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Google Listing Scams

Google Listing, Google My Business, Google “Map Pack,” Google Knowledge Box, and Google Maps listings are all based on the same data.  Do not fall victim to a random fishing call stating that there is something wrong with your Google My Business Listing (or Google Listing).  Many of our clients have contacted us stating that they have received a phone call from an “unknown” number, or a random phone number attempting to get information from them to update their listing.  The caller is either a recording or a person stating that their Google Listing is unverified, and they must take action immediately.  This is a scam.

Your current marketing provider should be updating your business page as needed.  Additionally, once your business is verified with Google, there is no need for this process to happen again.  So, let’s talk a little bit about Google and how businesses appear on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) based on the information Google has.

Google verifies brick-and-mortar businesses (even if they provide services to the home, like Carpet Cleaning or AC Repair) via postcard.  The purpose of this is two-fold.  One purpose is to validate the business address so that it appears correctly in Google “Map” Pack on a SERP.  Additionally, this information is included in Google Maps, with a unique ID number assigned to your business location.

The Google Knowledge Box (the info on the right had side of a SERP which usually includes customer service number, images, logo, name of business owner, etc.) is based on a little bit different set of information that Google pulls from the website or product listing page of a website.  However, having your Google My Business information and Google Location information all in synch helps improve the chance your info will appear in a Knowledge Box.

If you have any questions about how to ensure your Google Listing is optimized, or if you want any help making sure your local business is showing up in the most relevant SERP listings possible, please contact us today.  We WILL HELP YOU! 727-742-6473.

People using DuckDuckGo as their primary search engine is increasing as online privacy becomes a priority.
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Marketing on DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is becoming an increasingly popular search engine due to the fact that individuals are paying more attention to the tracking of their online activity being utilized by other search engines.  Restricting paid ads to the “usual” search engines which have historically held a majority of market share may be limiting your exposure to potential customers and clients.

If you’ve been thinking about incorporating DuckDuckGo into your PPC stack, here are some facts you need to know at a glance:

  • DuckDuckGo uses info from Apple Maps vs. Google Maps for location searches.
  • DuckDuckGo uses Yelp search results for ratings and review searches.
  • DuckDuckGo has about 1% of market share of all searches in the United States according to Stat Counter.  Data is based on usage from Feb 2018 thru Feb 2019.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Search Engine Market Share

  • DuckDuckGo market share (users) in the United States has grown at an average rate of +75% over the past four years.
  • In SriLanka, DuckDuckGo is as preferred as Google, providing the same number of search results to the same number of users in that region of the globe. (More details from Quora.)
  • DuckDuckGo paid ads uses the same model as Google and Bing – you only pay for clicks, not impressions or a monthly fee.
  • More than half the searches on DuckDuckGo are on mobile, compatible with Apple iPhones since it’s using Apple location data.
  • Location based searches are just as valid on DuckDuckGo since search results are based on keyword. So when a user types in “Dentist in Smallville,” the location is within the query. “Near me” queries are typically made on a mobile device and therefore using the location data sent via the phone.
  • Use a Bing Ad account to run ads on DuckDuckGo.
  • DuckDuckGo has agreements with Amazon and Ebay, meaning product searches on DuckDuckGo will result in Amazon and Ebay results vs. Google Shopping results – good to know if you have an e-commerce site.
  • DuckDuckGo is not know for “influencing” user experience or attempting to include “ephemeral” messages on SERPs.  In fact, the attractiveness of DuckDuckGo to many users is that the search engine provides results based on nothing except keyword relevancy.
  • Remarketing and Retargeting are not available to users of DuckDuckGo since the search engine retains no user data.

For digital marketing help contact the Savvy Sister Marketing team.  We specialize in small and mid-sized businesses, and we empower business owners to understand their marketing and what increases their bottom line.  Call Now – We’ll Get You There.

Using chat can help you qualify leads and turn browsers into buyers!
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Qualifying Leads Using Chat and Chatbots

Push leads down the sales funnel using chat (Chatbots)

In business and in marketing – it’s all about the leads. But today, with so many choices, options and research available, getting the average visitor to take action is a lot more challenging than it used to be.

