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Avoid Google Scams

Google has built a well known brand name and unfortunately that means the unscrupulous folks are very much willing to use that name nefariously to make money.

I have had a few clients call me to ask if some phone calls were legitimate.  Unfortunately they told these small businesses they could not guarantee their business listings would remain listed with Google search if they did not pay money.

Google does do paid listings, but that is for advertising, not to be listed organically.  Paid listings also use AdWords, not some annual fee or lifetime fee to be listed.  Thankfully my clients know enough to call me instead of falling into the trap.

Even if you do not have a digital marketer on retainer for your business, there are still some ways to avoid being scammed.

You can avoid Google scams by following a few simple rules.

  1. Ask the company for there Better Business Bureau information so you can verify they are legitimate.
  2. Ask for references from three local businesses you can call.  You should ask any vendor for references and then follow up on them.
  3. Be skeptical of anyone claiming to be Google.  Ask for a company phone number, website, and check up on them before you do any business.
  4. Check with a professional.  Most any digital marketer will let you know if something seems off with the business if you ask.

Google has a page with information about scams and how to report them.

Google recently has been using sales reps to call out to businesses for AdWords and to ensure businesses are taking advantage of Google services, but just be careful and ask questions before giving money to anyone.


How to remove your IP from Google Analytics

How to remove your IP from Google Analytics data.

For small businesses who do not get large amounts of monthly traffic, having 10-20 employees visiting your site each day can have an impact on analytics data.

Analytics data is very important in helping us understand our audience and their needs.  If we have employees visiting the site each day, that is good, but it can muddy the waters a bit.

Google has some great demographic and interest data on your customers, but we need to remove our own employees from the data.  The good news is that this is easy to do.

The following is a short tutorial on how to remove your own internal employees from your Google Analytics data.

We need to log into the Google Analytics account.

  1. Go to the admin section of your account.  We need to create a new view, which will filter out any IPs you do not want included in your data.
  2. After clicking on “Admin” you should see this screen.  Just select your account, then your property.  Now we want to click on “Create new view”.  I usually name it Filtered – SiteName (click on image to enlarge)


  1. After you create the new property, you will click on the “Filters” link.
  2. Clicking on “Filters” brings up the following option. (click on image to enlarge)


If you do not know your IP address or those of your workers it is easy to find.  Just have your employees go into Google and type “What is my IP address?”.  This should bring up your IP and you can use this as your filter.

Usually a building will share the same IP address, so if you have a larger company, just have a few folks in different areas ask the question to verify that is the case for you.

You are finished.  Remember the data is filtered from when you enter the information, so that is why it is important to create a new view.  We do not want to risk harming the data in our main site view.

I am always available to help with your analytics needs.  I showed you how to do this in Google Analytics, but most analytics platforms have this same capability.

Have a great day!



Optimizing Your Emails – Top Ten Tips

Top Ten Tips to Optimizing Your Emails

Email is still the best performing medium for communicating with your customers.  I have put together some tips to separate you from your competition.  We do not want to simply send out the email, but we want it to be read and acted upon.

Below are 10 tips for optimizing your emails technically.  The most important tip is to only send an email when you have something important to say.

  1. Send your email using a responsive email template design.  In the emails I have been sending out for other organizations the data has shown upwards of 40% or more opening the emails on mobile devices.
  2. Preview text on your email should be informative enough to get your customers to open the email.  Preview text pulls the first lines of text in your email.  A quick trick to ensure you have control over this text is to use alt text in your header image.  Example:  <img alt=”This text should be informative on the email contents to assist in open rates” src=”image.png” border=”0″>
  3. Personalize your emails to customers.  Personalization can improve open and click through rates by as much as 20%-30% depending on your campaign.  People like to be acknowledged personally and if your content fits with personalization, you should at least run a test.
  4. Social sharing buttons included in your emails.  Even a few extra shares can mean additional sales to new customers.  Putting sharing capability in your emails allows your brand advocates to share with their friends and family.
  5. Time of day matters.  Hopefully you have been testing the best time of day to send emails to your customers.  If not, start, because it can mean the difference of a 40% open rate or a 20% open rate.  The time of day is pretty important.
  6. Day of the week matters.  Just as important as the time of day is the actual day of the week you send your emails.  Depending on the audience it can have similar effects as the time of day.
  7. What is your call to action?  Every email should have a call to action, which is something your customer can do.  Do you want the customer to download a resource, make a reservation, make a donation, or purchase a product?  Ensure every communication is an opportunity for the customer to interact with your brand.
  8. Links to other helpful resources.  Emails are a great way to let your customers know about helpful resources.  We do not want a lot of links to other calls to action, but these additional links can also increase the click through rates and thus engagement.
  9. Using engaging images in your emails.  Images are engaging and people connect with images.  Ensure you are using images, which help to communicate the message.

I hope these are helpful and as always, remember to test your market.  Every market responds differently to varying elements.  If you would like help with your campaigns, just contact me for more information.

Have a great day and happy testing!


Google Adwords Removes Exact Match

In case you missed the news, Google Adwords removed exact match from their tools.

Google announced that starting in September, they were modifying the way exact match is defined. No longer can you bid only on the key words that match exactly.

This deal is getting worse all the timeIf you are a Star Wars fan, you may be thinking a bit like Lando Calrissian about now, when he was saying “This deal is getting worse all the time.”

Google has hit SEO hard by taking away reporting on keywords coming into our sites. The “not provided” line in analytics is really fun to look at. Recently they removed the Authorship program after pushing it with webmasters. Beginning to use HTTPS as a ranking factor so smaller web owners will eventually need to move away from a shared environment and pay for the certificate.

I feel the need to provide the positive aspects of this change as well.  For business owners who run their own Adwords campaigns, it can be beneficial.  Google says that small businesses miss about 7% of potential visits and subsequent conversions due to the old definition of exact match.

Example:  You run a campaign on “oil painting classes”, Google may now not just give you traffic on that exact term, but on similar variants of that phrase based on their algorithm.  This can be okay, but it can also not be a positive change.

As a PPC expert, we want to be able to bid on exact phrases, because we know the conversions on each and every term we are bidding on.  If I am increasing my spent by 100% on a term, I want to get that exact term, because I know the conversion rate on that term.  When Google starts making judgement calls on my spend, that annoys me.

Ways to work around this will come about over time.  Negative keywords and making sure your analytics is connected to your Adwords account is vital.  To my knowledge the conversion data based on the keywords going to your site will still be reported vs. the campaign keywords that could be a group of keywords.

The bottom line with this change in my opinion is Google is finding a way to make more money by increasing the spend of companies through broader keyword campaigns.  Google is a public company and is required to increase shareholder value.  This latest change is a pain for us advertisers, but they know we will figure out how to make it work.

I feel like the small business is getting some help by making the tools simpler, but also getting hurt if they are not measuring and monitoring their spend closely.

As of the timing of this post Bing and Yahoo have not followed suite with similar changes.  They still allow exact keyword bidding.

Here is Google’s own post about the changes.


ALS – Ice Bucket Challenge – Northern Maine Style

ALS ice bucket challenge done northern Maine style up in Medway, Maine.

If you have not been to northern Maine, it is quite literally God’s country.  Not many people, but there are a lot of trees and wildlife to be seen.  Just three towns separate the tourists from the highway and Baxter State Park.  Medway, East Millinocket, and Millinocket are the last civilized stops on the way to the land the past Governor Baxter left the state.

The ice bucket challenge has become a social media phenomenon and in the coming weeks you will begin to see people try and replicate the results seen by the ALS organization.  In fact companies will be asking social media experts to replicate the results seen by the ice bucket challenge.

What is it about the ice bucket challenge that made it such a success?  Here are some key points I see about the challenge.

  1. The cause is great.  If you have seen what ALS does to the body, it is horrific.  People genuinely want to see this go away.  Do you know what ALS is?  Visit their site if you do not know and get educated.
  2. We get to have fun and make a video.
  3. We get to involve our friends and loved ones by nominating others.
  4. You feel good about supporting a great organization.
  5. I mentioned how great the cause is right?

Nobody could have predicted this would be such a big hit.  Remember social media can be an incredibly powerful medium, but nobody can guarantee anything will be a success.

The key to success with social media is to keep testing and to keep trying.  Do not get me wrong, you need a good idea.  It just may take several good ideas before you hit that home run.

Will there be another ice bucket challenge type of result from a program?  Yes, I believe someone will come up with another great interactive event that will get people going.

als ice bucket challenge

alsa.org website

Ice and cold water challenges have been going on since 2013 in one form or another. You may have seen the polar plunge or the cold water challenges. This one just caught on. The moral of the story is to keep trying.