Array https://www.vizion.com Tue, 26 Nov 2019 20:30:37 -0500 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 3 SEO Audit Tools You Should Know About https://www.vizion.com/blog/3-seo-audit-tools-you-should-know-about/ https://www.vizion.com/blog/3-seo-audit-tools-you-should-know-about/#respond Tue, 03 Dec 2019 14:10:03 +0000 https://www.vizion.com/?p=18436 SEO audit tools work to keep your website as effective as possible for your users. Whether you run a website offering products to consumers or are a service oriented B2B, conducting regular audits is essential to assuring your website content is relevant for the customer you’re trying to target. SEO audits work by creating an […]

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SEO audit tools work to keep your website as effective as possible for your users. Whether you run a website offering products to consumers or are a service oriented B2B, conducting regular audits is essential to assuring your website content is relevant for the customer you’re trying to target. SEO audits work by creating an inventory of your website content, so you can become self-aware of any gaps, as well as the types of content that perform well. The insights you garner during an SEO audit will ultimately help you tailor content better to your target user, improving your conversion rates.

Originally, the only way to conduct a content audit was by hand (or by eye and spreadsheet). However, today, a wide range of SEO audit tools are available to make the job easier. Whether you are looking to improve your on-page SEO or analyze your competition, there is a tool that can help. Here are some of our favorites and how they can improve your user experience.

Steps of an SEO Audit

First, it’s important to understand how different SEO audit tools can serve different purposes. Tools can address one of four different analysis areas:

  1. Technical SEO (how your website performs and responds to updates, for example)
  2. Competitor Analysis (how you stack up against the competition)
  3. On-Page SEO (factors that drive performance on your own website)
  4. Off-Page SEO (factors that drive performance off your website, i.e. backlinking)

We’re breaking down tools in each of the four areas. A formal SEO audit will take an in-depth look at each of the four content areas and will turn the data into actionable insights that can drive your brand forward.

Best Technical SEO Tool: Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Screaming Frog consistently earns top marks for usability and insight generation that drive business action. Use it to:

  • Identify duplicate content, 404s, redirects, and other performance issues that affect your ranking.
  • Map the internal structure of your site so you can optimize through sitemapping
  • Find the most and least used pages within your site
  • Identify things that could be slowing loading times, such as large images

Best Competitor Analysis Tool: SEMrush

SEMrush is a perennial favorite among SEO and website analysis gurus. With features that aid in keyword analysis, SERP tracking, and competitor discovery, you can effectively outsmart the competition, and SEMrush adds new features all the time. Currently, you can use it to:

  • See how keyword rankings change over time and device types
  • Find the pages that drive the most traffic to competitor’s websites
  • Use a Keyword Gap Analysis Tool to find keywords that you don’t rank for, but your competitors do
  • Track your competitor’s performance across both Google and Bing
  • Analyze search volume and performance of keywords across 115 countries

Best On-Page SEO Tool: SEMrush and Screaming Frog SEO Spider (Tie)

When it comes to analyzing On-Page SEO, there is no clear winner between SEMrush and Screaming Frog. The former recently launched its On-Page SEO Checker, which provides actionable insights for improving elements in body copy, meta tags, duplicate content, and relevancy.

On the other hand, Screaming Frog also produces a wealth of information that can help drive your brand forward. These include:

  • Optimization of all your metadata
  • Identification of “thin” content and issues with page loading
  • Discovery of both internal and external broken page links that affect the user experience
  • Help optimize your eCommerce site structure – for example, by using a new page depth tool to identify product and category pages that are buried in the site’s structure and hence difficult for a user to find

Best Off-Page SEO Tool: Ahrefs

Ahref stands out from the pack because of its unrivaled 12 trillion link index and content navigator. It also has a new site audit tool, launched in its most recent iteration. Some of its most notable features include:

  • Domain comparison for backlink data and social media
  • Assessing competitor link profiles for product reviews and PR outreach insights
  • Content gap analysis to assess keywords your competition ranks for
  • Reverse engineering of competitor linking strategies
  • Monitoring of new media mentions of backlinks

The best SEO tools combine a high level of detail with a variety of tools that allow SEO experts to develop insights for the companies they serve. Though it may be tempting to try the tools for yourself, they are really only useful if you can turn them into action that creates more conversion opportunities for your brand. Vizion Interactive continually monitors the performance of SEO audit tools and leverages the best new features for your business success. A comprehensive SEO audit can help you find out where your website is performing well, as well as where you could use a little help. Analysis of your competition keep you ahead of the curve. For more information about our SEO audit services, please contact us today.

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A Note of Thanks from Vizion President & CEO Mark Jackson https://www.vizion.com/blog/a-note-of-thanks-from-vizion-president-ceo-mark-jackson/ Tue, 26 Nov 2019 13:05:36 +0000 https://www.vizion.com/?p=18428 Fourteen years ago, I founded Vizion Interactive after having “an experience” bootstrapping a previous agency (for details on “the experience”, please schedule an appointment at your nearest tavern). It was a challenging time, with a nine-month old son and – one year later – news that twins were on the way. Couple that with the […]

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Fourteen years ago, I founded Vizion Interactive after having “an experience” bootstrapping a previous agency (for details on “the experience”, please schedule an appointment at your nearest tavern).

It was a challenging time, with a nine-month old son and – one year later – news that twins were on the way. Couple that with the fact that my wife had recently left her successful career to support my efforts in growing the previous agency and you can imagine the stress involved.

