Update to Google AdWords Ranking Algorithm Catches Out PPC Management Companies

A number of algorithms for SEO and AdWords are released sporadically by Google across the year, and more often than not they do not cause many issues for most websites. Of course, the major updates have been known to catch many companies off guard, often causing ranking issues, but the smaller updates tend to pass unnoticed by the majority of businesses. However, this ‘minor’ update has caused a bit of ripple for a number of companies.

Here at MINT we keep up to date on changes in PPC Management. We develop all of our practices as new guidelines are set out by Google, you will be glad to know that we already took the new change into account.

Ad extensions examples

Examples of Ad Extensions in AdWords

The main update to the algorithm

The main change to the algorithm saw the inclusion of ad extensions as a factor in the positioning decision.

Previously, Google used two factors in their Ad Rank (the calculation that they use to work out how ads were ordered). Now, as well as the maximum cost per click and quality score, AdWords will factor in ad extensions as well.

While clearly a tertiary factor, in the sense that both CPC and quality score take presidency, there are a number of cases where both CPC and quality score are the same, which means that ad extensions will be an important factor for a number of companies.

Ad extensions will play a part when two identical ads with the same bid and quality score are competing. Google believes that businesses using AdWords may now see a lower cost per click and higher click through rate if ad extensions are utilised to full effect.

If you are interested in information on our PPC Management services, please click here. We use ad extensions for all our clients, so you can be assured that we will help you to gain benefit from this and any future algorithm change.

Jamie Smith

Cardiff SEO Tip: 8 Stages of On-Page Optimisation (with Infographic)

Cardiff-SEO1

The process of driving organic traffic to your site is fraught with difficulty. With Google constantly moving the goal posts through updated algorithms, keeping on top of SEO is a continuous battle.

The list of SEO activities can be endless, Including things like:

  • Link Building
  • Geographical Keyword Targeting (e.g. Cardiff SEO)
  • Social Media Optimisation
  • Social Media Management For SEO
  • Keyword Research
  • Error Identification (Broken Link Correction)
  • Content Management
  • Rank Report
  • Load Speed Investigation
  • Site Architecture

And the list goes on!

Lucky, Mint Online Marketing’s Cardiff SEO team has put this great infographic together to show how to optimise on-page content such as blog posts and web pages.

The first and main thing to remember is ‘Content Is Still King!’ You must write engaging, original and unique content for your users. By having great content on your website or blog you will;

  • Provide users with useful, relevant and interesting reading material
  • Encourage users to return to your site
  • Increase readability (which Google loves by the way)
  • Lower bounce rate

Make sure that you conduct thorough keyword research using tools such as Google Adwords Keyword Planner, so that the copy can be written and optimised around that key-word or key-phrase. Once you have conducted your keyword research, try and put the [exact] term that you are trying to increase ranking for in the Title of you article or blog (and make sure it is included in an <H1> heading tag). The closer to the beginning of the title you can get your exact keyword/phrase, the better. Once you have done this, try and NATURALLY get that keyword in at the beginning of the first line of your copy. If you can’t do that, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world!

The next thing you should do is get your keyword or slight variation of your keyword in your <H2> and <H3> tags. Depending on the size of your copy, you may only be able to get an <H2> in and not a <H3>. Once you have written your copy, run it through a keyword density checker tool, like: Live-Keyword-Analyses. You should be aiming to get between 2% and 3% in the ratio box, as a broad guide.

Now you should go back through your copy and separately:

  1. Bold your keyword
  2. Italicise your keyword
  3. Underline your keyword

The next thing you should do is always include an image. Make sure that when you save the image to your computer, you save it with the keyword as the image filename. Once you have uploaded the image to your post, title it again using the keyword and make sure that you put the keyword in the ALT or ‘Alternate Text’ of the image. For example: Using Cardiff SEO as the keyword your link would look like this;

<a href=”http://www.mintonlinemarketing.net/” title=”Cardiff SEO 8 Stage Optimisation”><img src=” link to where image is uploaded ” alt=”Cardiff SEO” /></a>

Quick Tip: Using bullet points and numbered lists helps the reader to breakdown and more easily read the information that you’re providing. (A few extra Google brownie points for you)

Cardiff SEO On-Page Optimisation Info-graphic

 

Cardiff SEO

 

The next tip for optimising a page is to use relevant internal links. You could always use this opportunity to link your image to another internal page. Make sure that you link to a page that is populated with topic relevant content, but is not competing on keywords. Remember, when you link to the internal page do NOT use the keyword you are trying to optimise your page for! So, in our example, we are optimising this post using the keyword Cardiff SEO. We would NOT use that keyword as anchor text to send people away from this post, but we could use the keyword Social SEO and link that to the Social SEO page.

Quick Tip: If you are using a CMS like WordPress then change the Permalink to include your keyword.

Last but certainly not least, you need to optimise the Meta Title, Meta Description and Meta Keywords. Try to keep your Meta Title under 66 characters and your Meta Description under 150. If you exceed these character limits, the additional characters will not display in Google search results and will appear ‘cut-off’.

Congratulations, you’re all optimised!

Jamie Smith

LinkedIn: The World’s Biggest Business Expo

Here at MINT, our social media management department handles a number of LinkedIn pages for our clients and are often asked how we can utilise the social network as part of a marketing strategy. In fact, we are asked so often that we decided to write this blog which will take you through how businesses should approach LinkedIn from both a company and personal perspective.

Firstly, imagine the LinkedIn platform is a worldwide, on-going business show or networking event. Now think of companies that attend exhibitions and what they normally need to ensure a successful, productive experience?

Social Media Management

The most important aspect to exhibiting is having the salespeople and representatives at the event to speak to new people, garner interest in the business and create leads. In this LinkedIn-expo analogy, a personal page acts as the salesperson. It is down to the business owners, CEOs and other members of a business to create their own LinkedIn personal pages and actively connect and engage with other relevant LinkedIn members.

These personal pages must be well-formed with a good amount of information about the individual and the company they are representing. Much like meeting people at a networking event, someone who is just going to talk about how great their business is is going to get very boring, very quickly.

Finding connections can take a bit of time as email addresses are often required and not all connection requests are accepted. However, once a connection is made with someone it is important to interact and engage with them through direct messages or commenting on their posts. Like in all networking events, attendees will assume the majority of the people they meet will want to try and sell them something, so don’t be afraid to give them your best sales pitch once you have gone through the general chit-chat.

Now we have the representatives of the LinkedIn business show sorted, the next thing any good exhibitor needs is an exhibition stand; this is where a company page comes in.

What many business people don’t understand is that a LinkedIn company page doesn’t work in the same way as a Twitter, Facebook or Google+ business page. LinkedIn does not allow users to go actively engage with other people or businesses through a company page so they should be viewed as the exhibition stands at this huge, virtual networking event.

Mint Online Marketing - SMM

Visit MINT Online Marketing on LinkedIn

Obviously, a ‘stand’ should stand out from the crowd and in an actual business event this can be done by adding flashing lights, dancing monkeys or fireworks (not suggested for indoor events!). But on LinkedIn the best way to maximise a page is simply through ensuring the page has a decent logo and cover image, and includes as much information as possible. The more a potential client knows about what a business does, the more likely they are to purchase.

As company pages can’t be used to go out and look for followers, it’s important to drive new personal connections towards the page, much like salespeople would aim to do at a business show.

LinkedIn groups are also a great way of networking and gaining new connections. In our LinkedIn business show, these groups should be seen as seminars or workshops where relevant and like-minded, industry-relevant people will be congregating.

LinkedIn is a brilliant platform to find and develop potential business leads, but users have to be prepared to network, schmooze and pitch. If you decide to attend the LinkedIn Virtual Business Show and sit in the corner quietly without an exhibition stand, you’re not going to generate any leads.

Go out and mingle, tell people about yourself and your business, and create some great, valuable leads.

Do You Really ‘Like’ It? A Reaction To Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’

Last night, Channel 4 broadcast ‘Dispatches: Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans’, an exposé of social media fakery and deception that was, for a social media manager, highly disturbing.

fake like

And it seems I am not the only one to find the information that the documentary discovered highly shocking. Social networks and blogs are awash with comments, opinions and, in some cases, sheer outrage.

If you haven’t seen it, here are some of the key findings that were most shocking:

  • You can ‘buy’ 1000 Facebook ‘likes’ or Twitter followers for just $15 from a Bangladesh-based company
  • At these ‘click farms’, employees each had around 1000 fake profiles which allowed them to log in and out and ‘like’ pages as many times as the client had paid for
  • Soft drink giants Coca Cola were alleged to have bought YouTube views but the company have gone on record to deny any of these allegations
  • Celebrities are often paid to endorse products or brands through their personal Twitter pages, with the amount you pay based on the number of followers the celeb has
  • Freebie events are set-up to which celebrities are invited to grab some of the goodies on offer on the basis that they will hopefully tweet at the brand and therefore give that brand a fantastic amount of exposure, driving sales and website traffic.

While I was watching this last night, I was dreading coming in the next morning as I half expected to have every client on the phone asking if we dabbled in any of these dodgy dealings. Thankfully, I haven’t heard from any of them yet which either means they didn’t watch the show or they trust us.

I am hoping it is the latter as, here at MINT, we believe that every part of online marketing, not just social, should be done in an authentic, ethical and transparent manner.

In social terms, every ‘like’, follower or +1 should be earned the right way; through hard work, being an engaging member of the social community and giving people a reason to have an interest in what we and our clients do.

While growing our clients’ fan base on the social media accounts is part of the whole strategy, it is not the main concern. What we look for and love is engagement with others; creating conversations, spreading information and posting the odd GIF of Jim Carrey dancing in a tutu.

Here at MINT we also know that our audiences and the majority of social media users are far more savvy, sceptical and analytical when it comes to things like a relatively unknown brand having 20,000 ‘likes’ or a celebrity tweeting about how much they love wearing a certain brand of jock strap. It’s like the old Abraham Lincoln and the internet joke: you can’t and shouldn’t always believe what you read on the web.

However, these revelations shouldn’t make you distrust all companies on social media. There are some companies that do absolutely fantastic work that provides their brand with a strong, likeable identity, gives their customers another way of engaging with their brand (for better or for worse) and build huge audiences because they have earned every single fan/follower.

Social media will always be open to fakers and fraudsters, but 99% of agencies out there are dedicated to creating authentic and engaging audiences that will be of huge benefit to their clients in terms of brand awareness, brand identity and hopefully sales. It is important that we all remember this and trust in agencies and companies to do things the right way and weed out those who look to cut corners and cheat the system.

If you haven’t yet seen the show, you can catch-up on 4od for the next 29 days.

The Ultimate Small Business Guide to Google Analytics: Landing Pages

In the second of our 5 part series Google Analytics Guide for Small Businesses, we look at ‘Landing Pages’.

Using Google Analytics, you can discover which pages on your website are most often ‘landed’ on. A landing page is simply an entrance page, the first page viewed during a website visit. The Pareto principle often comes into effect here, 20% (ish) of the pages on your website are likely to gain 80% (ish) of the ‘entrance traffic’.

The key here is that : once you are aware of which pages visitors most frequently use to enter your website, you can focus your time and effort towards improving these pages. These are the pages that matter the most, and small regular improvements can have a positive incremental effect on results.

So lets start by seeing how we can discover the most popular landing pages on your website.

Go to: CONTENT > SITE CONTENT > LANDING PAGES

landing-pages

The above shows the top landing pages overall for the website. It may also be useful to look at which pages attract the most entrances broken down by traffic SOURCE.

For instance, 2 useful pieces of information to be aware of are :

1. the top organic (SEO) traffic landing pages.

2. the total number of organic (SEO) traffic landing pages.

Lets look at how we find this data:

Go to: TRAFFIC SOURCES > SEARCH > ORGANIC then you click the ‘secondary dimension’: LANDING PAGES

trafficsources-organic-landingpages

To discover the total number of organic (SEO) landing pages for any given period, you start by selecting your date settings (top right in Google Analytics) and then :

Go to: TRAFFIC SOURCES > SEARCH > ORGANIC then you click the ‘secondary dimension’: LANDING PAGES

trafficsources-total-organic-landing-pages

Google Analytics will usually default to showing the top 10 organic landing pages, but if you look in the bottom right hand side of the screen it will provide you with an accurate total figure.

Total organic landing pages should be a KPI you measure to indicate SEO performance. The more pages on your site that attract organic entrance traffic the better. It means more pages are more visible in organic search.

You could of course look at top direct landing pages, top landing pages from Social – and a plethora more potentially useful metrics using Google Analytics, but hopefully this is a good taster to get you started.

So get started today – discover your top landing pages, analyse the engagement metrics of those pages and highlight any issues that require remedial attention. Then get to it!

Now, have your say

Have you been surprised which pages on your website are the top landing pages?

Any other hints, tips and tricks you can provide to the community?

Leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook.

The Ultimate Small Business Guide to Google Analytics

So you are a small business owner, you have a website and you want to improve your results so that you can make more money for less cost, right?

If wrong, please go away and never come back again, this blog is not for you [ :-p ]!

One of the main reasons I love Online Marketing so very much is the fact that all the data you will ever need to enable you to improve performance, is readily available – and FREE!

The businesses that are winning online have a little secret that you need to learn; they have Google Analytics installed on their website, and they actually TAKE NOTICE of the data!

Simple right? Well yes, in a way. But not so straight-forward for the novice Google Analytics operative. It is a very powerful tool, and can be overwhelming.

You maybe know you should be using Google Analytics, but you are not sure where to start? So we thought we would share some guidance to help small businesses use Google Analytics in a pro-active way to help you make incremental improvements to your website performance.

Before we get stuck in, you need to take a step back and clarify in your mind the primary goal of your website. It may be simply to provide information to potential customers, a brochure site. It may be a ‘lead generation’ website, where the goal is for people to either call or complete an enquiry form. Or your goal may be to gain e-commerce sales directly online.

Whatever the goal of your website, keep it close to mind as you observe your Google Analytics data; analysis without direction is just counting numbers. And if you like counting numbers for the sake of it, go and play Sudoku!

So here we go. This is the first part of a 5 part series, and we will start with the important subject of ‘engagement’.

#1 : Engagement

Website engagement is effected by 2 main elements. Traffic ‘Quality‘ and ‘User Experience‘ (UX).

If you are driving poor quality traffic (visitors) to your website, your engagement metrics will suffer. If someone is looking to buy blue widgets and you sell red widgets, they are not likely to engage with your website, for instance!

You may be driving good quality traffic, but the user experience your website provides when people arrive, is sub-par. If this is the case then your visitors are less likely to hang around, and an un-sustainable % will convert leading to a poor Return On Investment (ROI).

And if you are unsure as to why website engagement really matters, lets make it crystal clear here for you –

“Improved engagement leads directly to improved goal conversion rates which leads to more profit which leads to happy business owners!”

The main engagement metrics you should monitor on Google Analytics are:

a) bounce rate (a ‘bounce’ is when someone enters a web page and then leaves without interacting)

You can check your overall website bounce rate as a site-wide figure.

Go to: AUDIENCE > OVERVIEW

Bounce-Rate

 

You can also monitor the bounce rate of individual pages on your website.

Go to: CONTENT > SITE CONTENT > ALL PAGES

page-bounce-rate

If you find that certain pages have a much higher bounce rate than the overall site-wide average, you should try to discover why and fix it, quick!

Remember: lower bounce rate = increased engagement = increased sales.

b) average pages per visit (how many pages do visitors view, on average, when they visit your website)

When your website visitors view more pages per visit, it means they find your website more engaging. This may be because of the design, the speed, the content etc… By improving the elements that lead to enhanced engagement you will improve the performance of your website and increase your sales.

Go to: AUDIENCE > OVERVIEW

pages-per-visit

c) average time per visit (how long do visitors remain on your website)

If all your visitors leave your website in a very short space of time, it is a sign that engagement is low. As you achieve an increase to the average time per visit, you will see an improvement in the performance of your website and increased sales.

Go to: AUDIENCE > OVERVIEW

avg-visit-duration

You can also monitor the average time on a ‘per page’ basis. This can help you to identify the pages on your website which are less engaging, and help to focus your attention in respect to driving performance enhancements.

Go to: CONTENT > SITE CONTENT > ALL PAGES

per-page-avg-time

The areas of Google Analytics we have covered here are just the tip of the iceberg, but never the less you will start to see the benefits that this data can have for your business.

Tomorrow we will be looking at how you can use Google Analytics to review the performance of ‘landing pages’ a.k.a. the pages that people enter your site.

Have your say

How are your engagement stats?

Are there any tips your can provide to the community in relation to engagement?

The 20 Top UK-Based Online Marketing Agencies on Google+

After the success of our Twitter top 40, we thought we would switch our attentions to Google+. For this top 20 list we simply ranked the agencies by their +1 count.

When this list was first posted in June, MINT were placed in 3rd but we have now climbed up the list to 2nd! MINT would also like to congratulate all other agencies that made the list.

  1. SEO Positive
  2. Mint Online Marketing
  3. Strategic Internet Marketing
  4. Ocere
  5. Studiowide
  6. Bigfoot Digital
  7. WSI Internet Marketing
  8. iProspect
  9. Latitude Express
  10. Splice Marketing
  11. MonkeyFish Marketing
  12. PushON
  13. Kenshoo
  14. SocialB
  15. Mediaworks
  16. Coast Digital
  17. Global Web Design SEO
  18. Firehoop
  19. Prodo
  20. theEword

(Figures correct as of the 18/06/13)

Have we missed your online marketing company? Think you should be in this list? Post directly at us on Google+ and, if you meet the correct criteria, you will be added.

Click here to contact MINT via G+

Why Social Media is SE-Oh So Important to Your Page Ranking

seo like

When it comes to online marketing, social media is often viewed as a frivolous, unnecessary and luxurious tool that is time-consuming and ineffective when compared to SEO. You may be correct if you look at social media as a stand-alone form of online marketing, but if you change your mind-set and look at it as part of a whole SEO strategy you will begin to see how crucial being social can be to your business and its SERP.

Firstly, it’s important to recognise the latest Google update and how it has once again re-moulded the SEO landscape. Google are continuing in their efforts to make SEO more ‘ethical’ and it seems that means creating more unique content, sharing and engaging with other internet users and proving your business’ ‘authenticity’.

Social media activity is having a far more direct influence on Google rankings than in the past as information such as your follower count on Twitter or the number of ‘likes’ your business page has can determine which page of Google your website is placed. In fact, you may see a 7% rise in your search ranking if you bag yourself 50 Facebook ‘likes’ and 70 shares.

Keywords have always been important in SEO and that is still the case, but if your business has ignored using social media it is missing out on many precious opportunities. With social media pages usually having a very high page rank, placing keywords in the profile description will allow companies to boost website traffic and increase effectiveness of SEO at the same time. Google also look for passive and justified keywords in the tweets and other posts you share, so social media can help build the link between your business and key search terms.

Content marketing is the perfect fit for Google’s ethical SEO mission, but creating and posting articles on your site is just part of the optimization process. First and foremost, by keeping a watchful eye over relevant social communities and trending topics your business can see exactly what people are talking about, find out what the hot topics in your industry are and create tailored content that is interesting to your audience and easy to find by search engines.

Once the content has been published to your site, you should then promote it via you social media networks. Not only will this drive traffic to your website, but it will also reduce the time it takes Google to find your content from 2 hours to 2 seconds. You can even cut the indexation time of your content by 50% by simply posting a link in a tweet.

By promoting your content via social media you also give the audience a great opportunity to share what you have created which will deliver your website a fantastic SEO boost. Gaining social shares is a fantastic way of giving your business a temporary rankings increase as the current Google algorithm contains a freshness portion that is triggered by people sharing content.

In terms of social SEO, Google+ is a goldmine of opportunities that you would be foolish not to make the most of. Launched in 2011, Google+ has struggled to break into the mainstream social media market in the same way Twitter and Facebook did. However, as overlord of the search engine rankings Google are now enticing many people and businesses to their social network with increased SEO benefits such as a 15% rise in the rankings for businesses with a G+ business page. You can also embed a whole host of followed links into your profile which are becoming more and more sparsely available across the web.

So when you’re considering your SEO strategy it is important that you don’t totally disregard social media or see it as a separate entity. If running Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+ accounts seems like too much of a drain on resources and a social media manager is not an option, try and work at least one social media account into your plans. Which social media platform you choose to utilise is for you to decide but if you are looking at being social purely for SEO you should look no further than Google+.

The Top 40 UK-Based Online Marketing Agencies on Twitter

Twitter is a crucial tool in online marketing and the MINT team has worked extremely hard to boost its followers and overall Twitter presence over the past 5 months.

As our Twitter account continued to grow, we always looked at the other online marketing agencies on the social network to see how we compared.

We then decided it would be an interesting research task to find as many UK-based online marketing agencies on Twitter and create Top 40 list with positions based on the number of followers an account had accumulated.

Here at MINT we use our company’s social media accounts to show prospective clients that not only can we talk the talk, we can also walk the walk. While creating this list we have remained unbiased and not changed the rules to give MINT an unfair advantage over other businesses.

Originally placed in 7th when the list was made in May, we have now climbed to 3rd! We’re extremely pleased and would like to congratulate every other agency that made our list.

  1. SEO Positive
  2. Distilled
  3. MINT Online Marketing
  4. Eskimo Soup
  5. Web Marketing Group
  6. Equator Agency
  7. Kenshoo
  8. Strategy Internet Marketing
  9. iProspect
  10. 360innovate
  11. theEword
  12. Coast Digital
  13. Pogo Digital
  14. Living Media
  15. Delineo
  16. Prodo Digital
  17. Sweetheart Marketing
  18. PushON
  19. All Things Web
  20. Strawberry
  21. JDR Websites
  22. Evevo
  23. A10 Strategic Media
  24. Edit Optimisation
  25. Cube3
  26. Studiowide
  27. TicToc
  28. i-Com
  29. The Zen Agency
  30. Nick Lewis Communications
  31. Young Cow
  32. Lakestar McCann
  33. Atelier Studios
  34. Liquid Solutions
  35. Peach Digital
  36. Ocere
  37. Bigfoot Digital
  38. Splice Marketing
  39. Latitude Express
  40. Mediaworks

Have we missed your online marketing company? Think you should be in this list? Send us a tweet @MINTOnline and if you meet the criteria, you will be added!