Monday, March 31, 2014

How Not to Use AdWords


Google Logo

So often a prospective client approaches me for Google AdWords Services because they have heard AdWords is great for lead generation. But, sometimes a prospective client may need a quick review on how not to use AdWords. Here’s my short list to help demystify what AdWords is and is not.

How Not to Use AdWords
  • Do not use AdWords if your ad budget will preclude you from participating in the “real” money keyword auction. If you want to spend $1,500 per 30 days and AdWords says your keywords need a maximum cost per click of $23 to appear on the first page of results, do not expect to get lead conversions — your program will only show on peripheral keywords and so the traffic you get from AdWords may never convert to your expectation. If your budget is this low and your click cost that high, consider investing instead in AdWords Express or other forms of low-cost advertising like Facebook or Twitter ads. Or change your expectations from 100 new leads a month to maybe one per month.
  • Do not use AdWords if you are already having money issues. It can take sometimes as long as 60 to 90 days or even longer for a program to really start generating leads and sometimes the reality is that the leads generated are lower than a prospective client may have expected. Understand that the conversion rate of a typical eCommerce store is lower than two percent. Do not move into AdWords expecting conversion numbers of 20 percent or higher when they may really be closer to two percent. And remember, as the cost of your product or service moves up, your conversion numbers will move down.
  • AdWords is not really the place for a business that is already floundering financially. Google will spend whatever you allot to it without real regard for your desired conversion dreams. Get your account manager to help you understand the average cost per click and potential conversion numbers before you start advertising. Although your results are all dictated by the auction marketplace, if your product and services are over-priced and are not selling for other market-driven reasons, promoting them on AdWords will not bring sales. Fix the real problem with your sales and market competitiveness first.

What AdWords Really Can Do
  • AdWords really can drive leads and grow your business. That’s the good news. I’ve done it and seen it happen. The key is to be competitively priced, offer something for sale or as a service that is of value —AdWords can expose your products and services to a wide audience that you may never have been able to reach without it.
  • Your AdWords program can pay for itself and generate profit for your business. It does not happen the day your program starts running typically — although I have seen it do just that for some businesses. But most sales and leads typically happen in week two or three after start.
  • AdWords is hands down the best lead generator that I have found for my clients and I feel that it provides reach and exposure that is unparalleled. But your budget must be high enough to really be able to support performance based on your industry. A software firm that spends $1,500 a month will get very different conversion results than a similar software firm that spends $8,000 a month.

How to Stay Protected From Negative SEO


SEO Targeting

With the recent news about Expedia’s potential negative SEO woes, a lot of companies have become paranoid about suffering the same fate. Negative SEO is a nasty business built with devious schemes to convince search engines to punish competitor sites, and many marketers suddenly feel powerless in ensuring it will never happen to them.

While it’s evident negative SEO can be a problem for some, it’s easier than you may think to stay protected. Negative SEO is a very hazardous endeavor. Any reputable company would never dream of sailing these seas. If and when perpetrators are discovered, it’s a death sentence in the eyes of Google and their counterparts. Yet since the problem still persists, there are a few core things you can do to ensure you are not an easy target.

Demystifying Negative SEO
Negative SEO takes many forms, and each cause a varying degree of damage. The policies most often employed include the following:
  • Buying links, then pointing them at a competitor’s site in an effort to negatively affect their rankings
  • Review bombing, which involves generating a slew of 5-star reviews for a business. This can make it seem like the brand paid for the fake feedback.
  • Hacking a website to thwart existing organic SEO efforts.
  • Reporting a competitor’s black hat SEO procedures.

Why Negative SEO is Risky Business
Before you get too concerned about being a target for these malicious attempts, it’s important to understand the inherent dangers of launching an attack. Google is also aware of the propensity for competitors to engage in these behaviors, and has implemented some safety measures. So before your paranoia reaches any level of panic, consider the following:
  • Your best defense is a good offense. Meaning, focus on your own brand strength and SEO efforts, and you’ll be much harder to affect. Companies with a strong domain authority are far less vulnerable to negative SEO.
  • If you are hit with any form of an attack, Google is aces at reviewing and identifying these infractions, and they often help businesses recover in a hurry.
  • It’s so risky to launch a negative SEO campaign, virtually no legitimate businesses attempt it.

How to Keep Your Sites Safe
In addition to maintaining solid organic SEO tactics, there are many steps you can do proactively to keep your website safe and secure. Consider the following negative SEO maneuvers, and the counteracting strategies:
  • Backlinks and reviews are the most susceptible elements to negative SEO. Keep your eyes firmly planted on your metrics and identify any oddities as they occur.
  • Paid links are a major no-no for Google, and a common tactic for negative SEO. If you are dinged by the search giant and are not at fault, comply with their requests and rectify things as quickly as possible. Then issue a reconsideration request, citing links over which you have no control. Chances are very good that Google will not hold you accountable.
  • Use the “report a problem” link at the bottom of any reviews that you feel are generated falsely. This means you need to stay on top of feedback about your site on a regular basis.
  • Content can often be scraped before it is indexed, giving authority to someone else for your content. To prevent this, keep your sitemaps current and re-submit it each time you publish new content. Using rel=canonical tags also help you secure your rightful authority over published pages.
  • The sneakiest negative tactic involves writing to your legitimate links and requesting removal. Folks can pose as the owner of the content, citing copyright infringement for the link share, rendering your external connections obsolete. This is admittedly tough to thwart, but the best way to do so is to have some sort of a relationship with the site owner. If you do receive a link, reach out with gratitude; even the smallest of communications can raise a red flag if someone suddenly asks for that link to be removed.
  • Keep very, very close tabs on your external links and watch for unnatural links. Luckily, Google makes this easy. In Google Webmaster Tools, click on “Search Traffic”, then “Links to Your Site.” This will show you a complete list of inbound links. Select “More” beneath “Who links the most” and you’ll see the top domains that are sending you traffic. If you have spammy links, they will most certainly show up in this report.
Negative SEO is ugly commerce indeed, but it’s dicey enough to put the attacker in a very precarious position. While you shouldn’t lose sleep over fearing it might happen to you, being vigilant about keeping your SEO efforts clean and well-monitored is extremely important to your overall success.
Not only will a dedicated watch on metrics help catch any negative SEO tactics early-on, it’s standard procedure to ensure all your campaigns and efforts are truly succeeding. Thankfully, there are many tools and apps to aid you in this cause. A monthly sweep is sufficient, but don’t do it any less frequently. And if you haven’t gone through your SEO metrics lately, now would be a good time to start.

Have you been a victim of a negative SEO campaign? If so, how did you deal with it? Let us know in the Comments section.


Custom Office Products

How to Accommodate More Patients in Your Community

4 Ways to Accommodate More Patients in Your Community

If you’re looking to expand your practice’s patient base, it may take more than posting a sign in your office lobby. A notice that you’re “Welcoming New Patients” may attract some folks to your practice, but keeping them around for the long-term requires that you accommodate their needs.
Adapting to the meet the underserved needs of certain patient populations can not only attract people to your practice but also make them more satisfied with their experiences under your care.
So go ahead and send out a mailer to your neighbors – but consider making some of these changes before you do.
1. Be MultilingualYou already have an interpreter on speed-dial for access in the event that a non-English speaker visits your office, as you must to be compliant with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. But what about expanding your language offerings even further?
If you have a large or growing population of Limited English Proficient (LEP) speakers in your community, becoming a multilingual practice can work strongly to your advantage in patient acquisition.
By hiring just two fully bilingual individuals – one clinician and one administrative employee – and having a back-up interpreter available just as you do now, you can easily offer greater “language access” to your patients. Once in place, promote such enhanced services to potential patients.
If the appeal of this accommodation measure proves popular and helps your practice grow, you can expand your multilingual capabilities to meet your expanding needs by printing patient forms in multiple languages, taking on hires with additional language competencies or incentivizing existing staffers to become multilingual.
2. Have an Obese-Friendly Design

The CDC’s most recent data found that nearly 34 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 20 are obese. Considering that the obese make up over a third of the population, it’s worthwhile to accommodate their needs in your medical practice’s design scheme. Doing so benefits your practice and those obese patients.
If an individual feels uncomfortable in your waiting room or exam room, he’s less likely to return and work at improving his health. If he does feel comfortable (and thus more welcome), he’ll be more satisfied with his patient experience, more likely to return and more apt to recommend your practice.
Take a walk through your office: Do you offer bariatric-quality seating and reinforced exam tables? Are your doorways, halls and restrooms accommodating in size? Does your medical equipment sufficiently support heavier individuals?
Upgrades in these areas are valuable investments, since they help you provide your services in an environment more comfortable for a major segment of the population.
3. Provide After-Hours AppointmentsEvery busy professional understands how difficult it can be to find time to sneak away from work to get personal business accomplished. Yet remarkably few doctors’ offices accommodate the 8-5 crowd by offering appointments during nontraditional hours.
A change as simple as closing your office later one day per week can make a big difference to your patients. Laura Lee Joiner, M.D. opted to do just that in her OB/Gyn Resident Continuity Clinic at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
“This really is a service to accommodate those patients that want to maintain their health-care maintenance but don’t want to take time off from work or can’t afford to take time off,” said Joiner, who runs an after-hours clinic on Mondays.
And it may not just be your patients who appreciate nontraditional scheduling. A later end-time for your employees also means a later start time – something that may make it easier for your staffers to handle their own personal business… like their doctors’ appointments.
4. Offer ChildcareStay-at-home parents may have a leg up on their employed counterparts when it comes to finding time to see the doctor, but they’re saddled with a different challenge as they travel to and from your practice: their children.
Even if, unlike many physicians, you’re OK with children accompanying their parents to doctor visits, the presence of children becomes a problem when the parent needs to have procedures performed or treatments rendered.
Parents are largely accustomed to this issue and know to track down childcare as necessary. But when they fail to find a sitter or their planned arrangements fall through, parents are forced to cancel (or just plain miss) their appointments – a lose/lose situation for their health and your practice’s bottom line.
Offering in-office childcare can reduce rescheduling and no-shows while earning your practice a family-friendly reputation. Provided you have the space, there’s little investment required – beyond hiring an experienced childcare professional and equipping a play-space with toys and books – to adding this feature to your practice.
What services do you provide to better accommodate patients?

Medical Practice Supplies

Patient Excuse Form Notepad (White)

Manual Prescription Pads (Light Blue) Note Pads

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Advantages and Disadvantages of SEO and PPC

Content Strategy 2014: SEO or PPC? Or Both?

As online marketing becomes an increasingly competitive field and businesses continue to keep close tabs on their marketing budgets, a growing number of firms are in a quandary about whether to choose SEO (search engine optimization) or PPC (pay-per-click) advertising. In 2013, there was much buzz about the “death of SEO,” resulting in a trend toward PPC and a slowdown on SEO spending.

While rumors of SEO’s death may have been premature, there is little doubt that Google’s algorithm changes prompted many marketers to alter their SEO strategies. Instead of the emphasis on keyword-heavy copy, the focus changed to relevant content. This was a positive development in many ways because there was a renewed — or in some cases a brand new — emphasis on quality of content.

SEO is not really dead…
Even with the acceptance of the “new rules,” many businesses are still considering moving completely away from SEO in 2014. But some experts advise this would be folly: why not use a tool if it is still viable, albeit in a modified, harder-to-cheat form? Google made the changes to foil those who were trying to “game” the system. Although the rules for SEO have changed, businesses should not underestimate the value of keywords and backlinks, which can still enhance search results. As long as a business is honest and is offering quality content and good information, SEO remains a viable option.

…But PPC is hotter than ever
SEO’s viability doesn’t rule out PPC, which seems to be more popular than ever with online marketers. According to The 2013 State of Paid Search report, 72 percent of businesses surveyed said they plan to spend more on PPC in 2014. This is up two percent from 2013 — not a huge amount, but indicative of a steady upward trend. The lion’s share of the planned spending for paid search is with Google AdWords, but Bing Ads and Facebook are also contenders.

Here are some points to consider when deciding to choose between SEO and PPC.

Advantages and Disadvantages of SEO and PPC

SEO advantages:
It doesn’t need to be expensive. There are quality people working in the field, and you can actually do some of the SEO management yourself. Google has a helpful guide.

It compels website owners to focus on quality content. Some may grumble, but we maintain that raising the bar is a good thing, as most people search the Web for quality information and content.

SEO disadvantages:
Analytics are becoming increasingly limited. As search engine providers become more security-conscious, there is a trend toward masking keyword referral data – a major source of feedback on SEO efforts. Google’s decision to limit analytics has prompted many businesses to opt instead for paid search.

There is no instant gratification. SEO takes time and requires patience. In some cases it takes weeks or even months for new content to appear in search results and its place is never secure; it can always be bumped down by still newer content.

The rules keep changing. Google will no doubt continue to change its algorithms in an effort to beat the system “gamers,” improve the integrity of search and enhance its services. Other search engines will probably follow suit.

PPC advantages:
Quicker results. PPC advertising delivers quicker results, allowing marketing managers to more quickly determine what works and what doesn’t.

Improved analytics. Not only does Google provides a Keyword Planner to assist AdWords customers with finding the best keywords for their campaigns, but it can also provide traffic estimates – a boon when creating a marketing budget for a campaign.

Immunity from search engine algorithm changes. Website owners don’t have to worry about changing and updating existing content to make sure it stays visible every time Google sneezes. Paid search results will remain visible as long as the paid campaign lasts.

PPC disadvantages:
It requires money. This is an obvious disadvantage to a struggling business in a faltering economy. However, as the economic outlook continues to improve, this will be less of a problem for many businesses.

Another obvious disadvantage, or at least a potential disadvantage, is that searchers cannot necessarily rely on the integrity or objectivity of the content. Then again, as long as the paid content is clearly marked as such, readers can take that into account.

Whether you should have a SEO-focused or PPC-centric marketing strategy – or a combination thereof – will depend upon your company’s unique needs. Don’t count out SEO quite yet, but don’t overlook the advantages of PPC either.

The Executive Suite


ObservePoint Launches Mini-Audit Tool

Marketing Application Checks Sites’ Effectiveness


It’s generally mirrors that are used to check blind spots, but a Utah-based company has launched a new tool to check such blind spots online.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.00.38 AM
An example of what users would see following an audit of their site.
ObservePoint, a digital marketing technology and analytics quality assurance company, is now offering digital marketers an opportunity to see if their marketing is up to snuff. The free assessment, called the Mini-Audit Tool, gives a free scan of 100 website pages with the end result being a detailed report highlighting the efficiency — or inefficiency — of the company’s marketing tag deployments.

Each report shines a light on the site’s effectiveness by giving a composite score based on five tagging best practices, the number of pages scanned with load times and missing tags and the number and name of tags found on the site.

Tag auditing, the company states in a release, is a fundamental part of managing data quality in online marketing tools. Failing to perform regular tag audits can have disastrous results, the release reads.

“According to our research from auditing millions of pages in 2014, we found that nearly 20 percent of pages across the entire web are missing tags,“ said Rob Seolas, ObservePoint’s CEO and co-founder.

“When you consider the growing investment into digital marketing and how spotty data collection is, it’s alarming to think that marketers are making such heavy investments in technology without proper data quality controls.” The deployment assessment gives marketers and decision makers a glimpse into their technology stack’s deployment quality and shines a light on their digital marketing blind spots.”

The free assessment is a Web-based application. Companies can receive their free scorecard by visiting


The Executive Suite

Saturday, March 29, 2014

How To Get Web Traffic With Social Media



Social media marketing has many benefits. It doesn’t require a lot of money or effort to get involved in social networks. Another benefit is that you can add posts from devices, such as your phone or tablet. This means that you can keep up with your network and customers all the time.

Along with all of these benefits and advantages, the biggest major benefit is increasing traffic. With social media marketing, you can build traffic faster than with SEO alone. In fact, there are quite a few ways that social media contributes to Web traffic.

