search engine optimization,SEM

COVID-19, a shrinking sales pipeline, and the importance of non-branded leads

  • Savvy
  • ON
  • March 17, 2020

The impact of COVID-19 for marketers and the sales pipeline is two fold.

    1. Fewer personal interactions (e.g., cancelled conferences and appointments) reduce opportunities to meet new prospects and service existing customers.
    2. Financial uncertainty creates hesitation to spend. This challenges marketers, sales teams, and anyone invested in the P&L to figure out how to mitigate the financial hit coming in Q2/Q3.
So… How can sales and marketing teams mitigate some of the financial impact associated with COVID-19?
We think most companies have a tremendous opportunity to generate more non-branded leads digitally.  

What is a non-branded lead?

A non-branded lead is someone who is searching for your product or service online, but not looking for you by name. For an orthodontist, a non-branded lead might be someone Googling “braces near me.”
If you sell anti-phishing software, a non-branded lead might be someone Googling “enterprise anti-phishing software.”
Sounds obvious, right? But in our experience, most agencies and digital marketers take credit for website visits and conversions coming from branded searches and leads.

What is a branded lead?

A branded lead is someone Googling the name of your company or the brand name of your product.
This is someone who has already heard of you through referrals, word of mouth, community outreach or more traditional advertising (billboards, television, trade shows, etc).
For an orthodontist practice, a branded lead is someone Googling the name of the doctor that works at the practice.
If you sell anti-phishing software, a branded lead is someone Googling the name of your company or the brand name of your flagship product (e.g., someone Googling “ironscales anti-phishing software”).
Branded leads come from people already know who you are. This group of people was going to find you anyway.
There is very little that the digital marketing agency is likely doing to create this demand, because it already existed.
COVID-19 has greatly reduced the number of in person marketing opportunities between businesses and prospects.
Cancelled conferences, events, outreach and walk ins means less opportunity to meet new prospects that had not already heard of you.
A great way to mitigate this reduction is to pursue non-branded leads online.

So how do you generate non-branded leads?

There are three main ways to generate non-branded leads online – SEO, Paid Social, and Paid Search (like Google Ads).

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

This means that when somebody Googles the product or category of products you sell, your website pops up organically in search engine listings. For example, if you are an orthodontist, a non-branded SEO lead would be someone who searches for “braces near me” and finds your practice.

SEO is fantastic, but it takes a few months to make an impact.

If you don’t already have an SEO strategy in place, it may be harder to get this up and running in time to make up for COVID-19 losses in Q2.
That said, doing this work now can help you make up for losses in Q3 and Q4.
Also, so much of SEO is about content creation. So if you are finding that you or your employees don’t have quite as much to do given social distancing, there is an incredible opportunity to have your team start producing massive amounts of SEO-focused content.
A good digital agency can quickly provide guidance on what content to create to make the most use of the downtime.  

Paid Social (like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn ads)

You can use social media channels to advertise services, special offers, product demos, and other marketing materials directly to POTENTIAL consumers.
You can often target by demographic, location, profession, financial status, among other things.
People will be spending more time on social media over the next few weeks because of social distancing.
So this can be an incredible time to build brand awareness, socialize your offerings, and start collecting data on who is interested in your offerings.
The challenge with paid social media is that you don’t really know if the people you are serving ads to have the specific problem you solve.
For example, you can serve ads for “kids’ braces” to wealthy suburbanites in a particular zip code, but you can’t ensure that everyone looking at those ads has a child that needs braces.
So it can take longer to get people into your sales cycle, which may not provide the immediate relief needed in Q2 and early Q3.

So, what’s the best way to create immediate relief for your sales pipeline?

We believe that non-branded PPC advertising is the best way to quickly combat a shrinking sales pipeline.

