Improve Your Instagram Ads With These Tips

Instagram-ads
Instagram is full of opportunities for businesses. With over 40 million users, there’s a good chance at least part of your demographic has an Instagram profile and logs in regularly. Which makes it a great social network to advertise on, especially with Facebook owning the network.

Since Facebook purchased Instagram back in 2012, Instagram has improved for the better. One of the many improvements has been the release of advertising to all businesses. Instagram advertising started out slow and steady, just allowing a few of the big players to post sponsored posts in our Feeds. After finding success, Facebook opened the Instagram advertising doors to all businesses, even small and local companies.

After expanding it’s advertising partners, Instagram advertisements morphed into multiple ad design types, allowing videos to be up to 60 seconds long and including the Carousel Ad feature to display multiple images within one ad. With multiple objectives to choose from, and now different ad design types, there’s several ways to create a successful ad on Instagram. But, as with all advertising, it’s best to go above and beyond the basic steps and create advertisements that perform for both the consumer and the business.

Follow the tips below to help improve your Instagram advertising skills and give users a better reason to double-tap a sponsored post.

Choose Your Objective Wisely

Like advertising with Facebook, Instagram offers several different objectives and goals to accomplish with sponsored posts. Each objective is specific to a different kind of goal and can help increase brand awareness, website traffic, app installs, video views, and more. The key is to choose the right objective that fits with your business goals. Take a look at the objectives below and see which aligns best with your business goals.

Clicks to Website
When a user clicks on a sponsored image on Instagram that has a Clicks to Website objective, the user is asked if they would like to go to the website. If so, the user clicks to agree and is directed to the designated website. The available ad formats are: Photo, Video, and Carousel.

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Website Conversions
Similar to the Clicks to Website objective, this objective encourages people to take a specific action on your website from clicking on a sponsored post on Instagram. The available ad formats are: Photo, Video, and Carousel.

Mobile App Installs and Mobile App Engagement
Spread the word about your new mobile app on Instagram with these two sponsored post objectives. Both objectives help introduce a new app and can help increase app installs and engagement. The available ad formats are: Photo, Video, and Carousel.

Video Views
Just released a new video on the blog? Create a sponsored post on Instagram with a Video Views objective. Give a sneak peek of what to expect using a video and entice users to click to watch. The available ad formats are just video.

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Reach and Frequency
Need to reach a large audience? This objective will get your sponsored post the reach it needs, as well as greater control over the type of message frequency. The available ad formats are: Photo, Video, and Carousel.

Page Post Engagement
Similar to a post engagement ad on Facebook, this objective targets users who are most likely to engage with the sponsored post. The available ad formats are: Photo and Video.

Mass Awareness
Have something important to say? This one’s for you! Get your message heard, whether it be a new sale, a presidential election, or an article that needs to be read. The Mass Awareness objective will drive awareness to a broader audience and guarantee impressions and placement in the top ad position of Instagram’s feed. This objective is only available through Insertion Order, which means you have to connect with a sales partner for availability.

Publish Content a Brand Can Stand Behind

It’s beginning to become repetitive, but there are still businesses publishing content that makes people question,why?”

  • The photo is slightly pixelated
  • The text of the ad doesn’t make sense with the image
  • There is no call to action, anywhere
  • The person in the image doesn’t represent me

Instagram calls for a visual appeal to each post that moves people and inspires them. It is one of the most creative social networks and has a specific type of demographic that is pleased by visual elements so you need to create content that is impressive and exciting. Here’s a few different tips t0 help improve your advertisement content:

1. Be consistent with the type of image and filter. If a user clicks from the sponsored post to view the business page on Instagram, the rest of the images should resemble the style of the image used in the ad. For example, if each image has a soft hue filter, or bright contrast, mimic the same kind of style for the sponsored image.   
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2. Don’t be afraid to get artistic. Regardless of what kind of industry you represent, any business can have a creative presence on Instagram and in their advertisements. The more artsy the image, the more likely it is to be engaged with. It adds a level of excitement when an Instagram advertisement from a dentist offers a unique perspective, instead of a stock photo image of a white jacket and a straight smile.

