Google releases Professional Service Ads

In San Francisco, Google is rolling out its new ad program which is targeted towards connecting homeowners with professional skilled services. Its aim is to recapture the market of other review or service sites like Craigslist, Yelp, and Angie’s List. Are you ready to give up your favorite go to site for Google? Consider this first.

Speed of Information versus Cleaner Search Results

Google has always made it clear that it wants to dominate the information gathering and providing world. It has evolved over the years to provide information as quickly as possible. Ideally, Google wants whatever information exists out there to be obtained through advertisements because that’s how Google makes their money. While this is reasonable, the question is: how many ads can the consumer handle before they are turned off by the thought of searching for something in Google? With the addition of Google Professional Service Ads, you may be seeing more of the search results overrun with ads. They are starting with three ads, but that could always change. The trade-off is the speed of contact with your potential contractor versus having Google overrun with ads.

Ads Based on Individuals and the Growing Gig Economy

One thing Google has enabled for millions of people is the ability to reach a market they could never have done on their own. This has given rise to what is called the “gig economy”; where an individual providing a niche service as their main source of income, using the Internet to connect to potential customers. Sites like Thumbtack and Fiverr allow someone with a unique set of skills to easily provide that skill to those who need it. The google professional service ads taps into this market by providing an individual’s picture and contact information as an advertisement at the top of the search results. Is it a good thing? Certainly, the individuals who are making their living off of it may think so. Websites currently providing services like this may not like it because it impinges on their business model.

Squeezing out the SEO Crowd

The search engine optimization (SEO) industry has been around as long as the Internet has. It originated when people realized they could manipulate Google’s search results by stuffing keywords and links into their sites. In a way, SEO has been the reason that Google has continued to evolve because they have to continually tweak their algorithms to ensure no one abuses the system and ensures there is a reason to continue to run Adwords. With the new professional ads, there are no websites or URLs to worry about as the individual contractor signs up to the service directly through Google. Of course, they could create their own websites which could eventually pop up through the search results, but with the real estate on the page being taken up by the other ads, will people continue to click on organic results?

The Existence of Organic Results May Be Waning

The last point begs the question: is Google getting rid of organic ads? It is something that has been widely discussed over the years. If you look back to what the results looked like when Google started versus today, you would see that more and more of the page is being taken up by advertisements, and the organic results are being pushed further down the page. With the addition of these ads, one may find that they won’t even see an organic search result unless they scroll down the page. And, in that case, is Google going to continue to offer organic search? The answer is, yes, they probably will. But it may change in unknown ways. The SEO industry has proved that with today’s organic results, a power curve represents the click through rate (CTR) that websites get for their ranking. With those results being less visible, will that affect overall CTR? If organic results are affected, many websites will be forced to pay to play in Google. Paying for advertisements to ensure the success of their business may squeeze their margins and render their service unprofitable. Businesses should prepare for the impact this could have.

The Effects on Your Favorite Review and Rating Sites

Finding the gap in the market, websites like Yelp and Angie’s List have made a living by providing in-depth reviews to customers so that they know their potential service providers will be of the highest quality. With the rise of these types of sites, businesses and individuals have been forced to up their game and provide the highest quality service to compete in the marketplace. Most of these review sites have made extensive use of organic traffic to improve the visibility of their sites. With Google squeezing in more of its own ads, these sites could very well suffer reduced traffic and, if Google is successful, it could essentially render these old businesses extinct. While that may be an extreme case, it certainly wouldn’t be the first companies Google squelched in their rise to dominance.

Only Time Will Tell

The truth is, things will likely happen more slowly but, over time, the above postures could come true. In the meantime, many people will benefit from these advertisements by being easily connected with new customers. Only time will tell what the effect this roll out will have.

How To Build Buzz For Your Company’s Social Media Page

  Is your social media lacking a little…let’s say– finesse? Feeling like you could use a facelift or maybe your brand is undertaking a redesign? What matters is that you keep your brand consistent with your online personality, because without that, who are you really talking to? As we all know, social media acts as a funnel between brand and customer, a two-way street, that can so desperately turn into a head on collision if not properly driven. With that in mind, maybe it is time to spruce up your social media profiles and start getting traction for your brand. Just last week, Facebook changed it’s “friends” and “groups” icon to better suite both genders. Prior to this change, the female was undoubtedly in the male’s shadow. Whether or not this was intentional, it only took one designer to notice this and one person to bring the issue to the forefront. The longevity and success of a company’s social media presence is determined by its ability to keep up. Maintaining your profiles outside of the daily blurp is important in keeping your customers close, your competitors closer and new business booming. However, sprucing up your social media profiles is easier said than done. With guidance from the greatest online profiles, here are five simple things to consider when creating buzz for your brand:

Stay Relevant

Brands are important cultural influencers. Staying relevant on your social media profiles can be a daunting task, especially dependent on your industry. However, the ability to do so can voice out wonders to the online community. Keeping up “with the times”, as one would say, can really spark an interest to your audience on similar stands they may have, too. To some, this is a vulnerable position for a company, but the “risk” of igniting the conversation with another audience can strengthen the relationship between company and consumer far more than another #MotivationMonday post.  

  *Buffer, amongst many others, took a stand this year. #LoveWins

 

Key Takeaway: By introducing stands on relevant topics, you show that you are a thought leader. In turn, thought provoking topics help nourish customer engagement.

Infuse A Little Humor

Running a company is serious business, but that doesn’t mean your social media channels have to be. Adding a touch of humor can make your brand memorable, conversational and improves the likelihood of shares to a different audience. However, humor does rely on the right tone. If it fits your audience, a good pun or funny meme can initiate an emotional connection with the consumer and quite possibly a moment of relief from the feed. A good laugh can take some pressure off of our overtime eyelids.   

