Registered Trademark Symbols in Shopping Ads

 October 16th, 2017

Back in May, we updated a client’s product feed to include the registered symbol ® in product titles.

pla 1

But last week our client noticed the symbols were no longer displaying in the Shopping ads. I reached out to Google and after escalating the issue to the Merchant Center team, here’s what a rep named Clarke said:

We recently tweaked the canonicalization of titles so that special characters such as the registered trademark ‘r’ would be stripped out after processing. This also means that the registered trademark ‘t’ won’t show in the actual ads.

Using Query Strings for Lead Information

 October 12th, 2017

 

Imagine you’re putting the finishing touches on a monthly report. It was a good reporting period – all of your traffic, leads, and interactions have improved! After spending several hours polishing your data, it is finally ready to send over to your client.

When your client responds, they have only one question:

“Can you show me the information from the leads that converted? I need to track the name and information in my system.”

Whether you work for an agency or are a business owner yourself, it can be difficult to determine who actually converted. Sure, we can tell you how they got to the site (PPC? SEO? Facebook maybe?), but Analytics and AdWords don’t capture the actual form submission.

Roadblocks can come in the form of third-party vendors who receive your lead information, a website development constraint like Iframes (forms hosted somewhere else than physically on your website), or form information feeding into a CRM system.  You may have to match the Google Analytics or AdWords conversion time and date to another system. This information could either be delayed or be a mismatch.

At some point, these flawed conversion tracking situations are common for digital marketers to encounter. The process is infuriating for both marketer and clients. It makes measuring your marketing campaign’s success foggy and destroys any attempt to make changes based on quality of the conversions.

While there are many situations that can block your lead information, if you do happen to have control over your website’s forms, there is a possibility you can track form information with a Redirect Query String.

For the purposes of this blog post, I will be referencing gravity forms (http://www.gravityforms.com/ ) a commonly used form plugin used with WordPress websites. Once installed and activated on the backend of your website, you can create a new form. Using the simple drag and drop functions, creating a form with the information you want to capture is easy.

  1. Once your form is created, hover over Form Settings and go to Confirmations.

query_1

  1. Next, set up the redirect you want to happen after someone submits a form (in this case, a thank you page). When a user is redirected to the “Thank You” page, the query string that we are going to set up next will populate. *Note: this redirect page should be set up as a destination goal in Google Analytics. This way you can track the traffic that reached the “thank you” page with the populated URL string.

query_2

  1. Next you will see an option “redirect query string” with a check box “Pass field data via a query string.” Check the box.

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  1. A new field will appear for you to enter your query strings. This field will merge the tags and the field number. This will become the information that actually pulls into your conversion URL.

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  1. When your query string is complete, you should begin to gather data in Google Analytics that will look something like this:

thank-you/?source=Other&fname=first&lname=last&email=email1@email.com&phone=(123)+456-7890

This information can be found in Google Analytics by going to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages and doing a filter for your “thank-you” page URL. If you want to filter by source type, add a secondary dimension for the source you need.

And there you have it. A URL with lead information you can send to your client. However, it looks really ugly. So we can take it to excel to clean it up. No one likes ugly reports.

Export your “thank-you” page URLs into excel. Highlight the cell that contains your URL and do a Find & Replace or CTRL + H. Enter a * and then add anything that comes before the first field of your URL.

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Hit Replace All. This should remove the URL from your lead information.

Next do a find replace for the first field and the equals sign, replace it with nothing.

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Next do the second URL field and replace with a comma (space).

query_7

Continue replacing with comma (space) until you are done with your URL fields. You should have something like this.

query_8

Finally, highlight the cell, click the data tab on top of excel and click the Text to Columns wizard.

query_9

Hit the delimited option and choose comma as your delimiter.

query_10

Hit next and finish the Text to Columns wizard. Your information should now be separated in different columns.

Fill in the names of your columns and you are now presented with a nice table to add into any kind of report document.

query_11

Using Redirect Query URLs can be helpful in gathering information about leads that have come through your website. So the next time your client asks if they can see their lead information, consider if a query URL can be implemented into lead and/or contact forms on the website. They’ll be happy, and they can give you more insight about the quality of the leads which you can use to make more educated strategy adjustments.

A Love Story

 October 10th, 2017

Budget is often a deciding factor in when it comes to how you market your business. Due to budget restraints, some clients opt for just one strategy over another, not necessarily thinking of how one strategy can impact the other and the overall ROI.

