Category Archives: blog

ppc-cake-and-eat-it-too

Pay-Per-Click: Why Patience is a Virtue

Many times, companies will choose to invest their marketing dollars into Pay-Per-Click marketing over SEO because they want results NOW. While PPC is certainly faster than SEO at delivering results, it is still best to have some patience before demanding results.

Have you ever baked a cake? You start by gathering all of your ingredients, mix them together, pour the mix in a bowl and toss it in the oven. After 30-40 minutes you take it out and are ready to eat it. What if you got impatient and decided to take the cake out after 10 minutes to check on it? Obviously it would only be partially cooked and now you’ve probably ruined it, causing it to sink in on itself by exposing it to the cool air. Imagine if you had followed the instructions, waited the full 30-40 minutes, so now it’s fully cooked and edible. Once you dig in, perhaps this cake is not exactly what you expected-you’d like chocolate frosting instead of vanilla frosting. Or you’d like a three-layer cake instead of a two-layer cake. Tomorrow you make the adjustments to your cake, bake it again, and now you have yourself a chocolate-frosted three-layer cake. Perfect!

PPC is much the same as baking a cake. You gather all of your ingredients: keywords, ad copy, bid strategies, etc., mix them together in your campaign, pour some money into it and toss it to the public. After a couple of weeks you are ready to check on it, it has a good amount of actionable date, so you start making adjustments. But what if you had gotten impatient and started making adjustments after the first day? Much like your cake, you could easily ruin all of the effort you put into mixing those ingredients because you don’t have enough data to inform your decisions. Instead you patiently wait for a couple of weeks, dig into your campaign and discover it’s performing well, but not as good as you’d hoped. Your ads are being triggered by weird searches, so you add those keywords as Negatives. Your ads perform best in the morning, so you add bid modifiers to the AM hours. Because you waited patiently to make data-driven changes to your PPC campaign, you’ve made your perfect chocolate-frosted three-layer PPC cake.

This long-winded cake metaphor is oversimplifying things a bit. Let’s dig a little deeper to fully realize why it’s best to exercise patience with your PPC campaigns and find out what actionable data we are actually reviewing and acting upon.

Keywords

We all know keywords are the basis of any Pay-Per-Click campaign. At SocialSEO, we do an extensive keyword research and analysis and create a targeted keyword list for each campaign, but until that campaign launches, you won’t have the data you need to see which keywords are outperforming others. By reviewing keyword data on clicks, impressions, and conversions; we can make adjustments like, increasing bids for the highest-converting keywords, pausing keywords with a high number of clicks but no conversions and adding keyword phrases that triggered your ad but haven’t been added to the account yet.

Negative Keywords

As with Keywords, we build extensive Negative Keyword lists before even launching a campaign. However, it’s not until that campaign launches that we can see the full extent of irrelevant terms people are searching for that trigger your ads to show, so that we can add those words/phrases to the Negative Keyword list and prevent those wasteful clicks. As your campaign compiles more and more data, we continue adding negative keywords to our campaigns, thereby preventing more and more irrelevant searches.

Quality Score

Google has recently changed how they provide Quality Scores for keywords. Before each keyword would get a score almost immediately, now keywords need to accumulate performance data before they receive a score. This can take anywhere from 1 day to 1 month, many times even longer. We can work to increase Quality Scores, and this can be done several different ways, but they all take time. Time for us to make changes and time for data to accumulate that we can analyze to determine which changes were the most effective. Depending on how many clicks/impressions your ads are receiving, this process could take days-weeks for us to really see movement on those quality scores.

Match Types

Should we use Phrase Match? Exact Match? Modified Broad Match? AdWords has enabled us to use a few different match types for the same keyword. Sometimes an exact match keyword can have a much lower cost-per-click than a broad match. Sometimes it’s the other way around, but once again, we don’t know until we’ve got the data to inform us.

Remarketing

Remarketing in both Search and Display networks is a great way to recapture users that visited your site but didn’t convert. However, this type of Remarketing is not possible until you have had at least 1,000 visitors to your website (after adding the Remarketing tag). For many PPC campaigns, reaching this threshold can take anywhere from a few days to a few months. So patiently waiting to hit that magic number can help you, as the gains from Remarketing won’t start to be fully realized until we can utilize those Remarketing lists.

The list of adjustments that we make to an active PPC campaign goes on, but this provides a good starting point of how we refine a campaign once it’s gotten the amount of data we need to inform our decisions. Every campaign is different, so it’s hard to provide a specific timeframe, but we like to wait 30 days before making any major adjustments, like changes to Keywords or adding Bid Modifiers. And we kindly ask that you practice patience for at least 90 days to see all of these adjustments take hold, rev up your campaign, and provide the ROI you expect.

Is anyone else hungry?

seo-trends-for-2017

Tips and Tricks to Make 2017 Your Business’ Best Year Ever with SEO

In any industry, the start of a New Year requires introspection on the effectiveness of strategies implemented last year, as well as discussion about what changes in the coming year should be built into the strategy. The SEO industry is no different. Numerous articles have already been circulating that pick apart the top digital landscape changes in 2016 and what that means for 2017, even from publications not traditionally focused on SEO such as Forbes, Amazon and Small Business Trends.

A poll given to 39 top SEO experts signaled which trends they feel will have the largest impact on 2017 digital strategy. The top 5 SEO trends for 2017 according to these experts are:

  • Optimization for Mobile
  • Quality Content
  • Voice Search
  • Micro Formats
  • Artificial Intelligence

 

What do each of these mean and how can you capitalize on them in your digital strategy? Here’s a quick overview to get you started:

 

Optimization for Mobile

The myriad of Google changes towards a mobile first consideration gave us a strong indication that Google is confident this is the way the online landscape must be laid out. What were some of those indications? The biggest was the announcement of a mobile first index. Google will now be focused on indexing your mobile site first and your desktop second. If there are inconsistencies, you can bet this will affect your keyword rankings and traffic.

