Category Archives: SEM

We Discuss Search Engine Marketing, Paid Search, SEM and Tricks to Improve Pay Per Click.

5 Ways to Be Found – Online & In Real Life – Part 3

To quickly recap, your business has one or more physical locations that depend on people being able to find you both online and offline. The challenges you face are that customers don’t know you exist, they are unable to engage with you and they can’t physically find you. There are five steps you can take to begin the process of ensuring your business is found. Steps 1, 2 and 3 were discussed last week. This week we finish up with steps 4 & 5.

  1. Encourage reviews and gain trust

Having a presence in local directories and maps is a good start, but you want to go a step further to stand out from your competitors and gain the trust of your customers. Begin by putting images on your profiles. Nothing is more compelling than visual elements that showcase your business’s physical location. Letting your customers see who they are doing business with builds a level of comfort.

Interacting with consumers on social networks takes this even further by giving a voice to your brand. Show customers that you care and stand behind your products and services. Similarly, paying attention to what people say about you on review sites is also important. While positive reviews are always preferable, use negative reviews as an opportunity to build more trust. Reply thoughtfully and accurately to any concerns, showing consumers you care about their experiences.

While the benefit of trust is obvious from a human standpoint, there is also a benefit for search ranking. While the exact impact is debatable (and likely changes every year), as Local SEO Guide points out in its 2016 Local SEO Ranking Factors, “things like reviews and photos and having an Owner Verified (OV) profile correlated with positive GMB performance”.

Pro Tip: Utilizing commonly occurring words in reviews about your business (or your competitors) is a great way to come up with fresh content for your website. Common themes among paying customers are likely to be important to new customers too.

  1. Website structure

Tips one through four have focused on enhancing your presence everywhere but your website. However, to close the loop and really present your business in the best way possible to people and search engines, take some time to check on a few key elements of your website.

Start with the same critical NAP information you use for directories and maps. Make sure your business contact information is easy to find on the site. Put it in your footer as well as your contact page. Formatting this information with structured data (schema.org) helps to ensure that search engines also understand exactly who and where you are, and makes you more likely to rank well in voice search.

Verify that the content on your site supports the enhanced information you share in your listings. Do you talk about your business category anywhere? Are there sections of the site that discuss your unique selling points and value propositions?

And finally, make sure that your website provides a strong mobile user experience. Nothing derails a potential customer like clicking to your website on their phone only to discover they can’t actually see anything on the site or navigate without squinting and stabbing at tiny links that don’t go to the right places. Since Google announced they are moving to a mobile-first index, having the right structural elements like title tags, heading tags, and schema on your mobile site is potentially even more important than having them on your desktop site.

Pro Tip: Google offers a great free tool that analyzes your site and gives you tips on how to improve both mobile and desktop friendliness.

Measuring success

So you’ve done all the legwork and addressed the challenges. How do you know that it is positively impacting your business? Are you truly meeting both search engine and customer needs to drive more traffic to you?

Having a strong local presence will result in your business getting more online visibility for a variety of searches, as well as more phone calls, more clicks on Google for directions, and more people in the door. One of the simplest ways to measure the increase in impressions and phone calls is through Google Search Console and Google My Business Insights.

The Search Console shows over time not just how many clicks your website is getting, but how many impressions you receive in search. A person doesn’t necessarily have to click to become a customer: if the search result shows the information they need to be able to call or find you that is a win even without the click. Google My Business Insights take that one level deeper and actually track the number of times people click for directions or to call your business directly from your GMB listing.

Screenshot of an upscale boutique hotel in San Francisco’s Union Square district.

The GMB and Search Console typically only show data for up to 90 days, so you’ll either want to export data regularly, or use a tool like Milestone’s NAPtune that allows you to store your data so you can see bigger trends over time.

Once you have made the effort of creating a strong and accurate presence and are tracking your success, continue to drive those customer interactions by monitoring your presence and making sure your information remains updated wherever it can be found. The Internet is not a static document, so make sure you have a plan to monitor and maintain your business data across the web. Ensuring consistency through ongoing monitoring and updating of your profiles builds trust and awareness with search engines and people. Accurate information when customers want it, wherever they try to find it is the key to getting them in the door and winning their business.

If you have additional questions please leave a comment below, visit our website, or email us at [email protected].

For an easy to read PDF of this blog series, download the white paper5 Ways to Ensure Customers Find Your Business.


Source: Paid Search

5 Ways to Be Found – Online & In Real Life – Part 2

Last week we discussed the challenges for businesses that need to be found both online and offline. To quickly recap, your business has one or more physical locations that depend on people being able to find you both online and offline. The challenges you face are that customers don’t know you exist, they are unable to engage with you and they can’t physically find you. So how do you ensure your business can be found in all the right places by search engines and people?

Have no fear! As daunting as those challenges can seem, when planned carefully in advance, there are clear paths to success. Here are five simple steps to ensure your business can be found:

  1. Create a database of accurate and consistent business information

The traditional vital pieces of information about your business are name, address and phone (NAP). However, as searchers and search engines become more savvy, additional pieces of data like your website URL, business category and hours of operation are equally important.

The first step in your process to being found is to make sure that inside your organization you have 100% accurate and consistent information about your business. This way no matter where that information goes, you can be sure that consumers are seeing the most accurate information available.

Pro Tip: Validate your street address against a national standard, like the United States Postal Service. Formatting it correctly in the first place can prevent errors down the line with directories that may use different standards from your internal organization.

  1. Clean your presence

Once you have your master set of accurate information, the next step is to find out where your business is already listed online. Gain access to those listings, fix any errors, and enhance the listings with quality images and content. Taking over existing listings is better than just creating new listings for a few reasons:

1) Creating a new listing without addressing older ones can lead to duplicate pages that confuse potential customers and the search engines

2) If anyone is already using the older listings, you want to enable them to keep doing so, but with more accurate information

3) While it may be a small factor, older URLs do tend to have a bigger impact on search rankings than new URLs.

