Remember the phrase “There’s an app for that”? In WordPress, it might as well be there’s a plugin for that. With more than 50,000 plugins to assist with everything from social media to spam blockers, it’s easier now than ever customized your site with just a quick click and download. But, with so many options, where should you start? We work with dozens of small businesses around the country. While they are all different, here are a few that seem to benefit everyone regardless of business type.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides a way to understand the visitors to your site with insights like demographics, how they behaved on your site, and if they returned at a later date. Once you know what interested someone enough to get them to your site, you know how to make their experience better.

Figuring out how someone lands on your website is important for developing your marketing strategies. Knowing what actions or search terms were used before someone found your website will help you strategize how to get other people to your site. It could have been a simple search for a related term or they could have found you if another website linked to yours. You may not be the first or last stop in someone search history. Where they’re from and where they’re going is information you can use to strengthen your own web presence. Finding topics that resonate with your audience means you have a chance to create a valuable relationship.

For  e-commerce businesses, Google Analytics allows you to track your site metrics. It’s essentially a revenue report showing the number of visitors, duration of visitor, sales made, and revenue. A key aspect of the plugin is devoted strictly to business results

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is the original WordPress plugin for search engine optimization. Yoast provides information not only for site visitors but also for search engine spiders seeking to provide information for autofill the next time you search.

Its key purpose is to provide information for writing SEO-friendly content. Relative to your site the Yoast SEO plugin is another form of creativity. You can learn more about what attracts customers and terminology to enhance their experience.

Yoast helps you get technical about your writing style.

While Google Analytics is about learning your customer base to build the ideal web experience, Yoast is about tailoring your web content. Keeping the editing process in mind, Yoast offers a live preview feature for search results. The same is true for the ever-important canon of improving your social media.

From there, you can take it a step further: Yoast Premium.

An enhanced version of the standard Yoast SEO experience, consider the premium edition to get even better at managing your SEO. Premium offers assets such as content insights to reveal the five key phrases most used on your page, writing suggestions for links to other pages in real time, and unlimited support from a support team, not merely a list of FAQs and forum posts. Even better, Yoast Premium has a redirect manager, meaning that a changed URL or an updated version of your site will not deter visitors, instead of the dreaded 404 error message.

A site’s usability is as much about content readability as it is about the actual framework of the site. Visitors should not have to root around endlessly to find what they need, and the ideal site is the first stop on a search engine. You can’t be on page one without an optimized site. Getting there starts with understanding what users want.

Ninja Forms

Ninja Forms offers a way to build mailing lists, manage and edit user submissions, and receive data such as users’ email and phone contacts with embedded forms. The intuitive drag-and-drop interface and extensions for expanding your contact base, such as MailChimp and Constant Contact. Each builds on the idea of simplicity while also offering an unlimited amount of signup forms, creative form presentation, and sorting users based on their preferences and responses.

In the age of bots, there is truth to the argument that chatbots could eradicate preferred contact forms. However, plenty of sites still do not offer immediate action interfaces for collecting data, and the bots themselves are still considered somewhat stop-gap in their usability. To that end, whether contact forms are going away in two years or ten, your customers have to get in contact with you and Ninja Forms offers an ideal, seamless integration for doing so.

Conclusion

Combining the three pieces above means learning why people visit your site, how to gather more visitors, and how to optimize their experience. There’s a reason WordPress is the most popular content management system, with a seemingly endless gamut of support systems, customizable add-ons, and styles.

However, it’s important to note that not all WordPress plugins are created equal. It’s easy to download and activate a plugin for your site, but give the plugin a quick review before you install it. Pay attention to how many active installations are running and read reviews on the most recent version. It also helps to scroll through support forums and consider what issues might others have had and decide whether those would be your issues too. A larger, more vetted plugin has less of a chance of being problematic and more of a chance of enhancing your site.

In our last series post in ‘How to Advertise on Google’ we discussed keywords. At this point in our series, you have now created all of the pieces needed to start advertising on Google. Now, let’s go over the final piece: putting all the parts together and launching a campaign on Google AdWords. When setting up your account in AdWords, you will set up your keywords in ‘campaigns’ which will serve as your organizational structure. Once you’ve mastered how to build campaigns, you will have a clean and optimal structure for advertising on Google.

