Monthly Archives: May 2013

Google Enhanced Campaigns

You might have heard already that Google is overhauling their PPC AdWords accounts with a brand new platform called Google Enhanced Campaigns. This enhancement is Google’s new approach to mobile search advertising. What that means is that you no longer will have to run two campaigns, one for desktop and one for mobile, but now advertisers can consolidate their device targeting to include desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. We get to say goodbye to duplicating campaigns to track mobile usage & hello to an easy to use all in one campaign.

Google AdWords is rolling out this enhancement slowly, so if your not on the new enhanced level yet, fear not, you will be shortly. In the mean time, here are some things to look forward too with the new campaigns:

1. Campaign Level Bid Adjustments per Device– now you can set a percentage bid adjustment for your mobile advertising. That means anytime someone searches for a keyword using a mobile device you will pay the adjusted bid price. You will also have the option to remove mobile targeting all together by setting your bid at -100%.

2. Bid Adjustments by Time and Day– Increase or decrease your bids depending on your business. If your in retail you might want to increase bids during a certain time, or if you a small business reduce bids during evening or weekend hours.

3. Mobile Specific Ads– As of right now, the ads you have  set for your campaign show no matter what device you are using. Now you can create mobile specific ads so when a user searches on their smart phone the mobile ad displays.

4. Mobile Extensions– You now can assign specific ad extensions to display on desktop, tablet or mobile.

5. Call Conversions– No longer do you have to display your phone number in your ad which takes away important characters to describe your business or service. Now you can add a call extension which displays your phone number next to your ad and best of all, can be tracked to see how many people are converting through phone calls.

These are just some of the top changes that Google AdWords is rolling out in their enhanced campaigns. For more information, or to get your Google AdWords PPC account updated, contact Windy City Strategies. We are a Google certified company and can help your business enhance your listings.

By Alisha Lowans

Google Ends Google Checkout To Focus On Google Wallet

Google is putting and end to Google Checkout and placing its payment processing future solely on Google Wallet. Google has officially made the announcement last week along with a long list of other enhancements, upgrades and new products. While Google Checkout is still available to use currently, Google has announced that it will be shutting it down in six month which is why now is the perfect time to make the switch.

The new Google Wallet is designed to make checkout easier for users to buy physical goods and services through the Android app in as few as two clicks.  The new Google Wallet will also integrate with Gmail and enable users to send money to friends and family within Gmail using Google Wallet.

Overall the new Google Wallet sounds like it’s going to an outstanding platform for purchasers to use. If you haven’t made the switch yet, we would recommend upgrading and checking out how simple and easy Google Wallet is to use.

By Alisha Lowans

Compatible Content for E-Commerce

With digital sales forecasted to exceed $360 billion by 2016, businesses need to optimize their e-commerce shopping cart to become prominent on the web and increase revenue. Search engine friendly websites require quality content to catch search engine’s attention, and in turn, customer’s interest. Windy City Strategies suggest the following to promote your e-commerce site.

1. Know the Product Well, but Don’t Get Too Wordy

When writing a product’s description, make sure you have the physical product close by. Highlight distinctive features and facts and make sure they’re all correct. Use simple and striking words that speak to the audience. Avoid getting too wordy and detailed too; it can make the audience lose interest or make your descriptions seem sloppy. Substitute the wordy commentary of a product’s physique with high-resolution images or 3D animations. This will keep your customer engaged and capture the same information in a more concise nature.

2. Explain the Perks

If you decide to trade descriptions of the physical product with images, you can change your content with explanations of the product’s perks. Of course though, keep it short and simple because users do not read every sentence you post. To achieve this, use short bullet points and quick comments to impact the users. You could also set up a customer feedback section to allow customers discuss product’s short comings or share praise.

3. Be Fresh and Friendly

Lastly you should stay friendly with your customer. Don’t use complicated language; you want to reach a large audience that understand your products. Avoid redundancy too. Not only will it bore customers, but search engines hate duplicate content. Approach your online customer just as you’d approach a customer in a store, friendly and welcoming. After all your online business should be an extension to your business’s physical store and should carry the same impression.

