Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

Would you prefer 1 lead for $35 or 5 leads for $500? Your Google Adwords Strategy

If you watch what’s going on in the SEM and Google Adwords world you hear some interesting things… Like…

You need to be #1 on Google…Google Search Engine Optimization can be as fun as building legos

I can get you contacts for $34 per contact…

Our Click-Thru-Rate is 5%…

So what? What exactly does any of that mean to your business?

In online marketing, numbers like that can easily be manipulated, tweaked, and adjusted to basically make you hear what you want to hear… Gasp! I know. Shocking, isn’t it?

So how do you get down to the brass tacks and know which marketer is actually going to perform the best for your business? Well, you need a bit of an online plan and strategy for Google Adwords and SEM. You also need to understand a bit about how Google Adwords marketing, bidding, and prices work…

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Optimize your Small Business Website for SEO, SEM, and Google Places in 4 Easy Steps

As a small business owner or marketer, keeping up with all the changes in online marketing, SEO, SEM, PPC, and social media can be a daunting task. However if you focus on the most important parts, and hire an expert for the rest, it’s actually pretty straight-forward. Be wary of anyone who says we don’t know how SEO works or it’s just too complicated to explain.

Firstly, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is also referred to as Organic or Free search.   These organic search results show up in the center of the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP). In the graphic on the right, the SEO results are highlighted in blue.

The Paid ads (or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) results) are generally the top 3 on the SERP and the ads along the right-hand side of Google. In the example to the right, the Paid Ads are highlighted in red.

The third type of result is a Google Places listing which is Google’s own version of an online Yellow Pages directory. Those results are highlighted in yellow.

SEO is important to a small business for a few reasons:

  1. You don’t have to pay per click. Once you’ve optimized your site and got to the top of the search results, you can get a thousand clicks per day and you don’t have to pay a penny extra.
  2. Studies show only about 25% of people click on Paid Ads. Those numbers are even more skewed when you take into account the searchers level of education. Individuals with a Phd only click on paid ads 1-2% of the time so keep that in mind if your target market is highly educated.

For this article we’re going to focus primarily on local SEO. That means instead of someone typing in “plumbers” they’ll be searching for “plumbers in Pittsburgh.” In the screenshot above, I searched for “plumbers in pittsburgh.”

Google and other search engines are getting much better at determining the location of the web searcher and therefore assume that for a search like “plumber” you are looking for someone local and so will tailor the search results to provide you with local information. Nonetheless, the results page is still going to be much different with and without the city. Currently, about 20% of searches on Google are locally focused and that trend has been increasing over the last few years.

So here’s the 4-step process to search engine optimizing your small business’ website:

  1. Get in as many online directories as possible. This includes Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yellowpages.com, Manta.com and others. The more directories you are in, the better off you’ll be. Notice in the screenshot above that both organic results (highlighted in blue) are actually for online directories eLocalPlumbers.com and SuperPages.com. Make sure that each online directory has your correct website address! This is crucial to optimizing your website for search engines. Also, make sure that you take full advantage of the “Description” section of each directory listing focusing on the keyword terms that people looking for your product or service are most likely to use. For instance our plumber wouldn’t say, “Providing plumbing services in and around Pittsburgh for homes and businesses.” Instead he would say, “Bonded and Insured expert residential and commercial plumbers providing plumbing repairs, plumbing service, emergency plumbing, new home plumbing, hot water heater installation, and fixture replacement.” See how I used keywords throughout the description that someone might be searching for?
  2. Have other people link to your page. – Are you running radio or TV ads also? Have those TV and Radio stations put a link on their website to yours. Every link to your page from another page (with a few exceptions like Twitter) is seen by Google as a vote that your page is useful. The more “votes” you have the better Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines will treat your site and the higher it will be listed.
  3. Focus your page titles and web page text locally. If you’re a plumber in Pittsburgh, make sure all of your pages list out the cities you serve. Generally this can be done inconspicuously in the footer of a page. Just make sure the text is visible. It’s against Google’s policies to have “hidden text” that is, for instance, white text with a white background so the visitor can’t see it. If you are buying a “pre-made” website for your industry make sure that you have the ability to add information for your local market. Also weave the names of cities into the copy on your site. A great way to do that is with a list of testimonials that include the city and state of each person providing the testimonial.
  4. Fill-in the blanks with a strong SEM campaign. Since 20% of online searches are locally focused, that means that 80% are not. So don’t ignore those 80%. Target them with SEM which is also called Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or Paid Search. Notice in the screenshot above that without scrolling down the searcher will see 2 organic results, 2 Google Places results and 9 paid results! In other words, SEM is a significant part of your online marketing plan. One of the great benefits of SEM is that you can get tons of information on what terms are most popular in your local area and then use that information to better optimize your site in step #3 and your descriptions in step #1. My recommendation for this is to work with experts like my team.