Take a step back and look at ways to educate, rather than persuade the customer. At this point in the funnel, they’re not looking seriously at solutions. They’re involved in the discovery process – learning what’s out there and what options they have available. You need to prove you’re even worth listening to by illustrating your expertise in a way that’s helpful and knowledgeable, not pushy

The first thing you should do is use chatbots as analytic tools. This allows you to effectively develop bot scripts optimized for conversions.

Using chat can help you qualify leads and turn browsers into buyers!

Using chat can help you qualify leads and turn browsers into buyers!

Chatbots can be programmed to track purchasing patterns and monitor data from consumers. This tells a company which products to market differently, which to market more and which to redevelop for relaunch.

Most digital marketing platforms and campaigns have countless data sets. However, a chatbot can sift through that data at lightning speed, picking out the most relevant bits.

Once you have collected your chatbot analytics, you can optimize it by writing sales funnel minded scripts. This can be done using different messages to see which ones fuel the most engagement, and thus more likely to lead consumers down the sales funnel.

Using email integration, chatbots can nurture leads and push customers farther down the sales funnel. This is due to their versatility and ability to compile valuable consumer data in an effective and efficient way.

This greatly speeds the time it takes to nurture leads. Did you know it takes a human eight hours, on average, to follow up with a lead and 50 percent of leads are never followed up on. That is a lot of potential sales lost.

Automating your follow up efforts via chatbots ensures all leads are attended to. They can also qualify leads based on the consumer data they collect, including location, product preferences, buying habits, age, gender, etc.

If you’re a small business owner seeking digital marketing help, contact us here at Savvy Sister Marketing. Whether you’re looking to understand your marketing ROI, increase market share, achieve on social, or just feel more confident about your online presence, give us a call today!

Does a user want the movie, or information about bee population? Google is learning to determine user intent.
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User Intent and Organic Ranking

Is your website content  adequately addressing user intent?

Busy small business owners may understand bits and pieces of good digital marketing strategy, but as search engine algorithms become smarter, adequate keyword ratio on your website may no longer be enough to keep your site competitive organically.
You may have already heard about the concept of “user intent” in search engines – the goal of returning web page results that match what the user wants, not necessarily the exact words they are searching for. As with so many things, it’s a good idea to start with Google: While the search engine giant is typically inscrutable when it comes to the nuts and bolts of page results, there is an unmistakable turn away from what you might call pure keyword page ranking, and toward the intent of the user.
Google can do this because it has access to a gargantuan amount of data on searches and internet users. The company is trying to tweak its search engine with that data to make it more predictive and utilitarian. You may search for “new furnace vents” but Google knows that you are probably looking for “grills” and “registers” too, so it includes those in its top results (it’s worth noting that other search engines, like Bing, stay away from these interpretations, and so return very different results). You can spot the SEO keyword strategy problem here – companies that put “furnace vents” in their keywords are being crowded out by those who use “grills” and “registers” separately or in addition to “vents.”
It’s a paltry example, but you get the point. The consumer is clearly right here: They know what they are searching for, and if intent algorithms can help them find it, so much the better. But where does that leave your SEO efforts?
“Well, if that’s where Google is going, shouldn’t I follow?” is a reasonable response here. But intent of user strategies can take a lot of work, plus a new perspective at how you use keywords (hint: they are becoming less important). If you really want to jump aboard the intent train, here are a few important points you should know.
Usability: Intent and native advertising are good bedfellows. People want real information, advice, explanations, contacts, and results. Native advertising is all about creating content that’s worthwhile to read. As a result, more focus on creating full, native content means better user intent ratings.
Analytics: To study intent of user, you have to know what searches consumers are making, what specifically is drawing them to your site – and probably what your competitors are using, too. Evaluating referral and keyword source analytics will help.
Longer Searches: Most searches are between 3 and 5 words, depending on how specific people get. This means Google favors keyword phrases that are longer and more specific, because that’s how consumers are searching to get past the clutter they don’t want.
Does a user want the movie, or information about bee population? Google is learning to determine user intent.

