Posts about search engine optimization

Is Your Site Ready? Google Is About to Drop the Hammer on Over Optimized Sites

In our last Leverage Lowdown our Search Director Matthew Hooks, who attended this year’s South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) here in Austin, recapped the most interesting SEO panel of the event.  The panel was all about ranking better in 2012 and was a chat with three of the biggest names in Search, Danny Sullivan, Google’s Matt Cutts, and Bing’s Duane Forrester.  Matt Cutts said something in that panel that captured the attention of many in the search world.  His exact quote was

“What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO. We don’t normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”  [emphasis supplied]

Audio at SXSWi (it’s about 1/3rd of the way in).

Matt Cutts’ remarks about Google’s ranking algorithm become all the more intriguing when you consider another recent comment from Cutts & co.  On their official blog at the very end of February, Google wrote:

“We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.”  [emphasis supplied]

Hm, what’s that rumbling sound…

Is That A Bear?!!

Around this time last year, the so-called Panda update really shook up the Search world.  Many thin content and affiliate sites saw their traffic drop tremendously, as Google demonstrated its seriousness about unique and quality content.  What we are seeing now are indications that Google will continue down that path and will be isolating other methods that people use to game the system.  Sites that can’t stand on their own two feet without their gaming techniques will most likely fall.  Is it too early to pick out the baby’s name and call this the Grizzly update?

What are the targets of this potentially major update?  Both of Google’s clues point to at least one technique, and that is the over-optimization of link anchor text.  In other words, if Google looks at your site, and the links pointing to your site, and 90% of them say KEYWORD1, Google will rightly ask how you got those links and why they are all so similar.  What is the probability that 90% of the people that link to you would only use that one variation of one word?  Even “KEYWORD1,” “KEYWORD2,” and “KEYWORD3” as your anchor text looks more natural than that.  A link profile with identical anchor text over and over is like listening to someone repeat the same few words over and over – it’s annoying, and it may incur Google’s wrath in 2012.  Google estimates that 16% of searches they see every day are brand new.  So a link profile with nearly uniform anchor text is not going to look natural.

How to Be A Happy Camper in the SERPs

So, you may be wondering, how do I go about linkbuilding and still have it look natural?  How can I be a happy camper in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)?

Respect Your Environment

First of all, do remember that there is nothing unnatural about promoting your site – if you have a website with great content, of course you want people to look at it!  Google does not have a problem with linkbuilding per se.  What Google wants is for the links to your site to reflect the editorial intent of the site linking to you.  If someone thinks your site is awesome, they’ll be more likely to link to you with “awesome site” than “KEYWORD 1.”  Or with anchor text like, “My friend’s business,” “eco friendly company,” “great sale,” or even, “click here.”  Don’t try to mow down natural linking patterns with manipulative anchor text requests.  Pursue anchor text, but don’t raze the forest.

Clean Up Your Trash

If your link profile DOES contain too much of the same anchor text, now is the time to vary your linking patterns.  Link to different pages than you usually do, and link with branded terms or variations of your keyword, or even, “click here.”  And if you have a really egregious batch of bad links, clean them up!  Perhaps the #1 cause of bear attacks is leaving trash and food out – clean that stuff up and don’t feed the Google Grizzly!

Don’t Start Forest Fires

Is there a little batch of bad SEO going unattended on your site?  Maybe some duplicate content, maybe it’s just keyword stuffed?  Put it out!  Too many pages like that could spread to Google devaluing your site as a whole.  This advice works for cleaning up after Panda, and it’s also just good advice for preparing for any Google update – stamp out bad SEO on your site wherever it may be.

Don’t Forget The Marshmallows!

The final thing to remember for being a happy camper in the SERPs is to not just avoid producing bad or mediocre content, but instead actively produce good content!  Content people like to talk about, content that makes people want to gather around and share your site naturally.  Being a happy camper in the SERPs is not about roughing it in the extreme wilderness, although it may feel like it sometimes – the most important thing is to make your site a natural, fun, social site that people want to visit.  Follow our tips to avoid the dangers and have a better site than before.  Happy camping!

