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One Data Geek’s Thoughts On Key Implications Of Switching From UA to GA4 Google Analytics Property

Refer to it as you will — and we are seeing a lot of reference variability, such as GA4 and G4 — but Google Analytics’ new property version will soon be here to stay and pushing aside the Universal Analytics (UA) version (a version which all of us digital marketers and data geeks are very familiar with and have grown to love over the years.)

Since as a Boston SEO Company and Boston Digital Marketing agency, we ask each and every one of our clients to provide us with access to their Google Analytics data — so that we can help them determine what marketing activities are and aren’t working for them and what their general “website health” looks like — we are sorry to see the UA version of Google Analytics go. We’ve been using it 20 years, both in corporate and consulting roles, to assess the aforementioned.

Per Google’s own declaration, UA versions of Google Analytics will stop recording hits come July 1, 2023, which means the last day an organization can use Google Analytics to effectively track website visitor behavior with a UA property version is June 30, 2023. That said, our digital marketing agency is already hard at work learning the “ins and outs” of GA4, and working with our clients to make the switch late 2022 or early 2023 to this new Google Analytics property version.

We just completed several online classes offered by Google to learn about the many benefits of GA4 Analytics and how GA4 differrs from UA Analytics. While it’s fresh in our minds, we’re sharing our immediate reactions. We decided not to outline pro’s and con’s because general use, and our own use, of GA4 is too new and what we might consider a “pro” someone might consider a “con,” and vice versa.

Keep in mind we aren’t calling out similarities or things that will remain fairly constant across the two property versions. You can learn more about the general benefits of having a Google Analytics account here.

Key Benefits Of GA4 Analytics Over UA Analytics

  • G4 simultaneously tracks both mobile app and website data
  • G4 can often track a user across devices and platforms (UA was only able to track based on device ID) — this means if an individual originally visits your website using their phone, but later visits your site using their desktop, laptop, or other device, your organization will be able to track that individual as one user (currently in UA Analytics that same individual would likely be tracked as several users) and follow their user journey. Important note: You’ll likely see your “unique user” volume drop when you switch from UA to GA4 Analytics for the reasons outlined above and below.
    • So how does Google accomplish the above? By looking at three distinct identifiers or identity spaces:
      • User ID (this is an ID that an organization provided to a customer or prospective customer or other website visitor as part of their need or ability to login to the organization’s website)
      • Google signal (available when people are signed into a Google account, such as a Gmail e-mail account and have consented to sharing that info.)
      • Device ID (this info. comes from a user’s browser or app instance ID)

Key Differences Between GA4 Analytics and UA Analytics

  • GA4’s tracking emphasis is on user events vs. sessions (note that session info. is still available in GA4)
    • Many standard user events (activities that a user completes on a website, such as downloading a document) are automatically tracked in GA4 vs. UA Analytics. This means organizations will be far less dependent on using Google Tag Manager to set up event tracking, something we believe most organizations will welcome. We know we found using the aforementioned tool very cumbersome.
  • A smaller number of standard/pre-defined reports are available within GA4, but an extensive set of tools known as “Explorations” allow data geeks to slice ‘n dice data to their heart’s content. We’ve always found the best way to learn a new tool is to set it up and start playing around with it. We’ve found if you do some digging around in GA4, you’ll figure out where and how to access info. that you analyzed regularly in UA Analytics.

Interestingly enough, the Google-provided training we took highlighted the same items we highlighted above as benefits or differences in this grid that was shared in the training.

Need Help Setting Up A GA4 Analytics Property?

Our team of SEO experts and data analytics experts are here to help related to helping you set up a GA4 property or to answer questions about GA4. So please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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Understanding Google’s New Emphasis On “Helpful Content” Related To SEO

As we’ve shared on social media and with our SEO company’s clients, Google announced in September 2022 a key revision to their search algorithm (the algorithm they use to decide which websites to serve up, and in which order, for search terms entered in their search engine) to which each and every website owner should pay close attention. And, that is that they, as the #1 search engine used by individuals (92% or more of individuals use Google as their primary search engine), will be paying greater consideration to whether or not a website’s content is “helpful” or “unhelpful” when making search engine results listing ranking decisions. As you would expect, sites with “helpful content” are more likely to be served up and rank well in search results for relevant terms.