I was brought up to believe that “everything happens for a reason”. Perhaps it was my fate that I should have a run-in with someone less than “nice” to make me understand that I’m capable of “doing this myself”?

But the truth is…I didn’t do this “by myself”. On this day of Thanksgiving, I must remember all of those who played pivotal roles in making this a reality.

First, I would like to give my thanks to God. Without God in my life, my panic attacks could have been the end of me. As I mentioned previously, the stress was real. I had to defer to a power that does not come in human form. That, and my angel on earth (my wife) kept me sane (*my ringtone for my wife’s calls is a harp…that’s not a joke and can be verified). Having a foundation in faith and a loving family is the only reason why Vizion Interactive exists. Well, and clients. And, a terrific team.

My first client was a very small, family-owned business in Irving, Texas. We maintained that business relationship for 12 years. Without them “stepping out on faith” to work with an unknown, start-up company, we didn’t stand a chance.

A year later, we had managed to bring on some larger companies (Conferencecall.com/Intercall.com, Palm Harbor Homes, Lennox Industries and Worthington Direct) and Vizion Interactive became a “real” entity. Today, we are very proud to say that Lennox and Worthington Direct continue to work with us (13 years later). Thank you, Lennox and Worthington Direct!

Since my wife and I would be welcoming twin daughters into the world, we came to realize that living close to my in-laws was a good idea. With that realization was concern…Would my clients in Dallas understand me no longer being local? Would being away from my network in Dallas hurt the business? Would moving to Overland Park, KS (a much smaller community) hurt my ability to grow?

All I can say is that I “stepped out in faith”.

In May 2008, we moved to Overland Park, KS and with that move came unreal understanding of many of our Dallas-based clients and other opportunities that perhaps would not have happened without the move (namely, working with UMB Bank). Thank you, UMB Bank!

The other blessing from the move to Overland Park, KS was another “risky” move…Making our company operate completely virtually. When we did this, it was not something that was very popular (or understood). Nine years later, we have staff in Los Angeles, Tampa, Dallas-Fort Worth, Nashville, Wilmington, North Carolina and Overland Park, Kansas and we’re not missing a beat. In fact, new-ish/large clients seem to be completely on-board with our operations, such as Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Thank you, UPHE!

And, of course, none of this happens without our tremendous team! Leading the charge is my “right hand man”, who happens to be a lovely woman…Rebecca Weichmann. This month, she celebrates (CORRECTION: “WE” celebrate) her 10th year at Vizion Interactive! Rebecca is the yin to my yang. Without Rebecca working side by side with me, I hasten to think where we would be. “Thank you” is not enough, Rebecca. There is a special place in Heaven for you.

One final note: When I founded Vizion Interactive, one of the first things that I wanted to do was to name the company and secure a domain for our company’s website. In my previous venture, my former “partner”, when asked why I was no longer with the company, told them that he and I didn’t share the same “vision”. So, there you have it. I wanted to name the company “Vizion” (the former company prominently used the letter Z in its name) and tried to secure the www.vizion.com domain. The owner had no interest in selling, as much as I continued to try to secure it over the years. Fourteen years later, we have been successful and will be moving our web address, accordingly, and affording our team members a much shorter email address.

To all that have been a part of the past 14 years…Thank you, one and all.

Blessings,

Mark

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The Evolution of PPC Keyword Research Methods https://www.vizion.com/blog/the-evolution-of-ppc-keyword-research-methods/ Thu, 21 Nov 2019 14:05:12 +0000 https://www.vizion.com/?p=18400 Keyword research, like any other aspect of SEO, changes over time and in response to user intent and queries. Sometimes the changes are rapid; sometimes they evolve consistently. The X factor that determines how keyword research changes is usually the same, however: Google. As the world’s most popular search engine, it should come as no […]

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Keyword research, like any other aspect of SEO, changes over time and in response to user intent and queries. Sometimes the changes are rapid; sometimes they evolve consistently. The X factor that determines how keyword research changes is usually the same, however: Google.

As the world’s most popular search engine, it should come as no surprise that Google is also the foremost purveyor of PPC. As their practices evolve, so do best practices for keyword history and PPC. Let’s take a brief look at the history of keyword research and how it has evolved for today’s best practices.

Keyword Research: The Beginning

When keyword research was in its infancy (as little as 10 years ago), keyword research was fairly simple. A business could analyze keywords using data from Google, develop those, and inject them into content as much as possible, in addition to buying up as many of those keywords as you could. Today, for several reasons, keyword research it a totally different animal. Some of the reasons why include:

  • Google no longer gives all access passes to data. Previously, Google used to hand out pretty much any information that we wanted in terms of Analytics, Adwords, and keywords. You could easily understand the search volume, impressions, and site ranking for any given term. However, in October of 2011, Google shut off access to these insights. In Google Ads, you can still find information on total search volume and impressions, but these are general estimates that don’t tell you much about the users themselves.
  • The Hummingbird update of 2013 fundamentally changed how we do keyword research. There is some misconception that the update only affected organic search. However, since paid search and organic results share the same SERPs, PPC was fundamentally changed. Under the Hummingbird update, you could no longer force a page to rank for a certain keyword, thanks to a new emphasis on high quality, conversational content.
  • It’s harder to analyze the competition. Google used to provide competitive ranking information, so it was easier to ascertain how feasible it would be to rank for a certain keyword. The process is no longer so simple. Throw personalized results, geographic indicators, and subjectivity into the mix, and keyword research becomes so much more difficult that using third-party analytical tools becomes necessary.

