Being Found on Google, digital blueprint, Google Ads, Google Nonprofit Ad Grant, keywords, landing page, landing pages, marketing best practices, ongoing digital audits, online advertising, online presence, paid search, pull marketing, Search Engine Optimization, search terms, SEM, SEO, staying current, target audiences, Target Marketing, website

Spring Clean Your Online Presence To Support Sales and SEO – Part II

A JOINT BLOG POST BY GAIL SNOW MORASKI AND RYAN BRUDER

Our first blog post in this two-part series focused on capitalizing on “spring cleaning” inclinations to tune-up your website and your social media presence. The purpose of this second post is to remind readers who run any kind of online ads — whether they be Google Ads (also known as search ads/search marketing), social media ads, or banner ads purchased directly from another external website — to revisit them and give them a thorough look-over if you haven’t done so in a while.

Since SEM (search engine marketing) is one of our digital marketing agency’s specialties, the focus of this piece will be on Google Ads, but many of reminders can be applied to other forms of online advertising.

OPTIMIZING YOUR GOOGLE ADS TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE AND MAXIMIZE BUDGET

Often clients will engage our SEO company to analyze either current or past Google Ads campaigns to see what they could or should be doing differently or better. Or, to assume management of existing Google Ads campaigns. Because we are data geeks, we love getting under the hood of a Google Ads account — whether it be a paid account used by a for-profit organization, or a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant account that provides qualifiying non-profit organizations with $120,000 in free annual Google search advertising.

Elements of campaigns and associated ad groups within a Google Ads account that we review related to the above engagements that you should too, as part of spring cleaning your Google Ads, include:

  1. KEYWORDS — what terms have you indicated to Google are ones for which you want your ads shown and are these all still appropriate? Are there keywords you should remove? Are there keywords you should add?
  2. SEARCH TERMS — related to the above keyword element, what search terms (actual phrases that ad clickers put into Google’s search engine) have your ads actually been presented to searchers for, and are they the right ones? The “search terms report,” accessed via the keywords section of a Google Ads ad group, allows you to see the exact terms for which your ads are being shown. Are the terms appropriate? Should some of these terms be made “negative” keywords, i.e., terms for which you don’t want your ads to be shown?
  3. RECOMMENDATIONS — as shown in the printscreen at the bottom of this elements list, Google makes regular recommendations — via a recommendations report — regarding steps you can take to “optimize” your campaign, and therefore, improve click-thru rate, and reduce your cost-per-click. Types of recommendations we see Google regularly make include: removing redundant keywords (keywords that are very similar in nature) from ad groups, adding certain types of ad extensions (such as structured snippets or call-outs), adding conversion-tracking, and using responsive search ads, along with standard text ads you already have in place. Not just as part of your spring cleaning, but each and every type you log into your Google Ads account to check on campaign performance, you should review the various recommendations, and apply the ones that you think make sense for your account.
  4. SETTINGS — settings are assigned at the campaign level and allow for you to target specific geographies and set daily budgets, as well as other specifics about your campaign. At a minimum, as part of your sprng review, you should revisit your daily budget and the geography to see if they are still appropriate to the products, services, or solutions you are promoting via your ads.
  5. AD CONTENT AND LANDING PAGES — if you haven’t checked your Google Ads campaigns in a while, you may even be running ads that land ad clickers on pages that promote either events that have already passed, such as a fundaising one, or products and services that are seasonal in nature and no longer apppropriate ones to be promoting due to the time of year. As you conduct your spring review, be sure that the products, services, and solutions are still the right ones for your organization to be promoting, regardless of whether you are paying for ad clicks, or getting them free via your Google Nonprofit Ad Grant. Also, revisit what makes for an effective landing page, and consider making any appropriate tweaks to current ad landing pages.
  6. COST-PER-CLICK — as part of your review, give great thought to the cost-per-click associated with each of your active vs. paused ad groups. Does the profit you’d make from an actual sale to an ad clicker warrant the cost-per-click — therefore, what is the acquisition cost (this may be include other factors beyond the ad cost-per-click) associated with obtaining a new customer and does it make good sense from a profitability standpoint?
  7. CLICKS — this is likely stating the obvious, but if your ads aren’t generating a decent volume of clicks, therefore, visits to your website, does it make sense to continue to run certain campaigns, or certain ad groups within campaigns?
Google Ads Manager Dashboard

