Tips to squeeze more revenue from Google Shopping Ads

When I meet with clients and review competitor ad data, I often find that my clients’ prices are much higher than the other sellers listed.

This tip is a basic one: keep close tabs on competitive prices for your products. It’s impossible to do this manually so we usually use The Search Monitor as a tool to help monitor shopping data.

In addition to prices, the data in this tool also reveals your product’s average rank as well as screenshots of the Google shopping ad itself.

While your company cannot appear more than once in the same PLA shopping ad unit, your products can. And who wouldn’t want to double their exposure to push out another competitor?

The trick is to work with your partners to make sure you’re bidding high enough on the same keywords to increase the chance you’ll both appear. ‘Partners’ could be your affiliates, retailers, or distributors.

Is Google becoming more hyperlocal?

Last week, reports surfaced suggesting the possibility that Google has made changes to local map results.

As detailed by Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz, in the past week numerous individuals in the SEO community reported seeing compression in the local map pack results. One SEO who was monitoring results for clients observed “massive compression”:

In many tested areas (legal, dog boarding, photographers) we were seeing 4+ pages of map search results — now seeing one page (two at most).

Seems like centroids have increased as well – and its different for different business types. For example, “family photographers austin” results stop at the city line (results last week included suburbs and surrounding towns. But “wedding photographers austin” takes in the whole Austin DMA.
Others reported observing similar behavior, which, if put into practice more widely, could help some businesses and hurt others.

For example, one SEO commented, “I am seeing it here as well and while for my clients that have multiple locations across the city, its great, but for clients who have one location and get business from all over the city, its hurting them in a big big way!” He added, “Just because a business has more locations doesn’t mean they should be the ones showing up in the majority of searches.”

Obviously, Google might beg to differ. After all, Google’s goal is to deliver the most relevant results to its users, a growing number of whom are accessing Google from mobile devices.

To the extent that it can reliably deliver highly-relevant, hyperlocal results personalized to specific users based on their current locations, there’s arguably no reason for Google not to. This is especially true given that, as of last year, Google’s local map pack only displays three results instead of seven.

Hyperlocal’s impact on strategy

While it remains to be seen whether or not the results observed in recent days are a result of experimentation or permanent, larger changes, they are a reminder of the fact that local businesses compete in a dynamic online marketplace that constantly requires them to reevaluate their strategies and tactics.

Optimization is no doubt and important part of that process, but an even greater hyperlocal push by Google highlights why alternative and emerging channels will probably grow in importance to local marketers in coming years.


Everything You Need to Know About Content Marketing for Seniors

While the digital age has greatly influenced Generation X – or those born post-baby boom – seniors and the elderly are also joining the crowd of those who use the Internet for everything from research, staying in touch with friends and family, and making purchases. In a 2013 study published by the Pew Research Internet Project, the group founded that of all adults aged 65 or older, 59 percent use the Internet. And, as the majority of wealth in the United States is concentrated among older adults, reaching out to seniors through Internet marketing can be crucial in increasing your business’s profits. Additionally, seniors are the fastest growing population group in the U.S.

Content marketing to seniors needs to be tailored for their specific needs, which are much different than the needs of teenagers, young adults, or even middle-aged individuals. With the right content marketing strategy, you can reach more seniors than ever before, ultimately growing your customer base and your revenue.
Marketing for Teenagers vs. Seniors

The first thing that’s obviously noticeable in the (buying) personalities of teenagers vs. seniors is that teenagers tend to make decisions more impulsively. Seniors, on the other hand, tend to make purchases more slowly, and by using more discretion. For example, weighing the benefits of disadvantages of a product before saying “yes” to a sale, is a much more common practice among seniors.

Another big difference between teenagers and seniors is that teenagers like to get behind whatever’s trending. If the iPhone is what’s new and popular, you can bet that a teenager is going to want it. Seniors, on the other hand, are often more comfortable with what they know and what they’ve been using for years – something new can seem intimidating, and might present too much of a learning curve.