What Are Campaigns?

When advertising on Google AdWords, everything is organized in what they call ‘campaigns’. Think of this as the beginning of a filing or organizational system. You have campaigns, and in them lives another level known as ‘ad groups’, and then there are your ads and keywords. From top to bottom, this is the structure used to organize your advertising account.

AdWords Campaign Structure

People search on Google and your ads are shown based on the keywords you are using. So why do you need to know about campaigns and ad groups? Creating the proper structure for your advertising gives you clarity, organization, and will help later when it comes time to analyze your performance. You should use campaigns to identify the main keyword themes of your account.

If you happen to have 5 main services that comprise your business, you might want 5 separate campaigns, one for each of your services. Think of campaigns as an easy way to navigate through your keywords. Use your campaigns to set up clear buckets based on important pillars of your business.

What Are Ad Groups?

An ad group is merely the subfolder to your campaign. At the ad group level is where your ads and keywords will live. Why are ad groups useful? Ad Groups are great for additional organization and classification of your keywords. You should use ad groups as a way to further expand on the main theme of your campaign.

Let’s assume one of your campaigns is for ‘home repair’ because it is a main service you provide. An ad group within that campaign could be ‘home repair contractor’. In this example, the campaign alludes to the theme, and the ad group provides a specific example which fits under that theme.

Bonus Pro Tip: Single Keyword Ad Groups

I am a big advocate for single keyword ad groups (SKAGs). It’s exactly what it sounds like: every single keyword you have should live within its own ad group. This is the ultimate way to provide crystal clear structure to your campaigns. Using what we’ve learned, a campaign name would provide us insight into a main pillar of our business, such as different services. Within that, we would have any keywords related to the campaign, and each keyword would have its own ad group.

Using our earlier example, it would look like this:

Campaign = Home Repair
Ad Group = Home Repair Contractor
Keyword = Home Repair Contractor

Using this method, you will always know exactly what keywords live in your ad groups because they will each have their own ad group.

The benefits are many:

The only exception to using this method would be if you happen to have many thousands of keywords. At that point, it might become cumbersome to have so many ad groups, and you could look into combining similar keywords into the same ad group. Few people should have this problem, and the only negative to SKAGs is in the time to set things up properly. But if you take the time to use single keyword ad groups, you won’t regret it.

How to Organize Keywords into Campaigns & Ad Groups

Campaigns and ad groups should be setup as a way to organize your keywords. Your end result should be a clear system where you can look at a campaign and know what bucket of keywords would live within it. Then, the ad groups within the campaign would get down to a specific keyword. Using single keyword ad groups makes this even easier as there is a clear follow-through from ad group to keyword. Here’s how I approach the process of creating campaigns and ad groups.

*Make sure you have a completed list of keywords (or read our blog on how to come up with keywords for your business)

  1. Write out the main services or pillars of your business to serve as campaigns
  2. Review your list of keywords and separate them into the appropriate campaign
    Remember, the keyword should relate to the service/theme of the campaign
  3. Create single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) to house your keywords (1 ad group with 1 keyword)
    Pro tip: It’s easy and cleanest to name your ad group the same as your keyword
  4. If any keywords seem to fall outside of main service/theme of your business, break it out into its own campaign to keep things clean

Wrap-Up

You have now built out all of the parts to enable you to advertise on Google! From campaigns and ad groups, to ads and keywords, you now have a great structure set up for success. Using these organizational tips, anyone can create an optimal setup for using Google AdWords. Our last article in the “How to Advertise on Google” series will cover launching everything on AdWords. We will cover all of the steps to take what you have created, and get you to the point of seeing your ads on Google.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get all of our new blog posts every week! You can also follow me on Twitter @rbsjackets.

Welcome to Part 4 of our ‘How To Advertise on Google’ series. Our topic today is the ads themselves. We will cover: the anatomy of ads on Google, guidelines for writing ads, and best practices for writing killer ads for your business. Let’s dive in!

