There are a lot of things businesses should do online. This presentation focuses on Google My Business, Online Reviews, Facebook Advertising, Call Tracking, Directories and Citations, Marketing Automation, Mobile-Friendly Websites, Google AdWords, Competitive Research, and doing an intro video. The full transcript is below the video.
Ken Tucker: What we’re going to talk about are 12 things that I see that a lot of businesses can do pretty easily to improve their online presence. Before we do that, though, I want to just talk a little bit about the Technology Committee. I see a lot of new faces. That’s great. Welcome. We do this the third Thursday of every month. We either do it during this time, or we do it every third month, roughly, at the FUSE, which is through the Greater St. Charles County Chamber. That usually starts about 3:15 or so.
The Technology Committee is made up of a few different businesses here. If you guys would raise your hands and … Are we recording? Yeah, okay. What we do is we get together once a month to just talk about topics that we get feedback from all of you on on things that you want us to cover. We try to keep this really at a level of where we aren’t talking a lot of technobabble and mumbo jumbo. If you hear me do that, just stop me and ask a question. I’d be happy to try and bring it back down and make it more real.
With that, I guess we’ll go ahead and get started. Beth, could you? Okay, the first thing, this is my standard caveat. Whenever people think about an online presence, number one, your website is still critically important. You can’t operate a business without it, but it’s not enough. It’s typically just the tip of the iceberg.
What you’re going to see in the topics that we’re going to talk about today is largely these are going to be things that really don’t even pertain to your website, but they have to tie in and integrate very effectively with your website. We will talk about a couple of things that you can do and should do with your website. But not everything I’m going to talk about relates to your website.
Okay, so the first thing I want to talk about is setting up or optimizing your Google My Business page. How many of you guys have set up and optimized your Google My Business page? Okay. Absolutely important. If you have a physical place of business, or if you cover a service area where you go to that customer’s place of business, it’s absolutely critical that you’re on Google My Business. This is what’s going to get you to show up on the Google Map result. Then Google Map result is going to be triggered when somebody types in a product, service, or solution, followed by a location. If they’re looking for, “Mental health counseling St. Charles,” if that’s what you do and you have a facility for that, that’s how you’re going to pop up on that Google map.
Now there are a lot of different things that you can do to help your chances showing up on that Google Map. Because just having your Google My Business page isn’t enough. It’s really important to do the optimization of that page to make sure that you’re going to show up. That means writing a really good, quality business description, selecting the right business categories. Really think about what are the most important categories? Google’s going to give you suggestions that you pick from. It’s going to give you the opportunity to select multiple categories.
At a minimum, make sure you pick your primary category and make sure that it is your primary category because that’s going to be critical. That primary category probably should align with the thing that people are going to either be searching for your business the most, or the thing that’s the most obvious about your business.
It may not always be perfect because Google is going to redefine their own categories, so you might have to pick the one that’s the next closest. For example, if my business is really just focused on social media marketing, there’s not really a category on Google for social media marketing business. I probably have to pick something like digital marketing, or internet marketing, or something like that. But you can pick multiple categories. That’s an important thing to consider as well.
The other thing that you definitely want to do is you want to get images and videos on your Google My Business page. As you’re filling this out, it’s going to ask you for a lot of information. The more complete and comprehensive that you can fill out that profile, the better.
Ken Tucker: All right. Okay. We were going to talk about photos or videos. There are actually a couple of things that you want to think about doing from that perspective as well. First of all, take photos of the inside of your business, if that’s appropriate. Take photos of clients’ projects that you’ve done, as appropriate. You can actually take that one step further and you might need to know how to use Photoshop to do this. You should be able to get some resources to help you out with that if you don’t know how to do that.
You actually want to geocode your photos so it actually includes the physical location, the address data of where that picture was taken in your photo. Now, if you take your photo on your camera, that might already be default. Most cameras give you the option to turn on the actual location attributes when you take that picture so that it knows when you took that picture exactly where you were at.
By doing that, Google sees there’s a picture there. Google doesn’t know what the picture is. You need to name your picture. Don’t just upload it and have it called IMG12345. Because Google doesn’t know what IMG12345 is. Meaningfully name that image. Think about using a good keyword phrase when you do that. If you turn the location data on when you take that picture, you don’t have to go into Photoshop and add it. If you didn’t have the ability to do that, you can always go into Photoshop and add it. Do that before you upload the picture. It just makes that physical connection.
Here’s the deal. Google, right now they’re fighting a major battle. There are all these businesses that are trying to find a way to scam the system. They’re trying to create these fake business pages because the reality is the Google My Business page, there’s a point of diminishing return. Based on wherever your physical address is, the farther away you get from that, the less likely you’re going to show up in this Google Map result.
A lot of businesses are like, “Oh, well, we do business in Illinois, and we do business in Jefferson County, and we do business in St. Charles and St. Louis County.” They’ll create these bogus pages just because they can have an address there. Google’s asking for proof that you’re actually, physically located there in a lot of cases. Wants to see a picture of the street sign from the street proving that you’re physically located there.