Impact of Google’s September 2022 “Helpful Content” Algorithm Change

We know first-hand how much of a shift in ranking can take place when Google views your site as one that shares “helpful content.” Our site now rank approx. 50 spots higher in Google search results for a high-volume, relevant keyword and that shift happened almost overnight. We believe that the positive shift was due to Google recognizing that our Boston digital marketing agency consistently publishes blog posts that are easily understood by a “lay person,” but also provide enough instruction to implement some of the marketing tactics we describe and recommend in our posts.

Shared below in Google’s “own words” is information from Google’s Search Central blog about how to ensure your website content is “helpful.” We’ve highlighted (via bold italics) what we consider to be the most critical policies to apply when making decisions about what topics to write about — and how to write about them — to make sure your content is beneficial to the various audiences who visit your site. All of their recommendations should improve your website’s “bounce rate,” i.e., the percentage of people who land/start on your site without interacting it in any way, such as clicking on a link or call-out, or visiting another page of your site. When prospective clients or clients are bouncing too quickly from your site, it’s an opportunity for a competitor to win them over on their site, right?

Unhelpful Website Content And How It Impacts SEO

The flip side of the positive practice of regular production and posting of “helpful content” is to eliminate content that Google may deem as “unhelpful (which could negatively impact how your website ranks for “desirable” search terms).” Such “unhelpful” content includes:

  • Short content that is “stuffed” with keywords and was primarily loaded to your site to support your site being found on Google for those keywords.
  • Content that is outdated — think events that have already passed or information that is no longer relevant or accurate, particularly pre-pandemic information since the pandemic greatly changed both business and consumer behavior.
  • Content that is all “about you,”, i.e., too focused on selling your products and singing your praises or sharing your differentiators without explaining how your prospective clients or clients would benefit from your products, services, and solutions, i.e., explaining what pain points of clients they would address.

Our team is here to help you interpret this most recent Google algorithm change, and put the right steps in place to make sure you respond to, and take advantage of, this recent Google algorithm change appropriately, promptly, and effectively. It’s very much in keeping with what we shared years ago in one of our very first SEO blog posts about making sure your website is “authentic.” So, please reach out if we can help you effectively navigation this change in algorithm — one we think makes is warranted, was a long-time-in-coming, and will provide for a far better user experience on all websites.

Google’s Explanation Of What “Helpful Content” Is

Source of information below: https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2022/08/helpful-content-update#:~:text=The%20helpful%20content%20update%20aims,successful%20with%20our%20new%20update%3F

Focus on people-first content

The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.

How can you ensure you’re creating content that will be successful with our new update? By following our long-standing advice and guidelines to create content for people, not for search engines. People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value. Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
  • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?

Avoid creating content for search engines first

Our advice about having a people-first approach does not invalidate following SEO best practices, such as those covered in Google’s own SEO guide. SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content. However, content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying.

How do you avoid taking a search engine-first approach? Answering yes to some or all of the questions is a warning sign that you should reevaluate how you’re creating content across your site:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
  • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?

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Is Your Website Holidays-SEO-Ready?

Where did 2022 go? It’s hard to believe it’s late October, and that means that consumers are already starting their holiday shopping. Regardless of whether your target audiences are shopping for Christmas, Hanukkah, or some other holiday celebrated towards the end of the calendar year, it would be a huge marketing mistake to not capitalize on the year-end uptick in online shopping by making sure your website ranks as well as possible for terms related to it.

While the focus of this post is related to retail, e-commerce, and B2C organizations offering physical products, as you read thru it, you’ll see there are applications for organizations trying to sell services, tickets to events, or even looking for someone to make a donation to their non-profit organization as a gift to someone else.

SEO Tactics For The Holidays

Below are both easy, and more time-consuming/complex SEO tasks your organization should complete by early November to support having a successful holiday sales season.

  • Conduct keyword research to determine the search phrases your target audiences are using most related to holiday shopping or holiday gift giving. If you don’t have access to a keyword planning/research tool, reach out and we will share holiday-shopping-related keyword research with you that we already conducted for FREE (a more extensive list than what we share further on in our post.) That’s our holiday gift to you!
  • Incorporate high-volume keywords (search terms) that are relevant to your target audience in:
    • the public-facing content found on a holiday-related landing page (if you plan to have specials/sales/discounts or want to promote certain items that make great holiday gifts) and/or incorporate such terms on existing product-specific pages.
    • website product and landing page headers (H1 and H2), as appropriate.
    • page title tags, particularly if you have a distinct landing page or several such pages for holiday shopping and specials.
  • Use structured data to support your products appearing at the top of Google search results when someone searches on a very specific product need like “yellow pocketbook.” As a result of the aforementioned fall 2022 algorithm change, use of Google “Shopping ads,” a Google Merchant Center Account and/or Google Surfaces is no longer mandatory to have your products shown to individuals who are shopping. This article details Google’s reason for making the change and where your product information may appear when you properly use “structured data.”

