Monthly Archives: November 2013

Google Releases a Map ‘Made Just for You’

Google has launched a new feature in its Google Maps that will allow users embed a map simply by copying and pasting an HTML snippet. With this, users can now save their locations, allowing them to view their embedded map on Google Maps from either their mobile device or on their desktop.

According to Google, in order to activate this new feature, users will need to be sure they are opted in with the new Google Maps. From there, locate the gear on the lower right hand side of the page and click on the embed map option.

With this new feature, Google hopes to allow businesses, especially local ones, to not only make it easier for users to find their location, but will show users how to get to any special activities or events that may be hosted by that business. Another benefit is the advantage it gives a business’ website or blog that is using the Google Maps embed over any other business’ that are not using the feature. Additionally, the user can also select what size they would like their map to be displayed as.

On the Google Developers Blog, Ken Hoetmer, the Product Manager of Google Maps API, stated, “Over the coming weeks we’ll be introducing a new ad experience we think is attractive for users of the new Google Maps embed.” Hoetmer goes on to say, “This new on-map design will allow relevant local businesses to connect with your users, similar to the ads you currently see in the new Google Maps and Google Maps for Mobile.”

By using features like Google Maps, you are ensuring your business can be found and is up to date with the latest technology. For more information on how to set up your Google Maps or for any questions in regards to the new embed feature, contact Windy City Strategies.


Are You a Google Trusted Store?

With the holidays just around the corner, Google has announced that qualifying businesses can now become a Google Trusted Store.  The idea is to provide on-line shoppers with a worry-free e-commerce experience that they can trust.

This program, which was originally introduced last year, will be available to all business in the US. In order to become a Google Trusted Store, on-line retailers will have to become apply by obtaining a certification through a free Google Trusted Store certification program.

Once a retailer becomes a Google Trusted Store, Google will provide a badge on the retailer’s website and stand behind its guarantee by backing the retailer by offering a $1,000 of free purchasing protection. This offering means that if the customer is unhappy with their purchase, Google will work with the retailer to exchange or refund the product for refunds up to $1,000 in lifetime claims, but only if the customer purchases the purchase protection coverage.

Obviously, there are benefits to the on-line shoppers out there, but you may be asking how this might help your business? This program will now help to power seller ratings on AdWords text ads and in Product Listing Ads for businesses that utilize Google Shopping.

According to Brian Marquardt, Google Shopping group product manager,“This integration provides shoppers with valuable information, while giving participating retailers a free and easy way to earn the ratings they deserve.” Marquardt goes on to add, “Advertisers who display seller ratings on their ads typically see a boost in AdWords click-through rates, with higher ratings generally resulting in higher click-through rates.”

Since the original launch of this program last year, Google has stated that US retailer participation has more than tripled allowing these retailers more sales growth. The retailer, as shown in the example below, Marquardt had stated, “ measured a 4.2% sales increase from the Google Trusted Store badge.”

In addition to the badges, “Google Trusted Stores now provides shoppers with an upgraded store performance summary that appears when they hover over the badge on a merchant’s website,” says Marquardt. “The summary includes helpful returns, delivery, and customer support responsiveness metrics.”

Due to the positive responses Google is getting from their Google Trusted Store participants over the last year, they have expanded this program and are piloting it in numerous other countries around the world.

For help or information on how we can help with your Internet marketing needs or to get started on your business’ AdWords campaign, contact Windy City Strategies, Chicagoland’s leader in Google marketing.


Choosing the Best Search Engine for Your Business

With all the choices out there when it comes to search engine optimization, which one is most worth your time? With the top choices consisting of Google and Bing, you may be asking which one is the best? There is no clear answer out there, but each has its own benefits that can help drive traffic to your website and increase your ranking.

Recently, in a bold move, Bing released their “BingItOn” campaign in which they invite you to compare your search engine results. Then again, who hasn’t heard the phrase “Google it?” Let’s break down the advantages of each search engine and you can decide which choice will provide you with optimized results.

Which search engine is best for search enquiries?  Not only does Google win out when it comes to providing the most relevant search engine results page, but its instant search tool proves to provide more the more relevant information, more quickly. While Bing does offer a similar tool to provide an instant search, Google provides the results just a bit faster than Bing.

Who provides a stronger social integration? Since Bing has contracts with social networking giants Facebook and Twitter, Bing wins when it comes to accessing more social data. Google utilizes its Google+ network, which is not as commonly used as the other social media sites.

