Understanding Google’s Search Engine Results Page and Why It Matters

Marketers understand that in order to have a strong online presence, a website has to rank high on Google (or any other search engine) or prospects will likely have a hard time finding it. This is where Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) comes in. The SERP is the page of options that comes up when you do a search. Each SERP is unique depending on the keywords and search engine used. It contains two types of content: organic and paid results. It also includes featured snippets, images, videos, and location-specific results.

This is Google’s way of trying to make users’ search experiences easier and more relevant. The SERP enables users to see on-page content without having to click into an organic result. This is great for users, but it can be problematic for marketers looking to capture attention in organic search results.

Marketers need to stay current with SERP features to learn how to rank higher. Search engines are increasingly more sophisticated. A few years ago if you searched the word “pizza” you would get a listing of pizza restaurant websites, a directory listing, review sites, and maybe some blog posts. Today that same search provides so much more. You’ll see an ad, a map with the closest pizza location to you, a Wikipedia page with pizza nutritional information, etc. This makes it harder for even the #1 ranked pizza place to be visible. There are ways around this.

Rich Snippets Enable You to Share More Info Before A Click

Rich snippets allow you to include images, reviews, descriptions, pricing, etc. that will come up in the search so users are more enticed to click.

Paid Search Results Put Your Site At The Top Of The Page

These are the ads and sponsored posts that you see at the very top of the SERP. Google differentiates paid searches from organic using visual cues that include providing a “sponsored” or “ad” label or by boxing off the paid search results.

Organic Search Lists Your Site Below Paid Search Results

In an organic search your site will appear in the order Google ranks it based on your SEO. It will be listed below the paid search results. Ensuring your site has engaging, relevant, keyword-rich content will help boost SEO to keep your ranking high and your site visible in organic search.

Here’s a visual for what each of these options looks like on Google.

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Facebook is Removing Third-Party Targeting: What This Means for Marketers

You are likely aware that Facebook, under heightened scrutiny and mounting regulatory pressure, has announced it will be removing access to data provided by third-party data brokers for its advertising system. This includes all third-party targeting capabilities – both private and public. Currently in Facebook under the Partner Categories by Request option, advertisers can request access to private data from vendors like Oracle and Experian or access public data categories that include behavioral targeting parameters – like purchasing behavior and household income. Facebook does not disclose the source(s) it uses for this data.

Nearly half of Facebook’s 1,200 targeting criteria come from third-party data sources, all of which will be impacted by this change. Facebook is making this move as a result of its Cambridge Analytica data breech crisis. Facebook is also doing it to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will go into effect May 25, 2018.

In an unprecedented move, this broad-reaching GDPR provides governmental guidance regarding how European Union (EU) member states handle users’ personal information. But this doesn’t just affect EU companies. GDPR will apply to all companies that process personal data of EU citizens, regardless of where they reside. That means it applies to US companies that process data of EU citizens, whether they live in the States or not.

The GDPR requires companies to provide the highest levels of privacy protection or suffer dire financial consequences. Violators may face a fine up to four percent of their company’s global revenue. This will affect how third-party data is used throughout the digital advertising world regardless of location.

Facebook released the following 2018 timeline for its GDPR compliance and its impact on advertisers:

May 10: After this date, you will no longer be able to create or edit campaign using Partner Categories built on audiences from the UK, Germany, and France; however, they will be allowed to continue running until May 24.

 May 25: Facebook will no longer deliver to Partner Categories built on audiences from the UK, Germany, and France, and these targeting options will no longer be available for use on the platform. You will notified to update any targeting containing impacted Partner Categories before this date.

June 30: Last day for creating new or editing existing campaigns using non-EU Partner Categories; they will be allowed to run until September 30.

October 1: All other Partner Categories will no longer be available as targeting options and Facebook will stop delivering against these audiences. You will be notified to update your targeting by this date.

Many marketers who use third-party Facebook data to reach their prospects are likely shaken by this news. But keep in mind that while US advertisers have had access to third-party data, that hasn’t been true everywhere – like in Canada, for example. Canada hasn’t had access, yet advertisers have still had the ability to scale and deliver successful Facebook campaigns.

It’s very difficult to predict what comes next. It’s possible that advertisers will buy audiences directly from data brokers and layer it into their own data before importing it as a Custom Audience in Facebook. Or Facebook may find alternative ways to incorporate third-party data. Facebook could also bring these data fields in-house and begin to re-release them to advertisers. Read my blog for updates.

 

 

Why You Should Use HTML for Your Marketing E-Mails

There was once a time when there was a valid concern regarding the deliverability of HTML e-mails, but that is no longer the case. So if you aren’t using HTML for your marketing e-mails, you should. Here’s why.