2012 SEM Trends & How They Affect Your Business

At the beginning of the year, several bloggers and SEOs made predictions for the top SEO, PPC, and Social Media Marketing trends we could expect for the New Year, and while several of them have been eerily prescient in their forecasts, some newcomers are on the rise! Our SEO experts weigh in on some of the most effective and popular new SEO trends as witnessed in the first quarter of 2012:

1.  Community Is The New Content

For years, SEOs and marketing specialists have been hounding us about the importance of original, relevant content, and while this is still crucial to a site’s search health, it’s no longer sufficient to simply place content on your site without optimizing it socially. We are seeing that it is becoming ever more important to engage in a two-way dialogue with your customer base – whether that’s providing them the option to comment on your blog and responding, or sharing your content in the social sphere, or developing communication on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Engaging with your community will build stronger brand loyalty, allowing you to quickly resolve any potential issues and keep your company in tune with what your customers want and need.

2.  Location, Location, Location!

We’ve been seeing geolocation begin to creep into the social sphere – Google’s integration of maps on the search page, Twitter’s optional location stamp on tweets, etc. More localization will not only boost visibility for smaller, local companies in the online sphere but it really tailors results to the searcher’s needs.

We’re only going to continue to see more location-based search integration with the rise of mobile search so making that information readily available on your site is crucial, as Google uses this information to identify your location and return your business for relevant searches.

3.  Rich Media

We’re thrilled to see the development of rich media ads and snippets in the search network as it opens up myriad new options for our clients and great opportunities for search. Earlier, we blogged about rich media in Yahoo! and Bing (MSN) search, which include the incorporation of video, images, maps, forms, and much more.

Many of the search engines have also expanded their rich snippet inclusions for search engine results pages; Google, for example, has begun to include reviews, music, links to other pages on a site, and much more.  This detailed blurb provides more information for the searcher which may help determine whether or not they opt to click through to your site! Between rich media ads and snippets, there are many new venues through which we can provide information and increase visibility for our clients.

4.  Page Load Speed

It’s become evident in the past few months that Google’s recent algorithm updates have come to include page load speed as a ranking factor. Recent data shows that delays as short as a half-second can impact business metrics, and although this shouldn’t scare business owners into sacrificing content or revamping their entire site, it is important to consider what elements of a page may lead to a slower load time and if any of these elements could be edited or removed.

Some examples of elements that lead to slower load times include flash, huge images, several plug-ins, etc. It’s also important to note that your site may load differently in different browsers (Firefox versus Chrome versus Internet Explorer) so testing is an important component. Why is Google now factoring in page load time? Because slower pages result in less user engagement – those searching online, especially on mobile, want information immediately if not sooner. Data shows that 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, and even a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

A slow page may just be the thing that makes visitors hit the back button and go to another site.

Clearly we’re seeing a continued move towards more social integration and the merging of multiple marketing initiatives. As mentioned earlier, the combination of tactics is ultimately the most effective way to see successes in online visibility – a well-rounded marketing campaign involving optimized ads, rich media ads, social media presence and engagement, clean site structure and HTML, geolocation optimization, a mobile presence, etc. will be the ultimate way to improve online presence and search traffic.



SXSW SEO Chat Recap

While there are plenty of panels at least broadly related to the world of SEM and Social Media at the Interactive portion of the 2012 SXSW Festival, there is only one panel that I marked as a ‘must see’ related to the SEO space.  That panel was Saturday’s “Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!” with Danny Sullivan – editor of Search Engine Land, Matt Cutts – head of Google’s Webspam team, and Duane Forrester – Sr. Project Marketing Manager at Bing.  If you weren’t able to be a part of this panel, below is a quick recap of the bits that I found to be especially interesting/useful.

How do small businesses compete in the search results with large competitors spending thousands of dollars and spending huge numbers of man-hours on SEO?

Cutts pointed to the fact that Google wants to even the playing field somewhat and either has and will continue to address this topic or that they will be addressing this topic with upcoming updates to their algorithms.  Duane responded by saying that social indications were quite useful and important indicators of a site’s value.  And that it’s hard to argue with a site’s/company’s value if other people are indicating the site’s value.  My take:  In addition to agreeing that social cues are very important, I would add that user experience on the pages of the site plays an important role as well.  Especially when working with new clients that are not yet well established in the search engines, we often see that after our initial optimizations, our client’s rankings jump from nowhere-to-be-found to the first or second page of results rather quickly – even for highly competitive terms.  The staying power of the rankings, however, appears tied to how well searchers interact with the newly ranking site.  When the page new to ranking is highly relevant and user friendly, it tends to remain ranked well but if the page is not user friendly or is not providing something that other ranking sites offer, the page’s ranking falls significantly.  The search engines appear to test a site’s validity for ranking well before committing any sort of long-term high rankings.

