Office Hours

Do you have a specific question about your website that you’ve been wanting to ask? Maybe you want to optimize the way your site runs, or maybe you’d like to become more comfortable updating your site content in WordPress.

Our team is holding online office hours on Wednesday, December 14th at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT). We’ll be available to answer questions for a full hour. If the room is full, hang tight or come back later in the hour.

Whether it’s increasing your site speed or writing more effective meta and title tags, we look forward to helping you.

Join Office Hours!
(GoToMeeting link will be active during Office Hours)

December 7, 2016
Google merchant center feed

Possible Reasons Your Google Merchant Center Feed Is Suspended

If you use Product Listing Ads within Google AdWords, you are familiar with the Google Merchant Center and the feeds you must create in order to serve your ads. Recently, we’ve seen some of our client’s feeds get suspended, as it seems Google has updated some of their policies.

If your feed hasn’t been suspended, you might want to take a look at some of these things Google is on the lookout for.

  1. Structured Data

    You will need to implement structured data so Google can really determine what your products are all about.  As web development has evolved, structured data has become the best way to provide the search engines with most amount of information about your products.  This is also a great way to beef up your organic search result listings.

  2. Pricing Variances

    If your eCommerce store offers multiple prices for different order sizes, you need to make sure the highest price listed is served in your data feed.  Google doesn’t want users to see a lower price on their Shopping ads and then come to find out they must pay more for lesser orders.

  3. Watermarks On Images

    All products cannot have any sort of watermark on the product image that promotes their brand.  Google simply wants users to see the product and doesn’t want them to be bombarded with any other brand messaging.  Their purpose is to provide a seamless experience without any distractions.

What should you do if your feed is already suspended?

You will need to do three things:

  1. Call Google: 1-800-2GOOGLE

    You will need to provide them your AdWords client ID or MCC ID to verify you can discuss the account.  Explain to them what the issue is and have them guide you in the right direction.  They will already have notes on why your account is suspended and can give you insight on how to get it rectified.

  2. Fix the issue

    Your feed isn’t going to fix itself.  Do exactly what Google asks of you.

  3. Submit your feed for review & call again

    There is a form you can fill out to have your account reviewed.  This seems to automatically elevate it to the review team so they can get to it as quickly as possible.  As a safety net, you’ll want to call Google back again to notify them about the issue being resolved.  They will usually immediately escalate it to the review team.  In my experience, contacting them in every way possible seems to speed up the process.

 

December 7, 2016

Six Audits You Should Perform on Your Pay-Per-Click Campaigns

Pay-per-click campaigns need to be constantly updated and audited in order to reach your marketing goals. Businesses often make the mistake of creating a campaign, setting it to run, and seldom reviewing the account to make the necessary optimizations through systematic campaign audits to improve performance.

Auditing your pay-per-click campaigns is one of the most beneficial things you can do to improve your accounts’ performance, lower cost per clicks, increase click through rates and conversions. So what does it mean to perform an audit to your per-per-click campaign? The answer to this question may depend on whom you are asking, as well as their specific marketing goals. However, there are six main audits that can be completed to ensure your campaigns are operating at peak performance.

Account Structure & Organization Audit

The highest level, and possibly most important, audit you can perform is an account structure & organization audit. The purpose of this audit is to review and ensure you are targeting the right locations, users, and keywords. During this audit you will also be checking for duplicate keywords, ad text variations, and keyword match types. When auditing your account for organization, it is important to take note of duplicate keywords and inappropriate match types and fix them immediately. The longer you have keywords and match types incorrectly implemented, the more opportunities you might be missing out on.

Campaign Settings Audit

After you have completed the account structure & organization audit, the next audit that should be performed on your campaign is a settings audit. While auditing your campaign’s settings you will be checking your ad rotations, shared budgets, and determine appropriate bid modifiers.

Ad Audit

The third most important audit for your pay-per-click campaign is an ad audit. The reason you want to audit your ad text is to find which ad variations are underperforming and which are driving a positive return. Once you have determined which ads are underperforming you can begin to optimize your ads based upon the top performing ad variations.