Another thing is Google 360 video, which Paul actually is certified as a Google-trusted photographer. That actually takes an image of the inside of your business, just like Google is doing with Street View from the outside of your business. Google is doing this because it’s needing to see this proof. Because let’s face it. A lot of people try to scam the system.
I guess the last thing I would say about your Google My Business page is if you have a specific service area that you address or you draw from a particular area from your customers, make sure you mention that as part of your business description. Also, think about using good keyword phrases when you write your business description. Describe all of your products and services. Add those geographic locations of where you either draw customers from or you go out to customers to support.
Paul: Google moved the business description to Google+ page now.
Ken Tucker: That’s true.
Audience: It has to be the Google+ page associated with that particular GMB property.
Ken Tucker: That’s correct. When you create a Google My Business account now, it automatically creates a brand new Google+ account for you as well. It’s very likely that you have all of these orphan Google properties either from Google Places, or Google My Business, or Google+ Local that Google’s done in the past. It’s really important to go in and clean all this stuff up.
Audience: Is there anyway to turn that off in the Google+ page? Because we technically can’t, in the financial industry, can’t have anything that they can’t archive and see. Our Facebook page, I can’t even put that I am part of Sommer Investments because if I do that, we have to pay for them to check my Facebook and archive everything. We have a Google+ page. They’re supposed to technically be able to see all that. That’s not part of the social media that is covered.
Ken Tucker: Well, the way Google’s got it set up now, the only place that you could put the business description is on that Google+ page.
Audience: If I didn’t put it on there, I wouldn’t-
Ken Tucker: That’s a good question. Paul, can you create-
Audience: Is it even considered social media, though?
Paul: Google+ is.
Ken Tucker: Google+.
Audience: Google+ is.
Ken Tucker: Yeah.
Audience: Can you use it like a directory? Just list your name?
Audience: They have to be able to see that.
Audience: Kind of like Whitepages or something.
Paul: You have to send them the-
Audience: We actually have to send them a PDF file or screenshot of what we do on Facebook and Twitter.
Ken Tucker: Then it’s a matter of once that is out there, just like reviews, there’s nothing to limit somebody from going to write a review on any property that they can go write a review on. You have no control over that. That’s the user of their own accord doing it. Once you create a Google+ page, you might be able to turn the ability to post off so that it is just at least a directory listing for you. We’ll check on that and get back to you on that. That’s a relatively new change. Before, it wasn’t a big deal. Now that they’ve separated those two pieces, it is a little bit of an issue.
That’s leads into the next topic, which is getting a review funnel going. If there’s one thing that you do after you leave here today, I would tell you go find a way to get people to write great reviews about your business. If you don’t ask, and you just let it happen, one of two things is going to happen. You’re either not going to get reviews, that sends a strong signal because it says your customers don’t care enough about you to go write a review, or you’re only going to get negative reviews. Because reviews overwhelmingly skew into the negative. You’ve got to have a process and make it as easy as possible for people to just go out there and write reviews for you. You can get a direct link to your Google page where people, you can just send them that URL and drive them right there.
It’s also important to think about where you want people to write reviews. A lot of people have a tendency, I think, to take the easy way out and that’s to hope that people go write a review on Facebook. Facebook reviews are great. Don’t get me wrong. But when you look at it from a total online presence perspective, you really want those reviews to help you show up in search rankings also as a part of this criteria. The places that are going to help you show up the most prominently, number one, is going to be Google. Number two is going to be Yelp for almost any business.
Then you might want to start to think about some of the industry-specific sites that are out there that are important to you. If you’re a realtor, you might want to make sure that you’re getting good, quality reviews on Zillow. In some cases, your Google page is going to pull that in, or your Bing business listing is going to pull that in, from other sources.
A lot of people put a review funnel together using a customer relationship management solution. It drives people to go write a review on that platform, which isn’t going to necessarily help you rank for search. You’re collecting a lot of great reviews about your business. It’s just not very visible to anybody. It’s not really helping you from a ranking perspective. It’s really important. I think it’s really important to think about the quality of the review site in terms of ranking.
The last thing I want to say about a review funnel is now, as of fall of 2016, Google now gives you the ability to have people go write reviews directly on your website. You have to do it using a solution that’s going to do a schema.org markup. That’s basically just the data layout, if you will, that Google needs to see to say, “Ah, this is a review.”
Reviews and testimonials are different. They’re not the same thing. There’s different markup and they mean different things to Google. You actually need to have a solution that will allow somebody to go write a review onto your website. That may even be the first best place to drive people because of the overall search engine optimization on that.
Audience: What was that .org name again?
Ken Tucker: Schema. Schema.org. Yeah. If you’re going to look at a review solution that you can put on your website, make sure that it has the ability to put the review on there under the schema.org markup.
