Posted on

Can It Be?! Google+ Local Phone Support!

If you are a small business owner or are responsible for the online marketing efforts of one, you are surely familiar (I hope) with Google+ Local. And more importantly, you are surelyGoogleLocal familiar with the bugs, incorrect data, duplicates, verification issues, and other frustrating inaccuracies of the current Google+ Local platform. Ever since the switch from Google Places to Google+ Local, this important marketing channel has done more harm than good for many of us, especially our blood pressure.

However, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon! First seen on January 8th, 2013, Google is now providing phone support for Google+ Local users experiencing verification issues with their listings. To make things even better, that phone support line will lead you to a real, live, breathing human being who can help you with your issues. In fact, I called in today and spoke with Matt, a very friendly and knowledgeable Google+ Local specialist. EUREKA!

To access Google+ Local phone support, follow these simple steps:

1. Go to the Google Places for business help site

2. Select I’m having a problem verifying my listing(s)

fix-a-problem

3. Choose I tried PIN verification for a single listing. Then choose The status is not ‘Needs Action’. Finally, choose Postcard if that is the verification option you are having trouble with (there is currently no phone support option for Phone-based verification issues.)

form

4. If you have waited 15 days for your listing to become verified by postcard, choose Yes.

You will see the Call Us link immediately. Once you click that and fill out the required fields on the Contacting Us page, you should receive a call from Google within minutes.

Right now, the phone support line is primarily meant to be used by businesses experiencing listing verification issues. Local search agencies and professionals can also use the phone support system as long as they have the e-mail associated with the listing and access to their client’s Google Places dashboard. It is unclear whether or not Google will expand the different types of listing issues that this phone support system can address. In addition, this new feature is only available to businesses located in the United States* at this time.

One thing is for sure though; this is a much-needed improvement for Google+ Local. It will hopefully help alleviate millions of headaches caused by listing verification issues for US-based local business owners and marketers. Knowing Google, there will probably be changes upon changes to the phone support system in the future. While it might not fix all of the listing problems you are currently experiencing, for now it is definitely a welcomed addition to the claiming process and a step in the right direction!

*http://blumenthals.com/blog/2013/01/08/google-local-now-providing-phone-support-for-verification-issues/

Posted on

Facebook Helps Creeps For $1

While trying to harass people that refuse to be my friend on Facebook… and in life, I came across a new feature. If you try to “message” a person that you are not currently Facebook friends with, your message will get sent to that person’s “Other” folder. The “Other” folder is where dreams and long poems of love go to die… I know. The “Other” folder does not send an alert to the user, does not put a little red notification number on their Facebook page and certainly doesn’t get you a date to Sizzler. The “Other” folder in Facebook must be actively perused, by the user, to view it’s messages. If you have ever entered this mysterious folder you’ll find it’s mostly filled with spam advertisements and messages from your aunt whom you refuse to accept her Facebook friend request. Crazy bat!

Facebook-Other-FolderSo how does one get themselves a red number 1 over some friend of a friend you totally want to mack-on’s message icon? Simple! You pay Facebook $1. That’s right all you like-minded creeps. For only $1 you can pay to have a message in anyone’s Facebook message inbox. Hot chick who hates me (most)… $1. Local celebrity who still has a basic Facebook page… $1. Co-workers who keep telling you they want to keep their professional lives separate from their personal lives… $1. All I’m saying is, I’ve got dollar bills and I’ve got a lot to say.

one-dollar-facebook-message

Posted on

Brand new year, same old SEO?

Article originally from Michael Block’s Blog. Cross-Posted with permission.

Happy New Year, everyone! Based on excerpts from my Facebook feed, the consensus seems to be that 2013 is going to be a good one and, personally, I’m inclined to agree!

The end of the year/new year transition period generally brings two things when it comes to articles in the media: 1) recaps of the previous year and 2) bold predictions for the new year. My good friend, Erik, shot me an article from the latter camp that suggested that the “New SEO” would favor content over tactics and that that would be good for publishers. It’s a well-written article from August of 2012 that’s making the rounds again now. I wrote a response to Erik but I realized that it might be useful to post it as a blog (which is why you’re reading this now, even if you aren’t Erik).

