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Comments Off on A Dozen Free Marketing Tools from Google

A Dozen Free Marketing Tools from Google

List originally appeared on Practical eCommerce

Need better results from your web site, but not ready to shell out large $$ to get SEO done? Before you spend any money on a search-engine-optimization campaign for your website, take advantage of Google’s free tools to optimize your site and increase its PageRank. And if you are just starting out with SEO, check out Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide PDF.

Here is a list of free Google tools for your website’s SEO campaign. There are keyword and trend tools, website optimization tools, tools to increase your backlinks, and more. All of these tools are free.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics lets you measure sales and conversions, and gives you access to your visitors’ behavior. Understand which parts of your website are performing well, measure the success of your social media programs, and create better-targeted ads. Price: Free for users with less than 5 million page views a month.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools show you how Google crawls and indexes your site. Learn about any problems Google is having indexing your site’s URLs. Identify the top search queries that drive traffic to your site, as well as any links to your site. Share information, such as how often your important pages change, to improve your site’s visibility. Price: Free.

Google Insights for Search

Google Insights for Search lets you compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, and time frames for any search term or phrase. Track search terms, and find potential customers based on their search volume. Price: Free.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Google AdWords Keyword Tool is a great way to get keyword ideas and find the best text for your audience. Identify what words or phrases will drive the most traffic to your site. Determine what keywords are the most profitable if you plan to use Google AdSense. Price: Free.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts are, according to Google, “emails sent to you when Google finds new results — such as web pages, newspaper articles, or blogs — that match your search term.” Enter a keyword or phrase, the type of data you want to retrieve, the volume of results you’d like, and get it all via email. Monitor your competitors or track the latest relevant Google results. Price: Free.

Google Trends

Google Trends give you popular search terms. You can also compare trends for multiple search terms, or get daily unique visitors for multiple sites. Take advantage of trends in your keyword campaigns to get a jump on your competitors. Price: Free.

Google Website Optimizer

Google Website Optimizer is Google’s website testing and optimization tool. Test individual elements or complete page layouts, and identify your most effective site elements. Fix and deploy compelling landing pages. Identify the winning content combinations that drive conversions. Price: Free.

DoubleClick Ad Planner

DoubleClick Ad Planner is a tool to help you plan an effective online advertising campaign. You can also use it to search competitor websites for traffic statistics, such as page views and keywords searched. Use the information to tailor your own successful campaign. Price: Free.

Google Page Speed

Use Google Page Speed to analyze and optimize your website. Identify why your site is too slow, and apply best practices to make it fast. Reducing page load times can reduce bounce rates and increase conversion rates, and encourage the health of your site. Price: Free.

Merchant Center

With Merchant Center, upload your site’s product data so it is available to Google Product Search — soon to be “Google Shopping” — and other Google search services. Allow shoppers to easily find your site using Google Product Search or Google.com. Price: Free.

Google Site Map

Google Site Map is a way to tell Google about the pages on your site. Creating and submitting a site map helps make sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google’s normal crawling process. Use Site Map to provide Google with site information, such as content metadata or update schedules. Price: Free.

Google+

Google+ is Google’s social media platform to share, collaborate, and create. Starting a Google+ account and developing your brand through Circles helps get high PageRank backlinks to your website. Price: Free.
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Comments Off on Google Introduces the +1 Button – What It Means to Your Business

Google Introduces the +1 Button – What It Means to Your Business

We’re in a new time for marketing. In case you hadn’t noticed, it doesn’t matter how much you have to spend on advertising anymore. It doesn’t work the way it used to.  The only thing that really matters (over the long-term) is what your customers think about you. They are your advertising, and they can help or hinder your sales.

That Facebook “like” button has become more than relevant. It’s important, not only to users of Facebook, but to search engines which are now factoring “likes” and “retweets” into their algorithms.

Bing landed a partnership with Facebook, which uses Bing for its on-site search function, so the upstart company can incorporate Facebook activity into its search results. A search for a local restaurant, for example, would reveal not only information about the restaurant, but also recommendations from friends based on their Facebook profiles.

Not to be outdone, Google is answering with the “+1 button,” which is akin to a Facebook “like.” The button will be on search results as well as individual web pages, which allows users to make recommendations across the web. To build a social network around the search results, Google is requiring users to create a profile before taking part in the fun.

Similar in some ways to Facebook’s “Like” button, the Google +1 enables visitors to your web site to see who recommends you or your products. According to them, “The +1 button is shorthand for ‘this is pretty cool’ or ‘you should check this out.’

