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Bing: Good But Not Good Enough

Google.

Think for a moment about what Google means to you. When that name pops into my head words like “email”, “reliability”, “search” and “monopoly” come to mind. I think about their logo and I think about SEO.

When I think of Yahoo! words like “downfall” come to mind along with “annoying ads”, “entertainment”, “slow pace”; you get it.

Now when I think of Bing… I don’t really think of anything. If I were to describe Bing as I would a person I’d say that the had nice personality. I enjoy their UI with the little tid bits of info that I get on their homepage but other than that they are not very memorable.

Bing had a few edges over Google, their search was smarter and more interesting but Google has taken all of those features. Their search results are almost exactly alike and Google did a great job of calling Bing out on copy catting and there map is cool but over all it’s not cool enough.

Google won over our hearts with amazingly good search results and they’ve kept us with them because they haven’t stopped giving us awesome features, products, and technology. Before the big “G” Yahoo! was well used because it was fun and interactive. Its search results were good [enough] and they advertised so much it was impossible not to remember them. Bing made a huge splash with all of their ads but ultimately hasn’t done very much in the way of innovation and people are hard pressed to leave a product they are already comfortable with.

I like Bing, I really do but I don’t like it enough to stop using Google and I’m not the only one. Unless Bing steps up their R&D I don’t see them as being anything else but second best.

 

Google The Internet Gatekeeper?

A few days ago I got an email from Google about my Analytics account. Naturally I opened it and got the message in the image below:

Google Analytics
I didn’t request nor did I opt in for additional offers from Google so I was expecting to get this.

An unsolicited email offering some type of service is considered spam to me. After looking it over and rendering the service undesirable I got ready to hit the “spam” button in my email until I realized that I was using my Google Business email address. Then I thought “would Google consider its own emails spam if I do?” and I thought about the relationship I have with the Internet Giant.

Normally I describe Google by centering it’s existence around search. Yes, Google is The Search Engine, it’s name is now an synonym for search and every SEO who is and isn’t worth anything puts mostly all of the efforts into ranking in it but after getting Google Spam I changed my definition of what Google does to fit what is actually is instead of what it’s famous for being. And I do it from a personal perspective.

It serves as my professional and personal email provider, it provides me with website analytical software, it’s a news aggregator, it has a popular  video site (Youtube) has a blogging platform which I don’t often use and it has an online office suite which I do. It has a variety of search related and non search related applications and most recently became one of my favorite social networks. Google isn’t just search, Google is now synonymous with the Internet.

Google has become an important a part of my life and (un)surprisingly it began to spam me.

Recently Matt Cutts, head of Google Search Spam Team, talked about how Google + may be used to determine search result rank implying that websites that are connected with Google + profiles may get a bump up in SERPs because the website has additional ‘authenticity’. Content stealers have become a really big problems for Google so this is one way they can help verify who was the originator or content.

This sounds all well and good but if you step back a bit you’ll see that Google is favoring users of Google products. Will this be limited to just it’s new social network or will it extend to some of it’s other services?

Google InternetWill Google soon be the Gatekeeper of the Internet? Maybe I’m over thinking things but I couldn’t help but wonder. 

 

Social Media Failures Part 2: Getting Back on Track

If your campaign feels aimless go back and answer all of the questions you didn’t before. In no particular order look over these questions and answer them on behalf of your company.

Who is my audience?

Before you can know how to market you should know who you are marketing to. If your primary customers are technophiles you’ll need to interact with them differently then you would would with stay-at-home moms. If you’re not sure who your audience is, sign up for Quantcast. Quantcast will give you some code to put in your website code so you’ll be able to learn more about your website demographic once you learn who your audience is you’ll know more about what they like, and how you can speak with them.

What image does my company want to represent?

Is your company a serious construction firm or is it a fun loving toy company? Do you want to want to show a warm and friendly side or are you looking to share bleeding edge innovations with users. Deciding on how you want to portray your business online allows you to figure out what will and will not be acceptable for your profile to share.

When should I be active?

This information can be found by doing some basic research on your audience (refer to first point) and even checking out your website Analytics (If you don’t track your website visits, do it now). If your audience is mostly businessmen than doing most of your activity on weekdays from 9-7 is best. If you’re a clothing store staying active in afternoons and weekends is better since your audience will be casually surfing the net. When you know your audience and when your average website activity you’ll know when they like to get do most of your marketing.

Where does my audience like to hang out?

Linkedin, Facebook, niche forums, all of these are great places to set up camp but if you know where most of your audience is focusing your attention on key platforms instead of spreading yourself thin on many the best strategy. This way your users will know where to find you and you’ll be able to give then the attention that they expect from a great business like yours.

Why do I want to use Social Media?

If you are you starting a social media campaign you need to know what are you looking to get out of it. Don’t just say “I want more followers/fans” because that doesn’t directly equate to revenue increases. If you have a million fans, what then? If you are not fulfilling some requirement than all of your time could be wasted. The why his goes back to the biggest point the previous post, Social Media Failure Part 1, you need a goal.

