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

Local SEO For Junk Removal Companies

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Wed, Dec 02, 2015

This is part of a series in which I focus on doing Local SEO for various home service providers. In this I focus on junk removal companies.

Online Marketing For Junk HaulersLocal-SEO-JunkRemoval.jpg

As with most home service providers the days of listing your ad in the phone book are gone for junk removal companies. They must be found online, but from the beginning they have issues that most other home service providers don’t face. While an electrician or a plumber have defined categories online, junk haulers most often don’t. And they can lose money to categories that don’t relate to their business.

I’ve worked with junk removal companies and know the particular hurdles they face. In this blog, I’ll offer suggestions to help junk removal companies get found online, despite the problems. These are steps you can take to be found by people looking to clean out their property, whether it be a home, a business, or a yard.

  • Get Control of Your Google Listing. This is something that all businesses shouSEO-Junk-Removal.jpgld do, but for junk removal companies it’s particularly important. That’s because there is no real category under which you can list your business. For a roofer or an electrician, these categories do exist. But for junk haulers, there is no defined category such as junk removal company. Instead, the closest categories as Waste Management Service and Garbage Collection Service. The former is something many junk hauling companies don’t do and the latter is what people associate with their city workers. Even worse is that some are listed under junkyard. So in the description make sure to incorporate phrases such as junk removal company and junk hauler. Do the same on Bing, as well, which has the same unrelated categories.
  • Get Control of Other Directories. Google is the big player, but it’s not the only directory to be found in. Yelp, Angie’s List, Thumbtack are other popular directories that are used by people looking for junk haulers.
  • Get Reviews. Reviews have become an integral part of online marketing as studies show that the majority of searchers rely on them for the decision making process. They can be difficyelp-big1-1920-800x450.jpgult to get, but if you can generate reviews from clients try to get some for Google, Yelp, and Angie’s List to name the most prominent.
  • Have A Website That Markets Your Services, Communities. For your website focus on the services you offer and the communities you serve. Each location should have their own page and also break down your services into different categories such as lawn waste, construction debris, office debris, etc. And the site you have should work on mobile as more and more searches are done by people on their phones.
  • Blog If Possible. You want to build up your site with content and a blog is the best way to do this. Most of the major junk hauling companies have one and for good reason. It’s a way to build up a site and answer many questions your prospects might have. If they perform a search looking for answers to their questions it helps if your site is the one, they find.
  • Incorporate Pay Per Click into Your Online Marketing Strategy. Especially with Google, paid ads are often the first thing searchers see when performing a search, especially on a phone. People are hesitant to use Google AdWords because of the cost involved, but if the done properly it can be a way to generate leads daily. This is especially important if your site doesn’t rank on the first page of Google. Just make sure to do it properly and block your ads from showing for non-relevant words such as junk cars or junk yard.

If you’re a junk removal company and want to get business, you need to be found online. There can be a lot to get done to accomplish this, but in the end it will result in relevant leads that come in daily. If you need help with your SEO for your junk removal services, then contact me to talk about your business.

Tags: Local SEO, Google AdWords

10 Elements To A Successful Landing Page For PPC

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Mon, Nov 30, 2015

How To Have A landing Page That Converts

Getting someone to click on an ad is the first step in reaching them. Converting them into customers however comes after they’ve landed on your website. Successful pay per click management begins with someone clicks on your ad, but ends with what they do on your website. This is why having a successful landing page can mean the difference between wasted spend or a conversion. Here are 10 things (perhaps 12) that can help you develop a successful landing page.SuccessfulLandingPages.jpg