1. HTML Drives More Leads

With HTML you can build in interactive hyperlinks and calls to action that take your content to the next level, generating more leads and sales conversions than plain text ever could.

  1. HTML Is Responsive

Another advantage of using HTML is the fact you can offer an unsubscribe option. This gives your prospects the opportunity to opt out of future e-mails from you, so your list is comprised of only the best, most qualified leads who want to hear from you.

HTML also gives you the huge advantage of gathering analytics, seeing who engaged and how. This enables you to track and measure audience engagement and refines your e-mail marketing strategy based on what you find out.

  1. HTML Design Isn’t Busy

Often marketers worry HTML e-mails will be too busy. Not true. You can make HTML e-mails just as clean as plain text e-mail but with all of the added benefits HTML offers. In fact, HTML provides the perfect balance between effectively branding your company and controlling the content message, ensuring the content is the focus of the e-mail.

  1. Even HTML Design Must Follow Best Practices

When using HTML, you still have to follow best practices. Keep your design clean, your copy short, and your call to action prominent. Take advantage of analytics and test subject lines and offers to see what works best to get your prospects’ attention. Remember though to only test one thing at a time or you won’t know what impacted the results you see. Most importantly, always, always use a good e-mail list!

HTML is really the only way to go when it comes to sending your marketing e-mails, so don’t be afraid to use it. You won’t regret it!

 

Three Ways to Optimize Your Display Ads

Display ads can be a great way to increase your brand exposure and build awareness. But if you’ve ever run a display ad, you know that getting qualified prospects to click can be challenging. Luckily, I’ve found some ways to help. By using data analytics, you can make sure your ads are running in the right place at the right time, hopefully generating more clicks from better prospects. Here are three easy ways to do that.

  1. Audit Your AdWords Placements

The name of the game with display advertising is impressions. Google wants you to get the most impressions possible because that’s how they get paid. Google isn’t concerned with the quality or relevancy of those impressions. You need to be. You can’t just pick a topic or interest to target (like marketing) and call it a day. Your ad is likely to end up on all sorts of sites – many of which you won’t think are a good match.

Not every website on the Internet that matches the Google “marketing” definition will necessarily be a match for your company. The best way to figure out where your ads are being displayed, what’s working and what’s not is to audit your display ad placements. To do this you just open your display ad in AdWords, click on the Display Network tab, and then click Placements. You’ll see where your ad(s) were displayed, the number of impressions and clicks, conversions, etc., for each site your ad was displayed on. You will quickly be able to determine which sites are worth your ad dollars and which ones aren’t and proceed accordingly.

  1. Identify the Best Keywords

We have a similar situation here with keyword contextual targeting. When you determine your keywords, you have to remember that not every site Google selects using your keywords will be relevant. (The audit you do in step one above will shed some light on your keywords too.)

The best way to find the best keywords is to listen to how your prospects talk about your business segment. You can do this by opening one of your relevant paid search campaigns in AdWords, click on Keywords, and then Search Terms. You’ll see the exact searches that triggered your ad and the results they achieved.

Once you know these top-performing keywords and phrases, you can use them to build your contextual targeting keyword strategy.

  1. Look at Demographics

Demographic targeting can help improve the performance of your display ad(s). To see the demographics of the visitors to your site, open Google Analytics, click on Audience, then Demographics, then Overview, and then select Converters. If you have enough traffic to your site, you’ll see great demographics information you can use. If your site traffic isn’t stellar, you can run a similar report using the AdWords Report Editor in Google Analytics.

As with all other marketing tactics, the success or failure of your strategy is largely reliant on how well you use your data to guide your decisions. Pay attention and respond to what your data is telling you, and your display ads and all of your other marketing initiatives will perform better.

 

How 5G Improves Your Marketing Efforts

Mobile World Congress 2018 is taking place in Barcelona, and there have already been exciting announcements from participants. The one that caught my attention is 5G, the latest generation in wireless connectivity.

Research conducted by Pew Research Center showed that one in every 10 adults in America use the Internet via a smart phone only. They don’t have or use a home high-speed Internet connection. 5G to the rescue!

5G is simply the fifth generation in wireless connectivity technology. It was designed to meet the needs of a growing number of mobile Internet users. 5G provides better speed, enhanced data management, greater responsiveness, and connectivity to smart devices.

What 5G Means for Marketers

Consumers use their smart devices to seek information and content. The faster mobile Internet speed brought by 5G means a significantly decreased load time, which will lead to even more mobile usage. This continued increase in smart device usage means Google and other search engines will have to address mobile search patterns and how to improve upon them and to deliver an enhanced mobile-specific experience.

