DragonSearch Digital Marketing http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com Online Marketing Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:37:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Getting the Most from Your Marketing Agency http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/getting-most-from-marketing-agency/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/getting-most-from-marketing-agency/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 18:14:55 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17190 Continue reading ]]> My colleague Jason White recently wrote a blog post about client-agency relationships. In it, he gave tips for what agencies can do to gain the trust of their clients. Great stuff!

It’s been my experience, having spent time on both on the agency and on the client side, that how clients manage their agencies is just as important to the long-term health of their business as how the agencies perform their duties.

Partnerships Rule!

A drawing of two arms shaking hands on a purple background

All agencies understand that ultimately, they work FOR their clients. But the relationships that really produce outstanding results are those where both parties work WITH each other. Think of your agency as a partner. A partner shares your goals, your dreams, has your back when things get tough and you can give a partner feedback without fear of retribution or defensiveness. There are few surprises for either party in a partnership since they have been able to communicate openly and stay connected via that trust Jason wrote about!

Micro-Managing Nets Micro Results

A drawing of a hand with a magnifying glass showing micro-management

Micro-managers fret and stress over every detail and need near-constant updating on each project’s status. What they don’t realize is that micro-managing usually produces micro-results. While clearly it is important for you, the client, to know what the agency is doing and the results they are producing, knowing every detail does two things: 1) It squeezes out any spontaneous creativity and 2) It creates a situation where reporting results overtakes getting the results.. Neither situation is likely to produce the desired outcomes you want.

Accountability Goes Both Ways

A drawing of a yellow two-way street sign on a blue background

Your expectation as a client is that your agency is going to do what it says it’s going to do. That’s a fair expectation! That kind of accountability should go both ways. Let’s look at an example. A client had a strategy that was centered around the development of a blog. Great….a plan for creating fresh content! Our SEO and Social Media teams created a strategy around the blog that would drive traffic from the targeted audience. Only one problem: the client never delivered the blog. We had a strategy that needed to be overhauled (which we did) and goals that had to be adjusted (and, I should mention, were achieved!).

Not delivering on items, whether big (a blog) or small (photos from an event) can ultimately impact the results that you’d expect from your agency. Hold your agency to the same standards you hold yourself. If you expect them to hit every deadline, then hit yours. Don’t let them have “an out” by being able to say they couldn’t deliver because you didn’t!

Fear and Intimidation Is No Way to Manage

A drawing a a red silhouette profile with shapes showing yelling

Let’s face it…sometimes things go wrong. Of course, there are varying degrees of “wrong” and so, there are varying levels of reaction. Certainly, voicing your concerns is important and your agency should be there listening. But if the team is fearful of retribution if they make a mistake, it can stifle their creativity. A better tactic is to stay calm and focused so that you can work with the team toward a solution, providing an atmosphere that fosters creative problem solving.

Avoid Mission Creep

Drawing of a purple silhouette head with a cloud bubble showing strategy

Mission creep is something we’ve all encountered. It is when the expectations of a project shift, usually getting bigger, and the goals go beyond the original scope of the project. When it happens, clients sometimes move forward with new expectations without realizing that something has to give. An agency cannot be expected to deliver more results with the same budget or activity level. A resetting conversation is critical, one where you talk with your agency to reprioritize activities, eliminate (or put on hold) those that aren’t as critical as they once were, reset goals and discuss new budgets. It will put everyone on the same page as you move forward, with clear expectations on both sides.

Agencies Are People Too

A team photo of the DragonSearch agency in a field jumping in the air

Perhaps this is the most important thing to remember: your marketing agency is made up of people, just like your in-house team. They will work hard. They will achieve success. And, yes, they will make mistakes. Do they tell you about them? Do they take responsibility for them AND bring a solution? Then give them a break. Let these mistakes go. Keeping them more alive than necessary creates people that fear making mistakes, becoming hyper-cautious in their work and often less creative. In the ever-changing digital marketing realm, you don’t want that. What you want are people who are always looking for new ways to accomplish objectives, testing new strategies and tactics. And like many major accomplishment in history, there will be failures before major success. But it will be worth it, if you allow it to happen.

High Fives All Around

A drawing of two arms giving each other a high five

There will also be successes, so make sure you acknowledge your agency for them! Recently, we had a client go out of their way to publicly acknowledge the work we had been doing for the company. They sent a letter to our CEO and even arranged for the DragonSearch account team to be given special tokens, that had great symbolic meaning, in front of our entire company. Does that make a difference? Indeed it does. While every client wants to think that they are their agency’s ONLY client, we all know that that’s not the case (though we do our best to make you feel that way, too!). Think about which client YOU would want to work for: the screaming micro-manager or the gracious partner that appreciates your work. Give a round of high fives, in some form, and see how motivated your agency team will be to recreate that feeling of success.

On Our Way to a Beautiful Relationship

The agency client relationship is always in flux. Agencies must strive to be more than just a vendor, they must gain the trust of their clients and become a valued partner. Clients must also work towards that end, allowing the agency the freedom to use their expertise on behalf of their clients. This kind of mutual respect and focus on the goals, is the foundation upon which client-agency relationships that last for years are built!


What is the biggest challenge you’ve had managing an agency? Share it in the comments below.


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Digital Marketing Internship Advice – From a Dragon Intern http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/digital-marketing-internship-advice/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/digital-marketing-internship-advice/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 16:12:44 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com?p=16968&preview_id=16968 Continue reading ]]> My experience of being a Dragon Intern has been really fantastic and I have already catalogued some of what I have learned. As I finish a full year in this office, I wanted to share my experience and advice for other interns, both here at DragonSearch and elsewhere.

A stack of gold chocolate coins awarded to an intern; a purple dragon sits on top

DragonSearch team members hand out dark chocolate gold coins to other team members for a job well-done.

Why Intern?

An internship was a required part of my college curriculum. Had I not secured one over the summer, my entire schedule would have been thrown off including not being able to graduate when planned. I definitely felt the pressure, maybe was even freaking out a little bit. But now, I can’t imagine missing the experience of doing an internship. As this tweet from my third day points out: Screenshot of a tweet from a DragonSearch intern talking about her internship experience

That still holds true for me; I feel as though I’ve learned more working at DragonSearch than I did in any classroom. Having real projects to work on and fostering a learning environment, DragonSearch helped me gain more knowledge about social media and SEO than I ever imagined. Some of the best learning hasn’t been technical, but more about learning how to work in an office environment. This was my first experience working in this type of setting – most of my other jobs were more free form, i.e. shelving books at the local library, being a camp counselor and waitressing. So here is advice, straight from the dragon’s mouth:

5 Important Tips for Any Intern


One of the most important things I learned was to participate as much as you can. Talk to your coworkers, encourage them to teach you and let you work. My time as a Dragon got a whole lot more fun once I opened up and actually starting talking to the people around me. Eagerness is key!

Don’t Feel Insulted by “Intern Work”

Yes, even with the best of internships, you may be called on to run some errands, or do task that is obviously something that no one else wants to do. Remember, it has to get done and when you are willing to jump in and do what is needed, it shows that you are a team player. I will point out, I was never asked to go fetch coffee for anyone, thankfully!

Ask Questions

One of the first things nearly everyone told me on my first day of interning at DragonSearch was to ask questions. You may have heard the same thing in a classroom and then subsequently heard crickets chirping. That should not be the case when interning. Asking questions will help you learn, which is the point of the internship in the first place, right?

Accept Any Challenge That Comes Your Way

Many, many times you will be asked, “Can you do this for me?” The best response is just roll up your sleeves and say “yes!” It will not only be a great learning experience to get out of your comfort zone, but it will also remind the team that you are a problem solver. One important caveat… don’t say yes if you can’t actually get it done on time! If you do that, you’ve just let down the team and will probably lose some of their trust. No one wants to give work to someone they don’t trust.

Don’t Get Stuck

If you feel like you’ve gotten stuck in an intern rut and have stopped learning, you have to take initiative. Ask someone directly if they have anything you can do. You’re here to learn, and you shouldn’t feel trapped in the work you are doing. Be proactive and make sure you are constantly seeking out new learning opportunities.

Check out my Prezi for more on what I learned at DragonSearch.

Find an Internship that is Right for You

DragonSearch’s internship program is strong. It takes all of the above advice into consideration and therefore, creates great internships that foster great interns (if I do say so myself, and there were two other interns who also thrived during my time here). Internship programs are valuable and beneficial both for the company and for the intern. Don’t miss the opportunity to take on the challenge.

