July 12th, 2012
By Steve Murphy
Let’s face it: search engine optimization is getting harder every day. More companies are incorporating SEO into their marketing mix as customers continue to flock to the web to purchase, research and review their favorite products and services. With limited real estate on the first page of search engine results, it’s crucial to employ creative content and linking strategies to stay ahead of the curve.
But fear not digital conquistadors, there are still plenty of creative search techniques that will help you dominate the SERPs. Below are four proven strategies to help you build a more effective SEO strategy.
In the land of SEO, content is king. Having a large supply of relevant and important content will give you more opportunities to rank for a broad set of keywords. Guest blogging is the perfect way to create new content without draining your existing resources.
There are two types of guest blogging, and each has its own merits. First, you can have renowned experts write guest articles for your website. This helps you create a large library of unique content on your site without paying someone in house to write it. Can you say no-brainer?
Conversely, you can also write guest blogs for other websites. The main benefit to this method is creating diverse links back to your website, and letting you control the anchor text. Publishing your thoughts on other sites will also expose you to new audiences that probably wouldn’t have heard of you otherwise.
Infographics are an extremely popular form of content because they relay valuable information in an easily digestible visual style. Because they require a considerable amount of planning and graphic design, infographics are often overlooked in many SEO strategies. This is perfect, because less common tactics often yield much higher results (supply and demand, anyone?)
Infographics are like the Twinkies of content. Their long shelf life can continue to send you valuable links and traffic for weeks, months, and even years. Even posting infographics from other websites can help you. One of my colleagues posted an article in May 2011 containing several infographics that focused on small business statistics. To date, this post has gotten nearly 22,000 hits and countless links from major industry websites.
Despite the lack of creativity for this subtitle, sharing PDF content is an extremely creative SEO technique. Sites like Slideshare allow you to upload PDFs, images and PowerPoint presentations to share with the world. To help you rank, the site will also automatically transcribe the text from these documents so they can be easily indexed by search engines.
As a bonus SEO trick, you can embed the presentation on your website directly from SlideShare and write a brief description about the content. An example of this is a post I wrote last summer focusing on the keyword “creative job search strategies.” After a year, the content is still ranking #1 and #3 on Google due to the power of SlideShare.
People use search engines to answer their questions. So why not create content that specifically answers the burning questions your customers are asking?
Adding a glossary page and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to your website is an excellent way to attract visitors through a long tailed keyword approach. Though these terms don’t regularly get searched, they send highly qualified traffic more that is more likely to convert. These keywords are also much easier to rank for, since they are highly specific. I recently worked with a client who produced TV infomercials and direct response ads. After creating an FAQ section, they now rank at the top of SERPs for many specific questions, and often get a bulk of their traffic from these results.
While there are many other SEO techniques you can use, these four techniques have shown proven results that endure the tests of time. Start to incorporate these tactics into your strategy and watch your SEO efforts blossom.
May 7th, 2012
By Devin Jones
While checking my Twitter feed last night, I saw that the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) released the industry’s most recent numbers on digital advertising spend. At first glance everything looks normal, with search and display holding most of the distribution. But something goes fairly unnoticed until you take a closer look. If it continues the trend, mobile advertising will be poised for spectacular growth in the next few years.
As I continued to read the article released by the IAB, I saw that the increase in mobile advertising spend had increased 149% from 2010 to 2011, stealing about 5% of overall market share.
Flashback to Google’s Q1 earnings conference in April. They referenced a recent study that found 23% of all time spent on the internet was through mobile devices. Google is betting big on mobile, and they expect it to explode in the near future.
Google has expressed this interest not only in words, but by action. They acquired the leading mobile display advertising network AdMob in the summer of 2011.
It looks like all signs are pointing towards exceptional growth in mobile internet consumption. Which begs the question: Do you have a mobile Adwords campaign?
Device targeting in Adwords is automatically set to target all devices: desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. While this covers all bases, this is not the best way to set up your campaign for maximum control, relevancy to the user, and likelihood to generate a lead.
Internally, the PCG SEM team does a few things to account for this:
All of these elements contribute to a more robust user experience – and bring the lead closer to the client.
Mobile is still in an early adopter phase, so dealers who take advantage of mobile advertising now will capture an enormous advantage over their competitors. For more insights on how to get started with mobile advertising, contact Devin Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org today.