The connectivity of our smart devices and the growing usage inspired 5G. Look for even greater connectivity in smart devices and more voice-activated options. 5G will influence how consumers interact with their smart devices and how we communicate with them. It seems we are heading toward the ability for brands to communicate with consumers directly through their appliances. It’s an exciting new world!

How to Nurture Leads for Increased Sales

In order for any lead nurturing campaign to be successful, it must be part of a comprehensive plan. It cannot exist in a silo. It must be connected to your other lead gen programs and analytics. The beauty of e-mail campaigns is you can select exactly whom you want to send your message to. And you can help direct your recipients’ next step by sending them to your website or by offering a special download – something to engage them. Then, you can use analytics to determine each prospect’s level of interest based on their level of engagement.

You should qualify your prospects based on opens and clicks. Did they open the e-mail? Did they click through on your call to action? This is their way of responding to your e-mails, telling you if they are effective or not. So, choose your content wisely and make sure it’s relevant. Communicate about special promotions, events, offers, anything of interest to your prospects.

Another key to successful lead gen campaigns is to know your saturation point. Do you need to send weekly e-mails or does monthly work best? You want your e-mails to be a welcome sight in your prospects’ in boxes and not a nuisance. Lead nurturing is about engagement. You want to keep prospects as engaged as possible along their buying journey. You want to keep your prospects interested, show them you care, you understand their unique needs, and how your company can help.

Knowing where your prospects are in the buying process is helpful. And how they engage with your e-mails will help you determine whether they are gathering information, considering, or ready to buy.

E-mail lead gen campaigns enable you to learn more about your prospects so you can better communicate with them and nurture them throughout their buying journey. This helps you provide the right content at the right time, moving them down the funnel to a purchasing decision.

 

8 LinkedIn Changes That Help With Your Marketing


A year ago LinkedIn revamped its system in an attempt to increase functionality and make it more user friendly, a move that came after its acquisition by Microsoft in 2016. The changes are evident from the moment you sign in to your account. The new app-like home page has been streamlined, giving you quick and easy access to the information you want to see – with the goal for you to use LinkedIn more often and stay engaged longer.

If you’re like me, you haven’t taken the time (until now) to investigate all of the changes. Here are the top eight changes that marketers should know about.

  1. More Content

Your LinkedIn home page now features more organic, sponsored, and native advertising content users may be interested in reading. And shortcuts like the “Work” button in the top navigation bar next to your profile picture make it easy to manage your company page as well as your groups.

  1. Easy Messaging

The new and improved LinkedIn makes it even easier to private message contacts. Now there’s a pop-up “Messaging” window on the bottom right of your home page screen that allows you to quickly and easily select one of your contacts and shoot them off a message without leaving the LinkedIn homepage feed. And, when you receive messages, new “smart replies” automation provides three automated replies you can select – no typing required. Adding personalization to the automated message – like: Thanks, Jane – is coming soon.

  1. Easy Searching

New search features offer a universal search box that lets users search by people, jobs, companies, groups and schools. You can search all of these LinkedIn categories with a single, unified keyword(s) – all of the relevant items will come up on one page, and you can toggle between different categories. Before this change, you had to search in each category separately.

  1. Trending Topics At A Glance

LinkedIn is taking its cue from Facebook, adding an algorithm that selects trending stories for this news feed on the top right of your home page. This move makes it easier for users to engage within the system.

  1. More Analytics

 This one is really good. LinkedIn now provides more analytics so you know how other users interact with your content you post. LinkedIn now shows you things like who liked your content, the company they work for, their job title, where they are located, and where they found your content. If that weren’t enough, the system will also suggest additional articles to share with your network to increase engagement.

  1. Native Videos

Remember how frustrating it used to be to try to embed video into LinkedIn?! Now LinkedIn lets you upload native videos directly to LinkedIn using its mobile app. In addition to being convenient, this enhancement also helps the videos on company pages appear more authentic/organic and less “corporate.”

  1. Blogging Interface

Now you can create a blog post from your home page by clicking on the “Write An Article” link in the top box on your home screen. Before you had to navigate to another page called LinkedIn Pulse and write your post there.

  1. Learning Center

The new “Learning” option in your top navigation bar enables you to enter a skill set that are of interest to you and then access pertinent content that informs you on a multitude of subjects that meet your criteria.

With these changes, it’s likely LinkedIn users could start using this platform even more, which would definitely capture the attention of marketers wanting to reach prospects where they are. You may want to consider creating more LinkedIn campaigns and content for the site.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve checked out LinkedIn, I suggest you log on and see how this platform can help your business.