For more information on search engine optimized e-commerce, click here.

Google+ Gets A Facelift

Google announced earlier this week that it was giving Google+ a facelift and if you haven’t seen the new look, click here to check it out! While some people might not enjoy the new layout if your an avid Facebook or Pinierest user you will find many similarities which make using the new platform easy to navigate.

Google+ has been updated with 41 new features. One of the most talked about feature is it’s content feed. When you or someone else makes a post to your Google+posts show up in one, two or three columns depending on the screen size being used to check out Google+. Previously, the site displayed just one column, so the new look makes it easier to see more posts at one time. Google+ is also allowing video or photo posts to be displayed across the entire width of the screen.

Overall, we think the new Google+ look is much easier to use than the previous version. It gives users a more inviting experience and displays activity much better than before.

And…..If you haven’t already heard as well, Google is launching a new music system, Google Maps and the ability to search using your voice. Google once again is leading the pack of Internet search engines with it’s latest updates.

By Alisha Lowans

How To Get More Out Of Your Blog Posts

Utilizing a blog on your website is not only a good idea to help with your rankings, but it also helps with link building. If you’re doing everything right and you still don’t see changes try these few tips to get more out of your blog.

1.     Optimize your past blog post titles. Why? When making a blog post the first thing you think of is not what the title is going to be, but what it is you’re going to write about. The title is not something you often think about either.  Come up with a creative title for your blog post. These titles are driving organic value to your site and could work even better if the titles are optimized for SEO. Create a different title for the next blog post you write and see if that doesn’t work.

2.     Don’t Forget your call to action! At the end of every blog post make sure you remind the audience why they are reading it in the first place. They want to know more about what you have to say and more about your product or business. Add a link at the bottom of every blog post and remind them to visit your website to learn more about you. This can create potential new customers or sales for your company.

3.     Social Media. If your blog doesn’t already have them,  you must get them. Using your social media links within your blog posts can create new opportunities for your business. Even having social media buttons on your blog somewhere will help as well. Linking to any of your social media sites such as twitter, facebook, or google +, within your website will prompt users to click on it and learn even more about you.

To learn more about internet marketing and creating successful blog posts visit Windy City Strategies’ website.

Basics of SEO

The reasons for SEO’s consistent popularity are obvious. Due to the Internet’s steadily growing nature the numbers of distinct URL addresses keep growing from the millions to hundreds of millions, and eventually into the billions. The internet has rapidly become a place of extreme competition for the attention of web surfers everywhere. If we factor in the fact that this same competitiveness for attention also made web advertising an equally fierce landscape that also gives site owners the burden of high spending cost, the need to keep a page well optimized becomes obvious, along with the immense popularity and importance of SEO.

Thus, as a new graduate a of university, college or an online education program you need to get a firm grasp on the essentials of sound SEO and how you can apply it to increasing readership, sales, reputation and popularity in your web based niche or the sites and platforms.

Remember, learning to do this and understanding SEO well will become increasingly crucial as the web grows in business and promotional importance, and new employers, as well as potential clients of your own education based career/business will almost certainly demand that you demonstrate to them your expertise in optimization’s latest, most important fundamentals and tactics.

Basics

SEO is not a one-time effort. It’s an ongoing process that evolves and leaves you having to evolve with it. Your competitors will constantly be trying to raise their own rank profiles and in order to keep up, you will constantly need to do the same thing. Another important basic point is that SEO is not elaborate rocket science. Most of its essential components are fairly straightforward and only difficult in that they require a large amount of effort.

No Spam 

This is now the most important rule of optimization that there is. At one time, SEO “experts” could manipulate search engines quite easily into giving them high rank by creating an artificially derived perception of popularity on the web, leading to higher search rankings. Spam SEO tactics were powerful because they fooled search algorithms into “thinking” that a page was valuable based on narrow metrics like numerous links form other sites and lots of searched for keywords inside the page’s content.

