Posted On Thursday, August 27th, 2009 by Dean Karasinski
Local Search has been “in development” for a long time. Since the invention of the internet people have been going after the big picture instead of the specifics, many have tried to have a local portal that encompasses all types of local businesses and services but not many have been successful. At this point I can only think of a few including City Search and Urbanspoon. Others have tried but they look and feel so automated (restaurants.com for instance, you can tell all the info is just scraped information) and don’t offer much to the user in the way of reviews, recommendations or even if the location in question is still in existence.
These sites aren’t perfect and they have a long way to go before they are but it raises the question, as a small business, how exactly are you supposed to effectively advertise in your community?
Know Your Area
Keep track of your customers and where they come from, you should have an idea at this point where your business is coming from. Is it coming from right next door or are you clients driving an hour to do business with you? This information is very valuable to you because it will help you target your online advertising, once you find your niche online you should try to expand to other places where you have previously had success or wanted to advertise. There is always a way to make a new customer and sometimes reaching out locally is the way.
Know Your Customers
Your customers have come to expect something from you whether it is your service, your product or just your personality. You should let people who come across your ads online in your local area know that this is you. Put a little twist on it that lets your local customers or potential customers know that it is you who is advertising online.
Leverage The Power of Google
Google Local Business Directory
Being in new to Los Angeles I am continually using Google Maps more and more to find things that I need, since L.A. is so big it helps me find things in relation to my location. One great (and free) way to get your business in front of other in your area is to add yourself to the Google Local Business Directory. Esentially it adds your business to Google maps and it shows up when people are searching within or around the location that they specify.
Google Local Search
Adwords is an incredibly powerful tool. One of my favorite features of the program is that you can select specifically where you want to advertise. I am pretty sure that if you wanted to advertise just on your block you could. Anyway, there are a few ways you can go about doing this. The first is to select a radius around your business, there are many preset ones but you can also make your own. The second is to select the specific areas, you can select certain states, certain towns and so on. Going back to what I said above about knowing your area can be very useful here.
You don’t know exactly how people are going to search but you can get a good idea, just because your campaign is targeted to a certain area doesn’t mean people will find you. Often times it is a good test to try variations with the areas you are advertising in. For example say you are a hardware store in Los Angeles, a good keyword would be “Hardware Store” a good variation would be “Local Hardware Store” or “Los Angeles Hardware Store” this way it ensures that you will capture the most searches for your products, business and services.
Going back to what I said before about local search portals not being successful may not have to do with the portals themselves. We have been trained since the beginning of the internet to just search for things in a broad fashion. I think slowly people are coming around more and more and realizing that local search is growing and is becoming a more effective search for them. Honestly, I like when I can search for something in my neighborhood and then go visit that place whether it is a store or a national park it is still nice to go out and meet the faces behind the company.
If you are looking to get started with local Search Marketing or looking for someone to explain it to you better contact us at 1.866.282.1903 or leads @7evenleafclover.com or come to our website www.7evenleafclover.com and sign up for our free analysis and proposal.
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Posted On Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 by Chris Cremen
So it seems that half of my blog posts have had me complaining about someone’s interface. If you enjoyed those posts then I have good news, I am just going to run with this theme for a while. Well, at least until I get bored with it. When I started doing internet marketing, the first thing I learned was how to use Google AdWords. AdWords is pretty user friendly and I had no problems learning it. I actually found it quite easy. Then I branched out to MSN adCenter and Yahoos Overture, and they were the exact opposite of easy. But that was many years ago and they obviously have made drastic improvements over the years. Right? While they have become somewhat more user friendly, they are still way behind AdWords (even with their new, unpopular interface). So now that we have decided that Bing is cool, I am going to let MSN know what they need to change in order for adCenter to start having the same appeal.
My first complaint is the fact that it doesn’t offer you the option to save your password. This is something that Linkshare changed in their new interface and I applauded them for it. I go to tons of websites everyday that have my password stored in the browser. If I thought there was a chance of someone ripping off my passwords, I wouldn’t do that. So why don’t you let me decide whether or not I want to store my password, and at least give me the option? There are few things I hate more than having to be slowed down by typing in a password.
Often MSN adCenter, just like Google and Yahoo, will disapprove my ads. Usually this is due to me typing in something wrong so I don’t mind when this happens. However, adCenter give you no help in finding out which ads were disapproved. Instead, it will simply give you a message saying that “Some ads or keywords were disapproved.” This really does nothing to help either of us out. Google has a nice tool that lists the disapproved ads so I know it shouldn’t be too hard for MSN to add this feature. If they told me which ads were disapproved, I could easily fix them and then they would run, resulting in a win-win situation. Instead, I just check the ads that are performing well to make sure that they are ok, and ditch the others, thereby helping neither of us.
Just like Yahoo, MSN adCenter makes it “easy” to import Google campaigns. Please make sure that you notice the quotation marks, because it is a super huge pain. The importing part isn’t too bad. Well, actually it is a pain, but it is doable. The awful part is what comes next. Once you upload your campaign, you have to manually go through each of the steps just like you would if you were starting a new campaign, except this time all the information is already filled out. So if you import 90 ad groups, you have to go through each of the 90 to make them active.
When most people were using dial-up to connect to the internet, I could see the argument for only listing so many items on a page. It made the site load quicker and worked within the bounds of the technology at the time. I don’t see why this still happens. When I look for something on eBay, I want 200 items to show up at a time, not 50. In the time it takes for me to load 4 pages, I could have quickly loaded 1 page with all the items. So I don’t understand why adCenter only loads 50 ad groups at a time, when I have 91 of them. If I am looking for a particular ad group across 3 or 4 accounts, I then have to remember to look on page 2 for it. This is also something that Google’s new interface does, but it at least gives me the option to increase it to 100 ad groups.
With Bing now riding high there is plenty of momentum for MSN right now. If these changes were made it would make me way more likely to recommend it to more people. There are still plenty of other problems that I have with the platform, but I believe that these are the major ones that are holding it back from being user friendly. Is there anything that I missed? Let me know in the comments.
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Posted On Friday, August 21st, 2009 by Dean Karasinski
I never thought I would say it, in fact I never thought I would try it. I was certain that I was a one search engine type of guy for I would never cheat on my BBSE (Big Beautiful Search Engine) Google. On a whim I went to Bing.com today and it just so happened that on this day Hawaii was added to the U.S. so on the front page they have some lava. Lava is a very strange interest of mine so I was intrigued, I started poking around the main page of the site (which is more than I can say that I have ever done for Google) and started watching videos on lava, looking at pictures of lava and Hawaii and so on. I was engaged, completely engaged.
I started searching for other things, among them, myself. I binged myself (does that sound dirty) and up came a shorter list than would on Google (But bing got rid of all the duplicates.) I searched for stories about Search Engine Marketing and so on and one of the coolest features, if you mouse over to the right of the listing a small info tab comes up that mentions more and more stuff about the Search Listing.
I know I am late to the game but Bing is cool now excuse me while I go play around with it some more.
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Posted On Friday, August 14th, 2009 by Dean Karasinski
Google has been generating a lot of buzz around the net this week with images popping up in the sponsored links section. This feature is seemingly only being tested in certain areas as many, including myself, have not been able to duplicate the results. The immediate WOW factor is high and should, without a doubt, help attract more attention to your ad and ultimately help Google to provide the best results to you. Let’s look at this from another perspective, mine.
Does anyone remember the old TV Guide channel? It used to simply show you what was on, they may have played some music and the listings filled the majority of the screen, then they started adding some advertisements (I can live with that, they need to stay on and I think it is a useful service), then they shrunk the listings to show the ads slightly larger, then they shrunk the listings even more so they could run a rubbish channel on top of the information I really wanted to see. I don’t actually care about Kimberly Caldwell interviewing a Jonas brother, I just don’t, but I digress.
The point is, doesn’t this seem familiar and applicable to the current Google situation? Their natural search listings have been getting smaller and smaller to make room for more and more sponsored links, how small will they actually get, will they become secondary to the ads, will Kimberly Caldwell appear in the search bar? Let’s hope that it doesn’t get to this point. I am all for making the sponsored listings more interesting to look at but not at the expense of the natural ones.
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Posted On Monday, August 10th, 2009 by Matt Fern
Over the past two weeks I’ve been explaining about the whole Adwords certification thing, and now I’m a certified individual (not to mention we are a certified company now as well) Now I’m going to talk about a few things that can increase your sale and profits. Adwords has all sorts of tools and options to optimize your accounts. Even with all these options one of the best ways to improve your profits is your landing page. Conversion’s the word. You can get all the clicks you want but if you can’t get any conversions you’re just throwing money away.
So what is a landing page? A landing page is the page visitors arrive at after clicking your ad. It is important that your landing page is simple, easy to understand, and matches the ad that was clicked on to get to the page. When deciding your landing page it is important that you think of the user. Think of what they are seeing through their eyes. Think of all the thoughts that are going through their head. “Does this site look trustworthy”, “is this the right place”, “how much time will this take?” The site must me user friendly.
Make sure that your landing page works in conjunction with your ad text. In other words if the ad text is describing a certain product, make sure that the landing page takes the user to that products page. It may frustrate the user if they click the ad and then have to go search for the product. Remember your goal is to get the conversion. If the user clicks the ad and get frustrated then just backs out of your website you’re not making any money.
Your landing page is key to making profits. Just keep in mind these two rules about landing pages and you should be fine: 1) make the content useful, relevant, and trustworthy. 2) Make the site easy to navigate. Landing pages are not that hard but one little mistake can completely ruin your traffic/conversions. One of the most important things to do is TEST, TEST, and TEST!! Try different things. One little difference can make a huge difference in sales. After you make a few changes and test them, you will be able to see what works best for you and your customers.
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Posted On Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 by Chris Cremen
When I first saw the new Adwords interface, I had the same reaction that I did when I first saw the new Linkshare interface: PURE OUTRAGE! Part of the reason for this outrage is my total hatred of change. I tend to be a creature of habit and I don’t like people messing with my world. Besides, Adwords was already the easiest and prettiest of the search engine ad platforms. Why take something that worked so well and is so easy to use, and change it? But unlike the new Linkshare interface, the new Adwords actually turned out to be at least as good as the original, if not better. I am not going to go into detail on all the changes that Google made, just the ones that I either really like or really hate.
Upon loading up the new interface, the first thing that I noticed was the change of colors. Well, actually, the first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t loading properly. In the orange box there is a message saying:
“The updated AdWords interface may not work properly in your web browser. We are working hard to add support for more browsers. Until then, please use Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3, or Chrome to manage your campaigns. The updated AdWords interface may be slower on older versions of Firefox. For better results, we recommend upgrading to Firefox 3.”
Since I am still rocking Firefox 2.0 (some of the add-ons that I love haven’t updated for Firefox 3 yet) I keep getting that message EVERY TIME I LOAD AN ACCOUNT. We have over 100 accounts in our My Client Center, so I am constantly bouncing between different accounts. Meaning, I have to see that message pop up constantly. For a company whose motto is “Don’t be Evil,” they are slowly driving me insane. Anyway, as you can see, the page clearly doesn’t load correctly.
The colors have also been tweaked with the green being a little darker and a graph tracking spend above the different campaigns. I think that this is the thing that bothers me the most about the new interface. But then again, I am the guy that changes the start menu and color scheme of any new computer back to Windows 98. I just don’t see why they couldn’t add in these new features while keeping the look of the old AdWords. Personally, I hope that they start offering themes for AdWords like they do with iGoogle and Gmail.
As for the features Google added, I really couldn’t complain once I learned how to use them. I really like how you can edit bids for a campaign without having to go into the actual ad group. I just wish that they would do something similar for changing ads. Also the changes in how you pause ads took me a few clicks to figure out and could be done a little smother.
Google also added a one step way to add new ad groups. Now you can create you ad, list your keywords, and enter your bids all on the same form. This is something that I have been wanting from a major ad platform for quite a while. This is really important for this new interface because it is slower. I never really had a problem waiting for pages to load on the old interface, but now I see a loading message quite often. Also, I kept running into pages where buttons wouldn’t load. The first time I tried adding an ad group in one step the “Save ad group” button did not appear. At first I thought I was just missing something on the page because I couldn’t submit it. But once I went back and tried it again, the buttons showed up.
Another new feature is the Account Tree that AdWords Editor has. I usually have this minimized because I feel it makes the screen too cluttered. Also, it lists all the accounts in each campaign in alphabetical order and all paused of deleted ad groups are grayed out. The fact that they are in alphabetical order is ridiculous. Often times, about half of the campaigns I have listed are grayed out. These should be at the bottom of the list, or they should be ordered by ad spend.
Overall, I don’t mind the new interface to this AdWords after I used it for a little while. I would have rather just seen these changes slowly added to the old interface though. But it does make you wonder why Yahoo and MSNs ad interfaces are still so bad. If the platform with the best interface is doing a facelift, why are the others not trying to catch up to at least where Google was? But what do you guys think? What do you like or hate about the new Google interface? Do you think MSN and Yahoo will ever have a platform that can rival Google in ease?
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Posted On Saturday, July 25th, 2009 by Tim Caspersen
So I have to write a blog post, and I decided to make it easy (since it’s Friday) and give an update on the North Carolina affiliate tax woes.
