Google ads optimisation score
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Why your Google Ads Optimisation Score is too high and what to do about it?

By John Woods  |  November 29, 2021

On 24th September 2021, we had the pleasure to host a session on Google Ads Optimisation Score as part of the Leeds Digital Festival

During the virtual event Dr John Woods, Founder and Director of Sharp Ahead, shared his expert observations on B2B paid media best practices. Dr Woods emphasised that, as Google progressively gamifies “good practice” for paid search advertising, we need to bear in mind that what’s good for Google isn’t necessarily good for B2B advertisers. 

You can now watch the full video recording of the event to learn more about:

  • Paid media campaigns
  • Whether automatic bidding beat manual bids set by a human expert
  • If an AI conversion optimiser reduce your cost per lead
  • Should you trust a machine to write your ad copy
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly of Google Ads’ optimisation score and automation.

We would like to thank all the attendees for their active participation and great questions in the Q&A part of the event.

Find out more about our PPC services or get in touch to see how we can help you deliver successful PPC campaigns.

SharpSpring Platinum Certification
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Sharp Ahead Receives Platinum Certification in SharpSpring Partner Certification Program

By Jennifer Esty  |  November 24, 2021

We’re super excited to announce that Sharp Ahead have achieved platinum-level certification in SharpSpring’s partner certification program!

Through this program, SharpSpring, Inc. (NASDAQ: SHSP), a global provider of cloud-based marketing and email software solutions, empowers its partners to become experts in marketing automation and rewards top performers with referrals, certification badges and additional resources.

Sharp Ahead met all of the requirements within the platinum tier of the certification program, demonstrating an exceptional level of expertise in marketing automation and the SharpSpring platform. With this certification, Sharp Ahead is more equipped to help clients drive qualified leads, convert more of those leads to sales, and optimize the ROI of their marketing campaigns.

“Agencies that are leaders in marketing automation are also far more likely to become leaders in the digital marketing industry,” said Rick Carlson, CEO of SharpSpring. “When a partner goes the extra mile to obtain this level of certification, we know they truly understand the value of marketing automation and that they’re committed to driving the highest results for their clients.”

“We’re very proud of the Sharp Ahead team for achieving such a significant designation. At Sharp Ahead, we aim to provide our clients with the highest level of service and expertise. Obtaining Platinum Certification from SharpSpring is a clear reflection of our approach”, says Jennifer Esty, Director of Sharp Ahead.

Find out more about our marketing automation services or get in touch to request a SharpSpring demo.

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What To Look For In A B2B SEO Audit – The 6-Step Framework For Success

By Rachael Clark  |  August 11, 2021

For many B2B marketers, the logical starting point for their SEO strategy is an audit—after all how do you know what to fix if you don’t know what is broken, or how to prioritise content creation if you don’t know what the search landscape even looks like?

A B2B SEO audit should be both a pragmatic and strategic launchpad for your objectives, but how do you know if the audit itself is any good?

Here are our pro tips for what to look for:

1. The Three Key Areas

A good SEO audit will cover three key areas: on-page, off-page, and technical.

They of course have a lot of cross-over and the key is identifying which elements of each of these should be prioritised.

In a perfect world of unlimited time and resources, you would fix every issue—but sometimes you have to be pragmatic and consider the ease and impact of each of the changes being suggested.

What your audit may reveal:

  • On-page: are page titles and descriptions in place, unique and of the right length; primary keyword is in the H1 and in the page content; do you have internal and external sitelinks on the page; is the content not comprehensive enough to rank?
  • Off-page: what sort of page authority do you have? Where are your strongest backlinks and where is there more opportunity?
  • Technical: page speed issues, existence of 404s, whether schema is used correctly (or at all!)
SEO Venn Diagram

2. UX

UX and SEO are inextricably linked. Things like the information architecture and the navigation design are fundamental to both. You simply can’t achieve success with one without the other.

What your audit may reveal: Pages, posts, categories focused on the internal structure of a business, rather than that of the searcher’s intent.

A good SEO audit will also include pragmatic UX tips and advice on site performance (which has never been more important since the announcement of the Core Web Vitals criteria).

3. Understand the B2B Decision Maker and Influencers

Delivering the best SEO strategy requires an in-depth understanding of the audience. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are you trying to speak to?
  • What are their challenges, frustrations and goals?
  • How do your solutions/products/services help address or support the above?

Consider this step “the method acting of the search world” – get into character and think like they think in order to identify the right search terms for your business. If you have the time/budget available, then interviewing existing customers can help provide you with insights into the buying patterns to bolster your own efforts.