Google Adwords Becomes Google Ads

Another evolution that fundamentally changed the way we do keyword research for PPC is the rebranding of Google Adwords to Google Ads in 2018. Google consolidated its brand architecture in the name of simplicity and usability for small businesses, but with it came several changes for keywords and PPC. Some of the biggest include:

  • Prizing audiences over keywords. Today, keyword research is not focused on the keywords themselves, but the audiences who search for them.
  • The introduction of “Smart Campaigns” makes it easier for small business owners to navigate the world of search.

Keyword Research for PPC in 2019

Perhaps the biggest “trend” in the evolution of keyword research is that the focus is no longer “keywords” at all. The drop of the “word” in Google Ads is particularly telling for the future of PPC keyword research. Today, there are a few things that can determine the best keywords for your PPC campaigns.

  • Focus on natural language processing. In the beginning, Google pulled up relevant results by matching a user’s search term with keywords on a page (or a list, in terms of PPC). Today, the emphasis is not necessarily on the keywords themselves but context. With advancements in AI, Google can recognize things like intent, syntax, and even sentiment. People can get answers based on what they actually mean, not how a computer reads what they type.
  • Ad Rank. In terms of PPC, one of the main drivers is Google Ads’ Ad Rank, which focuses on the relevance of a selected keywords. At the same time, may ad formats on search don’t even come with the option of bidding on keywords. Campaigns like Shopping Ads, Smart Campaigns, and Dynamic Search Ads are completely devoid of keywords, focusing instead on your business type or website to control when your paid spot comes up.
  • Fewer keywords can trigger ads. In today’s PPC landscape, keywords with low search volumes or without commercial intent will not rank or appear in ad spaces.

Navigating PPC in 2019 and Beyond

PPC has evolved over the years, but it has worked to become more friendly for both the customer and the business who it is trying to target. Instead of bidding on keywords or stuffing content with search terms, today’s PPC and search focuses on conversational language and natural language processing. Essentially, Google Ads works to make it easier for small businesses to earn their slice of the PPC pie. Vizion Interactive can help you design and execute winning PPC campaigns – contact us to learn more or schedule a consultation today.

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What to Expect in an SEO Audit https://www.vizion.com/blog/what-to-expect-in-an-seo-audit/ Tue, 19 Nov 2019 14:05:05 +0000 https://www.vizion.com/?p=18394 When was the last time you conducted a thorough review of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy? An SEO audit is a fantastic method for ensuring your SEO strategy continues to provide an acceptable return on the investment your marketing team puts into it. An SEO audit should be a standard practice for any brand […]

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When was the last time you conducted a thorough review of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy? An SEO audit is a fantastic method for ensuring your SEO strategy continues to provide an acceptable return on the investment your marketing team puts into it. An SEO audit should be a standard practice for any brand and one that happens on a consistent basis. SEO is not a “set it and forget it” ordeal; you need to be responsive and agile to account for shifting market trends and consumer behaviors.

Best Times to Perform SEO Audits

After configuring your SEO strategy, determine a timeline to track your progress and benchmark your results. Remember, this is an ongoing process, so think of each SEO audit as a single step in a greater journey toward your ultimate marketing goals of steady growth and a consistently successful SEO strategy instead of a one-off project aimed at fixing a specific set of issues. The problems you encounter with your SEO strategy will evolve over time, so your methods for addressing them must evolve as well.

Most brands find that the best times to perform SEO audits include:

  • Prior to launching a new marketing campaign.
  • After implementing a new SEO marketing strategy.
  • At the beginning of each quarter of the fiscal year.
  • After noticing any significant decrease in website traffic.

Every brand has different business strategies and marketing variables with which to contend, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution to organizing SEO audits. Whenever you decide to perform your SEO audit, you should know how to do it and what you can expect from it.

What Should an SEO Audit Cover?

To start your SEO audit, compile several data streams, including the historical data from your Google AdWords and Microsoft Advertising accounts and website analytics, a history of your primary and secondary domain ownership, and a firm understanding of your top competitors and your market base.

An SEO auditor must complete four different types of analysis:

  1. Technical analysis of the nuts and bolts of your SEO strategy, such as site indexing and site functionality.
  2. On-page analysis of the SEO elements contained on the webpages owned and operated by the brand. This pertains to the content published on your website, landing pages, and other on-page SEO elements.
  3. Off-page analysis, which includes the link profile of external backlinks connected to the target website. While you may have no control over which websites link to your own, you can use the Google Analytics toolkit to disavow questionable links, so Google does not index them with your website’s rankings.
  4. Competitive analysis. Tools like SpyFu and BuzzSumo are fantastic assets for competitor and keyword research, helping you identify the SEO strategies that appear to work for your biggest competitors. While you want to remain competitive and strive for top rankings with the most sought-after keywords in your niche, bidding on competitive keywords is expensive. Strive for a healthy balance of competitiveness and affordability with keyword bids.

SEO auditing is a complex process, and it’s essential to conduct this process repeatedly at regular intervals. If you’re uncertain how to begin or how to uncover the data you need for your audit, a few helpful additions to your SEO toolkit can be tremendous assets.

