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“In addition to the daily optimization of our search campaigns, the team at Nina Hale, Inc continues to bring fresh, new ideas to Room & Board to help drive online traffic and sales.” — Jill Linville, Director of Communications, Room & Board

Blog Archive

Archive for May, 2012

More On Penguin Update

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

There’s been a lot written recently about the Google Penguin update, Google’s new spam-fighting algorithm. And according to Matt Cutts in his interview with Danny Sullivan, it’s working. Penguin is an algorithmic change – no human intervention is involved so if your site has been negatively impacted, a reconsideration request won’t work. Matt has provided two videos on how you can clean up your site, and if you feel you were wrongly penalized, use the Penguin Feedback Form to tell Google your site wasn’t at fault.

When you read what Google considers spam, or even what constitutes a “quality” site and what doesn’t (high bounce rate, site speed, time spent on site, etc.) you can most certainly predict what will be included in their algorithmic changes. If you’ve overdone linking so it puts you into the spam bucket, watch the videos – NOW. If your site is over optimized, clean it up – NOW. If analytics shows the site’s bounce rate is too high or people spend little time on the site, evaluate what the issues are and fix them – NOW. 

It is human nature to think if something works, more of it must be better. This is not, and has never been the case with optimization strategies. Building quality links slowly and naturally has always been the way. Writing quality content that keeps visitors on your site (and entices others to link to it) has always been recommended. Keyword spamming was frowned upon 10 plus years ago.  Google keeps telling us – we need to listen.

Fun with Google Map Maker

Monday, May 14th, 2012

When we talk about maps at Nina Hale, Inc, we tend to focus on the frustrations we have with locations merging, or the occasional hiccup we see when uploading a data feed to Google Places, but rarely talk about the fun side of maps.

If you just snorted and said “ha, the fun side of maps,” this blog post may not be for you.

I’ve recently come back to playing around with Google Map Maker after thinking it wasn’t really for me. But we had a client whose map was displaying incorrectly on their site, and customers had called to complain that they were getting lost.

It turns out that the city where this store resides had slightly changed the name of the road, and Google got confused. So I went into the Google Map Maker and added some hours, categories, phone numbers and descriptions. Basically all the same fields that you would find in Google places. I also changed the name of the street to reflect what the city had decided. Problem solved!

Having fun yet? I didn’t think so.

Here is where it gets fun. The mapmaker functions like a cross between Wikipedia and Yelp. It’s a place where if a business or park doesn’t exist, you can go in and add it yourself. You can approve changes made by other users in the area. You can DRAW the outline of your new building! You can add points of interest. What is a point of interest? You decide. You can, you can, you can…you can do whatever you want!

Cancer Survivor's Park

 

Just this morning while looking out the window of our new office, I noticed the beautiful park across the street. It wasn’t in the maps, so I added it. Just like that.

It’s a great extension to the often frustrating experiences people tend to have with Google Maps.

Nina Hale Inc – Open House Photos

Friday, May 11th, 2012

A special thanks to all of the NHI friends who stopped by last Thursday. We’re thrilled to share our new downtown space with clients, friends and family.

To see more photos, check out the Nina Hale Inc Facebook page.

The Dangers of Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

The illustrious Katie Pennell often writes blog posts about the funny searches we come across while digging through search query reports and analytics for our clients. Today I wanted to share with you an ad that popped up while I was doing some ad hoc keyword research for one of our fabulous clients.

Take a minute. Read it again. It really does say that.

You can pretty much bet nobody wrote that ad on purpose. It occurred because the advertiser was using dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) to put keywords into the ad, well, dynamically. The way it works is:

  • User conducts search
  • Keyword triggers ad
  • The keyword that won the bid is displayed in the ad dynamically (not necessarily matching the exact term searched – which is why the whole term is not bolded)
  • In this case, the ad displayed leads me to laugh hysterically and take a screenshot

The thing about DKI is that it can be very effective. You just have to organize your keywords very carefully and then write your ad with those terms in mind. This way you’re thinking about the context they will be inserted into.

Or not. And then I will be forced to blog about you.

Getting Social? Optimize It!

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

At the risk of sounding like the PortlandiaPut a Bird On It” sketch, I’m going to say this once (twice if you count the headline*): If you’re active in social media for branding, marketing, lead or traffic generation, you must, must optimize it! Put some SEO in it!

It’s becoming increasingly clear that social media is playing a bigger role in SEO and overall brand awareness, and most people are taking the first step of jumping on the social media bandwagon. (Hello new Pinterest users!) But simply being on a social network isn’t enough. It’s a start.