  • Have a Landing Page – This might be the biggest mistake advertisers make. By not having a dedicated landing page for a campaign an advertiser must use an existing page from their website, such as their home page. A successful landing page relates directly to the offer in the ad and if it doesn’t then the message is lost. This means conversion rates are much lower. A successful landing page will pay for itself by converting more visitors into prospects.
  • Have More than One Landing Page – If you’re doing more than one campaign then ideally you need a landing page for each campaign. Again it comes down to visitors being interested in a part of your ad. Think of it as if you were selling shoes. Would you want to send both men and women to the same page or have two by gender?
  • Have A Strong Headline That Relates To Your Ad – Now that you have a landing for each campaign, make sure the message of the ad is reinforced by the headline on the page. Keep it simple and concise and on target.
  • Use a Subhead – This is where you can expand on the message of the ad and perhaps incorporate an offer related to it or have a call to action.
  • Have a Strong Call To Action – The goal of the landing page is to get the visitors to perform some sort of action – make a phone call, fill out a form, buy a product, etc. So encourage them to this with a strong call to action that they easily notice. This means bold it, or incorporate it in a box whose colors make it stand out.
  • Use Bullet Points – People most often scan a page when they see it and bullet points are a way to highlight some of the most important parts of your offer.
  • Have a Picture That Relates to the Offer – This is easy if it’s a product, but if it’s a service you still want something distinctive. It’s also helps to have a photograph you’ve done yourself, then one that is an obvious stock shot,
  • With Your Form Ask Only the Essentials – With a form you’re trying to get prospects to provide you with information on them. They’ll be hesitant to do that and if you have a ton of form fields they’ll be scared off completely. Only request the bare essentials. You can always ask for more information once you’ve developed a connection with them.
  • Incorporate Trust Factors – most like the person visiting your page will have no idea who you are or the reputation of your business. Have elements that convince them of your businesses quality such as testimonials or maybe the number of likes you have on Facebook.
  • Make Your Page Succinct - One of the benefits of having multiple landing pages is that each page relates to only one offer. So a lot of content isn’t necessary. Focus on your offer and what you want them to do and make this the focus of the content.
  • Remove Navigation – In the headline I said this article offered 10 suggestions, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this as many experts recommend it. I’ve always had doubts about this, but it is worth experimenting with. The idea is that you want visitors to perform an action and navigation can distract them. Then once they’ve completed the action of filling out a form they are taken to a thank you page where the site’s navigation is available.
  • Test and retest – This is not always an option, depending on your site and your relationship with your webmaster. For some businesses it can cost hundreds of dollars to make changes to a page so constantly tweaking a page might not be an option. If, however, you can make revisions at little or no cost, then testing various elements is a way to improve conversions. Reviewing landing pages should be a part of any pay per click audit you do.

If you want to be successful with pay per click, then it requires a number of elements, from the creation of the ad to the choice of keywords to the development of landing pages. If you feel that it’s too much for you or your staff to take on your own, then consider hiring a pay per click consultant. Schedule a consult with me to go over your marketing needs.

Tags: pay per click managment

Local SEO For Plumbers - 10 Steps to Get Found Online

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Tue, Nov 24, 2015

When a homeowner has a plumbing emergency they turn to their phone or laptop to look for a plumber. Yet in most markets there are dozens if not hundreds of plumbers competing for their business online. Local SEO for plumbers is not about getting to be number 1 for that phrase plumber in your community. It’s too cast a wide enough net that consumers can find them even if they don’t see you first on Google.Plumbers-LocalSEO.jpg

First of all, if you’re a plumber and looking to rank number 1 for that particular phrase, think again. Take the phrase Denver plumber. Much of the page is dominated by ads at the top and along the right hand side. Then comes the Google 3 Pack, which is their local directory. That leaves 10 spots below for which sites can rank. Yet, just 3 area actually plumbing companies. The rest are local directories such as Angie’s List and Yelp. According to the Yellow Pages website there are nearly 800 plumbers in the area. So thinking you can break out from this group and magically reach the top 10 isn’t realistic.

This amount of competition makes bidding for this phrase also very expensive. On Google the average bid for Denver Plumber is nearly 72 dollars. As will be shown, pay per click is important, but choosing how to spend your advertising business is crucial.