Keyword & Matched Queries Audit

The next audit, and possibly the most time consuming, is the keyword and matched keyword search query audit. During this audit you will review every keyword you have in your campaign and determine which keywords need to be segmented into other groups. You will also review the matched search terms for each of your groups and look for any new opportunities you weren’t targeting before. Additionally, be sure to pay close attention to keyword attributes being used like broad match, phrase match, exact match, and broad match modified. Ensuring that you have paired the best keyword and match type with the appropriate ad is imperative.

Ad Extension Audit

Finally, you will want to perform an ad extensions audit on your pay-per-click campaign. Google AdWords has five different extensions that may be used in conjunction with your ads as no additional cost. These extensions are; Site link extensions, callout extensions, call extensions, location extensions, and review extensions. These extensions are simple and effective ways to increase your ads’ visibility and drive more traffic. If you are currently running a pay-per-click campaign and do not have any ad extensions implemented, you will want to take the time to go through each extension and apply them to your ads. If you are running ad extensions, then you should go through each extension type individually and pause any under performing extensions and replace them with other variations. Having more than one of each extension type is important if you want to A/B test and find the top performing extension text.

These audits may seem time consuming, but they are necessary if you want your campaigns to run at peak performance and drive the highest ROI possible. Many of these audits also require a fair amount of data to appropriately determine top performers from poor performing ads and extensions. With that said, these audits do not need to be performed every week, but once a month is necessary if you want to ensure you are running the most effective campaign possible.

October 13, 2015

The Importance of Quality Account Structures in Google AdWords

When potential clients ask me why their Google AdWords account isn’t generating the leads they had hoped, my first question is:

“How segmented are your ad groups?”

The typical response:

“Huh?”

A successful AdWords campaign isn’t built by simply entering your keywords into one campaign and one ad group.  Extensive keyword research needs to be done to determine which keywords are worth targeting with profitability in mind.  These keywords need to be separated into themed ad groups that group similar keywords.  Here are a few things to consider when analyzing your Google AdWords account.

Themed Ad Groups

If you take a look at your account and notice that all of your keywords are in one ad group with generic ads copy being served, your campaign is not going to be successful.  For instance, if you’re building an ad campaign for dog beds, you’ll want to consider the many types of dog beds that are available and search volume. A good ad group will consider large dog beds, orthopedic dog beds, cheap dog beds, fancy dog beds and so on.

The keywords “fancy dog beds” and “cheap dog beds” describe two completely different types of buyers, one is targeted toward a luxury dog bed buyer and the other is looking for an affordable solution.  We want to serve each of these buyers custom ads that directly match their search intent and those ads should deliver the buyer to specific landing pages.  Here’s why you want to do this:

  1. It will increase our click through rates on our ads
  2. Sending each user to a page listing only beds that are either cheap or fancy will more directly match their search intent and increase conversions
  3. It will help to increase your quality scores which can help you to achieve lower costs at a higher position than your competitors

Segmenting your ad groups by keyword is very important. If segmented properly, you should have no more than 4-5 keywords per ad group.

Ad Extensions

Ad Preview and Diagnosis – Google AdWordsAd extensions are a great way to make your ad stand out and give potential buyers more options to consider.  Here are the different types of manual ad extensions:

  1. Apps
    Only works for mobile and tablet users, but if you’ve built your own custom app, this is great way to get exposure.
  2. Calls
    Use your telephone number so people can call you directly without even having to click on the ad.  AdWords also provides the functionality to assign a Google forwarding number so you can track call conversions.
  3. Locations
    If your Google+ page is created properly, you can pull this information into AdWords to give your users a better understanding of where you’re located.
  4. Reviews
    Credibility is one of the most important aspects when trying to generate leads.  Having positive reviews in your ads can increase click through rates.
  5. Sitelinks
    When you give your users links to different sections of your website, you can definitely increase your ad’s click through rates.
  6. Callouts
    These are great for providing extra incentives when you didn’t have enough room to include that text in your ads.  Callouts give the the opportunity to include your mission statement, a special offer or other incentive to click on your ad.

