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9 Questions Your Small Business Should Ask About PPC

Running a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Strategy via Google AdWords is a great way to drive traffic to your small business’ website immediately. Once you have a campaign running, have accrued substantial traffic data and feel you have a general handle on your strategy, it’s time to optimize your PPC strategy. This optimization comes from analyzing your AdWords data and making strategic decisions. If you’re not yet familiar with running a PPC Strategy via Google AdWords, feel free to give our AdWords page a read prior to reading this post. If you’re a small business in New Hampshire (or anywhere for that matter) and you’re serious about optimizing your PPC strategy via Google AdWords, it’s time to start learning more about how to interpret your AdWords data. As a small business, your internet strategy could make a considerable difference in your businesses’ performance and optimizing your small businesses’ internet strategy requires an investment in learning the tactics. In this post we’ll look at the various metrics which can help you better optimize your PPC campaign strategy, much of the information we outline herein comes directly from Google. Here’s the best part if you’re a small business, learning these internet marketing strategy tactics is essentially free, it’s a time and learning investment. In order to learn, we need to ask questions. Here are nine questions you should ask yourself to help optimize your small businesses’ PPC strategy.

#1 What is your click through rate?

Clickthrough rate (CTR) is the number of clicks your small business’ ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown (impressions). Your ad and keyword each have their own CTRs, unique to your campaign performance. Your PPC Strategy’s CTR is a vital metric to follow to truly understand your small business’ PPC Strategy performance as part of your overall internet marketing strategy. A keyword’s CTR is a strong indicator of its relevance to the user and the overall success of the keyword. For example, a well targeted keyword that shows a similarly targeted ad is more likely to have a higher CTR than a general keyword with non-specific ad text. The more your keywords and ads relate to each other and to your business, the more likely a user is to click on your ad after searching on your keyword phrase. For example, if our target keyword was “web design nh” we would make sure that the ad triggered by this keyword also used the keyword “web design nh” therefore our ad relates directly to our keyword and will most likely produce website visitors who are looking for website design services in New Hampshire, which is our target customer. A low CTR may point to poor keyword performance, indicating a need for ad or keyword optimization. Therefore, you can use CTR to gauge which ads and keywords aren’t performing as well for you and then optimize them. For example, we may find that if our target keyword is “web design nh” but our ad triggered by the keyword “web design nh” instead reads “internet marketing nh” that we have a low CTR because the ad does not pay off the keyword. If someone is looking for website design services in New Hampshire, using the keyword “web design nh” they probably won’t click an ad that reads “internet marketing nh” because there’s an obvious disconnect between the keyword search query and the resulting ad produced. This is a common PPC Strategy mistake which should be addressed through creating keyword specific ad groups, which we’ll cover in Question #2. CTR is also used to determine your keyword’s Quality Score. A higher CTR and Quality Score can lead to lower costs and higher ad position. This is important, let’s break it down. If you’re currently paying an average of $1.50 per click and have a budget of $30 per day, you can receive 20 clicks per day max. Therefore if you can improve your CTR and your Quality Score, you’ll then reduce your Cost-Per-Click (CPC). Let’s say you lower your CPC from an average of $1.50 per click to $1.00 per click. Maintaing the same budget of $30 per day will now net you 30 clicks per day, an increase of 10 clicks per day, for free. If you’re a small business this is great way to increase the bang you get for your buck.

#2 How many Ad Groups do you have?

Organizing similar keywords into multiple ad groups gives you a better opportunity to have higher click through rates (CTRs) and quality scores. The quality score is a rating from Google that ranges from 1 (not relevant) to 10 (highly relevant), and the main reason you want that score to be high is that it will enable you to bid lower for higher placements. If your ad groups have too many keywords that are unrelated, then Google will not know which words it should base its relevancy rating upon and your CTR will most likely be lower leading to a low quality score. Generally if your small business’ PPC Ads have a quality score of around 7 or higher you are in good shape, but remember, keep monitoring and adjusting as needed.

#3 What is my Ad’s Serve Percentage?

Your AdWords Ad Serve Percentage is the percentage of time your ad has been shown in relation to the rest of your active ads within the same ad group. It’s normal for the ad served percentage or the number of impressions accrued for each ad in your ad group to be different.

#4 What factors influence how often a given ad is served?

