A Successful Pay Per Click Campaign is Like a 3 Legged Stool

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Sat, May 07, 2016

I was one month into working with a new client when they asked me why after all the changes I had made, the campaign still wasn’t converting. I reminded them of what I said when I first reviewed the campaign. I could drive traffic to their site, but if they didn’t make changes to it, all my work wouldn’t really matter. I had pointed out issues to them even before I officially began. Issues with the website that even with all my work, we might not overcome.

A successful pay per click campaign, whether it’s on Google AdWords, Bing Ads, or Facebook only works is if all the right elements are in place. In this case, the client went another month before finally taking my advice. We didn’t do more than just create a couple new landing pages for the campaign. Almost immediately we started to see a significant increase in leads. Not only this, but we also started to see the cost per click go down.SuccessfulPayPerClickCampaign.jpg

If you’re doing a pay per click campaign and not seeing results than start to look at is if it were a 3 legged stool. If any part of the stool isn’t correct, then the chair will either wobble or worse fall down. This is why you need all three parts of your campaign to be solid so your campaign succeeds.

Just as it can be a mistake to dismiss a pay per click campaign because your landing page doesn’t work, the opposite could also be true.  Your landing page might not be the problem and in fact, could be quite effective. It’s just that the words you’re targeting or your ads create the wrong expectations.

Before going into the three legs of the stool, I’m going to preface this that first of all you have the campaign set up properly.  That you have your location set correctly so that you’re only showing up in your market and that your only doing search with this campaign.  These are relatively easy fixes so if not, you can remedy this pretty quickly.  The three elements of a successful campaign might take longer.

Leg Number 1 – The Keywords

The first step of creating your campaign is deciding what keywords you want to target. For some businesses this can be relatively easy. If you’re a pizza place in Chicago, then you want to focus on phrases related to pizza. If the ads only run in Chicago, then you can simply target pizza place or pizza restaurant or pizza near me.  It you’re targeting people soon to travel there you target Chicago pizza.

If you’re service or product is a little less common, then you’ll need to so some keyword research.

Google Keyword Planner is the best tool to begin your research. I’m assuming if you are doing pay per click, then Google AdWords is part of that plan. Even if it’s not you can still utilize the potentialKeywordTool.jpg of the keyword planner by signing up for an account, even if you don’t plan to use it. Bing has a similar tool, but I prefer Google’s.

If you have just a small budget, then don’t get carried away with the number of words you target in your campaign. Focus on the words that seem most relevant to your market. If your budget starts to increase, then begin to add words to your campaign. Whatever you do, don't use broad match keywords. You'll get a lot of terms that don't apply to your business. There are other keyword match types that are better.

Once your campaign has started you need to constantly monitor it. There are bound to be words that people use that don’t apply to your particular business and because of this you must block them. So monitor your search term report and each month and look for words that won’t generate business. For example, it could be for services in another market. Or it could be someone looking for a job in your field. Any words that don’t apply you add to your negative keyword list to prevent future wasted spend.

Leg Number 2 – The Ad

You can have the best keywords in the world, but they won’t matter if no one clicks on your ad. The biggest mistake here is to put all your keywords into one ad group.  You want to break them down by theme or similarity.  This way the ad you develop will be more relevant for the keywords you’re targeting in a particular ad group.

Here are some things you can do to improve your click through rates.

  • Include The Keywords Your Targeting in the Ad Itself. They will be bolded if they match the search terms people are using.
  • Create Mobile Specific Ads – Shorter text lines and different calls to actions such as call today. And take them to a page that works better on mobile, meaning less text and smaller images.
  • Use Ad Extensions – This allows for more information on your business, including a number they can click to call. Utilize as many that seem appropriate as possible.
  • Have a Call to Action in The Ad – This could be as simple as call today or redeem coupon or download now.

The more you can improve your click through rate the lower your costs can be as it helps with your Quality Score.


Leg Number 3 - Landing Page

Once they’ve clicked on your ad, you’re still not guaranteed they will be prospects. What motivated them to click on the ads, must be carried over into the page they land on. A simple example is if the ad refers to red tennis shoes and your landing page is all about black dress shoes, they’re likely to be disappointed. And if your landing page has a variety of shoes then you don’t want them to have to scroll down the page to find the red tennis shoes. If the page is all about red shoes they’re likely to be more satisfied and in the mood to buy.

One of the main benefits of having dedicated landing pages is that you can retain the interest of the prospects who clicked on your ad. If you send them to your home page, for example, they could be lost in all the options they have and most importantly, not see anything related to the issue they’re interested in.  They’re not going to search for what they want. They’ll simply back out and go to the competiton.

Having a dedicated landing page can be an additional expense. For some it means they have to contact their webmaster about adding pages. For many businesses the site they’re using hasn’t been updated in years and they are no longer in contact with the original designer.  This mean hiring someone, but be forewarned. If your current site isn’t mobile friendly, then don’t throw any more money at this site unless you’re planning a complete redo to make it more accessible on phones.

