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6 Quick Tips to Secure Your Website

April 29th, 2016

It doesn’t matter if you operate an online business, write a weekly blog or are simply making an online purchase on your favorite website, security is key when it comes to maneuvering around the World Wide Web. There are a number of practices you can put into place as a webmaster to ensure you are keeping your personal information, and the personal information of your customers safe.

Mitch Laursen, a SEO specialist at Intertwine Interactive, weighed in on the importance of updating software, firewalls, creating strong passwords and much more.

1. Stay Current on Updates

It doesn’t matter if you used a popular template or built your website from the ground up, it is imperative that you stay up-to-date on the latest updates and plugins. The reason it is so important to stay up-to-date on the latest adjustments is because those updates are typically fixing issues that a particular template or host was experiencing. If they go unaddressed, you could leave your website vulnerable to an issue that could cause serious problems.

“Your website’s software is an incredibly large platform of vulnerabilities and opportunities to be hacked,” Laursen said. “The reason there are so many updates required of your software, script and plugin adjustments is that their creators have found multiple important ways to improve usability, performance, design, and security. Software, scripts, and plugins have made wide strides in security and performance, but they aren’t always 100% secure.”

It is also just as important to clean up any updates or plugins that have become outdated over time. By cleaning up aspects of your website that are no longer useful, you are protecting your website from hackers who may use those outdated areas as a way to get into your website.

“Hackers are working day and night to discover new and unique holes in these different site platforms and thus gain access to your website,” Laursen said. “To fix possible security holes found by site hackers, it is extremely important for site admins to stay up-to-date with the latest site adjustments.”

 2. Use Strong Passwords

Even though this may seem like a no-brainer, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone follows through and creates complex passwords. So, using the name of your beloved pet is no longer going to cut it. When constructing your passwords, it is important to use a combination of letters, symbols and have it be at least 8-12 characters long. It is also important to change your passwords often.

“In the past, it was recommended that you change your password every 30–60 days. Or sooner,” Laursen said. “Nowadays, it’s probably better to change your passwords after a big update (new employee, site redesign, software update, etc.). It’s more important to have one long and strong password. Password changes can help if someone tries to access your website or account via your login page.”

It may also be tempting to use the same password on a number of accounts, especially if you frequently forget your password. It is important to avoid using the same password for everything because if you ever do fall victim to a password breach, more than one of your accounts and personal info is at risk. Creating secure passwords is a step toward avoiding brute-force or dictionary attacks to your website’s data base.

Do you need help constructing secure passwords? Check out LastPass or Dashlane to receive a unique, randomized password for any account.

3. Invest in a Quality Firewall

Besides constructing a complex password, it is important to invest in a high quality firewall. A firewall is going to be the first thing that filters through the traffic coming to your website, and will alert you if any are malicious attacks.

“Website firewalls are extremely helpful with filtering the good and bad traffic your website receives. The better your firewall, the less likely someone will be able to infect your site with dangerous Malware,” Laursen said. “It’s important to invest time into finding the best firewall for your website, because it allows more quality security options for your site.”

4. Implement HTTPS

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is commonly used to protect website user’s personal information that they have submitted to a website, and is necessary for a website that conducts online transactions. Laursen said the personal information can include an email address when someone subscribes to a blog, billing information provided when shopping online, and a person’s identity details provided on a government site.

By ensuring your website is following HTTPS guidelines, you are adding an encryption to your website where sensitive data is located. This protects not only your website’s sensitive information, but also your customer’s information.

“The HTTPS protocol protects this information by encrypting the data, providing safe data transfers, and authentication protection from man-in-the-middle attacks,” Laursen said.

5. Remove the Comment Section, Limit File Uploads

Have you ever seen a blog that has their comments turned off? It isn’t because the author doesn’t care what you have to say. It is actually a security precaution. Laursen says that many websites have a defaulted comments section added to their webpages because comment forms have been a way for people to add spam to your website. These spam attacks can have damaging affects on your website’s authority.

“While having comments can be a helpful tool in learning how your website visitors feel about your company, it should not be determined this way. There are many more secure comments plugins and methods of getting the opinions of your customers,” Laursen said. “There are a large number of people who work specifically to attack comment forms with spam links to malicious and dangerous websites.”

6. Back Up Everything

With advancements and shifts being made all the time online, especially in the world of hacking, there is unfortunately no way to 100% protect your website at all times. However, one thing you can do to ensure you will always have a safe version of your website’s information is to back it up, and to do it often.

“Backups should be considered a second version of your current healthy website. If something goes wrong and your first version breaks or get hacks, then you always have the second version to use,” Laursen said. “How often you backup your first version depends on the website’s size, popularity and frequency of updates. What are you most comfortable with?”

Laursen says if you have a large and popular website, and are updating it on a daily basis, then you should consider backing up your website on a daily basis.

“You don’t want to be caught having to use an old backup for your website and then taking forever to update it back to where it was,” Laursen said.

Google News Applies AMP Format

April 27th, 2016

On April 20, it was announced that Google News applied the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) to their website, an initiative that focuses on improving the speed of the mobile experience. The announcement was made on the Google News blog.

“For too many people, reading the news on their mobile devices can be slow and clunky, forcing them to abandon a site. That’s why we joined others across the industry on the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project,” Maricia Scott, Engineering Director with Google News, said in the announcement.

Like many other industries that have taken on the AMP format, users who visit Google News will now see a carousel at the top of the page that contains the latest headlines. The AMP lightning bolt icon will be listed at the bottom of each article, so users will know that they are going to be viewing an AMP formatted page before they even select an article.

“Users can browse up to 14 headlines quickly, and click any article to jump into the viewer, which is optimized for fast-loading AMP articles,” Scott said.

Scott said that the AMP format is not only a win for users, but also for publishers. Users enjoy the AMP format due to the fact that the loading time is on average “four times faster and uses 10 times less data” than the non-AMP pages. For publishers, the AMP format can lead to a higher rate of user activity and ultimately more traffic on their site.

“While we can’t expand the amount of time in the day, with AMP we can help users consume more content in the time they do have,” Scott said.

Scott concluded her post by saying they will continue to implement the AMP format within their English U.S. Edition, and that users can expect to see similar adjustments to editions in other languages in the near future.

How to Develop an Effective SEO Strategy (Case Study)

April 22nd, 2016

By: Brad Pitzl, SEO Manager at Intertwine Interactive

At Intertwine Interactive, when we initially meet with our clients, we make it clear that there are no overnight fixes when it comes to the world of SEO. Our ultimate goal of strong and steady traffic growth through consistent hard work has proven to be a winning strategy time and time again for our clients.

In this case study, I will be outlining step-by-step how we provided long-term growth for a client in the business services field. However, most of the processes and concepts that I will be reviewing can be applied to other industries and most websites in general.

It All Starts With An SEO Audit

To get things started on the right foot for the client, we conducted a full on- and off-site audit. This would help us discover issues on the website itself, and also help us take a look at the competitive landscape. While conducting the audit, we discovered that many of the client’s pages lacked basic optimization opportunities such as meta descriptions and title tags, just to name a few. These areas would need to be updated before the website had a chance to grow. Along with some off-site call outs, we were able to produce a customized strategy for the client that would get them started in the right direction.

Start On-Going Services

Once the changes from our audit were implemented by the client’s development team, we were able to start our on-going services for them. For this client in particular, we saw a great need to update and correct their local listings and citations. Many of the links and citations that were listed contained incorrect information. Because of these errors, we spent much of our time updating the company name, address and phone information.

Another area where we saw an opportunity to increase our client’s influence was content distribution. Since this client had a very specific niche, they had a unique perspective that could be shared. They had taken the initiative and hired a content coordinator who was responsible for keeping their blog current. We worked directly with their content coordinator to come up with a content calendar based on a set of keywords that the company wanted to target.

Manage Off-Site Improvements

As we dove into the task of updating and adding to the client’s link and citation profile, we saw many new opportunities for them. For starters, the correct information would now be out there for current and future clients. Also, by adding to their backlink profile we could increase the authority of the client’s domain. This constant process of improving the backlink profile for the client really helped amplify the recent adjustments that had been made on their website. As you will see below, the steady upward movement of referring domains shows the domain strengthening over the months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Ahrefs.com

Review The Steady Traffic Growth

After the first few months of on-going services and a consistent flow of new content, we started to see our first signs of growth. It started off as high single digit increases in month over month traffic, but as the momentum built we moved into the teens. After a slow month in December, due to the holidays and seasonality of their industry, we began to really see our work pay off in January.

With a steady stream of new content and a constantly improving backlink profile, our client started to see 15% and higher increases in organic traffic each month. Search engines love new content because it gives them a reason to keep coming back to the site and to crawl it and discover other new content. This study proves that content truly is king.

 

 

 

 

Source: Google Analytics

The Major Takeaways

-There are no short cuts in SEO. It takes time, money and hard work to get your website to where you would like it.

-In order to see continued success, clients and their SEO expert must continue to build, write, and help the website evolve to keep the momentum going.

-It is also important to make sure your client has realistic expectations. Each industry is different and results will vary from website to website.

Intertwine Interactive was born in 2006 with a passion and a purpose. Our seamless approach to internet marketing intertwines our experts with your team to craft and implement a personalized strategy that powers results – results that connect your business to new customers and a brighter future. Intertwine offers a comprehensive list of internet marketing services that includes SEO, PPC, Comparison Shopping, Affiliate Management and Retargeting.

Mueller Discusses Zombie Traffic Phenomenon

April 20th, 2016

The zombie traffic phenomenon has been a hot topic of discussion the last few weeks in a number of forums, and Google’s John Mueller recently touched on the topic in a Google+ hangout.  The initial conversation about this issue came up in October 2015 when webmasters at WebmasterWorld noticed a change in their conversion rates and unusual traffic being sent to their website through Google.

What exactly is the zombie traffic phenomenon?

If you are looking over your website analytics and you notice an odd increase in visitors and/or a significant decrease in your conversion rate, there’s a pretty good chance that your website is experiencing the zombie traffic phenomenon. If you are in fact seeing zombie traffic, you’ll see a higher number of visits, but no increase in conversions or overall engagement.

Where does zombie traffic come from?

When it comes to nailing down a specific source, webmasters have cooked up a number of different theories. Some of the most popular theories include:

  • Google is behind the unusual traffic in order to keep your traffic steady. However, they are not doing much to help increase your website conversions.
  • Google is keeping traffic levels steady to encourage PPC campaigns to stay active.
  • Your website is being considered informational, but then later found as transactional. This is especially a key theory for E-commerce websites. If your website is seeing a drop in conversions, it could also mean your website is attracting the wrong type of traffic.
  • Lastly, many think Google may have nothing to do with it at all.  Some think bots or individuals from other countries who are using fake IP addresses may be to blame. Even though zombie traffic appears to be active users, the way they navigate through the site is not how real users would behave.

How does zombie traffic affect your website?

Click fraud can pose a problem for websites that are running PPC online advertising campaigns. Since advertisers pay websites a certain amount of money for the amount of clicks an ad gets, a zombie attack could lead to a lot of confusion over money owed due to the fraudulent clicks and/or visits.

Zombie traffic attacks have also been known to slow down a website or cause it to crash all together due to intense flooding.

What did Mueller have to say about it?

Even though Mueller kept his comments brief, he told those in the Google+ hangout last week that he was not aware of anything happening on Google’s end, but would investigate further for those who are having an issue.

“But at least from my side, I’m not aware of anything that would cause a site to jump between different kinds of rankings,” Mueller said. “Maybe something quirky is happening that we need to take a look at on our side. Maybe it is just fluctuations as usual, as they can sometimes happen in search.”

If you are interested in watching the entire Google+ hangout, visit the Google Webmasters account for more information.

Google Issues Manual Action Penalties for Unnatural Outbound Links

April 15th, 2016

This past week, Google issued a number of manual action penalties. If you or someone you know received one of these warnings, it means the website in question is linking out to other websites in a manner that goes against Google’s guidelines.

The reason Google issued all of these manual penalties is due to how outbound links over free product reviews were being handled. Many speculated that penalties would be issued soon by Google after they published a warning in March. The warning discussed the importance of using nofollow links, disclosing the reason behind the publication of the review and ensuring that the content regarding the product was useful and original.

“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site,” according to Google’s Search Console Help website.

Brad Pitzl, SEO Manager at Intertwine Interactive, was one of many who had a hunch that manual penalties like this were on the horizon after Google issued their warning.

“If you refuse to follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines after a warning like that, there is no other way to get the message across,” Pitzl said.

So you have been issued one of these manual penalties? Now what? Pitzl says that you will need to conduct a complete audit on the website’s backlink profile and remove links that violate any of Google’s guidelines.

A penalty like this can cause long-term problems for not only the bloggers, but also the webmaster.

“It will take a while for a penalized site to recover, thus hurting traffic and revenue. For the bloggers, it means that less people will ask them to review their products,” Pitzl said.

Pitzl says there are a number of things you can do to avoid being slapped with a penalty like this in the future.

“You really need to listen to what Google says in their blog posts and read the webmaster guidelines closely. If you are not familiar with SEO, you should also seek the advice of professionals who can guide you through these complicated issues,” Pitzl said.

Are you in need of a website audit?

Contact the SEO team at Intertwine Interactive today!

Mueller Explains How Google Handles Redirects

April 13th, 2016

John Mueller of Google recently revealed in a Google+ post how Google views and handles the different types of redirects. Mueller said that Google is pretty tolerant when it comes to redirect mistakes, so he encourages readers not to worry too much. However, he stresses the importance of understanding how the different redirects operate.

“It’s useful to understand the differences between the common kinds of redirects, so that you know where to use them and can recognize when they’re used incorrectly,” Mueller stated in the post.

He reviews the different types of redirects and their functions by referencing two pages as “R&S.” To start, he explains that a redirect is when you call upon page R, it will tell you that the content you are looking for is on S, and the content for S is shown immediately.

Server-side redirects:

Mueller describes this type of redirect as when the webserver returns the redirect as soon as you try to access a particular page, the user never sees any of the content of page R.

301 permanent redirects:

Mueller says that this type of redirect is very useful when you change your website’s URL permanently.

“The server tells us that nothing will change its mind about this redirect. Just use ‘S’ in the future, you can cache it like that. Search engines tend to index the content under ‘S’, and forward any signals from R to S,” Mueller said.

302 temporary redirect:

Mueller says this redirect is just that, temporary. He says that this redirect may change in the future depending on who accesses it, the user’s location or even by the device that is being used. He says that you cannot cache this type of redirect.

Client-side redirects:

Mueller describes this type of redirect as when the webserver returns content for R&S. However, the browser does recognize the redirect.

JavaScript redirects:

Mueller says that if you are using a JavaScript framework, using a JavaScript redirect may be the only option you have. He says if you can’t do a server-side redirect, JavaScript is always a good alternative to consider.

“Caching depends on the server settings, and search engines have to guess at what you’re trying to do,” he said.

Meta refresh-type redirects:

Mueller said that Meta refresh redirects are very similar to JavaScript redirects, but says that they are not typically recommended.

307 redirects:

Even though the 307 redirect may seem like a server-side redirect, it is not. This type of redirect is actually your browser trolling you, according to Mueller.

“If you set up HTTPS, 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS, and enable HSTS, when you try to access the HTTP version in your browser, it’ll automatically access the HTTPS version, but record it as a 307 redirect. The 307 is a lie,” he said.

Mueller goes on to say that it doesn’t matter what type of redirect you use when it comes to PageRank.

“It’s simple, either the search engine indexes the content with its signals under R or under S,” he said.

He says if developers have “strong feelings” about other redirects such as 303 and 304.5, that they should use them. However, Mueller says that they will need to decide which URL to index the content under. He urges developers who have opinions about that process to follow up with other canonicalization signals.

He also confirmed that RankBrain does not play a significant role with redirects because search engine operations are not perfect.

“Sometimes sites use a temporary redirect where a permanent one would be correct, sometimes the other way around. That’s why this is just one of several signals we use for picking the right URL,” he said.

To learn more about canonicalization, be sure to visit the Google Search Console Help webpage.

What Can an SEO Specialist Do For Your Company?

April 8th, 2016

The job responsibilities of a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist have shifted many times over the years. Between the constant shifts of search engine algorithms and the ever-changing industry trends, SEO specialists have become accustomed to staying on their toes in order to better serve their client’s needs.

With so many moving parts that contribute to a company’s online presence and overall visibility, where do SEO specialists start? Read on to learn what an SEO specialist can do for your company.

Ensuring Website Accessibility

When it comes to your company’s website, you want to ensure that it is user friendly, and this means going beyond aesthetics. An SEO specialist can navigate the best route to putting your sales pitch or what your company is passionate about in front of your current and potential client base. Sometimes this means just simply updating your current website, or investing in a new website with a new domain. Regardless of your current situation, an SEO specialist can put your website structure, functions and overall semantics in order to help your website succeed.

Reviewing Keyword Research and Targeting

An SEO specialist can help you target the right keywords and phrases for the services and/or products your company provides. By using the right keywords and phrases within your website, you can be sure that your company is being an active participant in your industry’s news and product discussions.

Develop Stabilized Backlink Profiles

A reputable SEO specialist will be able to help you build not only a strong backlink profile, but an honest one. Your backlink profile needs to be carefully watched to ensure that your company is ranking well for targeted keywords and steering you clear of Google penalties. An SEO specialist can explain to you the problems caused by companies that buy links or promote spam content.

Build a Content Strategy

Configuring a content calendar may not necessarily be a task for an SEO specialist, but many specialists in the SEO realm have a lot of valuable input that should be considered during the planning process. An SEO specialist can show you how content creation and quality keyword research can go hand-in-hand. By learning how to construct a content calendar that will help you deliver the ultimate message to your client base, not only do your readers win, but so does your website in terms of SEO.

Optimizing Local Search Opportunities

With local search expectations always evolving, it is better to leave it to the experts to make sure you are showing up where you will be found. An SEO specialist will be able to guide you through the best practices to get your company noticed when it comes to local search queries. They will know all of the ins and outs of what Google expects and dislikes when it comes to local search opportunities. By having a full understanding as to how you can improve your local search ranking, you can be sure that your company is getting the maximum amount of exposure.

Track Your Brand for Success

Arguably one of the most important tasks of an SEO specialist is to track the success of his or her clients. An SEO specialist will be able to provide their clients with monthly reporting and analytics reviews that can provide some insight into where a particular company is seeing success or where they could improve. By having a better understanding of what is or isn’t working for your company, an SEO specialist can work with you to create a game plan that would best execute your company’s branding goals.

Believe it or not, these responsibilities are just the tip of that SEO iceberg. To ensure that your company’s website is functioning at its highest level, protected against malware invasions and helping your company achieve monthly goals, contact the Intertwine Interactive SEO team to start building your custom SEO strategy today!

Search Quality Rating Guidelines Gets Updated

April 6th, 2016

On March 28, Google updated their Search Quality Rating Guidelines. This recent update reduced the once 160-page PDF document to 146 pages. Back in November 2015 when the original 160 pages was introduced, this was the first time Google released anything of its kind. Previously, only short snippets of the document were leaked and only made available to Search Quality Raters. The driving force behind these guidelines was to assist Google Search Quality Raters and give them a better understanding of how to rate the search results they were testing.

There were changes of all sizes included in the recent Search Quality Rating Guidelines update. Some of the most talked-about changes include the following:

Supplementary Content

One of the biggest adjustments to the guidelines was the minimized emphasis on supplementary content. This change caught many by surprise, especially since older versions of the guidelines spotlighted its importance. It is suggested that this may be due to the fact that supplementary content is not used as often on mobile devices. However, that doesn’t mean you should take it off our webpage completely. By offering supplementary content, your webpage is user friendly.

Jennifer Slegg (Found & Editor at The SEM Post) said it is important to create your content for users, not raters.

“The last thing you would want to do is remove your supplementary content,” Slegg stated in her post which focused on the recent guideline update. “After all, you really should be creating your site’s content for the users, not for Google and/or their raters.  But webmasters shouldn’t feel the pressure of ‘have to add tons of supplementary content’ for the sake of the raters.”

Visit-In-Person

In the updated guidelines, Google removed all references to local searches and started calling them “Visit-In-Person” instead. This adjustment was made in the hopes that it would make it easier, especially for raters in other countries, to understand the difference between a local generic search opposed to a search that shows intent of visiting the actual location.

Overall Maintenance

Google removed the entire section regarding maintenance from the updated Search Quality Rating guidelines.

In the previous version of the guidelines, Google stated “Webmasters are responsible for updating and maintaining sites they create. Most websites add or change content over time. Web browsers, such as Chrome, update with new versions. Webmasters need to make sure their websites function well for users as web browsers change.”

Google also encouraged raters in the previous guide to “poke around” to see if links worked, if images loaded properly, and to ensure that content was added and updated over time. By doing so, raters were able to decide if a webpage was being properly maintained.

The removal of the maintenance section in the updated guidelines is suggested to mean that Google may just be shifting around the level of importance between what types of webpages are updated and which ones are not.

Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

The updated guidelines gave a deeper explanation as to what Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) entails.

“The amount of E-A-T that a webpage/website has is very important. MC quality and amount, website information, and website reputation all inform the E-A-T of a website,” the new guidelines stated.

