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Google yourself and your company – It’s Friday afternoon!

By Jennifer Esty  |  March 4, 2016

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It’s Friday afternoon, so make yourself a cup of tea and Google yourself- and your company.

Why?

Narcissism aside, it’s a good idea to find out how you and your company look to potential customers Googling you for the first time.

First, make sure you use an incognito window so you won’t see personalised results- a better simulation of what potential customers will see if they haven’t previously visited your website. (In most browsers, just click the top right hand menu and choose ‘New incognito window.)

What are you looking for?

Let’s start with you. Depending on how unique your name is, it might be more likely that a lead will Google your name plus your company. Try that- does your LinkedIn profile come up? If it doesn’t, update your profile immediately (this definitely counts as work in case anyone spots you) and make sure your most recent experience reflects the company you work for and the relevant responsibilities that a potential customer would be interested in.

Keeping in mind this can can sometimes signal to an employer that you’re looking for a new job (not to mention attracting unwanted attention from recruitment agents), consider warning your manager first and/or selecting No for ‘Notify your network’ on the right hand side of your profile page.

Now to Google your company.

Here’s a quick checklist:

1. How does your site rank for your branded search (i.e. searching your company name)?
2. Are any of your competitors running paid ads against the search?
3. Are sitelinks displayed? (Sitelinks are navigation links into specific parts of your site, i.e. your products or services.)
4. Can you see phone and address information?
5. Can you see your social media links?
6. Look at your My Google Business listing, has someone from your organisation claimed it? If yes, does it accurately reflect your business information, does it include photos of your business? Opening hours? Reviews?

What next?

If all looks in order, then congratulate yourself (or your marketing team) on a job well done and consider taking yourself off to the pub early.

If not, make it your priority on Monday morning to sort out the above. And as always, if you need help or expert advice, feel free to get in touch on 01189 485 766 or join us for one of our Digital Transformation events.

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What Google SERPs changes mean for your B2B company

By Jennifer Esty  |  February 27, 2016

The past few days have been busy ones for #serps, with digital marketers and search experts reviewing what is arguably the biggest change to Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) in years.

First, just in case you’ve been too busy to get into the details, a quick summary of the changes:

  • Up to 4 ads will now display at the top of Google search result pages
  • No more text ads on the right-hand column (note that other ad types are unaffected, for example product listings)
  • Up to 3 ads will now be displayed at the bottom of pages
  • The changes only affect desktop and tablet, mobile remains unaffected (for now)

So how these SERPs changes impact your paid ad campaigns?

The truth is no one knows for certain yet (except Google, who most certainly tested these changes to ensure commercial advantage).

A few things we do know:

For organisations bidding on highly competitive keywords, CPC (cost per click) is bound to go up.

That said, one of the reasons Google rolled this out was poor click through rates on right-hand text ads, so it’s likely if your ads were displaying over there, your campaign probably wasn’t optimal anyway.

But if you were previously happy to coast along on the right hand side with fewer click throughs but reasonable conversion, it is now imperative that you review and refine your paid search strategy, and quickly—just because it worked last week doesn’t mean it’s been working this week.

Another impact is that the changes might mean organic results for your keywords are pushed further down with a fourth paid ad appearing above any organic results.

That said, according to a Google spokesperson quoted in The SEM Post, this will only affect a small number of “highly commercial queries”. So for B2B companies with extended and complex sales cycles, this may have very little real impact—if only in the very short term.

So while the critical points for success will remain the same (high quality content, positive user experience, a focus on quality scores, and close monitoring of conversion rates), marketers ignore the changes at their own peril.

If there was ever a time to analyse and improve your paid search strategy, now is it.

Finally, keep an eye on more changes to come as something will no doubt replace the right-hand text only ads.

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Reacting to Facebook Reactions

By Jennifer Esty  |  February 26, 2016

By now everyone has seen, and maybe even ‘Liked’ the new Facebook Reactions, giving us five new ways to respond to newsfeed content.

Although users have clamoured for a ‘Dislike’ button since the beginning of Facebook, and many of them still are, Facebook Reactions have a richer and arguably more positive range of emotions: Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry.

