Offer up a big hello to Michael Perkins, who has joined TKG as Account Coordinator.
Michael specializes in business communication, development and strategic planning and will be a strong asset to our growing team here at TKG. He brings more than 12 years in sales and supervisory experience.
As Account Coordinator, Perkins will work with closely with our clients to plan and manage projects while also providing strategic business solutions. His role will also support the sales and marketing teams.
“Michael will work as a liaison between our clients and internal team to effectively organize, strategize and provide solutions to problems,” said Patrick Willoughby, VP of Operations. “He is well-versed in sales and management and will add another strong dimension to our team.”
Read more about Michael and shoot him a comment to say hello!
In an ongoing effort to reclaim their platform, Yelp has announced that through a new “sting” operation, they will determine which businesses are purchasing reviews. Yelp’s Consumer Alerts began in 2012, but Yelp has recently decided to take a harsher stance. This week, they have rolled out a fresh batch of these alerts and renewed them for some businesses. If you are a restaurant, small business or other establishment who has been targeted for one of these sting operations and found to have fake or purchased reviews posted on your Yelp page, you will get a warning slapped on your profile to make users aware that the information is not trustworthy.
Some businesses waiting for reviews to be verified are claiming that Yelp is holding the reviews in order to get the businesses to buy advertising. In contrast, Yelp states that as of February, they had almost 300 additional businesses who will be penalized for paying for reviews, whether with cash, discounts or other benefits.
Yelp’s controversies aside, Yelp has decided to slap a business they feel has phony or paid for reviews with a big, embarrassing Consumer Alert badge. While they buffer this with stating that they don’t remove the business’ listing, some might argue – with the sad state that Yelp (and most review sites for that matter) is in – it might be just as well to get banned from Yelp altogether, or just attempt to remove your listing yourself.
Have you had difficulties with Yelp or any other review service? Were you able to rectify the problem or is it still an issue? Tell us your story in the comments, we’d love to hear how you fixed a problem, or if you were able to get phony reviews removed, or even a success story.
So what is Apoxe, anyway? And why should you care?
If you aren’t familiar with it, Apoxe is our content management system here at TKG. And you should care because using it to its maximum potential can be a powerful tool for your business – and save you time and money.
We’re here to connect those two things.
Apoxe is a great tool for business owners and site admins because it allows you to have total control of your site. You can make changes to your content quickly and easily with the click of a button, no need to pay us or anyone else to do them for you.
We all know that fresh, quality content that is updated regularly keeps users and search engines both happy. We like keeping everyone happy.
But we know that web tools, even user-friendly ones like Apoxe, can be overwhelming to understand initially – especially when new versions are introduced and things change. Our job is to help you understand it and utilize it effectively for your business.
Enter TKG Apoxe Bootcamps.
We’ve asked our own James Golden, VP of Development and resident pretty boy, to present some boot camp sessions to make sure all of your Apoxe questions are answered.
Pick a session that works for you and sign up. You’ll get all the information you need in just one morning with us. With only 30 seats per session, spots fill up quickly so don’t hesitate to reserve your seat.
Sessions start at 8:30 a.m. and promise to be quick and efficient so you can get in, out and on with your day. As always, we will have some delicious breakfast goodies and plenty of hot coffee to go around.
Why should you ask an SEO firm for some case studies before hiring them?
Well, there’s the obvious. You want to see their successes, and how they were achieved. But more than that, you want to know if they really know what they are doing.
For example, it is not all that uncommon to see case studies posted on an SEO firm’s site, but it might be a little vague. It doesn’t mention the company by name or some other irregularity. This could be a red flag for you. So a few questions you should ask:
What company was the subject of this case study? (Then follow up on your own – make sure it is a real company.)
Who is your contact at the company in question? Can we call for a reference?
Was the work done in house or contracted out?
Does the case study list the tactics used to generate results?
These questions should give you a pretty good idea of whether or not the firm is up front about their business practices, if they really know SEO, and if they really know their client.
Take a good look at their case studies and do your own homework. Look up the company, even the contact. You want to make sure both are real. You never know ‑ we’ve come across more than one phony case study while doing our own research.
Asking for a reference is always a good idea. Most firms will want to provide you with the chance to hear about the great work they did. It goes without saying this will ensure that the SEO firm actually did the work and that the company was pleased, or at least satisfied.
Determining whether the SEO work was done in house or contracted out is a bigger deal than it might seem on the surface. You want to know that the firm/person doing the work understands the goals of your business. Hopefully, if you have a web presence, you have a goal for your site and have a pretty good idea of what you want to achieve. If the work is contracted out, some of that gets lost in translation. It also could mean that the same person or firm who did all the great work on the case study company won’t be the person doing the work for your company.
If you’ve been engaged in the web long enough, you know that there are SEO tactics that are good ideas and some that aren’t so great. Make sure that the SEO firm you hire has outlined how they approach SEO, and that they don’t make any kind of huge promise of traffic, sales, etc. No one can promise those things; but good, solid SEO and all that entails will certainly get you headed in the right direction. A good case study will tell you what tactics were used and what impact they had.
