Saturday, 20 April 2013

Google AdWords Enhanced Campaigns: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Posted on March 6, 2013 at 8:59 am by Rich Funk in Paid Search

Over the last week or so, you might have seen a cheery box staring back at you when you logged into your Google AdWords account asking you if you want to upgrade your account to take advantage of Google’s new “Enhanced Campaigns.”

Upgrade! Enhanced! These are two of the ultimate trigger words for any search marketer, so if any of you reading this have already clicked on the button to upgrade, even without knowing everything about Enhanced Campaigns, I cannot blame you. I just hope that Enhanced Campaigns are for you. Some accounts will see a lot of benefit from this change. Others may have to deal with being opted into targeting they might not want.

So are Enhanced Campaigns for you? Let’s look at some of the benefits and drawbacks to see whether this upgrade is actually an advantage for you.

The Good

If your PPC account has a different targeting or messaging strategy for multiple devices or geographic locations, you probably have a large number of campaigns in your account. After all, a good search marketer will manage separate campaigns for desktops, mobile phones and tablets if there is a different strategy for each.

Well get ready to clean up all of that. One benefit of Enhanced Campaigns is that you’ll now be able to manage bids across location, time of day, device type and more from a single campaign. For those of us who have accounts with 30-50 different campaigns, this is potentially a huge time saver.

You’ll also be able to show your ads across all devices while being able to designate specific ad text, sitelinks or extensions to show only on specific devices. On top of that, you’ll be able to specify location and time of day. You’ll no longer have to create a brand new campaign for every combination of geo-targeting, device and time of day. Here’s what this will look like (Click to enlarge):

Google AdWords Enhanced Campaign

The last major update of Enhanced Campaigns is having additional types of conversions. Now you’ll be able to track conversions such as app downloads and phone calls from smartphones directly within the AdWords interface. Google also mentioned that in the future, store visits could be tracked as well, which would close a giant blind spot in a lot of location-based PPC campaigns.

The Bad

Not everything is sunshine and roses for everyone. The reason you have to opt in to Enhanced Campaigns right now is because it introduces some major changes to your campaigns. These are changes that may not benefit many businesses without mobile-optimized sites.

One of the more significant changes is that tablets and desktops are now considered the same as far as AdWords targeting goes. On the surface this makes sense, with most popular tablets like the iPad and Nexus 7 having desktop browsers as opposed to mobile browsers. However, there are some companies that have found low-cost, high converting traffic on tablets specifically over the last few years, and those tablet-specific campaigns will now have to go out the window. For example, if you have an app that’s designed specifically for tablets, you’ll have to find a way to get that strategy to work with desktop searchers seeing the same ad copy or landing pages. On the flip side of that, you also cannot opt out of targeting tablets. Those of you who have conversions that involve software or whitepaper downloads, which don’t work on tablets, will just have to work around it. Same with those of you who have Flash-heavy sites that don’t display on tablets.

One potential solution would be not targeting iOS or Android operating systems, but Google is doing away with operating system targeting, too.

The Ugly

The worst part of Google’s Enhanced Campaigns is the fact that you cannot technically opt out of targeting mobile devices. Instead of being able to choose whether you want to target mobile phones and adjusting your mobile bids accordingly, all Enhanced Campaigns require targeting mobile devices. Instead of bidding with a dollar amount on mobile traffic, you’ll use a percentage of your desktop bid.

For example, if you bid $3 on a keyword on desktop, but you only want to bid $1.50 for the same keyword on mobile, you’ll have to set the mobile bid at -50%. Technically, you could set all of your mobile bids to “-100%” if you don’t want to target mobile devices, but that seems like a very complicated way to do something that currently exists within Google’s interface.

An unfortunate side effect of forcing all AdWords users to opt into mobile targeting is the fact that mobile click prices will probably rise over the next few months. One reason search marketers love mobile PPC is because for the most part, mobile traffic is less expensive since there isn’t as much competition. Now that more people are going to be present in the mobile auction, whether they like it or not, prices will shift because of the increased competition. This is good for Google. This is bad for you.

So How Does This Affect Me?

If you have three or more campaigns that are cloned versions of your desktop campaigns, one for each targeting segment you do, Enhanced Campaigns are a godsend. It’s going to streamline your setup process and cut down on the day-to-day upkeep that goes into supporting all of those campaigns.

