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Joseph believes that better life and work can be designed through habits and systems. You’ll find him outlining systems and constantly seeking to improve it. He is a designer by day and a bartender by night. He loves the balance between getting geeky on helping his clients grow their business at ElementIQ and crafting cocktails while being social with his guests behind the bar!
The charts and numbers on the board are starting to make sense. The scattered notepads, documents, and books on the table are suggestive of work-in-progress. A week into the Internship program at ElementIQ and the office space is starting to feel more like a second home. Here in this blog post, I will begin with the story of myself and how I got here. Then, I will briefly summarize what the first week of working here entailed along with some of my key observations and final thoughts.
Introduction – Out Of The Frying Pan Into The Fire
’27 Hours Of Flying Leaving 27 Years Of Life Behind’
I came to Vancouver, Canada in August 2013 as a student of the Masters in Business Administration (MBA) program at Simon Fraser University (SFU) – Beedie School of Business after having lived most of my life in Mumbai, India.
With a Bachelors in Management Studies and over five years of experience as a Sales and Marketing professional, my intention was to gain exposure to the Western education system and work ethics, meet some amazing people and enhance my career in Marketing. My career had started as a Sales executive for a highly reputable ball pen manufacturing brand and soon I grew to accept broader responsibilities of Brand Management as an Assistant manager.
This was followed by three years of working with a start-up in the IT Services Industry where my primary responsibility was Business Development through client acquisition and retention. Here I led a Sales team, managed the Marketing and did all I could to keep the business running and stay profitable.
‘Further Education In Search For Enlightenment’
The MBA at SFU was an eye opener to a higher level of business thinking as it was a well-designed program to strengthen the foundational concepts of business, challenge analytical and critical reasoning and enhance people and project management skills amongst other things. Some people enroll in this program to change Industries while others do so to enhance their career in their Industry. Me, I had discovered my love for Marketing early on and that affection continues to grow.
‘Education Is A Curtain Raiser – Time For The Real World’
After completing the academic study requirements in August 2014, I took the time to strategize my career based on where I want to be in two to five years from now and what I should do to get there. In time, I aspire to be a Brand Manager for a successful multi-national brand. Reading the requirements for such a position made it clear to me that I needed experience in Digital Marketing.
From here on, I met a number of Industry professionals and kept an eye out for openings in the Digital Advertising agencies in Vancouver. Being that I was clear on what I wished to do, I was referred to Mr. Samuel Araki (Sam), the founder of ElementIQ, an Inbound Marketing Agency based out of Surrey. Almost immediately, I set up an informational interview with him and was invited to his office to meet with him. We spoke on a variety of subjects including his background, the company history, challenges, opportunities and the strategic direction of the business. It also gave me the chance to introduce myself and Sam had me meet the rest of the people (core team) in the company, a group of three young, sharp, talented and skilled individuals and another Intern. He even took me on a tour to a bigger office space that he has purchased and is currently renovating along with the Crossfit gym of which he is a half-owner too.
Next day, I sent in my application to the company for the paid Internship program and soon enough a series of interactions with Sam followed. Over a month, we finalized the offer and decided upon my joining date. During this time, Sam also suggested that I get the general Inbound Marketing Certification from Hubspot (well worth the time). December 10th, 2014 was to be my first day in office.
Week 1 Of The Internship Program
Are you a reliable self-starter looking to kickstart your digital marketing career?
Starting out on day one included a tour of the facilities, policies, and a thorough look at the Inbound Marketing process by Ramesh (Content Marketing Specialist). I was also taken out for Lunch by Sam and Lincoln (the Senior Accounts Manager) and we ordered lavishly eating Calamari, Prawns, Chicken, and Beef. A great lunch indeed followed by lots of reading (Beginners Guide To SEO by Moz – A fine article to read on an empty stomach). That was a difficult afternoon to keep awake until we transitioned into further training with Ramesh.
The next day, I was introduced to the various softwares being used by the company for Project Management and Internal Communication. Also, I was impressed as Ramesh shared a document with me highlighting the schedule for seven straight weeks. They would include getting acquainted with all the clients, the various softwares, and most importantly – an in depth learning of all the components of the Inbound process – SEO, Social Media, Content, Analytics, Conversion Rate Optimization, and Pay-per-click Advertising.
Day 3 and onwards, I continued to settle into the fast-pace of working in this Internet Marketing Agency and started to get assigned certain tasks such as building a monthly report for a client and building a spreadsheet. I also began to get comfortable with using the plethora of softwares and tools being used by the company (Hubspot, Slack, Raven, Basecamp, Highrise and Sidekick to name a few).
‘The Fool On The Hill See’s The Sun Going Down’
For a start-up, it is fascinating to see how well they have organized themselves. While not perfect, the foundation pillars seem strong enough to support sustainable growth.
Every member of the team is an expert in their domain and continues to strive to become a thought-leader through on going education and practice. I am also particularly inspired by each individual’s credentials, passion, and intelligence.
The mission of the company is to add value to each of their clients and this has been internalized by every employee.
Nobody raises an eyebrow for trivial things like showing up a few minutes late to work as long as you’re on top of your game and do the things required of you. And there is always something to do which often makes people stay back after office hours at their own free will.
They prefer XBOX to Playstation and are highly competitive in NHL 15.
‘The Time Is Gone, The Song Is Over, Thought I’d Something More To Say..’
My enthusiasm and excitement of being part of ElementIQ is growing with each passing day. I continue to get better acquainted with all the team members and their expertise and am starting to feel more useful as time goes by. I joined the Internship program with the goal ofhyper-learningg, practicing and contributing and it feels to me that the program will exceed my expectations. Personally, I hope to reciprocate by doing all that it takes to help the company while it continues to prosper in the growth stage of it’s life cycle and add value to it’s clients. Finally, I must say that it is not always easy to progress in your career after you move to a new country more than 10,000 kilometers away with no family, friends or support structure. For this reason, I am ever so grateful to Sam for giving me the opportunity to intern in his company and I look forward to the coming weeks and months.
So let’s point out the obvious, building citations is not the most fun thing in the world. On the other hand, local citations are one of the most important things for a business to master. What is the point in having a local business that can’t be found? Or can’t be seen on a map? Or worst of all, that can not be seen on Google? So in this post, I want to lay out the do’s and the do not’s of building local citations; as well as, how to build citations.
Start With The Most Important – Google.
Your Google+/Google My Business page is the most important citation of all. This information has to be 100% correct on Google to lay the base for every other citation you make. How Google wants to have your address set up is like this:
As an example, you have your main address 12322 122st
Then you have your unit number on the end, so: 12322 122St #111, Richmond, VA, USA, 55466
Use that formatting for ALL citations. The key is quality, not quantity. You must always be consistent.
Narrowing down your specifics to which sites suit the business’ needs makes citation building a lot easier.
When you are creating citations from scratch, this will be a lot easier. But you want to claim all the listings you can. You will need to create login information and sometimes they will need telephone verification like Yelp and Sales Spider
If you are trying to claim a business that has already been claimed by another person, retain the login info or if you can’t, contact the listing provider directly.
The whole point of claiming listings is to make sure nobody else will mess with it or change the information on you. The littlest mistake on a local citation can throw Google for a loop. As well, it just gets sloppy.
When doing an audit for a client you need to search their business by address, name, and phone number. Then redo it in an incognito browser to make sure you found every bit of information related to them.
You should have two different documents for every client you do citations for:
1) The Audit (Source, URL, Notes, Errors)
2) The Corrections and New Citations
**If it is a new business obviously you will only have one document for citations since they will not have any old citations to audit.**
Citation Audits are important to see what citations businesses have and what more you can give them.
Local Citation Helpers:
Whitespark: Whitespark is a citation finder that analyzes your business category, location, and targets. It is a very useful tool if you need a jumpstart, or need to find more citations for a client. It is also relatively inexpensive too.
PlacesScout: This is a neat site where it analyzes your client citations as well as the competitors. This too is a bit more analytical and they specifically focus on sites that you can leave a review on.
