A Lesson from the “Fred” Google Update

27 Apr

 

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“Who’s Fred and why should I care?” …did you have that reaction in the past couple of weeks? Or, are you fortunate and this is the first time you’ve heard about Fred? Either way, we want to take a moment to provide some advice considering the most recent Google update. The Fred name stuck quickly and was a reaction of the SEO community after the previous unnamed update. Google has told us time and again that they update the algorithm daily and that they aren’t going to comment on every real or perceived update (more info on that here: http://bit.ly/2oavwwL).

If you want to catch up on the background of the update, there are plenty of great sources including Search Engine Journal  and Search Engine Land . Rather than telling you the intricate details and speculation of what and why, I want to simply point out that algorithm changes are the reality of SEO. Google has made a ton of changes in the organic space, paid advertising space, and even in the gigabit fiber internet space in the past year. The most consistent thing is change and they aren’t slowing down any time soon.

Fred’s lessons that we need to stay in the middle of the sandbox. That’s something that Bruce Clay  taught me nearly a decade ago and it remains true today. By understanding Google’s Webmaster Guidelines , reading the lengthy Web Rater Guidelines ,  and staying in white hat territory, we can steer clear of the past, current, and future big algorithm updates. Going forward, I’m going to refer to things as Fred moments, and when I am questioning whether I should have a link from a specific site, a pop-up on my home page, or push text further down the page in favor of an ad, I’ll ask if this will appease Fred – a constant reminder and cue to think about gray areas and steer clear of things that would put my site or my clients’ sites at risk.

Ultimately, it might sound like we’re all caving to Google’s algorithm updates and what they want us to do. To a certain degree, we are working to play their game. However, there is revenue and business performance to gain by being prominently ranked in their search engine. And until they are no longer the Goliath, we shouldn’t’ take our eye off what will allow us to improve and monetize our businesses through it.

 

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4 Ways Digital Transformation Helps Today’s Businesses

25 Apr

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Digital transformation is a concept that is expected to grow exponentially. Businesses who don’t adopt its principles and otherwise adapt to the changes it brings are setting themselves up for real struggles in the near future. Need to be further convinced that your business must embrace the digital transformation? Here are four key ways in which digital is helping businesses right now.

  1. More Customer Engagement

Using information gathered digitally, businesses can engage with their customers in more meaningful ways. This includes using data intellegence to predict what customers want even before they themselves are aware of it. This knowledge enables businesses to offer what customers want by natural means, such as a conversation with someone within your company.

  1. Improved Business Methodology

Before the digital transformation began, being aware of what was going on within your business as it occurred was enough to ensure success. With the influx of concepts such as the Internet of Things and machine learning, the capability of anticipating what is likely to happen within your own business, as well as its industry, is available now. Businesses who want to succeed need to take advantage of being able to anticipate future events and capitalize on that knowledge now.

  1. Transformation of Offered Services and Products

Data intelligence is making companies within diverse industries experts in information and its effective management. From anywhere across the globe, businesses can connect with whatever they need using data. This connectivity also drives home the point that no business esists in a vaccume. Everything is interconnected. Data intelligence supports efforts to maintain a viable economy and a sustainable climate.

  1. Empowerment of Employees

Employees continue to play a key role in the growth of business. Human language is poised to become the new business interface. The use of organizational analytics provides a way to efficiently gather information from emails and other business documents. Doing so enables you to tap into the insights and knowledge that is already in place within your business.

While none of the above ideas are new concepts, the linking factor is the role that intelligence systems plays in planning and achieving these goals. ER Marketing works closely with businesses to deliver digital strategies that drive results. Learn more by contacting us at (816) 471-1400.

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How to Diversify Your Content Strategy

20 Apr

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Content marketing of one or two varieties will only take you so far. The key to making a meaningful impact on your target audience is diverse content. An engaging blog with a steady stream of insightful posts lays the foundation. However, one blog post after another won’t prove sufficient in the quest to turn prospects into loyal clients. Every business needs to build on blog material with balanced content to gain traction with their target audience.

