Why Does SEO Take So Long?

Think of this – you’re driving on the freeway and you want to be ahead of someone that left an hour before you.

They’re already up to their maximum speed of 100km/h and are miles in front.

So, not only do you have to catch up to the speed that they’re doing, but also go a little bit faster.

Now wait, before you go pedal to the metal, remember that you can’t get caught by the Police!

*WOOP* *WOOP*

They’ll pull you up straight away if they catch you screaming down the freeway at 200km/h.

That’s basically your situation in Google when you’re trying to climb in Organic rankings.

Ranking in Google genuinely takes time.

It’s not just a line that all SEO companies use to try and bleed you out over time.

Even if you’re doing awesome work, there’s a few things that will prevent you from a meteoric rise to the top of the G-pile.

Quality Of SEO Work

Obviously, the quality of SEO work performed on your website is going to be a major factor between how quick and effective your SEO is going to be.

And for most business owners, being able to tell whether or not they’re getting quality SEO is a challenge.

Especially since most SEO agencies are pretty keen to keep their “formula” a secret. 

Explaining what quality SEO work is is another series of blog posts on its own.

But basically, you need to ensure that your provider is optimising and adding content on your website (on-page work), and building good quality links to your website (off-page work).

If you’re looking for more posts relating to quality SEO work, you can look at the following articles:

Yet, even with quality work, SEO can still genuinely take time.

Below are a few contributing factors that are often outside of all SEO’s control.

Domain Age

Ever had a new guy come into the workplace and act as if he’s been a part of the team for years almost immediately?

Yeah, no one likes that guy.

And neither does Google.

If your domain has only just been registered and you’ve whacked a website on there, don’t expect the same respect as the old timers who have some solid history behind them.

At least not straight away, anyway.

There is typically a sandbox period that Google gives websites that can last anywhere from a month to a few months.

Your Industry

There are some industries where the level of investment to SEO is so low that ranking a website within a month (with exception to the “sandbox” mentioned in Domain Age) is actually a real possibility.

Then there are industries like law, where firms are throwing money around to get to the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and ranking for major keywords can take a full year or more depending on how aggressive the competition is.

It took me just over a year to get WA Legal to rank ahead of some big names for the term “lawyers perth”.

Search results for "lawyers perth" on Google

Results Get Slower Over Time

Going back to our freeway analogy again, if we’re driving at 105km/h; we’re going to overtake the plebs travelling at 90km/h in the loser lane pretty quickly.

That means if your website is on page 10 when you start doing SEO then you’re likely to feel the NOS kick in as you scream up to page 4.

But you’re not going to keep passing cars at that pace because the cars that are ahead of the pack you just passed aren’t travelling at 90, those guys are cruising along at 100.

Provided you maintain your speed, you’ll get past them. It will just take longer to catch up and overtake.

Suddenly you’re on page 1…

Now you’re trying to overtake the cars that are doing 104km.

Slowly, but surely, you hit the middle of page 1.

Now here’s where things get tricky.

The cars in front are going the same speed as you are, fluctuating under and over by a km/h either side.

It will feel like you’re making no progress at all at point.

Then suddenly you’ll overtake someone, getting from position 4 to position 3.

Then you may see yourself slipping back down to position 4.

Then back up to position 3 again.

I think by now you get where I’m going with this. The higher you are, the tougher the competition is going to be and it will feel like the results are ‘tapering off’.

Using PWA Electrical Services as an example, you can see how within a month they’ve come from absolutely nowhere on some of their keywords to being on the first and second page for electrical keywords in their key service suburbs.

Rankings for PWA Electrical Services

These results will improve, but it will start moving slower now that we’ve had this massive jump from the easy wins in the initial rounds of optimisation.

Googlebot

Every time you search Google, you’re not actually doing a live search of the Internet.

You’re actually looking at Google’s library of website that it has discovered on its search.

And Google searches the web using Googlebot.

Googlebot is the little search engine spider that crawls the web, archiving everything, understanding everything and registering which sites are linking to other sites.

Despite Google being our all-powerful Lord who is everywhere at all times, it does actually take time before it can get to read everything.

So that means if you’ve built a backlink on a directory, for example, it could take a couple of days, weeks or even months before Google eventually finds that link to your site.

And even when it finds the link, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Google has started using that link to contribute to your overall score.

This is why there are cases of businesses leaving their SEO provider to find that their rankings are still increasing anyway.

It’s not that the SEO provider wasn’t doing anything and that your website magically rises on its own – it’s just the work that was done ‘however long ago’ getting noticed and rewarded by Google.

When Lavish Limousines’ previous domain was burnt and we had to create a brand-new domain with no redirects in place.

So that we didn’t carry over the bad link profile that got them penalised in the first place over to the new site (which is what would happen if we did a 301 redirect from the old site to the new site).

I had to go and update every single one of their directories and profiles with the new URL.

And it took Google MONTHS before it re-crawled some of those pages.

I knew this because you can see the latest version of a webpage that has been cached by Google.

Cached view of directory listing

Clicking the down arrow next to the backlink page’s URL on Google’s search results page will reveal the current version of the page Google has stored.

Frustrating, I know, but it’s beyond the control of any SEO.

Trial And Error

Copywriting with the aim to please Google can be painful sometimes.

And this issue is down, again, to Googlebot.

Even when you make a small change to a meta title, submit the change to Google and wait to see what that does to your rankings…and then wait a bit more to see how things stabilize…it takes time.

Google doesn’t like being fooled and it will often not immediately reward sites that hit the right buttons.

So again, even if you’re are intensely trying new variations of copy, meta titles and headlines you have to sit and wait to see what results those changes have actually made before revising what was done and trying again with other variations/improvements.

No One Actually Knows How Google’s Algorithm Works

That’s not to say that SEO’s don’t know what they’re doing.

Most experienced SEOs know a range of different strategies that helps increase websites’ rankings in Google.

But nobody actually knows Google’s exact formula and everything that Google looks for in a #1 website.

That even includes Google themselves.

So, there is always trial and error going on with each and every website to try and squeeze those extra few positions up the SERPs.

Real World Activity

If a business is getting mentioned in news sites for achievements, partnerships or anything else and getting links back from those sites, it is going to be a hell of a lot easier to rank compared to a business that’s getting zero love from the press.

I’ve come across businesses sitting on a Gold mine of a backlink profile and they never even knew it.

They had links from major local news websites, industry publications, .gov.wa.au domains – the jackpot!

All I had to do was tweak their meta titles and heading tags and boom!

1st position overnight and their competition don’t have any hope of catching up for a very long time.

And even if there isn’t a flurry of high value backlinks heading to the website – a well branded and known business will always attract higher Click Through Rates in the SERPs and will likely engage users on site for longer due to the higher trust factors.

If you’re one of these businesses, lucky you.

But if you’re against a business like this…well…best of luck!

The Naughty Ones

This is probably the most frustrating thing about SEO.

There are certain ways of optimising a website that are not recommended.

In fact, they will get you penalised by Google…

…in theory.

Somehow though there are countless website that are enjoying being at the summit of Google’s SERPs despite having a dangerous amount of spammy links pointing towards their website.

This is where any reasonable person would question their SEO provider as to why they can’t replicate the same results and if they’re talking nonsense about this whole Google penalising spam stuff.

Jumping back into our car analogy – we all know that one guy who is always speeding down every road yet somehow never gets caught.

Yet that one time when you start venturing over the speed limit, without meaning to…

FLASH!

“****!”

And that’s pretty much how Google works and why some websites just seem to get away with murder.

Don’t be tempted to go down that road.

Wait things out because Google is getting smarter every single time they update their algorithm which is happening more and more frequently.