GeoRanker: Like the others above, it’s a powerful local seo tool. That allows you to find viable citations. It is also well known for the ability to track your local seo presence.
Documentation is very important when it comes to citations.
You need to be able to keep track of what ones you created, claimed, or have had found. It is also necessary to be able to log all the login information to the sites that you have created listings for.
Notes are also important here. Keeping some sort of a paper trail for the listings is recommended because if you needed to change an address, phone number or anything you can refer back to the notes to see if it has been done or not. Because trust me if you don’t write it down you will forget.
Lastly, always have the listings dated by creation, if they have been claimed or not, and “edited by: ”. This is just so you know who to track down for it. It makes things a lot easier than playing the guessing game.
**Making note of all the changes another document source (ex. client center) is a good idea too because you can automatically notify whoever you want, that you have made changes to the document.
Local citations, when done properly, will help a business out a lot with their online presence and their all over SEO. It is amazing what a difference it can make, and that is why it is very important to be consistent. If you follow these guidelines and use some of the tools mentioned above, you are on your way to being a citation pro.
If you’re the owner of a company operating in or around Vancouver, you’ll know how much of a struggle it can be to attract the right customers to your business, especially with so much competition in every sector. The British Columbia economy is still on fairly fragile ground and Vancouver business owners know this all too well. In order to be found by prospective buyers looking for a business just like yours, you need a sales and marketing plan that is appropriate for the digital age, and you need the right tools to help your business grow. This is where HubSpot comes in.
Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you didn’t have to chase as many prospects? Instead, imagine that more of your potential customers actually found you, took themselves through your sales process, and then contacted you when they were ready to make a purchase. HubSpot can help you keep track of all your inbound marketing activities like SEO, blogging, social media marketing, and email marketing, ensuring you capture quality leads at the right time and place.
The Benefits Of Inbound Marketing
First, it’s important to understand what makes Inbound marketing more effective than traditional marketing methods.
It’s less expensive. Buying ad space online and offline is expensive. By using various online channels including websites and social media, businesses can publish their own optimized content, usually at no cost.
It’s more credible. Consumers are more savvy than ever before. They know when they’re being sold to; they can smell a sales pitch from a mile away. Ads and sales messages don’t have the power that they once did. By using content marketing and other inbound marketing techniques, businesses can educate consumers before they are ready to buy, giving their brand more credibility from the outset.
It’s less intrusive. Consumers have more power than ever before to control their social and digital environments. They fast-forward through TV commercials, block incoming phone calls, trash emails, and ignore pop-up ads. Inbound marketing promotes your brand without the “hard sell”.
It reduces the need to cold call. By using the right Inbound marketing strategies, businesses will find that customers come to them when they are ready to make a buying decision.
A Smarter Digital Marketing Solution
Many businesses in Vancouver still rely on a number of tools to help them with digital marketing. They use analytics tools to monitor their website and social media activity, another tool to analyze their email marketing, a design tool for creating landing pages, and publishing tools for blogging and managing their content marketing. It’s becoming way too complicated, and yet these businesses are so busy juggling all these activities with the day-to-day operations of their business, they lose sight of what they are actually trying to achieve. HubSpot simplifies the whole marketing process.
An Overview Of HubSpot
The great thing about HubSpot is that it helps you streamline the entire marketing process, from creating content and attracting customers, to capturing leads and closing a sale. It can help you with SEO, email, social media, blogging, analytics, and more. Ultimately, it will help you attract more people to your website at a lower cost per lead. As a result of the Inbound marketing techniques, the leads are interested in your products or services and are more likely to buy.
HubSpot has been helping businesses since 2006, and because of the continued growth of inbound marketing and the rise of social media and mobile technology, the popularity of the marketing tool is growing faster than ever before. If you are operating a business in and around Vancouver, make sure you don’t lose out to other businesses in the area who are already using HubSpot’s powerful marketing features. The benefits are clear:
It gives businesses a greater return on their marketing investment
It simplifies the whole marketing process
Your target market can find you more easily
Prospects are already more qualified and more likely to buy
The core marketing tasks covered by HubSpot can all be managed from one central hub, so you and your team can manage every aspect of your sales and marketing. These include:
Social media marketing
Optimizing landing pages
Creating effective calls-to action
Analytics and reporting
How HubSpot Can Help Your Business
There are many marketing tools included in the HubSpot package. Here are just some of the main features you can use to boost your marketing power:
Most website visitors end up leaving a site without converting into a lead. HubSpot allows you to track these visitors so you can see which companies are visiting your website, how each visitor found your site, and which pages they viewed. If they performed a search, you can also discover what they were searching for. You can then export these results to other team members.
Use HubSpot to host your blog and get live help as you create each blog post. HubSpot helps you optimize your content with the most effective keywords by analyzing different keyword phrases for their competitiveness, meaning you focus on the right keywords before you publish.
As with any marketing automation tool, you can send targeted email messages based on the interests of your prospects and their position in the sales cycle. For example, you can set up an email to be sent when a website visitor performs a certain task. Because HubSpot’s email platform is connected directly to its contact database, you can personalize each email to help increase open and click rates.
Set up workflows so you can nurture leads through the sales funnel. You can send automated emails at specific times to each lead, monitor the results and then pass on this data to the sales team.
HubSpot’s lead management tool shows you how prospects interacted with your website. It uses lead scoring technology to identify the most qualified leads, and can even show you a timeline of every interaction between a contact and your company.
HubSpot’s blogging software helps you create posts that are optimized for search engines and readers, so your content is more likely to rank higher for certain keywords and get more shares. Its blog analytics tool helps you see which posts are most effective so you can optimize future content. Social inbox. Monitor your brand’s online presence from one central location. See all the information about your keywords, customers, leads, interactions, and content across all your social networks.
Landing Page Creation
Creating landing pages that are optimized for conversions is a key part of an effective marketing strategy. HubSpot makes it easy to build powerful landing pages that convert more customers.
With HubSpot, you can segment leads based on specific criteria and display different offers on your website based on the individual visitor.
The Bottom Line – Growing Your Business In Vancouver (With HubSpot)
Many businesses in Vancouver and the surrounding areas either don’t use HubSpot or don’t use it to its full potential. This is a great opportunity for you take advantage of one of the most powerful marketing platforms around and stay one step ahead of the competition. If you’re finding it difficult to attract customers, capture quality leads, and close a sale, HubSpot could be just what you’ve been waiting for. Why not make it easier for your target customers to find you, and take your online marketing to the next level?
Next up: I’ll detail the latest and greatest with HubSpot’s brand new CRM! Stay tuned!
As I am sitting here thinking about what to write, all I can think about is how excited I am about this new experience with ElementIQ. The past three months I have experienced a lot of life changes such as graduating college, then understanding how it feels being an unemployed degree holder, moving out of my childhood house to a new part of town, and lastly – willingly starting CrossFit for the first time, where you basically sign on the dotted line to get your butt kicked on the daily basis. But then, all these series of events had led me to the office of ElementIQ.
I believe that everything happens for a reason. One day I was working out at the gym and my boyfriend said that there was a guy I needed to meet because he has his own company that dealt with Internet Marketing. At this time I was desperately looking for a job, but I was looking elsewhere and I thought I had other opportunities lined up. But, to satisfy my boyfriend and to let him know I appreciate his help, I was going to talk to this guy. This guy ended up being Sam Araki.
I met Sam at the gym and we got to talking. I explained my past knowledge/education, my niche for social media, and that I really needed a job. This is where I learned about the internship program. He said to post my resume and email him. Literally three days later, I had my interview with Ramesh and Lincoln.
Are you a reliable self-starter looking to kickstart your digital marketing career?
When I sat down with them, they explained to me what they did and the purpose of Inbound Marketing. The more and more I listened; the more and more I was intrigued; then the more and more I knew I wanted this position.
