Category Archives: Search Marketing

Mobilegeddon: The Results are in

April 21, 2015 will forever live in infamy in the online marketing world. This date, lovingly dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by those in the industry, corresponds with the day Google implemented their new algorithm that favors mobile friendly sites on mobile searches.

Think about how many times a day you Google something on your phone. This is a huge deal for websites.mobilegeddon

Google informed webmasters that they were planning to favor mobile sites on mobile searches back in February and provided resources for developers to help them make their sites mobile-friendly. This created a two month long mad dash for web developers to get their sites mobile. Some succeeded, and some did not.

It’s been a few months since April 21, so a lot of people are asking what the real impact of mobilegeddon actually is. The results seem to live up to the hype. According to a recent study done by Adobe Systems, traffic to non-mobile websites from Google mobile searches fell 12 percent in two months.

Google is not messing around. When they said mobile-friendly sites will receive preferential treatment in mobile search results, they were serious. On top of that, Google recently announced that in the US, mobile searches now outnumber desktop searches.

If you’re reading this and your site is not mobile, it might be time to consider responsive design.

Responsive design is a technology that allows your full website to be desktop, tablet and mobile friendly. You can tell if a site is responsive by decreasing your window size. If the site adjusts to the size of the browser, then it’s responsive and vice versa.

Google’s mobilegeddon aside, there’s a more important reason to go mobile: it’s great for your site’s visitors. Responsive design allows mobile users to easily use your whole site, as opposed to having a separate mobile site that is a watered down version of your desktop site.

When users find your site to be easy to use on a mobile platform, they are more likely to stay on your site longer. This should lead to more leads and conversions.

The Internet is shifting toward a mobile platform. Google and customers alike are saying catch up or be left behind.

Need help making your site responsive? Check out our website and see how TKG can help.

Better for SEO: Subdomains or Subfolders?

When developing a blog, the following question usually comes up:

For SEO, is it better to locate your blog on a subdomain, in subfolders, or on a completely different domain?

For those who are visual, the options look like this:

Scenario 1: awesomewebsite.com/blog

Scenario 2: blog.awesomewebsite.com

Scenario 3: awesomewebsiteblog.com

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that we are answering the question with the goal of maximizing search engine optimization performance. More specifically, we want to know which scenario gives a website the best opportunity to bring in organic traffic, increase the volume of traffic, and rank higher for the content. We are not factoring ease of implementation or cross-platform hosting challenges.

With that out of the way, let’s dig in:

The Google Answer

In October 2012, the Google Webmasters YouTube channel released the following video featuring well-known Google spokesperson, Matt Cutts. He essentially states that Google is smart enough to recognize that content from blog.awesomewebsite.com is related to awesomewebsite.com so Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 are interchangeable.

 

In February 2015, Google Webmasters posted a Google Hangout video that contained the same topic. At the 0:50 mark, the question of subfolders versus subdomains was asked during a Q/A session. This time, Scott Mueller of Google reinforced Matt’s point that Google sees both as equally effective options.

 

Real World Example

In January 2015, Timo Reitnauer of IWantMyName.com posted an article detailing a dramatic drop in traffic as a result of switching his blog from a subfolder (Scenario 1) structure to a subdomain structure (Scenario 2).

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His company followed the advice of Google, experienced a dramatic drop in traffic for the next six months, and then decided to revert back to the subfolder structure. The author goes on to state:

“…we decided it would be better for our long-term SEO strategy to put our blog back on our primary domain.”

The Rand Fishkin Answer

In Reitnauer’s blog post, he references a similar sub domain / subdirectory content migration experiment from Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin. Like Matt Cutts, Rand is well-respected in the SEO community. On moz.com, they tested moving an SEO guide from a sub domain to a sub directory. In a Moz Community Message Board topic discussing the content migration, Fishkin states, “The results were astounding – rankings rose dramatically across the board for every keyword we tracked to the pages.”

The topic received so much interest that Rand released an SEO video in February 2015 elaborating on this experience. The first four minutes of the video provide a great overview of how he came to the conclusion that using subdirectories (Scenario 1) is the ideal structure for search engine performance.

What Have We Learned?

According to Google, Scenario 1 (/blog) and Scenario 2 (blog.) are interchangeable. However, when switching from one to another, there are real-world examples of companies experiencing positive SEO impact from Scenario 1 and negative SEO impact from Scenario 2. What about Scenario 3 (awesomewebsiteblog.com)?  It fits into the same category as Scenario 2. Your content is either centrally located under one domain or it isn’t. Search engines like websites with lots of content-rich pages that frequently have new, unique pages being added. If your company blog discusses topics similar to the industry, products, or services on your primary website, we do not recommend splitting up your page count across multiple domains. Subfolders are still the best option for search engine optimization.

