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Google AdWords updates change SEO analytics

Google AdWords has updated analytics reporting which impacts SEO decisions.

Organizations that seek to make the most of search engine optimization regularly depend on Google AdWords to analyze their keyword strategies. The tech giant recently announced it has updated some of the reporting features for AdWords that will likely influence the depth of information that marketers can get out of the online marketing tool. There are also alterations to the automation functions of AdWords that may result in adjustments among marketing professionals.

One of the big changes that will affect the Google AdWords console involves the reporting history columns (1). Users can add categories, including budget, bid, keyword, targeting and network changes. The information relating to the number of changes will go back into late May 2014, but there are also adjustments to filtering in the change reports. Marketers can adjust filters for reporting based on multiple conditions.

More recently, there will be changes to names for column categories in AdWords (2). For instance, "pages/visit" will be seen as "pages/session" beginning on Nov. 10, 2014. A few other nominal alterations will occur in the Google Analytics tab in AdWords. Many of these reporting features are central to many online marketing campaigns, so it's critical that businesses recognize any differences.

1 "Google AdWords Change History Reporting Improvements"
2 "AdWords Scripts & Macros Users: Google Analytics Columns To Be Renamed In AdWords"

Posted in Analytics |

3 content marketing blunders to avoid

Heavily branded articles can damage B2B content marketing strategies.

For many B2B organizations, content marketing has a high level of value for lead generation and nurturing. Long lists of buyers seek out product and service information using the Internet as a primary research tool. During the discovery phase through the steps toward decision-making, B2B purchasers depend on thought leadership and informational content to help them make well-reasoned decisions. Not all businesses understand these important characteristics of content marketing and make numerous mistakes.

  1. Limited horizons
    Even some of the most successful organizations stumble with creating great content by limiting themselves in scope. Adobe not only added to its B2B services but also developed a far-reaching content marketing campaign that saw employees blogging from international conferences (1).
  2. Taking an eye off quality
    There's a common objective in lead generation to leverage speed to the greatest extent possible. While companies shouldn't sit on content for weeks on end primarily for SEO purposes, they shouldn't populate social media channels and their blogs with half-baked ideas either. B2B buyers can detect fluff within the first few sentences.
  3. Company-centric content
    Especially among younger B2B buyer demographics, heavily branded content doesn't perform as well as articles or videos that don't explicitly advertise a company's strengths (2). Instead, focus the content on the topic or context and let the quality build a stronger brand.

1. "Produce Content Marketing That Customers Care About"
2. "How to Diagnose and Cure 9 Major Content Marketing Problems"

Posted in Lead Generation |

Understand buyer habits in B2B marketing

B2B marketing is increasingly happening online where purchasers research and purchase goods.

Business-to-business purchasing habits have changed, moving in a direction where online marketing will play an increasingly important role. A growing number of buyers are using the Web as not only a tool for discovering potential vendors and partners to work with, but also a platform to make purchases.

Currently, 68 percent of B2B buyers carry out business transactions for goods, which is more than a 10 percent jump over figures for 2013 (1). What's more, 57 percent of B2B customers have spent $5,000 or more on a major purchase online during the past year.

How are B2B buyers discovering vendors and suppliers?
There's roughly a 50-50 split between purchasers buying items directly from a supplier and going through a third-party site, including Amazon Supply, to select items. With this in mind, there's a strong link between online research and purchasing behavior. A heavy majority – 94 percent – of buyers said they research purchases ahead of time using the Internet, and as many as 55 percent do so for half of all their business transactions.

Price comparison and product research is most commonly performed on Google, where buyers seek out customer reviews and other content that is independent from the supplier's website. Vendor sites are the most common sources for product information that buyers refer to when conducting research. However, just 37 percent of them said these were the most helpful resources for investigating a product or service.

What does this mean for B2B marketing efforts?
Because buyers aren't devoted to a single channel for both research and purchasing, it's important for marketers to leverage a few online marketing strategies. First, search engine optimization is particularly useful for companies looking to gain recognition among buyers researching new products through Google, Bing or Yahoo. Accordingly, keywords play a central role in directing traffic to a company's website. Ensure the terms are relevant to the purchasing audience, whether they're short or longtail.