Let’s see. I think that’s probably good on reviews. If you want to know more about reviews, or even potential different sites, let me know. I just published a book on review management.
Audience: Just out of curiosity, Ken, when someone writes a review, does it autopost to your website or do you have the opportunity to see it before it goes?
Ken Tucker: We use a solution that actually gives you a seven-day quarantine period so people can write that review and you have an opportunity to respond. It gives you a customer service opportunity maybe-
Audience: That’s a good idea.
Ken Tucker: To address an issue if somebody is frustrated, so that maybe you can get them to go back and write a positive review. You should be monitoring these reviews. You should be setting it up so that you’re getting an email notification every time somebody writes a review. When they write a review, it’s important to go in and respond to that review even just to say, “Thanks. You guys are a blast to work with. We really enjoyed your project,” or whatever it is.
Or, on the flip side, if it’s a negative review, again, you have to be careful about putting gasoline onto the fire. Sometimes no matter how you respond to somebody, it may just make the situation worse. It’s hard to know how that’s going to happen and it’s really hard to get it removed off of one of these sites. But the best practice is really just try to continue to get strong, positive reviews. It’s not the end of the world if you get a negative review. People can recognize a review that somebody writes because they have an ax to grind and it may or may not be a real issue.
The more important thing is they want to see that you’re paying attention, and you’re responding, and trying to make things right. That’s probably the most important thing on reviews.
Audience: Thank you.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, there are a gazillion of these different review sites that you might want to think about from an industry perspective, but I always encourage people to look at these general directories first, especially Google and Yelp.
Next, adding the Facebook pixel to your website. How many of you guys know what the Facebook pixel is? You better know. Okay, great. The Facebook pixel is just a piece of code that Facebook gives you. You have to get to it through the Facebook ad manager. It’s a piece of code that you put on your website that, wow, can you do some really amazing things with this.
It gives you the ability to create website custom audiences. Once you have this pixel on your website, you could actually … Let’s say that you do offer five core services. You put the pixel on the website and you set it up so that you want to build a custom audience around your Product One, or Service One, that you do. Anybody who goes to that particular webpage, you can build a custom audience of people who went to that webpage. Now you can use that custom audience and that’s your Facebook targeting for your advertising criteria. You can deliver an ad exactly about the page that they were on. Highly-relevant, very targeted.
Instead of running an ad in front of a couple of hundred, or a couple of thousand people, you’re running that one ad, highly-relevant ad, to a very small group of people who visited your website. You can do that based on different parameters; 30, 60, 90 days. It depends on the nature of the product or service that you’re buying, the buying lifecycle, how long does it take for somebody to make a decision.
You could even get a little bit more sophisticated so that if there’s a success page … For example, I have a book online that I wanted people to download. They click through the download button. I could run one ad to people who went to the page, but didn’t click that download button. I could run another ad to people who clicked the download button and went to a different page for different reasons.
It could be one is I still have somebody who I know is interested in my topic, but didn’t take the call to action that I asked them to do. The other is maybe I want to send them a thank you, or maybe I want to send them another email that says, “Hey, look, if you’d love to get together and grab a cup of coffee, click here to schedule an appointment and we can talk through how you might be able to apply some of the principles in this book,” or something like that.
The Facebook marketing pixel is absolutely amazing. It gives you the ability to target based on when people come to your website. Very simplistically, you could just do it to say, “Hey, anybody who was on my website in the last 30 days, run an ad.” Or you can be very targeted and specific to individual pages. Pretty amazing stuff. It’s kind of scary, but it’s pretty awesome.
I’m sure all you have seen an example of this. If you ever go to Amazon and look at a product, guess what. You’re going to see an ad from Facebook showing you that product either in your newsfeed or on the right-hand side. That’s the kind of thing that Amazon is doing. Somebody had a question. Yeah?
Audience: Is that a subscription service? Is there a cost?
Ken Tucker: There’s no cost to put the pixel on your website. There’s only a cost when you choose to advertise. Anybody can sign up for a Facebook ad account for free.
Ken Tucker: Yeah. Even if you’re not using it, go ahead and put this pixel on because you might want to be using it before too long. I do want to step back and have a caveat and say, look, I think it’s really important to think about your overall marketing strategy first. These are all tactics, and these are low-hanging fruit, and these can have some immediate value. But I also encourage people to take a step back and really think about the importance of strategy and how you can integrate these things so that they can work together for you and make sure that you’re spending your time and effort working on the right things.
Let’s see. The next thing is setting up a call tracking number. Whether you’re going to be sending direct mail, or whether you’re using a Facebook ad, or even on your Facebook page, or even if you want to know that somebody is finding you because you showed up in a directory listing somewhere like yellowpages.com, or Manta, or local.com, you can actually set up a call tracking number so that anybody who calls you from any of those properties, you could trace that call. It gives you a recording of the call. It gives you a lot more visibility and accountability. It’s a great way to take a direct mail program and know how it’s accountable, know how many people called you as a result of giving that direct mail, or any advertising campaign for that matter.