Which results page provides a better visual appeal? This is where some argumentation seems to occur, while both search results pages can appear to look similar, some people tend to refer Bing’s over Google’s. The main complaint is that Google’s page appears to be cluttered with the addition of “+1” buttons and social annotations, while Bing seems to have adopted the old Google format.

When it comes down to it, deciding on which search engine is best for your business may all depend on your own personal preference. Deciding on the right search engine is an important decision and should be directed to a  professional Internet marketing company. Windy City Strategies not only helps businesses decide which search engine will provide the best results, but can help with many other Internet marketing needs.


Are You Using AdWords Remarketing Lists for Search Ads?

How would you like to customize your search ads campaign and tailor your bids and ads to people who have previously visited your site?  Well, now you can! Google has released a new tool called remarketing lists for search ads, or RLSA.

Remarketing lists for search ads, which has been in beta since July 2012, will allow a website marketer to connect with visitors who may have left your site with items in their cart, spent a certain amount of time on your site, or viewed specific high valued pages.

Essentially, this tool will allow on-line marketers to adjust pay-per-click ads, their bid adjustments, and keywords based on their targeted audience.

There are a couple of strategies in which you can implement remarketing lists for search ads, in turn making your search engine campaign more effective.

First, you can bid on more generic keyword,s specifically targeted for previous visitors, that you don’t typically include in your regular campaigns because they are too broad for general search topics. This strategy can help with higher conversion, increasing sales.

Second, you can also optimize bids for existing keywords for those visitors on your remarketing lists, such as targeting those visitors who left items in their shopping carts by showing them a different ad.

According to Google, Tirendo, an on-line tire company in Europe, saw a 161% conversion rate increase, with a 22% sales increase just by using the remarketing lists for search ads.

In order to enable remarketing lists for search ads, you must add the remarketing tag to your website. To optimize your bids for different visitors, use the bid adjustment feature to bid up or down by percentage for your particular group.

To learn more about AdWords or for professional help with remarketing lists for search ads, contact Windy City Strategies, Chicagoland’s leader in Internet marketing.

Google AdWords Updates Phone Call Conversion Tool

According to research done by Google, 70% of mobile callers have called businesses directly from their search results. This click-to-call feature is a winning strategy for advertisers, especially for local businesses. With this research information, Google has announced this week that they have officially launched a new AdWord update involving phone calls made via click-to-call.

According to Anurag Argawal, Google’s Product Manager of Calls, “Starting today, phone calls from mobile click-to-call ads will be added to the regular Conversion columns, which enable them to be used with automated bidding solutions like Conversion Optimizer. ” This addition means that calls made from your desktop or mobile ad will count in your “Estimated Total Conversion” column, which is also a new conversion tool.

Google has also noted that these call conversions are based on not only the number of calls your business receives, but the duration of those calls. Calls were previously tracked in a separate column called “Phone Call Conversions”.

Argawal adds, “Adding calls to the Estimated Total Conversions column gives you a more holistic view of how your keywords drive those conversions, so you can set bids and budgets that more fully reflect the value you’re getting from AdWords.”

It’s pretty clear to see that businesses are not only able to drive their sales by adding their phone number to their ads, but are able to create a more personable experience for their customers. This new conversion will be a useful tool in determining what drives your business.

If you have any questions or need help with your Google AdWords updates, call Windy City Strategies to ensure you are getting everything our Internet marketing firm has to offer.

The Value of a Business Blog

Initially blogging was created to help writers to provide a unique way to share their interests, feelings, experiences, and opinions. It hasn’t been until more recent times, that most businesses started creating blogs to help increase their visibility and potential client base.

With all of the competition in this Internet-based world, blogging is an effective way to increase your business’ search engine optimization. By adding your blogs to your website, you are increasing the amount of relevant content to your website. This then creates a better rank for your business in the search engines, such as Google.

Not only is it essential that a businesses performs a blog on a regular basis in order to achieve a higher rank, but it also has several other advantages.  By creating a minimum of 1-2 blogs a week, one can stay informed on the trending news and topics that relates to their business. Another advantage is that one educates themselves more about their industry and can help a business sell their product or services and be more informed when answering questions that may derive from their customers.

If a business owner is not comfortable in writing their own blogs, there are options out there! By hiring an Internet marketing company, one can have professional bloggers create blogs that contain meaningful content that will captivate their audience. Professionals also understand the importance of providing information that is useful and profitable to keep followers coming back.

By hiring a professional, it will allow business owners to spend more time focusing on their visions and goals and on ways to increase their profitability.

