March 11th, 2011.
In July 2010, ‘Goldtrail holidays‘ a British tour operator, collapsed leaving thousands of holidaymakers abroad when it went into administration.
It took no time at all for fellow tour operators to see this as a great way to generate business. ‘EasyJet’, ‘Fly Thomas Cook’ and ‘Sunwings’ were but some of a few who cottoned onto this and broke a fundamental rule – bidding on a brand-name term that isn’t your own.
Nevertheless, a search query using the term “Goldtrail” or “Goldtrail holidays” returned adverts for cheap holidays abroad and the like. Of course Google would have had to allow this, and probably didn’t act on it because at that point, technically, Goldtrail was no longer an actual legal entity.
The recent Earthquake disaster in Japan, hitting 8.9 on the Richter-scale and sparking off several Tsunamis’, is all over the news and the internet today. It isn’t a brand name, but could this idea be adapted and used as a possible gateway for business? For example, charities pushing sponsorship in the third-world for instance, might post adverts asking for financial help in countries where natural disasters are common by using the words “Japan disaster” “Japan” “Tsunami” “Japan earthquake” “Japan Tsunami” etc, as a broad match – or any keywords that are relevant to this recent tragic disaster.
Click the thumbnails below to see some search terms that are fairly popular at the moment due to current events, and have little competition:
If ads are tactically written so that technically they are not breaching any rules or regulations – like the Goldtrail example above – and instead are tugging at peoples heart strings, this might work.
It seems fine until you consider how this could be misused, for example by charities who take most of what is donated to them and use it to pay “administration fees” and “business costs” before any of it makes it overseas to those in actual need.
You never know…
March 10th, 2011.
The Meta Description Tag
The Meta-description tag is a excerpt of HTML code that belongs inside the ‘ <meta name=”Description” content=” description goes here />‘ section of a web page.
This tag can definitely come in handy in your overall SEO campaign but the keywords and phrases you use in your Meta description tag actually have no effect on your page’s ranking in search engine results.
What does this mean?
Well you might have thought that these tags help your pages rank highly for the words you use within them, or spruce up the description a little bit in terms of what is shown in the search engines when they are typed – well if you did – you were wrong. In actual fact, similar to the Meta keywords tag, the information you place in this tag really isn’t given any weight in Google’s ranking algorithms.
In other words, whether or not you use your most important keywords in your Meta description tag, it simply won’t affect the position of your page in the results. So essentially, you could leave a description out altogether!
It almost sounds like you don’t need these tags at all, should you bother with them then?
Well, if you’re already happy with the excerpts of text that the search engines post from your page in any given search query, then there’s no reason to have a Meta description tag on your page(s). You might want to remember though, that the excerpt the engines use varies depending on what the searcher types into the engine.
In Google, if you search for a site by URL, the excerpts you see in the lists results returned are the first instance of text on that page. However on some pages an ‘image-alt’ tag that looks like this: <img> (the code that embeds an image in an HTML page), is the first instance of words on a page. In these cases, that is what would show up as part of the “excerpt” for your search.
For the most part the people searching with URLs are site owners checking whether or not their pages are indexed. So generally, you don’t need to worry about this.
What does this mean in layman’s terms?
Okay so a normal search wouldn’t usually involve a full URL. You would probably put in 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6) keywords describing what it is you were looking for (known as a long-tail keyword) – In this example let’s say you searched for “pink ballet shoes” – however if none of these keywords are used in the Meta description tags on any site that is returned in the search results or/and they aren’t on the landing page as a complete phrase in that order, then Google will simply gather a list of pages that contain any of the words ‘pink + ballet + shoes’ near each other and it will use any words surrounding these ones as the excerpts for those pages.
If “pink ballet shoes” were a product you were selling, then a great idea would be to adjust the page to include these words in the Meta description tags and also somewhere in the body of text on your page(s). Remember however, this isn’t in attempt to rank any higher but would simply be a way to make your site more search friendly when the user types these keywords into a search engine.