Because the trends and preferences of seniors and teenagers are completely different, marketing to the different groups must also be approached completely differently. According to one study published by CNET, 49 percent of seniors who use Internet use Facebook. On the other hand, a study published by Daily Tech reveals that 94 percent of all teenagers use Facebook. With such staggering differences, it’s easy to see why marketing through Facebook would be key if your audience was teenagers, but slightly less important for an audience of seniors. Marketing to teenagers might also rely on using pop culture or celebrities, whereas applying the same strategy to marketing for seniors might be less effective. In fact, even the way that the Internet is accessed is different for seniors and teenagers, with more seniors using desktop computers, and more teenagers using smartphones. According to a study conducted by MarketingProfs, only 29 percent of baby boomers and seniors use smartphones regularly. However, of those who do, 40 percent have used a smartphone to make a purchase.

Keep in mind that the young-old seniors (those ages 65 to 74) and the old-old seniors (those above age 74) might also have different needs. Typically the young-old are more vibrant and healthy, while the old-old tend to be more sedentary. These factors can affect both browsing and buying preferences.
Marketing For Seniors: Keep Things Simple

The teenage and young adult brain is running at a million miles per hour, and is able to absorb content is a variety of forms quickly and efficiently. While a teenager may be able to post a Tweet, send a text message, watch a YouTube video, and update their status all at the same time, chances are, the average senior citizen can’t. As such, you need to make your content marketing efforts simple, straightforward, easy to absorb, and easy to navigate.

One of the biggest parts of keeping things simple for seniors is creating websites with text that is easy to read. If things are difficult to read, chances are they’ll be ignored. Choose basic fonts, basic colors, and simple layouts that don’t overwhelm. Using slightly bigger text is a great idea too, and is guaranteed to be appreciated by a senior audience.
Form a Personal Connection

Another big part of marketing to seniors is forming a personal connection and relationship that builds trust and confidence in your brand. Unlike teenagers, seniors require more time to win over, and will require that you take the time to listen and understand their needs.

One way that you can build your brand name and build trust amongst the senior community is by reaching out to seniors in the form of nonprofit and charity events.
Know What Seniors Want

Seniors want completely different things than do other age groups. Teenagers may desire technology, young adults wedding and baby products, and the middle-aged household items. Seniors, on the other hand, already have all of those things. So, what exactly is it that seniors want?

According to an article in the small business section of Yahoo!, seniors are spending their money primarily on:
Ongoing educational opportunities
Skin treatments
Cosmetic surgeries
Exercise facilities
If the product that you’re trying to sell is one of the above, then lucky you – you already have what seniors want. If, however, the product you’re selling isn’t on the list, you need to figure out how to make your product more attractive. One way that you can increase brand recognition and drive traffic to your site is by link sharing with websites that are offering commonly purchased senior products. Link sharing is the process of posting another company’s link on your website, and then asking the other company to do the same for you. Not only does link sharing show that you know what seniors want, but it also is a perfect (and free) marketing opportunity.
Summing it All Up

The biggest thing to remember when marketing to seniors is that seniors want personalized service, consistency, a great client-customer relationship, and products that meet their needs. Once you gain the trust of a senior audience, seniors are more likely to remain loyal to your brand than are other age groups, and can be a great asset in meeting your business goals.


Catch More Readers with These Catchy Title Tips

Why catchy titles make a difference

It’s important to be mindful of the Google and social media potentials for the headline, so that it not only attracts readers, but also appears to an audience of prospective readers in the first place. keyword-rich title will give a shout-out to Google so that placement on the search list is the most advantageous. In fact, because the title is one of the most important SEO parameters by which Google ranks the results, it must contain the page’s most important and traffic-driving keywords. To make the title stand out in as few added words as possible makes the difference between lots of clicks and yawns. A good thesaurus and dictionary will prove to be the writer’s best friends in the search for the most original choice of words to augment the keywords in that standout catchy title.

In all writing – whether blog or formal news item – a crucial aspect to keep in mind is the audience. Most writers have a certain audience in mind and already write to that mindset, but follow-up needs to happen. Do you write and upload, then forget it, or do you follow the number of clicks to see it you’ve made a hit or miss? Knowing what succeeds will help writers to capture their biggest possible following, and isn’t that what every writer aims for? Why communicate if no one is hearing the message?