If you’ve ever wanted to be in advertising, now is your moment to shine because when advertising on Google you get to write your own ads! In order to learn how to write effective ads for Google, you need to understand the anatomy of an ad. There are different parts to ads and understanding them will help you be able to write the best ad copy for advertising on Google. Using AdWords allows you to write ads yourselves, but it’s not a simple process. You need to write an ad which will grab people’s attention, drive them to your site, and get people to buy your product/service.

Structure of Ads on Google

When using Google, you probably do not notice all of the ads on the page. Usually, the first result when you search for something on Google is a paid ad. Doing this type of advertising can be a powerful way to reach an expanded audience, but how do these ads work? There are 3 main components that make an ad: headline, description lines, and Display URL.

Shane Co Ad

Using our example from Shane Co. Jewelry Store, here is the breakdown of the ad:

Headline: Shane Co.® Jewelry Store

Display URL: www.shaneco.com/Jewelry_Store

Description Lines: Jewelry You Can’t Find Elsewhere. 60-Day Return & Lifetime Warranty.

Google’s Ad Guidelines

When writing ads, you have to adhere to specific rules from Google in order for your ads to be eligible. These guidelines range from how long the ad can be, to keeping proper syntax.

How To Write Ads for Google

It’s best to think about writing ads looking at the 3 components we discussed earlier.

Headline

This is your chance to get your business name out there and grab the attention of people searching on Google. Most people will only read the headline of an ad before deciding to move past your ad or read further. Strive to include one or multiple of the following in your headline:

Description Lines

These two lines give you room to describe more about your business, offerings, and services. If someone has made it past the headline, you have grabbed their attention. Now, you need to reel them in with a well-rounded pitch using only 70 characters of text.

Display URLs

This is simply the web address (URL) for where your ad will take people who click on it. There is a secret pro tip regarding Display URLs: they do not have to be the literal web address people are taken to. This is what is called a “vanity” URL in that it is really there for looks.

Google requires only that the domain name of the URL matches with the domain you are taking people to. Example: if your site is www.homerepair.com then your Display URL would need to start out with www.homerepair.com because that is the “domain name” of your site. So why is this vanity URL important?

After starting with the domain name, you can add anything you want on to the end of it. From our earlier example, Shane Co had it’s Display URL end with /Jewelry Store. While that is just for show, it’s a free bit of space you can use to highlight your business again. Consider reinforcing your important services and/or keywords at the tail end of the Display URL.

Example: Let’s say you offer free consultations to your potential clients.

Display URL: www.businessname.com/free-consultation

Conclusion

You are now on your way to becoming an advertising expert! Following these ad-writing basics will set you up with ads every bit as good as the biggest companies. Interested in learning even more about writing killer ads for Google? Stay tuned for our follow-up article: 5 Tips for Killer Ad Copy!

Next week in our ‘How To Advertise on Google’ series we will put all of the pieces we’ve reviewed together. We will take your keywords and review how to organize everything you’ve built for optimal efficiency. If you enjoy this series, please sign up for our email newsletter to get all of our new blog posts every week. You can also follow me on Twitter @rbsjackets.

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Welcome to Part 2 of our ‘How To Advertise on Google’ series. Today, we will cover the nuts and bolts of advertising on Google. We will also run through the important lingo of the advertising world. Let’s dive in!

In our last article we touched on why advertising on Google is worth your time and money. Now, we will delve into the building blocks that make up advertising on Google AdWords. By the end of this article you will understand the fundamentals of how Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising works.