If using your website isn’t an option, then consider an option like Unbounce that allows you to create landing pages. unbounce.jpgAgain there is a cost to this, but if a landing page is going to convert more visitors into prospects, then this money will be recouped relatively quickly. This is why so many campaigns fail. They’ve done the first two legs well, but they’re done in by the third leg. It's crucial to have a successful landing page.

Once you have your landing page, don’t simply assume it’s the final piece of the puzzle. That will only be decided by your visitors. This means monitoring your analytics to see how effective the page is. If everyone is filling out a form, then you’re lucky, and to be honest

Whatever decision you make about where to send visitors from your ad, you’ll want to monitor what they do once they’re on your site. With Google Analytics you can see what is happening with non-converting clicks and learn from it. Does a user react differently with your site because of the call to action in your ads? Are they leaving immediately without doing anything? Use the data to evaluate your campaigns effectiveness. It could be that one of your legs isn’t as strong as you thought.

Not sure why your campaign isn’t effective. Then bring in a pay per click specialist such as myself to review your campaign. The cost of hiring a professional is made up by the higher ROI you can see and also the amount of time you free up for yourself to concentrate on other aspects of your business.

Tags: Pay Per click specialist, Google AdWords Specialist

Why Google AdWords Is Critical for Local Businesses Getting Leads

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Thu, Apr 21, 2016

When Google AdWords stopped having ads along the right side of search results, much of the talk was how it would affect cost per clicks. Yet, the change might be more important for the effect it’s had on Local SEO.  With 4 ads now showing at the top and the Google Local Pack just below it, it’s left little room for businesses to rank for their services or products.GoogleLocalSEOPPC.jpg

As you can see in the search results at the left, the number 1 ranking on Google shows up at position number 8.

This only reinforces what has been evident for a while, that businesses serving local markets need to use pay per click to generate leads.

I’ve worked with businesses in a number of industries from real estate agents to carpet cleaners and junk removal companies. And in nearly every case, pay per click has been one of the best ways to get their telephones to ring consistently.

Here are a few examples of how Google AdWords can help generate leads in a way that SEO can’t.

Ads take up the first position on Google, especially on mobile. As mentioned, the first four listings on Google are ads, so they dominate the screen when people first complete a search. The is even more evident on mobile devices where nearly the whole screen are ads. You have to scroll down to find the organic listings. Some will do that, but if they’re motivate enough, such as having a leaky roof, they’ll simply click on the ads.

Ads have features that the lower listings don’t have – Ads at the top stand out with features that tell prospects even more about your business, thanks to site links, phone numbers, addresses, and call outs. Combined all of these features can attract the attention of prospects.

Ads can be started in minutes to take advantage of current events – SEO takes time to show results so while they work for generic phrases such as leaky roof, you can’t take advantage of topical events or sales. You can change an ad to focus on a spring sale, or something that has just occurred.  Red Roof Inns began running ads near airports that only went on when a flight was cancelled and thus reached stranded passengers who suddenly needed a place to stay for the night.

You can target a small radius or a much larger area. Whether your service area is a few blocks or a 100-mile radius, with AdWords you can target all of your market area. While you might be able to rank in your entire service area, there is no guarantee of this.  With AdWords you can.

You can track your ads to see which words produce the most conversions. With SEO you can target a number of keyword phrases and while you can see which produce traffic, you can’t see which produce conversions. With pay per click you can track your campaigns and see which words convert the best. This information should also influence your SEO, as well. It should also influence your website. If a phrase isn’t converting, it might be that your site lacks crucial information that is preventing visitors from converting

You can target the competition – if you’re competing against a major franchise, you know that many people simply competitionLocalSEO.jpgsearch for their name when they have a need. So if you’re a plumber you can target the phrase Roto Rooter with your ads and potentially poach some of their prospects. Maybe this seems slightly unethical, but it’s actually a standard practice. Type in Midas and you’ll see ads for Meineke.

You Can Control More of Your Real Estate On Google – Just as you can bid on your competitors, they can bid on your business name. If they are, then you want to bid on your own name, as well. Studies show that running ads on even pages that your site shows up on, can increase click through rates, even for your organic listings.

People aren’t typing in actual locations, but assume Google knows where they are. People are typing “in near” me more and more. Looking at the data for many of my clients I’m seeing people typing in restaurants near me or plumbers near me. The number of near me searches has doubled over the previous year and will continue to grow dramatically.

For all the advantages of Google AdWords, if you serve a specific community or communities it should be just part of your campaign. Local SEO is about reaching prospects in your market at the moment they need you the most, whether it’s through an ad, your listing on Google or Yelp, or because your website does rank.

And also keep in mind, that the advantages of AdWords only occur if you’re doing pay per click correctly. If you’re spending a lot of money on Google AdWords and not seeing the results you expect, it might be time to bring in an expert. As a Google AdWords Specialist I offer a free review of campaigns and can do a quick assessment to see if I might assist your business.