The above task/tactic may be a more complicated and difficult one for your organization and may require your website developer’s help. You can learn more about structured data (also known as “schema markup”) via these resources:

Google Search Podcast

Crowdcontent.com

How To Incorporate High-volume Holiday-Shopping Keywords In Your Website Content

Recent holiday-shopping keyword research we conducted indicated the following as being among some of the highest-volume search terms used related to holiday shopping or gift shopping, in general (the number shown represents the average # of monthly searches in Google for that term):

  • gifts for men – 301,000
  • gifts for mom – 201,000
  • gifts for dad – 135,000
  • gifts for women – 135,000
  • Christmas gifts for mom – 90500
  • Gifting ideas for men – 90500
  • mens gifts ideas – 90500
  • gift ideas for women – 90500
  • mom Christmas gifts – 90500
  • women’s gifts ideas – 90500
  • women’s gifts for men – 74000
  • Christmas gifts for men – 74000
  • Gifts for mens Christmas – 74000
  • Christmas gifts for dad – 49500
  • Gifts for girlfriends – 49500
  • Christmas gifts for boyfriend – 40500
  • Christmas gifts for womens – 40500
  • Gifts for womens Christmas – 40500
  • Gifts for wife Christmas – 33100
  • Best Men gifts – 33100
  • Gift ideas for mom – 33100
  • Husbands gifts – 33100
  • Unique gifts – 33100
  • Best Christmas gifts 2021 (note you can use this phrase but change to 2022) – 33100
  • Gift for Christmas for wife – 33100
  • Unique gifts for men — 27100
  • Christmas gift idea for her — 27100
  • Christmas gifts for a girlfriend — 27100
  • Christmas gift ideas for her — 27100
  • Best gifts for men 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
  • Best gifts for women 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
  • Christmas Gifts 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
  • Christmas gf gifts (change to 2022) (reminder people use acronyms like bff, bf in searches) — 27100
  • Gift ideas for boyfriend – 22200
  • Gift ideas for dad – 22200
  • Best gifts for mom – 22200
  • Top gifts for guys – 22200
  • Best gifts for moms – 22200
  • Secret santa gift ideas – 22200
  • Fun gift – 22200
  • Ideas gift boyfriend – 22200
  • Christmas gift teenagers – 22200
  • Gifts for husbands Christmas — 18000
  • Best gifts for dad — 18000
  • Best gifts for dads — 18000
  • Gift ideas for girlfriend — 18000
  • Unique gifts for women — 18000
  • Christmas gift ideas for mom — 14800
  • Ideas for mens stocking stuffers — 14800
  • Good gifts for mom—14800
  • Gift ideas for wife — 14800
  • Christmas gift ideas for moms — 14800
  • Unique Christmas gifts — 14800
  • Secret santa gifts — 14800
  • Mom’s Christmas gift ideas — 14800
  • Christmas gifts to her — 14800
  • Christmas gift ideas for him — 12100
  • Cool guys gifts — 12100
  • Cool gifts for guys — 12100
  • Presents for mom — 12100
  • Gifts for mother — 12100
  • Women best gift — 12100
  • Best gifts for women — 12100
  • Gadgets for men — 12100
  • Cool Christmas gift — 12100
  • Christmas fun gift — 12100
  • Christmas gift ideas 2021 (change to 2022) — 12100
  • Best gift 2021 (change to 2022) — 12100
  • Gift ideas him Christmas — 12100

As mentioned above, we are glad to provide a much more extensive list of holiday shopping terms and their associated average monthly searches in Google. You can e-mail us at gail.moraski@allintheresults.com to have the list sent to you. As we share all the time with our new SEO clients and attendees of our SEO classes, and as we did in this previous blog post, keyword research can also help you identify new products, services or solutions you should offer.

As alluded to above, be sure to use the term 2022 once or several times related to holiday shopping, and also be sure to include terms for non-Christmas holidays that are celebrated in December. Plus, think about what acronyms or abbreviations someone might use related to a loved, such as “bff” for “best friends forever.”

