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.

Digital Marketing Firm Affected by Unknown Algorithm Update

 April 27th, 2017

super markLast Thursday was anything but normal in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. After a sudden and unexpected algorithm update, the agency noticed something wasn’t quite right at SEOM Interactive. Computer screens began glowing green; office supplies floated away from their places on desks; there was a force in the air no one could recognize. But in a busy digital agency, work always comes first, so the staff at SEOM ignored the strangeness in the air.

Local newscasters likened the event to an Act of God. Industry professionals claimed it was a freak accident. Google still has yet to offer up an explanation, but for SEOM Interactive, things will never be the same.

Matt Tumasz, an SEO Manager, picked up the phone before it even rang. On the other side of the office, search specialists began noticing a difference in their ability to manipulate Google listings, Yelp reviews, and even paid ad placement with their minds.

super debNow, it’s been a week since the incident, and Mark Kennedy, President of SEOM Interactive, couldn’t be happier. As an avid comic book reader and fan of all things superhero, Kennedy was excited to receive the power of super speed.

As a business owner, his work never stops, but with super speed, he’s able to answer emails and calls in a matter of seconds, helping more clients than ever before on a daily basis.

“I was glad everyone showed up at the office that day,” he said after explaining that his employees have the liberty to work remotely as needed. “We’re more productive now than we’ve ever been!”

Some employees were gifted the ability to teleport and can now attend meetings, conferences, and trade shows around the world, while others, like Kevin Gleason, resident SEO guru, was gifted the power to shape shift. Employees who directly report to him claim that it’s difficult to find him now, as he’s known to morph into Roger, the MOZ mascot.

Steve, another SEO Associate, has quickly become known as the office prankster. His invisibility allows him to prank unsuspecting co-workers. “When I’m not rearranging Brian’s POPS!, I’ll stand in on meetings to absorb information and grow my SEO skill set.”

Andy, a member of the paid search team, perhaps got the best deal of them all. “I’m able to tap into others abilities as I need them.” We won’t be surprised if Andy quickly climbs the ranks!

While our investigative teams are still looking into the cause of the incident, Kennedy sees nothing but possibility. But, if we’ve learned anything from the tales of superheroes, we know that with great power comes great responsibility.

When asked about future new hires, Mark is hopeful that there will be another algorithm update like this one. “The more meta-humans on my team, the better!”

 

Up next: SEOM Interactive Under New Leadership

SEOM Welcomes 4M Communication to the Family!

 March 10th, 2017

4M Communication is a full-service public relations agency and the newest division of SEOM Interactive.  At SEOM, we’ve been offering public relations services to our clients for the past three years. However, in the last year or so, our owner, Mark noticed that the requests for PR had been increasing. It became apparent that there needed to be a separate entity focusing strictly on PR, and that’s how 4M was born.

It’s founded on the same drive and passion as SEOM- kicking ass for the little guys- and Melanie and Danielle are ready to get to work. They will continue helping the clients they’ve gotten to know at SEOM while also taking on new clients of their own. Their background at SEOM is what differentiates them from any other PR agency. Here, they learn the ins and outs of digital marketing as a whole and are able to seamlessly tie together all channels of a marketing plan.

Some of the services they offer are local/national media outreach, media list development, press release writing and distribution, product placement and reviews, event trade show support, copy writing, social media campaign development and more.

In the past, they have helped our clients get featured on Realtor.com, landed a spot on 6ABC’s Action News and planned an all-day business conference from start to finish. We are excited to see all that they will accomplish at 4M and lucky for us, their office is still right inside ours! To see what they are all about, check out their website at www.4mcommunication.com.

