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david oremland
pretty darn old; SEO work; business operations. love sports--still love it :D
pretty darn old; SEO work; business operations. love sports--still love it :D


Adwords Clicks on Recovery Name Brands is Extremely High and Costly--But how effective is it?

We have been using Adwords for over a decade for various SMB's. Our thinking has always been to simply capture more clicks; more searchers looking for our services or types of services in their market areas. Within the literature one might see comments about cannibalizing organic clicks by running extensive adwords. We discovered adwords was paying off and didn't concern ourselves. We ran aggressive campaigns. The SMB's with these campaigns have generally done well. They do get a lot of leads.

It has gotten progressively more expensive. Also we have some very old campaigns. The changes in google made them more expensive. I've been cutting around the edges but am now doing full scale adjustments to make them more logical and to give us better control and adaptability.

All of that is prelude to a recent finding within the adwords data. The numbers are strongly supported by anecdotal evidence listening to relatively high volumes of calls from 4 campaigns tying calls to adwords. They covered 3 different smb's in different cities and different types of businesses/verticals. The phone evidence was spread over a variety of years.

The phone experience/evidence was fascinating disturbing and described a cost factor, let alone a service feature we didn't anticipate.

On the cost and type of click basis off the phone calls we discovered that roughly 30-60% of all calls were NOT LEADS. They ranged from existing customers utilizing services, to existing or past customers with questions to vendors and cold calling sales people.

Essentially searchers were clicking on ads to find our phone number. I'd guess roungly half or slightly less than half were NOT LEADS.

Essentially adwords ads/calls were being used as a paid phone service, with us paying google to give people our phone number. Almost half the calls had no chance for an additional sale. Google was giving our phone number out in ads we were paying for to get our phone number. EXPENSIVE.

Subsequent to that we took some actions to try and cut the phone calls to an advertising number from existing customers.

More recently I've looked at adwords clicks to recovery searches, or brand name searches, or search terms that explicitly described our name or a close variation and our suburban locations. Those are clearly branded types of searches.

Stunning findings: Expensive, extremely high click through rates (ctr's) and the rate of these clicks on ads is increasing at an extraordinary level year to year.

I've just looked at data year to year for a 4 year period. Adwords Clicks on branded search terms have increased by about 3 times the volume over the four years. Overall clicks on ads have increased at a FAR FAR FAR smaller amount. The adwords CTR's on these branded searches has been consistently and DRAMATICALLY higher than overall click through rates.

As significantly as this difference has been, the enormous change has occurred in the last year. It is primarily a function of mobile advertising and the screen space/real estate that adwords takes up with search results. Adwords take up the entire mobile screen.

Unfortunately competitors advertise against these branded terms. It pushes up our costs. On top of that our cost per click (cpc) averages have also gone up. Not as severely as the ctr and # of clicks, but between more clicks on these ads and higher cpc the costs on these Recovery clicks have roughly tripled in 4 years. Big change.

Here is the summary: Essentially google increasingly acts as a PAID Source for people to find us by name. Many of them are not leads/not customers. Its expensive and becoming more so

I suppose I might take a month and pause all such phrases to see how it affects leads and ultimately revenues. That is a large risk to take subject to thinking I don't want to pay google to be a phone and name service...especially since we are all over the web.

Anyway, LONG POST. Anyone else have experience or data in this area???

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This is an astonishing story (astonishing to me) about review sites and the uber serious monetization that can take place. Its not LOCAL, but it is about reviews and reviews are a critical part of the local landscape. I've seen "minor league" elements of monetization of reviews on the local side but nothing of this level and significance. Gives one reason to ponder this entire phenomena and how potentially dirty it can become:

Reviews/Operations/$$ to the bottom line

Just an interesting little story. One of our smb's has worked with a vendor to a restaurant in a suburb of Washington DC. Its a great restaurant located in the suburbs and has to be one of the best restaurants in that area, let alone its cuisine. In about 3 short years its booming. Reviews on all the sites are great, typically 4.5 or higher on yelp, tripadvisor, google and formerly on OpenTable.

The place is always busy. I hadn't been there or knew about it, and when speaking to the owner I referenced that I had to get out there. She said MAKE A RESERVATION. They are always busy for dinner. Its that good.

I guess about 6 months ago they dropped OpenTable and picked up Yelp reservations. Hasn't cost them a dime of busiiness. They remain ALWAYS busy and booked. On a full 3 nights they are turning 3 tables an evening--full house.

That is a great operation. So why get rid of OpenTable and its great reviews?? Well they determined they didn't need it. OT basically charges $1/head. At that price OT could have cost them $3,4,5, 6 thousand dollars/month plus monthly service charge which isn't cheap.

So they have lost the highly visible 4++ star rating from OT plus the awesome usage and visibility of OT in the greater DC region...but it has not adversely affected business....and they have saved thousands of dollars/month.

Bully for them.

Restaurant Reviews: Google seems to be catching up to Yelp!

Back in 2014 I did a little research on restaurant reviews comparing google (then google+), yelp, Facebook, and opentable. I looked at my region DC, then looked at major cities/cities that were targeted by yelp and cities definitely not targeted by yelp. I was simply searching for quantities.

Yelp generated FAR FAR more reviews than google. In every type of city, including smaller cities and cities wherein yelp had NOT made a concerted effort to mass reviews and generate very high serps rankings.

Now Summer 2017 and things might well have changed dramatically. That is a guess and based on a single anecdotal observation I just made.