Before you begin incorporating high-volume keywords in your content, think about whom would most likely be the recipient of a gift of your product, services, event or class tickets, or a donation, and use terms that the searcher of your product or service might use. Let’s say you offer hand-made jewelry for women, you’d want your site to rank well for terms above like “Christmas gifts to her”  and “Christmas gifts for mom” and should incorporate such or similar terms in your website content. 

We’re Here To Help You Rank Well For Holiday Shopping Search Terms

Got questions or need our help. Reach out today as holiday shopping has already begun!

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Why It Pays To Be Responsive, Particularly When It Comes To Google Search Ads

There’s little downside that we can think of to being responsive. When not used in a digital marketing context, being responsive means to “react quickly and positively.” Responsiveness, and therefore, the ability to be flexible and adapt, is usually a much-envied attribute or characteristic, whether it pertains to a person, product, or service.

While we encourage our readers to be responsive on all fronts, given the nature of our business and our blog’s following, this particular post’s intent is to address responsiveness as pertains to the world of online marketing & presence. To be responsive in the digital marketing world means to present the digital content in-question in a fashion that makes it presentable (from an appearance standpoint), logical, legible and appropriate, regardless of the device on which the information is served up or viewed.

It used to be, as recently as 15 years or so ago, that when new websites were launched, the developer and/or the owner of the site did not give as much attention to the “responsiveness” of the website, i.e., how website page content would appear when viewed on a SMART device (devices that can access the internet) such as a mobile phone or tablet. Today, any web developer worth his or her salt would never launch a website that isn’t responsive to the various devices that might access it. And, most content management systems like WIX, Weebly, WordPress, Square Space, and Joomla, are designed to ensure that sites built and launched in them are mobile-friendly.

How and Why Google Ads Supports Search Ads That Are Responsive

Another digital marketing tactic/activity that rewards and supports responsiveness is Google search advertising, and it’s this digital marketing tactic’s responsiveness that’s the focus of this blog post.

I’ve been involved with Google Ads advertising — either in corporate roles or in my role at Results Communications & Research — for an estimated 12 years or more now. During the last 12 years, Google has continuously made revisions to its advertising platform, known as Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), and I expect that to continue.

In the days when I first was involved with Google Ads search advertising, the amount of information you could include in a search ad — an ad that is presented at the top or bottom of search results when an individual in an advertiser’s target geography enters relevant search terms (keywords) into Google’s search engine — was very limited. If I recall correctly, there were only three lines of text and a website URL that appeared in the ad. These short ads were “static” and advertisers knew exactly what lines of text would be presented to their target audiences, and in what order the lines would appear. While Google has enhanced this advertising opportunity to include a couple of additional lines of text via two description lines, plus various ad extensions (such as what’s known as site links that appear below ads and allow for self-triaging), even these “expanded text ads” still require advertisers to set up a large # of “static” text ads within the Google Ads Manager tool in order to test various combinations of ad headlines to see which combinations are most effective as far as generating clicks or “conversions (desired visitor website behaviors or phone calls)” goes.

In 2018, Google rolled out Responsive Search Ads or RSAs. My experience managing paid search campaigns that include RSAs is that Google rewards you from an optimization, and ultimately a cost-per-click, and even possibly an impressions (frequency of serving up ads to relevant searchers) standpoint. Due to the aforementioned, you’ll see it literally does pay to be responsive.

Responsive Search Ad Served Up on Mobile Phone

I’m a big fan of responsive search ads and tend to employ them in all Google search ad campaigns for the above-mentioned performance and budget optimization reasons, but also because it ultimately saves my agency and my client set-up time. And, as they say, “time is money.” Why go thru the cumbersome, long process of setting up a number of static text ads to address various combinations of ad headlines, when Google will create and test the effectiveness of ad headline combinations for you? And, should you choose to test a variety of description line combinations as well, Google can do that for you too.

In addition to allowing for an organization to test various ad headline and description line combinations, RSAs are referred to as “responsive,” because they respond to the real estate that’s available on the device on which the ads are being shown. Sometimes, only two headlines will be served up; sometimes three.

Another reason it pays to start employing responsive ads in your Google Search campaigns now? Google announced on 8/31/21 that, as of 6/30/22, responsive search ads will be the only type of “new” search ad that advertisers can create. And, any static/expanded text ads that were created prior to this June date will not be able to be edited. So, that’s an additional incentive to start creating and using responsive ads now. Why set yourself up now, or prior to 6/22, to not be able to edit static ads you create in the future? Plus, why not get accustomed to creating responsive ads now?