At the same time, product landing pages should be integrated with all other content marketing deliverables. In doing so, a B2B company can present a first impression among purchasers that's consistent across multiple channels (2). This includes making sure the brand is clearly displayed with regard to design and voice. More importantly, get the most interesting or compelling information across to potential buyers as quickly as possible.

Research can be a painstaking process for people in need of finding a solution quickly, and the Internet can sometimes seem overrun with information of varying degrees of value. Connect with B2B buyers using their preferred channels and make a compelling argument quickly.

1. "Uncovering the Shifting Landscape in B2B Commerce"
2. "Five Takeaways From the B2B Marketing Forum 2014"

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

Why SEO is so important for mobile search

Mobile search demands high quality SEO if businesses want higher click-thru rates

The mobile device market is thriving, and it's already had a profound influence on online marketing. Google is paying more attention to mobile-optimized website performance, and buyers increasingly turn to their mobile devices to research products and services. But should marketers approach search engine optimization for mobile devices any differently than on desktops?

Out of more than 2 billion impressions between June and August 2014, the No. 1-ranked search result in Google on desktops achieved a 19.3 percent click-thru rate (1). CTRs drop gradually from that point to the 10th spot on the SERP, which rests at 2.2 percent. By comparison, the top-positioned search result on mobile devices had a CTR of nearly 28 percent. The rate dropped precipitously, as the second-highest ranked page earned a 9.2 percent CTR, and the third spot was listed at 3.9 percent.

Businesses looking to optimize SEO for mobile search should recognize the differences in approach compared to desktops. First, content and context are different (2). Keywords for mobile search may be augmented using terms for geo-location, such as "nearby." Customers searching for information using a smartphone will likely prioritize concise content for quick information acquisition, while desktop users likely have more time to invest in thorough research.

1. "If You Don't Rank First in Mobile You May as Well Be on the 2nd Page: Here's Why"
2. "Ranking Factors For Mobile SEO: Interview with Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics"

Posted in Mobile Marketing |

Google’s Penguin refresh slow to impact SEO

Google's latest refresh of the Penguin algorithm has had a small impact on SEO so far.

Any time Google announces change to its Penguin algorithm, marketers interested in search engine optimization listen carefully. Google confirmed it has made an update – although it's downplaying the effects – to Penguin 3.0 on Friday, Oct. 17 (1). Several bigwigs in the SEO community, including Search Engine Journal founder Loren Baker, initially reported they hadn't seen much change or big fluctuations in search engine results pages.

However, as a few days passed after the refresh, new details have come to light. The alterations to the Penguin algorithm will be slow-moving. It will likely influence less that 1 percent of search engine queries performed in English in the U.S. (2). The main goal is to reduce Web spam, but there are actually two objectives involved with the refresh. First, sites that have removed spammy content since the previous Penguin update should see better SEO performance. Second, any newly discovered spam will result in site demotions in Google search results.

As a result, it's important for marketers to take another look at their websites and make sure they're publishing unique content to avoid being penalized by the latest Penguin update.

1. "Google Confirms Penguin 3.0 Update, Here's The Reaction So Far"
2. "Penguin update rolling out"

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

Video B2B marketing must adapt to buyers’ needs

Video B2B marketing can be a challenge for many companies, especially with product-specific content.

Video is increasingly popular for content marketing, especially in a business-to-business context. In addition to search engine optimization to lead prospective buyers to find their landing pages, videos play a key role in demonstrating what a company can do to solve industry pain points and improve business performance.

Content marketing has evolved, and video is an attractive tactic to build a more robust campaign beyond blogs, white papers and case studies. In fact, many marketers claim video generates the highest return on investment (1). At the same time, B2B marketers using this format still face a number of challenges in getting it right.

What are the main obstacles for making a good video?
Compared to sitting down to right a blog, creating an effective video requires significantly more technology, which tends to raise the price tag when attempted in-house. However, there are an increasing number of video marketing firms or content marketing organizations with video offerings that can take on the responsibility of not only equipment, but also location and design.

Another issue B2B marketing videos often face is speaking to a specific audience. Much like any effective piece of content, the video should begin from the customer's perspective. Buyers need to feel that the video addresses a particular information gap about a product or service or exposes a hole in their business functions that the content clearly explains and solves. A business can't provide a solution for everyone, so it's important to identify the intended purchasers and stand in their shoes to create content that speaks to their needs.

