Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

SMS Adds WordPress Design & Maintenance Services

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Systems & Marketing Solutions announced the addition of WordPress Website Design Services under the SMS Design Lab brand. Dana Simonsen who recently joined SMS as a full-time web designer specializing in WordPress will be the lead Designer. She graduated from UC Irvine in 2009 and recently completed a Certificate Program at Cuesta College in Web Design Technologies. Dana will work closely with the AdWords and SEO Experts to provide the wide range of expertise needed to develop first class websites that produce real results.

Bob Dumouchel, CEO of SMS, stated that: “SMS is headed on a path to provide a full range of Internet Marketing Services with a number of additional services planned over the next few months. Finding a designer is fairly easy but finding site maintenance can be difficult. Finding designer services that are part of a team with PPC and SEO experts is exceptionally rare. Websites require continual tuning to remain competitive and they have to be thought of as a process not a project. You should never stop competing and your website has to continually evolve to win the game.”

For more details on these services visit WordPress Design Services

Google Places is Now Google Plus Local: What Changed?

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

This summer, 80 million Google Places pages worldwide were automatically converted into 80 million Google Plus Local pages.

What changed? Overall, listings are more dynamic and visual, and local search got a lot more social. Results include reviews from Zagat, as well as ratings and comments from friends.  Notable changes include the integration and free availability of Zagat archives, and a “Circles” search filter to find reviews and recommendations from friends.  Also, Google’s five star ratings were replaced by the more comprehensive Zagat 30-point rating scale.

Great news for search engine optimization (SEO), unlike Places, Plus Local business pages are indexed, meaning they appear when Google users search for a local site using Google Search or Google Maps.

Plus Local listings are also more versatile and social; local businesses can develop followers and message them, and experience the kinds of social interactions available on Facebook and Twitter.  In fact, word-of-mouth marketing reaches a new height with Plus Local.  The “Local” tab in Google Plus takes users to a personalized local homepage, which offers a mix of popular, social and recommended businesses. The same two people in a given market won’t see the same page, though aspects of it may be the same.

These are major changes from Google in the world of local search — for both consumers and marketers. People will be able to search Google as they have in the past but receive the benefits of visually richer results and trusted word-of-mouth.

Plumbing contractors especially need to adapt to the recent changes as Google Maps remains the most prominent and frequently viewed section on results pages for “Your City + Plumber” keyword searches.

Other Plus Local benefits include:

  • It’s free.
  • Google users can find your business via mobile phone.
  • Stand out among the competition.  Only 20 percent of eligible small businesses have claimed their listing on Plus Local. By claiming your listing you greatly increase your ability to stand out in the Plumbing online search space.
  • Learn more about your customers.  Google Analytics tools measure data about consumer behavior you can use to improve your services and keep customers happy.

How does one create a local listing that delivers the biggest return for your business?  Here are some tips:

  • Pay close attention to cover and profile photos.  Use your company logo as your profile picture. Make sure it has a resolution of at least 72 dpi and is the correct size and shape (at least 250 pixels x 250 pixels) so it’s not grainy or distorted.
  • Write a killer introduction.  The introduction, which appears on the “About” tab, is your opportunity to speak directly to your audience.  Here’s a great example from an Plumbing contractor out of Omaha, Neb.:

Omaha’s leading provider of quality plumbing, drain cleaning, bathroom remodeling &  major appliance repair. We offer these services “as needed” or service agreements/home warranty and your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.

  • Make sure your page is 100 percent complete.  This is the simplest and most important thing you can do to optimize your Plus Local page.  Complete all text fields —even ones that aren’t required, particularly E-mail Address, Website URL, Description and Categories.
  • List your business on other directories.  Google scans the web for information about your business from a variety of third-party sources such as Yellow Pages. The more mentions you have, the more content Google has to work with, and the more authority your Plus Local listing holds. The more credible your business looks, the more likely your listing will appear on the top results. Several top directories include: Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, BizJournals and CitySearch.
  • Encourage customers to write reviews.  A challenging but effective way to boost a page’s position is obtaining customer reviews.  Develop a habit of asking customers to post reviews.  If you decide to reward posting reviews, it’s important to stress you don’t require a positive review — which classifies as a bribe.  Do not under any circumstances write bogus reviews and submit them under a pseudonym.
  • Upload images to your page, lots of them.  SEO analysts documented a strong correlation between a page’s ranking and the number of photos and videos.
  • Add offers.  This provides an incentive to call you rather than the competition.  A few tips:

o   Make sure offers comply with Google’s Offer Guidelines

o   Be generous

o   Always identify the value the customer is receiving

Plus Local is a free resource that helps consumers find businesses online, drives more traffic to local business websites, provides opportunities to stand out in a crowded marketplace, delivers insight into a company’s customer base, enables customer engagement via a variety of media platforms and ultimately boosts overall profitability.