Paid Search (“PPC” and, often, “Google Ads”)

PPC is about serving ads to people looking to solve specific problems online.
For example, if someone Googles “Invisalign near me,” we would serve an ad about your company and how they specialize in Invisalign.
The benefits of paid search are that you can get ads up and running fast and start to generate new leads very quickly.
But here is the key … you must be focused on non-branded leads. This means you need to build super targeted, small campaigns aimed at very specific keywords and offerings.
In the orthodontist space you need to set up different campaigns for different services – a campaign for “orthodontists,” a separate campaign for “braces,” and another for “invisalign,” for example.
In the anti-phishing software space, you need different campaigns for keywords related to “anti-phishing software” versus those related to BEC (business email compromise).
And most importantly, you need to filter out all branded terms (name of company, employee, etc.) and set up a specific campaign for those branded searches and conversions.
If you do it right, you can drive new leads for your existing products and services efficiently and inexpensively.
At a time like this, every new lead matters. 
By pushing marketers and other stakeholders to pursue non-branded leads, you will open up opportunities that you never knew existed.

Would you like to learn more about how to pursue non-branded leads quickly?

search engine optimization,SEM

How to win online search

  • Jason
  • ON
  • December 29, 2018
content-hub

I’ve been in the digital marketing space for over ten years now. Every year the rules and search algorithms change. As the digital space evolves, my team always plays by the rules, deploying white hat SEO tactics and steering clear of shady black hat ones. It all goes back to a singular belief that Google and other search engines have one job: Give users the best result for any given search query.

When you keep that in mind, it takes the mysticism out of SEO and leaves you with a clear set of rules by which you can win in search. In this article I’ll lay out the seven ways to win online search, simply by helping search engines do their job.

The rules for winning online search

1. Build content hubs.

Content hubs are webs of content containing information around a single subject. For example let’s say you own a HVAC company and want to grow your yearly AC maintenance contracts. You would want to build a series of pages or posts that prove to Google and the other search engines that you are the one-stop-shop for AC maintenance knowledge. You might have heard people refer to this as thought leadership. It’s what search engines feed on.

Don’t want to write content that no one is looking for. Using the Google keyword planning tool, you can find the monthly average search volume on any keyword. Use this data to decide if writing content around a specific keyword is going to have an ROI.

Here is what a content hub about AC maintenance might look like:

    1. Parent: AC Maintenance
    2. Page/Post: Why is AC maintenance important?
    3. What happens when you don’t perform regular AC maintenance?
    4. Your total AC Maintenance guide: What happens during a routine AC checkup
    5. How must does AC maintenance cost?
    6. How to choose a company specializing in AC maintenance?
    7. How to protect your AC units in the winter.
    8. How to prepare your AC units for the fall.
    9. 5 important things to consider before you start running your AC in the summer.
    10. How does air conditioning work?

2. Organize your content.

Once you’ve created the content, it’s important to organize it in your site architecture so search engines can easily connect the dots. Lining up those dots is simple. This means that all the pages are organized (filed) and linked together. Linking all of your content helps establish that you are the thought leader on a given subject. Linking pages together on one site is often called intra-linking.

When you load the pages onto your website, make sure the pages meet technical SEO standards. This means your meta information is plugged in, images are optimized for speed, and your site maps are updated. I also think that it’s important to ping all the search engines to let them know that you have added content to your website. Below is my personal ping list and sample of good meta titles and descriptions.