Quick Tips to Optimize for Mobile:

  • Make sure you have a mobile responsive site
    • Having a separate platform for mobile and desktop will no longer suffice as they serve up differing content. Having a separate platform can also restrict you from displaying or even having the same layout or content across your sites. There is also more room for human error as two platforms instead of one need to be updated. With mobile responsive sites, it’s the same content and technical layout on the same platform and can conform to the user’s screen size or device.
  • Look at your user experience on mobile
    • You should be able to account for things like fat fingers on the screen. Can your user click on your website buttons and links with ease, or are the links and buttons so close together that they can accidentally click on something else? Are your important call to actions visible to the mobile user? Can they intuitively get what they need within 5 seconds?
  • Account for your Visual Elements
    • Images and video are great but they can also slow down the load time of your mobile site. Make sure you optimize your images and video for faster loading time.
    • Make sure your website is easy to read. The recommended legible size for website font is 16 pixels, about the same size as book and magazine print, which accounts for reading distance.

Quality Content

No surprise, quality content is still king. The biggest Content take away is the concept of unique content asset diversification and unification. In terms of content asset diversification, this means having a good amount of high relevant content using the various communication vehicles such as text, images, video, social media, featured snippets and knowledge graph. Having diversification of content assets in your arsenal is not enough. You will need to unify your efforts across the board among your various marketing channels and have some cohesive brand strategy. The push towards unifying your PPC/SEM, Social Media, SEO & traditional marketing efforts affects your brand affinity and trust.

Unifying Diverse Content

  • Take a Multi-Channel Approach
    • Learn your user and consumer behavior and apply the same concepts to all your marketing channels. This builds traffic and brand cohesion, which helps in associating your brand with particular concepts.
    • Use rich snippets and knowledge graph to your advantage. Getting your content in featured snippets and knowledge graph answers positions your brand as an industry expert or leader and helps building trust with the consumer.
  • Cohesive Brand Messaging
    • Don’t use your infographics and images just for social media efforts, repurpose them through your PPC channels or website content and tie them to your brand. Don’t just advertise your specials through SEM, mention them on your website as well. Make sure your content has a purpose and is not just eye candy. Sometimes this means spelling out your content for the average user and tying it in with your brand’s value proposition. Solidify your branding. Get familiar with cognitive dissonance theory and help ease the transition for your users when moving from your social channels to your website.

Voice Search

Accounting for voice search is becoming more important with the rise of home assistant automation like Google’s Home & Amazon’s Alexa; as well as voice search platforms on your mobile phone and wearables. This means focusing on the conversational queries.

Optimizing for Voice Search

  • Understand How Your Consumers Search
    • Research how your customers are searching for you and what actions you are prompting them to make. For example, if you are a local business and the main search query for your services is “nail salons near me” make it a point to see who is on page one. If it’s a directory like Yelp, make sure your nail salon has a yelp profile. If you are a B2B, same theory applies however, it could be industry related directories.
  • Utilize FAQ Questions
    • Even B2B clients have frequently asked questions. Take advantage of the FAQs you get and answer them in a clear concise format. Make sure to pose the question and not just answer it so Google can pick up the question phrase. This will not only help you with voice search but can also help you potentially land a quick answers box on Google.

Micro Formats/Structured Data

Structured data allows search engines to easily understand what the data or text implies. Using it helps search engines understand a page is a recipe, a product is an article or even more descriptive information like “new product”, “price”, “medical clinic” etc.

Optimizing Structured Data

  • Add Business Related Schema Markup
    • When appropriate, add schema markup to your website to identify important business information. This can include specific code on your site to identify you as a local business, your hours of operation, your phone number etc.
  • Add Service or Product Related Schema
    • If you sell products, make sure you have product schema and that it is complete. For example, there is structured data for review ratings, new or used product, product price, product image etc. If you are a service, make sure to include a list of your services and add services schema or service area schema to help Google understand the area you offer your service in.

Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence is already being used to rank web documents. Google stated that RankBrain, a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that helps Google process some of its search results, is used as the third most important ranking signal. It can help with things like identifying user intent and interpreting what the searcher is looking for online. Semantic understanding, or semantic strategy, has helped capitalize on the use of artificial intelligence by helping users and search engines understand what a particular keyword or topic could be about. For example, if someone searched for “pizza near me”, semantic understanding looks for related content to pizza restaurants, locality (where the searcher is), and physical addresses tied to pizza restaurants close to that address to be able to serve up the most relevant list of searches for that query.

  • Optimize for Semantic Understanding
    • Make sure your website content has the relevant information your traffic is looking for. If you have an article about a particular concept, utilize similar phrases for your keywords and ensure that your keywords are related to each other. Build your article around that concept and make it clear.
  • Utilize Specific Words or Phrases
    • A research study done by Stone Temple Consulting found the following specific words or phrases improved with the introduction of RankBrain:
      • What is
      • Who is
      • Where is
      • Without
    • Utilize these phrases and tie them to your business. Incorporate them into your FAQs and get some answer box consideration at the same time.

2016 was a year full of drastic changes in the digital space that saw game changing algorithm shifts affecting both local and national rankings.  Staying on top of the latest trends in online marketing can help you build actionable strategies that will carry you throughout the changing tides of the New Year.

 

social-media-2017

 

A New Year brings new trends. 2016 was a very productive year for Social Media, but here are the 3 fun trends we are looking forward to in 2017!

1) Video
2) In the moment content
3) Augmented Reality, Filters, Stickers

Video

With video being viewed 8 billion times daily on Facebook we predict that this trend will only continue going into 2017. Facebook newsfeeds are dominated by video and will most likely be entirely video in the near future. There are many factors that support the idea of video domination on social media. The most powerful possibly being the surge in internet penetration.