Algorithm Updates

They way Google crawls website, finds links, brings all the information together and credits website isn’t perfect and Google knows that.

Google are always trying to improve their algorithm to reward the good websites and punish those who are trying to take advantage.

If your website is being optimised in the way that Google likes, you will be rewarded every time one of these algorithm updates rolls out.

But as with everything mentioned in this article; it all takes time.

How Long Should Blog Posts Be For SEO

There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

And coincidentally there’s also more than one way to write a blog too.

It really depends on what you plan to do with each blog article and what you hope to achieve.

In this blog post, we’re going to focus on the cheap and cheerful method of getting traffic for your blog posts.

Which is by ranking it in Google and capitalising on free organic traffic.

The short answer to how long your posts should be? As long as you can possibly make it whilst remaining relevant, helpful and insightful or entertaining.

But just writing about anything and everything in your blog isn’t going to magically get you that free traffic.

First, you need to plan your attack.

And the first move you want to make is deciding what it is exactly that you want to write about.

You need to know that people are actually asking the questions that you’re answering in your blog post.

Because if no one is searching in Google for your blog post, it may as well be invisible (for this approach, anyway).

How To Pick Your Topics

First things first.

Don’t use your blog to target your main keywords.

It’s pointless.

I see a lot of companies over here making blog posts called “Website Design Perth” or “Why You Need A Website Designer Perth”.

It doesn’t work for ranking your website for main keywords and it doesn’t do anything on your blog to provide anything useful or make you look like an authority in your industry.

Your blog is an opportunity to capture searches that you normally couldn’t on the standard pages of your website.

Visa Solutions Australia have done extremely well in targeting search queries with their blog posts and not only capitalising on the free traffic that answering those questions have generating but it also results in booked appointments.

Just two of their examples is a write up for the search queries:

These two posts pull in a lot of traffic to the website.

And best of all, they pull in enquiries that result in appointments and work.

On top of that, all of the extra activity in Google’s search engine results page and the awesome user metrics that come with having a helpful and engaging blog has done wonders for their overall rankings site-wide.

There are countless questions about your industry/trade being asked in Google every single day and for many of those search queries, there aren’t many good guides/articles for people to find. That’s an opportunity for you to fill that void.

Most Of My Traffic Is Through My Blog

I’ve made content work for the Doyle Digital website too.

If you look at this Last 30 days snapshot of my Organic traffic, you can see that more people land on blog posts than they do on my homepage, SEO page and AdWords page combined.

Doyle Digital Landing Pages

My most popular page, by far, is my post about click fraud which even ClickCease picked up on.

You’ll notice that all of this content is attracting people to my website because it actually helps people out and answers the questions that they asked through their Google search.

Your Post’s Topic & Identifying Potential

I was recently working on my Best Position In AdWords post, trying to make it a bit longer to boost its on-page value and its rankings in Google.

I thought to myself “I wonder if most people know how to do this”.

Then I thought “How many people even ask this question?”

And that’s when I turned to the Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

Using the Keyword Planner in Google to see search volume for topics around how long a blog post should be

Bingo!

At least 70 searches per month for the exact search query of “how long should a blog post be”.

And there’s likely to be heaps more for very similar searches that I can rank for at the same time.

So now I know what I want to write about, let’s see how I need to go about writing it so I can crack that sweet first page on Google for that term.

Checking Out The Competition

Let’s see who I’m up against for this target then!

The reason this step is important is because from here, you learn what the benchmark for a good ranking post/article is and what you need to do to provide something better.

Whilst some industries will compete just fine with 300-400 word blog posts (like in our example before), this whole SEO industry is fairly competitive as you could imagine.

So I suspect the competition is going to be a bit stiff and will require a fair bit of effort on my part.

Okay then!  We’ll do a quick search for “how long should blog posts be” in Google and check out the top four websites for this exercise.

Google search results for how long should a blog post be

Yoast has around 660 words for their position 1 listing.

The Write Practice has roughly a whopping 1,200 words for their 2nd place listing.

Sword And The Script has about 1,150 words for their 3rd place listing.

Forbes is coming in at around 1,100 words too.

You can see the similarities here with the exception of Yoast, which is ranking first despite only having half of the word count as the other 3 listings.

The thing is, Yoast  is a hugely popular SEO tool for WordPress and has a monster backlink profile.

If I want to compete, I’m either going to have to match the backlink profile of Yoast, or I have to smash that ~1,200 word count.

So I’ll aim to make this blog post around 1,600 words in order to have a really good crack at one of those tops spots.

I don’t know about you, but I think the word count route is going to be far easier, cheaper and more effective for a solo operator like myself.

Of course, I’m oversimplifying a whole bunch of ranking factors in Google and quality of SEO copywriting over sheer quantity, but I don’t want to stray too far off the “how long should a blog post be” topic 🙂

How Can You Write So Much About One Topic?

Easy!

Because this is about my industry and I know what I’m talking about.

And chances are, you have the same level of knowledge about your own industry and are capable of writing equally long blog posts.

It can be painful at first, but it’s always best to write these blog posts yourself or at least put the meaningful insights down and then let a copywriter elaborate to get the word count up for you.

Because expecting a copywriter to do eve an average write up on “How To Install A TV Antenna” when s/he has never installed an antenna before in their life is just unrealistic.

Give Good Information Away, For Free

Yes, seriously.

Because average content, no matter how well written isn’t going to get your backlinks, shares, business or even decent time on site.

So give some value away.

Think of it like this.

People pay you for your skills and expertise and because they don’t have the time to do or learn what you do.

So giving golden information in your blog isn’t going to lose you any business.

Its like how anyone can paint their own home, it’s hardly the most complex thing on the planet.

Yet painters, like our friends at Allure Painting, still seem to business and making a good living from it too.

The people who are going to do things themselves are going to do it themselves.

If they’re going to search for how they should do something, then they may as well learn it from your website so that you at least gain something from it.

Even this information that you’re reading right now is me giving away knowledge for free.

(You’re welcome, by the way).

What do I get out of this?

Well, you’re still here, reading my post and improving the user metrics on my website.

So, thanks!

How Often Should I Be Blogging?

It really doesn’t matter.

I know everyone has read that “Google loves fresh content” somewhere at least once.

I even get some marketing managers arguing with me about this.

But how often do you Google something and a post or article from years ago still towers over the newer and “fresher” posts?

Even when we scoped out the competition for this blog post – notice how Yoast’s post from August, 2016 towered above all the other listings that were written earlier in 2017?

And the article from Forbes was published all the way back in 2014, yet it still holds its own in the top half of page one for that key phrase.

The point here is that the content is what matters.

So however long it takes you to put out something that’s well though out, properly laid out and contains information that search users will actually care about and value – that’s how often you should post.

It’s way better to have just one of these mammoth 1,000+ word posts that actually does something for your website than having ten 300 word posts that you’ve put on every Friday without fail.

Remember that Google is a search engine with an aim to serve up the most useful and relevant piece of information in regard to you search query – not the most recent.

How Did This Post Do?

Well, I’m hoping that you found this article through a search in Google, so you’ll know that answer for yourself.

But for those who have come through other sources, here’s a quick report for where this post currently sits for a couple of competitive keywords.

How Long Should Blog Posts Be:

Google Search Page For How Long Should Blog Posts Be

How Long Should Blog Posts Be For SEO:

Google Results Page For How Long Should Blog Posts Be For SEO

Considering that my domain strength isn’t anywhere near those above or close beneath, even, I’ve achieved a pretty good result here just from having 1,600+ words.

Of course, it does help that the content here is informative and useful.

If content is unhelpful and Google sees search users jumping straight back to the SERPs from your site, it’s a sign to demote your article.

