Mr. Google, Matt Cutts, foretells the Future of SEO

ImageMatt Cutts has recently given a heads-up for what webmasters and SEO experts should expect over the summer of 2013. He addresses Google’s “Most Wanted” List of Top Ten things to watch out for:

http://searchengineland.com/googles-matt-cutts-black-hat-link-spammers-less-likely-to-show-up-in-search-results-after-summer-159185

[Giving a Shout-Out to Barry Schwartz over at SearchEngineLand for that link to a really nice summary of Matt’s presentation. I often keep an eye on Barry’s posts, along with other great journalists at SearchEngineLand.com.]

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Google Adwords Big Change Coming?

Upcoming Adword Format Bad for SMBsWhile catching up on the latest SEO articles, a disturbing post showed up today. It appears that Google is testing the effects of showing how many clicks an Ad or Advertiser has previously gotten.

While we promote Google Adwords to many of our small business clients, there are various aspects that are real disadvantages to them. The overall complexity and several default settings are definitely an issue for SMB and independents without some type of Search Engine Marking (SEM) resource.

Well, Google is trying an Adwords experiment that may indeed be another major problem for small businesses. There are apparently two types of displays being tested, one that just says “Clicks”. The other one says “clicks from this advertiser”. In this image, notice the difference between the two almost identical Ads for the same basic product/brand:Google Adwords Click Display Experiment

Showing “Clicks for this Advertiser” in the Ad will create a very unfair advantage for large brands, big Ad budgets and National Ad agencies.

Notice that the top Ad has 156,000 previous clicks and the one below it has 59,000,000. Which would you click?

We’ve been very successful pitching SMB Ads against major brands with deep pockets. We rely on niche targets, whether time spots, longer tail keywords, more refined and selective demographics or sites. If successful, our Ad typically shows higher than the wider casting net of the big check books.

Think of it another way. A big budget allows for less granular keyword bids, less related Ad text to keywords they are bidding on and finally, paying a bit higher due to a lower quality score. If we are able to place our SMB Ad alongside the more generic text from one of their Ads, we stand a better chance of getting the click due to our more relevant copy and keywords.

Unless that other Ad has 59,000,000 clicks displayed and we only have 156,000.

The real shame? All 156,000 of our visitors could have bought a product, while 200,000 of those other clickers could have bounced away from that site’s competing product immediately without buying anything. If that Advertiser’s 58,800,000 of those clicks are for Ads that send them to another page, not that related to our client’s product, then they won’t even be penalized much. And the users that might have clicked and bought, will instead gravitate towards the Ad with more clicks due to the Lemming Effect.

This also means longer running Ads and Advertisers could have better click through rate (CTR) advantage.

Want to use SMS, the top Mobile Marketing Method?

Mobile Marketing. I’ve blogged several times about one of the most important upcoming marketing venues of the future, IMO.

Earlier this week, I blogged about a report that shows SMS, or Text Messaging, marketing showed huge success numbers, compared to both traditional and online click through rates (CTR) and more. And just hours later, I blogged about a Google announcement where they have enabled registered Businesses within their Local Business Center to display a “Click to Call” button when map searches on iPhones and other capable smartphones are conducted. The user, rather than clicking on a link to read more can click on the displayed phone number and they’ll automatically dial the business.  

I’ve had several companies contact me directly for more advice on how to begin or evaluate this method. Here at Astute Marketing, we believe we can help most small businesses figure out the best use of their marketing budget…and for some it will include some SMS marketing going forward, I believe. I do find it interesting that not ONE person wanted to comment publicly about adopting it. All my inquiries came directly to me in my in-box. Seems they’re like me, not 100% convinced they want to use this method but as good business managers they realize they’d better consider it.

Now today, QWASI, Inc (“one of the leading enterprise mobile marketing application companies”) announced the QWASI Mobile Marketing Center 2.0. It’s intended for small to medium sized US businesses that want to build, manage and analyze mobile marketing campaigns.

Disclaimer: I have not used, nor can I recommend the QWASI technology at this time. If you would like for me to evaluate the platform for you, please let me know and I’ll get started on it soon.

New Mobile Marketing Report Puts Txt (SMS) on Top

Should we be surprised? I certainly am.

Even though I’m ‘in the business’, it doesn’t mean that I agree or like all aspects of marketing. Using SMS, or more commonly known as Txt messaging, to send mostly ‘unsolicited’ Ads directly to phones feels way too intrusive to me as a professional marketer. I have four mobile phones in my household and three of them are on some type of ‘limited’ text message amount per month. Sending Ads to those phones either uses them up, or costs us money. Plus, I generally take a negative attitude toward companies that have been sending me those unsolicited.

Apparently…I’m NOT the norm.