We know that Google Ads advertising, and other forms of online advertising, can be complex and confusing. If you are concerned that your campaigns aren’t set up right to maximize clicks, conversions (ad clickers taking desired actions on your website), and your advertising budget, reach out to us for a complimentary discussion or for us to undertake online advertising spring cleaning on your behalf.

landing pages, Uncategorized, website

Three Key Benefits of Offering Visitors a Website “Contact” or “Inquiry” Form

I was recently asked by a prospective client if “contact” or “inquiry” smart forms — you know forms that an individual can complete and submit online — made a website look dated. I polled a couple of website developer/designer expert connections, and the answer was “no.” I was very pleased to hear that because I think such forms afford both the visitor to and the owner of a website the following three key benefits:

1. Website visitors can share and website owners can learn how a visitor found out about their organization or website via a question such as the following with drop-down-menu answer options like the ones shown below (and in our form at the bottom of this post):

Q:  How did you learn about us?

newspaper advertisement, link to your site from a social media post, search engine search, online advertisement, word-of-mouth, billboard, radio advertisement, TV ad, bus advertisement, train advertisement (note: when relevant, you should allow visitors to select more than one vs. forcing one answer)

Obviously, answer options should only include those marketing vehicles and tactics you are employing to drive traffic to your site. You can also gather more information about the effectiveness of certain marketing activities by including additional questions that would only be presented if a particular response was selected (known as skip patterns). For example, let’s suppose you were running several types of online ads or ads with several different messages, you could pose questions to gather more detail about the messaging or form of online advertising a visitor saw.

Before launching any kind of advertising campaign, it’s a best and critical practice to make sure you always have means, such as the above, to track which of the marketing tactics you employed as part of the campaign are most effective.

2. Visitors won’t abandon the process of reaching out to you because they get the message below when they click on a link to e-mail or contact you. Already having an Outlook program on my computer or that I access via an online e-mail service, I never know what to do when this message which encourages me to configure an Outlook e-mail account appears as a pop-up when I click on someone’s e-mail address. I’m guessing most website visitors don’t either, and likely just end up “cancelling out” of the process.

email link message

To make matters worse, some e-mail links don’t even contain the e-mail address that you can snag and then type into your mail service yourself after you initiate creating/ sending a new e-mail. Instead of a link that’s hyperlinked and labeled with an e-mail address, such as gail.moraski@gailm.sg-host.com, the link may be labeled “contact us” or “e-mail us” and take one directly to the Outlook message above. The average site visitor is unlikely to know that they may be able to “right click” on that link to see what the e-mail address is behind the link.

Why wonder if your site visitors are going to be patient enough to figure out how to e-mail you or figure out your e-mail address? Eliminate that concern with an online form.

3. Avoid Phone Calls That Can Be Awkward For Both Parties. Some people aren’t phone people. Instead of gathering information from you via a phone call — which may seem like it requires or indicates some kind of commitment to buy your product or use your services, or may simply feel awkward or cumbersome — some members of your target audience may prefer getting feedback from you via an online inquiry about your product or service. The ability to submit an online inquiry simplifies the process of their conducting initial research before they invest in a product or service — allowing for answers to questions they might have about the product or service itself and figuring out whether your product or service is the right fit for them.

Having an online contact/inquiry form doesn’t mean you still can’t include a link to an e-mail address, it just means your making it easier for prospective customers to communicate with you in a way that might be more comfortable and/or less mentally or technically cumbersome — a win-win because you’re able to gather beneficial data from your visitors to help optimize future marketing budgets and activities.

Need help setting up an online inquiry form? Use our form to reach out for help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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integrated marketing, landing pages, Memorability, online advertising, remarketing, Uncategorized, website

Reminding with Remarketing

If you’ve ever visited a website, particularly a consumer goods/retail one, and then, had ads presented to you on another website or web property related to the products you  looked at on that original site, you’ve been remarketed to or retargeted. Last Friday, I was looking at some home furnishing stores’ websites for some new bar stools. I spent a fair amount of time on Wayfair’s site, looking at various stool options, and now the below ads are regularly being served up to me. This is as I go about my various day-to-day work activities on my computer, not because I revisited the Wayfair site.