The Meta Title Tag
Completely unlike the description tag, the title tag will is and always will be one of the most important factors in achieving high search engine rankings.
Put simply – ensuring you have strong title tags on each of your pages can generate significant differences to your rankings. This is because the words in the title tag are what appear in the links on the results pages returned after a query is put in (the bold, blue underlined text on Google when you put in a query and press ‘enter’) – therefore these are this is your first chance to impress the user.
They can’t be THAT important, can they?
Yes they can! Title tags are one of the main elements given algorithmic weight by search engines – in fact, if not more so, they are equally as important as the visible text highlighting your pages.
So what information should go in the title tag?
The name of your business should be the main thing here. Whatever else you add is entirely up to you, this can range from taglines, to descriptions of what your business does, to location details (so using the example from before you might add something like “Smiths’ Ballet Retailers – Middlesbrough”).
So the main thing was…?
This is the first thing users will see! Don’t miss out on a huge opportunity by not including the name of your business here.
- Meta keyword tags/description tags are not related to how you are ranked in a search engine, but it would be silly to leave them out.
- The Meta description tag summarises what’s on your page and the keyword tag supplies a summary list of the important words on your page. Both types of tag make the page more search engine friendly.
February 23rd, 2011.
The evolution of the Internet shows the constant change in the way search engines fetch you the information you want when you put in a query. Gone are the days, when a uniform set of results would pop up irrespective of who you are, where, when and how you searched a particular term.
One such example was just 2 years ago in the huge viral campaign for the blockbuster movie ‘2012’. The online marketing behind this movie was so clever that consumers were told to “just search 2012” in a search engine, as part of the teaser. Indeed if they did, a quick search in Google would return about 1, 000 websites and over 150 books based on the idea that 2012 marked – the end. Scary!
Localised and Personalised results.
Two years later, things have changed. With Google collecting just about every smidgen of information available to them from the online user, they have found away to return results that are ultra personalised all depending on the users’ settings. This is great in terms of relevance. For example, a Londoner living in Chelsea putting in a search for “local plumbers” or even just “plumbers” would be in for a treat. Google would collect her I.P. address which would determine roughly which area the search has come from, her domain name, (which in this case would be ‘.co.uk’), and even the similar searches that have been carried out in the past, to finally come up with some options that would best relate to that user.
This seems great for the person wanting a local plumber. But is it great? The answer is yes…and no – and here’s why:
- It causes some businesses or products to not be shown, limiting the users opportunity to try something new/go somewhere else.
- Other businesses might not draw customers from certain locations because they are not being shown in results.
- Most importantly: nobody ranks number one!
Blended results further add to this difficulty of ranking at the very top of your field. These are integrated in the results that are returned when you search any particular term. For example we already know that a search for “local plumbers” combines a series of data to produce personalised results. Blended results are the effect of vertical search engines gathering information. For example in Google, there are additional tabs you can click to get certain results: (images, news, books, blogs etc.) These are placed adjacently between organic results. So you might search “plumber” and return: 1. A Google page listing of a local plumber, 2. The Wikipedia definition for the word, 3. A directory result and 4. An image of a plumber (just kidding on this one :-) but you get the idea.)
Therefore ranking at number one is not really generic. This doesn’t mean however, that you can’t rank at the top for your field if you utilise tools such as Google AdWords and create a very powerful and successful campaign with all the right keywords. After all, you only need to appeal to the intended audience, and this is exactly what Google assists in doing!
February 2nd, 2011.
Firstly, what are ‘organic’ search results?
Organic search results found in search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, are those that are not strictly altered by anyone and are not paid for. They are results that appear centre-left on the screen after you put in a search term.
Doesn’t organic mean ‘pure’?
Yes, it does. This term is ideal because unlike the many paid/sponsored results, the purity of the organic result means that they are free from blatant advertisements pushing a product or service.
Search engines such as Google are great at separating the two. The paid adverts are usually columned off to the right.
So just how important are organic search results?