You can find existing listings in a variety of ways. The simplest is to Google your business name and see what comes up. For more detailed analysis and deeper search into quality listings that can impact user behavior, you can use a listings management search tool like Milestone’s NAPtune.

Pro Tip: If your business changed its name or phone number, remember to search for that previous information as well. You don’t want old listings coming back to haunt you or your customers.

  1. Publish new listings in critical data amplifiers

Not all business listings are created equal! Since every customer is unique, you need to make sure your business is represented well in any place users can find you – from search engines, to maps, to mobile apps, to in-car navigation systems. While that could mean having to find and manage thousands of listings, a more efficient way to go about it is to identify the key data amplifiers – the handful of sources that collect business location data and power the rest of the internet.

By focusing on having correct information in these core data amplifiers – like Google My Business (GMB), Facebook, Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, Factual, etc – you can be sure that your accurate data is being pushed through a complex set of websites, hitting all of your key customer journey endpoints.

Screenshot of listings being managed by NAPtune

Pro Tip: While data amplifiers are a great way to spread your information exponentially, make sure to also build direct relationships with the directories/apps that your customer base uses most to ensure timely, accurate updates.

 

Stay tuned for next week’s post which will cover more solutions to the problem of being found online and offline.

If you have additional questions please leave a comment below, visit our website, or email us at [email protected].


Source: Paid Search

5 ways to be found – online & in real life.

Does your business have one or more physical locations that depend on people being able to find you both online and offline? Perhaps you are a hotel, or a bank with many branches, or even a retailer with only two locations. Regardless of size, all businesses that depend on foot traffic to complete a transaction need to enable customers to make the leap from the digital space to the real world. So how do you ensure your business can be found in all the right places by search engines and people?

The Challenges

To do business these days, customers need to find you online first, and then they need to find your physical location. To ensure the customer experience is pleasant, the process must be seamless for the user from end to end. There are three main challenges that can break this process and result in lost customers.

1. Customers don’t know you exist

If they don’t know about you, they can’t buy from you. Consumers often start a purchase process with an “informational search query” – a broad topic to help get an idea of what information exists to solve a need. For local business, these searches frequently involve location words combined with a general purchase category, like “nearby hotels” or “ATMs near me.” When these broad searches happen, you want your business to appear so potential customers know you exist.

Remember, if customers don’t find you directly, they will either find your competitors, or be sent to third-party aggregators (like online travel agencies for hotels, airlines, rental and cars). Thus, at best you miss a chance at revenue and still don’t build a direct customer interaction; at worst, you lose a customer to a competitor.

2. Customers are unable to engage with you

Once potential customers know you exist, they likely want to learn more before giving you their business. There are a variety of sources for information, but being present and active in the ones you can control has a big positive impact both on your presence in local search and in helping people form opinions about your business. You earn trust for your business in a variety of ways, from ensuring your public profiles have rich descriptions and photos, to interacting on social networks and responding to online reviews.

3. Customers can’t physically find you

If you make it through the first two hurdles, congratulations! Customers know who you are and feel reasonably confident that your goods or services will fill their needs. Now they need to call, drive and purchase. Having the wrong phone number, address or business hours on your website or any major directory will quickly turn the customer from ready-to-buy into frustrated-and-going-elsewhere.

Next week. Some solutions.


Source: Paid Search

Milestone CMS Delivers Record 30% Average Revenue Growth And 300% Average Group Booking Increases For Its Customers.

Santa Clara, CA – February 14, 2017 – Milestone announced another banner year for its customers as they achieved record results by leveraging Milestone’s unique value as both a software developer and a design and digital marketing agency. New web sites on Milestone’s Content Management System consistently experience a 25% to 40% growth in revenue. Hotels and resorts like the Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Missouri, for example, achieved year-over-year revenue growth in high double digits, over 57% with an increase in group bookings of 300%.

Milestone achieved these exceptional results by leveraging our unique combination of in-house developed technology, award-winning design, and omni-channel digital marketing strategies. In 2016, Milestone customers enjoyed a series of technological “world’s firsts”:

  1. The world’s first CMS system for hospitality designed to build and deploy native AMP pages, leading to exceptional mobile performance and visibility.
  2. The worlds’ most robust CMS system designed to benefit from voice search technology, Milestone’s CMS system supports over 70 hospitality-specific schema-tags.
  3. Access to the world’s first Content Management System for the hospitality industry fully capable of developing ADA conforming pages and of automatically flagging ADA conformity issues on pages.
  4. Exclusive access to Milestone Analytics, the first analytics system for hospitality that allows hotels to measure engagement across all channels through the customer journey, providing a complete investment picture that allows hotels to maximize ROI.

 

“2016 was another record year for Milestone,” said Anil Aggarwal, Milestone CEO, “as we head into 2017 we are very cognizant of the looming threat from AirBnB and OTAs to our customer base. We continue to provide the best mix of technology, strategy and exceptional design to our customers,” continued Mr. Aggarwal. By the year 2020 comScore is predicting that over 50% of search will be powered by voice. To stay ahead of the huge leaps in artificial intelligence, voice search, and machine learning, Milestone’s in-house developed technology will keep hotels ahead of these rapidly changing conditions that threaten to put the market out of reach for all but the largest players.

Hoteliers interested in getting more out of their marketing investment can meet with Milestone at the upcoming HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference in New York, as well as download the Tan-Tar-A case study at: http://info.milestoneinternet.com/acton/media/22640/tan-tar-a-resorts.