Google claims there are three main factors that influence how often a given ad is served, here’s what they say:
  •  By default, all campaigns are set to optimized ad serving. This means that if one ad has a higher clickthrough rate (CTR), it will show more frequently than the other ads in your ad group. This system automatically favors better-performing ads that drive more traffic to your site. You can opt out of optimized ad serving if you’d like the AdWords system to rotate your ads roughly evenly. If you do so, note that your ads still may accrue different ad served percentages or numbers of impressions. This is because the AdWords system considers an ad’s Quality Score when ranking it on a search result page. An ad with a high Quality Score may appear on the first page of search results, where it accrues an impression every time it’s served. On the other hand, an ad with a low Quality Score may appear on the second page of search results, where it will only accrue an impression if the user clicks through to that page.
  • If an ad is created late in the day, it will have a lower ad served percentage at the end of the day than the existing ads. This difference will decrease over time.
  • If an ad has yet to be reviewed and approved, it’ll only appear on Google. If it isn’t yet generating impressions on the Google Network, an ad will have a lower ad served percentage. This means if you’ve been running an ad and then replace it with a new ad, you may see a drastic decrease in clicks and serve percentage for the first couple days while the new ad is being reviewed and approved.

#5 What is Ad rotation?

Ad rotation refers to the way your ads are delivered on Google and the Google Network. Your ads will rotate if you have multiple ads within an ad group, since no more than one ad from your account can show at a time. You can, however, specify how you’d like the ads in your ad group to be served. The first option for ad serving is Google’s default setting of Optimize. Optimized ad serving delivers ads with higher clickthrough rates (CTRs) into the ad auction more often than other ads in the ad group. These higher-quality ads gain more impressions than other ads in the ad group, resulting in higher ad served percentages. By using this ad serving option, your ad group will likely receive more impressions and clicks overall, since higher-quality ads attain better positions and attract more user attention. The second option is to have your ads served in a set rotation. Rotated ad serving delivers ads more evenly into the auction, even when one ad has a lower CTR than another. The impression statistics and ad served percentages of the ads in the ad group will be more similar to each other than if you had selected the optimization option. However, these statistics still may differ from each other, since ad position may vary based on Quality Score and CPC.

Creating The Right SEO Strategy For Your Business

At Epic Internet Marketing Studio we empower our clients to understand why internet marketing is a valuable lead generation strategy. The term “Internet Marketing” seems quite broad.  We think of it like this; let’s say you have a website that looks and functions great, and even has a comprehensive Call-To-Action strategy.  Sounds good, right? Wrong.  Your website is just sitting out there on the world wide web, all alone with no way to drive visitors to it.  Internet Marketing helps your website get found and therefore drive visitors. Search Engine Optimization sounds complicated. Epic Marketing Studio makes it simple. We help search engines find your website organically (not through pay-per-click). We determine the best keywords and keyword phrases for your website to target. The ultimate goal is to be found on Google when someone searches those terms. Here at Epic Marketing Studio we believe it’s important for our clients to understand how search engine optimization works in order to empower them to be strategic in their future content creation. That’s right, we said “future content creation”, SEO is a long term strategy that requires continuous content be added to a website over time in order to stay relevant to search engines. To set you up for success we:
  • Analyze your competition to see what keywords they are targeting and produce detailed reports about your competitor’s keyword analysis
  • Make recommendations based on the data as to what keywords to target
  • Update your website’s code structure to reflect the new strategy
  • Update your content (or generate new content) that reflects the keyword strategy
  • Create a blog within your domain (if you don’t have one already) and editorial calendar detailing how to update it
  • Develop a link building strategy
Here’s the best part! We’ll start off with a free site analysis. Give us 24 hours and see how Epic Marketing Studio can dramatically improve your web presence.