Key Inputs For Responsive Search Ads

Google will serve up two, and possibly three, of the headlines you provide, along with two of your provided description lines, each time it presents a responsive ad to an appropriate searcher.

In addition to basic campaign and ad group targeting and budget inputs like geography, demographics, daily budget, and keywords, at a minimum, advertisers need to provide Google Ads with the following responsive search ad components:

  • Up to 15 headlines (30 characters or less per headline)
  • Final URL that ad clickers will land on (landing page address)
  • Display path – this differs from the above as it does not need to be a live/active URL, but rather should display the nature of the page that an ad clicker will land on, i.e., what content they can expect to find there
    • Google automatically fills in your organization’s domain; you must fill in 15 characters or less for each of the two display path fields. A display path example based on our own site: https://allintheresults.com/services/ongoing SEO. Both “services” and “ongoing SEO” are display path fields we would provide if we were running Google Search Ads and taking ad clickers to a page about our ongoing SEO services.
  • Up to 4 description lines (90 characters or less per description line) – think of this as boilerplate language that you might include in a press release, on an “About Us” website page, or in an elevator pitch.
    • We prefer to only provide 2 description lines to Google. That way we know what two description lines are appearing with each and every ad (since Google only serves up two at a time). That means the description portion of our advertising remains constant, allowing us to test the effectiveness of various headlines/headline messaging.

As you can currently do with expanded text ads, you can also set up a number of ad extensions to provide additional information about your organization. That’s a topic for another blog post, but a capability that does exist with responsive ads.

Need help preparing for next year’s June deadline related to expanded text ads? Want to brainstorm with us about how you’d benefit from running responsive search ads. Reach out today! We always welcome a good Google search advertising discussion.

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Employing a “Dinosaur” Marketing Practice to Keep From Going Extinct

Last week, I went “in town” (traveled from my office on the South Shore into Boston) to meet with a client. As I often do when I make the 45+- minute commute to meet with a client, or attend an industry or networking event, I ran a few errands after my meeting. There’s always a birthday gift or a new book to be bought, right? I stopped at Copley Place/The Prudential Building to buy a couple of ingredients that Sur La Table and Eataly carry, and also visited Barnes & Noble to purchase “The Secret” (a cool treasure hunt guide with a Boston reference).

Initially, I thought I was just having a lucky or “random acts of kindness” day, because employees in each of the businesses I mentioned above were so welcoming, helpful, or kind — something I hadn’t experienced to such a degree at retailers in a while. But, then it struck me on my journey home, how much retailers must be recognizing the need to step up their customer service game if they want to survive in the next year, never mind the next ten.

I’m likely stating the obvious here, but the plethora of online shopping opportunities, particularly, Amazon.com, is causing retailers across the U.S. to close their physical shops/locations in busy downtown areas and shopping malls. Whether it be filing for bankruptcy or completing closing up shop (literally and figuratively), recent victims of the uptick in online (particularly one-stop) shopping include Papyrus, Payless Shoes, Forever 21, Barneys New York, Gymboree, and more. And, it’s common knowledge, that time-honored retail giant, Macy’s, whom families have visited for generations, will be closing numerous storefronts.

As a marketer, I’ve always felt and known that customer service can make or break you, and if an organization’s service is outstanding or unique enough from that of competitors’ it can be a true differentiator. That’s why I’ve discussed this topic previously in my “In Praise of Praise” and “Why You Should Remind & Require Employees to ‘Do Your Job’ And Do It Well” blog posts.

My aforementioned shopping experience in Boston leads me to believe that many retailers are now coaching and requiring their sales staff to deliver exceptional service in hopes of maintaining a strong physical vs. online consumer following. So what were some of the stepped-up customer service tactics I experienced at the retailers mentioned above?

