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“We have seen a significant increase in our sales that goes beyond the first click. This is an increase that we can tie back to the search campaigns run by our partners at Nina Hale, Inc.” — John Schroeder, Retail Business Intelligence Manager, Room & Board

Blog Archive

Archive for April, 2011

Activities While Using Smartphones

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Mobile is becoming ever more important to online advertisers. We do a lot of mobile advertising and expect it to continue to grow. Leslie Gibson had some fun today putting her own analysis on some stats we got from Google on activities conducted while using the internet on smartphones. (i.e. – “when do you surf the internet on your smartphone?”

Google Boost – Location-based Ads for Local Businesses

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Location-based advertising is so “in” right now. To stay on top of the game, Google has released a new geo-sensitive ad product designed for local businesses called Google Boost. Initially released in its Beta form in San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago, Google has now released Boost nationwide. As with everything Google does, Boost is garnering some attention. But how exactly is Boost different from a Google Places listing or AdWords?

Basically Google Boost is a marriage of the two, without the necessity to manage an intricate Adwords account. Boost allows you to create a key-word based campaign similar to those in AdWords that runs in tandem with Google Maps, much like a Google Places listing. The ads themselves are a true melding of the two, with text that looks like a Google Ad but additional information native to Places listings.

The Boost ads hold both basic information about the business, including the business name, address, phone number, and link, as well as a brief blurb about the business, star ratings, and number of reviews received. These Boost ads are set apart from Google Places listings by the blue marker (as opposed to orange), that appears both next to the ad itself as well as on the business’s location on the map.

For example, if you’re the proud owner of a new wine bar and restaurant in San Francisco with a Boost account, your ad may appear when someone searches for “San Francisco wine bar.” Here’s what the search result might look like:

If you already have a Google Places listing, you can create a Boost campaign from within that account. After the initial set-up, including setting a budget and listing relevant keywords, Google Boost is designed to run hands-free ad infinitum. Kind of an out-of-sight, out-of-mind product. This self-managed ad campaign produces ads that appear in the “sponsored links” section of Google web searches, Google Maps, and even some mobile devices. And as with Google AdWords, you only pay for the clicks your ad receives and not by impressions.

For those advertisers familiar with Adwords, Boost is virtually a simplified and automated version of an ad campaign running with location extensions. The impact that Boost is having on the overall paid search landscape is increasing the competition both in local search as well as paid search on Google.  Boost makes it easy to get into the paid search space.

Google Boost is a neat new way to highlight local businesses with little work on the creator’s part. To learn more about this feature, head to Google’s blog and read more.

http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2010/10/advertise-your-local-business-with.html

*Since this blog post was written, Google has rebranded Google Boost as Adwords Express. For more information on AdWords Express, visit the Google website:

http://www.google.com/awexpress/

Growing Twitter Followers by Using Google AdWords

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

A Pro Bono client of ours, Ploughshares, is a non-profit grant-making organization dedicated to the safety and elimination of nuclear weapons. Google has generously awarded Ploughshares a Google Grant, which grants a level of free clicks on Google AdWords for qualified keywords and ad copy, and we have assisted in applying for the grant and watching over it.

After the Tsunami in Japan, Ploughshares President Joe Cirincione was in great demand by the media for his expertise about the issues and risks associated with radiation from the Diiachi nuclear plant at Fukushima. Both Joe and the Ploughshares organization are well known as knowledge experts on nuclear issues. They both have active Twitter feeds where they share their knowledge – as well as that of their grantees.

After the damage to the nuclear plant in Fukushima, we created some additional campaigns in their Google Grant built off keyword searches pertinent to Ploughshare’s expertise and the crisis. One of the campaigns was geared towards growing more followers on Twitter for Joe. This was highly relevant because of his rapid updates about the crisis. The exciting thing about this campaign was that it created a new avenue to grow followers for a Twitter feed. Identifying specific keywords from people looking for analysis and updates about the nuclear situation in Japan, we had results of over a 5% click-through rate, still within the boundaries of the Google Grant. 5% clickthrough rate, in most situations is a very strong result. Over the past month we’ve sent 1,251 people to Joe’s Twitter feed from Google AdWords. And while Joe has been very prominent in the media during this time so he’s likely growing his followers from many channels. We don’t know the full source of followers, but Joe has grown his Twitter audience by over 1,000 followers – nearly 30% growth – in the last month.

