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The latest Google update has been dubbed “Pigeon” because, as far as they can tell, this New Google Search Algorithm Update Targets Local Search Queries. Eric Sornoso of Search Engine Journal has put together all that can be found so far on the update, and over at Search Engine Land they decided to call it “Pigeon”, which does fit in well with the previous Google updates called Panda, Hummingbird, and Penguin.

Why Pigeon? Pigeons tend to fly in local patterns, and this seems to be only impacting local search queries in the United States that are made in English. It also looks like preference is given to local businesses instead of brands, even if it’s a franchise. To quote Search Engine Journal:

 “For example, someone looking for pizza restaurants in Boise will now see a Google SERP that truly lists local restaurants, and the quality of the search experience is enhanced when the searcher clicks on Google Maps. Before Pigeon, there was a strong chance that searching for pizza restaurants in Boise will return listings for major brands such as Domino’s and Pizza Hut towards the top of the SERP. In the post-Pigeon era, search results that are authoritatively local will be more prominently featured on the SERP, and they will be enhanced with relevant content. Pizza restaurants in Boise that have a verified presence on Google’s own social network, Google Plus (G+), will benefit from having their menus, reviews, and photographs shown on the SERP. To this end, local business owners will definitely want to ensure that they are doing their share of content marketing and social media engagement on G+.”

Every time there’s an update in an algorithm on a search engine it affects SERP and SEO. It’s important to be aware and to be ready to adapt in order to be found by your customers when they search for the products or services you offer. For more on SEO, visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/search-engine-optimization.php.

It’s no secret that being a business and having a presence on Facebook has been challenging, particularly for the smaller business. Many of the changes in Facebook’s algorithms are supposed to allow the higher-quality content of a smaller business page to show up on more newsfeeds, similar to the way Google attempted to bring higher-quality content to light in its recent algorithm changes. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, and a recent announcement on the Developers blog lifts the curtain again for a glimpse:

“You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.”

This basically means that the common practice of making someone “like” your page in order to get some things is going to be bad…but in other cases it will still be okay. Look for a lot of discussion to begin on various forums as business owners try to figure out how to optimize their Facebook presence without incentivizing people the wrong way.

For more information on social media optimization, visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php.

Tommy Landry knows a lot about search marketing, and has just given us some advice on Search Engine Journal with 10 Ways To Breathe New Life Into A Floundering Google AdWords Campaign. This isn’t a formula for a magic fix, it’s just a good look at how a professional team will go about analyzing and improving an AdWords campaign that might just need a tweak to make it work well.

Here are his suggestions:

  1. Re-evaluate the keyword targeting strategy.
  2. Restructure ad groups using tighter themes.
  3. Amp up your negative keywords to avoid bad clicks.
  4. Get more aggressive with budget and/or max bids.
  5. Step up your ad text testing approach.
  6. Consider deploying a bid automation solution.
  7. Build a custom landing page for each ad group.
  8. A/B test landing pages to improve conversion rate.
  9. Try out dynamic search ads.
  10. Automate schedules and budgets to improve ROI.

In addition to looking at a campaign professionally, it’s a good idea to look at that campaign from the customer’s perspective. How well does it translate to a mobile device? Are keywords actually based on what your targeted audience would use? Getting to know your customer personas will greatly aid analysis and strategy.

The way a professional tweaks an AdWords campaign is worth understanding because they will have a good reason for the way they make changes. Adjusting a campaign according to a predetermined formula without understanding why it has become a strategy is like saying magic words and hoping there’s a good result. You can learn more about PPC management at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php.

 

Google has announced that it will begin using HTTPS as a ranking signal. This is a welcome move because security is an increasing concern for internet sites and the effort to make the internet a safer place is one we all should share. Customers are concerned about things like security on the sites they use to make purchases, and every news item about changing your passwords again because of a new security breach keeps the concerns alive.

Right now, the use of HTTPS is what Google calls “a very lightweight signal” that affects fewer than 1% of global queries. But it’s clear that this will be part of what affects your search rankings in the future, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to their warning.

To directly quote Google’s basic tips to get started:

  • Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
  • Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.

