Fireside Chat with a Project Manager: 4 Tips for Being the Best in 2014

As we bid adieu to 2013, we asked one of our lead Project Managers for some marketing advice heading into the new year. Internet, meet Tom. 

tom fireside chatting

We all want to be the best. We want our company to be the best company …much better than our competitors. We want the best customers that pay us the best money. We want the best brand that gets recognized across lands near and far.

Being the best is a challenge, especially when it comes to online marketing. 2013 was a year of great change, and chances are, you’ve struggled with at least one of your marketing channels this year. As we all look towards next year, start planning budgets and defining goals, consider the following four points to help make the best of your efforts:

1) Idea first, medium second. In an age where content marketing is spreading like wildfire, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the mindset that you have to produce a certain type of content – an infographic, a blog post, a top ten list – whatever it may be. It’s common to hear marketers sitting around planning like this: “What idea can we come up with for an infographic? We need to do 4 blog posts this month … what should our topics be?”

This is the wrong approach. Start first with the question, “What information do people want/need right now?” Once you have answered this question, you are on the right track. Get the idea down, then figure out what medium will make the content easiest to consume. Does it make the most sense to put this in an infographic? If so, great. If not, figure out what the best channel is. Think outside the box. Focus on the actual content. Don’t worry about glitz/glam. Communicate your message. Don’t worry about anything else.

2) Get real on your blog. Take an honest look at what you are doing with your blog. I’m talking about one of those REALLY honest looks, where you sincerely evaluate the content you are publishing here.

  1. Are you churning blog posts just because someone told you blogging was good for SEO?
  2. Are you regurgitating something that’s been said/done a thousand times?
  3. Are you just going through the motions here, without much regard for bigger picture?

It’s time to get real, people. Try doing some of this:

  1. Re-read point number 1 on this list above.
  2. If you decide that your message is best suited for blog form, then get out your pen and paper (uh, keyboard?).
  3. Do some research before you start. Has this topic been covered before? If so, how will your version be better?
  4. Write like you mean it. Write like you are competing in a writing contest with a  one million dollar prize. Write like you . . . you get it.
  5. Add photos / graphics / headings. Help your readers digest your content by making it visually interesting and easily scan-able.
  6. When it’s finished, send it to a few colleagues. Ask them to critique.

3) Focus on your website. With so much attention going towards content marketing, social media, and other channels, we often forget to look at the core of what we are offering people. If all of your marketing is geared towards getting more users to your site (who will hopefully become customers), should your site be straight up awesome?

“Well, my site is pretty good”. PRETTY GOOD??? Get out of here bro.

Make your site THE BEST. Make it better than all your competitors. Make it so good that people can control themselves no longer when they arrive at your site, and they have no choice BUT to become your customers.

Pro Tip: taking this mindset will improve your SEO dramatically. Trust me.

4) Get serious about paid marketing. Take a minute to reflect on the points above. For a minute, let’s envision ourselves 3 months down the road when you’ve now accomplished the following:

  1. You’ve had the BEST ideas, and you’ve done a great job and putting those into some really meaningful content pieces.
  2. You’ve contributed the BEST content to your blog, and  this thing is seriously robust. In fact, you find yourself re-reading your own posts because you’re just that proud of them.
  3. You’ve built the BEST website, and it’s doing wonders for your on-site engagement.

Congratulations! You have built it. However, on the web, “build it and they will come” is not typically the case. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and drive some traffic to this thing. If you are nervous about investing here, then take a look back at what you’ve built – there’s a good chance your nervousness is due a lack of confidence in your work. If your work is top notch, you should be giddy while you put your credit card info in to your Google Adwords account. After all, you’ve built the best, and you can’t wait for more people to experience it.

As you bask in the presence of these tips, I can already sense some of the hesitation that’s creeping up inside of your mind – “But I don’t have the time do all this,” “I’m not a writer, how can I create good content?” or “I don’t have the budget for a new website!”

