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    I'm Doing Search Advertising, Now What? 5 Campaign Must-Dos

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Now that you’ve started a search engine advertising campaign for your business, you’re probably wondering what you can do to get the most out of it. You may be wondering how to maximize campaign performance. Or how to drive down cost-per-clicks while reaching more targeted consumers. In the first part of this series, we’ll take a look at five ways you can boost your campaign performance to improve the return on your search advertising investment.

    1. Test Text Ads

    Text ads are the backbone of your search engine advertising campaign, so it’s crucial that they are compelling enough for someone to want to click on them and visit your site. You should already have one text ad, but running multiple ads at once can tell you which elements of your ads are the most effective so you can maximize their performance on the search engines.

    When writing your ads, take the time to think about the kinds of things that will get potential customers to click, like a descriptive headline, special offer, or a great call to action. You could also try dynamic keywords – a technology that automatically replaces your text ad headline with the exact keyword phrase that was typed into the search engine – which can be effective way to drive more clicks from your campaign. Then, when you know which ads work best for your business (it may take a few weeks or months to really tell), you can use only the ones that bring the most people to your business. And if you’re running search advertising with ReachLocal, our technology will do this for you automatically. 

    2. Bid On Your Business Name

    You’re probably already bidding on top business keywords such as the products and services you offer along with geographic modifiers, like “kitchen cabinet installation Orlando,” to reach consumers in your local area. But have you thought about bidding on your own business name? It might seem counterintuitive, but this practice is actually very common among big brands. Plus, not only does it help you own more real estate in the search results at a relatively low cost, but it also helps prevent your competitors – who may also be bidding on your business name – from showing up when someone searches specifically for your business. 

    3. Review Your Quality Score

    Knowing your quality score can help you make changes that can improve the performance of your search advertising campaign. Your quality score is influenced by the how well your keywords generate clicks, the relevance of your text ad to the terms you are bidding on, and the content on your landing page. But most importantly, your quality score is affected by how effectively all these elements relate to one another, because they can directly influence the user’s experience with your brand.

    One way to do improve your quality score if you are running your own search advertising is to make sure you’re bidding on relevant keywords for your brand. For instance, using long-tail, geo-targeted keywords can be much more effective for  your search campaign than broad keywords. That’s because less-specific terms like “braces” can quickly use up your budget without producing great results, since your ad may be showing up for searchers who are not really interested in your business. So, something like “where to get braces Plano” might be a better option.

    When it comes to your quality score, it’s also important to make sure your text ads and landing page copy align with one another in order to create a consistent experience for both consumers and search engines. By making these tweaks to your, keywords, text ads, and landing page content, you may start to see an improvement in campaign metrics like cost per click, minimum bid amount, frequency at which your ad is shown, and the position of your ad on the search engine results page.

    4. Segment Your Ads

    If you’re running multiple, disparate text ads (for different products or services), you can use ad groups to segment the them into smaller, more specific groups – such as one group for an A/C tune-up and one for general handyman services. This way, the ad being displayed for a specific product or service-related search is more relevant to the business-related keywords entered into the search bar.

    You can use ad groups to create different ads for specific products and services, seasonal offers, deals and discounts, or events. When it comes to running multiple ad groups, it’s important that the keywords you are bidding on, the text ad copy, and the landing page you’re sending traffic to are all focused on the same topic, which can improve the user experience as well as your quality score. 

    5. Use Sitelinks

    Sitelinks are a type of ad extension that search engines like Google use to display additional content about your business within your text ad. In addition to your website or landing page, your text ad can also show up to six links for additional Web pages you want to drive consumers to, such as a store locator page, deals page, or specific product page. This can be especially useful for driving conversions, because it gives you a larger presence on the search engines.

    In addition, sitelinks also give consumers more flexibility over what information they see from your business website, driving more clicks and reducing bounce rates once they land on your site. Remember that each landing page you send consumers to from your text ad should be optimized for conversions, including information like your business hours, location, and a call to action and phone number so that prospects can easily contact you. 

    What other tactics have you used to improve the performance of your search ads? In the next part of this series, we’ll cover five ways to drive more conversions from your search advertising landing page. 

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    About the Author

    Tamara Weintraub helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media, and content marketing as a writer for the ReachLocal blog.