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7 Tips for Creating Relevant Website Audit Reports that Build Client Trust http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/seo-website-audit-trust-building-tips/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/seo-website-audit-trust-building-tips/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:30:21 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17105 Continue reading ]]> Since making the jump from in-house to agency marketer, I have been fascinated by the intricacies of client, agency and team member relationships. As a Project Manager and Director of SEO, I am responsible for both client retention and the growth of the department. It is essential to my success, and ultimately the success of DragonSearch, to deliver superb work that extends beyond my client’s established goals, project after project, day after day.

The sometimes misguided practices of the minority in the digital marketing industry have given practitioners a bad name, while leaving the clients that pay for underdelivered services a wretched taste in their mouths. I have often felt the animosity and uncertainty caused by the lack of trust when meeting prospective clients for the first time. At Cannes, the creative agency, RPA, delivered the findings behind the survey, The Naked Truth which caught my eye because it examines the agency to client relationship and why the killer variable of trust is missing. Reporting is often our chief communication method with clients, which is ignored in favor of vanity metrics, fancy outreach methods and shiny new tools that aren’t fully understood.

Our industry’s reliance on communication-via-reporting sucks and it kills the trust clients have in their agency, even our industry as a whole. Most projects that I’m involved with begin with a Website Audit and results in what can be a 40-page, 10,000+ word beast that thoroughly calls-out every detail that is wrong with the client’s web site. It feels like calling the client’s baby ugly and telling the website development team that they suck at their job. I will note here that I don’t actually call the client’s baby (web site) ugly, nor do I tell the development team that they suck at their job. However, I imagine that’s the thud they feel within their guts as they review the document. This presents a challenge for building a strong, trusting relationship that must be overcome.

The Value of a Thorough Audit

Clients should expect more out of their reporting and agencies should deliver to exceed expectations. To ensure that your reports add value, are actionable and help build trust, follow these 7 essential tips:

Tip #1

Include recommendations specific to the website after each section. Mentioning an issue without offering analysis or recommendations as to why it’s an issue leaves the client wondering. Cookie-cutter analysis can scram.

A quote in response to an SEO website audit report on a purple background

Tip #2

Give clear analysis. Presenting Google Analytics data without analysis should be avoided at all costs. If clients wanted to look at Google Analytics, they’d login and take a look themselves. They want you to explain the key issues, what they mean, and what can be done about them.

A quote showing client trust on a yellow-orange background

Tip #3

Use visuals to enhance understanding. Screenshots can do more in explaining an issue than a verbose technical answer. They should always include additional overlays, arrows, etc. that highlight the issue. Clients largely don’t know what they’re looking at. Do you want them to spend their time trying to understand a graphic, or do you want them to focus on buying into your solution?

A quote in response to a website audit reports on a red background

Tip #4

Cap examples at three. Repeated examples of the same thing wastes time and does not drive the point home any further.

A quote in response to an SEO website audit report on a blue background

Tip #5

Deliver reports that prioritize issues and offer actionable recommendations. Audits cost real money, so reports should maximize the return on this substantial investment and not focus on trivial issues that offer a low return.

A quote showing built client trust on a yellow-orange background

Tip #6

Provide clear next steps. The client should never get to the end of a document and wonder “what’s next?” A clear understanding as to who is responsible for what, how it will be fixed, what support is needed and the timeline for completion should be as clear as day.

A quote in response to a website audit report on a purple background

Tip #7

Respect their input and knowledge. Everyone should feel that they have a seat at the table and can offer their expertise. Ask stakeholders about your recommendations and what they feel needs to be improved. By including them in the conversation, it shows that you respect them. Respect builds trust.

A quote showing client trust on a blue background

Get Ready for a Great Relationship

Education and transparency are largely the fuel that feeds trust. Clients should hunger to understand what their agency is doing on their behalf and agencies should go to great lengths to help their clients understand the strategies, tactics and the reasons why those tactics are so important. There is no better SEO  deliverable that can connect with a client and set in motion the success of the campaign than the website audit. Transparency and education become paramount, showing the client from the start that you have real value to bring to the relationship, becoming a partner in its success. Value the relationship above all else and the trust will follow.  

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Cindy Krum & Mobile Marketing Strategies – Marketology in Motion Video Interview http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/cindy-krum-marketology-in-motion-video/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/cindy-krum-marketology-in-motion-video/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 14:20:57 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17055 Continue reading ]]> Finding Customers in the Decade of Mobile

Video Interview with Cindy Krum, CEO of Mobile Moxie

No longer in the “Year of Mobile,” us marketers are deep in the midst of what Cindy Krum, CEO of Mobile Moxie, describes as “the Decade of Mobile.” The fact is, mobile is here, it has been here, and it’s here to stay. Marketers, brands and consumers are still reacting to this new landscape and #usDragons were fortunate to have Cindy join us for a conversation about what it all means and where we’re headed.

Cindy Krum on Taking Advantage of Mobile User Data

Up there with “Year of Mobile” in the annals of marketing buzz-words is “Big Data.” Cindy explained how these topics converge with users’ smartphones and wearable tech, contributing to an opportunity for data-driven decision making like never before. In addition to her tips for mobile marketing, Cindy explained how small to medium-sized brands and agencies can excel in a new frontier. As we all grow to meet this need, Cindy recommends a blend of technology savvy with creativity to bring new mobile experiences to users.

Cindy sat down with our intrepid Dragon and host of “Marketology in Motion” Abe Uchitelle for a bit of Q&A about how mobile if not only affecting marketing strategies, it is shaping it.

We hope you enjoyed our interview with Cindy. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to be on the lookout for the next Marketology in Motion video.

Video Transcription

Abe Uchitelle: Hi I’m Abe, the Director of Business Development with DragonSearch and I’d like to welcome you to another installment of our series of marketing interviews: Marketology in Motion. Today we have Cindy Krum joining us, who is the CEO of Mobile Moxie, which is a leading mobile marketing consultancy. She is also the author of Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are and a contributor to many, many digital marketing blogs. I’d like to thank you for joining us, welcome!

Cindy Krum: Thanks for having me!

Abe Uchitelle: How did it all start? How did you get into the industry and with so much of a focus on mobile marketing?

Cindy Krum: I had just taken a new job and with my first new paycheck I got a fancy phone. Fancier than I had ever had before. I was doing SEO and I started looking at the searches that I was testing on my computer on my phone and noticing that they were wildly different. I just decided that I was going to figure out how things were ranked and why they were different. So I just started investigating and figuring out how mobile developers who were developing mobile sites and what they could do to make mobile sites rank better on the phone.

Abe Uchitelle: I feel like it’s been a few years now that folks have been saying: “It’s the year of the mobile”. Can we officially say the year of mobile is behind us and accept it as a reality?

Cindy Krum: Maybe, or just say that it’s the decade of mobile. Everything is going to be mobile soon enough. If it’s not mobile now, it will be soon.

Abe Uchitelle: Do you find that the questions that people are asking you just off the street have been changed?

Cindy Krum: People don’t ask any more if it’s important. Everyone knows it’s important. But the questions are becoming more specific and also more urgent.

Abe Uchitelle: Mobile phones are more powerful than some of the computers we’ve had in the past and they’re generating tons of data.

Cindy Krum: Mhm.

Abe Uchitelle: It’s big data.

Cindy Krum: Yeah, yeah.

Abe Uchitelle: Last week I got a letter in the mail from Verizon, telling me about my terms of service and some interesting uses they were going to find for my data. They’re going to essentially be using it for marketing purposes. And I found that kind of interesting, as a marketer my mouth was watering a little bit, but as a user I was kind of like, “wow, this is a new frontier.” So what are your thoughts about that?

Cindy Krum: So I love it and I hate it. I think it’s something that I’ve been saying is going to happen for a long time, because the carriers aren’t making as much money as they used to because there’s been so much competition on pricing, driving the pricing down. Data usage and minutes went from being per minute to unlimited or close to unlimited and stuff like that. So much competition for customers that the carriers just aren’t making money. So they’re having to figure out how to make money in a different way, and I’ve been saying for a long time that they’re going to start selling all their user data, because they have it and they can aggregate it, so why not? What’s interesting is, in the United States either it’s happening, and they are not being as transparent about it or it’s not quite happening yet. In places like Latin America, I think Mexico is the country that has the carrier called Telefónica and they have outright created a marketing branch of the carrier where they aggregate all the data of their visitors and sell it. You can go to this spin off company from Telefónica and say, “I want to know about people who live in this area or I want to know about people who are in this age bracket or this income bracket” and with all the information that you have to give them to get your cell phone you sign away the right for them to use that data in an anonymous way and repurpose it. So I imagine that is where Verizon is going. But also there has been so much controversy with the NSA recently and how the government can access that data that perhaps the new terms that you have acceded to have multiple reasons behind them.