Very important! In fact 83% of commercial purchases come from them in comparison to paid results. So that’s 5/6’s of all potential business. Whilst PPC is a competitive and additionally important SEO element, if it only accounts for 1/6 of your overall success then organic results must be made priority.
Okay, so now I know about organic results and PPC results – but I’ve heard about sponsored or ‘paid inclusion’ results – what are those?
Paid inclusion is a search engine marketing tool where search engine companies charges fees for the inclusion of particular websites in their search index. These websites are then known as sponsored listings.
This sounds surprisingly similar to PPC…isn’t it the same thing?
Well, the line between PPC and paid inclusion is a thin one. Some believe that any paid listings are advertisements (which is essentially what PPC is), while others insist they are not because unlike ads, webmasters do not control the listings content, it’s ranking, or even whether it is shown to any users.
Okay to sum this all up, what are the differences between all three?
1. Organic traffic: includes the free-of charge results off to the left side of the page.
2. PPC listings: are the ads typically at the right side of the page. Occasionally they will appear at the top & bottom of pages too. When PPC ads appear above or below organic results in most search engines, they are in a coloured box which helps make it that little bit clearer.
3. Paid inclusion results: are mixed in with regular organic listings however paid inclusion is known to have no effect on relevancy. They are simply blended into the search results anywhere and cannot be easily distinguished from the other search results.
However, some search engines such as Google, feel as though paid inclusion is a conflict of interest with relevancy, this is why they have never had a paid inclusion program.
Okay so back to organic results…how do I improve them?
- Be an expert on your site. Literally know everything you need to know about it – it is extremely likely there will be competition, so that little bit of extra information is what will help you to stand out.
- Research the competition to see how competitive the keywords you are using are.
- After you have found the most effective and unique keywords make sure you include them in your meta-tags, your page title and everywhere you can on the page.
- Submit your site to as many directories as you can find (that are relevant your location) If your services go as far as the South East of London and you are submitting to American directories, you may be found in the USA – but then ignored.
- Each page should have a specific focus – whatever you mention on one page should stay there, no need to keep backtracking, it’s repetitive and ideally you want to be found for different things in search engines rather than just the one service/product.
- Search for spam in your keywords and report any you find – you may be able to them removed.
- Build links. This is the most effective element of SEO that exists. If you aren’t building links, start!
- Remember that content quality matters much more than quantity. Don’t waste any time putting a site together with tonnes of useless or badly planned out information when you haven’t got any strategy on what to do with it.
January 12th, 2011.
Google Adwords is a fantastic way of advertising your business online. However, the key to success with this tool is to properly optimise your advertisements so that they reach the intended audience – and you don’t end up paying over the odds.
There are some obvious ways to do this and some tips you may not have come across before, this post will outline both:
Effective keyword matching: With Adwords you can specify how closely you want your keyword to match the users query on the search pages by selecting either “Broad match” “Phrase match” or “Exact match” – Avoid broad match. Why you ask? Simply because under a broad match, if a user searches for a specific term such as “woolly hat”, your advert will appear whenever a search for “woolly” or “hat” is made in any order and even alongside other terms (such as woolly mammoth).
Trying dynamic titles: ‘Dynamic titles’ are an efficient way to improve your CTR and conversion rates. They work by causing the phrase that the user is searching for in Google (for example woolly mammoth), to become the title of your advert when it appears. This of course means that your ad is more targeted.
Landing pages are important: This is the first page a person will see when they click onto your advert and come to your website. You can make this any page you wish, however you should probably avoid using your homepage if your product isn’t being pushed there. Whatever page you do use, it is a good idea to optimise it with information about your product.
Quality control: Do – work on the quality of your advert and rely on its CTR to get you into the top spot. Don’t – on the other hand get into a bidding war with a competitor vying to pay whatever it takes to remain in or get into the number one spot. This is never a good idea because it is actually the quality of the ad that will shine through meaning regardless of the position your ad appears in, you can still gain the top spot if you get more clicks over time. The best thing about doing it this way is that you will still be paying the lesser amount of being second place, even when you climb to first place.
