As more and more of your potential customers view your business on Google, fewer and fewer of them actually click on your website. How can this be?
A Moz study from 2017 shows that 34% of Google searches result in absolutely no clicks, and this means that customers are viewing your business info directly on Google rather than on your website or social media page. This is why it’s important to improve your branded search results.
Think about it: your clients can Google your business, contact you or find directions to your address directly from the search results. That is if you have a Google My Business page properly optimized.
When they can do all of this, many of them will not visit your website. So what does this mean for you?
This means that Google needs to become your new home page, and this includes extending your brand to your search results. When your potential customers Google your business, what do they see? Does this result reflect your company’s brand in every way that it could?
Your branded search result is the page where Google sums up everything it knows about your business, and this is where your potential customers will get their information. Since word of mouth is such a huge driver for business, Google takes part in this by providing customer reviews attached to your branded search results alongside your company info. Let’s talk about how to improve this branded search result and leverage all of the elements that Google offers.
Leverage Google Brand Search Results
You may be wondering how much control you actually have. After all, Google owns the search result and not you. In reality, you have much more control than you think, and with a little bit of planning in addition to your already successful business, you can create a great narrative about your business right on Google’s page.
Start with consistency. No matter what variation of search your potential customer types or where they look on the screen, your brand should be clearly and consistently visible. If your branded search result appears different depending on which variation of your business name is searched or where it appears (in the knowledge panel, the local content, ads, etc.), this looks unprofessional and untidy. Google deep down needs consistent information about your business. That means your business name, address and phone number better be consistent to your website and all over the web.
Below are the desktop components that you have the ability to control and make consistent:
- Your Website Organic Results
- Knowledge Panel Images
- Google Reviews
- GMB information
- Google Posts
- Sites that also show in the Reviews from the Web
- Organic Review sites
- The Wild Card – Future Knowledge Panel Features
While I am focusing on desktop searches here, it is important to focus the same attention on mobile as well. Failing to do so will cause you to miss out on many potential customers who search your business using their cell phone!
A few years ago I wrote about how Google could be poaching money from your business by displaying your ad for a branded search result. I was silly in thinking this. Why?
I realized it’s actually helpful so that COMPETITORS don’t poach current or potential clients when someone searches for your brand. Also, Google gives you a low cost per click for branded keywords. We’ve implemented for a few clients recently and the average costs run from $.50 – $1.50 per click.
It’s well worth it to have a branded adgroup. This alone won’t fully protect your brand from competitors, but it is a great start to build a consistent branded search result.
Your Website Organic Results
This is one of the areas of the page where you get to control both the social proof and the messaging. You will see these results high on the page (possibly first if there are no ads) and it is definitely the first thing your potential customers will see about your brand. Alongside well thought out titles and meta-tags, you will want your customer’s social proof to show on your most critical product and service pages. Google has full control over the pages they show below your homepage but they will decide what’s important for the searcher.
It should also be noted that Google will almost always recreate your homepage title to your brand name for branded searches. The above example is what Google recreates the homepage title to and the below screenshot is what Google shows for a keyword search of “pediatric dentist Langley”.
I mention this so you don’t get bogged down with deciding about putting your brand name at the end of your homepage title when it’s optimized for keywords.
Knowledge Panel Images
After viewing your branded search result, the viewer will most likely move to the Google My Business section to learn more about your business. Your Google My Business profile image is key as it gives a first impression of your business. Try using a good quality, closely cropped image that is compelling and appealing. Local customers do not want to see your logo, they want to see you and your products! Besides your profile picture, every other picture should be equally compelling. You never know if a customer will go through your entire gallery, or Google may choose a different photo to highlight.
Just under your photos you will find your Google review summary. When it comes to Google reviews, don’t give up! Keeping a sustained effort that gains 1-2 reviews a month can build a strong online foundation for your business, and it can bring you a step above competitors.