If your site already uses HTTPS and you want to make sure your security level and configuration is adequate, use the Qualys Lab tool to see how it fares.  There’s also more information on web design and SEO at  http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/search-engine-optimization.php

Paige O’Neill asked the question, “Have marketing channels become irrelevant?” on Marketing Pilgrim recently. She makes some good points about the way that people are increasingly expecting their experience with a business to move seamlessly from one channel to another without a hitch. For example, a customer may use a cellphone to search for the hours a store is open, walk in and examine a product, then go home and decide to order it from the store website using their desktop.

It’s still important to measure all the activity on all the channels a customer uses for accessing a business, because that’s how marketers get the data used to plan wisely. But Paige O’Neill poses another challenge:

“I’d like you to think about how your marketing strategy might change if you thought less about channels and more about the overall customer experience you’re delivering.”

Marketing Channel vs Customer Experience

The challenge lies in integrating the message into a single, omnichannel engagement whenever and wherever the customer chooses to connect. That is truly a challenge, but it isn’t impossible. It does mean that marketers need to do some things:

  • Connect the silos by creating a communications asset inventory, identifying all touch points along the customer journey.
  • Focus on consistency by getting all your relevant departments on the same page, collaborating internally.
  • Develop relevancy by fine-tuning your message along the touch points to reach each customer as a unique individual.
  • Take the long-term view by focusing on the overall customer experience instead of one sale or channel.

This idea may be a paradigm shift for many marketers, but with the increasing power a customer has via digital devices, it is true that internet marketing is evolving and we have to change, too. For more insights on internet marketing, visit  http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/internet-marketing-services.php#1.

Funny videos get shared — the humorous clip is most apt to go viral. But creating a funny video that doesn’t stray over the line of what viewers think is offensive is a difficult task. Lisa Lacy just gave us Creating Funny Videos: A How-To for Brands on Mashable. In the article, Caleb Hanson(vice president of product for interactive video firm Rapt Media) says that humor is based on a harmless violation but,  “A joke can be too benign, and come off as lame, or be too much of a violation and come off as offensive. Either way, the brand suffers, and with video being so shareable, a misstep can have immense reach.”

The Challenge of Humor For Branded Videos

So the challenge to a business is creating videos that don’t violate topics that people consider important but still have that “humorous” poke at the world as we know it — and we recognize ourselves in the video without being offended. Here is the list of best practices:

  • make it relatable
  • don’t rely entirely on big names
  • don’t be long-winded
  • don’t focus on a single product
  • create a distribution strategy
  • reinforce the brand benefit

The Value of Humor in Branded Videos

Humor can increase the engagement a viewer has with a brand IF a key brand benefit or value is reinforced. To quote Caleb Hanson:

 “…something interactive that pulls the user in and engages them has better results than something that’s a passive experience. In a sense, the interactions can work as minor conversions. Once the viewer has invested in the video experience, they’re already a user, and you’ve broken down the barrier between the video and the website. Going a little further to convert the user into a lead or a customer is easier once they’ve already gone over the first hurdle.”

Funny videos are a tricky endeavor since they must be done with a thorough understanding of your audience. But they can become memorable assets for a business if done right. There’s a lot more about video production at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/video-production.php.

 

Marketing is increasingly being recognized as an integrated function of a business entity — not really separable from the rest of the way the enterprise operates. In Mike Volpe’s post on Mashable, The 6 Mistakes Most Marketers Make Daily, it’s clear that marketing is something you have to think about as a habit.

6 Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

  1. Marketing without a content strategy (or with a boring one) — instead, focus on providing content and inspiration they won’t find anywhere else. Think about what your reader wants and write that.
  2. Offering content without context — instead, get to know your audience using technology to coordinate and target your message. See that your business is an entity, not a product.
  3. Thinking slow and steady wins the race — instead, recognize that a slow web site costs you money because you just lost customers who didn’t wait for it to load.
  4. Talking (or tweeting) about yourself non-stop — instead, realize that social media is a conversation and you need to hear what your customers are saying before you decide what the answer is.
  5. Not knowing the numbers — instead, use technology to have all the data in easily read format so you can show what works and what doesn’t and figure out why.
  6. Death by word count — instead, use visuals to get your message across to readers who don’t want to spend their time on long blocks of type. Use lists, white space, pictures, infographics…see?

Everyday decisions that a business makes affect the way that business interacts, particularly on social media. Since social media marketing is an increasing part of how customers expect to connect with a business, it’s a good idea to pay attention to mistakes that you could be making and avoid them.

For more on social media marketing, see http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php.