Month: September 2012

5 Must-Use Features of Google Webmaster Tools


As I work with new clients I find many are not fully utilizing all of Google’s free tools to understand how their site is being found by Google and how to help the search engines more easily find their content. Along with Google Analytics, which most people know about and use, Google & Bing also offer Webmaster Tools. Now I know Webmaster is a term that sounds like it’s stuck in the 90’s, but there is some really great information you can get directly from the search engines. Below are my favorite tools from Google’s Webmaster Tools:

  1. Submit a sitemap: You can submit a sitemap to Google of all the pages on your site you want the search engine to crawl and index. You can even include in the sitemap a ranking system to tell the search engine what pages are most important. Uploading a XML sitemap and setting it to index in the Webmaster Tools gives Google a little nudge to go and index your site.

  2. Review crawl errors and site speed issues: You can see if Google is having any issues crawling your site or is finding error codes as well as any site speed issues. Once you resolve any issues you can notify Google to re-index those pages because issues have been resolved.  If you can’t find your pages in Google this is the first place I check to see if Google is having issues finding those pages.

  3. Search Queries: You can see if there has been an increase or decrease in organic search queries. With the latest Penguin & Panda updates we have been able to clearly see any changes to our client’s websites as a result of these updates by reviewing the queries in Webmaster tools.

  4. Fetch As Google: Have a new page or a page with updated content login to Webmaster Tools, enter the URL and fetch as google to help get that content indexed. This is basically a quick way to say to Google you should check out this page.

  5. Add or Demote Sitelinks: If you have a sitelink in your organic 6 pack that you don’t want, say Terms of Use, you can login to Webmaster Tools and demote that sitelink and add a page that you want to appear. This isn’t guaranteed to change it, but we have found by making this request it usually updates in a couple of days.

These are just a couple of my favorite tools from Webmaster Tools but there are so many more things you can learn about how your site and Google are interacting it’s worth an hour to just go and play around to see what you can learn about your site.

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Twitter Advertising: How to Get Started (and Other News)


Earlier this month Twitter announced great new targeting options for paid Twitter ads.  Twitter does require a 3 month and $15,000 budget commitment to run their ads, but with these new advanced targeting option many clients who have previously run ads or those who have been sitting on the edge might just find the risk is worth the reward.

Targeted Tweets help brands increase engagement by delivering more relevant messages to the right audience.

  • You can now promote a tweet to a specific audience without sending it to your followers first so you can really segment your messages by audience
  • Create messages to send to key audiences by geography, device or platform
  • Promote device specific mobile app downloads
  • Promote localized offers
  • National brands can deliver localized messages and offers
  • Promoted tweets are visible as soon as they go live and can also be found in search results

Interest Targeting helps connect your call to action with a receptive audience by focusing on their interests.

  • You can choose from 350 different interest categories
  • You can reach beyond your follower base to drive volume and extend your reach
  • Promote products and services to users interested in those specific products
  • Build enthusiasm for an event by targeting users passionate about the event itself
  • Build followers by finding more like-minded users

As with all paid search programs in order to find out how it works for your business you’ll have to test it out. The key will be creating a strategy, testing plan and measurable goals to determine that success or failure.


Links – Do They Matter?


With the Penguin and Panda updates scrutinizing links to your website many companies have began to wonder if links to their site still matter. Now that some time has passed since these two algorithm updates launched and subsequent updates to these algorithm changes we’ve taken a look at SEO rankings and how links factor into those rankings. Here is what we’ve found.

  1. Links still matter but it’s more complicated now. Gone are the days when you simply needed to add more links and your rankings would go up. Now a website needs to add more really great, high quality links for your rankings to go up. Add more low quality links and your rankings may go down.
  2. Some sites are better than others when it comes to link quality. We have long known that .gov and .edu sites are seen as highly valuable links, but now social sites and social mentions are also very valuable in increasing rankings.
  3. The anchor text of the link still matters. It’s more helpful to have a link that uses a keyword you are trying to rank for as a hyperlink over just a page filled with URL links. When you reach out to ask for links provide a recommended anchor text to help with SEO keyword rankings. Keep in mind you should individualize each anchor text to the site and URL you are driving them to.

What do I do now?

  1. Review your site links and your competitors (there are many free and paid tools that will tell you exactly where any site’s links come from) and it is worthwhile to pay for a tool that will give you not only the links but some sort of SEO ranking for the sites as well to help you determine if the site is a good quality site.
  2. Compare the links that your site has and your competitor’s sites to find quality sites they have links that your site could benefit from.
  3. Reach out to these sites asking for a link and include a recommendation of the following items. The easier you make it for them the more likely they will be to include your link.
    1. Which page on their site the link would fit
    2. Suggested anchor text
    3. The URL you’d like them to link to. The easier you make it for them the more likely they will be to include your link.

Google’s algorithm is always changing but even though we see changes in the weighting of which SEO factors are most important, the fundamental pieces of SEO tend to remain the same including the importance of links to and from your site to other sites on the web. Fundamental SEO strategies continue to win out at the end of the day and by sticking to the basics you can achieve great SEO results.


Google Product Listings – Will Your Company Join?


Recently Google shifted its shopping search to a pay-for-play model by introducing Google Product Listings. Companies that sold products online used to have shopping ads appear for free in search results by simply having a Google Merchant Center account with a product feed.  With this new change the listings below in the right hand column are now CPC ads and companies must build out a Google Adwords campaign to show to up in this section.