Never underestimate the power of a Google review, and especially the snippets that the Google algorithm picks out to reflect your business. And don’t sweat the negative reviews, they will eventually be pushed to the bottom of the page if you keep up your efforts.
Did you know that posting your business hours could increases your requests for driving directions by 13% and the clicks to your website by 42%? Add as much as your business information as you can, this includes adding a link to your service pages or your menu. Google recently also added the ability for professionals to upload an appointment link (one more place for your client to click through to your website).
There are three things that will help you make use of the new Google post feature: a great photo, a a short but compelling introduction to your business, and a call to action. While Google allows posts to be 300 characters long, only the first 100 characters will show in the knowledge panel so you need to make them count. Since this is still a relatively new feature users are still getting used to it, but hopefully the feedback is positive as it provides another way to showcase your business on Google.
Sites that also show in the Reviews from the Web
If you haven’t enabled Google Posts, “Reviews from the web” will show up right below your address info. This section has the space for up to three review sites, and it is very important that you get three review sites to show up there. Right away, add your own site and Facebook to your plan as Google will show both of these sites. You can include your own website by creating a consumer facing feedback program and posting the content in rich snippets right on your website. Don’t bother trying to get Yelp or TripAdvisor to show up here, Google will not add either site to this section. Some sites you could try are YellowPages and Facebook. You should view your review strategy over a 3-4 year timeline, so there is no rush to get reviews right away. Choose a few review sites to work on and go from there.
Organic Review sites
Once the user is done with the knowledge panel, their eyes will wander back to the organic search results for your business. This means that if well known sites such as Yelp or BBB show up, they will attract the user’s attention. With the exception of Yelp, BBB, and Tripadvisor, these sites also inform the “Reviews from the web” section in your knowledge panel, so if they did not see the info there, hopefully this is their chance to view it.
The Wild Card – Future Knowledge Panel Features
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for the next features that Google will be releasing on the knowledge panel because this helps you stay on top of your branded search results. Google is constantly changing and because of this you should continuously check your search results to see how the changes affect them. New features are being added and changed so fast that this article will probably be slightly outdated by the time I finish it – but it’s a good place to start if the concept of branded search results is new for you.
That was a lot of info, but it is all key to improving your branded search results and getting more potential customers looking at your business. Try some of these tricks out for yourself and see the results.
Contact us today if you are looking to improve your SEO rankings or Google Ads campaigns.
If you’re not careful, Google could be poaching money from your small business.
How though? If you are running Adwords Express ads, you better read on as this post could save you hundreds of dollars.
Lately I’ve had a few phone calls from potential clients inquring about our Adwords management. They say they’re currently running campaigns but not seeing much in the way of results but receiving big invoices.
My first question is always “Are you running regular Adwords ads or Adwords Express (ADEX) ads?”. The answer is always ADEX. I give a small sigh and explain my issues with Adwords express.
What Is Adwords Express?
Google is well aware small business owners are very busy. Therefore they created ADEX to make it really easy for anyone to setup. And many small business owners, perhaps even yourself, took the bait. ADEX is a huge money maker for Google and it preys on busy business owners with markting dollars to spend.
So if you’re running ADEX ads or are thinking of, DON’T!!!!!
Adwords Express Is Very Limited
After two minutes looking into a clients ADEX account last year, I soon relized it was way too limited.
Here’s a couple examples.
In regular Adwords you can set your bid amounts per keyword, choose what keywowrds you want and don’t want to target, choose a large or very small geograpical area to display your ads in and track the analytics of each keyword. All the above are important.
You don’t get these options in ADEX however.
Of all the limited abilities of ADEX and my biggest issue is one that could be costing small business owners money and has Google poaching money from small businesses.
So what is it?
Branded Search Terms
Through my endless hours of sifting through client analytics, a vast majority of organic clicks are branded search terms.
This got me thinking, what do the search results look like when I search for a brand? 99% of the time the proper brand and business own the top organic result and even have their GMB page snippet on the right.
Here’s what the search results look like.
