Sales & Support 1-888-220-7361

The Reciprocal Consulting Blog

You are Browsing the December 2009 Archive:

If you want to increase your quality score with Google Pay Per Click advertising, AdWords, there are several ways to do it, but I like this one best – use exact match.

Dave Davis gives you 10 ways to improve your quality score, but here’s what he says about matching options:

Our client was only using broad match for their keywords in their campaign. We added exact match and phrase match keywords to each ad group and chose which of the three had a better QS and lower minimum CPC and deleted the other two matching options. In the majority of cases, exact match won.

In our experience, exact match is almost always the way to go. Broad match keywords will show your ad for too many search queries that are irrelevant and you inevitably end up with bad clicks. That lowers your quality score and you have a downward spiral of effectiveness in your PPC campaign. With exact match, it is just the opposite. Fewer clicks, but a higher CTR, which results in a higher quality score and lower costs.

Don’t play around with PPC. Use exact match unless there is a real compelling reason to do otherwise.

Google’s got a new way for local small businesses to engage in reputation management. It’s called Favorite Places. It seems like a simple program, starting with 100,000 local U.S. businesses with a bar code in their window. Yes, I know, sounds hokie, but that’s what it is.

The bar code is intended as a way for mobile phone users to scan and find out more about the business. What kind of information? You know, reviews, history, menus, etc.

Google is inviting other local businesses to participate by nominating themselves as a Favorite Place. Well, you join the Google Local Business Center, which you should have done already anyway. Then, if you get a lot of people searching for you at Google, you’ll get your own decal.

Apart from the silliness, it can be another reputation enhancer for the right businesses. But I’m wondering how many people will actually use the decals with their mobile phones?

When you survey the landscape of Internet marketing history you’ll see that certain developments over time have really changed how people conducted Internet marketing. The Open Directory Project, Yahoo! offering display advertising, Overture, the advent of Google, pay-per-click marketing, the creation of the landing page, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. These are just the big ones.

It’s enough that tools like Twitter and Facebook exist. But when they get so important that search engine monoliths like Google partner with them then you know they’ve really arrived. Google today announced that real-time search is here. That’s big news. But I think it’s only going to get better.

This could very well change the way Internet marketing is done. Marketers will likely start focusing on hitting the top search results spots in real-time. That means an increase in spam. But it also means an increase in real opportunities.

I’m really looking forward to the next couple of years of search and Internet marketing. These are exciting times. They’re about to get more exciting.

Competitive intelligence tools are a dime a dozen, but good ones are hard to come by. One tool I like is Quarkbase.

Quarkbase will give you a pretty good overview of any site on the web. Some of the information you can obtain using Quarkbase include:

  • Important tags
  • Key people behind the website and their Twitter profiles
  • How often it is bookmarked
  • Overview of Internet traffic
  • PageRank
  • Countries in which the site is popular
  • Social popularity
  • Where the site is hosted
  • A list of tools used on the site

You could get all of this information in other places, but there aren’t too many tools that would deliver all of this information all in one place. At any rate, Quarkbase is just one tool, but it’s a useful tool for spying on your competition. Try it out.

Website design is not an exact science. It is part art and part science, which might come as a surprise to some people. Those people might consider it 100% art.

I consider it partly a science because there are some technical aspects to website design that require a scientific-like approach to thinking. Artistic endeavors are typically right brain activity. Science hails from the logical part of the brain, which is on the left hemisphere of the big grey lobe.

But whether you approach web design from a scientific or artistic perspective is largely how you see your role as web designer. If you are strictly artistic in your approach then you might look for a template and move things around as you see fit. If you are more scientific, or at least a mixture, then you may prefer to build your site with straight HTML.

A template can be good and save you some time. But there are things to look out for. Is your template optimized for search engines? If not, you’d better be prepared to modify it or ditch it. With HTML, you can influence that fight right from the beginning. Website design really is not so cut and dry. There are a lot of variables and you have to remain flexible. Whether you built with a template or straight HTML isn’t as important as making sure that your site ranks well for its keywords and that it is capable of converting traffic to sales. If you can do it with a template then you should; if you prefer HTML then you should go that route. Either way, a great site is a great site.

Going viral is a lot more difficult than it used to be. Which is a bit ironic because there are a lot more people online to see what you have to offer. But, of course, there are a lot more people competing against your for interest too. And that’s why it is so hard.

Viral marketing consists of two things:

  • Quality product, service, or message
  • Serendipitous discovery

The first of those really needs no introduction. If your product, service, or message isn’t worth telling people about then it won’t go viral. No one’s going to tell their friends about something they don’t find interesting or worth telling about. It’s the second quality – serendipity – that could make or break you.

Serendipity is often thought of as luck, but it’s really more than that. It’s a kind of luck, but not like a roll of the dice or a pick of the draw. It’s more like a planned kind of luck. Serendipity happens to those who expect it and pursue it. But it does happen. It just doesn’t happen because you pursue it.

Sound like a jumble of words? It’s not. Viral marketing is all about making friends. And helping your friends see the value in what you see value in and encouraging them to share that insight with their friends. If there is real value in your perception then you could go viral. Serendipity.

So the question, “How many friends do you have” is somewhat rhetorical. You could have all the friends in the world, but if none of them see the same value that you see then viral won’t happen. But if you have something valuable to offer and no one to offer it to – well, you get the idea. It takes both. A valuable product, service or message and an audience ready and willing to see the value in it. That last one is the thing you’ve got to pursue. It won’t come to you.

It should come as no surprise that Yahoo! has announced that it will start using Facebook Connect on its properties. After all, Bing owns stock in the social media leader. And in the wake of the Yahoo!-Bing partnership looming on the horizon, it was probably a part of the deal.

