4 Things Every PPC Account Needs To Exclude

Are You Utilizing Your Budget To It’s Fullest Potential?

If you haven’t looked at these 4 settings in AdWords, your campaigns are probably wasting money.

When building campaigns, people typically focus on what to include: specific keywords, compelling ads, competitive bids. However, what you exclude from your campaigns can be equally as valuable and make your budget go even further.

Exclude Your Company’s IP Address

Clicking your own ad is a great way to waste your advertising budget. If you or your employees are doing this, you need to stop immediately!

Of course many people refrain from this behavior because they know that ads cost money. What many people don’t know is that just seeing your ad, even without clicking, can hurt your campaign as well.

Every impression counts, and if Google sees that users (including you) don’t click your ad, they’ll penalize your campaign. An impression without a click lowers your click through rate (CTR), which can lower your quality score (QS), which can increase your cost per click (CPC), which can lead to fewer clicks and fewer leads.

Make sure to block your company’s IP address to avoid costly clicks and inflated impressions.

Exclude People In Other Countries

The location setting “People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location” is the best way to capture everyone looking for services in your area.

The problem arises when people in other countries (I’m looking at you Philippines and Myanmar) start Googling “accident attorney Austin TX” and start wasting your budget. While Google is usually great at blocking this kind of spam, sometimes these clicks sneak past their filter.

To add that extra level of security, make sure to select “People in my excluded location” and add every country you don’t want business from.

Exclude People Looking For Other Cities

If you’re an accident attorney in Tampa, and a Tampa resident searches for “car accident attorney Dallas”, there is a good chance your ad will show. They used a keyword you’re bidding on and they’re right down the street! However, it’s easy to see they don’t want a Tampa attorney, and that click isn’t worth anything to you.

Make sure to add all major cities to your negative keyword list, and routinely check your queries report for minor cities to add later.

Exclude Non-Business Hours

Letting your campaigns run 24/7 seems like a great way to capture the most business. You always want your ads to show, right? Well, actually, no. Many companies can’t take calls after hours, or they need to return emails right away to successfully convert a lead to a client.

If your intake team isn’t capable of handling leads after hours, don’t waste your budget on clicks you can’t convert.

Make sure you exclude non-business hours from your ad schedule.

Conclusion

These advanced PPC strategies can help any AdWords account become that much more competitive and successful. If you’re not already doing this, take 15 minutes and make a few simple updates! Your budget and bottom line will thank you.

Mockingbird is Moving to Months

Here at Mockingbird, we like to do things the right way, and from our humble beginnings, we’ve always thought operating on a four-week basis gave us an edge over the competition. We preached data consistency and argued that the number of days in a month don’t always match up.

However, we’ve found that four-week periods still have inconsistencies like holidays and seasonality. Also, sending out invoices every four weeks caused problems with everyone’s accounting departments.

Mockingbird is happy to announce that we are changing, and we’re hoping this change will make everyone’s lives just a little easier.

After numerous requests and some self-reflection, we are moving away from four-week periods and are transitioning to a monthly cadence for reporting, billing and invoicing.

We are all used to receiving bills on the same day every month. Comparing March to February is easy to understand. Operating on four-week periods made sense in theory, but moving to a monthly cycle makes sense in real life.

For our current clients, your Account Executives will be connecting with you to discuss what this change means for your specific billing needs. As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.

How to Share AdWords Access with an Agency

Once you’ve entered into a partnership with a digital marketing agency, whether you’ve signed agreements or agreed to an audit, you’re going to need to provide access to your Google AdWords account. The process is relatively simple if you know what you’re doing, but it’s very easy to get lost.

Here’s how to grant AdWords access to agencies in 3 simple steps:

Step 1: Client Sends AdWords Customer ID

  1. Log in to your Google AdWords account
  2. Find your Customer ID and email it to your agency
  3. Stay logged in and wait for the agency to request approval

Step 2: Marketing Agency Requests Access

  1. Log in to the top level Manager Account for Google AdWords
  2. Under Accounts, click +Account and select “Link existing accounts”
  3. Enter the provided customer ID and click “Continue”
  4. Name the account (for internal use only) and click “Request approval”

Step 3: Client Approves Access

  1. Click the gear icon (top right) and select “Account Settings”
  2. Click “Account Access” on the left menu
  3. Click “Accept Request” and if you’d like provide full access, grant Admin permissions

And that’s it! You’ve successfully granted a marketing agency access to your AdWords account.

