on your Google+ profile.

4. Verify you have an email address (such as tori@twentysix2.com) on the same domain.

Why should you link your Google+ profile to your content you create? Having a Google Authorship will help you rank better in search results. Overtime Google will recognize your content and start to put your website at the top of searches. For example, if you sell sunglasses and you write informative articles about your product, Google will start to view you as an expert in this field and your website will rank higher than someone without the Authorship.

Another important benefit is that if you have competitors selling similar sunglasses as you, for example, users are more inclined to trust that result even if they’ve never head of you. Trust is something that is hard to create but you have to start somewhere. Take advantage of Google Authorship and start enhancing your brand when you promote valuable content.

 

Follow more great advice from Tori here.

What Makes Viral Content Viral

I recently got a link forwarded to me from a lawyer friend of mine.  I usually don’t open those joke emails or political emails that everyone sends around.  Yes, they are probably very entertaining and/or informative, but I don’t have time for such nonsense.  However, my friends email baited me with the headline:

This Millionaire Playboy Is The Most Interesting Man On Instagram

Did I open the link?  You bet I did.  Why?  Because the headline resonated with me – the target audience of the message.  Why did I not link to it here in the blog post? Because the pictures are pretty racy (and not very professional) and I don’t want to offend anyone. You can search for it on BuzzFeed or Google if you want to find it yourself.

Why did I open the link (and share it with you)?  To prove a point.  Viral content works only when:

  • The headline resonates with the audience
  • The content is unusual
  • The content is over-the-top or entertaining
  • The content is easy to share

Every marketer wants to create great content that goes viral.  Imagine writing a blog post that millions of people shared.  It can be life changing for a business and a person.

What is another example that is less racy? Check out the author of Getting Things Done, David Allen, on Twitter:

GTDGuy

The subject of organization and getting things done (GTD) isn’t sexy, but Mr. Allen has 1.23 Million Twitter followers.  In fact, the GTD system has a cult following on the web. There are thousands of sites dedicated to GTD.  Why?  Because the product works better than any other personal organization system on the planet.  If you haven’t read the book you should.

One of the first pioneers in the world of search engine marketing was a guy named Bruce Clay. Bruce was just your average SEO guy with a very small shop. Then one day back in the early 1990s he created a diagram that showed how all the search engines worked together and linked back to one another.  Back in the old days there were about 20 search engines – not just Google and Bing/Yahoo – so things were complicated and people wanted to understand how things worked. Fortunately for Bruce, thousands and thousands of people linked to his infographic (before they were called that) explaining how search engines work.

Today Bruce makes $20,000 or more per speech and he has a huge search marketing teaching consultancy.  He credits much of his success and income to that first infographic for putting him on the map.

High quality, viral content can change your business.  You just have to do one thing – make great content.  If you create amazing content, it will go viral all on its own.

Marketing is Complicated

When we started our Atlanta search marketing agency back in ‘the good old days’ of 2001, we had just three employees working out of a small condo on Roswell Road. We didn’t know it back then, but online marketing was easy in 2001. Search engine optimization and paid search were in their infancy and most people had no idea what SEO and PPC were all about.  In fact, the first search engine conference I attended back in 1998 had just 200 people. That same conference today has thousands of attendees, multiple times a year.

To rank well in Google back in the good old days, all you had to do was tweak a few things on a website and add a few targeted keywords here and there and PRESTO! – you showed up on page one in just a few weeks.  Paid search was no different. You could throw a small budget at a few targeted keywords and your phone would actually ring!

My how things have changed!!!  If you are in charge of marketing, then you are probably tired and overwhelmed.  This marketing thing is out of control – really it is – I’m not being funny.  I’m tired.

Search Engine Optimization
SEO has gotten hard to manipulate and only the highest quality sites with great content dominate.  The days of submitting a press release or an article to help your site rank well for a keyword phrase are long gone.  I bet PRWeb.com misses the good old days too.  Once Matt Cutts said press releases didn’t help with organic search rankings, I bet things went south for them fast.

