As the year 2016 draws to a close, the term ‘Internet Marketing’ will be remembered by many business owners and shops as the one thing they need to do better next year, but will it still be a ‘thing’ in 2017?
According to David Walter from a leading Hunter Valley web design and marketing agency, the term ‘internet marketing’ should be left in 2016.
“It (internet marketing) is no longer seen as another form of marketing for a business. Just as TV and radio fall under the one banner of marketing or advertising, so too will web based marketing” said Mr Walter.
With more business owners finding the need to advertise online as well as their offline efforts, Mr Walter believes we should do away with the term internet marketing and focus on web based advertising as what it is – marketing and advertising.
“Why shouldn’t we count web advertising in the same category as TV and radio? It is just as essential, if not more, in this day and age. With web based spending by consumers on the rise, along with product and service searches on mobile devices becoming the normal, businesses need to include web advertising into their marketing and advertising strategies, alongside the normal media.”
In a recent talk given by Mr Walter, he explained how he believes that in 2017, business owners will need to focus on their marketing budgets and targeting their correct audience. To do this he suggested researching the current buyer or user of your brand, and analysing their habits. Do they listen to mainstream radio? Are they attentive during commercials on television? Are they looking online for your type of product or service?
Research has shown that people looking for your product or service are more likely to buy, whilst people who see your advertisement somewhere might recollect seeing it, but not necessarily be moved to take action. Mr Walter, in his talk, suggested utilising a new form of SEO.
SEO, a term thrown around a lot throughout 2016 and earlier, stands for search engine optimisation. It relates to improving your organic ranking in search engines online such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.
David believes that more and more searches online are being carried out on mobile devices and not always through a search engine like Google. Someone looking for a good restaurant nearby might use the Yelp application whilst others searching for accommodation might look through TripAdvisor or AirBNB. The point he makes is that businesses should identify where their audience is looking and ensure your brand is showing up firstly, and secondly is attracting positive user generated content like reviews and feedback.
While SEO will help you get found on local and national search results on search engines like Google, some digital agencies miss the mark when listing businesses in the appropriate online directories and applications. David tells his audience to confirm with their marketing team or digital agency that they are finding the right listings and search terms for their brand, and ensure they are not wasting money on optimising something that will not help improve their return on investment, such as web advertising that gets blocked by their ideal user.
David Walter owns and manages web marketing agency, Xmedia Digital Solutions, and has been helping business owners since 2009 do more with technology and the web. He is open to explaining his opinions in the field of online advertising in more detail and can be contacted through his business’ website. As a digital marketing guy would say, just Google it!
This article originated on davidwalter.com.au by Brydie Kiem.
Many clients I speak to about their online marketing needs are concerned about getting ads up for their latest promotion, keeping their Facebook page full of fresh posts and photos, and blogging on their website. But is this the important stuff when it comes to getting the most out of your online marketing?
Simply put, no.
Step 1 – treat your online marketing like every other bit of marketing you do. It is no different, apart from the mediums you use. For example, what would you do before running advertising on a billboard, newspaper or tv advert?
You would keep it aligned with your other advertising, you would look at the audience you are trying to attract, present an offer applicable to that target audience, as well as ensuring you have a way of measuring your results.
If you were about to spend thousands of dollars on a television or radio ad, you would want to know it was going to pay off. You’d expect it to help with both brand awareness and pushing across your latest update, promotion, offer or whatever your draw card may be – same with digital advertising.
The benefit of digital advertising is being able to monitor the demographics, impressions and reach as well as clicks. But where are those clicks landing? Ideally, those ads will be linking to a unique landing page with strong call to actions, little to no distractions like menus, and a good presentation of why your brand is the best.
Something to consider when running digital ads and spending big budgets on banner ads and retargeting is do people really want to see your ad? Are you just pushing around your brand in front of someone who isn’t interested? What if the user had visited a tennis website to look for a new racket for their child. Then they go to a soccer website to check out what Christiano is up to – your tennis specific banner ad is going to follow them around. Sure it won’t cost you unless they click on it, but will it annoy them? Research shows more and more people using ad blocking software to do away with this annoyance. Sure, Google Analytics will tell us how thousands seen your banner ad, and how many clicked on it and even purchased on your website, but what isn’t it telling you and how do we judge this?
