Meet Morgan, Director of Business Solutions

We are pleased to introduce you to the newest member of Team Evolve. Morgan Wallace joined us this week as Director of Business Solutions.

Morgan has more than 10 years experience in marketing, both in corporate and consulting roles. Prior to coming to Evolve Digital Labs, Morgan worked for Turtle Beach where he developed and executed on product and marketing partnerships with companies such as Disney, Microsoft, Activision, and Major League Gaming. As a consultant, Morgan developed marketing and commercialization strategies to help clients, such as Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and DaiichiaSankyo, maximize value from their brands and products.

Morgan holds an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business and a BA in Philosophy from the University of Chicago.

At Evolve, Morgan assumes the role of Director, Business Solutions, where he will provide insight into how Evolve’s products and services can best create success for clients’ specific needs within their specific industries.

What’s your favorite web site?
Jalopnik.com a first and foremost, I’m a car guy, so I love the community of car people on the site. Also I like how a car blog has upended the traditional automobile media outlets in terms of the tone and frequency of editorial content.

On a given weekend, you’ll probably be:
In a park on my mountain bike. I’m looking forward to when all of this snow melts, and I can hit the trails.

What draws you to this industry?
Technology has always been a driver of change for marketing, and each new generation of technology in media and communication has created a transformation across sectors. These technological shifts impact both how consumers find and experience brands as well as how corporations craft their product and service offerings. Iam drawn to this industry in order to help companies create strategies that maximize the opportunities inherent in new technology platforms.

Mac or PC?
I’m using a Mac now, although my last computer was a PC.

What’s the last book you read?
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. In the book, Kahneman describes his research of behavioral economics in a way that a lay-person can understand.

If you could have a beer with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Bill Gates. Ever since I read The Road Ahead in high school, I’ve wanted to have a conversation with him about technology’s impact on our lives.

Let’s say we assign you Office DJ duty (and that day will come). What 3 artists would you be sure to play?
U2, David Bowie, and Handel

Evolve Digital Labs is elated to have Morgan as a part of the team. His proficiency will tremendously advance the way we lead our clients to success online. Find Morgan on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Effective Budget Flighting

One of the most evident advantages of pay-per-click advertising is the ability to control how much of a budget is spent over short periods. If your campaign or ad messaging fails to deliver the expected volume of clicks, you can easily pause a campaign or adjust the spend to prevent wasting more dollars on ineffective marketing.

One means of regulating your media spend is effective budget flighting. Budget flighting simply means you allocate more media dollars in specific time frames than others. The strategy behind flighting is often based on seasonality or product offerings a such as special pricing or promotions. By matching the volume of advertising spend to reflect the fluctuation of searches, you can control the effectiveness of your budget.

When should you flight your budget?

You probably are already aware of which months make up your “busy season.” But how can you know if there are other opportunities for you to take advantage of? Often times, keyword research can provide insight into the patterns of search volume for a topic or term.

The health care sector, can serve as a good flighting advertising example. Advertisers often encounter seasonality for certain treatments or procedures. Last year, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that searches related to mental illnesses follow seasonal patterns, indicating the severity of seasonal affective disorder. Industry research and knowledge such as this should be applied to online strategy.

How to strategically flight your media budget

To learn how you should flight your budget, it is important to look at a few different metrics in analytics.

  • Return on Investment: The months of the year that yield the highest return on investment for products or services should direct how you flight the budget. Your brand should invest the highest amounts of budget in months where the ROI is at the highest. Always look at the big picture before finalizing a flighting plan. Some months may deliver a high lead volume, for instance, but the leads convert at a lower rate than other months. This example indicates that though interest is high in these months, the purchase intent is low.
  • Lead to Acquisition (LTA): The rate at which you convert leads into acquisitions is another key metric to digest and factor into budget flighting. If this rate is low, you may be driving unqualified leads to your site and adjustments should be made. This will also help you understand how many leads you need to drive in order to hit acquisition and revenue goals.
  • Cost Per Lead (CPL): To weigh the effectiveness of your campaign, you need to divide the number of leads you acquired by the amount you’ve spent. You will probably notice that some months yield much higher CPLs than others. With this information in mind, you should reallocate your PPC budget.
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): Similar to CPL, look at how much are you spending to acquire a new customer. This number will probably fluctuate throughout the year, so a best practice is to flight your budget to ensure you arenat overspending media dollars during periods of slow acquisition. You must also understand what your LTV (lifetime value of a customer) is in order to determine what an acceptable CPA is for your organization.

Understanding how these metrics can play into budget flighting will improve the abottom linea numbers that mean the most to the C-Suite: Increased revenue and reduced wasteful spending.

Meet our spring intern, Glendon!

This week we’re welcoming a new intern to Evolve Digital Labs. Glendon is a senior at Lindenwood, where he is majoring in Interactive Media and Web Design. He will primarily be helping out with internal reporting, data analysis, and research projects as well as contributing industry trend pieces to the blog and other Evolve publications.