Create a balance between the product and buyers' place in the sales funnel
There's no question that videos are an effective way for businesses to explain how their products work. In fact, 94 percent of online buyers reference them, and this gives them greater confidence about their purchases.

However, companies need to clearly recognize how their videos fit in with the buyer's journey (2). A business can't take for granted that a customer will automatically recognize the fact that there may be a better way to perform a particular function. In this case, a product-centric video may not do the trick in convincing the viewer that he or she would benefit from the service. This is why each video must address the needs of a specific buyer segment or persona. Accordingly, a variety of short videos – between 30 and 60 seconds – may better serve B2B customers than a single extended piece of content.

1. "Best Practices for B2B Content Marketing With Video"
2. "Why Product-Centric Marketing Videos Alone Don't Support the Buyer's Journey"

Posted in Lead Generation |

SEO and Parallax design: What companies should know

Parallax design can influence SEO, especially regarding site speed and internal linking.

A few years ago, there was some uncertainty about how important page load times were for search engine optimization. There were website designers using Flash and other plug-ins that slowed the rate at which pages loaded. In today's online environment, a growing number of companies are using Parallax design for their websites, and it has created a lively debate among SEO advocates for similar reasons.

Just what is Parallax design?
Parallax design was originally created with video games in mind (1). Think about it in the same way the foreground images in Super Mario Bros. change at one rate while the background moves separately. A company will essentially have a single Web page that users scroll down and new images and text will move up at varying speeds. The end result for a Web page is something that's captivating for site visitors. It's also a way to tell a story in a more compelling way.

When a business invests in Parallax design for its homepage, it needs to recognize and avoid the risks with respect to SEO.

Caution: Slow zone
Parallax design is known for incorporating significant amounts of visual content and coding that can slow down page load times (2). For instance, the images a business chooses for its website can significantly influence performance (1). PNG and JPEG files can often include extra data that can cause extended load times.

In most cases, visitors to a company's site expect the page to load within two seconds (3). There's a strong correlation between loading speeds and online customer traffic. This in turn impacts user experience, which Google increasingly prioritizes.

In fact, Google use site speed as a factor when ranking websites. While it's not the single most important factor when designing a website for SEO, load time can affect a business's ranking in organic search results.

Missing link(s)
When a business incorporates all of its website content into a single URL, there will likely be fewer internal links (4). No matter how amazing a Parallax-designed website may be, a company with one page that can be indexed by Google or any other search engine will not be as visible in organic search results as other sites with a more developed internal linking strategy.

Another important point to keep in mind is how well Parallax design performs on mobile devices. If a business doesn't invest in responsive design as well, it's likely the website won't appear as intended. This will negatively impact user experience and harm search engine rankings.

1. "Parallax Web Design: What It Is and How It Can Affect Your SEO"
2. "Why Parallax Design Doesn't Have to Tank Your SEO"
3. "SEO 101: How Important is Site Speed in 2014?"
4. "Is Parallax to Blame for Poor SEO?"

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

What can PPC do for B2B marketing?

B2B marketing can benefit from PPC advertising to strengthen online traffic.

Businesses have many online marketing strategies to test out, but it's difficult to know which ones will provide them with the most insight into customer behavior. Pay-per-click advertising is a tactic used in search engine marketing that has helped B2B companies understand and connect with buyers on a different level.

PPC advertising gives businesses a great deal of clarity into the way their marketing performs, surpassing the level of detail seen through other non-digital channels (1). For instance, companies have a much better idea of return on investment of individual ads or campaigns because they're able to track user behavior looking at a number of variables, including time and geography. Compare this to a print ad in the newspaper; unless a company integrates a call-tracking solution, it's very difficult to know where inbound call traffic stems from unless that happens to be the only channel a company uses. In any case, PPC ads are an effective way for B2B marketers to help push buyers toward the tail-end of the sales funnel. However, it's important to first understand what makes PPC different than other kinds of search engine marketing.