Take SEO and PPC, for example. PPC brings immediate traffic to a website while we work to build up the organic search presence for that site. With SEO comes the added benefit of optimized content on the site. Not only is the SEO content we create optimized to get the website to rank organically, it’s also optimized to help convert users from site visitors to potential customers. This helps not only the search visitors but all visitors who come to the site through other channels as well. This makes PPC & SEO the perfect match, as both strategies are designed to generate leads.

The following examples demonstrate how clients that enlist us for both the PPC and SEO see stronger PPC conversion rates:

We have a Decorating Den client who initially came on for PPC only. She later added SEO to her marketing mix. When we compare PPC data over a 4-month period in 2016 to the same period in 2017, we see a notable increase in conversion rate. The CTR and costs were similar year over year; however, the conversion rate for just PPC form leads increased by 128.13%.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at another example:

Enter two Decorating Den Interiors Franchisees; both are women who are the only decorators in their respective franchises; they use the standard corporate-provided photos throughout their sites; they share a similar PPC budget; and they use exactly the same keywords and ad copy in their PPC campaigns.

The only notable differences? Franchisee A utilizes SEO and PPC, whereas Franchisee B only utilizes PPC. The businesses are also located in slightly different geographic regions.

Below we compared AdWords and Analytics data from June 2017 to September 2017. We also only compared PPC form conversions, no phone calls or organic form leads were taken into account.

Decorating Den Interiors – Franchisee A

seoppc3

 

 

Decorating Den Interiors – Franchisee B

As you can see, although the other metrics are similar, the business that leverages both SEO & PPC had a much stronger conversion rate.

Why could this be? It’s all about the content. As part of the SEO strategy, we build out a ton of content on the site.

  • Relevant content. We build pages for every type of product and service, so when a user is searching for “custom window treatments,” we send them to a page about window treatments. Many clients who only do PPC do not have specific landing pages for each product and service.
  • Local content. The optimized content is localized in such a way that it creates a trust factor. Simply stating on your site that you serve local neighborhoods can go a long way in converting users.
  • Quantity of content. With more pages on the site, users can browse the different pages and get to know the business more. The fuller site establishes credibility for the business, giving the sense that the business is more established.

So, while PPC brings quality visitors to a site, the PPC campaign does not convert as well without optimized and quality content on the site.

In a world where businesses are competing for visibility, SEO has an initial handicap since it takes some time to gain organic traction; however, it’s interesting to see that when we focus on PPC metrics, businesses that leverage SEO see better PPC conversion rates.

SEOM Interactive Soars as 25th Fastest Growing Company in Greater Philadelphia

 September 29th, 2017

Soaring76-SEOM-awardLast night, the Philadelphia Business Journal held the “Soaring 76” awards, honoring the 76 fastest growing companies in the Greater Philadelphia area – and SEOM Interactive proudly accepted the award as the 25th fastest growing company.

To qualify for this prestigious award, we had to meet certain criteria: companies were required to be headquartered in Greater Philadelphia, have no parent company, and have generated at least $750,000 in revenue in 2014 and at least $2 million in 2016. The ranking of the final list came from averaging the percent change in revenue from 2014 to 2015 and the percent change from 2015 to 2016. SEOM came in at 41% revenue growth.

Honorees were welcomed at the SugarHouse Casino for an evening of fun centered around the “Soaring” theme. Also recognized were local businesses like Nutrisystem, Swift Capital, and Toll Brothers. The full list of this year’s winners is available here.

It is truly an honor to be recognized as one of the “Soaring 76.” The hard work and dedication of our entire team has made winning this award possible. It has been amazing watching this company grow over the years, adding new talent, expanding our services, and venturing into new markets. We look forward to continuing to grow as an agency and as always, kicking ass for our clients.

Facebook on the GDN

 September 22nd, 2017

While auditing the placements in a client’s remarketing campaign, one particular placement jumped out at me: facebook.com

Blog_FBPlacement

waitwhatmeme

Since when is Facebook on the Google Display Network?

When you click “see details” on the placement, AdWords slices out the placements more specifically:

Blog_FBPlacements

So my ads aren’t displaying on Facebook itself; they’re on apps within Facebook. But wait, I’m excluding mobile apps as placements in my campaign:

Blog_FBPlacementExcl

This exclusion isn’t catching Facebook apps, so I added apps.facebook.com as a new negative placement.