What excites us about this is that we’ve been able to assist in identifying a channel to get more Twitter followers. We’ve done this for Facebook – using Google AdWords to grow the fan base, in the same manner.

New Google Analytics Version – Our Initial Thoughts

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

We’ve been enjoying the new interface on Google Analytics for a week now and can say it’s very stable– not buggy at all, and it’s probably too early to really judge all of the features as we suspect they will change in coming weeks. Here are some initial thoughts and observations base on what exists in the interface today.

Probably the biggest obvious change is the high-level navigation between accounts and profiles. Gone are the days of the dual drop-down boxes separate for accounts and profiles. They are lumped together in one nicely formated tool with a handy search field at the top. The search is very flexible, so if you’ve named your accounts a mixture of every thing from “www.example.com” to “My Analytics Sites”, you can type in any portion of the account name and find it easily.
new-google-analytics-screen-shot-nav-menu

The homepage has an exploded version of the account drop-down tool with plus and minus boxes for expanding and contracting the list. Unfortunately, the list does not remember open/close states, so closing all of your less often used accounts won’t keep them from taking over the list. The account list does have four handy icons next to each profile with a direct link to Visitors, Content, Traffic Sources and Conversions.

new google analytics screen shot home menu

One of the more exciting items: The previously often overlooked Custom Reports area now has its own tab on the main toolbar! Building custom reports is arguably more simple and lacks the drag/drop bells and whistles of the previous version. One item Google did add is a choice between “Flat Table” and “Explorer” reports. While the Google help page is a little lacking right now, it seems as though the Flat Table is better for exporting to Excel, while Explorer is more interactive with an adjustable graph and clickable links.

Advanced Segments are also not integrated into the Custom Reports interface, so they’ll be more difficult to forget when exporting certain types of traffic.
google-analytics-flat-table-explorer

Some missing items: At this time, it is not possible to export a Custom Report as a PDF, but we expect that will change any day. Also, there doesn’t appear to be a mechanism for deleting tabs within the report, which can be frustrating as when you edit the report, you are started in the most recently created tab and not the first tab.

new-navigation-google-analytics

In general, we like what we’ve had time to discover with the new interface. The important data is all there, just moved around. For example, the Visitors data is now organized into Demographics, Behavior and Technology. It’s slightly confusing, but Google has provided this handy tool to help us with the translation: http://www.google.com/analytics/report-finder.html

Google’s New +1 Button: Word of Mouth Google-Style

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Google +1 ButtonOver the next few weeks you’ll start seeing new, small buttons next to search results, Google Ads, and eventually even on websites themselves. Presenting Google’s newest update: the +1 Button. Google bills this as a “public stamp of approval,” and it pretty much is. By clicking this button you add your name to your recommendation of that link to friends and contacts. Basically it’s Facebook’s “like” button: you click it and, if you have a Google profile, when your friends use Google they see that you have “plus one-d it” or recommended, that link. This could be incredibly helpful when trying to choose, say, a hotel or a microwave.

For example: Your friend Herman needs to buy a new lamp. He shops around, looks a few sites, and finds one with both the perfect lamp as well as other great lighting. In fact, he likes the site so much he decides to hit the Google +1 button to tell the world how much he likes it. A few weeks later your lamp breaks, so you too go to Google searching for a new lamp. And there in the search results is a little personalized annotation saying that your dear friend Herman recommends a particular lamp site. Problem solved and search simplified!

This button will start on Google Ads and search results, but soon websites will have the option of adding the button directly to their website, allowing users to recommend their site without ever leaving the page. Each user’s +1 information will be kept in a new tab on their Google profile.

What does this mean for SEO? The new +1 button will act as enhancements to an already successful search campaign, allowing the good sites to gain an even larger market share of search rankings. The +1 will impact how organic search rankings are calculated, but most likely won’t change the way the quality score is calculated. Increasingly social recommendations will become important for SEO efforts, adding to link-building as a “sniffer” for relevancy. This is an expansion of the “starred sites” that Google rolled out a few years ago.

For more information about the Google +1 button, head straight to the source and see for yourself: http://www.google.com/+1/button/.