Paid Search Advertising
When we started out, most paid search clicks cost about 5 to 10 cents each.  The good old days are over my friend and prices are going up.  Now Google AdWords provides their customers with about 200 different ways to optimize a paid search campaign.  Not to mention all the other related channels, such as display ads, product listings, content networks, social networks and the list goes on.  Paid search advertising (PPC) is anything but simple these days.

Social Media Marketing
When we began our Atlanta online marketing agency, Facebook wasn’t even born yet, not to mention every other multi-billion dollar social media channel that lives today.  Can you believe someone actually paid $19 Billion for WhatsApp? I’m willing to bet you anything that was a bad idea.  But I digress…

Website Conversion Tracking
Web analytics has advanced into a very complex world as well.  Back in 2001 Urchin was king, but today Google Analytics rules the roost (notice the link love to Google – maybe they will love me back).  Today it’s more complicated.  There are many other measurements to consider, including audience segmentation, website conversion, phone call tracking, ROI analysis, cost per conversion, cost per lead, cost per sale…and the list goes on.

So you get the idea.  In the world of online marketing there are hundreds, even thousands of things to keep track of, stay up to date on, benchmark, measure, analyze, reverse engineer and learn.  Things change fast my friend, which is why we are all exhausted.  You gotta keep up or die.

Marketing Hasn’t Changed
The good news is that in spite of all these new channels and bells and whistles, the most important things about marketing remain the same.  To win in business you still have to have a great product and a great story.  Most companies don’t make it very far without a decent product or service, so lets assume that you have a great product too.

So what’s missing from your marketing plan?  Why is your website not converting visitors into buyers? Why is you PPC and your SEO and your SMM in the tank?

The answer is simple.  The problem is not the channel, or the bell, or the whistle. The problem is you don’t have a great story.  Scratch that.  Maybe you have a great story, but you are probably a horrible story teller.  How do I know this?

Because crafting a great story that actually engages potential customers and inspires them to act is hard work.  Differentiating your business from the competition and clearly articulating your value proposition is no walk in the park either.  And don’t let me forget to mention all the work it takes to educate and nurture a customer over time, long before they are ready to buy.  Telling a great story and engaging customers and persuading them to buy takes work my friend.

If you don’t tell a good story, no one will care what you do or why you do it.  They will have no proof that you are any better than the guy or gal down the street. They won’t learn anything new by visiting your website and they won’t have any loyalty to you at all. And they won’t laugh or smile when that look at your stuff either.

Back in the good old days, we used to say ‘content is king’.  Today this is still true, but now we call it ‘content marketing’.  Rebecca Lieb, an analyst that covers the content marketing space at Altimeter recently said “Content is the atomic particle of all digital marketing. Everything. There’s no owned media without content. There’s no social media without content. And there’s no paid media without content.” I would add there is no SEO without content either.  You can quote me on that.

If you are not good at content marketing; if you don’t create a virtual relationship with your customers through education; if you don’t establish yourself as a thought leader; if you don’t entertain people and stand out from the crowd…

then your marketing efforts will FAIL.

Marketers in todays’ world have to understand and communicate with different audiences in a unique way that is appropriate for the time, place and channel. They have to help their customers solve their problems.  They have to prove they are worthy of making the short list of consideration before anyone thinks about calling your sales guy.

The web has changed the way we buy.  The good old days of customers calling sales people for information are long gone.  It’s time you catch up and tell a better story – or go the way of the dinosaurs.  Content marketing is king, and everything else in the marketing ecosystem depends on it.

The Mobile Site Audit You Need To Do Right Now

We work with a lot of companies to get mobile sites right. Whether we opt for responsive design, a subdomain, or a simplified static version of the site, ensuring that search engines find and index mobile site properly is an important step in any meaningful SEO plan.

Luckily, the people over at Moz have done it again, with this amazing mobile site audit. Whether you’ve already settled on a mobile solution, you’re in the process of building one, or you’re thinking about putting one together in the near future, make sure you use this audit to make sure you get it right.

Fall in love with Jason on Twitter.

Find more of Jason’s posts and opinions on Google+.

Everything You Need To Know About Link Building In Two Minutes

link building in just two minutes

There are two kinds of people who are afraid of link building in 2014.