So we see two ads, theirs and a competitor. Now I understand how you could want to create ads that target competitor search terms. But if someone is searching for a brand, chances are they are looking for contact info and have already made their purchase decision up.
Now the above ad may not be an ADEX ad but a regular Adwords ad. And I’m not calling Lasik MD or whoever magaes their PPC out. But it’s an example of how if you’re not careful in both platforms, you can waste a lot of money.
In the above example I can guess Lasik MD is paying upwards of $6 + per click here. I don’t understand why because their GMB page snippet is on the right and their website is the first ogranic result. People will click on that ad even though the website is organically listed below. So in a lot of ways, Google is poaching money from Lasik MD by stealing clicks on their organic listing by having an ad at the top.
Again this could be because Lasik MD want their ad there. But if they don’t, it’s wasted money.
Imagine if they had 200 branded search terms perfomed a month and 15% of those people clicked on their ad at $6. That’s 30 clicks for $180. Over the course of a year that adds up.
And the branded search term is one example of the ADEX lack of ability to choose what search terms you target. Another example is people who could be looking for jobs or careers at your business. Or people searching for a paint store when you are a painting contractor.
After having looked through lots of PPC accounts, I’ve had my fair share of moments where I say “Why did this person search that term and click on that ad which is not even remotely close to what they are looking for!?” Regardless these clicks cost business owners money and only makes Google more money. Are you that business owner? If so, it’s time we talk.
Don’t watse money if you don’t have to and think deepely about signing up for Adwords Express.
Top image courtesy of Tax Credits
A question we often get asked is “Is Yellow Pages online worth it?”
I’ll answer this question over the course of this blog post. Before I answer this question, be sure to read my review of YellowPages latest service offering called NetSync.
The answer is based off of the experiences auditing a few of our current client’s websites who switched from Yellow Pages online to work with us.
My goal is to provide you honest feedback like I did with this Yelp advertising review so you can make an informed decision.
So let’s get to it!
Death Of The Phone Book
We all know the phone book is dead.
But that isn’t stopping Yellow Pages.
Nope. They’re working their way into the online marketing world.
They offer Google Adwords advertising, SEO and priority rankings in their online directories. I’ll break down each of their services and give you a review of the work they do.
Before I do that, I want to mention a couple of things we see wrong with Yellow Pages online services.
They Have Contracts With No Guarantees
A few of our current clients have switched over from Yellow Pages online services. But only after their contracts had ended.
Offering contracts is fine. But not offering a guarantee on services along with a contract is a no-win situation for the client. We believe contracts are a thing of the past. Especially ones with no guarantees.
They Use Scare Tactics
Yellow Pages aren’t scammers but they will use scare tactics.
A new client who was in talks with Yellow Pages was warned/threatened that their website would not be found in the search results.
When you don’t use Yellow Pages online service, your listing in their directory for your product or services wont rank as high. That’s because they reserve the top spots in their directory listings for their paying clients.
Here’s an example:
The listings in the red box are sponsored. Just like in the Google search results, ads are at the top, which is fine. If you choose not to use Yellow Pages online services, your website simply won’t appear at the top of their local directory listings.
Our client’s businesses and websites are listed in their respective Yellow Pages directory without paying for their service. The listings are simply not at the top.
Having the name, address and phone number of your business consistently listed across the internet is very important for local SEO and how to rank your Google Places/My business page.
But it’s not as if people head straight to the Yellow Pages and conduct a search. So are you really missing out on much?
Chances are good that the vast majority of people search for a local business in a search engine.
So if Yellow Pages says your website will disappear or it won’t be found on the internet, it’s a pile of crap. Millions of websites are found on the internet that don’t use Yellow Pages online service.
Now that that’s off my chest, let me break down their services and critique them.