Tags: Local SEO, Google AdWords

Why Trying for the Perfect Website Could Cost Your Business Money?

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Sun, Apr 10, 2016

A few months back, eight to be exact, I was having my regular meeting with my Google rep to review some of my clients AdWords accounts. For two of them she suggested I add call forwarding numbers to their websites to help track their conversions. We were already using call forwarding numbers for their ads, but this would incorporate the numbers on their actual site to tell us more about which ads were converting.

After reviewing this with my clients, both thought it would be beneficial. I started one right away, but the other revealed he was going to have his site redone to make it more mobile friendly. Since the new webmaster was promising a quick redesign we thought it would make sense to wait, as the new design would corrupt the conversion data.

This new site will go live soon, we hope. In the meantime, the other client saw a dramatic improvement in their conversions on AdWords because of the data we had. His cost per acquisition dropped dramatically and he’s getting a lot more for his marketing dollar. If we had known the redesign would have taken so long, we’d have done the conversion tracking with the other site, as well. PerfectWebsite.jpg

The problems causing the delay on the redesign were many, from decisions over how the new site would look to getting the form to work properly. The irony is that if we had gone with a less than perfect design, flaws and all, my client would have made much more money with his business. Thousands of dollars to be more precise.

Web designers often want the perfect website. And that is great. The problem is that can often take a long time to reach that goal. If it’s the first website for a business, then this delay keeps them from generating leads online. If it’s to get a business a site that is mobile friendly, then a long delay results in them losing business from people logging in on their smart phones. And if it’s simply to give the business a new look, then in the time lost waiting on the new design, might have been time creating new content for the old site.

If you’re thinking of getting a new site, here are some things to consider.

Don’t Spend All of Your Money on the Design.
This is the biggest suggestion I could make. A professional looking website is important, but if all your money goes toward the website and not to SEO or PPC, then what does it matter. Decide what your overall marketing budget is, then determine what you can allot to your web design. One report estimates that the cost of websites being anywhere from 15,000 to 80,000 dollars. If it means you can’t have all the bells and whistles you want, then table some for later when you have more to spend.

Don’t Have Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
Getting feedback from multiple people can be helpful, but trying to please them all can be a time killer. One person will look one background color and someone else a color totally different. One likes a specific font, while another might want larger text. Have someone that can eventually make a decision and not let it come down to being a political convention.

The Site Doesn’t Have to be Complete Before Going Live
Again the site should look good, but there are bound to be things that need to cleaned up along the way. If they’re minor and won’t interfere with a visitor’s experience, then go live and then continue with the changes.

The Site Should Be a Work in Progress Anyway
One really big mistake is assuming once a site has gone live that the work is done. That’s its can be put on the back WebConstruction.jpgburner until some new service is offered or the staff changes. Even if you love the new website that doesn’t mean your market does. Examine the analytics, especially if it’s a redesign. Does the data improve, validating your love of it, or does it worsen, suggesting potential problems? Look for pages with high bounce rates, when they shouldn’t or that don’t rank for phrases you thought they should. A website is not a catalog published once a year. It should be fluid to meet the needs of your market.

The Photos Need to Be Professional Quality
This might not be something holding up your site, but don’t think you need professional quality photos for your site. I had one client wait for over a month for a site to go live, simply because they wanted professional photos of all the staff and couldn’t coordinate everyone’s schedule. Using photos taken with your cell phone may be good enough and can be done relatively quickly. You can always swap them out later.

A website should be your best marketing tool, but to be effective it has to be live and then tested. You want to constantly tweak it if you can, just as you tweak your ads. Get your site up as quick as you can. This is why a growth driven website might be an option to consider. With many of my clients I start them with a template driven website that is cheap and then build it into their top salesperson.

Tags: Local SEO, Google Enhanced

6 Red Flags That A Pay Per Click Agency Isn’t Right For You

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Fri, Mar 04, 2016

Choosing an agency to help you with your pay per click campaigns can be a stressful decision. Not only are you investing money in them to perform the work, they’re also spending your money. If you make the wrong deBadPPCAgency.jpgcision, you’re not just out the money, but the potential business that money might have generated for you if it had been handled right.

Even though my main business involves pay per click I’m still contacted on a daily basis by “agencies” that can help me do better with Google AdWords. Often I’m amazed at how obvious it is, that they’re not legitimate. Or that they are going to do more harm than good with a campaign.

If you’re in need of a pay per click agency, here are some red flags to look out for when you talk to them or visit their website that will help you to at least eliminate those agencies that either are illegitimate or at the very least suspect.

1) They have fake certifications on their site.

Google has a Partners program that lists agencies that have met their requirements to be certified. These requirements include taking a series of tests each year on various subject, that their total client spend is a certain amount, and that they follow best practices for AdWords. Bing Ad also has a similar program, although not quite as intense as Google. Either way agencies or consultants that meet the requirements can put a logo on their site that links to their listing with Bing and Google.