Today, Search Engine Land shared their Four Steps to Create the Foundation of Social SEO. They offer some really great tips, especially for the B2B crowd, which often has the toughest time nailing down social practices as tactics vary in effectiveness for each business type and audience.  It’s a recommended read if you fall into that B2B area, for sure, but I want to talk about their Step 3, which is to “Optimize Your Social Profiles.”

Sure, there’s strategy, competitive analysis, relationship building, social media footprints, etc … but if you’ve recently jumped into Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, Vimeo or any other social network for your business, the next thing you should do is optimize.  While this is Step 3 for some, it should be the very first thing people do, in my opinion.

To do so, it’s important to be aware of your keywords and target audience (topics which could lend themselves to entirely separate posts). I’m assuming you won’t get to this point before at least having some idea of what these are, so we’ve fast-forwarded.

Then, make sure all your profiles include some of those keywords: in your profile, your photo and video descriptions, captions, blog posts, tweets and pins. While you definitely don’t want to come off as spammy, it’s OK to share information about your company or business in a natural way and complete your social profiles with said information.

As Search Engine Land says:

“At its core, SEO is about leveraging information to be found when someone is looking to answer a question. This is also true for SEO in Social – in order to influence rankings, you have to have ‘content’ or information that is findable.”

In other words, don’t miss an opportunity to rank in search results or have your information shared by tweeting to your followers to “Check this out!” What is “this”?

Clearly, the information on your social profiles and in your social content is key, but so is linking to your site. Optimized social profiles offer a great opportunity to take up more results on search results pages (thus pushing down competitors and making sure your audience knows where to find you). Let’s say someone lands on your Flickr account before your website (where you want them to make a purchase, fill out a form, etc…).

Wouldn’t it be best to put a link to your site or landing page right on that Flickr profile or photo? And probably linking from one social profile to your others when possible? Yes, you agree? Gold star for you!

While navigating the world of social media as it relates to SEO can be tricky, you can sleep well at night knowing you’ve at least optimized your profiles and updates.

*I guess it was more like five times.

 

Keeping An Eye On Google AdWords Updates

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

It’s that time again for our PPC Nerdiness to show up on the blog in a big way. There have been a lot of fun updates to Google AdWords lately, some more glamorous (or contentious) than others, but here is quick recap of the updates upon which we’ve been keeping our collective PPC eye:

 

Google Changes Ad Rotation Settings

Currently, you can set your ads to rotate evenly (indefinitely), for Google to optimize the rotation for clicks, or for Google to optimize the rotation for conversions. Starting this week, the “rotate evenly” setting will change – the ads will rotate evenly for 30 days, at which point Google will then start to automatically optimize them. In order to keep this from happening, you will have to edit your ads at least every 30 days to keep them rotating evenly. Google’s public thought on this is that they are helping us to better test our ads by automating the steps that we should take after 30 days anyway. But some tests may take longer than 30 days, so it will be important to keep an eye on ads and keep them rotating evenly if you are doing an A/B test of any kind.

 

Google AdWords Now Features Account Labels

Now you can quickly “label” your keywords to segment them into custom groups. An example for one of our accounts might be to segment keywords by geographic area – Atlanta, Des Moines, and Minneapolis. This isn’t a huge change per se, but certainly makes Google AdWords a little closer in comparison to the relative dexterity of some bid management tools when it comes to managing massive amounts of keywords. Labels are a great way to organize and optimize various categories of keywords that may span across campaigns.

 

Google Increases Transparency in Quality Score

Sometimes, you know your quality score isn’t as high as it should be, but you just don’t know why! Now, we get a little more visibility into what facet of the quality score is dragging it down. Previously, you could see your poor quality score but couldn’t quite determine what was causing it. Google has updated the status hover for keyword quality score to include ratings for expected click-through-rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. This way, it’s a little easier to see if it’s the ad, the keyword, or the landing page that is giving you trouble.

As Google continues to improve its PPC platform, we’ll keep you updated on all the changes we’re most excited about!

Searching for Safety

Friday, May 4th, 2012

As the head of the Safety Committee at Nina Hale Inc., I spend a lot of time making safety-related searches as I educate myself and plan for the safety of my co-workers. Often these searches provide examples of best practices and common errors that can be applied to all search marketing.

Maximizing the Value of your Content

Below is a screenshot of the search results for “office safety checklist” (a great place to start for any newly formed safety committee).

 

As you can see above, 5 of the top 7 results are “.pdf” documents. While these results are relevant and provide me the information that I desire, they prove to be dead-ends and prohibit me from further exploring and engaging with the sites where they are stored. I’m certainly not saying that .pdf’s are bad, but when trying to build traffic and engage on your site, having the same information on an HTML web page would be preferable.