Accessing the Hidden Fields in Google My Business

These days, Google My Business (GMB) has a nice modern layout that looks simple, clean and straightforward. Don’t be fooled! There are secret, hidden fields in Google My Business that you can only access in certain ways. Here is how to find them.

Using Card View and the Dashboard

“Card View” organizes your locations into a neat grid of cards.

Managing locations from here sends you to a Dashboard where you can access:

  • Info (name, address, hours, etc.)
  • Photos
  • Reviews
  • Insights
  • Users (in the top left menu)

All these fields are important, but there are a few things missing.

Using List View and Direct Edit

Changing to “List View” organizes your locations into simple rows with 3-dot menus on the right.

Clicking those icons bring you to the Dashboard (same as above). However, if you try to edit the listing directly by clicking the actual row, you will unlock a new section:

  • Info (name, address, hours, etc.)
  • Photos (just a shortcut back to the dashboard)
  • Users (no longer in top left menu)
  • Advanced Information

You won’t see Reviews and Insights, but you gain access to “Advanced Information” which contains three new fields you didn’t have before.

  • Store codes: Used to identify individual locations.
  • Labels: Great way to organize locations into groups or mark locations that need work.
  • AdWords location extensions phone: External facing and must be used if you want to utilize call tracking in AdWords campaigns. Very important for maintaining correct conversion numbers!

Which Way Is Better?

If you want to utilize all the tools GMB has to offer, you must use both the Dashboard and direct edit from the list view. This is somewhat of a pain, and I have no idea why Google hides “Advanced Information” from the Dashboard, but that’s how it works. Hopefully the next GMB update will make things a little more consistent, but until then, don’t forget to check out both views!

Sometimes It’s the Little Things

As 2016 limps to a close, it’s apparent this year has been rough for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons. While I am typically an optimistic person who sees the glass half full, there comes a time when a heated rant isn’t just warranted, it’s necessary.

“But Nate, when life gives you lemons, just make lemonade.”

No! I don’t want lemons, and I don’t like lemonade! Just give me my Bulleit Bourbon, neat, like I ordered.

The following is a list of 20 terrible things I’ve seen this year while working on law firms’ websites. Whether I inherit a well-intentioned DIY site, or take over another agency’s misguided attempt at SEO, there always seems to be something glaringly obvious that makes you wonder what these people did before they hired us. If you recognize any of these from your own site, you might want to make some quick updates before the new year.

20 Terrible Things I’ve Seen On Law Firm Websites

  1. Every page has the same title
  2. Every page has four identical H1 tags
  3. Homepage doesn’t have a phone number
  4. Homepage still has generic “filler” text
  5. Contact page shows a bunch of code instead of the actual contact form
  6. Contact page has an embedded map with the pin of a competitor
  7. Contact form doesn’t deliver the lead’s contact information
  8. Contact form thank you page displays a competitor’s phone number
  9. No confirmation when submitting contact forms (the form just goes blank)
  10. Clicking the phone number dials a completely different non-working phone number
  11. The robots.txt file sets the entire site to no index
  12. Links go to pages not even closely related to their anchor text
  13. WordPress login information in the footer (admin/login, WordPress copyright, etc.)
  14. Google My Business Page doesn’t have a website
  15. Images are all the 10+MB original super high quality large stock photos
  16. Images are terribly cropped, stretched, and/or squished
  17. Site has a page that lists all the surrounding cities/counties, and nothing else
  18. Site has unnecessarily long, keyword stuffed URLs
  19. Site has zero structure and all URLs are top level
  20. Copyrights are outdated

While all these things are unarguably terrible, they are all concurrently easy to fix. So, I guess after all that, I am still able to find some sort of silver lining. Maybe this was therapeutic. Maybe there is still hope for the new year. In any case, just make sure to check on #20 next week and let’s all leave 2016 behind.

/rant.

5 AdWords Tips You Need Before 2017

AdWords is an extremely powerful marketing tool but can be confusing to even the most knowledgeable advertising experts. There seem to be endless settings, strategies and opinions on how best to set up, run, and manage campaigns. While we happily admit that we are constantly learning, we’ve found a few tricks that have undeniably helped a majority (if not all) our clients’ accounts.