Unfortunately, many businesses put this logo on their site and have no certification. On the site below neither links works on the site of an agency that contacted me. And if you search both directories for the company name, they’re not listed. A legitimate agency will either link to their profile or at least be readily found in the directory.


Now many excellent agencies aren’t part of the Partners program or certified for their work. Yet, they don’t have fake certification on their website. If an agency is lying about their credentials, then what confidence can you have in them to run your campaign.

Another thing to keep an eye out for are fake Better Business logos. A legitimate client of the BBB will have a link to their listing or at least can be found in their directory when you search it.

2)They boast of having a special relationship with Google.

As mentioned, Google does have a Partner program and in fact, I’m a certified Google AdWords Partner. Yet, that doesn’t result in any special relationship with Google. What it does allow is for agencies to learn about the latest features of Google AdWords and upcoming changes. Yet, anyone following the Google AdWords blog will learn the same thing. And some agencies will try to suggest that this “special relationship,” will help with SEO. Google AdWords and Google search are separate entities.

3)They have no command of English.

This doesn’t mean that you have to hire an American agency or consultant. There are many fine agencies throughout the world that might be able to assist you. The problem is if they have a command of English. Look at this excerpt from a letter I recently received from a company that wanted to assist me.

The ability of Google AdWords to deliver on the promises is something that you should decide to walk with. SEO seems to take much timeand you be ending to do a lot of work in as far as optimizing your website is concerned and it is because of this you need to choose Adwords camapign services. Adaptability is one of the principle reasons why there are many individuals who frequently wind up going to the AdWords campaing when contrasted with SEO.

Why we?

Our complete Adwords professioanls has broke down billions in paid searches. We're trusted specialists, committed to getting you deals and leads. Whatever your needs, our group of AdWords-guaranteed specialists can help you achieve your objectives. We've spared our clients a large number of dollars till date!

If they have this many grammatical errors in an email sent out, then how can they be relied on to write ads, or worse, develop landing pages. And this is one of a number of emails that I’ve received from a variety of agencies that would make an English teacher cringe

4) They have no staff on their site.

Nearly all reputable agencies have someone on their site, even if they don’t list all their employees. They even have a photo of them. I’m always amazed when I go to a website and its loaded with stock images of culturally diverse people smiling at one another. There are no names on the site and nothing to reveal who is behind the agency. Similarly, if you get an email from someone offering to review your AdWords campaign and they don’t list a website or a mailing address, then send that to your spam folder.

5) They ask for your login information.

It’ important for an agency to review your account, but that doesn’t mean you need to give them your login information. With legitimate agencies they have a Client Center with Google AdWords or something similar with Bing Ads. This means that this allows agencies to temporarily link to an account in order to review it. You grant them permission to link to your account to complete a review and then unlink when you want.

6) They guarantee a first place position

No agency can guarantee this, particularly if they don’t know the keywords you’ll be targeting and what your monthly budget will be. For example, if you’re a plumber in a large city, the cost per click for some of your words could be 50 dollars. So how can they keep you in first place for that phrase. How they’ll get around this guarantee is to get you number 1 for a word that most likely wont generate leads, but is only a few cents to bid for.

You want to take some time to talk to an agency representative or specialist before you hire them, and ideally you want to talk to a couple. Yet, by recognizing the warning signs of a potentially bad agency before you schedule a talk you can weed out the bad apples and not waste time on them.

If you’d like to talk to someone about your pay per click account and want someone with actual experience, feel free to reach out to me. All my information is on my website and readily accessible by anyone.

Tags: Googe Adwords Partner, Google AdWords

What are Google AdWords Impressions and How They Impact Your Costs

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Mon, Feb 22, 2016

Impressions are like a double edged sword. You want to have a lot of impressions for your ads, but they can hurt you if they’re the wrong kind of impressions. One of the questions I’m most often asked by clients is what are impressions and how they are figured. What they don’t often ask is how they can cut down on their impressions, which is often just as important.

First of all, you need to understand what an impression is. An impression is whenever someone is exposed to an ad you’re running on Google AdWords or any pay per click platform.  Say for example you’re targeting the word Boston locksmith and 5 people type in the phrase, then the number of impressions is 5.  Your ad will be triggered every time someone types in your keywords, provided you still have money in your daily budget. ImpressionsGoogleAdWords.jpg

The problem with AdWords is that, depending on the type of keywords your targeting and how you’re targeting those keywords, you can be getting a lot of impressions for words that don’t apply. Or in locations that don’t benefit you. For example, you serve the Boston market and target the phrase plumber. But you haven’t set your location properly and someone in Georgetown sees your ads, then that impression is worthless. And if they click on your ad, then you actually out money.

And having a lot of impressions can negatively impact your bottom line, even if you're not getting a lot of clicks on your ads.

