Category Archives: SEO + PPC

PPC Tip – Goodbye Sidebar: New Google Ad Layout

Zoe - Search ManagerThis week, we welcome a guest post from our Search Manager, Zoe Zhang. Zoe is a PPC + SEO whiz and keeps us up-to-date with the latest + greatest in Search Marketing.

So What’s Changed in Search Marketing?

When performing Google searches recently, have you noticed the page looks a little cleaner + less cluttered? Google debuted a new ad layout at the end of February, eliminating the right side panel text advertisements – this space is now reserved for Google Product Listing Ads.

You will now see that four ads have been added to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) + up to three at the bottom of the SERP, for a total maximum ad count of just seven ads (compared to 11 previously).

New Google Ad Layout

Continue reading PPC Tip – Goodbye Sidebar: New Google Ad Layout

SEO tip – 5 SEO Basics to Do Today

Organic search drives 51% of all visitors to business-to-business and business-to-consumer websites, a study by BrightEdge found. If your goal is to get your website in front of fresh eyes, you need to get comfortable with search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is a combination of art and science, but for every marketer with 1,000 other things to do, SEO is a worthwhile priority. To help you get started, we’ve laid out a simple list of 5 things busy marketers can do today to improve SEO efforts.

SEO Recap

Quick recap for all you SEO newcomers – before you sign up for a service or buy a product, what do you do? You Google it, or use another search engine like Yahoo to look at product reviews, compare prices, or check out the firm’s reputation.

After inputting keywords into the search engine, you likely click the first, second, or third search result, oftentimes skipping over the paid results. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll click one of the results on the first page, instead of navigating to page two to see more options. The best, most reputable results are on page one, right?

THAT, right there, is why you need SEO. SEO is a collection of best practices to shape your web pages and copy into orderly and descriptive preferences set by popular search engines (namely, Google) to help boost your webpage to the top of search results.

You can perform SEO on web pages, blog posts, or any online content you want people to find. Follow our 5 SEO basics to get started.

SEO basics 1: Create Unique Page Titles

A webpage title is a brief page description that tells search engines what your page is all about.

For example, let’s say we Google “Omaha Steaks.” We used a name brand, as opposed to just searching “steak,” so it’s no surprise that Omaha Steaks is the first search result.

If I click the listing to land on their homepage, I can see the first part of their page title in the browser tab: “Buy Steaks, Gourmet Food…”. If I hover my mouse over the title, the rest of it shows up: “Buy Steaks, Gourmet Food Gifts, Wine, and Lobster Tails Online {Omaha Steaks}.”

SEO-basics-Page-Titles-Omaha-Steaks

Navigating back to the search results, you’ll see these same descriptive keywords in the page title, shown in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Continue reading SEO tip – 5 SEO Basics to Do Today

PPC Tip – 7 Steps to Optimize PPC for the Holidays

Now’s the time to think about your paid search strategy for the upcoming holiday season. What did or didn’t work last year? Do you have the budget? Follow these 7 Steps to optimize your PPC plan for the holidays to increase ROI this year.

1. Lookback to Last Year

When looking back to last year’s paid search plan, what combination of keywords, bids, and timing were the holy-grail?

Note the keywords, ad copy, or promotions that targeted the most relevant traffic and the time of day or day of the week traffic times peaked. Use this combination of keywords and timing to bundle the perfect paid search plan and adjust your budgets for bidding accordingly.

overall-GA

2. Start Early

Once you review last year’s strategy, it’s time to kick it into high gear for this season — and we mean now.

Continue reading PPC Tip – 7 Steps to Optimize PPC for the Holidays

SEO tip – Google updates mobile URL structure

Today, we’re taking a break from Mobilegeddon to share another Google mobile enhancement you might have missed. Google is rolling out an update to its search algorithm to change the URL structure of websites for mobile search results.

Who cares about URLs?

Google wants to make it easier for mobile users to find the best websites for their searching needs. Google also realizes that users aren’t reading and comparing every search result’s title, URL, and description to pick the best one.