Tools to Assist With Your SEO Audit

  • Google Keyword Planner. This portion of the Google AdWords platform allows for intuitive keyword research, offering suggestions based on the content of your website. Find suggestions for new keywords and use the bid estimate tool to determine how much your targeted keywords will cost.
  • SpyFu. This fantastic platform allows you to perform through competitive analysis. Find out which trends your competition is trying to capture and the keywords working best for them.
  • BuzzSumo. Similar to SpyFu, BuzzSumo allows for in-depth competitive research into specific topics or competitors.
  • Ahrefs. Monitor your market sector more carefully with data-driven insights to guide your SEO strategy with Ahrefs, a comprehensive competitive analysis tool that will help you determine which keywords work best for your content.
  • Semrush. This versatile content marketing management platform enables swift and accurate competitive analysis while offering a suite of additional features ideal for any digital marketing team’s arsenal.

If you’re performing an SEO audit in response to a recent drop in search traffic to your website, these tools are ideal for identifying where your SEO is strategy needs the most attention.

Use what you learn during the SEO audit to inform future strategies. You may find that certain keywords or keyword strings are simply too competitive to be fiscally viable for your marketing budget. Other possibilities include poorly worded keyword strings or a lack of negative keywords. If certain terms or phrases would have a negative connection to your content, list them as negative keywords, so your content won’t appear in searches involving those terms.

Ultimately, the goal of an SEO audit is to fix what isn’t working with your current SEO strategy and to capitalize on your potential advantages over the competitors in your market. Use the insights gained during your audit when crafting future strategies. An ongoing schedule of regular SEO audits will enable your marketing team to make more data-driven and impactful marketing decisions in the future.

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Google & Bing PPC Guidelines https://www.vizion.com/blog/google-bing-ppc-guidelines/ Thu, 14 Nov 2019 14:15:38 +0000 https://www.vizion.com/?p=18391 Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on the biggest search engines, Google and Bing, can be an incredibly lucrative form of marketing, but only if you approach these platforms correctly. PPC ads can ensure your products, services, and content appear in all the most relevant searches, so take some time to review the following best practices and guidelines […]

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Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on the biggest search engines, Google and Bing, can be an incredibly lucrative form of marketing, but only if you approach these platforms correctly. PPC ads can ensure your products, services, and content appear in all the most relevant searches, so take some time to review the following best practices and guidelines for PPC advertising on Google and Bing.

Why Both?

Google may command a larger share of overall search engine traffic, but Bing has been steadily climbing in popularity over the years. Google offers greater reach, but Bing offers a generally higher return on the investment put into PPC ads thanks to lower overall competition and cheaper PPC rates. You don’t need to worry much about managing two separate platforms for PPC ads; Microsoft Advertising allows for easy importing of your Google AdWords settings so you can use the same winning formulas on Bing that you are accustomed to using on Google.

Ultimately, leveraging PPC ads on both Google and Bing offers the greatest potential reach. Too many marketing professionals overlook the potential on Bing simply because Google commands more traffic. This is a mistake; the brands that take the time to leverage both search engines to full effect will reap the best results.

Develop High-Quality PPC Ads

When it comes to advertising on both Google and Bing, the quality of your ad listings is paramount. Thoroughly research the keywords you wish to use so you can gain a firm understanding of what it will take to rank for those keywords on each search engine. You’ll likely discover that some of your most competitive keywords on Google are less competitive on Bing, so adjust your PPC ad settings accordingly to take full advantage of both platforms.

Every PPC ad you post will cost you money when a user clicks on it, so it’s vital to ensure the highest possible return on this investment with every click. You can accomplish this by creating PPD ads built for conversion.

Consider a few best practices to help you get started with crafting high-quality text for your PPC ads:

  • Create an eye-catching headline that grabs a user’s attention.
  • Highlight the most valuable and unique selling points within your PPC ad.
  • Include a direct call to action that instructs a user how to take the next step with your brand.
  • Be as specific as possible. The more specific details you add, the more likely your ad is to resonate with your ideal users.
  • Tailor the wording of your PPC ads to the user, not yourself. Instead of mentioning what you can do for the customer, use language that tells the user what he or she will experience by choosing your brand, or what your brand allows the user to accomplish.

The heart of a good PPC ad is the keywords behind it. Determining your ideal keyword list comes down to thorough research, experimentation, and testing. Eventually, you’ll discover the keywords most likely to result in the return on investment you expect. However, choosing the right keywords is only half the battle; you also need to budget accordingly for the different keywords you plan to use and the ads you create.

Segment Your Bids Based on Performance

Both Google AdWords and Microsoft Advertising allow you to bid on keywords. When a user performs a search that includes a specific keyword, the Google Search algorithm will determine the order in which PPC ads from different bidders appear. For example, if two companies bid on the same keyword and offer competing products, Google will place the ad with the higher bid before the ad with the lower bid. However, it is possible for the lower bid to actually place higher if the ad’s owner has more authority, higher quality web content, and more customer reviews than the high bidder.

Adjust Bids Regularly for Maximum ROI

Most digital marketers will devote the lion’s share of their PPC ad budgets to their highest-performing products. You will need to determine how much you are willing to bid for the most competitive keywords. You might find surprising success by using specific keyword strings and unconventional keywords. It’s also important to adjust keyword and bid settings as time goes on. For example, you wouldn’t want to devote your highest bids to keywords for summer clothing during the winter months.

Use Analytics to Track Performance Over Time

Both Google AdWords and Microsoft Advertising offer marketers robust toolkits for tracking the performance of their PPC ad campaigns over time. Make detailed notes every time you adjust your PPC ad settings on either search engine; what works for one may not work for the other, but your discoveries can inform your strategies for the future and help you capitalize on the advantages both search engines have to offer.

Working with a trusted digital marketing service provider can help in surprising ways, from coordinating your PPC settings across both search engines to providing useful templates for PPC requests for proposals. The best PPC ads can’t survive with bad text, so a little guidance can go a long way toward achieving PPC ad campaign success on the biggest search engines in use today.