  • lots of smiles from individuals working on the floor of stores or at the registers
  • being greeted when I walked in the door
  • being asked by more than one employee if they could help me find anything or if I was finding what I was looking for
  • being offered food samples
  • being given double the portion of the food item I was purchasing (but only paying for the original one portion) and being alerted to that by the employee
  • displaying interest in my needs, my life, what problem I was looking to solve, etc.
  • engaging me in a lengthy conversation related to a product I was purchasing and why I was excited about it, and sharing in my enthusiasm

Based on the way I was made to feel noticed, valued, and important, I will definitely revisit all the physical stores of these retailers again. I’m someone who enjoys chatting with salespeople at stores, window-shopping, and being able to feel, test, try on, etc. a product I’m hoping to buy. Part of that may be due to the fact that I work out of my home office and all my co-workers are virtual. I welcome getting away from my office once in a while and excursions that provide opportunities to socialize. I know this does not hold true for all consumers, though — many don’t want to have to socialize with salespeople or leave their home to run an errand after a busy workday.

I’ve shared all of the above as a reminder and warning to anyone who is responsible for sales at their particular organization, regardless of the organization’s nature. Great customer service never grows old or goes out of style! It’s as relevant — in fact, it may be more relevant — than it was in the 1800’s (hence, the exaggerated dinosaur reference in my blog post title) when Brooks Brothers, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Bloomingdale, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barnes & Noble opened their doors. While I do hope this stepped-up customer service effort will keep the retailers I cited from losing their brick & mortar presence, I wonder if such an effort might have kept them from being where some of them are today — close to closing up shop.

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Why "If You Build It, They Will Come" Doesn't Always Hold True

Over the past six years, as a digital marketing agency owner and marketing consultant, I’ve had so many prospective clients approach me with a specific marketing tactic/activity that they’d like me to implement on their behalf. As I’ve repeatedly expressed on social media, in other blog posts, and in my website’s content, I never encourage clients to implement or continue with a marketing activity that doesn’t make sense for them. So, as part of discussing the particular tactic for which they’d like my help, I do a “preliminary check” to see if their website is “optimized for search,” and, therefore, likely to be found by individuals searching on relevant terms for the products, services, and solutions to problems the client in-question provides. Instead of a costly advertising campaign or direct mailer, the client might be better served investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which could have longer-lasting impact.

You would be amazed by the number of organizations — both large and small — who have spent significant $$ and time to launch a comprehensive, user-friendly, informative website, but didn’t realize they needed to implement off-page (behind-the-scenes tags) and on-page (content) SEO tactics in order for their site to be found on Google. Some website developers and designers are well-versed in SEO, others aren’t, and don’t offer the service automatically, or as an add-on when launching a new site.

The above means that a for-profit or non-profit organization may have invested in a beautiful, effective website as far as design, user experience, functionality (interactive tools) and content goes, but they won’t likely benefit from it to the degree to which they could/should. Their site becomes like a pretty little unknown island that no-one knows is there, and therefore, no-one visits. In sum, building their new site, didn’t mean people would come.

Another factor related to lack of visitors may be this. If the products, services, or solutions to problems an organization offers are not ones that individuals are aware of, and therefore, aren’t actively searching on, even the most-optimized-for-search website isn’t going to get a lot of visits that stem from search engine inquiries. If your product or service is a brand new one — think something you’d see on Shark Tank — your target audience may not even realize a product or service like yours exists. Or, particularly, if you’re a B2B (business-to-business) organization, prospective clients may identify an organization like yours by asking one of their contacts or colleagues for a referral.

Both of the scenarios outlined in the paragraph above equate to your organization not being able to rely on “organic search” to drive traffic to your website. But, if you want and need to confirm that individuals aren’t actively searching to find an organization like yours, read our recent post that explains how keyword research can help you figure out whether or not individuals are searching to find an organization with your capabilities.

So, what are the takeaways from everything we’ve shared so far in this post, i.e., how do you ensure “if you build it they will come?

  1. Don’t assume that searchers are searching to find you and/or what you offer. Take the following steps to determine if they are searching to find you, and how.
    • use your Google Analytics data to see what percentage of your traffic is organic (comes to your site as the result of a visitor clicking on a search engine results listing)
    • use your Google Search Console data to see for what search terms, if any, Google is presenting a listing with a link to your website in search engine results, and the # of individuals who are clicking-thru to your site as a result of it being presented
    • conduct keyword research for the specific geographies you serve to determine whether or not a significant volume of individuals is searching to identify an organization likes yours
  2. If the above exercises reveal that the percentage of organic traffic to your site is low (less than 30%), and your website isn’t being presented in search engine results for relevant search terms (keywords), but keyword research indicates a large number of individuals in your geography are searching for the solutions, products and services you offer, then you should optimize your website for search, i.e., implement organic/technical SEO tactics
  3. If keyword research indicates that only a small number of individuals in your geography are searching for an organization with your capabilities, it’s time to consider “push” vs. “pull” marketing. Push marketing is all about putting the idea of your product/service in individuals’ heads and making them aware that a your solution to their problem exists. Display vs. search advertising is just one form of this and this blog post explains the push vs. pull dynamic, but there are many other forms of push marketing, such as an e-mail campaign, print or broadcast advertising, or a direct mail campaign.