About Milestone

Milestone is a leading provider of digital marketing software and services for hospitality, retail and finance. We provide a full range of solutions including website and mobile design, content creation, SEO, analytics and competitive intelligence. Our state-of-the-art technology and solutions drive revenue and ROI for clients across the globe. Over 2,000 companies world-wide do business with Milestone, including leading hotel chains, major retailers and financial services companies. Milestone has garnered over 300 awards and a reputation for blending outstanding design with advanced technological capabilities. Milestone is one of Silicon Valley Business Journal’s fastest growing companies and is an Inc. 5000 company.


Source: Paid Search

Fake/Incorrect Listings Threaten Local Businesses

There has been much buzz in recent days about the spread of fake news and its impact. But fake news stories aren’t the only type of false information being spread around the internet; the truth is that the spread of malicious, false information is becoming increasingly common and it comes in many forms. A recent article on searchengineland.com lists out a few of the top fake information threats, one of which is the very real issue of fake local listings for brick and mortar businesses. Local listings is a subject very near and dear to us here at Milestone, so we decided to go into detail about the issue because these fake listings can have a very real impact on your bottom line.

Creating a business listing on Google is quick and easy, and unfortunately there’s not much in the way to prevent the creation of false business listings. This ability has become the crux of scams run by call centers, typically located abroad. These call centers create fake locations for bogus businesses on Google Maps, and they offer services such as locksmithing, carpet cleaning, etc. The call centers then employ unskilled workers to perform these tasks that would otherwise be done by more appropriately trained professionals representing actual business locations in the area, all while charging premium prices. People in need of a services close to their location will reach out to these deceptive listings without thinking twice, which is why the home repair/service market is heavily affected by this scam. The end result is that customers are overcharged for third-rate work, and legitimate local businesses suffer from the lost patronage. While crackdowns on these scams can be swift, unfortunately it’s equally quick to create new fake listings and revive the operation

But this type of scam isn’t the only problem plaguing business listings. Duplicate and incorrect listings can be just as harmful. Your business’ UNAP (URL, name, address, and phone number) is recorded and stored in many places across the web, and there are many ways that incorrect UNAP information can be attributed to your business. With so many different listings, It’s nearly impossible to pin down the exact source of false information. Erroneous changes could be coming from changes made by someone from within your organization, an agency you’re working with, and even customers have the ability to contribute information that may be incorrect. All of this will be detrimental to your overall performance, as customers and search engines alike tend to trust businesses with more consistent information. This is why it’s essential that your business listings are constantly monitored.

If you have any questions about managing your local listings please reach out to us, we offer software and services that can help you avoid these issues.


Source: Paid Search

What Matters In Search This Year [Webinar Recap]

The Milestone team presented an educational webinar, What Matters In Search this Year, to highlight the latest digital trends as we kick off 2017. Your strategy this year is all about understanding your customer’s world, what motivates them, and what gets them to want to interact with you. Focusing on omnichannel; removing internal barriers to make sure that people inside your organization or across the organizations that work for you are working towards a common goal. And don’t forget that 2017 is the year that mobile is no longer the future… mobile is the present, and it should be the very first thing you think of, when you think of interacting with your clients. This Webinar highlights these topics and more, as illustrated by some of Milestone’s top experts in digital marketing. You can’t afford to miss it.

Thank you to Benu Aggarwal and Walter Paliska who hosted the webinar and everyone who joined!


Source: Paid Search

Things to do before Google rolls out Mobile First Index

Back in November 2016, Google posted on its webmaster blog that it will be rolling out a mobile first search engine index. Google’s search engine index is a listing of websites, links, and documents that it has discovered by crawling the web from a desktop browsers perspective, however with the mobile first index, google will change the view and now they will crawl the web from the mobile web browser perspective. Going forward Google will show results based on the mobile version of content even for desktop searches.

For website owners following responsive website designs, there is no need to worry because users are served the same content be it for mobile or desktop.

However, if you are using a separate mobile site (m.examplewebsite.com) to present custom content for your mobile users by dynamic serving technique you must be a bit careful. Google’s algorithm is not tracking the actual page which is seen by users so when a mobile page has lesser content than a desktop page, that can lead to a poorer user experience. Mobile first index has not been rolled out yet but we hear it is coming out soon. Google also announced that they would continue to maintain a single index and only use the mobile version of content to rank pages.

Recommendations for website owners:

If you have a responsive website with the same content and structured data across mobile and desktop site, you don’t have to worry. However, if your site has different configuration and content for desktop and mobile site, Google recommends making the following changes:

  • Make sure to have structured markup/ data for both mobile and desktop sites, If you don’t make these changes than you fear the risk of showing the mobile page with inadequate and suboptimal content in the mobile first ranking index
  • Compare the structured markup across mobile (m.examplewebsite.com ) and desktop (www.examplewebsite.com) versions of the site by using googles structured data testing tool.
  • Go to https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/u/0/, add your url, run the test.structured-data-testing-tool
  • Add structured data to your mobile site but remember to be selective and add only those markup’s that may be relevant to the content on the page. Avoid adding additional mark data.
  • Use the txt testing tool to determine if your site is accessible to google web crawlers.
  • Tip: If you are building a mobile site, a working and fully functioning desktop website would be a better option than a partially done mobile site. So, don’t hurry and push out a partly complete mobile site.

 

2017 will be an exciting year for digital marketing, especially with Googles push to roll out the mobile first index, they are responding to the changing habits and needs of today’s online consumer who are always connected and engaging. While change brings with it challenges, it can be truly rewarding if you kept up with the changes. Should you like more information to build and or revamp your website be it mobile or desktop, Milestones team of experts with over 18 years of experience are here to help you, please feel free to reach out to us, [email protected] or +1-408-200-9055.