Reaching customers at a different point in the journey
Among Web surfers, there's fairly strong likelihood that they won't be able to tell the difference between organic search results and paid ads. In fact, more than 45 percent of users can't point out a paid advertisement on an search engine results page (2). However, there are notable differences between paid and organic search. For instance, it's more likely that organic results will provide buyers with content that is more applicable to those just beginning the search for a business solution. In other words, business decision-makers would likely click on the first link and find an article that provides information about a specific industry, product or service.

Paid ads more frequently are transactional in nature. They feature calls to action that lead a buyer to a specific solution that he or she has already been considering and learning about through content marketing and other online advertising. Half of the individuals who arrive a business's landing page after clicking on a paid ad are more likely to make a purchase than those who arrive via organic search (3). In other words, buyers who arrive at a company's website are in a strong position to convert after clicking on a PPC ad.

At the same time, search engine optimization best practices are an important element to PPC campaigns in many of the same ways that they are for organic search.

Search terms are critical for success
Regardless of whether a B2B marketer uses SEO or PPC advertising, keyword strategies are not only a difficult hurdle to overcome, but also an opportunity to effectively target specific buyers. The beginnings of a keyword strategy should look at a few metrics. It's important to understand volume (4). This means researching the number of times users search for a given keyword or phrase during a specific time frame. The more popular the search term, the more likely a company may have its PPC ad seen on SERPs.

Another crucial variable is competition for the keyword or phrase among different domain names. If there's a large number of other companies using the same search terms, it may diminish the likelihood a company's paid ad pops out at buyers.

What are ways companies can develop stronger keywords?
On a very basic level, a marketer can begin by entering terms into a search engine (5). Google, for instance, will suggest keywords or phrases to complete the query. The important idea here is that these words link to actual Web content. Google uses these terms and phrases to connect customers with relevant sites, and by knowing what search terms potential competitors are using, companies can develop a stronger strategy.

Another useful starting point is using the underscore symbol, often called a wild card, to figure out long tail keywords. For instance, a search query might be "the best _ strategy." Google will fill in the underscore with more terms that will complete the search. This is quick way to discover potential keywords that a company can use for their PPC campaign.

Finally, branded keywords or phrases are some of the most affordable terms that a B2B company can integrate into a PPC campaign (6). Why? In general, most other companies won't have the same name, meaning there won't be much competition for a branded keyword. These terms also tend to generate a lot of clicks.

In B2B marketing, companies shouldn't limit themselves to a specific online marketing strategy. There should be a healthy mix of SEO that incorporates organic and paid search, as well as content marketing.

1. "Why PPC Advertising Is the ROI Rock Star of Search Engine Marketing"
2. "Paid Search 101: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to #PPC Landing Pages"
3. "SEO vs PPC – Time for a Fight!"
4. "Choosing the right target keywords for SEM"
5. "3 Super-Actionable Keyword Research Tips to Try Right Now"
6. "13 Reasons Branded PPC Campaigns Are Beneficial For B2B Brands"

Posted in Search Engine Optimization |

New Google AdWords function impacts lead generation

Google announced it will add click-to-call conversion analytics to AdWords to help with lead generation.

Most marketers and sales reps will agree that inbound calls are a valuable source for lead generation. The Internet and mobile technology have expanded the range of possibilities that business owners can take advantage of to connect with prospective buyers. Around 70 percent of people using their mobile phones to search for information have called a business directly from the search engine results page (1). In addition, Google ads have generated more than 40 million calls worldwide.

As a result, Google is looking at mobile call-to-click conversions with greater interest. It will soon be added to the list of conversion that marketers can integrate into their analytics. Businesses will be able to measure not only the number but also duration of inbound calls.

In contrast with the efforts made by Google in enabling marketers to track click-to-call conversions, just 36 percent of them integrate this type of ad in their search engine marketing strategies (2). Even more confusing is the fact that 63 percent of marketers feel that inbound phone calls are as valuable or more valuable as Web-derived leads.

In light of these facts, it's important to follow SEO best practices to make sure search engine ads with click-to-call components are visible for potential buyers.

1. "Say Hello to Calls as Conversions in AdWords"
2. "Call Gap: Survey Finds 54 Percent Of Search Marketers Don't Track Phone Conversions From Search Campaigns"

Posted in Lead Generation |

Does B2B marketing work without SlideShare?

Any B2B marketing campaign should take advantage of SlideShare to promote consumable content.