Instead, they quickly scan results and then select the option that seems best. Well-structured, descriptive URLs assist this quick-scanner in their decision.

For example, if you’re browsing for a new video game, you’ll be more likely to visit the site www.videogamedepot.com then you would www.toydepot.com. The first URL offers context that the video game seeker will find exactly what they’re looking for, instead of taking the chance that Toy Depot carries video games.

Google Updates URLs to be Mobile-friendly

Google is updating the algorithm that displays URLs for mobile search snippet results to deliver more context clues than a poorly structured URL. Instead of displaying the full URL, mobile searchers will see the site’s name and breadcrumbs showing where the information is found within the site. Google defines a breadcrumb as a set of links that help a user understand and navigate your site’s hierarchy, like this:

Webmaster Tools › Help articles ›  Creating Google-friendly sites

Do a quick search on your mobile device, and you’ll notice a change:

Google updates mobile search results URL structure

Google will be showing both the breadcrumb URL structure and the name of your website, instead of the domain name and full URL. For example, if your URL is www.company.com/spring/blue-shirts.com, Google would split the URL into something like, company > spring > blue-shirts. Alternatively, they may use the breadcrumb structure of the page.

Don’t like how your URLs look? Well Google is supporting schema.org structured data to allow you to specify the website name to be used in the place of the domain name and the URL structure of the breadcrumbs.

Here’s some info on the update, including your site name in search, and the breadcrumb mark up.

Takeaways

Now is the time to look at your site’s URL structure. Site names and descriptive, user-friendly URLs (instead of arbitrary numbers and letters) are imperative to help mobile users find what they’re seeking and have a better experience with your brand. This change further cements the importance of thinking through your mobile users’ experience. It’s important to make searching for and interacting with your site as easy as possible from small smartphone screens.

SEO tip: PPC + SEO drives better quality leads to your website

B-KoThis week, we welcome a guest post from our Online Marketing Manager and PPC/SEO specialist, Brian Ko. Certified in both Google AdWords and Silverpop, Brian works with clients to develop strategies leveraging search engine marketing and email marketing automation.

Congratulations – you invested in a brand new website equipped with the latest features and gadgets to provide customers a fantastic user experience. What’s the plan for driving visitors to your new site?

A great website is useless without traffic, and more importantly, qualified traffic that converts visitors into customers. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) come into play. As a SEO/PPC specialist, I have three favorite recommendations for incorporating SEO and PPC into your marketing strategy to drive quality traffic to your website.

The Case for SEO + PPC:

seo-ppc
At its most basic, SEO drives organic traffic to your website. Organic traffic consists of visitors who land on your website by searching for keywords relevant to your business in a search engine like Google. SEO uses a combination of website optimization, content strategy, and a variety of other methods to make sure your business is at the top of search listings.

Why is being at the top important? According a study by online ad network Chitika, Google results on the first page get 92% of traffic for the average search, and organic listings with the first rank have a click-through rate of 33%. Staying atop of the herd pays off, when it comes to organic search.

Continue reading SEO tip: PPC + SEO drives better quality leads to your website

Google analytics tip: Google changes analytics terminology

Google does it again! You may or may not have noticed Google’s recent change to analytics reporting terminology. These small, but significant changes will impact the way you define visitors in analytics and might affect your business’s reporting standards. Let’s walk through the basics.

What’s happening?

Google recently standardized terminology for both website and mobile application data analytics. The “Visitors” website metric and the “Active Users” mobile application metric are now unified under the same name, “Users.” Similarly, “Visits” are now referred to as “Sessions.” Sound confusing?

When you are reviewing your Google analytics data, you likely paid close attention to your site’s “Total Visits” and “Unique Visitors.” Now, you will find your Total Visits under the term Sessions, and your Total Unique Visits under the name Users.

The graphic below, from Search Engine Round Table, displays the difference in key terms.