    10 Essentials Every Small Business Website Needs

    Last updated 1 year ago

    For any small business, your website is often the heart of your online marketing. But is your website really doing all it can to help attract and convert prospects into customers?

    Or, are you losing visitors – and leads – because your website is missing important information or features? Make sure your site includes these 10 elements of a successful small business website.

    1. Clearly Visible Contact Information

    What is the primary action you want website visitors to take when they visit your site? If you want them to call, request more information, or visit your location, it’s absolutely critical to list accurate, updated contact information in a visible location on your website. This may seem like an obvious tip, but this is a big problem for many small business websites In fact, 60% of small- to medium-size businesses in the U.S. are missing a contact number on their home page, and roughly 75% of websites don’t list an email address!

    To make sure your website visitors aren’t sent on a wild goose chase looking for contact information, make sure to at least include a phone number on each page of your website. If you don’t want to place your contact information on each page, consider this solution: build a web page that provides all of your important contact information, including phone number, email address, location with a map, and hours of operation. Then add a “Contact Us” button as part of your website design template or footer to make sure this is included on every page. At the very least, include your contact information on every landing page consumers visit after they click on your search ads or display ads. The more ways consumers can contact you, the better your chance of winning their business.

    2. Contact Forms

    Contact forms are the online data forms that prospects fill out in order to request information from you. They also serve as a lead-generation tool. But, according to research firm BIA/Kelsey, 66% of small- to medium-size businesses websites in the U.S. don’t have a form available for potential customers to submit. Website forms are a great way to collect important lead-qualifying data. Plus, they also provide your prospects with a place to express detailed questions about the information they’re seeking about your business. 

    3. Live Chat

    Live chat is another contact method that can help you convert a website visitor into a customer. With this lead-generation tool, prospects can ask questions and learn more about your business during their visit to your site. By interacting with visitors and answering their questions, live chats build rapport with prospects at this important touch point in the buying cycle. When your prospect has the information they need and a positive rapport has been established, you’re another step closer to converting a visitor into a customer.

    4. Social Media Icons

    Social media is crucial in today’s connected business environment. Consumers expect to be able to communicate with businesses through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (to name a few). However, according to BIA/Kelsey, less than 20% of SMB websites link to their Facebook page, with even fewer linking to Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media is an excellent way for customers to learn more about you, connect with other fans, and get the information they need in order to decide to do business with you. If you're not on social media, it’s important to consider adding this as a regular business marketing process – and then add links to your accounts on your website! 

    5. Engaging Video

    By including videos on your website, you can build credibility and attract visitors who might not want to read large amounts of detail about your products and/or services. Prospects will appreciate the convenience that videos provide during their visit to your site. Videos are also a great way to communicate the personality of both you and your business to your audience.

    6. Balanced and Accurate Content

     Avoid cramming too much information onto one page; rather than being helpful, information overload is just that – overload. Visitors will not spend precious time reading a webpage with too much information. If you’re unsure how to best arrange your website information, a professional Web designer can help you.

    Also, make sure consumers don’t gather inaccurate information about your business. For example, remove information about products or services you no longer offer or profiles of employees who no longer work for you. 

    7. Modern, Simple Design

    Leave the bad website design in the ’90s. Garish color combinations (think neon yellow against bright green, bright red against black, etc.), type in bolded all caps, multiple underlining of words, blinking or swirling of text, and other dated design elements all portray the image that your business is behind the times. And even if you aren’t an expert in design or website development, there are many services available to help you create an effective and pleasant-looking website.

    8. Professional, Polished Logo

    Your logo is an important part of your brand, so make sure it’s located prominently on your site. Use a high-resolution image on your webpage and consider featuring it in the upper left corner of each of your pages. Also, it’s a good rule-of-thumb to link your logo back to your home page so that visitors can easily navigate to it.

    9. User-Friendly Functionality

    It’s important to make sure the functionality of your website is a great experience. How long does it take for your page to load? Are all the links working and not broken? Is the formatting of your site up to date? For example, although it can create an interesting experience, using Flash may detract from your site’s effectiveness. Flash is not SEO-friendly because of how the format treats content. Also, using lots of Flash on your website can slow your website’s load time, which may cause visitors to abandon your site altogether. And, Flash does not display on some smartphones, so by using it, you may be alienating some of your mobile visitors.