In the end, due diligence here will serve you well, just like in every other aspect of your business. Read up on the case studies before you decide on a firm. Take a look at some of TKG’s case studies.
Do you have a great or phony case study that you’d like to share? Post it in the comments ‑ we’d love to see it too!
Chellsea and Daniel each bring a strong business skill set as well as a wealth of experience in web marketing.
Chellsea most recently managed an e-commerce site for a large company, where she had a chance to really dig into web marketing. She specializes in e-commerce, web marketing strategy, SEO and Google Analytics & AdWords.
Daniel previously worked in web analytics and marketing for a software provider/web design company. He specializes in lead generation, PPC marketing and landing/conversion page optimization.
Web Marketing Specialists at TKG support the role of the Strategists to put effective web strategies in motion through tasks such as on-page optimization, link building, content marketing, research, documentation and more.
“A big part of the role of web marketing specialist is to be able to understand the business and marketing goals of our clients and interpret and implement them effectively through online marketing tactics,” said David Brown, Director of Client Services. “Chellsea and Daniel both have the background and capabilities to not only reach those goals, but exceed them. I am thrilled they have joined our team at TKG and I know they will do great work for our clients.”
LinkedIn announced last week that they will be changing the ability to publish on the social platform. Up until now, only top influencers such as Bill Gates, Martha Stewart and other bigwigs were able to publish on LinkedIn. As of the 19th, any LinkedIn member can publish professional content.
From the LinkedIn blog:
Starting today, LinkedIn is opening up our publishing platform to our members, giving them a powerful new way to build their professional brand. When a member publishes a post on LinkedIn, their original content becomes part of their professional profile, is shared with their trusted network and has the ability to reach the largest group of professionals ever assembled. Now members have the ability to follow other members that are not in their network and build their own group of followers. Members can continue to share their expertise by posting photos, images, videos and their original presentations on SlideShare.
Based on the idea that every business person has valuable experience to share, LinkedIn’s philosophy is that members will be able to share experiences, stories, ideas and tips with others in their industry and across the entire network. If this publisher takes off, it could provide LinkedIn with unlimited amounts of fresh, valuable content; not to mention the ability of new entrepreneurs, business people and graduates having a wealth of information and ideas at their finger tips. Following the trend of “knowledge over information”, this has the potential to be a very powerful tool for businesses, employees, and anyone with an interest in a particular industry.
What will you share on LinkedIn’s platform? Are you willing to offer your trade secrets to up & comers?
Ready for the broken record? With 67.6%, Google continues to dominate U.S. market share. In addition to being the most popular search engine, the company continues to grow its search share each year. In second is Microsoft’s Bing with 18.3%. This is a nice bump up from 16.5% in January 2013 and is an all-time high for the search engine. While Bing is showing growth, the fact remains that the search engine still failed in its quest to take a chunk out of Google’s pie. Instead, it continues to pull market share from Bing-powered Yahoo, Ask, and AOL. All of which continue their slow and painful descent into irrelevance.
Explicit Core Search Queries
In addition to market share data, comScore released totals for explicit core search queries. This is a measure of how many traditional searches take place in the U.S. across all the search engines. In January 2014, there were 19.561 billion searches completed compared to 19.484 billion in January 2013, and 17.804 billion in January 2012. That’s nearly a 10% increase from 2012 to 2014. This three year increase is less than the three year increase from last year’s review but is still steady growth.
What does this mean for your business in 2014?
With more visitors than ever using search engines to find and research your company, it’s important to make sure the information on your website is accurate. Have you introduced a new product or service recently? If so, have you incorporated it into all the logical places on your site? Does your VP of Operations have a bio page saying, “I love my two boys” even though she had a third boy last summer? Did you create a great video for a tradeshow but never added it to your YouTube channel? Do you still have that “new features” PDF available for download that your supplier sent you in 2012? You’ll be surprised how much of your site’s information might be outdated even though you’re convinced your business hasn’t changed. Time to get an early head start on your web content spring cleaning project!
I don’t know about you, but my mind instantly jumps to the tacky car salesman willing to sell you a lemon at any cost. Chances are, you can spot them ‑ and their sordid tales ‑ a mile away.
So when it comes to sales of any kind ‑ and standing out among the crowd ‑ it’s important to build a reputation for quality and results. No pitching. No sleazy tactics.
Case studies are absolutely the way to get there. You’ve heard it before, I’m sure. But bear with me a minute.
Let’s say a client comes to you with a problem that they need a partner to help them solve. What could be more effective than to show the client ‑ in a very real and visible way ‑ the amazing results you have gotten for another client in a similar project? No need to be sales-y (or sleazy), just let your results do the talking for you.
It takes effort, sure, but isn’t your reputation worth it? Consider it the difference between real-life results and just smoke and mirrors.
Take a look at one of TKG’s own SEO case studies. One of our clients, Combi, turned to us with the goal of increasing the number of leads and conversions on their website. We went to work and were able to exceed their expectations.
Here’s how their results look in a graphic from our case study:
Seeing that TKG was able to obtain a 74% increase in leads is impressive no matter how you cut it.