Direct Marketing Association just released a report which they tout as the “First Ever Consumer Survey” that explores mobile phone marketing. The full report runs hundreds of dollars, but this synopsis of much of it is available and very revealing.

What is most surprising? 24% of those surveyed have responded to a mobile offer AND 21% of THOSE people respond to three or more offers PER MONTH. For this survey, that amounts to 40 out of 800, or 5%.

Five Percent probably doesn’t seem like a big number to most people, but when decades-old traditional methods, ALONG WITH typical online Click Through Rates assume 2% is “a good average”, this medium is 2.5 times more effective than any other direct marketing methods, be it online or offline.

Plus, people earning more than $60K annually were more likely to respond to mobile offers than folks below that amount. Therefore, you not only enjoy a more effective response, or click-through rate, you should also see a higher conversion rate, due to their higher discretionary funds that are available to purchase.

While I have been fully expecting ‘in game’ advertising, related product promotional offers, mobile display Ads and other less costly/intrusive mobile marketing to take off BIG, I fully expected SMS marketing to somewhat be left behind in the dust.

Looks like my expectations should have been lower. That, as usual, shouldn’t surprise me at all.    :-O

Disabling bing’s ‘preview’ and Click Through Rates (CTR)

Microsoft’s Bing search engine is continuing to maintain its initial single digit market share. I know some of my clients now see it providing 3-5% of their search engine traffic. Therefore, it may not be worth most web master’s time to worry about SEO differences between Google and bing yet. One big difference that most identify as a unique benefit is bing’s “preview” feature, such as document preview of Bing search results via the “Hover Links” feature. By holding your cursor over a link on the bing results page, the user will see a pop-up showing extended snippets of text and links from the destination site, without having to click on the link. bing will attempt to show this document or page preview (or image or video), even if the site is entirely flash-driven. However, what content bing decides to use in those situations isn’t obvious.

Therefore, if web masters’ just want to make sure the preview isn’t generated for a particular page, they just need to add the following meta tag in the <head> section on that page to disable previewing:

<meta name=”msnbot”, content=”nopreview”>

And if you would need to disable previews on every page of the site, the following line should be added to robots.txt:

x-robots-tag: nopreview

One thing to note…bing has implemented these previews with an expectation that users will quickly review to help them determine which site they should choose from the search page of results. By turning off the preview, you may reduce the number of users that click through to your site, if other previews tempt them away. Or, you may find they do click on yours because you aren’t previewing something they aren’t looking for. You’ll need to monitor and possibly revisit this previewing if their share of search traffic increases.

Buy ‘Buy’ to Convert More Adwords Clicks into Sales

Remember, the purpose for buying traffic to your site using any Pay Per Click (PPC) system such as Google Adwords is to generate more sales…often called “Conversions”. Just spending money to have more eyeballs reading your pages without buying anything is likely not going to help your bottom line. You want to bring traffic to your site that converts into a sale.

You need to set up conversion goals within your site and monitor the direct relationship between increased traffic and increased sales. Often it is useful with companies that don’t sell directly on the web to engage in a few test campaigns. These test campaigns should be targeted to a unique landing page and utilize a unique phone number, email address or other contact method that can show a direct cause and effect between additional site traffic AND additional sales. By conducting a few of these tests, you can determine what type of traffic behavior can be considered a conversion…and even place a dollar amount to define various ‘better value’ conversions.

One ‘short cut’ method that can also help you bring more traffic that is likely converting into higher sales is to create a copy of one of your better optimized, higher CTR, campaigns and merely add the word “buy” to all your keywords. Obviously, if a searcher is placing the word “buy” on their search, they are likely very close to purchasing. Of course, the tradeoff is that there will likely be significantly less traffic using this additional word in searches. Here is a case where a lower CTR will still probably be a better revenue generator, and an overall  cheaper set of keywords, than the one you selected.  You may want to give this method a try if you don’t have the ability or time to do a true conversion campaign test. As always…monitor results.

Google Adwords Video & Examples of One Day Projects That Really Increased Click Through Rates (CTR)

Google has provided some examples of companies that dramatically increased their CTR for Adwords campaigns just doing some one day exercises. These are good examples of how just doing the basics can result in 140% better results…or better:

http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/06/advertisers-share-their-success-stories.html

One other benefit I would expect some of those companies will receive over time…lower Cost Per Click. Often times, when you are able to increase your CTR, as well as having that increased traffic spend time on your site (hopefully “converting into a sale” as well), the Google Adwords system will determine that your Ads and site are more relevant than “the other ones” and you’ll win more auctions (clicks) for less money than Ads that are placed UNDER yours.  That’s right…higher ad placement AND lower cost. This makes it really tough on your competition.