Ads Added by AdWords? I’ll Be Opting Out

 January 27th, 2017

Before I start this rant post, I want to make 2 quick points…

  1. If you don’t want to read, but just want to opt out of this new adwords “feature”, then here is the link
  2. I am all for automation and a lot of new features from Adwords have been helpful, but this one is not for me. That being said, you can at least opt out, but I think you should not be automatically opted-in.
  3. Update – Here are two scripts to help check for Ads added By Adwords in your account – Check for the ads and Pause the Ads
    1. Please always be careful with scripts and make sure they work properly for your needs
    2. The first script is by Frederick Vallaeys and the second is by Aaron Dicks

Okay, now back to the post. On Thursday afternoon, one of my client accounts received this email…

Dear AdWords Advertiser,

You’ve been invited to participate in a pilot program for AdWords that is designed to improve campaign performance by creating new variations of your existing ads within your ad groups. You’re receiving this message because your account contains at least one campaign that’s optimizing ads for clicks or conversions. These campaigns may also contain ad groups with fewer ads than is recommended by AdWords best practices.

What’s changing

Starting February 9, 2017, you may see new ads in some ad groups with the label “Added by AdWords.” These ads will be created based on information you’ve provided in your existing ads, such as your headlines, description, ad extensions, or information found on your ads’ landing page. New ads will only be added to each ad group once.

Next steps

You do not need to take any action to participate in the program. Starting February 9, 2017, please monitor clicks and spend going to these new ads. You can edit, pause, or remove them at any point, however we recommend waiting until they have enough impressions to give you confidence in the results. Because you’ve chosen to optimize your ads for clicks or conversions, AdWords will automatically optimize these ads to meet your business goals.

You can learn more about ads “Added by AdWords” in the AdWords Help Center. If you’d like to opt out of this pilot program, please complete this form.*

My first reaction wasn’t so positive. Was this actually for real? Was it spam? I took to twitter and #ppcchat and it was confirmed by Matt McKenna, who posted it on reddit as well. Google was going to add ETAs to your adgroups without any notice starting Feb 9th. You’d be able to see those ads, they would have a label “added by adwords”. And you could pause or delete those ads, but it was going to happen (unless you opted out).

So before I go on, a few notes about this particular account…

  • Resort/Leisure Industry
  • Spend is about $20K per month
  • it’s the only account not in our MCC
  • It has ETAs and Legacy (STA) ads in all adgroups
  • It has remarketing campaigns

Not sure if any of those factors had an impact for this campaign being selected, but wanted to mention them in case anyone has insight.

So getting back to the main point here, while I can pause the ads or opt-out, I still don’t want Google writing my (client’s) ads for a few reasons…

  • They don’t know the business
  • They don’t know the goals
  • They could screw up A/B ad tests
  • They may not coincide with Landing Pages or LP tests
  • Are they weighing CTR > Conversion Rates
  • Some industries (Legal) have strict rules for advertising copy

p - law p - scary  p - ab tests p - lp

Basically I want control over my adcopy, not Google. And these are pretty good reasons why. That being said, I get why Google is doing it. Some (a lot) accounts are probably not using ETA’s, despite the upcoming deadline and Google wants to push ETA’s as much as possible since they look more like organic listings. And to be fair, there were some positive points made on Twitter as well…

p - dsa  p - suggest

But to Julie’s point in her tweet, don’t make them auto-run. And while I haven’t (won’t) see these new ads in action, Kirk makes a valid point…

p - not new

So in theory, the adcopy would not be out of the blue. It would be based on current ad versions. So that could be safe. But what if they don’t have enough current ads, but instead/also base them on adcopy from paused/deleted ads. Or from other adgroups, where the copy wouldn’t make sense. Not saying that would happen, but it makes you think/worry, so another reason to opt out.

So maybe you can make a case as to how this could be helpful. And for Google it makes sense to get more people upgraded to ETAs, even if they have to do it automatically. But my opinion is that the risk outweighs the reward and it shouldn’t be automatic opt-in. But at least you can opt-out or kill the ads. Or even an automated rule if need be…

p- rule

But the overall point of this post is to make you aware, so that you can decide for yourself. But for me it’s a definite…

P - opted out

 

NBC10 & Telemundo62 Studio Visit

 December 6th, 2016

cityline-ave-interview-spaceLights! Camera! Action! The SEOM Public Relations team (Danielle and Melanie) took a tour of the NBC10 and Telemundo62 studio in Bala Cynwyd on December 1st. The PR duo belongs to the Philadelphia Public Relations Association (PPRA),  the nation’s oldest and largest independent public relations association, and were given this members-only behind-the-scenes peek at how a news station operates on a day-to-day basis.