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Do You Know Your Marketing ROI? https://www.vizion.com/blog/do-you-know-your-marketing-roi/ Tue, 12 Nov 2019 14:15:39 +0000 https://www.vizion.com/?p=18387 One of the most important metrics for any marketing professional to track is return on investment (ROI). Modern digital marketing is incredibly complex and often expensive, and it’s essential to ensure that every dollar spent on marketing offers an acceptable return in the form of increased brand awareness, higher conversion rates, and ultimately higher sales. […]

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One of the most important metrics for any marketing professional to track is return on investment (ROI). Modern digital marketing is incredibly complex and often expensive, and it’s essential to ensure that every dollar spent on marketing offers an acceptable return in the form of increased brand awareness, higher conversion rates, and ultimately higher sales.

If you are unsure what type of return your marketing investments offer, take the time to calculate your ROI so you can streamline your marketing budget and bolster the bottom line. Many organizations fall into the complacency trap, taking a “set it and forget it” approach to their marketing channels and only taking time to make changes when something goes horribly wrong.

Simple Formulas to Get Started

Calculating your simple marketing ROI is a relatively straightforward process with a simple formula:

  1. Start by measuring the exact cost of the marketing campaign you want to analyze. While you can simply use your entire marketing spend as a benchmark, you will eventually need to define the different marketing channels in use and calculate how much you have spent on each of them.
  2. Next, determine the timeframe you wish to analyze. Tracking marketing ROI over time can be challenging as some marketing campaigns may show flat or minimal growth for the first few months and then gain traction while others are more explosive at first then gradually dwindle in efficacy. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to calculating your marketing ROI is determining the actual ROI over time while accounting for different growth patterns across your various marketing channels.
  3. The next step is to calculate how much sales increased during the specified timeframe. For example, if sales increased by $10,000, and your marketing spend was $1,000 for the specified timeframe, you would subtract your marketing spend from your sales increase, and then divide the result by your marketing budget. Following this example, the formula would be ($10,000-$1,000)/$1,000 for a 900% return.

This simple ROI calculation is relatively straightforward and can provide a benchmark to help you determine your overall marketing ROI, but you need to delve deeper if you wish to find out your exact marketing ROI.

Campaign Attributable ROI Calculation

The previous example formula may seem accurate, but it operates under the assumption that your brand’s total month-over-month sales growth is a direct result of the marketing campaign. It’s essential to make critical comparisons for your calculated marketing ROI to be meaningful. Try using sales figures from the months prior to the marketing campaign for a more accurate formula.

Start with a one-year campaign lead-up period to calculate the existing sales trend prior to launching the marketing campaign. If you notice a 5% organic growth trend, you need to remove this organic sales growth from your ROI formula. Following the previous example and using a 5% organic growth trend for this new formula, your new campaign attributable ROI formula would look like this:

Sales increase – average organic sales growth – marketing cost / marketing cost, or

($10,000 – 5% ($500) – $1,000)/ $1000 = 850%

Most companies will see much smaller return percentages, but these examples should help you see how to calculate your marketing ROI while accounting for your organic sales growth outside of your marketing channels.

Soft Metrics to Consider

The purpose of a marketing ROI calculation is to determine how much your marketing dollars are turning into sales numbers, but the direct boost to your bottom line isn’t the only benefit of a well-crafted marketing campaign. Modern marketing professionals also track soft metrics, or other variables outside of strictly sales that help inform how effective their marketing campaigns are beyond driving sales. Some of the most important soft metrics to track include:

  • Brand awareness. A new marketing campaign may not have resulted in as much of a sales increase as expected, but it may have encouraged more leads to sign up for mailing lists or take a few more steps on their buying journey with the brand.
  • Social media engagement. Clever marketing can easily go viral, and one of the best measurements for gauging the efficacy of a marketing campaign is how much attention it attracts toward a brand’s social media profiles. Generating discussion and positive buzz around your brand can be an extremely powerful asset that will bolster future marketing efforts.
  • Content output rate. How much did your content publication schedule fluctuate with your marketing campaign? Did your target audience appear to enjoy the content more than usual and engage with it more? This metric will help gauge the ideal content publishing schedule for future marketing campaigns.

Calculating marketing ROI is essential, and it’s vital to develop a solid system that accounts for your multiple marketing channels and variables like average organic growth. Ultimately, marketing is an essential component of any business plan, regardless of whether you sell your products and services to a consumer market or other businesses. Marketing ROI calculations are invaluable tools, so use them wisely and develop a cohesive system for tracking your marketing success over time.

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A Walkthrough of Microsoft Advertising https://www.vizion.com/blog/a-walkthrough-of-microsoft-advertising/ Thu, 07 Nov 2019 14:04:20 +0000 https://www.vizion.com/?p=18382 Bing may be the underdog when it comes to search engine traffic, as Google has continued to dominate online search for many years, but this does not mean digital marketers can’t find great opportunities to advertise on Bing. Recently, Microsoft rebranded the Bing AdCenter to Microsoft Advertising. While Google may be your primary focus when […]

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Bing may be the underdog when it comes to search engine traffic, as Google has continued to dominate online search for many years, but this does not mean digital marketers can’t find great opportunities to advertise on Bing. Recently, Microsoft rebranded the Bing AdCenter to Microsoft Advertising. While Google may be your primary focus when it comes to paid advertising, don’t overlook the potential Bing might offer your brand.