4. Focus on the Funnels

A good SEO audit will provide prioritised recommendations for keywords and content based on where in the funnel your prospects and customer are.

Depending on your business objectives and growth strategy you might need to focus on getting more prospects into the top of the funnel or more urgently require conversion optimised bottom of the funnel content and pages. Your SEO audit should reveal those key terms and opportunities and help focus your marketing resources in the right areas.

Top of the Funnel (TOF): the audit may reveal new opportunities for broader trends in your market, search themes or innovations.

Middle of the Funnel (MOF): the audit may reveal closely related products, services or even business challenges for which you could rank.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOF): the sorts of keywords that match your product or services and indicate strong consideration or purchase intent, e.g., product pricing, product recommendations—the sorts of keywords you may also be bidding on in paid search.

When identifying terms, it is vital to put yourself in the position of your prospect and recognise the key differences between B2B and B2C SEO:

B2B SEO B2C SEO
Low-Volume but High Value Keywords High-Volume but often Low Value Keywords
Complex & Often Long Sales Funnels Shorter Decision-Making & Simpler Sales Funnel
Smaller More Specific Audiences Broader Audiences

Low volume keywords do not necessarily mean they should be ignored. Consider this Ease/Impact Matrix when deciding what terms will be relevant for your business:

SEO Table

Examples of what may impact where a keyword/phrase is placed on the Ease/Impact diagram:

  • Keyword difficulty
  • The balance of optimising existing content or needing to create content from scratch
  • Overall business value of a lead/conversion
  • Credibility in that space

Understanding the competitive landscape is key for an SEO audit. But what is a competitor? In the SERPs, it’s whomever is ranking for the term you want to rank for – not just who you see as providing a directly comparable product offering.

5. Competitors

A thorough audit can even reveal new competitors as well opportunities that your competitors have missed, and help you gauge just how much work is going to be involved in moving your competitors out of a top position.

A really thorough audit will even look at your competitors off-page authority and make suggestions for backlinks and potential partnerships.

6. Remember, go back to basics

SEO isn’t rocket science. If users aren’t searching the terms you’ve focused, then it doesn’t matter how beautifully crafted your webpage is, they’ll never find it organically.

Steer clear of falling in to the trap of “we want to ‘own’ term X”. This is often a result of internal politics and can derail efforts that will actually deliver tangible business value.

That’s not to say that other “non SEO” content doesn’t have a place on your website. You may have pages on your site that won’t themselves rank but you drive to them from other channels, such as email, or you may want to “start” a conversation where one doesn’t currently exist – let’s face it, someone had to say “digital transformation” first. This page itself is an example of a blog that is unlikely to gain too much by way of organic traction but provides value to our existing clients, social followers and email contacts…plus a few internal links back to our main SEO page!

Obligatory Sales Pitch

And of course, we’d love to help with you with an SEO audit and even provide training and support to your internal teams, just get in touch to find out how we can help!

You can find out how we’ve helped other B2B organisations by having a look at our case studies.

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Constant Contact Acquires SharpSpring

What does this mean for your company?

By Dan Winter  |  June 28, 2021

Last week it was announced that SharpSpring has been acquired by Constant Contact – an established leader in online marketing technology.

As many of our valued clients are currently using, or in the process of implementing, SharpSpring, we wanted to give you a quick update on the latest news.  

In a session for agencies late last week, SharpSpring’s CEO Rick Carlson assured us that the fundamentals of the software will not change – Constant Contact and SharpSpring share the same values and vision. The acquisition provides the opportunity for further investment in the platform – meaning more great features for you and us!

What happens next?

Well, mainly, it’s business as usual. Constant Contact and SharpSpring will spend the next couple of months completing the legal necessities, and at Sharp Ahead we’ll continue to drive growth for our clients through the SharpSpring platform. 

We’ve been informed there will be no major changes for the foreseeable future. There are, however, a range of exciting new features already in the pipeline for this year, including: 

  • An SMS marketing tool
  • New integrations
  • New navigation
  • New opportunity manager
  • An updated mobile app

Any questions?

We’ll keep you updated as and when we hear more about the acquisition and any exciting new features, but if you have any questions, or if you’re interested in becoming a SharpSpring user please do get in touch!

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Digital Spring Clean - 3 Quick Tips

Spruce up your digital marketing and stay top of mind with your customers

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 24, 2021

This past weekend marked the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, so we thought we’d give you a few quick tips for your digital spring clean.

1. Tidy up your SERP (search engine results page)

This is a key part of the experience for your prospects, customers and other important stakeholders interacting with your business and if you haven’t Googled your brand name in a while, now is as good a time as any.