We are excited to learn more about Glendon and help him gain some real world experience here at Evolve. We briefly interviewed Glendon on his first day. Hereas how it went down:

What draws you to this industry?

It’s more important than anyone realizes. I love technology and helping people and to be able to help people and businesses utilize technology to better themselves is very fulfilling for me.

What is your favorite website?

Reddit.com

On a given Friday night, you’ll probably be…

Grabbing some food and drinks with some friends or watching Netflix.

Mac or PC?

ChromeOS. But if I must pick out of those two then PC (I just built my own and I love spending every minute on it).

What’s the last book you read?

MockingJay by Suzanne Collins. I’m wanting to read Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman, next.

If you could have a beer with anyone in the world, who would it be?

Sergey Brin. I need to thank him for Google.

What attracted you to Evolve Digital Labs for an internship?

While looking for internships, Evolve stuck out from the crowd. Theyare different from other companies and they show it. I like different.

What are you looking forward to learning at Evolve Digital Labs?

I look forward to learning the ropes of the digital strategy/SEO world and using what I know to make a difference. I want to make/do something Iam proud of.

Is there anything else you want us (and the world) to know about you?

I am obsessed with all things Google. I like what they do for the world and I think they’re the cat’s pajamas.

Find Glendon on Twitter!

Paid Search Agency Recognized for Work

Last month, we were honored to receive a plaque from our client, Helitech, as recognition for the success achieved throught paid search. It is always rewarding to enable a client to improve the way it markets to an audience online, and in case of Helitech, we were able to quickly improve its paid search account structure to deliver better results.

evolve helitech plaque

When we took over the account mid-April of 2013, the Paid Search team implemented immediate account optimizations.

To ensure quality traffic to Helitech’s website, we performed extensive negative keyword expansion. We then removed broad match keywords, allowing us to gain additional control over the budget and drive the right audience to the site.

Keyword research is always a significant part of the account optimization. For Helitech, we researched relevant terms to identify search volume, understand search intent, segment the audience into campaigns and ad groups, and generate ad copy.

The campaign’s click-through rate (CTR) spiked once we made the initial adjustments, sending waves of qualified traffic to landing pages during Helitech’s most demanding time of the year.

Because revenue and profitability are centric to Evolve Digital Labs’ process, the account was flighted based upon industry trend analytics to correlate saturation, positioning, and expense with peak seasonality and opportunity.

Once the normal peak season ended, Evolve’s Paid Search team continued to maintain healthy lead generation, traffic, and costs per click (CPCs). The average conversion rate remains 4.25% for Helitech.

Thanks so much to Helitech for the thoughtful token of appreciation! It is a pleasure working for you.

Setting Up Google+ for Health Systems

As the product of the most powerful search engine in the world, Google+ is strongly integrated into local search results. For this reason, we highly recommend investing in building a brand presence. In this post, you will learn how to navigate the Google+ platform and how to effectively manage a Google+ Business page.

Part 1: Navigating the Google+ Platform

Google+ can be confusing to navigate at first, but the more you familiarize yourself with the interface, the easier it will be to remember where to go to post on behalf of your organization, add managers, and switch between personal and company accounts.

1. Adding Managers

While Google+ Pages are only allowed one Owner, they may have up to 50 Managers. Managers have the authority to edit the listing information and post on behalf of the business page.

To add a Manager, first visit the page dashboard, then select aView all managers’ on the bottom right.

Click “Add Managers,” enter email addresses, and select “Invite.”

2. Switching from Personal Profiles to Pages

After someone receives an invitation to be a Manager of a page, he or she is required to set up a personal Google+ profile if one does not already exist. Much like a Facebook page, this step ensures that the person using the account is a real person. However, the name of a profile is not made public when viewing the business page.

Profiles have the ability to add friends and use social features independently of any pages associated with the account. Whether the actions are displayed as coming from the profile or business page dependents on how the person is navigating the account. In order to post on behalf of the business page, you will need to switch to the page dashboard.

When logged into an account as a page manager, or owner, navigate to “Pages” in the left navigation.

All actions that are taken within the profile, from posting comments to adding others to circles, will be reflected on the business page.

In order to switch back to the name/personal profile associated with the account, select the thumbnail profile photo in the top right of the window, which allows you to choose from the different profiles that are active.

3. Adding a Profile Picture and Cover Photo

Each business page should have a main profile image, which will appear on the feed as a thumbnail image next to the company name when posting anything. In addition, each page has a larger background image known as a cover photo, which can be used to display a larger image.

Viewing your business page, hover over the profile photo and click “Change profile photo.” To change the cover photo, hover over the bottom right corner until you see a box that says “Change cover.”

4. Adding People to Circles

Circles are categories of friends or contacts. When you add someone to a circle, they are notified that they have been added, but are not notified as to what circle to which they have been added.