  • Meta Title Sample: Why AC Maintenance is important in Atlanta, GA (Geographic locations help you show up in areas where you do business.)
  • Meta Description: Maintaining your air conditioning system is critical. Mot performing annual maintenance could cost you thousands of dollars and cause hot sleepless nights.
  • Ping List:
  • http://rpc.pingomatic.com/
  • http://api.feedster.com/ping
  • http://api.moreover.com/ping
  • http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2
  • http://1470.net/api/ping
  • http://api.feedster.com/ping
  • http://api.moreover.com/RPC2
  • http://api.moreover.com/ping
  • http://api.my.yahoo.com/RPC2
  • http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping
  • http://bblog.com/ping.php
  • http://bitacoras.net/ping
  • http://blog.goo.ne.jp/XMLRPC
  • http://blogdb.jp/xmlrpc
  • http://blogmatcher.com/u.php
  • http://bulkfeeds.net/rpc
  • http://coreblog.org/ping/
  • http://mod-pubsub.org/kn_apps/blogchatt
  • http://www.lasermemory.com/lsrpc/
  • http://ping.amagle.com/
  • http://ping.bitacoras.com
  • http://ping.blo.gs/
  • http://ping.bloggers.jp/rpc/
  • http://ping.cocolog-nifty.com/xmlrpc
  • http://ping.blogmura.jp/rpc/
  • http://ping.exblog.jp/xmlrpc
  • http://ping.feedburner.com
  • http://ping.myblog.jp
  • http://ping.rootblog.com/rpc.php
  • http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php
  • http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php
  • http://ping.weblogs.se/
  • http://pingoat.com/goat/RPC2
  • http://rcs.datashed.net/RPC2/
  • http://rpc.blogbuzzmachine.com/RPC2
  • http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/
  • http://rpc.icerocket.com:10080/
  • http://rpc.newsgator.com/
  • http://rpc.pingomatic.com
  • http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
  • http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2
  • http://topicexchange.com/RPC2
  • http://trackback.bakeinu.jp/bakeping.php
  • http://www.a2b.cc/setloc/bp.a2b
  • http://www.bitacoles.net/ping.php
  • http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2
  • http://www.blogoole.com/ping/
  • http://www.blogoon.net/ping/
  • http://www.blogpeople.net/servlet/weblogUpdates
  • http://www.blogroots.com/tb_populi.blog?id=1
  • http://www.blogshares.com/rpc.php
  • http://www.blogsnow.com/ping
  • http://www.blogstreet.com/xrbin/xmlrpc.cgi
  • http://www.mod-pubsub.org/kn_apps/blogchatter/ping.php
  • http://www.newsisfree.com/RPCCloud
  • http://www.newsisfree.com/xmlrpctest.php
  • http://www.popdex.com/addsite.php
  • http://www.snipsnap.org/RPC2
  • http://www.weblogues.com/RPC/
  • http://xmlrpc.blogg.de
  • http://xping.pubsub.com/ping/
  • http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping
  • http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2
  • http://ping.amagle.com/
  • http://ping.bitacoras.com
  • http://ping.blo.gs/
  • http://ping.feedburner.com
  • http://ping.rootblog.com/rpc.php
  • http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php
  • http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php
  • http://rcs.datashed.net/RPC2/
  • http://rpc.blogbuzzmachine.com/RPC2
  • http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/
  • http://rpc.icerocket.com:10080/
  • http://rpc.newsgator.com/
  • http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
  • http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2
  • http://topicexchange.com/RPC2
  • http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2
  • http://www.blogoole.com/ping/
  • http://www.blogoon.net/ping/
  • http://www.blogsnow.com/ping
  • http://www.blogstreet.com/xrbin/xmlrpc.cgi
  • http://www.lasermemory.com/lsrpc/
  • http://www.newsisfree.com/RPCCloud
  • http://www.popdex.com/addsite.php
  • http://www.snipsnap.org/RPC2
  • http://www.wasalive.com/ping/
  • http://www.weblogues.com/RPC/

3. Keep creating new content.

A powerful content hub is one that’s updated at least once a month. Search engines want you to edit existing pages regularly, especially if information changes. Make sure the content is fresh. This becomes very important — and more difficult — when you have hundreds of pages. (One tip here: keep a spreadsheet with the dates that pages were last updated. This is very helpful when remembering what older page content needs some love.)

4. Share and boost content on social.

It’s important to get your content in front of people. If your content is well-written and provides valuable information, people will share it. The more it’s shared, the more social signals it sends out, which isn’t just important for attracting prospects — it’s also a ranking factor in most search engine algorithms.

5. Engage with your audience!

If your content is picked up and shared, you will get comments both positive and negative. Respond to all of them. In most cases this counts as add adding new content to the page and makes the page more relevant in the search engine’s eyes.

Get on page 1 for online search!

90% of all searches end on page 1 of search results. The longer you wait to build content hubs, create and optimize content and connect with your audience the harder it will be to get on page one. Too many people keep putting this off. It’s a long game, but those that are playing now will be reaping the rewards in the future.

Want to win at search, but need a hand? We’re here to help.