This is no longer the case and modern algorithms are far more nuanced in how they analyze your site. If you use optimization spam to try developing rank, they will almost certainly detect its low quality and either ban your pages or completely de-rank you and destroy all your work at getting noticed.

Content is Crucial 

The search engines want your site content to be valuable to their search users; they want to give rank to pages that deliver information of high value and high relevance based on what some random Google, Yahoo or Bing user was looking for.

Develop your content well and focus more of your optimization campaign’s energy into it than you would anywhere else. If you’re running an information site, then you’ll have the content anyway, so make it good. If your website is directed more towards offering a product or service, then make sure that you quickly develop a blog component where plenty of free information content is being posted regularly. This will lead to higher ranking on search results, and those will lead visitors to your content pages, where hopefully they can develop enough confidence in you and your expertise to click through to your sales pages. This increases the likelihood of trusting you enough to eventually buy.

Interconnect as Frequently as Possible

Another major component of SEO is link building, but in this case it should be slightly expanded to encompass a more general strategy of interconnection.

In its more essential form, link building consists of doing everything possible to create a list of links to your pages from the pages of other sites with good reputation and relevance to your niche, at least on the page where they’re linking back to you.

However, in order to build backlinks, you can’t simply spam other sites with URLs pointing back to your own website. You need to focus on value in what you offer, so that these sites link back to you willingly, either through their own initiative or because you offered to guest post for them and they trust you thanks to your existing content base.

Optimize Pages

Make sure that every non-text piece of content on your site is rooted in text, either through html tags, descriptions or CSS properties. This means that all your images, videos and flash animations need to be tied to text descriptions that include essential keywords for each item.

In addition, apply the same to your internal site navigation menus and systems – the buttons that let viewers explore through your site’s pages. Do not build them through the use of flash or image based applications/code. Instead, make them text based.

Both of these things are crucial because search engine bots –those pieces of code that crawl the web for new content to analyze—cannot read imagery or flash. They need to see some text or text based code in order to find things on your page and rank them.

Also, as a last tip, make sure that all of your individual page URLs are SEO friendly. Create a URL with actual words: www.myrandomsite.com/2013/03/essentials-for-seo-in-2013/.

 

SEO Mistakes to Avoid

Search engines are still the number one place people turn when they want to learn something new or solve a problem. If you want your startup to attract and retain the level of attention it needs to thrive, investing in SEO is an easy call. That said, poor SEO can end up being harmful, and it’s easy to make mistakes if you don’t have the experience. Here are some things to avoid if you want your startup to do well in the search engines.

1. Poor/No UI and UX

It’s amazing how often webmasters still believe that you have to sacrifice the user interface and the user experience in order to get the best results in the search engines. If anything, this is the opposite of how search engines work today. Design always starts with the user. Search engines come second.

2. Slow Page Load Time

Do not assume that everybody has an internet connection like yours. Avoid the use of interfaces based on Flash and don’t use images or animations where text will suffice. This is especially important with the recent push toward mobile, where internet connections are much slower.

A large portion of your audience will leave if the site doesn’t load within a few seconds. You don’t have to sacrifice multimedia, but it should load last, and the site should be useable without it.

3. Ignorance of Social Media

Even if all you cared about were the search engines (and what startup is that naïve?), you would still need to care about social media. Mastering social media requires more than testing the placement of your social buttons. It requires the creation of content that demands to be shared, and regular interaction with your target audience. Interaction with social influencers is perhaps even more important.

4. Blog Content with No Value

With every piece of content you create, you need to identify the problem it is attempting to solve, and make sure it solves that problem better than any other piece of content on the web. If you can’t do that, it means one of two things: you’re targeting saturated keywords, or you’re not investing enough in your content.