Here’s how to check your SERP the right way. 

First, use an incognito window so you’re not biasing what you see based on previous search behaviour. Then check for these signals:

  • Are you in the top position (P1)?
  • Is anyone running an ad on your brand name?
  • Is your Google My Business / Knowledge Panel listing up to date with accurate contact details (phone, website, opening hours etc.)?
  • How are your reviews looking? Are there any that you could respond to? These are people in close contact with your business and they deserve your attention.

What if things are looking a bit dusty?

This is your shop window – if it looks unloved, you’ll be losing out to other businesses. Run a brand ad. It might seem wasteful to bid on your own brand names, but for most B2B companies, those searches are relatively low volume but very high value. Plus, those ads will keep the competitors out of your P1 spot, enable you to curate and quickly update your SERP and align it with your current campaigns and brand messaging.

Pro tip: for most B2B companies, applying a few negative keywords, for example around jobs and careers, can keep costs down and focus the campaigns on your key prospects.

2. Refresh your website (inside and out)

44% of B2B marketers say the main reason they abandon websites is that there’s no contact info immediately visible*. Unless you are selling something that can be purchased on your website, your prospects will need to speak to someone in your sales team at some point.

Make it easy for visitors to choose you with a quick look at the following:

  • Make your phone number clearly visible – Make it easy for visitors by clearly displaying your phone number or at least an email address in the header of your site. Or go one better and enable live chat on your site like 11 out of the 50 fastest growing B2B companies**!
  • Does your copyright notice still say 2020?? It’s March already and I’m still finding websites without an updated copyright notice footer. With the upheaval of the last year, if your website doesn’t have signs of recent activity, prospects could be forgiven for thinking you might not be around anymore. Update that copyright, refresh your COVID-19 message, and make sure you have a recent blog or news story prominently displayed. These are all important signals to your customers that you’re open for business and ready to help them.
  • Get the LinkedIn insight tag, the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) tag and Google Tag Manager (GTM) in place – These tags each have a role to play in best practice digital marketing and if you’re not using them, you’re missing out on key insights, future analytics and easy tag management. These are all ways to learn more about your customers and how to delight them on your next interaction.

3. Welcome new visitors (and then look after them)

You’ve done the hard work by getting someone who doesn’t know you to choose your website. Whether the onsite experience is perfect or not, you now have a chance to be remembered and convince your prospects that your business is the right choice for them.

One of the easiest ways to be remembered is with remarketing campaigns: even if you’re not using paid search or social for lead generation, you should run remarketing ads. 

Consideration cycles for high end B2B products and services usually take months, or longer, and remarketing is the most efficient way to keep in touch with those decision makers during that time. Remind them of your brand, tell them something they might not know about your business and show them why you’re the right choice. 

Pro tip: Don’t wait a year to refresh the creative and mix it up with different ad formats.

What next? - The BIG clean!

If you're looking to go a bit deeper, here are three things that are vital to digital marketing success in the coming year.

Say goodbye to Broad Match Modifier

We discussed this in a blog article back in February but if you haven’t had time to sort out your match types, you could be wasting valuable media spend. In short, Google is combining two existing match types, phrase match and broad match modifier. This means that with nuanced search terms that are standard fare for B2B search marketers, it would be very easy to bring in a lot of irrelevant clicks and quickly reduce the ROI on your campaigns. Read our top tips for sorting this out as soon as possible!

Core Web Vitals

This was another new development from Google that we flagged back in 2020 but the deadline is approaching faster than most digital marketers would like. If your site doesn’t meet Google’s criteria, or you don’t have a plan in place to make sure it will, you’ll need to think now about making a reasonable investment in speeding up your site—or risk losing valuable search rankings to better prepared competitors. If this is the first you’ve heard of CWV, read our previous blog article and then get yourself over to Google Tools for measure them!

Mystery Shopping

And last on our list of big cleans, a plea to B2B marketers everywhere. Check that your customer and prospect contact channels work. Does someone answer your phone during business hours? How quickly do you respond to lead enquiries? Is your online chat staffed consistently? I know what you’re thinking, this is ridiculous of course the answer is yes. But when was the last time you checked? Do some mystery shopping and find out for yourself. In the high end B2B market, one missed phone call or a few days’ delay on replying to a form fill, could be the difference between a successful or failed campaign.

We work with intelligent marketing managers to make budgets go further and cut your cost per lead. 

If you have any questions on your own digital spring clean, get in touch for a free 30-minute B2B consult.