Many of the tools and features available through Microsoft Advertising should feel familiar, but it’s important to have some idea of what to expect before you get started with your Bing pay-per-click (PPC) campaign.

Why Advertise on Bing?

Google still holds the title as the champion of online search, but Bing has steadily gained more traction over the years and now holds sway over about a quarter of all online search traffic. If you’re dedicating all of your digital marketing budget and assets to Google, you’re potentially missing out on 25% of the available opportunities for increasing your brand awareness to a wider audience.

Bing presents search engine result pages (SERPs) in roughly the same format as Google, with sponsored ads on the top, side, and bottom of each page. While Google has recently done away with the sidebar for sponsored links, Bing still uses this configuration for desktop displays. On mobile platforms, the two platforms’ SERPs are remarkably similar.

Microsoft Advertising serves the same function for Bing as Google AdWords does for Google Search. The basic mechanics of Microsoft Advertising are almost identical to AdWords. You must specify keywords for your content and bid on them. When a user searches using one of your designated keywords, Bing runs an algorithm to determine which bidding ads take the top places on the SERP. Just like a PPC campaign on Google, you must pay a set amount every time a user successfully clicks on your ads using Microsoft Advertising. Higher bids will increase the likelihood of your ads appearing, but they will also cost more if more users decide to click on them.

If you already advertise on Google, you don’t need to worry too much about managing an entirely separate PPC admin platform; Microsoft Advertising allows users to import their keyword configurations directly from Google AdWords, and you can also configure Microsoft Advertising to update with your AdWords on a set schedule. Ultimately, you might discover that advertising on Bing offers a higher overall return on investment than advertising on Google thanks to the lighter competition and lower cost of PPC ads, despite the overall lower search volume.

Best Practices for Using Microsoft Advertising

One of the most crucial factors to consider during any marketing campaign is the potential return on your investment. Since Google draws more search traffic than Bing, you essentially have less competition when advertising on Bing, and your PPC ads will cost a fraction of what they would cost on Google. PPC ads cost roughly 30% to 40% less on Bing than they do on Google, potentially saving you tremendous amounts of marketing budget cash per click while still capturing a desirable number of conversions thanks to the less competitive environment.

Just like advertising using AdWords, keywords are your chief concern when it comes to building your Microsoft Advertising campaign. Keep a few basic best practices in mind, and you’ll quickly discover that Microsoft Advertising is intuitive, familiar, and more valuable than you may have expected:

  • Develop a thorough list of keywords, including singular/plural variations and long-form keyword phrases.
  • Be sure to designate negative keywords in case you know of search terms you do not want associated with your website.
  • Designate your geographical preferences, if applicable. If you plan to advertise to a specific geographical location, Microsoft Advertising allows you to target your ideal market area with high precision.
  • Experiment and perform some competitive analysis to find out how your competitors are using Microsoft Advertising. If you notice a certain competitor’s ads on Google fairly often but rarely or ever on Bing, this presents a unique opportunity.
  • Segment your bids carefully. Bid the highest on the keywords that resonate most strongly with your web content. Split testing can help you determine which keywords offer the best return on your marketing investment.
  • Target your ads by device type. Remember, more people than ever before are using mobile devices to browse the web and shop online, and your Bing PPC ads should capture the mobile search market.

Ultimately, you should apply the same best practices to your Microsoft Advertising campaign that you use for your Google AdWords campaign. Don’t feel stressed about splitting your attention to a second search engine; managing your Microsoft Advertising platform is easier than you might think. It can also offer a fantastic return on investment despite the lower search volume on Bing. Over time, Bing may continue to steal search engine traffic from Google, so developing a strong Microsoft Advertising campaign now can set you up for tremendous success in the future.

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Twitter Updates Through the Years https://www.vizion.com/blog/twitter-updates-through-the-years/ Tue, 05 Nov 2019 14:08:53 +0000 https://www.vizion.com/?p=18319 Twitter is one of the most popular communication platforms today. It began as the brainchild of Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams, three programmers working for a struggling podcasting company called Odeo. After Apple’s podcasting service essentially destroyed Odeo’s business model, the founders decided to buy Odeo back from their investors and use the […]

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Twitter is one of the most popular communication platforms today. It began as the brainchild of Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams, three programmers working for a struggling podcasting company called Odeo. After Apple’s podcasting service essentially destroyed Odeo’s business model, the founders decided to buy Odeo back from their investors and use the company to house the new project: Twitter. While it remains unclear how much those investors knew about the blossoming Twitter platform, eventually, the founders used Odeo assets to build the framework of what would become the Twitter known today.

Originally designed as an SMS messaging platform, Twitter started with the infamous 140-character limit due to the constraints of SMS messaging at the time. Eventually, this and many other aspects of the platform would change dramatically.

Twitter saw explosive initial growth during the South by Southwest (SXSW) event in 2007, where users sent an average of 60,000 tweets per day during the event. This daily usage began to skyrocket as the platform gained traction and developers started adding new functions. Currently, Twitter tracks about half a billion tweets per day, allowing users to reach a global audience with unmatched speed. Twitter passed the one billion Tweet milestone in November 2008.

User-Driven Functionality

If you’re familiar with using the current version of Twitter, can you imagine how difficult it would be to use the platform without the basic functions of reply tagging and hashtags? Originally, users had no way to reply to one another on the platform. Users began adding the @ symbol before another user’s username to signify the message was an intended reply to that user. Eventually, Twitter developers realized this was a great way for users to acknowledge one another and eventually integrated the functionality into the Twitter platform.