Keywords

If you decide to advertise on Google AdWords, you have to determine who you want to see your ads. You probably want to reach people who are searching for your business directly. If you are ‘Harry’s Home Repair’ you want people searching for that on Google to see your ad. In this example, ‘Harry’s Home Repair’ is what Google calls a “keyword”. When doing a search on Google, the thing you type in is the keyword.
When advertising on Google AdWords, you get to choose which keywords you want to advertise on. This is a key benefit to AdWords. You only pay for what you want. All the power lies with you. You do not have to advertise for just anything someone might search for on Google, but rather only for those “keywords” which people type into Google that you feel are related to your business. You choose the keywords that matter, write the ads, and only pay when someone clicks on your ads.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

The concept of pay-per-click is as straightforward as it gets in advertising. When you advertise on Google AdWords, you can write your own ads and have them show up when people search for your business. Any time someone clicks on your ad, Google charges you for that click, thus you pay-per-click (aka PPC). While this is a simple concept, the cost part is a bit more complex.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

Advertising on Google AdWords takes place behind the scenes in what is called a ‘real-time auction’. You do not pay a set cost for every click, but rather the cost is dynamic. It can change, increasing or decreasing, at any time and 1 click might cost you $1 while later it costs you $0.50. AdWords determines the cost and it is based on a number of factors. One of the largest factors is competition.

You are not likely to be the only person who wants to advertise on Google. If you have a niche business, you might be the only one advertising, or one of few. This means you are more likely to have to pay less per click on your ads. If you are in a more competitive business, and multiple business exist who advertise on Google AdWords, the cost-per-click of your ad might be higher. In this way, more generic searches on Google tend to cost more as there are likely to be more people advertising. A very specific search is likely to be less costly as it is more unique with less competition.

Example

Keyword: ‘Home Repair’ – CPC = $5
Keyword: ‘Home Repair in Athens, GA’ – CPC = $3

Bidding

There is an important safeguard in place to combat the changing cost-per-click on your ads. While Google’s method of determining the costs may change at any time, you can determine how much you are willing to pay for each click. This is referred to as “bidding” or setting a “Max CPC” and it ensures the power of advertising on Google AdWords stays with you.

Let’s say you have a set amount of money you can spend on advertising and you only want to spend $100. If you’ve done some research, you might know that the main keyword you want to advertise on costs between $3-5 per click. You want to advertise on this keyword, but not break the bank. You can set it up so that you put in a “bid” of $3 for the keyword. No matter how much the cost as determined by Google changes, you will never pay more than your “bid” of $3.

As an added measure to keep your spending in check, you can also set a maximum budget so that even if you get a lot of clicks and rack up more cost you will not spend beyond a set total amount. You can set an individual “bid” at $3 so that each click will not cost more than that, but you can also set $100 as your max budget so that if your ads get lots of clicks, AdWords will automatically stop without going beyond your budget.

So how can you bid low and still get in the mix of advertising on higher-cost keywords? It all comes down to the order in which ads appear on Google, or the Ad Rank.

Ad Rank

Every time someone searches for something (a ‘keyword’) on Google, there are a number of different ads that show up. For most searches, there are multiple ads which come up and there could be anywhere from 0 to +10 ads showing at any time. When someone searches on Google, it looks through all of the people who are “bidding” and places them in an order which is referred to as the ‘Ad Rank’.

The order of ads is determined by how much you have “bid” for what is being searched (the keyword), and how much other people advertising on Google are willing to “bid”. In the simplest terms, the person who is bidding more will show up 1st in the rank, and then it trickles down to whoever bids the least. If you want your ad to be one of the first things people see when they search on Google, you can pay more to ensure you have the top rank.

If you want to be in the mix, but not pay a premium then your ad might rank somewhere in the middle. Your ad will still appear when people search on Google, but may not be the 1st thing they see. While you have the best chance for a click by being in the top position on Google, you will still get clicks even if you are not the 1st ad.

Conclusion

The main reason why Google is worth your time is that the control lies in your hands. You determine how much you are willing to bid for each keyword. All of the decisions come from you: how much cost you are comfortable with, who you want to advertise to, and how much you are willing to pay-per-click to do it.

Next up in our ‘How To Advertise on Google’ series we will go in-depth into keywords. Expect to learn how to choose keywords for Google AdWords. If you enjoy the series, please subscribe to our email list to receive a weekly recap of all of our content. You can also follow me on Twitter @rbsjackets.

