Using SEO To Grow Your Dental Practice

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.

SEO for dental practices

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.

Not surprisingly, people tend to click on the first few organic results on a search engine results page (SERP) the most.

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.

    SEO & Local

    Reviews

    Websites

    Tracking

    Paid Ad

    Social

    Email Marketing

  • 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

How The Removal Of Google Authorship Images Will Affect Businesses

google analytics update

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.

Logo_Google_2013_Official.svg

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.

Moreover, some studies have indicated that rich snippets as a whole (not limited to Google Authorship) can improve click-through rates by up to 150%. Cyrus Shepard from Moz even concluded that the presence of having Google Authorship connected and working led to an increase of 35% in traffic.

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 publishing.
  • Keep educating your readers.
  • Keep optimizing your content for user/reader experience.
  • Keep optimizing your content for search engines.
  • Keep to your content strategy

Lastly…

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.

6 Dental Marketing Ideas For Your Dental Practice

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.
Get more patients into your dental practice with proper dental marketing
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.

SEO & Local

Reviews

Websites

Tracking

Paid Ad

Social

Email Marketing

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

 

This post 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):
Google Authorship For Dentists
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

How will prospective patients get to your dental practice? People need to know your address and get directions to your dental practice in some way. With a decline in the use of those big YellowPages books , Google Maps has become the go-to place for looking for geographical locations of, well, anything. Google Maps has over 150 million mobile users .

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:

  • Create (or claim) your Local Business Page
  • 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?

Lastly…

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.”

Guide To Creating Landing Pages That Convert – Part 1

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:

  1. Identify Your Target Market/Audience Like Your Life Depended On It
  2. State Your Goals
  3. Build Your Landing Page
  4. Maintain Scent
  5. Establish Trust
  6. Write Compelling & Persuasive Copy
  7. Write Your Actionable CTA
  8. Make capturing customer data simple (Form Optimization)
  9. Carefully Pick Your Images/Videos
  10. Create a Sense of Urgency
  11. Build Your Post Conversion Page
  12. Start Testing

Why You Should Create & Use Landing Pages

Your answer should always be: increase your conversion rates, capture targeted leads while increasing sales.

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

buyer-persona

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

  1. Basic demographic information.
  2. What is their job and level of seniority?
  3. What are their pain points?
  4. What do they value most?
  5. What are their goals?
  6. Where do they get their information?
  7. What experiences are they looking for when they are shopping for your products and services?
  8. 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.

conduct-surveys

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.

Recommended Readings:

Guaranteed Success: How to Find Your Target Market So Content Sticks

Step 2 – State Your Goals

First and foremost you must define your business objective(s). Goals determine where you intend to go and tell you when you get there. They help increase your overall efficiency as a company.

state-your-business-objective

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:

  • EBooks
  • Webinar registration
  • Software free trial
  • Event registration
  • Contest registration

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.

Recommended Readings:

Give Your Advertising ROI a Serious Boost by Maintaining Scent

To help you construct your click-through landing page here is an example:

click-through-landing-page-example

*source Unbounce.com

Conclusion

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.

How To Claim And Optimize A Yelp Business Page

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…

  1. No Business Listed: Your business hasn’t been listed on the site, click “Add your business to Yelp” on the bottom of the page.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  • Business category
  • 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.

  1. Have a Yelp Link on your website: The more exposure your Yelp business page gets the higher chance you will receive customer reviews.
  2. Including a Yelp Link in your email signature: For the same reason explained above.
  3. Reach out to existing customers: Ask your loyal customers if they would mind writing a review.
  4. 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.

Why I Hate AdWords’ ‘Ad Relevance’ & ‘Other Ad Triggering’: Simple Solutions To Combat Flawed Ad Serving

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:

  KM_Law_Ad_Example_Blurred

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 in the 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:

 NSHS_Ad_Example_Blurred

 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

Ad_Triggering_Sad

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.

 Safe_Step_ad_triggered_by_other_keyword_example

 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!

 Safe_Step_ad_triggered_by_other_keyword_example_2

 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.

 Safe_Step_ad_triggered_by_other_keyword_example_3

 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.