Within the next two weeks, I found out I was employed and that I could finally put my degree, that I worked my butt off for four years for, to good use. So now, I have to thank my boyfriend and the fact that I took up CrossFit, for being able to be where I am today. What I wanted to outline in my debut blog post was my first (exciting, crazy, tiring, joyful) week at ElementIQ as an intern.
Monday, Welcome To The Family:
-Welcome: -Admin, supplies, tour, payroll, paperwork, phones expenses, ect.. -Google+, Gmail, apps. docs -Basecamp, Highrise -Work on Bio -Find ElementIQ on Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google+, then follow us/like us/ect
-Install fun apps! – (Pocket, screenshot, Mozbar, WebRank SEO
1 pm: -Client walkthrough, and client schedule
3-4:30pm: -Learn HUBSPOT!
My first impression of this: WOW, THAT’S A LOT TO ABSORB. YOU LOST ME AT WELCOME!
But, this was not the case. The workday flowed very well after meeting all the great staff members and getting copious amounts of advice from them. Once I was logged into all of the companies platforms, I started following some marketing and social media blogs like the Social Media Examiner, the Moz Blog, the HubSpot Blog, and much more. Then I started reading the ElementIQ blogs just to learn a little bit more about the company, their style, popular topics, ect.. I was very impressed with their blogs and their popularity. It made me excited to do my own stuff.
I had learned about the “fictional character” approach, as well. This is where you basically make a character for the company that you are trying to market. You are basically just surveying their target market and making up an ideal person that would use their product, or service, to be able to better your marketing approach.
The most mind-blowing experience, I think I have ever had, was learning about HubSpot! There is soooooo much going on that you literally are jaw-dropped at your home screen (In amazement..duhh!). I was really intrigued by HubSpot because it is very powerful. It is an all-in-one marketing tool. You can manage everything and anything from it including your website, social media, blogs, analytics, trends, pages, links ect. It is a godsend for inbound marketing companies like us. I still have a lot more to learn about it, but I’m excited about it; but more excited to start using it!
Then as soon as I knew it, my day was over! It went by very fast, probably because of all the information is thrown at me. I don’t think I have ever heard the word SEO more in one day of my life!
Tuesday, Lets Test How Much You Can Read:
Tuesday was a reading day. I haven’t read that much since my finals week in school. I started the day off reading, and I ended the day off reading. Everything from SEO, to PPC, to Citations. I also had to partake on my first test since college! (When you graduate form college you would think you would be done with tests, right?…WRONG!)
After a long day of reading and learning, I took away from it all with the knowledge that inbound marketing is so important these days for companies and other businesses. It is way more effective today than outbound marketing. This is because society is becoming immune to constantly having ads in their face and with all the technology these days nobody pays attention to even commercials; they will just fast-forward through them.
With inbound marketing, it is fascinating to see all of the platforms of PPC, SEO, Social Media, Blogging, ect. all fall into place simultaneously with each other.
One thing I really liked learning about was the sales funnel. You have the “Top of the Funnel” where first timers visit your site. If these people continue on crawling/show interest in your site they become a “Middle of the Funnel” lead. Then once they give you a call, email, their name,or any personal information related to your site they keep moving down to the “Bottom of the Funnel. Lastly, when purchases are made, they are a customers and not a lead anymore. This is quite interesting to learn about.
Wednesday, Learn Some Citations:
This was a way more exciting day for me. I finally was able to get going on some hands on learning! Citations were the task at hand for the day. Citations are crucial for marketing and getting your business recognized because these are what will pop up, other than your website, for people to contact your business. Some examples are Yellowpages, Google+ (My Business), Manta, Yelp ect..
These sites have all of your contact information, website, and sometimes reviews. These are important referrals for your customers. When I paired up with Lincoln, we went over how to make citations and how to correct them. He also explained to me how it ties into the other parts of the inbound channels, which is very important.
In addition to citations, I had begun making my first scheduled Tweets! This was my favorite part! I love social media, so when I can research something really cool and make a great post about it, it makes me happy.
Thursday, PPC Is As Easy As 1,2,3 (NOT!):
Thursday was a fun, yet a complex time, for me at ElementIQ. I had been paired up with Drew, the PPC guy, to go over PPC (who would have thought?). PPC is pay-per-click, aka Google Adwords. This is where businesses purchase ads and have a bid for their ad to shop up on the first page of a relevant Google Search. If this ad shows up, and someone clicks on it, the business will pay a fee. As well, if this person clicks on their ad, and the ad has relevance to them, and they are digging more into the landing page; Google will rank your ads better and therefore will more likely show your ads.
The key for Adwords are keywords. Keywords are the little phrases/words you put into your campaign to have you ad show up when someone searches for something in the businesses field. This was very complex for me to understand because there are so many things going on and so many ways to do it! Google is a massive beast! And a smart one at that!
Finally, after getting a grasp of that massive, smart, beast; I was able to do some ads myself! I had fixed up two ads that were not getting enough clicks or impressions. It will be cool to see new analytics next week for those ads! Working with Drew was a very knowledgeable day. It was really neat to finally see how PPC really worked for companies, and to physically see analytic numbers to prove a good PPC can make a huge difference in a business!
Friday!!!!!-Don’t Get Too Excited, It’s SEO Day:
Oh glorious Friday, I had finally made it through my first week as an intern! But, before the weekend hit, I needed to have some much needed hands on learning with some SEO! Today was my day with Payman. He showed me the importance of SEO first hand.
First off, SEO is search engine optimization. So this is the keywords, meta-descriptions, headers, and content that will all be crawled by Google by the keywords you gave Google. It is amazing how one little word in your URL or header can change your search engine results.
You need to be very precise with the keywords and you want to avoid stuffing and thin content. Google will overlook you if this occurs, which is not good! That is why good content is so important when it comes to websites because you want to be recognized by Google and have a good ranking with them, so therefore, you can be found in the search. SEO will also tie in PPC.
By the end of the day, I was helping Ramesh and Payman redo a landing page for one of our clients. I think this is my second favorite thing to social media because I love taking something, and fixing it, to make it better! It was a lot of fun! Now..I can officially say I survived my first week at ElementIQ!
THREE THINGS TO TAKE FROM MY FIRST WEEK:
Any Question Is Not A Dumb Question!– Ask them all the time. Sometimes what you think is “dumb” is actually a really important question that interns will need to know.
Content Is Key!– Content is so important for inbound marketing. You rely on content to keep whoever lands on your page to keep investigating your page and then keep flowing down the sales funnel. It is also important for Google to recognize your page with SEO and page rankings. I can not stress how important it is!
Know Your Clients!– The more you get to know your clients on a personal level, and know how they operate, what they are about, and their target markets the better work you are going to be able to for them. You will see a higher ROI.
Here Are Some Other Great Guidelines To Use To Be A Great Intern!
The primary marketing goal of every dental practice is to bring in new patients and keep existing patients coming back in. It’s what will keep your practice running. But what will grow your dental practice is being able to attract patients through digital marketing channels. Search engine optimization (SEO) is starting to be more and more used as an Inbound marketing channel by dental practices across North America. Put in a geographic search for dentists into Google and you’ll see a local 6-pack result show up of all dental practices in that area. You’ll see well-optimized websites also show up in the first organic results.
It’s clear that more and more dental practices are leveraging the power of the Internet to attract more patients – While SEO is just one channel under the Inbound Marketing umbrella, it’s an effective one and deserves a micro-examination of how it alone can grow your dental practice.
We’ve seen it ourselves that this works for dental practices so let’s go into what every dentist ought to do with respect to SEO.
What Is SEO?
First, let’s start things off by defining what exactly SEO is. SEO is the practice of improving a specific website or web page so that it receives more visitors via search engines. The goal is to ensure that the website/page in question ranks and ranks well for keywords profitable for a given business. Research shows that 75% of searchers don’t move past the first page.
Effective SEO can help your dental practice increase qualified traffic to your website and satisfy the end goal of attracting new patients.