Abe Uchitelle:Perhaps. There are companies like Verizon, we’ve got internet service providers, we’ve got search giants like Google and all these companies are keeping track of a lot of data for us. I think of those companies as being the ones that can take advantage of the data. It’s kind of an elite class of companies who have the resources and the manpower to really put action behind it. But what about smaller companies, looking at smaller marketing agencies or smaller medium size marketing agencies, or even some small to medium sized brands, how can they take advantage of this?

Cindy Krum: Oh my gosh there are so much that the brands could be doing but they’re not, or maybe they are but they’re just not telling us about it. So think about something like a MyFitness tracker or a calorie counting app, people divulge their deepest darkest secrets to apps. And I’m not saying that brands should necessarily leverage deep dark secrets that can be attached to a person but anonymizing the data is interesting. Think about a calorie counter, if I am constantly putting in everything that I eat, some of the calorie counters are becoming more advanced and instead of me typing in “I had a strawberry Pop-tarts and it was 250 calories,” they have a dropdown menu, where you can pick exactly what you ate. So I ate a strawberry Pop-tart, it already knows how many calories that is but that also says that I’m a good person to market strawberry Pop-tarts to, you know? Or new flavors of Pop-tarts. People are telling us exactly what they are buying at the grocery store when they are using apps like that. And that data could be captured, anonymized, and published in really interesting ways. Or, mixed with other data sites, right? What if we took all of the calorie counting entries from one calorie app and crossed it with the TV schedule and said, okay, on average people ate an extra 3,000 calories the week of the SuperBowl or we should up marketing for fried chicken for the season premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’ or whatever. Because we know that’s what people are eating anyways, so let’s push it further. We can take lots of different approaches to the data that all the apps are already collecting. Sometimes saving locally on the phone but putting it up to the cloud does a lot of things in terms of making it more accessible to the users but also in terms of making it something we can aggregate.

Abe: So these are really exciting developments for marketers, right? A little scary for users, but ideally we are going to get marketed more relevant things, so we’re going to have a better experience in the end. I want to transition to something that is really just cool and fun for users and I haven’t heard anyone talk about it from the marketing perspective, and that is the next generation of wearable tech. Smart watches, Google Glass, what are your thoughts on the next frontier there?

Cindy Krum: So I think what we were talking about with the apps recording all your daily activities that has just been made more obvious and apparent with the wearables. You know all of the wearables are eventually going to not only start storing information locally but uploading it to the cloud so that you can maybe deal with your information and plot it out on a graph or whatever it is. That is fascinating, but then take it to the next level where you can aggregate everyone’s data, so a Pebble, or a Fitbit, or whatever and we can make heat maps that show what are the most fitness conscious areas of town. If you’re looking for a house or want to be surrounded by fitness conscious people. Or we could have contests, especially if we created APIs to accept data from all different kinds of wearables, fitness data so not just Fitbits but Fitbit could be combined with Pebble data. Then we could say let’s have this high school versus this high school have a competition where we know that 80 percent of the students have one device or another and we’re going to burn more calories than you this month or something like that. So there are fun interactive ways of dealing with it, but there’s also lots of cool potential for understanding and solving big social problems, right? They’re marketed as a personal action, life improvement, right? I’m tracking my fitness so that I can be healthier or I’m using Google Glass so that I can somehow make my life better. There is also just so much potential information there that it just can’t be ignored, I think, or won’t be able to for long. And marketers of course will be the first ones at the table.

Abe: So as the marketers are coming to the table over this and agencies and brands are adapting to all the changes, what are some of the skills that people need to be thinking about as they’re hiring people, as they’re training themselves, you know, just going into this mobile universe that we’re in?

Cindy Krum: Having people that are able to keep up with the technology in terms of just knowing what’s available, and then the creativity; taking whatever data you have and making it mean something, right? Because data is nothing unless you put a story with it. The other thing is finding people who can do data visualizations that are meaningful or interesting that can capture all the big data and either graph it or make it actionable for people who aren’t as familiar with data or who don’t have to work with data every day. So this is way more than pivot tables; really interactive data that you can kind of mine quickly. And that’s a really cool new or newish spin on an old profession that is data analysts.

Abe: There’s a lot going on there, I think people are adapting really quickly, we are seeing some really fun stuff happen, and I’m very excited and I’m very happy that that you were able to join us today! Thank you so much.

Cindy Krum: Thank you again.

Abe: You can check her out online. She is on Twitter and I’m sure on other social networks as well. You can go see her speak at a conference; check out her book: Mobile Marketing. Thanks for joining us, be sure to leave us a comment in the comments below whether you are on YouTube or on the blog, there is probably a comment box below. Let us know what you think and thank you so much for joining us!

Cindy Krum: Thank you for having me!

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How to Improve Your Website – SCORE Workshop for Small & Local Businesses Part 2 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/how-to-improve-website-workshop-part2/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/how-to-improve-website-workshop-part2/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 14:19:49 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17024 Continue reading ]]> The Role & Importance of Content, SEO, CTA, Conversions and Analytics – Part 2

In The Role & Importance of SEO, Branding, Content Usability and Beyond Part 1, we reviewed the importance of selecting a brand name and defining your brand voice and personality. In Part 2, we dig into website content, blogging, setting up conversion tracking and more.

Optimizing for Users & the Web

Build Better Website Pages

Visitors to your site have a short attention span, so you have only a few seconds to impress them before they take off to somewhere else. Most likely they are there because they have a problem that they need solved. They have a need – and are seeking a solution – from you. Don’t waste the opportunity to prove that they have come to the right place.

Ask yourself these questions about your home page, and other pages as well:

  • Does the content reflect an understanding of your audience’s potential issues?
  • What are you telling them about your brand that will make them trust you?
  • Does the content speak to them?
  • Does the content contain all the pertinent information about your brand?

Best practices is to have between 300 to 400 words of well-written copy on your home page that clearly tells the visitor what problem(s) you are solving and why your brand should be trusted – form an immediate connection with them.

Other top pages on the website should each have their own unique focus. Avoid multi-topics on one individual page. If the content is important enough to tell visitors about, it warrants having its own page. For example, if you are a gourmet food shop who has take-out, caters affairs, hosts tasting events, all while having a chef who wrote a cookbook and are selling cooking related items – you should have a unique webpage for each aspect of what you do.

Write Great Content

As we’ve written, content has always been king. It is what compels your site visitors into action. Well written copy is crucial. You should have at least a few hundred words on each page focused on just one distinct topic.

Are you a writer? If you failed every time you wrote a book report or paper in school, find someone who is an experienced writer. Give them an outline, a few paragraphs, or some bullet points on what to cover. Make sure the content is professional and exciting and clearly projects your now well-defined brand voice.

Remember: create content that others will want to share. When they share it, Search Engines will recognize your website as the original source of that content and the social signals will influence your visibility in the search engines. Your content needs to be great, because you will be in competition with others. The Search Engines have to decide whose content to feature in the SERPs; if they think yours is the better match, then yours will be displayed.

Once you determine what topics will be covered, take the next step and perform some content optimization. You will need to learn to conduct and incorporate keyword research. How do you do that? Start by reading these blogs: Keyword Research Part 1 & Keyword Research Part 2. These two posts, and the exercises included there, will give you a solid understanding of the process.

Image Files

The images you put on your website should be original and easy to share (i.e. Pinterest friendly). Search Engines can’t see the image the way people do (although they will likely be able to do so in the future as their technology continues to improve). When you optimize an image, you have to tell the Search Engines what the image. Try to maintain consistency with images throughout the site. Set-up a naming structure and stick with it.

  • Name all your image files with descriptive names. Don’t name files with unspecific names, i.e. ‘6374image.jpg’. If it is the image of a corkscrew, then name the file “red-corkscrew.jpg”.
  • Use lower case letters with hyphens in between the words.
  • Include Alt attributes for your images. This should be a full descriptive sentence, similar to what you would say to describe the image over the phone to someone who could not see it. For example, an Alt attribute for the image below could be: “A modern orange and green chess set with a clear board on a wooden table.” Do not use the Alt text as an opportunity to keyword stuff, this is considered “black hat” and the search engines can flag your site as a site that’s trying to manipulate them.

A chess board with orange and green pieces

  • In addition, a Caption can be added under the image to further describe it. The copy surrounding the image will also signal to the Search Engine’s what the image contains so make sure images are topically relevant and described in the content as well.

Title & Meta Description

The pages Title & Description goes into the code of each page. The Title does not appear on the page for the visitor, but it is seen in the browser. In Firefox, for example, hover your mouse over the tab and the Title will appear:

Screenshot showing title for DragonSearch homepage

That is your Title Tag. Again, it is focused with keywords relating to that particular page.