“My business advertised in the phone book for years…. When they introduced their online marketing services of providing SEO, I tried them out. I can honestly say that even though they said they were providing SEO for my website, my rankings dropped dramatically and I felt I lost out on business as a result. I was thankful to find Jordan and his SEO company Meaningful Marketing. In the year since we have been working together my website’s rankings have improved and I have generated a lot of traffic and clients from their SEO work and would not hesitate to refer them!” Happy Customer – Russ C
Yellow Pages SEO Review
Back in June we received an email from a client who was unhappy with Yellow Pages search engine optimization efforts. He had been with them for almost a year and was not seeing the results he was hoping for.
His rankings were not that great. As a painter, he was in a competitive market. But given the amount of time they had been working on his SEO, surely they would be able to get him into the first page for at least one of his targeted keywords.
During our initial analysis here are the issues we came across:
Lack Of Content
The main page of the website had about 100 words of text. That’s not enough for this day and age. Your main page has to have at least 300 words of text.
There was also a lack of pages on the website. The more pages you have with relevant and useful content, the better your chances of search engines ranking your website high.
Search engines main goal is to provide the searcher with relevant websites. By relevant I mean websites that have lots of content that can help educate people.
The more useful and relevant pages you have on your website, the longer visitors stay on your site. This means they’ll spend less time on your competitors.
So your site should aim to educate visitors. You can do that by creating various webpages that answer clients’ questions you get asked face to face.
The main page has to be optimized. The Yellow Pages had added in the meta title, keywords and description. But they missed the optimization of search engine optimization.
They failed to add any painting keywords/search terms to the main page of the content. Optimizing the main page title is not enough in 2014 and beyond.
Here’s a post on how to properly optimize a webpage.
Another issue we saw was a low amount of backlinks pointing to the website.
Outside of having relevant and optimized content on your website, you need to have links pointing back to your website.
Now with all the search engine algorithms, acquiring high quality backlinks is tough.
The easiest way to get backlinks to your website is to list your business in business directories. Business directory listings tell the search engines you’re a real business and have a physical location. You also get a backlink in each listing.
Business listings are also an important piece for how to rank a Google Places page. The more you have, the better your chances of ranking in the Google +/mapped listings.
Overall not enough maintenance work was being done in regards to the SEO of the clients’ website. SEO is an ongoing process for many websites. From adding properly optimized content to getting more high quality backlinks, these things take time, and they must be done continuously.
Yellow Pages Online Advertising/Adwords Review
Another one of our clients had been with Yellow Pages for over a year. They were managing this clients’ Google Adwords campaigns.
Here are the issues that I found with their Adwords management service:
No Dashboard Access
When I asked the client if we could walk through his Adwords dashboard, he looked at me confused. He said he didn’t have one.
They didn’t setup the Adwords campaign under the business owners Google account. This means he couldn’t see any of the important Adwords data like the keywords being clicked and for how much. He had to rely on the fact that they charged his credit card $1000 every month so he must have been getting clicks.
At the end of the day, you the business owner, need to have dashboard access to Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Google My Business/Places and Adwords.
It’s your business and you should be able to see all this data. This allows you to have full access to this very important data to determine what’s working and what’s not. With our Adwords campaigns, we believe in simply having access to your campaign and not setting one up using our account. Being able to see the data can help us determine if our clients are wasting money on Adwords or not.
Another client is still currently using Yellow Pages for his Adwords (he’d love to stop but the whole contract thing is in the way) and he has no access to any of the Adwords campaign information.
In both cases I asked the client if I could see some reports.
Both handed me over a few pages of reports. They were very sparse and provided them with only how much they were paying per month. These reports were essentially invoices.
Here is the issue with having no access and sparse reports sent to you: it’s your data!
Both of those clients were/are not able to see what keywords are driving the most amount of clicks, what the ads look like and how much the cost per click on each keyword is. This really hurts them from analyzing the data and making informed changes.
Non-Optimized Landing Pages
The other big issue we have seen with Yellow Pages management on Google Adwords campaigns is that they never optimize the landing page for the keywords they’re targeting.