  1. Audiences are Becoming Increasingly Selective

Contemporary audiences are quite sophisticated. While some are willing to read 1,000 word blog posts, many prefer videos, images, social media and other forms of online content. It is imperative that your business achieves the right mix of content to appeal to a wide variety of prospective clients. Key in on creating helpful and engaging content for each buyer persona at every point of the “buying funnel” and your business will establish itself as legitimate in the eyes of as many prospective clients as possible.

  1. Don’t Produce Marketing Material Simply for Content’s Sake

If your content creation team generates new content on a regular basis, it won’t make many inroads with prospects unless it is highly unique. Google penalizes websites that contain generic and weak content. So don’t develop any old content for the sake of having a regularly updated blog, social media website or other online presence. Key in on which style of online content your target audience desires. Content style and the platform it is hosted on will help you attain your goals of enhanced search engine optimization, the generation of new sales leads, boosting brand awareness, increasing conversions etc.

  1. Ways to Diversity Online Content

The number of online platforms available for content marketing continues to increase. Though blogs and social media are the basis for most content marketing strategies, all sorts of other content is proving critically important. Consider expanding your online marketing footprint with an eBook, white paper, educational webinar, video, Instagram presence and beyond. Even a live video stream of your product or service in action will help connect with prospective clients.

  1. A Wide Range of Voices

Part of diversifying online content is making each piece unique. If an audience reads, hears or sees the same style of content over and over again, they will eventually tune out.  Reach out to professional freelance and other content marketing professionals to create idiosyncratic content. These diverse viewpoints, voices and ideas will help expand your brand to a wide array of prospective clients. A well-rounded team of writers, creative thinkers and content generators will also serve to produce a dynamic message that doesn’t sound repetitive or stale.

  1. Take Risks

The challenge of content marketing partly lies in your abaility to gain exposure to new audiences. Switch things up by contributing a guest post to an industry partner or another business that plays a role in your industry. Make sure the piece contains a “backlink” to your website/blog so web traffic can be redirected for your benefit. Reciprocate by allowing other businesses to post a guest blog article to your website/blog with its own backlink. Record a podcast, create some slideshares, infographics or research reports. Even something unconventional like a tutorial video or a video featuring company leaders/employees will serve as refreshing content that further engages your target audience in an intriguing way.

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4 PR Trends You Must Adopt in 2017

19 Apr

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Last year proved that public relations (PR) is more important than ever before in the nearly real-time existence of today. The combination of a controversial presidential race and several major stumbles by well-known corporations made 2016 a year that will go down in the history books. Throughout it all, there were nuggets of knowledge and information that businesses need to tease out and remember. Keep the following PR trends in mind during 2017 to stay on stop of the increased growth that is expected during the remainder of the year.

  1. Reputation matters

This might seem like a point that is rather obvious. However, it is worth repeating given the explosion of fake news stories that spawned blow back against more than a few businesses. In many instances, by the time it was apparent that the news was fake, the damage had been done. When coupled with the increasing popularity of websites where nearly anyone can rate a business, it’s easy to see how a well-cultivated reputation can be nearly destroyed in record time. Handling potential crises means PR professionals will need to exercise transparency and tact.

  1. Market influencers will be tapped

Regardless of which market a business is in, there are influencers who are valued for their expertise. While this is not a static pool of contenders, it is one that is likely to be tapped with an eye toward adding validity to a business. Finding the right influencer to become a contributor to a business doesn’t have to mean looking outside your company either. Plenty of businesses generate their own influencers as well.

  1. Measuring continues to evolve

Measuring market influence and results continues to evolve. Staying abreast of the latest trends within the industry – as well as what is being attributed to a particular business – is crucial to you success. Marketing professionals will need to craft targeted PR materials based on projections as well as past statistics. Smart PR teams will use constantly evolving metrics to stay on top of their campaign results.