The audience is also vital to the actual content of the catchy title. How much controversy should be included? Is the audience trendy or conservative? Will they be intrigued by use of celebrity names and/or political hot potatoes, or will that turn them away? Brainstorming, though often a committee or group technique, can be done by the solo writer as well. Putting down as many potential titles and word choices as possible will yield the catchiest option once they’re all lined up together. Often the best selection will end up being a combination of several alternatives.
How to write a title for informative or newsy articles

The type of title crafted for articles varies with the level of the item’s formality. When news or information is being conveyed, it’s best to stick with a more conventional style. This is not the time to use clichés; it’s the time to write something out of the ordinary without transgressing into the offensive. It’s important for the title to express that the information will be useful and based on solid knowledge of the subject. If a person scanning titles stops and says, “hmmm, this one is different from the rest”, they’ve been caught. They’re also more likely to click on the article if the description following the title explains the contents in as few – thought significant – words as possible.
Getting creative writing catchy blog titles

How is a blog title different from a more formal title? This is where the blogger gets to have fun. The less formal to very informal nature of blogs allows the writer to be freer with the title. If humor is the blog style, humorous titles attract readers, since most people like to be entertained. On the other hand, if the blog is a serious discussion of world events, humor might take a back seat to presenting hard facts. This factual priority should be reflected in the title. For those current event bloggers with a more satirical bent, this also is reflected in the title. Bottom line – bloggers are vying for attention in a competitive venue where personality may be key. The title should reflect this personality in order to stand out.

Writing a good title comes down to putting these few guidelines into practice. Concise use of critical keywords becomes easier as one works at the craft. Making noticeable catchy titles comes down to picking outstanding words to go with those keywords. After all, everyone is using the same keywords but the successful writer’s job is finding the few additional descriptors that show originality, creativity and pack a punch within the strict limitations. For example, if the keywords are “finding a job”, brainstorming descriptors for “finding” or “job” is where originality and creativity come into play. Resulting choices could be: Finding a Job Fantastic, Finding a Job That Finds You, Finding a Job That Makes Mom Ecstatic, Finding a Job in Three Easy Steps, Finding a Job by Using Pinterest, and so on. All are based on keywords but add the specific theme of the accompanying article.

Overall, writing an intriguing title should be a priority rather than an afterthought. It offers the best opportunity – in today’s competitive world of content – to be noticed by an audience for the truly important words that follow the catchy title.


Violations & Search Engine Spam Penalties

“Thin” or “Shallow” Content
Responding to a drumbeat of complaints about poor search results, Google rolled out its “Panda” update in February 2011. Panda targets what is described as “thin” or “shallow” content or content that is lacking in substance.

This domain-level penalty targets sites with a predominant amount of so-so content and essentially treats it similar to overt spam techniques.

Today it’s no longer a question of whether the content is simply relevant but whether it is valuable to the user.

While most people are unlikely to accidentally spam a search engine, the opposite is true when it comes to cloaking. That’s why it’s such a heavy penalty, if you’re caught doing it. It’s a bait and switch and seen as a deliberate attempt to manipulate search results.

It’s one of the oldest spam tactics on the books, yet is still being used, and the search engines still don’t like it. Search engines say to use words you want to be found for on your pages. OK, I’ll give them those words over and over again! How about 100 times. In a row? That work for you, Google?

Actually, no, it doesn’t. But “keyword stuffing” could get you penalized.

How often is too often? There’s no correct answer here, but you’d really have to go to extremes to cause this penalty to kick in. It’s most likely to happen to non-SEOs who just don’t know better and might decide to paste a word many times in a row, typically at the bottom of a web page.

Hidden Text
Once you decide to keyword stuff, your next thought will probably be “Why don’t I hide all this text that no human wants to see.” You might make the text white, so it blends with a page’s background. In doing so, you will have spammed a search engine.

Search engines don’t like anything hidden. They want to see everything that a user sees. Don’t hide text, whether it be using styles, fonts, display:none or any other means that means a typical user can’t see it.

Piracy / DMCA Takedowns
The “Pirate” update targeted sites infringing on copyright law. Under pressure from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Hollywood powerhouses and governments, Google began to penalize sites who received a large number of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) “takedown” requests.