Welcome to Part 1 of our ‘How To Advertise on Google’ series. The goal of this series is to educate people with any level of experience on how and why you should leverage advertising on Google. We will cover everything from why you should be advertising your business, all the way to how you can create and launch your own ads on Google. This series will tackle the basics, look at best practices to set you up for success, and provide a clear direction on exactly how you too can advertise on Google.

Have you ever wondered about how to advertise on Google? Or have you questioned if anyone even clicks on those weird ads on Google?  Here at Classic City Consulting, we have spent years working on Pay-Per-Click advertising and we believe it to be a great option for businesses of all sizes. Join us for a new series, How To Advertise on Google AdWords, where we will cover pay-per-click advertising from start to finish. Your DIY Google AdWords guide begins now!

Any time you search for something on Google, you are greeted with many options to click on. What often goes unnoticed is that the first few results are almost always paid advertisements. They are easy to miss, but are accompanied by a small yellow box labeled ‘Ad’ which separates the first few results from the rest of the page. Also, along the right-hand side of the page is more paid ads.

Google Search Results For Website Developement

In this example, when searching for ‘web development’ the resulting choices are heavily influenced by paid ads. The first 3 choices are all paid ads and all along the right-hand side are even more ads. This picture shows what you first see without scrolling down the page, and nearly all of it is paid ads created through pay-per-click advertising.

Can Anyone Advertise on Google?

Yes! Anyone, a business or an individual, can write their own ads and buy space on Google so that when someone searches for your business or something related to your business, your ad can appear at or near the top of the page. It’s a powerful way to advertise on a site that billions of people use every day.

To help you achieve your advertising goals, Google has a self-service advertising system known as Google AdWords. This allows you to create your own ads and buy space on Google.

Unlike other advertising mediums, Google doesn’t require you to buy a set amount of ads, pay a set price, or advertise to anyone and everyone. So why should you pick advertising on Google over other options? One word: targeting!

Target YOUR Audience (Not ALL Audiences)

Your budget may be small, but you can implement a few measures in AdWords to ensure you reach only the people you want. This is possible through the many different ways you can “target” people searching on Google. First, the different targeting options allow you to only advertise to people in certain geographic locations. You can buy ads for people in your zip code, city, state, region of the country, all of the US, or worldwide. It can be tailored to where you do business so you don’t waste money by advertising to people in California if you are a local business in Decatur, Georgia without cross-country shipping. There are even more options available to tailor your spending to even the most specific details.

By employing one or multiple of these targeting options, your money will only go towards advertising to your desired audience. This is a great way to save money and give you the best chance at a potential lead or sale. Using Google to advertise gives you the power to control how your budget is spent, and who has the potential to see your ads.

How to get started?

Continue to follow our ‘How to Advertise on Google’ series which will cover: how to get started with advertising on Google, AdWords training, and advertising help on Google. Our next post will be, Google Advertising 101, a beginner’s guide to Google AdWords. We will cover the nuts and bolts behind how advertising on Google works and we will introduce some important lingo you will need to be familiar with.

If you enjoy this series, please subscribe to our email list to receive a weekly recap of all of our articles. You can follow me on Twitter @rbsjackets as well!

The keys to writing the best ads on Google come down to a few basics. In order to drive more clicks on Google, you want to be able to: 1) grab someone’s attention, 2) give them a reason to click through to your site, and 3) incite them to perform some action (such as buying a product). Writing ad copy is part science, part artistry. You can pick out all the right elements, but putting them all together in one ad is a challenge. I’ve boiled this down to the foundation-level of best practices for writing ads which will be sure to help you improve your click-through rates on Google.

Call To Action (CTAs)

How will people know what you want of them if you do not tell them? Whatever action you want of people reading your ads, ask for it! If you want someone to sign up for a free trial, get 10% off today only, or even as simple as asking customers to “buy now” then you should ask for it. I break CTAs down into 2 parts: the action you want and the call to do it (or timing).

Actions should use strong, active language to prompt a response from customers.

Examples: Sign Up, Subscribe, Order, Buy, Get, Receive, Purchase, Start

The call is related to timing, the when for the action customers should take. Putting a time to an action, not even an immediate one, helps motivate customers to take the plunge.