I reached out to Google to get a little more insight, and a rep named Madison had this to say:

“Sometimes, Google ads can serve on Facebook apps within the greater frame of Facebook. We aren’t serving ads on Facebook directly, but rather on games/content that is embedded on Facebook itself. You can download a report of which apps Facebook allows to monetize here by grouping by “inventory source”: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/adproviders

Additionally, if someone shares a Youtube video on Facebook, and an ad is served on the Youtube video, the placement can be attributed to Facebook (instead of the video itself). This is a bit like the app example — the video is embedded within Facebook but is not on Facebook directly (think of when you’re on Facebook on your phone and then click a link — it opens up a “Facebook browser” embedded within the app instead of taking you to a separate Chrome/Safari tab).”

Post by Janine Monico

Keyword Research Tools

 September 6th, 2017

Every business owner should know what terms they want to be found for via search and the necessary steps to rank for those terms, but they also need an understanding of how their customers are actually searching for their product or service.

How? Keyword research, of course! It’s one of the biggest steps a small businesses can take when looking to increase their rank on Google and ultimately drive more traffic/leads. We rounded up six of our favorite keyword research tools that we utilize on the regular to help our clients rank and attract the right customers.

Google Keyword Planner– Google’s main keyword tool is a great source for keyword research. Keyword Planner shows you how often keywords are searched and how those trends have changed over time, as well as any related keywords. The tool also allows users to filter out negative terms or filter keywords by volume, cost per click, or competitiveness. To access this tool, you’ll need an AdWords account.

keyword planner

SEMRush– For a wide variety of keyword metrics, SEMRush is a great resource. They offer paid and organic search data including cost per click, keyword volume, and related keywords. It’s also handy for competitive analysis because it shows what keywords your competitors are ranking for. To see all the available data, you need a paid account, but you can see some of the metrics for free.

sem rush

Google Trends– Google Trends is useful in deciding which keywords will give you the most traffic.  This is especially useful for businesses that have a long list of keywords they want to target. You can see how popular keywords have performed over time and in what countries, states, or cities they’re most often searched. You can also compare similar terms such as “attorney” and “lawyer” to see what keywords are searched more often.

google trends

Answer The Public– To rank for your keywords, it’s necessary to have content on your site that’s related to them. Answer the Public can help you create content that covers commonly searched queries as referenced by certain keywords. You can sort queries by questions, prepositions, or alphabetically, then visualize the data in a list or graph. If you’d like to see what sort of sites and content are already ranking for those keywords, just click on any idea and it will bring up the Google results.

answer da public

Search Query Report– If you’re already running a paid campaign, you can use the Search Query Report from Google AdWords to find potential and related keywords. The Search Query Report shows actual phrases typed into Google that your ads showed up for and can give you a look into what users were really searching for.  You can then add these searches to your AdWords campaign, or create content related back to these searches to publish on your site, ultimately creating more opportunities to rank.

SQR

Google Searches– The simplest tool to check potential keywords is Google itself. If you’ve ever typed something into Google, you’ve noticed the helpful suggestions Google will offer to finish your query after hitting the space bar. You can further these suggestions by using an asterisk as a “wildcard symbol.” Doing so allows Google to fill in random queries. Similarly, if you scroll to the bottom of your search, you’ll see other Google suggestions for similar searches users have done.

search 1 search 2 search 3

At SEOM, our tagline is “It’s not about clicks, it’s about results.” Good keyword research is the first step to getting the right kind of visitors to your website and can make or break an SEO strategy.  Interested in learning more? Contact the digital marketing experts at SEOM Interactive today to learn how you can maximize your ROI with every click.

Is Bounce Rate Bullsh*t?

 August 2nd, 2017

A few months ago we started working with a new client who had previously been running his own AdWords account. We overhauled and restructured the entire account, and quickly saw an increase in leads.

Looking at the on-site metrics, I noticed that visitors from the PPC campaign were looking at 6 different pages per visit. So I decided to incorporate all of the best pieces from those pages into one landing page. We built the new page in WordPress and – after running it by the client – started using it as our landing page for PPC.

After collecting some significant data, we noticed the bounce rate was insanely high – over 90%. However, while that sounds alarming, I wasn’t worried. Since implementing the new landing page, lead flow increased.

The previous conversion rate (just looking at web form submissions, not factoring in phone leads) was 0.59%. With the new landing page, the conversion rate nearly doubled, climbing to 1.17%.

The new landing page gave a thorough pitch on the business and resulted in more users filling out the form on the site. They only needed that one page to encourage them to take the next step and request more information.

So at the end of the day, if you have a great conversion rate from your landing page, you did your job. I’m not saying bounce rate should be ignored, but the conversion rate is the stronger metric.