Sigh…

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)
  • Create ad copy that contains the keyword
  • Use {dynamic keyword insertion}. However, don’t overuse it!

To avoid ‘cross-pollinating’ ads and keywords:

  • 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!

I’ll see you there!

5 Tips For Choosing The Right Internet Marketing Agency

So you’re ready to invest in your business’ online presence but you’ve got at least one of two problems:

  • No time to do Internet Marketing yourself
  • Not sure how Internet Marketing really works (and works effectively)

That means you’ll need some professionals to manage this for you – an Internet Marketing agency. You’ll need the best agency to run your business’ digital marketing. I’d suggest a real thorough search of agencies because the last thing you want is to bounce around from agency to agency because of poor results and poor service.

Here are some tips to avoid that mess so you can pick the right Internet Marketing agency for your business:

1. See Who Ranks For ‘Internet Marketing’ In Your Area

While this shouldn’t be THE determinant for picking the right Internet Marketing agency to handle your business’ digital marketing, it’s a great demonstration of an agency’s abilities. Of course, the thinking behind agencies who don’t rank for ‘Internet Marketing’ in your area is that they’re too busy focusing on their clients to do their agency’s SEO. In my view, that’s bogus.

A great agency focuses on BOTH client work (that’s what we do!) AND attracting new business. Otherwise, how can any agency grow? They need to do work on the agency side.

So ranking for industry-related keywords is important improving your brand’s online presence no matter what your industry is. For Internet Marketing agencies, this is important. It’s a demonstration of an agency’s commitment to industry self-improvement.

2. Shop Around For The Best Bang For Your Marketing Buck – But Be Careful

It’s only normal for you, the business owner or manager to shop around for the best deal – on anything. The same goes for Internet Marketing.

However – A BIG disclaimer to this is that there are plenty of SEO companies that offer their services for very cheap. You can go out of province or even overseas for your Internet Marketing services. They might give you the lowest price you can find – but is it the best value for your business? You also have to examine the quality of their services. Many overseas SEO companies that claim to get your business to the first page of Google for cheap use what we call “black hat” tactics. These are tactics disapproved by Google that SEO’s use to try and get to the first page of Google. Google will recognize these tactics if they are implemented and penalize your website. The term for SEO’s using reputable tactics that Google encourages is “white hat SEO”.

So here are the underlying take-home ideas:

  • Do NOT hire companies that promise to get you to the first page of Google
  • Do NOT hire companies that promise their services for cheap

While it’s important for your business to minimize costs and get a return on whatever you’re investing in, make sure you ask the necessary questions so that your business doesn’t get the short end of the stick.

3. Look For Smaller, More Focused Agencies

While you should be careful about which Internet Marketing agency you choose, one common misconception is that a bigger agency is better. The thinking behind this is that a bigger agency is a bit more reputable and the reason they are as big as they are is because they have succeeded in what they do. While this may be partly true, I’ll challenge this notion that a bigger Internet Marketing agency is better.

While bigger agencies may come with higher sales figures, they might not allocate prime resources to manage your digital marketing. If you’re a smaller business than what the agency is used to dealing with, they’ll let some of their more inexperienced account managers and perhaps a few interns to manage your online presence. Is that what you want? Let’s not go there, for the sake of your business.

Smaller agencies will allocate larger teams, maybe even the entire team to manage accounts regardless of the size. They’ll also charge less than the big agencies. Big agencies have a high overhead and therefore, you’ll be paying for the big marketing ‘fat cats’ to sit in their high chairs. With smaller agencies, you’ll get a better return on your investment – and believe me, we’ve seen clients delighted with the cost-per-lead numbers they see!

4. Do A Background Check

Finding more about an agency that could be part of your team is a no-brainer. Just like any other product or service you buy on the Internet, you can use the same tactics. Type them into a search engine and see what people are saying about them. Look around their entire website. Check out their bios and social media profiles. See if they’re keeping up-to-date on the latest trends. Read their blogs and look into what they’re saying about Internet Marketing. Do they pass your own credibility test? Do you feel you can trust them? It’s usually good to like who you do business with. Find out as much as you can about your prospective Internet Marketing agency before deciding on one.