As you can see below in a search for a sleeper sofa you can see 8 companies have added product listings for this specific sofa to their PPC campaign. Some companies, most notably Amazon, have opted not to pay for these listings, but in my experience the CPC is lower and the ROI has been higher than standard text ads shown here on the left.

Product Listing Highlights

  • You must have a merchant center account and Adwords account to run these ads and have them linked together
  • The cost per click is fairly low due to lower competition for these ads, but this may change as more companies get on board with running these
  • While traffic to these ads are fairly low the conversion rate for the product listing ads is fairly high

As with all new paid search options I always think a test it worth the effort. In my experience these product listings have not increased traffic dramatically but in terms of ROI and driving ecommerce these new listings have performed very well for my clients and are well worth the small expense.


How to Use YouTube to Increase Online Findability


The unending popularity of video and video marketing surely is one of the major phenomena of our times.  Starting back in the 80s with the launch of MTV, this form of communication has blown sky high with the advent of YouTube, the affordable video recorder, and now, video capability in many phones. Anyone can now make their own video – providing some pretty amazing internet marketing opportunities for creative and out of the box thinkers – and everyone else!

Long story short — if you are not using YouTube to market your business and enhance your findability online — you are missing out big time.

Perhaps you’ve already noticed how YouTube videos stand out on a Google results page? When I’m searching for something, if videos show up on the results page, I’ll frequently click on them first.

Like me, there are scads of people who prefer to receive information in this form, as opposed to just reading text. It’s time to take advantage of this preference. However, one point to remember is that fans usually watch videos for entertainment; they don’t necessarily wish to be sold.

But you can easily provide a compelling mix of the two. Video is fantastic for making “how to” and tutorial videos, showing off what your company does and giving fans useful information in an entertaining fashion.


Things to consider when using YouTube:

  • When you set up your company YouTube channel, (yes, you can have your own channel – isn’t that cool?) remember to use your important keyword phrases in the channel’s name, setup and profile.
  • You don’t need to hire an expensive videographer. Videos can be spur of the moment, impromptu, and without high production values, and be even more credible than over-rehearsed and over-edited ones that are obvious sales attempts.
  • Of course, each video should also have one of your high value keywords in the title and the video description. However, the title needs to be appropriate to the actual content of that video.
  • Always have a link back to your website or blog in each video’s information, in case viewers want to learn more.
  • Produce videos of: company events, annual meetings, corporate retreats, product launches, interviews, upcoming press, conventions, testimonials, how tos and tutorials, etc.
  • Remember, in this day and age, a dull video will lose viewers’ attention within the exciting and engaging culture that is YouTube. Videos provide a great way to exhibit the personality of your brand – and have some fun at the same time.
  • If your company has existing videos – why not repurpose them, or portions of them?

Need some more video know-how and inspiration?

Of course, you always want to make sure the effort you put into your YouTube Channel pays off in terms of views, calls to action and real life business. Need a bit more information? I hope you’ll come hear me speak at OMI's Digital Marketing Strategy Summit, Monday September 24th.

About the Author—Heather Lutze

Heather is the acclaimed speaker, trainer, and consultant who literally wrote the book on search engine marketing. Two books, in fact—The Findability Formula: The Easy, Non-Technical Approach to Search Engine Marketing and the brand new Thumbonomics: The Essential Business Roadmap for Social Media & Mobile Marketing. Her writing and in-demand keynotes are delivered with the same witty, “no-geek-speak” style that has managed to demystify internet marketing for countless business owners. Breaking free of corporate “cubicle” jobs over ten years ago with nothing more than a dream of entrepreneurship and a computer in the basement, Heather built her business, The Findability Group, into a multimillion dollar company. This year, she stepped down as CEO to step up her real passion – speaking, teaching and promoting her unique brand of search marketing known as the “findability formula”.


Recent LinkedIn Changes – Follow Facebook


As I’m sure we all noticed, well maybe not, in early July LinkedIn launched a new home page design with a simpler and easier to navigate home page including an easier way to find their ads section.

LinkedIn's goal was to allow users to easily scan and find relevant information and push current stories and updates to the top of the page. This sounds vaguely Facebook Timeline-ish.

New Feature Highlights:
Beyond the cosmetic look of LinkedIn they have released some new features including:

  • News feed suggestions based on your industry and companies you like
  • Latest updates from people in your network are at the top of the page
  • You can filter your stream of updates by any number of factors including: shares, groups, connections, etc.
  • Images in posts are bigger and more engaging
  • Targeted updates which allow you to post updates to specific audiences including by: location, seniority, industry, function and employer. This will allow you as a marketer to send the right message to the right audience without having to have the end user sort through the rest.

LinkedIn also is attempting to provide more analytics information about who your company’s followers are and who has viewed your page. As companies look to leverage LinkedIn, and the LinkedIn ad network, which has a bit of a bad reputation, analytics is becoming a larger focus. Marketers want to understand who is following them in order to better target ads at those who are likely to use the social platform to stay connected.

LinkedIn is not the big, sexy social networks like Facebook or Twitter, so will changing their platform to match Facebook’s timeline be a hit or a miss? Only time will tell if these changes will help to make LinkedIn more engaging and how this will affect how users use LinkedIn.