Friday, June 29, 2012
In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we discussed mobile advertising using AdWords with Googlers +Dori Storbeck, +Courtney Pannell, +Adam Grunewald and +Jeffrey Cheng. The group shared reasons for advertising on mobile devices, best practices for creating mobile campaigns, and a few tips particular to mobile ads. If you missed it, you can watch the full hour-long Hangout on the Google Business YouTube channel (check out the video description for a minute-by-minute breakdown):
Here are a few of the questions you asked us to answer during the Hangout:
If I have a separate campaigns for targeting mobile vs. desktop, how should I determine what to bid for mobile?
There are significantly fewer ad slots on a mobile search result page than on a regular search result page, so setting competitive bids can be key to getting the visibility that comes with one of the two top positions, which are frequently above the organic results. We generally suggest you bid more aggressively on a mobile-specific campaign to help secure one of the top slots.
Since there are only two top ad slots above the organic results on mobile, aren’t the bids too high for small businesses to compete?
Currently there isn’t as much competition for certain types of businesses on mobile devices since many advertisers may be focused on targeting computers; savvy small business advertisers can take advantage of the fact that the mobile sphere might not be as saturated as the desktop sphere for their product offering or service right now.
If I use call extensions, can I allow users to click-to-call OR go to my website, or can they only click-to-call?
You have the option to choose whether we show links to your website and your phone number or whether we show only the link to your phone number with your ads.
Wait, so you’re telling me I have to create a new mobile-specific campaign and a mobile-friendly version of my website? That’s just way too much work, I don’t have time.
It’s actually really easy to do! You can quickly duplicate an existing campaign using AdWords Editor - a free program which you can download here. Just make sure to change the device targeting options so that your original campaign targets computers only and the copied campaign targets mobile devices only. We also have a great resource which can help determine whether your website is mobile friendly and even help create a mobile version of your site for you.
To learn more about how to get your mobile campaign started, visit our Help Center or check out the AdWords Community forum. And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Help Desk Hangout on Wednesday, July 11 at 11 a.m. PT — topic to be announced on the Google+ Your Business page!
Thursday, June 21, 2012
If there’s one thing to remember, it’s to make sure your website has high-quality content. Your content should be concise, relevant, and unique. Remember to use words that users would search for, which you can find more data on in Webmaster Tools.
Make sure that your website contains all the proper HTML tags necessary for search engine crawlers to understand each page. Each web page should have a relevant title (created with the <title> element in HTML) that concisely describes that page’s content. Images should have alternate text (the alt HTML attribute) because Google is much better at understanding text than looking at pictures.
While Google pays attention to everything on your website, it can also learn a lot about your site from other websites. Consider sharing your website with other communities online. Don’t know where to start? See if your local chamber of commerce website lists local businesses. Google uses external signals like these when evaluating your website.
Because doing all of this can be a daunting task, many businesses hire search engine optimizers (also called SEOs). Just like with anyone you hire, before bringing on an SEO make sure to complete your due diligence - here are some tips to make sure you are bringing on a great fit that abides by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
While search engine optimization can seem overwhelming at first, remember that it’s all about creating the best website for your users. A comprehensive list of SEO best practices can be found in Google’s SEO Starter Guide. For more information about how to build a great website that performs well in search, make sure to visit the Webmaster Academy.
Posted by Garen Checkley, Search Quality Team
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Since its launch in mid-February 2012, the (still-new) AdWords Community, has been a place for for all kinds of AdWords users (from small businesses to bigger advertisers) from all over the world to come together and exchange ideas, advice and stories with other AdWords users. It's really inspiring to see people sharing their best practises, pointing each other to resources, and enthusiastically helping those who need it.
I’d like to share with you a few comments from our members on their experiences with the AdWords Community:
NehaGupta: “I am happy to be part of Google AdWords Community. I love to discuss about Google AdWords as much as I can as I believe discussions always bring something knowledgeable. Perfect platform for me. I am really excited spending more and more time here instead of Facebook. Everyday I’m learning new things and also trying to take part in conversation by replying answers asked in the forum.”