Brain Bytes Creative is a full-service digital marketing agency in Atlanta, with clients around the country. We’re obsessed with all forms of inbound marketing, from search optimization to content strategy and beyond. In fact, DesignRush recognized us as one of the top inbound marketing companies out there. Thanks, DesignRush!

agency,PPC,search engine optimization,SEM

What to look for in a search marketing agency

  • Jess
  • ON
  • November 30, 2018
Search marketing combines all the elements you can use to improve your presence on search engines. It builds a complete strategy with the ultimate goal of making your website more visible so that a larger audience can reach you and purchase your products or services. At times a complicated assortment of details, having a search marketing strategy is so important in today’s digital landscape. According to Payfirma, over 50% of mobile searches lead to a purchase, so it’s absolutely essential your website comes up on the first page of relevant search results, as close to the top as possible.
So, does it? If you feel as if your current place online isn’t what it should be, it may be time to consider hiring a search marketing agency. Not only can they help you navigate the details of flushing out a complete search marketing strategy, they can also take the stress off you in managing this ongoing and intricate process.

Before you hire an agency, know what search marketing is

Search marketing includes both the paid and unpaid efforts a business utilizes to drive traffic to their site. These methods increase your site’s visibility and improve your search engine ranking.

Unpaid Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This includes features involved with SEO; those which help improve your ranking on search engines. It also helps drive organic traffic to your site. The focus within unpaid search marketing tactics includes optimizing site content, utilizing relevant keywords, and reviewing the overall structure and links of your site.

Paid Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Also known as pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, paid search centers on text-based ads that appear at the top or side of any search engine results. These are closely aligned with key search words or phrases to ensure they appear when the right types of queries are entered into a search engine.

Finding the right balance of the two search marketing strategies for your business is just what the best search marketing agencies will help you do.

Why you should consider search marketing support

Hiring a search marketing company to help with your strategy addresses many common pain points your business may be suffering as you work to maximize the return of your online presence. Digital marketing is still a relatively new aspect of an overall marketing plan, and with constant changes in social media rules, online advertising best practices, and search engine algorithms, it can be difficult to keep up. Bringing in the expertise found within a search marketing agency can not only enhance your knowledge about the functioning of your own website, but keep you up-to-date with relevant changes to search marketing in order to take advantage of the latest developments.

Working with an agency also helps you stay on top of the minute details of search marketing without spending time doing all the research yourself. Especially at agencies like Brain Bytes Creative, where each team member brings their expertise on a specific area of digital marketing to the larger team, you get an in-depth understanding of the whole process broken down into digestible pieces. You’ll also have the confidence that enough time is being spent delving into best practices in all areas since there’s not just a single person handling everything.

A partnership for the long haul

Improving your standing in search engine results often takes longer than most people expect. Typically, when you implement changes in the way you market your business, you expect quick results. With search marketing, results can take time to be fully realized. “Search doesn’t happen in three months,” says Jason Sirotin, Chief Creative Officer at Brain Bytes Creative, “it happens over years,” which is why it’s important to think both short and long term when working on your search marketing strategy. Building a plan that demonstrates a positive return on your investment will trickle in for years to come, so it’s necessary you manage expectations in a way that doesn’t diminish the rewards of your hard work. A search marketing agency partners with you throughout the whole process, totally in it for the long haul. They should connect the dots for you over time, explaining how the work you’re implementing will affect traffic to your site for a long time to come.

What to look for in a search marketing agency

Once you’re ready to start exploring options for the ideal search marketing agency to partner with, it’s important to consider whether or not they exhibit certain qualities that can help make them a good fit, including:

Inquisitiveness

A good agency will continually ask questions to get to know your business and understand your marketing goals. Without this information, they can’t set meaningful strategies for you that will yield the right results. Make sure they’re curious about you and your business and are genuine in their interest.

Experience

Research past clients and check each potential agency’s website for feedback. Ensure that the work they’ve done in the past aligns with what you’ll need them to do for you. Additionally, it’s good to do a little research on the individuals at the agency themselves. Make sure they have the right skill sets for the work you will need done, and that the overall company boasts a variety of talent in different areas. You should also check that they’re up-to-date on all relevant information for SEO, including Google’s latest algorithm, as well as any new criteria for PPC ads. A good team should have a deep understanding of marketing principles as they relate to a digital audience.

Communicative

This is a multi-faceted quality a good search marketing agency should have. You want to know not only how often they check in with you, but whether or not they clearly communicate reports and data back to you in way that’s helpful. You need the ability to take the information they share and pass it along to your own internal stakeholders, so a proper agency should do more than just send you Google charts and graphs.

Integrity

Any agency you work with should put you first. There should be a willingness to partner with you at all levels of service in order to do good work. Your agency team should strive to deliver the best results and let actions speak louder than words.