Results Communications & Research is always here to make sure your website isn’t an island onto itself, so reach out to make sure it gets the admiring visitors it deserves.

brand promise, competitive advantage, Customer Service, differentiation, good will creation, Memorability, Uncategorized, User experience

Why You Should Remind & Require Employees to “Do Your Job” and Do It Well

In my last blog post, “In Praise of Praise”, I shared my thoughts about how, in this day and age of “digital sharing”, an organization’s success or failure may be very dependent on customers’ online reviews/ratings. The same success-failure relationship holds true for an organization’s customer service quality, which, of course, individuals likely take into consideration when reviewing or rating an organization online. As a marketer, I’ve always believed prompt, effective, exemplary, and customer-satisfying customer service delivery is an organization’s most important marketing tactic and a marketing “no-brainer” along with having an effective website that is optimized for SEO. In very competitive markets, where there is little differentiation between products or services offered, it often is the one and only true differentiator.

I’ve also always been a big stickler when it comes to doing your job and doing it well — this includes having high expectations of myself as well as my co-workers, and thus, my always wanting to deliver outstanding work, both in corporate and consulting roles. I’ll never forget how, while employed at my very first permanent post-college job in a prominent bank’s corporate banking area, it was noted in my review as a criticism that I had too high or unreasonable expectations of co-workers. I couldn’t understand that being a negative trait at the time, and I still don’t comprehend why it was a perceived as a weakness that I would voice a concern to my manager whenever staff in the Bank’s wire transfer area messed up a transfer for the Bank’s biggest corporate customer — whose relationship I and my boss managed.

DO YOUR JOB

Fellow Bostonians and fans of the New England Patriots are sure to be familiar with the “Do Your Job” command associated with Coach Bill Belichick in recent years. I’ve been thinking about this statement a great deal lately, primarily because I have had, or friends and family have shared with me, so many recent experiences where individuals didn’t, had to be pushed to, or refused to do their job. It seems like it’s becoming more and more common for individuals to:

  • deliver slow or no service
  • express through body language or spoken language that they’re annoyed that they have to serve or help you, or that you asked them to serve or help you
  • ask you to self-serve or do their job for them
  • be immersed in their cell phone and not their job
  • continue talking with their co-workers when they see you standing at the counter or in line waiting to be helped

A couple examples of the above. Earlier in the week, my husband and I visited a popular and busy museum in New York City. The individual working at the coat check did not speak to us at all when we came to pick up my coat and bag, despite having chatted quite a bit with us when we dropped them off. Instead, she was very slow to get up out of her chair and get our things for us, and seemed very irritated that she had to do so. The fact that she had spoken with us previously meant there wasn’t any kind of language barrier getting in the way of her communicating with us. Therefore, she could have said “thanks” when we handed her our token and ticket to pick up the items, wished us “a good evening” as it was late in the day, or commented or asked about our visit or about our returning to the Museum. Even a smile would have gone a long way with us.

A family member recently needed help with a technical issue he was having with some software. He couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t able to get the software to function right, despite numerous attempts to use it to accomplish a necessary task. Instead, he was asked to do an extensive amount of trouble-shooting and rework on his end by the software company, when the individual with whom he was interacting could have easily identified the glitch/helped him resolve the issue. Basically, he was being asked to self-serve. And — I know I’m stating the obvious — that’s a common occurrence right now. We’re being asked now to regularly self-serve at checkout lines at the grocery store or pharmacy when we purchase products, and even self-serve related to services we receive.  And, even some smaller shops have implemented such technology.

Sure there are times when it’s helpful or quicker for customers to be able to self-serve, but I don’t believe that individuals should ever be forced to self-serve, and if we have to self-serve, shouldn’t we receive some kind of product or service price discount? Self service should be just one of several service options offered to customers. By offering self-service, organizations may believe their customers will be more satisfied, and in some cases, that may be true, but the organization also misses out on the opportunity for an individual to rave about the exceptional/outstanding/world-class service they received — service that may be the deciding factor in whether they return to a store location or use a particular service again, or the deciding factor among those with whom a client shares information about your organization’s service level.

patriots

So, what are the marketing and management implications of all of the above?