Contributed by: Gaurav Varma
January 23, 2017


Source: Paid Search

Rank higher every day with a smart SEO strategy

SEO strategy can be easily divided into long-term actions and short-term engagements. In the long-term, it’s important to have a strong website platform optimized for search, a clear link building strategy, writing keyword-rich meta tags and enhanced content for your website to name a few. What is often missed is that brands need to constantly work on their SEO strategy throughout the year to promote their business or drive engagement or to stay on top of the updates released by search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo). Often these strategies are considered reactive approaches but they are as critical as the proactive ones.

Key opportunities to capitalize upon year-round:

  1. Serve your customers with answers and NOT just links: With the increasing proliferation of mobile devices and rise in voice search quires Google direct answers have increased from showing up in 9% queries in January 2016 to 15% in July 2016, a 67% increase in just 6 months*. Customers desire direct answer to questions rather than looking up links to websites with the answers. Doing research on social media channels, review sites, asking your team and customers will help you know more about your brand and those insights can be turned into questions and answers that be posted on your website to assist your customers.
  1. Promote your own milestones: Released a new product, hired a top talent to lead a vertical, acquired a business, all these are significant moments for your business as well for your key stakeholders, make sure you broadcast these news and milestones via your corporate blog or press releases. These opportunities create a buzz and top of the mind recall for your business additionally it creates more valuable content and links for search engines to index.
  1. Consider partnerships with industry bodies: Every industry is represented by an education and trade association, forming partnerships with these bodies opens new doors to publish content, package existing content for a different audience, host a webinar, a fire side chat or a panel discussion. All these are great opportunities to promote your business and generate incoming links pointing to your site.
  1. Use your competitor’s actions to your advantage: Just like you, your competitor is also promoting their business, tracking your competitor, be it their blogs, social interactions, emails, webinars allow you to understand where they are focusing on and with that you might be able to get clues to build your next promotion, or a branding campaign.
  1. Keyword research for your brand: Call it old fashioned but identifying the new keywords that customers use to find you and your competitors will always be useful. Creating content around the new-found keyword themes would help you to stay on top of your customer’s actual needs.
  1. Repackage your content assets: Content is created under a context and savvy marketers use the same content idea in many different forms to showcase the key points. A white paper can be easily turned into an info graphic, a blog post, a social media update. All these assets assist in building your SEO authority, moreover it allows you to increase the life of the content and decreases the need to create new content all the time.
  1. Audit your SEO presence: Finally, from where we started, Google is always releasing a new update to improve the user experience, stay on top of the channels and websites that your business is listed on, or “linked to”. Don’t buy links in bulk or from irrelevant directories as that may end up getting you a penalty in the future. An easy way would be scan your business every quarter to know your listings status from important channels. You can get your health score today by visiting naptunelistings.com. 

STAT Search Analytics Study:

SEO is constantly evolving, trends fall off almost as quickly as they emerge. Staying on top of trends means to constantly working on the long-term and short-term strategy. If you have additional questions please leave a comment below, visit our website, or email us at [email protected]


Source: Paid Search

5 Must Haves in Your Digital Marketing Golf Bag

“The most important shot in golf is the next one.” – Ben Hogan

As golf has evolved from the sport of kings to the game of every one, golf courses and clubs are trying figuring out how to market their businesses in the modern landscape. We live and play in a high-tech world driven by mobile phones, social media, snap chats, and posts. While golf is a sport rooted in tradition, today’s courses are looking for turnkey golf marketing solutions that connect golfers with their digital business at every touch point.

Golfers want to see and experience the course online, book a tee time, and download an app that gives them a lay of the land – from yardage on the fairway to ordering a hot dog at the turn. To our generation of golfers, tweets are the new birdies and digital presence is the driver.

5 Shot Making Strategies For Your Digital Golf Marketing

  1. A responsive website design driven by UX and search

It takes more than a beautiful site to inspire user experience and conversion. Definitely have vibrant images and videos – because golfers love them – and build your site with intuitive navigation, conversion elements with clear CTAs, and easy booking for tee times and tournaments.

Optimize your site for local and voice search with keywords and questions people are asking search engines and capitalize on Google’s SERP features – from snippets to videos. Make your site mobile responsive and AMP pages based on user behavior analytics and what is most relevant to your audience and ROI goals.

  1. Social media outreach from one place

Most golf pros wear many hats, from running the shop to giving lessons to marketing. Trust me, they would rather be teaching and playing with members than posting on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Most courses without large marketing teams need their PGA pros to engage in social media outreach every day to fill their tee sheets and promote daily specials.

To connect with your social community, your team will need a powerful social dashboard where they can blog, tweet, post and schedule from one place from their laptops, iPads and phones. Once you have a software platform for social outreach, engage your audience and reinforce your message – promoting twilight rates, open lessons, membership specials, and the speed of the greens. Post pics on Instagram and videos, and get your golfers engaged in your experience. Golf is a social game.

MediaConnect

Milestone’s MediaConnect™ 360 gives Turf Valley Resort the power to post and schedule Blogs, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter from a single, easy to use social outreach dashboard.

3. Golf APP For playing, GPS, marketing and sales

The new cool factor in golf marketing is the GPS integrated APP. GPS enabled golf carts and watches are expensive and getting outdated. Add a downloadable APP on your mobile site and golfers will use it for scorecards, yardage, shot making, weather and messaging from you. If you utilize all the latest features, you can promote daily specials, use it as an online store, give tips, and even sell food and beverage during the round. Cart girls not included.

4. Analytics tracking for performance and competitive intelligence

While golf is the game of life and you play against yourself, digital marketing is not. You always want to track and analyze your digital channels, revenue and competitive performance in the space. You can juggle between Google Analytics and other resources, which can be time consuming. Or you can use intuitive distribution and competitive intelligence software that lets you track and analyze your data, site health and performance in one dashboard.