There are many categories in Local SEO and I’ve come up with 10 suggestions on where to begin taking action to get your business found.

Take Advantage of Local Directories

If the telephone book has been replaced it’s by the many local directories that people now turn to on their laptop and phone.

  • Optimize your Google listing – the Google 3 pack is one of the first thigs people see in the search results. Get ownership of this listing and build it up with photographs, videos, and content.LocalSEOPlumbers.jpg
  • Develop your listings in other local directories – as mentioned, Yelp and Angie’s List are prominent in the search results. So make sure you have control of these listings and that all your information is accurate.
  • Get Reviews – Reviews are becoming more and more important for people searching for home service providers. Try to get your customers leave reviews, whether it be on Google, Yelp, or Angie’s List.

Don’t Overspend on Website Design But Mobile Is Crucial

This is a mistake I see too many home service providers make. They have a website and when it doesn’t seem to work, get an expensive makeover for their site. I had one client that in the space of a year, hired 3 different web designers at a cost of more than 10,000 dollars. Yet, the original one he had was fine. It just needed more content. Think of it this way. Does a thousand-dollar wrench work that much better than one you pick up in Lowes. A bare bone website can work as long as allows for the following criteria.

  • Have a site that is mobile friendly – Google and Bing put a lot of emphasis on mobile friendly sites, but that shouldn’t be your main incentive. Over 50% of searches for a plumber are done via a cell phone.
  • Optimize your site – this may be the hardest thing to find the time to do and do correctly. Yet, you should have a site that emphasizes all of your services, preferably with each getting it’s onw page. Likewise, if you serve more than one community than you want a page for each of these, as well.
  • Add Content Regularly – content comes in a variety of formats, but for plumbers a blog is one of the best options. Think of the questions your clients regularly ask you and use these as the source of your subjects.

Google AdWords is Crucial for Generating Leads

As mentioned, pay per click can be expensive for home service industries such as plumbing, but it’s becoming more and more a necessity to reach relevant leads. First of all, it can get you to the first page of Google when your site isn’t there. And on mobile, ads are the first thing people see, often with the first three spots they see. The good news is that because people with a plumbing emergency are motivated to act quickly, very often a click on an ad results in a call. This being said there are things you need to be aware of with PPC.

  • Make sure you target only prospects in your market – when setting up your campaign target just the market you serve, whether it’s 10 miles around your business or 50.
  • Target words that imply intent – the phrase leaky faucet might yield some leads, but it could also be someone looking to do it themselves. Sewer line replacement is more specific and also a bigger ticket item.
  • Have the ads lead to Relevant Pages – if they’re looking for sewer line repair and you take them to your home page, which focuses on all your services, they may not stay long. Take them to a page that relates to what they’re looking for.
  • Use Ad Extensions – Another game changer with AdWords and Bing are ad extensions. You can add additional information to your ad such as your location or a promo. More importantly you can have it so that they call directly from your ads.

With Local SEO for plumbers there is a lot that can be done to generate leads in your market. These 10 actions will make a definite impact, but they’re the tip of the iceberg.

Tags: pay per click managment, Local SEO

SEO for Home Service Providers - Reaching Homeowners Online

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Thu, Nov 19, 2015

The Home Service Industry and how its marketed has changed dramatically over the last decade. It used to be relatively easy to market a plumbing company or an electrician.  Take out an ad in the phone book once a year and that was about all that was needed. During a slow season, they might take out an ad in the local newspaper.  If there was a problem with a customer, that customer might call and complain. They might even tell a few of their friends, but that would be the end of it.LocalSEO-Home-Services.jpg

The internet changed all that. The telephone book soon became obsolete, but many owners were left wondering where to put their advertising dollars. They knew they needed to be found online, but what did that mean?  Someone from the phone book company has called saying they now had a package that includes online marketing. A person from Yelp is calling saying that money should be spent there. And someone from is calling saying there is an issue with their listing, even though it isn’t actually Google calling.

