Archive for December, 2010
When Google Adwords first launched the Content Network (now known as the Display Network), it was like the Wild West.
Advertisers had little control over where ads appeared; there was no transparency in terms of reporting; the Placement Performance Report didn’t exist; and the only way to find out where your ads were running was to pore over your web analytics referral data and try to guess. There wasn’t even an option to run separate search and content campaigns in the beginning.
The Display Network has come a long way since those early days. Advertisers now have total control and transparency, including the ability to control the websites and web pages on which their ads will appear.
Here are some tips for setting up a Google AdWords placement targeted campaign (also known as Managed Placements).
Specify Which Websites Ads Will Appear On
Advertisers can use the AdWords Placement Tool to choose which websites you want your ads to appear on. Simply enter parameters such as demographics and subject matter, and the tool will offer suggestions.
Set up AdWords Conversion Tracking
While conversion tracking is important for any campaign, it’s especially critical for Display Network campaigns. Without tracking, the Display Network is still the Wild West — you’ll see which sites are generating traffic, but you won’t have any idea which sites are converting at a good cost.
One key fact to remember: placement targeted ads must “win” in the auction in order to display ahead of the other ads from the Display Network, even non-placement targeted ads. In other words, you need to outbid all the other competitors for ad space in order to even appear on the sites you’ve chosen.
Without a doubt, local search is the topic getting the most coverage within our industry at the moment. Changes to the algorithm, moveable maps, the importance of adding physical addresses, and review site influences have all been written about. So I figured I’d give a little overview of recent actions and reactions to bring any sidetracked by work or other outside influences up to speed.
1. Google Improves Location-Based Results
Seems Google is working toward really improving their location based results. Yellow pages — even the online ones — have taken a hit, and the scramble for improving search results for local businesses has begun.
“Local search is growing in popularity as consumers shift from traditional phone book directories to finding products and services online. According to Google, 20 percent of all search queries are local in nature,” Jon Schepke wrote a few days ago. The article also offers several good tips.
This a huge market. Google has dispatched one of their senior players, Marissa Mayer, into this arena, which should signal what a huge deal local searches are on Google.
2. Google Places: An Essential Tool for Local Marketing
Basically, Google gives local placement in return for having businesses fill in the information and building their yellow page killer for them. Everyone who fills in their Google Place information helps — themselves, as well as Google’s efforts. And the spammers are being picked off, along with legitimate brick-and-mortar sites, as discussions at Google Groups have noted.
The need to stay informed on what is impacting listings in Google Places is essential to every local business or the companies that handle their marketing.
What can you do? Have addresses in the footers of your site that link to in your Places listing, add bold and H tags to location phrases, and make sure you’re mentioned in the review sites, to name a few (feel free to add more suggestions in the comments section below).
3. Mobile is a Big Player in the Location Game
Searches on smartphones allow us to find locations while we’re on the go — whether it’s a local restaurant, business, or anything else we’re looking to physically find in the real world. Optimizing a businesses location so that it is found in mobile searches has become a hybrid part of local marketing.
Google knows that the percentage of local searches is higher when done through smartphones. Adopting best practices for this platform is another area online marketers must add to their arsenal.
“More than 100 million people a month use Google Maps from mobile phones to find directions and information,” according to another Search Engine Watch article on local-mobile-social convergence. The ones that find your website should be able to look at it in its most optimized format — using version redirects according to browser platforms is a good start.
Redesigns are difficult, time intensive, frequently expensive, and often frustrating. Religious wars can be waged over anything and everything (the messaging, style, imaging, layout, and infrastructure, etc).
These wars can create the kind of hostility and hard feelings that can last for years within an organization.
Redesigns can become contentious because the dedicated actors within organizations frequently have very different beliefs about the makeup and future of a company. The worst thing that can happen is that subject opinion blossoms into a vision that won’t be compromised under any circumstance.
There are a couple important reasons you should never wait until after the redesign to get your search engine optimization firm involved:
- A sound SEO strategy can help swing internal debates such as choosing the right platform, programming language, and layout.
- Getting an SEO involved early in the process will remove the possibility of additional development work after the launch.
If you don’t have an SEO firm, select one that can effectively communicate and coexist with your development firm. Try asking bidding development firms to recommend a search company with whom they’ve already had successful engagements.
While some might consider this a conflict of interest, copacetic agency coexistence can reduce petty sniping and encourage cooperative collaboration. This will reduce the cost of the project, mitigate risk, and assist in meeting the launch date.
In the closing moments of conference season this year, it occurred to me that search engines are desperately trying to appeal to the masses on several different levels, especially of late. Google and Bing have both made significant investments to improve user experience including:
- Measuring speed at which results and landing pages are served to users.
- Improving the quality of short and long search query results.
- Injecting as much local content into search results pages as possible.
- Factoring in social media influence and reach from various platforms.
- Optimizing experience on each and every user screen.
Take note of each of these developments because optimizing for conversion starts with fulfilling each engine’s promise of great user experience — regardless of device.
How do you optimize conversion and improve user experience? Here’s a list of free, inexpensive, and premium tools to get you started in collecting qualitative feedback and objective data on factors affecting user experience on your website and landing pages.