SEOM’s clients are always looking for new ways to market their brands, tell their stories and create more awareness about themselves and their company. One of the ways the PR team accomplishes these goals is by pitching client stories to local newspapers and stations. This exclusive tour of the NBC10 and Telemundo62 was the perfect opportunity for our PR team to gain inside information on the best ways to get our clients noticed by a broadcast team.

Melanie and Danielle toured the main interview space on City Line Ave as well as the production room, the digital operations room and the main studio. In the interview space, they watched a live interview between NBC10 anchor Vai Sikahema and two women holding free testings for World Aids Day. They also got to go inside the newsroom and see where stories that they pitch end up.

ppra-group-pic

In addition to the tour, there was a Q&A session with one of the station’s assignment editors – the person receiving pitches about what’s going on and ultimately, the decision makers in regards to what stories get covered. During this session, Melanie and Danielle uncovered how to best pitch the journalists at NBC10, as well as the best times to reach out to them, best practices in press release writing, and how to craft a subject line that will pique a reporter’s interest.

Overall, this trip to the NBC10 and Telemundo62 studio was an informative and instructive visit for our PR Team! The insider tips Melanie and Danielle gained will be useful moving forward in gaining coverage for our clients.

How BMBC Bettered My Business

 September 8th, 2016

katie-robbins-taste-of-tuscanyKatie Robbins, owner of The Taste of Tuscany and last year’s winner of BMBC’s Sell it to the Sharks talks about how BMBC has helped her grow her business and continue to succeed.

Two years ago, The Taste of Tuscany was just a pipe dream. I never imagined running a business, let alone a  business within the world of food. Now, thanks to my personal passion for food and the BucksMont BizCon last year, my dreams have become a reality. I am successfully running my business in a world of talented entrepreneurs and like-minded small business owners.

About a year ago, I wanted to expand my business by starting a new product line. I knew the desire for my product was there, and I had already built up a loyal customer base. My sauces were being sold in a variety of retailers in the tri-state area, and people were eager to see what I was going to come up with next. I didn’t know where I was going to get the funding for the new materials I would need.

When I heard about the Sell it to the Sharks competition, I knew this was an unbelievable chance to grow my business and obtain the funding I needed.  In addition to competing against some of the bravest (and youngest!) entrepreneurs in the area, I was able to learn more about other aspects of running a small business.

Since winning, I have been able to launch a new product line and expand my offerings to other stores. In addition, BMBC has helped me move outside of my comfort zone! Presenting my business idea to a jury of my peers definitely gave me a confidence boost. Now more than ever I feel prepared to open new doors as a business owner.

It’s been a crazy ride, but I couldn’t be happier. Through my business, I am establishing a future for myself and my family. I am so glad I entered the Sell it to the Sharks competition – without doing so, I’m not so sure I would be where I am today.

Interested in growing your business like Katie did? Sign up for the Sell it to the Sharks competition today! We are seeking Bucks and Montgomery County-based entrepreneurs and business owners who want to pitch their marketing plan to a panel of local experts at our second annual BucksMont BizCon. Similar to the hit television show Shark Tank, our “sharks” will evaluate your idea based on a number of factors, including your unique plan, longevity, financial considerations, etc. 

BucksMont BizCon 2016

 August 26th, 2016

It’s baaaack…. BucksMont BizCon that is! On Thursday, October 20th, SEOM Interactive will once again join TheBathOutlet.com in hosting the second annual small business summit at the Fuge in Warminster, PA. Here’s more info on the what, when, and where.

As an agency, we specialize in developing marketing strategies that go beyond the norm for businesses – not just ones that check the boxes. Chances are if you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur just starting out, digital marketing is a whole new,(and often overwhelming) world.  That’s why this year’s BMBC is all about the importance of deploying an integrated marketing strategy – one that goes beyond just SEO and pay-per-click to put you AHEAD of your competitors. Sounding like Greek? Then it’s time for you to learn a new language!