    10.  Mobile-Friendly Experience

    Consumers search and surf the Web using mobile technology (smartphones and tablets) now more than ever. In fact, at the end of 2012, nearly a quarter of Web traffic was from mobile devices. But the majority of small- and medium-size business websites still aren't optimized for mobile devices. As mobile technology continues to rise in popularity among consumers, the need for mobile-compatible websites also rises. Have you ever checked out how your website looks on a tablet or smartphone? If so, what was your impression? Was it easy to call you, find your business location, or other information like your hours of operation? If your site isn’t mobile-compatible, consider creating a mobile site that contains 5-10 essential pages from your website to help visitors find information and more importantly, contact you. Mobile technology is only going to grow in use among consumers during the buying cycle, so make sure your website is ready and mobile-friendly.

    How does your small business website stack up when it comes to these important features? If you’re not sure, take some time to audit your current site using this post as a checklist so you can see what areas you may need to improve. By equipping your website with the essential features that your prospects need to make an informed decision about you and your business, you can build a more effective website and ultimately increase your rate of consumer conversion.

    Which features of your website have turned your website visitors into active customers? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

    Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the online marketing world with insights and information featured on the ReachLocal blog.

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    5 Types of Online Marketing You Should Be Doing By Now

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Every local business dreams of getting more customers to call them or walk through the door, and online marketing is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to make that a reality. But with all the different types of online marketing available to businesses today today, it can often be confusing on where you should start to get the most out of your efforts. While there are several ways to diversify your online marketing, here are five fundamental online marketing tactics that will get you off on the right foot by establishing your presence online and driving potential customers to your business.

    Show Off Your Business With a Great Website

    A business website is the most valuable piece of any small business’ online marketing strategy. So, it’s no surprise that nearly one in four SMBs plan to spend more on their company website in 2013. That’s because a website is one of the few places online that you own 100% and can use as a home base for all of your online marketing efforts. A business website gives you the space to share detailed information about your business, products, and services with the bandwidth for extra content like videos, images, and your business blog that can help your visitors decide to choose from you. And, when the content on these pages is optimized for search, they can help local searchers find you online. Plus, having a website, or more specifically a landing page on your website, is a great way to get the most out of your online advertising. By driving your ads – including search, display, retargeting, and social media – to an optimized landing page, you can help increase more conversions and increase the ROI of your online ads.

    Learn More About Small Business Websites:

    Build a Presence on Local Directories

    Local directories and listings are great places to market your business because they can help you get found in local search, build your online reputation, and provide a snapshot of your business for potential customers. Most of these local directories offer your business a profile page for you to add details about your business, like hours of operation, locations/service areas, contact information, and photos of your business, that consumers look for when researching local businesses, all for no to little cost. There are also several directories directly tied to major search engines and their map listings, where you should definitely consider claiming your business listing. These include Google+ Local, Bing Local, Yahoo! Local, and Yelp.

    Learn More About Local Directories:

    Reach Consumers Searching for Your Business

    Search engine advertising is one of the essential types of online advertising that you should be doing to reach consumers who are searching for your business, products, or services on the top search engines. With search engine advertising, you can show a text ad to target searchers in your area based on your target business keywords, such as the types of products or services you offer as well as your business name. Plus, a well-managed search advertising campaign can also be a great companion to your SEO efforts by increasing clicks even with a high-ranking organic listing.

    Learn More About Search Engine Advertising:

    Retarget Consumers Interested In Your Business

    Retargeting is a great way to boost your search advertising efforts. Site retargeting and search retargeting are two display advertising strategies that target consumers who have clicked on your search ad or who have visited your website, and then shows your display ads to them based on what they previously showed interest in. This not only keeps your business is top of mind, but retargeting is also becoming a preferred marketing method among consumers. In fact, a recent study found that 40% of consumers browsing the Web would rather see ads that are targeted to their interests than those that aren’t.

