What We Think | TwentySix2 Marketing

Google Adds Free, Useful Tool for Paid Search

Google launched a free app yesterday that allows you to access, edit and manage your adwords search campaigns. Titled “Adwords Express”, the app allows full access into campaigns, allowing you all the management capabilities that you would have on your desktop.

While it is still easier to manage and optimize campaigns on a laptop or desktop, this app does make it significantly easier to edit and make changes on the go.

 

Check out the official video from Google below!

Google Adwords Express

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Why You Need a PPC Expert

Paid search used to be a pretty simple tool for companies to manage but over the last few years Google has made paid search very, very complex. In the old days (early 2000s) you only had a few choices to make when setting up a new account, but my have things changed.

SEO is Harder
Yes, search engine optimization (SEO) has nothing to do with paid search, but if you don’t dominate the organic search listings, then paid search becomes even more important.  In the old days it was easy to update some page titles and tags and your site would rank well in the free, organic listings. But in recent years these tricks of the trade are gone with the wind and it takes really great, useful content to propel your site to the top of search engines.  As a result, paid search has become critical.

Account Structure is Everything
Paid search is a lot like the golf swing. If you are setup wrong, you have no chance of hitting the perfect shot. PPC account structure matters, and it’s easy to setup your account incorrectly unless you have tons of experience with multiple paid search accounts. At TwentySix2 Marketing we value account structure so much that we review every new PPC account design as a team to insure that we do things right.  Sound account structure is the key to success.

Keyword Research is Critical
Another very important thing you can do when setting up a paid search account is keyword research.  Keyword selection is one of the hardest things to get right. From time to time in our office we have all our account managers perform keyword research for the same client just to see who comes up with what keywords. It is amazing how many people come up with different lists of keywords. To solve this problem we built a pretty lengthy checklist of things to consider when performing keyword research for a client. As a result, there is very little keyword list variation from account manager to account manager these days, but the fact remains that keyword research is critical and difficult at the same time.

Time is Money
To manage a paid search account properly, you have to spend time looking at the numbers, thinking about the numbers and deciding what to do with all the data. You have to setup tests, change sales offers, update landing pages, monitor bid prices and the list goes on… If you want paid search to work, there are many, many good reasons to hire an expert, but the best reason is hiring an expert saves you time and therefore money.

Poor Ad Copy Generates Poor Results
Imagine your campaign is setup and less than 1% of the people that see your ad actually click on your ad. Now imagine you could re-write your ad copy to increase the click through rate to 4%. That change would yield a 300% increase in potential website visitors and sales. A skilled and experienced paid search account manager is vital to developing good ad copy.  The more you test, the more you learn and the better a PPC campaign will perform.

If You Can’t Measure Everything, Something is Wrong
A good paid search account manager can measure everything from phone calls to web forms to closed deals. The reason digital marketing has surpassed traditional marketing is that you can measure results.  A good PPC expert can help you close the loop with technology applications that track in-bound phone calls, web leads and sales results.  Whether you are an e-commerce company that can measure results instantly or a B2B company that takes months to close deals, in today’s world everything should be measured.

Click Fraud Prevention
As paid search has matured, click fraud is not as big a problem as it once was, but it is important to know how to monitor your log files and how to get refunds from search engines. Experience in this area can save you a lot of money if things do go wrong.

Paid Search Geeks Keep Up with Industry Changes
If your paid search account manager doesn’t read twenty blogs about PPC, they are in the wrong business. Things change fast baby and the only way to keep up is to be passionate about online marketing, paid search, web analytics and data. If you don’t love this stuff, you are dead.

Google Wants You to Try It On Your Own
When you do things incorrectly, you waste money.  Google gives you a lot of options to manage your own paid search account because they want you to manage your own paid search account.  They make money when you make mistakes.  Miss a few negative keywords and waste some money.  Bid too much for a low performing keyword phrase and waste some money.  The possibilities are endless.

A good paid search account manager is worth their weight in gold.

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Google to Mobile-ize New Search Engine Results

If you have been reading the blog posts here at TwentySix2, you have likely been hit over the head many times with a simple idea, three words long.
Mobile. Is. Important.

Have you been out in public lately? Just about everyone is staring at a phone screen, no matter where you look. Public is starting to feel more like private, just with a lot more space around you. BOOM! ROASTED! Take that, “being in public”.

Incredible put-downs aside, mobile phones really are taking over. People use them for a large portion of their searches, mostly because they are ubiquitous and always on hand.

Google, being Google, is tapped in to this new mobile world and wants to do whatever it can to make sure your mobile experience is as easy as possible. How does it do this? Well, now, Google will let smartphone searchers now if it thinks a website has a “faulty redirect” that will send a user to the homepage if the link itself is supposed to point to a deeper page in the site.

se land ex

Picture taken from Search Engine Land

Google doesn’t want its users to end up on irrelevant pages (or, simply, the page they did not click on), and we can’t fault them for that; especially considering the crusade they have been on to provide “the best possible search results” to their users.

How can you, as a site owner, deal with this issue? Well, have a good mobile website. This will essentially solve any issues you could conceive of in this arena.

If you aren’t sure if your website is cutting it or not, you can check in webmaster tools’ “crawl errors” section, under “faulty redirect”.

This just points back to our point that if you are ignoring mobile, you are doing it wrong. Make sure that your site makes sense from a mobile perspective and that users can find what they want easily when they arrive at your site. While some people don’t mind pinching and zooming and scrolling around on your web page that does not fit onto a phone screen, other will immediately abandon. And if Google warns them before they enter your site that they are getting redirected to an incorrect page, they many not even HAVE the chance to abandon your site.

So take care of it now… or let us take care of it for you!

