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    Google AdRank and Quality Score Updates: How Will Your Search Advertising Fare?

    Last updated 5 months ago

    It’s been a busy year at Google with all of the changes made to both organic and paid search algorithms. The most recent change involves its AdRank platform, which determines where your paid search ad will appear on a search engine results page (SERP). With this update, it’s now more important than ever to know some Quality Score basics and what the update means for you.

    What is Quality Score?

    Quality Score is a number from one through 10 that Google assigns to the keywords you are bidding on via the AdWords advertising platform. This score is used as part of a formula that determines how much you’ll pay when an online consumer clicks your search ad, or cost-per-click (CPC) for that keyword. It’s also used to determine where your paid search ad appears on a SERP. Higher Quality Scores can lower your CPC and help your ad rank higher on the sponsored section of the SERP.

    What Makes Up a Quality Score

    Three components make up a Quality Score: the keyword you’re bidding on, your landing page, and your online text ad. When calculating your Quality Score, Google determines how well these components work together and how relevant they are to your users’ online search.

    Keywords

    Google looks at how relevant your keywords are to the landing page or web page you’re sending search traffic to. Keyword click-through-rate (CTR) and a keyword’s competitiveness are also evaluated in determining your Quality Score number. When your messaging closely matches what your online audience is looking for, the keyword tends to have higher click-through and conversion rates. And, the more your ad is clicked on, the higher your Quality Score can go.

    Landing Page    

    The second factor in determining Quality Score is the landing page. One tactic to raising your Quality Score is to ensure your landing page contains the same keywords that you’re bidding on in AdWords. Google sees this as a plus because you’re providing a relevant search experience for online consumers. The landing page’s load time is also a factor in determining landing page quality.

    Text Ad

    The text ad is the third factor. It’s important that your text ad contains the keyword(s) you’re bidding on. Doing so provides your online audience with a relevant and helpful search experience, which Google highly values and rewards with higher placement and lower cost per click. When your text ad also contains the same keywords as your landing page, this is also a plus that can raise your quality score.

    Ad Extensions in Text Ads

    Google recently announced that ad extensions would be used as one of the factors to determine a text ad’s placement on the SERP. Previously, only the CPC bid and your Quality Score were used to determine an ad’s rank.

    So what are ad extensions? They’re the additional information included in a text ad; they extend out the amount of information an ad contains (thus the name, ad extensions). Your phone number, business address, and/or site links are all examples of ad extensions. You create them in AdWords platform.

    Ad extensions are a reliable way to increase an ad’s CTR. The more consumers click on your ad, the more your Quality Score can improve. And when your Quality Score goes up, your ad can appear higher and more often on a SERP. So it’s a win for both you and for online consumers. If your online text ads don’t include ad extensions, now’s the time to add them. It’s an investment that can lower your CPC, as well as have positive affect on your overall Quality Score. Without ad extensions, your online ad might now drop from SERP’s top spots.

    Have you taken steps to improve your Quality Score? Let us know with a comment!

     

    Related Articles

    ·     What is Quality Score and Why Does It Matter?

    ·     PPC: 7 Basic Tips for Choosing Good Keywords for Your Search Advertising

    ·     Landing Page Optimization Ebook: The Foolproof Guide to an Effective        Landing Page

    ·     Search Advertising 101: Dos and Don’ts for Writing Text Ads

     

    About the Author

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

     

     

    Leaks on the Street: Why Do Consumers Follow Businesses on Social Media? [Video]

    Last updated 5 months ago

    If you’re using social media to promote your local business, you’ve probably wondered, “How do I get more fans, likes, and shares?” at one time or another. In this episode of Leaks on the Street, we ask everyday people what makes them follow and engage with businesses on their favorite social media sites. Here’s what they had to say! 

    It’s true that creating content that is relevant to your audience is the secret to getting social media likes and shares. But, it’s also important to recognize that more consumers are turning to a brand’s social media pages to address issues and leave comments about their level of service. In fact, one recent survey indicates that that 67% of consumers have turned to social media for customer service compared to 33% who use it primarily to receive marketing messages. So what does this mean for your local business on social media? Here are three social media tips our respondents think you should keep in mind.

    1. Understand your audience – and more importantly your own brand – and regularly post content that they will want to like and share. They liked your business for what it is, so don’t try to make it something it’s not.

    2. Monitor your social media sites frequently, a few times a day if you can. This way, you will stay on top of everything being said to you and about you – from rave reviews or mentions to questions to complaints.

    3. Respond quickly to questions and comments. The quicker, the better. In fact, in a recent Twitter study, users expect brands to answer their tweets within at least an hour.

    When used smartly (or to meet your fans’ expectations), social media can benefit your local business. However, making social media mistakes is just one of many ways your local business might be leaking leads. Check out www.dontleakleads.com to learn how you can spot and fix other leaks in your online marketing.