So richer than just a ‘Like’ and a more positive selection than the widely accepted six basic human emotions, as Fear and Disgust make way for Love and Haha.

But enough about the Facebook Reactions themselves, what do they mean for marketers?

First, all Reactions are created equal.

At least until Facebook can create an algorithm that accurately gives weightings to different emotions.

Which means if a user expresses Anger at a post, Facebook will consider that engagement equal to a Like or a Love.

Second, we won’t just know if someone Likes something, we’ll know if they Love it, or if it makes them laugh, or cry.

There will be more opportunity to gain deeper and more meaningful insight from customers, resulting (hopefully) in more sophisticated audience targeting and content development—and therefore more cost effective engagement.

But more choice for users also means that marketers have to be more sophisticated in, and take more time with, their content development.

After all, what does sad or angry actually mean for a piece of content and for the brand that publishes it?

In addition to demographic targeting, brands now need to consider what kind of Reaction they are looking for, cultivating, monitoring and adapting at a pace fast enough to keep up with their audience.

Brands will not only need to ensure engagement, but the right sort of engagement by the right sort of people.

Facebook Reactions will probably make us all better marketers in the long term, delivering better content to people who are genuinely interested in engaging with our brands.

But it’s not enough to count Likes and shares, Facebook marketing will now require even more analysis and monitoring—and a more sophisticated understanding of the desired audience and their engagement with a brand.

Screengrab Reporting Spam
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Google Analytics Referrer Spam

By John Woods  |  September 15, 2015

This is a public service announcement for B2B marketers using Google Analytics.

I don’t plan to blog here very often about purely technical issues, but this is an important one.

Sadly, there is a new type of spammer at large. And it’s a type that will be particularly annoying for you if you are using Google Analytics to analyse B2B marketing. It can even put you and your colleagues at risk from malware.

It’s called referrer spam (or sometimes referral spam) and it appears in your Google Analytics reports. Here’s an example:

Google Analytics Referrer Spam

Referrer Spam in Google Analytics

Those are real spam URLs by the way. Please don’t visit any of them! (Hard to believe that How To Earn Quick Money dot com isn’t legit, eh?)

All spam is annoying. But this sort of referrer spam is particularly annoying for niche B2B marketers because it can distort our stats enough to cause us to draw incorrect conclusions. And it’s particularly dangerous for B2B marketers because it is more likely to be effective on a low-volume B2B site than a high-volume B2C site.

What’s going on?

Spammers have discovered a way to put spam URLs into Google Analytics reports. Their hope is that analysts will see the URLs, get curious and visit the site. Their goal is, at best, to promote semi-legitimate marketing services. At worst, they are trying to lead people to malware sites. DON’T FOLLOW THESE LINKS!

Why does it happen to my site?

You haven’t been singled out. The spammers are going after everyone. Every Google Analytics profile I’ve seen in the last few months is infected by this sort of spam.

Why is this particularly bad for B2B websites?

On a mass market B2C site there might be millions of visitors every day, so the impact of the spammers isn’t very significant. But in B2B we are often dealing with niche audiences. A specialist landing page on a B2B website might only get a few legitimate visitors each day. A hundred page requests from referrer spammers can swamp the signal from legitimate visitors and make the statistics impossible to interpret.

Why don’t Google stop this?

Good question. Hopefully they will fix this at its root cause soon.

What can I do about referrer spam?

Three things.

First, DON’T VISIT THE LINKS! And make sure that anyone else in your organisation who uses Google Analytics is aware of the danger.

Secondly, add filters to your Google Analytics views to filter out any future referrer spam. Tom Capper at Distilled found a simple approach which I find works well. (Caveat: spammers are constantly evolving their approaches. This filter works well today, but might not work as well in the future. Stay alert.)

This filter will stop most referrer spam in the future, but it doesn’t remove existing referrer spam. (This type of view filter in Google Analytics isn’t retroactive.) So there’s one more thing you need to do: add a segment to your Google Analytics view that applies the same filtering rules to existing data. This is a real pain – you can’t remove the spam, you can only segment it away. If you have a lot of custom reports set up you’ll have to change them. But it’s the only solution I know of. (If you know of something better please mention it in the comments.)

Ready to find out more? Please call on 0118 9485 766.