*Easily one of the funniest profiles, Arby’s keeps the audience laughing even when they’re not hungry!

  Key Takeaway: People like funny. Whether or not they can relate, they will find a way. Increase exposure (with or without a curated hashtag) and the likelihood to reach another audience also increases.

Add Video

Social Media Marketing is increasingly visual. In order for your brand to stand out, think outside the box and start incorporating video content into your conversation. Based on the people of today *cough cough Millennials*, video is in demand, convenient and easy to understand. Emotionally speaking, enhancing your conversation with the consumer through video is one way to make brand recognition last a lifetime. Thankfully there are options, so between live-streaming video apps such as Periscope and Meerkat, to the traditionally used YouTube or to the ever so trendy Snapchat, you can reach anyone and everyone.  

*Coca-Cola (est. 1886) has passed through family generations and is an expert at making life-long memories with it’s customers.

  Key Takeaway: Reinforcing your content with video improves the reach and retention of your posts.

Use Social Campaigns To Promote Content

As a company page, you’re stripped of the organic privileges at an equal opportunity for advertising space (hint: pay to play). Social networks are gearing more towards “personal” content, thus making it difficult for businesses to get in front of new audiences. While this is great for our personal (and very noisy) newsfeeds, the business page must now pay the price. If you’re looking to promote a contest, blog post, product or service, the post will need some money behind it. Don’t fret, because it isn’t expensive. Anything helps, even $10 can get your post from 3 views to thousands.   

*In this case, $10 increased reach by 5000 percent!

  Key Takeaway: You have to “pay-to-play”. Without a paid campaign, social media efforts are unheard and you give your paying competitors an opportunity at the company’s expense.

Run A Giveaway

Who doesn’t like free stuff?! Running a sweepstakes, giveaway, or photo contest can amp up the enthusiasm for your business. Many times, what you want the customer to do is already being done, people just want to be told what to do (aka Call-To-Action). Adding a special discount or a prize into the mix gives users an incentive to opt in. In doing so, you can acquire more email subscribers, Twitter and Instagram Followers, and/or Facebook Page Likes, etc. Thankfully, there are Website apps such as Woobox that make life easier with step-by-step instructions.  

*Expedia makes it an easy task – use a photo you already have and #tagit.

  Key Takeaway: Empower your audience by returning the favor – “You scratch my back, I scratch yours!”

Conclusion

By introducing some– or maybe all– of the tips above, it’s only a matter of time before you start seeing a spike in your Social Media presence. Your company’s social media profiles act as a hub of endless opportunity when properly used, so why not utilize it? Without this integral part of your plan, business can be lost and you can painstakingly watch your competitors leverage your downfalls.  

The Top 8 Digital Marketing Posts of the Week

It may have been a short week with the Memorial Day holiday, but the search engine marketing world was as busy as ever. We have combed through many of the industry’s top blogs and put together a list of the top blogs and articles of the week. Without further ado… 1. 3 Crazy PPC CRO Hacks To Boost Conversion Rates Right Now Search Engine Land consistently delivers industry news and updates, as well as fantastic posts for leaders in SEO, Social Media, Paid Search, and other aspects of digital marketing. In this post, Larry Kim dives into making the most of your PPC campaign. Hint: it’s not bidding to have the top position. 2. 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report Social Media Examiner released its 2015 Industry Report this week, and it goes hand in hand with another post from them this week – Social Media Marketing Trends Gaining Traction in 2015: New Research. I’ll ruin the surprise for you: social media is still here to stay; it’s more powerful and more important than ever. Having an effective social strategy in place will pay off in big ways. 3. Four Mobile Dos and Don’ts for SMBs Mobile has been a hot topic in recent years, especially since “Mobile-geddon” in April. Kelly Wrather breaks it down with two dos and two don’ts. “Don’t Be Afraid of Change” is a nice lead in to the next post from Conversion XL, and “Do Put an Emphasis on Quality Content” is a short version to the following post. 4. A Look at Domain Strategy for Businesses with Multiple Store Locations Another do for businesses with multiple locations is to consolidate marketing efforts with a single domain. Link building, content, branding, everything is done best when you focus in on one domain. We still see companies trying to leverage several domains and usually with little success. Our own Dylan Vergurgt breaks it down for you. 5. Why You Should Test on Mobile and Desktop Separately More than ever, users access sites and get to know brands on mobile devices. Conversion rates – ecommerce in particular – don’t match up to desktop users though. ConversionXL breaks down why and how to test differently for the mobile and desktop versions of your site. 6. Why You Need to Start Creating Long, Evergreen Content Today Mobile has had all the attention lately, but Panda is just as relevant as ever. Whether on mobile or desktop, users – especially millennials – are eating up quality content. Visual aids, especially infographics, get a lot of love, but Julia McCoy explains why long, evergreen content is your best friend. 7. 10 Tips for Keeping Your WordPress Site Secure Another hot topic in recent years has been cyber security. Whether it’s protecting your credit card information (*cough* Target *cough) or your website, taking precautionary measures is undeniably important. WordPress is an extremely popular and user-friendly CMS, so Greg Secrist lends a hand with his top tips to your site secure. 8. Is Brand a Google Ranking Factor? – Whiteboard Friday No weekly roundup of search engine marketing blogs would be complete without a WBF from Moz. Rand delivers once again and tackles a tough question. He explores how brand does or does not play into site rankings and overall digital marketing. Give it a watch.   So, there you have it: my top 8 search engine marketing blogs of the week. What would you add to the list?