Like many savvy marketers, Wayfair knows that remarketing advertising is an easy, and quite effective way, to remind individuals who have already shown an interest in certain products and services you offer about those particular products and services. And, Wayfair surely knows that click-thrus rates and sales generated through remarketing display ads are higher than for non-remarketing/general display advertising.

bar stools

Remarketing isn’t just for large retailers and consumer goods companies, though, and you don’t need to have the ample marketing budget they likely have to take advantage of remarketing. Whether you sell services vs. products, or whether your target audience is businesses vs. consumers, what I consider to be reasonably priced and fairly easy-to-set-up display advertising (think an ad with an image that appears on a variety of websites, including YouTube) is available through Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) and their associated Google Display Network (GDN).

Using your Google Analytics account (this is also very easy to set up if you don’t already have such an account), you can create very targeted remarketing lists to whom you want your Google Ads display ad presented.  At the broadest, more general levels, you can remind individuals who visited your site of your product and service offerings by having your ads presented to all site visitors, new site visitors (visitors who came to your site for the first time), or returning site visitors (visitors who came to your site for the second time or more).  You can also target your remarketing advertising based on:

  • the page(s) individuals visited on your site
  • actions individuals did or did not take on your site, such as completing and submitting an inquiry form or making a purchase

While this post’s focus is about display advertising remarketing, since that is most well-known, most-used, and best-understood, advertisers can also remarket to individuals using what’s known as Remarketing Lists for Search Advertising (RLSA) in conjunction with Google Ads search advertising.  This latter form of advertising allows for ads to be shown to individuals who enter search terms (keywords) into a search engine. Google Ads search remarketing allows an advertiser to only have their ads presented to individuals who both type appropriate search terms into their browser AND who have visited the advertiser’s website in the past. It also allows you to set up your search advertising to indicate to Google Ads your willingness to pay (bid) more to have your search ad shown to individuals searching on appropriate terms who have visited your site before vs. to individuals who haven’t.

Whether you are already running Google Ads display and/or search advertising, or you are in the planning process for launching your very first Google campaign, you should consider adding one or both of the above-mentioned forms of remarketing to your online advertising campaigns. You’ll be reminding visitors who land on your site because of display or search advertising, as well as individuals who visit your site from non-advertising sources/channels, about how the outstanding products and services you offer are just what they are looking for!

 

integrated marketing, landing pages, online advertising, User experience, website

Ensuring a Smooth Landing for Ad and Link Clickers

aircraft-holiday-sun-tourism-104826.jpeg

A “landing page” is simply the Web site page that ad and link viewers arrive at when they they click on an ad or link presented to them. A leader at a former corporate marketing job of mine used to say, “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them.” This provides a good framework for thinking about the content and/or images that should reside on your landing page. Clickers expect to land on a page that is relevant to the content and/or images found in the ad on which they clicked or to the content that introduced a link you shared.

In keeping with the above, whether the advertiser’s objective for sharing a link or presenting an ad is to cause a sale or other desired action, or to simply create awareness of their organization or products and services among prospective customers/target audiences, it’s critical that the advertiser provide a cohesive, effective, thoughtful experience to link and ad clickers by:

  • ensuring that the Web site page on which a clicker lands contains information about the specific product, service, or topic promoted in an ad or link
  • repeating on the landing page verbiage used in an ad or in introducing a link
  • if images and branding elements such as specific colors, designs, and logos are included in an ad or link introduction, including them on the landing page as well
  • if clickers land on a Web site page from what’s known as a “search” ad, i.e., an ad that was presented to them because they entered search terms relevant to the advertiser’s product or service in a search engine, such as Google or Bing, employing those identical search terms or synonymous ones in landing page content
  • not “bait and switching” or surprising ad or link clickers. There’s no easier or better way to create ill will among prospective customers/your target audience than promoting “red wool coats” and then presenting them with information on “green rubber boots.” It’s deceptive marketing and, even if search engine advertising vehicles will approve such a misleading, non-cohesive set up with your ads and landing pages, the advertising platforms will surely ding you by charging you more to have your ads presented and by presenting your ads far less frequently than your competitors for relevant search terms. Search engines who offer advertising want to present searchers with the best possible match for their search terms. They don’t want to tarnish their own reputation.
  • creating landing pages that are clean, concise and not too busy. Ideally, landing pages would be dedicated to the product, service, or topic promoted in the ad or link and not contain information on other products, services, or topics. However, if an advertiser has time and budget constraints related to creating a focused landing page for a promotion, at a minimum, the landing page should be uncluttered enough for the ad or link clicker to easily identify the information promised via the ad or link-accompanying content — therefore, readily find what he is she was looking for.
  • making “calls-to-action” highly visible and obvious. If an advertiser’s objective behind an ad or link promotion is to cause the clicker to take a desired action on their site, whether it be purchasing a product, signing up for an e-newsletter, or completing an inquiry form, then buttons or text that call out how and where to take those desired actions should contain clear direction and be prominent.

We loved to hear what else you think makes for a smooth landing for clickers, so please do share! And, we always welcome a discussion with you about your Web site landing page challenges and opportunities.

 

landing pages, online advertising, SEO

Why Paid Search Advertising Isn’t For Everyone

Over the past 3.5 years, we’ve helped a number of clients, in a variety of industries, of various profit status, and of different sizes, develop, launch, and analyze online advertising campaigns. The objectives of these clients were also quite diverse. Some simply wanted to create awareness of a new brand, product, or product line. Others, wanted to generate what’s known in the online advertising world as “conversions.” Conversions occur when an individual who is presented with an online ad, clicks on the ad, lands on the advertiser’s web site and then takes a desired action such as making a purchase or donation, signing up for a newsletter, or completing and submitting a contact or inquiry form.

Regardless of an advertiser’s campaign objectives, one of the very first questions that needs to be answered when laying out plans for a campaign and deciding what advertising vehicles to use is, “at the time my campaign launches, will my target audiences be actively searching (via a search engine query) for information related to my product or service?” For example, if a non-profit organization wants to sell tickets to a holiday fundraising event, but doesn’t believe individuals residing in the right geography and who have interests related to the nature of event are aware of the event or would be searching for information on it, then a paid search campaign — a campaign where you pay to have your ad presented to searchers entering appropriate terms into a search engine — to generate event ticket sales is unlikely to be effective or a good use of marketing/promotional $$$.

The same theory described above applies to promoting a product or service that is brand new — not just to the advertiser’s own product and service line-up, we mean one that neither the advertiser nor a competitor has offered in the past. If a product or service is a new offering for an advertiser, but a competitor has offered a similar product or service in the past, then likely the advertiser’s target audience is aware of the product or service and will be searching on it via a search engine like Google or Bing. But, if a product or service has never been available to the desired target audience before from either the advertiser or the advertiser’s competitors, a paid search campaign shouldn’t be expected to yield strong results. In this case, a “display” campaign where you get your ad in front of audiences who are either reading online content related to your product or service, have interests related to your product or service, or who visit Web sites that are relevant to your product or service, makes a lot more sense.

image of text ads

A caveat to the above thinking about paid search being an appropriate means of advertising a product or service that has been available to target audiences in the past because of an advertiser or a competitor of the advertiser offering it, is the following. Particularly with B2B products and services — those sold by one business to another business — the choice regarding from whom to buy products and services is often based on existing relationships and professional networks/networking. CEOs, CFOS, CIOs, and other corporate senior management, as well as small business owners, looking to engage other businesses for products and services may simply look to their existing professional relationships, or reach out to their professional network for referrals. Therefore, before launching a paid search campaign, the advertiser should also give thought to whether or not they think their target audience would be looking to identify a vendor for their particular product or service via a search engine query, or if sales are more likely to be relationship-driven.

Advertisers should also be cautious about running paid search campaigns just because they see their competitors doing so. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if a competitor’s paid search ads are generating good results for them. They may be running ads and their sales results may simultaneously be impressive, but there could be one or several other marketing activities responsible for generating sales vs. paid search generating them.