With more and more searches being made online through smartphones and tablets, being on Google search is a must. So are text ads on Google search the way to go? After all, the user is looking for something related to your keyword if it shows, and the chances of it being clicked on are immediately higher. With so much of the Google search page real estate now covered by ad listings, it is worth making sure your business is in the game.
Mobile Search is where its at
As more people search from mobile devices, we need to consider the way we approach online advertising. As I mentioned, text based ads are a great way to show up with appropriate online search results on Google search, but what keywords you use needs to be carefully researched.
With many new phones offering voice search, the search terms will resemble more of a phrase than a word. For a long time, we have recommended longtail keywords to target niche audiences. Longtail keywords, rather than single words, are short word combinations that narrow down the options. For example, as well as the word diamond, a longtail keyword might be argyle pink diamond. With voice searches, people are more likely to search for something along the lines of ‘Where do I buy a pink diamond engagement ring from?‘
Negative keywords need to also be monitored with your text ads, you don’t want to be losing budget on words that will never relate or convert into sales for your site. Although they may be getting clicks, are they the right demographic? Are those clicks converting to a sale?
Mobile searchers, as well as seeing text ads on Google search, will also see Google local and business listings, followed by organic results. Organic results are ranked by relativity to the search term and how much Google’s search algorithm decides a site will help provide suitable and helpful answers and information. There are also a lot of other factors that determine page rank.
How to Rank on Google Search
To be found when people search for you, you need to have one or more of the following:
- Google text based ads
- Google Map Listing
- Google Local Business Listing
- Organic Website Listing
Text ads are simple, and all it takes is a well researched Google AdWords campaign, but how do we get you listed in the other 3 places?
For any business, it is essential to have a Google Business page. This will also allow local business owners to verify their location and get a map listing linked with this. We also list clients on Apple maps so no matter what phone people search from, they are bound to find directions to the business.
Organic results can be where things get tricky, as unlike ads, you can’t just throw money at it and they start appearing. SEO or search engine optimisation takes time and a lot of work, but to help you get started faster, we recommend online directory listings.
Even if your website is not listed in the top 5 results, you may find sites like YellowPages and LocalSearch will show results here. So to help people find your brand, we list your business in as many of these directories as we can for your industry or budget. Most of these sites also allow linking back to your website.
Now we find that when people are looking for your product or service, there is a higher chance of your brand getting found on Google as you show up in text ads, Google business and map listings and organic directory listings. Great! Now it’s time to work on your website.
The Hub of Magic and Mystery!
Your website should be as useful and simple to use as it possibly can. We list the most important factors for any website to be:
- Easy to use Navigation on Desktop and Mobile devices
- Clearly defined Call to Actions prompting quotes, sales or enquiries
- Super fast loading times for pages and images
- Lots of useful and shareable information on your product or service
- Easy to find contact details and forms
- Amazingly beautiful, especially on mobile devices
With attention spans going out of fashion real quick, we need to make websites that encourage people to stay on them longer, think video guides, helpful tips, reviews, bonus offers and how to instructional guides. Simple navigation for both mouse clickers and finger swipes, easy to access information about the product or service and where to buy it, and fast loading too. You do not want your customer giving up on your brand because the site is taking too long to load, especially if they are all excited about your brand after clicking an ad or reading about it somewhere else.
By doing all of this, we are not only satisfying the needs of our customers, we are also giving Google everything it is looking for. With recent changes looking to make the search giant favour mobile content, we need to ensure websites are fast and simple to use on mobile devices like phone and tablets.
Now for the magic you don’t see, the on site page optimisation. We need to ensure Google and other search engines know what your website is all about. For this, we use a combination of things including:
- schema markup
- meta titles and descriptions
- image alt tags
- link titles
- internal linking
- category pages
- keyword optimisation
- server and browser caching
- content distribution networks
- in depth site maps
- updated htaccess and robots.txt files
By giving Google all the information it needs when it indexes your site, it will allow it to better match it to appropriate search terms. You will also find that if your off site links and content connect back to your site with very similar tags and content, it will help your rank as Google starts to understand and trust your brand.