How To Track Phone Number Clicks On Your Website

OnClick Script Below Updated To Work With Global Site Tag (gtag.js)

I’m always encouraging clients to get onto phone call tracking so that we can see exactly where there calls are coming from.

The problem is that proper call tracking incurs a monthly cost.

And if you’re not running AdWords, you won’t be able to take advantage of Google AdWords’ dynamic call tracking service.

So for those looking for a budget alternative, you can always make do by tracking how many times the phone number link gets clicked/touched on a website.

Limited Trackability

This should fall under common sense… but I’ll say it anyway.

You’ll only get proper insights into phone calls from mobile users.

The reason being is that only someone using a mobile has the ability to click on a phone number and make a call instantly.

When people are using desktops, they’re not clicking their mouse on the phone number to make a phone call.

If you are using Google’s Call Tracking service with AdWords – I recommend not importing this goal into your AdWords panel, as it will cause some doubling up of data.

Plus, sometimes a click doesn’t always result in a call. Proper call tracking is always more reliable and tracking clicks.

The Tracking Code

Go into your website and insert this script where your telephone number is.

Replace INSERT_NUMBER with your/your clients telephone number.

Typically, you would find this in your header file. Although some CMS’, such as WordPress, will allow you to edit it more easily in the dashboard.

<a href=”tel:INSERT_NUMBER“onclick=”gtag(‘event’, ‘clicks’, { event_category: ‘Phone Number’, event_action: ‘Clicked’});” class=”cont_no”>INSERT_NUMBER</a>

Update your file/theme options.

Now go check the website and make sure the number looks okay and that no code or strange characters are being displayed where the number should be.

Here’s an example of the exact same code being utilised for the Able Removals website.

This one was quite straight forward, replacing their existing tel: link in their header.php file with our code above.

Onlick Script in Able Removals Header

Old Universal Analytics Code

In case you’re still rocking the older implementations of Google Analytics, I thought I’d leave the old variation of the code on here, rather than removing is as I updated this article.

The code is as follows:

<a href=”tel:INSERT_NUMBER” onclick=”ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘Phone Number’, ‘Clicked’);” class=”cont_no”>INSERT_NUMBER</a>

Below is the header.php file in the Mad Cow Entertainment WordPress website which is found through the left hand menu under Appearance>Editor.

Once you’re in the header.php file, you can search for “tel:” which will usually take you straight to the relevant piece of code.

Search on Windows with Ctrl+F and on Mac it’s Command+F.

Mad Cow tel code

There are other times where editing the phone number code is a bit difficult because it’s pulling data from another part of the CMS.

For scenarios like below with CRFWA, you have to play around with the code a bit until you can make it work.

CRFWA Phone Link Tracking

The phone no href section in their Theme Options is there to wrap whatever we INPUT into this field with “tel:INPUT”

The INSERT_NUMBER section of our code is also taken care of by the phoneno field.

That is why there is no <a href=”tel: at the beginning of that code and no “>INSERT_NUMBER</a> at the end of it.

Basically, we took the tracking code example and just removed what was already there like so:

<a href=tel:”0892494889″ onclick=”ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘Phone Number’, ‘Clicked’);” class=”cont_no“>INSERT_NUMBER</a>

Create The Phone Link Goal In Google Analytics

So we’ve taught the website how to tell us there has been a click on the phone number.

Now we need to teach Google Analytics how to hear it.

So to do that, let’s head over to Admin>Goals.

Create a goal and name it Phone Link Clicked or something similar.

Then, select our goal type as an Event.

Now, this is where we have to be EXACT, you can’t vary these inputs at all because they have to match up with our tracking code EXACTLY.

In Category, insert: Phone Number

In Action, insert: Clicked

You can leave Label and Value blank

Phone Link Analytics Setup

Testing The Phone Link Goal

We should be good to go.

But as always when you’re setting up goals, you need to test them to make sure everything is working okay.

So now we’re going to go over to our reporting section of Google Analytics and click on Real Time>Conversions.

Real Time Conversions Link

Now, in another tab, let’s go onto our website and click on the phone number.

Switch back to your Real Time>Conversions tab in your browser and check that the conversion has come through. There can be a good few seconds delay so be patient. You don’t have to click refresh.

Phone Link Conversion Real Time

If you’re seeing the same thing I’m seeing, then congratulations! You’ve successfully set up phone link tracking in Google Analytics.

Did this work for you? Has this improved the trackability of your or your client’s website? Got more questions? Get involved in the comments below!

How To Stop Competitors Clicking On Your Adwords Ads

Click fraud is when your competitors think that they’re somehow improving their business by sh*tting on yours by continually clicking on your AdWords ads, eating up your daily budget and depriving you of the opportunity to garner genuine search users.

And I hate it.

If you’re afraid of competition, you shouldn’t be in business.

Clicking on your competitors’ adverts and running up their account doesn’t make you clever, it makes you an a**hole.

Now, Google is said to have the best click fraud detection software built into the AdWords platform and will void or refund any detected click abuse.

The problem is, that’s not always the case.

Not even close.

Competitors Running Up AdWords Budget

Unfortunately, it happens. Quite often too.

I’d like to share with you a story about a carpet cleaning client who seemed to have a target on his back in the eyes of at least one of his competitors.

This carpet cleaner came to me after having his AdWords campaign run by Google, by an overseas provider and was getting absurd monthly management quotes from local AdWords agencies.

Still wanting local expertise but not wanting to pay through the nose, he went searching for AdWords freelancers and found me.

Straight off the bat, things were going superbly with 5 jobs booked on the first day, he couldn’t have been happier.

The campaign continued to improve week after week.

Until about a month ago…

Things just dried up.

Click Fraud Software Was Installed

After doing some research and seeing compelling arguments for click fraud software, I started a free trial of ClickCease.

From the very first day, we got a bite.

ClickCease Email 1

3 times within 4 minutes from the same IP? How did Google allow that to slip through?

I immediately went to check the AdWords panel. Yep, 3 clicks, and we were being charged for them as well. AdWords did not pick these clicks up as “Invalid Clicks”.

I figure that no system is perfect and this was just a once off, right?

Nope.

Almost every single day for at least a week I was adding a new IP to the list.

Whoever was doing this to my client was persistent as well, going to great efforts to ensure they caused as much harm as possible.

ClickCease Email 2

And trying to click less aggressively throughout the day as to not raise any flags.

ClickCease Email 3

I have to say, I was really pleased and impressed that this software was able to pick up on these varying tactics and isn’t so easily outsmarted.

I can understand why many people think that click fraud detection software isn’t necessary inbuilt Google’s in-built system is the best way of combating competitors clicking on your AdWords ads.

Because I know how much click fraud can slip through undetected, I’ve since installed ClickCease on most of my AdWords accounts and I’ve hardly ever needed to block any IPs.

How Are Things Now?

Now that we’ve managed to block so many IPs, we’re really hoping that my client’s competitor has better things to do in his/her time than find ways to click on our ads.

(Better things like…focusing on their own business?)

Things are back to the way that they were, with a healthy amount of calls and e-mail enquiries each day from our AdWords spend.

We’re still picking up some new IPs here and there, but they are few and far between and it’s not destroying the campaign and causing my client to bleed financially like before.

The frustrating thing is that everyone has access to at least a few IP addresses and you may need to block the following person’s avenues such as:

  • Their home internet connection
  • Work internet connection
  • The internet connection through their phone service
  • Their partner’s phone service
  • Siblings or friends phone service
  • Public WiFi’s such as a shopping centre, restaurant or a hotel lobby

How Do You Block Competitors IPs In AdWords?

Very easily.

Go into your AdWords account and click on a Campaign.