Post by Janine Monico

Why You Didn’t Land An Interview

 July 28th, 2017

Job hunting can be a stressful process, whether you’re a recent college grad or you’re looking for a career change. The exciting part comes in to play when you finally find a job listing that feels like a good fit! The position being offered aligns with your career goals and the work seems interesting – all you have to do is land an interview.

That, my friends, is easier said than done. From polishing your resume to crafting the perfect cover letter, a lot of planning goes in to actually landing an interview with a company. Simply having a cover letter and resume doesn’t automatically translate into a face-to-face meeting.

At SEOM Interactive, we’ve had a number of applications come in with glaringly obvious errors that made them stand out for all of the wrong reasons. If you’ve ever been passed over when it comes to getting a job interview, you may have made one of these mistakes:

You Didn’t Follow The Application Instructions.
If a job description asks for a resume, cover letter, and salary requirements, include all 3 elements in your application. Failing to include any of these items shows a poor attention to detail. This helps hiring managers weed out the unworthy right from the get-go. Read the job description and application instructions a few times over before submitting your application.

You Had Poor Resume Etiquette.
A resume is supposed to be a brief account of one’s experience and qualifications within a particular field. A resume is not a four-page life story. Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. If your resume becomes longer than a page, and you have less than five years of experience under your belt, remove the skills and experience that aren’t relevant to the position. Also keep in mind the different modes your resume may be viewed in. Word documents, while perfectly formatted when you view it, can look like a disaster when viewed in preview mode. Submit your resume as a PDF.

You Didn’t Proofread.
From your resume to your cover letter, introductory email, and writing samples, proofreading is vital! Read and re-read every element of your application before submitting. Have a friend or colleague eyeball your application to ensure your spelling is correct (particularly when it comes to the name of the company) and that there are no grammatical errors before you hit send.

You Took The Easy Way Out.
Jobs listed on sites like LinkedIn and Indeed have an “easy apply” button. All of your information is saved in their system, and all you have to do is click “Apply.” Don’t do this! Always attach a resume and cover letter to express your interest and highlight your skills. Countless others are simply clicking to apply; stand out by taking the extra steps.

You Attached The Wrong Cover Letter Or Resume.
It’s not often that you submit one application and call it a day. If you’re looking for a job, you’re probably applying to a handful of companies with different titles for each role you’re applying for. Make sure you mention the proper position and name of the company in your cover letter. Additionally, make sure you’re sending the right resume along. Don’t send a resume with a mechanical engineering objective when you’re applying for a job in social media.

You Took Too Many Risks.
It’s important to stand out from the crowd when you’re applying for a job, but when you take too many risks to do so, it can work against you. Don’t send your resume in a fancy font no one can read. Don’t quote Dr. Seuss in your cover letter (unless of course you’re entering the field of children’s literature). Don’t submit a photo (unless you’re applying for an acting gig).

The simplest error can leave a bad taste in a potential employer’s mouth. Trust us; we’ve seen it happen. Avoid these mistakes and you’re sure to land an interview. Best of luck in your job search!

Want to work at SEOM Interactive? See our job openings.

Search Terms from Search Partners: Why eBay May Be Messing with You

 July 21st, 2017

Post by Josh Pack, Google/Bing PPC Specialist at SEOM Interactive:

As a PPC Specialist who works daily within Google AdWords, I  see some peculiar search terms from time to time. Most of the time, we have a chuckle at how some people search for products or services in strange ways, and then add a simple negative to fix the issue. However, I recently noticed some very long search terms in an account we manage for a client in the fireplace and hearth industry that piqued my interest.

The search term in question was “35 large 1500 watt stainless electric wall mount fireplace heater with remote home & garden home improvement heating cooling & a.”

I found this query very odd, mostly because the latter part of the term almost has a categorization to it, like an e-commerce website. Perhaps someone was copying the URL or title of a product and searching for another retailer. Regardless, after noticing these search terms appearing in the report more frequently and not seeing any results from them at all, I decided to do some research.

Entering the entire search term into Google, the first organic result was for eBay. Notice how the majority of the description for this listing is bolded for relevance to the original search query.

google search partners query

When I followed the organic listing into eBay, everything clicked (pun intended). There, at the top of the eBay page, was the very same categorization that I noticed within the search terms report. Of course, the search term didn’t match the entire categorization due to the character limit, but it was almost identical.

ebay query results

Scrolling to the bottom of the page, I found why these search terms were showing in the report. I saw two expanded text ads, one of which was for the AdWords account in question. Finally this started to make sense!