Use a platform that gives you panoramic insights and targeted strategies so you can connect with your golf customers across every touch point – mobile, tablet and desktop. Find a user friendly dashboard that lets you track the customer journey across social, local and paid channels so you can adjust your strategy from one place.

Analytics Reporting Tool

Unalytix

Milestone’s Unalytix Digital Marketing and Distribution Channel Analytics Platform empowers managers with organized data about their websites, SEO, local listings, social media, reviews, and paid search. Users get insights through intuitive dashboards and formatted reports. The Turf Valley and Turnberry Isle sites golf websites are high performing.

5. The Freedom of A Single Source Golf Solution

We know you’re passionate about golf. You’ve conditioned the greens, your pros hope to inspire young golfers, and you want to promote your courses and tournaments. While Gary Player said “golf is a puzzle without an answer,” we know better. Create a holistic digital presence with a user friendly, mobile responsive site, that integrates social outreach, tee time booking, and an APP, and your golf business will drive presence, engagement and ROI.

“Today’s golf professionals need a universal digital presence – mobile, desktop, social – social media and consolidated data and performance analytics,” says Chris Rockett, SVP of Sales for Milestone. “We’ve created a turnkey product for golf managers to drive online visibility, booking, leads and ROI. Our user friendly approach really connects to the golf industry and golfers. It gives the pros the freedom to do what they love. Play more golf.”


Case Study – Randy Watkins Golf Group – Live December 2016

Milestone created a complete internet marketing strategy for Randy Watkins Golf Group, which owns and manages 3 semi-private golf courses in the Jackson Metro of Mississippi – Patrick Farms Golf Course, Whisper Lake Country Club and Lake Caroline Golf Club. They are driven by a passion for the game and PGA professionals who inspire young golfers. RWGG offers full-service clubhouses and amenities, lessons, tournaments, junior golf, specials, dining, and memberships. Their audience is families, individual golfers, couples, students and juniors who want the membership benefits of three clubs, as well as daily fee players.

RWGG’s previous site was outdated in design, performance, and analytics. The site lacked branding and visual story, user journey, and was confusing to navigate. Milestone created a holistic marketing solution with a mobile responsive website, search optimized content with schema, an online store, and an event booking module all reinforced by social media.

Milestone designed a highly visual, streamlined site with great imagery, intuitive navigation, and a persona-based branding message – “more than a club, we’re family.” A warm, modern design focuses on user experience and conversion, with clear CTAs for Memberships and Tee Times. The site highlights the three courses and amenities, and has optimized pages for memberships and events. The site also showcases landing pages, like member activities, junior and kid’s golf, and lessons.

Randy Watkins Blog

The Randy Watkins Golf Group site launched December 2, 2016 on the Milestone Galexi™ CMS.

Marketing Objective

Launched December 2, 2012, the mobile responsive site gives golfers a robust digital experience, including downloadable scorecards, an integrated golf app, weather widget, changing specials and 4 photo galleries. Our goal was to create a site that was visual and golfer friendly, focused on user experience, and promoted memberships, tee times and tournaments.

Built on Milestone’s Galexi™ CMS platform, the site is responsive for mobile and gives managers the ability to update specials and events.

Launched December 2, 2012, the new site was designed to give golfers a robust digital experience, including downloadable scorecards, an integrated golf app, weather widget, changing specials and 4 photo galleries. Our goal was to create a site that was visual and golfer friendly, focused on user experience, and promoted memberships, tee times and tournaments.

What We Did

  • Responsive website design built on Galexi™ CMS
  • Integrated mobile APP with GPS
  • Optimized content for local and voice search
  • Modules – Courses, Memberships, Events – with RFPs
  • Online Retail Store
  • Booking Engine Partners
  • Event Calendar
  • Weather Widget
  • 4 photo galleries
  • eSpecial – seasonal coupons
  • eReach – email marketing
  • Custom Facebook Page
  • Module Promotion
  • Analytics tracking and performance

 

The Digital Scorecard

“Golf is supposed to be fun, but I don’t think anything is fun if you’re not doing it reasonably well.” – Fred Couples

  • In the first month, the site has over 10,000 impressions and 600 clicks attributed to their new online visibility and organic presence.
  • 54.8% of the sessions came from organic search, including non-branded search queries which capture new customers.
  • New landing pages for individual courses, lessons, packages, and membership are all drawing in traffic.

 

Google Randy Watkins results

Randy Watkins Digital Performance

Source: Google Analytics Dec. 2, 2016 – January 9, 2017


Contributed by: Robin Leigh Kessler
January 12, 2017


Source: Paid Search

What Matters In Search This Year [Webinar]

2017 Search Webinar

The new year has passed, and, with it, technology keeps moving forward. 2016 was a big year for Artificial Intelligence, voice-based search and non PC “intelligent” devices. As 2017 starts, what are the key trends that will shape search and digital marketing? How do you get ahead of the curve? Join us on January 25th at 11am PT as our President and Founder, Benu Aggarwal, will present her yearly “key trends” webinar.

Attend our webinar and learn:

  • How voice search will continue to impact marketing
  • The role of artificial intelligence on search
  • The growing trend of omni-channel marketing

Speakers:

Benu Aggarwal
President and Founder of Milestone

Benu Aggarwal

Walter Paliska
Vice President, Marketing

Walter Paliska

 

 

 

 

Jake Brennan
Moderator

Jake Brennan

Webinar Registration


Source: Paid Search

Facebook Advertising, Embraced by Majority of Local Businesses

Social media and its impact on local advertising was the subject of a recent study done by Borrell Associates, a consulting firm that produces industry related advertising reports. In a recent article marketingland.com reported on some of the interesting findings from this study, not least of which was how widespread faith in Facebook and Facebook advertising has become in the last few years.