March 26th, 2012
By Steve Murphy
I’m going to take my chances and make a bold statement: People trust other people more than machines. We would all prefer to talk to the operator than go through a long, drawn out answering machine, and I certainly wouldn’t want a robot surgeon operating on my brain. These same principles apply in online marketing and SEO. As evidence, I’m basing my assumption on a few key criteria:
If you’ve been following online marketing the past few months, then you might already know this. But what you might not know is how to leverage your personal brand to increase the quality and rank of your content.
Enter AuthorRank. Google has created special author tags that let you claim your content and build your digital reputation. When you write a new blog post and share it on Google+, the search engine will be able to calculate your influence and reward you for creating high quality, shareable content. The better your content is, the more social clout you receive. In turn, Google rewards future content that you create with prominent search results and higher rankings. Below is an example:
As you can see from the image above, individuals who take advantage of these special author tags have an incredible visual advantage in search results. Searchers are greeted with a friendly profile image, a link to the author’s Google+ profile, and a link to view more articles. If this doesn’t give your content a clear-cut advantage over the clutter of blue links, you might have to consider finding another way to pay the bills.
There are a few different ways to claim your name, with varying degrees of complexity. I’ll share with you the method I used, as I found it to be the least technical solution. If you’re interested in exploring the other options, feel free to check out the guide from Google here.
The first thing you need to do is create a Google+ profile. When building your profile, you have the option to include any blogs that you actively contribute to in the links section. Here, add any prominent blogs you write for so that Google can match content you’ve written to your name.
Secondly, you’ll need to link your content back to your Google+ profile. Many blogs allow you to have a custom author box that inserts automatically when you create a blog post. Simply add the following code into this box, and you’ll be set:
Replace the content in brackets with your Google+ profile link, and make sure you don’t accidentally delete the ?re=author tag from the end of the URL (hint: this is the most important part.) If your blog doesn’t give you the flexibility of an author’s box, you can just add this snippet of code to the end of all your posts.
Google author tags are not overly prominent yet, so getting your author tags to begin ranking early will give you a strong early mover advantage in the race for better search results. At the same time, it will assist you in building your personal brand online, and will build your credibility in the eyes of prospective customers.
If you need help setting up your author tags, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to assist you.
January 19th, 2012
Last month I was asked to speak to the PRSSA students at Monmouth University about how to launch a successful career. My one piece of advice? Personal branding.
My own personal branding is not something I thoroughly researched, picked up in a book, or even consulted an expert on. As a writer, I’ve always had a certain personality that came through my written words so I took that and ran with it. Snarky and personable – that was my personal brand.
I have measured the success behind my personal brand through the fact that I’ve been able to build a large and strong network online through my blog, Twitter and other social media networks. Every job opportunity that I’ve taken has been presented to me through this strong network. That is why I so strongly believe in personal branding.
If you want to get started on your own personal branding, here are some tips on how to get started:
The one mistake that most people making about networking and branding is that they overthink it. Once you’re set up, have fun and let the pieces fall into place.
January 16th, 2012
Last week, January 9th 2011, to be specific, Google posted this video to it’s YouTube channel called “Search, plus your world”
The video its self is visually appealing and keeps your attention, but for those of us who already know what Google+ and +1 are, I think it was a little convoluted. As Joey Abna, a client of PCG, pointed out on his Google+ profile, it makes this update to Google Search look cool, but with implied skepticism Joey asked for the thoughts of others. After immediately watching the video and posting my response, I realized that this warrants more than just a post on Joey’s profile and should be shared with all of our clients, vendors, and industry followers.
A few months ago we wrote about how the Google +1 button was a new way to SEO, and now things are changing again. Google search results, when logged in to Google, will now rank websites higher if they not only have +1 endorsements, but will also pull in Google+ profile posts and comments, pulling that information right in to the SERP.
There’s been a lot of talk about this update and lots of pro’s and con’s, but whether we like it or not, right now this is the way that Google is showing search results. With the increase in “(not provided) “ as a keyword referral, we can see that a lot of people are searching while logged in to Google.
As a car dealership there’s five major ways to leverage this change:
As usual Google is changing the game. The +1 endorsements have been showing up for months, so the difference right now is the addition of the Google + posts. If you haven’t been on board with Google+ or +1, now is the time. Sign up, sign up your dealership, and get your employees on board.