How Impressions Impact Costs

As I wrote about in a previous article on how to improve your click through rate,  CTR is determined by the number of clicks out of the number of impressions you received for your ad. The better your click through rate, the better your quality score is likely to be, which in turn helps lower your cost. So limiting the number of impressions is one way to improve click through rate. Google gives preference to ads that get clicked on more, even over competitors who might bid higher, but that aren't being clicked.

One of the best ways to limit your impressions and lower your costs is to monitor your search term reports. These are the words that people actually typed in on Google that triggered your ad. In most cases more than a few of these words don’t apply. For example, Boston locksmith is a valuable phrase for a locksmith, but not if the phrase being typed in is Boston locksmith as a career. So someone typing that in Isn’t a prospects and its cost you money. Adding career as a negative phrase will prevent this from happening again. Not only will you not be charged anymore, but all phrases that contain career will be block form even showing, thus cutting down on your impressions.

Improving click through rate helps lower your costs as Google will begin to show your ad more, as will increasing your bids. Showing up in a low position will still generate impressions, but likely not very many clicks.

Your Impressions Count Too

Another mistake many business owners make is to search for the own ads on Google. They’re curious to see if What are Google AdWords Impressionstheir ads are running and so type in one of their keyword phrases. It seems like a small thing, but even this search has added to their overall number of impressions. Their need to know is understandable, but there is a better alternative. Under tools in their Google AdWords account is Ad Preview and Diagnosis. This is how to search for your ads. Not only will it not count as an impression, but if your ads aren’t running it will tell you why and what to do to change that.

Impressions Aren’t the End All

One pitch I’ve heard from other advertising platforms is their boasting of the number of impressions that a client will receive if they advertise with them. It used to be a tactic that sales people for Yelp will do and which the telephone companies do as part of their online strategy. What they didn’t tell you is how these impressions were generated. Are they by people actively looking for your service or does your ad happen to appear on a page someone visits.

Your ultimate goal is not to get a lot of impressions, it’s to get business.  This is why broad match is seldom a good idea for an AdWords campaign. Broad match can generate a lot of impressions, but by changing it to modified broad match you’ll limit these. If you are using home builder in broad match, then your ad could potentially be triggered by the word body builder simply because it has builder in it.

Impressions Just Became More Difficult on Google AdWords

Typically, when one thought of Google Ads you’d think of each page having 10 ads. Google recently changed that and ads only show up on the top of the page, thus limiting the number of ads to 4. This will drive down the number of available impressions and in the process drive up costs as businesses have fewer spots to bid for.

Should a Business Advertise in the Yellow Pages and What To Be Aware of

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Tue, Feb 09, 2016

It’s that time of year when local businesses are getting phone calls from their telephone book company and being told that it’s time to renew their listing in the phone book. And it’ that time of year wheYellowPages.jpgn business owners ask themselves, should I advertise in the yellow pages or put my money into some other form of marketing. They know that few use the phone book, but are there just enough to justify the monthly cost.

I’ve seen data that it’s about 5 percent of customer come from an ad in the telephone book. For some types of businesses, it could be much higher and for an equal number it’s much smaller.

I think if business owners were faced with just renewing their print ad, the decision would be pretty easy to answer no to. Yet, the phone companies have muddied with water by telling owners that the print ad is just part of their overall online marketing program. That digital is where most of their money will go to. And unfortunately some sales people for the phone companies have further muddied the water with practices and information that is deceitful.

I’m not going to name the companies involved, as I don’t know if the practices I’ve witnessed are the result of company protocol or just desperate moves by sales people needing to fill out the ads in a phone book.

What to Be Aware of Before Signing a Contract

I’ve sat in on meetings with a couple businesses as they’ve dealt with the phone companies and I’ve been surprised by some of what I’ve heard. The information they’re providing is inaccurate and some of the suggestions they make are unnecessary, and possibly a costly mistake.

That You need a Second Website

This has come up a few times with clients and has even cost me a client. They say part of their package is a new website even for businesses that already have one. They promise a website that is mobile friendly and can be used for promotion. The problem is that these sites are done for the use of the online directories and they want to show that this site benefits the business. So they use it not just for their directories, but also for Google and Bing, knowing it’s a large source of traffic. This is one reason they ask to claim these directories.

This pitch can work on business owners and I even had one client cancel my contract with them because they decided to go with the second site and couldn’t afford to have two. The problem is the site I had with them ranked high on the search engines and already generated a lot of traffic. I was fine with them canceling my service, but concerned at what the results would be. Sure enough they lost their rankings on the search engines with the new site and as a result a lot of new business.

If you need a site or have one that isn’t mobile friendly, then consider their proposal. But if you have a site that works, tell them no to their offer, no matter how low their bid is.  It’s best to build up one site than to have two which can confuse the search engines as to which to list.

