Internet Marketing

A wide topic, there are many subcategories within internet marketing that work in tandem and support one another to have a successful online presence. From organic search to paid ads and social media presence the internet is multi faceted and getting all these areas working together will give your website the best oppurtunity for success.

Mobile-First Indexing Begins

The GDPR: Why Europe’s New Privacy Law Will Change Email Marketing For Everyone

GDPR Opt In Email MarketingFrom Facebook to Google to the halls of the FCC, debates about data privacy have been heating up across the world, and politicians are taking notice. The General Data Protection Regulation, the EU’s new privacy law, aims to curb the privacy abuses of the past by uniting the data rules of all EU member nations under one standard. It is scheduled to go live on May 5th, 2018, and its guidelines will cover a market that is over 750 million people.

The GDPR is relevant for any company that collects, stores, or sends emails – as we have mentioned before, a robust email list of past and prospective customers is a critical piece of marketing strategy, and thus changes to the rules of how it’s done will affect businesses both large and small.

Explicit Consent, or ‘Opt-In, Not Opt Out

The GDPR’s most important change involves regulating the means by which marketers and website operators collect the consent needed to sign customers up for email lists. Gone are the days of auto-subscriptions upon entering an email for a booking or order, or the pre-ticked boxes hidden away in the footnotes of a submission form. Customer consent now must be “Freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous”: an active sign-up action must be taken by each and every customer to sign up for your email list, which makes it more important than ever to ask your customers to connect with you.

 Data Non-Fungibility / No More Blanket Consent

Connected with this idea of consent is the imperative that subscribers must be informed about the explicit, bounded purposes of collecting their data: if you initially intend to collect data to better predict their spending and product habits or desires (for example), you must explicitly ask for that permission – if the permission is granted, you can’t later take that data and use it to create an informative email list featuring your new blog, or sell it to another company for their own marketing purposes. This has dramatic implications for database building and email-list best practices. Additionally, older database systems will not be grandfathered in under the GDPR – if you operate anywhere within the EU, be sure to review the GDPR guidelines to see if your old systems are in compliance and be prepared to allocate resources and time to re-acquiring consent from your current email lists.

Records of Consent

Under the GDPR enforcement guidelines, the burden of proof lies squarely on the shoulders of private companies when it comes to proving data-use consent in the event of an audit or legal dispute. Firms big and small should be taking steps to record digital copies of subscriber’s consent forms in their backups and records, to reduce their legal exposure.

What Should My Company Do?

If your company exists outside of the EU, and you deal exclusively with domestic customers, these legal changes may seem to not affect you, but in today’s increasingly globalized world, few competitive lodging companies should be willing to ignore the affluent and massive EU market. As such, simply removing EU addresses from your database is untenable, and setting up a separate signup procedure for European email addresses and ‘everyone else’ can be both costly and inefficient.

The best way forward for the majority of firms, even those outside the EU zone, is to bring their database up to GDPR compliance. While this may seem to have a negative effect on your ability to rapidly generate an email list by ‘mining’ your clients data from elsewhere, this will be outweighed by the concurrent increase in email list quality: not only do you build trust in your brand by being upfront and honest when trying to connect to your clients, but the subscribers receiving your marketing material will be dramatically more interested, engaged, and likely to convert on average, and that’s a win for everyone.

Additionally, because of the EU’s relatively strong stance on the issue of email privacy, by adopting the GDPR guidelines, you will almost certainly ensure that your company’s practices will be compatible with other, generally more lax standards on the international scene: futureproofing your policies and structures and ensuring smooth sailing through your continued growth and the ongoing changes in the legal realm of data privacy.

The General Data Protection Regulation brings with it massive change to the online marketing sphere, but with the right tools and the right knowledge, these changes can be turned to your advantage, and give you the opportunity to set your company above the pack when it comes to marketing that is smart, socially conscious and targeted to those most eager to hear what you have to offer.

Have a million other things to do and need some help making sure your database and email list is compliant with the GDPR? Contact Blizzard Internet Marketing today to find out more about what we can offer to help you succeed on the web! Looking to learn more about the GDPR? Check out the EU’s FAQ.