In order to see who is already in your circles, navigate to the Google+ Business page by selecting “View page.”

On the “About” tab, scroll until you see the box titled “In your circles.” Click on the number to see who is already in your circles. Select “People” in the left navigation bar to manage circles and add more profiles and pages.

Here you can organize contacts and create new circles by selecting the (+) sign next to the existing circles.

To find new contacts, click “Discover” to see a list of suggested pages and profiles. Sort by category on the left to filter search results.

5. Adding Posts, Images, and Video

Google+ Business pages have the ability to share comments, images, and videos with their followers. Similar to Facebook “likes,” posts can be awarded a “+1.”

To add a post, navigate to the Google+ Business page by selecting “View page.” Inside the “Share what’s new” box, type your message. There are also options to add different types of media, as shown by the icons.

Google+ Business pages have the ability to share comments, images, and videos with their followers. Similar to Facebook “likes,” posts can be awarded a “+1.”

To add a post, navigate to the Google+ Business page by selecting “View page.” Inside the “Share what’s new” box, type your message. There are also options to add different types of media, as shown by the icons.

The default account setting will designate who will see the post. But it is easy to change this setting on a post-by-post basis.

To control who can see the post, click on the default setting underneath the text box. In this case, it is “Public.” Delete the button and choose from the resulting list which audience you want to share with.

Part 2: Effectively Managing a Google+ Business Page

Owners and managers are the individuals responsible for Google+ business page maintenance. Much like with any other social platform, owners and managers are responsible for posting news, interacting with followers, and updating page information.

It is strongly recommended that the accounts associated with page Owners and Managers are used on a regular basis. Notifications regarding new interactions with the page will be sent to these email address, and missed interactions could have negative results for the brand.

*Note: Page owners and managers are not made public. Therefore, people visiting the business page will not know the name or email address of the owner or managers associated with it.

Owners

Each Google+ business page has one Owner. The Owner starts as the person whose Google account was used to create the business page, but ownership may transfer to someone who has first been added as a Manager. Owners have the highest level of control over a page and may add or remove Managers at any time.

Owners of a page should be the most familiar with the Google+ platform, as they should be the go-to person for answering any questions managers may have. They should also work with Managers to assign maintenance tasks that may come to attention through email notifications, such as responding to a negative review or responding to a post in which the brand was tagged.

Managers

In order to manage a page, each person must first have a Google account. That account must also be “upgraded” to a Google+ account, meaning that the owner of the account must set up a personal Google+ profile.

One way to avoid having to create too many Google+ profiles is to instead forward email notifications from the original Google account to the email addresses of the proposed managers. This is not the official method for adding managers, but allows healthcare marketers to receive notifications through their company email address.

To add email accounts that will receive Google+ notifications, go to the account settings. Navigate to “Google+” on the left and add the email addresses of all “Managers” to the page.

Managers should be responsible for coordinating posts with other marketing and business strategies. They should also plan scheduled posts and should actively look for new opportunities for interaction. Although each organization is different, we generally recommend each page be assigned 1-3 managers responsible for making updates as needed.

The following breakout is what we recommend in terms of distribution of responsibilities by role:

Role: Responsibilities: Skills/Knowledge Needed:
Owner – Gets alerts on things like: reviews, being added to circles, new interactions
– Is the point of contact for implementation questions from managers
– Completes maintenance tasks in coherence with strategies from respective manager, such as updating page information
– Needs to be very familiar with the platform and how to implement changes
Manager – Gets alerts on things like: reviews, being added to circles, new interactions
-In charge of soliciting and responding to reviews
-Publishes posts, replies, shares, engagement
-Is the strategist defining what is posted and when
-Needs to be in the know in terms of big picture marketing efforts

Using Google+ to Your Health System’s Advantage

The Google+ interface is arguably the most aesthetically pleasing of any social network. By taking time to share health information, patient stories, events, or brand achievements, a hospital or health system may convey its dedication to current and potential patients.

Adding Keyword Research to your Healthcare Marketing Plan

Health care marketers have a strong history of resorting to traditional advertising to build brand awareness and reach a wide audience. From billboards to TV spots, organizations are emptying significant portions of their budgets on mass marketing channels. But are these advertisements increasing the number of surgeries performed each year? Can healthcare organizations validate spending without lead acquisition metrics? When talking about traditional marketing (or even poorly executed online marketing), the answer is often “no.”

This post will explain how healthcare marketers can use keyword research for healthcare to better inform their digital marketing campaigns.

ppc-measurable-marketing

Keywords explained

The most paramount advantage of online advertising is the ability to narrow the audience to a pool of people who are actively searching for a solution you can provide. Rather than paying tens of thousands of dollars for traditional ad impressions that may or may not even resonate with a sliver of the audience, you have control of who sees your ad messaging. Keywords, keyword phrases or queries, are representative of people who are in need of a solution. In fact, these people are interested enough to take time to search online. That makes the audience we associate with keywords a much more qualified group of prospects than a general audience of mass marketing. In order to successfully convert patients and customers online, it is essential to know what terms they are searching to find a solution. This is why Keyword Research needs to be a core part of a marketing plan.