Then there is the issue of reviews. In 2004 if a person had a problem they might tell a few of their friends about a bad experience.  So that might impact business slightly if these people decided not to hire that contractor. But that would be the end of it, and in a few months that poor experience might have been forgotten by nearly everyone.  In 2013 that same person would likely leave a review online that would be seen by hundreds if not thousands of people in a market. And that review is still being seen two years later.

If you’re the owner of a home service company whether it be plumbing, landscaping, home building, or any of the other services that homeowner might have a need for, then you need to have a presence online. In the future I’m going to focus on specific industries, but in this article I want to address some of the things any of these businesses should be doing to generate legitimate leads in their community.

Get Found On Google

If there is one place you should begin your online marketing, it’s with Google. It’s where the majority of searches take place, whether it be on laptop or mobile. There are three ways to be found on the first page of Google. The first is through paid ads, which I’ll address later. The second is for your site to be ranked on Google, which is difficult to do, depending on the size of your market. If you’re a plumber in a city the size of Philadelphia, this means you have to outrank nearly all of them to found on the first page.  There are 10 listings, but nearly all of them are for directories such as Yelp, Angie’s List and YP.com.

The final way to be listed is as part of Google 3 pack. This is Google’s equivalent of the phone book and here they try to list all businesses in a market, even though only 3 show on the actual page. Your business should be here and getting control of it is important. Those fake phone calls from Google imposters about your listing being inaccurate could be true, even though they don’t know that. Once you have control of your listing, you can make sure the information is accurate and that your listing is augmented with photos, videos and a summary of your business. You’ll also want reviews on Google, something I’ll also address later.

Use Pay Per Click

As mentioned pay per click is one way to get on the first page of Google, but it can also be expensive depending on theHome-Services-SEO.png market and completion. If you’re like many businesses, you may have already tried it. And like many you may have found it a waste of money. Yet, done right, pay per click can be a great way to generate legitimate leads for your business, especially Google AdWords.  It’s not just that you get to the top of Google’s listing on laptop, but more importantly on mobile. With mobile the first three listings you find on Google are paid ads. If you have a prospect that needs a home service provider fast, they’re not going to call a lot of numbers. They might just call the first one they find. The key is to know which words to target and which settings on AdWords and Bing to use.

Reviews Must Be Addressed

Most business owners think of reviews as a nuisance, that they’re only left by disgruntled customers.  This is no longer the case. Satisfied customers are just as willing to leave comments, although they sometimes need some encouragement from you. Even a negative review can be turned into a positive sometime, provide they’re not a lot of them. Reviews have become an important part of online marketing, from their use on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List and even other directories

The days when the phone book was your primary marketing tool may be over, but with online marketing you can get a lot more information out about your business then just an address and phone number and maybe a list of your services. If you embrace the full potential of online marketing, you can build your business in a way that a simple phone listing couldn’t.

I'll be doing a series of articles on how to do Local SEO for plumbers, junk removal companies, contractors, and more.

If you don’t have the time or the background to properly develop an online marketing strategy, then bring in someone with experience, such as myself.  For over a decade I’ve been helping home service providers get found online.

Tags: pay per click managment, Local SEO

Why Hire a Specialist for PPC Management? A Cautionary Lesson

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Sat, Oct 17, 2015

The main question many people ask me when I review my services with them is “why do I need a pay per click specialist to monitor my account.”  I tell them there are a number of reasons, from finding wasted spend to missed opportunities for growth. I also tell them that as a Google AdWords Partners I have access to reps who tell me of upcoming features that are available in beta.

Yet, an experience earlier this summer goes a long way to showing the value of hiring a pay per click specialist. Ironically it was for a client for which I’d never be paid.