Does a user want the movie, or information about bee population? Google is learning to determine user intent.

Related Words: Instead of just picking up keywords, Google is beginning to look at words throughout the content. If certain words throughout the article/page chime with the search (furnace, thermal, duct, HVAC, efficiency, etc.), that site will be ranked higher. All your words are becoming important.
Time: Google is getting better at intent. That doesn’t mean it’s good at it, not yet. User intent is improving, but it will take time to see the full shift, and how much it will change. Prediction and inference are notoriously difficult tigers to tame.
The paradigm of user intent is both fascinating and a little frightening for marketing teams: It’s hard to know just how big the impact will be, and how it will affect foundational keyword practices. But like with all SEO, the key is careful, continuous adaptation. In addition to incorporating a few of the tips mentioned, keep your eye on user intent as a metric.
iPhone with twitter logo
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Twitter Best Practices

Who should use this platform?  If you have a service or product that can be provided or shipped to a huge geographical audience, but is still a niche market, then Twitter is a great platform to have an active presence.  Destinations, travel services, influencers, political and social causes, non-profits, and artists are great examples of goods and service providers which do well on Twitter.

make sure each of your blogs has a designated featured image because this will auto populate into the tweet

The value of  Twitter organic marketing is using #’s to reach potential customers.  If your organization or business provides craft beer that you can ship as gifts, or parasailing adventures at a popular destination beach, Twitter is great for generating awareness, gaining brand loyalty and promoting your product and service organically.

Paid advertising on Twitter is considered “Promoting” a tweet, and this allows your tweet or Twitter Card to show on feeds of users who don’t necessarily follow you.  This is a great way to initially gain followers, but using #’s is powerful too… and it’s free.

iPhone with twitter logo

Twitter is great for products and services that cover huge geographical niche audiences.

Before you launch an awareness campaign on Twitter, do a little research on which #’s are relevant to your product or service, and start piggybacking on existing #’s in addition to creating your own brand (if you choose).  Use quality images with tweets as much as possible, and make sure they’re clear.  Quality images is important on that platform because most users are viewing their feed on their smartphone, so images are small.  If you’re linking to a blog post on your site, the “featured image” is typically the image that will show, so make sure each of your blogs has a designated featured image because this will auto populate into the tweet.

Twitter is a great free platform to promote your product or service if you can serve a huge geographical audience.  Whether you have product you can ship anywhere, or you are a destination or a cause, if anyone can enjoy what you’re offering, you likely can gain a loyal niche following on Twitter with very little monetary investment.

If you want help with social media marketing or even just an audit of current social media marketing campaigns, give us a call.  727-742-6473  We’ve got 10 minutes… We Will Help YOU!

avoiding pop up ads makes a better user experience - woman sitting at computer smiling
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User Experience and the Coalition for Better Ads

User experience is paramount in the new Chrome.

By way of explaining this, let’s travel back in time to the 1900s. Waaaaaay back in the early 1990s when AOL, Earthlink, and Yahoo were what people were using to browse the web, online advertising was in its infancy. Ads were strictly placement ads on specific websites, and sites were, believe it or not, actually indexed by human beings who would read content on a page and determine what type of query that page would satisfy. It was the wild west for online advertising because anything flashy, huge, multi-colored, and attention-grabbing was permitted.

avoiding pop up ads makes a better user experience - woman sitting at computer smiling

For best user experience, avoid pop-up ads and promotions on your site as much as possible.

Fast forward to late 1990s and early 2000, some genius college students realized what a horrible experience browsing the web was and decided to change that. Introducing Google. Google search engine was groundbreaking in that it would not show results that were paid, it would show results that were RELEVANT to the query.

Without getting into the AdWords bidding system, let’s just say that the algorithm scored “documents” (landing pages) based on their relevance to a query, and the amount that webpage owner was bidding to show their ad was a factor, but not the deciding factor. This immediately raised the bar for user experience. No longer were users at the mercy of the highest bidder. Google was the first browser to be user-centric and, therefore, rapidly became the most popular browser in the online world.