This is where it’s worth hiring outside talent. Hire somebody with a popular blog on the subject and leverage their reputation to bolster your own. This is what can really set you apart from the competition.

5. Targeting Search Engines Instead of Users

The days of keyword density are over, and they ended a long time ago. It’s amazing how often we still run into this misconception. If your keyword is in the title, and it’s what the article is about, you’ve already met your keyword requirements. Trying to impose any kind of artificial frequency on the use of the keyword just results in an article that looks like spam to anybody who reads it.

6. Poor Site Architecture and URL Naming Convention

This is an especially easy mistake to make and it can be harder to get right than you might expect. Here are a few things you should try to avoid:

Multiple pages with the same or similar content – This one is especially problematic for ecommerce sites, since they often host a huge number of pages with similar content focused on different products.

Dynamic URLs – You’ll want to make sure that your dynamic URLs are created in a folder that gets no-indexed, or it can lead to massive duplicate content issues and confusion about which page to show in the search results.

Meaningless URL Naming Convention – In order to maximize benefit from the search engines, you will want to adjust the way URLs are built in the future. A good URL naming convention makes the hierarchy of the site clear, and makes it clear what each page is about.

7. Not Claiming Google+ Authorship

Google+ is one of the less popular social networks, so it’s not uncommon for digital marketers and webmasters to wonder why it’s worth claiming authorship. This is a mistake, because Google+ is the social network that Google’s search engine has unfettered access to. Every interaction on that social network is monitored by the search engine, and Google can usually tell which accounts are run by actual humans by monitoring activity on their other properties like YouTube and Gmail.

8. Building Too Many Links Too Fast

Any strategy that allows you to build a large number of links yourself (or through automated software) is dangerous. Google frowns upon links that you build yourself. It’s as simple as that. In Google’s utopia, every link to your site would be completely natural, and nobody would point a single link to their own site ever.

9. Ignoring the Value of Content Marketing

Content marketing is the art and science of attracting attention and building trust with content alone. It’s about promoting your content in places where you can expand your reach, and retaining customers with content that keeps on giving. This means that you expand the benefits of content beyond pure SEO, start embracing the power of social networking and email marketing, and you start thinking about guest posts and other collaborations as an opportunity to send referral traffic to your site.

10. Hiring the Wrong SEO Agency

It’s almost always better to hire an SEO agency than to try to do the promotion on your own, but choosing the wrong agency can be even worse. The important thing to remember is that SEO done poorly can actually do more harm than good, so treat it the way you would approach an investment in the stock market.

How-to SEO for your business

Although it’s common to assume that web marketing should be handled by the “techies,” don’t make this huge mistake. Your knowledge about your business make you the person most capable of generating big web marketing results – more sales leads and new customers for your business.

Small business owners who use this process acquire new customers at much lower costs than someone who buys visitors through pay-per-click ads. Research shows that following this process over one year produces high quality free website traffic equal to that from a $100,000 paid search engine advertising campaign. These are just a few ways to market yourself to make your website the most viewed in your industry.

Build a Website that You Control

You probably already have a website for your business, and if you don’t, set one up immediately. A business website is the digital representation of your personal expertise. It’s where you build your authority as an expert on the topics you know best.

To establish your expertise write blog posts and articles using keywords that your prospective customers are most likely to use while searching for you. In order to do this, you need to be able to quickly and easily add new blog posts and pages to your website. If you can’t easily edit your current business website, just create a new website.

Choose the Right Keywords For Your Business

In web marketing, keywords are the building blocks of success. Having the right web marketing strategy really just boils down to having the right list of keywords. It’s that simple. Your best keywords are the words that your customers are already using. Ask a few of your customers how they describe your business when talking with friends. Think about the problems that your prospective customers are experiencing that your business can help them with. Add descriptions of those problems to your keyword list too. If your business serves a local region make sure to include all of its names too.

You should have 25-50 words or short phrases in your list now (each on its own line). Copy your list and paste it into the Google Keyword Tool to see which keywords have the highest volume of searches and lowest level of competition.