Can buying links really help a site get ahead in the search results?

All three panelists agreed that buying links is a huge no-no that could have drastic consequences.  My take:  This, of course isn’t news.  This has been the ‘word on the street’ for years and has caused some SEOs to change their tactics to be in compliance.  Not so long ago, the SEO company hired by JC Penney was very publicly outed as having bought links on a large scale and there were consequences for JCP.  However, I can personally attest to the fact that paid links have worked in the past and that the sites that benefitted from them then are still benefitting from them now.  And we see that many of the top ranking sites for terms that our clients are seeking top rankings for are acquiring paid links on a continual basis.  They keep purchasing links and they continue to rank very well.  While we can compete without buying links, the sites that purchase links benefit more than Google and Bing like to admit.  Sure, in the long run, it’s probably not a good idea to throw money at links (which is a big part of why we avoid this practice) but it’s hard to prove that buying links isn’t at least somewhat beneficial in the short-term.

Follow your SEO’s advice and redirect error pages to valid pages of your site

All three panelists again agreed and were emphatic about recommending that error pages not be left untended to and that 301 redirects should be put in place.  My take:   I couldn’t agree more and I’d love to have the responses to this topic from all three panelists in a video that I could send to all of our clients who aren’t willing to push (generally) simple redirects through.  I think we on the SEO team at LMA are great about pushing for permanent redirects when necessary but if a client isn’t willing or able to implement redirects on their own, we need to push more for the second best solution which was pointed out by Matt Cutts:  using the canonical tag in a page’s meta data.  Placing a tag indicating which version of a page the search engines should pay attention to is a recommended practice especially for sites that do not have the ability, for whatever reason, to implement 301 redirects on their site.

This was a great panel with three well humored panelists that provided practical advice for common questions in the SEO space.  While there wasn’t anything particularly novel about the content covered, there were some great takeaways.  We’d love to hear from you if you attended or if you have any particular questions about SEO!

Advanced Pinterest Implementation Strategies

In our previous post titled “How to Leverage Pinterest for Your Brand or Company,” Felicity provided a great introduction to the emerging social media platform and virtual cork board.  We saw that it can lead to some pretty large impacts on traffic and that it can be a great way to interact with customers. In this post, I share techniques that will get your site on more boards, gain you more followers, and put your pins at the top of Pinterest search results.

The Pin It Button for Websites

Incorporating the “Pin it” button into your website or blog will allow visitors to easily bookmark your site and share your images and pages with their network of followers. This could gain your site a lot of visibility and could lead to additional traffic. Also, there is always the potential for your content to go viral if Pinners decide to re-pin, Like, or Tweet pins of your site. An added benefit of integrating the Pin It button into your site is the option to choose the image to be pinned and the description of the pin.

To create your “Pin it” button, head over to Pinterest’s Goodies page and scroll down to the “Pin It” Button for Websites section. You’ll be greeted by the simple form above which allows you to customize your button. Once you fill out these fields, you can then copy the code and place it on your site to generate the button. Also, be sure to choose between the vertical, horizontal, and no count versions of the button. There is also an advanced button code, which allows you to place different versions of the button on one page of your site. This call-to-action button will encourage interaction and the sharing of your posts.

The Follow Button for Websites

To attract more followers to your Pinterest account, you can place a Follow Me On Pinterest button on your site. This button creator can be found on the same Goodies page of Pinterest. To create this button, all you have to do is login to the Pinterest account that you would like to create the button for, choose your favorite flavor of the Follow Button, and copy and paste the respective code into your site’s backend. This action could attract more followers, which could then lead to your pins getting more views.

WordPress Plugins for Pinterest

Numerous WordPress Plugins have been developed to even more easily incorporate the Pin It button into your site or blog’s posts and pages. The Pin It on Pinterest Plugin places a module into each post’s backend, allowing you to specify descriptions and images for each of your Pin it buttons all within the post editing screen and without having to mess around with any code at all. Similar plugins have started to make it to other platforms like Joomla!.

