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Using What We Learned in 2017 to Plan for 2018

Using What We Learned in 2017 to Plan for 2018

One of the most exciting aspects of starting a new year for us is the opportunity to leverage the knowledge gained over the past one. 2017 brought about a lot of new changes, tools and trends in search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and more.

The rise of accelerated mobile pages (AMP) for advertisements is particularly exciting, considering Google’s launch of a beta that enables businesses to point their mobile search ads to AMP-enabled landing pages. Using AMP landing pages proved so effective for advertisers over the past year that some e-commerce companies have begun to develop a complete AMP experience for mobile search audiences.

In keeping with this trend, Google worked toward opening its Purchases on Google beta in 2017 to simplify and accelerate the process of buying from product listing ads (PLAs). We are eagerly awaiting the results of this effort in 2018.

These trends are not surprising given the conclusion that many marketers and advertisers have come to the conclusion that mobile-based user searches are the way of the future. Now, more than ever, you and your business are missing out if you are not creating your ads, online experience, and other content to suit mobile users.

Another example of how to leverage the mobile usage trend is the ever-increasing use of mobile video – a tool whose views grew six times faster than desktop views in 2015. It’s easy to see that mobile video use is still on the rise if you simply glance at your Facebook feed. Chances are, you will find that 95% of it is in mobile video format.

Another important social media trend that we will be leveraging in 2017 is short-lived content. We noted in 2017 that Snapchat’s huge appeal was the fact that its content disappears – and in doing so attracted the important Generation Z audience, which is known for its much-maligned eight second attention span. With most modern audiences’ short attention span considered, this trend is precisely why we will be considering ways to make the most of creative and targeted short-lived content.

Also in 2017’s social media realm, we were intrigued by the fact that chatbot technology has become more sophisticated, as exemplified by Facebook. The social media leader has made an art of creating bot programs that provide users with news updates and personal responses in which readers cannot tell if they are talking to a human or a bot. Since this is truly the mark of a great bot program, we are exploring how we can use this tool to influence the purchases of products and services in a variety of industries.

The ultimate challenge for marketers in 2018 will no doubt be winning more business from the wildly effective interactive content trend. There’s no question that this type of content is more popular now than content that is just read. Buzzfeed’s “What City Should You Live In?” is a great example of how interactive content can engage multiple audiences. Chances are good that if you can think of ways to get readers to actively participate in your content rather than to just passively consume it, you will hit a marketing home run with a high return on investment. This type of content can include assessments and polls, as well as surveys, infographics, and contests.

2018 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting years ever in online marketing for DAS Group, as the tools we have to work with encourage us to be even more creative. We eagerly look forward to using all of our new concepts and creations to the benefit of all of our clients in a wide variety of industries. Call us today to discuss how we can help move your brand in the right direction!

Local Searches: The Importance of Proximity and ‘Near Me’ Searches to Your Business

When was the last time you searched on your smartphone or asked Siri for directions to the nearest restaurant or store? Did you specify “near me” or “nearby” when you did this or did you simply request the address of that location? For about three to four years, common searches including phrases like “near me” and “around me” grew rapidly, but in 2017 geo-qualifiers are becoming less important as users understand that Google has learned their location.

As you may have guessed, these users are your current and potential customers, and keeping up with the rhythm of this trend can take your business to the top of customer search results.

Google Knows Where You Are

The decrease in “near me” searches from three years ago to today is largely due to the fact that users have become accustomed to their smartphones knowing where they are through the geo-location feature. Since 2015, there has been a 150% rise in similar searches leaving off the “near me” specification. Looking for a nearby coffee house in 2014, a user may have typed “coffee houses near me,” whereas, these days a quick “coffee shop” entry into the search bar can generate the same list of locations. The same concept holds true in other contexts as well, such as looking up the weather.

In 2017, searches without “near me” exceed and expand past those including it. The three top options that pop up in a search are known as a snack pack, and this is where you want your business to fall to ensure users will select your shop over the next. Google studies show that 90% of users confirm they aren’t set on a specific brand for their purchase when they set out, making it is clear that there is an extraordinary opportunity for local. small businesses to shine through by being locally accessible.

Proximity is Critical for Ranking

When nearly one-third of all mobile searches are related to location, it is essential to understand the possible key qualifiers to achieve a high ranking in user searches. Studies done by Google show that customers who conduct a “near me” search normally enter the business searched within 24 hours, and a little under 30% of this sample ends up making a purchase. Local convenience is another key factor.

Suggestions to increase your ranking:

  1. Google My Business: The #1 factor in where your business ranks is your Google My Business.For the best results, make sure your Google My Business listing is claimed and completed with all relevant and up-to-date information.
  2. Your Company Website: Incorporate relevant and trending keywords into the content of your website as well as within posts you put up on your blog. Building links from other people’s sites to yours can also increase traffic and SEO.
  3. Reviews: Gathering positive reviews is crucial. Consumers nowadays really like reviews and Google is well aware. Data shows that consumers won’t even consider a business with less than three stars, so remember customer is king.
  4. Citations: Citations are listings indirectories other than Google My Business, such as Yahoo, Yelp and Yellow Pages, etc. You must claim your listing on these directories and complete the information about your business.