Start Improving Your Off-Site Optimization for Stronger Local Rankings

Local Search Result ExampleIn the vacation rental marketing world, a significant percentage of search engine optimization efforts fall into the “local optimization” category. This is because many of the topics vacation rental managers wish to rank for include a location qualifier. For example, “Myrtle Beach vacation rentals,” or “Big Bear cabins for rent.” Luckily, optimizing for local follows the same rules as general search engine optimization, however the difference lies in the importance placed on a wider variety of off-site ranking factors.

So What Exactly Is Off-Site Optimization?

The exact methodology the search engines use to rank websites can be quite complex and mysterious, but it is clear that ranking considerations are generally classified into two categories; on-site factors and off-site factors. On-site factors are exactly as they sound; elements on your website. These are elements we can completely control, for example having high quality content and excellent site architecture.

Off-site ranking factors include anything outside of your website that communicates to the search engines what others think of your website. These, by nature, can be much harder to control. However, there are off-site ranking factors we can influence to help communicate that your site is a trustworthy authority on the topics you wish to rank for.

What Off-Site Considerations Do Search Engines Use to Judge My Site?

If we were to write a brief history of off-site optimization, the majority of the story would focus on links.  Search engines have long used the quantity and quality of links pointing at your site as a way to tell if your site is interesting and relevant. SEO marketers, of course, quickly figured out ways to game this. Even so, links still remain one of the top ranking factors. The difference is that search engines are now much smarter about which links carry value and improve rankings.

Over time, in an effort to counteract the spamming of links, search engines became more sophisticated and in addition to links they now include a number of other off-site indicators in their ranking algorithms. Although these considerations are still somewhat shrouded in mystery like many ranking factors, it is clear that the search engines are looking for indicators that communicate your brand’s trustworthiness. For example:

  • Your brand (business name and location) is consistent throughout the web
  • Your brand is mentioned often throughout the web
  • Your brand is spoken well of (e.g. positive online reviews)
  • Your brand actively engages with your consumers (e.g. on social media)

How Can I Improve My Off-Site Presence So I Rank Better in Local Search?

When trying to rank for geographically relevant local search results, both links and the secondary trustworthiness indicators are important. However, it is evident that having a very strong brand presence is much more important when trying to rank in local search results than when trying to rank in general search results. Because of this, and since the topic of increasing the quality and quantity of inbound links is a well-covered one, let’s focus on how you can strengthen your brand’s trustworthiness.

First, consistency is key. Branding best practices don’t change from online to offline. Know your business’s brand and be consistent. For local optimization, it is especially important to uniformly represent your name, address, and phone (abbreviated as NAP). This is because when you are trying to rank for a certain location, for example Destin, Florida, the search engines are much more likely to rank you for Destin, Florida search terms if they know you have a physical presence there.

Google My Business ListingOnce you have landed on a standard NAP, ensure sure your brand is represented using this info throughout the web. Here are the key places to start:

  1. Claim your business listings in the search engines. Most important is claiming your Google My Business listing, but don’t forget Bing Places for Business and Yahoo! Local.
  2. Claim your business on other major online directories with free listings, for example Yelp!, yellowpages.com, and superpages.com.
  3. Claim your business on the major social media platforms including Facebook, Google +, Foursquare, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
  4. Whenever possible, submit your business to online directories that are specific to your niche (vacation rentals) or location. For example, see if your local chamber of commerce will list your business. For the purposes of solidifying your brand, a link back to your site would be ideal but is not always necessary.

While the quantity of brand mentions (also called citations) is important, quality is essential. For all your listings ensure you have added as much information about your business as possible, including pictures and video. Keep the listings active and up-to-date. Whenever possible, set up alerts so you can respond and engage with users who have interacted with your listings. This is especially important for social profiles and reviews. Reviews are becoming more and more important to local rankings; make sure you respond to all reviews and work to actively solicit more from your happy customers.