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Google Tag Manager

TagManagerRecently I have been putting quite a bit of effort into rolling out Google Tag Manager for many of our client sites. It has been a rewarding process and I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

First, what is Google Tag Manager?

One of the foundational building blocks of a website is the tag. It is a way that functionality can be added to the site in a fairly simple manner. The functionality can range from tracking activity and usage to adding features like chat to a site. Each one of these tags is generally pretty simple and easy to understand, but as the number and complexity of the tags increases the challenge of keeping track of them and making sure they are on the correct pages also grows. This is where Google Tag Manager comes in. It allows us to place a single tag called a container on the site and then add and remove tags to that container based on a variety of rules.

Once the container is in place tags can be added to the site without needing to touch the templates or source code, which greatly reduces the risk that something can go wrong when adding a tag. It also makes it much more simple to change or update a tag when needs change.

There is another benefit that I really appreciate: the ability to test tags before they are rolled out. This allows a set of tags to be tested on the site before they are rolled out to all users. This has been especially helpful when trying to troubleshoot complex tags.

This is just scratching the surface of what can be done with Tag Manager, but hopefully it is enough to give a glimpse into why I’m so excited about using it. If managing tags is something that you could use help with, get in touch with us, we would love to help you out.

Update Your WordPress (Because Security)

There are a number of reasons to keep WordPress up to date. The main one is security. Sure, it’s nice to have updated plugins and features, but that should come second. The most important features of updating your WordPress would primarily be security, with an added benefit of increased plugin features

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One of the most popular plugins to install is WordPress SEO by Yoast. This is a great plugin that is designed to provide WordPress sites with the ability to be fully optimized. The plugin also keeps the various SEO optimizations in a simple format. There are two main fields, SEO Title and Meta Description. The SEO Title is one of the main factors that go into search rankings, as it provides both a name and expectations for the content within. The Meta Description is the snippet of information that comes up in a search result, and is best used as a summary of the page with some level of a Call-to-Action.

The other two main features of the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin are the Snippet Preview and Focus Keyword. The Snippet Preview allows you to see an estimate of what the organic search result will be for the page you’re optimizing in WordPress. The Focus Keyword helps to ensure keyword consistency in the page; it is not a Meta Keyword field (which is not at all recommended for use).

All of these pieces compile to make a plugin that provides a good level of benefit for its users. I have seen a number of updates come through for the SEO plugin with updated features and fixes. While these are all well and good, there was one glaring issue recently, security.

We recommend you update your WordPress and plugins at a minimum of every month, if you can. In case you missed it, WPScan discoverd a security exploit in the WordPress SEO plugin for un-updated versions in early March. The un-updated versions of the plugin are vulnerable to Blind SQL Injections. In brief, this security issue could lead to an individual to attack and compromise the entire site. There is a new security fix (version 1.7.4) for the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. I recommend updating this plugin right away.

There are a number of plugins and other add-ons for WordPress that can make the platform easier to use, or expand its overall use. Make sure your WordPress site and plugins are up-to-date to avoid new security risks!

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Want Great Content? Do What You’re Already Doing

One of the biggest concerns I hear when it comes to content is “But we don’t know what to put out there.”

I get it. When you’re involved in the day to day tasks of running your business, it’s tough to think of creating content.

Fortunately, it’s likely you already have good things going on that you can re-purpose, re-use or recycle to make great content. OR, alternatively, you can add something simple to your daily routine that turns into regular content.

But first, allow me to give you a little inspiration.

You might have heard of a little TV hit called Glee, a weekly show about misfit high school students finding their place in the world through music. Maybe you’re a “Gleek” or maybe you think the show is the silliest thing this side of Fonzie jumping the shark, but there’s no denying that this show set a new precedent in cross-channel content marketing.

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In fact, ratings aside (which were great the first few seasons), this show set records with singles, albums and even live tours. For instance:

  • The first ever single released by the cast, “Don’t Stop Believin’” received platinum status with over one million sold
  • The cast overtook Elvis Presley as the fastest act ever to have 20 top 40 hits in just 57 weeks (Elvis was 88)
  • By 2011, just two years after the show aired, they had over 36 million digital single sales worldwide
  • By 2011, they had 11 million album sales worldwide
  • The show has several reality spinoffs, DVD and Blu-Ray releases, an iPad app and karaoke games for Wii
  • In 2011, a live tour kicked off…and of course, it wasn’t just a live tour. A concert film based on the tour was released shortly after the tour ended
  • The show has hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide who now create content about the show, often uploading tributes, songs and other manifestations of their fandom to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • And how’s this for power? The casts’ cover of Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” actually increased sales of Rihanna’s original single by 189%

Glee also inspired the mega-hits of Nashville and Empire, country and hip-hop nighttime soap operas, respectively. These shows also release albums and merchandise based on the music written and performed for the show. Nashville, now in its third season, has released TEN albums, the first of which reached number one on US charts.