Pinterest Search Rankings

Now that we’ve covered how to implement Pinterest buttons on your site, I would like to share some tactics that could gain your pins and boards more views on itself. One tactic to accomplish this is to optimize your Pins for Pinterest’s search function. Currently, Pinterest search results seem to be ranked based on keywords contained in the Pins’ descriptions, and to some degree, the number of Likes and Repins a Pin receives. As you can see in the search results above, it seems that incorporating additional instances of the targeted search term could lead to ranking higher in the search results. The top two results for the search “sweaters” returned two pins with “sweaters, sweaters, sweaters” in the description. You should definitely keep this in mind if you’re trying to rank for specific search terms in Pinterest.

Inspired Pinterest Boards

Similar to content creation strategies, shareability and user interaction goals should be pursued for each Pinterest board you create. Currently, many brands are leveraging boards to share their brand personality with Pinners, but boards can also be used to drive conversions. By creating boards that bring together related products into strategic collections, you could see results in your site’s revenue. For example, if you are in the DIY sector, you can create a board highlighting potential projects that link to products on your site. These pins could drive traffic to product pages of your site and lead to conversions. Another example of this strategy relates to the Fashion industry. Creating boards with curated outfits could lead to sales. In essence, your boards could be elevated to the level of inspired catalogs, which could drive a significant number of conversions. Yet, the possibilities for your Pinterest boards are almost limitless and should be approached as strategic opportunities to bring you closer to your online marketing goals or closer to your audience.

Pursuing these techniques should bring your brand or company additional visibility in Pinterest and could lead to some great results in your monthly traffic and conversion numbers. I encourage you to have fun experimenting with this new social media outlet and to measure the results your efforts have.

Valentine’s Day Marketing Ideas: Make Customers your Sweetheart this Year

Read our new article on Valentine’s Day for updated information on Valentine’s Day Marketing!

As we all know (because retailers started promoting it before our Christmas trees were even brown) Valentine’s Day is upon us again.  This is typically seen as our annual reminder to parade our loved ones with affection, romance, and surely some sappy gifts, but it is also a much-overlooked opportunity for businesses to do the same and show they are smitten with customers. Here are some marketing ideas on how to say, “I love you,” and cultivate customer loyalty this Valentine’s Day.

Contests and giveaways

If staying in theme, hold a 14-day contest for a product or service giveaway via your website and social media. People love free stuff and are even willing to work for it. If in need of some feedback, ask that customers complete a brief survey to be entered into a drawing. There’s a strong likelihood that your contest will result in positive karma for your company in the form of some always welcome (and free) exposure from bloggers promoting the giveaway to their readers and customers sharing it with their network.

Develop a frequent shopper program

If you have a brick and mortar store, you can create a check-in program through Foursquare or Gowalla to offer a free or discounted product after a specified number of visits. For online retailers, you can offer a coupon code in your receipt or post-purchase email. Even lead gen operations can offer an incentive for referral love.

Coordinate a daily deal special

Hook up with Groupon, LivingSocial, Google Offers, or any number of these daily deal companies to offer a discount on product offerings. This can be especially lucrative if your product happens to be couples oriented, like a massage or water bike ride. This opportunity allows you to cozy up with both new and existing customers.

Promote a coupon or discount through email and social media

Even your most traditional ‘20% off with coupon code FREE’ can go a long way, especially when offering this incentive to current customers. Shoppers have become all too accustomed to seeing such promotions only offered to new customers.

Send sweet nothings and other messages of affection

Utilizing social media or an email newsletter, send out regular customer care oriented notes, letting customers know just how much they are appreciated.

Get festive

You can share Valentine’s cheer through in-store decorations or online by sweetening up your website or blog. A great example of this was Gilt Groupe, a discount designer website, which integrated hearts into their product detail pages for those items that could be delivered by the big day. Another impressive marketing move on Gilt’s part was the use of love letters hidden throughout the website. If you found all three, you were automatically entered into a drawing.

Create a themed application

Develop a complimentary app, game, or tool that customers can utilize for their own Valentine’s (or otherwise) pleasure. This may be a card template that users can customize and send out to the apple of their eye. It may also be a custom Facebook app that fans can share or play depending upon the functionality. This option would probably be the most time, labor, and cost intensive but may also have the greatest payoff and allow for high levels of creativity.

Keep in mind that there’s no reason to wait until Valentine’s Day to express love for all of your customers. This should be a year-round initiative.

Let me take this opportunity to say thanks to all of our Leverage Marketing clients and partners. Happy Valentine’s Day! Contact us at Leverage Marketing to learn more about how to take advantage of these Valentine’s Day marketing tips.