The study drew from a pool of survey responders representing a spectrum of local businesses in the US, that range from small businesses to big advertising spenders, with budgets of $100k or more. The survey recorded the following stats about local business Facebooking habits:

  • 85 percent of the businesses surveyed have some kind of social media presence
  • Nearly 80 percent had a Facebook page
  • 62 percent are buying Facebook ads

Those businesses that were buying Facebook ads were spending an average of $1,500 per year.

Social media in general was ranked by survey responders as the third best source of new customers for their, following referrals and websites in the top two positions. 44 percent of those responders who said that social media was their top channel for acquiring new customers. This 44 percent of local businesses that fully embrace social media had some unique characteristics of their own. They tend to be independent, smaller businesses with less than $1 million in gross sales. They were also more likely to have a single location, and cater to customers, versus only businesses. 76 percent manage social media themselves, and 57 percent pay to boost posts.


Source: Paid Search

Voice Search: How Does Google Home Change SEO?

‘Tis the season to pick up the latest gadgets for your friends and family, and this year, some of the hottest new devices are hands-free assistants, such as the Amazon Echo, and the brand new Google Home. In an article on business2community.com author Brad Keys explains how SEO is affected by the key differentiator between Google Home and Amazon Echo, which is the Google Home’s robust updated software, a tool called “Google Assistant.”

Apart from being able to play music, edit your calendar, or create notes on your behalf, the biggest selling point of Google Home is its ability to quickly answer your questions in a conversational format. Due to the screen-less nature of these types of devices, the inherent difference between asking Google Assistant a question or running the same search query on your phone is that Google Assistant is going to provide you with an simple conversational answer to your question, and there will be no opportunity to explore a results page, as you would on your screened device.

So where does Google Assistant get its answers from, and how can you use them to your advantage?

Google Assistant relies heavily on Google’s featured snippets to answer questions. Featured snippets (also known as rich answers) are the brief explanations that appear at the top of the search engine results page when you ask a question that Google thinks it can answer. In simple terms, if you asked Google Assistant a question and then you ran the same search query on your desktop or mobile browser, you would likely see the same answer that Google Assistant gives you at the top of your results page as one of Google’s featured snippets.

If you want to turn your content into a featured snippet and claim this coveted top spot, there are some general steps you can follow. First you will need to identify what question your content is trying to answer, and it should always be something relevant to your market area. It’s important that the question literally appears (as it would in a search query) on your page within a header tag (h2, h3, etc.) Beneath that header is where you will provide the content as you want it to appear within the featured snippet box, this content should be within a <p> paragraph tag. The next step is to add valuable supporting information or content beyond the direct answer. And finally you should make it as easy as possible for Google to find your content by adding structured data, which allows Google to better understand what type of content you have on your site

focusing your website (or parts of it) towards Influencing these featured snippets is an SEO technique that’s been around for some time now, but the emergence of hands free voice search devices brings a new importance to this strategy. If you are successful, you’ll not only increase the influence of your content, but you’ll also take influence away from competing sites by claiming the top spot, or in the case of hands-free devices, the only spot.


Source: Paid Search

Citations 101: Local SEO Foundation

Understanding SEO (search engine optimization) requires a solid foundation, this article (and others like Search Engine Land‘s) builds the foundation with citations. Simply put, a citation in the SEO world is your business being mentioned on other websites/online platforms. Citations are valuable because they help your business appear in front of local searchers.

Trust Signals

Search engines reward businesses that have the right messaging about their brand. Fundamentally, this starts with accurate basic information such as URL, name, address, and phone number (UNAP). Having your UNAP information accurately listed across relevant websites and web directories is the basis of gaining trust from the search engines. Search engines need to trust your website to deliver accurate and relevant information to searchers to deliver a great user experience. For example, if someone searches hotels in St. Augustine and Google lists pharmacies in St. Augustine the user will have a poor user experience and may even switch search engines (think: Bing). Thus, search engines need to feel confident that your website is actually a hotel in St. Augustine and they do this by reviewing and rating your online business referrals, aka citations.

What are the different sorts of citations?

  • Business Directories such as Cylex, Tupalo
  • Maps such as TomTom, Here Maps, Open Street Maps
  • Internet Yellow Pages
  • Local Directories such as Best of the Web, Judy’s Book, eLocal, Yelp or Angie’s List
  • Industry, niche or sector specific directories (US Tourism, Resorts and Lodges)
  • Local newspaper websites
  • Local blogs covering business, restaurants or venues etc.
  • Prominent local websites (particularly if they’re related to your business niche)
  • Social Profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare)

 

What Can I Do?

For starters, a business can take advantage by creating, claiming and optimizing its Google My Business page. This will allow your business to create a legitimate online presence which gives search engines trust in your business to answer search queries. Then, reach out to local associations you are a member of and ensure they have your (accurate) business information on their website. Then, reach out to your local business partners for website listings, likely they will be in a similar vertical or at the very minimum link you to your geo-location for credibility. You want to organically grow your listings. Do not buy bulk listings, search engines will penalize your site by not displaying your website in the results page. Building links and citations that offer a full UNAP and discuss your business is a great way of differentiating your business from others in the area.

How Much Time?

The process of creating local citations can be time consuming and tedious, but the reward of a higher rank directly relates to your revenue. Creating your “referrals” take a considerable amount of time, but monitoring these referrals takes just as much time. It is important to note not all directories are free- be prepared to have a resource budget. Many businesses often choose to have a SEO partner to handle their digital presence, because of the time requirements and knowledge of the best directories (paid and free). Either route, your business needs citations to be shown to searchers.