    Learn More About Retargeting:

    Spread the Word on Social Media Sites

    Social media is a large part of consumers’ lives online. In fact, a recent study found that in the U.S. 27% of time online is spent on social networking. And now, social media sites are creating more features for businesses to get their message across to more consumers. For example, Facebook is continuously updating and adding new features that provide new functionality for its users as well as for business and brands on Facebook. Timeline created more opportunities to create and share stories, and the new Facebook News Feed updates offer more customization for what updates users see. #success">Twitter also offers new options for small businesses to market to consumers based on their topics and tweets. Having a presence on these and other popular social media sites is a great way to connect with people who already support your brand, build a community of new advocates, and boost your SEO efforts. Plus, as 70% of U.S. adults trust product or brand recommendations from family and friends, managing your reputation on social media sites can help ensure that what consumers share about your business is positive.

    Learn More About Social Media Marketing:

    Are you using these types of online marketing as part of your marketing strategy? What other types of marketing do you find work for your business? Let us know in a comment.

    About the Author:

    Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through online marketing for the ReachLocal blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.

    Retargeting: Your Search Advertising Sidekick

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Search engine advertising is an online marketing superhero thanks to its ability to quickly and cost-effectively get your business discovered by consumers online.  Every superhero needs a true sidekick, and when it comes to finding the perfect companion for your search engine advertising, retargeting is ready for action. Here are some of retargeting’s greatest super powers for helping you drive more revenue from your online marketing. 


    Super Power: Tracking

    Retargeting’s powerful tracking ability helps you correlate brand awareness with tangible results because it can help drive action from people who have previously searched for your business. Retargeting is a form of display advertising that works by showing your ads specifically to people interested in your products and services. Retargeting’s powerful tracking ability has the potential to drive valuable visits to your website because it identifies the right people for your campaign: consumers who have demonstrated a real interest in your business or business type by searching for your business. And the greatest part is that this online marketing technique pinpoints these interested consumers in two ways:

    • Search Retargeting: Shows your display ads to people who have recently searched for your target business keywords, including your business name or specific products or services
    • Site Retargeting: Shows your display ads to people who have recently visited your website (often by clicking a search ad)

    Super Power: Speed 

    Not only is retargeting a way to target highly-interested consumers, but it also goes to work almost immediately once it’s initiated – just like traditional search advertising. Because a single keyword search or click on a search ad can trigger retargeting, your ads will start being shown consumers who have not only expressed interest in your products or services, but who have done so recently. This means by showing these prospects an ad with a specific message, special promotion, or direct call-to-action while your business is still fresh in their minds, retargeting can result in an instant boost to your search advertising efforts. In fact, when you combine search advertising with retargeting, consumers may:

    • Repeat searches for your business name, then click on your search ad or organic link
    • Click on your retargeted display ad
    • Directly visit your website
    • Follow through with a conversion or other CTA, such as a call or email

    Super Power: Repetition

    Retargeting campaigns are also a great companion to search advertising because their impact is repeated over time. That means consumers who have searched for your business are not just exposed to your display ads once but numerous times as they surf their favorite sites across the Web. In other words, consumers may start their purchase path using search engines for discovery, but may not be ready to buy. By complementing your search campaign with retargeting, you activate the power of repetition of your brand over time, keeping your business top of mind. That way, consumers are more likely to remember your business when they are ready to buy.   

    Super Power: Merging

    According to Wikipedia, merging is the ability to combine two entities into a single, stronger entity. And, in the case of online advertising, merging search advertising and retargeting is more powerful than using search alone. Research shows that 31% of users click display ads, while 27% conduct a search after seeing a display ad. And, because retargeting ads are shown to prospects quickly after conducting a search, retargeting allows a display ad to work further down the marketing funnel—at the acquisition or consideration stage vs. the awareness stage—which can result in considerably more site visits, conversions, and leads than just running a search advertising campaign.

    Have you added retargeting advertising to your marketing mix? How can search retargeting and site retargeting compliment your search advertising campaign? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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    About the Author:

    Tamara Weintraub helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media, and content marketing as a writer for the ReachLocal blog.

    5 Things About Online Marketing You Didn't Realize You Already Know

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Online marketing. For business owners who haven’t started an online marketing program, the concept can often cause them to feel overwhelmed. Having a vague idea of what online marketing is, but not knowing where to begin, can make it difficult to start. But in today’s connected world, advertising your business online is a must. Without an online marketing strategy, you’re missing out on crucial business leads and the opportunity to connect with your customers through social media. But have no fear! Chances are you already know many key elements of online marketing and don’t even realize it.