Optimize your Paid Search with Reviews

My next quest is to properly outfit the office with equipment that we may need in an emergency.  First on my procurement list are flashlights and extra batteries. I decided to go with flashlights powered by CR 123 lithium batteries due to their long shelf life, bright light output, and the fact that they are less likely to be repurposed for other uses and therefore available in an emergency.

The screenshot above shows the PPC results for my search. I think the ad from BatteryJunction.com is particularly effective given that they are in the tough position of going up against Amazon in this search result. I’ve never heard of them before and would probably default to clicking to Amazon, except for the seller reviews integrated into the paid ad. While BatteriesJunction.com has fewer reviews than Amazon, they are close and, based on their name, they must sell an awful lot of batteries.  I may still end up buying from Amazon, but generating reviews and utilizing them properly can help a lesser-known brand compete with the larger competitors.

Building an office safety plan is much like building a search plan although there are some major exceptions which I will cover in my next blog posting, “How to Stop Thinking like a Search Marketer and Start Thinking Like a Safety Officer”.

 

Google Analytics Social Value Reports *Now With Trackbacks!

Friday, May 4th, 2012

This week, the Google Analytics blog reported the addition of backlink URLs and post titles right inside the heart of the social ROI reports. Unfortunately, these reports are only available for what Google calls their “Data Hub Partners”.

The reports are located on the “Social – Sources” report and then by clicking the “Activity Stream” tab.

The report displays the URL of the linking page and the title/content of the linking post, so it is easy to gauge the tone of the post without even leaving Google Analytics.

Hopefully Google will expand these reports to include non-Data Hub Partners soon.

Search & Quick Response

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Traditional marketing tactics can often be unwieldy, taking precious time to launch that could cause a company to miss news event opportunities. Search marketing is flexible and allows for quick response for real time action to events. The constant challenge for any marketer is to capitalize on opportunities as they happen, and search marketing is designed for this type of flexibility.

Nina Hale Inc. works with a variety of Google Grant clients, including Ploughshares Fund, the Walker Art Center, and MinnPost. Organizations that are awarded a Google Grant receive up to $10,000 per month of in-kind advertising to promote outreach, fundraising, and volunteerism for their nonprofit organization. Due to limitations of the Google Grant, including a max CPC of $1.00 and limited channel access, Google Grant clients often find taking advantage of the entire grant fund difficult.

In instances with three Google Grant clients, Nina Hale Inc. created AdWords Campaigns and Ad Groups that capitalized on news events, improving click-through and conversion rates for Ploughshares Fund, the Walker Art Center, and MinnPost.

Ploughshares Fund is a public grantmaking foundation that works to build a safe, secure, nuclear weapon-free world by developing and investing in initiatives to reduce and ultimately eliminate the world’s nuclear stockpiles. On March 14th, 2011 an earthquake shook Japan and created a crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Due to the flexibility of search, Nina Hale Inc. was able to create a pay-per-click campaign the same day the earthquake hit. This quick thinking catapulted the grant from 200 clicks per day to 500+ clicks per day and the grant went from spending about $4,000 per month to consistently hitting the $10,000 grant spending limit.

The Walker Art Center is a contemporary art center in Minneapolis. An editor of GQ Magazine wanted to feature the Delfonics pens and pencils but could not find the full collection of colors in New York. Through a Google search, this editor found the Walker Shop and within two days got the full Delfonics collection and shot the spread for an online feature on the GQ website that went live two months later. Through regular correspondence, the Walker created a Modern Man category on their Shop site and we created a Modern Man pay-per-click campaign in tandem to prepare for the GQ referral traffic. This coordinated quick thinking increased clicks from an average 90 clicks per day to an average of 600 clicks per day.

MinnPost is a nonprofit news organization dedicated to providing high quality journalism for news-intense Minnesotans. Thanks to close communication with the client and staying on top of local news, Nina Hale Inc. was able to create pay-per-click campaigns and ad groups for the Congressional Redistricting and the Vikings Stadium proposal before the news hit. These prepared Congressional Redistricting ads brought in upwards of 1,228 clicks its first day alone.

Search allows for a response to events and opportunities in real time, providing dramatic results despite low budgets and other campaign constraints. Through the dynamic power of search Ploughshares Fund, the Walker Art Center, and MinnPost all dramatically increased their click through rates and conversions, coming close or reaching the full potential of the Google Grant spending.

Agency Internship Opportunity – Minneapolis

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Hey future grads! Yeah, YOU. Nina Hale Inc is on the hunt for new talent. Check out our internship description and be sure to submit cover letters and resume by Friday, May 11.

Click here for more details.

Baby Intenr