They also added that regular updating for these types of pages is imperative. This may suggest that Google feels that maintenance is only important for particular pages that rank at a certain level.

To review an extensive list of the recent adjustments, be sure to check out the rest of Slegg’s article on The SEM Post for more information. To see the changes for yourself or to brush up on the general guidelines, you can download the updated version of the Search Quality Rating Guidelines in PDF form.

How Do Citations Help with Local Search Rankings?

April 1st, 2016

person-typing-on-laptop

What is a citation?

A citation is simply an online reference to your company. These citations can be created in many different ways. For instance, some citations are linked and some are not. Others only include your company’s name and others can include everything from your company’s name, phone number and address.

According to a 2015 local search ranking survey that looked into what were the strongest ranking factors, it was found that experts view high-quality citations as the #1 ranking factor when it came to competitive local search markets.

The most prevalent type of citation is a structured citation. These types of citations are most commonly found on directory web pages such as Yelp.com, Foursqaure.com and Yellowpages.com, just to name a few.

Unstructured citations are mentions that are typically found on newspaper websites, local chamber of commerce websites, blogs, job boards and government related websites. These types of citations can hold a lot of value if you are looking to improve your company’s local search ranking.

What do citations do for a company’s website?

According to a Moz blog post, citations play an important role in local search rankings, especially for companies who have less competitive niches and do not have websites, such as plumbers and electricians.

“Without much other information, the search engines rely heavily on whatever information they can find,” according to MOZ. “Citations are a key component of the ranking algorithms in Google and Bing. Other factors being equal, businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.”

Having citations for your company on your local chamber of commerce, business association page or newspaper website are key. This is because search engines recognize that it would be difficult to fake these types of local memberships.

How do you get citations?

When it comes to creating citations, you are not only boosting your company’s visibility, you are also earning the trust of search engines. Citations are a great way for companies to receive honest validation.

According to MOZ, if you are looking to start the citation building process, some of the most popular avenues to earn potential citations include:

  • Local search engines
  • Data aggregators
  • Industry-based blogs
  • Local business directories
  • Industry-based directories

By claiming listings that already exist and include some of your company’s information, you are establishing a presence that your company should continue to exist within a particular index. Once you claim a listing, you can typically add or correct any listed information. It is essential to be as accurate as you can be within the index your company is listed.

You will also find that citation building will also include a verification process. Every verification process can vary depending on the index. Verification can come in the form of a phone call, postcard or an email containing a link that needs to be used.

What Tags are Most Important for a Healthy SEO Strategy?

March 30th, 2016

team-meeting

When it comes to search engine results, visibility is everything. If you are in need of boosting your online presence, one of the first areas to review are your different website tags. By seeing what kind of shape your tags are in, you can ensure that they contain everything they need in order for your website to perform well. Read on to learn what three tags our SEO Manager at Intertwine Interactive, Brad Pitzl, says are imperative to a successful SEO campaign.

There are a number of tags that play into a successful SEO campaign, but Pitzl says your focus should start with the title, Meta description, and H1 tags.

What are Title Tags?

A title tag is a short HTML element that describes the topic of an online document. These are typically found in two places, the internet browser and on search result pages. Despite all of the changes to search engine algorithms over the years, the title tag continues to have tremendous value for on-page search engine optimization.

“Since your title tag should be about what is on the actual page, an error could bring the wrong type of traffic to your page,” said Pitzl. He added that it is very important to be as accurate as you can when constructing your title tags.

When it comes to optimizing your title tags for the best results, there are a few key steps to follow. When optimizing title tags, it is important be mindful of how many keywords you are using per page and where you are placing them. By using your keywords sooner rather than later, you avoid the risk of having particular words cut out since title tags max out at 70 characters.

“By having your site fully optimized you can see an increase in keyword rankings,” Pitzl said. “This usually leads to more traffic and more business.”

What are Meta Description Tags?

The meta description tag is the small description that shows up in the search results below a link that detail what can be found on that particular web page. This short snippet of content not only tells visitors what the page is about, but they also help search engines fill search requests.

“The reason meta description tags are so important is that they are displayed in search engine results and get the user to click on the page. That event leads to ranking factors that will either help or hurt you,” said Pitzl.

By having well written and compelling meta description tags on your website, you increase your chances of achieving a higher click-through-rate and increasing potential conversions.

What are H1 Tags?

The H1 tag on your website is an element of HTML that indicates the heading of your website. Unlike the title tag, your H1 tag is typically the largest area of text on your web page. The H1 tag can sometimes be your company logo, an image or the title of a particular blog post. Even though a title tag and H1 tag sound similar, they both have different roles to play.

An H1 tag is the header of the story, which in most cases is the most important thing to indicate what the page is about,” Pitzl said. “A title tag is what shows up in the search engine results and at the top of your browser, but a H1 tag is emphasized text on the page that you want to call out.”

By ensuring that these tags are up to snuff on your website, you can be sure that your SEO strategy is starting off on the right foot and you are heading in the right direction to improving your overall search ranking.

“It all comes down to attention to detail and knowing best practices. Even the smallest SEO elements can add up to increased rankings,”  Pitzl said.

Do you have more questions about your website tags?
Contact the SEO team at Intertwine Interactive today! 

Why Keeping Your Website Content Fresh is Important

March 25th, 2016

Publishing a daily or weekly blog post on your company’s website goes beyond just beefing up what your website has to offer readers. Staying up-to-date on the latest trends and advancements within your industry through content is not only a good representation of what your brand is passionate about, but is essential to the survival of your website in terms of SEO.

Why is Publishing Fresh Content Important?

When it comes to search engines, they are always looking for the most engaging content to put in front of readers who are seeking a particular answer. By frequently updating your website, search engines will identify your website as an active source for their search requests, and that is a wonderful thing for all parties involved. If you do not update your content, your website will be seen as inactive and not engaging to readers. Overtime, this lack of activity will result in a lower search ranking where readers and potential clients will have a harder time finding you.

How Does Fresh Content Affect SEO?

Whether your company is publishing a weekly blog post or updating the website content monthly, when you publish fresh content, you give your website the opportunity to obtain more optimized keywords. Keywords are the love language to search engines, and they rank high on the algorithm chart when it comes to indexing and overall search rankings. By earning the signals these keywords provide, you can attract interested parties to your website much easier. By keeping your content in front of interested parties, you have the opportunity to bring more traffic to your website.

“Studies have shown that Google ranks fresh content well, so it is a best practice to always add new content to your website,” Brad Pitzl, SEO Manager at Intertwine Interactive, said. “Having new content allows you to rank better than content that may have become out dated. Increasing the reach of your website will lead to new, quality traffic.”

Fresh Content Can Establish Domain Authority

Providing fresh content on your blog or website is a step in the right direction if you want to be seen as an authority figure in your industry by Google. By providing readers with valuable content that pertains to your particular industry on a regular basis, the more steam your website has toward achieving a higher domain authority. Site authority is something that Google is constantly checking and adjusting, so it is never too late to create a content calendar for your website.

“If the search engines see that you are constantly releasing new quality content you can become an authority and a resource that is refereed to over and over,” Pitzl said.

Besides creating valuable content that will boost your search rankings and help you become an authority figure in your industry, fresh content that answers the important questions will earn you loyalty from readers. Loyal readers will recognize your website as the go-to source for industry-related information or for a particular product, and that will keep them coming back for more. Depending on your business model, loyal readers could turn into a future client or sale.

Google to Update Mobile-Friendly Algorithm

March 23rd, 2016

On March 16, Google announced on their Webmaster Central Blog that they would be boosting the mobile-friendly experience for users in May 2016. This boost will be updating the effects of the original algorithm that was first launched in April 2015 that used mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on mobile searches. Google said in their announcement that they strongly believe users should be able to get the answers to their searches, no matter what type of device they are using.

“This update is a continuation of what took place last year. It reinforces the reason why you need to invest in a mobile friendly website and optimize it for mobile search” — Brad Pitzl, SEO Manager at Intertwine Interactive

Google assured readers in their announcement that if you have already made your website mobile-friendly, you will not be impacted by the update. They encouraged those who have not taken that route yet or who may have additional questions about the process to take the Mobile-Friendly Test and to review the Webmaster Mobile Guide.

However, Google stated that the “intent of the search query” is still an important factor and gives off a strong signal. This is especially true for pages who have yet to be converted as a mobile-friendly site.

“Even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content,” stated Google.

Google Removes Ads from Right Side of Desktop Search Results

March 18th, 2016

As of Feb. 19, Google will only display ads at the top and bottom of the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). This comes after the announcement that Google will no longer be showing Adwords ads on the right side of the desktop search results.

“This was the biggest announcement and change Google has made to the paid search landscape in over 3+ years, since Google Enhanced campaigns in February of 2013,” Jake Renter, Director of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) at Intertwine Interactive, said.

Renter believes the biggest impact and true reason for the change revolves around Product Listing Ads (PLAs).

“There’s been a drastic shift in the positioning of PLAs. We’ve seen a 6% increase to shopping ads above the paid ads, and a 15% increase in clicks to PLAs above paid ads,” Renter said.

This recent ad adjustment will affect users worldwide, and will make the desktop display appear more like a mobile experience. In August 2015, Google did increase the number of mobile text ads from two to three. shopping ads above the paid ads, and a 15% increase in clicks to PLAs above paid ads,” Renter said.

“I would assume they would not increase again, but you never know,” Renter said.

According to Renter and the research he has conducted since Google’s ad adjustment, some of the most noticeable impacts include:

  • A 17% increase in overall clicks in the top position.
  • A 1% increase to Click-Through Rates (CTR) in top position.
  • A 4% decrease to CTR in other position.
  • A 2.7% increase to Cost-Per-Click (CPC) in top position.
  • A 1.6% increase to CPC in other.

Renter says that he believes Google is leaving the entire right side open to offer more space for shopping ads, especially since PLAs have been proven to greatly enhance the online shopping experience. This enhancement is evident since it has surpassed the text ads click share percentage.

“More than 57% of all paid ‘NonBrand’ clicks occur on a shopping ad,” Renter said.  “That alone is sufficient evidence that consumers have spoken and have made it known they prefer image based ads to get a visual of the exact product they are looking to purchase.”

If you are interested in learning more about what PPC can do for your company, contact Intertwine Interactive today!

How to Handle Gifted Products as a Blogger

March 16th, 2016

On March 11, Google published a notice on their Webmaster blog stating that bloggers must disclose and use nofollow links when they are reviewing products that they were gifted from brands.

Use the Nofollow Tag

Many times when companies send products to bloggers to review, they will encourage them to link to the company’s homepage, social media outlets, an online merchant’s page or a review service page. Since these links don’t happen organically, bloggers are urged to use the nofollow tag. Google has made this a part of their Webmaster Guidelines since many of those links would not exist had the free product or service not been offered in exchange for the link.

Be Upfront About Your Relationship

As a blogger, it is always important to be upfront with your readers. Blog visitors typically want to know when they are reading a blog post that contains sponsored content. The blogger is free to place the disclosure anywhere within the content. However, Google stated that the most useful placement is at the top of the post, in the event viewers do not read the entire blog post.

Create Compelling Content

One of the main reasons people come back to blogs is because the author has established themselves as an authority figure on a particular subject.

By creating honest content and honing in on a particular niche, you can add tremendous value beyond what is out on the web. Google stated in their notice that bloggers should “provide exclusive content that only you can create due to your unique expertise or resources.”

In the past when Google has issued a “best practices” announcement that revolves around the topic of nofollow usage, Google has sent out manual penalties to those who did not follow suit. By following these simple steps, you can be sure that you are in compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

For more information about Google manual penalties, please read our postMy Website Received A Google Penalty, Now What?

My Website Received a Google Penalty, Now What?

March 11th, 2016

Receiving a Google penalty can be one of the most panic-inducing situations a company can experience. The reason these penalties are feared by companies of every size is that it can take a long time to regain your authority in the eyes of Google. Have you recently been slapped with a penalty and not sure what to do first? This article provides a basic overview of the two Google penalties, what they mean, and what you need to do first to begin the road to recovery.

What are the different kinds of Google penalties?

When it comes to recovering from a Google penalty and regaining your web traffic, it is important to figure out what type of penalty you are dealing with, especially since not all penalties are created equal. Even though Google seems to always portray an air of mystery when it comes to how they view online content, in most cases you will either be dealing with a manual or an algorithm penalty.

“In the notification that Google sends you in Webmaster Tools they usually make it clear which rule was violated,” said Brad Pitzl, SEO Manager at Intertwine Interactive.

  • Manual Penalty: A manual penalty will result in just that—a manual action. If you have received this type of penalty, Google has decided that there is something on your website that has violated the guidelines they have put in place that revolve around overall search quality.
  • Algorithm Penalty: An algorithm penalty will be placed on your website if it’s been affected by one of Google’s core algorithm updates. The good news is that you’re probably not the only one who’s been affected. For example, the Panda algorithm took a toll on websites that were found to have low quality and/or duplicate content in 2011. The bad news is that even though you may fix everything needed to relieve the penalty, you have to wait for the algorithm that hit you to be run again in order to see if your ranking has improved.

What should I do first to recover from the penalty?

According to Pitzl, it’s very important to review the reason you were given a penalty and to find the root of the issue so it can be corrected.

If you have been negatively affected by an algorithmic change, jump into your analytics to review your traffic stats. You can determine more info from inconsistent changes in your website traffic and if that correlates to when Google launched an update. If it does, your next step will depend on what the update requires and what you need to do to correct the issues. A penalty may keep your company waiting on the sidelines for months, assuming you successfully fixed what Google flagged the first time.

If you are dealing with a manual penalty, you may consider conducting a full audit on your website. Auditing your website will enable you to see your best plan of attack; whether it’s removing bad backlinks, increasing the quality of your content, or a number of other possibilities.

If the Google penalty has left you with several different issues, it’s very important to get organized and create a spreadsheet or note system of your plan and address the issues at hand. Staying organized will help prepare you for when you have to submit a reconsideration request to Google.

“Even when a penalty is lifted, your site may need major work to get back to the level it was once at. This is especially true for sites who are forced to remove backlinks,” said Pitzl. “It’s pretty simple: follow Google’s webmaster guidelines and if you have work done on your website make sure it’s done by an experienced professional with a good track record.”

If you need help with a website audit or surviving a Google penalty, contact Intertwine Interactive today!

Google Update on Search Effects of JavaScript Sites, PWAs

March 9th, 2016

John Mueller, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, recently published an update on Google+ that touched on how Google is currently dealing with JavaScript (JS) sites and Progressive Web Apps (PWA) within Google Search, as well as, ranking and crawling.

Mueller’s update began by pressing the importance of websites not cloaking to Googlebot. He encouraged the use of “feature detection” and “progressive enhancement” techniques that will make your online content available to everyone. He also reminded readers that using rel=canonical is required when serving content from a number of URLS. He also stressed the importance of avoiding redirection to unsupported browser pages. He suggested using a reliable fallback option such as polyfill, which is a piece of code (or plugin) that provides technology not already built into a web browser.

How do AJAX-Crawling scheme and AMP affect my site?

Mueller went on to say that it is important to avoid the AJAX-Crawling scheme on brand new sites, and to migrate old sites that currently use the scheme. It is also important to remember to remove “meta fragment” tags when you do decide to migrate the sites. He says you don’t want to use a meta fragment tag if the “escaped fragment” URL doesn’t offer completely rendered content.

When using AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) for your website, the AMP HTML must be “static as required by the spec.” However, the associated web page can be constructed using the JS/PWA techniques. Mueller reminded readers to use a sitemap file with the correct “lastmod” dates in order to signal that changes have been made on your website.

Is Google still indexing my URLs?

According to Mueller, it is important to avoid using “#” within URLs because Googlebot rarely ever indexes those site URLs. He suggests sticking with the traditional URLs that are made up of path/filename/query-parameters, and that the History API is used for navigation. Using Search Console’s Fetch and Render tool is another great way to test how Googlebot sees your pages. Mueller reminded readers that this tool doesn’t support “#!” or “#” URL addresses.

He also touched on the importance of ensuring that all required sources, including JavaScript files, frameworks, server responses and 3rd party APIs, are not being blocked by “robots.txt.” By using the Fetch and Render tool though, you will be able to see a list of blocked resources. If you find that resources are uncontrollably blocked by robots.txt (or are just currently unavailable), be sure that your client-side code fails gracefully.

Mueller told readers to limit the number of embedded resources, especially the number of JavaScript files and server responses that are required to render your page. A high number of required URLs can cause timeouts and rendering without the availability of embedded resources. Developers are encouraged to use reasonable HTTP caching directives.

Will this change in the future?

Readers should keep in mind that other search engines and web services that are accessing your content may not even support JavaScript at all, but may support a different subset.

“Looking at this list, none of these recommendations are completely new & limited to today, and they’ll continue to be valid for foreseeable future. Working with modern JavaScript frameworks for search can be a bit intimidating at first, but they open up some really neat possibilities to make fast & awesome sites, said Mueller.

Associated Press Partners with Twitter, Google during 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

March 4th, 2016

 

With the 2016 U.S. presidential election in full swing, voters can easily become overwhelmed by the amount of news coverage and campaign updates that occur between the parties. It can sometimes be hard to know where to look when you just want a quick update on how often a particular candidate or issue is being discussed. Luckily, the Associated Press has made staying informed during election season easier for voters by partnering with Twitter and Google. It can now be a thing of the past to filter through tweets on your own to see who or what was most talked about after a big political event.

How does it work?

The AP partnership with Twitter and Google inspired the creation of a “political index” called the AP Election Buzz. This index was created by a nonpartisan group of Google data analysts to monitor political-related conversations and trends on Twitter, and the overall shifts in political interests in search results.

The AP Election Buzz calculates the volume of who and what people are searching for as the presidential campaigns progress. In regards to Twitter, data that is traced is based on a Twitter algorithm that can measure tweets related to the 2016 candidates, popular election issues, and other related terms being discussed.

Can I use this on a specific party?

At a quick glance, the AP Election Buzz can provide you with information from the past month, week or even within the last 24 hours. You can even take the overall results a step further and filter them by a specific party you’re most interested in. According to the AP, spikes in search volumes typically coincide with political debates, primaries, and caucuses.

Preparing for the Penguin 4.0 Update

March 2nd, 2016

As the Penguin 4.0 update prepares to sweep the web, SEO experts brace for the impact this update could potentially have on their campaigns, links, and overall web traffic. The talk of this update has been in the works for months and was anticipated to go live back in 2015, but was pushed to 2016 due to the holidays. The word on the street is that it could go live as early as this month.

SEO experts are bracing for this update due to what the original Penguin update did to the web back in April 2012. In 2012, Penguin 1.0 hit 3.1% of U.S./English queries (37.2 billion search queries) for using “black hat SEO techniques.” This update put an end to link schemes that were being used to spam search results. By the time Penguin 2.0 and 3.0 went live, online markers had realized the importance of getting rid of inorganic links, but the sting that was left by the 1.0 update still lingers with every update.

“The original Penguin update was a real game changer away from the old link spam techniques that plagued the industry. In short, the days of automated, paid and spam links were over,” says Brad Pitzl, SEO Manager at Intertwine Interactive.

Can I prepare for the Penguin 4.0 update?

With another Penguin update on the horizon, is there anything that can be done to prepare for it? There are actually a number of things you can do beforehand to avoid potential problems the update may cause your website. One of the most important steps to take is to monitor your backlink profile. There are a number of software applications that can aid in the review of your backlink profile. Some of the most popular ones include Ahrefs, Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer.

“The best way to prepare for a Penguin update is to monitor the backlinks that come into your site. Staying on top of spam links will save you time and help you avoid a disaster,” says Pitzl.

My website was hit by the update—what now?

If you realize that your website has been affected by the update, it is important to manually remove bad links that are listed on unrelated domains or spam websites. You can remove the bad links by contacting the webmaster of a particular website and making a request to remove the link. Another way to clean up your backlink profile is to disavow the toxic link. By disavowing a bad link, Google will not count it when it comes time to determine page rank.

“The best way to recover from an update is to do a complete backlink audit where you review each link. You will then want to use Google’s disavow tool to remove low quality links from the links that Google looks at when ranking your site,” says Pitzl.

Google AdWords Team Offers 24-Hour Tech Support During Work Week

February 26th, 2016

 

GoogleAdwordsTweet-Offering24hrTechSupport

Earlier this month, the Google AdWords team announced that they will offer 24-hour technical support through their English-based social media outlets Monday–Friday (9 a.m.–8 p.m. ET).

Anyone who is in need of assistance can now reach out to the Google support team via Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or YouTube by including the hashtag #AskAdWords with their question, or by visiting their AdWords Help channel on YouTube. At a quick glance, it is easy to see on the Google AdWords’ Twitter account that questions are being answered within a few hours by one of their online specialists.

In regards to using Twitter as a form of tech support for Google AdWords, a potential issue is that the specialists only have 140 characters to assist you with your question. However, if the question is in need of a longer reply, direct messaging can correct that issue.

Another challenge for the Twitter support strategy is that people won’t be able to read through responses if the issue could not be solved in 140 characters or less. This is unlike a public forum where interested parties can scan through questions that have already been asked and answered.

To stay on top of the latest information and updates from Google AdWords, make sure to check in on the Google AdWords Community Digest that publishes weekly.

How will Google Accelerated Mobile Pages Speed Affect Users?

February 24th, 2016

 

When the Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project officially went live on February 23, marketing and SEO expert have had a big question: how will this affect them and what they do? After announcing the start of this project in October 2015, Google has promised that this update will enhance the overall mobile web experience. This article provides a basic overview of the AMP implementation and format, and how it will play into search rankings and overall visibility.

What is AMP?

Mobile-screenshot-AMP-in-searches

When it comes to living in our mobile age, people want information and they want it fast! The AMP format will help eliminate slow loading searches that so many of us have become frustrated with when attempting to view information on a mobile device. By using an AMP HTML format on your company’s mobile website, users will not be left waiting on the content to load. Taking the steps to avoid the wait time and risking the chance of losing a viewer will allow for more effective user engagement.

According to a case study by SOASTA (Sept., 2015), the bounce rate can be as high as 56% for web pages that take nearly ten seconds to load on a mobile device. When using AMP HTML, you can simplify the elements (such as JavaScript) that are usually the reason behind slower load times on mobile devices.

How does AMP play into search rankings?

When it comes to search rankings and the recent Google implementation of “Mobilegeddon” that took center stage in April 2015, having a website that is mobile friendly is one of the key components if you want to show up on those highly-sought-after spots on page 1.

If you use AMP HTML and provide a faster web experience on a mobile device, Google will recognize that your website is user friendly and will give it a serious boost in the search rankings. Google also recognizes AMP formatted-pages by placing a green lightning-bolt and marking “AMP” at the bottom of the search result. Doing this allows users to see that a particular website is very mobile friendly and will not leave them waiting for the page to load.

How will AMP affect page and ad views on a website?

The speed that AMP pages offer play a significant role in the amount of page and ad views a mobile website has. With faster loading times and more page views, more ads are likely to be seen. When it comes to page views, Google has made it a point to make sure that traffic from better mobile sites can be quantified and analyzed just like any other web page. The AMP format will include a built-in native support for Google Analytics. You will also be able to make use of user traffic and data partnerships with tools like Chartbeat, comScore and Adobe Analytics.

This AMP launch will allow publishers and marketers important freedoms including: the ability to traffic ads with whatever server they choose; support for a number of sources and formats (which include native ads); and better ad placement and viewability. But Google also insists that by the launch of AMP, marketers follow four key principles: that the advertising experience is fast, beautiful, HTTPS secure, and includes industry participation.

Not sure how or where to get started? Check out this helpful AMP Project tutorial for a step-by-step guide on how to create and publish your first AMP page.

What is Local SEO?

February 19th, 2016

It doesn’t matter if you run a large corporation or a small business out of your home, understanding how local search and proper SEO strategy works is one of the most important things you can do for your company’s online presence. Read below to learn the basic overview of local SEO, and how to make your company’s products and mission stand out.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of boosting website or webpage visibility in local search rankings. Local SEO provides neighborhood-level results for companies, instead of just general nationwide results. When it comes to a company’s online presence, especially in such a mobile-friendly age, your local search results ranking matters most. Even though every industry varies, less than 10% of people check page 2 on search engine results pages (SERPs). So, aiming for those top listing positions on page 1 is important!

“Being a part of the local pack of results is important because they are listed before organic results for most local queries. Not being a part of them means people may not even see your website” – Brad Pitzl, SEO Manager at Intertwine Interactive.

In order to achieve this much sought after visibility, your website needs to be optimized. When it comes to optimizing your website for a higher local ranking, you must ensure that your website contains proper page titles, solid anchor text, engaging website content and quality link recommendations. Effectively optimizing your website will help you earn authority signals from Google and rank great in SERPs.

Why should I invest in a SEO expert?

If you want a brand-awareness boost or just need a little assistance in SEO technical support: leave it to the experts because this craft takes time and is always evolving. When it comes to the world of SEO, strategies constantly change and require light adjustments to achieve the best search results possible.

“There are many misconceptions about SEO, so working with an expert allows businesses to get things right the first time without making costly mistakes,” says Pitzl.

Our experienced SEO specialists at Intertwine Interactive are dedicated to staying on top of the latest industry updates, online tools and proper SEO practices.

How has local SEO changed over the years?

When it comes to algorithm changes, Google makes a few hundred adjustments every year. Even though some of these adjustments are small and behind the scenes, there are some updates such as the “Pigeon Update” that greatly changed how local SEO operated.

Ever since Google introduced the Pigeon Update in July 2014, its algorithm has provided more accurate, local search results that have closer ties to the traditional web search ranking signals. Some of the most obvious adjustments from this update can be seen within Google Maps and Google Web SERPs.

“Pigeon actually greatly helped local businesses who have their local listings in order and provided users with better local results,” says Pitzl.

Another adjustment that the Pigeon Update included was giving online review directories such as Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor and Kayak (just to name a few) a boost of visibility within the search results. In 2014, Yelp took issue with Google for allegedly disregarding individuals who were seeking Yelp-based information and moving a Google review to the top of the page. The Pigeon Update has since placed more importance on directories and the listings they promote, which is great news for businesses that are featured within those directories.

How can you help me?

Intertwine Interactive’s approach to SEO is simple, we are here to help you get noticed and promote your online authority. By enlisting our help, we can help ensure that your site architecture, content and links are where they need to be in order for you to succeed in local search results. If we see that your website construction seems to be holding you back in local searches, we can help identify specific website issues and guide you through the process of fixing them. If content is where you need the most help, we can advise you on the kind of content you need and where to provide it.

To learn more about what other specific types of local SEO assistance from Intertwine Interactive, visit our SEO services page and request a SEO consultation with Intertwine Interactive today!

Connect with Brad Pitzl on his LinkedIn page!

Never Miss an Important Tweet Again

February 17th, 2016

Have you ever checked your Twitter account and felt like you have missed an important update or picture from one of your favorite accounts?

The act of digging through outdated tweets to find what you are looking for can now be a thing of the past. Twitter’s recent timeline update offers you the opportunity to have recommended tweets displayed at the top of your timeline for you to review whenever you check in.

How do I enable this update on my account?

You can enable this update within your settings by selecting “Timeline Personalization” and selecting “Show me the best tweets first.” After that, every time you check in on your account you will see a list of recommended tweets that may be of the most interest to you. These recommended tweets are based on what Twitter feels will interest you the most due to your past account activity.

How does Twitter know what you want to read?

Signals from Twitter take into account who you interact with, topics you are interested in and the activity of those who are most like you to get a feel for the topics and accounts you want updates from the most. These saved tweets will show up in reverse chronological order in the recommended section at the top of your timeline. The rest of the tweets and timeline will be displayed right underneath, also in reverse chronological order. Once you are up-to-date on the recommended information that was saved for your review, just refresh your screen to see new tweets in the live format you are already familiar with.

Even though this timeline update is in its beginning stages, according to Twitter, this update has already proven to increase the rate of retweets and has encouraged Twitter users to tweet more and become more involved in conversations.

So what do you think of the most recent Twitter update?

A History of Google Panda

August 26th, 2015

What Is Panda?

Google Panda is an update made to Google’s search results ranking algorithm. First released in February 2011, Google Panda was originally created to filter out of low-quality websites from search engine results, and to make higher-quality websites rank better. Unlike common belief the name “Panda” was less named after the gentle panda bear animal, but instead after Google engineer Navneet Panda, who originally developed the technology that created and implemented the algorithm update.

There were a variety of search engine updates leading up to February 2011, but Google Panda was one of the leading algorithm updates that paved the way to a new and better Google search tool. Affecting approximately 12 percent of search engine results, Google Panda helped push the importance of developing quality websites and content.

Birth of Panda

For more than four years, Google has pushed almost 30 different Panda updates for their search engine. In 2011 alone, Google pumped out almost 10 updates to Panda. These updates included:

  • Crackdown on US-based thin website content, content farms, websites with high ad-to-content ratios (original Google Panda update, February 2011)
  • Stretch of original Google Panda update to all English queries worldwide (Panda 2.0, April 2011)
  • Rollout of Panda algorithm internationally, for both English-language and non-English queries except for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (Panda 2.4, August 2011)
  • Site recalculation and data refresh of previous Panda updates (Panda 2.5 “Flux”, September–November 2011)

Many of the Panda updates have been minor in the last four years, affecting less than 5% of websites across the internet. Several of these “minor” Panda updates have been new or revised algorithm signals meant to detect the low-quality content on websites and filter then out of the search engine results. Despite affecting so few websites at the time of the updates, Panda updates have brought light to the importance of quality content on websites.

The Panda Aftermath

Most of the websites negatively affected by Panda provided content that had little-to-no value for users; their content included duplicated, thin, or machine-generated content (such as game or lyrics-related websites). For a more complete list of affected websites, refer to SearchMetrics’ detailed list.

So what happens if your site was negatively affected by Google Panda? If Google finds your site to fail the Panda update test, then it will block your website from being indexed and appearing in search results. If your website only includes a couple webpages with low-quality content, then Google will focus on blocking those specific webpages from being indexed. As Google continues to make unpublicized Panda updates to its algorithm, there is a strong possibility that a few blocked webpages could eventually lead to an entire website being blocked. Further updates will also focus on thickening the low-quality site filter, thus affecting more websites in the future.

Next Step: Improve Your Website

If you think your website has been affected by the Panda updates, it’s very important to start writing much better quality content for your website visitors immediately (like published-in-a-professional-journal quality of content). Also be sure to replace any of your old content that might be considered low-quality to Google (e.g. duplicate, thin, or machine-generated). The sooner you remove hazardous content and replace it with high-quality content, the better your site will perform on Google.

How often should you update your website content?

July 8th, 2015

In our last blog post, we discussed why fresh content is so important to your website, and the different kinds of content to implement. But do you know where to update your website content? The following points provide more details on where and how often you should update your content.

Content Update Score

A common theory in the SEO world is that Google and other search engines measure your website pages for freshness, then scores each page according to type of keyword used in the search. Whenever you implement a website update, the update is given a score based on when it was implement which deteriorates over time.

Where Should You Update Content?

Search engines like to score your content update based on where you make your changes, especially if it’s an update to an important or popular page of your website. Generally, search engines give better scores to text content updates on these pages, as opposed to updates with a site’s navigation menu, ads placement, and/or comments section. The size of your website update also plays a big role in how search engines score it; updating two sentences will make much less impact than if you updated the main body of text on a page

How Often to Update Your Content?

An important factor is how often you update your website. If your website regularly updates its content (e.g. daily news articles or blog posts), you’re going to score differently than a site that only updates its content once every couple of months. It’s inconsistent to make several website updates for two months, then wait 4–5 more months before making the next change. If you’re inconsistent, then search engines are more likely to be inconsistent with how they score your website.

Another important factor is how often you create pages and/or blog posts. The more pages you add to your website, the better Google scores your site for freshness. Websites should create 25–35% webpages every year (if not more).

How To Know When To Update

Now you know how to optimize your website’s content with quality updates. But how do you know when you should update? One way to track how fresh search engines consider your webpages is by measuring the time users spend on your pages (aka average session duration in Google Analytics). Older content tends to see a drop in average session duration compared to updated content. If you see a page that is getting less and less viewing duration, that’s a hint that you should update that page with quality content.

 

Sources:

“Chapter 2: Content & Search Engine Success Factors” (SearchEngineLand)

Freshness Factor: 10 Illustrations on How Fresh Content Can Influence Rankings” (Shepard, 2011, Moz)

Which Google ranking factors are most important in 2015?

June 9th, 2015

Google has always stated that there are over 200 different ranking factors that they look at when determining where a webpage ranks. Even though Google has never officially announced what these factors are, there are studies and lists that provide us with an educated guess. As Google’s search algorithm has evolved, it has become clear that the importance of some of the ranking factors has changed. Below are five of the most important ranking factors that we have seen for 2015.

Quality Content

While there is some debate as to how long your content should be, there has never been a debate about quality. Time and time again you will see a site lose or gain traffic after a panda update or refresh. There is simply no way to get away with creating thin or unoriginal content in 2015.

Backlink Profile

A clean backlink profile remains one of the most important factors when it comes to ranking a website. This has been at the core of Google’s algorithm since its inception. You can read stories almost daily of high profile websites that have been hit by manual penalties for trying to unnaturally inflate their backlink totals. Even though Google has implemented other ranking factors, backlinks will be a vital part of rankings for the foreseeable future.

Mobile Friendly Website

In April, Google made it quite clear that your website needs to be mobile friendly or it would not rank well. The so-called ‘mobilegeddon’ update had the SEO industry on edge, with recent studies showing that around 17% of webpages were effected. It seems that this is just the first step in more widespread mobile quality guidelines. As mobile search evolves, there will surely be more mobile factors that will need to be considered when optimizing websites.

Page Speed

Page speed should be a no-brainer when it comes to building a website. What most people miss about this factor is that it will help with user experience and your bounce rate. While sometimes it is easier said than done, the speed of your website should be one of your top priorities.

Social Signals

When it was announced that Google would once again index tweets it became clear that this would soon become a ranking factor. While tweets may not be looked at in the same light as backlinks, they are a very important part of how you are seen in search results. Twitter profiles are also a great way to validate what people think of your content and website as a whole

How to Retain Traffic After Domain Change

May 28th, 2015

 

What if:

  • You decide to rebrand: Suddenly the old domain might just not cut it.
  • Take the business in a new direction: The current domain however is too narrowly focused to represent what you want the company to stand for.
  • You want to unite your mobile and desktop versions under one “roof”.
  • Or, in a worst-case scenario, another business claims the rights to the name and you found yourself under a cease and desist order.

 

Now you have no choice but to move domains. Whatever the reasons for the change, the key point is to ensure your site’s authority stays intact. Here are a few precautions you should take to help ensure your content continues to rank and you don’t lose traffic.

Start with a Site Audit

Look, you know it already. A site audit can save your site’s rankings. Too many errors, or sudden technical problems can hinder all your SEO efforts. Unless you plan to scrap all the content and website, you must first assess what are the key SEO issues you should eradicate.

Response Codes

Even though they might seem insignificant at first, response codes help to identify and report issues search engine bots may have with crawling pages on your site.
The main response codes include:

  • 200: There were no problems with accessing the page.
  • 301: Traffic to a page is permanently redirected to another page.
  • 302: Traffic to a page is temporarily redirected to another page.
  • 404: The page is gone and visitors saw its 404 counterpart.
  • 500: A server problem. There was no access to the page.

 

Broken Links in Navigation and Copy

Broken links, pointing to non-existing pages, provide poor user experience. Having too many broken links on a page may be a sign of a neglected or abandoned site. The Google Rater Guidelines Document uses broken links as one was to assess a homepage’s quality.

Accessibility

Google must be able to access your site to index and then rank it. It’s easy to accidentally restrict that access though. A broken file, faulty plugin, or problem with a server might render it inaccessible to search engines.

Important! Close the process by scheduling another – live – site audit.

Site audit is never a once off thing. Websites are not invariable entities. They change, modify and expand. But repeating a site audit is especially crucial when you’re concluding a major restructuring process such as domain change. Once the process ends and the new domain goes live, conduct another site audit. This will confirm if everything works as it should and no new errors appeared during the move.

Assess Your Traffic

I bet you know how many visitors your site gets each month/week/day. I also bet there are certain metrics you don’t pay close attention to regularly:

  • Top performing content
  • Worst performing content
  • Traffic from mobile devices

The best way to track the success of the domain move is by the traffic. And thus, assessing your traffic and creating benchmarks to measure the progress of the domain move by is a must.

Audit Your Backlinks

Backlinks are the biggest search-ranking factor. When changing your site’s URL, however, you run the risk of losing many links you currently have. The first step to ensuring this doesn’t happen is analyzing your current link profile.

You can do it in three ways:

  • Google Webmaster Tools: GWT offers insight into which links pointing to your site are indexed. Even though the freshness of the data is questionable, I’d still recommend starting there.
  • Ahrefs: If you’re looking for a powerhouse solution though, then there’s no better one on the market than Ahrefs. It (probably) has the largest index of backlinks and it tells you everything you need to know.
  • All-in-One Marketing Suites: Popular SEO/SEM suites as SEMrush, Moz, Raven, and Searchmetrics have both site audit and backlink tools, so if you already use any of them for your daily online marketing activities, you can easily conduct both researches with one tool.

Highlight Your Best Backlinks

While researching your backlink profile, pay attention to your best links. Naturally you don’t want to lose any backlinks. 301 redirects however will not transfer all links from old domain to new. Knowing what your best links are will help you come up with strategies to ensure they don’t drop:

  • Revisit them to check if they still rank to your site.
  • Contact webmasters of sites they’re on to see if they could amend the link.
  • If that’s not possible, revisit them some time after the domain move to see if they were properly redirected along with pages they link to.

Set Proper 301s

301 redirects are the heart and soul of a domain move. They will send users to appropriate pages on a new domain. They will also tell a search engine that the page has been moved and will transfer them to the new one.  What’s more, 301s will pass PageRank from old domain to new, redirect links, and maintain your pages’ authority.

If there’s one thing you just can’t mess during the process, it’s setting up redirects.

Check Your Site for Mobile Compliance

Not strictly part of the process but since Google recently released a mobile algorithm update, while you’re working on the site it’s a good idea to check if it passes the mobile-friendliness test. Use the Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. This tool allows you to test the site and check if it meets initial Google’s mobile friendliness criteria.

You also use the SEMrush Site Audit tool for this. It will check if your website’s mobile version has technical issues. A must-have for mobile-friendliness— the meta view tag— will be also checked.

Tell Google You Have Moved

Lastly, tell the search engine you’ve moved domains. Log in to your Google Webmaster Tools account. Click on a little gear icon to reveal a drop down menu and then click “Change of Address.”  The tool will test if your 301 redirects are valid and update the domain information on their system.

 Source:  SEJ 

“How-To” Searches on YouTube up 70%

May 21st, 2015

 

When it comes to searching for how to do something, 91% of smartphone users rely on their devices to find that information. This has resulted in a 70% year-over-year increase in “how-to” searches on YouTube, according to this article published by Google today.

In 2015 alone over 100 million hours of “how-to” content have been viewed on YouTube in North America. The most popular of these content types deal with how to do practical things like tie and tie, how to apply makeup, how to cook recipes, and so on.

The majority of these searches are coming from millennials, with 67% of millennials surveyed agreeing that they can find a YouTube video on anything they want to learn. In fact, nearly one in three millennials say they’ve purchased a product as a result of watching a how-to video.

It’s not just millennials, everyone is increasingly turning to YouTube to gain insight on how to do things, and Google says marketers are not taking full advantage of this opportunity.

“Marketing is still largely planned against brand moments and milestones, and it is anchored to campaign flights and product launches—not personal moments like these.”

Marketing plans are grounded in traditional one-way media, Google says, referring to broadcasts from brands to large audiences.

With the limitations of traditional one-to-many broadcasts, marketers are not able to accurately gauge whether or not a customer actually needs or wants the product being marketed.

When people search for how to do something, they’re already establishing a need. Digital media, such as informational YouTube videos, offers marketers the opportunity to respond to those needs.

Google offers the following advice to marketers on how to better take advantage of these opportunities:

  • Identify the I-want-to-do moments in which consumers have a need and your brand can play a role.
  • Figure out the questions and concerns people have related to the types of products you sell or the types of projects they are used for?
  • Create I-want-to-do content for your website and YouTube channel to serve as resources for them.
  • Look at when how-to searches occur. Are there particular times of day, week, or year when some topics are more popular?
  • Make your videos easy to find by adding descriptive titles, details, and relevant tags to each video.
  • Use measurement solutions, such as Google’s Brand Lift, to determine if your content was seen by your target audience, and whether or not they paid attention to it.
Source:  Search Engine Journal 

 

Google Algorithm Changes for Ranking Mobile Search Results

April 1st, 2015

 

 

Google’s mobile ranking algorithm will officially include mobile-friendly usability factors and app indexing. Making sure your site is mobile-friendly is now more important than ever.

Google will be using mobile-friendly factors in its mobile search results starting on April 21, 2015, and it will rank mobile apps participating in App Indexing for signed-in users better in the mobile search results starting today.

Google’s mobile ranking factors will not only label your site as mobile-friendly, but will also use that to determine if your site should rank higher in the search results. Google said this algorithmic change will have a “significant impact” in the mobile search results, impacting all languages worldwide.

Google further said that starting right now, apps that are indexed by Google through App Indexing will begin to rank better in mobile search. Google said this only will work for signed-in users who have the app installed on their mobile devices, which means only Android apps today. Google explained this “may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search.”

Source:  Search Engine Land 

Pinterest Is Working on a Plan to Introduce a ‘Buy’ Button as Soon as This Year

March 31st, 2015

 

Move over, Pinning. Here comes buying.

Pinterest, the digital scrapbooking service, is laying the groundwork for an e-commerce offering with a “Buy” button that could launch in as little as three to six months, according to multiple sources. One of the people cautioned Pinterest may wait longer to roll it out, while another said the shopping feature would likely start as a limited test.

The Buy button would allow Pinterest users to order and pay for some of the products they discover on Pinterest without leaving the company’s website or app, these people said. Currently, Pinterest’s 70 million monthly visitors use the service to save and share images of things like recipes, furniture, food and clothing. But since Pinterest burst onto the scene several years ago, industry observers, analysts and users have been waiting for the day that it would transform itself from a digital corkboard into a digital mall.

A big part of what has excited some marketers about Pinterest is its potential to become a spectacular e-commerce platform. For example, it’s logical to assume people are signaling some interest — if not clear purchase intent — in a product when they Pin an image. By adding a Buy button, Pinterest is aiming to shrink the time between wanting something and buying it.

Stay tuned……

Google AdWords Introduces Dynamic Structured Snippets

March 11th, 2015

 

Your paid search listings are about to get a slightly new look and feel with the addition of dynamic structured snippets, the Google AdWords team announced.

Building off the Structured Snippets featured introduced last September to organic search, Google is bringing a similar functionality to search ads where an additional line of text will be added to highlight specifics about your products and services.

“Whether it’s a list of shoe brands or the number of nonstop flights to New York City, this automated extension gives your customers a better sense of what to expect on your website before they click on your ad.”

Dynamic structured snippets are currently configured to show for retail, hotel, and flight searches. Additional verticals will be added later this year, Google says. Here’s an example of what one looks like:

 

 

 

If this looks like something you’d rather not have on your ads, you will have the option to opt out by filling out a form, but keep in mind they will be a factor in Ad Rank going forward. Google also reminds that automated extensions tend to improve the average performance of an ad.

If you’re on board with dynamic structured snippets, you won’t have to do anything. AdWords will display the snippet automatically using information contained on your site — so in a sense you will have some control over what gets shown. All the more reason to keep the content on your site accurate and up to date.

 

How to Compete in Localized Google Results

March 10th, 2015

 

For both local brick-and-mortar businesses and web-based marketplaces, trying to gauge the success of search engine marketing efforts is complicated matter, particularly as SERPs become more dynamic.

With the introduction of SERP personalization, Google results now factor in zip codes, device types, and geographic locations for search queries, resulting in different results for users in different locations. There is no longer one standard results page.  If you’re trying to track your search engine rankings, you’ll need to know your way around the tools and best practices to maximize your SEO efforts. In this article we’ll discuss localization, the knowledge graph, how to track dynamic ranking and competition, and techniques for building links and social signals to your local pages.

 

For complete article click on the link below

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/dynamic-serp-ranking-how-to-compete-in-localized-search-engine-results/127063/?utm_content=bufferfdca3&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

Affiliate Summit West 2015

January 22nd, 2015

Intertwine Interactive had the pleasure of attending the annual conference again this year. Matt Davis (Director of Affiliate) and Angela Rasdal (Affiliate Manager) attended this year and learned a lot from the educational sessions and of course enjoyed the networking events.

There were approximately 6,000 attendees at Affiliate Summit West 2015.

 

 

SEO Tip: Be One With Your Link Profile

January 13th, 2015

 

Become one with your link profile

We call your link profile “one of the most precious things in the overall formula that determines your rankings” and suggest you take a dive deep into it, analyze it, stay clear of toxic links, and align to Google’s strict link building guidelines.

Pre-secure yourself from negative SEO.  There’s a certain irony that search engines are becoming more and more sophisticated and negative SEO is still putting millions of websites in danger.  Negative SEO, of course, stands for a competitor or any other person that is trying to de-rank you.  It’s as simple as paying a foreign provider $5 to build thousands of black-hat, automated links to your site.

Here is the type of link that you can commonly see when someone is trying to attack you with negative links:

  • Links from foreign forums
  • A huge number of links from sites with TLDs of .ru, .cz, .cn, .pl, .ro, .bg, .biz, .com.ar, .com.br and .info. Not all of those links are going to be unnatural, but if you are suddenly getting an influx of links from russian sites, it could be a sign of an attack.
  • A large number of links from complete nonsense blog posts.
  • Lots of keyword-anchored links from multiple sources. (Keep in mind that receiving one sitewide link from a questionable source is not a sign of negative SEO, even if you are suddenly seeing thousands of links coming from that site.)
  • An influx of links from bad neighborhoods such as gambling sites, payday loan sites, etc.

 

The Belfie Proves We’ve Officially Reached Peak Selfie

January 8th, 2015

The Belfie Proves We’ve Officially Reached Peak Selfie.

Taking lots of selfies is not currently considered a mental disorder, but the amount of products coming out to support our selfie obsession is crazy. There’s the selfie stick, toasted selfies and now there’s even the Belfie, a selfie stick for your butt.  Kim Kardashian came up with the term while striking a pose of her behind in the mirror for Instagram one day.

But capturing your rear-end isn’t exactly easy if all you’ve got is your phone. Kim K is an expert selfie taker but a source close to the belfie incident told Life & Style magazine: “She took so many pictures and deleted them before she and Kanye decided on the one she posted.” The creators of selfie-plastered social network site On.com invented the Belfie to finally, “make it easy to take pics of your bum in any angle.”

“We’ve noticed a huge spike in users taking butt selfies in recent months so the natural next step was for us to develop a device to assist our users in taking one,” On.com’s CTO Kevin Deegan told Business Insider.

A regular selfie stick will cost you about $15 but this is obviously no ordinary selfie-taking tool . The uniquely designed piece that lets you take selfies of your back side goes for a cool $79.99. Also, it’s currently sold out.

 

Source:  TechCrunch 

Happy Birthday Intertwine Interactive!

December 17th, 2014

 

 

It has been a great 8 years with many more to come.  Thank you to all of our awesome employees and terrific clients!

Thin Mints Are A Click Away

December 2nd, 2014

 

 

The first Girl Scout Cookie was sold in 1917 to raise funds for a troop in Oklahoma, and the young ladies in the green vests have been peddling their baked goods ever since. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like Girl Scout cookies, but it can often be hard to find the cookies themselves. For close to a century now, pretty much the only way to score a box of Do-Si-Dos or Thin Mints was to wait for the scouts to ring your doorbell. But that is about to change.

This January will see the debut of the scouts’ Digital Cookie program, which will allow click ordering of treats via mobile apps or personalized websites. Considering that Amazon.com has been with us since 1995, it’s fair to say the Girl Scouts are latecomers to e-commerce. But given all the creepy men who already populate the Internet, the girls can be forgiven for taking a few extra years to get the needed security protocols right.

If you think that the anonymity of the Web will relieve the pressure many of us feel to support a co-worker’s daughter, however, think again. Buyers still have to personally know a Girl Scout to satisfy a cookie craving. After a troop’s council and parents approve online selling and pick a social channel (its mobile app or website, the girls can’t have both) the scouts will create profiles or personalized sites, then take the orders.

They take plenty of them, too. Rockwellian imagery aside, Girl Scout cookies are an $800 million industry designed to raise needed capital while also teaching the girls about entrepreneurship. In fact, it seems like the girls are teaching headquarters a thing or two for a change. A Girl Scouts executive told the AP that “girls have been telling us that they want to go into this space.”

Social Media Profile (as of Dec. 1, 2014)
Facebook Likes: 749,799
Twitter Followers: 44,900
Instagram Followers: 8,100

The organization has worked to amplify its presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram employing a team to managing its channels. While the brand is looking for new members, it’s aware that many of the young girls it hopes to recruit are younger than Facebook’s required age of 13. Content, therefore, is aimed at parents.

 

Yahoo Takes Major Search Partner Away From Google

November 20th, 2014

Yahoo and Mozilla announced a strategic five-year partnership making Yahoo Search the default search engine for Firefox in the United States both on mobile and desktop.

“This is the most significant long-term partnership for Yahoo in five years,” a spokesperson for the company tells WebProNews. “As part of this, Yahoo will introduce an enhanced search experience, which U.S. Firefox users will receive first in December 2014.”

Firefox will no longer have a single global default search provider. Mozilla says it’s adopting a “more local and flexible” approach with different partnerships for different countries. While Yahoo is the U.S. partner, it’s Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China. In all, Firefox will have 61 different search providers pre-installed across 88 different language versions.

Mayer said, “We’re thrilled to partner with Mozilla. Mozilla is an inspirational industry leader who puts users first and focuses on building forward-leaning, compelling experiences. We’re so proud that they’ve chosen us as their long-term partner in search, and I can’t wait to see what innovations we build together. Yahoo, we believe deeply in search – it’s an area of investment, opportunity and growth for us. This partnership helps to expand our reach in search and also gives us an opportunity to work closely with Mozilla to find ways to innovate more broadly in search, communications, and digital content.”

“Our teams worked closely with Mozilla to build a clean, modern, and immersive search experience that will launch first to Firefox’s U.S. users in December and then to all Yahoo users in early 2015. The interactive and integrated experience also better leverages our world-class content and personalization technologies,” she said. “Search inspires us because we think it’s something that will change and improve dramatically, and because fundamentally, search is about human curiosity — and that is something that will never be finished.”

“Search is a core part of the online experience for everyone, with Firefox users alone searching the Web more than 100 billion times per year globally,” said Beard. “Our new search strategy doubles down on our commitment to make Firefox a browser for everyone, with more choice and opportunity for innovation. We are excited to partner with Yahoo to bring a new, re-imagined Yahoo search experience to Firefox users in the U.S. featuring the best of the Web, and to explore new innovative search and content experiences together.”

In recent years, Yahoo has become known more for its display advertising business than its search business, but in its most recent earnings report, it actually revealed that it’s doing better in search. The company saw its eleventh quarter of year-over-year search revenue growth with price-per-click up in most regions.

As you probably know, Yahoo made a deal with Microsoft in the pre-Mayer years, which saw Bing powering Yahoo search, but it’s become increasingly clear that Mayer isn’t a big fan of the deal, and it will likely end eventually. Having a partnership with Mozilla will help it better compete with both Google and Microsoft, which of course uses Bing for its Internet Explorer browser.

Google is too big at this point to face any major threat, but losing such significant partnerships has to hurt it to some extent. And if you’ll recall, when Google released its latest earnings report, one of the storylines was whether or not Google’s core business is actually in trouble. Some analysts seem to think it might be as growth has slowed. Google has also seen twelve straight quarters of ad price decline.

Yahoo doesn’t have to become top dog in search again to have a major impact on the web and businesses. Either way, for the first time in a long time, it would seem that Yahoo has plenty to be excited about when it comes to search.

 Source:  WebProNews 

 

Local Number Call Forwarding Coming To Google AdWords in November 2014

October 22nd, 2014

 

Google has updated its AdWords support section with a new entry on local number call forwarding, a new feature that’s said to be coming in early November 2014.

With this feature you will be able to use local number for call extensions using Google forwarding numbers. Soon you will also be able to show a local Google forwarding number on your ads with the same area code as your business phone number, or an area code for the same region.

Since people are more likely to call a number with an area code the recognize, the ability to feature local numbers in search ads could seriously benefit local businesses.

How To Set Up Local Number Call Forwarding

To take advantage of this new feature, you won’t have to make any changes to your ads. But Google suggests updating your call extension phone numbers based on the goals of your business.

To change your settings for an existing call extension:

  1. Click the Ad extensions tab in AdWords.
  2. From the View drop-down, choose Call extensions.
  3. Find the call extension you’d like to edit in the table and click the pencil icon next to the extension.
  4. The phone number will be listed under “Selected phone numbers.” Click the pencil icon next to the extension to open the “Edit phone number” window.
  5. Update your phone number. Google will attempt to provide a local or toll-free forwarding number to match the format of the number you provide (where available).
  6. Click Save.

 

When updating your call extensions phone number, you will have two options: 

  • Toll-free numbers: You can forward calls to a toll-free number you own by entering that number within the phone number field. Google will generate and show a toll-free Google forwarding number for your call extensions.
  • Local numbers: You can also choose to forward calls to a local number by entering a local number you can be reached at in the phone number field. Google will then generate a forwarding number for use on your call extensions. The local numbers generated by Google will share the same area code as your business. In some instances where that’s not available, an area code for your geographic area will be displayed.

 

 

Google Releases Penguin 3.0 — First Penguin Update In Over A Year

October 21st, 2014

 

Google has confirmed that it updated its Penguin filter on Friday. Penguin targets sites deemed to be spammy, especially those found in violation of Google’s guidelines about linking.

Some noticed major changes in Google search results beginning late Friday night US time and speculated that this was due to the long-awaited Penguin Update that Google had said to expect this month.

Google verified to us today that this has happened, when we asked about it. Google hasn’t yet given more details on the percentage of search results the latest version of Penguin has impacted or if there were any major changes made to it since the last release. We’ll update if we get these details.

Penguin Releases Over Time

This is the sixth release of Penguin. Google itself hasn’t given it a number, but we’re calling it Penguin 3.0 because it’s been so long since the last release of Penguin that it’s worth counting as a major release.

Here are dates of all Penguin releases:

  • Penguin 1.0 on April 24, 2012 (impacting ~3.1% of queries)
  • Penguin 1.1 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
  • Penguin 1.2 on October 5, 2012 (impacting ~0.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.0 on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.1 on Oct. 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)
  • Penguin 3.0 on October 17, 2014 (impacting around 1% of queries)

Note that Penguin 1.1 and Penguin 1.2 were previously reported by us as Penguin 2 and Penguin 3, because Google itself hadn’t given them numbers, so we did. But when the fourth release happened, Google declared that to be Penguin 2.0. We’ve renumbered to fit in with Google’s belated numbering sequence.

The latest Penguin release is one of the most anticipated algorithm updates in Google’s history. Some publishers have been desperately waiting for the refresh that arrives just over a year since the last.

Getting Caught & Freed By Penguin

The publishers have been anxious because of the way Penguin works. If you’re hit by it, even if you make changes, you have to wait until the next release to see if your changes have done what Google wanted.

Publishers hit by the last version of Penguin — back in October 2013 — have been waiting until now to see if actions they’re tried such as removing spammy links have worked. If so, they’re likely seeing some improvement in traffic this weekend. If not, they have to try making more changes and then waiting until however long it takes for Google to release Penguin again.

Do keep in mind that some people may see ranking drops but not actually be hit by Penguin. That’s because if Penguin causes a wide range of links to be discounted, those links will no longer pass along the credit or act as “votes” as they once might have.

Sites that gained from these fake votes — as Google would consider them — lose that credit and thus potentially visibility, even though they weren’t penalized by Google directly.

Google has suggested that with the latest version of Penguin, it also would have a new system allowing for refreshes to happen more frequently. Time will tell on that — the count starts now.

 

Source:  Search Engine Land 

 

Intertwine Adds Four to Staff

October 17th, 2014

 

 

Intertwine Interactive welcomes four new employees to their internet marketing team.  The new hires will contribute in the areas of pay-per-click and affiliate marketing.

Sarah Miller, Dan Grossman, Wade Wilkinson and Angela Rasdal have joined Intertwine’s internet marketing team.

As Senior PPC Account Manager, Miller will be responsible for the development and execution of our clients’ comprehensive PPC strategies.  Before joining Intertwine, Miller was an Online Marketing Optimization Manager at Hayneedle.

Grossman, as PPC account Manager, will plan, implement and manage a portfolio of clients pay-per-click advertising accounts and provide data driven recommendations based on analysis of past and present trends in performance.  Before joining Intertwine, Grossman was an Online Marketing Specialist at Hayneedle.

As PPC Optimization Specialist, Wilkinson will assist in the development and execution of clients’ account structures and PPC strategies.  Before joining Intertwine, Wilkinson was the Director of Marketing & Promotions at The Varsity Pub in Vermillion, SD, where he built and managed all online marketing as well as in-house promotions.

As Affiliate Marketing Manager, Rasdal will manage a portfolio of clients and develop a thorough understanding of their business, competitors and industries.  She will establish new partnerships with current and new affiliates and analyze data to effectively identify new opportunities.  Before joining Intertwine, Rasdal served as Creative Project Manager at Proxibid.

 

Intertwine Interactive: A Google Agency Partner

October 9th, 2014

 

Google Partners are internet marketing companies, trusted exclusively by Google.  Many companies out there claim to be a certified partner, but we can proudly say Intertwine Interactive is truly one of them.

Being a Google Partner means Google trusts us, and our clients can too. As a Google Partner, we’re able to attend exclusive Google events like the Google Partners Summit.  As a trusted partner, we get access into Google Beta programs that we can share with our clients along with many other select roll-outs.

Intertwine Interactive is a proven leader in the PPC industry. We learn about you, your business, your goals, and your industry and intertwine your needs with our incredibly talented PPC experts to create a well-oiled PPC advertising machine that maximizes your ad dollars and return on investment.  Partnering with Intertwine Interactive to manage your PPC campaigns will not only give you peace of mind, but allow you time to do what you do best, manage your business.

Ecommerce Marketing Trends for 2015

October 7th, 2014

 

According to Forbes, as we increase the number of screens we use each day so will marketers adapt their advertising for each screen.  Ads for wearable technology, such as Google Glass or the Smartwatch, will need to become more customized for smaller screens and heads up display (HUD).

Streamlined Shopping

In 2015 more people will be doing their online shopping on their phones and more retail locations will be using online/offline POS systems.  Marketers will be attempting to take advantage of the swiping and tapping motions we all know so well, while making an in-store transaction may no longer require a cash register, much less a keyboard.

Wear Your Wallet on your Sleeve

Wearables are poised and ready to take the world by force. Google Glass has already started the fire and when Apple’s iWatch drops later this year, it will turn that brush fire into a four alarm blaze on a windy day. Wearables will put the Internet within such easy, passive access to its user that both marketing and shopping alike will become more like breathing than a conscious effort.

Businesses will be able to rapidly update consumers on price changes, promotions, etc, while marketers will have a whole new method of catching their attention, a way that only stops when a person is asleep. Retailers could broadcast signals to wearable devices that send deals or other marketing materials to customers who are merely with the broadcast range. Imagine walking past a Starbucks and your iWatch beeping to tell you about their new Pumpkin whatever drink, which you then purchase and pickup inside the store.

Wearables may just be the link between eCommerce and the physical world that bridges the divide and brings us into the future world that the movies have promised us for decades.

Marrying Copywriting & Coding

Being able to write, and write well and in many tones, will be a key factor in the success of digital marketing for 2015. The best writers will need to understand interaction design and responsive content development to create messaging that resonates across different platforms and screen dimenesions. Conversely developers will need to include content developers earlier and work more closely with the content marketing side.

Mobile Marketing Attribution

Marketers will begin to find that they can gain more credit and attribution from an ad that is clicked via a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device. According to Tom Webster, Vice President of Edison Research,  potential customers no longer have to run back home and look up an advertised product, they can simply tap on the ad on their phones. More marketers will start to realize that using mobile as a hub for ads will give them an edge.

Corporations Getting Personal

In an effort to seem like your best friend or someone you know close to home, marketing campaigns will incorporate more and more home-video-like advertising. Copy will start to seem a little less professional, and a lot more in-your-face honest. Transparency, or the illusion of transparency, as well as simplicity, will become major facets of major marketing strategies.

Finer Content Targeting for Niche Audiences

As Facebook and tools like Google Analytics provide more powerful audience insight such as gender and age, marketers will be challenged to apply that new granular demographic data. Lee Odden of Top Rank Online Marketing and Pam Didner, Intel’s Global MKT Strategist, predict that in 2015 marketing teams will have to take a step back and completely reevaluate their target audiences and figure out how to speak to reach specific users in more meaningful ways.

 Source:  freshtrax

 

10 Ways to Breathe New Life Into a Floundering Google AdWords Campaign

September 17th, 2014

 

1.  Re-evaluate the Keyword Targeting Strategy

2.  Restructure Ad Groups Using Tighter Themes

3.  Amp Up Your Negative Keywords To Avoid Bad Clicks

4.  Get More Aggressive With Budget and/or Max Bids

5.  Step Up Your Ad Text Testing Approach

6.  Consider Deploying a Bid Automation Solution

7.  Build a Custom Landing Page for Each Ad Group

8.  A/B Test Landing Pages to Improve Conversion Rate

9.  Try Out Dynamic Search Ads

10. Automate Schedules and Budgets to Improve ROI

Google AdWords Introduces Callout Extensions, Highlight Key Information About Products & Services

September 9th, 2014

Whether it’s free shipping on all laptops or a price match guarantee on smartphones, the more information people have, the better purchase decisions they can make online. That’s why we’re introducing callout extensions: additional text that shows with your Google search ads, highlighting specific information about your products and services.

Callout extensions will start rolling out immediately, and Google expects to see full availability to all advertisers in the next few weeks.

Example:

You own Acme Electronics, an electronics retail site. Your ads already include sitelinks, but your business has some unique offers you’d like to promote to shoppers. You know that if these potential customers could see the additional benefits your business has to offer, they might be more likely to click on your ad.

When you add callouts, people can immediately identify that your business provides services like free shipping, 24-hour customer service, or price matching. Seeing this information directly beneath your ad on the search results page helps people make more informed browsing and purchase decisions.

 

 

 

 

The goal of Callouts is to show valuable information to potential customers before they click your ad. Callouts will also be a factor in Ad Rank. Google suggests using them to draw attention to important product details, or highlight what makes your business different from your competitors.

  • Highlight or summarize your business offering: Promote popular or unique aspects of your business.
  • Minimize work and update callouts easily: You don’t need to make new text ads or edit them to include callouts. You can change your callout text whenever you want, keeping your ads up-to-date with sales and special offers.
  • Flexibility: You can add callouts at the account, campaign, or ad group levels, allowing you to include both generic or detailed information within your ads.
  • Detailed reporting: Find out how many clicks occurred on your ad when callouts appeared and compare your summary callout statistics at the campaign, ad group, or ad levels. You can also segment your statistics using “Top vs. Other” to see where ads with callouts were shown above organic Google search results.
  • Data retention: Edit your callouts without resetting their performance statistics.
  • Customized callouts for mobile: Create mobile-optimized callouts to show on mobile devices, or disable specific callouts on the devices you choose.
  • Scheduling with start and end dates: Specify the dates, days of the week, or times of day your callouts are eligible to show.

Source:  SEJ, Google 

Is Your Mobile Strategy Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

August 19th, 2014

 

Opportunities for location-based marketing are just one reason companies are building their e-commerce presence on mobile.  Black Friday 2013 was better known as “Mobile Friday” with almost 40% of all online shopping done on mobile devices. This trend will continue in 2014 as more consumers are empowered to use their phones and tablets to shop anytime, anywhere.  Small businesses need to make sure their sites are optimized so that customers can view them on any type of handheld mobile device. Seamless browsing, saving, and shopping across platforms will be crucial for any business.

Local SEO is also very important focusing on providing results that are relevant to a searcher based on their current location. Google recently stated that one in three US mobile queries is now ‘local’ and 87% of people use their phone when on the go. Google also found that 95% of mobile users look up local information on their phones and the primary functions are calling or visiting a business.  Local results tend to dominate mobile results so getting in on that action is vital to your business.

As customers continue to grow more and more empowered to purchase on their mobile devices, businesses must ensure that their websites are fully optimized for seamless browsing across platforms.

  • 83% of customers expect a seamless shopping experience across all of their mobile devices.
  • 53% said that mobile websites do not contain enough information.
  • 48% spend more time shopping on websites if they are mobile-optimized.
  • 37% are more likely to purchase from an e-commerce site if it is mobile-optimized.

There’s no denying that your target audience is incorporating mobile devices into their lives more with each passing day. Capturing the most value out of mobile can be a challenge – but if you have a PPC campaign, you can’t ignore this huge opportunity.  With bid modifiers in AdWords you can decrease bids 100 percent, which removes your ads from mobile devices. You can also increase your bids for mobile devices by up to 300 percent. Please advise that if you don’t have a clear strategic plan for mobile, and you aren’t ready to at least conduct some tests, then you may want to opt-out of mobile for now.

 

 

Google AdWords Announcement: What It Means for Your Business

April 24th, 2014

 

During a live-stream event this week, Google announced three key AdWords updates that will be launched over the next few months – new app ads, more insightful reporting, and tools for efficiency and scale.

New Mobile App Promotion Features: Google will be launching new mobile app promotion features in search ads, Google Display Network and YouTube. Google will analyze information from Google Play which leads to maximum installations and based on that recommend keywords.

Measuring In-Store Transactions for Offline Conversions: A year after launching the estimated total conversions for measuring conversions across multiple devices, Google is now devising ways to measure in-store transactions that track off-line conversions. Advertisers can optimize and deliver more targeted ads when considering in-store transactions.

New Enterprise Level Tools: Google will launch four new tools to improve work flow, reporting and optimization.

  • Bulk actions - Make bulk edits like location targeting, ad rotation etc.
  • Automated bidding - Soon advertisers will be able to set up automated bidding to either maximize conversions or maximize revenues. Google notes that this was “once only available in third-party tools.”
  • Enhanced reporting - Google is also introducing some cool advanced reporting features, essentially Excel for AdWords. We’ll have access to visualization tools and drag-and-drop pivot tables. Instead of moving data over into Excel for manipulation, you’ll be able to create reporting with live data. This is pretty awesome.
  • “Your Own Lab” - Similar to AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE), this new feature allows you to make changes in “draft mode” so you can see, based on real data, what effect changes would have on your campaigns, in order to make more data-driven decisions.

How to Hit the Ground Running in 2014

December 26th, 2013

As you know, 2013 held many updates in technology, social media, online optimization and more. If your business survived the many changes in the economy, you should take some time now to high-five your colleagues and congratulate them on their outstanding efforts. The next step is to jump into the new 2014 year with confidence and effective preparation:

Revise Your Business Plan
If you’ve been sitting on a business idea for the past year, here’s your chance to fully design and implement it into your business system. Evaluate the positives and negatives of your 2013 business efforts to establish a better business plan for 2014. Develop strict milestones to ensure the consistency of your revised business plan.

Reshape Your Marketing Efforts
How are you going to reach out to your new customers in the new year? Review the statistics of your customer traffic and sales, and then determine which efforts you will continue with or suspend. As technology and promotional methods evolve, you will want to make sure you keep your customers up-to-date on all the best devices and tools.

Assess Your Budget
Review every department’s 2013 budget details. If you had kept a comprehensive record of every company transaction, then this won’t take long. Then design a budget for 2014.

Prepare for Obstacles
Make a list of at least five obstacles that you could endure in the next year; then make a list of solutions for each obstacle. The earlier you prepare for potential obstacles, the more successful your recovery will be if the obstacles do occur.

Strengthen Your Relationships
Take advantage of the quiet start of the year by scheduling an out-of-office lunch or coffee meeting with your clients or partners. This will strengthen your relationship and give you a clearer look at goals for the new year.

Wrap Up the Loose Ends
If you ran out of time in 2013 to complete any small projects, use the December holiday break or beginning of 2014 to finish the projects. This will enable you to start fresh in 2014.

Clean Your Office
Whether or not your office is still showing signs of a wild holiday party, here’s your chance to clean up and unclutter the office. Separate and shred any unnecessary paperwork, and organize any piles of important documents you have laying around.

Celebrate a Successful 2013
Make some time to celebrate the year’s achievements and thank all employees for their excellent work. This will build confidence as you head into the new year.

Good luck into 2014!

 

Spruce up for Spring

April 3rd, 2013

Spring cleaning is among us, and this time of year is a perfect opportunity to revamp your social media profiles. Not an overhaul, just some quick updates to keep consumers and friends intrigued.

Consistency

Before making any changes, remember to keep a consistent look and feel among all of your company social media profiles. Brand identity is important in allowing consumers to find you across different social media networks. If you use a color scheme, logo format or image on Facebook, you should use the same “theme” on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.

Photos/Images

A very easy way to refresh your page’s feel, is to update the cover photo and profile picture. These can be seasonal or focus on a current campaign, giveaway or offering. Photos are very appealing on social networks and are an easy way to update followers on current happenings in the company. These can be used to create a collage for your cover photo or timeline banner. Using one, singular image is recommended for a profile picture as it needs to be clearly identified in a thumbnail form. This would apply to profile pictures on Google+ and LinkedIn.

Content

Take a glance at your “about us” section. Has any of the basic information changed: phone number, address, website? Have you added any sub pages to your website that might be added? Are the company offerings updated or have you added to your team membership? These little things are very important basics that need to be updated regularly. Can you add a list of recent awards or impressive project portfolios?

Friends/Followers

Find new friends! Just like spring is a good time to get outdoors and meet new people, it’s also a great time to expand your network online. Invite new friends to follow you or go through and find new friends to “like” and see what new ideas and inpiration they can bring to your news feed or inner circle. It may also be a good time to get rid of anyone who has fallen off the radar and is no longer posting worthwhile content or is causing you headaches.

Spruce up your content today and keep your pages looking fresh! Content is key- make sure you continue to update throughout the year and give your followers a reason to seek out your information.

 

 

 

 

Cashing In On Trends

March 26th, 2013

 

Keeping an eye on trends is always a good business move. If you can jump in front of a wave, there is a lot of opportunity… but jumping in at any point in the wave can still turn out to be very powerful, even if you’re not at the very front of it.

A perfect example of a wave is within the firearms industry. Firearms have been a huge topic recently and with all the exposure comes a lot of opportunity. We have seen unprecedented growth in the industry the past few months and things are still flowing at a tremendous rate.

With this growth, the program’s affiliates are driving more sales than ever before, thus earning more commission than ever before. There is still a vast opportunity for affiliates to get in on the trend, though. Every time firearms are in the news, that presents another opportunity and another surge of customers.

Even trends that aren’t as eventful as firearms are something to keep an eye out for.

For example, we can see what’s happening in sports. We are in the middle of March Madness right now, but in a couple of weeks, the Masters in Augusta will be taking place. There will be a spike in searches for golf related products as well.

Take a look at the screenshot below to see an example. The blue line represents searches for “The Masters” and the red line indicates searches for “golf clubs.”

To jump on this trend, you can join Stonehouse Golf’s, Golf Affiliate Program. They offer you a unique option to offer to the golf market, with their great collection of professional golf photography.

Let’s get another example in here. What do tens of millions of people prep for every August? If you said “back to school” you know exactly where I am headed. Back to school means consumers spending a lot of money preparing for the new school year… and that means more money for you as an affiliate. Take a look at this next graph:

It shows the spike every August for “school supplies” and “backpacks.” This would be a great opportunity for you to promote something in the back to school realm. ReStockIt.com has a great offering in this area; take a look at their affiliate program here if you want to jump on this trend.

We’d love to help you jump on some trends with our affiliate program. Be sure to sign up for the programs above and get in touch if you need any help with your affiliate marketing campaigns!

Facebook Graph Search- the new Google?

February 26th, 2013

 

Facebook has added another pillar to their web of connectivity. Newsfeed was added to give you an up-to-date idea of the happenings of your friends and family. Timeline was a way to emphasize the important periods in someone’s life. With the new creation of Graph Search, you can create a search for content found within the web of your personal network.

If you and a friend or colleague searched a common term using Google, “local veterinarian” for example, you would be given very similar results. Using Graph Search, you could enter the term “veterinarian’s my friends like”. This search would pull any veterinarians used throughout your Facebook network. You can poll your friends on their choice of veterinarian to find the best fit.

If your privacy filters are strict, friends will only be able to search content that is set for their view.  Any public content will be searchable.  You can change any of these settings to allow photos, interests, places traveled, statuses, etc. to be searchable.

You can find more information regarding the usage and importance of the new Facebook Graph Search here. There is currently a waiting list for those who are interested in trying the new platform.

I think graph search will become a great tool for consumers and businesses who value the opinions of their friends, colleagues and customers, more than a generic search engine. Word of  mouth has always been one of the strongest sales forces and an online tool for this will only aide this relatable approach.

 

 

 

 

Record Retail Sales on Smartphones, Tablets Take Greater Ecommerce Share

January 10th, 2013

Tablet buyers grow sales at fastest pace

Mobile devices have become a key component of the digital shopping landscape, with both smartphones and tablets contributing higher levels of ecommerce sales as more consumers adopt the devices and become comfortable shopping on them.

Last year, eMarketer estimates, US retail mcommerce sales shot up 81% to nearly $25 billion. This year, a further increase of 55.7% in sales is expected, and mobile sales will account for 15% of all retail ecommerce. Mcommerce sales include all purchases made via smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, excluding sales of travel and event tickets.

eMarketer’s mcommerce forecast reflects a confluence of three trends:  first, the expanding number of smartphone shoppers whose behavior affects commerce in all channels; second, the growing number of smartphone buyers who enjoy the immediacy of purchasing through their phone and are expected to generate roughly one-third of mcommerce sales this year; and third, the rapid rise in tablet shopping, which will produce the bulk of mcommerce sales over the next four years.

This year, US consumers will spend $24 billion shopping on their tablets, and that figure will nearly double by 2015. Mcommerce sales on smartphones are lower and will grow more slowly, reaching $13.44 billion this year and $24.32 billion by 2016. Purchases on other mobile devices, such as ereaders, will continue to make up a small but steady share of the mcommerce pie.

Source:  eMarketer Jan 2013

The Fat Finger Problem

November 8th, 2012

Excluding accidential mobile clicks lowers rates – but they’re still higher than for the desktop web

Reports of high mobile click rates seemed too good to be true. Industry-watchers quickly adopted the “fat fingers” theory: that many clicks on mobile ads were accidental, and due to the small screen mixed with clumsy hands and hard-to-avoid placements.

Research from at least one mobile rich media and video ad solutions provider indicates there is an element of truth in the theory. GoldSpot Media reported in October that 38% of clicks on static banner ads it served, and 13% of clicks on rich media banners, were accidental.

These figures are based on analysis of post-click actions—if engagement with post-click content lasted less than 2 seconds, it was defined as accidental.

GoldSpot found a 4% clickthrough rate on rich media banners, for example, but after removing accidental clicks the percentage was cut in half. Static banners, which were more likely to suffer from fat fingers, lost even more of their clickthrough rate, dropping from 3.1% to 1.1%.

On the bright side for mobile marketers and publishers, these clickthrough rates are still significantly higher than the dismal percentages seen for much inventory on the desktop web. Whether this is due to mobile’s novelty as an ad delivery channel or particular effectiveness, a banner click rate over 1% is nothing to sneeze at. It’s 10 times as high as the average banner click rate worldwide reported in June by MediaMind, for one thing.

But if accidental clicks are so common, it does point to a problem with using clickthrough as a measure of success—or as a pricing mechanism—for mobile campaigns.

 

Source:  eMarketer

 

Pinterest Fosters Unique Shopping Behaviors

October 16th, 2012

Marketers have been tapping into social commerce—the practice of using social media to assist in online buying—on a number of platforms, tweeting promo codes and offering fan-only merchandise on sites like Facebook. Now, according to a new eMarketer report, “Pinterest’s Social Commerce Potential: What Brands and Retailers Need to Know,” Pinterest is beginning to draw their efforts.

Pinterest’s rapid early-stage growth made headlines. It launched in March  2010 and by January 2012 was pulling in 10 million unique monthly visitors.  According to comScore, no  site had ever grown to that size so quickly. The research firm pegged the total  US Pinterest audience at 23.4 million in July 2012, equal to about 10% of all  internet users.

Also, 63% of Pinterest users were ages 35 and older, with the average age being  40.1. Seventy-nine percent were female.

A February 2012 survey by blog network BlogHer also showed that Pinterest was more influential  among women than social networking’s two top sites. Close to half of US female  Pinterest users had gone on to make a purchase based on recommendations received  there, compared to around one-third of female users of Facebook or Twitter.

Ecommerce solution provider SteelHouse  put the percentage of Pinterest users who had clicked through to make a purchase  even higher—59% in May 2012.

What does this all mean for marketers? Pinterest has not reached Facebook’s  or Twitter’s level of penetration, but its users are valuable. When Pinterest  users buy, they tend to spend more per session and purchase more items. They  also like to share, which is at the crux of social commerce.

Precisely attributing revenue to Pinterest is no easy feat when a sale could  occur months after viewing a pin and may ultimately take place offline. Even so,  brands and retailers, particularly those specializing in home goods, apparel and  accessories, have been reporting results that show promise for others.

Source:  eMarketer October 15, 2012

 

The Latest & Greatest Checklist

October 2nd, 2012

 

1. Facebook Targeted Posts: Are you looking for creative ways to improve your Facebook engagement? By narrowing the people who see your posts, you can actually get more engagement.  Who would have thought?

2. Facebook Mobile Ad Network: The goal is to show Facebook users more relevant ads wherever they go, even outside the social network. It represents an important shift from Facebook utilizing its traffic, to instead solely utilizing its user data to monetize.

3. Facebook Ad Targeting: It’s a good thing you’ve been building up your customer database lists because you can utilize those lists on Facebook’s ad platform. Once you’ve uploaded the list to Facebook you can target your ads to customers, giving advertisers more targeting options.

4. Facebook “Likes:” Brands that have bought Facebook “likes” beware! Facebook will be removing “likes” that have been found to be fraudulently generated. For the brands out there gaining loyal followers, you’re hard work will pay off in a big way.

5. Twitter Cover Photos: Brands can now represent themselves in a more visually appealing way. If you’re not incorporating photos, it might be time to rethink your strategy. How do you plan to set yourself apart from other brands?

6. Other Twitter Updates: Follower growth reporting is now available, as well as, promoted tweet selection. Reporting is definitely a struggle for many marketers but there are solutions starting to present themselves. This is a category that is sure to grow.

7. LinkedIn Profiles: Major design changes have taken place on LinkedIn and will definitely increase the activity of users with time. It’s starting to look a lot more like Facebook timeline don’t you think?

8. LinkedIn Endorsements: You can now endorse your connections for a skill  they’ve listed on their profile or recommend one they haven’t added yet. This is a great way to add credibility to your profile.

9. MySpace: Remember MySpace? It’s back! But the ultimate question is, “Will you go back?” Designers are attempting to reinvent MySpace and attract users who are music enthusiasts.

10. What’s Next? What do you think #10 should be? There have been lots of improvements and new updates coming out, do you have a prediction for what’s coming next?

Recipe For Holiday PPC Success

September 5th, 2012

Here are some tips for making sure you’ve got all the right ingredients to get your pay-per-click (PPC) search campaigns cooking.

1. Be ready to talk turkey on Thanksgiving. Last year, our online retail holiday shopping research showed that Thanksgiving has become a major online shopping day in the U.S., with a 28% year-over-year (YoY) increase in PPC conversion rates and 40% bump in sales revenue. Some retailers even started their Black Friday sales on Turkey Day. This year, get a leg up on things by having your budgets fully juiced for the early birds.

2. Keep stock of your stock.  You’ve got enough to worry about over the coming months without having to keep track of what’s in your cupboard. Leverage real-time campaign technology to sync your product catalog and/or key brand assets with your PPC campaigns so that keywords and ads always reflect your up-to-date inventory and promotional strategies.

3. Take the temperature of your competition. In 2011, we saw global retail PPC budgets rise 10% YoY during the holidays — even higher in the U.S. (22%) and U.K. (26%) — as advertisers tried to heat up Q4 sales. Deploy tools to monitor what your competition has cooking so you can adjust your keyword, copy, landing page and bidding strategies accordingly.

4. Don’t forget the side dishes. With more niche merchants setting up shop online and mass retailers offering free shipping, consumers are shopping around more than ever. As a result, total online sales transactions resulting from PPC during the holidays were up 56% globally last year, with average order value down 13%. Take advantage of this trend by peppering in add-ons to your main product dish and create bundles that entice consumers to load up their carts rather than just buy things on a one-off basis.

5. Put down the apron. You don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen when guests arrive. Same goes for your computer. Untether yourself during the holidays by using advanced technology tools to schedule campaign actions in advance. Launch new campaigns at midnight on Thanksgiving, update copy on Christmas Day, or even lower bids on New Year’s Eve, all without missing a precious sip of eggnog.

6. Have special meals ready for the to-go crowd. In 2011, mobile devices accounted for roughly 15% of all retail PPC clicks during the holidays, and mobile adoption by consumers and advertisers has only increased in 2012. Just as you’d never serve ham to your vegan niece Sally, don’t serve desktop campaigns to mobile or tablet searchers. Create custom ads and landing pages to reflect the consumer mindset and screen real estate of each device. And adjust bids based on unique metrics and auction dynamics. Don’t hold mobile to strict conversion goals. Think of mobile more as tool for product research, store directions, social sharing, etc.

7. Remember, you get what you pay for. If you’re an online retailer then you’re all too familiar with Google’s recent move to turn Product Search into Google Shopping featuring only paid results via Product Listing Ads (PLA). Turn this shelf tax into an opportunity by connecting your product feed through Google Merchant Center and integrating it with a sophisticated paid-search platform to track, optimize and report on PLA performance alongside text ad placements. Don’t forget to deploy custom bid policies designed for Product Targets.

8. Set your timer. Unless you’re using a Showtime Rotisserie, you’ll need an alert to make sure your main course doesn’t get burned. Ditto for PPC. Set up a dashboard for your team to monitor relevant KPIs, and schedule reports to be sent regularly on all key metrics including side-by-side PPC and SEO performance. Also be sure to create alerts to notify you when campaign activity reaches abnormal thresholds.

9. Save room for dessert. Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean the party’s done. With each passing year, we see more online search and purchase activity continuing after Christmas and through New Year’s. Whether it’s from returns or gift card redemptions, consumers have money to burn and you don’t want to miss out. Last year, in the U.K., we saw retail search advertising budgets decrease by 4% YoY during the last two weeks in December, while online sales transactions resulting from PPC were up 66%, and PPC conversion rates were up 57%. This year, if you want a cherry on top of your seasonal performance, don’t fill up on the entrée.

10. Give thanks. Many religious holiday meals start or end with saying grace and calling out everyone who had a hand in preparing the feast. When it comes to PPC, get in the habit of giving thanks to each keyword that contributed to a purchase. Create an attribution model that properly reflects the influence of each ad throughout the path to conversion within PPC as well as other channels.

Source:  MediaPost Search Insider

Building a Bond

August 29th, 2012

Brands can no longer sit back and be the faceless, cold, corporate companies that they once were. A brand has to evolve as social media does and work on connecting on another level. People ultimately do business with people they like and trust. If you can learn to trust your employees to act themselves, they can begin to humanize your brand. This will result in higher customer satisfaction and the more satisfied your customers are, the larger your profits. That’s the end goal right?

Forming a strong relationship with a brand is just like forming a friendship. Friendships don’t fall in place overnight. It takes baby steps, trust, interaction and an emotional connection to create a strong friendship. With social media, companies have the opportunity to take baby steps with their potential customers. Those steps can lead to trust. People want to talk to another “real” person that will listen and respond with their best interest in mind. Even if there’s issues, they don’t turn their back on their friend.

The name of the game is no longer only about impressions and reach, but instead how can you engage with the customers who care about your message. Traditional media can’t carry the sole weight of your marketing effort. Brands must tell great stories and avoid pushing personal messages. If a brand can learn to be transparent and authentic, the brand’s “realness” can be extremely influential when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

As a brand, let your employees shine. If you have someone that’s funny or outgoing, let them insert humor into your brand. If your employees have special talents, share them with your customers. Give your faceless brand a face! Did something interesting happen in the office? Did you throw a party? Was it someone’s birthday? Those are all things worth acknowledging, therefore why not share it with your customers. By doing so, this lets them see that your brand is not just a brand, it’s made up of “real” people. People who care. People who listen. People who engage. Don’t talk at your customers, talk with them and keep it conversational. Your brand shouldn’t be a robot, yes, humans make mistakes but it’s all part of letting your customers get to know the real you. As many other marketers put it, we’re at the stage where you either evolve or die. Becoming more connected to your customers will only continue to become more relevant. Has your brand begun to evolve?

 

For Marketers, Lead Gen Focus Is Trained on Digital

August 1st, 2012

Website optimization, social media and SEO set to receive biggest budget bumps

The web has provided marketers with an opportunity to develop leads early in a consumer’s purchase process, and marketers are turning to hard numbers to  measure the success of their efforts. According to a January 2012 survey of  marketing professionals worldwide conducted by research company MarketingSherpa, 52% of marketers said their top lead gen strategy for the next year was to meet or exceed quantifiable return on  investment goals. That was followed by optimizing the marketing/sales funnel (51%), gleaning more audience insight (51%) and maximizing the lifetime value of customers (47%).

Marketers are looking for quality in their leads, but not ones that come burdened with a hefty price tag. More than half of respondents said their organizations invested $50 or less per lead, with the largest group of respondents (36%) saying they spent less than $20. This indicates that, for the  time being, marketers are valuing quantity over quality in terms of lead gen, although this could change as ROI measurements improve.

Marketers also expected increases in lead generation budgets over the next year to focus largely on three areas: website optimization, social media and search engine optimization, underscoring just how important online tactics have become in recent years. In fact the three lead gen techniques listed for the smallest budgetary bumps were all offline—direct mail, tradeshows and print ads.

Two-thirds of marketers didn’t make a huge distinction between business-to-business and business-to-consumer lead gen efforts, concluding that the techniques in both spaces were more similar than different.

Source:  eMarketer July 25, 2012

You “Want” to be Prepared for This

July 25th, 2012

The society we live in today is a sharing society. We want to share with friends and family what we’re eating, where we’re eating, who we’re eating with and what we’re wearing while we’re eating. Social Media has provided us with the outlets to be able to over-share information. With that said, Facebook may release its next big move soon, the “want” button. We already share everything else, why not share our desires too?

This button would allow for users to “want” a product, business or campaign and it would show up in their newsfeeds and timelines. The “want” button has huge potential for businesses. If businesses plan ahead, they could learn how to best leverage the “want” button for optimal Social Media success. The “want” button would allow businesses with great products to showcase and receive visual value (aka collect data) on a platform where their potential customers already exist. The “want” button could end up taking the focus off content driven posts and shifting it to a visual representation of the offerings. After seeing the increasing numbers and value that has come out of the visual “want” boards platform, ie. Pinterest, inserting a “want” button seems like a smart move by Facebook.

Many people turn to friends, family, or a connection between the two for recommendations on brand advice and/or product suggestions. That opens the door hugely for businesses to take advantage of creating a sharing atmosphere. If companies can create noise around their brand, showcase their products and get fans to “want” their products, friends of friends are more likely to see that “want” and purchase.

Facebook is no longer a social experience just aimed to reach college students, it’s evolved and become so much more. Users have formed relationships with brands; loyalty and trust have been created. You can find news that hasn’t even been published yet, you can find special deals only for fans, you can get an inside look into new products, new employees and much more. Announcing the possibility of the “want” button brings us one step closer to “socialcommerce.”

This story first appeared on InkHouse Media, ideas and thoughts for this blog post have been derived from the original article by Caroline Farhat.

PPC or SEO? Is That the Right Question?

July 10th, 2012

Many website owners still seem to struggle with this decision, not yet having had the revelation that both are critical to growing their business. Countless studies have been performed showing the beneficial, holistic lift in traffic one receives when both paying for and ranking well on relevant keywords. Yet even this issue of paid vs organic is short-sighted. There are many more internet marketing strategies that are not only helpful but nearly as critical to employ in order to drive more traffic to your site. These include Social Media, Mobile, display advertising, retargeting, and in certain cases affiliate marketing, comparison shopping, and even marketplace marketing such as Amazon and eBay. Not all of these channels may be right for you; others may be appropriate down the road but not today. How do you decide what you need and when?

A good outsourced internet marketing company can help you devise a roadmap for success that respects your budget and goals. Don’t ignore these channels – develop a strategy that includes them when appropriate, and work with an experienced agency to help you execute them well.

The Winning Combination

June 26th, 2012

 

Part I: Content Creation

Every marketer, consultant and social guru around seems to be talking about content marketing. Content is the hot buzzword these days. What is content marketing you ask? It’s the creation and sharing of content in order to engage your current or potential audience. Content marketing should deliver high-quality, relevant and valuable information that will gain the attention of your reader and therefore improve overall brand loyalty.

How do you create content that your audience wants to share, engage and click on? First things first, determine your objective. Do you want to inspire? Do you want to educate? Do you want to generate leads? Be sure to examine your audience to gain a basic understanding of what they’re looking for and know that the goal isn’t to self-promote. Present your content in laymen’s terms, that way it’s easier to understand. Be sure to write with confidence, in order to assert yourself as the authority on the subject matter. Also, make sure that the content is relevant to your audience and that it’s not so far fetched that no one grasps the concept. Tell a story, share an experience, really get the audience’s full attention from the beginning. Keep your content positive and passionate, people don’t like when others complain. Keep the content open, that way others can share their opinions. Lastly, have a definitive beginning, middle and end. People like ramblers about as much as they like complainers, which is not at all!

Part II: Photo Inclusion

The quick rise of Pinterest should be evidence enough for people to realize that we’re visual creatures. If you’re looking for a way to differentiate yourself from the competition and really stand out, pictures are the answer! Photos in conjunction with content is a great way to attract and engage readers.

Are you wondering how and why you should use photos to improve your online presence? Photos can help your brand build a story around your product or service. One photo can be worth a thousand words but remember that content is a strong partner to help educate. If you’re looking to improve your search results, make sure you associate relevant text with your images and use keywords and tags. You can expand your photo reach by encouraging sharing and having a presence on other visually appealing sites, such as: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr and blogs. Remember, don’t just post a photo and expect it to do all the work for you. Be sure to engage the audience with a quote, statement or question to go along with the image. Lastly, measure your photo results to see what your audience is visually attracted to and create new goals moving forward.

Here are a few words of wisdom for when you’re posting photos. Tug at people’s heartstrings or stomachs (people love food) but make sure it’s current. Stay on top of hot trends and what people are talking about relative to your brand.  Size does matter, with photos of course! Be cautious of the pixel requirements because nobody likes an unclear image. Also, if the photo is coming from somewhere other than directly from your camera, be sure to give a little link love. Link love allows people to locate the source and potentially discover other useful information.

You can’t go wrong utilizing the winning combination of content and photos. Try mixing the two together to create one compelling source. With an eye-catching image, you’ll illustrate the true power behind the content. Don’t forget to share, educate, engage and find the true passions of your audience.

 

Getting the Most Out of Facebook Ads

June 26th, 2012

When General Motors pulled its advertising from Facebook, many took it as an
indication that the social network’s ad products didn’t work. But in reality, the
pullout tells a different story.

In 2011, major marketers dramatically increased their spending on Facebook, buying up the site’s so-called “Premium” ad inventory—ads on users’ homepages and in other exclusive spots—in a quest to acquire “likes.” This year, some marketers have reduced spending on these Premium ads so they can reassess the ads’ effectiveness. As a result, Facebook has seen weaker-than-expected revenues in 2012. However, the company has another side to its ad business, and that self-serve platform, Marketplace, is gaining new prominence.

“The importance of Marketplace is often underestimated,” said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “Facebook Advertising: Why the Marketplace Ad Platform Deserves a Second Look.” “Because the clickthrough rates on these ads are minuscule and because their limited creative palette will never win them awards, Marketplace ads get little respect. Yet when Marketplace targeting and bidding are done correctly, advertisers can be highly successful.”

“Click rate may be a standard metric across the web, but successful advertisers on Facebook are starting to focus less on driving clicks and more on understanding what happens after the click,” said Williamson. “They are beginning to use more sophisticated tracking tools—provided by Facebook and also by ad technology companies—to determine how to attribute an action when it occurs and also how to target ads to people, depending on what sort of action they want to inspire.”

According to Social Fresh, a social media education company, the most common targeting criterion has been age, used either, always or often by 55% of US respondents to a March 2012 survey. But fewer than one-third of respondents targeted people based on their language (26%) or their education (24%).

Marketers’ narrow use of Facebook’s ad targeting capabilities is due to the complexity of Facebook’s ad tool, according to Social Fresh. “It is easy to use, but the sheer number of options creates a lot for the average business to learn before they can maximize the power of Facebook ads,” Social Fresh’s “2012 Facebook Ads Report” stated.

Source:  eMarketer June 2012

Intertwine Nationally Recognized

May 24th, 2012

TopSeos.com Announces Intertwine Interactive as the #3 Ranked Provider of Affiliate Marketing Services in the Industry

Intertwine Interactive is identified as an outstanding Affiliate Marketing Agency by TopSeos.

Intertwine Interactive, an Omaha based Online Marketing Agency has been recognized for its Affiliate Marketing service by securing the #3 spot on this month’s list of the top 10 Affiliate Marketing Agencies in the industry. The monthly rankings list published by TopSeos is a guide to the industry’s top Online Marketing companies. In addition to Affiliate Marketing, Intertwine offers a comprehensive list of Online Marketing services that includes SEO, PPC, Social Media, Comparison Shopping and Retargeting.

“Intertwine Interactive is proud to be recognized as the 3rd leading provider of Affiliate Marketing Services in the industry. We’ve grown tremendously both as a company and in our service offerings and continue to strive to be the best in class. We look forward to our continued growth and furthering our client’s success. We hope to continue expanding on our client base to help others reach their business goals,” said Intertwine Interactive’s President, Jake Messerly.

Intertwine Interactive was selected for their consistent best in class performance and superior client service.

TopSeos seeks out the leading Agencies in the industry through a rigorous evaluation criteria that includes:

  • Competitive advantage
  • Superior services and pricing
  • Customer and technical support
  • Response to client problems
  • Innovations that set it apart from the competition
  • Overall efficiency
  • Overall performance

As part of the evaluation process, clients of Intertwine Interactive are asked to give feedback on general and project specific questions such as:

  • Rate your overall experience.
  • What type of needs analysis was conducted before work initiated?
  • How is keyword research performed to identify the keywords that will be targeted in the content?
  • How is keyword density used in relation to content creation?
  • What editing processes are put in place?

“The whole industry looks to us to identify reliable and accurate benchmarks and Intertwine Interactive has proven by its performance that they deserve to be on this coveted list”, shared Jeev Trika, partner at TopSeos.

About TopSeos
Since its introduction in 2002, TopSeos has been identified as an independent authority on vendors who supply Online Marketing products and services ranging from the best search engine optimization companies to the best pay per click management tools. In addition, TopSeos connects thousands of businesses each year that are looking for Online Marketing services with those who provide it. With dedicated online presence in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, TopSeos continues to make a global impact in the Online Marketing arena.

‘Big Data’ Can Be Hard to Harness

May 23rd, 2012

Online retailing has existed for nearly 20 years, and product recommendations have been around for almost as long, due to the pioneering work of Amazon, which applied for a patent on its collaborative filtering technology in 1998. Since then, a majority of large retailers have adopted online product recommendations. Yet many of these implementations are still fairly primitive because they fail to understand an online shopper’s real-time product needs.

That’s likely to change, however, thanks to the power of “Big Data.” Major ecommerce players like Netflix, Wal-Mart and eBay are leveraging affordable, open-source Big Data tools to deliver real-time personalized shopping experiences. And they say the efforts are paying off, with higher customer spending and improved retention rates.

“In addition to monitoring shopping behavior on their sites for clues about customers’ immediate purchase intentions, these early adopters are also trying to gain insight into broader consumer trends based on the likes and interests people express on social media,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “How Retailers Are Leveraging ‘Big Data’ to Personalize Ecommerce.” “Retailers see opportunities to use this data not only to better personalize product recommendations but also to influence merchandising decisions on their sites, and in the case of multichannel retailers, at the local store level.”

Half of the US web retailers in the 2011 edition of Internet Retailer’s “Top 500 Guide” said they were using personalization on their ecommerce sites, up from 32.6% of retailers that said so in the 2010 edition.

But many retailers’ personalization efforts are unsophisticated. “Sites still have a long way to go to improve product discovery and findability and to streamline their purchasing processes,” Dan Darnell, senior director of product marketing at Baynote, a provider of retail personalization platforms, told eMarketer.

Retailers themselves recognize the shortcomings of their efforts at personalization. When the e-tailing group surveyed 131 mostly large and mid-sized US web merchants in Q3 2011, it found that more than half gave themselves poor marks.

“The good news for smaller, less-technically savvy retailers is that a new group of product and service providers has come along with platforms that offer some of the personalization muscle being flexed by the industry leaders,” noted Grau.

Source:  eMarketer May 2012

Facebook: Traditional Ads vs. Sponsored Ads

May 15th, 2012

These days everyone is looking for a winning strategy to implement on their Facebook business page. With the world shifting towards a digital mindset, it has forced B2B and B2C brands to extend beyond their traditional marketing efforts and evolve into a digital marketing machine. Facebook for many brands is where they want to be because there’s no other network that contains as large of audience.

Some analysts are suggesting that corporate Facebook pages may one day replace traditional websites. There are a number of offerings on Facebook that help businesses manage effectively. One new offering is sponsored storires. People don’t want to log-on to Facebook and be sold stuff, they want to check up on what their friends are currently doing and talking about. Facebook wants engagement to be the ultimate goal of marketers using the platform.

Marketers can create Standard Ads that meet certain specifications but the content, image, format and more must adhere to Facebook’s guidelines. With Sponsored Stories, you can choose from six different types: page like, app shared, page post like, check-in, game played and domain. With Sponsored Stories choosing images and ad creative is no longer an option. The reach of a standard ad is set early on by the marketer and has the potential to be seen by Facebook’s one billion users or could ultimately get lost in a black hole. But there’s always the option with Standard Ads to target specifically by user’s gender, age, location and more.

With Sponsored Ads, when a Facebook user performs an action like checking-in, that action is broadcasted in their friends new feeds. Marketers cannot choose who sees the announcement, which makes it more authentic than Standard Ad creation. “Facebook users are more likely to share opportunities to engage than they are to share opportunities to buy. By shifting ad focus from sales to engagement, Sponsored Stories have achieved higher click-through and conversion rates,” said Clickable.

With the introduction to Sponsored Stories, you must keep your content fresh in order to keep people clicking. The combination of Sponsored Stories, Timeline pages and Offers show that Facebook is putting their bottom dollar on marketers evolving from traditional marketing efforts to a new and improved way of reaching people, integrated digital marketing!

Consumers Like Online Shopping Better Than In-Store

April 11th, 2012

According to a recent Bazaarvoice study comparing feedback from online to in-store shoppers, the average feedback rating among 19-24-year-olds was 4.48 (out of 5.0) for their online purchases, compared to 4.40 for their in-store purchases. However, those aged 55-64 and 65 and over were much more likely to report satisfaction with their online than offline purchases.

Most customer feedback, whether a purchase is made online or in a store, comes from purchasers in the 35 to 65+ age range, says the report. However, in-store buyers aged 19 to 24 are more likely to go online to give their feedback for the products they purchase. The older the in-store shopper, the less likely he or she is to leave product feedback online.

Across the board, data shows that in-store shoppers are less satisfied with the products they purchase in stores, compared to those who buy online. And purchasers aged 55 and older were much more satisfied with their online purchases versus those who make their purchases in store.

The data debunks the myth that older consumers are less comfortable with online buying; young consumers aren’t the only ones loving the convenience of shopping online. And, there seems to be some truth to the stereotype that women enjoy their shopping trips more than men. Whether they buy in-store or online, men and women are just as likely to give online feedback about the products they purchase.

But women who buy in-store are more likely to be happy with their purchases. Women who buy something in a store rate it four to five stars (out of five) 87% of the time. Men who make a purchase in a store only assign four or five stars to products 80% of the time. Research underscores that men find online shopping an effective way to avoid the hassle of in-store shopping, says the report.

Many factors could drive these phenomena, says the report.  Online purchasers may have more access to research, feedback from other consumers, and more product options online, so they simply make better choices.  Or maybe the in-store experience sullies product satisfaction. In fact, 70% of shoppers use their smartphones while shopping in the store, a clear indication that in-person sales reps don’t give shoppers all the information they need.

Additional findings from the study:

  • Online buyers were far more likely than in-store buyers to receive an email asking them to review their purchases (80% vs. 45%)
  • During after-work hours, mobile visits to retail websites match non-mobile visits. From midnight to 5 AM, the plurality of shoppers are using iPads

iPad users spend 3% more time on retail websites than computer users and nearly 16% more time than other tablet and mobile users.

Facebook Brand Timelines Are Here!

March 7th, 2012

Whether you’re ready or not, Facebook timeline for brands will be automatically implemented on your brand page on March 30th. With that said, you can preview and publish your timeline now but I would recommend you work on your page’s marketing strategy before proceeding. In this article by Mashable (http://on.mash.to/zG5Dje), you will find what they consider to be the biggest changes (see overview below) and than I’ve added my personal notes of other changes that have been made.

Mashable Timeline Changes:

“Updated Look and Feel”: Cover photo and milestones, or publishing coporate history and/or accomplishments.

“Reduced Tab Visibility:” Applications have moved and timeline only showcases three at a time. This means users must click to enter full app and click drop-down box to see all applications.

“No Default Landing Page:” You can no longer set a default landing page, making Facebook ads more important in gaining more exposure for your brand page.

“New Way to Feature Content:” The ability to “pin” a post to the top of the timeline is now available. “Pinning” a post keeps a selected post at the top of the timeline for 7 days. You can only “pin” one post at a time.

“Private Messaging:” Brands can now send and receive messages with users. This allows you to interact more heavily with your consumers.

Here are some additional notes of things you should know:

1. Cover photo cannot contain any of the following: Price or purchase information, contact information, email address, share or “like”, or any calls to action.

2. Premium Facebook Ads: New ad offering includes a reach generator tool that enables you to select your most engaging page posts to be featured. Premium option will distribute the ad in four ways: News feed on desktop, news feed on mobile, Facebook homepage on right side, and in the log-off experience. Facebook ads can also be linked directly to an application, rather then sending consumers to your timeline cover.

3. Facebook Offers: Only a few companies have access to Facebook offers, but it will be rolled out to all soon. Fans get the offer by clicking the “get offer link,” but the danger is making sure you have the bandwith to deliver the offer. There are easy ways to share the offer, using both the post itself and once the offer is claimed (sharing).

4. Real-time Insights: You can now access data and metrics for engagement on your page in real-time. This allows you to check post performance and either add to or delete current post.

5. New Admin Panel: From the new admin panel you can invite your email contacts, invite friends, share your page, and create an ad all from your “Build Audience” drop-down menu. You also have the ability to go to other brand pages and click on their “like” box and see basic insights.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in on all the changes that have been made. What is your favorite change and why? What is your least favorite change and why?

E-commerce Sales Jump 16% in 2011

February 17th, 2012

U.S. e-commerce sales totaled $194.3 billion in 2011, up 16.1% from $167.3 billion in 2010, according to an estimate released today by the U.S. Commerce Department.

The estimate, not adjusted for seasonality, show that e-commerce is taking a bigger portion of overall retail sales in the United States. 4.6% of total retail spending took place online during 2011, up from 4.3% in 2010, according to the Commerce Department. When excluding sales in categories not commonly bought online—automobiles, fuel, grocery and foodservice sales—Internet Retailer calculates that e-commerce accounted for 8.6% of total retail sales during the year, up from 7.6% in 2010. Total retail sales, which includes e-commerce sales, increased 7.9% in 2011 and totaled $4.2 trillion, according to the Commerce Department.

Seasonally adjusted, 2011 e-commerce sales were $193.4 billion and represented 4.6% of total retail spending.

E-commerce’s strong fourth quarter helped drive this growth. Seasonally adjusted e-retail sales for the fourth quarter of 2011 totaled $51.4 billion, up 15.5% from $44.5 billion a year ago, the Commerce Department reports. In contrast, total retail sales increased 6.8% from the fourth quarter of 2010. E-commerce represented 4.8% of all retail spending during the fourth quarter of 2011, up from 4.4% a year ago.

Without the seasonal adjustment, e-retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2011 totaled $61.8 billion, up 16.1% from $53.2 billion a year ago. E-commerce represented 5.5% of total non-adjusted retail sales during the quarter. When excluding sales in categories not commonly bought online, Internet Retailer calculates that e-commerce accounted for 9.7% of non-adjusted total retail sales during the quarter, up from 8.5% in 2010.

The full-year and quarterly estimates from the Commerce Department are higher than those released earlier this month by comScore Inc. The web measurement firm reported total e-commerce sales increased 13% during 2011 to reach $161.5 billion, and 14% during the fourth quarter to reach $49.7 billion. ComScore draws on online purchase data from its panel of about 1 million U.S. online shoppers. Commerce Department estimates are based on a quarterly survey of more than 11,000 U.S. merchants.

Intertwine Interactive and Bloom.com Announce Partnership to Help Grow their Online Marketing Efforts

February 15th, 2012

Intertwine’s online marketing expertise will help fuel the growing presence of Bloom.com’s social beauty store.

Intertwine Interactive and Bloom.com announce the creation of a partnership to develop and launch an affiliate marketing program that will bring new customers to the site, which in turn will accelerate the growth and success of Bloom.com’s business.

Bloom.com is a social beauty store that is revolutionizing the way women buy beauty products by personalizing women’s shopping experiences.  Bloom.com offers women Best4You recommendations based on unbiased feedback from thousands of women who are beauty matches.

“Bloom.com is a totally new way for women to shop for beauty and it’s important for us to spread that message as quickly as possible. We selected Intertwine Interactive to run our affiliate program because of their ability to get a unique idea to a large audience quickly and efficiently. Based on very encouraging early results we are excited to see this affiliate management partnership grow to be something very significant,” said Nick Hudson, Chief Marketing Officer at Bloom.com.

Intertwine Interactive will assist Bloom.com in pushing their revolutionary shopping experience to thousands of new customers by leveraging their expertise in Affiliate advertising to gain valuable exposure to consumers searching for Bloom.com’s products and solutions.  Intertwine will be working to build affiliate relationships between Intertwine’s affiliate partners and Bloom.com by offering them 8% commission on all orders, along with offering final consumers; BloomBonus gifts, 10% back in BloomDollars and in many cases giving women as much as 30% back on their first order.

“I am very excited about the partnership between Bloom.com and Intertwine Interactive.  Bloom.com, with its very unique and exciting business model, helps women find the best beauty products for their unique needs.  I look forward to working with our affiliate partners with not only growing the program, but helping millions of women look their best,” said Steve Manes, Director of Affiliate Manager for Intertwine Interactive.

Intertwine Interactive  is a proven leader in the online marketing  industry with a successful track record for effectively utilizing millions of advertising dollars for hundreds of websites. Intertwine thrives on learning a business’s goals and their industry to create a comprehensive advertising campaign. Our dedicated professionals paired with the uncanny offerings that Bloom.com brings to the table, makes this a powerful partnership with an ocean of opportunities for more success for Bloom.com

About Bloom.com
Bloom.com – a social beauty store that’s revolutionizing the way you buy beauty products.
We personalize your shopping experience with relevant unbiased feedback from thousands of women who are your beauty matches. We’re real women on a mission to save time and money by discovering what really works through social beauty. Never Buy the WRONG Beauty products again! Bloom.com brings you a new way to find and buy the best beauty products for your individual needs. Through a community of women helping each other find beauty products that work!

With Referral Traffic, Social Media Sites Build Up Connections

February 10th, 2012

Sites like Tumblr, Meebo and Pinterest not only refer traffic to Facebook and Twitter, but gain viewers in return.

As second-tier social media sites become more popular with consumers, these sites are finding their place within the social media ecosystem, referring traffic to larger social networks, as well as seeing traffic arrive from Facebook and Twitter.

In November 2011, Compete analyzed referrals of US traffic to Facebook, and found that, in addition to retail sites bolstered by holiday traffic, Meebo and Pinterest were two social sites increasing in influence. Meebo’s US referral traffic to Facebook grew 314.48% in November 2011 compared to the previous month; Pinterest’s referrals rose 57.22%.

Pinterest is a social site to watch, as it is gaining users at a rapid rate. The top sites visited by US internet users after visiting Pinterest included several social networks: Facebook, 13.94% of the time; Blogspot, 8.74% of the time; Tumblr, 1.67% of the time; and Etsy, 1.57% of the time, according to Compete. As a visual-focused social network, it makes sense that Pinterest would refer traffic to other sites with photos and visuals, such as Tumblr and Etsy.

Additionally, larger social sites are referring traffic back to these second-tier sites. This demonstrates that consumers may be experimenting with these newer or second-tier social sites, but they also feel the need to share content from the larger networks and point it back to Pinterest or Tumblr. According to Compete, the share of Tumblr’s traffic referred to the site from Twitter climbed 817.78% from October to November 2011. Similarly, the share of Meebo’s traffic derived from Twitter climbed 262.05%, Pinterest’s increased 48.61% and Instagram’s grew 40.80%.

While referral traffic isn’t a traditional measure of success for a website, looking at social networks in this way demonstrates the connectedness of the social media world. Marketers that want to test how their brand works with a second-tier social site like Pinterest or Meebo should work to connect their social media strategies and accounts to best take advantage of the increased interconnectedness in the social media ecosystem.

Source:  eMarketer

Intertwine Interactive and Proxibid Announce Partnership to Help Grow their Online Marketing Efforts

February 9th, 2012

Intertwine’s online marketing expertise will help facilitate the growth of Proxibid’s live online auctions.

Intertwine Interactive, an Omaha based full service online marketing agency, announced today the signing of its newest client, Proxibid, a recognized leader in the auction industry. Intertwine Interactive will assist Proxibid in its online growth goals by increasing website traffic and building new client relationships using their highly trained experts in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

“We began the search for a new SEO partner about three months ago, and I was enlightened to find an experienced team of search engine marketers in my own back yard,” said Ken Maxwell, Proxibid’s director of marketing and founding partner. “Intertwine’s past experience working with some of the Internet’s biggest e-commerce companies will enable Proxibid to more efficiently reach buyers and sellers through organic and pay-per-click advertising.”

Intertwine’s certified PPC professionals have a successful track record of effectively utilizing millions of advertising dollars for hundreds of websites. Proxibid’s business model requires the implementation of an extremely robust PPC advertising campaign. The dynamic, ever-changing nature of the auction business will require diligent monitoring and proactive adjustments by Intertwine’s team.

The SEO team will use their knowledge of SEO best practices to help Proxibid optimize their website. Their experts are fluent in site architecture issues, content optimization, and link building. Intertwine will provide Proxibid the competitive edge they’re looking for, helping them achieve top rankings for industry terms.

“I’m extremely excited about the partnership between Proxibid and Intertwine Interactive. Proxibid has a unique business model, creating a dynamic platform for major auction houses to surface their products to a larger audience. I look forward to working with the Proxibid team to dramatically increase their search engine presence,” said Nate Eslinger, Director of SEO at Intertwine.

About Proxibid

Proxibid has developed relationships with more than 2,500 auction companies and hundreds of thousands of bidders worldwide, helping to bring more qualified buyers and sellers together than any other online provider in the industry. The auction industry has embraced the Internet and our focus has evolved. The same technology that drove auction companies and bidders to the Internet is now a critical component to nearly every auction across the globe. Businesses expect to bring their auctions online and bidders demand it. Proxibid’s strategy has allowed them to develop into business consultants and technology experts who understand the specific needs of the auction industry. This has enabled Proxibid to become the world’s largest real auction marketplace, delivering the most trusted, sophisticated and intuitive products and services in the industry.

Consumers Concerned About Personalized Search Results

February 7th, 2012

Nearly half of internet users prefer standardized search results.

Search and social media are becoming more interconnected, particularly as Google works to integrate social media content into its search results.

In January 2012, Google announced that, as of March 1, 2012, search results on Google.com will incorporate content from users’ Google+ social network, highlighting links, photos and comments from Google+ within search results. This has led to some concern from users, particularly about privacy.

AYTM Market Research asked US internet users if they liked the idea of personalized search results. Of respondents, 15.5% said yes, they would like personalized search results, while 39.1% said yes, but that they were also concerned with privacy. Additionally, 45.4% said they would prefer everyone to see the same search results.

RKG, a search marketing company, found in its “Digital Marketing Report Q4 2011” that 83.5% of the organic search traffic of companies worldwide was through Google. While Google is by far the most popular search engine, another concern with Google’s search-and-social plan is that Google+ may not fully represent consumers’ social media lives.

According to AYTM, only 19.3% of respondents actively use Google+, while an additional 20.3% have an account but do not use it. Nearly one-fifth of respondents (19.5%) reported that they don’t know what Google+ is.

Twitter, in particular, took offense to Google’s plan to integrate Google+ content into search results, while not including that of Twitter and Facebook. Twitter and Google previously had a relationship where Twitter content showed up in Google’s real-time search results, but the two companies were unable to come to an agreement to continue the partnership in July 2011.

In a statement, Twitter said, “As we’ve seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter; as a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant results [for world events and breaking news]. We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone.”

Google faces an uphill battle as it works to connect its social content to search results, including determining how users prefer to connect the two. No matter what happens with Google+, though, marketers must find a balance with search and social media marketing, as the two are becoming more connected every day.

Source:  eMarketer

Intertwine Featured in Midlands Business Journal

February 2nd, 2012

We have some exciting news we’d like to share with everyone! Intertwine Interactive will be featured in the February 3, 2012 edition of the Midlands Business Journal. The story will focus on the topic of “Seeking to build a niche in Online Marketing.” Click on the link below to catch a sneak peek of the story: http://www.mbj.com/Papers/MBJ.html

Do You Pinterest?

February 1st, 2012

The image-based social network Pinterest has been around for a couple of years but it’s only in the last couple of months that interest in the virtual pinboard social network has soared.

In December, 2011, Hitwise listed Pinterest as one of the Web’s Top 10 and Time listed it in its Top 5 social networks of 2011. comScore reports that as of November, 2011, Pinterest had almost 5 million users.

New statistics, recently released by social sharing tools firm Shareaholic, reveal that Pinterest is pushing up the rankings to drive almost as much referral traffic (3.6%) as Twitter (3.61%) and Google (3.62%).

In fact, Pinterest now drives more referral traffic than YouTube (1.05%), Reddit (0.83%) and Google+ (0.22%).

The successful use of Pinterest by business will depend on many factors including whether the product or service offered “fits” with the visual aspect of the social network. Other than that, the possibilities of Pinterest use are limited only by the imagination.  Contests, promotions, new product development, consumer feedback, recruitment or brand awareness can all be developed using Pinterest, and more besides.

Success stories are already peppering the press including the 1million/month page views being achieved by 3-month old luxury lifestyle search engine LuxeFinds.com and the 10 million page views crafter Kate of The Small Things blog received.

Source:  Helen Leggatt BizReport.com

Online Advertising Ready To Takeoff

January 24th, 2012

In 2012 online ad spend will officially pass combined ad spend in magazines and newspapers. In 2012, US online spend is projected at $39million, compared to $34million in print and newspaper. What about TV, you ask? Forbes shared the research done by Forrester, which showed that by 2016 online ad spend will overtake TV. Forrester says, advertisers will spend almost $77 billion online, comprising 35% of overall ad spending.

Also according to Forrester, lots of changes are ahead for online advertising. A few to prepare your businesses for are: mobile ads will take over email marketing, display ads will rise, daily deal sites will decline, and social media will grow. In 2012, 70% of B2B Marketers will incorporate social media and 24% mobile marketing in their marketing plans.

With the outpour of reports focused on online advertising, most reports have one big focus; mobile. InMobi estimated smart phone advertising revenues have increased by almost 500% and tablet advertising was up nearly 800% from a year ago. Additionally, 74% of marketers reported that they will increase online ad spend, the largest increase compared to events, print and direct mail.

How will your business adapt? Do you have a plan in motion to help your company stay ahead of the curve? The time to start implementing is now, changes are happening and the way your company reaches your audience is evolving. The numbers don’t lie and if you don’t take to heart the changes in online advertising, your business could suffer in the near future. This post is not meant to scare you but to give you the knowledge to act upon the research given.

Google’s Latest: Page Layout Algorithm Changes

January 20th, 2012

By now you should know that the layout of your website pages can definitely affect your ability to rank organically. Lots of code at the top of your html, content pushed to the bottom? Not good. There are easy workarounds for this, including using table tricks or div tricks to place content (text) higher up in the code tree where Google can find it quicker. But enough about that. Google recently added an element to their algorithm designed to penalize sites that have too many ads above the fold. Users want to see content when they hit your landing page – not ads that make them scroll down to get to the meat.

Take a fresh look at your site’s pages – are they providing the best overall user experience possible? One of the best investments you can make in your website is hiring a usability consultant to help you improve your landing pages. If you can’t do that, read a book on the subject (Don’t Make Me Think is an oldie but a goodie), and then A/B test until you improve your conversion rate. If you can’t measure conversion effectively, look at other metrics like time on site, bounce rate, etc.

Google is serious about serving up results that provide the best user experience, so it’s wise to get out in front in this area.

Google Call Extensions

January 10th, 2012

Over the past year and a half Google has launched and tested new versions of their Call Extension feature.  It began as a simple Click to Call feature for mobile devices and has morphed into an enhancement all savvy Adwords users use.   The setup is extremely simple.

  1. Select the campaign for which you want to enable call extensions.
  2. Go to the Ad extensions tab and select the “Call extensions” view and click “New extension”. Enter your business phone number and the country where the number is based.
  3. To enable a Google forwarding phone number for you call extensions, choose “Show a Google forwarding phone number on all eligible ads and devices” under “Phone number options.” Google will then dynamically assign a Google forwarding number to any eligible ad group.
  4. Click “Save and continue.”

There are multiple benefits of adding Call Extension.

  1. The phone number in your ad does not count against the 70 character limits.  It basically gives you a slightly larger, more appealing ad.
  2. You can track and monitor the number of phone calls generated by this feature, how many times the call was displayed with your ad, and cost of the calls.

 

Although the feature initially was offered for free, Google has now found a way to profit off it.  The default and minimum Cost per Call generated is $1, but they do provide the ability to increase your Cost per Call, similarly the way you can increase your Cost per Click of keywords, and will reward your ad, with a higher ad position.

 

What does ROI mean to you?

January 5th, 2012

In my experience working with companies of all different sizes, if they’re thinking about participating in Social Media the typical setback question of most companies tends to be, “how can we measure the ROI of Social Media?” If they’re spending money in that channel, they want to understand what they’re getting from it. This is completely understandable and Social Media can be measured but in a slightly different way.

The ROI of Social Media doesn’t stand for return on investment, but return on influence. You must set measurable goals as a company but determing what those goals should be is probably one of the most debated topics of conversation on the web today. Many people believe it’s about getting the most “likes” or follows and some wont’ even put money towards Social Media if they can’t find a way to directly relate it to sales. Social media is meant to be an avenue to growth your brand awareness, engage with current and potential customers, provide real time customer service, create brand loyalty, develop brand ambassadors…among many other things.

In order for Social Media to be successful, we need to stop approaching it as a seperate entity and start looking at it from a more holistic view. In needs to be intergrated into your overall marketing strategy. Social will growth with much success, if it’s being promoted through other marketing channels. We’ve reached the digital age and people are demaning more, so now when your considering your marketing strategy you must consider not only traditional marketing but all the digital elements as well.

Is Social Media treated as seperated channel at your company? Do you have realistic Social Media goals set? We’d love it if you’d share some of your goals with us.

Intertwine Interactive names Karissa Tomsen Vice President of Business Development

January 3rd, 2012

Former Partner in Charge of Media for Bozell will spearhead business development initiatives and drive business expansion and collaboration opportunities for the company.

January 1, 2012, Karissa Tomsen joins Intertwine Interactive bringing a whole new aspect to a growing team. Karissa’s role at Intertwine is specializing in development and growth of our existing clients, while introducing Intertwine’s services to potential clients.  Leveraging her relationships with many top tier Media partners, she will be  able to quickly build new connections to expand our efforts locally and drive customers to our services.

Karissa has spent the last four years at Bozell where she was Partner in Charge of Media. Karissa comes to Intertwine with an impressive professional history, working with several notable clients. Her clients included First National Bank of Omaha, Alegent Health, Borsheims, Westlake Ace Hardware, Right at Home and others. Prior to Bozell she was in San Diego, California where her clients included TaylorMade-Adidas Golf Worldwide, Maxfli Golf, San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, Penta Water, The San Diego Union-Tribune, SignOnSanDiego.com, The University of Phoenix, Barona Resort and Casino, and others.

“Karissa’s hands on experience and expertise in the digital media sector only enhances our digital offering and her unique knowledge of the business will allow us to further widen our footprint,” said Jake Messerly, President of Intertwine Interactive.

Karissa graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism & Mass Communications.

Intertwine Announced as Leading Provider of Affiliate Marketing Services

December 14th, 2011

TopSeos.com Announces Intertwine Interactive as a Leading Provider of Affiliate Marketing Services

Intertwine Interactive, an Omaha based Online Marketing Agency has been recognized for it’s Affiliate Marketing service by securing a spot on this month’s list of the top 10 Affiliate Marketing Agencies . The monthly rankings list published by TopSeos is a guide to the cream of the crop Online Marketing vendors in the industry.

“I’m pleased to hear we’ve been recognized as a top 10 provider of Affiliate Marketing services in the industry. We strive to provide best in class offerings in all of our Online Marketing solutions. We look forward to the continued success of our clients in 2012,” said Intertwine Interactive’s President, Jake Messerly.

 Intertwine Interactive is included in this list for its consistent performance and the superior services rendered to its clients.

 TopSeos seeks out the leading Agencies in the industry through a rigorous evaluation criteria that includes:

  • Competitive advantage
  • Superior services and pricing
  • Customer and technical support
  • Response to client problems
  • Innovations that set it apart from the competition
  • Overall efficiency
  • Overall performance

As part of the evaluation process, clients of Intertwine Interactive are asked to give feedback on general and project specific questions such as:

  • Rate your overall experience.
  • What type of needs analysis was conducted before work initiated?
  • How is keyword research performed to identify the keywords that will be targeted in the content?
  • How is keyword density used in relation to content creation?
  • What editing processes are put in place?

“The whole industry looks to us to identify reliable and accurate benchmarks and Intertwine Interactive has proven by its performance that they deserve to be on this coveted list”, shared Jeev Trika, partner at TopSeos.

About TopSeos
Since its introduction in 2002, TopSeos has been identified as an independent authority on vendors who supply Online Marketing products and services ranging from the best search engine optimization companies to the best pay per click management tools. In addition, TopSeos connects thousands of businesses each year that are looking for Online Marketing services with those who provide it.  With dedicated online presence in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, TopSeos continues to make a global impact in the Online Marketing arena.

Advertisers confident about affiliate marketing growth in 2012

December 14th, 2011

The IAB’s affiliate marketing council have released research into advertisers’ opinions of the affiliate marketing sector that shows the channel is set to enjoy growth in 2012.

The survey answered by 140 brands  delves  into areas such as, how much the discipline is valued and used, the size and growth of the channel as well as how easy it is to integrate into the  wider online marketing mix.

The results of the survey also highlighted a need for further education amongst the more senior level marketers with 50% of respondent stating a knowledge gap in affiliate marketing at a CEO level with this knowledge gap increasing amongst those businesses over a certain size.

The survey which was carried out to further understand how advertisers are using the marketing channel also shone a light into the amount spent within affiliate marketing – 1/4 of respondents spending more than 20% of their budget on the channel as well as the strong affinity towards the discipline with 93% of respondents stating they would recommend it as an effective marketing channel.

Overview of the research:

  • 77% of respondents said that marketing spend for affiliates had grown and 71% expected it to grow again in the coming year
  • 19% of respondents are paying out over £100k month in affiliate commissions
  • 59% of respondents worked with just one affiliate network to manage their programmes
  • Over ¼ of respondents spend more than 20% of online marketing budgets on the affiliate channel
  • Half of all respondents said that knowledge of affiliate marketing at CEO level was little or none at all

Chair of the IAB Affiliate Marketing Council, Helen Southgate commented:

At a time when the economy is suffering it was really positive to see that 77% of advertisers had seen growth in the channel year on year and over 70% were expecting the channel to grow again in 2012.

“Affiliate Marketing is one of the few channels that is a performance only model so it makes real sense for Clients to invest their marketing budget here as there is less risk. It was really interesting to see that nearly 20% of respondents said they spent over £100k in affiliate commissions a month and over one quarter said that affiliates account for more than 20% of online budgets.

“This indicates affiliates are a significant channel in these brands marketing mix.  The council is looking to run these surveys at least twice yearly so will be interesting to compare results in 2012.”

Click here to read the full survey results

If you are interested in learning more about starting an affiliate marketing program, please contact us at steve@intertwineinteractive.com.

Are you maximizing your Real Estate with Google Adwords

December 12th, 2011

Google continues to grow its Global Search marketshare, 85% now compared to 72% in 2006, largely due to continued develop and enhancements of its Search Engines. One of the biggest differences between Google and their competitors, Yahoo and Bing, are the ad extensions Google offers. There are currently 5 different ad extensions: Sitelink, Product, Location, Phone and Social. This is the first in a series of 5 blog posts that will dive deeper into each extension, explaining how to set them up, best practices and expected results.

Location Extensions are designed to give local business a footprint with their paid ads. It is an absolute must have for all businesses with geo targeted campaigns or businesses that try to drive users to an onsite location. Location extensions include your local business address and phone number. You can include multiple locations in a single campaign, and the one closest to the user will appear in the ad.

As you can see below, the Intertwine paid advertisement for the term ‘seo specialist omaha’, holds significant more value and real estate, than the competitors, especially if you are looking for a local business.

How to Set Up

Location Extensions are extremely easy to set up. You can either link your Google Places account to your Adwords account, or manually add each location within the Adwords interface. Per the diagram below, click on the Ad Extension tab (#1), select the Location Extension (#2) link, then select whether you will link per Google Places or manually enter addresses.

Set up today and start receiving an immediate boost to your CTR. Remember, Google charges nothing additional simply for setting them up. Your only charges will be when a user clicks on your ad.

 

Announcing New Director of Affiliate Marketing

December 9th, 2011

Intertwine Interactive names Steve Manes Director of Affiliate Marketing

November  7, 2011 Steve Manes became a highly anticipated member of the Intertwine Interactive team! Steve’s role at Intertwine is specializing in the management of affiliate programs in a wide variety of industries driving an impressive total of over $12 million annually in affiliate sales for our clients. Leveraging his relationships with many top tier affiliate partners, he’s able to quickly build and expand on a program that drives new revenue and customers to his clients’ websites.

Steve has held several key positions for prominent companies in his professional career. To highlight a few, he was the Affiliate Marketing Manager for Sears Holdings Corporation. In his role at Sears Holdings Corporation he developed, grew and managed the Kmart.com affiliate program along with assisting on the Sears.com affiliate program, helped to exceed the yearly ROI goals, and created an annual 2011 plan and forecast for the affiliate program based on yearly metrics and industry trends.  He also launched, grew and managed the Sears Espanol, Sears Puerto Rico and MyGofer Affiliate Programs while serving as the point of contact to the Sears International team for all Affiliate, SEM and Datafeed inquiries.

Prior to acting as the Affiliate Marketing Manager for Sears Holdings Corporation, Steve was an Account Manager for LinkShare Corporation. While at LinkShare he had several responsibilities which included overseeing implementation of online marketing programs for 12 clients in multiple verticals, including the development and tracking of each client’s project plan. He also implemented individual account revenue strategies to exceed each client’s ROI goals, delivered client business reviews to highlight performance, growth opportunities, and industry trends, and oversaw a team of four that helped clients’ reach their affiliate marketing goals

Steve has his degree in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently resides in Chicago with his wife Meredith and two year old daughter, Isabella.  He is an avid sports fan, likes to travel, try new restaurants, and watch movies.


Google’s New Merchant Feed Limitations

December 7th, 2011

Are you looking to start submitting your products to Google’s Merchant Center?  Doing so will allow your products to be displayed in Google Search results, Google Shopping listings, and various mobile shopping apps.  The only problem is if your store has more than 500 products.  Google recently announced that newly registered product feeds would be limited to 50,000 products, which is down from their usual 100,000 limit.  Then, less than 2 weeks later, they reduced the number again to 500 products.

This is supposed to be a temporary limit, but there is no word on how long the limitations will be in place.  If you’re already signed up with Google Shopping, there is no need to worry.  Your feeds are safe and should remain unaffected by the changes.  If you’re a new merchant, there’s no telling how long you’ll be affected.

Are you a new merchant that’s being affected by these changes?  If so, you can try submitting a request for a quota increase at http://google.com/support/merchants/bin/request.py?contact_type=item_error.  Some merchants have reported success going this route, but not all.  Sound off in the comments with your thoughts or experiences with the new changes.

Sink or Swim?

November 29th, 2011

Social Media has been viewed in both a negative and positive light since the beginning of its existence, but have you ever taken a second to realize the true power that Social Media has on changing lives for the better? Social Media is not only a place to chat with your friends but it can also be used to prevent isolation, reconnect with your past, find a donor, raise money for disasters, and raise awareness. Can you recall a time when Social Media has impacted your life for the better?

Social Media has not only had a profound impact on our personal lives but also affects our external decisions.  ”Social media has infiltrated the purchasing funnel, helping consumers make informed decisions. So, as a brand marketer, you want to know what online channels you should be targeting in order to reach the perfect audience for your product.” -Mashable

In Social Media today a hot trend that is unavoidably the fastest moving trend you must get involved with to stay above water is, mobile Marketing. Everyone is spending countless hours chatting with friends, shopping online, playing games, checking the news, downloading new apps, and keeping up with their Social Media networks. With the rise of mobile technology, I’m interested in learning if companies are taking this seriously and getting on board the mobile train; either by making their websites mobile friendly or developing your own apps? Ultimately you have a decision to make, sink or swim people?

“The trend is growing, and social media on mobile phones is simply the way of the future.”

To finish off this blog post, I found an article by one of my favorites Jeff Bullas that I thought I would share with everyone because if you’re anything like me, you enjoy a good prediction! I’m curious to see who agrees with these seven upcoming trends, who is already on top of the mentioned trends, and who has something they think should be added to this list? Have you made any of your own predicitons about Online Marketing trends for 2012? http://linkd.in/tzq9qL

Love/Hate Relationship with Retargeting Ads

November 17th, 2011

I’m sure you have all experienced retargeting ads, whether you realized it or not.  After visiting a particular site, you begin noticing banner or text ads for this particular site, randomly throughout the web.  This is a highly effective method of ensuring you are staying in front of users that have shown a proven interest in your product.  However, if retargeting ads are not set up properly, they can actually negatively affect a brands marketing campaign.  Users begin to feel as though they are being stalked, or their online privacy is getting breached.  The following are “must do’s” to ensure your retargeting ads remain effective and shed a positive light on your Brand.

Frequency Capping

Easily the most important control method for retargeting is Frequency Capping.   You need to ensure you have set a limit on how frequently any particular person is displayed your advertisement.  A couple industry standard suggestions:  max of twice daily, six times per week, or a dozen times per month.

Ad Message

The best retargeting ads offer an incentive for returning to your site.  The user obviously left for one reason or another.  The retargeting ad should highlight something above and beyond, to truly entice them to return and finalize the transaction.

Multiple Ads

Displaying more than one banner ad, obviously gives you the best opportunity to provide an offer enticing enough to get someone to return to your site.  If the first offer doesn’t convert them, possibly the second ad will.

Buying Cycle

Know your products buying cycle, then display your product for only that length of time.  If it typically takes someone to research the product for 30 days before purchasing, you want to ensure you are staying in front of them that entire time.  However, if purchases are typically made within a week of the initial visit, your impressions are more than likely getting wasted on a user not looking to purchase anymore.

Following these simple guidelines, will assist getting the most out of your retargeting ads.

Paid Ads vs. Top Organic Ranking

November 8th, 2011

There’s been a lot of discussion, whether it is necessary to maintain a presence with Paid ads, if you have a very strong Organic ranking.  Luckily, there have been numerous case studies to shed light on this exact topic.

In July, Google statisticians ran over 400 studies on paused accounts to answer whether organic results would increase traffic if paid ads were paused.  Their group of researchers observed organic click volume in the absence of search ads. Then they built a statistical model to predict the click volume for given levels of ad spend using Paid and Organic impression volume as predictors. These models generated estimates for the incremental clicks attributable to search ads, or in other words, the percentage of paid clicks that are not made up for by organic clicks when search ads are paused.  The results were surprising. On average, the incremental ad clicks percentage across verticals is 89%. In other terms, a full 89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused. This number was consistently high across verticals.

Although I do not discredit that initial study, we do need to take into consideration that it was Google that released it.  I think all business professionals would agree, Google would never release a study that looked negatively at Paid search, since that accounts for 98% of their revenue.  There have been additional studies performed by third parties on this same topic.  One I found particularly interesting was done to specifically look at the impact of Trademark terms between Organic and Paid results.  This is a very hot topic for a lot of e-commerce sites who have a strong brand presence.

Here is a quick snapshot of the findings:

Bidding on Trademark terms:

Decreased Organic Clicks by just 1% to 3%
Decreased Organic Conversions by 23% to 29%

Increased Total Clicks by 12% to 13%
Increased Total Conversions by 10% to 18%

Although the paid search results did pull a significant number of orders from the organic links, they barely touched organic traffic. This means you are typically not paying for clicks that would have been netted through your free Organic ranking. Instead, you are paying for extra clicks, and this extra traffic led to an impressive increase in total orders of 10-18%.

If this data is not enough to prove the need to continue both Organic and Paid listings, run your own test for a couple weeks, however, when your orders and profits have taken a huge decline, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Case Study references available upon request.

Google Now Indexing Javascript and AJAX

November 2nd, 2011

Google recently (quietly) announced that they are able to execute Javascript and AJAX, and therefore index any text – including comments on Facebook. This means that your semi-private posts on your Facebook profile can now be indexed by Google, and therefore potentially show up in the search results. Most likely links from within Facebook comments won’t have much if any value, at least for the moment.

What this means for you is obviously privacy concerns, but for SEO’s it’s a bit frustrating in that we’ve been able to use AJAX navigation elements to keep Google from seeing certain links within a website. We knew that wouldn’t last forever, and now the moment has arrived. We will have to find other ways to hide links from Google’s probing eyes…

Google Analytics No Longer Showing Organic Keyword Data for Logged-in Users

October 21st, 2011

A few days ago a client forwarded me a link pertaining to Google’s announcement that they will no longer be providing keyword-level data for logged-in users who use organic search to find your website. In the past, if someone searched for “red mayonnaise virus” to locate your website via organic, that search term would show up in your organic keywords log in Google analytics. For reasons of privacy, that is no longer the case; now if someone is logged into their Google account (gmail, voice, etc.) you will only know that they arrived via organic, but not which keyword. This does not affect PPC ads, only organic. And for anyone NOT logged in to a Google account you will still have keyword data in your analytics profile. These sessions will appear as “not provided” in the organic keyword section of your Google analytics profiles.

Some recent tests have indicated that the number of users who are logged in to a Google account while searching the internet is around 10%. Granted, depending on what industry you are in this percentage may be higher or lower, and it’s also a fair assumption that this number will increase over time, especially as Google+ grows in popularity.

In the meantime, the majority – approximately 90% – of your organic visitors will NOT be logged in to Google and you will therefore continue to have the same level of keyword detail as before the change.

The original announcement from Google is posted here.

Compete.com is Better with Salt

October 13th, 2011

I am occasionally asked by clients why their website analytics data doesn’t match what Compete.com indicates, and therefore which data should they rely on?

My response is always the same: Compete doesn’t have anywhere near the level of factual data about your site that an analytics package will have. Compete is like an outside observer looking in, seeing only bits and pieces of what’s going on internally. Compete has partnerships with Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) around the country, from which they obtain raw data concerning how people use the internet. It’s maybe 10%-20% of the actual population, so it’s a fairly small representative sample. From there they might extrapolate the data and make some assumptions. In addition to this, some traffic simply can’t be captured and interpreted by the ISP’s Compete gets its data from, such as email traffic, certain social media traffic, or traffic from URL shortening services like bit.ly. I have found that Compete data is roughly 50% of actual, but it varies quite a bit depending on actual traffic makeup. More expensive services like Hitwise and Comscore are more in-depth, and can provide very valuable data, but they still only have hard access to a certain percentage of actual web users.

For analyzing your own website, nothing beats a good analytics package like Google Analytics or Omniture. And when using services like Compete.com to gauge the performance of your competitors, do so with a grain of salt. If your competitor relies heavily on email traffic Compete may significantly underestimate their success. If you really want to know how much traffic they are getting to their website, call them up and ask! They just might tell you :)

Social Media is Moving Forward, Don’t Fall Behind!

October 7th, 2011

There has been a lot of speculation mixed with blogger “research” on one of the most talked about topics in Social Media today, Facebook’s new timeline profile and open graph. So I thought, why not put all the information that I found in a condensed version relating only to the affects it has on businesses. First, lets clear up the misconception that Facebook is going to start charging people to be a member. Good news everyone, Facebook makes billions of dollars in revenue already. Facebook will always remain free to users!

A lot of things are changing, even the “like” button importance has changed drastically. You no longer have to “like” someone’s page to see their content or engage on their page. If you have been focusing all your efforts on getting fans to “like” your page, you might be freaking out. Don’t worry, this is a good thing because it puts the focus back on engagement, which is what the focus should have been in the first place.

As Social Media continues to evolve, so do the platforms. Facebook has shocked the world with the news of the timeline profile. Haven’t heard of it? Let me fill you in, the timeline tracks your activities throughout your life or at least since you’ve joined Facebook. This puts the pressure on advertisers to come up with ways to integrate themselves into our lives. Users will now have the ability to control what shows up in their news feeds, which means brands with boring content will have less visibility. Before, marketers goal was to get a “like,” now it will have to be about how to get their visitors to share interesting content with their friends. Brands need to create actionable social items that delivers something of value to their followers.

Open graph is all about applications and discovering what your friends are up to and what apps they are currently using.  This allows you to instantly activate the song your friend is listening to on Spotify or get the recipe of the lemon breasted chicken they are cooking. Fantastic for users, but what about marketers? Having these apps and sharing abilities at the fingertips of users will make social more real-time then ever! You will need to make sure to have great, shareable content. The key here may be to figure out how your business can leverage its own applications.

It has been said that if your product doesn’t integrate with Facebook’s open graph by 2012, then it doesn’t exist (Rick Mans). Remember, it’s key to not spam your product all over the place, the goal is to not sell your product but to think about what people can do with it and what makes it worth sharing? Make your product have meaning, one that can be talked about amongst friends. Don’t be scared away by the new changes, embrace them and challenge yourself to find a way to make your brand part of the new revolution in Social Media!

Google’s Panda Hates Today Show, Loves YouTube

October 5th, 2011

Earlier this year Google implemented an algorithm update known as “Panda” which was designed to reduce the rankings of content pages and websites that don’t have unique or ample content. Many sites have also seen a reduction in the number of pages indexed by Google as a result of this.

Basically they are targeting content farm sites – sites that scrape content or generate low-quality content for the sole purpose of monetizing that traffic, rather than providing original, valuable content – such as mahalo.com and ehow.com. These sites typically cover a broad spectrum of topics, and have lots of monetization on them (Google AdSense, banner ads, etc.).

The most recent update to the algorithm (Google has tweaked it several times throughout the year) had a negative impact on sites like The Today Show, Technorati, and press release aggregator PR Newswire. Winners are sites like Google’s own YouTube (imagine that), TV.com, Zappos, and Fox News.

None of my SEO clients have been significantly impacted by Panda, but I’m curious to hear if you have been affected by a Panda update…

Be Nice to Spiders

October 1st, 2011

My wife is funny when it comes to spiders. If they’re outside in their natural habitat, she leaves them alone and appreciates the role they play in nature. But when they come inside the house, they’re as good as dead – plain and simple.

But I’m not talking about THAT kind of spider. I’m talking about the kind that crawls the web, searching for fresh content it finds at the end of long, sinewy links.

Unfortunately, some web designers have the same philosophy towards the Google spider as my fiance does towards real spiders – stay out! They are more concerned with providing a good user experience than they are with good search engine rankings. While this is understandable and seems well-intentioned, it is unnecessary and ill-advised. Bear in mind that, while your potential customers are arguably your most important visitors, search engine spiders are also VIP’s who deserve to have a good experience when visiting your site. Spiders just want to suck up all the information they can about your site. Things like Ajax, javascript, and even excessive whitespace make that job harder. The good news is, there is often a way to satisfy both human and spider – it just takes a little bit of ingenuity to get there. We have experience in satisfying both types of visitors, so give us a call to find out how you too can be nice to spiders.

Find Your Fit

September 16th, 2011

With Social Media sites popping up, what almost seems like every other day, there are literally hundreds of sites you could get involved with. So which ones do you decide to dedicate your efforts to? Well, you have to ask yourself which social site best fits my company’s needs. What is my target market, strategy, goals, time that I can commit, budget, industry, and probably the most important but least considered, what is it I’m trying to sell…a product, service or myself?

What people don’t realize, to be what is considered “social,” you don’t have join every Social Media site that comes along. That could take up a LOT of your time and you’ll get burnt out quickly. Most social sites will “fad” in and fade right back out, almost as quickly. Obviously the few Social sites that have stuck are: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. A few things I have learned in social are: you can choose to do one thing and be the best at it, or you can choose to do many things and become mediocre. If it were me, I wouldn’t settle for anything but being the best! Another thing I’ve learned is that it isn’t about the quantity, it’s about the quality when it comes to numbers. Most people can’t seem to see past the numbers, but you’ll come to realize that the quality of people will outweigh the quantity in the end. Why? because they will be loyal, active participants, willing to advocate and share your brand with friends.

The way I see it is, if your wanting to get your product or service seen by other professionals or you’re looking to advertise a “professional type” event, LinkedIn is the way to go. If your looking to get in front of millions of younger people hungry for the latest updates, Facebook is the way to go. Facebook can be used to help educate, interact, and gain brand awareness. If your supporting a cause or have second by second updates that can be made (ie. drink specials) Twitter is perfect for you. Everyone is looking to be an advocate for something they are passionate about. People want the hot news and they want it now, by now I mean yesterday. Lastly, YouTube is perfect for anyone that has a story. YouTube can be used in connection with all the other mentioned Social Media sites, mainly as an add-on to make that site more valuable.

I hope my learnings have helped or at least got your brain rolling with some new ideas to “find your Fit.”

 

 

Benefits of Developing a Blogger Network

August 10th, 2011

People are relying on friends and friends of friends for recommendations on everything from places to shop to places to eat. The best kind of friend to have is a well connected blogger. If you can join a blog network or develop a strong relationship with a blogger they can be an extremely useful tool, that can developed into a  strong brand loyal ambassador for your company.

People no longer notice ads on television, bloggers have the ability to help combat this. A blogger is someone who can develop a repute with their followers. Their followers trust the blogger is giving their 100% honest thoughts and opinions on certain things because they have nothing to gain from not being completely honest. The audience then becomes loyal to the blogger over time and trusts deeply in the products, services, and general opinions of the blogger.

Bloggers can give a personal voice to your product, service, or brand making it very appealing to the people reading about it. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a complimentary review or a recommendation from a friend. Plus, the likihood of the blogger being connected with other like-minded bloggers is very high. Therefore you are not only reaching her and her direct community but you are also reaching the audience members and their communities, if they like what they see and hear.

There is also a SEO component to blogging as well. You can provide website, social networks and product links for the blogger to include in their review and those links will then hopefully drive some additional unique track to those sites. If taking advantage of finding a suitable blogger network for your company’s needs sounds like a avenue you would like to explore, contact Intertwine for additional information. We want your brand to be heard, explored and talked about positively!

 

 

Join the Advertising Revolution

August 10th, 2011

Social media today has started a whole new revolution moving away from traditional advertising methods such as print, television, direct mail and heading down the road of online advertising. Social sites are now used as the communication medium between B2C and B2B. Are you asking yourself the right questions? If you are doing all the work to have a strong online presence, have you found your target market? Have you reached out to them via advertising to lead them to your social sites? Do they know what your company is currently offering to them?

LinkedIn advertising is a great solution to finding your target market if you are offering products, a service, or running a promotion. There are over 100 million users on LinkedIn (growing daily) and a majority of those users are active on LinkedIn, usually using LinkedIn 3 times a week. LinkedIn is filled with business professionals looking to network, job search, or learn more about your company. With LinkedIn advertising you can target your customers by profession, industry, geography, age, gender and many more very specific criteria choices. The best parts about advertising on LinkedIn are that you control your budget and you can start and stop the ads whenever you want. You have the freedom to test as many ads as you please and if one isn’t working, you go with the one that is showing successful metrics.

Advertising in social network hot spots is becoming more and more popular because you can see direct results. LinkedIn and Facebook are just two of the top choices but you can bet a pretty penny that this a movement that will see continued success. If you want to test and learn early what works for you and where your customers are at, let Intertwine help shape your message to efficiently interact with your potential new customers.

Content is Still King

August 5th, 2011

If you’ve engaged Intertwine for an SEO audit at some point, then you already know that we take a 3-pronged approach, focusing on website architecture, content, and links. As part of the audit, we always look for opportunities to optimize your existing content for SEO, which at it’s most basic level simply means adding some relevant (read: people actually search for them) keywords to your copy. We often also recommend the creation of new content for strategic areas of your website, be it a paragraph of copy added to a text-starved page, or a wholly new 400 word article where none existed before. Of course the maxim that “less is more” often butts heads with the philosophy that content is king, so middle ground must often be found.

Intertwine recently added SEO-trained copywriters to our marketing arsenal. Our philosophy is that it’s easier to teach a professional writer about a new subject matter than it is to teach a subject matter expert how to write professionally. So with that in mind, when you get the urge to beef up the copy on your site, we will be happy to provide you with a proposal specific to your needs and budget.

Even if you choose to do all your content creation in-house, we hope you make the “write” decision when it comes to web-based content. (Sorry, couldn’t resist…)