Taking small steps to improve your off-site optimization can have a significant impact on your local rankings. Often, we spend all the time in the world optimizing our website but overlook the off-site improvements we can make. While we can’t all do everything at once, start working your way through this list and you’ll soon reap the benefits!

Alternatively, if this seems overwhelming contact Blizzard Internet Marketing today to find out more about how we can help you succeed in local search!

Give Your Website Some Love This February

On-Page Optimization Recommendations from Blizzard Internet Marketing

 On-Page Optimization Ideas

Think of spending time spent on your website as a gift to your business.  For many of our customers, this is a busy booking time or change in their seasonal services, so giving your site attention now can positively affect your whole year. Get creative with new ideas, consistently keep your website fresh, and improve your on-page optimization. Yours is a long-term business so your website should steadily grow and change with you.

Entertain with a New Video Clip

  • People are visually drawn to the motion of video. You don’t have to produce a full-length movie, just make some short clips. Videos on your website can be as short as 30 seconds or up to 1 minute.  Oftentimes, a smartphone is all you need to shoot one. If you have something really interesting and informative to say, and your video is well produced, then you can keep people’s interest for up to about 2 minutes.
  • Upload your videos to your YouTube account or to Vimeo, then you can embed a link on your page. This keeps your page speed low.
  • You will get more rewards by publishing the video on your YouTube account or Vimeo when you optimize the video. Include a keyword phrase in your description, tell people what your clip is about and what services you provide, and include a link to your website. We do not recommend having the video auto-play or having the sound turned on. People may be in a place they don’t want others to hear, so allow them to click start and turn on the sound.
  • Widen your exposure by linking to it from your other marketing channels next. HubSpot has some guidelines on how long to make videos based on each channel: Hubspot Recommended Video Lengths 

Start a Conversation with New Text

  • When was the last time you read the text on your homepage? Get inspired to come up with new ways to entice yo
  • ur website visitors to take action: reserve, call, buy, or fill out a form. Inform them of the many reasons they need to come to y
    our region for vacation, for a business trip, a much-needed holiday. Tell them the benefits of doing business with your company, of booking directly with you, or signing up for your service.
  • Be the go-to website for current information. Review the information on your site to make sure it is accurate. Look for pages that don’t have much text then take that opportunity to provide more information. Determine a theme for the page. That will lead you to determine a primary keyword phrase to describe the topic. Aim for approximately 350 to 500 words per page and higher when you have a lot of valuable information to share. You can certainly write more, or you can break up your info into multiple pages.
  • Start a page with a question, then answer it in your content. Think of the questions people ask via their smartphones, then provide the answer.  This helps to improve your Voice Search results.

Snap Some Selfies (of your area)

  • What better way to sell your area than to show people what they can do when they arrive. Action photos of the activities that draw your people to your area and of the amazing places they can explore can be taken with most mobile phones. Pics of people experiencing the fun make it all more real, in the moment. Mix up the age groups of your photos to match your market demographics. You want people to say, “I want to be there!”
  • Even your photos should be optimized by giving them good file names and alt tags.
    • Here are a couple filename examples:
      • jpg should be renamed to Honeymoon-Cottage-Pool-Beachcity-FL
      • png should be renamed to Slopeside-Condo-Rental-MyVacationRentalCompany
    • Alt tags are meant to describe the image in case someone cannot view it and is also used by search engines and screen reading software.  Here are some Alt tag examples:
      • Private Pool at Honeymoon Cottage in Beachcity, FL
      • Slopeside Condo Deck near Aspen Tree Village by MyVacationRentalCompany.com
  • Remember to include some on-page text that describes the activity and where it is located. This will make it easy to choose a strong keyword phrase which makes your page work even better for you. Sometimes it is a simple as “Wedding Venue in My City” and you’ve got it.
  • Relationship Building with More Links
    • While you are updating the text on your site with current information, keep a list of businesses you link out to e.g. restaurants, museums, services.TheBlizzard Internet Marketing - Website Portfolio Page n ask those businesses to link to a page on your site as well. Local businesses in related industries can help each other, it builds trust and citations. While not everyone will take the time to link to you, some may and that is a win for both of you!
    • Always be on the lookout for listings on your site for businesses that have new URL’s or have closed. You don’t want to link your site visitor to a dead-end. Remove the listing and link or replace them with valid URL’s.