So what is Keyword Research?

Keyword Research is the key to implementing successful paid search campaigns and fortifying your website with content that will drive revenue. Along with terms provided, clients are able to understand the search volume associated with each keyword. Essentially, Keyword Research illuminates the online market opportunity for brands.

Components of Keyword Research

The information provided in Keyword Research outlines the framework for a digital marketing plan. To ensure the validity and quality of the product, Evolve Digital Labs follows a process that analyzes the following:

  • Search volume by keyword
  • Organic difficulty
  • Clienta’s customers
  • Client’s products/services
  • Clienta’s consumer path

Implementing the keywords in future paid search campaigns, content creation, optimization of existing site content, and additional applications recommended for the targeted market will provide the greatest opportunity for successful lead acquisition.

 

Keyword Research and Search

By segmenting a client’s Keyword Research into campaigns, we can organize the terms according to the estimated search volume and organic difficulty. This data is essential for market segmentation, dictating the path to customer acquisition.

Search Volume: This depicts the number of national searches performed each month for that term. Broad, high-level terms or outcomes typically have much higher search volume than more specific solutions, brands, or products. However, they are also harder to rank for.

Organic difficulty: Based upon a zero to 100 scale, with 100 being the most difficult, Organic Difficulty is calculated based upon the cumulative efforts of competition in the search engines. Because the scale is incremental, ranking organically for high difficulty terms should shift to long-term goals. Paid search, then, is harnessed to capture traffic on those terms. This is explained more in the section below. As depicted below, there is direct correlation with search position and the ability to capture search traffic.

healthcare-search-ctr

Two-tier applications for keyword research

Once a brand has structured lists of keywords or keyword ideas to target, it’s important to understand how to apply them to a digital marketing plan. We actually recommend implementing keyword research into both organic (SEO) and Paid Search strategies.

Paid Search Application

For most healthcare organizations, there will inevitably be keywords that are challenging to rank for organically. Building a website’s authority to be capable of securing organic positions for recommended healthcare content terms requires a strategic, often time-consuming plan. Paid Search allows for short-term exposure to the targeted audience while organic efforts are set in place. Even when pages can rank organically, Paid Search may target branded traffic to prevent competitors from stealing prospects.

Organic Search Application

Organic strategy should begin by selecting terms from keyword lists that contain moderate search volume and moderate-to-low organic difficulty. These keywords will allow for “quick-wins” in organic search engine results pages (SERPs). Ongoing site improvements and content expansion will help reach long-terms goals of ranking for significant, high-difficulty terms. As you can see in the chart below (which, for the purpose of this post, is merely an estimate of search volume and organic difficulty), the Paid Search terms have a much higher organic difficulty score. While a brand pays for traffic to the difficult terms, it can simultaneously work on ranking organically for less difficult terms.

Organic Terms
Keyword Search Volume Organic Difficulty
weight loss facilities 19,885 42
bariatrics surgery 25,210 46
cardiac physicians 1,575 43
foot therapy physicians 6,510 36

 

PPC Keywords
Keyword Search Volume Organic Difficulty
obesity assistance 9,820 72
gastric bypass consultation 1,240 78
heart specialist 5,760 77
knee replacement 6,510 70

 

A final word on keywords

Many health care organizations are starting to allocate parts of their marketing budgets to online marketing efforts. Without correctly executing a campaign and measuring the progress, however, the causes of success or failure are as elusive as in traditional marketing. Keyword research may seem to be only a component of paid search, but in reality, it should be in the forefront of all aspects of a healthcare marketing plan.

Download our FREE online market audit checklist to see how we use online data to turn your healthcare brand into an online acquisition machine.

Critical Tips for Measuring Healthcare PPC

Paid search advertising, when implemented correctly, can provide numerous benefits to a healthcare organization.

To name a few, paid search enables healthcare providers to target a niche audience, lower the cost per lead, increase the number of scheduled procedures, and better understand the needs of their patients. However, without tracking and measuring your efforts, marketing your medical practice effectively is highly unlikely.

The PPC Team at Evolve Digital Labs is a Google Partner, and thus are recognized as experts in Paid Search. We are obsessed with measuring, so today I’m going to walk you through the best practices.

PartnerBadge-Horizontal

What’s the importance?

Measuring PPC efforts is important because it ensures your organization spends its budget wisely. Without ever monitoring the results of your campaigns, how will you know what areas you can improve upon? Through analytics, you can learn the following about your paid search campaigns:

  • Which keywords yield clicks
  • What ad messaging resonates with searchers
  • What landing page layout and elements convert visitors
  • How effective Search Retargeting is for your campaigns
  • What the core needs of your audience are
  • The location of your target audience
  • Where you need to adjust and allocate campaign budgets to maximize efficiency and increase traffic/leads

What many people in healthcare marketing do not realize is that it is critical to measure the right metrics.