See the example below for an idea of how these ads appear on eBay.

ebay listing

Even though I did not have a display campaign setup, these ads were displayed on this eBay listing because the search campaign in question was targeting Search Partners. eBay is currently included within the Search Partner Network of AdWords, along with several other major e-commerce retailers.

If you’re not familiar with Search Partners, these are websites within AdWords’ Search Network that partner with Google to show ads. Search Partners extend the reach of Google Search ads to hundreds of non-Google websites, as well as YouTube and other Google sites.

After figuring out where these search terms were coming from, I needed to find a way to stop these wasted clicks. One option would be to turn off Search Partners within the campaign settings. However, that would limit our reach. Instead, I chose to add “home improvement heating cooling” as a phrase match negative since this phrase was only included within these particular search terms and would not result in any favorable queries being blocked.

The accounts where I saw these search terms were not receiving any favorable results from these Search Partner listings, but your results may vary. Simply turning off all Search Partner listings could kill a major traffic source for your campaigns, and is not recommended unless you are sure the traffic you are receiving is not wanted. Instead, consider taking a deeper dive into the search terms coming from these Search Partner sources to see if some clever negative keywords can help improve the results.

What Do I Do?

 June 16th, 2017

This post comes to us from Michael Johnson, SEO Associate at SEOM Interactive:

When it comes to deciding where to shop, consumers turn to reviews. Companies with an online presence have reviews published by Google that give consumers a voice. They rate their individual experiences through stars, photos, and their opinions.  These ratings are of paramount importance to small business owners.

According to a survey on Marketing Land, “90% of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86% said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.”

google ratings

How Google Calculates Your Score

Google uses a Bayesian Average scoring system, which takes existing information related to the data set in order to calculate a score, rather than base the score solely off of the mean of the total reviews. Scores are calculated this way to “minimize the impact of large deviations or assert a default value when the data set is small.” This means Google is taking factors into account that we cannot see to try to estimate a more accurate average of what the score would be if there were a lot of reviews.

While this method is beneficial in some ways, it can also be detrimental. For small businesses, in particular, it can significantly harm their Google ratings. It is believed that the Bayesian Average method goes out the window after 30 reviews and the overall ratings start to reflect a basic mathematic average, but there is nothing concrete that proves this theory. Whether this magic number threshold exists or not, it is important for our clients to get as many good reviews as possible in order to avoid a negative rating.

A Tale Of Poor Ratings

At SEOM, our SMB clients are often looking for ways to get positive reviews in order to help their business stand out in search because ultimately, those reviews are what drive consumers to choose them. Recently, one of our clients faced a situation where an ex-employee had his friends and family negatively review our client’s company on Google, leaving our client with 10 fake 1-star reviews and 10 5-stars. The listings average score was a 1.7 though.

In addition to having a low score, the top 3 reviews that were featured on our client’s listing were hateful messages that contained personal, misleading, violent or inappropriate content. This is against Google’s Terms of Service, and in working with Google, we were able to get some of the more heinous reviews removed.

In an effort to gain more positive reviews to combat the negative ones, we created a link to the client’s Google listing for them to share with customers. This link was customized to send users directly to the review box with 5 stars checked. All a user had to do was click the link, log into Google, and leave their review. After sending this to previous customers and including the link on the client’s website, real reviews started to come in. To further this effort, we used the thumbs-up feature Google offers to “like” the positive reviews.

After 2-7 days, we started to see a change in our client’s scores. The top three featured reviews in Google search were all positive and up-voted reviews. Google keeps private what influences their rankings and algorithms, so while we can’t confirm that up-voting helps the rankings, we can see that it worked in this case.

In the days that passed, their rating went from a 1.7 to a 3.7. Today, this client’s average is now a 3.4 with 23 reviews. This score reflects the mathematical average, which tells us that Google could have already started doing away with their Bayesian system.

Moving Forward

Google recently announced that they are moving away from the Bayesian model and have started testing new ways of scoring, slowly rolling updates out to their rating system.  Now the review scores will be taken and used to give the straight-forward, arithmetic average.

As with any problem we encounter, it was important for us to be open and willing to learn from our client’s difficulties. It was discouraging to see our client’s score drop to a 1.7 because of a personal issue, but by implementing a strategy to obtain more reviews, we were able to turn that around.

If your business receives negative reviews, don’t panic! SEOM Interactive can show you the necessary steps to remedy the situation.