The daylong conference chock full of interactive presentations and panel discussions will conclude with the ever-exciting ‘Shark-Tank’ style competition. We’re giving three start-ups the chance to win $5K for their business. To win, they’ll have to pitch their best marketing plan to a panel of judges including Katie Robbins, owner of Taste of Tuscany and last year’s competition winner. To learn more about the competition or to apply, visit www.bucksmontbizcon.com/selltosharks.

The SEOM Interactive team is truly excited about BMBC 2016 and we hope you’ll join us for what promises to be an informative and fun-filled day! Tickets include breakfast, lunch, unlimited coffee and networking opportunities with some of the area’s best and brightest digital marketers and entrepreneurs. Are you a student, or know one who would be interested in attending?  NEW this year, BMBC will be free to local grad and undergrad students!

For more information on the event, including agenda and speakers, to purchase tickets, visit, www.bucksmontbizcon.com.

Early Bird Special (ends September 30): $24.99

General Admission Tickets (October 1-day of event): $39.99

SEOM Interactive Named Google Premier Partner

 July 14th, 2016

PGPbadgeSEOM Interactive has been named a Google Premier Partner – an award granted to companies that use competitive tactics to provide their clients with the most qualified leads and sales.

A lot of hard work goes in to earning this partnership. In order to achieve this elite status, a company must demonstrate expertise in AdWords, including meeting AdWords spend requirements, providing opportunities for agency and client revenue growth, and sustaining and growing a client base.

FullSizeRenderIn partnering with Google, SEOM receives the most up-to-date training and education on new features and strategies for online advertising. Being a Premier Partner allows us to learn from experts and access additional support from the Google team. With these added benefits and resources, SEOM will continue to provide clients with the most effective marketing strategies specific to each client’s goals.

The team at SEOM boasts a number of company specializations, as well as individual certifications in areas like Search Advertising, Shopping and Google Analytics. These specializations not only help us differentiate ourselves in the digital advertising market, but also serve as validation for current and future clients that we understand how to strategically leverage all avenues of digital media.

“We are proud to receive the Premier Partner badge,” says Janine Monico, Vice President and head of the PPC team. “It symbolizes our high level of commitment and service, which aligns with our agency’s mission to generate results.”

Being recognized by Google is an incredible honor in the digital world. SEOM looks forward to continuing to provide each of our clients with the best digital marketing solutions in the industry, and being recognized as a Premier Partner only fuels our passion.

Optimizing Embedded YouTube Videos

 April 29th, 2016

Here are a few steps that you can use to boost your site UX and keep people on your site for the rest of their lives.

The regular embed iframe snippet looks like this:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/mmUjJjPx3NI” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

This will produce a video that looks like this:

When the video finishes it will also give the viewer the option to select another related video to watch.

This won’t take the user off the website, but it can distract them from the purpose that brought them to your website in the first place. 

A few simple additional parameters added to the snippet and you are good to go.

First off, when you add a parameter you begin with a question mark(?) and then every following parameter you begin with a ampersand(&).

mc 3

The result of these parameters clean the video up in ways that keep the viewer focused on the webpage.

First parameter to add is “?rel=0”

This indicates whether the player should not show related videos when playback ends.

The next parameter to add is “&showinfo=0”

This will take away that annoying video title bar at the top of the thumbnail along with the watch later and uploader controls.

Lastly, add this parameter “&autohide=1”

This parameter indicates whether the video controls will automatically hide after the video begins playing regardless of the video players dimensions, the video progress bar and player controls display or hide automatically.

Your completed snippet should look like this:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/mmUjJjPx3NI?rel=0&showinfo=0&autohide=1″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

The resulting video will look like this:

If you want a list of more video player parameters check out this link.

 

 

Paid Search Can Work for SMBs – Even the Little Guys!

 March 28th, 2016