Set a Date and Be Gracious

  • Share the love with the non-profits in your area by mentioning their special event either on your event calendar or in a blog post announcing the who, what, when, where, how of the occasion and especially why you support them.
  • You may want to offer a small donation or perhaps a slightly discounted stay for the attendees of that affair to show your community involvement.

Additions like this will keep people returning to your site to see what’s new. Remember, frequent updates to your site makes the search engines take notice too. They want to show sites that provide current information to visitors.  This work will bring lovely rewards in the way of new leads, retaining relationships with your guests, and keeping owners happy when they see that you are promoting for them by giving your website some love.

This can seem like a daunting list but hang in there, once you start clicking through your site, you’ll find all sorts of ideas for improvements. Remember we are always here to help provide you with a little guidance or to give your site some on-page attention.

 

5 Tips to Attracting Millennials

The Largest Living Generation on Earth

Millennials, a technology-loving generation born in the 80’s and 90’s, are providing the vacation rental industry an opportunity to make money. Attracting this huge generation of people, the oldest of which are already 37 years old, is important no matter where your company is located.  Whether skiing powder or snorkeling the reef with the best high-tech sports gear, taking selfies at a local restaurant, posting on Snap Chat while touring an amazing vineyard, or attending a group yoga class via Facebook, Millennials are a demographic you need to pay attention to.

To attract Millennials to your properties, first you need to be found! The question is how?

 

Tip One: Optimize your website FOR Millennialsblizzard internet millennial tips

Ensure Millennials can find your properties online, and when they do, stick around long enough to book.

  • Optimize your website to show for terms Millennials 18-34 search for via mobile and voice search.
  • Ensure your website has a clear message for Millennials. Millennials are looking for outdoor and activity-based trips, so when considering the packages being offered, be creative, and tout those packages on your website.
  • Is there a direct path to booking wherever your properties are listed, and do these bookings include packaged services?
  • Make sure your website is fast! Millennials demand it.

Tip Two: Use Social Media

According to recent research from Magisto, beyond ad spending, digital marketing and social media have gone from an extension of traditional marketing to a digital first marketing strategy. This transition is being led by Millennials who instinctively are digitally native, social-first and driven by video. In order for larger and older companies to efficiently and effectively market to Millennials they must re-evaluate the distribution of their massive budgets.

  • Today’s consumers are visual. Most prefer to look at images or watch videos rather than reading articles. Incorporate images and video into your Social Media advertising. Video can help showcase your brand, and increase brand engagement and awareness.
  • Provide discounts and promotions to those who ‘like’ your Facebook page as an incentive.
  • Utilize an Internet marketing expert to keep an eye on market trends, and social media platforms to ensure you are on the right platform to attract Millennials.

Tip Three: Know Your Audience

Knowing and understanding the needs of your guests is the key to increased bookings.

If they’re young, don’t expect them to spend an absurd amount of money. Millennials are looking for a constant experience but at a fraction of the cost. However, keep in mind that when people travel, they spend money.

What are their interests?

  • Do many show an emphasis on authentic experiences, hip lounges, and high-tech amenities?
  • Are they interested in natural areas, or community events like local food, concerts, workshops, and yoga classes?
  • Do you offer strong high-speed Internet? If not, know that a large percentage of this group believe that Internet problems top the list as one of the worst travel issues.
  • If you find a pattern in your audience, then pay close attention to this marketing channel.

Why would they buy your experience?

  • What makes you stand out to those travelers? Is it because you offer romantic packages and know that your guests tend to be couples on a honeymoon, or do you offer skiing, snorkeling or kayaking packages because you are finding that your customers are staying there for those experiences?

What motivates them?

  • Travelers will buy based on emotion – do you want them to feel relaxed, or adrenaline rushed?

Tip Four: Be Straightforward

Trust is a huge part of the service industry. When travelers trust you, they will recommend you to their friends at home and online, further boosting your bookings.