If you’re not doing any mobile targeting, you will need to start soon. (See other reasons your business needs a mobile-optimized site.) Yes, there are ways to avoid having to pay for mobile traffic, as I explained above. But that might not last too much longer. The future of paid search is here, and we’re all along for the ride, even if we aren’t ready quite yet.

Rich Funk is 435 Digital's PPC specialist.

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Tags: , Google Adwords, paid search

435 Digital helps businesses build brands on the web. Visit here for inspiration on how to stand out and grow your business.

View the original article here

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Google Adwords New Feature: Call Extensions

Posted on April 10, 2013 at 9:10 am by Rich Funk in Paid Search

Putting your company’s phone number into the ad copy of a PPC ad has long been a best practice. If you have the space within the ad, why not? It kills two birds with one stone: Not only do you have the potential to get a phone call from a prospective client, it also doesn’t cost you anything since your ad was never clicked!

Sadly, those days are disappearing, but only partially. When logging into your AdWords account any time over the last few weeks, you probably saw this message:


Fear not, true believers! This is just Google’s way of nudging — forcing — you into taking your business’ phone number out of the ad itself and using Google Call Extensions. In their official announcement, they said, “We are making this change to foster a safer, more consistent user experience across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.”

Along with the introduction of Enhanced Campaigns earlier this year, Google seems to be ushering their AdWords users, ready or not, into the world of customized ad delivery based on location and device.

Google does provide complete instructions on how to add call extensions to your account . Call extensions are going to show up on desktop and tablets differently than they will on smartphones and smaller mobile devices.

On desktops and tablets, they’ll look like this:

On smartphones and smaller mobile devices, users will see this:

Aside from having truncated ad copy, the real difference between the two ways your phone number will appear is the appearance of the actual phone number. In the desktop and tablet ad, the phone number is static since you cannot call directly from those devices, at least not without a third party program such as Skype. In the mobile ad, the phone number is taken completely out of the ad and is replaced with a button that will make the call for the customer. On one hand, this is a much easier way to connect to a business, but from Google’s standpoint, it also prevents customers from dialing the number themselves and denying Google the money from the “click” that should have happened.

The only other change to consider is with the phone number itself. You have two choices: Either you can have your actual number show up, or Google can auto-populate your ad with a random phone number and give you the ability to track things such as the length of call, and even time-specific conversions.

On one hand, using your own local number in the ad could build trust from potential customers, but you wouldn’t get Google’s call tracking statistics out of it. On the other hand, the Google generated numbers are not guaranteed to be local, but they come with free call tracking, which a lot of small businesses do not have. Whether you use Google’s numbers or your own depends entirely on whether you have call tracking in place and how important having a local phone number display is to you.

If you don’t use phone numbers in any of your PPC ads, this really doesn’t have any effect on you. If you do, it’s not much work to switch over to call extensions using the tutorial linked above. Either way, unlike a lot of the changes made when Enhanced Campaigns came around, Google is actually adding functionality without taking anything away. After how the launch of Enhanced Campaigns went, this is significant and welcome news.

Rich Funk is 435 Digital's PPC specialist.

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Tags: , Google Adwords

435 Digital helps businesses build brands on the web. Visit here for inspiration on how to stand out and grow your business.

View the original article here

Friday, 19 April 2013

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435 Digital Seminars kicks off with PPC and SEO

After much planning and excitement, the team kicked off 435 Digital Seminars with talks on Paid Search (PPC) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — the first of many digital marketing seminars in 2013. These two- to three-hour seminars are designed to help businesses in Chicago understand all areas of digital marketing. It would only make sense to start with an Introduction to Digital Marketing seminar, focusing on PPC and SEO. In case you missed the first seminar, I will share a recap of the topics covered by our own Rich Funk and Carolyn Shelby.

Carolyn Shelby, SEO Director, Tribune Carolyn Shelby, Director of SEO

First to present was PPC Specialist, Rich Funk. Here are the four main topics he covered:

Effective Keyword Lists
Keywords are the most important to your account because that is how you choose where your ad is seen. Having the wrong keyword list is usually worse than having no keyword list; consider it a better investment to throw money down the drain.

Advanced Targeting
The people you target and where they are can be just as important as your keyword list. Efficiency is key here. Putting your ad in front of people in the wrong place or the wrong time can be wasteful. Effective geographic targeting is important to the campaign.