Back to the data from mid 2014. I scanned 20 restaurants in the greater DC region looking at all types from fancy and well known to neighborhood places in the burbs. Average number of yelp reviews per restaurant: 210. Average number of Google + reviews 33.

Big big difference.

Today I looked at a newish restaurant in Downtown DC. Almost exactly 6 months old. Google and Yelp reviews have an equal opportunity to grab reviewers (let alone FB, tripadvisor, opentable and any others)

Current yelp reviews=225. Current google reviews =131. And BTW: OpenTable has 378.

3 years ago as I looked at yelp vs google review volumes in yelp focused cities it appeared that yelp generated a range to 4-7 times as many restaurant reviews as did Google.

Well not right now. I guess the tide is turning. BTW: The restaurant is The Smith in downtown DC

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Uh oh. More diversion from websites plus an open book for spamming by competitors. This looks terrible for smb's.

Want to avoid having leads find this?? Buy ppc.

Just miserable!!!!

Is google identifying fake reviewers and pruning/cutting their review volumes? Quite a number of members of this and other communities are speaking up about fake reviews: +Mike Blumenthal and +Joy Hawkins come to mind and I'm sure others. I'm aware of an smb that seems to be acquiring fake reviews. I learned about them from two totally different and completely disconnected sources. As I glanced at some of their recent reviews and focused on the reviewers, I found 2 with respectively 3 and 4 reviews showing...but each has made 18. In both cases 14 or 15 reviews are now not showing.

I assume google is identifying the now invisible reviews and filtering them. Any other observations or comments on this?

What is all this Maps Traffic and where does it come from???

Of recent I've been looking at google maps view data. Is there any way in the world to verify this data? Is it remotely accurate?

If you have a claimed local business in Google My Business

you will get data from them that includes so called traffic and views data. Its called insights. Now frankly this data delivered to smbs that claimed their business with google local has always been manipulated, untrustworthy, etc.

Current type of data breaks down views of your business via search and maps views. I've been comparing the search data to Impressions from our geographical adwords campaign. Basically the data has been close. But where in the lord's name does this maps data come from? Is it remotely relevant? Is it faked?

The most recent views data for one of our local smb's for a recent month looks like this:

[attachment=2294:Google Maps Views Where do they come from.gif]

According to this report there were 2700 Maps views of our SMB.

Okay!!!! Who the heck is doing the looking? Are these real people? Are they actually searching for our smb in Google Maps? Is our smb relevant to people looking at maps in our neighborhood? If they are looking in maps for hotels, restaurants, schools, government offices in our neighborhood, and it so happens that a map of that neighborhood shows our "point of interest" is that included in the data?? What the heck is it? (or maybe its google's contribution to FAKE NEWS)

What the heck is it?

A second reason I bring this up is we creeated a google my maps insert for a blog post for this smb. It highlights Points of Interest or destination points near the smb.

I'm updating the website, reread the post, looked at traffic to the page and then looked at the actual google my maps "creation". Weirdly there were about 5 times as many visits to the Google My Maps page as there were views to the blog page on which it was posted.

The my maps page sits in our google my maps creation. Who the heck are visiting this page? Is it real? Is it relevant traffic? Is it Cheech and Chong when stoned? Or is it Bots? Or is it pure BS.

Inquiring minds want to know?

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Frankly this is something our smb's have benefited for in some cases over a decade, but regardless of age or type of industry it always can be beneficial. Regardless I always forget or ignore it. That is until I'm tasked with updating a site or a similar action and deep research inevitably uncovers the hard data. The long tail is PRODUCTIVE.
Its not a popular topic, not often covered, and receives scant attention. But OMG, it always works, especially when one puts some effort into it. Here is one article on the topic that gives some clues on how and why to populate a website with long tail content and pages that can increase traffic, leads and sales:

Without getting into all the details, while updating a site that is representative of a niche we are and have been in with several smb's, different locations, over many years the long tail generates enormous volumes of traffic, and in our cases, leads, which we "work on" to generate sales. How much? In our cases on our best estimates and feel, past and current research about 1/3 of our leads and we suspect about 1/3 of our sales.

The article is illustrative on how to attack this opportunity.

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Is Proximity Important or is Something ELSE Going on (maybe a location glitch?)

I was searching on restaurants and expected to see results that showed me the closest restaurants. Instead I got the results in this photo. Do you think Google has messed up the location data on my hard computer/network at my office? Any other ideas and/or is anyone else seeing results where proximity is not showing strong prominence??

I can't emphasize how consistently I've seen this and suggest corrective measures!!!!! In order to cut adwords costs HAVE YOUR CUSTOMERS AND VENDORS PROGRAM YOUR BUSINESS PHONE # INTO THEIR CELL PHONES

For the 5th time I'm monitoring phone calls off of adwords accounts. 5 times, 4 different businesses, different areas, different types of businesses. It is simply ASTOUNDING how many existing customers, and vendors, and some dang cold calling PITA's will find your phone number off of Adwords and Call. If you are advertising in Adwords, SAVE YOURSELVES a lot of money by giving out your phone number and MAKING SURE PEOPLE PROGRAM IT INTO THEIR CELLS.

This will simply be a great way to save on your adwords spend. Nobody from google will EVER TELL YOU THIS...and unless you are taping calls you will never realize this...but dang it...I've experienced it 5 TIMES. Best Advice I can give!!!!
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