SEO Round table
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Google analytics tip: SEO success when ALL keywords are ‘(Not Provided)'

Secured search: a dark history 

It was a dark, dismal day (fictionalized weather details to set the mood) on October 18, 2011, when Google announced changes to how it would share user data. In an effort to make search more secure, users searching http://google.com, who were already logged into their Google accounts, were redirected to a secure search query https://google.com. Search query data was encrypted for these logged-in Google users and no longer made available to website managers using web analytics tools. Website managers began seeing a percentage of their keyword data falling under a new ‘(Not Provided)’ category, a reflection of users redirected to the secure search site.

Uneasy website managers were reassured by Google that ‘(Not Provided)’ search data was not expected to exceed 10% of search results, but as time went by and user privacy concerns became more prevalent, the percentage of organic search keyword traffic falling into the ‘(Not Provided)’ category steadily grew. It was the beginning of the end of collecting organic search data at the keyword level. SEO superstars breathlessly waited to see what would happen next.

Secured search: the new reality

In late September 2013, Google announced that ALL searches would be secured. Searchers logged into Google are no longer the only ones redirected to the https:// version of the site. Anyone using Google to search for information is now automatically redirected to the SSL encrypted browser. Estimates suggest that the percentage of ‘(Not Provided)’ data will reach 100% by the end of the year. Marketers and website managers can no longer track organic search traffic in Google at the keyword level. Is the SEO era over?

Never fear! All (SEO best practices) is not lost

In the face of secure search complications, you can still succeed at SEO by leveraging remaining data sources and taking a big-picture approach to site optimization. Combinations of potentially untapped data can be used to assess and improve your search performance.
Continue reading Google analytics tip: SEO success when ALL keywords are ‘(Not Provided)'

Google analytics tip: getting started with custom reports

We love Google analytics and think it’s the best thing since the invention of nerd glasses. While it has tons of pre-formatted reports that help us analyze data, even the gurus at Google can’t think of every possible report we may need. That’s where custom reports come in handy.

As you can probably guess, there is no end to the number of custom reports you can create to gain additional insight into your online data. This can be a little overwhelming so we’ll use a simple scenario to help break it down for you. Continue reading.

Web tip: why integrating video is important for your website

Video has always been a powerful form of communication. In recent years online videos have seen massive growth. In fact, just today 89 million people in the United States are going to watch 1.2 billion online videos (Com Score).

So right about now you are probably thinking ‘great video is popular, but how does it apply to my business?’ Studies have shown that video not only helps you convert more customers to purchase, but it also makes it easier for people to find you online. Video provides visitors with an extra way of assessing the product. It allows them to see how it moves, sounds, or works and gives them the extra information they crave when purchasing online.

Converting shoppers

According to Internet Retailer, 90% of online shoppers find videos useful when deciding to make a purchase. Not only is it useful, it actually makes visitors more comfortable purchasing. Ariat, an equestrian sport supplier experienced a 160% higher conversion rate when a product video was viewed and online shoe retailer Zappos increased sales between 6% and 30% when a product demo was used. (Econsultancy). Continue reading.

Google analytics tip: ‘not set’ vs. ‘not provided’

WOW-10-kw-notKeywords are a great tool for diagnosing the health of your website traffic, regardless of whether those keywords are drawn from organic search, paid search, or even your own internal site search (for more information on analyzing internal search results, see our recent post, Google Analytics tip: taking a closer look at internal site search).

Google Analytics offers myriad ways to see which keywords are drawing which type of traffic. Keyword sections can be found under organic search and paid search, and the keyword variable can be applied as a secondary dimension to almost any report in Google Analytics!

If you’ve looked at your keyword list in the last year or so, you may have run across two unusual keywords: (not set) and (not provided). For many of you, these may even be your most popular keywords – by far.

If that seems odd to you, don’t worry. Despite what you may be thinking, your customers aren’t going to search engines and typing in the exact words “(not set)” or “(not provided),” parentheses and all! But what are they doing? How are these specific keywords sending visitors to your site when you’ve done nothing to attract them? Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading.