All posts tagged Google

Google+ for Business

   With over 40 million users (and still growing), google+ most likely has some fans of your brand on it – fans that (up til now) you might only connect with on that other social network (which we trust you’re already doing with a facebook page for your business). That’s about to change though, as google+ pages for business opened for business yesterday and the google+ badge for businesses will start appearing across the web, spreading as did the now ubiquitous “Follow Us” facebook icons and the +1 sharing button

Wondering if google+ will be the next Buzz or Wave? All indicators are that google is playing for keeps on this one, and if one thing will make google+ stick, it will be widespread adoption by businesses. Google+ should have an edge on facebook pages (at least initially) in some respects, such as the ability to group your page’s followers into smaller Circles, and even chat with them in video Hangouts (up to 9 at a time). The most interesting long-term aspect of google+ pages will be the upcoming integration with google AdWords paid search. You may have already noticed that there’s an option in AdWords Display Ads to overlay a +1 button for people to like your ad, and the option to add a Social Extension to your campaigns. This latter will tally all the +1′s of your ad, your site, your page and your search results (clearly google has embraced “bigger is better” math here), and allow people to view all of the recommendations for your brand in aggregate.

To add another layer to it, google’s Direct Connect goes live today, rolling out on select websites. This feature lets people enter ‘+’ followed by the name of your page in Google search to get directly to your Google+ page: try it for one of the brands that  already have google+ pages: NY TimesABC NewsDell. Certainly easier than finding your favorite brand’s facebook page. We’re looking forward to integrating google+ badges with the full suite of social sharing buttons, and then kicking back and watching the show in analytics.

First Thoughts on Google Plus One

Have you heard about Google Plus One  (+1)?    Google launched it earlier this month and seems to be poised to push it.  For example, it’s front and center on Google Ad Innovations currently (great site which makes a great default homepage, by the way:  http://www.google.com/ads/innovations/index.html), and it’s a very logical play for Google as they embrace social.

 

Here’s what I love about it

Plus 1 brings social media to where eCommerce people really need it – Search.   Social is here to stay and there’s no doubt that social connections are going to continue to influence ecommerce buying decisions more and more. Plus One puts Google in an interesting place in this dynamic.  It allows them to leverage the unique selling proposition of the adwords platform – very powerful psychographic targeting capabilities via keywords to have gain a foothold in social.

I also really love that the Plus Ones you see are only of those people whom you know.   That makes the recommendation much stronger in my opinion and it makes Plus One much more useful to me.  That’s pretty cool.

So I think it’s an interesting and smart play by Google  …  um, good for them, but “So what?”     Can you as a marketer jump on this and make a huge difference for your brand?

I don’t think so… not yet.

 

What I don’t love about it

1) You have to have a public Google Profile to Plus One something.   It’s pretty easy to do, but the problem is that few people have done it and I’m not sure that people will be compelled to do it.  What’s the upside for them?   It seems to me that there isn’t an immediate payback for doing so.  On Facebook you get to hear about the lives of people – long lost friends, neighbors, family, etc.   People share stories.  Plus One is a lot less rich.

But perhaps this isn’t at all what Plus One is trying to be.

I guess it’s a bit like Amazon ratings… people DO seem to do those…but the difference is that they are talking to the whole world and not just their friends.   I think that stage is the attraction and incentive.   Imagine if the only reviews you saw on Amazon were those by your friends.   How often would that be useful?

It’s sort of a chicken-and-egg problem with Google Plus One.   I suppose if I were to start really seeing value of commentary from friends, I would be inclined to pay back that Karmic debt.   At this point, however, I’m seeing nothing.

Maybe Google is big enough to overcome this.   I feel like they have been patient in the past with new offerings.   They put something out there and learn… They continue to innovate and find new ways to bring value and in time the offering is really compelling.  Gmail was like that,  Adwords didn’t start as the leader in it’s space, Analytics has gotten better year after year and looks to be poised for a great leap in 2011.   Maybe Plus One will just take time.

But the bottom line is that it is NOT super important to most marketers at this time.   There just isn’t a population there yet.

 

That said, what is the downside of promoting Plus One on your website?   There is very little investment for you as a website owner to do so.   Sure, not alot of people will use it, but it probably does behoove you to get in the game and start seeing what Plus One is and how it’s being used.   My understanding is that data will be available with Google Webmaster Tools (which in turn is becoming more integrated with Google Analytics).  It’s Google, after all – they are always worth watching.