Enable Ad Extensions

The easiest and arguably most effective upgrade to any campaign is to enable Ad Extensions. These little add-ons are a great way to claim more SERP space and generate more clicks. Right below your original text and link, you can extend your ad with valuable information for users to interact with. Our favorite Ad Extensions are:

  • Call Extensions – Users can click to call your law firm
  • Message Extensions – Users can click to text your law firm
  • Location Extensions – Users can click to get directions to your law firm, and this extension makes your ad eligible to be included directly in Google Maps.
  • Callout Extensions – Draws attention to your most valuable features (Free Consults, Open 24/7, etc.)
  • Sitelinks Extensions – Adds more links to your ad, allowing users to navigate to content they care about

Use Accelerated Delivery

AdWords’ description of Standard Delivery is a bit misleading: “Optimize delivery of ads, spending budget evenly over time (Recommended).” That small sentence is stuffed with a lot of nice sounding buzzwords. Optimize, spend evenly, recommended… However, a new client in the morning is just as valuable as a new client in the afternoon. Law firms are not restaurants. You do not need to save your advertising budget for the dinner rush. Use Accelerated Delivery to show as often as possible. If you want to make sure your ads show in the afternoon, don’t hold your budget back; increase your budget and get more clients!

Match Ad Schedules to Business Hours

While a click in the morning is just as valuable as a click in the afternoon, a click at night might not follow the same pattern. If you don’t have people answering the phone at night or on weekends, your conversion rates are going to be negatively affected. Clients are much more likely to move on to the next firm if they are greeted with an answering machine. Unless you are prepared to handle leads after hours, restrict your ad schedule to when you are actually able to answer the phone.

Upgrade to Expanded Text Ads

A few months ago, Google launched their new Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) which were a huge improvement over their old standard format. The new ETAs now include:

  • Two headline fields (up to 30 characters each)
  • A single, expanded description field (up to 80 characters)
  • A display URL that uses your final URL’s domain
  • Two optional “Path” fields, used in the ad’s display URL (up to 15 characters each)

Not only are these new ads much more effective, starting January 31, 2017, AdWords will no longer allow advertisers to create or edit standard text ads. If you haven’t upgraded already, now is the time.

Apply Bid Modifiers

Utilizing bid modifiers is a great way to gain a competitive advantage over other law firms. If you’re targeting a large area (50+ miles, multiple counties, statewide, etc.), a positive bid adjustment focused on a more precise 5 mile radius can be a beneficial. Additionally, people searching on mobile devices are usually more likely to place a phone call and convert into a client. A positive bid adjustment here will help make sure your ads get are delivered when these high value searches take place.

How To Implement

Most of these tips and tricks can be applied at the campaign level of your AdWords account. When in doubt, this is a great place to start when making high level changes. However, there may be times when diving into each Ad Group is a better decision (as with sitelinks). Make sure to stop and think about how each change will affect your AdWords campaigns before implementing.

Whether you’re optimizing old campaigns or starting fresh, these 5 AdWords Tips should help you get 2017 started on the right foot.

Happy Advertising!

Google Analytics is Lying to You!

Do not trust the data in Google Analytics. It is lying to you!

Even if you installed the tracking code correctly, all the data you see is incorrect. It’s tainted, false, misleading, and wrong. It’s a huge mistake to make any decisions based on the data in Google Analytics… unless you make some essential adjustments.

Where Does the Misleading Data Come From?

Google Analytics is a very popular target for spammers and hackers. Just recently, sites across the world were hit by spam that looked like referral traffic from Lifehacker and Reddit. Semalt is another popular source that has been spamming Google Analytics accounts for years. Other spammers are more subtle and use “ghost” hosts to infiltrate your website data. Spammers are relentless, and they’re developing new techniques every week.

While spam is the primary destroyer of good data, your website traffic may be skewed for another reason. If you’re looking at traffic reports and think all the sessions are potential customers, you’re wrong. Your own office may be inflating traffic numbers without realizing it. While this is not fake traffic, it’s not valuable traffic either.

Other sources of bad data include bots, spiders, crawlers and other digital marketing tools. Call tracking and chat software often impact the quality of your Google Analytics data, and poorly coded robots can appear as human visitors. All these sources must be wiped out before you can begin to even remotely trust Google Analytics.

How To Fix Your Google Analytics Data

If you plan on using Google Analytics in any way, you must prepare your account to block all the bad data. Here at Mockingbird, this is the first thing we do before working on any website.

Step 1 – Create Multiple Views

It is very important to create multiple property views because once you start messing with Google Analytics data, there is a chance you may irreversibly break something. We suggest creating at least 3 views – Raw Data (the untouched backup), Master View (the one you use), and Test View (the one you test with, obviously). Once you have these views set up, you’re ready for step 2.

Step 2 – Create Filters

Filters block data from ever hitting your Google Analytics account. If you filter all traffic from Russia, you may still get traffic from Russia, but you won’t see it in your Google Analytics account. It is important to understand Filters apply to future data and cannot be retroactively applied. If you want to remove spam from historic data, you’ll need to apply Segments (more on that later).

Here are some examples of Filters you should create:

  • Exclude spam referral sources (we have a list of 80 that we block)
  • Exclude internal IP addresses
  • Exclude partner agencies’ IP addresses
  • Include only your Hostnames

Again, once these are applied, the filtered data is gone forever. Make sure to test each filter to make sure it works correctly.

Step 3 – Select “Bot Filtering”

This one’s easy. Google Analytics has an option under View Settings that is called Bot Filtering. It “excludes all hits from known bots and spiders.” Check the box and hit save!

Step 4 – Utilize Segments

While Filters will help keep your data clean in the future, there is still a way to save your historic spam-filled data. Create a Segment that matches your filters so it excludes the bad data. You’ll need to apply this segment every time you look at your data, but it is a great way to accurately analyze past performance.

Does This Really Fix Everything?

I wish this were the end of the story. However, spam sources continue to evolve and you’ll need to update your filters and segments regularly. Furthermore, UTM codes (used for tracking digital marketing campaigns) may wreck havoc on your account if not implemented correctly. Check your account monthly, if not weekly, to make sure your data stays clean. Create custom channel groupings if you need to.

If you or your marketing agency aren’t proactively monitoring the Google Analytics, you may be making misinformed decisions based on misleading data. Stay on top of it, and Google Analytics can be an invaluable gold mine!

Why Ranking #1 Doesn’t Matter

Ok, let’s start with the obvious. Rankings definitely matter. If rankings didn’t matter, I wouldn’t have a job. What may be less obvious, is that ranking #1 doesn’t matter. At least, it doesn’t matter nearly as much as it used to.

In the world of digital marketing, ranking number 1 should never be your ultimate goal. Your business can be seriously mislead by tracking and focusing on rankings. Take a step back for a second and look at the bigger picture. Not only are there better business metrics, but search engine result pages (SERP) look a lot different than they used to.

Here are 4 major reasons why ranking #1 doesn’t matter:

1) Organic Results are Buried Under Paid Search and Map Listings

Even if you optimize well enough to rank #1 organically, you may be pushed half way down the SERP. Google recently added a 4th paid search result to the top of the page, taking up highly valuable real estate. Next, the map pack shows local firms in the immediate area. Finally, after all that, you get to organic position #1. In this example, the user would have to ignore a total of 14 links before getting to Avvo, a legal directory. Notice, after all these links, we still don’t see a law firm in the true organic section of Google. Make sure you don’t get caught focusing on this very low #1 position. There are other areas of the SERP that can help  you generate leads.

ranking - paid and map

2) User Location Changes Everything!

Search results change dramatically based on a user’s physical location. This is one of the largest hurdles to tracking rankings effectively – your law firm could rank #1 and #7 simultaneously for the same search phrase. Take for example, a user who searches for “DUI Defense Attorney” while in downtown Seattle. If they move just a mile north, that same user (with the same search phrase) is presented an entirely different set of results! No single firm truly “ranks #1” for this search phrase. Don’t waste your time trying to track this.

ranking - map 2
ranking - map 1

3) Legal Answers in the Knowledge Box.

Who is winning for the search phrase “how much does a divorce cost?” Is it HuffingtonPost sitting at organic position #1? Nope. The real winner here is LegalZoom, technically ranking #6. Google has recognized the information on their site provides the best answer to this question and rewarded them with a spot in the Answer Box. This is a very difficult thing to do, but a great way to stand out.

ranking - answer box

4) The Major Presence of the Knowledge Graph

Theory states that the top few organic positions get a majority of the clicks. However, it is easy to see that the Knowledge Graph draws a lot of eyes (and clicks) away from that number 1 position, removing a ton of value. For the search phrase “Lawyer Marketing Company in Seattle,” Mockingbird is obviously the best choice at #6, but Lawyer Marketing is also doing well at #1. FindLaw isn’t even on the first page organically, but their Knowledge Graph gives them a great presence for this search query.

Make sure your law firm has an optimized Google My Business page to try and take advantage of this space.

ranking - knowledge graph

Final Thoughts: Track What Matters to your Business’ Success

Ranking # 1 isn’t what it used to be. Not only do law firms have to fight for organic position, they have to fight an evolving SERP page with more and more features that pull clicks away from organic results. The best way to battle these additional features is to play the game. Add valuable content to your site that answer your clients most asked questions. Clean up your NAP (name-address-phone number) so Google knows who/where you are. Get reviews so your firm stands on in the Map Pack. Run a variety of paid search campaigns to catch valuable traffic and leads.