That you Need to Be Listed in Hundreds of Directories

To justify the monthly fee a rep told us that they’ll be actively listing a business in new directories each month and that over 200 directories will be involved. This is a tactic that used to work for SEO and one I often did myself. Today, this strategy no longer applies. There are about 45 to 50 directories that you want to be listed in and which influence your results on Google local search results. With these directories you need to make sure that all your information is complete and accurate.  Spending money on these other directories is a waste of money.

Giving Up Control of Google, Bing and Yelp

Part of their sales pitch involves their claiming the main directories you want to be found in such as Google. That is fine if you haven’t claimed it and or have someone working for you.  If you already have done something with these directories, don’t relinquish control if you don’t plan to make future updates or your consultant does. You want to be able to respond to reviews in a timely manner and add photos and videos when you can.

That you Need to Have a Forwarding Number in the Telephone Book

This is one thing that makes sense from a marketing perspective, but which from a business owners standpoint is hard to swallow. This may be a generational thing for some owners as they think of the phone book as the place that people look for their number in. Yet, it’s about the only way for the phone books to show their being used. Yet, even with this data, this doesn’t prove the phone book has worth as a marketing tool. Are they looking for the number of a business they’re already aware of or looking in a category for some product or service? And if they need a healthcare provider are they looking in the telephone book at an ad or visiting a website that has a bio, testimonials, and images.TelephoneBookAds.jpg

Are People Using Their Online Directories

The telephone companies were late to the search market, but they’ve been aggressive in their efforts to keep up, especially with clients under contract. The problem is that how often do people actually use their online directories.  This is where reviewing your Google Analytics on a regular basis is important. Are you getting referrals from YP.com or Dex? If you’re in a major metropolitan area, then the numbers of users of these sites might be a small percentage, but still enough numbers to warrant their cost. For smaller cities, however, the number of prospects using these directories is not enough to justify their cost.

Would Your Money Be Better Spent Somewhere Else?

This might be the deciding factor.  The monthly fee for the telephone directories can be expensive. Would this same money be better off being used on pay per click or in building up your website? Thousands of dollars for a yellow page ad and their digital marketing program is a lot and could results in a significant number of clicks on Google AdWords by people actively looking for your products or services.

If you’re undecided about taking out an ad in the telephone book or looking for online marketing assistance, then contact me. We can discuss where the best value for your marketing dollars might be.

Tags: pay per click managment, Local SEO

What Is Google Panda and 5 Things Small Businesses Should Know About It.

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Mon, Jan 25, 2016

There are a number of terms that are used in online marketing that people outside the business aren’t always familiar with. You might be familiar with SEO or search engine optimization since it’s become commonplace over the last few years. Yet, there are other terms that you hear that sound more like something in a zoo, Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird and which you’re confused by.

I’m often asked what is Google Panda and if it’s the reason for their website to suddenly see a drop in traffic.GooglePanda.jpg

Google Panda is an algorithm that is designed to lower the importance of websites with poor content. It was first introduced in February of 2011 and wasn’t named after the cuddly bear, but for the engineer that helped create it. According to Google it was designed to lower the rankings of sites with thin content and “will provide better rankings for high quality sites – sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis, and so on.”

Google estimated that almost 12% of all sites ranked were impacted. Since then other updates have occurred and with each revision, more sites were impacted. If you think you’ve been impacted by Google Panda, then you should take a hard look at your site. But before doing that you need to understand what Panda is about. Here are five things you should know and how it might impact a small business website.

1) Defining What a Low Quality Site Is. One of the main reasons for the Google Panda update was to eliminate low quality sites. Often these were sites that scraped content from other sites, spent only a little bit of time on content or just had content that was obviously designed to rank for a single term and not really to provide information that would benefit a user.

Too often a small business would invest all their money into the design of the site and cared little about the content. The design of your site isn’t as important as the content on your site. A visitor is converted by the information a content delivers, and not how well the scrolling images look. I’ve seen sites that succeeded using a simple template from GoDaddy, but which contained all original content.

2) It Doesn’t Mean You Have to Remove Your Poor Content. Many websites began removing what they interpreted to be poor content and which in fact have been ranking for certain phrases. This resulted in even more loss of traffic. Google believes it’s better instead to begin adding new content and build off what you already have.

This again leads to how well your website does with visitors. If you're a plumber for example, just having a few lines that you do sewer repair and hoping to rank in your community isn’t enough. Yet, to develop the page up, simply think about questions your prospects have when they call. Localize your content, as well. This content will show visitors that you know your field and rely on you for their repair.

3) Duplicate Content is a Different Issue Altogether. Many people think part of the Google Panda update is the issue with duplicate content. In fact, it’s not part of this algorithm, but a filter that Google uses to eliminate a number of sites ranking with the same content. For the most part, duplicate content doesn’t result in a penalty for a site, but that the content duplicated from another site is simply ignored.

Where a small business might have duplicate content is from taking content from another site because they don't have time to create their own content. Or they could serve a number of locations and have pages on each location, but most often it’s the same content with only the location changed. Have someone create content for your site that is original, even if it means having new content on the same subject, but which focus on different communities. Done right these pages can generate leads for your business in each of the locations you serve for a long time to come.