Since then, Google has set the standard for not only what is a good user experience, but what is an appropriate ad. Ads can no longer make outrageous guarantees or bait-and-switch. Advertisers are held to a fairly high standard because it’s built into the search engine algorithm that if the query does not match the information (images and text) on the page, that page ranks very low in both paid and organic results.

Now, a new level of filtering is coming into play, and it’s largely due to the findings of the Coalition for Better Ads. The role of the Coalition for Better Ads is to, like Google, ensure that the internet is a PLEASANT experience for users, users find search results helpful, and advertisers are held to a very high standard of integrity and ad quality.

The Coalition for Better Ads has actually indexed sites that offer poor user experiences, and the new Google Chrome Ad Filter, which is built right into the browser, is utilizing this data to determine which ads show and which don’t. In other words, if your site offers a terrible user experience because of pop-ups, flashing text or distracting animations, or if your site has videos that auto-play, or prestitial ads with a countdown (the ad covers the page until the countdown ends), the Coalition for Better Ads has probably deemed your site “correlated with an increased propensity for consumers to adopt ad blockers.” That’s a mouthful, but it basically means the site is annoying, misleading or distracting to a user, and, therefore, is NOT offering a good user experience.

In summary, do NOT put pop-ups on your site.

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Yelp Help

Yelp. Just the sound of that name brings joy to some and complete frustration to others. If you are a small business owner successfully and profitably running ads on Yelp, that’s fabulous, but you’re probably in the minority. If you are a small business owner and have a listing or reviews on Yelp, but have not claimed your business, keep reading. If you have claimed your business but find advertising on Yelp completely worthless, you’re not alone, and this article may offer some solutions for you.

Despite the horrible rating in BBB, and the many (MANY) issues that digital marketing firms and/or small business owners encounter when attempting to manage an ad campaign on that particular referral site, Yelp is NOT ALL BAD.

Let’s begin by explaining what an updated, accurate listing on Yelp CAN do for your small business. Yelp DOES:

  • Provide an in-bound link that offers veracity and increased dominance in local SERP.
    Allow Yelp users (we’ll talk about these people in a minute), to leave reviews for OTHER Yelp users (we’ll take about these people in a minute).
    Allow you to list specific services you provide and create a personal “feel” to your profile so potential customers can decide if you’re a good fit for their particular need.
    Allow direct messaging from Yelp users via the Yelp App to which an owner or manager can respond from their cell-phone, their email, or both. This is great if you offer any type of “rapid response” services such as plumbing or water damage clean up. You can communicate with a potential customer in real time, close the deal and be on the job site with little to no miscommunication.
    Allow you to respond to reviews and demonstrate good customer service in response to both positive and negative remarks.
    Allows “other advertisers” listings to be blocked. However, you must enter into a high-tier monthly spend 6 month minimum agreement with Yelp for this to take effect. (I’ll touch on this later.)
    Allows businesses with highly visual products and services to showcase their work. This is great for boutique bakeries serving beautiful eclairs, or for a local photographer specializing in children’s portraits. Yelp is GREAT for this type of business.

Here’s some important features and services Yelp does NOT offer the small business owner:

  • The inability to create specific ads for specific services. This CAN be acceptable if you are a housekeeping / maid service that also offers one-time deep cleans or other similar services because they are all represented in your company’s ad for “housekeeping services.” This inflexibility can be detrimental, however, if your company offers a variety of services like a concierge company. If you want to run ads for “dog walking” separate from “errands” and “house-sitting,” Yelp does NOT offer this capability. Yes, your ads for “concierge service” will show, but unless your staff is doing their due diligence on the intake form, you have no idea which services that Yelp user was looking for when your ad showed up. Services that will provide a greater ROI are obviously worth more per click, and if you only have the ability to run one ad to cover all services, this is not providing you, the small business owner, the data you need to determine if Yelp is really profitable. It’s been my experience, because I have yet to get data from Yelp to the contrary, that small business owners who run ads on Yelp pay the HIGHEST rate per click, regardless of which service the Yelp user was searching for. In other words, if the average Yelp cost for a “dog walking” click is $.80 but the average Yelp cost for a “errands running” click is $3.89, guess how much you’re paying for a dog-walking click? Yep, you guessed it, the higher rate. (Until I can see data from Yelp that contradicts this, I am presenting this as my own experience as an advertiser on Yelp and ad manager for clients with listings on Yelp.)
    The inability to set a top limit to what you are willing to pay for a click: Again, this is based on the lack of data and control that Yelp offers a small business owner. How the Yelp algorithm determines what a click for a specific query is worth is a mystery. The account managers and sales managers whom I have spoken to at Yelp will not disclose this information. If Yelp *arbitrarily* determines that a carpet cleaning lead is worth $12, that’s what they charge per click, and the small business owner has no control over setting a limit on that number.
    The inability to set specific geographical ad targeting: While you CAN list the specific cities you serve, if you are a pizza shop, you are likely limited by an actual radius, meaning that you are probably paying for Yelp clicks that are out of your service area.
    The inability to ACCURATELY track where a call / click / lead came from: Most small business owners who are in NJ would scratch their head and wonder why they have paid for a click from a call in Portland, OR. According to Yelp, the “location” of the user is reported based on whatever town the user listed as their “hometown” in their profile. (I will leave this without further commentary, because, in my opinion, this is just sheer laziness on the part of Yelp in failing to track the location of the IP address that the query came from… Absurd.)
    The inability to schedule ads: If you are a coffee shop that’s open in the morning and for lunch, your ads will run on Yelp whenever anyone searches “coffee shop near me” even if it’s 4 pm.So just when you’ve begun to think, “Forget Yelp!” I’m going to tell you not to. As I said in the beginning, Yelp is NOT ALL BAD. For many small business owners, Yelp is a great fit. This is how you EFFECTIVELY use Yelp.Enter into the top-tier agreement with Yelp if:
    1. You have a huge marketing budget, and your goal is web dominance in a multi-city area.
    2. AND you offer a VERY narrow offering of services like “Lawn Irrigation.” You don’t do landscaping, you don’t do lawn care, you ONLY do “Lawn Irrigation” or you only offer “Pest Control” or you only offer “Italian Eatery” (with multiple locations), or you are a “Public Golf Course”. Ok, moving on.

    Don’t enter a “mid-tier” agreement with Yelp at all, because regardless of the size of your business, they only offer 6 month contracts (at the time of the writing of this article anyway). If you are a small business and cannot afford the top-tier contract, I do not recommending entering into an agreement with Yelp that you WILL NOT get out of if things should go south for a season, or a slump in the economy, etc. Just don’t bother with any contract with Yelp unless you can afford to see that marketing money leave and not necessarily return.

    Run ads on Yelp that YOU CONTROL and you can pause the campaign at any time. That’s how you control the spend on Yelp – you must physically pause the ads (which cannot be done if you’re in a contract). I recommend this option for small business owners if they meet this criteria:
    1. Your business is seasonal – like a haunted house or a summer camp.
    2. Your ad budget is limited.
    3. You have the time and/or personnel to monitor the campaign every couple days and make sure you’re controlling the spend.
    4. Your business is year-round, but you offer specials like “back-to-school haircuts” or “summer sale on flip-flops.”

    Claim your business profile on Yelp, and keep your listing updated. Add updated images, respond to reviews, add a link to leave reviews on your website, etc. This should be done by EVERY small business owner. Even if you’re not actively running an ad campaign on Yelp, users can still find your listing organically on that platform.

    Which brings me to the last but not least important component of Yelp: The Yelp User. These are wonderful people. Yelp users are people who care about good customer service, who appreciate convenience (hence the app), and who are seeking to have a great experience AND THEN BRAG ABOUT IT ON YELP! Is there room for improvement in our relationship with Yelp? Absolutely, but the small business owner who understands Yelp (which now you are one of those super people), can make Yelp work for them without feeling like they’ve been taken to the (local 5-star) cleaner.