Like SEO, the keywords/search terms you are targeting for your Adwords campaigns need to be on the landing page. This will help increase the likely hood your ad
The landing page was the main page of his website. When we went ahead and started working on improving his rankings and SEO, we had to optimize the main page of his site. This is actually helping YP and the cost per click of his ad campaigns. But we don’t care since we have a job to do. And that’s to get him better rankings.
To get your business listed in the top three spots of the ads section of the search results, Yellow Pages will outbid your competitors and drive up your cost per click in the process.
The cpc will already be high due the non-optimized landing pages. But it’ll be even higher thanks to them making sure your business shows up first.
We see websites with a good amount of click throughs even though they don’t rank in the top three spots above the organic search results. In doing this, we save our clients money on a monthly basis.
I will summarize by saying that Yellow Pages doesn’t maximize Adwords spends. The first client I talked about is saving 35% of his Adwords spend all because we decreased his cost per click by properly optimization the landing pages with targeted keywords/search terms.
It’s also alarming that they don’t allow business owners to see detailed reports in the dashboard of the campaign.
Yellow Pages Directory Listings
I already posted a picture of what the Yellow Pages directory listings look like. If you pay, you get to the top of the directory for your products or services.
And as I mentioned, how often are Yellow Pages directories searched? Not only do they have competition from Yelp and other directories, but the majority of people do their searching in a search engine to get a full spectrum of results. There are some people who do have the Yellow Pages app but my guess is far more people head straight to Google and start their search from there.
They might then land on a Yellow Pages directory from the search results. Yellow Pages directories tend to rank high organically because they have been around for years. Do a search for your products or services to see if the YP directory listing ranks well.
If so, it might be wise to have your business listed in the directory. Obviously, you have to pay them to be ranked high. But the costs of that are very low compared to their monthly SEO and Adwords packages which, did I mention, are contract based.
This would be the only Yellow Pages online service I could see value in. But if it’s more than $50/month to get listed, don’t bother. Your business can appear ahead of that directory listing by either using Adwords, organic local SEO or by being listed in the Google mapped listings.
Is Yellow Pages Online Worth It?
Based on what our clients were paying, I personally don’t think it’s worth it for many of the reasons I pointed out. The biggest concern for me is a lack of SEO knowledge from Yellow Pages staff and poor customer service. They seem to be operating on SEO and Adwords principles from years ago.
With SEO and Adwords, search engines are changing algorithms and such weekly. Many internet marketing companies are always reading up and staying educated on the latest trends and changes. This is an area I don’t see Yellow Pages online marketers doing based on our audits of websites that they are working on.
If you are looking for online marketing services from a company other than Yellow Pages, contact us and we’d be happy to see what we can do for you.
Are you running your own Google Adwords campaign? The chances are good you are wasting your spending budget on unwanted clicks.
I don’t want that. You don’t want that.
Read this post to find out to how to properly add keywords to your Adwords account.
I see it all the time with our new clients.
They’re getting lots of clicks but the conversions are low. They think they’re targeting the right search terms but no one is calling.
Does this sound familiar?
The chances are good your keyword match types aren’t exact.
Watch the video below to find out EXACTLY what search terms people are searching and clicking on your ads for along with how to make sure people are searching the exact search term you are targeting.
For The Newbies
Now for you newbies. If you haven’t yet added your keywords and are starting from scratch, even better!
The last two blog posts talked about how to setup a Google Adwords campaign and how to add adgroups and ads to those campaigns.
Read those to get caught up.
For today I’m going to show you how to add keywords/search terms to your Google Adwords account.
In this video you’ll learn how to:
- How to use Google’s Keyword Planner tool
- Find out what search terms people are using to find your product or service
- How many queries those search terms are getting
- How to avoid having your ads displayed for irrelevant search terms
Here is a link to Google’s explanation on the difference between keyword match types.
As I mentioned the next blog post will deal with landing page optimization so you can improve your ad quality score for your keywords you’re targeting. Stay tuned for that by signing up for our email newsletter to the right. You’ll receive our local SEO training kit right after signing up.
Image courtesy of Tax Credits on Flickr.