    How does your local business use social media to reach more consumers? Let us know in a comment! 

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    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.

    5 Types of Sales Leads You Should Follow Up With Now

    Last updated 5 months ago

    When a new prospect calls your business for the first time, or even requests product or pricing information from you, they have certain expectations on how quickly your business should respond to them. Although expectations vary for different contact methods, the general rule of thumb is the same. The longer it takes you to respond to a new contact or lead, the less likely it is that they will choose your business. But how can you determine which contacts and leads you should follow up with? (Hint: The real answer is all of them!) See which common ways contacts and leads show you they’re interested — and why you should take the time to follow up with each of them. 

    They Call You

    You’ve optimized your website to feature your phone number at the top of every page. Your phone number is also listed on your social media pages, local directory profiles, Google+ Local, and your advertising. So, when a consumer actually takes the time to call your business and you don’t answer, your efforts to get the call are wasted. Consumers expect to speak with a person when they pick up the phone, so make sure someone is there to answer the phone and capture important details like their contact information, like phone number and email address, and products or services they are interested in so you can follow up with them. But if someone calls your business before or after business hours and take the time to leave a voicemail, make sure you call them back as soon as possible. Studies have shown that by contacting a prospect back within an hour, you are seven times more likely to convert them than if you waited over an hour.

    They Email You

    Much like one who makes a phone call or leaves you voicemail, a consumer who emails you or submits a Web form likely has a strong interest in your business. Email these contacts back as soon as you can in order to show them you are paying attention to their requests and to help convert them into customers. You can also take advantage of automated email, like those available with ReachEdge, that lets customers who email you know that you received their request and will get in touch with them soon. 

    They Say They Need Your Product or Service Now

    When a prospect contacts you and expresses an immediate need for your products or services, you need to provide them with the information they are looking for right away. These leads often do not have several hours, much less days, to find a company to do business with. By answering the phone — or following back up with them within minutes — you can meet their need before your competitors have the chance to.

    They Request Pricing Information

    It’s one thing for prospects to request general information about your products or services. It’s a completely different story when they begin to ask about specific prices and specialized quotes based on their needs. This demonstrates that they have extreme interest in doing business with you, but if you fail to follow up with them quickly and provide what they are looking for, you are likely to lose them as a lead, and they’ll find another business that can help them.  

    They Have Gotten an Estimate From You

    This is really a no-brainer. Let’s say that you got a call, followed up with the lead, gave them a quote, and sent a representative out to their home for an estimate. Basically, they did everything but sign on the dotted line. Why would you not want to stay top of mind with them as they make their decision? Of course you would. However, some businesses may leave these leads hanging because they don’t have an easy way to remember to follow up with them. Without an automated system to help you stay in front of your most interested leads, you could be missing the most obvious opportunities to close a new sale. Don’t make these “hot” leads wait! Follow up immediately after providing a quote so that they choose your business.

    How long does it take you to follow up with your new sales leads? Let us know in a comment!

    Learn how quickly following up with leads can help you convert more leads into customers and more critical marketing must-dos on www.dontleakleads.com!

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    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.

    3 Reasons Search Advertising is More Important Than Ever

    Last updated 5 months ago

    When it comes to search engine marketing, there are two strategies you can use in your marketing: search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising. Together they form a powerful strategy in reaching your online audience. While there is a cost associated with paid search (while SEO doesn’t cost money) it’s an investment in your marketing that’s worth the cost. Here are three reasons you should add paid search to your marketing mix.

    1. SEO Alone is Not a Complete Strategy

    There’s no “magic SEO formula” that can guarantee your website will be ranked at or near the top of a search engine results page (SERP). Google, Bing, and Yahoo search algorithms often change, thus SEO tactics change with them. Rather, SEO uses best practices that simply increase your chances that you’ll reach your online audience. Therefore, you still run the risk of not reaching the online audience you want. Paid search ads are an excellent way to make sure you’re appearing where your audience is searching online.

    2. Consumers Are Searching Locally Via Mobile

    Consumers are researching and finding the products and services they need via their tablets and smartphones in increasing numbers. In fact, one survey noted that consumer use of smartphones in the shopping research phase grew 39% from 2012 to 2013. This steep growth rate illustrates how mobile phones are more than just a means to call a company — consumers are using it increasingly as a shopping-research tool.

    When it comes time to contact a company, 61% of respondents in a different survey said that the “click-to-call is most important in the purchase phase of the shopping process.” And the “call button” in Google search results was used by 70 percent of respondents. So make sure your company website is mobile-friendly and that you have a paid search program in place so that mobile device users can learn more about your company and find you as they search and surf for products and services.