Most importantly, don’t worry about rankings. Focus on business metrics that provide valuable insights into overall site health. Use traffic, leads, and costs to evaluate your marketing performance. Rankings are worthless unless they drive traffic. Measure what matters.

7 Reasons You Should Bid on Your Brand Name

Branded SearchWhen speaking about digital marketing, I’ve been asked time and again if companies should bid on their own brand name in Google AdWords and Bing Ads. “Should we create paid search campaigns based on our brand name? If we rank #1 organically, why pay for traffic that we’re going to get for free anyway? Isn’t it just wasting money?”

In short, SEO and PPC, when run together, are greater than the sum of their parts. Of course PPC costs money, and a branded paid search campaign might cannibalize a portion of your organic traffic, but according to a study from Bing, companies see an average of 32% more clicks when they appear in both organic and paid results.

That’s huge! But how does this happen? How do you get more clicks when you’re already ranking number one? Well, here are the 7 reasons why you should bid on your brand name and how it can help you get more clicks, leads and clients.

#1 – It’s Really Cheap

Keyword relevancy plays a big part in determining cost per click. Branded campaigns usually have the highest possible quality scores because “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Thanks Dr. Seuss, I couldn’t have said it better. When you bid on your brand name as a keyword, your quality score will be near perfect, because you are you! This high quality score keeps your costs lower than low. It won’t be free, but it won’t cost much.

#2 – It Makes Your Other Ads Cheaper

Instead of guilty by association, think cheaper by association. Your branded campaign’s high quality score raises the average quality score of your entire AdWords account. Your other campaigns benefit simply by being associated with a super high quality campaign. Boosting your average quality score will help lower all campaigns’ cost per click, making non-brand ads slightly cheaper.

#3 – Be the Right Answer & Own the SERP

serp exampleRanking number 1 organically is great, and something every company should be able to achieve for their own brand name. However, search engine results pages (SERPs) have a lot of different pieces. You have organic results, paid results, map listings, knowledge graphs, sitelinks, tweets… it’s a long list. If done correctly, you could cover the entire first page with properties you can manage, but it will always start at the top with paid advertising.

Users are also more likely to click through to a site if they see it multiple times. Prove that you ARE the site people are looking for by showing up again and again. If someone sees your paid ad, then your organic result, there is a sense of recognition and trust that begins to develop. Own your brand name and establish yourself as the correct answer to their question.

#4 – Hide Bad Things Below the Fold

Have some bad press you wish would stop showing up in search results? Going back to my last point, try to cover the SERP with properties you can control. Paid advertising pushes organic results down. If you’re taking up the whole page, there’s no room for bad press. Adding paid advertisements to a SERP that’s already filled with your website, maps and social profiles could be just enough to get those nasty stories onto the rarely seen SERP page 2.

competitor bidding#5 – Don’t Let Competitors Steal from You

Sometimes, competitors will bid on your brand name to try and steal clicks. There are some limitations and regulations, especially within the legal industry, but it is not entirely illegal. If you’re not bidding on your brand name and a competitor does, they will show up first – above your organic listing. This is NOT OK. Defend yourself and protect the top spot with a branded campaign to make sure you aren’t losing traffic to the guy down the street.

#6 – Generate Instant Leads with Click to Call

clicktocallCall extensions are a great tool you can apply to paid search campaigns. Having your phone number show up next to your ad, especially on mobile, is a great way to capture leads (not just traffic). If people are searching for your brand on their mobile device, help them get in touch with a single click. Not only does this button attract the eye, it’s an instant lead generator for anyone who clicks on it.

#7 – Control your Sitelinks

Those little links under your main website are usually great ways for users to dive right into specific content. However, you can’t 100% control which pages show up. Google displays what it thinks is most important, and sometimes, Google gets it wrong. With sitelink ad extensions, you can customize each link and direct people to where you want them to go. This is a great way to help control the look and feel of your brand on the search results page.

In Conclusion

I believe these 7 reasons end the argument of whether or not companies should launch branded paid search campaigns. It makes perfect sense to invest a small amount and increase your clicks by 32% over having organic alone. I say get more out of your brand. Run some high quality paid search campaigns and capitalize on the name you’ve worked so hard to build.