Click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval. Your +1’s can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.”

See +1’s

Sometimes it’s easier to find exactly what you’re looking for when someone you know already found it. Get recommendations for the things that interest you, right when you want them, in your search results.

The next time you’re trying to remember that bed and breakfast your buddy was raving about, or find a great charity to support, a +1 could help you out. Just make sure you’re signed in to your Google Account.

Show +1’s

In order to +1 things, you first need a public Google profile. This helps people see who recommended that tasty recipe or great campsite. When you create a profile, it’s visible to anyone and connections with your email address can easily find it.

Your +1’s are stored in a new tab on your Google profile. You can show your +1’s tab to the world, or keep it private and just use it to personally manage the ever-expanding record of things you love around the web.

So whether we like it or not,  facilitating transparent conversations with your customers on review sites and social networks is becoming essential. How is your company doing in this new arena?

Get started with the +1 here.

Comments Off on How to Put Your Ads on YouTube

How to Put Your Ads on YouTube

original article on ROI Revolution Blog

In search volume alone, YouTube is the #2 search engine behind Google itself. Yet even with its gigantic size, it is easy for YouTube to get passed up by online advertisers. Many advertisers ignore the opportunity due to the convoluted process required to explicitly target YouTube with ads. This means there is less competition for ad space on YouTube and great rewards for those who can crack the code.

youtube-promoted-video-example.png

YouTube is both a search engine when searching for videos and a content site when watching videos. While there are a few high-dollar ad buys available directly through YouTube, most of the ad inventory can be purchased through Google AdWords on a CPC or CPM basis. Generally speaking, YouTube as a search engine is reached through a search targeted AdWords campaign. YouTube as a content site is reached through a content or placement targeted AdWords campaign.

YouTube Promoted Video Ads

When you do a search on YouTube, two types of ads can show up: sponsored text ads and promoted video ads. The sponsored text ads are brought in through YouTube’s search partnership with Google. If your campaign is opted into the search partner network it is automatically eligible to display on YouTube search results. You can’t explicitly target your text ads on the YouTube search results page — it happens behind the scenes.

You can, however, explicitly target the YouTube search results page with a promoted video. A promoted video is a YouTube video you pay to get people to watch. You’d probably only want to do this if there is some call to action in the video itself that will encourage viewers to visit your actual website after watching your video.

If there is a promoted video eligible for display on a YouTube search result page (i.e. if you are bidding on that query), it will always rank higher than sponsored text ads. This is because YouTube wants to keep people on their own site. The sponsored text ads link to external sites while the sponsored video ads link to a specific video on YouTube.

How to post your promoted video ad…

1. Create a Google AdWords campaign opted into both Google Search and Google Search Partners in the campaign settings. If you want your promoted video ad displayed on relevant video watch pages across YouTube, you must also opt into Google’s content network. You may wish to create a separate campaign for this purpose so you can use different keyword lists for YouTube search vs. YouTube content targeting.

search-partners-target.png

2. Create your ad groups as you would normally, but skew the keywords toward searches that woudisplay-ad-builder-select.pngld be popular on YouTube. You can use the YouTube keyword suggestion tool for ideas.

3. The ads themselves are what makes this a YouTube promoted video campaign. Don’t include any standard text or image ads, otherwise the network settings above will kick in and you’ll indeed be targeting Google search + partners. Include only ads of a specific format: a Display Ad Builder ad using the “YouTube Promoted Videos Template.” This is found in the “Audio and Video” category of Display Ad Builder. Once you choose this format, you’ll be able to select the YouTube video you wish to promote.

youtube-promoted-video.png

What about getting people to your own website? You’re paying Google/YouTube to get someone to visit another page on YouTube’s site. That can’t be your end goal. Of course your video will probably mention your website and you’ll probably have a link to your site in the video description — but YouTube gives you another call to action link you need to use: a Call-to-Action Overlay.

A call-to-action overlay resembles a sponsored text ad at the bottom of your video. It shows up at the bottom of your video for a brief period of time during the video and then at the end of the video. The difference from a sponsored text ad is that it doesn’t say “sponsored ad,” it is free for you to use, and it links to your own website.

Before posting your promoted video campaign, perform the following steps to activate your call-to-action overlay:

1. Sign in to your YouTube account
2. Click Account at the top of your dashboard.
3. Click Edit next to the video you will be promoting.
4. Fill in all required fields under Call-to-Action Overlay.
5. Click save changes when you’re done making all changes to your video.