It’s unlikely that most sites will have to deal with these issues, but you should handle any DMCA takedown notifications that show up in your Google Search Console account.

That’s what the Page Layout algorithm was meant to address. Often referred to as Top Heavy, this penalty is reserved for sites that frustrate the user experience by placing an overabundance of ads before content. So don’t make your users search for the content.

That’s longer than JC Penney was penalized (3 months) in 2011. But JC Penney suffered another penalty after having its paid link purchase splashed across a giant New York Times article. So did several large online florists. And Overstock got hammered via a Wall Street Journal article.

The debate over whether Google should act so aggressively against those who buy and sell links has gone on for years. The bottom line is to rank on Google, you have to follow Google’s rules — and the rules say no buying or selling links in a way that passes on search engine ranking credit.

If you choose to ignore Google’s rules, be prepared for little mercy if caught. And don’t believe programs that tell you they’re paid links are undetectable. They’re not, especially when so many of the cold-call ones are run by idiots.

You’re also not doing SEO, though sadly, all the people who hate the spam you leave behind get the impression that’s what SEO is about. So SEOs hate you too – with a passion.

If you do go ahead with it, most of the links won’t give you the credit you were thinking they would. On top of that, you can find yourself on the sharp end of a penalty.

This penalty has been given more weight in this version of the table based on the efforts Google has made in neutralizing and penalizing link spam and, in particular, the launch of the “Penguin” update.

If you’ve been caught dabbling on the dark side, or if a fly-by-night “SEO” company got your site in hot water you can disavow those links on both Google and Bing in hopes of redemption and a clean start.

Best of luck with your SEO efforts!


Do keyword rankings even matter anymore?

Some SEOs and brands think that rankings are a very important metric to track for SEO success. But is this really the case?

Some sites rank well for high-volume keywords but don’t get any benefit from it because the keywords do not meet user intent, and the user ends up leaving the site because they could not find what they are looking for. This leads to a bad user experience.

High search engine rankings can be great — but only if the keywords drive traffic, deliver conversions and improve your ROI.

Sometimes, a brand owner or client has specific keywords for which they want to rank because they think those keywords are valuable. You plead your case on why these keywords will not be good targets (e.g., because they have low search volume, the content does not meet the intent and so forth), but you’re a team player, so you go ahead and target the keywords to make your client happy.

Once you get your client into the top three positions in Google, they come to you and say, “Great job, but I did not get any traffic or sales from the keywords that you have optimized for.” This is a perfect time to re-educate your client on how ranking high for keywords does not equal success. Rankings only matter when they are delivering performance and business value.

Should you track all your keyword rankings?
Most enterprise-level SEO platforms make their money by how many keywords you enter into the system, but are all keywords worth tracking? The short answer is “no.” It will cost you an arm and a leg to track all keywords, especially if you have a large and well-established site with thousands or even millions of pages.

You should only report on non-branded keywords that rank in striking distance, all your branded keywords that delivered conversions in the last few months, and keywords that have performed well from a paid search perspective. Be sure to play close attention to long-tail keywords, which may not drive as much traffic but can drive conversions due to more specific user intent.

Once you see keywords move up into striking distance because they delivered visits, then you should start to track them. You might be thinking, “How I can find out which keywords delivered visits if I did not track them and Google took away keyword-level data?” The answer is through regular manual checks and research with third-party tools that use estimated and advanced ways to combat the not-provided algorithm.

Do you even need keywords on the page to rank anymore?
The answer will vary depending upon your domain. If you’re a high-authority site that has high-quality inbound links and useful content that is relevant for a given keyword, you may find yourself ranking well for keywords even if you did not specifically include them on your page.

When you don’t have the exact keywords on the page but are still relevant enough for a search term that you come up in search results for it, this is called query expansion. For example, perhaps you have a webpage about cycling that ranks for “biking,” even though you use the term “cycling” throughout the page. Google is becoming smart enough to understand that these terms are synonymous.

The point? Even if you are tracking keyword rankings, you may not be getting the full picture; you could be ranking for terms you don’t know about because you didn’t think to track them in the first place.

Query chains: An important signal for intent
One of the most important signals is query chains. Google can sometimes determine the “intent” behind a keyword or phrase, since a search engine can look at contextual data.