    You might be thinking, “Me? Know online marketing?” You might not know it, but if you understand some business basics, you already have a head start when it comes to online marketing. Here are five essentials about online marketing you didn’t realize you already know. 

    1) Your Brand

    Elements like logos, taglines, brand voice, color palette, image requirements, and overall brand personality are vital to your brand. You know what these items are and you know how they work together to communicate your brand to your audience. Having this knowledge is essential before any Tweet, Facebook update, or blog post is ever created. If you’re armed with a solid understanding of your brand, you’ve already taken the first step in building an online marketing strategy for your business.

    2) Your Audience

    The fact is, you know your audience because you know your customers. Renter or home owner? Male or female? College grad or retiring Boomer? The demographics list of every company varies, but no matter how your audience skews, you know who they are. You understand what your customers are looking for in your market and why they seek you out (or should seek you out). With this knowledge, you’re on your way to creating an online marketing plan that’s targeted to the right people. For instance, if you know that your audience is heavily female, then you know that Pinterest might be a good option for your business since the site tends to attract more women than men. Without understanding the wants, needs, and values of your customers, then you could be wasting your time trying an online marketing strategy that isn’t right for your business.

    3) Your Specials & Offers

    Print coupons. Loyalty discounts. Buy-one-get-one-free specials. Whatever your company is offering in terms of specials and offers, you know what they are. But now you can take your offers to an online audience. For example, you could send a special email to your client database promoting a two-for-one deal that you’re planning. Or you could create a custom image to promote a 20% off promotion special to your Facebook fans. With the myriad of online platforms you can take advantage of online, you have unlimited opportunities to share your specials and offers to your audience.

    4) Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats

    Every business has strengths and weaknesses, as well as marketplace opportunities and threats to its business, otherwise known as SWOT. By taking time to think of each category as it relates to your business, you can begin to create various jumping-off points into an effective online marketing program.

    • Strengths: What is your business best at in your marketplace? Why do customers tell you they chose you over competitors? When you understand your strengths, you have excellent opportunities to tell your story to your online audience. For example, if you won an industry award or were voted by consumers as the best in your industry, you could post that information on your social pages and website. 
    • Weaknesses: You know where you need to shore up your business, and hopefully you’re actively addressing those areas that need improvement. For instance, frequently monitoring review sites and social media pages for reviews and feedback is a great way to see what people are saying about you, so you can take steps to respond publicly to them and address any operations or customer service issues with your staff. There are several proactive ways you can address those reviews using a reputation management program.

    • Opportunities: You have a clear idea of what’s going on in your market and how your company can benefit. You see areas to gain profit, gain clients, grow your operations, etc. For example, perhaps your current clients have been requesting evening and Saturday hours. Seeing an opportunity to meet their needs as well as earn additional revenue, you decide to expand your hours of operation.  Then, you could advertise your expanded hours in your online ads or in social media pages.
    • Threats: You know the areas in the marketplace that are encroaching on your business. One of the biggest threats to your business is your competition. Knowing who your competitors are and how they’re advertising to your audience is very important. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to create a differentiated, unique message to present to your audience. For instance, if your competitors are new to the industry, you could advertise that you’ve been in business for 25 years. This key differentiator can build confidence with your potential customers. 

    5) Your Existing Advertising Strategy

    Billboards, television ads, Yellow Pages, and beyond. If you’ve used traditional advertising methods in the past and know what did and didn’t work, you have an excellent foundation of knowledge that will help you to decide what kind of online marketing to add to the mix. The great thing about online marketing compared to traditional advertising is that you get better audience targeting, tracking and measurement of leads and return on investment, and the opportunity to reach additional audiences. If you already have one or two online strategies, such as a Facebook page or emails to your clients, you can also assess how successful they have been. But, having just one or two online platforms isn’t enough for a strong online marketing program. Here’s your chance to think of adding new online marketing strategies to your current spend.

    If the thought of creating and launching an online marketing program for your business feels overwhelming, just remember that you already know more about online marketing than you may have realized. You have an excellent foundation of knowledge on which you can begin to move into the online marketing space. To learn more about how an online marketing partner can work for your business, visit

    What challenges have you faced when marketing your business online? Share your comments below.

    About the Author

    Amy Neeley is a Dallas-based copywriter who's been assisting Fortune 500 and small- and medium-size businesses with their marketing messaging since 2004.

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