Getting Started With SEO
You may be wondering how to get started with SEO. It’s not rocket science but it does take a LOT of time and effort! But as I mentioned, the results can be great (if done correctly). It’s often difficult for busy professionals to find the time to learn and/or make search engine optimization work for them. Good SEO comes down some specific things:
Proper Keyword Research – There are a number of ways to do targeted keyword research to find out what people are searching in your industry and roughly how many times a month do people search those terms.
Content – Your site content is what will (or will not) help convert visitors into leads and paying customers. But content also gets crawled by search engines. So what you must ask yourself is –does your site content read well for people AND search engines. Are there specific keyword phrases that you are targeting throughout the page including in the title tag, meta description, image alt text, heading, and subheadings? Moreover, search engines love sites that regularly publish fresh quality content. Hence, the popularity of blogging. But with so many blogs out there, the trick is in making your content unique.
Links – Links are essentially votes from across the Internet that tell search engines what sites and pages are important and popular. The more links pointing to your website (from quality sites) and specific pages on it, the more important those pages become in the eyes of search engines and the higher their rankings will be. Building citations (spoken about below), doing guest blog posts on high profile sites are examples of proven, effective link building.
Site Architecture – Your website can only get ranked by search engines if their bots can actually crawl it. With that said, site architecture and structure are important. Can search engines crawl your website with ease? Using sitemaps and robots.txt can help with this. Does your URL structure make sense? Search engines do look at this. Does your site load quickly? Yes, this is a minor search engine factor but it’s still important for usability.
Citations/Directories – I mentioned this in link building – getting on high traffic directories and having what we call NAP – Name, Address, Phone number on there for your business is important. There also may be niche directories specific to your industry that would be beneficial for you to be on.
Google has over 200 different ranking factors that have been tested and are essentially the norm. So there certainly is much more to SEO than the above but in the context of doing SEO well and for a dental practice, this is a good starting point.
SEO For Dental Practices
So we come to the part about how all that we’ve talked about can be applied to your dental practice. YES, it can be done and I’ve seen the results. They are crystal clear – SEO works for dental practices. How? Here are 7 practical steps to take:
Conduct An SEO Audit. See how your website loads, if there’s thin or duplicate content, what your link profile is like and how crawlable your site is. You can also see what keywords you currently rank for and what ones you don’t.
Develop A Keyword Strategy. Do plenty of research on keywords that are profitable to your dental practice. Usually, this will include keyword phrases with “dentist” in them, phrases with a geographic term (where your dental practice is located), and phrases with your service offerings (cosmetic dentistry, dental veneers, etc) in them.
Conduct Competitor Analysis. Find out what your competing dental practices are doing. See what keywords they are ranking for, look at their link profiles, and examine what you can do to match where they’re at and how you can beat them.
We Are Experienced With Digital Marketing For Dentists
Having worked with dental clinics, practitioners and labs, we know how to get you found online and drive new clients to your practice. Helping our clients present the best version of their business online is our passion.
Create A Link Building Strategy. Take the backlink assessment you did in the original SEO audit and use that and the competitor link profiles to see where you can build links. List some high profile websites to guest post on, as I mentioned in the content strategy section. Outline how many links you’ll build per month in a schedule. Remember not to do too much too soon or Google might be suspicious.
Implement Your Strategies. Get writing and if you don’t have time, hire writers. Don’t know where to look? Then just contract an agency to handle it all. Start your linking outreach. Not sure how? Hire a professional link builder.
Track Your Progress. Use Google Analytics to see track site statistics. There are other tools like Advanced Web Ranking that show you how your search engine rankings and visibility are doing for your dental practice. Other tools are out there that can help you manage your content process and streamline your link outreach process.
Don’t Forget: Optimizing for mobile. Mobile usership has rapidly increased over the last year. Make sure your website is mobile-optimized so that it can viewed effectively on a mobile device or tablet. We call this responsive design. You can test whether your own site is responsive by taking the bottom right corner of your browser window and dragging it inward and upward. If the navigation and images shrink and stay in line as you make the window narrower, then it’s a responsive website. If nothing happens with the body of the site as you shrink the window, then it’s not responsively-designed.
An SEO Disclaimer!
Even the very term, SEO, has been bastardized by inferior, sketchy firms, mostly located overseas. These ‘SEO companies’ employ what we call ‘black-hat tactics’ – things that worked 5-10 years ago in search engines but are subject to penalties from Google if done now. So for the sake of your dental practice, DO NOT fall for outlandish claims by these guys who say they can get you to the top of Google search results pages for an extremely low price. When it comes to SEO and overall digital marketing, there is a direct correlation between what you invest and the results you will likely get. If your primary goal is to improve your dental practice’s web presence for pennies on the dime, you’d be better off not doing anything.
I’ve seen businesses fall for these overseas schemes because they were attracted by low prices and lofty promises and ended up getting penalized by Google. To recover from a manual penalty from Google takes a lot of time and effort – but also a lot of money out of your pocket. That’s not the kind of experience, service, and result you want out of professionals you hire. Go the safe route and dentists, if you want your dental practice to do well online, invest your money into a qualified, certified, creative, and resourceful agency who will get the job done properly.
SEO Takeaways For Your Dental Practice
With everything I’ve explained, listed and suggested here, doing it all will take some time but success will come if it’s done right. But remember that SEO is just one Inbound Marketing channel. There’s so much more you can do to improve your web presence beyond what I’ve mentioned here in this post. A comprehensive digital strategy for your dental practice should incorporate other digital marketing channels like blogging, social media, paid search and video, so long as it makes sense for your practice and your marketing budget.
If you’ve got questions, please ask via the comments section below
Newsflash: Google is changing things once again. In an unexpected twist last week, Google’s John Mueller announced that Google will no longer show author profile images and Google+ circle numbers in desktop and mobile search results, shocking marketers everywhere.
It’s also bad news for marketers and business owners. Let me tell you why.
A Quick Google Authorship 101
First of, just for those who might not know what Google Authorship or Author Rank are, let me give you a quick primer on it.
Google started Author Rank in 2011 which gave authors an opportunity to connect their Google+ profiles with what they publish. The end result is that author photos would show in search engine results pages (SERP) along with a link to the author’s Google+ profile and the number of circles the author is in.
It usually took a couple posts for Google Authorship to start showing in SERPs but once you got blogging consistently, it showed. Your author photo had to be a clear portrait of the author. If the author photo was poor quality or had multiple people in it, it was very likely that Google Authorship would not work.
Nevertheless, Google Authorship was good for marketers and businesses and the announcement of this news is unfortunate.
The Evolution Of The Searcher?
Back in 2012, Google published a paper that concluded that social annotations in search (like images) didn’t have much of an effect on searchers. The study said that they were “useless” to searchers. But what’s interesting about that study was that it also said that searchers notice social annotations.
So you’d think this would lead to the eventual demise of social annotations and related markup appearing in search results, right? WRONG!
The behavioural patterns of searchers were changing, said Google in a 2013 paper they published. They said that there was a 60% chance that a searcher would fixate on an annotation if placed at the top of a snippet block.
So we can deduce that the results would be pretty favorable to businesses – and they were. Studies have shown that the click behaviour of searchers in SERPs generally gravitates toward results with visuals – including videos and images. We can see this in heat map results with actual evidence of this.
How Will This Impact Marketers And Business Owners?
So how exactly might the loss of Google Authorship impact businesses? Authors who are credible and publish a lot will not get the preferential treatment of having their photo shown in SERPs.
Important note: This isn’t too big of a loss as most business owners are too busy to even think about what Google Authorship is and what it can do. Most in-house marketers are in the same boat, managing multiple channels everyday. In fact, a lot businesses aren’t publishing when they should be – and it should amount to some sort of prominence in a digital marketing plan. Again, it comes down to education and simply knowing that content marketing is important. Of course, all of our clients got Google Authorship set up (and benefitted greatly from it)!
Furthermore, there’s that opportunity lost. The opportunity lost in not having Google Authorship set up and its benefits. That is, the benefit of not being clicked on more in search results. That’s quality traffic gone straight to the toilet.