Once inside your AdWords Campaign, click on the Settings tab at the top.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and underneath Advance Settings, you’ll see a drop-down title called IP Exclusions.

Manage IP Exclusions in AdWords

Simply enter/copy and paste the IP addresses that you want to block in the text field.

Entering IP Exclusions in AdWords

If you have more than one Campaign, you will have to repeat this step in every Campaign to completely block out that IP address.

How Do I Find Out Whose IPs These Are?

You can’t.

It’s a privacy issue and that information is held by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Telstra, Vodafone, iiNet, iPrimus and Optus.

You would need to start legal proceedings and obtain a court order to demand an ISP to hand that information over.

Remember the whole illegal downloading row over Dallas Buyers Club?

The makers of Dallas Buyers Club entered a lengthy legal battle with Australian ISPs to uncover the 4,726 IP addresses the German-based firm Maverick Eye detected who were sharing the movie through peer to peer software such as BitTorrent, uTorrent, etc.

Realistically speaking, if a major production house is not able to uncover those IP addresses, you’re not going to uncover them due to someone clicking on your AdWords ads too many times.

The best thing you can do is to invest in click fraud software to detect and block IPs when competitors are clicking on your AdWords ads.

Do I Need Click Fraud Software?

Click fraud software is not the only way to find out if there has been click abuse through your AdWords ads.

You are able to access your web logs through your server. In cPanel, for example, the web logs are often referred to as Raw Access/Raw Access Logs and can be downloaded for inspection.

Although, this requires you periodically downloading the logs and manually checking if there are any IP addresses that are continually hitting your site through AdWords.

I’m sure most people don’t have time to do something like that. Plus, the longer between your periodic checks, the more likely it is that you’re pouring money out thanks to your competitors.

For something like US$15p/m, it’s a very small investment that easily pays itself off even if you have infrequent click abuse.

Even if you don’t suspect that competitors are clicking on your ads, its a good idea to have it running for peace of mind as when a competitor does decide to get aggressive with your ads (and Google is letting it slide right by), it chews through your budget awfully fast.

Please note that this article was not sponsored, paid for, nor do I have any arrangement or partnership with ClickCease. They just happened to be the click fraud software I selected based on third party reviews and features.

 

How To Run A Successful AdWords Campaign

These tips are designed for people who already have a grasp of the basics of Google AdWords and, ideally, already have a bit of experience with AdWords management.

For beginners, take a look at the Beginners Guide to AdWords which breaks all the basic terminology and will guide you to putting a half-decent campaign together.

Please note that these tips are tailored to other AdWords professionals who are trying to develop their skills in the platform. Although, business owners who DIY their AdWords campaigns will still be able to take away something from this article from Tip 2 onwards.

Tip 1: Your Approach

I know, I know, this isn’t a technical tip.

But it is just as important as the technical stuff is.

I hear too many people in the industry scoff at the amount of money that any given client is willing to spend, claiming that it’s “nothing” or that the client is “cheap”.

What you have to remember is that your advertising cost isn’t the only thing that these businesses have to pay. It’s easy to forget that when you’re employed by someone else or have very little to no overheads of running your own business.

These guys are regularly bleeding out money for:

  • Rent
  • Electricity
  • Insurance
  • Products/Parts/Tools
  • Wages

…I could go on, but you get the idea.

So most businesses don’t have all the money in the world to throw down the marketing hole, no matter how much you think your advice should be enough to convince them.

In other words, you need to really respect the amount of money that you’re spending.

$30 or $50 every single day to pay for people to just to come to your website, regardless of what they do on there, is no small sum.

You really need to spend that budget as if it was your own money bleeding out of your own bank account each day.

Tip 2: Prepare For The Worst

Every campaign that I set up, I spend way more time thinking about what search queries I want to avoid as opposed to which keywords I want to advertise for.

Use the Keyword Planner extensively, play around in Google’s predictive search, have a look at the similarly suggested searches down the bottom of the page and also use your initiative to think of how a variety of similar words can get matched to each other.

I recently set up an AdWords campaign for a Perth carpet cleaner and, wow, was there a lot to look out for.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of searches per day for:

  • carpet cleaning solutions
  • carpet cleaning products
  • carpet cleaning shampoo
  • carpet cleaners (product-level keyword)
  • carpet cleaning bunnings (another product-level keyword)
  • carpet cleaning tutorials
  • carpet cleaning machine
  • carpet cleaning equipment
  • carpet cleaning vacuum

Then there are all the other educational search queries containing words like:

  • how
  • what
  • does
  • how
  • can
  • why

Nip all of these in the bud from day 1 by implementing negative keywords.

You should be watching the Search Terms like a hawk, especially in the first few days to see if there are any disastrous search queries matching your keywords and chewing up precious ad spend.

Tip 3: Track Everything

This is the most important thing you can do at the beginning of any campaign.

Firstly, you have to track the things that matter. The thing that are actually meaningful to a business’ sales process.

(There are some agencies who think that tracking Contact Page views is acceptable, but we won’t go into that).

Tracking contact form enquiries or click to call is a great start, but you cannot leave phone calls to guess, or for the client to gauge how they’re doing.

Call tracking is normally a unique phone number that masks your real phone number when the user enters the site through AdWords.

When this number is dialled, the software looks at who is on the site at the time of that phone call, assessing which keyword and advert they clicked on to get there and is able to attribute the Phone Call conversion appropriately.

Without this, it is almost pointless paying for ongoing AdWords management.

In fact, if a business owner asks me which is the priority between paying for call tracking and professional AdWords management; I will always say call tracking.

Below is a snapshot of some AdGroups for Total Entrance Solutions, segmented by conversion types.

The conversions of the AdGroup that converts the cheapest are all Phone Call goals.

Total Entrance Solutions Conversions

Now imagine, without tracking phone calls this AdGroup would have 0 conversions registered and would most likely be paused due to poor performance…

…And that would have killed off a really good source of enquiries for that business.

Conversion data is truly all that matters.

Your client couldn’t care less if your Click Through Rates are higher than the industry average or if you’re getting 4.5 pageviews and over 3 minutes time-on-site per session.

Your client wants leads that they can realistically turn into sales.

That’s it.

If you can’t prove that you’re delivering those leads, then you’re on borrowed time.

Because if that same client comes to someone like me, the first thing I ask is “how you do you know if it’s your AdWords campaign that’s bringing in the leads?”.

If they can’t answer it, then I’m going to tear your services to shreds.

#sorrynotsorry

Tip 4: Segment Statistics By Devices

If you take a look at the screenshot below, this is the first 30 days of the same cleaning client we were talking about in Tip 1.

What we see here is that despite desktop’s Cost Per Click being almost half of that on mobile devices, the Cost Per Conversion on desktop is almost double that of that on mobile.

Cleaning Client Device Segmentation

Because of the information revealed when segmenting the data by devices, I’ve turned campaigns into mobile only or even desktop only, purely based on their individual performances.

Just by focusing on the devices that are actually delivering results, you can easily turn an under performing AdWords account into a highly successful and profitable marketing exercise.

And don’t fall into the mobile first trend and assume that’s where your best conversions are going to come from.

You need to know with absolute certainty which devices are working for your client’s website.

The company in the below example sell air conditioning, solar panels and wood heating.

The wood heating campaign got the cheapest conversions on mobile, solar panels converted the cheapest on desktop and the air conditioning campaign was converting at almost the same value across desktop, mobile and tablets.

iBreeze's conversions segmented by devices

So don’t guess or assume, let the data talk.

Tip 5: Write Ads With Purpose

Writing great AdWords ads is one of the most difficult things to truly get right.

And writing great ads isn’t about winning any awards in creative copywriting.

Remember that the job of these ads is not to get a killer CTR (Click Through Rate), it’s to attract the type of traffic that is likely to convert into sales.

This means you often have to deter the wrong type of customers from clicking on your ads.

If you take a look at the advert below for Fleetsu, this ad is specifically designed to scare off the smaller to medium sized businesses who want to track their fleet with the word “Enterprise Level” and “Designed for Large Fleets”.

Fleetsu AdWords Ad

When these ads were implemented, Fleetsu saw a dramatic drop in enquiries but a massive increase in the exact type of customer that they were looking for.

Antenna Direct are another example. They are not the cheapest antenna installer in Perth by any means and this ad scares away the penny pinchers and attracts the customers who know what kind of service they’re likely to get when they scrape the bottom of the barrel.

Antenna Direct Wall Mounting Ad

Make sure you are rotating your ads evenly too.

By default, AdWords will favour one ad very quickly and not give other ads a fair shot at obtaining comparable data.

Don’t expect the AdWords API to properly split test ads for you. That’s your job.

Tip 6: Location Settings

I don’t know how many times I take over an AdWords campaign from an agency and have had to fix this one.

You want to advertise in the location you have selected, yes? And not to people that are just showing interest in the area?

Then go into your campaigns settings.

And make sure that only people in your targeted area can see your ads.

AdWords Location Settings

You can often see significant improvement from a local campaign just by ticking this box (or circle, I guess?).

Tip 6.5: Bonus Tip!

Wait, what? A bonus tip?

That’s right!

But it’s one that you may not like depending on the type of person you are.

Don’t ever show arrogance to your clients.

They may not know as much about AdWords, digital marketing or even marketing in general as well as you do, but they sure as hell know a lot more about running a business.

Just keep that in mind.

Why 1st Isn’t The Best Ad Position In AdWords

“You’ve gotta be on position 1 in AdWords, right?”

Being 1st is great Organically, because who cares how many clicks you get, right? They’re free!

But in AdWords?

It’s another story all together because if you want to be 1st, you’re going to have to pay for that.

Take a look at this graph below ( the blue line being cost and the orange line being enquiries) and tell me when you think my client allowed me to go from “spend the budget and make sure we’re always on top” to “get us the best cost per lead”.

Pretty big difference, huh? All I did here was drop the bids down so we wouldn’t be constantly in 1st position Google.

People often say “you get the best quality traffic in 1st position”.

So, you’re honestly telling me that the ‘best quality traffic’ just clicks on the 1st ad blindly without even reading it? Or regardless of better offers being displayed below?

That’s not the ‘better quality traffic’ that I’d want to be paying for.

Not when it costs me every single time I get a click whether that visitor does anything useful on the website or not.

Isn’t Being 1st In AdWords Great Branding?

If you want branding then invest in outdoor media, YouTube ads, Google display network, television, newspaper… something where the general public can see and/or hear your branded messaging and become accustomed to it.

There is very little to no value to brand building in AdWords.

AdWords is a direct response form of advertising. If you’re not making money from it immediately, it’s not working.

No one recalls a little text ad that they remember seeing on a Google search – they remember imagery and sound that has been drummed into them continuously.

What Is The Best Ad Position In AdWords?

Just not first.

Because I believe that you can say a lot in a search ad. You can attract the right people whilst also being able to deter the tyre-kickers.

How?

By cutting the bullsh*t in your ads, completely.

You have to remember why people are searching for your products and services.

You don’t have to sell what you do!

You need to sell the benefits of you over your competition.

By searching for your products/service, the search user has already sold themselves

So they are searching, more often than not, for quotes/prices and added value.

Bidding Wars

The need to be in the first position by multiple businesses, or agencies managing campaigns on behalf of businesses, is the exact reason as to why CPCs (Cost Per Click) has gone up from merely tens of cents to tens of dollars so quickly since AdWords launched.

All it takes is for two geniuses in the same industry and location who are fixated on that number one position to drive the costs up for anyone else.

The Solution? Use Better Ads In Lower Positions

In order to get better quality clicks, for a lower cost per click.

Because you have to remember that we need to make more money from the enquiries that we’re getting than the amount of click dollars used up to acquire that sale.

Use Prices

On our AdWords ads for DMS Perth, we used immediate baseline prices in the headlines to scare off those customers who expect the World for absolutely nothing and attracted the genuine searchers.

Too often mobile mechanics, or other tradies, get people calling up and expecting someone to help them out for practically nothing.

The immediate sight of base prices kills off tyre kickers exceptionally well.

And it saves our budget for people who will actually respect the fact that a trained professional who is coming to you needs to be properly reimbursed for his time, labour and parts!

Add Clarity

Don’t let customers waste your budget because you couldn’t communicate your product/service properly.

Again, ignore trying to attract as many clicks as you can or trying to get a good CTR.

Lavish Limousines owns an impressive fleet of Chrysler 300C limousines, but it’s perhaps not what everyone is looking for when they search for “limo hire perth” or similar.

They could be looking for a Mercedes-Benz S Class, a Hummer, something a bit more old school…you get the idea.

So we thought it’s best to announce that these are Chrysler 300C limos from the beginning so if that’s not what people are after, they can save themselves a click and us a few dollars 🙂

AdWords ad stating Chrysler 300C limousine in headline 1

When we implemented this change, the amount of clicks we got decreased but so did our cost per conversion, which is exactly what we’re after.

Reduce Barriers to Acquisition

Do your customers have any way of claiming back money through insurance or other schemes?

Do you have payment plans?

If you do then you should 100% be capitalising on these massive selling points.

Dentistry Plus are not only extremely affordable dentists but they offer up to 80% health fund rebates with selected providers and even offer $25p/w payment plans.

So if you need dentistry work done, these guys can accommodate you even if you’re a bit short on coin!

You can bet that calling these major selling points out gets more leads than your standard pitch like “Friendly dentists with 20 years+ of experience” and so on.

Dentistry Plus ad with selling points

Use Real Competitive Advantages

And saying that you have “great service” or that you’ve been around for decades isn’t going to sell anyone. Anyone can say that (and everyone already does say it).

Give people something real and if you don’t have something, take a look at your service offering and create something.

An example is the Chiropractic side of Karrinyup Wellness Centre, they offer a real competitive advantage with a free 15-minute consultation.

Karrinyup Wellness Centre Ad

So instead of giving a bunch of information that no one wants to read, encourage people to come in for a bit to see if they actually need the service, not if people should use a chiropractor (which, of course, is going to be biased anyway).

Know Your Competition

When you know what your competition does and doesn’t offer, it’s an opportunity to promote something “unique” even if it’s standard to your business model.

Take Latitude Group Travel, for example, who are one of the very few providers of educational group tours for school that completely tailor make itineraries to mesh with a school’s curriculum and desire learning outcomes where their competitors are white labelling pre-packaged services from other businesses.

Latitude Group Travel AdWords Ads

Cost Per Conversion Is All That Matters

It’s nice to have a nice Click Through Rate to show that your ads are actually pulling people’s attention.

But don’t sacrifice your cost per conversion to inflate that statistic, or any other statistic for that matter..

All statistics like CTR are there to help you achieve the ultimate goal – a lower cost per conversion.

If your CTR, average time on site or average pages viewed per session has to suffer to acquire cheaper leads, then so be it.

Drive Perth are consistently bidding around second or third place in their AdWords campaign and getting an average CTR of around 9%.

Could it be higher?

Sure.

But to be honest, I don’t really care.

Because what is even more impressive than their CTR is their average conversion rate of 31%.

Such a high conversion rate of 31% is possible only because we weren’t wasting our opportunities bidding first and attracting “blind clicks”.

When you bid more strategically and let your messaging and product offering pull the clicks in, you get:

  • Cheaper clicks
  • More clicks from your existing budget
  • Less “blind clicks” of your ad
  • Better informed and self-qualified traffic

It’s a recepie for success.

And hopefully, if more people clue themselves onto this strategy we can finally start seeing clicks deflating in value rather than continually being pushed up to a level that has become unaffordable for quite a few industries.

Exceptions To The Rule

There are times when bidding 1st isn’t actually a bad idea.

A few of those scenarios are when:

  • Clicks are extremely cheap that, even with additional waste, the extra traffic results in more conversion and higher overall profitability
  • Low search volume for your keywords and need to capitalise on what little opportunity you’re getting through Search
  • You’re an emergency based service (such as a mobile locksmith) where people generally will click/call the first company they see

At the end of the day, it’s all about ensuring you bid to profitability rather than a position.

If you’re looking for more tips on how to put together a killer AdWords campaign, have a read of one of my newer blog posts: How To Run A Successful AdWords Campaign.

What’s your take? Have you saved money and increased your conversion rates by bidding in lower positions in AdWords? Or are you convinced that you’re more profitable at the top? Comment below!

SEO Advice I Gave To A Big Company

I got a phone call yesterday.

It was from a really large business here in Perth.

They were looking for someone to fill their Marketing Manager position and was wondering if I was interested.

Of course, I’ve currently got my hands full with this whole Doyle Digital thing.

So, I referred her on to a guy I know who is still up in the air of continuing freelancing or getting back into the full-time thing.

Then, I spoke to her for a while.

I was curious about the role and it’s always flattering getting approached by such big companies.

So naturally, the conversation turns towards their current digital presence and the difficulties that they’re having with finding a provider who could handle the intensity of their work.

This Company Was Big

We’re talking about a business that is on TV, Radio, advertising in the newspaper and spending anywhere between $18,000 and $20,000 per month on AdWords media alone.

They already rank 1st and 2nd Organically for most of their high-volume money making keywords.

Their brand is strong with 720 searches per month on average for their brand name and this is in Perth, a city with only around 1.5 million people.

Search wise, they are in a position their competitors could only dream about.

Their goal for SEO, apart from nudging those few 2nd/3rd place keywords up to 1st, is to maintain their dominance in search and not be knocked off from their perch.

Their Currently Strategy?

At this point in time, this large business had two companies taking care of half of the targeted keywords each.

This is a concern because the only way you can be ‘targeting keywords’ when building backlinks is by manipulating the anchor text to be keyword rich.

Anchor text are the words that are hyperlinked, so a branded anchor text for this website, Doyle Digital, has the brand name as the anchor text.

On-page is where the keyword specific work should be performed.

Off-page, it should all be about building the strength of the domain.

You do that by having most of your anchor text as either your brand name or the naked URL (like https://doyledigital.com.au).

Below is an overview of a backlink profile, using ahrefs, of a Perth home building company who has an extremely heavily reliance on using the phrase “builders perth” as their anchor text.

There are also a noticeable amount of links with the anchor text “homepage besuchen”, which means visit homepage in German.

You may also notice that a lot of domains are not from Australia (only 23%), with 6% of links from Germany, 2% of links from Italy and Russia with a whopping 40% of .com’s that could be from anywhere.

builders-perth-anchor-text

 

This is exactly why utilising SEO agencies for the purpose of link building is a risky move unless you know exactly how to vet each company along with some transparency with what links are being built each month and someone in-house to monitor the backlink profile.

So, you may be asking how this big company should be doing their SEO?

Well…

They Shouldn’t Be “Doing SEO”

I know, right?

But it’s the biggest piece of advice that I could give to any massive brand such as this one.

The reason for this?

I’ve yet to come across an SEO company that are equipped to handle a client at this stage of their online presence properly.

And for the record, I don’t exclude myself from that list either.

See, once your on-page optimisation is sorted and you’ve built up all of your off-page citations (mostly directory submissions) and Google My Business profiles, that’s where the “SEO work” needs to stop.

Because I know that the SEO provider that this big company is with is simply building a certain amount of links on Private Blog Networks (PBNs), links in comment sections of other blogs, or creating orphan profiles on random sites.

An orphan page, for example, is a profile on a forum that has no activity (or maybe one post at best) making it a very weak link if it’s left in that state.

In this scenario, you’re going well against Google’s guideline with a multi-million dollar operation which would have the appropriate overheads and wages to match the influx of work they are currently receiving. You can imagine the cost to that business if they suddenly drop off the first page of Google because of some ‘super-advance link building strategies’ that The Big G caught on to.

So How Do Big Companies Improve Their SEO?

There are a lot of PR and traditional marketing methods that can be leveraged to obtain extremely powerful backlinks that your competitors cannot directly replicate and those with lesser marketing budgets cannot even hope to compete with.

Here are just a few ways to go about getting backlinks when you’re a large organisation.

BRAND MENTIONS

The aim here is to find where you’ve been mentioned online (in blogs, articles, news sites, etc.) where a link hasn’t already been provided.

You want to reach out the owners/authors of these mentions and request that they can hyperlink the mention of the brand name to your website.

This is a really simple yet super effective way of scoring some really powerful backlinks, which you’re sure to have if you’re dealing with a big brand like this one.

I like to phone as often as possible for a greater success rate, but at those times when you can’t get a telephone number, here’s the type of e-mail that I’d send:

brand-mention-mad-cow

She kind of owed me after getting me name wrong 😛

SUPPLIERS WEBSITES

When you’re a large brand, other companies are often eager to use your brand image to help lift their own.

Allow suppliers to mention your relationship, use your logo and even link back to your website for a highly powerful, very relevant backlink.

Don’t just limit this to suppliers of inventory. If you’re happy with the job that a marketing agency or design professional has done, let them use you as a testimonial for yet another backlink to your website.

I personally managed to score a backlink from TrackMyCalls.com just for e-mailing the owner of the company an awesome testimonial and full permission to use it as he sees fit.

track-my-calls-testimonial

SPONSORED CONTENT

Sponsored content is the newest way that newspapers are trying to increase their online revenue and truth be told, they struggle to sell them at the best of times.

Whilst many sponsored content articles typically don’t provide a link, or even if they do they make it a nofollow – know that as the client you have the bargaining power to refuse to proceed without a dofollow backlink to the website.

GUIDES/INFOGRAPHICS

When you’re a large business with a strong social following, you have a great opportunity to start pumping out some high-quality content (hosted on your own website) that actually helps people.

Content marketing is on everybody’s lips at the moment but the truth is not many people know how to do it without large social followings, a boost from an influencer or the power of a well-established brand.

Fortunately being a big brand makes this 100 times easier, so produce awesome content and share it around vigorously on social media and you’re bound to get at least a couple of backlinks as well as the added benefit of some social signals and additional traffic to your website.

Content like this that provides genuinely helpful information to a specific group of people or sub-community usually gets a lot of traction, being reshared on other blogs.

And I practice what I preach too! I’ve personally had my AdWords Infographic used on other digital marketing blogs such as:

  • http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2016/11/infographics-for-digital-marketers.html
  • http://www.humanisethebrand.com/google-adwords-an-easy-to-understand-beginners-guide-to-ppc-marketing/
  • https://blog.red-website-design.co.uk/2016/11/16/google-adwords-a-beginners-guide-to-pay-per-click-marketing-infographic/

(I’ve purposely not linked these to avoid looking as if there is some sort of link exchange going on).

Below is an example from the Red Website Design link.

Infographic used on another website

SEEK NEWS OPPORTUNITIES

Whether you’re in agriculture, the amusements industry or in pharmaceuticals, there are journalists at both traditional papers and industry specific websites that are dying for content.

Offer your time for interviews or to provide insights. After all, any journalist or blogger knows that a statement in their article will sound far more legitimate coming from a well-known player in the industry than themselves. That source may as well be you and you can potentially pick up a backlink in the process.

I personally have guest blogged a few times as a way of sharing my industry experience with other outlets, gaining both as a contributing voice in the industry as well as a backlink!

Here’s an example of a post I contributed to Agency Analytics on the importance of call tracking.

agency-analytics-author-section

COMPETITIONS/GIVEAWAYS

Competitions and giveaways are always popular and get a lot of attention when promoted by a big brand.

A separate landing page on your website is ideal for your offer. Just remember if you’re going to delete the page after the promotion is over to put a 301 redirect back to the homepage (or more a competitions page, if you have one).

jb-hi-fi-competitions-page

An example of JB Hi Fi’s Competitions Page

SPONSORSHIP/DONATIONS

Sponsoring a few local sporting teams is a great way to not only contribute to your community but to also score a few nice backlinks from websites that generally have a fairly high level of authority to them (typically some .gov.au domains linking to their site from the local Shire too).

Charitable donations is another solid way to get very powerful backlinks, but the challenge here is to find charities that actually have a Contributors Page or some way of crediting their donors.

joondalup-fc-sponsor

An example of Air Conditioning HQ sponsoring Joondalup City Football Club.

The Downside of These Methods?

They’re a lot of work and in no way, shape or form going to guarantee that you gain a single link.

And that’s pretty much the main reason that the vast majority agencies do not even attempt to do them.

Selling SEO is hard enough as it is, imagine telling a client that all the effort that you are going to put into action the above, which can often cost a lot, may not get any results at all.

And that AdWords Infographic that I got links from? Well, I tried pushing that pretty aggressively with not a great amount of luck. It got re-pinned on Pinterest a few times and I think that is how it wound up on those websites.

Even right now, I’m spending a few hundred dollars pushing this article that your reading right now and I honestly don’t expect to get much from it – but high risk, high reward.

Facebook ad of this article

Got Any Ideas of Your Own?

If you know some other clever ways to get backlinks without “doing SEO”, get in touch or leave a comment below and let me know. As you can see from all the links above, I give full credit where credit is due.

 

How To Get More Google Reviews (Examples Included)

Even if you’re a thriving business with heaps of happy and loyal customers, getting them to leave a review on Google is often challenging.

The thing is, reviews on Google are super important from both an SEO point of view but also from a general marketing stand-point. If you are looking for a service provider on Google and you see a business listing with tonnes of positive reviews, it makes sense to go with those guys, right (even if they’re not first on the list)?

Plus, those stars on the listing immediately pull attention towards your listing. You need at least 5 reviews to get stars on your Google My Business listing.

Map pack listing in Google showing only one 5-star listing

Antenna Direct Perth has a listing in the map pick which is only 3rd but will undoubtedly get more clicks because of those stars appearing next to it.

Now, there are services where you can pay to get reviews on your listing which I would highly recommend staying away from. Google is getting extremely clever at pinpointing attempts of manipulation so protect yourself in the long-term and keep clear, especially if these reviews end up coming from accounts from parts of the World that you don’t even operate in (India comes to mind).

Paid reviews may temporarily fool Google, but they often don’t fool human beings who are looking at your reviews with the intention of hiring you/buying off you.

If you don’t already have a Google My Business listing, it’s free and you can sign up for your page/listing by clicking here.

How To Create A Google Review Link

You’re probably wondering how to send people to review you on your Google My Business page.

Guiding people can often be confusing, but it can be done with a simple one-click link.

So, here’s how you generate a link that sends customers straight to your Google My Business page with the review box popped up and ready to go!

Let’s use Doyle Digital as an example and search Google for “doyle digital” – I end up with a URL like this:

google.com.au/search?q=doyle+digital&oq=doyle+digital+perth&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i60l3.2359j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

See the area that I’ve underlined that starts with a &aqs=? Get rid of all of that stuff, it’s browser specific (my browser was Google Chrome in this scenario) and it will break the link for those who are using other browsers like Safari (which iPhones use by default).

Step 1 to a Google Reviews URL

Now that we’ve got a clean URL that will work on any browser like (mine now looks like google.com.au/search?q=doyle+digital&oq=doyle+digital), hit enter in your URL bar.

Now, click on “Write a Review” and look back at your URL bar. You’ll notice some an additional script has been added at the end, that is a command to make the review box pop up automatically so copy it.

Mine now looks like this: google.com.au/search?q=doyle+digital#lrd=0x2a32ab7faf3f80bb:0x1adc60ce24a20796,3,

Step 2 to a Google Reviews URL

Great! You’ve got a clean reviews URL!

So how do you get people to actually act and leave you a review on Google?

Well, here are 5 immediately actionable approaches to get things kick started.

1. Friends and Family

Don’t be ashamed to ask your friends and family to show your business some love. This is often the quickest way to boost you up to that minimum 5 reviews to obtain stars on your Google My Business listing.

Having a basic level of reviews is great for our next stages of review hunting as people often feel more comfortable adding to your reviews rather than giving you your only one.

2. Link In Your E-Mail Signature

Every interaction with your customers is an opportunity.

A nice and subtle way to implement this is show here in Lousie’s e-mail signature from GoGo Media.

Lousie's Email Signature

Having a link in your e-mail signature is a nice, continual and non-pushy way to remind people that their review will really help your business out.

3. Post-Job Text Messages

I got this one from Hursh at Tradesign.

And it works stupidly well for trade services.

After every job, send a text message to the customer with a link to review you on Google (since they likely called you from their mobile, you should already have the number).

Make sure that you do this fairly quickly whilst the service is still fresh in the mind. The fact that you’ve texted so soon after is a nice touch and feels like a follow up.

Being in a text message rather than an e-mail feels more personal too and often gets a high response rate.

Problem: The URL we made before is ridiculously long to be putting into a text message.

Solution: Go over to the Google URL shorter and paste that clean reviews URL in there and hit enter to get a nice and compact URL that won’t look horrendous in a text message.

4. Monthly E-Mails

If you have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) in place, you can run who you’ve done business over the last 30 days at the end of each month.

Utilise an e-mail marketing tool like MailChimp to create a basic template.

A tool like MailChimp will allow you to import your e-mail contacts’ details and create custom name fields

Ensuring all of your contacts are addressed by name is great for personalisation and to avoid spam filters.

You get some cool reports too with information on how many people opened your e-mails, clicked through to a link inside the e-mail and who unsubscribed.

Whilst you will get some traction with these, the response rate is typically quite low. I’ve sent some monthly e-mails out for clients which resulted in no additional Google reviews at all.

That is, however, until I started to offer incentives…

5. Vouchers or Other Immediate Incentive

Now, this method could be viewed as paying for reviews (which is a no-no), but hear me out.

Incentivising reviews is no different from a giveaway on Facebook by liking or sharing a post or a cafe giving you free WiFi after checking in. So long as your not instructing your customers to leave you 5-star reviews in order to receive the incentive and that they are actually genuine customers that you have provided a service for, this method is as white-hat as you can get.

An example of incentivising Google My Business reviews is offering something everybody can use, such as a Coles Myer voucher or a Dan Murphy’s voucher. You could even offer a discount on a next purchase if your services are regularly repurchased.

Either way, make sure it’s something that your customers will act on in order to obtain.

Here is a very basic e-mail that I sent out on behalf of Able Removals with a $15 Dan Murphy voucher on offer.

Screenshot of e-mail from Able Removals to get Google Reviews

This was made by populating a basic MailChimp template, which you can use for free.

As you can see, it’s nothing flash – but it got the job done.