Well, I can’t really help you with that. It wasn’t easy when the wright brothers learned to fly or when Steve Jobs created the ipod. We all work within the limits of our own skills, budgets, and industries. But those that are going to win online in 2014 are those that don’t accept these challenges as the end of the road. See your challenges as things that must be solved, and don’t stop until you’ve solved them and are free to work diligently towards your goals.

So that’s it. Go for the gold in 2014! Happy New Year!


AdWords Enhanced Campaigns: Big Changes for Small Screens

We live in a society that is gradually more connected, and increasingly portable. The mobile wave has crashed down over the free world, leaving in its wake droves of media-drunk web junkies, so it should be no surprise that soon, mobile will surpass desktop as the number one way people search on the web.

The wave of mobile crashing down upon us all

The wave of mobile crashing down upon us all

With a crystal ball and a head of dreams for the future of the web (along with super decelerated mobile ad adoption), Google has made a bold move that will change their advertising platform forever: AdWords Enhanced Campaigns.

If I were asked to describe Enhanced Campaigns concisely (which by the way, would be completely unlike anything I’d ever do), I’d probably say something like “Enhanced Campaigns are pretty much exactly like what Google already offers, just less of a pain in the ass.” You see, AdWords Enhanced Campaigns are really not much more than an easier mobile opt-in and easier bid management for mobile and location targeting, so instead of having to initiate separate campaigns for each location and device combo, you’ll instead begin incorporating “bid adjustments” into your campaigns for precise targeting in various contexts. Okay, okay, so maybe “bid adjustments” are where some of the pain of it comes back in, but it’s really just a learning curve (learn more here).

The trade-off for the “bid adjustments” calamity is that now your ads are going to become absolutely brilliant, adjusting to their context and selecting the perfect ad for locations, devices, and time of day. A few new ad extension management features will roll out in the near future, too, so you’ll be able to configure call extensions, site link extensions, and more, also based on context. With possibilities like this, the world is yours. Just kidding; it’s still Google’s.

Google’s AdWords Enhanced Campaigns will be coming to you by the end of this month! Want the full story? Learn more in Google’s Upgrade Guide and check out the video below.


Google Beefs Up Local Just in Time for the Holidays

Image Courtesy: Google

Pay per click has always been ideal for super-precise targeting, but today, the paid search gods have smiled upon us. Google announced today that they’re making it even easier to get your business in front of prospective buyers with an assortment of exciting AdWords local targeting updates. Here’s a summary of a few of the new features, which Google discusses here:

1. Airport Targeting: Connecting on the Fly
Think of the amount of time we spend in airports, sitting in super uncomfortable chairs, snacking on Einstein Bagels, and well . . . WAITING. A lot. Now with Google’s launch of airport targeting, which includes 350 airports around the world, businesses can connect with customers playing the waiting game by showing them highly targeted ads while they browse on their mobile, tablet, or laptop device. Well played, Google. You’re a genius.

2. Location Extensions and Sitelinks Play Nicely
Location extensions, which display your business location alongside your AdWords ad, will now be displayed with sitelinks.

3. Upgraded Map Panel
Clicking local extension addresses will now display a map to the right-hand side of search results, pinpointing the location. This upgrade will take place only on laptop and desktop computers.

Additional features include better location matching, conversion reporting for local extensions, and the expansion of local extensions to more countries.


Facebook Really, Really Wants You To Advertise with Them

No big surprise there. In the months leading up to the Facebook IPO, talk of Facebook advertising (its weaknesses, and what needed to improve to continue growing revenue, more specifically) ran rampant on all sorts of media outlets. The few days leading up to the IPO were even more speculative, thanks in part to this little study on Facebook ads vs Adwords that got real big quick.

Facebook won’t be discouraged, though. Today they’ve made it even easier to advertise with them–almost frighteningly easy.

Now, any post a page makes can become a promoted post without having to enter into the advertising platform. Before posting (or after), just click “Promote.”