The other nice thing about it is you do have the call recording. You can go back and listen to these recordings. Here, if you’re spending money on advertising, I think you would want to know is that ad bringing you qualified, interested people when they’re actually taking the time and effort to call you? If you hear that there’s a disconnect from why they called you off of a certain phone number to what they’re talking to you about, maybe you even change your ad, or stop doing your ad, and go do something different, and save your money, and reinvest it elsewhere.
The other thing is look at it for a customer service opportunity. As an example, we’ve got a client we just go in and sometimes we spot listen to some of these calls and see the tone of the conversation of what’s going on. One of these calls happened during the weekend when they had their answering service turned on. The answering service was actually telling the caller, “Hey, look, sorry. You’re going to have to call back on Monday.” Not saying, “Hey, we’re sorry we’re closed right now, but can we get your phone number and I’ll make sure that when we get back into the office, we’ll have somebody call you first thing Monday morning. Unless it’s an emergency, and then maybe we can triage it and do something different.” They had no idea that their answering service was answering the phone that way. How many missed opportunities did they have as a result of that?
You can also use it as an opportunity for customer service training or sales training by being able to listen to those calls. I think the call tracking number is a really cheap, very cost-effective way to help you prove marketing ROI, but also improve either sales or customer service.
Building quality, consistent citations. By-the-way, these are in no particular order. It’s just my random thinking based on things that I find to be pretty valuable for most businesses to be working on.
Building quality, consistent citations. Bad data is rampant on the internet. The way your business is listed, your name, address, and phone number, those are three really important elements that have to be consistent everywhere. If there is any inconsistency, even the way you spell center versus center, if you abbreviate center, “Ctr,” or spell it out, that can be seen as a difference.
Believe it or not, you’re going to have a business listing out there in places you have no idea. You didn’t create it. It was just pulled and generated from you because there are a lot of services that just do that. There are these big data aggregators that take that data and they pump it out there to these different sites. In the state of Missouri, they’re going to pull from the Missouri Secretary of State’s office because that’s where business data is listed. They might pull from a chamber website. They might pull from a variety of different sites, some of which maybe you feed to them and claim a direct, real listing yourself. Others, they’re just going to be generated. They all have their own algorithms. They all decide how they want to put the data out there.
It’s really important for you to go in and clean this stuff up, and make sure the name of your business, if you’re LLC, you have an LLC at the end of your name or not. Every place, and every one of these directories should be consistent. Your address, the way you spell out your address, and your phone number.
The trick is if you’re going to use a call tracking number, that call tracking number, you should use it in a way that it’s not going to mess up the way you’re listed on these online directories. Probably can’t really get into that too much today, but just make sure you create a master record and then you try to get this data the same everywhere. It may sound like a real pain to do, and it is. There are some management tools that you could use to do this. There are some subscription services. There are actually several tiers of solutions that you can use. Or you can do it all manually yourself, but it’s a really important thing to do.
The more of these citations that you have, the better. Because each one of these is a trusted property in the eyes of the search engines, even the lower vein, or whoever. The more that you are listed out there in these different directory properties, they all give you an opportunity to link back to your website. If the data is consistent, and those links are coming back to your website, that just raises the SEO of your website. At the end of the day, citations and inbound lanes from other websites coming back to your website is probably still the overwhelming, most important thing that you can do to help your SEO. Yeah?
Paul: When you do that, do you use different search engines to look for where it’s different? Like Bing will give you a different result than Google will. DuckDuckGo will do something else. Dogpile will give you a listing of 30 or 40 different web browsers.
Ken Tucker: We have a standard set of, what, only five or six queries that we do just for Google My Business pages, just for like a Manta, or some of these other different directories that we’ve identified that seemed to be the ones that set the tone for quality of overall data out there. Literally type in different structures, different queries, a combination of business address, business phone number, and see what pops up.
I guarantee you, if you try those, you’re going to find what we call duplicate listings. They’re really more doppelgängers. They’re not exactly duplicates because there’s going to be different data that pops up for these different listings. Very, very common. If you’ve ever moved your place of business, I guarantee you have bad data out there.
At the end of the day, what Google is trying to do is it’s trying to deliver the highest quality, most relevant search results to the end user as possible. If it sees that it’s not able to definitively say, “This business is actually, physically located here with this phone number,” because it sees all of this other data over here, that might be the thing that keeps you off showing up on the Google Map result. If you’re not on the Google Map result, for many businesses, that’s a killer.
You really have to think through this stuff and work at it. I wish it was just snap of the finger, but we no longer have the hard copy, bound version of the Yellow Pages. It’s been replaced by hundreds and thousands of these directory listings online. That’s the modern-day equivalent. We can ignore it, but ignore it at your own peril, I guess. What’s that?