Keeping track of everything: High CTR do not necessarily mean success. Try not to fall under the illusion that because the CTR is high, you are making money. You could in fact be losing money. Using Google’s conversion tracking codes to link Adwords with Analytics is a good idea and will help you to understand how each keyword is performing so that you can optimise your campaigns buy getting rid of any that do not work well, and putting more time and effort into the ones that do.
Use the direct approach: Keywords such as “Bargain” “You” “Free” and “Deal” all speak directly to a user and sound enticing. Use these. This also works with ‘call to’ actions which are phrases that provoke an action from the user. Some examples include “Buy Now”, “Free Delivery” and “For a Limited Time Only” etc. Such keywords cause a sense of urgency and give the impression that the user must act quickly or lose out. There are many other direct ways you can talk to a user including the use of questions to engage them. This could work particularly well if you ask questions that aren’t particularly clear or answerable, for example “woolly hats or woolly mammoths?”
Spell things wrong: With Google’s “did you mean” feature it’s pretty easy to get away with the odd typo in a search and still successfully get where it is you want to go. The bottom line is, people spell things wrong, often. Take advantage of that by doing the same.
Stand out: Capitalising each word (not the entire word just the first letter) will help you to stand out. With competitors going after the same customers as you, this is almost essential.
Leave your number: This is beneficial for two main reasons. If your ad is seen, appears to have everything the user is looking for and has a telephone number, it could lead to a conversion if the user calls you up and completes a transaction. Also, you’d save on some money as you would have avoided the click! Bonus!
December 15th, 2010.
There are tales of retired businesspeople or sometimes new parents who leave jobs to raise families, who then get bored of monotony and decide to try and use the internet to cure their boredom. Perhaps this idea was launched after they stumbled across Google AdWords and PPC, both helpful tools in allowing companies to bid on certain keywords and phrases.
It works like this – if their bid is high enough, the winning bidder pays the bid price which ranges from pennies to pounds depending on the competition for those words. Once paid for, a short advert from that bidders company will appear alongside the search results of anyone typing those keywords or phrases into a search engine or a website. Whatever the winning bid price was, is paid every time someone clicks on the ad. The benefits come from the traffic that is drawn to the site mentioned in the advert.
This may sound great, fantastic even – but there are ways to get it wrong, so read on for some handy tips in getting the most out of PPC:
Measuring Click-Through Rates
The success of pay-per-click is found in how many time someone clicks on your ad. This is called the click-through rate. In theory, a high click-through rate equals one click for every four times the page containing your advert is displayed. However you should remember that you are paying for any clicks, therefore – if no business is gained by the ad being clicked, you are potentially losing money.
This is why decisions about your campaign should be focused on getting customers to spend money on the product or service you supply, rather than simply getting them to click on your ad. Completely removing ad that gets lots of clicks but rarely results in a transaction is an idea; perhaps replacing this ad with of one that isn’t as big of a click draw but ultimately entices more transactions would help.
Understanding Conversion Metrics
Online ads allow for you to calculate the money you will make based on what you invest. Although it can be pretty straightforward in some cases, in others it may not, especially if you are using many different forms of marketing already. Google has conversion-tracking tools designed specifically to determine the rate at which people come to your website through clicking on your ad and actually go on to complete a transaction. This can be in the form of making a purchase, signing up for something or simply joining a mailing list. By telling these tools what different types of clicks on your site are worth, it can calculate what your total return will be.
Setting Manageable Budgets
Figure out where you are getting a positive investment and base your budget primarily around that – and that alone. If you are making money, continue to spend more and keep doing so as long as you are making money. Only stop this if it is absolutely necessary, or becomes too much of an outgoing each month to pay. If you are not making money on a campaign then fix it, or walk away from it but do not throw money away month after month in the hope that things will improve, chances are they won’t.