Finding the right fit

So, does it? If you feel as if your current place online isn’t what it should be, it may be time to consider hiring a search marketing agency. Not only can they help you navigate the details of flushing out a complete search marketing strategy, they can also take the stress off you in managing this ongoing and intricate process.

The team at Brain Bytes is dedicated to this process. Putting the customer first, they work tirelessly to get to know you as they establish a partnership whose primary goal is to improve the functionality of your online presence. Prioritizing transparency, communication, and service, Brain Bytes looks forward to learning more about your search marketing needs. Contact us today to get the conversation started.

PPC,search engine optimization,SEM

Should I focus on SEO or PPC?

  • Jason
  • ON
  • November 8, 2018

Site traffic is the name of the game, so what’s the best way to make it happen? The choice is simple: Focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and go after organic search; or go the PPC (Pay Per Click) route and make sure your ads are being seen.

Let’s do a quick breakdown of both options before I get to the answer.

The benefits of SEO

The benefits of great SEO should be clear. 2017 studies showed that 18% of organic search clicks on Google went to the first position, 10% to the second, and 7% to the third (Slingshot SEO). Not only that, but leads from SEO have a relatively high conversion rate compared to other forms of lead generation. Being at the top of organic search is so important for so many reasons.

    • Your site gets noticed. This is just obvious. It’s true for PPC, too. Getting noticed is the reason we even bother with content. When your site answers questions and helps users, you gain domain authority. That’s what you want.
    • It builds trust.This is what separates SEO and PPC. PPC is great for getting to the top, but if you get there purely based on the merits of your site, then users are more likely to click on your link. Do you click on the paid ads at the top of search? Chances are you scroll down, looking for a site that you know is relevant to your needs.
    • It reflects good work. If you’re near the top of organic search, it means Google rates your site highly based on the keywords people are looking for. You’re doing your job, you just need to keep doing it.

So what’s the question here? SEO is great, we should focus on that and leave the untrustworthy PPC stuff alone.

But here’s the thing; having great SEO is freaking hard. Getting good domain authority takes a while. You have to pay constant attention to UI/UX, and search trends, and always be putting out more quality content. The upside is that when you do those things well over time, you’re rewarded.

The benefits of PPC

Pay Per Click has evolved. It used to just mean Google AdWords, now it’s social as well. There are definite pluses to putting targeted ads in front of the right audience. As far as Google searches are concerned, PPC is a double-edged sword. On one hand, your ad, your site, is just there. Everyone sees it. All it cost you was money.

On the other hand, people don’t really trust PPC ads. They’re way more likely to pass them over and click on the first, second, or third organic link. What’s more, even if you get people to your site, they won’t stay unless your UI/UX is on point.

Still, your name is out there. For an agency without the power of reputation in their favor, sometimes that’s the most important thing.

SO, JASON, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

There are benefits to SEO and PPC. You may have guessed that I’m going to take the coward’s way out and avoid the choice. You’re half right. The answer to the question I posed in this article is, of course, you need to focus on both. SEO and PPC are a brother and sister pair and your agency won’t reach its maximum potential without them together.

But, I put a question to you. Is that the way of a coward? I say the coward chooses one option and neglects the other. Why? Because doing both is more work, that’s why.

SEO is a long game. Yes, people are more likely to trust your site when they see it in organic search. But if you only invest in organic search, it might be awhile before you are recognized as a domain authority. How long can you afford to wait?

Afford, you say. Isn’t that the point of SEO? I don’t want to spend money on PPC. Well, tough shit. Guess what happens when people see your company’s name at the top of the page by PPC and organic search? They feed off each other. It increases the trust clients have in your brand even more.

And, by doing both, you actually save money on PPC. Google charges less money in the PPC arena to sites that have good SEO, too. If you neglect SEO and invest only in PPC, you’re paying more to Google for that top spot, AND people will still leave your site the second they don’t find the content they’re looking for. You’re throwing money away.

To be successful at PPC, it helps to do well in organic. To achieve a high rank in organic search, you need to get your name out there and be trusted and paid can help you get there.

Ready to transform your digital presence? Check out the wide variety of digital marketing services we offer, including SEO, PPC and more. Then contact us to get the conversation started!