5. Search For Case Studies And Recommendations

I’m a firm believer that the greatest sales presentation that anyone can give is that of a customer testimonial. It’s just that human touch that takes your prospect from knowing what you do to trusting what you do. It’s one thing to hear a sales pitch from a salesperson but it’s another thing to hear that pitch from an unbiased, third-party viewpoint. That’s why it’s critical for any Internet Marketing agency search to include an in-depth look at what they have done for other clients. You deserve to see their results. It’ll help you see what they could possibly be doing for you.

Furthermore, if an agency is proud of what they’ve done for clients, they’d show it off, right? If their clients approved of using their name for their agency’s case studies, then clearly the client feels good approving of the job the agency did, right?

Finally…

All of these tips are just some of the things you can do and look out for in your search for an agency. Remember, whoever you choose will be an extension of your marketing team and an extension of your business. You’ll get everything you need – Paid Search Managers, Search Engine Optimizers, Social Media Managers, Writers, Designers, and more – all for the price of retaining ONE of these professionals.

The agency you work with ought to reflect your values and principles and vice-versa. Follow these 5 steps and you will be on your way to picking that perfect match.

3 Things Other Internet Marketing Agencies In Vancouver Won’t Tell You

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a business owner or manager considering your Internet marketing agency options. There are plenty of Internet marketing agencies in Vancouver and all have their own ways of setting up and pricing the packages they sell.

We’ve heard from a number of business owners – some already frustrated, and some who were unaware of the untruthful actions taken by their Internet marketing agency. This blog post will show you what’s happening to other businesses all over the Lower Mainland and how you can avoid getting burned the same way.

Vancouver Internet Marketing Agencies

Vancouver’s Internet Marketing Agency Problem #1: Inflated Click Prices

ReachLocal

A growing epidemic in our industry is the issue with inflated click prices in Paid Search Advertising. I’ve heard from a number of business owners here in the Vancouver area about the services and suspect pricing policies of ReachLocal, a large Internet marketing agency. Let’s just say a lot of business owners aren’t overly happy. Some people have published their frustrations. Our own Sam Araki did his own review of ReachLocal over a month ago. Some business owners are shocked when they hear about this growing problem with ReachLocal. We literally see their jaws drop.

And the fact remains that these inflated click prices are a problem. ReachLocal is a renowned culprit for this. Here’s what inflated click prices mean for businesses: You don’t get what you pay for – you get LESS. How do they do this? ReachLocal always spends your ad budget. Always. And what they do is take a chunk – around 50-60% of it as their cut. Let me be clear: I’m not demonizing them for taking a cut of your ad spend. They’re a business and they operate to make a profit. However, 50-60% is extremely high. Something more normal would be around 10-20%.

In summary:

  • If you’re a business using ReachLocal’s services, this isn’t a call to stop everything you do with them. Just stay informed on the structure of your ad spend. You deserve to know. Transparency is important.
  • If you’re not a ReachLocal client, be clear with whoever your Internet marketing agency is on pricing and ad spend. If you have no agency, consider one but be aware of what agencies offer.

Vancouver’s Internet Marketing Agency Problem #2: Ridiculous Admin Costs

To build on the theme of transparency, businesses are always concerned with where else their marketing spend is going. Again, let me harp on the fact that every business is in business to make a profit. There’s no questioning that. However, to allow just a small portion of total spend to go to pay-per-click with the rest going to “administration costs” is absolutely asinine.

Such is the case with Yellow Pages’ 360 Solution. This is Yellow Pages’ digital marketing solution for businesses that want to be found in search results. We’ve heard from a few business owners on the Yellow Pages 360 Solution and decided to create a case study. In the case study, we found out that an inordinate amount of budget was going to Yellow Pages “administration costs”. I’ll let you check out the case study to find out the exact number and how our team dissected the numbers. Again, it’s fine for an Internet Marketing agency to eat cake but let the client have theirs too! In this case, the business, not the agency, should be doing the bulk of the eating. This is just another example of something that the average Internet Marketing agency won’t tell you.