Impressions, for example, is a term a lot of marketers use in their reports, but usually the number only refers to the number of times the ad was displayed… even if no one clicked on it. That metric itself is usually nothing to boast about.

Instead, we recommend focusing on the metrics that actually indicate how fiscally responsible your paid search efforts are. These include:

  • Cost per click (CPC)
  • Cost per lead (CPL)
  • Conversion rate (conversions/clicks)
  • Cost per action (site engagement: video tour, blog page visits, etc.)
  • Tracking URLs

The meaning of a “conversion” will vary among healthcare organizations. For example, when promoting services, such as “lasik eye surgery,” a conversion would probably require a visitor to call a trackable number to schedule a consultation.

An organization like the American Diabetes Association, however, might consider a conversion to be filling out a form to receive an information packet. Healthcare-paid-search

How can you measure healthcare PPC performance?

While plenty of SEOs are still distressed over the encryption of referral terms in Google Analytics a in other words, what people searched to reach your site, Paid Search marketers still have access to a world of data.

Google AdWords:

Front-end click metrics: Marketers can monitor front-end click metrics from top-level account down to ad/keyword (click volume/CPC/CTR). Additionally, they have access to other important data (average position, quality score, etc.) to help guide account optimizations.

Conversion tracking: Paid Search marketers can implement a pixel on key “Thank You” pages and utilize conversion data in AdWords’ user interface. By assigning a monetary value to each conversion, you can evaluate the return on investment. Set up Conversion Optimizer to efficiently manage campaigns, allowing AdWords to automatically adjust bids based on cost-per-action (CPA) targets vs. CPC.

Google Analytics:

Detailed on-page monitoring: Through Google Analytics, you can monitor back-end metrics, such as page visits, average time on site, or bounce rate. This helps brands measure engagement post-click.

Identifying and monitoring Goals: Analytics also has an incredibly helpful feature called Goals. Once a pixel has been implemented on key pages, you can set up Goals to help measure completions (whether it be arriving to a specific page or watching a video) against site visits.

How are health care brands wasting money?

We often come across organizations, both health-related and otherwise, that are wasting significant portions of their budgets on poorly assembled and managed campaigns. The PPC Audit often illuminates areas of budget waste and erroneous behavior, including:

  • Running on Broad Match: “Broad match” is a system that automatically bids on ads that are similar to your keywords. While this may seem like a time-saver, it essentially reduces a brandas control over how relevant advertisements are to the search queries. Marketers that resort to this method often pay a higher cost per click (CPC). We recommend that brands instead build out comprehensive lists of keywords to bid on.
  • Overbidding: Sometimes marketers will overbid on keywords to achieve desired PPC goals, but aggressively overbidding results in unnecessarily high CPCs.
  • Underbidding: Inversely, paid search marketers that underbid allow competitors to consistently outrank them, resulting in missed opportunities for brand or product awareness.
  • Failure to use enhanced AdWords features: Dayparting, Sitelinks, Location, and Click-to-Call extensions significantly improve performance.
  • Failure to use tracking or Analytics data: Following the performance of a campaign helps guide account optimizations and budget allocation.
  • Not sending visitors to a landing page: Clicking an ad should direct someone to a landing page designed specifically to convert prospects. Sending someone to the homepage or even a service page greatly disturbs the search process and leads to a poor user experience. It is also fiscally irresponsible on the paid search marketer’s part.
  • Failure to use location targeting: This AdWords setting enables you to limit the locations to which advertisements are being displayed. It’s critical to ensure only prospects within a serviceable region are able to click your ad.

Success from measuring

Last year, we worked with a company that provides information, products, and services to the medical industry. We performed a complete PPC Account Restructure for one of their products.

  • We built out a more comprehensive list of branded variations, non-branded medical references, and competitor terms
  • We created Exact vs. Phrase match ad groups, enabling higher bids for Exact variations
  • We created Misspelling ad groups to ensure Dynamic Keyword Insertion was not misrepresenting the brand
  • We revised ad copy with key brand messaging and calls to action
  • We used Sitelinks in AdWords, which provides an enhanced user experience

It allows for quickly reaching the most relevant site destination and increasing real estate on results pages among competitors. Post-restructure, it was exciting to see how Healthcare PPC was driving leads to our clientas website. The client had previously been allocating 10% of its budget to Google’s Display Network, which puts ads on relevant websites instead of on search engines. To many people, this additional exposure seems like a great idea a but are people visiting those sites in the mindset to buy? Most likely, no.