PPCBossman: “Hundreds of advertisers flow in and out of this Community on a daily/weekly basis and we all roll on as if it's just another day. ...There are great days where lots of problems get worked out, new advertisers are learning and members are achieving personal goals here within the Community. Just as any real life situations, we also have some down times too. ...I have had the most amazing experience here in the last few months, made some great friends, learned a ton and helped a few people along the way as well. But I keep coming back because I know that this Community, Visitors and Members alike, are here for me and guess what, they're here for YOU too! (for the full post click here)
David-nationalp: “I'm here because I'd like the ability to have some input into the direction that Google AdWords goes, understand what's going on in the PPC world, and be able to learn/share knowledge of Google AdWords.”
But the AdWords Community is more than just user discussions; you can find insightful articles (so called “AdWords Wikis”) written by expert users. You can learn more about the some of the community members, such as the Top Contributors, and what it takes to become one. And you can get some reassurance that the Google AdWords Community team is not just a bunch of robots. But instead of taking our word for it, why don't you go and find out for yourself! If you'd like, go ahead and leave us a comment by clicking on the "new message" button directly on the forum.
We are looking forward to see you in the Community!
Posted by Zuzana S. Moran, AdWords Community Team
Friday, June 15, 2012
In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we got a tour of Business Photos, a way for local businesses to display beautiful interior photos on Google Maps. Business Photos gurus Aubrey and Derek guide us through some businesses already on board, show us how to sign up, and answer questions, live. Miss the event? You can watch the whole thing on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel.
Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:
How do I sign up as a business owner?
The best way to sign up for a photo shoot is to go to the “Get Started” page on our website to find a Google certified Trusted Photographer in your area. Contact them directly to schedule a photo shoot. If there is not a photographer in your area, request a photo shoot here to help us expand our program to your city.
Which categories of businesses are eligible?
A wide variety of businesses can be apart of the Google Business Photos program such as restaurants, retail shops, salons, auto repair shops, auto dealerships, dental locations, and much more.
What if the I remodel my business after I’ve had photos taken?
You are welcome to contact a Trusted Photographer and coordinate an updated photo shoot, but it is up to the individual Trusted Photographer to decide the cost.
How do I sign up as a photographer?
If you are interested in becoming a Google Trusted Photographer, please apply on our website. A Recruiting Coordinator may be in touch with you depending on the demand of photographers in your city.
Be sure to join us for next week’s Hangout at 11 a.m. PDT Wednesday June 20, when we discuss Webmaster Academy SEO. We’ll be taking questions early next week on the Google+ Your Business page.
Posted by Jade Wang, Google+ Local community manager
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Our company is based in the college town of Northampton, Massachusetts, a town with a very strong culture of “buy local” and “buy small” ingrained in the social fabric. Walking down Main Street you can count on one hand the number of chain stores found here; small businesses dominate. But in this tight economy, how does a small business that can’t or won’t deep discount compete against the large online retailers? How can they keep their existing customers motivated without slashing their prices, let alone grow? And how can my firm deliver a compelling website solution that helps these businesses succeed within their small business budget?
Blogger is a hidden gem in the area of website development, providing advanced services for customers at a greatly reduced cost. Behind every Blogger blog is built-in Content Management System (CMS) functionality which provides for most customer needs where a unique CMS is unnecessary. With the added benefits of Google-backed hosting, built-in security and an easy to use editor, it further lowers the learning curve for any customer's management of their site while being feature rich, intuitive, and customizable. As these services are provided by Blogger without cost, there is already a significant return on investment before any custom templating or other advanced development services are required.
Blogger can easily be used to create the “standard” 5 page corporate website, but a Blogger solution can also be used to great effect to engage a company's customers and fans. Using the native blogging functionality, it can alert your customers to new products, services and events, establish you as an expert through informative articles, showcase your achievements, and even make your business more approachable by highlighting your friendly and knowledgeable employees.
Over the past few years we’ve created a number of compelling websites, built on the Blogger platform, that have enabled our small business clients to interact with and grow their customer base. Our mantra for our clients has been to
- establish the business as an expert,
- keep the business in front of their customers/clients, and
- make the site as easy as possible for the business to maintain.