Proper Account Structure
Make it easy on yourself. If you have an account that is messy and disorganized, any changes you make will take longer and work less effectively. Being organized will help you make quick changes to your campaigns and give you more time to optimize.

Effective Ad Copy
Your ad copy is how you present yourself to your potential customers. If you have the wrong message you could alienate potential clients. Ad copy testing will help determine the most effective messaging. You can do this by creating A/B tests on a regular basis.

Here’s what Director of SEO, Carolyn Shelby, covered:

What Search Engines Do
Search engines want to refer each user to websites most relevant to the user’s search query. This relevancy is determined by a number of factors – all designed to ensure authenticity. Search engines do not support underhanded tactics and tricks to get to the top.

Multichannel Optimization
We can’t always control what types of results appear (blended/universal, news, images, video, etc.), so we need to optimize all of our digital assets. We also need to keep our messaging (the voice and style of our brands) unified across all channels (social media channels, web, print, broadcast, etc.). Every time a consumer is exposed to our brand, we want that exposure to reinforce our message. Unified messaging builds and reinforces branding and helps train the customers to search for you by the terms YOU want to be found under.

Business Considerations
Before getting submerged in SEO, your business needs to determine its goals on the web and make sure your web development/marketing team understands your business model. The most important question (that everyone on the team should be able to answer is): How do we make money? Do we sell impressions? Do we only make money on conversions? How do we define a conversion? Who are our customers?

Build out the right type of website functionality and content to suit your business needs.

On-Page SEO Best Practices
Many factors go into SEO and their value collectively can improve your search rankings. Carolyn discussed metadata, good and bad coding, how to brainstorm for keywords, and the importance of developing quality content for your website.

Yes, there was a lot of information covered in the Intro to Digital Marketing seminar. If you were unable to attend, we hope you will join us at an upcoming seminar in April. We will be covering Social Media, Advanced PPC, and Advanced SEO. So whether your business is just getting started in digital marketing or your team has successful experience, we are here to provide the most recent updates and strategies for success.

Austin Brown

In his role as New Business Account Manager, Austin focuses on business development for 435 Digital. He is dedicated to helping businesses understand how digital marketing is a necessary component of the marketing mix by hosting educational seminars at Tribune Tower. Connect with Austin on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Tags: paid search, search engine optimization,

435 Digital helps businesses build brands on the web. Visit here for inspiration on how to stand out and grow your business.

View the original article here

New Business Development Manager


435 Digital is expanding in 2013 and looking for a new business executive to increase revenue streams. This person must be a self starter and comfortable talking/selling Web Development, Search Engine Optimization, Paid Search and Social Media and most importantly not afraid to cultivate new business.

Focused on developing new business through non-Tribune outlets, this position offers a huge opportunity for someone who has proven they can find solutions for businesses needs.


Develop new business opportunities through non-traditional meansIdentify niche categories to expand our reachFocus on 435 Digital’s website as a lead generationWork with 435 Digital team to develop new revenue streamsClose new business


2-5 years experience in new business developmentStrong understanding of web development, search engine optimization, paid search and social media.Ability to close new business development opportunitiesStrong interpersonal skills neededSelf starterSome travel may be requiredA vehicle and valid driver’s license is required for this position

435 Digital helps businesses build brands on the web. Visit here for inspiration on how to stand out and grow your business.

View the original article here

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Google Places and Google Plus Pages Explained

Posted on April 3, 2013 at 9:07 am by Lauren Hartman in SEO

Google Places (also known as Google Plus Local) and Google Plus for Business are useful tools for your business that can help you show up higher in search results, especially local search results.

Google has been fairly confusing during the changes that it made to how local businesses are listed in its Maps and Search that rolled out last year, and it has not made things easy or clear for local businesses.

Originally, a local business could create a listing for themselves on Google Maps by using Google Places. After the creation of Google Plus, Google also made it possible for businesses to create social pages on Google Plus, called Google Plus for Business — similar to Facebook pages for businesses.

Google’s ultimate goal has been to combine the map listings of the Google Places pages with the social aspect of the Google Plus pages. The first step in this process was to upgrade the look and feel of a Google Places page so that it looks more like a Google Plus page. With the redesign also came a new name: Google Plus Local. Totally not confusing at all, right?

