Are You Watching Your Google Rankings?

Don't Play Around with Panda
One reason for considering professional Search Engine Optimization experts is to help you keep abreast of changes and ramifications. Google has been increasing the number and significance of their algorithm changes every year. Last official count averaged more than one per day.

Unless you monitor your results using best practices you won’t know what changed, when it changed and how it affected your ability to show up on the first page of search results.  Almost every client we start with, either thinks their results are fine (they usually weren’t) or think they’re terrible (they weren’t always) because they don’t really understand how to go about searching and what words to use. And how to check it consistently time after time.

For instance, a CEO of a Trash Can manufacturer might use “waste can” when searching for his product and be happy it showed up. Maybe all their content used “waste” and was indexed accordingly. Or, worse yet, maybe the CEO was signed in and using Google’s “personalized search results” feature that is set by default. Once the CEO is shown the majority of normal searches (in the US) use the word  “trash” and not “waste”, he would be a bit disappointed. He would likely be even more disappointed with their results once the “personalized ” feature was disabled.

Why remind folks of this aspect? There are lots of benefits and lots of reasons why you really should consider learning finding a professional to help you in this area. You can spend hours every week reading what other experts are testing, what new methods are most effective and what techniques might now be getting you in trouble. Or just spend a few hours one week researching a professional.

A new article talking about the biggest three changes last year prompted me to post this article. Did you hear about Google’s Panda change? Did your site’s search results drop? You might be very interested in the following article from Duncan Heath at SearchEnginePeople.com about the big difference in Google’s latest search change, called Panda.

Claim Your Business’s Google Places

I’ve posted previously about the importance of “claiming your Google business listing” on Google Maps. Last year, Google renamed this feature and created Google Places. Well, it is even more important for businesses to claim their Google Place and start improving or adding to the information that Google has chosen to include. This should help your search engine results on Google AND help customers learn about your business from YOU as well.

Claim Your Google Place

We recently added a new client that has been in business for a little over a year. They chose to start their company in a facility that houses other small businesses…which means they all share the same physical street address, except for their Suite number.

This client didn’t show up on Google Maps, even if you keyed in their phone number OR actual address. I was actually surprised they didn’t show up at all. Of course, in this case, Google’s authentication method wouldn’t allow the use of their phone number, because Google hadn’t put the two connections together within their indexing. I had to use the slower post card mail route.

Now, can you imagine the frustration of users today who might be trying to locate your business AFTER arriving close by. Now that they’ve claimed their Google Place, they show up correctly on Google Maps as well.

FREE Google PlacesIf you are a retail establishment that relies on foot traffic/local traffic for your revenue, I cannot stress how important doing this simple, FREE, easy process is for your company. If you need help, give us a call.

Google adds “Click to Call” on Mobile Adwords

Wow, talk about timing. I don’t think my last blog post about the impressive response percentages to SMS or Text ‘Marketing’ messages had even managed to hit most RSS streams before I saw the below Google announcement on a new “Click to Call” business feature sent to my inbox. While I think overall this is a fantastic opportunity for most retail businesses, I’m not thrilled with the limited flexibility they provide as to how to control whether your business phone number shows or doesn’t show.

However, this additional feature continues to make it more and more important that retail businesses formalize their mobile marketing plans:

Coming Soon: Click-to-Call in Ads on Mobile Devices with Google AdWords

Dear AdWords Advertiser,

We’re pleased to announce that beginning in January, your location-specific business phone number will display alongside your destination url in ads that appear on high-end mobile devices. Users will be able to click-to-call your business just as easily as they click to visit your website. You’ll be charged for clicks to call, same as you are for clicks to visit your website.

How will phone numbers appear in my ads? Based on the customer’s geographic location, the phone number and closest business address will appear as a fifth line of ad text when the ad appears on mobile devices with full HTML browsers (e.g. iPhone, Android, Palm WebOS).

Where will I be able to see the results? At launch, you’ll be able to view calls from your ads on your Campaign Summary page within AdWords from the “click type” segment option under the “Filter and Views” drop down.

How will I be charged for phone calls I get from my ad? The cost of a click to call your business will be the same as the cost of a click to visit your website.

What actions should I take?
If you’d like your ads to show location-specific phone numbers when displayed on mobile devices, make sure that your campaign is targeting iPhones and other mobile devices with full HTML browsers, and that you have included phone numbers with your business addresses in the locations under your Campaign settings. If you would prefer your ads not show phone numbers, simply remove the phone number from the business listings included in your campaigns targeting mobile devices.

We hope this new feature enables you to connect more easily with your potential customers. If you have any questions or feedback, please email us at ctc-feedback@google.com.

Sincerely,

The Google AdWords Team

Google Inc.

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

Huge Growth in Sales? Consider Mobile phones & local searches

The dramatic growth in searching from mobile phones (particularly smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s Blackberry Storm and the Palm Pre) suggests many businesses can obtain significant growth in sales by properly implementing a mobile search and/or advertisting plan.

This recent report from The Nelson Company, General Mobile – Strategies for Growth, details various research about mobile cell phone features, usage and predicated growth, along with historical facts such as smartphone market share by country.

I’ve highlighted a few facts that suggest if you sell products or services that tend toward the impulse or discretionary purchase, particularly if it is attractive to a demographic of “males aged 18 – 34, making on average over $75K per year“, you should be targeting mobile advertising, especially ‘local’ proximity ads via Mobile Search. Other methods for attracting their attention close to purchase time is through “mobile marketing activities like providing product information, coupons, discounts and event notifications“.

What’s important to understand primarily about this movement? More and more customers are seeking and finding what they want by searching on their phone. Anyone that has spent more than a few minutes around someone with an iPhone understands the phenominal attraction to launching Google Maps and keying in “fine dining”. I have often and quickly helped small groups decide on where to eat by doing so, giving some quick ‘at-a-glance’ star rating summaries, called up a menu or two and then called the place to reserve a spot as we’re heading that way.

If you run a business that mostly caters to geographic point-of-sale customers, you need to understand how to make sure your business shows up in such a scenerio. Is your business registered with Google’s Local Business Center? Do you have any online coupons available? Does your site show up in the 10-Pack? It’s not critical today, but it will be…