In reality, to be a guru at online marketing is a lot more complicated than just 4 steps. However, like hiring a lawyer, accountant, or IT specialist, it’s beneficial to understand the basics even though you will most likely want to work with an expert in small business online lead generation.

Now that you understand these 4 points, you can work on optimizing your own web presence very quickly and cheaply with a few of the suggestions above. At the very least, you now know the right questions to ask and what answers to listen for when soliciting the help of an online marketing expert.

If you’re a small business owner or leader and have any questions, feel free to comment on this blog or contact me directly. This is a crucial area of your marketing plan where you are losing leads daily so don’t wait to address it!

To your Search Engine Optimization and Marketing success, Bryan

Internet Marketing for Small Business – Google Adwords

Sorry for the delay in continuing our series on Internet Marketing for Small business however I’m back and ready to roll!

In my last 2 blogs we reviewed the 3 pieces of your small business’ online presence:

  1. Traffic
  2. Website
  3. Commitment

We then reviewed the 3 primary ways to get Traffic and of course reviewed videos explaining some basics of Viral Marketing and Search Engine Optimization for Small Business:

  1. Search Engines
  2. Online Ads
  3. Viral Marketing

This time around we’re going to take a closer look at online advertising and, in particular, Google Adwords so that if your website isn’t perfectly optimized it still pops up as the answer to searches by effective Google marketing.

Firstly, there are thousands of website to advertise on so why focus on Google? That answer is quite simple. Google is the internet search juggernaut. Over 80% of internet searches are performed on Google so why focus on the 20% when you can cover 80% in one fell swoop?

Secondly, this is not a tutorial on setting up a Google Adwords account and campaign. It’s very simple to do, however so if you’re looking for some hand-holding check out Google’s resources.

Finally, this post is about getting the best results out of your Google Adwords campaign. If you’re currently paying someone else to handle all of your Adwords marketing, I highly recommend you either take it over yourself or at the very least verify that they’re applying the principles I’m about to cover.

If at all possible, as a small business owner, leader, or manager you really should be handling your adwords campaigns yourself and here’s why:

  1. It’s not that hard to get started. As a matter of fact, in a lot of respects it’s probably a lot easier than most other forms of marketing. Have you ever tried to produce a TV commercial? Now that takes work!
  2. It’s the future. Let’s face it. Google is still growing and online marketing is here to stay. From my talks with marketers in TV, Radio, and Newspaper all of those mediums are in very difficult circumstances right now. Why? Because the marketing isn’t targeted. Broadcast or print advertising blankets thousands to millions of people of which a very small percentage “might” be interested in your product. Google Adwords allows you to only show your ads to people searching for your product (if you know what you’re doing). It’s much better bang for your buck!
  3. You’ll learn lessons that can be applied to all of your marketing. Things like: which promotions draw the most attention and which headline phrases elicit the best response. Heck, even which words people are using to find you. This information can then be carried over to your email marketing, direct marketing, broadcast marketing and everything else because then you’ll know which headline will give you the best response.

Though I do claim that Google Adwords marketing isn’t that hard to get started, it can be quite complex to become a top Google Adwords marketing expert. Lucky for you, your small business competitors aren’t even remotely savvy on Adwords, let alone master marketers, so all you need to know are the top most important pieces that I’m about to cover to set yourself apart.

So here are the most important parts to your Adwords campaign that you must implement:

  1. Split test
  2. Mimic the keywords in your ad
  3. Direct them to a page that answers their question
  4. Use broad-match, match phrase, match term, and negative keywords
  5. Track your results

That’s it. Five relatively simple pieces to becoming an Adwords guru. Let’s look at each in more detail.

Split-testing – This is the same thing in the online world as it is in the physical world. In the physical world of marketing this would be like creating 1 direct mail marketing letter with 2 different headlines and determining which one had a better response. With Adwords this means you setup 2 different ads at all times for each Ad Group. The 2 ads will alternate and after a few dozen people clicking on your ad, you’ll know which one generates a higher Click-Thru Rate (the number of people who click on your ad/the number of people who see your ad). A high click-thru rate is very important because the higher percentage of people who click on your ad the cheaper your marketing will be. Part of Google’s formula for determining your cost-per-click is to include your Click-Thru Rate. For instance if your ad has a click-thru rate of 1% and you pay $2/click, your competitor with a click-thru rate of .5% will have to pay $4/click. Google does this because they want to offer the most relevant content so the more people who like your ad the more relevant they consider your content. Your goal is not more impressions. It’s more clicks with less impressions.