Besides that, the other trick is to be great in the other things you do.   Have a great product, have incredible customer support and get Plus Oned.  That’s a piece of cake, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Using Dynamic Keywords: 5 Tips

Earlier I blogged about using Dynamic Keyword Insertion for paid links. Here are five tips to maximize your return using DKI.

1)  Tighter adgroups work better.

Dynamic Keywords can help make your ads more relevant, but they can also make you look silly. Have you ever seen an ad that says something like, “Buy Abdominal Pain at Amazon.com!”? I know I have, and I doubt it performed very well.  You need to look at your keywords and make sure that they will work properly when the dynamic content is in place. It is simplest when all of the ads are on the same theme and have the same syntactical requirements.  After you launch your campaign, you can use Google’s Ad Preview tool to check your work.

2) Specify a good default.

The Ad Copy rules regarding character limitations still apply in the case of DKI. So if the dynamic ad including the dynamic search term exceeds the space alotted, the engine won’t show the ad that way. Instead it will show the fallback default option that you have supplied.  Don’t just punt here and write something that will fit.  Work the ad! Write something that fits AND sells.

3) Use case properly.

Each engine has it’s own rules for case. The help links will give you the details.  Remember to use the casing abilities you have at your disposal and test different versions.  Though the example above doesn’t include it, I’ve found that an ALL CAPS word can make a big difference in ads. Give it a try.

4) DKI is not just for titles.

Dynamic keywords are most often used in titles only.  Indeed, that’s a fine place to start.  In my experience, the titles make the biggest difference. However, I think agreement between titles and description can also make a big difference. I definitely suggest testing a version where you try a dynamic insertion in the description lines too. You can also test dynamic insertion in the display url.

5) DKI works in MSN/Yahoo too. Try “param” values in MSN/Yahoo

Not only does MSN/Yahoo Adcenter have Dynamic Keywords, it’s also has something that Adwords does not that can make your ads more relevant. That’s right, the Alliance is out ahead in this area. The feature is called “Placeholders”.  Placeholders allow to change your ads throughout your campaigns by changing parameters that are inserted in your ad.  These parameters are referenced as {param2} and {param3}.

Example: The ad text “All roses are {param2} and {param3}” could change throughout the ad campaign to:

All roses are 10% off and shipped anywhere in the country.
All roses are 25% off and shipping is free.
All roses are half-price and guaranteed fresh.

Like dynamic keywords, you can (and should) specify default copy for your placeholders. Learn more about placeholders here.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion Intro

Here’s a Quick Tip to help you get more out of your CPC ads.

Do you know what Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) is?  If you do Cost Per Click (CPC) advertising, you should.  Dynamic Keyword Insertion allows you to insert the individual keyterm that triggered your ad into your text ad creative.  I’ve used dynamic keywords many times in Adwords and AdCenter campaigns and I can tell you that, in my experience, Dynamic Keywords DO generally improve your clickthrough rates. However, they are not a silver bullet and you need to know the details of how Dynamic Keywords work in order to get the most out of the functionality. This article is broken into two parts: this basic Overview of Dynamic Keyword Insertion and 5 Tips to Remember when Using Dynamic Keywords  Overview of Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI)

Dynamic Keyword Insertion allows you to display a different ad for each person based on what they searched. Specifically, it allows you to include the keyterm from the search in your text ad. This can be helpful if you have adgroups with many different keywords (or keyphrases) that are similar and will work when inserted into your ad dynamically. Done well,  the usage of the keyterm related to the search makes your ad more relevant to the searcher, i.e. “a better match”, and it will garner your ad more clicks (higher clickthrough rates).

Here’s an example. Imagine that you have a store that sells handles and knobs, including doorknobs.  You have an adgroup with keyterms for doorknobs, e.g. Glass Doorknobs, Chrome Doorknobs, Cherry Doorknobs, Bronze Doorknobs, etc.
If you wrote a single ad for the adgroup in the typical way, someone searching for “glass doorknobs” would see:

Doorknobs
100s of knobs to choose from. Free Shipping.

Using DKI, you could write an ad like this:

Buy {KeyWord:Doorknobs Here}
100s of {keyword:doorknobs} in stock. Free Shipping!

Now the customer looking for “glass doorknobs”, would see:

Buy Glass Doorknobs
100s of glass doorknobs in stock. Free Shipping!

Is that better? I think so (but I’d be sure to test!).

So, how do you do it? Basically, you have to put some code-like language within curly braces.  Of course, the engines each have their own requirements and using the exact syntax is important.