So, to begin, the notion that SEO is about creating good content rather than “fooling” the search engines has been the way of the world since at least early 2011 for agencies like Wpromote, the company for which I work. As a result, it seems the author is trying to speak to the layperson rather than SEO experts. Perhaps that was precisely his intention.

Also, and this is what’s much more interesting to me, there’s still a strong argument to be made that the “content is king” platitude is not even close to a truism yet. For example, take HuffingtonPost.com, a site that is extremely successful at SEO. This site does create original content but the vast majority of their content is reposted from other sources and they’ve been criticized harshly for this very reason. HuffingtonPost.com has denied the allegations but that’s not what I came here to point out, although there is ancillary relevance to the discussion.

Moving on, let’s take a look at their current front page:

Huffington Post Front Page

The headline links to this article with a much more SEO friendly title.

This is essentially a repost of the Associated Press story that is cited in the article. Note that although they used essentially all the text in AP story, HuffPo didn’t actually link back to AP.org despite linking to other HuffPo articles five times!¹ In my opinion, there’s nothing necessarily unethical going on but I would always recommend linking back to the original source as common courtesy at the very least. However, from an SEO perspective, it doesn’t benefit HuffPo to give another news source a link, so why do it? Plus, they got to use all of the keyword-rich text that the AP story used by citing it in full.

Now, let’s do a Google search for “John Boehner”:

Google search for "John Boehner"

What do you know?! The HuffPo article is one of the top links and AP is nowhere to be found. Google still isn’t good at assigning credit in this situation in the short term but the short term is all that really matters. Even if the AP article manages to outpace HuffPo’s in the future (unlikely anyway), nobody will care by tomorrow. It will quite literally be old news.

So, there you go: HuffPo waited for the AP story to come out, added a little bit of left-wing seasoning to appeal to their audience², copied and pasted the AP story in full, stuffed the top of the story with the relevant keywords that people will likely use to find the story in Google (look at the “FOLLOW” tags), and win another round of the SEO game thanks to tactics triumphing over content.

I’m not suggesting that HuffPo did anything wrong–that’s an argument for another day–I’m merely pointing out an issue that will continue be difficult for Google to deal with.

Nothing is ever simple in the world of SEO and although it’s getting tougher and tougher to game the system, it can still be an effective strategy when done properly using accepted best practices.

¹ I would be remiss to leave out that HuffPo does link to an NPR story, however, given that the AP story is cited in full, I felt that this point was somewhat irrelevant to the fundamental argument of the post.

² By “left-wing seasoning” I am referring to the front page headline of “By a Nose.” Although Boehner’s victory may have been slimmer than expected by some, I wouldn’t personally consider a vote of 220-192 a win “by a nose.”

Posted on

Client Profile – Tumi: Expanding Premium Travel Brand’s Facebook Presence

Campaign Goals

Tumi began its partnership with Wpromote with a very clear goal in mind; to double the number of Facebook “Likes” within 6 months. Without increasing their spend, Tumi wanted to increase efficiency and they were relying on our expertise to do so, lowering Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost Per Like (CPL). In addition, they wanted to build brand awareness through YouTube by increasing the number of subscribers to their Case Studies page within Tumi’s custom channel.

Strategies

Wpromote built out Facebook and Display advertising campaigns to drive Facebook “Likes” and YouTube case study subscribers.

  • Used targeted Facebook Ads to promote Tumi’s “Bag of the Week” giveaway
  • Used heavy segmentation of key demographic, interests and “Likes” of similar brands
  • Highlighted messages that friends made about Tumi through Sponsored Stories
  • Created Sponsored Stories that targeted new potential fans, showcasing posts made about Tumi by friends
  • Developed Keyword Contextual Targeted (KCT) campaigns in Google Display that targeted “themes” such as “business travel”
  • Built ads specifically pushing “topics” in the GDN, directing users to Tumi’s case studies page on YouTube

The Results

Wpromote hit Tumi’s 6-month goal of surpassing the goal of doubling Facebook “Likes” in just over 2 months and improved CTR by over 82%.