Some months later, Google rolled out a process by which you can combine your Google Places (Google Plus Local) page and your Google Plus for Business page into one complete page that is both listed on Google Maps and has social features. Take a note here: before you run to go do that, it might not always be a good idea, depending on what type of business you are. See the “Combining” section below.

Google Places

Important things to note about setting up your pages:

Fill out as much information as possible. Business name, address, and phone number aren’t enough. Fill out hours, fill out your business category, add a description and pictures and videos. Note: if it’s a Google Places page, any videos you add won’t be displayed. Those must be added to a Google Plus page or a combined page.Your address should appear on your Google Pages exactly as it appears on your website. Google has its own standard way of displaying addresses, so if Google displays your address differently once you enter it into your Google page, you should change the address on your website. Google is more likely to rank you higher if all of your addresses everywhere on the web all match exactly.Don’t use a P.O. Box or a UPS Store as your address. Google will delete you. If you can’t receive mail at your address, Google does have some guidelines about what to do. If you are a Service Area Business, or a business that only serves customers at their location (such as a locksmith or a cleaning service), you must hide your address by checking a small box that says “Do not show customers my address.” The reasoning behind this is that the reason customers want an address would be so they can come to your place of business, and if you don’t serve any customers at your place of business, Google doesn’t want to confuse people by showing them an address. This little requirement also means that you should not have a “local business” Google + page since the address cannot be hidden, and you should not merge your Google Places page and your Google Plus page (see below).In general, the name that you put as your business name on either your Places or Plus page should match the signs that you have outside your business and the business name that you use when you answer the phone. Google moderators may check your street signs on Street View, or they may call your business to double check your information. Unless everything matches, they may delete your listing.If you have time, familiarize yourself with the Google Guidelines for these types of pages. If you violate Google’s guidelines, you may be subject to removal. Most of the guidelines are pretty straightforward, but there are some exceptions depending on what type of business you are, such as service area businesses.

Tired of managing and updating two separate pages? Google has made it possible to combine your Google Places page and your Google Plus page. However, you should only do this if you fit these specific criteria:

You don’t use the Bulk Uploads featureYou are not a Service Area Business that only serves people at their homesIf your Google+ page is not listed as a Local BusinessYou have a Google+ pageYou can receive verification postcardsYour business’s Google Places listing and Google+ page were claimed by the same email address

If you fit all the above criteria, merging your Places listing and Plus page should be possible. However, merging the pages will not necessarily help your SEO in any way. Benefits to doing this mostly include ease of managing pages.

The first place to get help is to look through Google’s Places Help pages and Google’s Plus Help pages. In addition to articles about common problems, there are also ways to troubleshoot and report issues and receive support from Google.

In addition, Google also provides the Google and Your Business Forum where business owners can ask questions and get answers from other knowledgeable people and Google employees.

For even more good information on this, see the dedicated, well-researched information on local search — primarily Google, but information about improving your business across all local search platforms in general.

Lauren Hartman graduated with a degree in economics, but has always loved writing, and now uses the combination of her data analysis and wordsmithing skills as an SEO Specialist at 435 Digital.

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435 Digital helps businesses build brands on the web. Visit here for inspiration on how to stand out and grow your business.

View the original article here

Thursday, 18 April 2013

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

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  • 4 Tips to Create a Successful Instagram Strategy

    At 435 Digital, we love all things social media and are big supporters of brands incorporating social into their daily marketing efforts. At the same time, we will be the first to tell brands to be cautious when deciding which social networks are right for their business. It is important to get in front of your consumers and integrate your business into the places they spend their time, but it is just as important not to spread yourself too thin and not to force anything.

    Stick with what works. There is no harm in trying a new social media platform, but make sure you have a strategy before you dive into it.

    Not familiar with Instagram yet? No worries, it is still relatively new to brands and many are trying to grasp exactly what they should be doing with it. Instagram’s main draw right now is that it is completely focused on the love for visual messaging and sharing. From its early days in late 2010 with only two employees, the goal, according to co-founder Kevin Systrom, has always been to use the “power of images to connect people to what was happening in the world around them.”


    Just a few years later, Instagram has been bought by Facebook and has more than 100 million monthly active users. Instagram gives brands a new and creative way to reach their consumer base. Best of all, it is easy to use no matter where you are and at any time.