Bid Prices

You should never be bidding the same amount for all your keywords.  Each keyword has a unique level of competition and by manually curating these, you can keep your costs down.

Consider testing bid prices at different average positions to see which ones perform best. Monitor your ads daily to make sure your ads prices are performing according to your budget.

Targeting

targetingIf your business only serves customers within a small radius around your store or office, why would you serve your ads to the entire nation?  If you perform business internationally, why would you only want to serve ads to people within your own city?

There are many different ways to target unique audiences.  One of the most useful tools I use is to target users by income.  For our clients who sell luxury homes, it only makes sense to serves ads to those people in the top income bracket tiers.

You can target by ZIP Code, radius around a location, city, state, congressional district, country and so much more.  Being as specific as possible will hepl drive the high quality traffic that will boost your business.


There is so much more that goes into creating a quality account structure in Google AdWords. I hope these suggestions will help your Google AdWords campaigns become lead generating machines.

 

December 7, 2016

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

When it comes to Internet marketing, most people hear about terms and services like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google AdWords or pay-per-click campaigns, remarketing, and email marketing. Sure, these can be great ways to drive traffic to your website – but if your website isn’t designed to get a conversion, what’s the point?

That’s like inviting a bunch of people to a party and not providing music, drinks, and food – nobody has fun and nobody wins. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a party – and we need to make sure everyone has a good time.

So, let’s start off with the basics. You might be wondering…

What is a conversion?

A conversion is an action taken by the end user to interact in some way with your company. There are many different types of conversions, including, but not limited to:

  • Contact form submissions
  • Email newsletter signups
  • Phone calls
  • Content downloads
  • Product purchases

There is one main reason why we want conversions, regardless of the type: user information.

Even if you have an eCommerce store and selling a physical product is your number one priority, you’ll still obtain the user’s name, email address, phone number and sometimes an address. Now, even though you have already sold them a product, you have their information to pitch up-sells like related products, relevant content based on their purchase, and so on.

If you aren’t selling a physical product and someone submits a form, you now have a new lead for your sales team to follow up with. Any business owner with the mindset to squeeze every opportunity out of a client or prospect understands the value of knowing the average lifecycle of a client and how to leverage it in the best way possible.

Is there a one-size-fits-all approach to conversion rate optimization?

In a word, no. Your business is unique, and there’s no perfect out-of-the-box solution.

As such, every CRO campaign is unique as well. Of course, there are some industry standards that can be applied, but the biggest part of CRO is understanding the end user. As marketers, we need to put ourselves in the mindset of the user and ask ourselves the questions they’d be asking – and resolve their problem.

Let’s face it – no one is going to buy your products or services if they don’t have an issue that needs solving. If we can leverage the design and verbiage to help ease that pain, you’ve now earned trust. The more personable we can make their experience, the better results we will have in regards to conversions.

What are the major components of successful CRO?

This question really depends on the types of campaigns you are running, but the catch-all answer is:

Personalizing the user experience

You likely have multiple traffic sources, and each needs to be addressed and optimized separately. Every one of your traffic-driving campaigns is a living, breathing organism, and the users that they target are going to react differently to certain types of content and designs.

If we don’t take the time to understand the types of users we expect to visit our landing pages, we will never be successful in CRO. There are a plethora of aspects relevant to conversion rate optimization, but here are 3 things that are crucial to consider when personalizing customer experience:

  1. Matching user’s intent with content and verbiage

    If a user is coming from the search engines or a paid ad, we want to try and make sure the search query they used, or close variation of it, is included in the title of the page. This reassures the user that the content they are about to read has to do with what they searched for, and will help to lower bounce rates. We also want to include verbiage about how this product and service is going to ease their pain. We want to use words that invoke that pain and make them aware of it. This helps reinforce their thought of “I need to get this fixed now.”

