Tag Archives: Digital Marketing

Recap: KC Search Marketing Conference

8 Nov

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Guest Contributor,
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Marketing

I was recently part of the second annual Kansas City Search Marketing Conference at the Sprint Accelerator. The event was presented by the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) Cities program and Bing.

The conference theme was “Better.” There were 12 speakers from across the region, and four sessions that all tied to the theme of doing search marketing better. I was on the organizing committee — after leading last year’s event — and moderated the first session, “Better Ideas, Better Strategies.”

The session was a reminder that it’s no longer possible to do search marketing in a silo. We must have content for organic and paid search. It’s also critical to stay on top of Google’s changes, especially with the staggering number of shifts the company made in 2016.

Matt Lacuesta was part of the panel I moderated, and something he said struck me: “PR people are the OG of link builders.” He shared how all content contributes to SEO, and that it’s important to understand and harness it. Some content examples Matt shared:

  • Collateral and messaging that resonates with prospects
  • A list of common sales objections
  • Customer service pain points
  • Events, sponsorships and community involvement
  • Industry relationships

Craig Paddock is a regular speaker at national search conferences. His presentation was full of insights on understanding performance data and using it to make decisions.

One stat he shared caught my attention: Wordstream is seeing an unbelievable 50 percent click-through rate on the AdWords “click to message” extension, which will soon roll out.

A compelling aspect of his presentation was how data sample sizes factor into decision making. Craig showed data from coin tosses. When comparing the frequency of heads in 20 coin flips, there was a decent range of results. But when expanded to 400 coin flips, the numbers normalized and the data was much more consistent. The example was a strong reminder to ensure we’re not making decisions on too few impressions, clicks and conversions in AdWords. This is especially true when comparing one ad group to another.

Tylor Hermanson presented keyword research for SEO targeting. He believes the Moz Opportunity Score is important because it goes beyond the keyword and monthly search volume. The Moz score considers the opportunity you have to get traffic based on the layout of the search results for that term.

It’s common to do keyword research in a vacuum and not consider the perceived intent of the search engine or the results page beyond the 10 blue organic links.

Including maps, answer boxes, shopping ads, news articles and other content can push down organic listings and hinder opportunities to spark traffic. Users may not see the link, even if it ranks well, if it’s pushed down the page.

In the week leading up to the conference, there were several big updates from Google and Bing. These were good reminders that the pace of search marketing isn’t going to slow any time soon, and the industry as a whole — despite breaking out of silos — isn’t going away.

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Do Keywords Still Matter?

28 Sep

Make sure your SEO Practices are Current

Corey1Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Marketing

I’m always surprised to hear some consultants still advise clients to focus on up to 10 keywords as the foundation of their SEO campaigns.

It’s not my nature to react to the latest rumor or ranking signal in Google’s algorithm until it’s validated. But, it was clear to me when I entered the SEO industry a decade ago, that content was – and still is – the most important factor for SEO success, not keywords.

Content builds context and fosters engagement through inbound links, social media and web mentions. Without solid content, we’re forced to employ “old” SEO methods that work to varying degrees, such as creating single pages for every single keyword we want to rank.

Google continues to better understand context and meaning, and not rely solely on frequency and density of specific terms in page copy. Context of the website, the section and the page are all more important than a specific keyword.

To say Google’s algorithm has grown in recent years is an understatement. In fact, I heard Google Engineer, Paul Haahr, speak at SMX West and he shared that not a single person at Google knows the company’s full algorithm. This is important because it shows the company has enabled the algorithm to learn context on its own and get smarter in real-time.

The days of targeting a single term to a single page are in the past. That said, we can’t exactly ignore keywords in analytics. Keywords remain important progress indicators, and ways to ensure we understand and attract target audiences.

Clients and prospects are often taken by surprise when I say they can target as many keywords as they want. It’s fun educating them on the shift to content and context, and to see the sense of relief on their copywriter’s face!

Gone are the days of focusing on just 10 links, tracking their rankings and ultimately judging an SEO campaign’s impact based on their performance. What matters for SEO success is the development of relevant content that builds context and fosters ongoing audience engagement.

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Our Take From Cleveland: #CMWorld Day Two

9 Sep

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Corey and Kate spent two days at #CMWorld in Cleveland. This is the second of two posts sharing their quick takeaways from the event. If you haven’t seen the first, check it out

Our second and final day at #CMWorld. And, like day one, it was a whirlwind of fresh ideas, new friends and awesome swag. (No stress balls!)

Airborne to KC, we’re chatting about what stood out on our final day. Here’s what comes to mind.

First, a stat: For every $5 spent on content creation, marketers are spending just a buck on distribution.

Does that surprise you? It sure caught our eye. Seems like we should be investing more than four quarters to maximize ROI.

Day two gave Corey the opportunity to talk with Jeff Julian on the Enterprise Marketer podcast.

Jeff and Corey chatted about the efficiency of content being pushed through digital channels, rather than dictated by SEO. They also talked about Google updates and how the company continues to show it’s learning context, which is yielding better content as a whole.

We’ll be sure to share Corey’s interview once it’s live. So, stay tuned.

It’s easy to leave a conference like this brimming with new ideas but unsure where to start. Fortunately, Thursday’s opening panel gave some encouraging words on how to take your content strategy to the next level. Here’s a hint: start.