Now, its not as simple as I have made it sound, and it definitely involves a lot more, but ticking all these boxes will get you heading in the right direction.
You can tell Google how good your website or brand is, but what counts more is when other people tell Google how good you are. Think user generated content like forum comments, social media comments, online reviews, and blog posts. The more of this you have, tied in with a presence on Google business, will help build trust in your brand and you will notice your ranking in organic search results improves.
Make every Dollar Work Hard
In summary, when we talk about Return on Investment, and marketing budgets, we don’t need to focus on keeping up with the Jones family. Focus on what will connect you with your target audience. Where are they spending time online, what do they interact with, are in your face methods going to work or annoy them?
We recommend to our clients they focus advertising budget on 3 main areas; search text and Facebook ads, website updates and external link and trust building.
By doing so, you are giving users all the information about your brand, product or service when THEY are looking for it, rather than plastering it everywhere all the time. Sure, plastering banners everywhere will help with impulse buys and works well for some products, but not all of them. Do your research.
We are launching a new self serve SEO platform next week that will allow business owners, agencies and SEO freelancers access to resources for link and content building, guest posts and even access to big brand websites like entrepreneur.com, Huffington Post and Engadget. Watch this space, or contact the team at Xmedia Digital Solutions for more info.
What do you believe is most important when it comes to digital advertising?
Mobile Devices are here to stay
Not sure if you have heard the news, but Google has confirmed it will be focusing on websites that work best on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Mobile devices are used for a great range of things these days from helping in-store decisions on purchases to getting ideas whilst doing something.
As for these new changes, there will be a Google search primarily focused on showing great mobile friendly search results. Although they will still have just one index, it means if your website does not work well on mobile phones and tablets, it will drop in rank for mobile searches. Here is what Google said on their blog:
“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.”
Why is Mobile First Design Important?
Whether its a new or old website, you need to ensure your site is going to both look good and work on mobile devices if you want any chance at all of showing up on Google search results. With most searches these days coming from mobile and non-desktop devices, it is worth putting in the extra effort to get found on mobile devices. How often do you use your smartphone to quickly Google something, from directions, reviews or shopping?
SEO or search engine optimisation is about optimising your website and listings so they show up well in Google search results, preferably on page 1 of Google, because seriously, how many times have you dusted the cobwebs off page 2 of Google search? This change has been coming for a while now, and smart business owners have taken advantage of it by making their websites responsive to screen sizes, or creating a secondary site solely for mobile users.
A website on a mobile device needs to look and work differently to that of a desktop. Firstly, from a user point of view, the site needs to still be easy to read and laid out correctly. This means choosing appropriate fonts and text size. Secondly, most of these devices will be employing the user’s finger or a stylus as the cursor. Your site navigation needs to take advantage of this with appropriately sized buttons and link boxes.
Mobile devices is a broad term and covers many devices. This is why we recommend using a responsive WordPress theme that will change it’s layout actively to suit the different screen widths. Phones are all shapes and sizes, there are Apple iPads in a myriad of screen sizes and displays, as well as other tablets, kiosk screens, advertising monitors and boards, and so much more. Having a secondary site dedicated to mobile is one thing, although it primarily focuses on phone and tablet screens, whilst its desktop counterpart takes care of the big screens. Sometimes there can be an in-between size where neither of these sites look and work well on. Our biggest headache has always been the iPad mini screens. They can be difficult to cater for with some website designs, especially because they need to look good using the device in both portrait and landscape view. #webdevlife
How do I get a Responsive Website?
Depending on what you already have, it could be just a simple upgrade to some code. Other times, it could be worth starting fresh and transferring your website to a new platform, theme or design. We recommend either Twitter Bootstrap or a responsive WordPress theme like Divi from Elegant Themes.
QUICK SHOUTOUT to Divi builder by Elegant Themes. As part of the Divi theme, the page builder makes things super simple, and I prefer the user interface of it more than that of the popular page builder, Visual Composer. The latest version also allows you to build and modify on both the back end and through the front end. The other benefit worth mentioning is being able to modify the screen size view for each module of the page. Perfect when you are trying to get something looking just right on a device like the iPad mini!