  2. Matching user’s intent with design

    Knowing your end user really comes into play here. If we are expecting the end user’s demographic to be primarily female, we may want to consider using a color palette that is more appealing to them – maybe some softer colors. However, if we are expecting all males who love sports, we may want to use a more bold color palette – maybe some dark reds and black. It may seem silly, but this invokes emotion without the end-user knowing it. Using pictures that illustrate their pain or issue is very useful as well. Again, this helps reassure them that the page matches their viewing intent.

  3. Prominent call-to-actions

    Don’t forget that the ultimate goal is to get the end user to perform some sort of action, like submitting a form. We need to make sure they know how and where to do it. This is where the call-to-actions (CTAs) come into play. These need to be the piece that stands out the most on the page. Be careful, however, that you aren’t using tacky, invasive practices. Your CTA should be prominent, but should look as if it’s supposed to be there. You should also use multiple call-to-actions. If you have one at the top of the page, you might consider putting another one further down when the initial CTA is out of view.

CRO & A/B Testing

When it comes to conversion rate optimization, A/B testing is your biggest asset. Making simple changes like the color on a button or the verbiage in a headline can have a drastic effect on the conversion rate.

You don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. You’ll be surprised at how much a small change can affect your bottom line. Without testing, you’ll never know which variation of a page performs better. Don’t be afraid to do something outside of the box – these ideas typically yield the most surprising results and can lead you down a successful path you never expected.

Give It Time To Collect Data and Optimize

All too often, businesses run campaigns for a month or two, and because they don’t see an immediate return on investment, they shut the campaign down. This only guarantees that you’ll lose money.

Staying committed to your campaign gives you an opportunity to recoup the costs in the first few months.

It is very important to establish an initial strategy and let it run without any changes. If you begin making too many changes to the account immediately, how are you going to know which change resulted in better performance? Once a campaign has run long enough to capture statistically relevant data, we can make a change, let it run for another again for the same amount of time, and then determine which instance of the campaign performed better. Rinse and repeat.

There are some campaigns, depending on your strategy, industry, and competition, where you may see a positive return on investment in the first month. Most likely, however, most campaigns are going to require some informed tweaking. If you are a business owner who has hired a 3rd-party service to run your campaign, then you need to work with them and provide any insight that could benefit their efforts.

Conversion Rate Optimization Never Stops

So, you’ve run an A/B test and increased your conversion rate. You’ve done it! You are completed your conversion optimization efforts, right? If only it were that simple.

Businesses should never stop optimizing for conversions. There is always an element, no matter how subtle, that you can test to see if it can improve performance. Each and every month, you should have a plan on how to improve. The tests you’ve hoped would guarantee improvement will sometimes backfire, but don’t let that discourage you. In fact, this should spark your imagination in ways it hasn’t been before.

Continually challenge yourself and the norms to achieve your desired results. Stay committed. Trust your team. When it comes to conversion rate optimization, expect to fail in order to succeed.

How well do you think your conversion rate optimization efforts are going? We’d be happy to provide a free Internet marketing strategy analysis. Let’s have a conversation.

December 7, 2016
Twitter advertising

Twitter Advertising 101

Twitter, the micro-blogging web service with some 200 million active monthly users, recently announced it was in the process of becoming a publicly traded company. That is to say, Twitter will join either the NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange and anyone with a trading account will be able to invest.

While this is great news for Twitter’s early investors, it’s not entirely clear how the news will affect the service’s already established advertising platform.

Read More »

June 30, 2014
organic listing picture - SEO

SEO vs PPC: What’s Best For My Business?

Often, when a client comes to us for Internet marketing services, they have heard of SEO and PPC but don’t know the fundamental differences between them or what they are for that matter. They have just been told that they need to “step up their SEO” game or “drive more leads with PPC.” These are definitely things you should be doing, but understanding what they are and the differences between them will help you determine which avenue is best suited for your business.

Read More »

December 7, 2016
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