Vancouver’s Internet Marketing Agency Problem #3: The “In-House” Fallacy

There’s this desire for agencies to refer to themselves as “In-House”. In case you’re unsure what the term actually means, it simply refers to a business that conducts all of its operations in its home facility. We see countless Internet Marketing agencies here in Vancouver call themselves “In-House agencies” and the reality is that this is simply not true.

Our agency conducts all operations – every channel within Inbound Marketing – in-house. So that begs the question…

If Not An “In-House” Internet Marketing Agency, Then What?

Most of the Internet Marketing agencies in Vancouver that call themselves “In-House” typically contract certain operations out. Here are the common ones:

  • Paid Search. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising requires a lot of time dedicated to managing each account because of all the intricacies therein – managing ads, ad groups, keywords and so on.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While a lot of on-page SEO can be done in-house, Internet Marketing agencies prefer to outsource off-page SEO. Why? Link building takes a lot of time and effort. Outsourcing your off-page SEO to the wrong company (this happens A LOT!) can have disastrous results. We know first-hand: upon taking over a client’s account, we encountered an ugly SEO mess that had been perpetrated by an overseas provider (which the client was sadly unaware of)..

You’re asking yourself “Why should I care?” Well on a given phone call or in your correspondence with your agency, you want to be able to cover all bases of your Internet Marketing strategy. You’ve likely been sold on the premise that everything is done in one house. And if you have, you may have been lied to. Do yourself and your business a favour and get all the information you deserve.

There’s no incentive for them to tell you about click prices, true costs and the structure of their agency. They can go about their business and you’ll never know. But transparency is important. It builds trust and strengthens the client-agency relationship. That’s what we all want and what’s the end result? Better results and happier days – and in rainy Vancouver, we can always use those.

What Is HubSpot? A Complete Overview And Why Your Business Needs It (Part 2)

Image credit: Hubspot

In the first half of our comprehensive HubSpot overview, we answered the question “What is HubSpot?” and started to answer the question “Why do I need HubSpot?” Here’s the second half of our exclusive overview of HubSpot.

HubSpot Sales Funnel

To recap, let’s go back to the original question again:

What Is HubSpot?

HubSpot is an all-in-one inbound marketing software platform that helps businesses attract website visitors, convert them into leads and turn those leads into paying customers. It uses inbound marketing (Search Engine OptimizationBloggingSocial MediaMarketing Automation and Marketing Analytics) to accomplish that.

So what more can we do with HubSpot?

Optimize For Search Engines

With HubSpot, search engine optimization (SEO) is ingrained in every tool. It’s woven into all of the content tools so you can rest assured you’ve got a guide for making sure your content ranks in search engines and ranks well.

  • Page Performance. Discover how each and every page on your website is performing and ranking. This unique HubSpot tool checks if your page has all the critical SEO and conversion rate optimization (CRO) factors like Title tags, Image Alt text, Header tags, Meta description and more. I find this to be a great checklist for basic SEO.
  • Keywords. HubSpot’s Keywords tool allows you to see how your business ranks in search engines for certain keywords. Here’s a great way to use the Keywords tool and other tools to your advantage in 3 easy steps:
  1. Find keywords with the Keywords tool that have a Rank of under 60 and an Average Monthly Search total of over 100
  2. Create and publish a blog post with one of those keywords
  3. Once published, use the Page Performance tool to optimize your post for best SEO practices

Integrate With Your Customer Relationship Management system (CRM)

  • Having your sales and marketing teams aligned and working closely together is extremely important. HubSpot dubs this alignment “Smarketing.” With Salesforce being one of the most popular CRM systems, HubSpot hypes up its ability to integrate with it. In reality, HubSpot can integrate with almost any CRM system. Your marketing team creates the content that will help the sales team close more business. Your sales team needs to provide feedback. With HubSpot and CRM alignment, you’ll be able to create meaningful relationships with customers which means more initial and recurring revenue for your business

Share Your Content Over Social Media

With the Social Inbox, you can take social media management to the next level – without hassle! No more logging into multiple accounts to manage each profile individually. Monitor, publish and report all in one tool. You’ll save time and enhance your social campaigns.