Facebook promoted posts

Then this handy-dandy little window will pop up.

Facebook promoted post details

Then, you can adjust the cost!

And before you know it, you’ve spent way more than you intended to on Facebook ads because you’ve promoted every post (oh, it’s only $5.00??) on your page. Facebook will no doubt be very grateful.

It’s a pretty slick addition. Hopefully it’ll help Facebook bounce back from all the disappointment surrounding the IPO. . .



This Week on the Web (Feb. 27- March 2)

It seems like February’s extra day this year made a big difference in just how big of a week this was on the Web.

The morning of February 29th heralded Facebook’s news that it would be rolling out the new Timeline format to brand pages officially in 30 days. Brands will have a month to get familiar with the change, and can now switch back and forth between layouts. While companies will now benefit from the shiny banner, or cover photo, at the top of their page now, they’ll also lose a huge advantage–the custom default landing tab. Users will no longer automatically land on anything other than the page’s Wall, so everyone will have to get a little more creative in pushing audience members to those handy-dandy apps. This might turn out to be a surprisingly Google move for Facebook, as it will now undoubtedly push page owners to do more advertising in order to get users directly to their apps.

If that wasn’t enough for one week, Google’s new unified privacy policy launched this Thursday to much buzz around every media outlet imaginable. Prepare to be tracked as you’ve never been tracked before–with an impeccable thoroughness and elegant simplicity that only Google can manage.

Speaking of Google, Josh Constine over at TechCrunch wrote a bitingly honest article this week titled “Why Google+ Doesn’t Care If You Never Come Back,” which you should check out, even if you only read the first two words. Touche, sir.

And for those infographic-lovers out there, Marketing News Central posted a sweet infographic by Wordstream this week detailing Google’s most expensive keywords. Check it out below!

Google's most expensive keywords



Google Keyword Tool …”tweaked” again?

Anyone notice that Google’s Keyword Tool is occationally mixing up the order of the words within certain search terms? For example, a recent query of ‘golf ball’ and ‘golf balls’ gave the following results:

Notice the third, fourth and sixth search terms. I know for a fact (from studying these terms countless times in the past) that the words Titleist, Used and Callaway are actually suppose to be in front of the search terms and not at the end.

As I am sure many of you already know, this is an excellent tool for both AdWords AND for running research on efforts to target free organic listings.  Remember the days of having to rely on WordTracker and the Overture tool?  You would have to multiply their numbers to guesstimate what Google was experiencing.

I love Google’s tool, but this recent change reminds me a lot of how the old Overture tool would often work.  It too would scramble the words and Overture would state that it did not really matter for their “ppc” efforts. I hope Google is not thinking in the same mode.  It is always nice to know exactly how people are typing in their search terms so that we can match this pattern within our optimization efforts. 

Yes, you can switch the option from Broad to Phrase or Exact:

However, these options provide numbers that get a little screwy and popular terms like “used golf balls” drop way down to the bottom of the list or disapear all together.

I welcome your feedback.

Find the Google AdWords Keyword Tool here:


The 3 Most Common Mistakes Made When Choosing Keywords

Keywords — most people know they’re important, but few truly know how to best make them work for their site. Choosing keywords is one of the most common areas of search engine optimization where thousands of people make mistakes. Some sites choose keywords and don’t mirror them in content, some don’t have keywords at all, and others simply target the wrong ones.

Here are the 3 most common mistakes people make when it comes to keywords. Avoid them, and your search engine positioning will thank you.

Keyword Mistake #1 Not Doing Your Homework

Doing adequate keyword research is the biggest mistake most companies make when it comes to search engine optimization. Finding the best keywords for your target market can mean the difference between ranking on the 10th page of Google and the 1st.

There are many ways to research the appropriate keywords for your business. Online keyword trackers, keyword list generators, and Google’s Adwords keyword tool are all great places to start. If you crack the right keyword mix for your site, the quality of your website traffic will improve significantly.