For instance, a search for the term “apple” could be either a fruit or a computer. If Google detects that the previous query by the user was for computers or consumer electronics, then the results will reflect that and not listings about apple trees or fruit. (To learn more about this, take a look at this article on query expansion techniques.)

In other words, the rankings you see have some element of personalization to them and may not even be universal — another reason why tracking keyword rankings can be tricky.

In closing
Tracking search engine rankings can be informative, but high rankings only matter if the keywords deliver business value (visits, traffic and conversions). While rankings can contribute to overall success, they are not a reliable measurement or predictor of success.

Instead, increases in traffic and revenue, along with other conversion metrics, should be your main focus to improve your key performance indicators and ROI.


Google Maps favored by nearly 70 percent of iPhone users

Earlier this week at Apple’s WWDC, the company announced a “beautiful redesign” of Apple Maps and opened it up to third-party developers. A year ago at the same event, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Apple Maps were being used 3.5x more than “the next leading mapping app” (Google Maps) on the iPhone.

Apple Maps’ ascendancy over Google Maps on the iPhone was also confirmed by others at that time. Reportedly, there are more than five billion searches or “requests” on Apple Maps each week. I haven’t seen an updated figure.

Seeming to directly contradict all of that, a new survey of just over 2,000 US adults from Fluent argues that Google Maps is the favorite mapping app for both Android and iPhone users. Google Maps is the favorite for nearly 70 percent of respondents, and Apple Maps gets the nod from only 13 percent of iPhone users.

Fluent survey apple maps
How do we reconcile the survey findings above with the data Apple and others released about its mapping app being the dominant one for iPhone users? There are three possible explanations:

The survey data are flawed and don’t represent the market.
Since last year, Google has regained its audience on the iPhone.
Apple Maps dominates because it’s the default mapping app.
There’s a difference between expressed opinions and behavior, and the explanation is probably a mix of these variables. But it’s striking to see the significant preference gap between Google Maps and Apple Maps in this survey data.

As an aside, Apple should create a Maps app for Android users.

Google rolls out symptom-related direct answers on mobile

Google announced last week that it is rolling out new symptom-related direct answers on mobile.

According to the announcement, searches for specific symptoms like “headache on one side” will display a list of related conditions, while a search for an individual symptom such as “headache” will return a description of the symptom, self-treatment options and possible health issues related to the symptom that may necessitate a doctor’s visit.

Google says it worked with a team of medical doctors, experts at Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic when pulling together information for symptom-related searches, and that its symptom-related information is curated from “high-quality medical information” pulled from the Knowledge Graph.

By doing this, our goal is to help you to navigate and explore health conditions related to your symptoms, and quickly get to the point where you can do more in-depth research on the web or talk to a health professional.
Official Google Blog
Google says one percent of its searches are symptom-related.

The new symptom-related search results are being rolled out exclusively on mobile in the coming days, and only in English in the US. Google says it plans to include more symptom-related searches and will eventually extend such search results globally in other languages.

The Great Content Creation Debate: Agencies vs. Freelancers

For brand marketers, one of the most important aspects of a solid marketing strategy is a focus on content creation.

Many marketers today argue that great content is the golden ticket to a great marketing approach. They believe without great content, brands miss engaging with their target audiences effectively.

While there’s no doubt that content is key, a challenge for brand marketers is often figuring out how to get content. This has led to the great content creation debate:

Content creation agencies or freelance content creators?

As content had become a full-time job, brands and organizations need dedicated and high-quality content creators who are consistent, reliable, can reflect the company values, and reach meet goals.

If you are wondering what the right choice is for your brand, consider the following factors when deciding between a content creation agency and a freelance writer:

The Cost of Creating Content


Working through an agency is almost always more expensive than hiring a freelance writer.

Usually, this is because the agency has a multitude of overhead costs that are included in the price and offer more services than a freelancer writer alone.

For example, an agency might offer services in topic, strategy, planning, recommendations, writing, editing, and sometimes even uploading the content.

This might mean paying for some services you don’t necessarily need.


One of the best things about hiring a freelancer is that you can often negotiate on a price together.