  • Social Media Monitoring. With HubSpot’s Social Media Monitoring screen, you’ll find out more about who is interacting with your business on social networks. Key intelligence items include:
  1. Full interaction history with contacts
  2. Contact information
  3. How influential those contacts are
  4. Ways to converse with them.
  • Social Media Publishing. Here’s your ultimate time-saver: Effortlessly attach and post content to one or multiple of your social media channels. HubSpot has suggested times for posting which is a great aspect of this tool. We use the Social Inbox as our social media management tool and it’s effective and easy.

Report Progress

Run a marketing campaign without complete reporting and you’ll run into a bunch of problems. You’ll find that knowing where your traffic and leads come from, how your competitors match up to you, and what you should be focusing on is the insight you need to increase your bottom line. The good news? HubSpot has the solution:

  • Sources Reports. Want to know exactly where your visitors and leads are coming from? HubSpot’s Sources tool shows which channels are doing well and which ones are not. It provides you with the insight and intelligence that will tell you where you should put more effort into.
  • Competitors. Do you know how your competitors are doing? Want to know what their online presence is like and how you can beat them? The Competitors tool breaks it all down pooling analytical data from a plethora of great resources. With the Marketing Grader, Alexa Traffic Rank, Indexed Pages, Linking Domains, mozRank and much more, you’ll find out how your online presence is and how it matches up to your competitors. Here’s what’s even better: You can track these statistics graphically over time within HubSpot.
  • Closed-Loop Reporting. Being able to work with your sales team seamlessly and find out where your best lead sources are can do wonders for your business. This is what great closed-loop reporting can do. With closed-loop reporting, you’ll be able to find where your customers are coming from. HubSpot centers it’s reporting data around this. Here are some distinct benefits of closed-loop reporting:
  1. Gain Valuable Intelligence On Your Target Audience
  2. Deliver Clear, Concise Results To Your Boss
  3. Focus On The Channels And Offers That Are Working
  4. Discover Your ROI

So Why HubSpot?

Let’s be clear. As wonderful as everything you’ve read sounds, managing HubSpot is no magic bullet. It does take time. That’s why it’s best to get an Internet Marketing Agency to manage your inbound marketing for you. And what we do know is the benefits of HubSpot are clear, some of which are listed below:

  • Consolidate Your Marketing Into One Easy-To-Use Platform
  • Create, Optimize and Promote Content To Turn Your Leads Into Paying Customers
  • Quantify Your ROI With Ease
  • Move Your Leads Down The Sales Funnel
  • Discover What Your Best Lead Sources Are
  • Segment Your Contacts Into Lists To Trigger Targeted Actions Towards Them
  • Get Your Business Found With The Easy Search Engine Page Optimization Tool
  • Amplify Your Brand With The Social Inbox
  • Turn Visitors Into Leads With Custom ‘Smart’ Forms And ‘Smart’ Calls-To-Action

As detailed as HubSpot is, and as thorough as this post has been, there are plenty of fine details that make it a leading software tool. Do you and your business a favour by integrating HubSpot into your marketing campaigns. Inbound Marketing Assessments are always a good way to begin so you can see how compatible you are with HubSpot.

What Is HubSpot? A Complete Overview And Why Your Business Needs It (Part 1)

In conversations with clients, more often than not, we’ve been asked: “What is HubSpot? All I hear is HubSpot, HubSpot, HubSpot!” HubSpot is a proven tool for generating leads. It’s fantastic and I’m not just saying that because we’re HubSpot partners. The facts are that it works and as a result, HubSpot’s popularity is rising.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. HubSpot has been around since 2006 propelling their message of why every business should be doing Inbound Marketing. What is Inbound Marketing? It’s the process of getting ordinary people to find your business and turn them into paying customers. Inbound is growing and because of that,

HubSpot is growing…fast.