I was contacted by an agency that had a client who needed help with their pay per click. I had no experience with the agency, but they seemed all right and thought it might lead to other work with them. Instead of billing for the first month at the start of work, I agreed to hold off until the end of the month. Big mistake on my part, but not the reason for my writing this blog.

I immediately began to audit the account. They currently were paying over 445 for each lead they generated and even then the leads weren’t always the best. I looked at their keywords and most were being targeted as broad match. I knew this was a problem and after reviewing their reports found this was the case. They were often paying for people looking for the address of a competitor or because of the one term, a popular style of dance. Their ads were generic and they seldom used ad extensions.PPCProfessional

I was engaged for a set number of hours that first month, but made a number of changes that had an immediate impact. Even though I had just begun I soon had the cost per conversion down to 276 and the leads were much more relevant. In just one month I had saved them over 2,000 dollars in wasted spend and increased their business.

I expected this trend to continue even more the second month as I was planning to initiate a number of additional changes. What I didn’t realize is that the client was having a fallout with the agency that had hired me. They had decided to take all their work in-house, including the pay per click. The agency apologized for having wasted my time, but that was little consolation to me. All I had was a lesson learned.

Ironically although they had terminated my work, they failed to unlink my access. I hadn’t even realized it, as it wasn’t through my Client Center with Google, but with the agencies old account.  I realized this a month later when I received a snapshot of their account. I looked at it and noticed that the cost per conversion had started going back up, by nearly a hundred dollars. The next month showed the cost per conversion was now nearly what it had been before I started. And by the third month it had gone up even higher and they had paused the campaign. Despite spending more than 10,000 a month they were losing money on PPC.

ConversionCosts

Now I hadn’t done anything to the account since I’d left so it’s not like I sabotaged it. Yet, with no one with pay per click experience monitoring their account, they were having no ads tested, no one reviewing search term reports for wasted spend, and weren’t doing anything to keep up with their competitors. It wasn’t just about losing money with PPC, however. They were missing out on relevant leads that were now going to these competitor.

With pay per click you can’t take a set it and forget it approach. Even if a pay per click specialist has set up your account you often need to continue with their services. Here are five reasons you want a professional to continue to monitor an account. These are also five reasons, the account I had worked on began to lose ground.

Testing Must Done

It’s not often that a campaign doesn’t require some form of testing. Ads that seem successful could be outperformed by new ads. Sitelinks are another feature that can be tested.  The ads I had started to create showed good results, but I was still running some of their other ads to determine a control ad. I thought these existing ads would eventually be replaced by stronger ads, but since my work was cut off after a month, I never had a chance to develop stronger ads.

Quality Scores Change

Quality Scores influence how often a phrase shows. Often words that initially have high scores begin to drop as they trigger fewer and fewer clicks. The solution is often to remove these words and incorporate them into new ad groups whose ads incorporate them. This client wasn’t doing that and a number of words that had potential simply weren’t being shown as much by Google.

Negative Words Not Being Added

I had added a number of negative words to keep the ads from showing for the client. Yet, the way people search continually changes and each month other phrases that didn’t apply were triggering the ads. With no one adding them the list continued to grow as did the amount of wasted money.

A Specialist Does More than Just PPC

Ads can drive traffic to a site, but it means nothing if the site doesn’t live up to the expectations of the person clicking on the ad. I’m certified by Google Analytics and one of my main tasks is to review the traffic to a site and how these visitors react. From this I can advise a client on what they can do to improve their conversions if need be.  I could tell there were issues with this clients site and had some ideas on what they could to improve conversions.  Even though they had a stronger marketing campaign it didn’t mean they were getting the most out of their traffic.

Competitors Are Active

One of the main reasons for not staying pat with a campaign is that competitors aren’t likely to take the same approach. This client was in a very competitive market with some clicks costing as much as 35 dollars. The completion was increasing its bids and changing their ads. This drove up the costs even further. And with all the other issues I’ve discussed this meant the money being wasted was even greater.