Audience: On Google Maps, is that why some businesses, when you search for a business, sometimes you get the call, directions, and something else? Huh?
Audience: I think it’s website.
Audience: Yeah. Call, directions, and website. Sometimes you don’t. Is this why?
Ken Tucker: It could be because they didn’t put that information into Google My Business page.
Paul: It could be that or it could be a service, what Google considers a service business where people don’t come to there. In that case, they don’t list the address.
Ken Tucker: Yeah, that’s a good point. When you’re setting up your Google My Business page, if you don’t have a place of business that people come to and you actually service them in their location, you check this little checkbox. You still need to put in your address. It’s just not going to be displayed on your business listing. What it will do is then you have the opportunity to say, “I serve people within a 25-mile radius.” Google will know that that’s the area that you’re going to cover. I would still put those words in your business description on your Google+ page that’s attached to that. Describe all the physical locations that you will provide support to. Okay.
Ken Tucker: Setting up a Facebook local awareness ad. A Facebook local awareness ad typically is going to have a call to action of call now. It’s a really pretty cost effective way to just help you build a little bit more of a permanent presence on Facebook. You can set it up based on any of the Facebook advertising criteria you want to. You can go as simple as, “Show it to everybody within a five-mile radius of my business, or a three-mile radius of my business.”
If you’re a restaurant and you know that 90% of your customers are likely to come from a one-, two-, or three-mile radius, you can set it up to only display for that and not worry about anything else. If you knew that you tailored to people of a particular income level, you could certainly use that as your criteria to run this ad. But it’s a real easy way to run an ad and try to generate calls.
When you connect the call tracking number to your local awareness ad, if your call to action is call now, you’re spending money running Facebook ad and now you’re measuring the performance of that ad in terms of the calls that were generated not only from your Facebook ad campaign, but also from your call tracking system. It’s really one of the easier ads to run.
I think it’s just if you have a nature of a business where people see an ad, they’re likely to call, then I think that’s a good opportunity. It’s a pretty cheap way to just get impressions and get some visibility online on Facebook. Okay. No, we’re good. We could talk all day about Facebook advertising.
The next thing is making sure your website is mobile-friendly. If you haven’t checked that out already, please do so. It’s starting to get to the point where Google is now providing preference over how your website is going to be displayed in search ranks, especially if somebody is doing a search from a mobile device. We’re now absolutely clearly in an era where there are many more searches being done from a mobile device than from a desktop or a laptop.
You guys know what I mean by mobile or mobile-friendly responsive? If you pull up a website and you have to pinch it or zoom in on it to get it to display and make it easy to read, it’s not responsive. You want to make sure that you actually address that because it’s starting to become a really big factor.
The other thing that’s closely related to this is people, now that they’re using their phones for search more than any other appliance, it’s changing the way people are searching. Near-me searches is becoming much more important, again. That’s where you’ve got to make sure if you’re working in a local area, you’ve got to be showing up on Google search results.
Guess what. I haven’t seen this substantiated anywhere, but I talked to a marketing consultant that I work with pretty frequently, and they told me that they had a conversation with somebody from Google who said, “You won’t even show up in a near-me search on the Google Map listing if you don’t have an average of four stars or higher and you have at least five reviews on your Google My Business page.” Again, that’s kind of a showstopper for a lot of businesses. I haven’t seen that written anywhere, but we’ve just heard that from the inside.
Page load speed is also really critical. Just when you make sure your website is mobile-friendly, part of that is that if the pages load quickly. If the pages don’t load quickly, one of two things is going to happen, neither good. People are going to give up and they’re going to go somewhere else because they don’t want to wait for your website to load. Or Google is going to recognize that it’s taking a while for your website to load and believe it or not, it’s one of the 200-plus criteria that Google uses to say, “How am I going to rank a website for search results?” If your website is slow loading, even if it’s mobile, it could pull you down in their search rankings. Anything else, Paul? That’s probably the main thing.
Paul: Yeah, that’s the main thing.
Ken Tucker: If you don’t know if your website is mobile-friendly, just Google, “How do I see if my website is mobile-friendly?” I guarantee you Google is going to have a tool that will allow you to test it.
Paul: If you have an image-heavy website, make sure they’re compressed.
Ken Tucker: That’s true. Yeah. Any images that you have, make sure that they’re not going to be big files that take a long time to load, so there, compression. If you use WordPress as your website solution, there are plugins that can actually take your pictures and compress them down so that they’re going to load faster. Or maybe you just need to, and maybe you need to upload them anyway, because again, the whole geotagging of a picture that you put on your website is still just as important as whether you put that picture on your Google My Business page or not. If you haven’t done that, you might want to just download those pictures, add the geotagging, reupload them, but reupload them making sure that you compressed the files. Yes?
Audience: The website can get overwhelmed with plugins. Is there a maximum number or beyond such a point that it really hampers your website with loading?