  • Be helpful. Whether in person or online, provide a solution, directions, or a recommendation. If you come across as helpful and engaging, then there is a good chance people will return.
  • Reviews. Utilize feedback. Your guests are your livelihood, so engage with them and ask for reviews. When you get reviews, ensure that they are posted for others to see.

Tip Five: Research, then market yourself in high Millennial traffic areas

  • If you do not have your own concierge service, then consider collaborating with a company offering concierge services, who understands ways to create and target packages in your area.
  • Partner with local companies that have the same interest in attracting the 18 – 34-year-old generation and promote each other.
  • Advertise your packaged stays using online platforms geared towards Millennials.
  • Evaluate your mobile presence
    • The average American spends almost five hours per day on their phone. Keep this in mind when you consider whether your website experience is getting smarter about the user experience.
    • Push more interactive digital content to vacationers on the go. Because people interact with content differently on mobile, trim the length of the videos posted online, and add limited text overlays to these videos.
    • You want to make it as easy as possible for people to read about your properties, the packages offered, and book them using all mediums, including mobile.

For more information on growing your reach, and increasing your bookings, contact a Blizzard expert today.

Facebook Haiku

How to Write an Effective Facebook Ad

Haiku is a highly structured form of Japanese poetry designed to communicate emotion and feeling in the fewest possible syllables. It is the ultimate form of efficient communication and can help guide the creation of an effective Facebook Ad.

What does this really have to do with Facebook? Particularly in Facebook Advertising, the number of allowable characters – like syllables – are pre-set. With only so many characters that can be displayed among all the Facebook advertising distribution channels, you only have so many characters to work with. Efficient wording and content structure requires planning and no small amount of creativity.
A Facebook Ads Haiku:

Facebook ads are easy
Provide a reason for action
And a good image

Facebook Ad Pitfall

Advertisers typically want to build an entire case for consumers to take an action and insert far too much information into the allotted Facebook ad space. This frequently leaves the reader confused about what he/she should do.

Clearly stating the reason for the message as well as detailing an easy-to-execute call to action can eliminate reader confusion and increase the opportunity for reader engagement. And of course, this must be done in a limited space.

Structural Elements to Facebook Ads

Making an ad or message interesting in just a few character spaces is a challenge! Facebook distributes its ads on desktop, mobile as well as in separate ad formats – all of which display quite differently. There are also only three areas of an and in which text may be displayed. In all, you have only four elements to the advertising message; text, image, headline and link description.

The desktop ad below shows placement for the messaging portion of the Facebook ad.

Facebook Ads allow user to manage image and text components as illustrated here,

This same ad content displays quite differently when viewed in the “desktop right” format:

The Facebook Ad - Right display drops the Link Description altogether

Note how the Text and Headlines are moved around and the Link Description drops altogether in the second illustration. A common error some advertisers make is to insert a meaningful part of the message into the Link Description – which then does not get displayed in many channels. Note also the absence of the “Book Now” button on the desktop right format. This means that the call to action should be included within the text.

Making it all Fit

To make all the content fit, Facebook recommends the following limitations on text:
• Text: 90-character limit
• Headline: 25-character limit
• Link Description: 30-character limit

There are instances where you might overrun the Link Description element as it won’t appear on most channels. However, it does display well on the desktop ad version. It is important to look at all formats when designing your message and then test the display before publishing.

Objectives

Messaging in such a compact space of course needs to be efficient. It also needs to have a specific objective such as attracting website visits or page likes. An ad is designed to inspire the reader to take an action, but with such limited space, it is important to inspire the reader to simply engage or find out more.

Phrases such as “check out the….” Or “learn more” are common in an effective Call to Action (CTA). Getting a good idea of what you want to accomplish before you start stringing words together really helps.

The “What” and the “Why”

When putting together your test, consider two elements.
• What the issue is, and
• Why the reader should take the action requested
In total, you have 115 character-spaces to make your case. “Book now”, “call today” or “learn more” are all effective CTAs. The “learn more” admonition implies that the reader may get more information by clicking and visiting your website. And on your website, you have all the character space you need.