Every month, One out of two smartphone owners uses his or her phone to choose where to eat. Think about it, your customers are mobile and already on their way to you but the one deciding factor on whether they choose you or a competitor is who pops up first in their search with the most complete information promoting their business.  This means, if you haven’t perfected your Google My Business page, now is the time to do so to gain sales and security.

Priority on Facebook Goes to Mobile Optimized Websites

Facebook Goes to Mobile Optimized WebsitesEver wonder how Facebook selects the posts on your news feed? Or the order in which posts appear from hour to hour? We are familiar with the “See First” feature and ability to rank our own friends and groups on our feed but what about the advertisements, video clips and popular shared memes that pop up?

Facebook’s algorithm favors some behaviors and types of content over others, and the newest update deals directly with mobile responsiveness. As a whopping 94% of Facebook users access the site via their mobile phones, Facebook has made it so websites with mobile optimization will appear higher and more frequently on your feed than those sites with slow loading times.

The way it works is if a website loads quickly and completely on mobile with all graphics intact, the post is pushed out as high priority in the algorithm and your post’s reach is extended. On the other hand, if a website does not have mobile accessibility or optimization, it may not appear to the desired audience on Facebook due to a lag in loading speed. The user’s current network connection as well as the overall speed of the corresponding website will be factored out as these are trackable measures. This update supports the idea of a flawless user experience in that it ensures that users can scroll through their feeds with ease, viewing fast-loading posts and video clips. For businesses marketing their products and services on Facebook, understanding this new update is key to brand visibility.

We recommend you ensure your website is fast-loading and mobile-friendly to avoid any drop off. Listed below are ten best practices recommended by Facebook to help you maintain relevance and visibility in your followers’ news feeds.

  1. Minimize landing page redirects, plugins and link shorteners.
  2. Compress files to decrease mobile rendering time.
  3. Improve server response time by utilizing multi region hosting.
  4. Remove render-blocking JavaScript.
  5. Use a high-quality content delivery network to reach your audience, quickly.
  6. Remove redundant data that does not impact how the page is processed by the browser.
  7. Optimize images to reduce file size without diminishing visual quality.
  8. Reduce the size of above the fold content to prioritize visual content.
  9. Use asynchronous scripts to streamline page render time.
  10. Dynamically adjust the content for slower connections/devices.

Although Facebook expects the impact of this update to be minimal, it is best for business owners to be on the lookout for noticeable changes to page analytics as well as to check through the list of suggestions above and upgrade where possible.

Craft Your Content, Carefully

If you’re sharing a link in a post, be sure to adhere to the link-format guidelines from a previous update that prioritizes displaying links in link-format versus placing the link in a status or caption. Studies show that using link-format gains twice as many clicks on your post than any other link sharing method. To use link-format, simply paste the link into the draft of the post before posting.

Another less recent yet related update to the Facebook algorithm that we found to be helpful improved posting format and reduced the amount of “click-and-bait” headlines. This type of shortened headline forces the reader to click into the post before fully knowing the post’s topic. This can be disappointing for the reader if the post appeared to contain valuable content and, in fact, did not. Many users click on these mystery headlines only to navigate away from the actual article, immediately. Facebook monitored user behavior alongside likes and shares on a variety of posts of this nature to discover a solution to the problem. Results showed that many users clicked on links but did not like, share or engage, highlighting a disinterest in the content. In order to improve the user experience, Facebook took action to reduce the amount of click-and-bait content appearing on the news feed so that users can see more of what they want.

If you have a business that could use assistance with your Facebook presence or other digital marketing initiatives, contact DAS Group today at 1-800-717-2131.

DIY Pay Per Click: Why Trying to Save Money Could be Costing You More

DIY Pay Per Click

Pay-per-click is one component of DAS Group’s holistic approach to search engine marketing. This digital advertising strategy enables a company’s ad to appear in a search results page or on a website. When the ad is clicked, the company is required to pay the host website or service. The nature of Google AdWords and other pay per click services constantly grows and changes, requiring time and expertise from the online marketer. Problems often arise and budgets become compromised when businesses attempt to manage their own pay per click ad campaigns.

Below, we break down five common mistakes we see when we audit clients’ self-managed PPC campaigns.