Examples: Today, Now, Before [insert date], While Supplies Last, Limited Time Only

At any and every point of an ad, you should be talking to your potential customers and let them know what you want them to do.

Unique Selling Advantage

What is it that separates you from other businesses? If your product is truly unique and new then you are ahead of the game. Most likely you are one of many competitors with similar products/services and you need to stand out. Think about the ways in which you offer customers something different or more than others, and then include that in your ads.

Examples: Speed, shipping options, lower cost, and higher quality (has to be proven)

Ad Examples: 24/7 support, Free shipping, 1st month free, 2-day shipping

Even a business with the same product as other companies can stand out if they position their selling points in their ads. Let’s say 2 companies offer free quotes as a selling point for the same service. Company A guarantees delivering a quote within an hour while Company B makes no mention of timing. At this point, you know nothing else about the companies except this selling advantage. Wouldn’t you click on the ad for Company A?

Reviews, Ratings, Accolades

As recently as August 2015, a study on consumer behavior indicated 67% of users are impacted by online reviews when making a purchase (https://moz.com/blog/new-data-reveals-67-of-consumers-are-influenced-by-online-reviews). Any time you garner positive reviews or other accolades it is free fodder for your advertising. The best part about reviews is that Google has a direct way to incorporate these into your ads without taking up any headline or description line space! These are called Review Extensions, and if you have a verifiable review you can include a tidbit from the review and link to it.

(INSERT PHOTO)

In Google AdWords click on ‘Ad Extensions’ and select ‘Review Extensions’ from the drop-down. Then, click on the red +Extension button to add a review/rating. Read through the review and select the best one-liner about your business/offerings. This can be an exact quote from the article or a paraphrased quote. Note that if you choose to paraphrase, you can only use text directly from the article and you cannot actually paraphrase by summarizing it yourself. Choose part of a sentence that is most flattering and use that if an entire sentence from the review does not offer the most bang.

Symbols and Punctuation!

Make sure that any full sentence in your ad ends with the proper punctuation, a period or exclamation mark. Ending a sentence with a period sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many ads look like run-on gobbledygook. In addition, something as simple as including an exclamation mark ‘!’ can help your ad stand out above the blandness surrounding you. My best practice is to end one of you two description lines with an exclamation mark. Note that you cannot do this within your headline as Google will disapprove it, and you cannot use these marks on 2 description lines without being disapproved as well.

The use of symbols, where appropriate, can also increase your chances of standing out. My #1 best practice is to make use of the ® symbol if it applies to your business. This adds authority and credibility to your ads and business. If it makes sense with the content of your ad, look to include other symbols: @, &, #1, $, etc. Just including one of these breaks up the block of text and makes your ad stand out!

Strength in Numbers

My last tip continues with the theme of doing anything we can to break up the wall of text people see when searching on Google. To that end, if you have numbers you should use them! Whether it’s a sale price, % off discount, or important dates they should have a place in your ads. Choose the most impactful numbers(s) you have and set aside one of your description lines specifically for the purposes of incorporating it into the ad.

Examples: 10% off, only $9.99, 2-day shipping, or even numbers of years you’ve been in business

(INSERT PHOTO)

Here’s a live example of 2 ads for pest exterminators. Both ads are similar, but one draws the eye a bit more just by mentioning ‘over 50 years’. Not only is that a bonus by adding authority and credulity, but it looks better than text alone.

Killer Ad Copy

Using any of these 5 tips for writing ad copy can put you ahead of the competition. Even better, try incorporating a couple of these together in the same ad. You can mention your discount of $20 off and close the ad with ‘Order Now!’ to include THREE different tips with little space taken up in your ad. The goal here is not to be gimmicky, but to simply put your best foot forward. Customers want to know if a sale is happening or why what you have to offer is better than someone else. The key is to put the best information out there upfront in your ads because it is the first opportunity you have to grab their attention. Think of the ad as your elevator pitch. Give your best shot on the 1st impression.