Tumi is getting 129% more fans per month at a 50.7% lower cost per “Like”.

About Tumi

Tumi (NYSE: Tumi) is the leader in premium travel, business and lifestyle accessories. As an internationally recognized fashion empire, Tumi appeals to the world’s most sophisticated consumers with its high-quality fabrics and excellent design. With Tumi you are sure to get functional superiority, best-in-class quality, technical innovation and outstanding customer service.

Posted on

Instagram: Not So Picture Perfect

Looks like Instagram will be working hard to end 2012 on a good note! On Monday, December 17th, the free photo-sharing service did not only add a new filter to the application, but they also released a new Terms of Service, which said would take effect on January 16, 2013. The updated user agreement suggested that the company now had the right to sell users’ photographs without consent or royalties as a means for advertisements. Yes – that meant that your perfectly captured photo of a sunset with an X-Pro II filter could be used by your favorite travel company and turned into an ad. This clearly did not settle well with the user base, quickly sparking backlash on an issue that Facebook continues to battle with. The noted online blog Gawker labeled the new policy “Instagram’s suicide note“.

Instagram was first launched as an iPhone app on October 6, 2010. By September 2011, it reached 10 million registered users. In April 2012, news broke that Facebook would be acquiring the thriving application for about $1 billion.

In addition to the uproar by thousands of users, celebrities such as Anderson Cooper, Emma Roberts, Mark Hoppus and Khloe Kardashian Odom also chimed in with their thoughts via Twitter, vowing to delete their Instagram accounts. With more than 100 million users and growing, as one of the fastest growing social networks, Instagram definitely can’t afford to lose valuable users.

To avoid this from happening, Instagram quickly retracted their policy changes, stating that they plan “to modify specific parts of the terms to make it more clear with what will happen with your photos.”  While the outcome is still unclear, this policy faux pas prompted online users to raise question to other photo-sharing networks such as Hipstamatic, Flickr and PicYou.

Now, to delete or not to delete – that is the question. Has Instagram’s new policy changed the way you’ll be sharing your photos online? Comment below and tell us what you think!

Posted on

Email Marketing: Subject Line Best Practices

It’s been estimated that the average email user receives 147 emails every day. If your business markets through email, you’re facing some stiff competition in your customer’s inbox. Industry statistics show that less than 25% of customers are likely to open marketing emails, and even fewer go on to click the links in the email.

So how can you make your marketing emails stand out among the rest? The first thing your customer is going to see when your email is delivered is the subject line. Often times, it is what compels them to open the email, or hit the delete button. Here are some email marketing best practices to help you craft a well written and compelling subject line for email marketing campaigns.

Beware Of Spam 

When writing subject lines, one of the most important things to do is to stay away from any words or phrases that may raise the alarm of a spam filter. We could write an entire novel filled with words and phrases that are most often flagged as spam, but here’s the short version – avoid jargon phrases such as act fast, buy now, earn extra cash, no obligation, etc.

Here is a prime example of what to stay away from:

Make Them Care

Your customers are busy. So why should they bother to open your email? There has to be something meaningful in it that is useful. And your subject line is going to be the hook that makes them care. You need to create a call to action in your subject line that is familiar, relates back to your brand and messaging and encourages them to act.

Here’s a great example:

Stand Out 

Along with creating a call to action in your subject line, it’s also important to make the email stand out. This can be done a number of ways, including using fun and creative writing. Travel site, Jetsetter does a great job of this.

Here’s an example:

Using different text elements, symbols or characters within your email subject line can also help your email stand out like, this one from World Market:

Just be sure not to overdo the special characters or your customers may start tuning them out.

Follow Through

Once you’ve written a creative and compelling email subject line that entices your reader to open your email, be sure to follow through. Whether you are offering free shipping or business advice, reiterate your message in the first few lines of your email. Keep it short and to the point and make it clear where they can click to take advantage of whatever you’re offering them.