Display-advertising

We paused Display Network campaigns and instead devoted 100% of the budget to ads in the search engine results pages, which serve to a more engaged user base. With a more in-depth keyword list, the Search Network clicks increased by 11% from the previous month. Also as a result of excluding Display Network impressions, the account click through rate (CTR) increased over 300%. Even with a significant surge in qualified traffic, the cost per click (CPC) increased only by one percent to $.81.

Conclusion

When correctly implemented and managed, Paid Search can play a critical role in marketing your medical practice. From performing Healthcare PPC Audits, to setting up Retargeting campaigns, to even providing the necessary Keyword Research, Evolve Digital Labs’ team of Paid Search experts is qualified to increase revenue for your organization through search engine marketing.

Download our free guide, “Aligning Patient Needs with Online Capabilities” and see how your hospital measures up against the nation’s top hospital brands.

SEO Considerations for Responsive Design

It’s no surprise that the use of Internet on mobile devices continues to rise at an exponential rate, we’re all constantly attached to our phones and tablets.  It has been estimated that nearly half of all local searches are occurring on a mobile device. It has also been projected that in 2014, the use of mobile Internet will surpass that of fixed Internet overall.

mobile-internet-increase

Search engines recognize this trend and strive to promote results optimized for mobile use. In short, Google has started rewarding sites that have mobile-friendly design with higher rankings and opportunity. So essentially, there are no reasons to NOT optimize your site for mobile.

Overview of Responsive Design

One way to accomplish this is to add responsive functionality to your website. We’ve all struggled with navigating a non-mobile site from a smartphone. Even on a desktop, most of us have been forced to scroll horizontally if the web page is larger than the browser window. Responsive design eliminates the issue by shifting the website’s layout to accommodate whatever device or browser size is in use. User navigation is clear and easy on desktops, laptops, smart phones, and tablets.

Responsive-web-design

Even Google recommends using responsive web design:

  • Consistent URL structure: A single URL for a piece of content makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content. Also, a single URL enables Google’s algorithms assign the indexing properties for the content.
  • Smoother user experience: No redirection is needed for users to get to the device-optimized view, which reduces loading time. Also, user agent-based redirection is error-prone and can degrade your site’s user experience. Check out Google Developeras “Pitfalls when detecting user agents” section for details.
  • Resourceful for your site and Google’s crawlers: For responsive web design pages, any Googlebot user agents need to crawl your pages only once, as opposed to crawling multiple times with different user agents, to retrieve your content. This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of the site’s contents and keep it appropriately fresh. However, the transition to a responsively designed website can potentially lead to errors that can damage a siteas ranking and authority if not done correctly.

Responsive design considerations

  1. Maintaining current site authority: Whenever a site is changed or updated, it is critical to maintain the previous site authority by redirecting previous URLs to new URLs using a 301 Permanent Redirect, when applicable. Additionally, it is important to verify that there is a minimal number of 404 Errors and other crawling and/or HTML errors that can potentially slow load time and impede user experience.
  2. Avoiding duplicate content: In instances where a separate mobile site is used, the required rel=”canonical” tag on the mobile URL should be added to the mobile page’s HTML to avoid duplicate content. Otherwise, duplicate content has the potential to damage a siteas authority significantly and could possibly result in algorithmic penalties from Google.
  3. Crawling requirements: Be sure not to block the crawling of any Googlebot of the page assets (CSS, JavaScript, and images) using robots.txt or otherwise. Being able to access these external files fully will help Googleas algorithms detect your site’s responsive web design configuration and treat it appropriately.
  4. Avoiding irrelevant cross-linking: When a website serves users on separate smartphone-optimized URLs, a familiar practice is to have links to the desktop-optimized version, and likewise a link from the desktop page to the smartphone page. As such, common error is to have link point to an irrelevant page such as having the smartphone pages link to the desktop site’s homepage. If you add such links be sure that the links point to the correct equivalent page.
  5. JavaScript and Responsive Web Design: One part of building smartphone-optimized sites that requires careful consideration is the use of JavaScript to alter the rendering and behavior of the site on different devices. Typical uses of JavaScript include deciding which ad or which image resolution variant to show on the page. Google describes different approaches to using JavaScript and how they relate to their recommendation of using responsive web design.

Common configurations:

Three popular implementations of JavaScript for smartphone-optimized sites include the following:

  • JavaScript-adaptive: In this configuration, all devices are served the same HTML, CSS, and JavaScript content. When the JavaScript is executed on the device, the rendering or behavior of the site is altered. For websites that require JavaScript, this is Google’s recommended configuration.
  • Combined detection: In this implementation, the website uses both JavaScript and server-side detection of device capabilities to serve different content to different devices. The website should include the “Vary: User-agent” HTTP response header when a URL that serves different HTML content to different user-agents is requested.
  • Dynamically-served JavaScript: In this configuration, all devices are served the same HTML, but the JavaScript is served from a URL that dynamically serves different JavaScript code depending on the device’s user-agent. In this case, we recommend the JavaScript file be served with the “Vary: User-agent” HTTP header. This is a signal to Internet caches and Googlebot that the JavaScript can be different for different user agents, and is a signal for Googlebot to crawl the JavaScript file using different Googlebot user-agents.

 

The benefits of moving to a responsively designed site are evident. A majority of your customers are searching for solutions on their mobile device, and itas key that your solution appears. Responsive design can help that happen. But, when undertaking a site redesign, it’s important to keep these factors in mind so that you donat lose any SEO benefits you’ve built over time.

Are you interested in learning the basics of SEO? Click to explore more secrets in our updated SEO Guide!

People are catching on

Even before it was essentially mandated via Googleas Penguin and Panda updates, Evolve Digital Labs urged clients to invest in sustainable online improvements. Building a websiteas authority and visibility in results pages requires more effort than most are willing to pay for, but it advanced the companies several steps ahead of those still relying on SEO shortcuts.

2014-seo-strategy-reddit

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Content Creation: Still Relevant or Just a Trend?

Come January, my Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook feeds always receive an influx of posts that reveal marketing predictions for the upcoming year. These articles proclaim the retirement of outdated tactics and prepare a thirsty audience for marketing tips and trends. One piece of advice I typically encounter is more than just a trend a and when implemented strategically, it will become the core of your online presence. I’m talking, of course, about content creation.

People are catching on

Even before it was essentially mandated via Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, Evolve Digital Labs urged clients to invest in sustainable online improvements. Building a website’s authority and visibility in results pages requires more effort than most are willing to pay for, but it advanced the companies several steps ahead of those still relying on SEO shortcuts.

2014-seo-strategy-reddit

The new way to optimize your site for search engines is to push up your sleeves and work on building a better website, one that is equipped with substantive content. So let’s dig in to Evolve’s recommendations for creating content that transcends the trends.

1. Start smart. Start with understanding your customers.

Quality always trumps quantity online. There’s a small window of time during which you can convince online visitors to complete an action, so brands must must ensure content is founded on keyword research.

Keyword-segmentation

Through keyword research, companies can identify personas and investigate the needs of customers. With a solid understanding of the market opportunity, a brand is more prepared to provide online messaging, resources, and direction that will resonate with an ideal audience and ultimately deliver leads. Our SEO Audit Checklist contains the steps you’ll need to take in order to aggregate the proper research, but the best use of keywords is to segment your audience and develop a strategy that can resonate with each segment.

2. Work with what you’ve got

Older, less ethical SEO tactics consisted heavily of stuffing keywords into every part of a website. This practice resulted in a poor user experience, particularly from a readability standpoint. Today we can still update content with keywords, but only if itas because the way weare currently wording particular services or solutions isnat aligned with the way our audience searches for it. It is a shortcut to improving the way you message to your audience. Parts of your pages that should include keywords are:

  • URLs
  • Meta descriptions
  • Page copy

 

Supplement website with new content

Keyword research and further investigation of your customers’ needs will more than likely reveal insufficiencies of your website. While it was common in the past to simply replicate current pages and switch out the words, we challenge your brand to strengthen your website with content that aligns with searchers’ intent. For example, a hospital that is trying to revamp its content for Type 2 Diabetes might use the keyword “type 2 diabetes lifestyle” as inspiration for content that can alleviate concerns or fears of potential patients.

customer-acquisition-framework

When a website is fortified with pages that work together to provide answers beyond the original query, it is much easier to establish a customer acquisition framework, which typically results in a completed call to action.

Develop a plan for customer acquisition

Ranking isn’t the end goal, which is why SEO is often dismissed as irrelevant (even though SEO is still alive and well). Not only is it increasingly difficult to gain exposure on the first few pages of search results for a high-volume term, but it’s also difficult to funnel visitors through an online conversion path once they reach your website. Content plays a huge role in capturing customers’ attention initially, but it’s equally important to proactively lead them to a call to action, even if they exit the site.

  • Elaborate on top-tier pages: Similar to the previous point, websites should adequately direct visitors to the end goal. For many, that means answering a specific question with a download or providing a contact form. But in many cases, pages based on top-level keywords should link to secondary or tertiary pages that cover a topic in greater detail.
  • Retargeting: Because it is so difficult to organically reach visitors on the first page of search results, paid search is an incredible opportunity for capturing visitors and turning them into conversions. However, even the most well-designed landing pages are bound to fail at converting each visitor, which is why Retargeting is such a valuable extension of paid search. Retargeting enables you to track visitors that didn’t convert on external websites, serving them advertisements that remind them of your services and allow them to follow through with a product, download, or simple inquiry when they are ready.
  • Email campaigns: Email campaigns are a recommended tool for maintaining engagement with your visitors. Similar to Retargeting, an email campaign can keep your brand’s products or services fresh in the foreground of a searcher’s mind. Brands can benefit from the flexibility of email marketing; whether the campaign is sales-focused or primarily educational.