Is The Removal Of Google Authorship That Big Of A Surprise?
How much of this is actually a surprise? Remember that in January, Google actually cut
authorship in search results by 20-40%. However, the rationale for this was to put a larger emphasis on higher quality content. Moreover, back then, the algorithm that was rolled out was designed to show author photos of those with content most relevant to the query and interesting. Beats me how they figure out the latter!
How Businesses Can Move Forward With Their Content Marketing
I’ve got some easy tips – and believe me, they’re easy – for success in business blogging and content marketing.
Keep educating your readers.
Keep optimizing your content for user/reader experience.
Keep optimizing your content for search engines.
Keep to your content strategy
The real loss attributed to the removal of Google Authorship images from search results is all in the loss of opportunity – what you could’ve had. And maybe it’s what you’ve always been getting. But remember that anything you publish will be lumped in with all other results. It’ll look like any other search result on the page.
So make your content great and optimize! Optimize your title tags and meta descriptions so that they’re inviting for searchers! Educate them and they’ll come back. That’s what you want, right? It’s what we strive for with content marketing for all of our clients. We know content drives sales and we employ strategies that produce those positive results.
Dental Marketing: It’s the one thing that every dentist knows they need to do for their dental practice. Every dental practice wants more patients. But how do you go about getting them? Many like to toss an advertisement in the local newspaper or put a 30-second spot on the radio. It’s how things WERE done and still are to a certain extent with dental practices.
But we’re in a new digital age where a website is a must and digital marketing campaigns are necessary to reach all areas of your community. This post gives you 6 specific, sales-proliferating dental marketing ideas to increase the amount of patients coming to your clinic.
1. Have A Website For Your Dental Practice!
Simply having a website might put you ahead of other dentists but in my experience, very very few dentists actually have decent websites.
We’re currently doing a website redesign for a local dentist in South Surrey/White Rock. We’ve done a few in the past for dentists and these projects typically involve the following people: Web Designers, Web Developers, Information Architecture Experts, Conversion Rate Optimizers, Search Engine Optimizers, Sales Copywriters, and Content Writers. Not many agencies have this all in-house. Having them in-house likely means a better turnaround time for the site redesign.
While website redesigns, from start to end, are a long process, it’s worthwhile. The end result is you’ll have a site design that tells the visitor who you are and what you do within 5 seconds of someone seeing your site. They should be able to tell that you’re a dentist and where your dental practice is located. They should be able to easily navigate to various areas of your site to consume the information they need before they fill out a form or call your office.
We Are Experienced With Digital Marketing For Dentists
Having worked with dental clinics, practitioners and labs, we know how to get you found online and drive new clients to your practice. Helping our clients present the best version of their business online is our passion.
Potential patients will come to your website to make sure your dental practice offers the service they are looking for (orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry, preventative dentistry, etc.) and that they will have a positive experience at your dental clinic. Generally speaking, people do not enjoy going to the dentist, so make sure your website is as inviting and friendly as possible. Avoid grizzly “before & after” photos on the homepage, instead, opt for professional photos of your clinic. Highlight any amenities you may have (pillows, televisions, recovery room, etc.) You want to make sure that your website portrays your office as inviting as possible.
People use websites to evaluate possible dental practices they might use long-term. If a website is their first impression of your dental practice, you better make it good!
2. Pay-Per-Click Advertising For Dentists
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising, as I’ve advocated for before, ought to be in every digital marketing strategy . It gets you traffic and leads (patients). But it shouldn’t be the end all be all channel for success in growing your business online. Nevertheless, PPC provides you with the opportunity to get onto the first page of Google for keywords profitable for your business.
In bidding for keywords that you want your business’ ads to show up for on the first page of Google, you can get loads of qualified traffic that you control. Remember, 94% of clicks happen on the first page of results. That means roughly only 6% of searchers click on a 2nd page result and onwards.
With PPC, you can target users based on demographics, geography, interests and more. You can display text ads, image ads and video ads. You can also display ads to visitors returning to your site through remarketing . Just because you didn’t turn a visitor into a patient the first time, doesn’t mean you can’t try again to get them to convert.
Dentists, be aware that PPC provides you with near instant traffic. It’s very possible to be the first thing searchers see on the results pages (above the organic listings) once you start. Team up a full-fledged AdWords account with impressive landing pages that will convert your average Joe visitors into actual appointments.
3. Search Engine Optimization And Content Marketing: Dental Marketing Necessities
The reason I said PPC shouldn’t be the only channel in your dental marketing strategy is because you want to dominate the first page of results. To master digital marketing, your dental practice will need a paid ad, a local map listing (more on that later) and an organic result showing up on the first page for any given keyword related to your business. That last part – the organic result – is what I’ll delve into here.
People trust organic results. Statistically, in a study by GroupM UK and Nielsen, 94% of searchers clicked on organic results instead of paid results. Naturally, people are more likely to choose an organic result over a paid one. If the organic result has a title and meta description that matches what the searcher is looking for, they’ll click on it.
So how do you get attain these high organic rankings on search engines? Through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Have you heard of that term? It may have come up in a conference or two before. It involves optimizing your website for keywords (naturally), publishing content (blogging) and getting others to link to you (link building).
Google loves content. Those who provide and publish content consistently – and useful – for searchers generally have better rankings than those who don’t. So make sure you setup a blog on your website. Then:
Create a content strategy
Come up with relevant blog topics
Write those blog posts (or find someone that can write well to do them)
Put together a blogging calendar/schedule to post them
Here’s an example of a good dental blog post . This post also has Google Authorship setup. Google introduced Author Rank in 2011 where people could connect their Google+ profiles to a blog they contribute to and become an author in Google’s eyes. The benefit of this is that if Google Authorship has been setup correctly, your photo and byline will show up in search results, like this snippet (taken from Google Webmaster Tools):
Guest blogging on other websites is a great way to build quality backlinks (links to your website on other websites). Getting people to link to you naturally takes time. Guest blogging is a good way to get your name (and website link) on other sites. This will help you build your organic rankings for specific keywords profitable for your business – so long as your guest blog posts are properly optimized.
So to become successful with guest blogging (much like blogging on your own site), you’ll have to:
Apply the content strategy used for blogging to guest blogging
Contact prospective sites to write content for
Come up with topics that will be useful for audience on the prospective website
Write the guest blog posts (or find someone who can write well)
Organize your guest blogs posts with a tool like Buzzstream
4. Get Your Dental Practice Found With Local Search
Dentistry is one of those industries where the majority of your patients will be local, meaning, it is highly important that your website appears on Google Maps and in the organic local 7-pack , which usually appear on the first page of Google for dental industry related keywords.
Here are some tips to help boost the local online presence for your dental practice:
Ensure your Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) are consistent on your Google+ Local Business page, your website, and other online directories
Encourage your patients to leave you reviews on your Google+ Local Business page
Create local content for your practice (blog about events, promotions, and seminars you may be having locally in your area)
The local aspect of dental marketing is probably the most seized upon marketing aspects – but not all listings are optimized with the above. Make sure yours are.
5. Dental Marketing Through Video
Intuitively, people are more likely to come to your dental practice, if they know what the experience is like and can see themselves going there. Video is a great way to showcase this experience.
There are a ton of statistics backing up the validity of using video to grow businesses.
Length and content of the video depend on what your goals are and what you want to convey. There are a number of types of videos – from testimonials to case studies to how-to’s to simple dental practice tours – that can be done.
As a first video, I recommend showcasing your dental practice with a business profile video. It can include one voice – presumably being the dentist. It could include shots of your office and potentially a couple staff members and the dentist ‘in action’. So long as it’s not too complicated and professionally done. Shorter videos are quicker and easier to consume. Try to keep your videos under 1 minute and no longer than 2.5 minutes.
Furthermore, people are more engaged with video. They like to see and associate other faces with your dental practice. Human movement does capture attention, especially when it’s meaningful. My additional recommendation is to make sure that you do your best to connect with prospective patients – whether it’s in the form of a special promotion or in just the way you speak.