3. Avoid looking like a sponsored post. Feel free to add a logo or text to an Instagram ad, but tread lightly. You want to blend in with the Feed, and not stand out as an advertisement.
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Experiment With Different Ad Types

After narrowing down the perfect objective for your Instagram advertisement, choose a format that will get the point across best. Each ad type has a different design feature to compliment and better display your message. Keep in mind that not every objective comes with each of the design options below, so be aware of ad format compatibilities.

Photo Ads
Photos are the foundation of Instagram and the simplest way to display an ad. Photo ads help businesses tell their story using creativity and impressive imagery. Choose an image that will inspire your call to action and one that aligns with the caption.

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Video Ads
Now 60 seconds long and available in landscape format, video ads on Instagram are one of the most powerful ways to attract an audience. A minute can give a business plenty of time to get their message across, and leave room for a few interactive shots.

Carousel Ads
A Carousel ad allows a business to post multiple images in one ad. Users swipe right to see additional images and can click on a call to action button to jump from Instagram to a website to learn more.

Create a Memorable Link

Lots of businesses join Instagram to increase engagement with their demographic and increase brand exposure. But, a major player in taking the time to manage a business Instagram account is to increase traffic to a blog, website, landing page, or product page.

Include a URL that is easy to remember if the advertisement objective isn’t “Clicks to Website”. The easier a URL is, the more likely people will be able to type it into a new browser and visit the link. Use URL shorteners like Bit.ly and Hootsuite to customize the URL and create a shortened version.

Don’t Use Your Facebook Audience For Instagram

Some specialist may disagree with this suggestion, but we can all agree that Instagram is a different animal than Facebook. Out of the 400 million Instagram users, there is some overlap in the amount of people who have both an Instagram and Facebook profile and login regularly to both. But, people come to Instagram to experience something different than Facebook, a more unique Feed.

Facebook is a great place to catch up on baby photos, keep track of old friends you’ll properly never meet for lunch, and talk to businesses with. Whereas, Instagram is headquarters for fisheye lens, broad landscapes, and trendy selfies. That’s why you don’t want to use the same exact audience targeting for an Instagram ad as you do for Facebook. Customize the audience to still reach your demographic, but attract a more specific Instagram audience and let Facebook reach a broader audience since they clearly have more fans available to reach.
Have you advertised with Instagram before? What are some of the do’s and don’ts you came across? Comment below to share your experience!

4 SEO Experts Dissect the Relationship Between SEO & Clients

SEO is complicated, especially when trying to explain it’s importance to a client. SEO specialists can diagnose issues and needs much easier than business owners and help avoid future penalties and ranking issues. With so many components to a creating a successful SEO campaign, all of which are usually constantly changing, the process of improving a website’s ranking can be both overwhelming and confusing to business owners. That’s why I asked four different SEO experts to share their experience working with clients for SEO.

Question #1: What is one of the biggest SEO-related complaints you receive from clients?
Question #2: What are some of the most common SEO needs your clients have?

Read on to see some of the most common issues client’s have with their SEO and how agencies are creating solutions.

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Steve Wiideman is President of Wiideman Consulting Group, specializing in SEO Consulting, Training, Strategy & Procurement. Formerly known as “SEO Steve”, Wiideman offers SEO consulting to an array of businesses and entrepreneurs. Follow Steve at @SEOsteve.

Client Complaints About SEO

The biggest complaints we hear from clients are a lack of transparency regarding what is being worked on, who is working on it, and quantifiable reasoning the tasks even exist. Second to transparency is the lack of a well-defined strategy for addressing technical, contextual and visibility disciplines. Just “doing SEO” can create a greater risk than doing nothing at all, especially if activities create irregular patterns of behavior that search engines may scrutinize.”

#1 Need For SEO

Therefore, the biggest need for any client is a strategy, a roadmap that creates transparency, and ultimately culminates with improved search engine visibility from increased accountability and buy-in to the big picture.

Steve brings up a great point about transparency with clients. Often times clients don’t have a full understanding of everything involved in SEO-type tasks. Clearly explaining what work is being done, why, and what kind of results should be expected is an important step to help balance a client relationship.

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Marcus Miller is the SEO & Digital Marketing Strategist at Bowler Hat, an SEO, PPC, and digital marketing agency in the UK. Follow him on Twitter for the latest in SEO news @marcusbowlerhat.

Client Complaints About SEO

There are many problems with SEO from a client’s perspective. Whether that is a lack of understanding of what is being done or a lack of anything seemingly tangible. It’s not sexy or exciting working on meta descriptions and page titles for a 50,000 product e-commerce site, but sometimes that is what needs to be done. It’s so important to clearly explain the issues and educate the client as to the benefits of a given piece of work. Where possible this has to be tied to business objectives with KPIs so we can clearly detail the benefits. Ultimately, our job is not only to improve rankings, but to improving the interface between search engine users and our clients websites.

#1 Need For SEO

The biggest problem in SEO at the moment is the lack of strategy. The search landscape is changing. Paid results dominate the page and brands are highly visible in organic results. Organic results are also leaning ever more towards informational results. If a client comes to us with commercial keywords with four text ads, shopping ads and results from big brands dominating the front page we have to review the strategy to acquire customers from search. How do we compete with the titans? Often, by being the authority on a given topic we can still displace big general stores like Amazon but we have to know we are picking fights we can win and have a clear strategy to do so.

The search landscape is changing. Having a large advertising budget can certainly help a business appear above it’s competition, but so can providing real information and having a solid SEO strategy.

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Amel Mehenaoui is a Digital Marketing Consultant and the founder of MobiWebMedia, a digital marketing agency in Montreal, Canada. Amel also teaches SEO & Web Analytics, and offers tailored private training sessions to entrepreneurs, and in-house SEO and digital marketing specialists. Follow Amel at @amelm.

Client Complaints About SEO

From my 10 years experience with SEO and running my Web Marketing Agency for the past 8 years, the most common biggest complaints with SEO from most clients are the facts that first of all, it may takes time to rank high on the search engines for their competitive keywords (and they don’t want to wait). Second of all, to be effective you have to regularly publish a lot of high quality content (but it cost to hire a content specialist). So, I always say to my clients and SEO students to think of themselves as a content publisher where you’d use SEO as a powerful catalyst to boost your traffic thus conversion and revenue.

#1 Need For SEO

Clients’ biggest challenge with SEO is making sense of how it really works. What I mean by that, is that most of the time clients think that SEO is a black box made of tricks and hacks that can manipulate the search engines rankings and magically place them in the first rank of the first page of Google. So it’s our responsibility to educate them from the start that SEO is not just Search Engines optimization but it also include search engagement and experience optimization.

Trying to rank on “Page One” takes a lot of time, and effort. Amel isn’t the only one who’s had frustrated clients due to the amount of time it takes to show results with SEO. Patience and consistency is key. Just keep swimming!

3046774Rob Laporte is the Founder and Managing Partner of DISC, Inc. The company is made of search marketing and conversion rate optimization experts who strive to make websites money.

Client Complaints About SEO

My 19 years experience helps me to educate clients on what SEO is and is not, and to set realistic expectations. The biggest concern, though not really a complaint, is that SEO done right has gotten very complicated and, relative to their hopes, too expensive. I’m up front about this complexity and cost, and I often advise that clients and prospects explore non-digital marketing more (or again), as those costs have come down over the last several years. Among prospects who are not yet clients, the #1 complaint is that the search marketing field seems lousy with hucksters and incompetents.

#1 Need For SEO

Beyond the obvious wish for a lot more business coming from search engines, clients’ #1 wish is to learn how to prioritize by ROI all that can be done in SEO, so that they invest in the most cost-effective tasks first. A close second place is the wish to learn enough to do some SEO in-house, although usually clients discover they don’t really have enough time and resources to do much in-house.

It’s become more and more common for agencies and start-ups to try and offer a one-stop-shop for digital marketing, whether or not they require all of the skills needed. The alternative to bringing SEO in-house usually results in time lost and sometimes penalties from faulty work. It’s best to do thorough research on a website and it’s past performance prior to starting a new SEO campaign, as well as use tools like AuthorityLab’s keyword and ranking tools to help enhance efforts using minimal time.

How have you seen SEO affect your clients? What are some of their greatest concerns?
Comment below with your thoughts!

Defining Google’s Adwords Express

Struggling to make Adwords work for your business? Taking course after course and attempting to crack the keyword code? If so, AdWords Express may be a perfect advertising alternative for your business.

Google designed AdWords Express, also known as AWE, to be a simpler alternative to Adwords for small businesses and first time advertisers. Adwords is a complex pay-­per-­click advertising tool that can greatly increase conversions, website traffic, sales, calls, etc. when used correctly.

To achieve proper ROI with Adwords takes both time and PPC knowledge, both of which small business owners and first time advertisers usually don’t have. This is why Google gave birth to AWE years ago, as a way for anyone to easily publish an advertisement on Google in 15 minutes or less.

The Joys of Automation With AWE

One of the best features of using AWE is the automation. During the setup process, businesses are only required to enter up to three lines about their business, define a little bit of targeting, and set a budget. AWE then automatically manages where and when the ad appears, elliminating the time it takes to A/B test multiple advertisements and add multiple keywords.

Thanks to the automation process, advertisers no longer have to upload excel list after excel list of well-research keywords or create a bunch of different ads to reach a specific audience. AWE takes care of the heavy lifting and lets businesses focus on what they do best.

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How to Setup AWE in Five Steps

The focal point of this type of advertising is how quickly and easily businesses can post ads on Google. In just five steps, any type of business can have an ad running on Google.

  1. Select your audience. If you’re a local­ based business this is going to be your most important step. Choose the type of audience you want to target based on how close they are to the business or by city, state, region, and/or country. After defining the proximity, you’ll define what type of service you want to advertise and what language.Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 10.11.52 AM
  2. Create the content. Businesses are given three lines to grab a searcher’s attention with an AWE ad. The headline consists of 25 characters and is followed by two additional lines each maxing out at 35 characters. This is where you’ll want to include a call to action, discount, or reason the ad should be clicked on.
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  3. Enable call reporting. To help track calls and keep up with data, it’s best to enable Google’s call reporting feature. This informs you of how many phone calls are generated directly from the ad. Google will automatically change your business phone number to a generic toll-free or local number that forwards to the normal business line.
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  4. Define your budget.The minimum budget allowed is $1.50 a day. AWE will optimize the ad to show until all of the designated budget has been used through clicks/calls. Once the budget has been reached, the ad will be removed for that day. The cost per click can vary based on the demand, location, and service.
    Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 10.17.08 AMHow much should the daily budget be? You get what you pay for, as with an advertising campaign. The more you invest in a daily budget the more clicks/calls you can expect to receive. To give an example of ROI, for a budget of $5 a day Google claims a photographer in the San Francisco area can expect to receive up to 100 clicks to their website in a month from an AWE ad.
  5. Input billing information. The final step is inputting the billing information and then voila!

Pros of Using AWE Instead of Adwords

The biggest highlight of AWE over Adwords is how quickly a business can post a new advertisement. Most business owners, especially small business owners, don’t have time to learn the fundamentals of keyword research, let alone how to run an Adwords campaigns that converts. AWE simplifies the process, while still allowing businesses to run ads on Google.

Another benefit of AWE advertisements is that the advertisements look and are listed like Adwords. AWE ads can be seen at the top of Google’s Search results, on Google Maps and throughout Google’s Partner websites.pros of adwords

The Cons Associated With AWE

One of the biggest negatives of using AWE is the data. With Adwords, business owners are given much more information about conversions and results. AWE offers basic information about the ad performance such as impressions, clicks, average cost per click, and click­-through rate, but doesn’t reveal deep reporting like Adwords does. This can make A/B testing nearly impossible without having enough data to define “success” with AWE.

Not being able to bid on different keyword types and create multiple types of advertisements is also a big con of AWE. Some advertisers have seen negative ROI using AWE over Adwords by not having all of the advertising abilities that Adwords does. But, if AWE did have each capability, it would defeat the ease and simplicity of having a simple advertising platform that can be setup in minutes, versus hours and days.

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Whether or not you take the leap from Adwords to AdWords Express, it’s still valuable for every business to check in on their keywords and ranking from time to time. To help easily manage your research, AuthorityLabs is there to help. Automate SEO monitoring, track local rankings, recover (not provided) keywords and more with this industry leading SEO software.

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Have your own opinion about AdWords Express? Comment below with your experience using the Adwords alternative.

Time Becomes a Factor in Facebook’s Newest News Feed Update

Facebook-time-algorithmOnce again, Facebook has made another update to it’s News Feed algorithm. ​This algorithm is updated frequently by Facebook to help improve user experience and satisfy what kind of posts actually want to be seen in News Feeds.

To figure this out, Facebook asks thousands of people each day for feedback on their individual News Feeds and how it can be improved, known as the Feed Quality Program.

Not all social networks take as much time and effort as Facebook does to try and perfect the user experience, but a lot of benefits steam from a positive user experience. The more people who enjoy using Facebook, the more daily users will log in and interact.

More users (over 1 billion currently) give a more diverse demographic for businesses to target and connect with. Businesses are more likely to advertise with Facebook when the ROI makes sense and the right demographic is within reach. Users are more likely to interact with Pages and Facebook Ads when they’re presented with ads that relate to them.

Clearly, a good News Feed can come full circle and benefit all parties. ​

So, What Makes This Update Different?

Instead of focusing on how much interaction a post receives, Facebook wants to show more of what people want to see in articles. Some stories don’t need a like, or a user may not feel the need to comment, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested in it. Scanning through headlines without reading a full news article is like scanning through a post without clicking Like or leaving a comment on Facebook. Therefore, Facebook needed to make some adjustments to avoid the algorithm from hiding posts people still wanted to see, but weren’t engaging with.

To provide a solution, time is now a ranking factor for Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. How much time a user spends reading and/or watching content that they’ve clicked on from within the News Feed will help dictate what people are engaging their “time” with most and want to still see in their News Feeds. Load time won’t be accounted for in the amount of time spent on a clicked post, Facebook will just analyze the actual time spent reading or watching the clicked content. Longer content will also be notated since the longer the content, the more time it takes to consume.
“We (Facebook) are adding another factor to News Feed ranking so that we will now predict how long you spend looking at an article in the Facebook mobile browser or an Instant Article after you have clicked through from News Feed. This update to ranking will take into account how likely you are to click on an article and then spend time reading it.”

How Does This Affect My Business?

There isn’t a direct affect to businesses with this News Feed update. Other than a possibility for increased referral traffic, most Pages won’t see a huge difference with this News Feed update unless they make direct content changes.

To help accommodate this update, businesses need to share content people want to see. Good, quality content is what we’ve been asking for for years now, but many businesses are still missing the mark. Test your Facebook audience by posting different types of content (video, blog post, image) at the same time of each day, so that timing doesn’t effect results, and see what kind of response you get organically.

Are people engaging with the image post, but the blog post is receiving a lot of click-throughs? Adjust the type of content you share on Facebook to what the audience responds best to and you’ll be more likely to make the algorithm cut.

When Does the Algorithm Go LIVE?

The News Feed update won’t impact every Facebook user immediately. The update will start to slowly hit News Feeds over the next few weeks.

Every update comes with commentary. Leave your thoughts in the comments below about Facebook’s latest update.

Rank Tracking; Is It Useful in Modern SEO?

Over the last few years there’s been a fair bit of contention around the value and uses of rank tracking in the modern world of SEO. I went into the trenches to see what others thought and how they were using these applications themselves. And while it might seem self-serving to write about it here on AuthorityLabs, that’s not how I roll. I don’t pander to the publication.

Here’s what I found…

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All About the Vanity

When it comes to rank tracking, it’s certainly evolved over the years. Many of us remember back when SEO companies used to boldly state on their websites, “We got our client over 200 top rankings!”. Which of course sounds awesome at first glance. The problem of course was that it was usually on uber long-tail keywords that brought little, if any traffic (and even fewer conversions).

On the other hand, we had clients that wanted, and ate up, monthly tracking reports. While that still exists today, often times it was still not really a great way to justify yourself in an ongoing basis. It’s not always how many top rankings we obtain, but which ones and how well they drove traffic and converted.

In other instances, we’d see clients chasing vanity terms, that weren’t always logical in terms of revenues and profits. As a consultant, I still see those to this day.

When to Track and What to Track

All of this begs the question; should be be using rank tracking in modern SEO? Obviously, given where I am writing, the answer is – YES. From my own experience, and talking to my peers across my many channels, here’s some of the ways that people are using them today;

Revenues & margins – straight away, one of the more important uses is to set out the terms that matter. Which ones are the most popular products? Which drive the greatest revenues? Which have the top margins? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourselves and then set up rank tracking for those. With AuthorityLabs, I also use the tagging system to annotate the differences so that I can watch what matters, generalized keywords that don’t pay the bills, are meaningless to me.

Competitors – one of the more popular uses these days is using rank tracking applications to monitor where we stand in comparison to our competitors. We are looking for changes in the landscape against the top common competitors. If we’re gaining ground; why? Are there SEO changes that we’ve made? Offline marketing? Changes in social strategy? Success does not mean that we don’t analyze.

If one of them has started to gain ground, but not others, then we also want to know why. Have they made changes to their site? To their content program? We’re looking to establish what they’ve done so that we can address our own potential needs for change.

Algorithmic changes – another reason, attached to the above, is that we’re also looking for changes across various query spaces. This often means that Google is doing something differently. You should always bear in mind that changes that Google makes, often have a different affect in different markets. Not all algorithm changes are created equal. By watching rankings across a market and set of query classifications, can often show hints as to what changes Google might be making in the space.

Low hanging fruit – another approach is to cross reference ranking data with SERP CTR data and look for under-performing terms that either have a poor SERP CTR, or are sitting on the outside looking in (below the fold). By making some slight changes to the TITLE or Meta-description elements, we can often increase both, with the least amount of work. Rank tracking in these instances, can be useful in establishing what’s working, and what isn’t. Google’s “Avg Ranking” data, really doesn’t cut it.

Universal opportunities – one area that’s often underutilized, is targeting the universal elements (images, news, video etc..). We’ve found that trying to grind from page 3 to above the fold on page one, is far more of a struggle than getting a universal into the space. While we’re working our way up, we’ve already dropped a page 1 (often above the fold) video universal, in no time at all. Some applications (such as Authority Labs) has the ability to track these, which can be invaluable to your strategy.

Informational over commercial – even if your site is in an ecommerce world, often times there is also going to be a content strategy in place as well. When tracking rankings, you should also be segmenting these. From the informational side of things, we can look at not only which content elements we rank for, but also the associated traffic it’s driving. This helps to better target content in the future.

It’s a Mobile World

Another area that is paramount these days is to get a grasp of the geo-locational and mobile landscapes. This is somewhere that a good rank tracking application can be golden. Some of the uses we look at include;

Side-by-side – when you enable mobile tracking with Authority Labs, you can see a side-by-side comparison of rankings for a term in the desktop vs. mobile environments. This can then be compared against mobile/desktop traffic data in analytics. This can help drive over-all strategy as well as watching to see what a given change you’ve made reacted in the SERP landscape. If your rank tracking application doesn’t do this? Hehe… time for a change maybe huh? It’s damned handy at-a-glance report.

Changes to mobile strategy – as with the above, we can look at changes we make to the site and what effects they’re having. If it’s a new responsive design, speed improvements or going tot AMP, tracking mobile rankings and analytics data, can help to show an actual cost benefit to what you’ve been doing. Which is always popular with the boss or C-level types.

The other obvious issue is going to be localized rankings. What ranks at the top in NYC, is often not what is ranking there in LA. That’s certainly another important aspect that a good rank tracking application can help with, when you’re serving and targeting multiple national geo-regions.

At the end of the day, I would add the geo/mobile considerations to the other points mentioned earlier, as it’s where Google wants to go, and where we want to be. That’s definitely another area that I have found (good) rank tracking applications to be invaluable.

A Case for Forensics

Another area that I do a lot of consulting in is the world of forensic SEO. Essentially that is when you are trying to figure out where traffic losses come from. It could be due to a penalty, but other times it’s actually caused by changes at Google.

Here’s a great example in the local world, where the rank tracking helped establish where losses came from:

LOcal-Losses

In the ‘Pre-losses’ section, the website in question was in a local pack at the top of the SERP, and also had positions 3-6 below that (domain crowding). When we look at the post-losses, we can see that Google completely changed how they were treating that space, as far as localization was concerned as well as core rankings. Instead of showing local results for the query, they switched to a more branded Audi SERP display. They also dropped the site well down in the standard rankings as well (due to changes in localization).

Obviously, this is going to give a fairly significant traffic loss. But without tracking data like this, it would normally be harder to identify what happened, and explain that to the client (ie; Google changes, not your fault lol). Try figuring that out by merely having analytic data… I think not.

And so, the question remains….

Is rank tracking useless in 2016?

Nope.

To be honest, it even goes beyond some of the ideas I’ve given you. What if there are small or even wholesale changes made to the site? Are you merely going to watch traffic levels and the very limited query data from Google to establish what worked and what didn’t? This is another great use for rank tracking applications. Just create a segmented report for those pages/terms and add to the mix with your other data sources.

In the modern world of personalization, I don’t find straight-up rank tracking and reporting to be nearly as valuable as it once was, but that doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bath water, right?

Ultimately, like any SEO tool, you need to establish your own needs. I don’t like most tools ‘out of the box‘ to be honest. We want to go beyond the obvious and look for ways that it can be truly valuable, not just another data source.

Please do hit the comments and let me know how you use rank tracking in your modern world of SEO…

SMS Marketing 101: How to Run a Successful Text Messaging Campaign

Think text message marketing isn’t right for your demographic? Think again! Over 80% of American adults text, which makes it the most common cell phone activity. Unlike social media networks with a range of age in demographics, adults and teenagers are both using text messaging as a communication method. With a 98% open rate, while email has only a 20% open rate, texting is an effective marketing strategy for businesses to try.

There’s plenty of ways to connect your business to a successful text messaging campaign. From adding fun emojis to shortening URL’s, SMS marketing has advanced over the years and become more available for small and large businesses to incorporate.

When deciding if a text message campaign is right for your business, ask yourself the following:

  • Why do you want to run a text messaging campaign?
  • How do you think a text messaging campaign can benefit your business?
  • Do you have enough phone numbers to text?
  • What action should subscribers take upon receiving a text?
  • How can the goal be measured?

Depending upon your answers to the above, here’s a few additional things to consider when thinking about running a text messaging campaign:

Choose the Right SMS Marketing Company to Work With

To create a text messaging campaign, you’ll want to work with a third party scheduling service to schedule text messages from a designated number. Each SMS marketing company has their own set of pros and cons that make them a fit for large or small businesses, so it’s important to do your research when searching for the perfect fit.

Here’s a few of the top text messaging providers out there to help with your next campaign:

  • SUMOTEXT. This company provides mobile messaging services to the USA, Canada, and over 200 countries through a developer-friendly API which is documented in the SUMOTEXT SMS API Guide. Although SUMOTEXT offers basic SMS services, they also offer Mobile Relationship Management Platform and tools to help manage the mobile marketing process.
  • Ez Texing. Ez Texting is great for businesses who are new to SMS marketing and want to give it a try. They have a free account which allows for upgrades depending upon the type of campaign and it’s needs. Another pro with Ez Texting is that developers can use their SMS API to integrate Ez’s mobile text marketing platform into existing systems.
  • Trumpia Trumpia offers it all from text messaging, to automation, custom APIs, and enterprise level accounts for larger businesses. This is a great option for companies who have a large amount of subscribers and need to send text messages quickly.

Ask For Permission Before Texting

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Don’t break the rules. Have customers sign up and subscribe to text message alerts before beginning a new text message campaign. Not only is it against the law to text new and existing customers without permission, but it’s very spammy and makes a business look bad. Have customers opt-in by texting a code to a specific number or signing up through a form on your website.

“Want to receive exclusive updates and specials? Text “SIGNUP” to 345345 to begin receiving text message alerts”

Along with asking permission, you’ll want to inform subscribers of how to opt-out. We’re hoping they won’t want to, but it’s best to inform subscribers how to opt out in the beginning instead of them scrambling to try to contact you and end up becoming an upset customer. Include how to opt-out in the intro text message, as well text and data rates.

“Thank you for signing up to receive the latest and greatest from Authority Labs. We’ll be sending you exclusive updates and promo codes 2 to 4 times a month. Standard data and text message rates do apply. To opt out at any time, please reply “STOP”.”

Define a Reasonable Goal

There’s several different goals a business can achieve with text message campaigns. These types of goals can be increasing event sign ups, promoting a new contest, and/or increasing overall exposure (such as foot traffic or website views). No matter what a business is trying to accomplish with a text message campaign, the goal needs to be measurable and definable.

Here’s a few different reasons why your business may want to start SMS messaging services:

  • Provide an easier checkout service for hotels and rentals.
  • Reservation alerts for restaurants to notify customers that their table is ready.
  • Airline and flight notifications and updates.
  • Radio broadcast updates.
  • New concert updates and sales.
  • An online order is ready for pickup or has just shipped.
  • A custom order is ready for pickup.
  • Redeem an exclusive special for only text message subscribers.
  • Flash sale notification to select customers.
  • Prescription is ready for pickup in-store.
  • And more…!

If the point of a text message is to encourage subscribers to take action online then the promo code in the text message campaign needs to be unique so it is easily tracked, as well as including a shortened URL.

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Create a Call to Action Anyone Can Understand

The most important part of writing a call to action is to create one that anyone and everyone can understand. Whether or not they’re pre-existing or current customers, any subscriber receiving the text message should understand what their next step is and what action to take. >

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StylesForLess, a young woman’s clothing store, sends out text messages to alert shoppers of an upcoming sale or a flash sale. Each text message will include details of the sale, such as “Buy One Get 1” or a “Today Only” type of sale.

The promo code and shortened URL is included so shoppers can click and begin shopping right away from their mobile device. Occasionally, to increase store traffic, StylesForLess will send out in-store only sales using text messages. This type of memo will spark conversations from to alert fellow customers and ultimately spread the word for you.

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Keep the Text Short & Sweet

Have you ever noticed how text messages are delivered to Androids differently than iPhones? A text message can be broken apart into multiple texts if it’s too long, sometimes beginning with the last part of the text. For this reason, and short attention span reasoning, it’s best to keep the text message short and sweet.

Most all text campaigns should include a promo code to enter online, the URL, a keyword, and/or a shortcode to text the keyword to. Simplify each of these three as much as possible so users can quickly react and enter the necessary codes to continue. Use text message slang, such as shortening words and using emojis to get the message across using less characters.

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Avoid Over Texting

Sending out too many texts is annoying and will cause you to lose followers. A good rule of thumb is to only text subscribers when you have something important to share. Subscribers are less likely to unsubscribe if you only text valuable information.

Is an event coming up or have venues changed? Launching a flash sale that you want subscribers to have a head start on? Is the subscription ready for pickup? These are all great reasons to send out a text to subscribers without bugging them too often.

If you’re still unsure how often or how little to text subscribers stick to a 2 to 4 times a month as a rule of thumb.

Text During Appropriate Hours

You wouldn’t want to receive an automated text message from a business at 11:30 at night, would you? Neither would your subscribers. Schedule text messages to send at appropriate times that make sense for both your business and demographic. If you’re a nightclub who has subscribers that signed up to be informed of event updates, then texting 2-3 hours before an event can be appropriate.

For the rest of the world, text during normal business hours and avoid texting too early in the morning. Not only will be subscribers not be able to digest the information early in the morning, but they’re most likely preparing for the day and don’t have time to fully comprehend or react to the message.

The point of a text message campaign is to inform and encourage subscribers to take an action, so schedule the message to send at an optimal time for the action to be taken.