Here at Windy City Strategies, we value your time and are here to help, whether it be to create content-rich blogs to building your business’ search engine optimization. We recognize the importance of focusing on your business and increasing your digital reach in this highly competitive web-based world.

Google Analytics Releases New Speed Suggestion Report

Google has announced this week that they have developed a new report to help increase page load times to your business’ web page. This new report, known as the Speed Suggestion Report, will utilize its PageSpeed Insights tool to generate suggestions on how to increase your website’s performance speeds.

When this report is run, it will provide the user with a number, indicating if your website has any issues and where the problems may lay. Chen Xiao, a Google Analytics team member states, “The speed score indicates the amount of potential improvement on the page. The closer the score is to 100, the more optimized the page is for speed.” Xiao also adds that, “In the report, you can click through a suggestions link to see a page with all of the suggestions sorted by their impact on site speed.”

In the above example, the website owner can see where there may be room for improvement. These examples of the changes that can be made are actions such as reducing the amount of content that needs to load before your users can interact with the page, minifying Javascript, and reducing redirects.

Currently, website owners can run the existing Page Timings Report , which notifies you of the page load times for each of your business’ webpages. Once you receive those results, you can use the Speed Suggestion Report to improve each webpage.

In a world of ultra-competitive web marketplace, it is essential to ensure your business’ website is being seen. If you have any questions or need help with your business’ Google Analytics, website development, or Internet marketing, contact Windy City Strategies.


Is Facebook a Thing of the Past?

Let’s face it, social media is essential in the world of Internet marketing. Who hasn’t heard of sites like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube? However, just like it is in the business world, competition amongst social media seems to be heating up.

According to a new report  How Much Media? 2013 conducted by the University of Southern California’s Marshall school of Business, YouTube’s traffic is becoming more frequented and is believed that there is a great chance they will surpass the social media giant, Facebook, within the next few years.

Their report, which consists of research by Nielsen, comScore, analysts and company disclosures, suggests that Facebook’s unique 31 million users from the year 2012 will drop to 14 million by the year 2015.

According to the chart below, it is clear that the possibility that YouTube’s US unique users could surpass Facebook’s users in the not-too-distant future if current trends continue.

This news may come as little shock as a survey conducted by Piper Jaffray was released last week reporting that Twitter now reigns over Facebook, which is now tied for second with Instagram, with their teenage-based users. With so many new social networking sites to choose from, it appears the more niche sites are winning out with the teenage-based users.

The only issue with these studies that we may all be able to agree with, according to the study’s author, is when it comes to comparing one social media network with another, “Measuring social media activity is more an art that a science.”

Facebook may be a thing of the past, but it is not going anywhere for the time being. With all the choices the public has when it comes to social media, it is hard to say when or if Facebook’s time may be up. In reality, it all depends on a matter of preference.

Social media is essential to successfully bringing customers to your website. For help with anything from creating your website to Internet advertising, contact Windy City Strategies to speak with our knowledgeable and professional staff.


Google in Testing Phase on App Indexing

Google announced last week that it is testing app indexing with Android apps. What does this mean for you? This will allow for mobile app users that use Google as a means to search for your business, to point them directly to the information they are searching for on your website, in place of your business’ homepage.

With this ability, having an app for your business will eliminate any issues with pop-up ads, unnecessary taps, or even redirections to irrelevant pages. In addition to those benefits, this will give users the ability to view your business by means of your website or your app which will both be directed through Google.

Google will also be creating deep links to those apps that will result in taking the user to the correct webpage based on the users search results, but only if the user has that business’ app installed.

Since this new development by Google is still being tested, this will not be readily available for most businesses. However, some Android users, such as those with Google Search App 2.8+ and Android 4.1+, will see some of these deep links in the near future. These links will be featured with apps from well-known companies like Etsy, Expedia, OpenTable, and Trulia.

What is the downfall, you ask? Not only does this mean your business will have to develop an app, but it also means that the mobile user has to know there’s an app available for your business.

In addition, App indexing may not be for everyone since it appears that it will not have a direct effect on your website’s ranking. Google had stated in a Q&A last week that, “App indexing does not impact on your website’s ranking in the search results page. It does affect how a search result of your website is displayed, namely by adding a button to open the content in your app if the user has the app installed.”

It seems the biggest advantage to Google’s app indexing is all based around the app user’s ability to access your page for a matter of convenience. The future may be mobile apps, but today it is still all about your website and search engine optimization.

For any questions in regards to your business’ Search Engine Optimization needs, contact Windy City Strategies today, Chicagoland’s leader in Internet marketing and web design.