Summary

Gone are the days, when location, location, location was considered the formula of success. Today, it is all about the different digital platforms where your customers look for information. The formula for success has changed to relevance, prominence and proximity. Reach out to our team to ensure your digital success, email us at [email protected].

 


Source: Paid Search

Millennials Have No (Mobile) Fear

Group of millennials searching on mobile phones and tablets

Before discussing Millennial behaviors, put yourself in their shoes. Millennials were born into a world with Apple and Play Stations, and spent their time after school instant messaging their friends and playing video games. Yes, these are Millennials and have seen technology evolving their entire lives. There is plentiful research on Millennials, the nation’s largest living generation, with a focus on comparing this tech-eccentric generation to previous generations. Our friends at Think With Google shared an interesting infographic recently that highlighted the mobile shopping and booking behaviors of Millennials to those over the age of 35. We’ve cherry picked the best information below for you but encourage you to view the infographic as well.

Key Findings from “Millennial Travelers: Mobile Shopping and Booking Behavior”:

  • 27% of Millennial travelers say they have used a smartphone to shop for hotels versus 19% of people over 35 years old
  • 66% of Millennial travelers are confident they can find the same flight and hotel information across devices, only 43% of people over 35 felt this way
  • 64% of Millennial travelers say they typically book a hotel room on a smartphone after shopping on a smartphone, only 42% of people over 35 say the same

 

Our Takeaways:

Once we see technology trends from Millennials it is only a matter of time for these trends to extend to older generations. The trend of continuing to trust technology, no matter the size of screen, will permeate into other generations.

  • The reliance of mobile phones will only increase, is your mobile website a good representation of your business? Will it allow users to go down the entire path to purchase easily? Your mobile site needs to download as fast as possible, but have all the information needed to book.
  • The need for a seamless user experience across devices remains strong. The iPad and Fire are extremely popular and even though not as widely used as mobile phones, having a responsive website will pay dividends.
  • People do book online with smartphones!

 

 

 


Source: Paid Search

Data is Your New Oil: eCommerce Managers Tool Kit

Data analytics

Digital Marketing and eCommerce Managers spend a great deal of time capturing, refining, and interpreting the endless stream of customer data. The data comes from multiple channels: social networks, Google Analytics, customer transactions, email, feedback forms and surveys. PWC and Think with Google research found that data driven organizations are three times likely to be more effective in making better decisions. The hospitality industry is no different, your guests are engaging with multiple devices and across multiple digital channels to make their buying decisions. The list of devices and channels within the eCommerce data stream to track can be overwhelming: website traffic, organic search, paid search (generic and branded), social Media, display media, meta search, email marketing, mobile and listings on referral sites.

Data is now everywhere, a continuous stream of data points all waiting to be turned into actionable insights. However, it is also true that capturing, managing, and delivering data driven insights from so many sources is, at best, challenging. It is important for companies to stay closer to customers’ needs and assist them to make better decisions during intent driven actionable moments where customers truly need someone to help them.

At Milestone, we saw common challenges across our portfolio of clients in regards to data accumulation, analysis, and action and developed solutions to eradicate these challenges.

Unalytix solves the accumulation and analysis problem by displaying the data in an intuitive interface. It brings digital marketing and distribution channel analytic data that allows managers to better understand digital marketing and the key performance indicators to make informed decisions.  The key performance data includes revenue, room nights, ADR, and spends. Managers can now optimize digital marketing channels from a single screen – your website, local listings, paid search campaigns, social media, online reputation and email campaigns. Click here to learn more about Unalytix

Intellistar enables businesses to monitor their holistic digital presence from a single dashboard, taking it even further by doing competitive and industry benchmark analysis across key focus areas. Through Intellistar’s insights, businesses are empowered with targeted strategies for connecting with customers across every touch point – mobile, tablet or desktop – and through their journey across channels like social, local and paid. Click here to learn more about Intellistar.

Milestones Galexi’s CMS’s Conversion Rate Optimization Modules (CRO), allows a business to track visitors who abandoned the website due to poor user experience. Site abandonment leads to lost revenue and increases the customer acquisition cost. CRO modules help to get more value out of the traffic on the website by turning site visitors into customers, increasing the conversion rate on your website, which can further lead to higher revenue and ROI from your current marketing efforts. CRO Module uses testing, user feedback, and analytics to make changes on the website to increase conversion and revenue. Click here to learn more about GalexiCMS.

By using Milestone’s data driven software and solutions you will be able to bring all of your digital tools together, reviewing all of your digital marketing and revenue contribution KPI’s in a single interface. Empower your business with a 360° overview of performance and digital strategies with reports delivered in an intuitive and interactive manner. If you are an eCommerce Manager, Digital Marketing Manager or a Revenue Manager, at Milestone, we looked at your daily challenges and developed solutions to address your data analytics pain points. For more information and a demo request, please email us at [email protected], visit us at www.milestoneinternet.com/unalytix, or call us at 1-866-615-2516.


Source: Paid Search

Competitive Intelligence, Am I Doing it Right [Webinar Recap]

The Milestone team presented an educational webinar, Competitive Intelligence, Am I Doing it Right, to highlight areas of your performance and your competitor’s performance to monitor. Digital marketers need to measure their site speed, keywords, paid campaigns, social shares, directories and more to understand their overall performance. As we live in a connected world, your marketing is also connected and needs to be closely monitored for impact across channels. Understanding your competitor’s weaknesses will allow you to gain more traffic, and ultimately revenue. The webinar highlights not only what you need to monitor, but introduces a new technology, Intellistar, that will allow you to instantly monitor and understand your performance in regards to your competition. No more countless hours spent on various tools to understand you digital presence! Everyone who attended this webinar live received a complimentary Intellistar Digital Presence Audit, if you were unable to attend, but would like this audit please contact us directly.