It’s a shame I didn’t have time to work on this client’s account longer. They had a very good product that also had a high markup. As a Google AdWords consultant I know what it takes to generate a successful campaign, but I also know its an ongoing process.

Tags: pay per click managment, Google AdWords

How To Improve Your Click Through Rate on Google AdWords & Bing

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Sat, Sep 19, 2015

How To Have Your Ads Stand Out From the Competition on Google AdWords

In my previous blog I tried to answer the questions, What is A Good Click Through Rate on Google AdWords. As I tried to demonstrate, this answer varies dramatically from industry to industry and also impacted by the device being targeted. In this article I will demonstrate how to improve click through rate (CTR), no matter the industry or the device.

First let me remind you of the importance of a good click through rate. It’s one of the factors and some would say the most important elements in determining Quality Score. Quality Score influences Ad Rank, which in turn can influence how often your ads show. And can often result in savings in your bidding.GoodCTR

Here are some easy fixes to improve your click through rate. The focus of this article is Google AdWords, but because Bing has copied so many of their features, the same advice applies to them.

Start By Cutting Down On Impressions

One of the best ways to improve click through rate is simply to lower the overall number of impressions. This doesn’t mean cutting down on potential opportunities for business. If you’re using broad match with your keywords then it’s often triggering a number of words that really don’t apply to your business. Changing these phrase to either modified broad match or phrase match will lower your impressions significantly right away.

Even with the match change, your ad can still being triggered by words that don’t apply. For example, for a plumber the phrase “plumbing repair” would obviously be important. Yet, if they’re typing in “DIY plumbing repair” or “plumbing repair videos,” these might not be good candidates. By adding DIY and videos as negative keywords, you block your ads from showing for these phrases in the future.

After doing these two actions your impressions should go down dramatically and as a result your CTR will improve. Imagine you’ve gone from 1500 impressions a day to 750. Even if your number of clicks remain the same, the CTR has doubled.  

Have More Ad Groups

The tendency by people setting up their own AdWords campaign is to choose as many words as they can, then dump them all into the same Ad Group. It’s easy, but seldom effective as it requires one or two ads to work for all the phrases. Grouping your ads by similar phrases and having ads that incorporate the targeted phrases makes a difference. Tossing plumbing repair and sewer repair in the same ad group, may be convenient, but not very effective. Break them out in their own ad groups and have the ad copy incorporate these words in the actual text. When people see the phrase they typed in bolded in your ad copy, it will often attract their attention.

Make Your Ads Stand Out

Adding ad extensions such as call extensions or sitelinks can make your ads stand out more and as a result encourage prospects to either click your ad or click to call you directly. Google is constantly revising the site links they offer so it’s best to pay attention to what is new. Often if you can incorporate a new feature before the completion, it will really stand out.

Also try to make your ad look different from the completion. If all the ads currently running for a phrase look remarkably similar, then try a different approach. If all the ads boast of free shipping, then adding that won’t really set you apart. Focus on different benefits or maybe have shorter ad copy.

Always Be Testing                                                                   

One important way to impact CTR is through the ads you run. You should always be running 2-3 ads for each ad group. This way you can compare the click through rates of each ad. If one is doing noticeably better than the other, pause the poorer performing ad and create another. If this does better than your original leader, then pause that one and create another.

Bid Higher

The position of your ad is another determining factor. If you are consistently showing up in the top 3 positions and not getting clicked then you need to rethink your strategy. If you’re ad consistently shows up in the lower positions, then people won’t pay attention to it. Then you need to rethink your bidding. If you can’t bid higher for that word, then pause it and devote your attention to the words you can competitively bid on.

This is only a few of the ways you can to improve you click through rate. One of the main objective is not just to drive traffic, but to get the most out of your advertising dollars. This is why hiring an agency or consultant who is fully trained in Google AdWords or Bing is often a good investment, despite their fees.

 

Tags: pay per click managment, Google AdWords, Bing Ads,