Another user-driven functionality change was hashtags. Users began adding hashtags with brief descriptions to signal they were remarking on a broader topic within the platform, and Twitter eventually integrated the hashtag system into the platform as a native function. Retweets began in much the same way; users wanted a way to re-post other users’ messages while crediting them for those messages, so they would add “RT” and the original poster’s username before reposting a tweet. Twitter added Retweeting as a native function in August of 2010.

The 140-character Tweet limit became a matter of branding rather than a restriction from the earliest Twitter builds’ limitations. While many users believed that the 140-character was too restrictive, Twitter developers including Jack Dorsey held fast to the belief that brevity was an inherent characteristic of the platform. However, in 2017 Twitter finally decided to double the character limit to 280 characters considering the continuous growth of the platform and the extraordinarily diverse userbase.

Quality of Life Improvements Over Time

Like all other social media platforms, Twitter eventually needed to adapt the platform to changing user preferences and behavioral trends. Twitter developers have implemented many quality of life changes to dramatic effect over the years:

  • Tweet character counters now allow users to more easily track the length of their tweets.
  • Reply chain functionality, allowing users to more easily create Tweet threads.
  • Implementation of Moments, a feature that allows users to quickly absorb information about a specific trending topic by collating high-profile accounts, news sources, and Tweets with high engagement into a consolidated format for easier viewing.
  • In September 2010, Twitter launched the new Twitter.com interface and offered users new ways to embed multimedia within their tweets.
  • Micro-animations, such as the quick splash of color that appears when a user clicks the Like and Retweet buttons on another user’s Tweet.
  • Vast user content customization options including blocking, muting, and notification preferences.
  • In 2011, Twitter added a sleek new desktop user interface and added a Local Trends feature, allowing users to see the trending topics and news stories happening closest to them. It was around this time that SharePoint valued Twitter at roughly $8 billion.

Twitter has changed dramatically over the years, and the platform continues to evolve in response to changing user preferences, behaviors, and communication trends. While users still bemoan the lack of an Edit Tweet feature, the platform continues to offer a dizzying level of reach to advertisers, businesses, and average users.

Leveraging Twitter for Your Brand

Twitter developers are constantly looking for new ways to enhance the user experience on the platform for all types of users, including brands that leverage the platform as a means of communicating with their consumers and audiences. If you use Twitter as part of your social media marketing ecosystem, it’s essential to consistently review your performance on the platform and account for recent updates and feature implementations. If you haven’t performed an audit of your brand’s Twitter account for a while, it’s wise to coordinate one as soon as possible.

Remember, your company’s image extends far beyond the company’s profile, and your partners and employees with Twitter accounts can also draw attention to your brand for better or worse. Take time to regularly review your Twitter marketing and stay up to date with the latest functionality changes so you can take full advantage of everything the Twitter platform has to offer.

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The Ins & Outs of Franchise Marketing https://www.vizion.com/blog/the-ins-outs-of-franchise-marketing/ Thu, 31 Oct 2019 13:05:10 +0000 https://www.vizion.com/?p=18316 Modern digital marketing experts likely have a strong grasp of search engine optimization (SEO) for a small business or a company with a single establishment, but the rules are a bit different when it comes to SEO for franchises and businesses with multiple locations. Many industry experts bemoan the common frustrations of managing franchise SEO, […]

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Modern digital marketing experts likely have a strong grasp of search engine optimization (SEO) for a small business or a company with a single establishment, but the rules are a bit different when it comes to SEO for franchises and businesses with multiple locations. Many industry experts bemoan the common frustrations of managing franchise SEO, but it can be simpler than you expect if you have a few best practices to guide you and a firm understanding of the basics of modern SEO.

Key Differences for Franchise SEO

To successfully manage SEO for multiple franchises, you need to understand that SEO for any multi-location organization is very tricky, requires constant attention, and may feel like a battle of attrition at first. Some of the most common frustrations facing franchisees and their marketing teams include:

  • Lack of centralized listings. Multiple locations or franchises mean multiple Google AdWords listings. Some franchisees may have claimed their locations on Google My Business while others have not, and the marketing team responsible for managing multiple franchises’ listings will need to reconcile multiple accounts. This can be a tremendous undertaking for some teams.
  • Miscommunication between franchisees and corporate. A franchisee may receive instructions from the corporate head office to purchase SEO services without really understanding why, or even without an understanding of the basics of those services.
  • Lack of basic understanding of franchise SEO at the corporate level. A franchise owner who doesn’t understand SEO is one problem, but when the corporate leadership doesn’t know how to handle multi-location SEO, things can get very messy very quickly.
  • Conflicts between corporate marketing strategies and franchisees’ local marketing strategies. A franchisee may have a local marketing strategy that works but does not necessarily flow with corporate’s overall marketing plan. It can take a great deal of convincing to turn a local franchise owner away from a local marketing team that likely costs much less than the one selected by corporate.

Franchise SEO faces many more challenges than these and managing SEO for multiple locations can quickly become a nightmare without a cohesive and holistic strategy.

Tips for Successful Franchise SEO

The goal of any franchise SEO campaign is to ensure that each location reaches top placement among search engine result pages in each location. If your company owns franchises in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and New York City, you would need to configure the SEO settings for each location specific to those geographic regions. This will prevent users in New York from accessing your Los Angeles location’s information and vice versa, streamlining the user experience for potential leads in all your franchise service areas.