If you are a business similarly looking to increase your leads and we whip out this graphic and tell you about this client’s story of success, doesn’t that say it all? In a very real way, you know nearly everything you need to know about us, most importantly that we know how to get results. Sign me up.
It’s a win-win. You put the focus on results while showcasing your clients and drastically improving your business. From there, it’s up to you to follow through and make sure the promised results come to fruition.
After all, maybe you could use them in your next case study.
So you’re convinced. You know you need to create a solid case study for your business ‑ and soon. But where do you start?
It can seem to be a daunting task from the outset, but it’s definitely worth the time invested. Before you dig in, here are 5 things you need to know about creating your case study:
1. Set a goal
It sounds so simple, but knowing your end-goal will absolutely make your case study stronger. Truly. Have a specific plan for how you want to use it and how you’ll be able to leverage it for your business. Focus on your goal throughout the entire creation of your case study and make sure it remains central to how you organize, build and execute your plan.
2. It’s not about you
Really, it’s not. As much as it seems like a case study is created just to showcase how awesome your business is (and, of course, it is) – consider this as an opportunity to put the spotlight on your clients. Making your clients look amazing is only going to reflect well on your business. In the end, your business shines best through the results of your clients.
3. Be visual
Word-people can fall into the trap of crafting amazing content that no one will ever read. Heartbreaking, I know. The most effective case studies are very visual, using infographics, photos, and well-displayed quotes to get their message out. As important as words are, they need to be blended with great visuals in order to get your message across effectively. Using great visuals will guide potential clients through the rest of the content and ultimately lead to a better understanding. Keeping visuals in mind from the start will guide the rest of your case study process.
4. Tell a story
Case studies need to be about how real people got real results from your services. Guide them through it. Choose things to feature that are relatable and use them to tell a story. Be specific and give meaningful details. A case study is the perfect opportunity to engage and start an interaction between your business and a potential client. Using it to relate to your audience and connect with them will ultimately make it an effective case study.
5. The KISS method (Keep it simple, …)
It’s true, simplicity is the key. Before you start gathering every piece of data you’ve got to include in building your case study, remember that you won’t be able to use that much of it. Pare it down early in your organization process to your focus can remain on the key elements that accomplish your goal. When it comes time to pull it all together to make an effective case, you’ll be grateful.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on best practices for creating new case studies, let us know what you think in the comments! Also, look for our next post soon on our February series on case studies: How a Killer Case Study Can Drastically Improve Your Business.
I had the opportunity to chat with a Google AdWords representative this week regarding a paid campaign we’re running. While I can’t go into the details of the specific campaign, it was a good opportunity to get a refresher on some of the features that you might not always think about. One of the features we discussed was using sitelinks for your campaigns.
Let’s start with a refresher of what sitelinks are:
If you’re not familiar with them, you’ve probably seen these sitelinks in ads before and wondered how they got there. Well, it’s super easy. Either at the campaign or ad group level, you have the opportunity to add this feature in. It essentially doubles (or maybe quadruples, depending how you use them) the space your ad takes up, which can be really powerful for catching someone’s attention and getting the click.
When you’re looking at your campaigns, click on “Ad extensions” and then use the dropdown to select “Sitelinks Extensions”. From there, you can click the button and go to town!
Google recommends adding in at least 4 extensions for your campaign or ad group and it can link to any page on your site.
Just like when you’re writing other ads, this is kind of like writing a mini-add for the specific page. You have the option of adding link text (25 characters), a link URL (doesn’t display, so it can be as long as it needs to be), and a description (2 lines, 35 characters each). The description is optional. The dog food ad, for example, opted not to use it, instead just letting the link text tell the story. And, you can schedule it. Maybe you only want to run sitelinks on the weekend when things are more competitive and you want that extra edge, for example.
The rep that I spoke to indicated that the use of sitelinks actually plays into the algorithm of how ads are displayed, with Google favoring sites (somewhat) that are using them. (Don’t go getting too excited! It definitely didn’t sound like sitelinks is the only way to do well in the AdWords algorithm. You still need to do all of the other things you’ve always been doing!)
And that’s where things got a little murky for me.
On the one hand the bit of an algorithm edge you might get makes deciding whether to use sitelinks a no-brainer! Of course you want any up you can get in the algorithm!
But, the more I started to think about these campaigns, I remembered that we’re also running really tight campaigns, targeted to very specific products… and there really isn’t another page that I want paid visitors to look at. I want them to be searching for the product we are selling, and convert on that page. Sure, there are other pages on the site I could add to siteilnks (mostly other products), but that’s not what I’m trying to sell in that campaign. So… are sitelinks really a good idea for this client?
In the end I decided to pass on this feature for this client at this time. In the future we might build out additional content that would be a valuable sitelink, but for now, it simply doesn’t make sense for them.
But that’s not to say that sitelinks aren’t a valuable tool for other campaigns. What do you think? Have you used them for an AdWords campaign? How did it go? Did they improve your performance? Should I reconsider? Tell me in the comments!