“Due to easy and widespread availability of 3G/4G services, the on-going surge in internet penetration in the country will be on the rise in 2017, leading to an exponential increase in video consumption.” – Vikas Katoch, Adomantra Digital

Reaching your audience, following, fans, or whatever you call your target market is essential to maximize your Social Media efforts. 2017 will be a difficult year to get canned content in front of your audience. Video is a great way to get your business in front of the people most likely to make a purchase or conversion. It allows brands to engage with audiences immediately and authentically.



In The Moment Content

We live in a world that expects on-demand content. Loading times need to be short, news needs to be fast, and content needs to be accessible. In the moment content has proved to be powerful in 2016 and will continue to progress going into 2017. We have only seen the very surface of live video content on Facebook and Instagram. We are beginning to see the powerful impact on Snapchat and Instagram. Millennials live for on demand content and younger generations expect it. For your business to keep up with this trend it is critical to have an existing social media presence and strategy. The landscape is changing constantly and it is critical for your content to be relevant and engaging. Live Video, 360-video, and taking advantage of trending topics will be essential in 2017 if your business wants to remain relevant!

Augmented/Virtual Reality & Stickers/Filters

We only saw a glimpse of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in 2016. PlayStation VR brought us the idea of seeing a different world, and Pokémon Go proved that we can bring technology to our world. Many tech businesses have made a move towards AR/VR, but 2017 will bring both AR/VR to Social Media. This fast and innovative development will give businesses insight on where the future of Social Media could go. Augmented/Virtual Reality should not be overlooked. AR/VR has the potential to change Social Media or follow the path of Google Glass and 3D television!

“In the best version of 2017, those things will improve. Virtual reality will get better, cheaper, easier and more publicly accepted, so that strapping your phone on to your head will seem less weird and more useful. And it will gradually morph into augmented reality, letting people add things to the real world in a way that was heralded by the huge popularity of Pokemon Go.” – Independent.co.uk

Stickers and Filters are another exciting trend you should look forward to in the new year. Social Media users are always looking for ways to share moments with the world. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram all give users the ability to customize moments with Stickers or Filters. A sticker is a small logo, image, or overlay that you can put on images. A filter is an image frame that is still or interactive.

Most Social Media platforms offer their version of stickers or filters, but no one does it better than Snapchat!

“On the daily, Snapchat reaches 41 percent of all 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States. If that statistic doesn’t surprise you, you might be more impressed to learn that half of all new users signing up for Snapchat are over the age of 25.” – Hootsuite

Businesses can use filters by simply designing a filter, setting a geographic location where the filter can be seen, and submitting for approval. Filters can be made for events, brand awareness promotion, or fun!

socialseo-snapchat-filter

7 KILLER SEO STRATEGIES TO (2)
There was something so intoxicatingly enchanting about television and film depicting the future. Our young eyes watched as spectacular worlds roll out before us and waited with baited breath at the technology that was promised. Hoverboards, automatic walkways, robot companions, flux capacitors and continuum transfunctioners… these were the inventions that had us eagerly awaiting the years and decades before us. The future was bright.

Instead, we have software that makes us look like dogs.

 

Voice17

Pictured: The Future

 

Well, that’s a bit pessimistic. While we may be a few years away from Rosie the Robot, there’s no doubt technology has brought previously unimaginable scenarios to life, even if they’re not as sexy as a lightsaber. We have rectangles in our pocket that can answer any question we may have in seconds, a watch that will bring you pizza if you ask it to, and a speaker that can turn on your lights and keep track of your shopping list if you ask it nicely. That’s not too far off from being able to walk into a room, say “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot” to your computer, and lo and behold…

 

Voice1

Source: http://www.fredsullivan.com/
Make it so…

 

In fact, being able to make requests of a computer with voice input alone has been one of the enduring sci-fi staples that is quickly becoming much more “sci” and much less “fi”. According to Google, 20% of all searches on mobile devices are voice searches. Amazon Echo, the speaker with an assistant that can do anything from setting an alarm to call you a cab, sold nine times as many units during the 2016 holiday compared to the year prior. Research by MindMeld shows that over 60% of individuals who use voice search started to do so less than twelve months ago.

So what does all this mean?

It means that voice has officially moved on from the “you probably haven’t heard of them” pretentious hipster phase to full blown “even my mom knows how to dab” mainstream use. Voice is here. It’s young, but it’s here. You need to get ready for it.

 

Voice11

 

I already have an SEO/digital marketing campaign. I’m ready for voice, right?

Likely not. As we’ve said, voice search is still in its infancy. Google’s Search Console doesn’t even show voice as a source yet, though they are working on it. There’s a great deal that separates a voice search from a typical desktop one, including Keywords searched, the input and output methods, and even the search engine used. Plus, spending time on voice was not worthwhile even a couple years ago when the error rate was as high as 20% and users were primarily teenagers who used it as a faster way to call a friend.

But as voice search becomes more powerful and more accurate (that error rate? Down to 8% in just two years), as well as offering a hands-free way to multi-task, it’s something that can no longer be ignored. Couple that with the fact that devices like smartwatches, digital assistants, and voice input devices such as Google Home (something we wrote a blog about before) are becoming more prominent as the months go on, there are more opportunities than ever before for users to search with their voice. Plus, those darn teenagers who were the largest userbase two years ago? They’re getting older, having kids, and making money… money that they can spend on your goods or services if you meet them where they search.