A Blogger-based solution empowers these small businesses while still being customizable, affordable, easy to maintain, secure and stable.
Some examples of client sites that we’ve created and the content strategies behind them (and yes, these are all built on Blogger!):
Concentrics Restaurants, Atlanta GA
A restaurant group and consulting company that uses their site and blog functionality to showcase their restaurants, discuss their service offerings, announce new press and events, and alert their fans to specials. Their restaurants are unique experiences; the website was designed to capture the beauty of the spaces and the food and tempt new customers to experience it for themselves.
Pinch Gallery, Northampton MA
An artisan gallery that uses blog posts to showcase new artists and products in their store, providing additional context to the products in their online shop and giving existing customers a reason to stop by and check out what’s currently in the gallery. The Blogger site brought in such great traffic from far outside the normal customer area that Pinch decided to open up a web store that has been a huge success.
Ode Boutique, Northampton MA
A boutique clothing store that also doubles as a fashion blog discussing trends and featuring new clothing and accessories in their store, along with spotlights on local inspirational women, charities that they support, and their monthly Arts Night Out events. The site follows their mission of “marrying fashion, philanthropy, art and community in order to create an inspiring place to be and to shop”; each photograph, story, inspiration board, article or event that gets posted on their site advances their mission and their business.
Bakery Normand, Northampton MA
A true mom-and-pop bakery that writes about new seasonal offerings, communicates their ordering schedule for holiday products, and throws in some philosophical pieces that you know the baker was mulling over as he waited for the bread to rise. The Bakery waited until 2011 to have a website (after being in business 30 years!) and since the site has launched has jumped right in and begun using it to the fullest. It even encouraged the baker to experiment with new products because he wanted to post new pictures and product stories on his website!
How this translates into an engaging website for your business...
Step 1: writing articles, posting photographs, and creating content engages your customers and potential customers; a Blogger site provides the perfect platform as it was built for blogging.
Step 2: creating easy ways for your fans to follow you to get notified of new content (new products, service updates, specials, events, etc.) through "follow by email", RSS feeds, fan pages (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc.); Blogger provides these social media sharing functionalities out of the box.
Step 3: getting found through search engines and local searches; being a Google product has its benefits and Blogger has added additional tools for optimizing your site for search engines.
Posted by David Kutcher, Web Developer
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Small businesses are realizing that they can go beyond search ads with the Google Display Network, reaching new customers and leads with engaging and relevant messages. In the past year alone, the number of small businesses running ads on the Google Display Network has almost doubled, and this growth trend is just beginning!
To help propel other small businesses to win the moments that matter with display, we decided to learn more from our customers, highlight their success, and share the strategies they’ve employed to achieve successful display campaigns.
Making display work for you
The key to being successful on the Google Display Network is understanding the mix of targeting types you should use to achieve your marketing objective. While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, we know there are recurring themes among businesses who have set up successful display campaigns.
We found three small businesses that are great illustrations of these different approaches to display: Julian Bakery, Legacy Learning Systems, and Bedder Way.
Let’s take a closer look at their successful display network strategies:
- Drive sales online and in stores – Since ramping up their GDN campaign to drive online and offline sales, Julian Bakery has grown from 40 distributors and 100 customers to 1000 distributors and 300,000 customers nationwide.
- Control and understand every dollar you spend – Legacy Learning System achieves, on average, 1M impressions per day on the Google Display Network and 150 online sales per month by maximizing their ad performance using conversion tracking data.
- Harness the power of an image – Bedder Way has increased their display network conversions by 50% and decreased their cost per conversion by 25%, by using image ads on the display network to visually showcase their murphy beds.
Take a look, browse the site, and try out the Google Display Network for yourself!
Posted by Brad Bender, Director, Product Management - Google Display Network
Monday, June 11, 2012
If you’re looking to get found on Google, there’s a good chance your business isn’t just a website, but also a location. 20% of searches on Google are related to location, and 97% of consumers search online for local businesses. Lots of small businesses are looking to the web to boost the visibility of their brick and mortar establishments. We’ll outline a few essential steps to getting started.