It’s also imperative to understand the role of your published content for franchise SEO. For example, a franchised company likely has different webpages for the different products and services offered, but it is not wise to simply publish the same content to each iteration of the website for each franchise location. If a company operates franchises in three different locations, the company must develop uniquely worded content for each franchise.

If you develop location-specific pages for each franchisee, provide Google with as much detailed, accurate information as possible for each location. The Google My Business tool is a great way to ensure your franchise location pages are properly indexed, and you can upload location data for each franchise to Google.

Google penalizes duplicate content quite heavily. By contrast, webpages that feature information-rich original content see a boost to their SEO results. Google will penalize every franchise page that holds duplicate content. If developing unique content for each franchise location’s webpages isn’t feasible, one way to circumvent the duplicate content penalty is to include links from all franchise sites to a centralized site that contains information pertinent to all franchises.

Develop a Cohesive SEO Network for Successful Franchise Advertising

Ultimately, every franchise location within an overarching franchise corporation should have individual SEO content and use individually tailored SEO tactics for each location. However, each franchise location must flow with the overall SEO of the franchise corporation or central content hub for the company.

While developing your cohesive marketing network for the different franchise locations your company operates, it may seem natural to link the various pages together intuitively to build a strong internal link profile. However, this is not exactly the case. Too many internal links between different franchise location pages could lead to punitive action against your brand if the Google algorithm deems the linking structure suspicious.

Ultimately, the key to success with franchise SEO is to consolidate your resources where possible to prevent wasted resources and create a network effect with all your franchise location webpages. Providing Google with perfectly clear information for each franchise location is a crucial first step in any successful franchise SEO strategy. Ensuring each franchise has location-specific content optimized for mobile should be another cornerstone for your franchise SEO efforts. Overcoming search engine penalties may require collaboration between the head office and different franchisees, but the effort put into this will be well worth it in the long run once you’ve successfully developed a cohesive franchise SEO strategy.

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Google BERT Update Set to Re-Shape Google’s Understanding of Users https://www.vizion.com/blog/google-bert-update-set-to-re-shape-googles-understanding-of-users/ Mon, 28 Oct 2019 21:50:30 +0000 https://www.vizion.com/?p=18370 Last week Google made headlines by announcing that their Search platform had received its most important update in the past five years. “BERT” is named after Google’s Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers project that was released in November 2018 as an open source project. At its core, BERT uses machine learning to better understand conversational […]

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Last week Google made headlines by announcing that their Search platform had received its most important update in the past five years.

“BERT” is named after Google’s Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers project that was released in November 2018 as an open source project. At its core, BERT uses machine learning to better understand conversational search queries so that their search results are more accurate and relevant to a searcher’s needs.


Related Reading
: In May of 2019, Jacob Devlin, Ming-Wei Chang, Kenton Lee and Kristina Toutanova – a group of researchers at Google AI Language – provided more information on how BERT works with their research paper which is available online as a PDF.

How Significant is BERT?
According to announcements, BERT was released in the United States for English speaking users. While other regions and languages are expected benefit from BERT in the future – digital marketers latched on to the fact that BERT was expected to impact search results for approximately 10% of all Google searches.

Why is 10% so significant to us?

It starts with an understanding that Google provides more than 5.6 billion search results each day. In other words, according to Google’s own figures, BERT will soon be working to provide improved results for more than 560 million search queries globally, every day.

The last change of similar significance that Google acknowledged took place back in October of 2015, when RankBrain was confirmed. At the time, RankBrain – another machine learning algorithm enhancement – was said to impact 15% of Google Searches.

BERT’s Impact on Search Engine Marketing
For years, digital marketing communities have been quick to react, review and interpret Google’s announcements in large part due to the impact they have on search engine optimization.

In the case of BERT, it’s important to note that the new technologies are focused on an improved understanding of a user’s search query — not the end content that we as marketers normally look to optimize.

With BERT working hard to improve Google’s understanding of a searcher’s intent – search engine marketers responsible for Google Ads performance and search engine optimization (SEO) need to pay close attention to changes in search impressions in the wake of BERT’s release. This is due to the nature of how BERT works in using natural language and nuanced learnings to evaluate queries for meanings where simple pattern matching is insufficient.

Here’s a look at one example that Google provided when they announced BERT. The query, “Can you get medicine for someone pharmacy,” remains unchanged – but the accuracy of search results has been improved significantly.

google bert update

In the “BEFORE” example, Google is trying to provide the user with information about filling their own prescriptions through a pharmacy. With BERT, the “AFTER” example shows how search results are improved (based on the query) to help the searcher understand how they may be able to take receipt of a prescription from a pharmacy if it’s intended for another person.

For more interesting examples, we encourage you to review Google’s announcement of BERT, Understanding searches better than ever before.

The Future of Google Search with BERT

While there’s no immediate need to optimize content specifically for BERT, search marketing managers should be watching impression level data and queries much more closely now that BERT has gone live. For data sources, stick to Google Analytics, Google Ads and Google Search Console – being mindful that some platforms (like GSC) may be delayed by a few days in providing search query data.

One final piece of advice is to continue watching for BERT updates from the digital marketing industry as well as from Google themselves. Machine learning technologies are dynamic in nature, and as such – are subject to change.

In the case of RankBrain, some six months after that technology was confirmed, at least one Google employee admitted on the record that Google “didn’t quite understand” all that RankBrain was doing at the time.

In announcing BERT, Pandu Nayak, Google Fellow and Vice President of Search, described the release as “one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.”

Don’t worry, Google. We’ll be watching.

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