About the Author:  Josh Nelson co-founded Plumber SEO and has more than 13 years of experience in internet marketing, search engine optimization and social media management. For more information, call Josh Nelson at 866-610-4647 or visit

Despite All My Variant Rage, I Am Still Just A Link on A Page

Monday, October 8th, 2012

The Variant matching option is a vampire, set to drain the money from your budget and benefit Google and no one else. With all apologies to Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins, one of the keyword matching “improvements” introduced over the last few months has caused me to channel my 90s grunge based angry inner-child.

Various matching options (Broad, Phrase & Exact) have always allowed for advertisers to control the quality and quantity of the traffic they purchased. Broad match keywords only require that part of the user’s search query match to your keyword.  Phrase match keywords, indicated by quotation marks, require a search to contain the given keyword in order at some point in the search. Exact match keywords, denoted with square brackets, requires the search to be exactly the same as the keyword.

A few months back they introduced a new option to phrase and exact match keywords that is known as close variants. Based on Google’s official documentation regarding this option written prior to its release, “phrase and exact match keywords will match close variants, including misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemmings, accents and abbreviations.”  In reality this attempts to turn phrase and exact match keywords into glorified broad keywords in an effort to leave no money on the table at the end of the day. The detail Google is hoping people will gloss over is the concept of close variants. Our concern with the documentation is that beyond the basics there is no further clarification on what constitutes a close variant. Basically it is up to Google to determine this. Google’s loosely defined rules are a concern to us because they are focused on making themselves money which means spending yours. Close variants reduce the control of advertisers in regards to the quality of traffic they are receiving from AdWords.

Google says that they believe “these changes will be broadly beneficial for users and advertisers”. From what we have seen, the best case scenario is that account performances remain within historical ranges (i.e. no substantial improvement credited to close variants). The worst case scenario is Google picks up close variant traffic that isn’t actually good for you and it leads to an increase in Conversion costs.

For AdWords advertisers this new feature was automatically added to all accounts and you have to opt out if you don’t wish to be affected by it. The good news is that it’s not too difficult to turn off this option although you need to know where to look because it is hidden pretty well. To get to this area, you need to go to the Settings tab for the campaign(s) that you want to opt out of this setting for.  After doing this, you need to scroll to the bottom of the page and open up plus box for Keyword Matching Options which will open the following prompt.

click for full size

To opt out of the settings, choose the “do not include close variants” option, ignore the last resort guilt trip, click save and get your phrase and exact matches back.

Do You Have Access to Webmaster Tools?

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012


The first question you might ask here is why is an AdWords Expert writing about Webmaster Tools. The answer is because it is possible to have problems with your AdWords Account that can only be fixed by Webmaster tools. I know this is unexpected to most because Webmaster tools are not connected to AdWords and they are more of an organic focused traffic tool.
The problem surfaces when the site is hit with malware because while AdWords will be disabled and it can only be reset in Webmaster Tools. This requires that you have access to them and that requires that you have a verified connection. To do this first you need to go to:
To get started you need to add a site to your webmaster tools account and then you have to verify your access. This verification process is done by uploading a file to the root directory of the website. To start click on the orange “Add A Site” button in the upper right hand section of the screen.
Once the site has been added you need to verify your access to this. This is done by uploading a file to the root directory of the site (where your home page is)

Recommended: HTML file upload Upload an HTML file to your site.
1. Download this HTML verification file. [google29efd3934a808ef2.html]
2. Upload the file to
3. Confirm successful upload by visiting http://www. in your browser.
4. Click Verify below.
To stay verified, don’t remove the HTML file, even after verification succeeds.

The file can be downloaded using the link on item one. You should then save this to your site directory. Once the file is there then you can confirm it using the link in step three. It is important that this file remain exactly as is. You cannot rename it to something that you think is better documentation and you need to make sure that the internals of the page remain as is.
Once the site is verified the really fun stuff starts to happen in that you can start learning what the data in Webmaster tools means to your business. Connecting your Webmaster tools to your Google Analytics also opens even more data in Analytics and that is done here after the site is verified.

Click on the Manage site button next to the site you want to connect to a Google Analytics profile. Then click on the Google Analytics property selection. This will give you a list of all the Google Analytics Accounts under your profile. Once you find the profile you want to connect to just click on the option dot and then go to the bottom and save the changes.

There is no tech support for Webmaster Tools that we can find inside Google, but if you are an active advertiser you might try that support line or if you are a client just give me a call. Otherwise you can try the email support.

How to NOT Waste Money in AdWords

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

AdWords is quite capable of setting your credit card on fire and wasting money at epic levels, but it can also create great value. The difference in these two outcomes is driven by how the account is managed and where the energies of the account are focused. Here are some pointers on how to avoid wasting money in AdWords.

Don’t Treat all Keywords the same

In almost every account keywords break down into winners, losers, and the silent majority. Each of these needs a separate strategy.

Winners are the keywords everyone loves to buy, but they never have enough volume. The strategy in this class is to buy all the traffic you can. Make sure these words are isolated and fully funded so you buy these first and fully.