Test, Test, Test 

Once you’ve got the hang of writing meaningful email subject lines, don’t be afraid to test different variations and track your success using an email service such as MailChimp or Constant Contact.

Posted on

How To Manually Install A WordPress Blog On Your Own Domain

A while back, our blog had an article on setting up a WordPress blog, which included great information on choosing a domain, finding a host and setting up themes. While the article provided some information on actually installing WordPress, I wanted to elaborate on it. Many website hosts include ways to install WordPress with just a few clicks, but what do you do if you don’t have that option?

If you’re wondering why you can’t just host a blog on WordPress.org and make it easier on yourself, the answer is that a blog that isn’t on your domain is much less valuable than a self-hosted blog on your own domain. Having the blog on your site not only brings more authority and value to your domain, but it also gives you much more control over your blog. It’s definitely worth the time and investment.

With that being said, let’s move on and go through the steps of manually installing WordPress, which is a lot easier than you might think. First you’ll need to download the script itself, which you can do at WordPress.org for free.

Once you have download the file itself, unzip it to a directory of your choice, in which you will find a bunch of files laid out like this:

You will see in the list of files that there is one called, “wp-config-sample.php”. You want to rename this so it is titled, “wp-config.php”. You then want to open this file in a text or web code editor, such as Notepad or Dreamweaver. Once you do, you’ll be presented with a bunch of PHP code like this:

If you’ve never worked with PHP code before, this might seem a bit intimidating, but don’t worry. There are only four areas you’ll need to enter within this bunch of code:

This is MySQL database information you either create yourself through your hosting panel or obtain by contacting your host or IT person, depending on your situation. Creating a MySQL database through most hosts is quite easy within their panel. Here is an example of a typical cPanel, which includes a link to MySQL databases, which you can create and manage from the tool:

In creating a MySQL database, you will need the following four pieces of information:

  • The name of the database
  • The user name for the database
  • The password for that database user name
  • The address of the database host

These can vary from host to host. For example, some hosts will use “localhost” as the database host, while others could use “mysql.yoursite.com” for the name of the host (where “yoursite” is your base domain). Once you have the database created and the information for that database, you enter this into those four lines of the “wp-config.php” file, like this:

Once you have completed editing this file and have saved it, it’s time to upload everything to your FTP server using an FTP client like FileZilla, who we recommend. You want to upload the files into an empty directory, whether it is the root directory on your site or a sub-folder (i.e. http://www.yoursite.com/blog/). Here’s an example:

Once all of the files have finished uploading, you now will need to run the install script through your browser. If, for example, you uploaded the files to the /blog/ subdirectory of your site, you would type this into your browser bar:

http://www.yoursite.com/blog/wp-admin/install.php

Once you do, if you set up the “wp-config.php” file correctly, you will be presented with the installation screen. Here, enter your site title, username, password and email address, and make sure it is 100% correct, or you’ll have problems if you forget your password). When everything is completed, press the “Install WordPress” button, and you’ll see this screen:

Congratulations, you’re finished! Now that you’re done, log in and start adjusting your blog to your preferences. Once it’s set up the way you like it, with the right theme and plugins, start filling it with your best original content on a constant basis, at least three times a week. Having this content will only help your site become more valuable and authoritative, both in the eyes of search engines and, more importantly, the users who visit and comment on your blog. Good luck, and have fun in your newfound blogging career!

Posted on

Client Infographic: Moissanite

When someone is in the market for a white gemstone, they often think of only two types of stones: if they have the money to spare they go with the diamond, and if they are on an extremely tight budget they go with the cubic zirconia. However, there are many other white gemstones that could be a better fit for your desired specifications and your budget.

For instance, did you know that Moissanite has a higher brilliance than diamonds, yet because it is laboratory made it is only a fraction of the price? If you are looking for a cheaper natural gemstone, perhaps white sapphire or white topaz would be a better fit. It is always an option to save money on the ring to put it toward a more lavish wedding and honeymoon!

In their latest Infographic, Moissanite weighs out the pros and cons of each major white gemstone. With this streamlined information, they have made it easy to find the gemstone that fits you, or your loved one, best. 