6. Track Every Call Into Your Dental Practice
Finally, call-tracking is an essential tactic to implement for any business but particularly for dental practices. Dentists, make sure you have this. Essentially, good call-tracking assigns a specific number so that you can use it to see how many calls to your dental practice
I recommend getting a lot of different numbers so that you can attribute one number to every channel into your dental practice. For example, I would assign one number for the home page of your website, a different number for your social media profiles (if necessary), a different number for your newspaper ads, and so on.
With this, you’ll be able to see what channels, Inbound Marketing or Outbound Marketing, are working for your dental practice. This will allow you to increase and decrease how much you allocate to different channels accordingly. Proper dental marketing is traceable and measurable. Why wouldn’t you want to know where your patients are coming from?
In any dental marketing channel you invest in for your dental practice, you want the best possible return. As a dentist, you want leads. You want appointments. You want people coming in and out of your office with smiles – and bright smiles. Get them in your door at a measurable, cost-effective rate with digital marketing. Apply all the suggested dental marketing recommendations to your own practice – and if you’re unsure of anything, be sure to hire someone to get it done.
As the old saying goes – “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”
I would compare creating great landing pages to fishing. While there are no exact formulas to making the perfect landing page or catching fish, if you can fish in the right lake with the right hook and methods – you’ll catch a lot of fish. The same goes for creating landing pages that convert. With the proper awareness of your target audience and the use of the right tools and tactics, your landing page can increase conversions and sales.
I will be breaking up this guide into 6 blog posts, with each post containing 2 steps.
The steps are:
Identify Your Target Market/Audience Like Your Life Depended On It
State Your Goals
Build Your Landing Page
Write Compelling & Persuasive Copy
Write Your Actionable CTA
Make capturing customer data simple (Form Optimization)
Landing pages are targeted towards one single objective and are intended to complement the purpose of the advertisement your visitors clicked to reach your page.
Sending Traffic To Your Landing Page Vs. Homepage
Take into consideration what occurs if you happen to send traffic to your homepage.
The majority of homepages are created with a common objective in mind – to display your overall brand and convey your company values.
Because homepages have navigation and are almost always full of links they tend to lead visitors to other areas of your website.
Every distraction you create for your users reduces your overall conversion rate.
If you want to improve your conversion rate, make sure that your customers have only one thing to complete.
Step 2 – Identify Your Target Market/Audience Like Your Life Depended On It
If you intend to maximize conversion rates, it’s important to determine who exactly your prospective buyers are, what they desire, what is important to them and also what the pain points are that cause resistance for them when it comes to purchasing the product.
Why Recognizing Your Target Audience Plays a Huge Role In Your Business
Creating buyer personas is a critical task for your business and marketing department. Without buyer personas, you might as well be saying “everyone & everybody” is in my target audience. – You’ll be wasting and losing money in no time.
Questions You’ll Need to Ask When You’re Developing Your Personas
Basic demographic information.
What is their job and level of seniority?
What are their pain points?
What do they value most?
What are their goals?
Where do they get their information?
What experiences are they looking for when they are shopping for your products and services?
What are their main concerns and causes of resistance?
Once you develop an in-depth buyer persona you’ll be able to get more information like:
Who the buyer is – where they get their information, how old they are, what they do for work, which sites they visit, what magazines or blogs they read, and so on.
What they don’t care about – you can remove these distractions from your landing page to further improve your conversion rates.
How your product or services can impact your buyers’ lives and make it better – do you fulfill the buyer’s expectations, do you satisfy their wants etc.
You might have a hard time when you sit to create these buyer personas, but once you get rolling, you’ll stumble upon even more questions that effectively develop the understanding of your target market.
Caution!Do not make up these answers… it takes time, effort and solid research.
A Few Tips For Your Survey
Talk To Your Customers – To find out what people really think, just ask them.
Conduct Surveys – The best thing you can do is to learn how and why your customers buy. You really want to get in the head of your buyers with the survey questions you come up with.
The more questions you have, the fewer responders you’ll get.
Your number one concern here needs to be brevity, or in finding the best approach to ask a question without lessening its intent.
Ask Questions That Tie In With Your End Goal
Each and every question that you choose to ask must give a clear strong purpose as to why it was included. It’s imperative to ask smart, open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions gather unique opinions. They generally begin with how, why, or “What do you feel about …” They require more time to tackle when compared with closed questions.
Avoid Multiple Choice Questions
You want to allow the buyers to have the ability to express themselves without restrictions. Make it easy for prospective customers to write down their genuine suggestions on the survey.
Second, state your landing page goal. Are you trying to gather leads, sell a product or ask people to download an EBook?
These different goals all require unique content. For instance, if you’re to sell a product, it would be ideal to add a video of the product or high quality images that illustrate the use of the product.
Other goals can be:
Increase click-through rates
Convert a marketing lead into a qualified sale
Improve sales copy
Add better product images
Improve value-proposition and so on…
There are two different types of landing pages that you can choose from when you have defined your landing page goals; Lead-Gen, and Click-through landing page.
Lead generation landing pages are used so that we can capture data (email addresses, phone numbers, etc.). These typically offer an incentive in exchange for visitor information. The primary purpose of lead gen landing pages is to use the information provided by the visitor to market to at a later date.
Some uses for a lead generating page are:
Software free trial
Click-through landing pages have the objective/goal of warming up a user before they click through to another page (typically an e-commerce funnel). They define a product in detail in order to prepare a visitor that is close to making a purchasing decision.
Far too often, customers are taken directly to a catalogue page or checkout page from an ad, which have been known to produce low conversion rates. The use of a click-through page will allow the scent trail to carry on from the ad that brought the customer onto your page.
Making the effort to develop buyer personas, and understanding your target audience is extremely valuable to growing your business. In the end, it’s about learning and making it your goal to know your business inside & out.
When you think of Yelp, do you first think of foodies posting restaurant reviews? In my previous blog post on LinkedIn optimization, I talked about how LinkedIn is much more than a job seekers website. In this case, Yelp is much more than a website for people to rate their favourite meals.
In fact, according to Yelp’s statistics, only 20% of total reviews are for restaurants. Whether you’re a dentist or candy store owner, Yelp can help increase the web traffic of your site and the foot traffic at your door. With a quick look at the US demographics you can see how Yelp is used by a wide range of age and income groups.
In this blog post, I’m first going to make the case why your business should have a Yelp business page. I’ll share some impressive stats, and then show you how to optimize your yelp listing for maximum traffic.
Why Your Business Should Be On Yelp
When Yelp first started in 2004, it was an email service for exchanging local business recommendations in San Francisco. It would evolve into a business review website with social networking features, discounts, and mobile applications being used by consumers throughout the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and parts of of Europe.
Yelp receives 120 million monthly visitors and has over 53 million user reviews. Judging by the curve of the graph below, this doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon…
The future of search is moving towards mobile screens and social networks. Just recently, a global survey reported that smartphones have surpassed tv’s in the amount of user viewing time per day. With this in mind, a well done Yelp page could improve your online marketing by leaps and bounds with very little time/money invested.
Creating A Yelp Business Page
An obvious first step to optimizing your Yelp page is to create one if you haven’t done so already.
To get started, go to the Yelp for Business Owners page and click “claim my business.” You will then be redirected to a page that asks you to find your business.
You will then have one of three cases occur…
No Business Listed: Your business hasn’t been listed on the site, click “Add your business to Yelp” on the bottom of the page.
Already Unlocked: If your business is already unlocked that means someone else has already claimed your business. Yelp has a review process, so it is unlikely that it was unlocked by someone outside your organization.
Unlock Your Business: You can unlock your Yelp business page by clicking the “unlock” button and filling in the required information.
With your Yelp business page now created, the next step is to fill your business profile with useful and SEO friendly information.
Optimizing Your Yelp Business Page
Yelp will essentially guide you through this process once you have created a business page. They even have a friendly alert to remind you, in case you forget.