Ken Tucker: No. Because it’s going to vary based on the nature of the plugins. In general, don’t have any plugins that are not active, take them off your site because it’s going to be a security vulnerability for one. Every plugin you put on there does increase the likelihood that it’s going to do something to slow down your load time of your website.
I try to keep it as lean as possible. I guess we’re typically looking at 12 plugins or fewer, typically. You’ve got to have the plugins that you need to have for your website for the user experience as well. General rule of thumb, I try to keep it at maybe around 10.
Audience: I know there’s plugins you can use for lead generation, and follow-up, and all that built into WordPress. I would imagine that adds a lot of load.
Ken Tucker: Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. Sometimes they actually offload it to their solutions well.
Creating autoresponders. An autoresponder, and you can do this off your website, or you can do this through some email marketing campaigns, but marketing automation is huge. Again, the example of if somebody were to download a book off your website as a PDF or something like that, you could actually have an autoresponder that sends them a thank you message with a link so that they can save it in their email in case they forget how to download it, and they lose the file, and they need to go back later.
They’ll put them into an automation sequence. This is reputation management. The next thing I want to do is if anybody who downloaded this, maybe I want to send them a message about the importance of getting your business on the right directories. Maybe how social media ties into your overall search engine optimization. You can define that sequence. It all typically is going to start with some kind of an autoresponder that you use based on the call to action that you’re asking somebody to take.
That’s more than just if they fill out a form on your website and you display a success message saying, “Thanks for contacting us. Somebody will be in contact with you soon.” That’s a display message. It’s not an autoresponder, where you’re actually using the email that they entered in to send them an email back, because that gives you an opportunity to actually start a digital conversation.
Actually, it could be as simple as, “Hey, thanks for contacting us. If you’re interested in staying up-to-date with all of the latest marketing trends, subscribe to our newsletter,” or something like that. Make sure you’re taking advantage of those. There are a lot of things that I think people probably leave those opportunities on the table.
Optimizing Google AdWords. Google AdWords, this is where you pay to run an ad on Google. It’s like building a superhighway for a search phrase based in the geographic area that you want to run your ad for. Yeah, they can be expensive, but they can also be very, very effective. If you’re not already ranking for a search phrase that’s really important for you, this may be your best, fasted option to be able to get there.
Don’t just set it up. Don’t rely on even Google, necessarily, to set up this ad campaign for you. It requires optimization and maintenance over a period of time to get it to perform in the best way possible. It’s a really cheap way to experiment, to find out what are the search phrases that people are using to find your business, especially when you’re not already showing up for those searches. Take that information and harvest it, and pull that into your keyword strategy for what we call the organic part of your website, meaning the things that you can do on your website itself, that you don’t have to pay to advertise on Google or Bing.
You want to look at things like negative keyword phrases. For example, let’s say roofing. Let’s just take the example of roofing. If somebody’s looking for a roofing contractor, you probably want to have a negative keyword. You’re the business owner or the business. You want people to find you because they need a new roof on their house.
When you’re running a Google AdWords, you don’t want to pay for people to click on your ad if they’re looking for employment. The word “jobs” is considered to be a negative keyword. That will actually keep your ad from even being displayed when somebody types in “roofing contractor jobs.” It’s a way to make sure you save yourself a lot of money in unnecessary clicks. Those clicks, probably, for all those negative keywords, are probably delivering a poor experience to the user anyway.
Guess what. That just feeds back into the dragging your Google AdWords campaign down because if they go to your website, and it’s not what they think it was about, and they bounce, that hurts your quality score. Which Google has an algorithm that determines quality score. Couple of things about that is if people go to your website and immediately bounce, that’s going to pull it down. That’s going to keep your ad from being displayed as frequently. It’s going to make you pay more per click.
But Google AdWords is a great supplement to make sure that you’re being found online. You can do it in a very cost-effective way, but you have to think about it and organize it to make that happen.
The worst thing that Google does, in my opinion, is they send all of these coupons: $100 free when you spend $25 on Google AdWords. People set their budget at $125. They build a really loose Google ad campaign. They blow through that money and they don’t get any results. They say, “I tried that and it didn’t work.” I don’t know why Google insists on doing that because it just creates bad experiences that hurt people from finding a way to really valuably use their product. Google AdWords, it’s a fantastic solution. You have to set it up properly.
Doing competitor research. I think it’s really important when you’re looking at trying to create your online presence, you’ve got to go see what other people are doing. There are all kinds of tools, snooping tools. Half of my job is I’m a PI kind of snooping around to find out what’s working for other businesses and what we can take and implement for other companies, or find out what’s working for us and see how we can make that work even better.
Don’t be afraid to snoop online. There’s a lot of data that you can find. If you’ve got three strong competitors, go look at their Facebook page. What are they posting about? Are they using hashtags as they’re posting on Twitter or Instagram? If so, does it make sense for you to use those hashtags?