Here are helpful tips from Google on how to optimize your promoted video campaigns.
In part 2 of this post you’ll lean how to target the content side of YouTube and get your ads displaying on relevant videos.

Comments Off on Writing for the Web 2010—New Search Strategies

Writing for the Web 2010—New Search Strategies

from a Search Engine Strategies webinar by Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing

Publishing content on the Web is more than just distribution. A lot of benefits and business objectives can be achieved when you optimize your content for search engines. One of the biggest benefits is being visible for things your audience is looking for when conducting searches. Visibility increases credibility, which results in greater exposure for the products and services you’re selling on major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Being visible helps attract both customers and journalists looking for new topics to write stories about. Optimizing your content for search engines also helps give you search visibility for candidates that might want to work for you, or customers that are looking for support information. Fundamentally, if something can be searched on, it can be optimized.

SEO
Let’s start with the definition of SEO (Search Engine Optimization): “A set of methodologies that make it easier for search engines to find, index, categorize, and rank Web content.” The definition has changed quite bit over time, but it really comes down to content and links. With updates like Google Caffeine, we see the bubbles where the importance can really vary. No one will have anything to link to unless you’re publishing content. No one will have anything to find in the search results unless you’re publishing content. Links act as the electricity for the content, and these are the core of SEO.

Google ranking basics
You’ve got to fish where the fish are, and the fish are at Google. Google is #1, with 65.7 percent of the market share (per comScore 2009). Yahoo! trails a distant second place with 17.3 percent market share.

A lot of people who are new to SEO don’t understand the basics of how Google does what it does. When you search Google.com (or any other search engine) you’re not searching the live Web for the most part, you’re searching a copy. So Google sends out software programs (called “spiders” or “bots”) that operate like a browser. These bots follow links that they know about to find fresh content. They make copies of the text and content, and if they find any new links, they follow them and they make copies of that content as well. Then they bring it all back and organize it into an index. They continue to revisit those links to find if anything has changed, and to discover new links that will lead it to new content.

All of these “copies” which include different types of documents from Web pages, images, video, tweets, etc., are collected into a big repository to serve up the most relevant matches Google will use: user searches; user location/login ID; words matched in the index; etc., to present you with a long list of customizable content with the most relevant links at the top of the page.

The following are Lee Odden’s top 10 SEO tips for PR:

Tip #1: SEO tactics—only do one thing…
A lot of people ask “If I could do only one thing to further my SEO tactics, what should it be?” The technical answer is: It depends on the problem. The real answer is “make sure the site is crawlable.” That means remove any technical barriers for the search engine bots from finding, crawling, and interacting with the content of your site. It means having navigation that’s crawlable. Also, make sure your URL’s aren’t creating any difficulties and that there’s no infinite loop traps. If you’re not an SEO specialist, you need to talk to IT or your Webmaster about making sure your site is being included.

Tip #2: PR tactics that affect SEO
There are four main PR tactics that affect SEO.

1. Press releases. Press releases are something that a lot of companies publish and you can optimize them like any other Web document.
2. Letters to the Editor. If there’s a publication in your industry that publishes letters to the editor online, you can find a topic you can optimize with your keywords and write in a compelling opinion piece. This is something that can rank in search results—just be sure to include links!
3. Online newsrooms. There are repositories of newsworthy information about a company: press announcements; media coverage; archived webinars; white papers; case studies; etc. They’re all content and they include different media types that can be optimized for search.
4. Media kits. Corporate blogs and individual documents (whether they’re Web pages or not); and white papers (whether they’re html or .pdf) can be optimized for keywords.

Tip #3: How to choose the best keywords
How do we choose the best keywords? Through a four step keyword search. Start by brainstorming phrases and then move onto importing a keyword search tool. Google provides six keyword research tools: Google keyword tool; Google insights and trends; Google trends; WordTracker; Keyword discovery; SEMRush.com. After you import the tool of your choosing, find which one is the most popular and provides the most variation. Finally, create a keyword glossary. Who is your target audience and how do they think of you?

You want to associate keywords with categories, primary phrases, derivatives, permutations, popularity, relevance, competitiveness, etc. If you use a keyword research tool it will give you a metric that’s relative so you can compare your own keywords to each other, and how often people are searching on those phrases. Then do other types of research that will tell you how competitive and relevant they are to your existing content so you can uncover what areas of optimization you need to execute on. A keyword glossary will help you manage the execution of content optimization for what you’ve already published, and will guide you with your content strategy in deciding what type of content you’re going to publish going forward.