Stephanie Losee with Visa, fresh from Rio for the Olympics, said it just takes one piece of content to begin. Not a launch party. Not a seven-figure budget. Just one piece of content from one SME conversation.

In the same vein, Jenifer Walsh with GE reminded us that content strategy is a marathon, not a sprint. And, that it takes time to build content traction. So, take a deep breath. You don’t have to have a community of a thousand followers on day one.

Finally, Raj Munusamy with Schneider Electric, told us the mind digests visual content six times faster than text. Six times.

What we heard: Goodbye 10-page white papers. Helloooo visual content that wows! (Apparently we should be drawing you a picture, not writing this post.)

So there you have it. Our initial take on two days of all content all the time.

Would we go again? Absolutely. Would Corey remember Cleveland is hot and humid? No doubt. Would Kate pack less? For sure. (Okay, that’s a lie.)

Keep an eye out for future posts from us. In the coming weeks, we’ll share more in-depth learnings from the show.

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Our Take From Cleveland: #CMWorld Day One

8 Sep

 

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Our #CMWorld day one is done. And, these two first-timers are energized by the networking, excited to leverage what we’ve learned, and, okay, maybe just a little tired.

Here’s what’s caught Corey and Kate’s attention in Cleveland.

First, content marketers as a whole are working more from assumptions than fact.

Consider:

  • 57 percent of B2B marketers say they use audience personas
  • However, a mere 20 percent of audiences being reached have the info and means to purchase

Eighty percent of those receiving marketing messages don’t have the interest or resources to make a buying decision. The takeaway is clear: Relying on assumptions is wasting time and our clients’ money. The importance of research can’t be overstated.

Next, a consistent theme heard across the show is marketers are great at providing clients with solutions … but maybe not-so-great at listening to clients’ problems.

Ian Altman summed it up in his session on how content can accelerate sales: If your product or service doesn’t solve the client’s problem, they don’t care about your features and benefits.

Ardath Albee stressed the importance of understanding client challenges. She said our solutions must meet audiences and their problems along every step of the buyer’s journey.

Seems like a good time to step back and ask: Are we truly addressing clients’ needs or are we just telling them what we think they want to hear?

Additionally, Jeff Julian and Andrea Fryrear delivered a strong message about not thinking about content as campaigns. They stressed failing and winning fast, and using learnings to guide strategy, instead of spending time and money on one-time campaigns.

Finally, Rick Wion shared lessons on transparency and trust from his time at Kellogg’s and McDonald’s. Wion referenced Al Golin’s Trust or Consequences book and reminded us that building trust is like insurance for future issues. Because we all know at some point, there will be an issue.

We’ll close this blog with a fun fact learned today: DYK there’s a McDonald’s employee responsible for tasting eight hamburgers an hour, for eight hours a day, five days a week? That’s a quality control job we’d like to have! And, no, his name is not “Big Mac.”

Bring it on, day two.

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AdWords Expanded Text Ads: What are they and why do they matter?

10 Aug

Google Advertising Program webpage on the browser

CoreyMorris

Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Strategy

This year has been a big one with Google updates and news across all platforms and products. Google AdWords has not been immune to large scale changes that have an impact on how advertisers manage accounts and campaigns. Earlier in the year Google removed all ads from the right side of the Google search results page. This update means that text ads are now only showing at the top and bottom of the page and while there was a lot of debate about what this would do to advertiser costs to remain in front of the targeted audience, it was accepted as an evolution toward a mobile-first mentality for Google and advertisers alike.

 Compare the Two…

First Image
Google’s New Expanded Text Ads
Second image
Google’s Legacy Ads

What are expanded text ads?

A natural evolution toward the mobile-first mentality was launched in late July and is rolling out to all accounts in the form of “expanded text ads.” This update by Google is available for advertisers to use when creating new ads featuring a new format and level of flexibility in ad creation and has a handy preview as you’re composing your ad for seeing how it might render on mobile and desktop. This update removes the need to check the mobile device box on text ads and for more detailed break-outs of campaigns by focus on mobile versus desktop.

Why should I care?

I have boiled this down to the pros and cons for the new format. Regardless of how you feel about the format, it is something that must happen and we recommend getting on board as soon as possible so you can get any possible advantage during the transition period in having more real estate on your search engine results page.

Pros:

  • The ad creation process will be easier going forward
  • You gain more flexibility with how the ad text lines are formatted (one line and continuous statement versus two) and it is expanded to 80 characters
  • You can have multiple headlines (30 characters each)
  • The display URL allows for multiple directory layers (backslashes) providing the opportunity to work more keywords into the display URL
  • All ad extensions are still in play allowing for even more real estate for your ads

Cons:

  • If you have a lot of ads in your account, or if you manage multiple accounts, you’re going to have to invest time in creating new expanded text ads. There is not a way to have your ads automatically convert in format and you will have to go through them in detail.
  • You won’t be able to update legacy text ads after the October 26, 2016 deadline. While your ads will continue to run, they will be frozen in time.

The Data

ERM started building expanded text ads when our accounts became eligible and started A/B testing against the legacy format. We’re monitoring the tests and will follow up with another blog post in the next 1-2 weeks with the results of our testing and more information about how expanded text ads are performing across the board. Stay tuned!

More info from Google on expanded text ads and the transition: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/7056544

Help on setting them up on your own: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/6167115?hl=en

To read more, check out this article: http://searchengineland.com/google-expanded-text-ads-quirks-testing-results-255093

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