Is your search campaign taking advantage of Google Call Extensions?

Call Tracking

Local companies are a good example of advertisers whose paid search goals include receiving phone calls. A recent study showed that 70% of mobile searchers call a business directly from search results.

Often there is no comparison to talking to a live person. This can be the case when a prospect is searching for a business in the service industry, as well as other verticals like travel, auto, finance, etc. The days of simply including the advertiser’s phone number within Google paid search ad text may be gone but call extensions enable an advertiser to still have a phone number appear with their ad.

Google AdWords Call Extensions are an ad extension format that allows searchers to call a business directly from the paid search ad. There are several ways to configure call extensions depending on your needs, as well as some challenges in navigating Google’s reporting of their results.

Using call extensions, your number can show on desktop searches as well as mobile searches in the form of a clickable button. This can be customized to show only on mobile devices. The cost is the same as a regular ad click, you can use your own actual number, or a Google forwarding number.

With the forwarding number, you can view call insights which include call time, duration and area code.

As with all ad extensions, which also include location, seller ratings, reviews and site links, Google uses several factors to determine whether and how they will show. These include ad position, rank, keyword quality score and max bid. If you have several ad extensions enabled there is a chance not all of them will be shown.

When it comes to reporting results, AdWords offers call details if using a Google forwarding number, as well as many data views which offer great information but also can cause some confusion. Google has made some changes to call extensions over the past weeks which improve how results are viewed from within the AdWords interface. For example, call conversions are now tallied into the total of regular ad click conversions, instead of being shown separately in a call conversions column.  Additionally there is a ‘phone call conversions’ column that displays only phone calls longer than a user-specified minimum duration. Another view under ad extensions differentiates clicks to call from call conversions, which offers insight to calls where the user may have clicked to call but chose to not to go through with placing the call when their mobile device’s dialog box appeared. The conversions view under the ‘Tools’ menu in AdWords also shows the conversion data broken out by ad clicks and phone calls. So when tracking phone calls, Google offers a lot of reporting insight but requires some digging to see the full picture.

extensions

Google AdWords Call Extensions offer a valuable extension to your paid search efforts which allow searchers to reach an advertiser and convert by phone from search ads. Local and other businesses that value leads in the form of phone calls which are already using Google paid search, can add value to their existing efforts by using call extensions.

Scary SEO Tactics Revealed

Scary SEO Tactics

Scary SEO Tactics

Website owners and webmasters are always looking for ways to improve their site’s visibility in the search engines, but 2011 became the year the media pulled back the curtain and revealed to the public how many companies were improving their search rankings through some questionable SEO tactics.

In early February the New York Times printed a story about The Dirty Little Secrets of Search. JC Penny was caught gaming Google’s search algorithm by purchasing links on thousands of irrelevant sites across the web to manipulate their search results. Google took immediate action and manual adjusted their organic listings to an appropriate position earned.

Later that month Google’s Panda update to their search ranking algorithm targeted sites that provide shallow or low quality content. Many of these sites were specifically built to just rank high within the search engines and often pulled or “scraped” content from other sites.  This crack down on low value content sites affected about 12% of the US search results. Websites that are seeking high rankings will have to ensure the content found within pages of their site are relevant and deliver value to visitor.

May once again brought to light the issue of websites purchasing links on other sites around the web. Trying to Game Google on “Mother’s Day Flowers”, was a news piece written about how some of the top flower retailers were engaged in link-buying campaigns to improve their search rankings. Specific rankings were highlighted for one flower retailer; in which a ranking improvement from No. 7 to a No. 4 position in the search results was gained just shortly after a link-buying campaign began.

The news of unfair SEO tactics continued in July with an article titled, Picking the Lock of Google’s Search. The article shares how a local locksmith is at a competitive disadvantage when customers use a search engine to help them find a locksmith located in Seattle.  A search on Yelp reveals there are 3,000 locksmiths in the Seattle area, most of which are no located nowhere near Seattle. Most of the companies listed are lead generation sites who have duped the search engines into thinking they are a legitimate locksmith when they are going to sell the lead to another service provider.

The most common ways these companies are able to rank for local searches is by hijacking a local address or by spreading around their NAP (name, address and phone number) on sites all over the web with only partially correct information.

Google is aware of the scary SEO tactics being used today by companies across the web to help improve their rankings and they are always changing and improving the factors that contribute to how websites are ranked within their search index.

Google+ vs. Facebook…Which is better?

Greetings Bloggers! Hope everyone’s week is going well. Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz on the debate between GooglePlus and Facebook so I wanted to put my 2 cents on here as well. As we all know, Facebook is the world’s largest social networking site and Google is the world’s largest search engine, so it doesn’t surprise me that competition has become fierce as soon as Google came up with it’s unique (but strangely similar to Facebook) social networking site.

With Google+ features like: hangouts, circles, larger images for viewing, and huddles; I have to admit Google+ dominates. However, strangely enough I am seeing many “copy-cat” features from Facebook including: the overall design, stream aka news feed,  and the plus button oddly replacing the like button. With these similarities and differences, I truly believe people will have to decide on one social networking site to devote majority of their time to- I mean, come on now, how many social networking sites can a person really manage? I have to admit I find myself logging on to twitter at least 10 times per day and Facebook could vary from 20 plus times-hey my job requires me to be on there!