December 29th, 2011
Social media is exactly what it says it is: social. Your customers use social media to interact with their friends, family, coworkers, sometimes strangers and even brands and companies , including yours. Just like they do in everyday life, they complain via social media, too. They use their Facebook status updates and tweets to broadcast to their networks how they feel about recent service experiences and product purchases. As a car dealership it is important to monitor and respond to these conversations with a customer service frame of mind. Enter: Social Customer Service.
At the recent Social Media Plus Conference in Philadelphia, I had the pleasure of seeing Jason Falls present a keynote presentation. One of the biggest take-aways from his speech, and from the conference as a whole, was what Falls outlined as the seven major functions of social media: enhancing brand awareness, protecting reputation, enhancing public relations, building community, enhancing customer service, facilitating research and development, and driving sales and leads. This post focuses on fifth item on this list: enhancing customer service. However, following these strategies will help you also enhance the other six items.
Social customer service, like most other functions of social media, should be used as a supplement, not the sole facilitator. It is imperative that there be a strong customer service strategy in-store, but social media can help!
Whether or not you are present on social media, your dealership is being talked about online whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Google Places Reviews, Yelp, the list goes on. If you’re not there, you have lost the opportunity to put out the fire by responding, taking the conversation offline and giving your business a chance to redeem its self. Not to mention the opportunity to broadcast the good things that people are saying about your dealership.
Why This is Important:
Brian has been talking about the importance of the Zero Moment of Truth and how, on average, potential new customers visit 18 different sources before making a decision. Included in those 18 sources is social media. If you don’t monitor and help control what is being said about you online, you are hurting your chances to be chosen during the Zero Moment of Truth.
It takes more than just being on social media to execute this concept properly. Below I have outlined several steps and specific strategies for social customer service.
The Basic Steps
- Show up to the conversation: If you haven’t already, sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Google Places and Yelp.
- Monitor the conversation: Assign someone the task of monitoring the conversation by manually searching each platform and by setting up Google Alerts.
- Search-and-Respond: There’s many ways to use this tactic, but relevant to customer service, search for your dealership name in the search bar of each platform in order to see what is being said about your dealership and respond according to best practices.
- Make yourself available: Create intuitive page names and handles, custom URL’s, and make sure your main site and microsites clearly link back to your social media profiles. You want to make it easy for current and new customers to engage with you. Don’t limit yourself by saying you’ll only be online for a certain period of time – this only works for celebrity guest chats.
- Take the conversation offline: Prepare a list of contacts with first names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers to use in response to any negative comments or questions. I would suggest having separate listings for service related questions and appointments, negative comments, and sales questions. Taking the conversation offline means that the back-and-forth won’t be broadcasted to the world and you can still address your customer’s concern, perhaps even redeeming your business in their mind.
- Make it right: Offer coupons or freebies to those who have had unsatisfactory service or purchasing experiences. But also reward your happy, loyal customers the same way – and tell them via social media for everyone to see.
- DO NOT DELETE: I repeat: DO NOT DELETE negative posts or comments unless they could be harmful to an individual or are clearly spam coming from a bot. This may anger the individual eve more, causing them to re-post an even worse comment, or to a public forum where you are unable to delete it. Instead, respond in the ways I have outlined above.
Don’t make your social media efforts all about customer service. If a potential new customer, or a recently new customer looking to engage visits your profile only to find your responses to complaints, this is going to set off red flags. Instead, make sure this is only a small percentage of your social content. And most importantly, don’t forget to feature and re-tweet positive remarks and comments.
As always, social media has so much to do with context. With that said, the above is meant to serve as a guide and all aspects can be further elaborated on in order to fit in to your business’ digital strategy. Work with whoever is monitoring and maintaining your social media accounts in order to figure out where customer service fits in to your specific strategy.
December 27th, 2011
New Year’s Eve is quickly approaching, and if you’re like most people, you’re probably working on crafting another life changing resolution. It’s that big promise you make to yourself every year that will have major implications on your self-esteem, future goals, and your overall quality of life.
Unfortunately, statistics show that more than half of all people who make resolutions fail to follow through with their plan in the first six months, and only 12% of us actually achieve our goals. OK, so maybe I found these numbers in a Wikipedia article, but I’m sure most people can agree with the theory behind them.
The reason so many of us (including yours truly) fail to follow through with our New Year’s resolutions is because of the size and scope of the goals we set. Lose 30 pounds by this summer. Find my future wife. Visit all 50 states in the country. Double my company’s sales for the year. These tasks are complex and difficult to achieve, creating the bloated failure rates cited above.