You’re Job Is Never Done
Make constant changes. Such changes include better ads, better keywords and better methods of converting ad clickers. There are some helpful tools provided by Google that assist you in doing so, such as ‘Bid Simulator’ which predicts how new keywords will pan out. Never assume you can do no better, there is always a way to make extra money, or to ‘right’ any wrongs.
If your keywords are not highly sought after by other advertisers, then you will probably be just fine. But if you are in a crowded industry facing stronger competitors, then prices can get extremely high for keywords.
You can save some money by using more obscure keywords reflecting your businesses strengths and niches. Also, an ad that makes it to the second or even third page in a search engine is not a bad ad. You can save money this way – instead of doing all you can to land on the first page, which new businesses cannot always afford to do.
December 3rd, 2010.
Google AdWords remarketing is Google’s product that allows website owners to re-engage with visitors who previously visited their website. It’s run through Google’s Display Network.
How does it work?
1. A visitor visits your website
2. then he leaves without making a purchase and goes on to browse other websites
3. with your remarketing campaign you can remarket your potential customers with personalized banners, text ad etc.
Your text, image, rich media, and video ads can appear across YouTube, Google properties such as Google Finance, Gmail, Google Maps, Blogger, as well as over one million Web, video, gaming, and mobile display partners.
Who should be using this service? Anyone who is looking to increase conversion rates by re-engaging visitors who left their site without making a purchase.
According to Criteo, a remarketing solution provider, personalized retargeted banners drive a 600% increase in CTR compare to run-of-network display. Another study by Advertise.com claims that remarketing can increase ad response by up to 400%.
How to set up remarketing campaign in Google Adwords?
1. Sign in to your AdWords account and set up an AdWords remarketing campaign.
2. Generate a small piece of code (remarketing tag) and embed it on your home page, for example. This code tells AdWords to save visitors to your “homepage remarketing list.” As people visit your homepage, their cookie ID is added to the remarketing list. Then, you can create an AdWords campaign that targets messages only to people who are on this list as these people browse the Web. Your remarketing messages won’t be shown to people who aren’t on the “homepage list.”
3. Someone visits your homepage. That visitor then leaves your website.
4. When they browse a site on the Google Content Network your banner ad or a text ad (depends on your selection) will then be displayed, but only to visitors, who visited your page with the remarketing tag, thus were saved to your “homepage remarketing list”.
5. Track the result in your AdWords or Google Analytics account.
NOTE: Each new page on your site you would like to create a Google AdWords remarketing campaign will require you to install a new remarketing tag into that page, create a remarketing list, banner or text ad.
If you would like to find out how Datadial can help you with your AdWords campaign please contact Robert on 0208 6000 500 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 12th, 2010.
I read an article on Marketing Week “Advertising industry and green charities welcome code changes“.
The story reports on some changes in the codes guiding TV and radio advertising, and one significant change will be that charities will be allowed to run adverts comparing themselves against another charity.
The new advertising code takes effect from September 2010.
I believe it is unlikely that this kind of advertising will go out during prime time TV, or drive time radio; it is too expensive and finger pointing in the middle of Coronation Street isn’t the best way to open up the nation’s purses and wallets.
I do think though that the temptation to run comparative adverts during day time TV will be irresistible to some young up and coming marketing manager. The cheaper costs would be quite a lure, and let’s face it, day time advertising is really boring.
Where I see the some real change happening is in the search market, and given that Google has relaxed its stance on bidding for brand names, we can expect to see a whole raft of guerrilla style PPC campaigns such as “Donations to us go to good causes, not to fund new offices” or “We’re better as we don’t use chuggers” triggered by searches for charity names.
The meta description section of HTML code will become the marketing manager’s secret weapon, and will be “optimised” to within an inch of its life with remarks the activities of other charities alongside traditional calls to action.
The meta description content does not appear on the pages visitors browse, and is only ever seen as a summary of the page in natural search results. Where better to put some unsettling comments and inconvenient truths about charities competing for the hearts and minds of the donating public?
Any bets on which charity will be the first to step up?
June 26th, 2009.