Tip #4: Basics of on-page SEO. What do you do with the keywords? You can use title tags, keyword placement, on-page titles, navigation links, body copy, keyword text links, image alt texts, or URLs. In a structure of a Web site in terms of on-site SEO, think of an organizational chart where you have top level concepts and they’re supported by subordinate concepts. You want to make sure that they link to each other in a way that’s meaningful. Everything needs to be logical and structured to make it easy for both consumers and search engines to find what you’re publishing.

Tip #5: Press release optimization tips
To get more from press releases from a search perspective, you need to research what keywords are relevant for that individual press release. Don’t try to optimize one press release for 10 different phrases. If you optimize for a large number of phrases, then each of those phrases is going to compete with each other. Focus on singularity when optimizing a single document like a press release. If a press release can have a call-to-action, it will inspire click-through. Make sure your press releases are distributed or available through an RSS feed.

Tip #6: Newsroom optimization tactics
If you don’t currently have a newsroom you should think about incorporating one. A lot of content management systems publish newsrooms in such a way that they archive press releases chronologically—and that’s it. From a keyword standpoint, that’s not very useful to people or to search engines. Try using blog software (WordPress.org is a free one) as an easy way to add a search engine- friendly newsroom to a website. You can customize it, optimize it, and add plugins.

Make sure you make it easy
Make it easy for consumers of your newsroom content to save and bookmark or share what they find there. Include keyword categories so press releases, announcements, or whatever you’re putting up in your newsroom, are archived chronologically and according to keyword category. Make sure you add site search on the newsroom so people can conduct a search if they don’t see what they’re looking for. Make it easy for them to subscribe through an RSS feed and optimize whatever documents you’re putting in there. Make sure you’re cross-linking between the announcements or content you’re publishing on your newsroom with the corresponding pages on the corporate Web site.

Tip #7: Link building fundamentals
Creating great content is wonderful, but if no one knows about it to link to it, then you’re at an unfortunate disadvantage. It’s important to realize that when you’re publishing and optimizing news content you take full advantage of maximum linking opportunities. Links are like electricity. They can literally light up your content in the search results. Content and links have a yin yang type of relationship. Great content will attract links, especially if you promote it. Earn links with that great content and have a content strategy where you’re intentionally identifying target audiences, keywords, and what kind of content you’ll need to publish to meet your readers’ needs.

Promote your content socially by growing social networks. Make sure you’re distributing and syndicating your news content to those different audiences if that’s where your target audiences are spending their time.

Tip #8: SEO and social media promotions
Social media and search have a reciprocal type of relationship. If you optimize social media content for search, it can influence the discovery of new members to your community. If you’re publishing content on a social network externally and people can find that content in standard search results like Google.com, then you can grow your community. People who are looking for subject matter experts or resources on a certain topic will probably join your online community—if they find answers there that they seek. As you share contact with that community, a lot of people could take that content and write about it, and that can increase links back to you.

Inspiring people to have discussions and making it easy for them to share are all part of the search and social media relationship. It can benefit getting your news out there and best optimize your news content you found through search. You want to layer social media tactics with SEO at the point when content is created. You might do that by intentionally optimizing video or tweets according to certain keywords from an infrastructure standpoint.

Tip #9: Measuring and selling the value of SEO
Communicating the value within your organization can be done by using advertising in commonly understood metrics or dollar values with pay-per-click advertising, and associate that with what you’re achieving through optimized news search. You can take a look at your new search ranking versus another company or competitor, and you can look into how much it would cost to achieve those types of rankings through pay per click. Then, see how much it would be worth to you.

Tip #10: SEO don’ts
• Use keywords that are more important to you than those searching.
• Overuse keywords; aka “stuffing.”
• Over-rely on “tricks” to gain advantage.
• Over-rely on Key Performance Indicator (KPI) measurements like ranking.
• Forget to link using anchor text.
• Rely on text alone—use media: images; video; audio; social.
• Forget to be really, really nice to your IT dept or Web developers.
• Ignore measuring all aspects of success: placements; links; mentions; traffic; page
views; social impact; inquiries and conversations…short and long term.

Takeaways
It’s about links and content, and it’s very important that you have a content strategy that speaks to the audience you’re trying to reach so you can meet their needs. In many cases, you will also need a social media strategy to increase your channels of distribution.