    Ad extensions is the umbrella term for the various features that can be part of your mobile ad. Examples include: sitelinks, call extensions, and location extensions (just to name a few). These extensions add robust functionality to your mobile ad and help you to promote the important components of your business: including phone number, your address, and user ratings. Mobile ads with extensions also have an edge in getting ranked higher in Google’s latest ad rank algorithm update.

    3. Helps Branding and your Reputation Because Positive Content Is on the SERP

    Paid search ads also appear more quickly on the Internet than SEO results, which can help you to be found more quickly than if you just use just SEO alone to be found online. Also, when you create a text ad, you control what your audience sees about you, which is especially important when bidding on your business name because you can’t control what’s in an organic listing. By owning more of the “shelf space” on the search-engine results page (SERP), you’re improving your reputation and increasing your brand awareness because people can see and click your ad. And, when your online audience clicks on your ad, you’re helping to improve your Quality Score (the number from 1 through 10 that Google assigns to your advertising based on keywords, your landing page and your text ad). Because the more people who click on your ad, the higher your Quality Score goes up, which helps to improve how often your ad will appear and whether or not it will appear at or near the top of a search result. 

    Paid search ads also help you to craft specific messages for segmented online audiences. For instance, if you’re a dentist and you offer several services, like teeth whitening, braces and general dentistry, you can create three different ads using specific keywords that are related to these specific services. This ensures the right message is reaching the right audience.

    Are you using paid search in your advertising? Let us know with a comment!

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    About the Author

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

    5 Monsters of Lead Loss: Spooky Ways to Scare off New Leads [Infographic]

    Last updated 5 months ago

    You put a lot of effort and investment into getting more leads for your business. But have you ever thought about how easy it can be to scare off new leads? Your business could be suffering from this problem – and you might not even know it. So, we put together a list of five (scarily common) ways many businesses lose leads (and what you can do to avoid them).

    We Present: The 5 Monsters of Lead Loss

    1) The Ghost of Unanswered Phones

    Phone calls are important for any small business because they’re one of the top ways new customers initially contact a company. In fact, 51% of ReachLocal readers said in a recent poll that the primary way new customers contact them is via phone.

    But there’s no better way to kill a lead than when a prospect calls your business and you don’t answer. All the life, energy, and investment you spent on trying to drive calls to your business simply die when you leave your phone vacant and unattended. Save your lead management from this monster by making sure you have a living soul ready to answer each call that comes through.

    2) The Zombie of Bad Call Handling

    Have you ever listened in on the phone calls your business answers? If you did, you might be surprised just how mindlessly some people treat new leads. If you don’t give your staff the knowledge and sales skills to handle each call that comes in, you might be just as well off with zombies answering the phone. So, make sure everyone on your team is well versed on exactly how to handle all the types of phone inquiries your business regularly receives.

    3) The Skeleton of Sketchy Information

    Even the best phone handling can die before its time if just a skeletal amount of information is gathered from a customer. Without a system in place that requires people to collect and store all the right information, you might have to lay too many leads in the graveyard of sketchy information for eternity.

    Getting the right information from a new contact enables you to follow up with them in a timely manner. Did you know that according to Insidesales.com, the odds of making contact with a new lead drop by 3000x if you wait more than 5 hours to call them back? You’re more likely to successfully turn a contact into a new lead if you do it quickly – and you can’t follow up with people unless you’ve got all their information. So, make sure to put a system in place that requires everyone who answers to the phone to capture details like the name, phone number, email address, and call details from each prospect that calls your business.

    4) The Demon of Ignoring Hot Leads

    Some leads are hot. Red hot. When a lead gets to a point when they are talking about your product and service options, getting a quote, or setting up an appointment, they probably want to do business with you. Why would you banish them into the fires of ignored leads? It sounds unthinkable, but sadly, it happens every day. Don’t ignore hot leads or treat them like they aren’t a priority. Put a system in place that helps you identify and quickly follow up with leads who are ready to buy.

    5) The Grim Reaper of Poor Follow Up

    All leads deserve your time and attention: you brought them to life through your marketing efforts! Don’t kill your leads through neglect (even if they’re not ready to buy now). Instead, follow up regularly using emails and phone calls to show their existence matters to you (and that you’d like to win their business!)

    Lead nurturing is a great way to make sure you are following up regularly with all your leads. And, companies using lead nurturing campaigns report 45% higher ROI than those not using lead nurturing.

    What Are Your Monsters of Lead Loss?

    Is your business a victim of any of these monsters of lead management? Are there other (perhaps less terrifying) ways your business is leaking leads? Discover more about the problem of lead loss at our new educational website DontLeakLeads.com where you can find more insights, tools, and advice on what to do about lost leads.

    About the Author

    Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reaching consumers across the web as senior content marketing manager and blogger for ReachLocal. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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