How to Leverage Pinterest for Your Brand or Company




Pin It

The new buzz going around the Internet world is Pinterest, a virtual cork board where you can save and share the things that interest you most. Find a recipe online you have to try?  Pin It. Find your favorite quote online? Pin It. From recipes to home décor to travel and creative ideas, Pinterest is the website to store it all.

What is Pinterest?

When you come across something you love while browsing the Internet, you no longer have to worry about bookmarking the page, emailing the link to yourself, or printing out a copy and saving it for a later date. With Pinterest, you can simply compile all of your great findings in one location online, available for you and whoever is following your pins to view at anytime. It’s made bookmarking into a social experience, more in line with how we use the Internet in 2012.  In addition to the followers viewing your pins, you can also view the pins of the people you are following and repin what your followers are posting. Pinterest provides the option to search for ideas or items that spark an interest. Browse through a live feed of items that are being pinned by strangers and repin them to the boards you have created.

How to Get Started? 

First things first, visit the Pinterest website to request an invite to create an account. Or if you know someone who currently has a Pinterest account, ask them to send you an invite, as this may be the quickest way to get an account started. Go ahead, ask me for an invite if you need one. Once you receive your invite, create your new Pinterest account using your current Facebook or Twitter account or by simply signing up. Now that you have your account set up, add the Pin It button found in the About section located in the top navigation bar to your bookmarks bar. This will allow you to pin anything from any page you visit online. Create your boards and start pinning.

How Can Pinterest be Used for SEO?

There are a few benefits that Pinterest can offer your SEO campaign.  Use Pinterest as part of your linkbuilding strategy. Links from Pinterest are “followed,” which means they pass particularly strong value. Once you create a new pin, your feed is instant and readily available for your followers to see. Pinterest allows you to create a pin that will provide a hyperlinked image, description, and link to your website on two pages of the Pinterest website. One page being the actual pin page and the second page being the board created for the pins. Make your pins interesting to your followers. You want your followers to repin what you have posted for your campaign, creating a viral SEO campaign through Pinterest.

Analyzing Your Pinterest Results

Now that you know what Pinterest is and how to use it, let’s take a look at the results we have seen so far for our clients. On top of the great ease of use, viral potential, and demographic targeting possible with Pinterest, another great facet of the hot social media site is how measureable it is. If you follow our Pinterest best practices, you should begin to see pop up in your referral traffic reports in Google Analytics. Within this referral traffic report you can see the exact engagement metrics for traffic gained from, and thus far, we have found that Pinterest traffic metrics can vary widely. However, the constant across Pinterest referral metrics is a high percentage of new visits. Additionally, we are seeing month-to-month increases in traffic from Pinterest. This is an indication that the adoption rate of this new social media platform could be increasing rapidly.

Also, if you dive deeper into Analytics you can break down the data even further. For instance, you can see which specific pin led to the most referral traffic, which page this pin was linked to, the specific engagement metrics garnered from traffic through that pin, conversions from that pin, and more. In fact, most all of the power of Analytics is applicable to Pinterest referral traffic since all pins have their own unique URL. By monitoring which pins drive the most traffic, what type of content is most successful on Pinterest, and other key metrics, you can begin to form strategies around how to improve success on Pinterest.

In Conclusion

Incorporating Pinterest into your social media and SEO strategy moving forward will only become more important as Pinterest gains users and market penetration. Pinterest has already become a household term and making sure your site is well optimized for this social media platform could lead to large impacts on your referral traffic, your conversions, and more. Happy pinning!

Coding Series: Part I – How To Install Google Analytics

This is the first post in what will likely be a five-part instructional series on valuable codes that can easily be installed, and if done so correctly, Google Analytics will provide substantial insight into your website traffic and your return on advertising dollars.

Google Analytics is one of Google’s free tools that allows advertisers to customize over 80 reports to track all activity on their website. Advertisers can gain key insights into what visitors do and how those actions contribute to the success of their business through these customizable reports focused on visitors, traffic sources, content, goals, and ecommerce.

Code Implementation: Google Analytics

Signing up for Google Analytics is simple and free, with four easy steps to complete before accessing a world of analytics. Go to to get started. Once the account is set up, you can find your personal code snippet within the Profile Settings of your Google Analytics account.

To access your tracking code from Google Analytics:

  1. Log in at
  2. Select the profile from the accounts Overview page.
  3. From that profile’s Actions column, click ‘Edit.’
  4. At the top right of the ‘Main Website Profile Information’ box, click ‘Check Status.’
  5. The tracking code can be copied and pasted from the text box in the Instructions for Adding Tracking section.

Code snippet sample:

var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl/.” : “http://www.”);
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);
} catch(err) {}

For basic installation, copy and paste the code segment into the bottom of your content, immediately before the </body> tag of each page you are planning to track. You will need to update the “xxxx-x” in the sample above with your own Google Analytics account number.

Gauging Performance: Google AdWords with Google Analytics

In Adwords, a user’s action is labeled a “conversion,” whereas the same activity in Analytics is listed as a “goal.” In order for Google Analytics to calculate goal conversion metrics, you must create one or more goals.

Before setting up a goal, make sure you have the following requirements.

  • Name the goal: Specify a name that you will recognize when viewing the goals within your reports. Examples of names you might use include ’email sign-up’ or ‘article ABC download.’
  • Define the funnel: While funnels are optional, defining one can help you map where visitors drop off during the path to completing a goal.
  • The value of the goal: Google Analytics uses an assigned goal value to calculate ROI, Average Score, and other metrics.

Setting up goals:

  1. Select the account that you’ll be creating goals for from the Overview page of Google Analytics.
  2. Find the profile for which you will be creating goals, and click ‘Edit’ under the ‘Actions’ column.
  3. Under the ‘Goals’ section, select one of the four sets to create the goal (each set contains up to five goals) and click ‘Add goal.’
  4. Enter the goal’s name so that you can quickly recognize it when viewing reports.
  5. Turn the goal ‘On’ or ‘Off.’
  6. Select the goal’s position. The pull-down menu allows you to select a goal’s position in a set so that you can control the order in which it appears from the ‘Goals’ tab in your reports.
  7. Decide which one of the three types of goals you want. This can be URL Destination, Time on Site, or Pages/Visit.
  8. Once you select the radio button for the goal type, a field for ‘Goal Details’ should appear.

Here’s a great example from Google on how to set the value of a goal:

“The value of the goal: Google Analytics uses an assigned goal value to calculate ROI, Average Score, and other metrics. A good way to value a goal is to evaluate how often the visitors who reach the goal become customers. If, for example, your sales team can close 10% of people who request to be contacted, and your average transaction is $500, you might assign $50 (i.e. 10% of $500) to your “Contact Me” goal. In contrast, if only 1% of mailing list signups result in a sale, you might only assign $5 to your “email sign-up” goal.”

Defining funnels:

After entering goal information, define a funnel if you’ve selected a ‘URL Destination’ goal type:

  1. Click ‘Yes, create a funnel for this goal.’
  2. Enter the ‘URL’ of the first page of your conversion funnel. This page should be one that is common to all users working their way towards your goal.
  3. Enter a ‘Name’ for this step.
  4. If this step is a ‘Required step’ in the conversion process, select the checkbox to the right of the step. If this checkbox is selected, users reaching your goal page without traveling through this funnel page will not be counted as conversions.
  5. Continue entering goal steps until your funnel has been completely defined. You may enter up to 10 funnel steps or as few as a single step.
  6. Click ‘Save Changes’ to create this goal and funnel.

Linking your AdWords account to Google Analytics will allow you to take advantage of extensive reporting options. It will also enable you to spot further ad opportunities by viewing AdWords conversions alongside Analytics goal/transactions. You can obtain detailed tracking information by creating customized statistics that will allow you to calculate return on investment.

To link:

  1. Add your AdWords username to your Analytics account as an Account Admin.
  2. In AdWords, select Reporting tab and choose ‘Google Analytics.’
  3. Select ‘I already have a Google Analytics account.’
  4. From the Existing Google Analytics Account drop-down menu, select the name of the Analytics account.
  5. Then, select ‘Link Accounts.’

Google Analytics is a smart web analytics solution that enables you to analyze website performance, gauge the effectiveness of your marketing campaign, and create better-performing advertisements. To find out more visit: If you have any other questions about the functionality of Google Analytics or how to install the code, please feel free to contact us or follow up with your Leverage Marketing account manager.

What’s in a Report?