Do you want to lose out on potential business? Not many people do, so make sure your Yelp Business page has all of these things complete:
Business Information: Yelp allows you to write 3000 words about your business’s specialties, history, and owners. You can use this space to tell your business’s story with your most valuable keywords in mind.
Business address: Make sure it matches your location on Google Maps and your website.
Business phone number
Price range for your products/services
Photos of your business and staff
Quality Photos On Yelp Make A Huge Difference
According to Yelp, people stay two and a half times longer on a business page when it has photos. That doesn’t mean you need to hire a professional photographer, but having high quality photos should be a priority.
With all of your business page information now complete, the next step is to promote engagement on your site to get more customer reviews.
Social Proofing Works
People trust Yelp because of the millions of customer reviews. There are many ways that you can promote these positive reviews reaching your business page, but be sure to never offer incentives. Yelp has a filter to block fake reviews and they can even penalize your listing for foul play. The best way to garner positive reviews is with the old fashioned way, excellent customer service, and a few of these tips.
Have a Yelp Link on your website: The more exposure your Yelp business page gets the higher chance you will receive customer reviews.
Including a Yelp Link in your email signature: For the same reason explained above.
Reach out to existing customers: Ask your loyal customers if they would mind writing a review.
Promoting deals on Yelp : Deals are a great way to grab attention and satisfy customers.
With the nature of business, sometimes you will receive negative reviews from a customer you weren’t able to satisfy. The best way to deal with these situations is to respond in a positive way.
Responding To Reviews
There are two ways to respond to user reviews on Yelp. The first way is to send a private message. This is much like sending the customer a direct email. The second method, is to post a public message below the consumer’s review for everyone to see.
The key to responding to negative reviews is to keep the BIG picture in mind. Don’t get defensive. Consumers are smart and know that an isolated bad review doesn’t mean much. A good way to respond to negative reviews is to acknowledge that you are concerned about the customers experience and then state your business’ policy on the discrepancy.
A Yelp Optimization Overview
Does your page have quality photos and a keyword rich summary of your business? Optimizing your Yelp business page Is about filing your page with useful information. It can be done in one sitting, but the key for a successful business page is responding to reviews to further engage with customers.
Keep the big picture in mind when responding to reviews, and continuously look for new ways to drive potential customers to your site. If you do all these things, while showcasing the personality behind your brand, you will be positioning your company for delicious online marketing success.
I have a confession to make… I’m not fond of Google AdWords’ Quality Score calculation, on a good day. From what I gather from digital marketers the world over, I’m not alone in my belief.
The idea itself is a great one—a way to filter and rank advertisers for similar goods and services in Google’s AdWords auction—so that the advertiser with the highest bid doesn’t automatically win each auction. It’s intended to effectively eliminate a monopoly on ad space that would be waged between deep-pocketed corporations (although some would say, with good authority, it too often is a battle of the titans).
So, I have no problem with it existing. I do, however, have a problem with the way it seems to be—almost randomly—calculated by Big G. Specifically, for this blog post, the ‘Ad Relevance’ metric.
Generally the ElementIQ blog is filled with useful, actionable material to help you or your client’s businesses improve online and get a leg up on the competition. It’s all about improving your ROI in digital marketing efforts.
That being said, there isn’t any rule saying we can’t air the occasional ‘complaint’ blog post. So please, if you’ll bear with me, hear me out and perhaps we can gripe together (and come up with some solutions?) on this rather frustrating issue.
All About Ad Relevance
At its very core, Ad Relevance is supposed to measure how relevant your ad text is to the keyword in question, with 3 possible grades (like all Quality Score metrics): Above Average, Average, and Below Average.
As per Google:
“This status describes how well your keyword matches the message in your ads. For example, if someone searches for your keyword and your ad shows up, would your ad seem directly relevant to their search?”
Fair enough, right? One would think, then, that any mention(s) of your keyword in your ad text should sufficiently earn you at least an ‘Average’ grade, right?
After all, if your customer is looking to hire an immigration lawyer and they type “immigration lawyers” in to Google, wouldn’t the following ad be quite relevant to their query:
So, in this case, why would the keyword “immigration lawyers” have a ‘Below Average’ grade for its Ad Relevance metric? Is the ad irrelevant, or not very relevant, to the keyword in question, “immigration lawyers”? I mean, the keyword is actually inthe ad’s headline, written exactly the same way, and the term “immigration” is used again in Description Line 1. What gives? Isn’t this worth at least an ‘Average’ grade?
According to AdWords, ‘Below Average’ grades for your keyword’s Ad Relevance are caused by:
“…your ad or keyword [not being] specific enough or that your ad group may cover too many topics.”
And can be remedied by:
“…creating tightly-themed ad groups by making sure that your ads are closely related to a smaller group of keywords.”
Now, in the example I’ve used above, that Immigration Lawyer ad group contains 14 keywords (every one of which has “immigration” in it and some variation after or before it, ie. “attorney, law firm, find” etc.)
So, isn’t it safe to assume the ad group is tightly-themed, and the keywords are closely related to the 1 text ad I shared here? I’m not including ‘criminal lawyer,’ ‘immigration laws’ or other unrelated terms in here, so what’s the issue?
Wouldn’t the ad seem “directly relevant to [the customer’s] search” as per Google’s definition of Ad Relevance? I think it would to the vast majority of rational human beings on this planet, anyways.
What complicates matters with this supposed ‘Ad Relevance,’ is ‘Average’ or better ratings given to keywords that DO NOT appear in the text ad at all!
Another client has a keyword “roof cleaning cost” in their Roof Cleaning ad group, while the ad that’s served 99% of the time with the keyword looks like this:
The problem with this is, the keyword’s Ad Relevance has an ‘Average’ rating. Really?! There is nothing in that ad copy that mentions the cost of roof cleaning, or anything along the lines of getting an estimate or quantifying the cost of such services.
With these 2 examples in mind, it seems like the first advertiser is getting robbed in the Quality Score department, doesn’t it? With a ‘Below Average’ grade in any Quality Score metric, there’s no chance of your ad getting a 10/10 rating, and very unlikely it even achieves an 8. So, despite the apparent relevancy to the rational human eye, this keyword will suffer with a lower Quality Score. It will, therefore, rank lower in the ad auction, and accrue a higher average cost per click than those with higher Quality Scores for the same or similar keywords.
I could go on with other examples like this, but this blog post must get to a discussion.
Clearly, ‘Ad Relevance’ isn’t always calculated on the description that Google puts forth about it, or else these aforementioned keywords would have different grades.
Maybe we can use Google’s Ad Preview & Diagnosis tool (which you can find at the bottom of the pop-out that appears after you hover over the little speech bubble beside each keyword in your ad group) to get some answers? This tool is supposed to show you which ad is currently running for a given keyword, in a geographical area and device of your choice.
Try this in your account. It will infuriate you. I performed this task multiple times across different ad groups in a client account, and while it would show me Ad ‘A’ in the preview, when we performed an actual search using the exact same keyword in the exact same geographical area, we would be served Ad ‘B.’ Or Ad ‘C.’ There was no rhyme or reason for this.
And just to add salt in the wound, Google says when you use this tool:
“You’ll see the exact same results as a Google search…”
Utter hogwash. Try it for yourself and see if Google is telling the truth or not…
Google’s ‘Defective’ Ad Serving
As an aside, when we performed manual searchers ourselves in our browser, sometimes we were served ads that weren’t even IN the ad group in question! We’d be served ads from a completely unrelated ad group, connected to their own keywords. This is related to another object of my ire (and arguably an even worse offender): the dreaded “this keyword is triggering other ads with a similar keyword…” message in the keyword’s speech bubble in AdWords.
This is maddening. We create ads in a specific ad group for a reason, no? But in the case above, the keyword “walk in tubs” is triggering an ad from the ‘Safety Tubs’ ad group, which is associated with the keyword ‘safety tubs,’ a completely different term. Yes, ‘tubs’ is in each of them, but each keyword resides in its own, unique ad group that contains only similar keywords (ie. the word ‘safety’ does not appear in the Walk In Tubs ad group, and ‘walk in’ doesn’t appear in the Safety Tubs group).