If you know how to do a view page source, which is going to be a little bit different in each browser, that’s a great way to take a look and see what every page … Every page, you can view the page source of how that page is coded on a website. You can view that to see what solution did they use to create the website. You can take a look and see how they write their description, or what they consider to be their focus keyword phrase for that page.
That may give you some good ideas about, “Oh, I don’t even have any content on my website about this.” I think it’s a great thing to do. It’s actually a lot of fun. Sometimes it’s kind of scary because you find some results that it’s like either on the positive or the negative. It’s like, “Wow, nobody is doing this, so that’s a great opportunity if we spent some time and effort to do this.” Or, “Wow, how am I ever going to out-compete these folks?”
Another really easy thing to do is to type in this query, “Site:,” and then the name of a domain. For example, don’t put the www in there or the http or https before that. Just type in site: and then changescapeweb.com. What that will do is it will show you all of the page a real simple way. It’s not perfect, but it’s a pretty good way to do it. It will show all of the pages on a website. It will give you the search results. You can see that there are maybe 150 pages on a competitor’s website. You might have five. That means you might need to think about creating more content on your website.
You can also take a look at what we call on-page SEO factors. Especially the URL, the title, and the description. The meta title and the meta description are going to be displayed there. You can see if somebody is implementing good on-page SEO practices or not. You can see how many pages a competitor might have. It’s just a great, simple little …
Ken Tucker: Okay. You can see at the top about 405 results. That means that Google’s indexed 400 pages on my website. Then this is the title. This is the description. Not every page you need to worry about optimizing. You should try to optimize most of your pages.
Hopefully I’ve got some good examples here. Here’s a bad example, actually. This description, this is my focus keyword phrase on my marketing St. Charles. But my description doesn’t say, “Online marketing St. Charles.” I’m missing an opportunity with that page to have it be as strong as possible to convey that that’s about online marketing in St. Charles.
Ken Tucker: Anyway, keep that in mind. That’s just a great, simple little way to get a quick gauge of are you doing on-page SEO right and how many pages has Google indexed on your website? Then you can do that for any of your competitors or any other website for that matter.
When you’re doing your competitive research, it could be looking at great competitors in town that you run head-to-head with every day. Or you could look at an aspirational competitor. For example, if you’re in the grocery store business, there are obvious local businesses and chains that are in the same list area. Certainly look at them, but maybe you also want to look at a national chain like Wegmans, or Safeway, and see what they’re doing, and see if there’s anything that you could learn from what they’re doing, and maybe take it and apply back to your business. It’s not just direct competitors. Think about it from an aspirational perspective as well. There’s, what, one more bullet?
Audience: Keyword research.
Ken Tucker: Do keyword research. Okay. Yeah, so a couple of ways to do keyword research. Google AdWords, you have to sign up for a Google AdWords account. Right now, it’s still free to do so. There are some hints that they may start to charge for this, but right now it’s still free.
Paul: Or remove some features.
Ken Tucker: Or remove some features. But you can actually go into the Google AdWords tool. You have to create an account. But then there’s this tool called Keyword Planner inside of Google AdWords. You can go into the Google Keyword Planner and you can type in some keyword phrases. You can have it go out and find other suggested phrases that are related to that.
Or it will also give you the ability to display AdWords groups. Google organizes a set of keyword phrases around the way people are advertising on Google, and what ads they tend to pay for, and what keywords are associated to specific ads. Those categories are actually a signal of what Google thinks is important. Go in and take a look at that.
You can also just freeform. You can just start by typing four or five keyword phrases and then hitting submit and seeing the suggested results that come back. You can actually export that into an Excel or a comma-delimited format. You can then work with prioritizing it and reorganizing it however you might want to do.
You can also add to a geographic restriction. This is where you may or may not get a lot of great data. In some cases, you probably have to type in “St. Louis” to get an overall trend about whether or not something is important in the way that somebody searches in St. Louis.
For example, a different keyword phrase would be “roofing contractor St. Charles,” versus, “St. Charles roofing contractor.” Those are two different keyword phrases. You can see the search volumes for each of those phrases. It may not give you St. Charles, so you might have to go back and say, “Okay, well, it doesn’t have enough data for St. Charles, but if I go to St. Louis, it probably will.” You’re going to say, “Oh, well, roofing contractor St. Louis gets five times more searches than St. Louis roofing contractor.”
That’s important to know because you only have a finite amount of time to create content to put on your website, but it also is going to tell you how competitive that keyword phrase is. It may be easier to go for the phrase that has less volume because it’s a lot less competitive. Keyword Planner is great for that.
Another thing to do is, Beth, if you could just go to Google and just … Browser. Just start typing in. Don’t hit enter. Just go into the browser and start typing in “roofing contractor St. Charles.” Now stop right there. See the suggestions, the autofill that Google’s pulling up? Those are potential keyword phrases that you might want to start to think about because these are happening frequently enough that Google is suggesting these to autofill.