 

Voice2

Source: http://www.columbusagency.com/

 

By attacking voice proactively now, you’ll find yourself in a much better place than if you reacted months from now when all of your competition does the same. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you need to tear apart your current SEO campaign and start from scratch. In fact, voice search is something that can very easily be affixed to your current digital marketing and SEO strategy.  You just need to know what to do. Below are six proven and killer strategies, mindsets, and techniques you can utilize to help you dominate within voice search.

Don’t have time to read? Scroll to the bottom for a quick slideshow that summarizes everything pretty nicely.

 

HELLO (1)

 

The world is mobile first. You should be too.

Mobile searching and internet browsing have both become such a staple of our moderns lives. In fact, the average person will check their phone 110 times a day. It’s easy to forget that even ten years ago, we had to decide between browsing for ringtones on our Moto RAZR for ten minutes or going to college.

 

Voice3

Source: http://i.imgur.com/
Looking at this picture just cost you $20

 

Just like how browsing the web on our phones was once a luxury, so too was having a mobile friendly site, either one that was mobile responsive or a completely separate site for mobile users. No longer. Google recently announced that they are moving to mobile-first indexing, and since nearly 60% of all searches are done so on a mobile device, one thing has become remarkably clear: after two decades of a desktop first world, we must change our thinking. Searching, and the world, has become mobile first.

Alright, let’s break down the jargon. What the heck is indexing, and why should I care if mobile is doing it first? Well, to avoid getting too technical, indexing is the process of adding webpages to the Google search, like putting a new book in a library. Is your site indexed? You can be found in a Google search. Is a page noindexed? Sorry, that page can’t be found. In the past, Google had one index, based upon a desktop site. Now, Google will begin looking at your mobile site first when crawling before placing it within the index. So what does this mean for your site? Well…

  • Do you have a responsive site?
    • You should be in a good place. Just make sure that all content on your desktop site is represented accurately within the mobile version, all vital assets such as images and menus can be seen and easily touched, and that there are no elements that will detract from the user experience, such as overlapping text, any need for horizontal scrolling, or requiring zooming of any sort.
  • If you don’t have a mobile site…
    • You’re not doomed. Google’s mobile crawler, the robot that reads your site before placing it in the index, reads everything, not just mobile pages. Keep in mind that they won’t rank as well as if you had a mobile site, but they are hardly invisible.

As a majority of voice searches are performed on mobile devices, it is vital that you send your users to high-quality mobile site. This isn’t just valuable for voice search, but your digital presence overall. Get a mobile responsive site. Do it. Do it now.

 

Talk how your users talk

Just like how you don’t tell someone that you collect Winnie the Pooh memorabilia on the first date, we all act differently in depending on the situation.

 

Voice4

Source: http://cdn.atchuup.com/
This is more of a date four conversation anyway…

 

The same comes to search. Depending on your input, we can use wildly different keyword phrases to find the exact same information. I’ll elaborate. Imagine that you’re trying to eat better, but in your typical morning rush out the door, you forgot your oatmeal on the counter. An Egg McMuffin sounds pretty good, but you’re not sure how it will impact will daily calorie goals. What Keyword phrase would you search for? If you’re on your desktop at work, you’re likely to search for something quick and succinct to minimize typing, such as “egg mcmuffin calories”. Sure enough, you find the information you need.

 

Voice13

But when speaking, it’s strange to say out loud what we would type on a keyboard. We wouldn’t say “egg mcmuffin calories” to start a mobile search. It’s incomplete. It just feels… wrong. So, even though we are looking for the exact same information as before, we speak in a more natural, conversational manner, often times in question format. After all, Google is, at its core, there to respond to a query. So why not ask it one?

 

Voice18

 

While it sounds obvious, when a user speaks to engage or execute a search, they speak as they would to a friend. So while your site may rank for “egg mcmuffin calories”, it may not rank for “how many calories are in an egg mcmuffin”, losing out on a near guaranteed win. When optimizing your site for voice search, you must be certain to target both traditional SEO friendly phrases and more semantic sounding sentences.

Luckily, finding these terms isn’t terribly difficult. One tool designed around this very purpose is AnswerThePublic. Simply input your Keyword and AnswerThePublic will scour the web, finding any question-based queries that are asked using that base term. It even presents the information in a handy infographic, which you can pretend you made.

 

Voice12

Source: http://answerthepublic.com

 

With some minor filtering, Google’s own Keyword Planner can be a great way to find questions as well. Enter your product or service as you would normally do for Keyword research, but within the “Keywords to Include” section, put in the normal question starters such as who, what, where, when, how, and why.

 

Voice14

 

Steal attention from competition with Featured Snippets

Let’s not lie: we become worse people when we’re online. Just check the comments section of any YouTube video for proof. One of the most obvious ways we regress is in our patience. We are at our most intolerant when we’re waiting for a page to load or a video to buffer. “Who has time to wait for dank memes to download? I only have a limited time! This red light won’t last forever!”

 

Voice5

 

Source: http://www.smartsign.com/

 

The same things happen with a voice search. Many times, when instigating a voice search, you want a quick answer with as little input from you as possible. Nothing is more infuriating that wanting an answer in a timely manner, only to be given a list of search results you need to read through yourself. Voice searchers want their answers and they want to move on. Let me ask you something, you say the answer outloud, and I go back to living my life.

With Featured Snippets, you can do just that.

Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, Alexa… these voice assistants aren’t going to read you a Wikipedia article, nor do you want them to. Instead, they want to give you the information you need and let you on your merry way. That’s why they utilize Featured Snippets. You’ve certainly seen this in your own searching history, right? Elements at the top of the results page that give you the information you need without having to click through to a website?

 

Voice16

 

That’s a Featured Snippet, or more specifically a Quick Answer, a summary of an answer to a user’s query that is displayed at the top of the search engine results page. It’s a nice way to get what you need without further action needed on your side. When it comes to voice search, these Featured Snippets are even more valuable, as digital assistants will often refer to them when looking for an answer, and even recite them back to you. For devices with audio output only, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, this can be an invaluable way to separate yourself from the pack. So how do you rank within Quick Answers?