  1. People who ignore link building until Matt Cutts has something to say about paid links and press releases
  2. People who thought paid link strategies were ever a guaranteed, long term strategy for gaming the system

And, wherever there’s fear, there’s yet another group of unscrupulous SEO and SEM professionals waiting with open arms and open pockets to provide this year’s set of platitudes and assurances that “this time, this gimmick will work forever.”

You can avoid falling for this year’s gimmick and set your website up for continued, long term success, if you take another minute and a half to read the rest of this blog post.

See, successful link building boils down to three very simple ideas, stemming from a central theme. The three simple ideas are:

  • Directories have been dead for years, but high quality industry portals are amazingly effective
  • Paid distribution for press releases is generally worthless, but coverage from reliable news outlets is fantastic
  • Guest authors and guest blogging are becoming less effective, but kick ass articles are always a great idea

Can you spot the central theme, from which these ideas stem? It’s an idea that will never, ever become ineffectual or out of date:

  • Make great content and put it in the right place.

Trusted, high-quality industry and niche portals will change over time, but they’ll always be useful places for your content. Paying for placement or entry isn’t necessarily a bad sign. It takes resources to weed out all the junk. Find the portals your potential customers use and try to be there as often as possible.

Cheap, automated press release distribution is only one tiny tool for keeping your name in the newsfeeds. If you’ve got something newsworthy to say, write a kick-ass press release and then reach out to the news editors and aggregators covering your industry. If you don’t have something newsworthy to say, it might be best to say nothing at all.

And, finally, hosting and writing guest blog posts is a great idea, if-and-only-if the blog post answers a question your audience is asking. Getting your name and link on another website is pointless if it’s attached to a piece of ill-conceived or thoughtless content.

Keep these three ideas in mind as you continue link building in 2014, and you’ll have nothing to fear.

Fall in love with Jason on Twitter.

Find more of Jason’s posts and opinions on Google+.

SEO Tips: Overwhelmed By Your Site Audit???

In digital marketing a lot of success related to a website is based on how well it performs and how well a SERP can crawl each page. Interestingly enough, it is not just about SEO title tags, meta descriptions, keyword density, link building and image alt tags anymore. Obviously content quality, schema.org markups and site speed are just a few of the huge components of SEO.

At TwentySix2, we prefer to run an extensive site audit monthly for all of our clients. Being that Google Web Master Tools and Bing Web Master Tools bring a lot to the party, they only tell some of the story in completing a thorough site audit. There are other components that should always be addressed as well. Try these SEO tips to improve the overall health and crawl-ability of a website.

  • Visibility – Do you have an array of blocked urls or missing pages? Always fix internal links that point to 404 pages, review redirects and keep the internal links updated so that a 404 error doesn’t occur. At least have a custom 404 error page. Always check the Robots.txt files and fix any issues found.
  • Meta Descriptions – Let’s face it folks. Duplicate content is not a good quality of any website. Make sure that Meta Descriptions are not missing and are unique. Also make sure they are the proper length.
  • Content – As with Meta Descriptions, make sure you don’t have duplicate content on the site. It is a game of quality, not always quantity. Be sure to check word count. It is always wise to have images however, make sure your content text tells the story.
  • Links – Check out the links. Are any of them broken? Are any of the inbound links crummy? Disavow as you need to however, be careful using this Google feature. Check out this great article from Google on how to use this tool. 
  • Images – Check out all of the images on the site. Are they missing alt text? The SERP isn’t looking at your site, it is reading the HTML thatis rendered from it.
  • Semantic – It is best practice to use headings for content. Always include structured data when applicable.

Crawl Error GWMTThis is an Sitemap example of Google Webmaster Tools

Out of all of this information, don’t be surprise if you begin shuffling through a 150 page site audit. It really doesn’t matter which industry you are in or if you are a B2C or B2B corporation. Your website is the most valuable lead generator you have on the web. It converts traffic from paid search and display advertising, it tells the story of what you are and even in ecommerce applications, is the direct point of sale. Do not put the health, conversion capabilities or user friendliness of your website on the back burner.

Find Patrick Blanchard on Google +