4) Quantity is not the same as Quality. Another reaction that some advertisers and business owners had was that they needed a lot of content on a page. Again Google wants quality content and if you can cover a topic in 200 words, there is no reason to pad it simply to get to 500 words or more. If you can have content of that size, great. But if not, don’t dilute it by simply throwing in a lot of unrelated information.

5) User Comments Should Be Monitored, Not Simply Blocked. Another reaction people with blogs had was to begin removing and then blocking the comments on their blogs. In the past many suspect SEO agencies used comments on blogs as a way to generate links back to their client’s site. There are still a number of people who still believes these links help, even though most blogs have no follow links, which negates their value. So when Panda started and people thought part of the reason for their troubles was due to the amount and quality of the comments on their blog. It’s a good idea to always monitor comments, but blocking them altogether isn’t a good idea.

Comments aren't just a way for persons to praise the content. Most often they have additional questions or concerns that come out in their comments. By answering their questions either through a response or through content, you become the main service provider for them.

If you have concerns about your site, then do what Google suggests and have a third party to review your site and determine if there are issues. The ultimate result of improving your site is not that it does better with Google, but with the prospects your trying to reach. Feel free to contact me if you have concerns about Google Panda and want to build your website up to be a marketing tool that works for you 24/7. And which isn't at risk for a Google penalty.

Tags: Local SEO, Google Panda

SEO for Home Builders - Online Marketing Tips For Home Builders

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Mon, Jan 11, 2016

Most contractors know that SEO for their home builder business is critical, but don’t quite realize what it all involves. To fully understand what it means it’s best to think of it in terms of how a home is built. SEO for home builders begin with careful planning, requires a lot of work, and ultimately succeeds because of curb appeal.SEO For Home Builders

I’ve done previous blogs on home service providers, including plumbers, but with home builders there is a critical difference. In these other industries people are often motivated by the need to have a problem solved almost immediately. With home builders people are thinking long term and while time may be of the essence, it’s not just that the person they choose can build a home, but that they can build their dream home. And images become an important part of their decision making process.

According to Google, the average consumer looking for a home service provider, such as a home builder will look at 12.2 different sources before making a buying decision.

Your Campaign Begins with A Blueprint.

Just as you don’t start a home without a blueprint, you don’t start out a SEO campaign without a strategy. Who is your market, who is your competition, and what radius does your business cover? Do you strictly build new homes or do you do remodeling projects, as well? You want your site to rank for each community you serve and for all the services you offer. So you first create a list of keywords that incorporate all of the combinations of phrases that your prospect might use, as well as the locations served.

As part of Local SEO, which means you’re looking to rank in a particular community, you also need to be found in local directories. You need to examine these to make sure your listings are complete and accurate. For example, if you’ve moved in the past is the old address still being found on directories? If so the listing must be corrected. And with all these directories photos must be added.Online Marketing for Home Builders

Finally, you must also decide if social marketing is going to be part of your campaign. Obviously Facebook is the first social site one thinks of, but another that can do well for home builders is Pinterest. Again it’s because images of completed homes show prospects if you meet their requirements for how their home should look.

The Pages of Your Website, The Foundation of Your SEO

SEO should be one of your first steps as it can take the longest to see results. Depending on how many contractors are in your market, and what they’ve done, it could take months to see real results and even then there is no guarantee of success.

The pages of your website are like the walls of a home. Done properly they help ensure that your business is found online and that it converts visitors. SEO is optimizing certain pages of your website so that they are found in the search results. That you show up on the first page of Google. So if they’re looking for a contactor and you serve multiple communities you’d have a page for each location. Because of this you need to think of each of these pages as a door to your site. If they enter through that door are they going to be impressed by what they see and be sold on you as the contractor.

For the page to succeed as a landing page and be found in the search results you have to certain elements in place. ThatMetaTagsHomeBuilders.jpg page must have a title tag the incorporates the main phrase you’re targeting for that page. It must have a compelling meta description that will get people to click on your listing on the search results. And the content must sell them on your experience. Photos are of course needed to show off your work, but the alt image tag is another way to incorporate the keywords you’re targeting.

Your Neighborhood Could Drive Up Your Costs

Just as home sales are influenced by the neighborhood they’re in, so too is the cost or time involved in your online marketing. If you’re a homebuilder in a small town, the costs to get in front of prospects isn’t going to be as much as if you’re a home builder in Texas. There is more time involved to get found in larger markets as your competitors influence the cost.

Curb Appeal

For the all the work done to get your business found by prospects, none of that will matter if they don’t like your work. This is why photographs are some important for home builders. So that people can see what you’ve done and then imagine. It also means that you need a professional looking site. Yet, don’t get carried away like those homeowners at Christmas time who offend their neighbors because of all their lights. You don’t need a flashy site or one that has a lot of effects. People are interested in your work, not in how creative your web designer is. And it has to be functional on mobile, as well as desktop.