With all this said, I feel that the ultimate decision of choosing one social site over the other will come down to rankings. As a Google AdWords Certified professional, I can understand the importance behind ranking high on specific search queries. If Google+ designs everything as they hoped, I do believe it will create winners and losers in the publishing world, making Google +1 buttons actually matter. Before that becomes a reality though, it will require an enormous increase in users. A report says that Google+ currently has about 20 Million Users- not bad considering they just recently became public, BUT they still have a long way to go to catch up to Facebook’s 800 Million Users.

In conclusion, Google+ is a bold and sensational attempt at social. There’s a reason why Google calls this a “project” rather than a “product” – they don’t want people to think of this as the final product, but as a constantly-evolving site as more and more great ideas are born. In the mean time, it doesn’t surprise me if Mark Zuckerberg feels like he is sitting on the hot seat as he continues to hear rumors of Google+ far surpassing FB potential. All in all, Google+ is a solid social networking site. But I’m not going to call it a Facebook killer or a game-changer, just yet. If only Google can persuade users to log-in every day, it will become a winner, hands down. In the mean time, however, Google will have to do even more to provide a truly compelling alternative to Facebook. In the time being, Google+ cannot compete with the king of social, but Google does not seem to be in a hurry to take on Mark Zuckerberg’s baby just yet.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment by clicking on the white bubble at the top right, I’d love to hear from you! Also, if this topic interests you- we will be having a Webinar on September 6th at 1 PM EST to discuss Google+ in more detail! More info on that to come! Follow me on Twitter if you’d like to chat there @Mish_Lynn

Signing out- Have a wonderful rest of your week!

Cheers,

Michelle

How Google Social Search Impacts Your Organic Traffic

Until recently, most social networking sites were either completely closed off to search engines or were simply ignored by them. If Google did show some social media results in the past, they were typically very low on the search page (often as sub-items under another search result). As of now, Google has changed the way Twitter and Facebook feeds interact with search engine results and page rankings. In effect, millions of informational links are shared daily through social networking sites, and social media is now dramatically influencing organic traffic rankings. As a result, more people are benefiting from these links.

A new tool called, “Google Social Search” is now also positively impacting organic traffic. This tool delivers search results that are influenced by your friends and social activities based on the links they are sharing. What’s cool about this tool is that Google will use your online friends and contacts to give you more relevant and meaningful content since content from people you know can be more trustworthy. I think this is the perfect tool for people who are looking for feedback when making a purchase. For instance, say you’re looking to go see a movie, but want to read an online movie review first. Instead of reading a review from someone you don’t know, you can instead get reviews from your best friend who has the same taste as you. On the other hand, I do feel that Google Search can have harmful effects on privacy issues for some users.

If you are looking to use Google Social Search, below are some things to keep in mind.

You have to:

  • Add people to your Friends, Family, and Coworkers groups in your Google contacts
  • Link social sites, such as Twitter and FriendFeed, from your Google profile, because those people’s content will appear in your Google search
  • Add people to your Gmail or Google Talk chat list
  • Follow people in Google Reader and Google Buzz, because those people’s content will appear in your Google search. Google will automatically add people for you who are public connections of your immediate, public social connections. This means that if you follow a friend on Twitter, and he follows five people, those additional five people may also be included as social connections.)

Watch this video to learn more about Google Social Search.

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Three Takeaways from MarketingSherpa's B-to-B Summit

No, I don’t mean Brian Carroll’s book, “Lead Generation for the Complex Sale” or NetLine’s 1 GB USB Flash, or On24’s cool red and grey notebook, although I was happy to take them all away. What I’m talking about are trends in B2B Demand Generation that are changing the way marketers increase the effectiveness of their demand generation campaigns. There were a lot of case studies over the two days at MarketingSherpa‘s recent B-to-B Demand Generation Summit in Boston…Landing Page Optimization Workshops, great food, and networking…but as a veteran marketer, I did a lot of thinking about what I would focus on if I was in our clients’ shoes. Here are my top three for 2009:

1.  For Outbound Marketing, Relevance – Not Content – is King.

Gone are the days when you could send a one-time blast to a rented email list segmented by title and industry, and have a decent response. Outbound Internet marketing, in order to be effective, must establish a relationship with potential buyers and customers throughout the buying cycle, and deliver informed, relevant valuable information. The good news is there are more and more software platforms out there that enable you to tailor outbound communication based on prior behavior.  Start a conversation. Then ask questions, and keep the conversation going by listening.

2. Inbound Marketing Offers Untapped Potential – Use it!

SEO optimization, SEM, Blogging, Social networks, Video… In today’s marketing economy, people are searching for what they want/need, whether it’s information, expert advice, or peer-to-peer recommendations. The more time you invest in your search efforts, and the social blogosphere, the more you will be known. The number one inhibitor? Lack of passion for your product or service. Find your evangelists in your company and get started.

3.  Integrate/Repurpose/Test. Then Test Some More.

I find that testing is like flossing your teeth. Everybody knows how important it is, but not everybody executes on it. Test everything, from outbound subject lines to inbound SEO copy. It takes time, but the payoffs are well worth it. Also, start thinking about all your marketing efforts as one fluid, integrated approach. Test your messaging, your offers, and your landing page designs. Is your blog getting good response? Repurpose the content into a whitepaper or e-book. Is a particular web page getting high traffic? Refresh the content, add more relevant offers. Don’t have time to blog today? Send a mico-blog post through Twitter, stay in front of your clients. Take a survey and turn the results into an informational benchmark offer.

Marketers have more tools than ever to get smarter about marketing and to initiate buzz on a shoestring budget. But it takes more than tools. It takes a strategy. It takes agility. It takes ingenuity. It takes trying something new. It takes testing.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment for me right here on our blog.