 

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Google adds another log to the already confusing local listing fire

Your Google Local Listing used to be easy. You would set up a local listing in Google’s Local Listings for Business Dashboard, mail yourself a postcard pin, and then edit and improve your listing until the end of time.

Then, Google+ happened. And Google wanted to make Google+ a thing. Real bad.
Google Plus... Not Going to HappenAnd in order to do so, they suddenly tried to integrate Google Plus with Google Local, and all of a sudden you needed a Google Plus profile, a Google Plus Business Page and a Google Local Listing to make sure you had your bases covered. The real issue with this is that when Google rolled out this local platform, a lot of duplication occurred and listings became duplicated, incorrect and oftentimes locked users out of their own listings.

We have had several instances where a perfectly optimized profile was suddenly split into two listings and we had lost the ability to make any changes. In a world where local results make up a large portion of the first page, you can imagine the frustration this caused to ourselves and our clients.

Worse still were the counter-intuitive Google+ Business Pages, which in our experience never worked quite the way you wanted them to and often locked you out for no reason. Also, you were having to upload the same information into  multiple pages in order to make sure your local listing and business page matched up.

All of the complain-y reasons above are why I am not overjoyed about Google’s announcement that you can now allow your Google+ business page to link your page to your local listing. Google claims that this will apply the business information, like address, reviews, hours and more, from Google Maps to your Page. This is great news –  but only if it works.

That being said, if this does work, it would be a great step towards streamlining the local listing process and ensuring that your information is the same across the Google-verse with as little effort as possible on your end.

Try it out yourselves- Search Engine Land wrote a great article listing what you can do and how you can do it - and let us know if it works for you. I’d love to stop being so cynical, I just need a reason to believe.

 

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Brands & the Future of Links

When Google noticed that people were using links to take advantage of their algorithm, they starting rolling out a series of their friendly animal named changes. Some sites got punished. A lot of links got ignored. And then what?

The short answer is that content and link strategies now focus on quality over quantity. Links from niche sites and blogs are only worth pursuing if they’re “high quality” (read: hard to obtain). Links from directories are virtually pointless. And Google is even encouraging us to disavow sources of high-volume links to our sites.

But no one’s really able to point to anything concrete about how Google is determining the quality of these links.

That might have changed.

Simon Penson and Bill Slawski have both written some in-depth, search-geeky analysis of a patent that seems to confirm some SEO suspicions, while putting what could be the final nail in the coffin of any SEO strategy built around high-volume links.

Although I encourage you to read their entire posts, I’ve distilled the two vital bits for you below.

  • Brand mentions on quality websites will rise in importance, meaning that you need to get people talking about and posting about your company. Now.
  • Reference queries are tricky, but vital. In essence, the importance of reference queries means that your site will perform better in organic results if more people are talking about the things on your pages. That also means that your pages need clear focus and quality content. (Big surprise?)

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Atlanta Digital Marketing Agency Ad Spend is on the Rise

As anyone in digital marketing will tell you, there have been lots of changes in SEO as well as paid search and display advertising in the past year. As an Atlanta digital marketing agency, continue to ride the wave while asking questions such as: “What will Google take away next?” “What platforms strategies or campaigns seem to be working best in a particular vertical?” The answers change as fast as the questions.

One thing we do incredibly well is monitor campaigns and optimize based on what we can actually see working or not working. Since display banner blindness is something we contend with, what is the actual value in advertising digitally? Now that C-suite CMO’s as well as small and midsize business owners have become smart to the idea of digital marketing and advertising being trackable, what is in the value of branding?

For years I have driven down interstates and looked at billboards and wondered why copious amounts of money are spent for highway surface art? Why is it that companies spend so much money on something for me to mindlessly look at as I drive down the highway? What is the actual value in it? Why is so much money spent to provide annoying TV commercials when my reaction is to turn down the TV or immediately change the channel?  There must be value right? How many hours a day do you spend on Facebook? Is it a coincidence that even our social media channels of choice are becoming pay to play?  Display advertising is becoming more and more influential with large and small brands alike.

Share of Global Adspend

 

According to a study performed by Zenith Optimedia, digital ads represented 22% of all ad spend in the U.S. in 2013, and IBM predicts there is going to be a 40% increase in digital spend over the next four years. These are staggering numbers.   Zenith Optimedia created the study to show where they believe paid search and display advertising dollars are going to increase and by how much over the next year. They have also included data regarding other mediums of advertising for reference. Please note that they focus on the U.S. in this study primarily because as you can see below, the U.S. represents the majority of paid media and ad spend.

Branding has extreme value when it comes to digital advertising the same as an ad in the Yellow Pages did years ago. Potential customers or clients need to feel like your business is legitimate and they need a place to find you. Display advertising, paid search advertising and a good content marketing strategy can provide success. Keep in mind that you will usually see far better results from a conversion stand point with retargeting being that a prospect has already interacted with your brand. While the digital tools are there at your disposal, always remember to implement best practices in traditional marketing and advertising by using a clear message, aggressive offer and key differentiators that may persuade a prospect to pick you over someone else.

internet adspend by typeDigital Breakdown by Budget

There is a considerable amount of noise in the digital marketing world. There are display ads on every page of the web, every social media channel and every engine where a search query is made and rightfully so. This is big business folks. Since your competitors are there, you should be as well. A good agency and creative team can help you differentiate you and your product or service from the rest. Display Advertising is getting the most attention and dollars in digital marketing budgets due to branding and conversion success highly due to remarketing and retargeting campaigns. If you are a CMO, CEO or a small business owner, take a long look at digital marketing and hire an agency to help you design and good strategy. Remember… the competitors who you think are competition may not be who you think they are on the web.

 

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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.