Sunday, August 14, 2016

Top Spot on Google: Tougher than an Olympic Gold Medal?

Winning an Olympic medal is an amazing achievement by athletes who have dedicated years to win the highest honor in their chosen sport. For businesses, the Top spot on a Google search in their product or service is now viewed as their digital Gold Medal. With talent, proper training, great coaching, and perseverance over time, finishing in the gold for an Olympic athlete is possible. Getting to the top of a common Google search may not be tougher, but it certainly isn't as straightforward.

Longevity weighs heavy in Google algorithms for search engine results page (SERP) placement. If you have been established selling your product on the web longer than anyone, that bodes well for you.

The main factor is of course relevance.  In addition to your website's age is it's relative content.  Then add in the basics of the desired keyword in your domain name, several other meta data factors, and the relevant companies and organizations that link, but that's just the basics.

Take the world "Olympics" for example. You can take all the money in the world outbid every bidder in Google Ads and have flawlessly optimized your website, and you will never reach the top. That's because the Olympics is a brand and the Olympics® will always be awarded the top spot due to relevance. This applies to virtually every well known organization and brand. 

I was once asked to interview to run the SEO department by a bank with very deep pockets. It's site was ell optimized but they were late to the digital game with thousands of competitors who had spent years trying to place for the same. Management had one question: "When will you get us to the top spot in Google search for the term 'mortgage'?  My answer: "Never. And no one else can get you there either." Needless to say I didn't get the job and no, they still haven't gotten the top spot.

I know what you're thinking: if they had such deep pockets why not spend a fortune on paid search? Believe it or not, relevancy weighs [almost] as much in paid search as it does in organic. Because the web surfer is Google's client long before they are yours. And they give the customer what they want. No relevancy and your ads become more expensive -- that is if they ever get shown.

So is every top spot untouchable? No. Here's a few ways companies get that Gold.
  1. Their champ falters. Just like a heavyweight that lets his guard down, the same can happen to your competition. If they ignore their SEO, and/or get more clicks and visitors for a product you both sell, you will rise. 
  2. They invent a new "sport". Water Polo with Ping Pong balls? The top spot is likely yours. Same goes for new products. Let's say you invent a time machine, or a solution that actually turns a sow's ear into a silk purse? Or you can microfocus. Instead of trying to place for widgets nationally, optimize a page for best metal widgets in Washington.
  3. They cheat. The Olympics disqualifies athletes for steroid use; Google does the same to businesses who deploy "Black Hat" practices. They will catch you eventually. Just don't do it. Choose your vendors and those who run your paid search carefully or you can get banned. (Really? Banned by Google?) Yep. I've seen it happen and it's a nightmare.
Winning the top spot on Google does not mean it's engaging content with great calls-to-action. Nor does it guarantee closed sales or increased revenues, more click through rates and higher form conversion rates. And for digital businesses, that's what the finish line is all about.  

Frank Bocchino is marketing communications manager for Revana Digital, a Digital Marketing agency leveraging paid search SEM, conversion rate optimization, SEO, and industry-innovative predictive analytics and geo-targeting that result in sales.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Social Media: Avoid Bad Tweets and Recover When You Don't

In Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror film The Birds, a town is paralyzed when birds viciously attack unsuspecting citizens. A remake of sorts is being done online and it's called The Tweets. Designed to give the common man a voice to be heard, Twitter has now become a loaded gun for politicians and celebrities with which to shoot their feet. Everyday, bad tweets seem be pecking their way into the media creating more havoc and ill-will than promotion.

Certainly some are bigger offenders than others, but it's not just the orange-crested loons making bad tweets. It's companies too. So what's a bad tweet and how do you rebound from them?

Think of Twitter as a ticker tape to the world. It's a great way to quickly communicate with customers, vendors, fans, etc. Recently a well known marketing automation company released a tweet with "four-letter" words. It was trying to stand out with a catchy play on words, maybe appeal to a younger crowd I suppose, (As if only young people curse?) But in a business to business community to me that seems to go too far. Some try to slip through the cracks but they are always caught.  At its core, Tweeting is another form of advertising and should not include anything you wouldn't say on broadcast television or to your grandma. That said:
  • Don't use vulgar words or sexy images
  • Avoid taking sides politically
  • Avoid religious or racial stereotypes
  • You can use humor, don't make it edgy
The best advice I can give is wait. What might sound cool and clever when you think of it might sound incendiary the next day.  So what if you don't wait and impulsively Tweet something off color or controversial?
  1. Delete the tweet. No it doesn't make it go away forever but it will slow the burn.
  2. Explain and apologize. Hit the wrong button? A victim of auto correct? Tell us what happened and we may believe you.
  3. Don't explain and apologize. Sometimes we're just plain wrong. It happens. Bite the bullet, admit fault, and move on. 
Finally, entrust your social media posting to someone you'd tell your bank PIN. Yes, it's that important. One celebrity may be facing jail time for posting a photo of an unsuspecting guest in a gym locker room, another in hot water for tweeting a racial slur, so if you choose to take flight on Twitter, take it seriously. Otherwise your company may be starring in its own horror story of its own.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Use Your Cell Phone As a Phone? You're Old.

Watch a millennial's face when their cell phone rings. First, it takes them a second to realize what that sound is. Then you may witness a range of emotions, anywhere from confusion to annoyance to complete panic. One thing's for sure though. They won't answer.
Actually fewer and fewer people do use their mobile phones to talk.  That's why phone carriers give you unlimited minutes now. (And you thought it was because you were a loyal customer.)  Oh sure, that annoying business guy with the double non-fat, two Splenda upside down latte, who likes to broadcast his "win/win, no-brainer" deal to you and everyone else in earshot at the coffee shop still yaks on the phone but it's just part of the image he's brandishing.  But "live audio messaging" as it is better described now is passe.
"So who are you listening to these days?," they ask as I walk on by with my earbuds on.
"Uhm...another person. You know, the one who I'm having a conversation with?"
Using a cell phone to talk is the new sign of old age. Today we communicate by text, selfies, six-second Vines and Snapchats. Or better. Not at all. If in doubt, ignore and hibernate until the messages cease...

Now that I've got you sufficiently fired up,  I'm here to tell you that no, you're not old is you use your cell phone as a cell phone: you're savvy.  Advances in digital technology were not supposed to end the way we communicate, but rather enhance it.  We now have the power to leverage the data through digital marketing, blending technology using all of it - and yes even none of it when we are face to face.
So text, message, post, tweet, chat, and yes even call.  It's better than OK.  It's smart business.

Frank Bocchino is marketing communications manager for Revana Digital, a Digital Marketing agency leveraging paid search SEM, conversion rate optimization, SEO, and industry-innovative predictive analytics and geo-targeting that result in sales.