    So what exactly is it? Instagram is a mobile app where users share their life stories and events, using only photos with cool filters and captions. Similar to Facebook, photos are posted to a feed where followers can see what is being shared and leave comments or click on a ‘heart’ to ‘like’ the photo. Similar to Foursquare, people can tag a specific location to a photo. Similar to Twitter, users can view a feed of the most popular photos around the world from other public-sharing users or only view the photos in the feed of the people they are following.

    Do you think your business should be on Instagram? Here are some things you should keep in mind.

    Make sure you have a good idea of what you have to offer to people on Instagram. Give your followers something they can’t find anywhere else – something different from what you offer on Facebook and Twitter. Use Instagram to show off what you love about your business location and the surrounding community. Show your followers some behind-the-scenes shots to help them know and love your business. Show the pride you have in your brand. If you are a restaurant, feature your chef and show new specials before they are even introduced at the restaurant. If you are a workplace full of cubicles and 9-to-5ers, share your work environment, photos of your employees, and community outings.

    This may seem strange, but if done right, it can work. Have you heard of Warby Parker? You might have if you are in the market for boutique eyeglasses. They are often applauded within the social media industry as being one of the most creative brands on Instagram. Why? They do a great job of showing off their merchandise in a completely non-salesy way, while capturing the unique culture of their employees and their community with every shot. They certainly found their strategy and are running with it.

    Warby Parker Instagram Warby Parker Instagram

    Hashtags — love them or hate them — are important on Instagram. Hashtags are words or phrases marked with the # symbol (ex: #hashtag) and are used to enable collecting all content with that tag in one place. With public Instagram accounts, anyone searching for a hashtag used in a photo caption will be able to see that image. This is a great way to get specific photos and brand accounts a lot more attention. Like Twitter, users need to be smart with hashtags because they can be annoying. Don’t overuse them, and only use words that are actually relevant to the photo you are tagging. Some brands overuse hastags with the goal of getting more likes and followers. This is not going to get the followers they want to have and will likely attract spammy comments.

    Also, become familiar with some of the popular hashtags and use those that can naturally work with the content you are sharing. Some popular hashtags on Instagram include #tbt (throw back Thursday), #photooftheday, #food and #instafood. There are also a lot of hashtags that are popular by city. For example, in Chicago, hashtags like #Chicago, #Chitecture, and #Instagram312 are popular. Our friends at Chicago Tribune capture some great engagement from their followers by using a weekly hashtag theme encouraging Chicago area users to share their photos of anything from their breakfast to the CTA by posting their pictures with the hashtag #Trib2013. At the end of the year, we will all be able to browse through an impressive album of Chicago area images that document our 2013.

    Chicago Tribune Instagram Chicago Tribune Instagram

    You don’t need to post on Instagram every day. The ‘feed speed’ on Instagram is still mostly laid back. If you start posting a lot, you might over-saturate your followers’ feeds, and you don’t want to force yourself into the noise too often. Decide what you have ready to post and create a schedule to help you remember what to post when and to track what is working once you get going. If you see that your followers are starting to gravitate toward certain images, be flexible with your plan and change things to fit. Don’t forget to make engagement part of your strategy. Join the conversation, that’s what this is all about. Answer questions and thank people for being loyal.

    Take notice of who is following your brand. Follow them back, ‘heart’ their pictures if it makes sense — avoid the personal pictures unless you have a personal connection with them. Encourage your followers to share your photos and your page. This is a great way to spread your reach and attract other users. Once you get a good following, feature your fans’ photos by encouraging them to use a hashtag or tag your Instagram handle when they are posting a picture. Just be sure to give them credit for the photo. This is easy using an app like InstaRepost.

    You can also reward your loyal fans with contests and promo codes based on user-generated content. There are a lot of brands catching on to this concept right now. Sony does a great job encouraging their customers and followers to post pictures using specific hashtags, and then featuring their favorites on the Sony feed. Bonobos and Free People essentially use their followers as models, encouraging them to post pictures while wearing the brand’s clothing. Starbucks customers are already used to using #starbucks to share their coffee breaks from all over the world.