  1. Live video expands

Live video was just getting its footing toward the end of 2016, so expect it to become a major player in the PR game during 2017. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that video – live or otherwise – will plateau this year either. Instead, approach live video with the mindset that the trend is only just in its infancy and there is lots of room for growth.

Public relations – while a vital component of any business –  is not a concept that can be neatly compartmentalized. Complex, fluid and robust, good PR management is crucial for today’s companies. Learn how ER Marketing can make 2017 a banner year for your business.

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Plan to Measure What Matters

13 Apr

 

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The “measure what matters” phrase has been around for a long time, but as marketers we can put it into practice more today than in any decade or generation in the past. I have recently had the opportunity to help a prospective client navigate their options when being aggressively pursued to renew a yellow pages agreement. It is a classic example of an outdated marketing tactic, with pressure and confusion being pushed on a small business owner. It’s important to take full advantage of the many effective tactics that can be measured for results in our current era of digital marketing.

You likely have a website and are exposed to at least the basic analytics. Beyond that, you probably have the ability to dive deeper if you want and have access to advice or interpretation of the analytics. However, data doesn’t mean anything without specific goals and analysis – it is just a collection of numbers. If you want to improve the value of your digital marketing and understand how it is impacting sales, there are four specific metrics to track.

 

1. Traffic

Website traffic is critical to seeing measurable success. The problem is that many companies consider it the end goal. Traffic should be the precursor to the goal of the conversion, which depending on the type of business, conversion can mean a lead submission form, a tracked phone call, a white paper download, an email signup, or other identified desired action. If you desire X number of conversions to generate revenue, then you need Y number of website visitors to get there. The conversion rate of your website dictates the number of visitors you need. However, this isn’t a crapshoot. You have control over variables that drive traffic to your site through the various traffic sources.

If you globally have a 2.5% conversation rate, then you can quickly get to the number of website visitors you need to reach your goals or you can invest time and effort into improving your conversion rate (bonus if you can do both). You can see through basic web analytics what the number of visitors is by source and work to further optimize or advertise to push more visitors from each source category.

 2. Activity

Activity is what you’re doing to generate impressions, traffic, and conversions. This is the broadest category to track, but is important. To be able to calculate ROI, you need to measure the cost and resources invested in the activities that drive the other measureable aspects of your digital marketing. This is the time you put into SEO, PPC, social, content marketing, content creation, and other efforts that you invest in through time or through an outsourced vendor. Without measuring this cost, then you can’t fully understand what your true cost of goods sold is or what your cost per lead is.

3. Impressions

Getting less tangible, but still important to gain traffic to drive to conversions is impressions. This can broadly be classified as the number of people who see an ad, see an organic search result featuring your listing, receive an email from you, or otherwise are exposed to your brand. Impressions aren’t guaranteed to be seen by your audience, but is a measure of reach and intended exposure. By pushing to increase your reach and impression-share, you can see what campaign tactics and channels are most likely to drive traffic an ultimately, conversions. Not all traffic channels are created equal and you can quickly see what is driving quality traffic versus just wasting your time and budget dollars.

 4. Goal Conversions

This is the total number of specific conversion actions taken by users driven to your website. Like stated previously, depending on the type of business, this could be a lead submission form, a tracked phone call, a whitepaper download, an email signup, an ecommerce sale, or other identified desired action. These are tracked through several sources and can be tied to “goals” in Google Analytics that will allow for reporting by source. You can determine whether organic search, direct, referral, social, or traffic from specific campaigns drove the desired action. For ecommerce sites, you can also pass through sales revenue data so you can see in nearly real-time what you’re making from each traffic channel.

Beyond Google Analytics, you can get granular data from pay-per-click advertising campaigns through Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and other paid campaign sources to know what is working and what isn’t. If you don’t know this data, know that it’s “knowable” and work with trusted partners to get it set up for your site, advertising account, analytics platform, etc.

Before launching any campaign–and even during well-established campaigns–we recommend taking a step back quarterly to review metrics in these primary categories and shore up any areas where they are not fully known or detailed. If you can’t measure it, then it can’t matter.

 

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