B2B marketing requires a solid strategy. With each day, there's new advice about the ways businesses can best reach out to buyers. However, changing tactics on a daily basis is harmful for companies, especially if they expect to find out what online marketing channels are most worth their time.

Often, marketers can get caught up in the latest and greatest buzz worthy digital tools and forget to take advantage of some of the most time-tested B2B marketing platforms available. SlideShare is sometimes overlooked when companies outline their digital marketing strategy. Not only is it proven to be effective as a form of content marketing for lead generation and nurturing, but it's also adapting to the changes in buyer and Web user behavior in general.

Why SlideShare is worth the time and effort
There aren't many websites in the world that will draw as much traffic as SlideShare. On a monthly basis, the site sees 60 million visitors and 3 billion slide views. This is why it's not surprising that LinkedIn purchased the company in 2012. By combining forces with the most business-focused social network, SlideShare has been able to expand its reach and become more than simply an online forum for Powerpoint presentations.

Although Facebook and Twitter have significantly larger user counts, they are far less effective when appealing to business decision-makers. SlideShare presentations have been known to generate conversion rates as high as 25 percent (1). Compare that number to Pinterest and even LinkedIn, which saw conversation rates of just 1.42 percent and 1.9 percent respectively.

In the race to make the most out of content marketing, SlideShare can give businesses significant traction among buyers. Companies can use the platform to showcase a variety of media, including webinars, sales documents and videos – all of which work in different ways in unique points in the marketing funnel (2).

How does SlideShare work?
It's not quite a social network and not simply content marketing. Buyers can be drawn to SlideShare content through a variety of channels, including organic search, social media and related SlideShare presentations (3). Accordingly, it's important to keep search engine optimization best practices in mind when posting content to the site. For instance, keyword strategies used for other types of content are still applicable for SlideShare. Companies should make sure they include relevant terms that business decision-makers would typically use to find information and solutions related to their industry concerns.

At the same time, social networks can grow SlideShare content's reach. Because presentations are easy to embed and share on multiple kinds of sites, B2B marketers should make sure their content lives on websites like LinkedIn so a wider audience can view it and pass it on. SlideShare does a good job of promoting relevant content on the site's sidebar when users view a presentation. This is another reason keywords play an important role in posting content on SlideShare. A business owner may be drawn to a presentation related to a pain point but not find an answer to his or her issue. However, this individual will likely go on to view other content that is pertinent to the industry.

SlideShare presentations are extremely adaptable according to the marketing objective. Depending on the resources a business may have, SlideShare gives a company the option of tracking the number of views a particular piece of content gets, which can help identify what is most and least effective.

Another SlideShare benefit – and one that distinguishes it from other social networks – is that there aren't any membership requirements to access content (4). For instance, many thought leaders hold LinkedIn discussions in private groups, which require "admission." In a sense, content is gated and exclusive. On the other hand, buyers can simply search on SlideShare for content that's most attractive according to their business needs and connect.

Making mobile more effective
As the owner of SlideShare, LinkedIn has a hand in guiding the direction of the content sharing platform. The company is putting more resources in courting the mobile crowd, not only in augmenting its own mobile app, but also SlideShare's on-the-go tool (5). There's both an Android and iOS version for the app, and it seeks to attract an audience by making content easy to access.

How? Personalized feeds will send viewers presentation and infographics that reflect the preferences and needs of the user. At the same time, people can curate their own content by subscribing to a variety of topics. SlideShare will also have a hand in managing users' feeds. Presentations that have been shared or liked by others in a person's network will be funneled to a business decision-maker (6). SlideShare editors will also highlight particularly effective content.

Regardless of the marketing category SlideShare falls into, it's an indispensable resource in any B2B marketing strategy. Marketers sometimes need a reminder of how effective this tool can be in lead generation and making content more consumable.

1. "SlideShare: The Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of B2B Social Media Marketing"
2. "B2B marketers should not ignore Slideshare. Here's why."
3. "SlideShare: The Quiet Giant of Content Marketing"
4. "A Practical Social Media Strategy For B2B Marketers"
5. "LinkedIn Continues Mobile Push With SlideShare for iOS"
6. "LinkedIn releases its first SlideShare iOS app"

Posted in Social Media Marketing |




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