 

Email-campaign-strategy

Conclusion

Content is only king when it yields a satisfactory return on investment. We see too many brands investing in content creation when their websites are lacking a strategic customer acquisition framework and the pages themselves fail to truly respond to the visitors’ needs.

Do You Know the Four Benefits of Google+ for Healthcare?

Google+ is a social media network many people and businesses have avoided investing much time in. While Google proudly reports 300 million active users, the reality is that Google’s perception of an “active” user is rather generous. Still, there are four main benefits for brands, particularly health care organizations, that invest in setting up and monitoring a Google+ page. Google-plus-healthcare

Google+ Local vs. Google+ Business

Shortly after Google created its social network, Google Places (the pages that showed reviews, maps, and addresses) was replaced with Google+ Local. Just like with Google Places, business managers can ”claim” locations to manage the facility information and respond to reviews. If you enter an address or name in the search bar, yet your business does not show, you are able to create a page.

The number of physical locations for a brand will dictate how many Google+ Local pages exist. However, just one Google+ Business page should exist for each brand.

The main benefit of a Google+ Business page is the ability to engage with customers through posting content, videos, and links back to your site. We have a headache-free post about setting up a Google+ page, so be sure to check that out before diving in.

Though you may be overwhelmed and confused, please remember that you can merge the Google+ Business page with Google+ Local listings (as long as they feature physical locations). Our State of Search pal, Greg Gifford, wrote a phenomenal run-down of how you can merge these pages.

Benefit 1: Local Reach

Arguably the most profound benefit of investing time in your organization’s Google+ page is the increased presence in Local results. Most patients are searching for organizations within a reasonable proximity a we call that Local Search a and these solutions are often pursued from a mobile device. Local search is incredibly important because it enables brands that wouldn’t normally rank on the first page to receive optimal positioning due to its location a and thus, its likelihood of providing visitors with a satisfying solution to their query.

local-search-results

Benefit 2: Innovative Ways to Engage

Google+ allows people and brands to interact with followers in ways Facebook and Twitter can’t. For example, a Hangout is essentially a video chat session, but unlike Skype, it can be accessed within Google+. No downloads are necessary. Helpouts, an extension of Hangouts, is a pretty cool feature that recently launched. It allows individuals or brands to help people in real-time. While most Helpouts are available at a cost, some brands are making representatives available to help an audience for free. Banfield, for example, offers real-time pet wellness information, covering a wide variety of topics. Not only does this educate an audience, it also strengthens the brand perception and public relations. It will be exciting to see how Helpouts continues to unfold and affect the way we seek solutions.

Banfield-google-helpouts

Auto Awesome is a new way Google can spruce up the photos and video you share. If you haven’t checked out the specific features, I urge you to do so.

To show an example: Google is showing off its holiday spirit by adding special effects to photos uploaded to Google+. In this case, it overlaid falling snow to the foreground of the picture I added. (This is more of a novelty feature than one that can provide much value for healthcare brands, but I wanted to show Auto Awesome in action.) It’s important to note that the Auto Awesome features aren’t automatically generated.

Once I uploaded the photo, nothing happened. About 15 minutes later, I received a notification with the new and improved photo! Auto Awesome is automatically enabled, but can easily be disabled through settings.

Benefit 3: Patient Advocacy

As more people turn to search engines when seeking health care, organization and physician reviews have increased in value and in quantity. Google takes many factors into consideration when serving results, so while a portfolio of pristine reviews doesn’t guarantee you a top-ranking position, it certainly helps the cause. Among the many ways your organization can manage its reputation through Google+, we recommend asking patients to contribute their feedback.

Google-plus-reviews

Not only does it give patients a chance to voice their experiences and overall level of satisfaction with the brand, it enables the organization to understand its strengths and weaknesses. And the social proof of quality care will most likely drive a higher volume of traffic to the website.

Benefit 4: Community Interaction

What separated Google from other social networks from the start was the ability to group people into categories, or circles, and thus filter what you share with specific groups. Similar to that mindset are Google+ Communities, groups of users that share a similar interest or profession. Healthcare brands and professionals are carving out new areas of interest, while simultaneously spreading innovation and connecting with other brands and patients. The “Healthcare Glass Explorers” community, for example, discusses and shares the many ways Google Glass is changing the world of healthcare.

google-glass-healthcare

Conclusion

As more interesting Google+ features and benefits roll out, it has become apparent how influential this social network website can be for brands. While we understand that exploring Communities or joining Hangouts can be time consuming, we suggest starting with the tactics that will most impact your brand’s reach in search a such as asking for reviews, claiming your local listing, and creating a Google+ Business page with a custom URL.

For more information regarding Google+ for Your Healthcare organization or to find out how your healthcare brand can benefit from a digital growth agency, contact us today.