Mimic the keywords in your ad – This simply means that your ad must answer the question to the search someone typed in. For instance, if you’re selling clothing for dogs, and you purchased a keyword for “Dog Sweaters”, your ad better have the words “Dog Sweaters” in it somewhere. If you also bought the keyword for “dog collars” you better show a completely different ad touting “dog collars”. In Google Adwords there is an organizational hierarchy that includes a few pieces:

  1. Your account
  2. Campaigns – for budget, language, and territory restrictions
  3. Ad Groups – primarily for grouping similar keywords
  4. Ads – to split-test 2 ads against each other

Your account can have multiple campaigns, campaigns can have multiple ad groups, and each ad group can have multiple ads. For each set of similar keywords, you’ll have a single Ad Group. For instance the following keywords may all be in one Ad Group: “dog collar”, “dog collars’, “decorative dog collars”, “fashionable dog collars”, “unique dog collars”. Keep in mind that Ad Groups will have 2 ads to split-test headlines, promotions, benefits, domain names, or features. You will then create another Ad Group for your keywords related to: “dog sweaters”, “dog sweater”, “pink dog sweaters”. Again, each group of similar keywords requires its own Ad Group with 2 ads competing for the highest click-thru rate.

Direct them to a page that answers their search – People search for answers so whatever you do, don’t direct your traffic to your home page. If they search for “dog sweaters” then send them to the page that talks about your high-quality dog sweaters. Don’t send them to your home page which they now have to take time to navigate to find more information on dog sweaters. In your hiearchy, this will be done at the Ad Groups level. Both ads that you’re split testing within an Ad Group should point to the same page on your website. If you need a different Ad Group to answer the customers’ search, you need a different landing page on your website.

Use broad-match, exact-match, exact-term and negative keywords – Your main reason for doing this is to only show your ads to people who are actually interested in what you have to offer. This will in turn drive down your cost-per-click and improve your click-thru rates. Let’s look at each one:

  1. Broad-Match – (simply type the keyword to make it broad-match) if anywhere in a search your words are found, your ad will be displayed. So, for instance, if someone searches for: why do people put stupid sweaters on their dogs? Your broad-match keyword for dog sweaters will display your ad. Now do you think the person who typed in that search is going to click on your ad or have any interest in your product??? Of course not. But he will drive your cost-per click up because he just saw your ad and didn’t click on it.
  2. Term-Match – (put brackets around your [keyword] to make it term-match) this means that your ad will ONLY be displayed when that exact search is typed in. If your term-match keyword is [dog sweaters], the only time someone will see your ad is if they type in dog sweaters exactly as you have it in the brackets. Generally you can get lower costs-per click and higher click-thru rates with these type of keywords because you can target your ad to answer a very specific question.
  3. Phrase-Match – (put quotes around your “keyword” to make it phrase-match) this means that your ad will be displayed in any search where your exact phrase is found. If your phrase-match keyword is “dog sweaters” then your ad would be displayed if someone searches for: sign a petition to ban dog sweaters. Again, not a likely customer for your business.
  4. Negative-Match – (put a negative sign before your -keyword to make it negative) This is where you can really optimize your campaign to target just the people interested in your products. In the examples above for broad-match and phrase-match if -ban and -stupid were negative keywords, your ad would not have been displayed. Now there are potentially millions of keywords that could be negative so how do you determine which ones to add to your group? You use the free keyword tool we talked about in my last blog to determine the most common phrases people are searching related to each of your keywords. Simply type your keyword dog sweaters into wordtracker’s search tool and add negative keywords to your Adwords campaign for every search that doesn’t sound like a likely customer. For instance the second most popular search including the term dog sweaters is dog sweaters pattern. If you don’t sell dog sweater patterns you’d add –pattern as a negative keyword.

Track your results – This is the easiest one because Google provides you with all of the reports and graphs that you need. For the most part you only need to look at your click-thru rates for each keyword, each ad group and each ad. You look at click-thru rate for:

  1. Each keyword to determine if your ad is catching the attention of people searching for that word.
  2. Each ad group to determine if that overall group of keywords is adequately being addressed by your ads or if you need to break up your keywords into smaller more specific Ad Groups.
  3. Each ad to determine which one had the higher click-thru rate in your split-test so you know which one to keep and which one to ditch for a better one.

Though learning and implementing all of these tactics in your Google Adwords campaign isn’t overly complex, it certainly takes some time and effort. After you’ve setup a few, you can easily go from nothing to a new account, campaign, half-dozen ad groups and dozen ads in half an hour. Make the effort to learn these rules and your business will improve.

To your Google Adwords success, Bryan