Tips to Boost Your Local Marketing

Local-SEOBy now everyone is familiar with the “local search results box” that appears adjacent to a Google Maps readout on search engine results pages. That’s right, we’re talking about being found based on your business’ Google Places listing, known affectionately as “The Seven Pack”. Look familiar? As of recently Google has put far more emphasis on its local search results and has even re-branded their Local Business Center as “Google Places”. If you’re a small business dependent on working locally then ranking well within Google Places through local search engine optimization should be very important to you. This is the area where you face off against your local competition. We often get asked how to appear in this local search results box (The Seven Pack) all the time. And no, it’s not as easy filling out your business’ Google Places listing, but that’s a start. A local search engine optimization (LSEO) strategy is comprised of a variety of different tactics. Here’s are some local search engine optimization tactics to start with:  
  •  Complete your Google Places listing with as much information about your business as humanly possible, photos and videos are a big plus. The more keywords, the better. Look at your Google Places page from your customers point of view, what information do you want to see? This should be a basic first step to any local search engine optimization strategy.
  •  Citations are essentially “mentions” of your business name and address on other websites. Citations are relevant even if there is no direct link to your website. An example of a citation might be an online YellowPages directory where your business is listed, but not essentially linked to. Citations are a key component in the ranking algorithms of major search engines. Businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations. Some are claiming citations are the new inbound links, if so digital press releases distributed to local papers and other press release sites might be a good local search engine optimization tactic here.
  •  Search engine algorithms consider (give weight to) inbound links as a standard practice. Having these links will make your business more valuable as a search result to search engines. Links that are authoritative in nature are more valuable than one’s that aren’t, say links coming from a trusted authoritative source like the Better Business Bureau or The Chamber of Commerce.
  •  Google’s validity is based on making quality recommendations to its users. So it’s in their best interest to recommend businesses with positive reviews and ratings, these reviews even show up in the “sentiment analysis” on the Google Places pages. Again, think about your Google Places page from your customer’s point of view, wouldn’t you want to see reviews?
  •  Your business name, address and phone number should be consistent across the many sources of local business information. This means if you have a phone number listed on your local Chamber of Commerce website that is different from the phone number on your business’ website, Google will see this as an inconsistency. The more places that Google Places can find confirmation of your basic business information, the better chance you have of moving up in the placement on the local search results.
  •  On your Google Places listing, ignore that 800 number of yours and instead use the one that has an area code that matches your local area search targets. The imperative term here is “local”, think long and hard about what “local” means to your local search engine optimization strategy.
  •  Modifying your business name to have a descriptive keyword in it such as “bakery” or “real estate” etc., helps with the relevancy of the search results. In general this is also a plus to have in your site’s URL as a basic search engine optimization strategy.
  •  If you want to rank for keywords related to a specific geographic location (say Concord, NH for example) you’ll place better in the local search results if you’re legitimately located in that city. Plug your address into your website’s footer, this is a clear indication to all sorts of search engine bots that this is your physical address. An educated guess here would be that bots are programmed to specifically put weight on pages with file names such as contact, contact-us, about, etc, so drop addresses there as well. Be sure to include local variations of keywords on your local pages. For example make sure to vary NH and New Hampshire within your content, because searches use both. Your company name, address, keywords (relating to your business category), and local phone number need to be the same everywhere. Every page of your website should have a textual version of your company name, address, and local phone number.
  •  There are a huge number of YellowPages-like sites that allow you to update your information for free. These sites include Merchant Circle, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local. These sites get a lot of traffic and tend to rank well. At the very least you should go to each one, claim your profile and make sure they are correctly linking to your site.
  •  Many local small business are missing out on the extraordinary opportunity blogging provides. Blogging is a simple way to establish your business as a thought-leader and an easy way to continually add keyword dense pages to your site, on your own! Additionally you can go to Google’s blog search engine and add your blogs URL, which means your blog post will rank for search engine results.
  •  Many of the elements that assist in promoting your website to the first page of organic search engine results are going to help your Google Places ranking improve. Google will look at your site and see if it has a wealth of information (such as keywords!) that match the categories on your Google Places listing. Google will also look for reputable inbound links, combined with overall information and keyword consistency, your business website builds credibility for your Google Places page.
  •  If you feel the tactics you’re pursuing are less than genuine, you should abandon them. Google will figure it out and then ban you. Yes, of course using spammy, blackhat tactics seem like a quick fix, but in the end it’s not legitimate and not worth being booted for.
  Are you a local business concerned with placing prominently in your local search listings? Let Epic help! Let’s talk about your business’ situation and improve your search visibility.

Why Your Business needs Internet Marketing in 2013

Why does your business need internet marketing?

internet-marketing-successThe days of separation are over. Only a few years ago there were predominantly two types of marketing – traditional marketing and online marketing. Although the two often intertwined, they could remain separate. For example, if you owned a brick and mortar business you could get away with strict traditional marketing techniques such as television, radio, and print ads to market your business in a local sense. It wouldn’t have been necessary for you to get on social media or even necessarily have a website. However, there is no separation anymore. In fact, traditional marketing techniques typically serve to drive more traffic to online resources and anyone that hears about a business through a traditional marketing resource will immediately go online in order to find more out about that business. Internet has dominated, and in 2013, if you’re not marketing online, you definitely need to be, because your competition sure is.

So, let’s talk a little about why your business needs internet marketing in 2013.