  • Find questions people are asking pertaining to your product or service. Thanks to step 2 of this blog, you’re an expert at this already. Go you!
  • See if those questions already have a Quick Answer. Simply Google that question and see what comes up. While you can certainly steal a Quick Answer instance from a term that already has one, it’s much easier to get rank within Answers if you have no competition.
  • Ask the question. Sounds silly, but people tend to forget it. If you’re going to answer a question, make sure that you ask it within your content.
  • Answer it completely and quickly. Give the answer to that question in a couple of sentences or bulleted points. If it would take more than a few seconds for a voice assistant to read it back, it’s too long. If it needs to be that long, it’s not a good candidate for a quick answer.

 

Win over the spiders

Prepare yourself… we’re going to talk about code.

 

Voice6

Source: http://i.stack.imgur.com/

 

No matter what your company or site provides, you essentially have two separate audiences who come to your site: human beings and robots. No, not cyborgs. Nothing from Skynet. When we say robots, we mean the crawlers from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others (sometimes called spiders) that come to your site to read the code and content within, ultimately adding or updating pages to the index. These spiders, while not able to make a purchase on your site, are vital to the success of your brand online, and you must cater to their understanding.

These spiders are smart, but they’re far from human. While you and I may be able to find an address on the homepage of a site within seconds, a spider has a more difficult time, as an address is just an assortment of numbers and letters. Not to say that the spiders are incompetent, mind you; they have a pretty good track record of guessing. But they’re not perfect. Couple that with the fact that spiders have a difficult identifying regional differences between words or deciphering metaphors (though they are getting better) and you’ll see that a perfect site copy for you and I may be problematic to comprehend to a bot.

 

Voice7

Source: http://www.harapartners.com/

 

Now, this doesn’t mean you need to rewrite every word on your site for the spiders. In fact, that can be detrimental, as Google likes seeing content that was written with your customer in mind, not their bots. What we can do instead is be Google’s seeing eye dog, helping them tread through the floods of code and content to help the spiders return more accurate, informative results for users. The best way to accomplish this is through the use of structured data markup, otherwise known as schema. In its simplest definition, schema acts as a highlighter of the most important information on your site, making it easier for the bots to find.

Now, we could write an entire blog on the importance and implementation of schema on your site (in fact, we already have), but let’s talk about its importance to voice in particular.

  • Helps Google understand the document. All the bullets here could boil down to this point, but it is certainly worth reiterating. Not only can schema help Google find you address and phone number on a page, but it can associate your site with your social media profiles, the services you provide, your locations, and more. The better Google understands your site, the higher you’ll rank.
  • Completes other elements of the SERP. That’s search engine results page, if you don’t know. Structured data is instrumental in helping a lot of other elements of the SERP appear, including the Knowledge Panel (that chart on the right-hand side with information about the brand or physical location), Quick Answers (which we detailed above), Rich Cards (you can see these below), and more. Mobile is BIG on these elements, Rich Cards especially. If you rank there, voice is more likely to bring up that result instead of a typical Organic listing.

 

Voice8

Source: https://3.bp.blogspot.com/

 

  • It’s really not that hard. We get it. Code is scary. A misplaced comma can wreck a site, and you don’t want to Titanic the dang thing. But with all the resources out there, you’re never gonna be coming up with things from scratch. It’s more like filling in the blanks. Schema.org is a wonderful resource, and the Structured Data Testing Tool will let you know if something is screwy. Or, if you want to be a true web developer, take schema code that works on another site, replace their information with yours, and pretend you came up with it.

A couple of final points, if you haven’t been scared off already… we prefer javascript based JSON-LD for our schema, as it’s a great deal more malleable than standard microdata. Also, sites have a nasty habit of stripping schema off of their mobile version in the interest of speed. So when you check to see if your schema is working, check the mobile site. Finally, schema is like the SAT: you’d rather not do it than guess and get it wrong. If Google thinks you have spammy or redundant structured data markup, they can hit you with a Manual Action, something that can really hurt your rankings. If you’re not confident, don’t do it.

So, to summarize, schema is magic code that makes you more popular intangible internet spiders. Doesn’t sound too crazy, right?

 

Don’t Forget Bing

Unless you’re a Microsoft employee or you don’t know how to change your default browser, chances are you kinda forgot about Bing.

 

Voice9

Source: http://images4.fanpop.com/
No, the other Bing…

 

As Google holds ten times as much search engine market share as Bing, it’s understandable why most of our general digital marketing strategies revolve around the big G. In fact, most SEOs typically follow a Reaganomics-style strategy: follow Google best practices, and the wealth will trickle down to Bing. For a large part, this works incredibly well. However, three very important people utilize Bing as their standard search engine…

Their names are Alexa, Siri, and Cortana.

 

Voice10

Source: http://betanews.com/
No, the other Cortana…

 

While no one may say, “I don’t know. You should Bing that,” Microsoft’s response to Google cannot be ignored if you want to succeed in the realm of voice. In large part, Bing and Google like to see very similar things when it comes to your site. However, there are a couple of things Bing likes to see that Google does not. Now, let’s get one thing straight: it behooves most sites to target Google first before Bing, and there are in fact some Bing specific strategies that go against what Google likes to see. Below are tips to help rank in Bing that will not undo progress you may have made in Google.