Check out the Infographic in its entirety, and feel free to share it with your family and friends. Wedding bells are bound to be near for someone you know, and this information will be extremely valuable to them!

Posted on

How To Blog Effectively

There is a huge buzz out there about blogging. But many people out there are asking themselves how do I blog? And how do I do it well? Well this blog entry sets out to provide some guidelines on how to properly blog. Creating fresh, engaging content helps build a loyal following and attract links. For this reason, it is necessary to blog on a regular basis. The more often you can blog, the better. I would recommend blogging once a day, but if that isn’t plausible, then once or twice a week would be a good schedule.

Another factor in blogging effectively is making your blog SEO friendly. Here’s how…

Conduct Keyword Research

Using your targeted keywords in your blog posts is a must. Don’t over-use the words though; they should be used naturally. Generally about 2% keyword saturation is good, but a little more or a little less than that is ok, as long as the content has value to readers.

Choose One Keyword Or Phrase, Then Write Your Article

For example, if you post a blog about the Nokia Lumia 920, you want to focus on the Nokia Lumia 920 and not try to add a lot of other keywords into the post. One keyword per post is what the search engines like to see.

Repeat The Keyword In Your Article

Be sure to use the keyword in the title of your post and in your title tags. You want to build a loyal following, so don’t go crazy repeating the keyword in your post. However, if you want to rank for the keyword, use it, just not excessively. Avoid creating nicknames, using acronyms or trying to be clever. In the end, clear and concise wins. As a rule of thumb, try to include your keyword early on in the article or in an H1 or H2 tag. This will help show your readers that they’re reading the right piece of content.

Use The Keyword In Your Meta Description Tags

Using keywords in your meta description tags does not help you rank higher directly. However, when they are included, and people search on Google for a specific keyword, Google bolds the keyword in the search results. So, while it may not help your post rank higher directly, it will encourage people to click on your search listing. Sites with a higher clickthrough rate, rank higher. Also make sure that your meta descriptions are less than 155 characters because longer descriptions are truncated in the search results.

Find Images Related To Your Keyword

If you were looking for information on the Nokia Lumia 920, when you visited a website, would it make sense to have a picture of a Nokia Lumia 920 on it? Absolutely.

When you post articles, ensure that you use related images and use your keyword in the title and alt description of the image file. This is beneficial for two reasons; first, it helps search engines see that you’re trying to create a complete piece of content, and second, it’s great for accessibility.

One way to emphasize the keywords in the eyes of the search engines without “stuffing” them into the body of text is to name your images using your main keywords. Additionally, make sure the title tag and alt tag use the same keywords. If you use multiple images in a post, you can name them each different variations of the your keywords, as long as those keywords apply to the images you are using.

For more information on image optimization please check out my previous blog post.

Create A Search Engine-Friendly URL

Make sure to use the keyword in the URL. Take out any unnecessary articles in your URL and make sure your keywords are the focus. The part after your domain name is called the Post Slug, and it is one of the most important signals to search engines about the nature of your content.

Create Internal Links

Within the post, be sure to refer your readers to other posts on your website. This is a good general practice, but it makes even more sense when you are blogging for SEO. You are intentionally trying to drive new traffic to your site. New visitors, by definition, have not seen the rest of the amazing content on your site, so make sure you mention other related posts that might be interesting to your readers. You can also put other internal links at the end of your post in a “Related Content” section.

Use Headers & Sub-Headers Appropriately

Rather than bolding all of the headers or simply increasing the font size, use the H2, H3 and H4 tags to distinguish that this text is important. Search engines weigh this text more heavily in determining how relevant your content is to searchers, so don’t overlook this important step. You can add these tags directly into the HTML.

Use Twitter, Facebook & Google+ To Share Your Posts & Find New Connections

Twitter just topped 465 million registered accounts. Facebook has over 850 million active users. Google+ has nearly 100 million and LinkedIn has over 130 million. Together, these networks are attracting vast amounts of time and interest from Internet users around the world, and those that participate in these services fit into the “content distributors” description above, meaning they’re likely to help spread the word about your blog.