A good rule of thumb is that you use the Headline to make the value statement or the communicate the reason the reader should take notice. The Text portion should then explain why and how the reader should respond. This is of course easier said than done in 115 total characters.

Landing Pages

Directing the reader to a landing page on your website has its own challenges. When you lead a reader to your site, Google sees this interaction. If readers quickly drop off your site, the search engines are likely to determine that your landing page doesn’t provide the information or value you promised. Accordingly, the page won’t be recognized as relevant or important. This would be a major opportunity missed to improve your page and website authority necessary for a strong search engine presence. Make sure the page to which you are directing readers provides valuable information and retains their interest!

Facebook Ad Images

The first thing readers notice about your Facebook ad is the image. After all, humans are primarily visual in what captures attention first. As an advertiser, you must capture reader attention before you have any hope of communicating a message.

Recommended size for a Facebook ad image is straightforward… 1,200 x 628 pixels. Finding or creating an image that will attract the attention to your message is another matter. Images used in FB advertising should be authentic, interesting, compelling, eye-catching and can even be humorous. Most stock photos are none of these things, so creating an effective Facebook ad frequently includes taking a few pictures yourself.

Getting the Shot

Fortunately, your phone doubles as a pretty good camera, so getting some great shots might not be as daunting as it sounds. Friends and associates may already have usable images that you can use. Even without a formal photography background, you can get some great images just by watching and observing. Taking pictures simply involves capturing an image of people being themselves and experiencing emotions that you want to convey in your ad.

Excitement, happiness, disappointment, dread are useful emotions for capturing attention. Thinking about the kind of emotions that you might use or try to inspire to give the reader cause to visit your website or get more information.

The real purpose of an ad image though is to separate the reader from where he/she “is” and introduce them to a new train of thought. An image that inspires emotion – such as something pleasant or something to be avoided, captures the reader’s attention.

Image strategies can include either an image of something pleasant – like walking on a beach,

A Facebook ad showing footprints on a beach is something many of us can relate to based on previous experiences. We know how it feels to walk on soft, wet sand.

or something to be avoided – like making a poor behavioral decision.

A Facebook Ad showing the effects of gravity and poor judgement illustrates a situation that should be avoided.

Using a real image as opposed to a stock photography shot, always works better. Images that you take yourself are almost always more authentic and ‘real.’ Readers can sense when something is overly staged. And if the ad image is too perfect or staged, credibility can be lost. If your image is realistic, authentic and interesting – as opposed to an obvious stock shot, viewers will be more likely to give you the attention you need and be receptive to your message.

Bringing it all Together

Even if you are not a great author or photographer, you can still create Facebook ads that get results. The key is in creating a succinct message, presenting an image that will inspire others to read your message and building it all within the Facebook guidelines.

Fortunately, Facebook provides all the test views you need to try different images and text configurations. Once you arrive at an ad you think will work, hit “submit!” If it doesn’t generate the results you want, it is very easy to try another image, another audience or another set of text. Facebook has some excellent tutorials if you run into trouble or have questions.

Check in with the Blizzard Blog often! Future articles will include Facebook audience creation, testing and creative messaging. With many years of experience in the online and digital space, Blizzard Internet Marketing helps clients achieve visibility in their target markets and drives sales and revenue growth. Have questions? Contact us today!

What is Voice Search ?

Voice search is the newest way to scour the internet. It utilizes speech recognition technology that allows users to search using speech versus typing. With the continued growth of smart phones users and other web enabled mobile devices with digital personal assistants (think Cortana, Siri, Alexa), voice search is becoming increasingly more important to consider and optimize for. Gone are the days of searching by a precise topic using a few relevant keywords. Welcome to today where we are asking our devices specific questions and using natural speech to search.

Think about this: If you wanted to find out who the CEO of HomeAway is, what would you search for if you were:

  • On your computer and typed in your search phrase?
    • Many would answer with a short search phrase, like ‘HomeAway CEO’
  • Talking into your phone using a digital personal assistant?
    • Many will likely have used natural language and asked, ‘Who is the CEO of HomeAway?’

We are unconsciously altering our search behavior everyday depending on what device we are in front of. So, shouldn’t we be altering how we optimize our content so we can be found easier? Yes! But first, let’s gain a better understanding of who’s using voice, what they are searching for, how it affects you and how to incorporate it into your SEO strategy.

Who’s Using Voice Search & What For?

Everyone! According to a variety of sources, voice search is on the rise amongst all age groups using smart phones. Users are becoming increasingly more comfortable using these new technologies not only on the go in their vehicles but also at home with devices like Amazon’s Echo Dot and Google’s Home. This rise in use is also due in part to Google’s speech recognition error rate being lower than ever at 8% – down from about 25% a few years prior. As of 2014, voice search was primarily being used for calling someone, asking for directions, dictating text and for help with homework amongst teens and adults. Now only a few years later, we are asking our devices much more complex and diverse questions.

  • “Google voice search queries in 2016 are up 35x over 2008” According to Google trends via Search Engine Watch
  • “Over half of U.S. teens and 41% of U.S. adults use voice search on a daily basis, with its use continuing to grow every day.” According to Northstar Research and Forbes
  • “60% of people using voice search have started in the last year” According to MindMeld

Voice Search Impacts

The true impact of voice search on SEO is still developing. It is obvious that optimizing for voice search is very different compared to traditional type search. Technology is progressing to understand user intent as well as context of the search therefore more complex natural language and speech are becoming more easily understood by search engines. One of the main differences in voice search as compared to traditional keywords searches are the phrases and keywords/terms, they tend to be longer than type search but they are also more complete sentences and questions.

How does this affect you? The developments in voice search means that companies and SEO Experts alike need to be open toward trying new optimization tactics, for example, by focusing more on what the customers intent is when searching. This may require a shift from targeting 2-3 words keyword phrases to more long-tail keyword phrases, with websites designed to answer searchers questions rather than just targeting specific keywords. The concern is not on specific words anymore, but instead on the users intent, and on answering with depth the various questions users have.

Where to Start Optimizing for Voice Search

As with all keyword research, first compile data for what you are already ranking for. Using tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, free SERP (Search Engine Results Page) Rank Checkers and website’s like AnswerThePublic.com you can gain a wide variety of insight.

Once your data is collected analyze it by identifying all keyword phrases:

  • That are longer than 3 words
  • That start with a question word (who/what/when/where/why/how)
  • That contain local markers (town/city/neighborhood names, landmarks)

You’ve narrowed your terms, now determine which of those convey the strongest intent and lend most directly to your content/location/service.

If I performed a search for ‘vacation rental’, you would have no idea whether I wanted to buy one, rent one, where I want to travel to, etc. We can draw some conclusions based on this keyword phrase but really, we have no idea if the searcher wants to buy or is simply doing research. However, when searched in question form, such as ‘where are the best vacation rentals’, this keyword phrase/question can reveal the degree of intent.

Therefore, keyword phrases asking ‘what’ or ‘who’ typically answer questions with quick and easy answers whereas ‘when’ and ‘where’ phrases are more complex and may require a searcher to take additional action after the search is performed.

Mobile devices and local search go together like peanut butter and jelly. When you are on the go and looking for a coffee shop, parking, things to do, etc., your search will produce results in the closest vicinity. Including a variety of local phrases and terms on your website especially your mobile version is imperative. Therefore, local businesses need to refine their strategy and ask themselves these questions:

  • Are there landmarks that should be used as a point of reference, like, “old town”, arenas/stadiums?
  • Are there local places of interest that matter to your company?
  • How is your area described in natural speak? Specific neighborhood?

Implementing Change

Before you completely 180 your SEO strategy, the true impact of voice search on SEO is still developing as is the technology that understands and translates it. Continue to optimize for 2-3 word keyword phrases on a per page basis, incorporating synonyms and similar phrases in the content. In addition to that, integrate voice search phrases and questions into various pages throughout your website, especially on mobile specific pages. Above all, anticipate and answer the questions users are seeking, and provide the information users need, at a depth and level beyond what you have previously done. Monitor these pages moving forward. Have they gained more desktop traffic, more mobile traffic? Has the organic rank for the term/phrase you optimized for changed? Look for any data that is indicating that the changes you made are working or not. Be patient, SEO takes time.