    Sony, Bonobos, Free People, and Starbucks on Instagram Sony, Bonobos, Free People, and Starbucks on Instagram

    Don’t forget to take some time regularly to search Instagram and Twitter for your brand name to find customers that may have already shared images or reviews from your business. I post photos of my food all the time when I eat out, and every once in a while a restaurant will take my shot and feature it in their feed. I think that’s cool. It shows they appreciate my business and interest in them.

    Think your business is ready to start using Instagram? Take some of these tips and you should be in a good place to get going. Already finding success with Instagram? Send us your shots! We would love to see them.

    Carly is an Account Manager at 435 Digital and manages the day-to-day responsibilities associated with running successful SEO and social media campaigns.Previously, Carly managed media campaigns for Tribune Media Group’s New Business Development & Cross Platform Team. Those campaigns incorporated a combination of newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and online advertisements.

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    435 Digital helps businesses build brands on the web. Visit here for inspiration on how to stand out and grow your business.

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    Flingshot Slingshot Flying Screaming Monkey

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    Quicken Deluxe 2013 [Download]

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    The New Facebook News Feed: Bigger and Better

    Facebook is about to throw you for a loop, again.

    Yesterday, the social network announced another new update to the news feed – your home page when logged into Facebook. This is the first big update Facebook has rolled out since Facebook Timeline launched in 2011. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, sees the news feed as “the most personalized newspaper,” evolving with users and the way we are sharing content. The more relevant news feed gives us more information and more to do within the Facebook walls. If you are anything like me, you check Facebook a few (ok, multiple) times a day and scroll through your feed until you hit a post or two that you have already seen; then you move on to the next web page or activity in your day. Now, when you hit the end of interesting posts in one feed, you will have another feed to explore. Facebook is going to keep us engaging on the site longer.

    So, what’s new?

    Bigger Images
    Everything is bigger, but a main focus of the new redesign will be on images, link posts, and videos – both from users and brand pages. Facebook and Instagram images, which consist of 50% of shared news feed content, will now be larger and more appealing. There will also be a separate feed showcasing only the posts that have photos.

    Multiple Feeds
    Speaking of separate feeds, there will now be multiple feeds available for users to toggle. Facebook users will now be able to subscribe to specific feeds: all friends, close friends, music, photos, news, games, and brand pages. For example, the music feed will show what music friends are listening to on apps like Spotify and Rdio, concert updates, news from artist pages, and album releases. There will still be a chronological main news feed – where brand page posts will still remain.

    Mobile Consistency
    One important aspect of this new Facebook look will be that it is even more mobile friendly. The new look was largely inspired by our increased use of different mobile devices. According to Facebook, the site has seen a large spike in mobile engagement recently with more than 680 million monthly active mobile users. This means that no matter what device you are using to pull up Facebook in a browser, the look will be consistent – similar to what we currently see when we use Facebook from a smartphone or tablet application.

    Bigger, More Prominent Ads
    The new redesign should open an opportunity for advertisers to serve ads similar to the rich media units they are used to on other websites. We will most likely see brands take advantage of offering big pictures and videos, a feature that hasn’t been provided to brands yet. Ads will blend in more with the content our friends are sharing, making them less annoying and more likely to encourage engagement. They will also likely cost a lot more. Everybody wins.

    Want the new look? Get in line. Check out the information Facebook has shared on the new feature, and join the waiting list.

    Are you going to embrace the new look? Let us know your thoughts.

    Carly is an Account Manager at 435 Digital and manages the day-to-day responsibilities associated with running successful SEO and social media campaigns.Previously, Carly managed media campaigns for Tribune Media Group’s New Business Development & Cross Platform Team. Those campaigns incorporated a combination of newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and online advertisements.

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    435 Digital helps businesses build brands on the web. Visit here for inspiration on how to stand out and grow your business.

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    Monday, 15 April 2013

    Quicken Starter Edition 2013 [Download]

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    SAMSUNG i9300 GALAXY S3 HOT PINK PREMIUM PU LEATHER WALLET CASE WITH FLORAL INTERIORFantastic looking case for your device. There are plenty of cases out there but this is built to last with style. Made of a premium PU leather mix this wallet case will wear well and maintain the look of your phone. Specially designed with a plastic housing bracket your phone is held securely and with the full face exposed for unhindered use of touchscreen and controls. Design allows for full access to touch screen, side buttons, charging & headset ports, and camera. The wallet case also has storage slots for credit cards or money, and an elegant floral interior giving you a sleek and convenient phone carry option.