Having responsive sizing means that it is coded in to the CSS or cascading style sheet, and your website will include settings for different sized screens. This will then actively change your website’s layout dependent on that screen size.
To do this effectively, we need to ensure that the main navigation, images and text content is easy to see and use on something small like an older touchscreen phone. We also then should check how it displays on something like the latest iPhone with retina display. Images need to look sharp and crisp on all sizes, text needs to be easy to read, and navigation needs to be simple to use.
A RESPONSIVE SITE IS NOT ALWAYS THE PERFECT RESULT. We have seem many WordPress themes that state they are responsive, but using them on a mobile device is woeful! Be sure to always test the theme out and don’t just rely on the package notes stating a feature. After all, you might as well just have a great desktop site that looks half decent on a mobile device than a mobile version of your website that does not work.
What about website size?
I believe that size will play an important role when it comes to mobile first website design, solely because everyone wants everything now, and waiting for a website to load is a waste of time. Attention span? Think Goldfish! You need to make your information accessible as quick as possible. No wasting time on page load or confusing navigation.
Secondly, if more and more people are using mobile devices and phones on cellular networks, the amount of internet data they consume is going to be a key factor. So keep that in mind and scale your images correctly, optimise how much content is on each page, and please…. test it out yourself on an actual phone!
Test your website right now
The first place to start before worrying and planning changes is to check how your site performs currently. Plug in your web address into this Google doo-hicky and it will output a result. More green the better people! TEST YOUR SITE NOW
So what will happen if I don’t?
It is quite simple really. Google will have the one search index but will tailor search results depending on the device they are shown on. If your market audience spends 90% of their time on mobile devices, and your website is not mobile friendly, when they do a search for a product or service you offer, you might not get found. But that’s ok, how many people use Google anyways, really?!
Don’t risk getting lost on Google search results, make sure your website caters for both mobile and desktop users. We have been designing and updating websites for business clients across the Hunter Valley to ensure that their web presence is mobile friendly. Most online directories work well on mobile devices. It is no use getting found on these and people clicking through to your tired old non-responsive website. Web is important, and for many businesses, is your shopfront. Make it always look its best. If you need help, employ a professional. My business is always available to discuss your options, and see where you are currently at.
Talk to the team today.
When it comes to helping your website show up on Google search results a lot of people employ SEO tactics they have heard work best. This can be fine, although with recent changes to Google’s search algorithm, it could do more harm than good if not done right.
Here is a recent post I did on our Facebook page about the problem and how to get around it. Please share if you found it useful….
If you are a regular user of Google Adwords campaigns you may have noticed the newish feature of expanded text ads. Have you tried them yet?
What are Expanded Text Ads?
They are the same as your usual text ads and still use the Google search and display networks, although differ in a few unique ways:
- Two headline fields (up to 30 characters each)
- A single, expanded description field (up to 80 characters)
- A Display URL that uses your final URL’s domain
- Two optional ”Path” fields, used in the ad’s Display URL (up to 15 characters each)
Benefits of Expanded Text Ads
What does this mean for the user, or people seeing your ads? They can access more information before clicking off to another URL.
For the advertiser, a great advantage of using expanded text ads is they are larger and take up more space on mobile screens. Built mobile first, Google Adwords text based ads will cover more screen real estate than standard text ads. They also allow for a longer description field as well as two headlines. We all want more attention on Google search results, right?
How do I get Expanded Text Ads
They are live now and when you create a new text based ad you will see the new layout. Currently you can still switch back, although after October 26th, the new layout will be your only option.
With majority of online users now active on their smartphones and tablets, taking advantage of screen position is vital. Google something on your mobile device and you will notice ads are very prominent. With the roll out of the new expanded text ads from Adwords, we can take up more space for our ads which in turn should increase our click through rates.
Have you tried them already? What is your take on them, will you be taking advantage of the increased real estate? Do you think Google is doing the right thing, or are people getting sick of ads? Would love to hear your feedback!