Leveraging these networks to attract traffic requires patience, study, attention to changes by the social sites and consideration in what content to share and how to do it. My advice is to, if you haven’t already, register a personal account and a brand account at each of the following: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Complete each of those profiles to the fullest possible extent – use photos, write compelling descriptions and make each one as useful and credible as possible. Research shows that profiles with more information have a significant correlation with more successful accounts (and there’s a lot of common sense here, too, given that spammy profiles frequently feature little to no profile work).

Frequently Reference Your Own Posts & Those Of Others

The web was not made for static, text-only content! Readers appreciate links, as do other bloggers, site owners and even search engines. When you reference your own material in-context and in a way that’s not manipulative (watch out for over-optimizing by linking to a category, post or page every time a phrase is used – this is almost certainly discounted by search engines and looks terrible to those who want to read your posts), you potentially draw visitors to your other content AND give search engines a nice signal about those previous posts.

Interact On Other Blogs

As bloggers, we see a lot of comments. Many are spam, only a few add real value, and even fewer are truly fascinating and remarkable. If you can be in this final category consistently, in ways that make a blogger sit up and think, “man, I wish that person commented here more often,” you can achieve great things for your own site’s visibility through participation in the comments on other blogs.

Finish With A Call To Action

Calls to action come in many different varieties. One thing to do is to invite your readers to give their feedback about the blog topic in the comments section, because it’s good to engage with your readers. Other options are to add a button or a form urging readers to subscribe to your newsletter, go to a product page, attend an event or buy a product. Adding a call to action may not directly affect your SEO, but providing great content on a regular basis and making it share-able and share-worthy, will definitely help your SEO.

And with that being said, feel free to comment below. Your thoughts and feedback are appreciated.

Posted on

The Difference Between Match Types In Google AdWords

When you’re paying to run ads online, you want to get the most for your money. That’s why it’s important to understand how to use your keywords effectively. And that means knowing the difference between keyword matching options and in which instances you should be using each of them.

When you set up a campaign in Google AdWords, you have the choice between using broad match, phrase match or exact match for your keywords. In most cases, the broader the match, the more traffic potential. At the same time, using exact match may result in more relevant searches. So, what are the differences between match types? And which one should you be using?

Broad Match

Broad match is the default option in Adwords. Using broad match means that your ads will show up whenever someone types something into Google that includes your keywords and even when they type in words similar to your keywords. For example, if you’ve chosen “sporting equipment” as your keywords and you’ve set your campaign to broad match, your ads could show up when people search for: “buy sporting equipment”, “fitness equipment” or “exercise equipment”. Broad match will also return matches of keywords in singular and plural word forms, misspellings, acronyms, abbreviations and stem words such as “sport” for “sporting”.

Phrase Match

Phrase match means that your ad will show up when someone searches for a phrase with your exact keywords in it. If your keywords are “sports equipment” and someone were to search for “sports equipment on sale”, then your ad would show up. And, just like in broad match, any close varieties of the words including singular/plural versions, abbreviations or misspellings that are typed into the search could also trigger your ad to be shown.

Exact Match

An exact match means that your ad will only show up when someone searches your exact keywords. Sticking with the sports theme, if someone were to search “sports equipment”, your ad would show up, but if someone were to search “used sports equipment”, “sports equipment for lacrosse” or “sports equipment sales” your ad wouldn’t show up. Choosing exact match targets your ad in a very specific way to a specific set of search criteria.

Choosing Type of Keyword Match

Choosing your keyword match option really depends on your situation and your specific goals. In general, it’s a good idea to start out using the broad match option. Then you can start to see the amount of traffic that you are getting and which keywords are responsible for those clicks. By keeping an eye on your search term reports through AdWords and using the AdWords Keyword Tool, you will be able to continue to perfect your keywords and eliminate any words that aren’t relevant. Once you start seeing the trends for your ad impressions, you may want to start an exact match ad campaign for a specific product or brand and see how it compares to your broad search results.