Have a million other things to do and need some help incorporating voice search tactics into your SEO strategy? Contact Blizzard Internet Marketing today to find out more about what we can offer you to help you succeed on the web!

Geo-targeting & Reaching Customers on a Limited Budget

Authors: Danielle Rozga and Todd Chamberlin

Don’t overlook the benefits of adding geo-targeting to your campaigns! Beyond the simple world of search campaigns, geotargeting in AdWords & Bing is an essential tool in your advertising quiver.

What is Geo-targeting?

Geo-targeting, or location targeting, allows advertisers to specifically choose the locations in which they would like their ads to show for each individual campaign. For most advertisers, it’s not enough to simply add a location-modifier to your keyword(s), for example, “Vacation Rentals in Santa Fe New Mexico”. While this narrows down the area in which the searcher would like to see results, it doesn’t define the location of your customer base. By implementing advanced geo-targeting techniques, you can see a big improvement in Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and make efficient use of your PPC budget.

Location targeting options include:

  • City, State, Country, Region
  • DMA (Designated Market Area)
  • Congressional Districts
  • ZIP Codes
  • Radius Around a Point

How Do You Implement Geo-Targeting?

First, define who your audience is and where they are located. Run internal reports to determine where your customers are coming from, review analytics geographic data and sort it by transactions, time on site, pages per session, etc. to focus your spending on conversion-driving locations, and determine which campaigns/keywords are appropriate for specific geo-targeted audiences.  Spend some time on this – it’s important!

Once you have determined the areas you will target, head to your campaign settings and put it into action. Add your states, cities, zips, etc. If you want to exclude specific locations, that is a powerful strategy as well. If your business is located in Boulder, CO, you might want to exclude searchers in Boulder, UT from seeing your ads.

AdWords Location Targeting

AdWords Location Targeting

 

Bing Ads Location Targeting

Bing Ads Location Targeting

 

In the Settings tab, there are advanced location options settings that are important to pay attention to.  Google AdWords will opt you into the 1st, “recommended” option:

Adwords Advanced Targeting Settings
This is NOT recommended for most advanced advertisers.  This opens up your ads to people outside of your targeted areas who show “interest” in locations you have defined, meaning they could have recently visited your area or used your location in their search query.

The 2nd option, “People in my targeted location” is what we strongly recommend our clients to use, because it allows for the tightest method of control as to where ads are served. You put effort into determining where your customers are located, so why not put it to good use?

The 3rd option, “People searching for my targeted location”, is not highly-targeted and allows for any searcher who shows interest in your location to see your ads.

In Bing Ads, we also recommend choosing “People in your targeted locations”.

Bing Adcenter

In addition to the locations you want to target, if you add exclusions, you will need to adjust your settings in Google AdWords to ensure that you exclude “People in my excluded location” as opposed to the first, recommended default option.

Adwords Default Location

 

In Bing Ads, you can set exclusions as well, but there are not any additional advanced options for excluding areas at this time.

Enhance Geo-Targeting with Bid Adjustments

Bid adjustments by location, located in your Settings tab for each campaign, allows an advertiser to increase or decrease bids by a certain percentage in chosen locations to optimize ad positions and increase click-thru performance.

For example, consider a resort town that has a dozen or so locations where most of their visitors reside. The advertiser can identify the cities by importance and give the most significant cities a higher bid adjustment. Or, perhaps one of these locations proves to be extremely competitive. The advertiser can increase bid adjustments to gain better ad positioning.

A word of caution about bid adjustments: Monitor your data and cost-per-click (CPC) of increased bid adjustments very carefully, as it can sometimes increase your CPC unnecessarily.

So, what are you waiting for? When you think about geo-targeting, there are many creative and effective ways to be more precise and relevant without limiting your reach. It can save you from wasting your budget and increase your bottom line. Know your goals and your audience and you will be well ahead of your competitors.