Losers are equally easy to indentify because they have no regard for your money and spend it freely with zero return. The only tough part about the losers is deciding at what point they become a loser. Pull the trigger too early and you could kill a good word; too late and you waste lots of money. Our general rule of thumb for losers is when they reach a click level that has missed 4 conversions based on the account average. For example if your normal conversion rate is 1% and the keyword has had 400 clicks with zero conversions then it’s a loser. If it has 2 or more conversions and the cost is above your maximum target CPA then it’s a loser.

The Silent Majority is what makes or breaks most accounts and it has to be managed with averages. This includes lots of low volume words that never get enough traffic independently to be either a winner or a loser. The problem here is that if the word has had one or zero conversions then the probability of getting another conversion is pretty low. Each word in the list is just as likely to get a conversion as any other and none of them have the volume needed to become either a winner or loser.

Don’t Skip the Negative Keywords

An AdWords account without a good rich set of negative keywords is a crime of the financial type. Every month the Search Query Report needs to be reviewed for new negative words and that should go on forever.  Everyone knows their primary keywords but very few know all the negatives they need to make their account really run at its highest level.

Don’t Try to Sell with Your Ad Copy

Let’s face the facts, it’s tough enough to earn a click with 95 letters and spaces (the limit of an AdWords Ad) so trying to sell something is just not going to happen. You need to focus on what is important, and what is important is getting the person to your website so you can better present your offer. About the only exception to this is the priced advertisement. If your big guns are the prices you offer then that can go into the ad. It does work, but you better be the low cost provider because your ads are going to appear price and all right next to your competitors.

Don’t Create Split Tests with More Than 2 ads

Split tests are simple to set up and complicated to analyze. The more variables in Ad Copy the worse this gets. You need to make sure that you test one thing at a time to cut the variables down to some reasonable level. You need to have a significant number of clicks to prove a click through rate and a significant number of conversions to prove performance and there is no shortcut to this. Depending on how close the results are the number required to be significant can be large so it can take time to gather that level of data.

Don’t Think that AdWords in Search Creates Demand

AdWords serves the demand of the searcher but it does not create demand. The proof of this statement is that the search query was created in the mind of the searcher before they ever saw your advertisement. To create demand you need to look at PR or advertising outside of AdWords Search.

Don’t Think You Know Something You Don’t

Let’s face it as humans we like to think we know why things do what they do, it is just our natural curiosity.  Getting from correlation to causation is at best an art form, especially in AdWords. We have run dozens of split tests with no variables but with different results, which proves that split testing is a clue not a fact. The other things we like to do here is take a very tiny piece of data and try to draw a conclusion from it. I saw the results of a split test where the person drew a conclusion and talked at length about the facts of the test – with 11 clicks over 4 ads!!! Let’s just say this is stupid to monumental level.

Don’t Go it alone

AdWords combines psychology, marketing, math, and language – it’s complicated. One person operating in isolation cannot possibly think of all the different variables with all the perspectives. The more people you engage in your AdWords strategy the better your account is likely to run. This does not mean that we advocate multiple people maintain the account but you need diversity in thought for the strategy development.

In Closing

In business you can pay for things either Cash or Creativity; it’s your choice. In our marketing we spend the creativity first and the cash last and we recommend you do the same.

Exact & Phrase Match “Improvement”

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Google rolled out a change notice that was difficult to miss. We have discovered over the years that when a change gets good notice, there is a good reason to study it. As we dig into the details we are finding that this could be a very dangerous change. Here is the posting in AdWords:

“New! Improvements coming to exact match and phrase match

Target your ads better. In mid-May, our improved exact match and phrase match options will include misspellings, plurals, and other close variants of your keywords.”

If the documentation on this new and improved feature is accurate, this moves the match rules much closer to broad keywords.

Here is what Google documentation says about Broad Match keywords:

“Your ads could also show for singular/plural forms, synonyms, and other relevant variations.”

Here is what they say about the Improvements to Exact Match and Phrase Match:

“ In addition to misspellings, other close variants include singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents.”

It stands to reason that “Other Relevant Variations” and “Close Variants” are the same thing. It is also interesting that they do NOT mention the treatment of word order in any of this. Our hope is that word order remains a matching requirement. Does omission from the documentation mean that it does not change? This is one of those things that we will probably learn only with testing.

If Google does exactly what they say in their documentation, which does not always happen, then this feature effectively makes everything a broad term with the exception of word order.  In fairness, we expect that there will be some difference between broad and improved exact or improved phrase but it is probably more like the difference between broad and modified broad keywords.

What is not clear from the documentation is how this is going to roll out. If Google follows their historical pattern, this will become the default value on new campaigns but they will not just roll your account over to this setting. We suspect because this is such a big change, that the push back could be huge if they set this to an opt-out feature. After the change is in place, I am giving odds this will be the default value. Do no evil does not mean do not make a profit. Ultimately, Google is a company with shareholders not all of which totally buy the do no evil thing. This is a multi-billion dollar feature for Google and I suspect they smart enough to know that.

Our plan is to watch very carefully how this rolls-out and if necessary opt-out. We will then carefully test this so we can adjust the settings to our client’s advantage. It may be a very positive change, but we would like to know that before we allow this into current accounts.