Category Archives: SEM Best Practices

Google announced a policy change to no longer allow advertisers to publish their phone number in ads. It’s a surprising move that may have significant repercussions.

RIP: Example Ad unit of phone number in ads

Google has quietly published this in their Advertising Policies change log as well as notifying partners and customers through webinars.  Advertisers wanting to engage users with a direct phone number by using call extension.

According to the policy log, Google is making the change to: “foster a safer, more consistent user experience across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices” in an effort to make ads more relevant, accurate & clear to users.

At first my reaction was a bit of shock and sadness for local businesses.  For years advertisers have taken advantage of the ad unit space by inserting their phone number in the ad text.  One idea being that you can get a direct phone call, instead of being charged for a click.  A second being the importance of a phone lead to a local business. Driving a visitor to a conversion optimized landing page is great for lead generation or direct conversions, but most small business still live and die by the phone. Without the ability to get a phone call directly form an add demanding any extra clicks, they will be the ones most impacted. Particularly since PPC advertising has been a good way to get yourself noticed if you have a business in a particularly competitive vertical.

Call Extensions: Phone number linked to Google Places listing.

This also creates a barrier for non-local advertisers (i.e. a nation wide ad), since businesses with a Google Places listing will still be able to display their phone number directly in a SERP.  It may also present a challenge for marketers that publish a call tracking phone number in their ad to measure return.  With call extensions however, it is still possible (with a little work) to use your own call tracking phone number.  Google provides its own call tracking (aka forwarding) number for an extra cost of $1 for legacy campaigns.  Nevertheless, this hurdle will probably result in many more local phone numbers and less toll-free numbers shown in Google Ads.

So it is reasonable to consider that this change is a win for local businesses and users alike.  For now, we will be busy changing ad copy for thousands of local business ads.  According to the Google, starting April, Ads will be disapproved if they contain a phone number.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to begin embracing the newest social network, Google+. With the release of Google’s “Search plus Your World,” information from Google+ is now being heavily incorporated into the search results. This means that now is the perfect time to create a brand page. Once you have it set up and you’re ready to start interacting with your Google+ followers, here are some tips to follow.

1. Use Circles to target your audience. One of the key features of Google+ is Circles. You can use Circles to separate your followers into categories then choose who to share with. This helps you share information only with people who will find it interesting, rather than just everyone who follows you on the social network. It will help keep people (i.e. customers, prospects and employees) more engaged so they will be less likely to un-follow you.

2. Create multimedia posts. Google+ is integrated with YouTube as well as Picasa, which means you can easily incorporate videos and photos into your posts. Using videos and photos in your posts makes them more interesting for your followers.

3. Use Google Hangouts to connect with customers. With Google Hangouts you can video chat with up to 10 people, allowing brands to start chats with customers. This could potentially allow brands to use Google+ for customer service purposes. Google is also currently testing it’s “On Air” feature which will allow brands to broadcast video messages out to their followers on Google+.

It’s extremely beneficial for your business to be found on Google+ with the incorporation of information from the social network in the Google search results. The more interesting you make your content; the more users will follow you. Then when users are searching for information related to your business on the most popular search engine, Google, they will be likely to come across your Google+ page.

Although Twitter is used by many businesses, it’s not currently offering businesses a way to verify their accounts. This means that potentially, your competitors could create a Twitter screen name and pretend to be you, tweeting on behalf of your business. This is a scary thought. However, there are ways business owners can increase the visibility on their Twitter accounts as well as make it more clear which account is official. Follow these tips provided by Mashable to protect your company’s identity today.

1. Link all of your social media accounts. Since Twitter’s user name policy doesn’t allow people to reserve user names, companies with a more generic name might find that their desired user name is already taken. According to Mashable, this might be a better opportunity for those businesses to better distinguish their brand if their business name is very common.

Another way to verify that your account is the official business account is to add a link to your Twitter account on your official website, Facebook, Foursquare or Google Places pages. Writing “official Twitter account for _____” in your Twitter bio is also a great way to indicate that this is indeed your business’s Twitter identity.

2. Customize your Twitter profile to make it more obvious that this is the official Twitter account of your brand. An impostor wouldn’t spend the time (or money in some cases) to customize a false Twitter account with your brand’s logo, colors, etc.

3. If you have a trademark over your business name or logo and another Twitter account is causing identity confusion, Twitter can step in. You can submit a help ticket and Twitter will examine the situation. If it finds the other account(s) is trying to cause a problem, it will likely suspend the account and give you ownership. However, this only applies if your name or logo is trademarked, otherwise Twitter cannot do anything.

Following these steps will help your brand keep its identity safe while social media marketing. When used properly, Twitter can be an excellent platform for reaching new customers, keeping existing customers engaged and enhancing your company’s image.