Backlinks — When most people think of SEO and traffic, the first thing that pops into their heads is keywords.

Keywords definitely play a major role in being seen by your audience and gaining traffic, so they shouldn’t be neglected. However, there is another important element related to gaining — backlinks. Gaining backlinks can be done via a blog, a forum, or a social media site.

Considering the fact that social media giants get millions of views every day, backlinks on these giants are far more effective than on a blog or forum that doesn’t get millions of daily views. Sites that get so much traffic are constantly in Google’s spotlight. Getting just one backlink on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest could be the equivalent of 10 on other sites that aren’t in Google’s spotlight.

Popularity — Social media sites are considered the intersections of the Internet, mainly because they are the busiest sites in the online world. This fact is what makes them so valuable when companies are looking to increase Web traffic. One of the major ways that Google indexes sites for page rankings is through popularity. Google is all about providing users high-quality content and they feel that the people are the best ones to judge that. Keywords and backlinks play a major role in your ability to be found by users and potential customers. It’s also another major factor to how Google indexes you, but popularity is how you can pass Google’s rank test with flying colors.

Social Media and Small Businesses — If you own a small business, it’s even more important to utilize social media marketing as an important marketing tool. Recent studies have shown that small businesses derive much more of their

traffic from social networks, online listings, and other forums, when compared to larger businesses. Another fact to consider is that most small businesses advertise through word-of-mouth marketing and referrals. It’s estimated that approximately 80 percent of people utilize social media as a means of getting referrals when they’re looking for a particular product or service. These facts clearly demonstrate the importance of maintaining your presence on social media sites.

Backlinks as a Tool — Most businesses make getting backlinks from Facebook and Twitter part of their marketing strategy to drive more traffic to their website. This strategy works due to the fact that you are getting more exposure and giving your target audience more opportunities to come across your content and view your site. Backlinks also help capture users that aren’t immediately interested in your business, but later find themselves interested in what you have to offer. By giving users the option to come across your content multiple times, you increase your odds of capturing both your target audience and new customers. Another useful feature of backlinks is the fact that Google monitors them to determine how to rank sites. It’s a major bonus for your organization to get as many backlinks as possible.

Get Seen More Often — This strategy is useful for companies who are struggling with visibility, despite using SEO strategies. SEO is still an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to gaining traffic and you definitely want your site to be SEO optimized so that search engine users can find it. However, the downside to using SEO is the amount of time it takes for search engines to pick up on your work. At best, you can see results in six months, but it’s very rare for a site to reach a first page rank within a year of implementing SEO. There are billions of sites out there that need to be indexed and time and popularity are the two main factors that make SEO work effectively.

Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that your competition is also likely implementing SEO, so in order for you to reach that top page ranking, you have to be doing something extra that they aren’t doing.

For companies who haven’t secured a top ranking in search engines, having a presence in popular social media sites is an added source of visibility. When your company engages in a conversation on a social media site, you are getting people out there to click on links back to your website.

This may be your main business homepage or a specific product page. Unless you have a very large company that’s been out for a while and is already popular, it may be difficult for you to get traffic through SEO alone. The fastest way to get your small and medium-sized businesses noticed is by going to social networks and advertising your brand in as many creative and attractive ways as possible.

Social Media for Short-Term Benefits — Large numbers of hits from social networks like Facebook and Twitter should tell you that you’re doing something right. Keep doing what you’re doing and it will eventually pay off. You will see results in paying customers, increased traffic, and customer loyalty. However, if you stop posting for a few weeks or more, you will have to start back up again from the bottom. This is why social media works best in the short-term.

With so many people posting and being active on social media sites, if you don’t do the same, then your page could get forgotten and any benefits you’ve gained could be lost.

SEO is still an important tool for marketing and gaining visibility, but it should be considered as a tool for achieving long-term results. Utilizing social media is a great way to get quick results, but it’s only useful if you consistently maintain and update your content. The best thing any business can do for itself is to get the word out about their business on social media networks. Maintaining a consistent flow of traffic is what keeps your business afloat.


The Executive Suite