  • Put the most important information up top. Bing reads much less per page on your site, about 100kb. Make sure you include one instance of each of the Keywords that you are targeting for that page as close to the upper left of the content as possible.
  • Keep your Social Media up to date. While Google certainly utilizes Social Media signals, Bing is much more heavily influenced by them. Even if you don’t think like your users would utilize it, make sure your Facebook and Google My Business profiles at the very least are created, verified, and updated frequently. Plus, if users aren’t interested in your Social Media profiles, you may want to reevaluate both what you are posting and what your audience is looking for.
  • Utilize the <meta keyword> tag. For Google, the <meta keyword> tag is like the appendix: at one point useful, but that was long, long ago. It’s useless. It won’t hurt your SEO prowess on Google, but it sure as shooting isn’t going to help. Bing, however? They love it. Place your keywords within these tags for Bing to help them decipher what you’re going for.

 

Voice19

 

Don’t forget the basics

If you already have a digital marketing or SEO campaign going, chances are you’re already doing the following. Still, no one ever died being too careful. When it comes to voice search, make sure you:

  • Submit your sitemaps. Like a mall directory that shows every store in the building, your XML sitemap will help the spiders crawl your site more effectively and see everything you want them to. Be sure to submit to both Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools. A link in your footer to the sitemap wouldn’t kill you either.
  • Complete your Google My Business & Bing Places for Business profiles. Not just fill them out… fill them out completely. Hours, URL, address, as many categories as you can (without feeling like you’re getting away from something or, you know… lying). This will help when people do voice searches with your name in them, like “Navigate to Joe’s Plumbing Denver”
  • Double check your NAP score. No, not your sleep number. That’s name, address, and phone number. You want to make sure this information is consistent across the web. Don’t be insulted… we know you didn’t misspell your company’s name somewhere. But the search engines are incredibly specific when it comes to this information. It needs to be exact. Like… EXACT. That means no calling your company “Sanford & Son” on one directory and “Sanford and Son” on another. Everything, down to punctuation and abbreviation, must match. rel=”nofollow”Use this tool to see what your NAP looks like now and how you can improve it.

Now that we have all the steps listed, let’s recap!

 

 

This should help you get started on your path to dominance in the field of voice search! Each of these points is only lightly touched on, remember. We could get into a near disgusting amount of detail on each, but we do have families, you know. The above six points, however, will act as an excellent jumping off point to begin you on your way. Questions about some of the information above, or have questions about SEO in general? Give us a call today, or fill out a contact form and one of our digital marketing gurus will get back to you posthaste.

Where does your business belong on Social Media?

Where Does Your Business Belong on Social Media

The ever-changing world of technology has made social media a significant business tool in our lives. With over 1.7 billion monthly active users on Facebook alone; Social media is clearly a great way businesses can reach their target market. Whether we are checking in on relatives that live far away, messaging old college friends, or even posting pictures of your most recent vacation; business still have access to our newsfeeds, and most importantly… our attention.

“Popular social platforms have become marketing giants, offering businesses valuable data about their customers and a (mostly) free way to reach them. The jury has spoken: social media for business is no longer optional.”

Emily Copp

Businesses can use Social Media in many ways to accomplish their goals, but not all social media platforms fit your business. To maximize ROI and effectively use Social Media Platforms it is CRITCAL to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who am I?
    • Who are you? Your company’s brand needs to be consistent across all public platforms. It is important that the brand is clear and thoughtful. How will you expect people to recognize who you are if you don’t even know!
  • What do I have to offer?
    • What products/services do you provide? What you offer needs to be socially tangible. If your customer can’t understand what you offer or you do not have images/videos it is very difficult to generate engagement/awareness. Social Media is EXTREMELY visual.
  • Who is my audience?
    • This is one of the most IMPORTANT parts of finding out where you belong on Social Media. Who is your product/service for? You must clearly define your target market before engaging in any paid social media advertising. Having a defined target market will ensure that your advertising dollars are spent in the most effective way. Knowing specific Demographics, Interests, and Behaviors is extremely beneficial.
  • Where is my audience?
    • Once you have defined your audience you must find where your business can find them. Below is a guide to were your business can fit into major Social Media platforms.
      • Facebook – Everyone (B2C/B2B)
      • Pinterest – Ecommerce, fashion, photographers, jewelers, DIY (B2C)
      • Twitter – Brands, News Organizations, Customer Service (B2C/B2B)
      • Instagram – Restaurants, Food, clothing/fashion, technology, designers, etc. (B2C)
      • G+ – Tech, engineering & marketing companies (B2C/B2B)
      • LinkedIn – Business Minded Professionals (B2B/B2C)
    • Is my website prepared?
      • Website preparation is necessary for a successful Social Media advertising campaign. Most paid advertisements will go directly to your website when clicked. Therefore, you must ensure that your website is clear, easy to navigate, and your products/services are easy to view. This will maximize your efforts to get conversions.
      • Another important factor to take into consideration when preparing your website is making sure it is mobile friendly. Nearly 80% of social media time is on mobile devices.

If you have clear, and complete answers to these questions then you should seriously consider your business on Social Media. It is a fast and effective way to generate traffic, engage with your customers, and build brand awareness (if done properly). Visit SocialSEO.com to learn more about Social Media, SEO, and Pay Per Click services!

Google is known for making updates to their tools quite often. Whether it is a new AdWords layout or a facelift for Google Analytics, they like to keep things fresh. The latest update to a tool is coming to Google Search Console. There is a massive infrastructure update happening on the back end of this necessary tool that will hopefully prove very helpful.

What does this revamp promise? That is where the problem lies: nobody really knows for sure. All Google has said in their data anomalies support thread is they are “performing infrastructure updates”.  Many are hopeful they will allow us to see a whole year of data as opposed to the current 90-day limit, but that has been promised to us by Google themselves since 2010. We can only hope it is going to be an update that grants users more data.

sc_lockup

As with all great things, a compromise must be made.  Users worldwide are seeing massive inaccuracies in their Search Console data. This includes the data showing zero links coming to the site and more missing metrics. Google has said this should not impact the Search Analytics reports which show detailed information on what keywords are leading users to sites, click through rates, average positions, and impressions in search results.