Again, we create ads in a specific ad group for a reason, no? Apparently not… Google gets to decide this for you, judging by the following from their help page on this problem:
“This keyword is already associated with at least one other ad in your account.
You can only have one ad showing per keyword. If you have two or more ads eligible for the same keyword, the ad with the highest Quality Score will show.”
Thank you Google, for deciding which other ads (not in the same ad group) to match the keyword in question to. And, didn’t they just contradict themselves in the paragraph above? It says that the keyword is ‘associated’ with multiple ads, but then in the very next sentence, says that only 1 ad can show per keyword. Huh?
So why then, Google, did you decide to ‘associate’ another ad with the same keyword, despite saying only 1 ad can show for it? That’s why you made US make an ad(s) in the ad group for the specific keyword in question. Match it to any of those ads, not an ad that is supposed to be triggered by an entirely different keyword residing in another ad group!
What’s more, ads don’t actually have Quality Scores assigned to them: keywords do. So this just adds to the confusion. Worse still, I’ve seen an example of this in a client’s account—where the ad that ended up showing for the keyword in question, was attached to a keyword in a separate ad group—however, it had a LOWER Quality Score! It’s enough to make your head spin!
Take the above example, the keyword “walk in tubs.” When I went to look at the offending keyword that was ‘stealing’ the ad impression (safety tubs), that keyword was triggering other ads with a similar keyword TOO!
This time, it was “walk in bathtubs for seniors” that was stealing the ad impression; showing an ad related to the seniors term, instead of an ad related to the safety tubs term, which is what Google should have shown, for relevance.
Can you see the madness of this ‘cross-pollination’ of keywords and ads? Mind-numbing, if you ask me.
And no, I’m not done with the silliness… turns out, the keyword “walk in bathtubs for seniors” had a much lower Quality Score than the keyword “safety tubs,” so that flies right in the face of what Google told us in its multi-ad explanation. And I quote again:
“You can only have one ad showing per keyword. If you have two or more ads eligible for the same keyword, the ad with the highest Quality Score will show.”
So why would the keyword with the lower Quality Score trigger an ad in its ad group, despite it having a lower Quality Score and a less relevant ad, as well? Doesn’t AdWords pride itself on serving the most relevant ads at the right times? With all its incredible calculations and algorithms running in the background, how doesn’t it know to serve the most relevant ad to the searcher’s query, AND to follow its own rules, as per the quoted text above?
And finally, for the cherry on top of a very sour dessert, this ‘cross-pollination’ can change every single day. I checked the next day to see if this ‘other ad triggering’ was still occurring for the original keyword in question (“walk in tubs”), and indeed it was; but this time, completely different keywords were causing the wrong ad serving! At this point you just have to shake your head and realize you’re ‘playing the game.’
Sometimes there’s no justice in the AdWords world.
Are We Being Duped… By The Same System, We Have To Trust?
Is it also possible that the keyword with the lower Quality Score is being used in the ad auction itself (instead of the original keyword that should have done this)? If so, this could be real detrimental to our ‘correct’ keyword’s Ad Rank (which is calculated as Quality Score x Keyword Bid), since the lower the Quality Score, the lower the Ad Rank, and therefore, the lower the position of the ad on the search results page, and the HIGHER the cost we’d need to pay (keywords with higher Quality Scores ultimately receive ‘discounts’ in the auction, meaning the advertiser pays less and less with each numerical improvement). There’s an incredibly comprehensive look at the economics of Quality Score here.
As far as we know, the original, ‘correct’ keyword is the one receiving the impressions and other statistics for the ads being shown (even though the ad was from a different ad group which is supposed to be triggered from a completely different keyword). However, it does make you wonder, since the ad that showed is supposed to only be triggered by the keywords in its own ad group.
AdWord’s #1 Flaw That Humans (Not Algorithms) Can Solve
These 2 problems, the ‘Ad Relevance’ conundrum, and the ‘cross-pollination’ of keywords to ad groups (which no one can easily explain away), point to what I feel is a glaring weakness in the AdWords system:
Human Beings Are Not Allowed To Choose Which Ads Run With Which Keywords!
Again, I salute Google for creating an advertising vehicle that I couldn’t even begin to fathom how to create, and for the most part it is incredibly intelligent and useful. However, such a fundamental element of advertising is relevancy, and I don’t care what they say, if you have a marketing team or copywriter with at least half a brain, they’d be able to point out which ad copy would be the most relevant to the keywords triggered by a user’s search queries.
Google, why not let us decide which ads to run with which keywords? Most of us know our target audiences, and this way, we’ll avoid being at your mercy, and avoid potentially showing ads for “walk in bathtubs for seniors,” when “safety tubs” is what the search was originally for. Yes, maybe the ads are similar, but we made the ads in the “Safety Tubs” ad group for a reason, and the ads in “Seniors” for another.
In this way, we could still rely on AdWord’s ‘Ad Rotation’ settings to ensure the best ad in the ad group is still shown; simply choosing ‘optimize for clicks’ or ‘optimize for conversions’ will still allow Google to choose the appropriate ad—it will just choose between those in the given ad group… not from unrelated ad groups that potentially contain keywords with lower Quality Scores!
Is this asking too much? I’m sure Google likes the status quo, so it has control, and because they pride themselves on serving the most relevant ad, as per their electronic algorithm’s brain. Plus, it is possible that they’ll serve ads that may historically cost more than others (for all you conspiracy theorists out there). Again, we can’t see the inner workings, so we’re more or less at the algorithm’s mercy.
Common Sense Solutions To ‘Lower Your Risk’
What can we do to combat these 2 problems, Ad Relevancy and ‘cross-pollination’ of ads and keywords?
For Ad Relevance, love it or hate it, all we can do is:
Create tightly-themed ad groups like Google suggests. Keep it to 15 keywords or under if possible
Use a combination of broad, “phrase,” and [exact match] keywords, particularly [exact match] if possible, since these are the most specific and Google finds these super relevant to the searcher’s query, when it’s (obviously) what the searcher typed in
Diligently use negative keywords in your campaigns (and specifically at the ad group level)
Use [exact match] negative keywords at the ad group level. For my example above, we would use the keyword [walk in tubs] as an exact match, negative keyword at the ad group level of the “Safety Tubs” ad group. Just like we would use the [safety tubs] exact match keyword as a negative in the “Seniors” ad group. So, wherever possible, use the ‘offending’ keyword stealing the ad impression as an [exact match negative keyword] in the ad group level of the correct ad group. Don’t forget to do the same for plurals and common misspellings as well! This can be very tricky with match type.
Create unique, tightly-themed ad groups, but don’t go so granular that AdWords sees little difference between them; ie. though it’s no guarantee, don’t create an ad group for ‘purple shoes’ and ‘flowery purple shoes’ just because of a 1 word difference, even if you do use [exact match negatives] and single word broad negatives at the ad group level.
Ensure your landing page is as closely related to the ad group’s keywords as possible. This doesn’t mean keyword-stuff your page, but be cognizant about what the overall theme is for the ad group, and ensure your landing page serves up relevant content around potential search queries that match to these keywords. Don’t forget, ‘Landing Page Experience’ is an important element of Quality Score as well!
Wrapping It All Up
Do you suffer from these same kinds of AdWords challenges? Is the algorithm going ‘rogue’ on your keywords and choosing what it thinks is the best ad for the searcher? If so, I hope you’re able to see some improvement in your accounts by following these guidelines.
AdWords will test your patience, but as a whole, it does do a good job of managing your campaigns. As long as you can recognize any problems and then know how to act accordingly, you’ll continue to see respectable results.
Do you have any suggestions to combat this unfortunately ‘inhuman’ aspect of the AdWords engine? Any personal success stories or valuable advice you can share with our readers? If so, please do tell us about them in the comments below!