Keyword Mistake #2 Copying The Competition

Choosing keywords by looking at what the competition is using is a common strategy. Fundamentally, this is a good thing to do and can be vital to a search engine optimization campaign. However, if you’re a start up business and you’re trying to compete on the same keywords as an established, popular competitor, then this could hinder your search engine positioning.

Basically, search engines take in a myriad of factors when determining the ranking of a website. This can include the age of the website, the relevance of its content, the number of quality backlinks a site has, and the list goes on. Unless you are confident in your ability to compete head on with your competitors in all aspects of search engine positioning, it is a far better strategy to differentiate yourself from the competition in your choice of keywords.

Keyword Mistake #3 Only Choosing The Most Popular Keywords

This mistake is intertwined with the first two common mistake of choosing keywords. It has to do with differentiation, research, and thinking outside of the square. In search engine optimization, there are keywords that consistently win the popularity contest for each industry. As a new player in that industry the most popular keywords will always be the keywords on which you struggle to rank well.

A solution to this problem is not to limit your search engine optimization to these popular keywords. Instead, choose niche keywords, or keyword phrases, that have a lower search traffic volume but are easier to compete on.

What this method does is allow you to attract targeted traffic from not just one keyword, but many. Even though the specific niche keywords have lower search traffic than the more popular single keywords, optimizing for a number of them can give you the same amount of traffic collectively than that single popular keyword.


3 Tips for Choosing the Right Keywords

In search engine optimization, keywords are one of the first areas to address. Keywords are like the street signs that search engines use to direct their searchers to your site. Choosing the right keywords will have potential customers finding their way to you easily. However, choosing the wrong keywords will be like sending them down 5th Avenue in rush hour — it’s so crowded they may never reach their destination.

So how do you ensure that you avoid the common pitfalls that trap website owners, new and old? Here are three tips that will have you three steps closer to great search engine positioning.

Search Engine Optimization Tip #1 Competitive Research

Looking at the keywords that your competitors use can be a valuable insight for your website. It can determine whether you choose to compete with them directly, or research long tail keywords, or niche keyword phrases that they might not be covering.

There are a few ways to find out what your competitors keywords are. One of the simplest is to visit their website and go to View Source from your browser’s View menu. Have a look for the meta name for ‘keywords’ and you should be able to see their list. However, this will not work for sites created in WordPress or some of the other programming languages.

There are competitive keyword analyzers on the market that will use software to show you what keywords your competitors are using. However, some of these programs are not all they’re cracked up to be — do your research and seek out recommendations before purchasing.

Your other alternative is to hire a search engine positioning expert. Search engine optimization firms are specialists in their field. They understand the complexities of search engine algorithms and how to manipulate them. Using a search engine expert, you will most likely see better result than if you do try to go it alone.

Search Engine Optimization Tip #2 It’s Not Just A Popularity Contest

It may seem counterintuitive, but choosing the most popular keywords isn’t always the best thing to do. Think of search engine positioning like the world of business — it’s highly competitive. In business, the more providers offering the same service, the higher the competition. Similarly, in search engines, the more websites optimizing for the same keywords, the harder it will be for you website to compete.

When embarking on your search engine optimization method, by all means include the most popular keywords in your overall listing, but focus of the more niche keywords or phrases. This will mean that you will be able to achieve top rankings more easily. Use free tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool to find out what terms are being search for and look for the keyword phrases with smaller quantities of searches to include in your campaign.

Search Engine Optimization Tip #3 Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keyword is a phrase used to describe keywords, or keyword phrases, which are more specific. For example “Armani suits” is a short tail keyword while “half price Armarni suits” is a long tail keyword.

While the search engine traffic might not be as large for long tail keywords, it is easier to rank highly on them. Most search engine optimization companies will advise taking the most popular short tail keywords and surrounding them with long tail phrases. What this does is give you a broader range of specific keyword terms that cumulatively account for a significant portion of site traffic.