We do not have an exact date on when this infrastructure update will be completed. All Google has said is that the update may prevent date logging on some of their reports “for the next few weeks” with timeline defined as “November 1, 2016 – Ongoing”. This means it could be completed and launched in a matter of days or could take most of the month to complete. Either way, we are very excited to see what happens with this Google Search Console infrastructure update. It could make a big impact on how we use the tool and present us with more data than we have ever had. It could also turn into a headache with no reward. As with many things Google related, only time will tell.

 

Google Announces Mobile Index To Become Primary Index — What this Means for Your Website

If you have a website, you need to educate yourself on one of the largest changes from Google this year. On Oct 13, 2016 at Pubcon, Gary Illyes from Google, announced they are switching to a mobile first index. This is one of the largest shakeups this year and has very big consequences for websites and SEO.

Why Mobile First Index is A Game Changer

Google has always used the desktop version of your website as a primary index. In layman’s terms, this means your website version that customers see on their desktop computers is the information Google uses to crawl through to store information about your website and uses that information to rank your keywords and your website in their search results. This announcement means that very soon, Google will begin indexing the mobile version of your site, instead of the desktop version, to rank your keywords and in their search results. Google’s goal is to make this complete transition “within months”.

Why Index Mobile Sites First?

Google is focused on a mobile first mindset. According to an independent web analytics company StatCounter, mobile and tablet internet usage (51.3%) exceeded desktop usage (48.7) for the first time worldwide this past October. Back in May, 2015 Google found from their internal data that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.”

Google Mobile Index

us-mobile-data-2016

 

How Will This Impact My Website?

If you have a adaptive or responsive mobile site, chances are your website will show the same content across mobile and desktop devices so there should be minimal impact to you. However, if your mobile website is built on a different platform than your desktop site, you could potentially have two different versions of your website with varying information. In other words, if your site ranks well in desktop search results, you may not necessarily rank well in mobile search results if each platform has different content.

Is Your Business Mobile Ready?
Per the US Census Bureau, about half of small businesses do not have a website, and of those that do, 23% are not mobile friendly. Google has a quick guide on getting started with mobile friendly sites:
https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/

A Quick Guide to Mobile First Index

Mobile will soon be the primary index and desktop will be a secondary and separate index.

 What does this mean?

  • Mobile and desktop users will get different and varying search engine results, which means varying positions for keywords between your mobile site and desktop site.
  • Mobile users will get the most up to date content of your site instantly, desktop users will experience a time delay

What Does this Mean to SEO and Website Owners?

  • Your site can potentially lose traffic and rankings if it’s not mobile friendly
  • Having a mobile standalone site may not be enough as there may be fluctuations in search engine results and ranking for keywords & you may need to re-evaluate your website to become an adaptive or responsive site rather than using two separate platforms

What Should I Do?

  • If your site is not mobile friendly, you may start losing rankings or visibility in the search engine results. Updating your site to be fully responsive or adaptive will help.
  • Evaluate your mobile site content: is it a good representation of your business or the most current version of how you want to portray yourself online?

One of the questions we sometimes get from our clients as they are searching away for their brand name or main keywords – why are my ads not showing? Luckily there’s no need to panic! Here are the most likely reasons why your ad is not showing in your search results:

 

  1. Budget. Each AdWords campaign gets a certain dollar amount of budget per day. Best case scenario, we exhaust that daily budget, as that means your ads are generating impressions, and users are clicking on your ads. Especially if you are searching for your ads later in the day, there’s a good chance that the campaign has run out of its budget and therefore can no longer show in eligible searches.

 

  1. Your Search Behavior. You’ve been searching for this term too much. Let’s say you sell widgets. If you keep searching for the term ‘widgets’ and never click on your ad (which we hope you NEVER click on your own ad!) Google will stop showing you that ad as they see your lack of engagement and therefore would rather show other ads that you might click on instead.

 

  1. Low Ad Rank. Every ad in AdWords gets an Ad Rank from Google. The factors that go into this rank include bid, expected Click-Through-Rate, ad relevance (how relevant the keyword and ad are to the searcher) and Landing Page experience (where the user is being taken to after clicking on the ad). When a random user searches for ‘widgets’ and Google decides that someone else’s ad is more relevant to that search based on the Ad Rank, they will show the other ad as opposed to yours.

 

So, what can be done to get your ad to show more?

If your ad is not showing due to a budget-related issue, we either need to raise your budget so your ads can be shown more often or we need to discuss re-allocating the existing budget to give more money to higher performing ads or for campaigns that are more important to you.

If your ads are not showing due to low Ad Rank we can work on our end to increase the relevance between keywords and ad copy, and you can work on your end to better the experience of the user by optimizing your Landing pages.

Even better, give us a call! AdWords has this great tool “Ad Preview and Diagnosis” which will give you a real-time gauge of how and if your ads are showing. If the ads aren’t showing, the tool will even tell you whether it is because of ad rank or limited budget. After checking this tool, we can then discuss if we’d rather spend the time and effort to improve Ad Rank (which is a longer process) or increase your budget to gain a more desirable position in the search results.

Facebook Workplace – Productive or Distraction?

On October 10, 2016 Facebook launched a commercial version of their social networking platform, Workplace.

Workplace was designed as a way for business to collaborate & get work done more efficiently. This new enterprise version of Facebook has over 1,000 organizations signed up including: Booking.com, Campbell’s, and Columbia Sportswear. Imagine having most functions within Facebook, but geared for a different purpose to change the way you work.

Workplace shares many functions with its competitors such as Slack, Yammer, and Jive. It allows companies to create open or closed groups, message or video chat with other employees, record and stream live video, share project updates and reports, as well as search throughout the platform.