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    What’s Your KPI: Search Rankings are a Terrible Performance Indicator

    Posted on February 27, 2013 at 8:35 am by Lauren Hartman in SEO

    Welcome to “What’s Your KPI?“, an ongoing blog series about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), as they pertain to the world of SEO.

    In this edition of What’s Your KPI?, we will discuss search results rankings.

    This article discusses in depth what a ranking is, how rankings work, and the aspects of an SEO campaign that rankings can and cannot measure. If you don’t want to read the whole article, the short and sweet version can be found at the end in the Bullet Points for Review section.

    Before we start, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about terminology. For the purposes of this blog post, and generally when SEOs talk about “rankings,” they mean “How high one of your website’s pages appears when someone searches for a specific keyword.” For example, if you own a hardware store, someone searches Google for “local hardware stores,” and the front page of your website appears in the third spot on the search results page, you might say that your homepage ranks third for the term “local hardware stores.”

    Tools like Google Webmaster Tools will also give you a list of keywords that have a number next to them, this number tells you (on average) how high that page of your website ranks for certain search phrases. As you can see from the image, Google Webmaster Tools calls this number “Average Position,” but it means the same thing as “ranking.”

    A lot of people get really excited about rankings when they first get into the world of SEO. In theory, rankings are the perfect measure of how well your business' SEO campaign is going. Search results are a big scoreboard, and when you search for your keyword phrases, you can tell right away where you stand, both overall and compared to your competitors. That's why it's called a "ranking," right?

    Unfortunately, that's not how rankings actually work.

    Let's dig a little deeper into exactly how Google (and other search engines) come up with search results so we can better understand what, exactly, a ranking is and what it is not.

    Pretend that your friend has just asked you for a movie recommendation. It might be easy to just give them a list of your three favorite movies, but if you want to make sure you are helpful to them — you’re a good friend — you would ask them some questions to help clarify what might interest them.

    What genre of movie do they have in mind?Are they going to be watching the movie by themselves?Will they watch it on a date?With a bunch of friends?With their family?

    Depending on the answers to those questions, you might recommend entirely different movies.

    Search engines are similar. When someone searches for something in a search engine, “good movies” might be the words they type, but the search engine will try to figure out as much as they can about the person searching so that they can give them better search results.

    Google is well-known for personalizing its search results. Google places a cookie in your browser that tracks the websites you visit. That way it can figure out what kinds of content you like (long articles or funny videos?), what you normally look for, and what seem to be your favorite websites. This has become even more personalized since the recent launch of Search Plus Your World, where if you search for something through Google while you are logged into Google+, it will use information from your profile, your search history, and your friends on Google+ to try to bring you more personalized results.

    Even if you are completely logged out of every Google product, have cleared your web history, browser cache, cookies, and are browsing in “safe mode,” Google can still figure out what kind of computer or mobile device you’re using, what browser you’re using, your internet speed, and most importantly, your location.

    Sound a bit creepy? Maybe. However, personalized search results do usually deliver on their promise to make search results more useful for the user. For example, if you search for “local hardware stores” while you are physically in Tampa, Florida, don’t you want to get different search results than someone searching for “local hardware stores” who is physically in Redmond, Washington?

    The bottom line of this customization is that no two people have the same search results. Let me say that again. No two people get the same search results. A more in-depth article about this can be found here. This means that, unlike a scoreboard, where each website would always be third or tenth across the board, a business’ website may show up much higher or lower in the search results for different people searching in different locations on different computers at different times.

    So if websites never show up at the same place in the search results, how can you have one solid number that’s considered your “ranking” for a keyword?

    The “rank” numbers available from tools like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are more like an average. If your rank is “8? for a certain term, that means that on average, your website is showing up eighth in the search results for that term.

    Not Really a Score: Now that you know that nobody sees the same search results, it’s easier to understand why rankings can’t be a hard-and-fast measure of SEO success. It’s great to have a higher ranking than your competitors, but that doesn’t mean you will always show up higher in every search result set just because you have a higher ranking. Even if you have a higher ranking, your competitors may sometimes show up higher than you. Conversely, even if you have a lower ranking, you may show up higher than your competitors. It all depends on who is searching.