It’s important that your business has its own website. Your website should include all the essential information potential and current customers would want to know about your business, such as your history, loyalty programs, unique events, or staff information.
Having a presence on social media is another great way to reach your local community. Social media allows you to engage with your customer base by sharing timely announcements and promotions, listening and responding to customer feedback, and giving customers an easy way to recommend your business to their friends.
A great place to start is with Google’s social network, Google+. With a Google+ business or brand page, you can share all types of information and content with customers, allow them to “+1” your business, and even video chat face-to-face with groups using a Google+ Hangout.
You can also use Google Places for Business to ensure that your business is easily discoverable online. Simply create a free listing for your business, or verify the existing listing already available. That way, when a potential customer searches on Google, Google Maps or Google Maps for Mobile with a phrase related to your service -- for example, [san francisco mexican restaurant] -- they’ll quickly be able to find the most accurate information right in the results. See this video for more info on Google Places:
Your website and Google+ pages are great ways to represent your local business online. If you’re looking for more ideas, the Webmaster Academy has additional information about how to connect with customers online. In next week's blog post, we'll discuss best practices for optimizing your site's discoverability and performance.
Posted by Garen Checkley, Search Quality Team
Friday, June 8, 2012
In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we got an update on the new look and feel for Google Places, now Google+ Local. Local experts Dasha and Jade walk us through the redesign, what you need to know, and what’s coming next. They also answered your questions in real time. Miss the event? You can watch the whole thing on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel.
Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:
What does this change mean for how business owners add and edit their listings? Do business owners need to have a Google+ profile?
It’s business as usual on this front. Verified business owners can edit the listings (now local Google+ pages) through the Google Places for Business dashboard, as always. Business owners just now looking to get verified can go through the process by clicking on the Manage this page button under Is this your business? header on the right of the page. Right now, business owners do not need to have Google+ profiles to verify and edit local Google+ pages.
Will Google+ Local pages and existing Google+ pages be merged?
Yes! If you’re a business owner that’s got both the local Google+ page (formerly Google Places listing) and a Google+ page that you made in Google+ separately, the current recommendation is to continue managing each separately. The plan is to merge them, so business owners have just one page to manage. We did a few early, and you can take a peek from the Google and your Business blog. We’ll post updates as they come, here, but you can sign up for email updates using this form. Already convinced? You can sign up to be considered for an early upgrade.
Can I attach a YouTube channel to my page?
No, but this is a piece of feedback we’ve heard often and are actively discussing. Eventually, you’ll be able to add videos directly to your “Videos” tab and post YouTube clips to your page’s stream, but that will only be available once Google+ Local pages are merged with existing pages and given the social functionality described above.
Where can I report a problem or send feedback?
Send feedback about Google+ Local like feature requests, or reports if you think something’s broken, through the gear icon on the top right, clicking on Send feedback. On local Google+ pages, the Send feedback link is on the bottom of the right column, under the big photo of the business. You can report incorrect data about a place, like the wrong phone number, by clicking on Edit business details on that right column.
Can a business owner manage reviews and photos uploaded by users?
Be sure to join us for next week’s Hangout at 11 a.m. PDT Wednesday May 2, when we discuss Business Photos for Google Maps. We’ll be taking questions early next week on the Google+ Your Business page.
Posted by Toby Stein, Google+ community manager
Monday, June 4, 2012
Here are five things that every business should consider:
- Identify your goals and track them correctly: Think about the ultimate business objectives of your website and identify specific visitor actions that indicate success, like finishing a sale, signing up for a newsletter, or viewing an important page. Then set up goal tracking to see how visitors are reaching those goals. You can also assign a dollar value to each goal to see how it’s impacting your bottom line, or set up ecommerce tracking to integrate online sales data.
- Become a conversion detective: Businesses spend a lot of effort getting people to visit their site, so if your visitors aren’t converting or achieving your goals, it’s important to figure out why. There could be a variety of factors, like too many required steps to request a quote, call-to-action icons that are too small, or poor placement of your email list sign-up button. See what conversion metrics need a boost, and experiment with your site’s content and layout to see what works best.