If you’ve read our other blog or social media posts related to the topics of paid search and online advertising, in general, you know that we believe that paid search is an excellent opportunity to get in front of target audiences who are actively searching for relevant product or service information. And, we love the fact that advertisers only pay for advertising when individuals click on their ad and end up on their Web site vs. paying for ad “impressions” each time their ad is shown. Plus, certainly, paid search can improve where an advertiser falls in the list of search results presented by a search engine in response to an appropriate search query.  Nonetheless, as we’ve outlined above, paid search isn’t for everyone. Banner advertising where you purchase advertising directly from one or several Web sites that your target audience is likely to visit, or display advertising, described above, might be your best online advertising options. We’d welcome helping you decide whether paid search advertising, display advertising, banner advertising, all three of them, or none of them, are the right fit for your marketing campaign objectives, so reach out to us any time for a complimentary discussion.

 

landing pages, online advertising, SEO

Why Keyword Planning Is Key to SEO Success

We’re starting this post with the basics for those who are new to SEO, the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. What SEO really means is developing and implementing effective strategies to ensure your brand and organization appear at the top of search engine results/listings when someone types search terms appropriate to your organization into a search engine, particularly Google.

There are two broad means of ensuring your organization appears above your competitors in search engine results for relevant terms, or at a minimum, appears on the first page of search engine results (let’s face it, many searchers don’t scroll past the first or second page of search engine results, so if your organization doesn’t appear on the first two pages — and ideally the first one — your firm is not well-positioned to create awareness, sales or other conversion activities, such as soliciting donations or newsletter sign-up.) As the below image shows, these two broad means that determine where a listing of your organization appears in search engine results are: 1) where your organization falls organically in the results listing a search engine, like Google or Bing, serves up naturally, based on their complex algorithms, and 2) where any “paid search” advertising appears that you run in hopes of causing your organization/brand to appear at the top of and/or on the first page of search engine results listings.

SEO Equation Detail

Now that the SEO basics/refreshers are behind us, on to the key topic for this post and that is “keywords!” Keywords relate to and influence both organic search engine results ranking and paid search engine results ranking. Keywords are the single words or combination of words you should use in your Web site content and employ in any SEO-related tagging capability available through your Web site Content Management System (CMS). Keywords should be words that your target audience(s) will understand and use when reading about or investigating your product or service. They need to speak your target audience’s language.

As discussed in our “SEO Is Not For Sissies” blog post, while you want to make sure your Web site contains appropriate keywords for cataloging/sweeping/tagging by various search engines, you need to be authentic to be viewed as creditable by both your target audience(s) and search engines. So, be sure not to sprinkle keywords that are irrelevant to the products or services you offer throughout your site or include them on an irrelevant page on your site in a misguided attempt to improve where your organization appears in search engine results for what you believe are desirable keywords. Search engines will recognize an organization who is being disingenuous and “ding you” for such practices. So tell your story truthfully.

The above practice of only employing keywords on your site that are relevant and appropriate to both your organization and the Web site page in-question holds true for any paid search advertising you purchase. When assigning what’s known as a “quality score” to each keyword, paid search advertising providers, such as Google, look at the relevancy between the keyword (aka search terms you want to provoke your advertising/have it presented), your advertising copy, and the content found on the “landing page” to which your ad will take someone who clicks on it. The higher your quality score, the more likely your ad vs. your competitor’s will be presented to an individual searching on appropriate search terms, and the less your advertising will cost you.

One final, but critical reminder about keywords. Keywords can be as short as one word or as long as ten, but regardless of whether they are used to prompt paid search advertising or organic search results via their use on your Web site, they need to be long and descriptive enough to avoid having your site or advertising presented in search engine results to the wrong individuals or in the wrong situation. Let’s say you are selling “Boston Red Sox hats”. Then, an important and the appropriate keyword for use on your Web site or in paid search advertising would be “Boston Red Sox hats” vs. the shorter keyword “Boston hats”. Keywords that are longer in nature are known as long-tail keywords and long-tail keywords ensure that you drive the right target audiences to your Web site via organic and paid search engine results listings.

Results Communications and Research is a Yoast-SEO-certified shop.We’re always here and glad to discuss and help with SEO and keyword planning, so please reach out when you need our expertise.