    Depends on Good Keywords: I’ve hinted at it several times throughout this article, but I’ll say it explicitly: There is no “one” rank for your entire website for every keyword. Certain pages of your website will have a rank for a specific keyword. For example your home page may have a ranking of “5? for “local hardware store,” but it might not even rank in the top 10 for “stores that sell nails.” The reason this is important is because if you are trying to rank for the wrong keywords, you may never have true “success” in the form of customers who want to buy your products. As a hardware store, ranking in the top 5 for the word “tools” feels really good, but accomplishing that top ranking won’t necessarily bring in the kind of people who are looking to buy your products from you.

    It’s Getting Harder To Track: There used to be several tools where you could enter in a keyword or phrase that you were trying to rank for, and then you could track week-to-week or month-to-month whether your rank for that term was rising or falling. Unfortunately, due to some updates in Google’s policies, there are few, if any, tools that do that anymore. The only places to get information about your site’s rank are through Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics, and neither of those tools have the functionality or present the information as well. This makes it difficult to track whether or not your rankings for specific keywords are changing.

    Essentially, the only thing that rankings are good for is that they can give you an idea of, on average, how visible a page of your website is in the search results for a certain keyword phrase. That’s it. Sorry folks.

    “Rankings” are how high your website appears in the search results for a specific keyword.Search engines personalize everyone’s search results, so no two people ever have the same results.A “ranking” is really an average number, meaning sometimes you will show up higher than your ranking, sometimes lower, depending on who’s searching.This makes it hard to use as a comparison or as a definite measure of success. At best, it can tell you generally where you are, but not much else.

    Lauren Hartman graduated with a degree in economics, but has always loved writing, and now uses the combination of her data analysis and wordsmithing skills as an SEO Specialist at 435 Digital.

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    435 Digital helps businesses build brands on the web. Visit here for inspiration on how to stand out and grow your business.

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    Sunday, 14 April 2013

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    Website Prototypes: Blueprints of the Web

    Creating website prototypes is just as critical to the process of building a website as blueprints are to building a house. Without a blueprint, the plumbing from your shower might end up creating a pond in your front yard, or more likely, will cost three times what it should have in order to re-do it correctly. Working out a blueprint is the least costly way to make changes to your floorplans, rearrange your plumbing and electrical design, and play with ideas to create what will become a house you love.

    It is much the same with building websites. It often seems to people that the first step in creating a website would be to design how it looks. It seems at first that it might be obvious what goes on the page, what goes where, and how the content flows. However, once you dive in, you’ll discover that there is a lot of thought, planning, and testing that needs to be done to figure out those basic things first – before doing any design or build.

    Here is how one thing leads to another.

    This is the prototype we used for our 435 Digital website, showing the desktop view.

    435 Digital prototype

    This is the prototype we used for our 435 Digital website, showing the mobile view as seen in an iPhone. We had additional views and full smartphone layouts, as well. However, this is one example.

    435 Digital Mobile Website Prototype

    This is the final design that you see on the site today, in the desktop view.

    435 Digital website design

    And this is the final design in the mobile view, as a screenshot captured on an iPhone.

    435 Digital mobile website design

    It brings the prototype to life. The designer was free to focus on font and color and overall look – all the elements of design – without getting distracted by changes to the actual elements that would appear. And our business and web development teams were able to work together to decide on specific elements and placement in an efficient and cost-effective way.

    There are multiple ways of doing prototypes. They can be simply sketches, they can be online and interactive, they can even include some design. The most important thing is to do the prototype early in the web development process – before the design and before the site development.

    If you begin building your new kitchen without a blueprint, you are going to make many more trips to the store for wood and tile and cabinets than you would if you had everything specified ahead of time. For building websites, the designer needs to know the layout and flow, and the developer needs to know the layout, flow, and functionality in order to write clean code efficiently. All of this means a reasonable cost for the business and a better website in the end.

    Christy Grant is a true interactive project manager, with over fourteen years of experience being the bridge between business and technical teams – clients and developers – to design and develop widely used web applications. She brings years of being a professional editor and front-end developer together with design and user experience to drive the creation of highly effective online experiences for consumers in a wide range of industries. She specializes in mobile web development – a strong proponent of creating a better internet by making the web accessible and delightful to everyone on all kinds of devices in all kinds of contexts.

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    435 Digital helps businesses build brands on the web. Visit here for inspiration on how to stand out and grow your business.

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