Audience: Are they ranked up there?
Ken Tucker: They’re not necessarily ranked.
Ken Tucker: But these are important enough that Google is saying, “Ah.” Type in “co.” Okay, that’s probably better because now you’re seeing contractors, companies, and you’re seeing the variety of roofing contractors: “St. Louis, Mo., roofing company St. Louis.” Two different search phrases. Those are phrases that if you’re a roofing contractor, they’re probably important phrases for you to rank for. Just hit enter on the, “Roofing contractor St. Louis, Mo.” The other thing is if you scroll down all the way to the bottom of the page-
Ken Tucker: Okay. Searches related to. That’s another important area. This is giving you Google’s suggestions. Sure, it may be based on how people are advertising on Google. Speculation is that maybe things that show up on the autofill as you’re typing, that my driven by Google advertising, but these are literally other searches that Google sees that are very common when somebody types in this search phrase. These are other phrases that you might want to try and optimize your website around. I think we’re getting close to time. I want to leave time for some questions.
Audience: You’ve got shoot an intro video.
Ken Tucker: Oh, shoot an intro video. Video content ranks really well. If you’re going to do video, you can put that on YouTube. YouTube is the second most-searched site on the web. Google owns YouTube. If you put it on YouTube, it’s probably going to rank pretty well for search. You have to go through and optimize the way you post the video differently than the way you post content on your website, but it’s a really important thing to do.
You can take that video, you can upload it directly to your Facebook business page. Don’t just embed your YouTube link. You want to actually upload the video because that video, if it’s natively on Facebook, it’s going to perform a lot on better. Video is the number one thing right now in terms of being displayed on Facebook. Typically, it gets more engagement: shares, likes, comments, things like that.
You can also take that video, like what we’re going to do today is I’m going to take the video of this. I actually have it transcribed and I put it on my website. Now I have a video that’s going to go on Facebook. It’s going to go on our website. Google sees there’s a video, but it doesn’t know what I’m talking about. It doesn’t know what I’m saying. That’s where the transcription comes in, so now I put that transcription on my website. I’ve been talking for an hour. I probably have 8,000 words. That long-form content, I guarantee you Google loves that stuff.
Anyway, I want to make sure we leave some time for some questions. Hopefully this was valuable to you guys. I know it’s a lot, kind of a lot to go through in a short amount of time. Hopefully it gives you a pretty good idea of maybe you can walk away with one or two really good things that you can really apply.
Audience: You mentioned a transcription with your videos. Is that something that should be done on all videos? Or you’ve got to pick and choose, I guess?
Ken Tucker: Well, you certainly can pick and choose. It depends on what you want the video for. I would recommend doing it for every video. We use a service called rev.com. Rev.com. It’s $1 a minute for transcription. That’s pretty cheap. This is going to be about an hour long, so it’s going to cost me $60, but I’m telling you, having 8,000 or 10,000 words on your website about 12 things to do online right now is probably a pretty good investment for me for my website to help in terms of findability. Hopefully it’s interesting, shareable content.
It depends on the nature of the video. But you also want to consider taking that transcription, if you’re going to upload it to YouTube, you might want to put that transcription on YouTube. That does definitely help with the optimization of the video.
Audience: Do you want to make that PowerPoint slide available on the Facebook page?
Ken Tucker: Absolutely. Absolutely. That and the video is going to be posted on our Facebook business page as well.
Audience: Make sure everybody knows about that.
Ken Tucker: Facebook businesses, is that the sign for it back there?
Ken Tucker: Okay. Let’s do this one more time. STCCTechComm-
Audience: Right there.
Ken Tucker: Right there. If you haven’t liked our page, we do post. Some times more than others, but we do post about interesting things that we find. I know Mark, and Beth, and Anna, and I all post some things about Microsoft updates or issues. Don, I think you’ve provided some things maybe about security-related issues and things like that that we want to make sure everybody knows. These are the folks who contribute to putting together this regular, monthly meeting that we do.
You guys should have evaluation forms in front of you. On the back, if you could write down any topics that you want us to cover in the future, maybe go into depth more so, we’d love to get your feedback.
Audience: Then next month?
Ken Tucker: What is next month?
Audience: Next month is Happy Hour.
Ken Tucker: Happy Hour. All right.
Audience: We’ll be at the FUSE. We’ll be presenting different apps that we find helpful, or cool, or beneficial to business.
Audience: The flier is on the table over there they can pick up.
Audience: I believe it’s May 18, this FUSE. Tech Comm will be around 3:00, 3:15. It will go for 45 minutes and that will take place at the Foundry Art Center on North Main in St. Charles. We’ll send out notices, reminders. It will be on the Facebook page.
Audience: Before we get too far along, why did everybody come? Does anybody want to tell us what made you come to this one? Was it the topic? Was it how you-
Audience: How did you hear about us?