I’d like to propose something that will radically increase your chance of success in 2012. Don’t create one, singular resolution for the year; instead, accomplish one new resolution each day (i.e. researching when to use a semicolon.) Rather than trying to lose 30 pounds, your goal should be to sign up for the gym on the first day. The next day might include monitoring your caloric intake, and on the third day you can walk 1 mile in the morning before work. Each day should have a clearly defined task that can be accomplished without a major investment of time or resources.
Breaking your large projects down into smaller, action-oriented objectives will give you a feeling of success each day, and keep you motivated towards your overall goals. Sports fans already know how powerful momentum can be, and the same concept applies to your personal achievements. Even if you miss a day, it should be relatively easy to get back on track and continue to move forward.
For business owners, this method is an excellent way to build a stronger and smarter company in 2012. Set aside a few minutes in the beginning of your day, after lunch, or before bed to finish your daily goal, and to write down a goal for the next day.
The best thing about this method is that you don’t have to wait until the New Year to start. Right now is the perfect time to take action and complete one task that will get you closer to your goals. Just like the pyramids were built one stone at a time, you can start realizing your goals each day of 2012 and for years to come.
November 22nd, 2011
I logged into Google Adwords Express today, which is Adwords on steroids IMHO, and I noticed that a 3rd option has been added for landing pages: Google+ Pages.
Keep in mind, that for car dealers, the best place still may be the dealership main website, but there are some interesting ideas about how this can be leveraged that I have been thinking about.
November 7th, 2011
In February 2010 Google made a presentation to a select group of industry leaders about their foray into automotive lead generation. I was not in attendance but I was briefed on the program at the show. I never heard any more about the details until today’s post in Automotive News.
I am sure that Google has briefed the major automotive vendors that run Adwords campaign for thousands of dealers about this change. However the larger community needs to know about this major shift in new car lead generation strategies.
In my opinion, this is a major SHIFT for the Google Automotive team which has not gone into direct lead generation until now. I look forward to interviewing and discussing this new program with the Google Automotive Team at the 2012 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference.
Google has been running lead generation campaigns for other vertical markets, like mortgages. If you look at the screen capture below, Google is running their own PPC ads to capture leads:
These ads are labeled “Comparison Ads” and these ads are competing with other PPC lead collectors. When a consumer clicks on the PPC Comparison Ad for mortgages, a landing page for lead collection is displayed:
According to the Automotive News article written by David Barkholz:
“Google will establish a Web page for vehicle shoppers. Dealers will bid, through a Google auction, to be one of about three dealers listed on the page when shoppers fill out a discounted price request for, say, a 2012 Toyota Camry with some specifications. The shoppers choose which of the listed dealers will receive the lead and provide the price…”
This will be a game changer for businesses that use PPC for lead generation. Companies like Edmunds, Autotrader, and new comers like TrueCar that all use PPC as part of their lead generation strategy for new car buyers will be impacted.
Competition for new car leads just got more interesting, and for some, maybe more expensive.
This offering will need to be examined in greater detail when this official launches this in the Bay Area. We will have more details on this new offering after we get a briefing from the automotive team at Google.
Google keeps me on my toes, with new changes each week. I promise to keep you posted with the things that will impact you the most. To get alerts sent to your mobile device when breaking new happens, please text “PCGTIPS” to 75674.
Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing
Text PCGedu to 75674 get information on our upcoming conferences
November 2nd, 2011
However, many of you still do not have a Plus 1 button on your website. You need to be relevant, recommended, and found, and the Google Plus One button will help.
It shows the people in your Google network that you like a piece of content and/or trust a certain site. The recommendations influence the ranking of results for you or your extended network, causing listings to potentially be moved to page one, based on your social connections, and altering the look of results by showing an aggregated number of +1s from all people in your network.
Don’t be left out. Google is quickly moving toward Social Search, and Plus 1 is a major factor.
Simple, it does not always appear. Often when a listing is conjoined with a Google Map no Plus One button will be shown. Maybe I can suggest that the Google Places team sit with the Google Plus One team and take a look.
Let me know what you discover in the world of Plus One, and your theories behind the elusive Plus One button in search.
Kristen Chiarello is a Project Manager/SEO Strategist at PCG Digital Marketing, and has been in the Marketing, SEO, SEM and Content Creation fields for many years.