Freelancers usually charge by the length of the content, so it is a bit easier to dictate the terms of your agreement, and what services will be provided. They are also a bit more flexible in terms of making any changes to an agreement.

The Amount of Free Time You Have


A content creation agency can help to create great keywords for your brand, make sure that posts are search engine optimized (SEO), and can publish your content on a regular schedule.


If you don’t have a lot of free time, choosing a freelancer for your content creation might be more work on your part, and therefore, less ideal.

While there’s no doubt that a freelancer can handle the same things as a content creation agency, it’s less common. Additionally, finding a freelancer in the first place often requires a little bit more work, whereas outsourcing content needs to a company is often more straightforward.

Capacity and Expertise

Regardless of how great your freelance writer or content creation agency is, there might come a time when their expertise on a subject matter begins to wane.


For example, if you are a marketer who needs legal content, a legal content creation agency might be a perfect fit for you. But, if your content needs to shift topics, the legal content creation firm probably will no longer be able to meet your requests.

If this happens, you may need to find a freelance writer who is better suited for creating your content of choice.


On the same note, if you have a large amount of content that needs to be created, a single writer may not be able to handle the load.

As such, you may have to hire multiple writers, and spend time managing multiple people. Doing so can be a challenge for a person with limited time.

Quality of Content

Quality is one of the hardest factors to make a straightforward claim about, as quality can differ greatly from agency to agency, freelancer to freelancer.


Before committing to anything, a great way to choose either a freelancer or content creation agency is through a recommendation.

Others in the industry are sure to be outsourcing their content needs to someone, so ask who they recommend. By basing your choice off of the recommendation of another trusted person, you’ll more likely to get the high-quality content you’re looking for.


Another thing to consider when thinking about quality is to not let price distract you.

Usually, a freelance writer who charges a bit more, but can provide references or samples of high-quality work, is a better bet.

And don’t assume that by going through a content creation agency, the content you’ll get will be exactly what you’re looking for.

The Flexibility of Freelance Creators

One of the greatest things about freelancers is that they tend to aim to please – after all, creating content is how they make a living – which means that you’ll often have more flexibility by choosing a freelancer.

With a freelancer, you can often change content topics, content deadlines, or content quantity more easily than with a content creation agency, and a freelancer is often happy to meet requests.

Because freelancers often work on their own schedules (not a strict nine to five), they can also often meet last minute demands and respond to requests quickly.

Not only that, but freelancers often have a large network of other freelancers they work with, which means that your freelance writer might be able to refer you a great freelance graphic artist.

Which To Choose: A Content Creation Agency or Freelancer?

It’s clear to see that hiring both a content creation agency and a freelancer has benefits that can’t be ignored.

When making the decision, it’s entirely dependent upon your business’s needs, budget, flexibility, and free time.

If you can find a great freelancer, this can often be advantageous as it’s less expensive and offers more flexibility.

But, finding a great freelance content creator can be more challenging. Just as a content creation agency usually comes with a higher price tag due to more inclusive services.

Advertising on Blogs – All There is to Know

If you want to sell ads on your blog, you have quite a few options available to you, ranging from pay-per-click ads to affiliate ads to direct ads and more. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common type of ads that bloggers use to make money—

Direct ads: Direct ads are pretty much exactly what they sound like; a space on a blogger’s site where advertisers can place their ad for an agreed upon price per month. Usually, this ad is displayed in the form of a banner, and the price is dependent upon a number of factors, including the number of page views per month.

Pay-per-click ads: Again, there’s no misnomer in the name of this type of ad—site owners (bloggers) are paid an agreed upon rate each time that a visitor to the blogger’s site clicks the advertiser’s ad.

Affiliate ads: An affiliate ad can be a pay-per-click ad, and simply refers to the fact that it’s an ad that gives the blogger a choice of ways in which to provide links to the advertiser’s product. When a user purchases the advertised product, the blogger is paid.

Pay-per-impression: In a pay-per-impression type of ad, the advertiser will pay the blogger (site owner) for each and every time that their ad appears on the blogger’s site.

Other types of ads include reviews, contextual ads, text link ads, and pay-per-action ads. However, the ones above are the most common and typically the most lucrative.


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