Now, I’m not saying you need to release an album for your business (though that could be fun!).

What I am saying is that it’s likely that you’re already doing things for your business that could easily translate to content you can use to market yourself (and maybe even generate more revenue). Glee didn’t create “extra” music to give to the masses…they already had it within the premise of the show; they just figured out new ways to distribute it.

Here are a few ideas to create content from the regular things you do for your business:

  1. Do you release a newsletter? Each news item could be re-used as a mini blog post, told as a quick 60 second update to an iPhone video recorder, or recorded as part of a podcast series.
  2. Do you often answer the same questions for customers over and over? Create an infographic with great visual answers, start a helpful podcast that discusses and educates people on your industry, or start a “Pro Tips” section on your website.
  3. Do you have a dynamic and engaging individual in your company who loves working for you? Give this individual freedom and creative space to create short videos, take photos and post to your Social channels for you, about you!
  4. Does your company have a rich history, complete with old photos or videos left sitting in a box or lonely hard drive? Scan photos and release them regularly to your Facebook page or Instagram account with the hashtag #tbt to give customers a glimpse of all the great things that make you, YOU. It’s especially fun if you work in a technical field and you can show how far you’ve come!
  5. Does your company have a process you do every day? Document this process every day or week with a photo, then show the collage one month, six months or a year later!
  6. Do you have a customer or two that just LOVES what you do? Invite this individual to create content for you, either by showing off how your product or service works, or giving a testimonial.
  7. Do you have a series of pdfs or articles about a certain subject in your industry? Combine and edit this information as a free digital whitepaper that prospects can download in exchange for an email address.
  8. Do you have a core group of very loyal customers who buy your product regularly? Consider creating a membership club where these customers get “insider access” to special prices, exclusive products, and of course, short videos, articles or podcast episodes that talk about how you created something special for them.
  9. Do you have a salesperson or leader within your company who is especially knowledgeable about your products, trends in the industry, or common problems? Record a weekly podcast where this individual discusses a topic for 15-20 minutes. Upload to Soundcloud, Stitcher or iTunes at the same time every week and invite customers and prospects to listen and share.
  10. Does your company work with the same vendors time and time again? Profile your vendors on video or on your blog, ask them to explain why they love your working relationship, and post to your respective Social channels.

I’m sure there are many more regular things that you’re already doing in your business that can be converted to content. Don’t overthink! When it comes to content, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Nashville has now released two albums of songs by a particular cast member…after those songs already appeared on another album.

It just goes to show you, sometimes content is just about showcasing something you’ve already done in a new and interesting way. So what are YOU already doing?

How to Avoid Social Media Slip-ups

Okay, let’s talk about your social media plan.

If you have one in place, great. If you are still asking yourself what a social media plan is, that’s okay too. You’re in the right place.

Chances are, if your business has a social media presence, you’ve had to deal with some strange comments, unsatisfied customers or even downright nasty reviews. And the more successful your business is, the more likely you are to experience these encounters. Social media mistakes will inevitably happen, but you can avoid them harming your business by following the steps below:Social media symbols

PREVENTION

  • Have a Plan: Always have a plan that outlines what to do in the event of a crisis. Are you suddenly getting bad reviews because of a defective product? Has one of your employees delivered less-than-exceptional customer service? Make sure you have a plan on how to deal with comments, @ mentions, reviews or if your business page goes viral in a bad way.
  • Bring in the Experts: Do you have someone dedicated to watching your accounts? You should. Not only will you have an extra set of eyes monitoring your social media presence, but a trained PR person will be able to react to just about any situation that comes up. You should have someone dedicated to at least several hours a week — maybe more depending on the size of your business and the size of your social media following — to managing posts and interacting with the users on your pages.

WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS

  • Act Quickly: Do not let complaints or issues on social media sit without response. At a minimum, respond within 24 hours – but within a few hours is ideal. In today’s fast-paced world, the people reading your business page and watching your social media accounts are watching around the clock. They expect answers to questions as soon as they ask. Can you keep up? Because you’re expected to. If you let a negative comment or review sit for long enough, it will turn into an even bigger problem. Do what you can to nip it in the bud early and move the conversation offline.
  • Start a (Public) Conversation: Your customers and potential customers will be watching you to see how you react to the issue and they will judge your company’s morals and standards based on your reaction. The good thing about social media is that if you handle these types of issues promptly and professionally, lots of people will see it. The bad thing about social media is, well, if you handle it poorly, lots of people will see it.
  • Don’t Delete: Never delete comments, tweets or reviews. When you delete comments or try to “cover up” what your customers or potential customers are saying, you will start to lose your reputation and the trust that people have placed in you or your products. Instead, use the opportunity to be real with your audience while reacting and responding appropriately.
  • With that Being Said…There are some fires that you shouldn’t even bother putting out. Offensive language and all-out attacks must be handled on a case-by-case basis. If you are dealing with someone online who you just cannot get through to, ask them to contact your business or organization so that you can handle the matter privately. If someone is attacking others or using foul language or refusing to work with you towards a solution, it’s okay to pull the plug and walk away.

AFTER THE FACT

  • Apologize and Move On: If you truly made a mistake, own up to it. We are no longer dealing with the days of putting out a press release to cover up a mistake. Our social media world does not allow it. Admit you made a mistake, apologize for what you did, and tell your customers what you are doing to fix it and what you will do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Coming clean and moving on will make your brand stronger and your customers will trust you more in the long run.

At the end of the day, your business needs to understand the power of social media and how professionally-run social media pages can make a world of difference. If you have a solid plan on how to handle negative remarks, comments or reviews, your business will benefit greatly from it in case of an emergency.

Google Introduces Call-Only Ads

Google Adwords has always been a nice way to help grow leads and sales by directing customers to a website. But what happens when the majority of your business comes from the phone? In an effort to support companies who thrive on phone conversions, Google has introduced Call-Only ads.

Phone-based ads aren’t necessarily a novel approach for Google. Users have had the ability to add a phone extension to ads for quite some time, but with the new call-only ads, the main call to action is, well, to call.

Included is a helpful option to use Google-provided forwarding phone numbers in the ads. By using different numbers Google is able to report on which ads, keywords and campaigns are generating calls

call-only ads

Setting Up Call-Only Ads

Setting up call-only ads is as easy as setting up any Adwords campaign, only this time instead of choosing the standard ad type, you will select the call-only field.

call-only ads1

Ad creation continues through the standard set-up process as you determine the geographic reach of your ads, select keywords and your desired bid strategy.

As you begin to build your ad you will see the initial call to action on call-only ads is not to visit a website but to call. This feature will be especially useful for customers who are looking for immediate service like Heating & Cooling companies or Plumbers.

call-only ads2

Do you think call-only ads could benefit your business but aren’t sure how to get started? Let TKG do the work for you.

ARE YOU MAXIMIZING YOUR WEBSITE FOR LEAD GENERATION?

Lead-GenerationBusinesses are focused on using their websites as a source of new customers. In fact, nearly 50% of B2B buyers indicate that the most likely way they find sales information is to go directly to a supplier website. As a result, companies are investing in site optimization to ensure they have user-focused content designed specifically to convert visitors into inbound sales leads.

Powerful content may include benefits of what you offer, case studies of your products and services, customer testimonials and lots of answers to the key question of ‘Why you?’

So, how well is your site performing in lead generation? Assume that a potential customer has explored the entirety of your website content. You have them excited about starting a sales dialogue with you. How do you translate that excitement into action? Below are several simple guidelines to maximize your inbound lead opportunities on your website.

  • Effective lead capturing requires a proactive mindset – Provide focused attention on the conversion goal right on your home page. Don’t force your visitors to initiate contact.
  • Provide more than your ‘Contact Us’ page – Many websites don’t have effective paths for customer prospects to start the dialogue. By default, it’s often the ‘Contact Us’ page. In many instances, the ‘Contact Us’ page is largely reactive and inadequate as a customer acquisition path. To increase more inbound leads, consider adding more navigation links to your ‘Contact Us’ page as well as strategically place ‘call-to-action’ options on sales-focused content pages.
  • Give visitors a reason to contact you –If the only inbound leads you are getting from your website are from the ‘Contact Us’ page, you might want to consider offering more call-to-action paths. Examples of lead generation call-to-actions include scheduling a sales demo, joining a webinar, getting a quote and signing up for a special offer.
  • Don’t rely solely on form submissions – Adding call-to-action (CTA) options such as call tracking or live chat can be very effective in generating incremental leads. In fact, many consider it a competitive advantage for visitors to have multiple contact options to consider when converting interest into lead generation.
  • Respond promptly – Once customer interest has been sparked, it’s up to you to respond and satisfy the initial itch. If you don’t, then a competitor eventually will.