If you are looking to crowdsource ideas on new products then get involved and ask a lot of questions, ask for feedback, hold contests for good ideas. If you’re looking to use Twitter as a customer service platform then keep response time as short as possible, if you want to have more visits to your website include blog links and site updates in your posts. Whatever you want to accomplish make sure you’ve got your goals in mind and are working towards it.

Any social media campaign can succeed with the right amount of planning behind it.

Social Media Failures Part 1: What You’re Doing Wrong

 

social media fail

Are you failing at Social Media?  If you are, you’re not alone.

I’ve met a few people with failing Social Media campaigns. The first thing I ask is what is the goal of their Social Campaigns? More often than not, I get blank stares. You’d think that having a goal would be an obvious first step but a lot of businesses skip this completely! It’s crucial to have a goal with any marketing endeavor and yet so many professional businesses seem to be aimless.

After walking through their process together, I’ve realized that they are all making the same mistakes. I’ll go through these big mistakes in this post for anyone trying to catch their own campaign.

 

There is No Goal

If you don’t have a goal, how will you know you’ve acheived it?

How will you be able to measure success, failure or mis-steps. If you want to know how you are doing, you’re going to need to know what you want to accomplish and just having more followers isn’t going to cut it.

There is No Strategy

There are a lot more business that have a strategy than those that have a goal, which kind of surprises me. They know what they are going to post and how they are going to post it, what is okay to tweet and what is not. So as fantastic and as advantaced as these companies are, they are still not going to achieve much if they don’t have a goal they are reaching towards but back to the point.

Before any business can put itself out there it should know how do they want to represent themselves, how do they want to connect their profile with their website and vise versa. What is acceptable behavior and how will complaints online be handled.
All of these things need to be well thought out before you start so you can make sure that you’re getting the most out of social media instead of just wasting time.

There is No ‘Social’

I’m not sure how many times I need to tell people to stay social because I’ve haven’t reached that point yet. I’ve said it countless times and each time I do, they just cringe.

No one needs to know your companies R&D secrets or needs to see pics of drunken employees at office parties but if you’re not interesting, no one will care what you have to say.
Why should someone follow your fan page on a social platform if you are not being social? They can read your blog for updates, they can visit your products pages to buy. If someone is going to be a fan on Facebook you will need to be fan worthy.

 

Get Back on Track!

If any of these issues sound too familiar, don’t worry, there are easy ways to get your social media campaign back on track. If your campaign feels aimless go back and address the key points above. Just because things haven’t been going well doesn’t mean you can’t turn them around and we’ll go over that in the next blog post.

How to Spy on a Competitor’s Display Ads

Spying on competitors may not be fun but it’s important.  Whether you’re doing SEO, PPC or just looking to see how you fair against them it’s always good to have an eye on the “other guys”.

There are a few tools out there that allow you to check out your competitor’s SEO stats but not too many made specifically for PPC and even less for PPC’s mysterious Content Network. After developing my own snoop routine I’d like to share how to spy on my competitor’s PPC campaigns, in particular how I spy on their display ads in the Content Network.

SpyFu has done a really good job on giving you insider info on what your competitors are doing on the search network, ads, keywords and their position but when it comes the display network Spyfu falls flat. I’ve contacted their customer service asking them if they had any plans to provide display network information and their response wasn’t encouraging.

There are a few businesses that say they provide display network info on your competitors but none of the ones that I found are really worth mentioning. So after some creative thinking I’ve found two helpful ways to find out where your competitors are displaying and what their ads look out.

The first thing that I do to go to Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer is a free tool that SEOMoz created to allow users to run link reports on any website in their index. It’s free and really easy to use so when I want to check where a competitor may be advertising I’ll run a report but filter out anything that’s not a no-follow link. No follow links are the standard for advertizing so by only looking at no follow links I can quickly go down a list of sites that they most likely advertise on.

Note:Open Site Explorer has limited amounts of information they have on each website. Using this method also won’t guarantee that you’ll get all of the information that you need but having this kind of link report can get you started.

The second thing that I do is use a competitors remarketing campaign against them.

It’s a bit dubious but I found that using a competitors remarketing campaign allows me to see the variety of image ads that they are running without putting a lot of effort to see them. Simply visit the competitor’s site and if they are running a remarketing campaign their ads will follow you around the Internet. This allows you to see the different ads they are running so you can take screen to save their image ads.

Note: This isn’t really the nicest way to go about spying and remarketing is really new so not a lot of companies have started using it yet but I’ve had a ton of success with this.

These tactics aren’t very ground breaking but in the SEM world where I found these much easier and more effective than just looking at Spyfu and ignoring display ads, especially since they’ve been gaining more ground.

If anyone has a favorite way they spy on competitors PPC ads I’d love to hear them!