This was only sent out to 20 customers to start off with and we got a response rate of 5 people. That’s a 25% success rate!

(We may even get a couple more from that mailout by people who are taking their time, too!)

Able Removal's reviews box in a Google search

Looks good, right? 😀

And you can track everything in a spreadsheet to make sure you’re keeping track of who has reviewed and who you have sent vouchers out to.

Spreadsheet tracking who has reviewed you on Google

6. Competitions/Giveaways

If you have a large e-mail list (500+) that you want to send out a review request to, it may actually be cheaper overall to offer a big ticket item where people can enter the draw by leaving a review on Google.

Again, make the giveaway something that people will actually want. For example, giving away an Apple Watch is a great example.

I understand that sounds like an expensive way to get reviews but if you only have to pay $400 once and end up with 30 reviews, you’re $15 better off than if you used the previously mentioned $15 voucher incentive.

I must stress again that this is a tactic that would only be appropriate for a business with a large e-mail list and who would realistically achieve around 40 to 50 reviews from this exercise.

What If I Get Bad Reviews?

Even if you’re careful about who you send review requests to, it is inevitable that you’re going to get the odd ‘okay’ or ‘bad’ review on your profile.

And that makes you look all the more genuine.

Wouldn’t you have doubts about a business that has all 5-star reviews, not one somewhat satisfied or disgruntled customer?

Even the best service providers get a bad review from time to time. It’s unavoidable and consumers aren’t oblivious to that.

Besides, more often than not, people who leave bad reviews in unreasonable circumstances don’t leave the most compelling (or literate) arguments as to why they were dissatisfied.

When you do get negative reviews, it’s always a good idea to respond in a way that defends yourself without attacking the reviewer, like Lavish Limousines have done below.

Response to a negative review on Lavish Limousine's Google My Business page

Then, you have competitors trying to sabotage your reviews as well which is what likely happened below with WA Legal, who politely managed to discredit the review.

WA Legal Google review response

You have to remember, in these scenarios, whilst you know bad reviews are fake the general public do not.

So make sure that your response doesn’t make you look even worse by being overly defensive or accusing the reviewer.

Always remain calm, stick to the facts and maintain a professional image.

You also need to remember that some disgruntled customers will go out of their way to leave a bad review if they think they’ve had a bad experience with your company, whether it’s your fault or not.

Those people who are going out of their way to seek revenge aren’t waiting for your review link.

So arm yourself with as many positive reviews early on so that when you do get a 1-star review, it will appear inconsistent with the overwhelming of positive reviews.

Otherwise, you risk being that business on the map pack with just a couple of 1-star reviews and nothing positive to offset it.

Can I Delete My Google My Business Page And Clear The Reviews?

Nice try, but no.

When you declare a business permanently closed or try to delete the listing, the data of that business is still stored by Google.

So, if you were to then re-open that business to start from scratch; you’ll be disappointed to see that those reviews you were trying to clear will either immediately or eventually return.

Again, the best way to combat bad reviews is to respond professionally to the dispute and to drown them out with positive reviews.

How Do I Get My Clients’ E-Mails?

Ideally, you would have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool where all of your clients’ personal information is stored securely on.

If not, you can pull your address book from the e-mail account that you communicate with your customers on.

This list will likely contain personal contacts, suppliers and other non-customers’ e-mail so you will want to inspect your list and manually remove those who are not appropriate targets for this communication.

Below are some instructions on how to pull e-mail lists from various e-mail clients:

Is This Against Google’s Guidelines

Technically… yes.

Any tactics which request, prompt or incentivise people to leave Google reviews are against Google’s guidelines.

However, most of what any SEO does is technically “against Google’s guidelines”.

In theory, we’re all just meant to create content on our websites, blog about our industry and then sit back, praying that the links will just occur naturally when we all know that isn’t the case.

In other words; don’t stress about it.

So long as these reviews are from genuine customers and that they haven’t been told what to write or how many stars to give, it’s as natural as you can be whilst ensuring that you’re making your business look appealing online and keeping up with the competition.

Now Go Get More Reviews on Google!

I hope that this guide has gotten you excited to go out there and get more reviews on your Google My Business listing.

Let me know in the comments section below if these methods have worked for you or if you have other tactics of your own that you’d like to contribute to this post (and even get yourself some credit for it with a link back to your website).

Solved: Keyword Planner Search Volumes for MCC’s

We all knew that Google was planning to throttle search volume data for low spending accounts.

But none of us thought that those of us running MCC’s with multiple accounts, spending thousands per day collectively, would be impacted.

Yet, if you were like me the other day and went over to do some keyword research – you were greeted with this

keyword-planner-broad-data

So why is this happening?

If you run your accounts off of your clients credit cards (which most of us do), then your MCC in theory spends nothing – you’re a low spending account.

The Solution

What you now have to do is go into one of your clients active accounts, go into the Tools tab at the top and click on Keyword Planner.

We’re doing this because your clients are spending money, so if we access the Keyword Planner from a spending account, you’ll get access to the proper search volumes.

keyword-planner-from-client-account-1

From there you will be using the Keyword Planner as one of your clients and should be able to see accurate search volumes.

Through the testing done so far, we know that the threshold for the veil being lifted on search volumes to be a spend of somewhere between $500 and $2,000 per month.

Did this work for you? I’ve been having mixed feedback where it’s working for some and not for others. Please share your experience in the comments section below.

Track Contact Form 7 Submission in Google Analytics

If you’re running Contact Form 7 on your WordPress website, you will definitely want to have conversion tracking that pushes an event to Google Analytics each time someone fills one of those forms out.Knowing where your leads come from is important.

Firstly, you need the basic Google Analytics script installed on your website. Otherwise this will not work.

Knowing where your leads come from is important, especially if you’re paying for website traffic – you want to know if the leads are coming from paid traffic, organic traffic, direct or referral websites.

Firstly, you need the basic Google Analytics script installed on your website. Otherwise this will not work.

installing contact form 7 tracking

Go into your Contact Forms.

select-contact-forms

Select the form that you want to apply tracking to. Once you’ve done that, click on the Additional Settings tab.

additional-settings-tab-on-contact-form-7

Now we are going to enter our tracking code that lets Contact Form 7 push an event to Google Analytics.

Copy and paste the below:

on_sent_ok: “ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘Contact Form’, ‘Submitted’);”

Then hit Save.

enter-tracking-code-on-contact-form-7

Setting up the Event in Google Analytics

We’ve told Contact Form 7 to talk, and now we need to make Google Analytics listen.

When you’re in your Google Analytics account, click on Admin.

click-admin-tab-in-analytics

Click on Goals on the far right side of your page.

Click Goals Tab in Analytics

Create a New Goal.

create-new-goal-in-analytics

Don’t get freaked out about which goal to set up, just click Custom.

create-custom-goal-in-analytics

Now let’s make this Goal an Event. You can call this Goal whatever you want, for simplicity we’ll call this one Contact Form Submission.

create-event-in-analytics

Now, this bit is important.

We have to make sure that what we’re telling Analytics to listen for matches what we told Contact Form 7 to push.

We’ve told Contact Form 7 to push: ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘Contact Form‘, ‘Submitted‘)

So we need to enter Contact Form in the Category box and Submitted into the Action box. Make sure there are no misspellings or extra spaces otherwise it won’t match up and register an event.

Once you’ve filled out those two boxes, click Save.

enter-event-values-in-analytics

Congratulations, you’ve just installed form tracking on Contact Form 7.

If you want to test out your tracking to make sure it works, go back into your Reporting section in Analytics and open up Real Time > Events. Whilst you have this page open, try and submit a contact form. If everything works, you should see an event registered within a few seconds.