  • Managers of front line staff need to regularly conduct an assessment of how those customer-facing staff are doing their jobs and if they are doing it well via:
    • service surveys conducted of customers — I’m going to give a shout-out to the Lucerne Hotel in NYC — because they recently surveyed me with an online tool at the beginning of my stay and after my stay. Way to stay on top of any possible customer service issues!
    • hiring a mystery shopper to provide customer service experience feedback if your organization has one or several storefronts or locations where individuals receive face-to-face/in-person service from an employee
    • customers reviews posted on Facebook, Yelp, Google, and any other rating/review sites that might be relevant to your particular industry
    • other tactics, such as listening in on a staff member’s phone call with a customer (this should not be done without the staff member being aware of it, of course, or at least aware that, at any point, you might might be listening in on a customer call)
  • Organizations should ask themselves whether ALL of their target audiences/customers will welcome having to self-serve. If the answer is “no,” and there are customer or prospective client audiences who likely won’t welcome self-service, then a service option where an organization’s employees assists or waits on customers is required.

I’d so welcome hearing your thoughts and experiences related to being the victim of someone’s unwillingness to do their job or being forced to self-serve. So, please do share!

keywords, SEO, target audiences, Target Marketing, Uncategorized, Understanding Your Environment, User experience, website

Are You Hurting Your Organization By Using “Internal Speak” With External Audiences?

During the past couple of months, I’ve had quite a few opportunities to discuss and help prospective and existing clients with their SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is a must for any organization that hangs a shingle. Unless your business is strictly a referral-based organization, and that’s the only way you tend to generate sales, you need to do all you can to make sure listings with links to various pages of your website appear at the top of search engine results for terms you deem relevant and desirable. That way, online “searchers” for your particular product or service can easily find you, and find you before your competitors.

Are You or Your Marketing & Sales Team Wearing Blinders?

blinders on related to seo

A critical SEO error I’ve been seeing organizations make is this — they don’t walk in the shoes of one or several of their target audiences. Sometimes, individuals responsible for sales and awareness-generation get so caught up in their organization’s inner/internal world (and in the case of this blog post, “internal” can mean internal to both your organization and your industry), they get blinders on, and are guilty of the following SEO blunders:

  • Overuse of Acronyms and Industry Terms — using acronyms or industry terms on their website that some or all of their external audiences likely won’t understand. Regardless of whether acronyms or terms you are considering using are used in a particularly industry vs. only used within your organization, before you use them, give great thought to whether any of your target audiences widely uses or would understand them, and be sure to explain what they mean to audiences who don’t — as I did with the acronym “SEO” in my first paragraph. You can do this by adding a brief explanation in parentheses after the acronym or industry term in-question, or linking to a definition or explanation elsewhere on your site or on another credible external site.
  • Creative Phrase/Name For Common Product or Service — to differentiate themselves from a competitor, coming up with a creative phrase to replace the normal or common term used for that same product or service. Organizations must keep in mind that just because they want to be known for/by this differentiating phrase, that doesn’t mean target audiences will be searching on that term, which could have a very negative impact on driving traffic to your site. Let’s say a firm offers financial planning services, but wants to refer to those services via a catchy, memorable phrase like “milestone money maximization”. If they only use the “milestone…” phrase throughout their website, searchers looking for “financial planning services” aren’t going to learn of them via a search engine search, as the search engine won’t find and index that phrase on their website.
  • Ignoring Needs of Certain Audiences — not addressing all of their audiences. As discussed above, while “internal speak”, such as acronyms and industry terms, may work for one audience, they may not work for all. For example, an organization may get client referrals from professionals such as healthcare providers, CPAs, lawyers, etc., but individuals may also come directly to the organization vs. being referred by a professional. That organization needs to make sure they use language that is understood by and resonates with both professionals and direct users of the service aka “lay people.”

One of the SEO services we offer, and with 30 years of marketing experience we’re experts in doing so, is review of websites with an objective, external eye, while wearing the shoes of each of a client’s audiences. We can fairly quickly identify where and how you might be negatively impacting your organic SEO, and ultimately, limiting sales and awareness among desired external populations, through “internal speak.”

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.