1)      Your Customers and Clients Expect it – the plain fact of the matter is that, no matter what kind of business you are – a restaurant, a retailer, a service provider – everyone expects you to be online and they expect you to have a strong, healthy online marketing presence. When you hand your business card over to somebody, the first thing they’re going to do is go online and research you. When your customers or clients have a question, they expect to be able to easily find you online and ask that question through Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and more. A business without a solid online marketing presence and platform, is looked down upon as unprofessional. It’s the equivalent of a road-side shack in the middle of nowhere with a painted sign out front that says “BBQ”. In 2013, your professionalism as a business isn’t just based on your brick and mortar location, it’s based on the health of your virtual storefront as well. 2)      You’re Probably Already Online – This is true especially for restaurants, retailers, and service providers. People are checking into your business on Foursquare, Yelp, and Urbanspoon. They’re leaving feedback that everyone else can see. People are looking online to view that feedback before they even decide to enter your place of business. It’s up to you to take control of that online presence. 3)      People Expect Information to Come to Them – Over the last several years, people have grown accustomed to new information finding them, rather than them having to willingly seek it out. When people find out about new deals it’s because their friends are sharing it on their timeline, or an email is sent directly to their inbox, or they see a tweet. The bulk of your potential audience is sitting behind their computer screens right now waiting for your business to find them. 4)      It’s More Convenient For Your Customers – Many businesses shun online marketing because they don’t have the time for it or because they don’t understand it. In other words, the thought of delving into all of this crazy Internet stuff becomes an inconvenient notion. What you have to understand is that you are actually inconveniencing your customers by not marketing online. Customers expect to be able to keep up to date with your business through online resources such as Facebook, Twitter, and email. They expect to use these same outlets to ask questions. Nothing is more annoying than a business who has a dead Facebook page and Twitter account that they never update. You see customers asking questions that never get answered and making suggestions that never get taken into consideration. It’s inconvenient to search online for a business you’re interested in learning more about and not finding an up-to-date website or any other information. It detracts customers, and they’ll default to your competition who stays up to date with customers through Facebook, Twitter, and email and provides special offers to their loyal online customers, which brings us to our next point. 5)      Online Marketing is Caring – In 2013 online marketing outlets such as social media, paid ads, and email marketing are no longer just “in your face” advertisements. You see, people have become numb to that type of marketing, which is why even traditional marketing is starting to change and go seamlessly hand-in-hand with online marketing. Internet marketing is all about building relationships and providing transparency to customers – the more you love your customers and the more transparent you are as a business, the more positive attention you’re going to get and the more your customers are going to love you back. Social MediaIn other words, if you care about your customers, you’ll give them what they need. You will show them that you care about them by offering them incentives that they can only find online. If they are loyal to you, you are loyal right back to them.

I think a lot of business owners who are still “iffy” about jumping head first into a solid online marketing campaign for their business don’t understand the personal, relationship-building aspects of it. Internet marketing isn’t about ploys. It isn’t a newspaper ad that says “we’re having a sale, come see us” it’s an entire personal relationship that says “tell me what you would like to see us do, and we’ll do it for you because we care about you.” Basically, online marketing isn’t about talking – it’s about listening and then giving your customers what they want. By listening to your customers talk to you through the outlets they find most convenient (Internet) then you are showing that you care and that’s the most important thing you can do as a business.

See our list of marketing services, and contact us today for a free evaluation.

Tips For a Successful Google Adwords Campaign

adwords AdWords is a great strategy to help organization immediately jump into a search engine marketing strategy. Google AdWords offers pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and site-targeted advertising for both text, banner, and rich-media ads. The AdWords program includes local, national, and international distribution. Advertisers select the words that should trigger their ads and the maximum amount they will pay per click. Ads for relevant words are shown as “sponsored links” on the right side of the screen, and sometimes above the main search results. With AdWords is you only pay when a user clicks your ad. Here at Epic Marketing Studio we can help your organization get into the AdWords game quickly. Hereʼs how we tackle setting up an AdWords campaign:
  • Make a compelling offer in your ad. Youʼll need to test different ad headline variations based on your keyword selection and determine which headlines provide the highest Click-Through-Rate (CTR). Your CTR measures the ratio of prospects who view your ad vs. the number of prospects who actually click your ad and link to your landing page.
  • Do some research, understand what the most popular search phrases are and then try to incorporate them into your headline, preferably in a way that makes a compelling offer.
  • Your ad description should also contain this search phrase to increase the effectiveness of your title and quality score (more on this in a second).
  • Check out your competition, whatʼs their strategy? What can we learn from them?
  • Quality Score. The quality score is used by Google to set the minimum bids for an advertiser’s keywords. The minimum bid takes into consideration the quality of the landing page as well, which includes the relevancy and originality of content, navigability, and transparency into the nature of the business. When the keywords you stress in a Google AdWords closely match the content on the subsequent landing page, Google will view your site as providing a quality search result and assign your website a higher Quality Score. As a website that makes money from optimizing high-quality, relevant content, Google is incentivized to award quality search results, which it does by charging you less money.
  • Target Your Ad. Do your homework and research which keywords make the most sense for you to go after and make your list.
  • Long Tail Keywords – The longer the keyword phrase, the more qualified the prospective searcher is. For instance, here at Epic Marketing Studio, we go after long-tail keywords such as “website marketing new hampshire”. This keyword phrase is likely from someone who looking for website and marketing services in our state and since most of our business is from local companies, we know this is a qualified prospect who is far more targeted than someone who searches the term “marketing services” or “website design services” without adding a geographic location. Additionally the longer tail keyword may be a lower cost because of itʼs lower (yet more targeted) search frequency.
  • Geographic Regions – Make sure to update Googleʼs automatic AdWords settings, for example, the default geographical area is set to United States and Canada, but if you target only customers from specific geographic areas, covering the entire United States is a waste of money.