Still, Bing in the picture or not, the partnership makes sense. Here’s what the Yahoo! press release says:

Yahoo!’s Facebook Connect integration will give consumers richer experiences on Yahoo!, including in Yahoo! Mail and on properties like Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Sports, and Yahoo! Finance. It will enable them to connect with Facebook friends on Yahoo!, view a feed of their friends’ related activity on Yahoo!, and share content—such as photos from Flickr or comments on news stories—with all of their friends on Facebook. The content that consumers share with Facebook friends will then create a loop that drives visitors back to Yahoo!.

Well, that’s what social media marketing is all about, isn’t it? Sharing with friends what is important to you. And if Yahoo!s visitors are doing that on Facebook it will drive more traffic back to Yahoo!, which may lead to more searches using the Yahoo! search engine – at least, that’s what Bing and Yahoo! are hoping. More people using the search feature on Yahoo! will mean more opportunities for Yahoo! to raise more revenue and give Bing (RE: Microsoft) an opportunity to study what people are searching for in order to improve its own search technology.

A marriage made in heaven, yes?

Analytics has recently been upgraded. Here is an overview of the new features:

Analytics Intelligence with Custom Alerts
Using an algorithmic driven Intelligence engine, Analytics Intelligence monitors data patterns over daily, weekly and monthly periods. Significant changes in data trends and insights you may not have noticed are surfaced directly in your account. You can also create your own Custom Alerts that monitor your selection of dimensions and metrics that can be sent by email or displayed in the Intelligence reports.
Expanded Goals and New Engagement Goals
You can now track even more conversions by creating up to 20 goals per profile. Measure user engagement and branding success on your site with Time on Site and Pages per Visit goals. Set up your first Engagement goal in minutes.
Expanded Mobile Reporting
Google Analytics has expanded support for mobile websites and tracking for iPhone and Android mobile applications tracking. Adding server side code to your PHP, JSP, PERL, or ASPX mobile websites enables you to track non-Java-Script enabled phones. For mobile application developers, access the SDK and technical implementation details here. You’ll also be able to see breakout data on mobile devices and carriers in the new Mobile reports in the Visitors section.
Unique Visitors Metric
Include the Unique Visitors metric in your Custom Report or Advanced Segments to see how many actual visitors (unique cookies) visit your website. You can select Unique Visitors as a metric against any dimensions in Google Analytics.
Advanced Analysis Features
Dive deeper into your data with Pivoting, Secondary Dimensions, and Advanced Table Filtering. These combined features enable you to perform in-depth, on the fly data analysis within your account.
Share Advanced Segments and Custom Report Templates
Share the URL link for an Advanced Segment or Custom Report with anyone who has an Analytics account. Sharing the link will automatically import the pre-formatted template into the person’s account. Also available now is the ability to share or hide your Advanced Segments and Custom Reports by profile.
Multiple Custom Variables
Custom variables provide the power and flexibility to customize Google Analytics to collect the unique site usage data most important to your business. Define and track visitors according to visitor attributes (member vs. non-member), session attributes (signed in or signed out), and by page-level attributes (viewed Sports section). Use custom variables to classify any number of interactions and behaviors on your site.

Do you know what people in your city are searching for? Are they searching for the local sports team or hero? Or for the local elementary school?

Interestingly, in many of the largest urban centers in the nation, local searchers are searching for schools. Big surprise there, right? I mean, people do place a high level of importance on their children’s education.

Google publishes its Zeitgeist report every year around this time and this year they’ve got the most popular local searches for some specific cities. And you’d like to know the methodology behind it all, well …

To compile these local lists, we found the most popular searches for each selected city and then ranked them based on how unique they were to that city. A query is “unique” if it is disproportionately popular in a particular city compared to the rest of the country. This method explains why popular local searches (for example, for a specific movie theatre) may appear higher than a term for which people across the country are searching (for example, for a regional sports team).

The one theme that I do find recurring in most of the cities on the list is that people are searching for local high school and elementary schools and colleges. Beyond that, the searches are truly local.

Search engine marketing is the practice of influencing a website’s rankings by increasing their visibility in the search engines. It is generally thought of as existing in two branches: Paid search and organic search.

Link building falls into the organic search model, which generally is defined as the process of building web pages with search engine optimization in mind and increasing a page’s chances of ranking higher in the search engine results. On-page factors alone generally are not enough to hold search engine rankings long term. Hence, the reason for link building.

Link building seldom does well by itself, however. A poorly defined website with poorly written content will not be made better with great link building. If your link building succeeds you will only be successful at driving traffic to poor websites.

But if your website is well written, has a great design, and your on-page SEO is excellent then great link building can give your site a real boost in the search engine rankings. And if you do any paid search marketing, your paid ads existing alongside your organic search listings will be much more effective. That’s when you know that your search engine marketing efforts are really paying off.

You’ve heard the term “reputation management” used, but what does it mean? Why should you focus on it? What’s the point? Is it just another SEO tool?

Well, yes, it is an SEO tool, but the point behind reputation management is more than just SEO. It might be truer to say that SEO is a tool to enhance your reputation management efforts.

The point behind reputation management is to increase the positive image building elements about you and your brand that appear online while degrading the negative as much as possible. You do this through the use of several tools, including SEO. But you can – and should – also use social media to assist you with your reputation management. In fact, SEO and social media go hand in hand to help you with managing your reputation.

But there are other things too. Social connections, for instance. Get your biggest fans to help you. If you can get your fans to evangelize on your behalf then your reputation management plan becomes easier to manage.

It’s easy to lose sight of the goal and start focusing on driving down the bad talk or to get fixated on your awards or other trophies, but don’t get sidetracked. Your real goal is to brand yourself and make a positive impression on the people you want to do business with. Reputation management is largely just being yourself. And I know you can handle that.