To catch everyone up, North Carolina is proposing a Nexus Tax, similar to the one passed in New York last year. This law states that online retailers must collect and report sales tax on any sales made to residents and such in the state of North Carolina, but only IF these retailers have affiliate marketers located in North Carolina. The affiliate marketers are considered a physical extension of the retailer, giving the retailer a physical presence in the state, which forces them to collect sales tax.
From what I’m gathering, the tax portion of the budget has been the biggest problem with the budget being passed. Governor Perdue has insisted she will veto the tax section as a whole if it includes certain items. She does not have the ability to veto specific lines in the tax section, just the whole thing.
So here presents a problem. Several outlets have spoken with Governor Perdue, and it’s become very evident that she doesn’t understand what the Nexus Tax even means. With that being said, it’d be no shock if she just pushed that tax law through.
The proponents of this tax law are equally disillusioned. Their battle cry now is equality for brick and mortar businesses. They believe the sales tax will create a level playing field, make things fair, take away the advantage of selling online. What they refuse to see is that people don’t shop online because of the lack of sales tax. In fact, out of everyone I know, I can’t name a single person who would even factor sales tax into the equation of whether to buy online or to buy at a store. The sole reason people go online is to get better deals and the sheer convenience of not having to leave the house! I can be sitting at home, order a book from California, and never have to put on pants or leave the house!
For affiliates, this has been a nightmare. July 1st was when the budget was supposed to be passed. June 28th, Amazon removed all NC affiliates. The budget was pushed back to July 15th. But that didn’t stop the publishers. They took initiative and systematically removed their NC affiliates. Now it’s July 25th, and the budget still isn’t passed. The tax section, which includes the Nexus tax, isn’t agreed upon. In fact, it’s been leaked that they’re going to start from scratch and redo the tax section. Whether this new version will include the Nexus tax or now remains to be seen. So we’ll see what happens.
In the meantime, 7even Leaf Clover isn’t sitting idly back awaiting our fate. We’ve already formed PA businesses to operate under. We’ve visited PA to look at houses and apartments, and we’re making plans on relocating if this passes. It sucks to think about, our fate is in the hands of ignorant lawmakers who refuse to listen to the industry, simply keep their blinders on and stick to their old ways, still believing they’re smarter and better than the rest of us.
Yup, I’m angry. And we’re still fighting. If this is about equality, if this is about being fair, then why are affiliates the only people being affected? Why are they losing their jobs, their businesses, being forced to move out of the state? How is this even close to being fair?
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Posted On Monday, July 20th, 2009 by Dean Karasinski
In a not too shocking but definitely unexpected move, Google announced that they will be entering the OS race based on their already popular browser, Chrome.
Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we’re already talking to partners about the project, and we’ll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.
Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.
You can read the rest of the article at The Official Google Blog and download the Google Chrome Browser on their site.
But what does this mean for everyone who wants to use Chrome? Well, think about this Google already suggests that you sign into their web page to do search, look at maps and so on. This means they are collecting RIDICULOUS amounts of data about all of the people that are using their service. They can track you pretty closely, but now with Chrome OS it is possible they will be able to track what you do on a daily basis, what sites you visit without using Google Search, what programs you run on your desktop, how many pictures you have, how much music you have and so on and so forth. Scary right? Perhaps SkyNet isn’t that far off. Essentially Google is going to be controlling everything, people look to them for everything online, they have become a behemoth. Now I have nothing against Google I love them, but that doesn’t change the fact that they need to be kept in check and at least out of some portion of our lives. Lets hope they don’t put a little Analytics code into this OS of theirs. This is all really bad for privacy on all fronts.
Now the OS market only has so much room but a large company like Google should have no trouble getting into it, but can it stay there? Google has always been known for its streamlined, no bones, minimalist look and feel. So it may have a hand up against Microsoft and its bulky Windows. But Microsoft has had this market cornered for a long time, they have been dominant and continue to crush the competition. Only recently has Apple been able to achieve 10% market share of the OS market but I suspect that is due to things like the iPod, iPhone etc… introducing people to Apple and eventually leading them to a Mac. With that said Google has been a major thorn in Microsoft’s side ESPECIALLY online, they have pretty much shut them down in all aspects on the web, so if Chrome OS is a web based OS maybe Google has a chance. Little is known about Chrome OS so all if this is just speculation, I guess we will just have to wait and see what is going to happen and where this is going to go.
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