The creation of Facebook Workplace brings up the following questions:

  1. Do you wander through Facebook while at work?
  2. Is social media a critical part of your day, so much that 15-20 minutes is spent online at work?

If you answered yes to either one of these questions, then you are part of an epidemic plagued by the distraction of Social Media in the workplace.

“Twenty minutes a day is a lot of time — well more than a year over the course of the average life span. If users spent just that time working for minimum wage instead of liking and poking each other, each would pull in about $880 a year. That’s almost $900 billion in aggregate hypothetical labor last year.” – NBC News

If Social Media within the workplace is an issue why would companies create social networks for the work place?

The value of Social Media within the workplace can be tremendous if used properly.

A Harvard Business Review study suggests that Social Media has a productivity payoff. This payoff is simply improved collaboration and communication through social media platforms. Facebook Workplace’s new “Workfeed” function allows users to engage and interact with the sole purpose of getting their jobs done. This idea of communication and collaboration is what differentiates Social Media from traditional channels. Email inboxes and folders do not spark this creativity or engagement.

How do you feel about Social Media in the workplace? We would love to hear your feedback!

For more information on social media marketing in general contact us today!

The Importance of Delighted Customers and Third Party Reviews

 

Did you just receive a one-star review from an angry customer who not only threw you under the bus for poor service, but also claimed you’re the Google Reviewsworst
company they’ve worked with in the last decade? If you haven’t yet received this type of negative feedback from a customer, chances are that you will soon. With the evolution of the World Wide Web, since its creation in 1983, it has become increasingly easier to share your opinion with an audience that spans the globe.

 

We’ve all had that bad experience at a restaurant in which your food was cold when it arrived at your table or a car dealership in which you paid too much for little service. It’s experiences like these that have left us bitter and determined to leave that company a bad review. Now more than ever, these negative reviews that we leave on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other “3rd Party” websites are becoming the basis on which we determine if we will so much as visit a business, much less purchase their goods or services. It’s the sad to say  that perception has become reality.

 

Are Google Reviews Important?

 

Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines also care about the perception of your business. These websites aim to provide to best quality result for each query that is typed in by any given user. If John from Chicago visited your business and found your food repulsive, chances are Google bots will too. (If robots could eat your world famous enchiladas, that is.)

 

There is a silver lining to the bad reviews our businesses receive. While most businesses will focus on mitigating the negativity that will ensue from the 1-star review that John left about the enchiladas that you served him, being proactive with customer reviews can drastically improve your business’s reputation. Ensuring that Alex, Rafael, and Julie, customers that loved your authentic rendition of the enchilada, leave you positive reviews can offset the negative experience that John had.

 

Aside from preparing for the worst in consumer feedback, business owners must also think about how 3rd party websites that report on the quality of their business can affect their standings in search engine rankings, the volume of traffic to their website or physical location, and ultimately the revenue that they bring in as a result of their internet marketing efforts.

 

Ultimately Google reviews, among Yelp, TripAdvisor, and a multitude of other platforms that allow users to share their thoughts and feelings about businesses local to them do matter. These reviews can drastically impact how your website performs and how your business succeeds.

 

How to Get Google Reviews From Customers

 

  • Provide your customers hard copy instructions for leaving you a review

In my experience, it’s often the most difficult to receive documented feedback from a customer that is happy with your product or service. More often than not, it’s the customers that had a poor experience that will work the hardest to find an avenue to express their frustrations. Whether your customer experienced the horror of cold enchiladas like John from Chicago, or they’ve never tasted anything quite as good as your homemade Mexican cuisine like Julie, give your customers the opportunity to leave you feedback in the moment. This will ensure you receive the online boost you need and will show your customers that genuinely care about their experience at your restaurant.

  • Send your customers an email

If gathering positive feedback isn’t possible based on your business model, or you’d rather your clients complete this feedback on their own time, sending a follow-up email can be a great first step to improving your online reputation. Often for our own clients, we create an “e-card” for them to solicit feedback about their business.

 

This file generally consists of:

 

  • The logo of the business
  • A message about the feedback
  • A compelling background image
  • Link to leave a review on the designated platform (In most cases, Google Plus)

 

Here is a great resource for creating a direct link to your Google Plus profile

 

Responding to Bad Reviews

 

While it’s important to offset your bad customer reviews with good ones, to improve the overall perception of your business to new potential customers, don’t let yourself ignore the negativity. Responding to bad customer reviews can help your business’ reputation in the following ways:

 

  1. A genuine and helpful response may convince your upset customer to revise or remove their bad review. Just because John had a bad experience this time, doesn’t mean you can’t convince him to come back. Writing a response to his complaint that addresses his concern and directs him to the proper resources can go a long way in saving your reputation.
  2. Responding to negativity in a positive way shows that you care about your customers and are interested in improving your perception.

 

The Importance of Customer Feedback

  • A business listing with positive reviews on Google and other 3rd Party platforms is more likely to be clicked on that one that doesn’t have any reviews. Search engine users are looking for the best enchiladas money can buy, they won’t know about your excellence if you don’t provide the outlet for others to speak about you.

 

  • 3rd-Party reviews will help boost your local search engine optimization. Websites like Google Plus, Yelp, and TripAdvisor can either get you immediate recognition on the first page or help to boost the quality of your business in the eye’s of search engines. (You want Google bots raving about your hot sauce too, don’t you?)
  • Protect yourself from the bad PR! A wave of positive customer reviews can help to offset the one customer that claims their order turned out miserably.

 

Don’t have any reviews for your business yet? We can help! Contact our digital marketing experts and let us help you get the positive reviews you deserve! Request a free quote and let us show you how SocialSEO can help take your business to the next level online!