Here are the help pages you need:

Google Adwords
Microsoft/Yahoo AdCenter

Next up: 5 Tips to Remember when Using Dynamic Keywords  Overview of Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI)

Google Changes Algorithm in Response to NYT Story

A long and sensational New York Times Story last Friday detailed an ecommerce customer-service nightmare with a bizarre twist: An assertion by the unrepentant merchant, that far from being a problem, poor customer service and online negative reviews actually benefited his business, thanks to Google’s Page Rank algorithm.

The business, a discount eyewear joint called DecorMyEyes, allegedly refused to credit customers for returned merchandise and even threatened them when their disputes were lodged with their credit card companies.

When several aggrieved customers voiced their complaints on online forums like Get Satisfaction and ConsumerAffairs.com, their negative reviews (linked to decorMyEyes) only served to boost his Google rankings, according to the merchant, a Brooklyn, New York man named Vitaly Borker.

“I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works,” Borker told the Times. “No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?”

The central question posed by the story: Can being a BAD business actually be GOOD for your Google rankings?

Is Google unable to discern, in a link from one site to another, whether it represents a positive “vote” for the target — or an outraged “pan” against it?

Google was quick to jump in direct response to the news story, announcing yesterday it had tweaked its algorithm to weed out “hundreds” of merchants who Google deemed to be bad actors.

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, who was quoted in the article, offers his own in-depth look at the SEO ramifications of the story. Sullivan notes in a postscript that most of the reviews sites cited actually “nofollow” their links, so couldn’t actually convey the kind of link juice Borker was claiming. Sullivan also touches on the fast-moving integration into SERPS of online ratings and reviews, and other possible signals Google and other search engines could use to better discriminate positive buzz from negative.

Google’s use of “rich snippets” is an exciting development for the 99.9% of ecommerce vendors out there (and 100% of the readers of this blog, of course), who run honest businesses with stellar reputations, and have lots of enticing five-star ratings to share.

5 Powerful Tactics for E-commerce

Okay, time for Tom Funk to take a deep breath. I’ve spent the better part of each day since September 8′s introduction of Google Instant, panicking, gnashing my teeth, tearing my hair, rending my garments and dodging chunks of falling sky.

Search is an important source of lifeblood to any commercial website. Until now, I’ve always felt Google did an exemplary job in letting relevant results, from little guys and big guys alike, bubble up to the surface of search.

Now, Google Instant and its predictions bias search against the long-tail, against the little guy. We now have less a web of discovery, and more a web of trend-following, big-name brands, and some repetition of your personal user history. Google Instant is the tyranny of the majority, where nobody finds anything without seeing a little eBay, Facebook, or Lady Gaga first.

But it’s time for me to look beyond Google Instant for a moment, and recognize what matters most to ecommerce marketers and site owners. There’s plenty of stuff we can control. Let’s stop fretting about what we can’t.

1. Brand positioning. Visitors coming to your site from whatever source must immediately “get” — both through the look-and-feel and from a clear “positioning statement” or slogan — who you are, what you do, and why that’s a benefit to them.

2. Guarantee. Offer a strong, unconditional guarantee, be conspicuous about it. Stand behind it. It’s a selling point, not some hidden legalese boilerplate.

3. Checkout optimization. Shop your own site with an eye toward removing roadblocks, eliminating unnecessary forms and fields, cleaning up the look, adding confidence-building logos of your security, shipping and credit card partners. And enable a friendly, low-key abandoned cart email program.

4. Testing. Use Google Website Optimizer to test any significant offer, merchandise selection, navigational or design element. You’ll not only prove that your ideas were awesome, you’ll quantify just how awesome they were. Or, as is often the case, you’ll prove some ideas just don’t move the needle. No worries. That’s valuable too. Imagine you find that a $10-off deal doesn’t lift conversion any better than a pitch that emphasizes five-star customer ratings, which doesn’t cost you a nickel. Cha-ching!

5. Customer retention. Far more important that how much search-engine traffic you can capture, is what do you do to convert visitors to customers — and to build a long-term relationship with those customers so they come back to buy again and again. Today’s best tool for retention is still a generous, creative, and smartly segmented email program. That’s been the case since the dawn of ecommerce, and some 89% of merchants still say email is their highest-ROI channel. But social media is fast becoming the new customer relationship channel. If you’re not active now on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Groupon, and wherever else your customers are spending their online time, your customer retention efforts are behind the curve.

Full disclosure: I’m a Google shareholder. Yup, I have 10 bright, shiny Google shares. So I’ll totally be at the annual meeting in Mountain View, doing the secret handshake with Larry, Sergey, Eric, Matt, Marissa, and the rest of the gang.

But even with that massive financial conflict-of-interest, you can always count on me to be 100% objective in my assessment of Google.