Consider Hiring a Subcontractor

Just as you have subcontractors to assist on projects, it can also benefit you to have someone on you can bring on to help with marketing. I’ve only touched on some of the elements that are involved in creating a successful SEO campaign for home builders. Pay per click is more and more necessary for businesses to incorporate into their online marketing campaign and Google Analytics is necessary to review the success of a campaign. Then there are links to a site, which are still a necessary evil.

If you know you need assistance with your online marketing and want someone experienced with home builders and contractors, then contact me so that we can discuss your business.

5 Mistakes Businesses Make with Their Mobile Ad Campaigns on Google

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Mon, Jan 04, 2016

This past year, the number of searches on Google done on mobile surpassed the number of desktop searches in the United States and many other countries. And it’s not just that there are more searches on mobile, but often the conversion rate is much higher than on desktop. Hubspot etimates that mobile ads convert 4 times better than desktop ads.

According to one estimate, mobile advertising spend is to reach 100 billion dollars this year. That means the competition is going to increase dramatically this year.

In this article I want to address common mistakes I see businesses make when advertising on mobile, particularly with Google AdWords. I’m not including in this list not having a mobile friendly web design. I’m assuming most businesses by now do, for if they don’t they’re not really committed to marketing online. The time to invest in a mobile site was last year.

1) Not Having Mobile Specific Ads. When creating ads for an ad group you have the option of creating mobile specific ads.MobileMarketingCampaign.jpg These are crucial, for if you don’t Google might crop the ads you’re currently running. Often this means the second line of your ad might not run. My suggestion is to put the emphasis on the first line of the ad, including a call to action that relates to mobile (call now).

2) Not having mobile landing pages. The mobile ad should go to a mobile specific page, which means its shorter than your standing landing page and also has a click to call phone number. Remember people on their mobile phones are less likely to go through a lot of text and will often scan. For the contact form, keep it short, as well, only requiring the most relevant information you need for prospects.

3) Not Using Call Forwarding on Click to Call Extensions. Click to call is one of the main ad extensions you must utilize with your ads and in setting this up, they ask if you want to use a call forwarding number. Check this box so you can see how effective the campaign is. You can also use this call forwarding number on your site, using code Google provides you.

4) Not Bidding Differently for Mobile. You can’t run a mobile only campaign, but you can adjust bids so that your ads run GoogleAdWordsMobileCampaign.pngmore or less often on mobile. When looking at your data see what your average position is on mobile, as well as desktop. If mobile ads are more beneficial for generating business for your company, then bid lower on desktop so that most of your ad money goes to mobile. Make sure you’re in the top 3 spots or your ads won’t be seen.

5) Not being prepared for Phone Calls. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see businesses make. They have the perfect ad or a convincing landing page, and prospects respond by making a phone call. Problem is that once the call is made, the person answering the phone isn’t prepared. I’ve had plumbers that took the calls while in the midst of a project and can’t take the time to answer all the questions the prospect might have. Or there could be a promotion that the person in the home office isn’t even aware of. Worse, the ad could be running when no one can even take the call. Make sure everyone that can take the call is trained on how to respond. And if there are times when no one is available, then use bid adjustments to keep your ad from running.

For most business, mobile marketing is a crucial element of their online marketing campaign. If you’re not utilizing it properly then either your wasting money, or worse, losing prospects to your competition. If you want to take full advantage of what mobile offers, then consider bringing in a pay per click specialist.

Facebook Services and What It Means For Home Service Provider

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Wed, Dec 16, 2015

Where once Facebook was a great source of leads for businesses, especially local businesses, it has lost much of that value over time. When a business posts on Facebook there is little chance that most of their followers will even see it. Yet, Facebook now wants people to rely on them when searching for a business and they’re providing a new service that will be of interest to home service providers, especially.FacebookServices.jpg

With Facebook Services, people can search for contractors, landscapers, plumbers, as well as most other types of businesses in a particular market. The results are based on reviews and ratings, which means it’s crucial again for a business to get their customers to leave feedback on them.

It's also critical that you fill in as much information about your business as you can. In particular, the subcategories. If you’re a Realtor, for example, fill in everything that applies, such as real estate agent, commercial real estate, etc.

It’s early yet and Facebook hasn’t really announced much about it. Yet, following up their earlier release of their Places page, it’s evident that the social media giant is making a push to be the source for when people look for something to do in a community or need a service provider. With Places and Services, some businesses such as restaurants have double the opportunities.Facebook-Contractors.jpg

Given the number of people on Facebook and the amount of time they spend, getting your business to show prominently here is likely to be of value. Reviews on Google, Yelp, and Angie’s List, to name a few are already important and now Facebook must be added to this list if it already wasn’t. If you’re a home service provider, follow up a quality job with a request that the homeowner leaves a review of their work.

Tags: Local SEO