- Get to the bottom of your bounce rates: Bounce rates represent the people who are visiting one page on your website and then leaving immediately afterwards. This could signal that they’re not finding what they need right away. Think about what information your customers might be seeking, like contact information or links to promotions, and make sure it’s front and center on your site. Bounce rates can also show you how effective your marketing campaigns are. For instance, if you’re running an email marketing campaign but find that they’re resulting in visits with high bounce rates, you could be wasting time and money.
- Discover important audience locations: The Internet can introduce even a small town business to potential customers around the world, so you might be surprised at what audiences are most interested in your products or services. Take a look at the countries, regions and provinces where your website visitors are coming from - it just might inspire you to run an ad campaign targeted to reach shoppers in France, or start a special promotion for your fans in Canada.
- Make the most of mobile traffic: More and more consumers are browsing the web on the go with their smartphones, so spend some time discovering how many of your site’s visitors are coming from a mobile phone. Are they viewing multiple pages, staying for a long time, or bouncing away quickly? A local restaurant might want to know whether mobile visitors are quickly finding information like hours of operation, menus and address - because if they’re not, they could be going elsewhere. If you need help making your website mobile, you can find a ton of resources at www.howtogomo.com to help you get started.
Posted by Francoise Brougher, Vice President of SMB Sales and Operations
Friday, June 1, 2012
In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we discussed video advertising using Adwords for video with Googlers Dori Storbeck, Courtney Pannell, Rob Warner, and Valentine Matrat. They taught us how AdWords for video can benefit business owners, how to set up and target campaigns, and how to collect metrics when evaluating your campaign’s performance. Missed the Hangout? Watch it on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel
Here are a few of the questions you asked us to answer during the Hangout:
Is video advertising helpful for local businesses? Is there a way to choose people from a certain town or area?
Video advertising can be a huge help. Video helps increase awareness and create a relationship between the business and potential clients, ultimately reducing barriers to first-time visits and increasing chances for repeat visits to the store. Video advertising allows you to build a personality for your business and provide compelling arguments to your local audience as to why they should choose your business.
If you have a video you know you want to promote, is there a strategy for selecting which type of video ad format to choose or should you try all formats and evaluate performance?
We recommend that you always start with all four video ad formats. You want your ads to achieve a balance between engagement and traffic to your videos. In general, the best format for driving traffic to your site and brand awareness is the in-stream format (it also tends to be the cheapest). That being said, starting out with all four ad formats will allow you to make better informed decisions for your needs.
Is there a time limit or minimum time that a video must be in order to be a TrueView ad?
Your video ad can be any length, but you don’t want it to be too short or too long. We’ve found that the optimal time for a video ad is between 30 seconds to a minute and a half, which allows you enough time to market your business and help you stand out from the competition, but not too long that users lose interest and skip your ad. Here’s a tip: Try to get the main point of your messaging at the beginning of the video so that you capture the audience’s attention.
The annotations that you set up on your video from your YouTube account will show on your video when it plays as a TrueView in-search or TrueView in-display format. However, it does not currently show when your ad plays as a TrueView in-stream ad.
Is analytics data provided for video ads?
You will get detailed performance reporting and video analytics data from the AdWords for video interface in your AdWords account. You should also check out the YouTube Analytics tool, found within your YouTube account. YouTube Analytics is a great resource for businesses on YouTube because you can access a rich set of data about who is watching your videos.
YouTube Analytics can capture the following data and more:
- Chronological and geographic distribution of your views.
- Demographic data about your viewers, which provides age and gender distributions.
- Traffic sources data that allows you to determine what external sites and YouTube features are generating traffic for your videos. This will help you determine how many views are generated by your TrueView ads vs other sources of traffic.
To learn more about how to get started with the Display Network, visit our Help Center or check out the AdWords Community forum. And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout at 11 a.m. PT Wednesday June 6 — topic to be announced on the Google+ Your Business page early next week!
Posted by Dori Storbeck and Courtney Pannell, Global Online Advertising Associates