Create a Content Schedule

You need to begin writing blog posts and articles about each of your top ten keywords. Don’t expect to do this today. It’s actually best to add these new pages to your website steadily over time. A good blog post or article page is three to four paragraphs in length, is focused tightly on a single keyword from your list, and is written in a friendly, conversational tone. Include links in the article, where relevant, to product or service pages on your website.

Optimize Your Pages

Give your new blog posts and articles the best chance possible to pull in new visitors by making sure they’re optimized for the search engines.

The search engines pay special attention to certain page fields so you can gain better search engine rankings just by putting the right words in the right places. Check for basic optimization by making sure that each page’s keyword can be found in the page title and is also used several times in the article.

Effective Advertising

Advertising is a crucial part of the lead generation puzzle. Some marketers suggest that you can do without the cost and low returns they attribute to advertising, but when done right, advertising is an invaluable tool.

The biggest thing that advertising has going for it over most other forms of lead generation is control. You can control who sees your ad to a point and you can control when your ad is run or sent.

The key to effective use of advertising lies in how you think about it, what your objectives are and how you adjust your approach in real time.

These are five elements that you should consider to make any form of advertising as effective as possible.

1. Lower your expectations

You don’t need to expect less in general, but you should probably be realistic about what an ad can do. The objective of your ads should be to move people from awareness to like and trust by having a small call to action that benefits them such as downloading a checklist or audio. The goal of just about all advertising should be to capture an email and start a relationship, not sell a product or service.

2. Cast narrowly

Most advertising, online and offline can be targeted at a narrowly defined viewer and this is a must. A radio station that tells you that 75% of its listeners are 18-55 isn’t narrow enough.

If you sell car seats, select parents on Facebook. Group your Google AdWords in very tightly crafted keyword groups to target people looking for very specific things. Find geo targeted mailing lists and then cross them with lists of people that buy a similar product.

3. Promote content

The way to drive the greatest advertising response is to give away something people want. Make content your call to action and capture leads and gently move them on to even more content as you introduce everything they need to know about why your products and services cost more than the rest of the market.

4. Measure everything

The most successful marketers can tell you exactly how every element of their marketing is performing and why. It takes a great deal of work to get serious about analytics and tracking, but you won’t really succeed until you do. You’ll either waste a great deal of money and fail or you’ll waste a great deal of money and limit your success.

5. Test everything

This last element goes hand in hand with measurement, but takes it a step further. Once you have a baseline you can start to work on improving your results by simply tweaking things like headlines, calls to offer, visual elements, keywords, content, publications and lists.

Once you know what’s working in one place you can expand to test it in other places. Google AdWords campaigns are relatively inexpensive and are great to test out headlines and landing pages before broadcasting more widely.

The online advertising space, particularly in social networks, is changing so rapidly that every new social network ad unit should be tested as it comes online, just to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t in this evolving space.

Facebook Marketing

Businesses realize that keeping connected to consumers is important to keep a good relationship. Public relations representatives have realized the utility of social media. It has an easy interface, reaches a large audience, and is usually free. Windy City Strategies suggest the following steps on Facebook to portray an accurate image of your business.

1. Follow the 50/30/20 Rule

50% should be news, 30% personality, and 20% business. Your website is used as a information resource, but you don’t want to bore your audience. The 70% of information should be polished with 30% of flair. This helps your business’s marketing strategy transcend to your audience.

2. Avoid Unnecessary Words

Don’t overflow your followers News Feeds with irrelevant information. Write posts that can be read quickly on by people on the go. Facebook Mobile is used more than its actual website, so quick updates are key. Be honest too, it’ll help capture your business’s image more naturally.

3. Timing is Everything

Post when people are likely to see it. Posts published between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. tend to get more interaction because its generally a non-busy period. It also gives consumers the ability to read when they have time, or read the headline and keep a note to revisit it.

To launch your business’s Facebook today, click here.