The Description generally shows up in search under the Title Tag when your page is shown in the SERPs:

Screenshot showing rich snippet search result for DragonSearch

Blogging & Strategic Ongoing Content Creation

Every new blog post is a new page added to your website. Every page on your website has the potential to become a “door” to your website through which visitors can enter it. That means every page can be a new opportunity to be found, to talk to (and with) your audience, and to convert their visit into a sale, request for information, etc.

What Do I Blog About?

This is a frequently asked question. While blogging can be a good opportunity to explain some of your products or services in more detail, your audience will typically care much more, and will connect with you much better, if you talk about the passion points behind your brand and your offerings. It’s important that you find those passion points, determine the issues and needs your audience is dealing with and what solutions you can offer to help.

Take a look at some of the large brands to see how they are focusing on these passion points instead of on their products purely. Coca Cola says they are in the business of happiness and their competitors are companies like Disney. Red Bull focuses on extreme sports and experiences. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recently said on the “The Daily Show with John Stewart” that his company is about people, both customers and employees, and their experiences.

If you are a local business, you can include events and other local topics in your blog that you know are of interest to your customers. For example, if you are a restaurant and caterer, instead of just blogging about your food and recipes, expand your content horizons to write about the area in which you are located. The culture, the events, the types of people, the environment, the schools, the kids, how to plan a wedding, hire a DJ or live music for an affair, frozen food from the 60’s – the things you can write about are endless. You can be creative and enjoy the experience of connecting with an audience that may not necessarily have been looking for your restaurant in and of itself. If they found your blog post on ‘wedding music’ then they have discovered your website, coming in from a different avenue than the normal search for what you specifically do. Bingo – now they know that you do catering and perhaps their daughter’s wedding is coming up in the fall!

A blog is not static. It is an opportunity to have conversations with your readers through the comments. When your visitors leave a comment on your blog, have a plan in place for responding to them. Go beyond just thanking them and try to continue the conversation, ask questions, etc. When AOL’s Simon Heseltine guest spoke at DragonSearch, he shared some great tips about increasing audience engagement and blog commenting.

In addition, new content helps search engines better understand what your website is about. So keep your blog topics relevant to what the overarching theme of your website is.

How Often Should I Blog?

It’s not about the frequency but more about the quality and consistency. It is much better to write less frequently if the quality of the content is very high, then to publish low quality content every other day. Find the frequency that works for you and try to be consistent. Many successful blogs publish once a week, or bi-weekly, or even less frequently. Focus on the quality of the content most of all. Low quality content will not only turn your audience away but will also dilute your website’s overall value. This can result in the search engines not returning your site to searchers.

Conversions & Call to Action (CTA)

What is a Conversion?

What defines a conversion will vary from site to site and business to business. Conversions can also change overtime depending on what kind of campaigns you are running and what the objectives are for those campaigns. Determine what should be a conversion by defining your goals. These will be specific to every business and should focus on the main business objectives. Many people still focus on ranking in the search engine results pages (SERP) as their primary goal. Here is a good summary of why rankings should not be your goal. Instead of improving rankings or driving more traffic to your website, driving more quality and targeted traffic is a much better goal. Here you’ll find some examples of common goals to help you get started.

How Do I Handle Calls-to-Action?

Once you have clear goals for your website, ensure that your design and structure make it easy for your visitors to convert on the website. Where will you place the call-to-action? Will you have a form? Where will it be? Remember:

  • Have good landing pages that focus on converting visitors and include enticing calls-to-action (CTA) on your site to lead potential customers to those landing pages.
  • Be careful with CTAs; it’s important to have them but don’t overdo it. Too many calls-to-action will be distracting and overwhelming for your visitors and they will be much less likely to follow them.
  • If you have a submission form, make it easy to submit; only ask for information you HAVE to have in the first contact. Start with public information first, i.e. First Name, Last name and then ask for more private information. If you have a multiple step conversion funnel, like an ecommerce platform, as you are taking customers throughout the checkout process, closely plan each step and make it easy for them to understand where in the process they are.

The Importance of NAP

You will rarely find something about SEO that is illogical. If we met at a party and hit it off and exchanged contact information – what would you think if I gave you three different addresses? Would you be confused if my card had a different name than what I told you in our conversation? If I gave you different phone numbers with different area codes, would you know the right one to call? All of that would leave you confused. Inconsistent NAP information (Name, Address and Phone) can easily confuse the Search Engines, too.

Search Engines want to identify one consistent NAP across everything on the web – your site, your social platforms and any directories or other site you are listed on. So don’t have “Smith & Smith Law” AND ”Smith and Smith Law Firm” AND “The Law Firm of Smith and Smith’. Remember, decide on your brand name and stick with it. The same is true for your address – be consistent. Decide on either “New York, NY 10002” OR ”New York, New York 10002” or “2376 Elm Blvd. South” OR “2376 S. Elm Boulevard.” With your phone number, designate one as the prime contact number. Overall, NAP is important – spend the time to get it right. Other sites like directories often self-generate your NAP info, pulling it from other sites. Therefore, if you are not consistent, a big mess can occur, and it is hard and time consuming to clean it all up!

Using Google Tools for Insight

Google Analytics (GA)

There are free comprehensive tools that Google provides to monitor your website. Google Analytics will tell you everything you want (and should) know about the traffic to your site. You can start exploring this valuable information and little by little get comfortable digging deeper and deeper into analyzing your audience. Start by getting the free GA code, and putting it on every page of your website. As soon as it is there, Google will start pulling in data.

Google Webmaster Tools (GWT)

Be sure to sign up for Google Webmaster Tools, a free tool provided by Google. After you verify your site ownership, it will provide you with valuable information about your website and how Google sees it. You can set up email forwarding so that you get email notifications if Google finds any issues with your site. Among other things you can submit your new pages to Google, see if their crawler is hitting any roadblocks or issues when crawling your pages, check out the links to your site that Google is seeing, etc.

You’ll likely find this video from Google’s Webmaster Tools that discusses building an SEO and online strategy helpful:

Monitor, Test & Experiment All the Time

Keep a close eye on how your website is performing at all times and continually tweak and test things. There is no “one way” that will be true for all websites, you have to find out what works best for yours. The way to do that is by testing, experimenting and constantly changing.

Much of the content of this post we presented at a small business workshop for our local chapter of SCORE, a national organization that offers free business counseling services. You can view the full presentation from the workshop below or download from SlideShare.

For more advanced SEO considerations and tips check out this summary and presentation of our advanced SEO workshop we gave at Webgrrls in New York City.

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have or share additional tips in the comments below.

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Missed Opportunities – Marketing and Selling Product Benefits http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/missed-opportunities-marketing-selling-product-benefits/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/missed-opportunities-marketing-selling-product-benefits/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:13:03 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=16984 Continue reading ]]> How many of us have considered that the simple act of brushing our teeth is what primarily gets the cleaning done? We squeeze that paste onto our brush at least twice a day without even thinking about it… it has become habit. That is just what Claude C. Hopkins intended when he began marketing Pepsodent. When a brand talks about the benefits of the product and does so in a way that helps solve a problem for the consumer (maybe solves a problem that they didn’t even know existed) that is effective marketing. When a brand takes it a step further, creating a trigger that forms a habit, that is even more powerful. And of course, if your product is so good that people actually crave it, you are golden. I mean, who wants icky filmy teeth when they can have a tingly clean mouth?

From Toothpaste to Shampoo: What is the Benefit?

I always travel with my toothbrush, but I don’t necessary travel with other toiletries when visiting friends or family, leaving myself up to the mercy of the products they have available (beggars can’t be choosers, right?). On a recent visit to my parents house, I noticed the bottle of Pantene in the shower said, “silicone free shampoo.” I thought, “Huh. There has been talk about laurel sulfates and their link to cancer, but silicone isn’t something I’ve seen advertised on a shampoo bottle.” I knew that laurel sulfates make shampoos foam, hence that cleansing feeling, but what does silicone do? What is the benefit? Am I missing something here?

A bottle of Pantene silicone free shampoo

As a digital marketer, I felt compelled to put on my SEO hat (or shower cap!), and I did some really quick keyword research just to look at the search volume. Definitely some search volume, not really as much as I thought there would be for a big brand like Pantene. Some of the terms were combinations of “silicone” and “sulfate free.” Unfortunately, this product was not sulfate free so combining those keyphrases would not be possible.


Keyword Global Monthly Searches
silicone free hair products 880
silicone free conditioners 2400
silicone and sulfate free shampoo 590
silicone free conditioner 2900
sulfate and silicone free hair products 140
sulfate and silicone free shampoo 590
silicone free shampoo and conditioner 260
sulfate silicone free shampoo 590
silicone free shampoos 260
best silicone free conditioner 170


I then took a look at Google suggest. The results were similar keywords.

A screenshot showing Google Suggest for silicone free shampoo keywords

And what about Google Trends?


A screenshot of Google Trends showing results for the keywords silicone free shampoo


It was definitely trending upwards. I then looked to see if people were asking the same questions I would ask, i.e. the product benefits.

Google Suggest showing results for the question why use silicone free shampoo

Google Suggest showing results for the keywords what is silicone free shampoo

They sure are. After doing some research, I learned that while silicone can help your hair look healthier by keeping it shiny and frizz free, it can also make your hair less receptive to accepting color. Hair color treatments are not cheap so that is a big selling point and benefit. So let’s take a look at “color shampoo” terms. Big difference.


Keyword Global Monthly Searches
color protecting shampoo 1600
color protection shampoo 2900
color lasting shampoo 58
color enhancing shampoo 1300
color safe shampoo 1900
color care shampoo 6600
shampoo for color treated hair 18100
sulfate free color safe shampoo 110
color shampoo 110000


And trends on “color shampoo” terms.


Screenshot showing Google Trends results for color shampoo keywords


I then took a look at overall mentions of “silicone free shampoo” and related terms vs “color protecting shampoo” and related terms. In two months, there were 41 mentions of “silicone free shampoo(s)” and “silicone free hair products.”


Screenshot showing mentions for the term silicone free shampoo


By comparison, there were more than 400 mentions of “color shampoo” related terms in the same two month period.


Screenshot showing mention results for the term color shampoo


I can understand why a brand would focus their packaging on trending terms, hoping to tap into an existing audience that understands what the product benefits are. But, why not explain the benefits for the uneducated shoppers? Why make the assumption that everyone understands the reward for using the product? It could certainly be argued that the term “color protecting shampoo” does a way better job of describing the benefits of the product than “silicone free shampoo” does. What if I search on my desktop or mobile phone to learn more about what the product does? What do I find? All product related results in the SERP’s.


Screenshot showing search results for Pantene silicone free shampoo


How effective is this description? Why aren’t they utilizing the maximum character limit for the title to give me more info on the product benefits? Aren’t all shampoos designed to rinse clean? Who the heck wants to get out of the shower with shampoo not rinsed clean from their hair? Zero residue for a weightless finish? Are we talking about hair or cleaning my carpet? How is this any different from any other shampoo?


Screenshot of the rich snippet results for Pantene silicone free shampoo

If I click on the “pantene silicone free shampoo” ad in the SERP’s, I get taken to a hair care products page where I can’t even find the shampoo I was searching for.

Screenshot showing the webpage results after clicking link from search for silicone free shampoo


And if I click on the product listing which focuses on paraben free, it says silicone once in the description and doesn’t even mention the product benefits. In addition, the labeling doesn’t match so I am not even sure this is the same product.


Screenshot of the webpage for Aqua Light Pantene shampoo


If I dig around their site a bit more (maybe I would take this much time in real life), I find this page: http://www.pantene.com/en-US/hair-science/pages/Silicone-is-Good.aspx


Screenshot of webpage for Pantene about silicone being good


Now I am really confused. Silicone is good? Why would I want silicone free shampoo then? And here is another one: http://www.pantene.com/en-US/hair-science/pages/Silicone-Isnot-Bad-for-Your-Hair.aspx


Screenshot of Pantene webpage showing truths about silicone


What the heck is dimethicone? I need to learn another term and again, you are telling me silicones are good? Finally, maybe this page will tell me something about the benefits: http://www.pantene.com/en-US/hair-science/pages/how-to-detox-your-hair.aspx


Screenshot showing step 4 for detoxing hair on Pantene page


Nope. And if I wasn’t already questioning whether to use or not use silicone-free shampoo, this page mentions another term, “modified silicone.” What is that? No explanation of the benefits in this over 1,400-word page that goes on and on about the steps for detoxing your hair. And, the fourth step includes using the silicone containing rehab cream, which is safe for color treated hair. Huh?

An article about the product from Allure does a much better job of  describing the benefits of the product.


Screenshot of Allure webpage for Pantene silicone free shampoo


Also showing up in the SERPs is a user review. If you aren’t going to have the conversation about the product benefits, others certainly will and it may or may not be the conversation you want people having.



Now, don’t get me wrong, there has been some clever marketing with the Pantene products, namely the “Pantene Weather Project”, also known as the “haircast” app, which serves up the weather and lets you know what kind of “hair day” it’s going to be: frizzy, flat, fried, etc. The user gets offered a coupon and in-store displays matched the weather type to what type of product is best to use… hello benefits. This is no doubt problem solving for the consumer. There may be a good reason why as much thought wasn’t put into the silicone-free shampoo line, but even still, the messaging should be clearer. Couldn’t the simple addition of the benefit of the product on the packing make a difference? Could a better integrated marketing approach, linking the offline labeling and the online content help drive more sales? Could someone crave this product because it offers them a reward that they wanted or learned to need? Why not.


Screenshot of a tweet taking about silicone free shampoo

Yeah exactly, who knew? Have you had similar experiences with products where you didn’t understand the benefits of the product or what it did? We would love to hear about it and welcome you to share your thoughts in the blog comment section below.

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How to Improve Your Website – SCORE Workshop for Small & Local Businesses Part 1 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/how-to-improve-website-workshop-part1/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/how-to-improve-website-workshop-part1/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 19:46:29 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=16962 Continue reading ]]> The Role & Importance of SEO, Branding, Content, Usability and Beyond – Part 1

SCORE is a national nonprofit association that focuses on assisting small businesses within their 300+ USA chapters. They help the local economy in each area, creating opportunities for folks to successfully start and grow their own business and therefore increase job creation in each area. General Manager Etela Ivkovic and Senior Project Manager Ralph Legnini had the recent pleasure to give a workshop to SCORE members in the Hudson Valley region. The goal of DragonSearch’s digital marketing workshops is to help organizations gain various online marketing skills that can be utilized for their business. There are a few options for workshop location:

  •  at the location of your business – our team will travel to your location and present to your team,
  • an organization can come to our DragonSearch offices, or
  • we can host a remote, shared screen video-call workshop.

It is often the case that smaller businesses do not have the resources available for instructional interaction with a top marketing agency. For that reason, we provide local workshops on an ongoing basis geared towards these small businesses and individuals. The focus of the recent SCORE workshop was on how to improve your website. We wanted to share the ideas that were covered at this event so that you could gain knowledge from the questions and concerns of other small businesses who are:

Thoughts on Brand Projection and Trust

Brand Projection

What is YOUR brand? You may be clear on what you do, what you make or what service you offer – but– What IS YOUR brand? How much have you thought about this? YOUR voice. YOUR style. YOUR presence. It all starts here. Coca-Cola, Apple Computers, Cadillac, Red Bull – you know them. They are huge brands that have defined how they want you to perceive them; their solid and consistent message is woven into everything they do. You can do the same. It starts with sitting down and really thinking about it, either by yourself or with the key people in the organization. Define your brand. Enhance the focus. Solidify your message, and let it help shape all that you do moving forward.


Do you trust the guy on the street trying to sell you a watch or flicking a flyer at you? Would you confidently give him your credit card or personal information? Of course not! What about your own website – does it project trustworthiness? It’s got to! Does it look hokey or outdated? Is your brand message clear? Is it cluttered with too much information? Too many CTA’s (calls-to-action)? Does it look like a cheap haphazard website? If so, then that is how you are broadcasting the image of your brand to potential customers.

Who Am I? Start with Your Brand

Define Your Brand, Voice & Personality

Many startups are not sure where to begin. Everything you do, be it online or off, will all be driven by what your brand is. So your first step will be to define who you are and what you are about. Ask yourself:

  • What does your brand represent?
  • What does your brand stand for?
  • If you had to describe your business in 1 to 3 words, how would you describe it?
  • What is your voice and personality? Is it fun and playful? Or formal and more serious?
  • Are you, the individual, representing the brand, or will you create a company that has its own name and brand?
  • What makes you different and better from your competitors?
  • What is your unique value proposition (UVP)?

Understanding the above will help differentiate the brand and will shape how it will be represented on the website, in content you create, in social media and beyond. The second steps will be to do your homework and check out the competition and the industry as a whole. Ask yourself:

  • What is happening in the industry, is it in line with what you are about?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • How well do they define their brand?
  • What are their strengths and what are their weaknesses?
  • … then focus on opportunities they may be missing

A thorough job of defining your brand will give you a solid foundation to build your company on and can help establish the perception and reputation you want to build. All of this will drive your website and overall online presence and strategy.

What Name Should I Use for My Business?

After you defined your brand, its voice and personality, apply all that to choosing the name for the business. Take your time and think it through. You will be building a whole company and brand around this name. As part of the process, do searches online and pay attention to what the results are. Are there other established brands with that name that you would be competing with? Is there any negative sentiment or results associated with that name? It is not recommended to choose a name that one or several companies are already using. Once you decide on the business name, it is important that you stick with it. Use only one version of your business name consistently. Do not use different variations of the name, spelled out, truncated or any other deviations. It will be confusing to your customers and just as much to the search engines.

Choosing Your Domain Name

Try to get your company’s name as your domain. If you are just starting out and are picking a name, make sure you check that the domain name is available. Stick with the .com if it’s possible. Naturally if you are an organization you will want to use the .org extension. Avoid using hyphens “-” in the domain name if possible. Often startups wonder if they should use a keyword rich domain name. You can read a bit more about exact-match domain names in this article Keyword Rich Domain Names – Should You Invest?

Design, Navigation & Structure

Your website’s design should reflect your brand’s personality. A small, charming B&B will want a very different look and feel to their website than an accountant or an e-commerce site. The main focus is on making sure your design truly represents you and connects with your audience. Small businesses often neglect their logo. While you don’t have to invest thousands of dollars into creating a logo, make sure that you have a well-designed logo that, once again, is a true reflection of your brand and style. Keep your logo simple and avoid the trap that so many small businesses fall into; don’t put a huge logo on your website. Make your logo small enough on the website so that it is clearly visible and readable. Make sure everything else, the design, structure, visuals, and your content, is a true representation of your brand and speaks directly to your customers. Structure your website so that it makes sense to your end users. Remember that we may think of our services or products in a different way than how our customers might think about them. Understand how they think about what you offer and structure your site and its navigation with that in mind. What if someone lands on a deeper, subpage of your website? Will they be able to understand where they are on your site and navigate to other parts of the website? It’s always a good rule to remind ourselves that consumers typically don’t care about the brand; they care about their own needs or problems, and they are looking for a solution to them. How will you solve their problems or fill their needs? Once you understand that, make sure your website clearly communicates that to them not only through your copy, but also your website’s navigation, structure and yes, even design.
How to Improve Your Website

Structuring Your Navigation

Create a clear navigation menu that tells visitors AND Google in two or three words exactly what each page is. In other words, your menu items should be something like:

  • Gourmet Take Out
  • Event Catering
  • Wine & Food Tastings
  • Organic Menu Cookbook
  • Kitchen Gadgets

Instead of:

  • Food
  • Catering
  • Events
  • Store

Keep this overview in mind – the word ‘Events’ in and of itself is very unfocused, and could mean anything from car racing to music concerts to church functions. You have focus the lens and be specific.

Content, Analytics, Conversions & More

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this of the SCORE workshop where we will dig deeper into website content, blogging, conversion optimization, calls-to-action, analytics and more. In the meantime, we would love to hear what you think is important when getting started with a business. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Simon Heseltine & Organic Audience Development Strategies – Marketology in Motion Video Interview http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/simon-heseltine-marketology-in-motion-video/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/simon-heseltine-marketology-in-motion-video/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 17:08:30 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=16928 Continue reading ]]> Organic Audience Development Across a Broad Spectrum

Video Interview with Simon Heseltine, Head of SEO at AOL

For many SEO professionals on the brand-side, a job well done means increases in traffic, conversions and revenue for your company’s website. But what if your company had multiple websites? And what if each of those websites sold ad space and relied on each and every impression as a source of revenue? Finally, what if these websites were the likes of TechCrunch, Huffington Post, Autoblog and more?

Simon Heseltine’s Insights into Building Organic Audience

For SEO juggernaut, Simon Heseltine, this just begins to scratch the surface of his role as Senior Director of Organic Audience Development at AOL. Simon stopped by the DragonSearch office not long ago and provided a wealth of knowledge on mobile marketing trends, event marketing strategies and audience engagement. He was also kind enough to sit down with me for a quick video interview in the first installment of Marketology in Motion, a new interview series published by DragonSearch and hosted by yours truly.

We hope you enjoyed our interview with Simon. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to be on the lookout for the next Marketology in Motion video.

Video Transcription

Abe: Today we are with Simon Heseltine who is the Head of SEO at AOL’s web properties such as Huffington Post, Tech Crunch and a lot of other really cool websites. What role does that play in the revenue model for all these properties?

Simon: My role as the head of the organic audience development team, which encompasses both SEO and social, is to help all the teams we have across the organization to improve their SEO, to improve their social and to thereby grow as much as they can in the areas that we want them to grow, which is pretty much everything.

Abe: You’re creating inventory for these products by bringing organic traffic and visits to these websites. Is that accurate?

Simon: We are actually working with the individual sites to enable them to grow. So my team, we’re not writing the content, we’re helping to train those teams. We work with their developers to make sure their sites are as crawable as possible. With some of the sites we help them find out the keywords that that they want to be targeting, the type of content that they should be targeting and we help them achieve what we want them to achieve.

Abe: How much of your daily work flow is training and really consulting these internal teams and how much of it is actually implementing strategies and kind of getting into the nitty gritty?

Simon: One of the members of my team, she is basically embedded with some of the properties. So she is working on a very close basis with AOL Autos, Auto Blog, Daily Finance, AOL Jobs and a few others. She is really able to really do deep dives to help those brands by working directly with both their developers and the editorial staff. With me, at the moment, I am working on pretty much everything else. I’m working with doing training for those sites, I’m helping them out with redesigned, CMS migrations. If we’re are looking at any kind of acquisitions then you know my team will be asked to pull up a profile of those sites to see whether it is worthwhile to actually move forward with those. For an in-house marketer one of the biggest tasks is actually the inter-team interactions, actually getting, in some cases, getting teams talking to themselves. Helping them to understand how they should prioritize, which elements are worth them actually getting out there and doing them. Which are just nice to have.

Abe: What type of work flow are you helping them implement when you are taking something from a journalistic perspective and translating it into something that is really going to meet these kind of more bottom line objectives of the greater web property?

Simon: It’s making sure that SEO is part of their DNA. That they understand why they are doing something and why they need to do something. Journalists won’t necessarily use the named entity, in the title, in the description, they won’t put it in there. So they need to make sure they do things like that. So if you are talking about a particular place or particular person that is pertinent to the story, they are the primary entities for the story, put them in there. And just because something happens to be hot, that doesn’t mean that every story you write about 10 key releases should feature the name Lady Gaga.

Abe: Do you get a lot of push-backs when you start to really get into areas that some might perceive to kind of cross the line into making editorial recommendations?

Simon: They want to get eyeballs on their articles. They want people to come and look at it. It’s helpful for them to have as many people as possible come and read their articles to see what they have to say. You will occasionally have journalists that will write a soft lead for a story, so they will put a really flowery start that’s just descriptive and doesn’t talk about the actual story. If you have a CMS that strips out the first 150 characters and says that’s the description for the article as a lot of people’s CMS actually do. That description has no bearing on the story as a whole, it doesn’t have any keywords, when it gets searched for, in all likelihood Google is going to say the keywords aren’t here, we are going to rip it from somewhere in the story and you may get a description that doesn’t match what you are actually looking for in the story. You are not going to get that call-to-action that you maybe want. So one of the things is to make sure that writers have the ability to override the description, to override the title, to make sure it is maybe a little bit more search engine friendly, or SERP friendly. The one thing I always, always start off by telling journalist is I am never going to tell you to write for a search engine. A search engine is not going to read your article, a search engine is not going to click through and read more articles of yours, a search engine isn’t going to come back because they like what you wrote, a user is. I want people to write for users. I am not going to change anybody’s journalistic style. Write for users because they are the people that actually care, that actually matter. But think about how users would find you in the search engines. Because we’re all searchers. We all go onto Google, we all go onto BING, we all go onto AOL and we search. No need to smirk when I mention AOL. We search for content and you’ve got to think about how would you like to be found.

Abe: You also mention that you work a lot with the social teams, can you describe what that work flow is like?

Simon: I actually have a social guy on my team and he is responsible for running the social tools we have. Not all of them, we have different tools for different teams. He does a lot of the best practices training across the organization. We all get the data, we will do the analysis, we will do the audits, we will figure out where things could potentially be improved. One of the first audits he did when he came into the organization, he looked at one of our sites, he said you are not posting on weekends, people are searching for your content on weekends. Post on weekends. We posted on weekends, engagement shot up. A lot of it is common sense but it’s applying that common sense. I did a webinar for ClickZ in December of last year. I was asked where I thought search was going, what people needed to do for 2013. Get your house in order before you start thinking about what the next big thing is. Run crawls on your site, see what’s working, see what isn’t working. People talk about SEO all the time as dying, dead, and it’s not, SEO just evolves. Google changes. BING changes. All search engines change. Nothing looks like it did before 2007 when we had the 10 blue links, universal search since then, we’ve had, not provided is something that’s happened over the last, since October 2011. But obviously in the last two weeks it’s been a big…

Abe: It really shot up.

Simon: Well, it’s 100 percent of Google traffic. Not 100 percent of traffic as people keep saying, 100 percent of Google traffic. There is a difference. You don’t get all of your traffic from Google, if you do, you’ve got a big problem. You should at least be getting some data from BING, Yahoo, AOL, Ask and so forth.

Abe: And that data is becoming more and more valuable.

Simon: It’s the only data you got from there seeing it in your analytics.

Abe: So what brought you to SEO in the first place?

Simon: I started out as a smalltalk developer, moved over to become a Java developer. I was over in Virginia working for a company called Synexus which eventually evolved to Innovectra. We were doing local Yellow Pages. We were working four of the top five telecoms at the time. We were taking their Yellow Pages, the print format and we were putting it online, in the same look and feel. So it was an up-sell for their Yellow Page sales guy. We had these sites up there, it looked really nice. We implemented, we put web trends on there and we got to look at the traffic and the traffic was kind of like that. We gotta do something about that, what can we do? And the CEO said I’ve heard about this thing called SEO, can you take a look at it Simon. So I took a look at it and yeah that’s where I started working with it, was probably the last time I did any code. I can still read code, can’t speak it anymore. We took those sites and started working our way, started working on PPC, started working on SEO. And then as I went to the agency side after that and started working on all the social. Really missed the in-house side of things. About four and a half years ago, I moved over to AOL because I thought that was a good challenge there.

Abe: So if there are folks out there that you could give one take away, one skill that you feel is really critical maybe something that has helped you, what would you say it is?

Simon: Probably curiosity and problem solving. The team when I first came to AOL, we had two former developers, two former librarians, a former chef, I forget what the others have done in their past lives, but they came at it from different angles. The librarians came at it from a more analytical perspective, the developers we came at it from a more of that architectural perspective, the chef, she was all content. I think it is really is just that, having that curiosity, trying to find where that piece of the puzzle is, to see what works, just moving things around a little bit, not necessarily listening to what everyone says as canon or gospel. Having your own curiosity and trying things yourself.

Abe: Well thank you so much for joining us and you can connect with him @simonheseltine on Twitter and feel free to check out our blog at dragonsearchmarketing.com. Looking forward to the next time. Thanks so much.

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What the Google AdWords Updates Mean for PPC Teams & Clients http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/google-adwords-updates-ppc-clients/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/google-adwords-updates-ppc-clients/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 14:25:48 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=16881 Continue reading ]]> On April 22nd Google officially announced exciting new features being released on the AdWords platform. The new product announcements fall under three different pillars: Innovative Ad Formats, Insightful Reporting and Intelligent Tools. These new features will be rolled out gradually over the next couple of months. Here are our thoughts on each.

A screenshot showing the new Google AdWords features, innovative ad formats, insightful reporting and intelligent tools

Innovative Ad Formats

The latest innovation in ad formats focuses on improving user experience by leveraging mobile applications and how potential customers are interacting with them. Jerry Dischler, Vice President of product management for AdWords, explained that customers are typically looking to solve problems with apps. The new ad formats can help marketers use apps more effectively to help solve these problems.

Jerry also stated that more than 80% of downloaded apps are used once before being deleted. To enhance the usage of ads after being downloaded Google has introduced the concept of “app deep linking.” This new ad format allows advertisers to link search ads directly to the most relevant page within an application if the user already has the application downloaded. This type of ad will be most effective for large advertisers who already have a popularly downloaded app. The new ad type can help drive sales for large e-commerce clients, build brand awareness and increase app usage.

A screen shot showing hotel deal apps, a new AdWords feature

With the goal of increasing total app downloads, Google will now suggest keywords from the Google Play store. The ability to see keywords from Google Play should help marketers better optimize search campaigns that are promoting app downloads. These keywords are suggested based on both volume and total app downloads generated by that keyword.

Google will also be releasing In App Install Ads and Trueview Companion for Apps.

Insightful Reporting

For some clients, an important goal that could not be tracked was foot traffic. Google is starting to develop a solution that measures in-store transactions and other offline conversions. This means advertisers will now have a more detailed data set when optimizing for both online and offline conversions.

Intelligent Tools

The DragonSearch PPC team is excited about the new intelligent tools that are going to be released in the coming months. From the looks of things, it seems AdWords Editor, as well as any third party bid management software, is going to be a tool of the past.

Adwords UI Bulk Edits

It has been a real challenge and almost impossible to make any kind of bulk changes in the AdWords interface. With the new releases, you will now be able to make bulk edits that formally had to be made in AdWords editor. This is great news and has been a long time coming.

Automated Bidding

In the coming months, Google will be launching a new automated bidding process. This will bring enterprise-class bidding to every advertiser in AdWords, once only available in third-party tools. Among these new bidding options, AdWords will be rolling out max conversion bidding and max value bidding. Considering how difficult some of these third party tools are to use, it will be exciting to test out these new bidding options.

Drafts and Experiments

What do we think is the most exciting release? The DragonSearch PPC team is most amped up about the new drafts and experiments tool. Drafts and experiments turn all of AdWords into a lab that allows you to test and stage new ideas before fully committing. This tool offers the ability to take a drafted change, turn it into an experiment and run it with a percentage of traffic. This allows marketers to test the effect that their changes are going to make before rolling them out across the board. “Drafts and experiments is going to be awesome because it pushes AdWords testing (beyond ads) into the A/B Testing realm,” says fellow Dragon, Paolo Vidali.

I am curious to learn if we will have the ability to test the new automated bidding in the drafts and experiments tool. I have always been an automated bidding skeptic and will be sure to test how it stacks up against Google’s automated bidding algorithm.

Pivot Tables in AdWords?

Jonathan Ng, our Excel expert is specifically excited about the new Pivots Tables in AdWords. “Enhanced reporting lets managers create pivot tables and perform multidimensional analysis directly in the AdWords interface. This allows PPC professionals to spend more time optimizing the account since they no longer need to download and manually organize this data for analysis,” says Jonathan.

Drag and Drop Reporting

Using live data, we will now have the ability to create custom reports within the Adwords UI. In the past, every time we wanted to change the way we looked at data, we would have to adjust our columns and metrics to reshape the data. Now this can all be done with an easy drag and drop function. Not only is this new reporting tool going to be easier to use but it will also be more robust. You will now be able to report all metrics in the form of a chart. While this is all really cool, we do hope that we will have the ability to export these reports in a format that is deliverable to a client.


Overall, it looks like Google is going to be releasing great new tools and features over the next couple months and the DragonSearch PPC team is very excited to get our hands on them.

What do you think about these new tools and features being released? We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.

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Keyword Research in Today’s SEO World Part 2 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/keyword-research-copywriting-overview-part2/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/keyword-research-copywriting-overview-part2/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 14:27:55 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=16809 Continue reading ]]> How to Get the Most Out of the Google Keyword Planner Tool

In Part 1 of my series, Keyword Research in Today’s SEO World, we left off with the promise that Part 2 would cover the tool that SEO specialists have been using for years to perform keyword research. Google updated the tool during the summer of 2013, changing the dashboard and adding new features.

This walk-through of the tool will give you hands-on exercises to prepare for Part 3 of this series. If you blog or have your own website – this is invaluable information that you can use to optimize your copy, meta data, headings & URLs.

There are other tools available for keyword research, and SEO specialists utilize tools like Google Suggests to enhance what they learn from the Keyword Planner. But this tool is still a work horse for research, and the principles you will learn here will help you better understand keyword data and user behavior.

Getting Started with Google AdWords Planner

Start by logging into the Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool & click on Search for new keyword and ad group ideas:

(If you do not already have an AdWords account – there is much info on the web on how to start one.)

A screenshot of the Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool

This is where you enter in the words or phrases to get search volume data:

A screenshot of the Keyword Planner Tool with field for entering products or services

Let’s use this very blog post as an example. The topic is: keyword research and understanding the Google AdWord Keyword Planner tool.

For this exercise, we will limit our additions to the primary phrases related to this topic:

A screenshot of the Keyword Planner Tool with a field filled out with example keywords

Then click the “Get ideas” button at the bottom of the screen:

A blue button that says get ideas

The tool will return words and phrases, distributing them into two sections: Ad group ideas & Keyword ideas. Ad group ideas comes up by default, and there are two tabs to toggle between the two choices:

Two tabs, one saying Ad group ideas, one saying Keyword ideas 

Part of understanding the basic function of the tool is to understand the differences between these two sections of the results.

The Keyword Ideas Tab

Let’s start with the Keyword ideas tab. (Until recently – this was all the Google tool gave to you.) At the top is the Search terms section where you can see the exact words and phrases that you entered. It will display their average monthly searches.

A screenshot showing keyword ideas for Keyword Planner Tool terms

What Have We Learned So Far About Our Search Terms?

People are referring to Google’s Keyword Planner Tool in search as simply “keyword planner.” A quick Google search confirms that the phrase “keyword planner” is now containing an additional unexpected meaning; most of the returns in the SERPs are related to the tool and not to something else. So, over 20,000 searches were for that phrase, and under 1,000 for the full formal name of the tool. This is good information to know.

There are substantially more searches for “keyword research” than there are for “researching keywords.” This is an example of how just flipping words can show the value of one phrase over another and/or the opportunities for targeting a more niche phrase. Sometimes with experience, this can be anticipated, but in some cases, it can be surprising which version of a phrase has a higher search volume.

Exercises for Selecting Keywords

Exercise: Search phrases that you can flip – like “NYC restaurants” & “restaurants in NYC” – and get a feel for the results. Some will be logical, and a few surprising.

Exercise: Experiment by searching words like “lawyer” and “attorney” or “car insurance” & “auto insurance.” Try some related to your own business focus. See if you can intuitively anticipate the result before they are displayed.

The Keyword (by relevance) Section

The lower and larger Keyword (by relevance) section displays words and phrases suggested by Google pertaining to the initial search terms entered. In our example we typed in five different phrases. This Keyword (by relevance) section is showing 800 keyword results.

They are displayed in the order that Google finds most relevant to the words and phrases that you originally entered. Here are the first few of the 800:

A screenshot of keywords by relevance in the Keyword Planner Tool 

What Have We Learned From Google?

We clearly see how people are searching for the tool – what keyword phrases they are using.

We are also receiving some insight into Google’s brain! Did any of our initial entries include the words “how to?” No – they did not. Did we imply that we were looking for info on “how to” use the Keyword Planner tool? Nope. Google is making these implications and connections based on the data they collect.

Next, scroll through the results by clicking on the right arrow on the very bottom right:

A screenshot showing 1-30 of 800 keywords toggle button

At some point, you will clearly see the results start to drift and stray from the original phrases entered. Below is what we start to see after the 200th word:

A screenshot showing 211-240 of 800 keywords toggle button

A screenshot showing keyword results from the Planner Tool

What Have We Learned From These 800 Keyword Results?

We see that the initial keywords are relevant then they start to tail off and are somewhat related, but no longer on target. Depending on the particular search, this can happen anywhere along the line – but generally by the 100 – 200 words they change from immediate family and friends to second cousins once-removed.

Next, click on the Avg. monthly searches heading in the top tool bar for this Keyword (by relevance) section:

A screenshot showing Average monthly searches button 

Wow, everything changes. We get a different view of the world! The keywords are now ordered by search volume high to low. What do we do with this newly ordered information? How do we process it relative to everything we looked at up to now?

Exercises for Selecting Keywords

Exercise: Select keywords and download to organize, sort and create topical lists.

Search for the initial phrases you feel are most representative. In the top Keyword ideas / Search terms section – click the little arrow under Add to Plan next to each of your initial phrases:

A screenshot showing search term results for Keyword Planner Tool

This will send these keywords into a group that you will download out of the Keyword Planner Tool. You will see a little green check next to the keywords you pick. This is like going grocery shopping – you are putting these words in your cart.

A screenshot showing adding search term results for Keyword Planner Tool to plan

Next, go to the bottom Keyword (by relevance) section and click Add to plan for all the additional keywords that you feel are appropriate for the focus of your content. You have to start making some choices here. Indecision is not recommended.

For this exercise, only go through the first 50 – 100 keywords displayed.

Then, hit the Avg. monthly searches tool bar heading to regroup them by high to low search volume. Now go down those choices and see if there are any keywords with substantial search volume that you might have missed when using the other Google ranked view. Click the Add to plan to add these keywords to your other choices.

Now on the right side of the page, you will see My Keyword Ideas and next to it in parenthesis is the number of keywords you have chosen to export:

A screenshot showing the My Keyword Ideas tab

Click on the downward pointing arrow, and this new window will appear:

A screenshot showing how to download your keyword plan selecting from several options 

Click the Excel CSV button (as shown above) and keep the default Historical statistics checked to prepare to download your keywords into an Excel doc.

Next click the blue download button.

You will see this window:

A screenshot showing the save file button to download your keyword plan 

Click Save file.

On a PC you will see this next:

A screenshot showing how to open the keyword plan in Microsoft Excel

To continue your work now, keep the default setting Open with Microsoft Excel and click OK.

The Excel doc should open (if not – find it in your browser’s download list). It will look something like this:

A screenshot of a keyword plan in an Excel spreadsheet

Delete all the columns in the document except for Keyword, Avg. Monthly Searches & Competition. So in this (above) example I will delete columns A, C, D, E, H & I, and I will be left with a very clean looking three columns:

A screenshot showing a keyword plan in an Excel spreadsheet with only three fields

Next, click on one of the numbers in any Avg. Monthly Searches cell, right click and choose Sort AND THEN Sort Largest to Smallest:

A screenshot of a keyword plan in an Excel spreadsheet showing how to sort fields 

The keywords in your Excel doc will now be sorted by search volume.

At this point, I roll up my sleeves and start making my choices by color coding them. Remember our blog post is about keyword research and the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool. Here are my top search volume choices – orange for the primary phrases and blue for the supporting ones:

A screenshot of a keyword plan in an Excel spreadsheet showing color coded keywords 

This gives you a solid overview of how to navigate through the process using the results of your entered keyword choices in conjunction with the Keyword (by relevance) section of the tool where Google is expanding on your terms.

Now we will add in another component that the Google Keyword Planner Tool offers.

Incorporating the Ad Group Ideas Function of the Tool

Click on the Ad group ideas button choice, and you will see Ad group (by relevance) appear:

A screenshot showing Ad group ideas by relevance

This is similar to the previously used Keyword (by relevance) section, except now Google is grouping its choices, and creating headings to segment them. Each group shown has a number of words and phrases in it, the amount varies based on what keywords Google deems appropriate for the each group it created.

How Do You Use This Section of the Tool?

When you use the Keyword (by relevance) section, you have to scroll through 800 choices and pick the ones you preferred. With the Ad group (by relevance) section you can expedite that process by scanning the title of the groups Google created and clicking on the ones that you feel are relevant. In the following example, if you click on the “Keyword Planner” group:

A screenshot showing Ad group idea results for Keyword Planner Tool

You will see the 42 keyword results:

A screenshot of keywords by relevance showing additional results

Now you can make your picks and put them into your choice bucket.

What Do You Do With the Competition Column?

I like to see it – but for SEO purposes – I don’t let a high completion value keep me from optimizing for those particular keywords. Sometimes I use it as a “tie breaker,” picking between two similar search volume phrases, and going with the lowest completion one.

There is a choice in the Google Keyword Planner called Set Match Type where you can choose between Broad, Exact & Phrase match. You access it by clicking on the little pencil icon above My Keyword Ideas:

A screenshot showing the My Keywords Ideas review estimates button

A screenshot showing the keyword planner tool selecting exact match 

This choice used to matter with the old version of this tool. But in 2014, you can just leave it set to the default setting (Broad) and not worry about clicking on the pencil icon. The results will be the same for our purposes.

Exercises for Selecting Keywords

Exercise: After this test drive through the functionality of the Keyword ideas section of the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool, now go search for a new topic of your choice – it could be for a page on your website, or for a blog post you want to write. Follow all these steps and see what you get. The more you use this tool – the more comfortable you will get.

Keyword Planner Tool Summary

As you have probably already concluded, you can use the Ad group (by relevance) in conjunction with the Keyword (by relevance) sections or you can choose to use one or the other. Ultimately, you will start to develop an intuitive sense along with a better overall understanding of how to search, review, and pick your keywords, and you will use the tool like a musician uses an instrument, as a tool for your creativity.

There are many ways to use this keyword tool creatively. After much experimentation, I have given you my preferred method. The creatively is the wild card – and it has to come from you.

After you play around with the Keyword Planner Tool for a couple of weeks, and get skilled with the functionality of the tool – and just as importantly, gain some experience in anticipating the results and building “intuition” for this process – tune in back here for Part 3 of this series. I will address how to rewind back to the very start of this process before you even enter words and phrases into the tool, helping you learn how to determine the focus of a particular webpage or blog post. It seems simple, but when we teach keyword research and optimization at our workshops – we find that this is the most challenging thing for people to do, and thus the component in the process that most people get wrong.

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