Here are two reasons why HubSpot is so rapidly growing amongst marketers:

  1. The Need For Stronger ROI. Business owners and managers alike are TIRED of not being able to get a decent ROI on their marketing investment. But before even getting a decent ROI, they want to be able to SEE an ROI and quantify it. The bottom line is: You need cost-effective results!
  2. The Need To Simplify Your Marketing. In the marketing world, there are loads of tools you can use to better manage your day-to-day inbound marketing. You’ve got one tool for analytics, one tool for email marketing, a bunch of design tools for landing pages, thank you pages and calls-to-action. For efficiency’s sake, business owners need something that saves time and simplifies the inbound marketing process.

So What Is HubSpot?

HubSpot is an inbound marketing software platform that helps businesses attract website visitors, convert them into leads and turn those leads into paying customers. It’s an all-in-one marketing software that uses inbound marketing (Search Engine Optimization, Blogging, Social Media, Marketing Automation and Marketing Analytics) to accomplish that.

What Can You Do With HubSpot?

Create Content In HubSpot

Great content will convert visitors into leads and send them down the sales funnel. Content is a major piece of inbound marketing and is critical in getting leads further down the sales funnel. But you need the right tools to make that happen and it requires your creative juices to flow. With HubSpot, you can create:

Landing_Pages___HubSpot

  • Landing Pages. Great landing pages are critical to inbound marketing success. You need a way to get visitors to opt into what your business has to offer. Valuable offers like ebooks and whitepapers are great pieces of content that can bring a website visitor closer to buying. In converting them from just ordinary visitors to qualified leads with great content offers, you’ll the kinds of leads your business craves for. Create custom landing pages with HubSpot’s landing page tool that includes all the components of a highly converting landing page.
  • A Blog. Everyone talks about content and with HubSpot, you can reap the benefits of the Blogging tool. So how does HubSpot’s Blogging tool help? It allows you to create content easily with the ability to optimize each post for search engines. Not sold on blogging? Here’s a short list of what blogging can do for your business:
  1. Build Your Reputation As A Thought Leader In Your Industry
  2. Rank Higher in Search Engines
  3. Solve Problems Your Customers Have
  4. Drive Traffic To Your Website
  5. Increase Leads and Sales
  6. Decrease Your Cost Of Customer Acquisition

As you can tell, it’s a pretty attractive tool to have.

  • Calls-to-Action (CTA’s). It’s a common best practice to have CTA’s on every page of your website because you want to give someone the ability to convert on any page. And as we know, the end goal for any landing page is for the visitor to fill out the form. The best way to usher them closer to filling that form is with a customized CTA that sends them to a landing page and clearly explains what the offer is. You should also tell them why they should click on it and go to the landing page. With HubSpot, you can use the very easy-to-use CTA builder or create a custom image CTA. You want to make your offers as visually attractive as possible. As you can imagine, this is a critical tool in the HubSpot toolbelt and you ought to take advantage of it.

Convert Your Leads With HubSpot’s Unique Tools

So your leads have expressed interest in your business. What do you do next? HubSpot gives you the opportunity to nurture and convert those leads down the sales funnel into qualified leads and customers with marketing automation.

  • Workflows. There’s no better way to nurture your leads with custom workflows. Trigger post-conversion actions like custom emails and content to move your leads further down the sales funnel and closer to buying.

Email___HubSpot

  • Email. Email Marketing STILL works! Whether you want to reach your customers through a one-off email or an entire email campaign, HubSpot’s Email tool allows you to customize an email that your prospects will love. You have the option to use a HubSpot template or you can create your own email from scratch which means you have the power to communicate what you want to your subscribers in a stylistically attractive way.

Here’s one unique feature within the Email tool: You can add personalization in the subject or body of the email. HubSpot can take information that the subscriber has given through a form submission and put that into your emails to give them the personal touch your leads will love.

  • Forms. We’ve seen countless instances of companies bombarding prospects with questions and requests for information in their contact forms. The facts speak for themselves: Long forms are big turn-offs for any user. HubSpot ‘Smart’ forms allow you to pre-populate fields with previously entered data, fully remove fields that have already been filled out and allow you to ask your prospects the smart questions.

So you’ve got the content creation side of things down pat and can convert and nurture someone down the sales funnel. But do you know how to optimize your content for search engines, promote it through social media and report your inbound progress? Learn all about that in Part 2 of this LocalTrifecta special blog post – click here to go to Part 2!