  1. No use of negative keywords: Essentially, negative keywords are words that you do not want to lead to your ad. If you are using Google AdWords, you can visit the search query report to view all of the words and phrases Google users have entered to “trigger” your ads. You will notice that some will be “accidental” queries that most likely will not result in a conversion, and will instead burden you with an unnecessary cost. You can add these words as “negative keywords” to ensure that your ad budget goes toward driving relevant traffic.
  2. Display network turned on: When you begin using AdWords, your ads will appear in search engine results pages relevant to your key words (referred to as the “search network”) as well as AdSense-equipped webpages relevant to your key words (referred to as the “display network”). Since potential customers using your keywords are more likely to be looking for your product or service in search engine results, a conversion is more likely to happen within the “search network.” Therefore, it is best to disable the display network, at least initially.
  3. No ad testing: Instead of creating only one advertisement for each campaign, create at least three or four. This way, you can test these ads against one another, compare performance and choose the most well-received ads for your campaign.
  4. Not tracking campaigns: It is quite common to see no conversion tracking installed in a client’s AdWords account. Conversion tracking identifies which key words and ads are leading to conversions; with this crucial tracking component missing, money and valuable customer insight are lost in droves. Furthermore, Google Analytics and AdWords should be linked together in order to obtain even more performance information.

    Along with monitoring online conversion rates, businesses should use keyword level call tracking and analyze call outcomes in order to determine which keywords drive the highest quality new business calls that lead to conversions. Pools of unique numbers can be dynamically inserted on pages to provide invaluable insight into the keywords within specific campaigns that are ultimately driving the best results for the business.

  5. Not scheduling ad campaigns properly: Some aspects of ad scheduling are quite simple: if including a phone number, for example, be sure to enable ads only during business hours, so someone can be around to take customer calls.

    Carefully tracking campaigns allows you to optimize your ad campaign scheduling even further. Through tracking, you will gather important information about your target audience, including daily, weekly and seasonal peak shopping times. Proper ad scheduling maximizes the effectiveness of ad campaigns while helping you to avoid needless spending.

If you would like to ensure every one of your ad campaigns is timed, monitored and optimized for successful conversion, contact DAS Group today.

Local SEO for Multi Location Businesses: Why Your Local Locations Aren’t Showing Up in Local Search Results

Local SEO

Today, customers are constantly performing searches for local businesses on their phones and computers, and making their decisions according to search results and reviews. In most cases, single-location businesses find it easier to appear at the top of local searches. Why are multi-location businesses losing out? While there are a number of reasons for this disparity, a lot of it has to do with multi-location businesses placing emphasis solely on the brand as a whole – including the central website – rather than catering to local markets via local web presence.

Here are some of the traps that multi-location businesses fall into along with some best practices to ensure that they can successfully compete with their single-location competitors.

The Problems

Web design

Sometimes, basic web design is the problem. Web design issues include a lack of responsive, mobile-first design, which leads to a slow loading speed. These design problems are especially important to address since potential customers use mobile devices to find businesses and Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm now factors mobile loading speed when ranking search results.

The other main web design issue involves the central website’s relationship with branch websites. Many multi-location businesses focus on a main web site instead of creating individual sites or location pages for each location. Even when a business has individual sites for each location, poor design and bad structure can negatively impact search engine results rankings. In these cases, local information is missing or structured in a way that cannot be indexed effectively by search engines.

Local Listing Accuracy

Accuracy in local listings is another crucial factor in achieving high-ranking search results. Since they have to manage multiple locations, multi-location businesses often forget to maintain consistency in local listings and citations. When information is missing or wrong, the local web site loses visibility and credibility in the eyes of search engines. Many simple errors often affect consistency in local listings, including typos, having more than one phone number for a location, business name changes and new addresses.

Local Reviews

Multi-location businesses often lose out to local businesses in number and quality of local reviews. When businesses fail to encourage reviews, they may end up with a few negative reviews that turn away potential customers.

Best Practices

Fortunately, utilizing the following local SEO best practices can help multi-location businesses avoid these common traps. Putting these changes into effect can greatly strengthen the local business’s visibility and reputation.

Create a unique landing page for each store

Having a page for each location helps customers and search engines to find specific information – such as name, address, phone number, hours and maps – when they perform local searches. While these pages should be customized in terms of locational content, they can be designed uniformly to retain brand integrity. Create clearly accessible links from local pages to the main site and vice versa, and be sure that the page is structurally optimized, with local key words in titles, tags, meta description and site copy.

Add specific local content to local pages

Multi-location companies can also link these sites to each location’s social media accounts to provide extra authority. These social media pages can also contain name, address, phone and hours. It also helps to include local content in the form of meaningful local links, such as news, testimonials and tagged images. All of these elements prove to search engines that the business is real.

Check and update listings and citations

Make sure that NAP (name, address, phone) are present and consistent, without any errors, in local directories. Use a single phone number for each location, and account for any name changes and new addresses. Simple typos can also be a critical mistake. Clearing up these citations will improve search visibility and credibility.

Generate reviews

Correct listings can improve reviews, since many business directories allow customers to provide reviews. In turn, more good reviews will help your local websites to appear at the top of search results.

If you would like to ensure that these best practices are implemented for your multi-location business, contact DAS Group.