Your inbound website leads are like gold, and there are simple measures to consider assuring you’re maximizing lead engagement on your website. First of all, make sure you’re utilizing every possible CTA option in maximizing lead generation opportunities on your website. Secondly, make sure you’re enabling your sales team to capitalize on the inbound leads you’re generating. Be proactive with your website so it delivers the results you’re looking for.  Maximize your lead opportunities!

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Understanding Paid Search

One of the appealing aspects of online marketing, particularly paid channels, is the wealth of data that is available. The promise of all of this data is the ability to know exactly what is and is not working. At first glance, this should be pretty straightforward: do the additional sales exceed to cost of the advertising. But for anyone that has managed an online marketing campaign there is a lot more going on and in the immense tables of numbers is the promise of improved results.

header-dartboard-sm-288Take a sporting event as an example: the number that matters is the final score. It measures success or failure and is very easy to understand. But it leaves out the details that are essential to a coach or manager to help the team improve for the next game. It doesn’t credit which players or strategies performed well and which ones did not.

The same is true of online advertising: the return on investment is the number that matters. But understanding how to improve this comes down to understanding all of the elements that lead up to that and knowing which adjustments can emphasize strengths. It takes ongoing commitment to understand what works, try new things and get to a point of having a team that consistently wins.

This is where a solid paid search partner like TKG comes in: of course we do all the research, scouting and planning to make your campaign a success. But we also excel at evaluating your performance and figuring out where to make adjustments to continue to improve your returns.

Does our PPC expertise sound like something that you could benefit from? Learn more at TKG.com or get in touch.

SEO Tips for PDFs

PDFs, just like HTML pages, can rank in search engines. Accordingly, it is important that PDF optimization is part of your comprehensive strategy for search engine performance. Here are some helpful SEO tips for PDFs:

Save the PDF as Text Based

When creating a new PDF, be sure to save the file as text based, rather than a flat image. Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign allow for this whereas scanning a hard copy of a document will not. From Google’s Webmaster Central blog: The general rule of the thumb is that if you can copy and paste the text from a PDF document into a standard text document, we should be able to index that text.

Optimize PDF Properties

When creating a PDF, there are a number of text properties that should be defined prior to loading to a website. These include title, author, subject, and keywords. To access these, go to File > Properties. Here are some thoughts and recommendations for each of these fields:

  • Title
    • These are similar to the title tags on HTML pages and should follow similar best practices.
    • PDF titles can appear as part of search results
    • Answer this question: How would you name this content?
    • Include a relevant keyword that has search volume
  • Author
    • This field is designated for the creator of the article.
    • Use this space to reference the business, organization, or the individual who deserves credit for the work.
  • Subject
    • The subject field in a PDF is similar to the meta description on HTML pages.
    • Try to keep this field to 150 characters or less
    • Include a call to action
    • Include a relevant keyword that has search volume
  • Keywords
    • As we’ve mentioned on TKgenius, including meta keywords in HTML pages offers no SEO value. This is likely the case for the keyword properties in PDFs as well.
    • If you choose to fill in this field in the PDF properties, separate each keyword with commas and avoid stuffing with similar keywords.

PDF SEO

SEO-friendly File Name

Many content management systems generate the URL based on the file name.  Therefore, when saving the PDF, there are several guidelines to follow:

  • Save the file with a relevant file name (not draft17FINAL2015revisionB.pdf)
  • Separate words with dashes and use lowercase text
  • Avoid overly lengthy file names
  • Include a relevant keyword

Hyperlink Text in the PDF

Include hyperlinks in the PDF that link to relevant detail pages within your site that contain more info. For example, at the end of the PDF, include a call to action such as Request a quote that goes to your request a quote form on your website.

Include Keywords in the Content

Just like a traditional HTML page, include relevant keywords in the copy itself. In general, identify a few overall keywords that define the theme of the content (use the Google Keyword Planner tool to see if the phrases are popular), write the article in its entirely, then review what was written to find a few opportunities to tastefully include keywords where appropriate.

Optimize Anchor Text to the PDF

Once the PDF is loaded to the website, be sure to find appropriate locations across your site to link to the new PDF. When linking to the PDF, avoid linking text such as “Learn More” or “download this PDF” and instead hyperlink the actual words that discuss the content. For example: link the words “optimize PDFs for search engines” in the sentence: Learn how to optimize PDFs for search engines.

By following the guidelines above, you’ll ensure the PDFs on your website are SEO friendly.