I’m sure it’s just a clerical error but at the moment (June26) If you search for Sony LCD TV’s in Google and click on the John Lewis Pay Per Click listing the ad takes you through to their Samsung LCD TV page.Â
Anyone doingÂ PPC will know how vitalÂ it is to have a proper landing page which responds to the what the user is searching for. Â Â This could be costing a fortune in lost conversions for John Lewis.Â
I wonder how long it will take for anyoneÂ to notice.Â So far it’s been like that for a week.Â
The listing in Google
Â Part of the landing page
December 10th, 2008.
After reading some interesting posts over at Holistic Search and Brand Republic, one of the largest florist chains worldwide is suing Marks & Spencers and Flowers Direct for using the Interflora brand name to trigger AdWords ads for their competitors.
Google updated their policy on brand name keywords and trademark terms that trigger competitorâ€™s adverts to display back in May. Previously, competitors could not bid on other brand names to display their ads, but since Google updated their policies on brand name keywords and trademarks, competitors in various industries have been using competition brand names to trigger their adverts.
It has been reported keywords include â€œInterfloraâ€, â€œIntafloraâ€ and â€œInter-floraâ€ which have been used to trigger the display of competitors adverts.
Interfloraâ€™s argument is that the actions of Marks & Spencers and Flowers Direct are a breach of trademark law, as marketing director Michael Barringer stated:
â€œThe Interflora brand is extremely valuable and we will not tolerate competitors taking advantage of it and infringing our right.â€
However, both M&S and Flowers Direct are abiding by the Google Terms of Service- no mention of the band is made within the advert itself and is now somewhat of a common practice across industries, as a spokeswoman for Marks & Spencers was quoted saying they are â€œextremely surprised by Interfloraâ€™s course of actionâ€ adding it was industry-wide practice and not unlawful.
Interestingly, there has been no mention of Interflora or any other company suing Google over the use of trademark terms in AdWords for allowing this to happen.
This is not the first report of companies suing over the use of their trademark terms on Google AdWords either, as Dominic Farnsworth (a partner at Lewis Silkin) commented:
“There are a lot of legal letters flying around in the background at the moment and many disputes are being resolved without the need for legal proceedingsâ€.
This poses an interesting situation for advertisers and search agencies- how long is it before competitors terms cause a lawsuit against your company or client, or how many more examples are needed before Google considers refining their policies? As Google have recently allowed the advertising of gambling and alcohol related sites, it appears they are expanding their policies to get even more from their advertising revenueâ€”could this be Googleâ€™s solution to the current economic downturn? Let us know your comments.
An interesting post over at SEOMoz highlights the spending disconnect that exists in the way that many companies allocate their online marketing spend.
Not surprisingly, search advertising should continue to be the largest category, growing from $9.1 billion in 2007 to $20.9 billion in 2013.
– Source: C|Net News, June 30, 2008
While the current spend on natural SEO?
SEO: $1.3 billion (11%)
– Source: SEMPO data via Massimo Burgio, SMX Madrid 2008
So, out of a total of around $10.4 billion spent on search, only $1.3 billion, or 12.5% is spent on natural search placement. Therefore you would expect the potential traffic from natural search to be the smaller piece of the pie, right?
Looking at the Google heat map we can see that it’s the natural results that catch the attention of users viewing the page.
This superior visibility is matched by the click through rate data,
The natural results in Google drive more than 70% of search traffic, though only account for 12.5% of online spend.
Why is this? Take your pick from any one or more of the following,
- PPC is an easier concept for people to understand, there is a general lack of education and understanding of the SEO process.
- PPC is quicker (almost instant) to get results and you only pay for traffic that you actually receive. There is a higher perception of accountability and control.
- Traditional marketers pay far less attention to SEO, column inches in the business press given over to SEO are far less than PPC. Again this may well be due to a lack of SEO understanding amongst journalists.
- There is a lack of trust in a segmented and unregulated SEO marketplace. A basic lack of understanding handicaps buyers and can lead to acceptance of poor advice and wrong buying decisions.