Working with an Agency – Reporting Expectations

In a recently conducted survey, we noted that 25% of the clients that we work with have never worked with an agency before. While working with an online agency can be exciting, you may get more out of the experience if you know what to expect and what you want out of the relationship.

There are many posts available if you do a quick Google search on what to expect work-wise, but what should you expect in terms of reporting? Reports are often one of the only ways that many businesses know what is working within their Pay Per Click account.


Our agency used to report on a weekly basis to our clients. We found that this period of time was too brief, and often small daily fluctuations would show as spikes or decreases in overall weekly performance for our clients’ accounts. We have now found that providing our clients reporting every fifteen to thirty days is more actionable for our clients businesses. We still perform our more frequent internal reporting to make needed changes and modifications, but we do find that our mid-month and end- of month reports are a win-win for both our client and our agency.


In February 2011, Google made updates to what type of information certain agencies should provide to clients. Google’s newly updated policies state that:

Third parties should at minimum provide advertisers with monthly data on Adwords costs, clicks and impressions at the account level.

While we agree that this is a nice start, there are many other metrics that you should receive in the periodic updates that your search team provides.

Cost/Conversion (Sometimes notated as CPC or CPA) – The price paid for each new conversion or acquisition. Conversions can be defined by the client as a sale, lead generated or visit to a particular page on a site. We suggest that instead of seeing a total lump sum for total CPA across your entire site, that instead you ask your search provider to provide this information on a product level that is more manageable. This is needed because the CPA that your business is willing to spend to acquire one overnight visitor at your hotel versus a convention may differ.

Later this week we will look at additional content that should be included within your reports and also the level of transparency you should receive from your agency.

Someone Just Updated your Local Listing and you Don’t Even Know About it!

I recently came upon a brilliant article, and it brought up some fears of how some business owners are leaving themselves ‘open’ for attacks to their online local listing data.

This great article initially caught my attention as it primarily discusses business listings data, which is admittedly a subset of all location information for business (i.e. location and contact information).

A few years back a concept was proposed as to whether there could be a Wikipedia of Yellow Pages and if it could be successful.  Greg Sterling in 2006 said:

“…until recently Wikipedia seemed a long shot and almost preposterous notion itself. And if the directory follows in the footsteps of Wikipedia it will become a highly successful (and visible) way for local businesses to be found. It could also be radically disruptive if successful.”


Greg noted that one such concept, Yellowikis, failed, although Brownbook and Bizwiki have continued with similar ideas.  To date these have not been successful in attracting consumer use, and properly structuring data in a way that other developers can use.


Now in 2010 the idea appears to be gaining ground.  More key players are interested in this Wiki of places and organizations are already working on a solution!


But the question stands… With this concept of Wiki places information will have to be sort of a open source.  So who will be in charge of centralizing this data?

Many people including myself, are in favor of data aggregation companies.  I like the fact we work with many local search data aggregators because we can easily update our clients local listing data and with frequent submissions of this data to over 100 local search sites, I never have to worry about who may be out there updating my local listings with out my knowledge.

How Google’s Real-Time Web and Personalized Search is Re-Shaping the Search Landscape

The internet is abuzz with news of Google’s real-time Web and personalized search queries and the potential implications for users and search marketers vary across the board. With live updates from Facebook, Twitter and Myspace appearing in the search results, marketers may need to add a stronger emphasis on social media to their rosters in the coming months.

In the initial rollout, the feeds show in a real-time scroll box above and below the fold. While these live updates don’t currently use a large amount of retail space, the ubiquitous nature of social media and the influence these feeds posses may urge retailers, especially business to consumer, to implement overarching and in-depth social media pushes. As the updates appear on the first page, this change could also push weaker sites to the second and third pages of search results indicating businesses may make a heavier push to PPC marketing to boost first-page present.

As the rollout for the real time search was only recently launched, only keywords such as Taylor Swift and Tiger Woods prompt the real time search.  Keywords such as Oprah and Obama SERP still do not contain the scroll box.  This demonstrates that although having the social media presence on the result page, that the real effects will not be seen until the update is fully integrated.  In the future if this real-time scroll bar does take up more real-estate, this will make the top organic listing highly competitive and a SEO campaign almost crucial for all online marketers.  It also seems that a social media marketing campaign is needed for online campaigns as well as top search results will show tweets from Twitter.  It almost seems that the roll out of this product creates the need for a blended online marketing campaign including PPC, SEO, and SMM.

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