Thank you to Dao Phung and Courtney Willingham who hosted the webinar and everyone who joined!


Source: Paid Search

Did Your Website Traffic Increase After the Google Algorithm Updates?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is evolving daily, below we focus on all that has occurred in the past couple of months in the SEO world.

Google rolled out three major updates in September and October 2016

  1. Google Possum Update: On September 1st 2016, Google rolled out a massive local algorithm update which impacted the ranking on local 3 pack and Google local map results.
    • Google is now filtering sites based on address and affiliation to manage duplicate data on search results and listings.
  • Action for businesses: Ensure that your business has a verified Google My Business profile and no duplicate pages exist on your address.

 

  1. Next, between September 13th and 14th we saw a massive drop in search engine result pages (SERPs) with image results on page one. Moz.com reported that this caused substantial volatility, and SERPs received an extra organic result on page one due to images being removed.
  • Action for businesses: Keep optimizing images as images and videos are very important to deliver a good user experience. However, at the same time, take advantage of the new available spot and update content, leverage blog posts or holiday special pages to rank for more keywords.

 

  1. Finally, on September 23rd 2016, Google officially announced that “Penguin” is now part of their core algorithm. Google’s search rankings rely on over 200 signals, one being the Penguin ranking algorithm that helps Google identify websites that spam search results. Websites who obtain links through networks designed primarily to artificially boost Google rankings are the ones impacted by this update.
  • Action for businesses: Know the channels and websites that your business is listed on, “linked to”. Buying links in bulk or irrelevant links from small directories may end up getting a Penguin penalty in future. Scan your business on the most important channels and get your health score today by visiting www.naptunelistings.com.

 

How did the updates impact Milestone customers?

Milestone reviewed their client traffic after the updates, September and October 2016, and below are the findings:

  • Organic traffic share:
    • Increased 14% compared to the Sept/Oct 2015
    • Increased 8.03% versus the previous period, July/Aug 2016
  • Highest increase was in the conversions:
    • Increased 23.89% compared to Sept/Oct 2015
    • Increased 16.42% versus the previous period, July/Aug 2016

It is almost anyone’s guess as to the precise state of SEO a year from today, as trends fall off almost as quickly as new trends emerge. But, staying on top of changes and building a solid SEO strategy based around customer engagement will set you up for success in 2017 and beyond. If you have additional questions please leave a comment below, visit our website, or email us at [email protected]


Source: Paid Search

Did Your Website Traffic Increase After the Google Algorithm Updates?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is evolving daily, below we focus on all that has occurred in the past couple of months in the SEO world.

Google rolled out three major updates in September and October 2016

  1. Google Possum Update: On September 1st 2016, Google rolled out a massive local algorithm update which impacted the ranking on local 3 pack and Google local map results.
    • Google is now filtering sites based on address and affiliation to manage duplicate data on search results and listings.
  • Action for businesses: Ensure that your business has a verified Google My Business profile and no duplicate pages exist on your address.

 

  1. Next, between September 13th and 14th we saw a massive drop in search engine result pages (SERPs) with image results on page one. Moz.com reported that this caused substantial volatility, and SERPs received an extra organic result on page one due to images being removed.
  • Action for businesses: Keep optimizing images as images and videos are very important to deliver a good user experience. However, at the same time, take advantage of the new available spot and update content, leverage blog posts or holiday special pages to rank for more keywords.

 

  1. Finally, on September 23rd 2016, Google officially announced that “Penguin” is now part of their core algorithm. Google’s search rankings rely on over 200 signals, one being the Penguin ranking algorithm that helps Google identify websites that spam search results. Websites who obtain links through networks designed primarily to artificially boost Google rankings are the ones impacted by this update.
  • Action for businesses: Know the channels and websites that your business is listed on, “linked to”. Buying links in bulk or irrelevant links from small directories may end up getting a Penguin penalty in future. Scan your business on the most important channels and get your health score today by visiting www.naptunelistings.com.

 

How did the updates impact Milestone customers?

Milestone reviewed their client traffic after the updates, September and October 2016, and below are the findings:

  • Organic traffic share:
    • Increased 14% compared to the Sept/Oct 2015
    • Increased 8.03% versus the previous period, July/Aug 2016
  • Highest increase was in the conversions:
    • Increased 23.89% compared to Sept/Oct 2015
    • Increased 16.42% versus the previous period, July/Aug 2016

It is almost anyone’s guess as to the precise state of SEO a year from today, as trends fall off almost as quickly as new trends emerge. But, staying on top of changes and building a solid SEO strategy based around customer engagement will set you up for success in 2017 and beyond. If you have additional questions please leave a comment below, visit our website, or email us at [email protected]


Source: Paid Search

Did Your Website Traffic Increase After the Google Algorithm Updates?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is evolving daily, below we focus on all that has occurred in the past couple of months in the SEO world.

Google rolled out three major updates in September and October 2016

  1. Google Possum Update: On September 1st 2016, Google rolled out a massive local algorithm update which impacted the ranking on local 3 pack and Google local map results.
    • Google is now filtering sites based on address and affiliation to manage duplicate data on search results and listings.
  • Action for businesses: Ensure that your business has a verified Google My Business profile and no duplicate pages exist on your address.

 

  1. Next, between September 13th and 14th we saw a massive drop in search engine result pages (SERPs) with image results on page one. Moz.com reported that this caused substantial volatility, and SERPs received an extra organic result on page one due to images being removed.
  • Action for businesses: Keep optimizing images as images and videos are very important to deliver a good user experience. However, at the same time, take advantage of the new available spot and update content, leverage blog posts or holiday special pages to rank for more keywords.

 

  1. Finally, on September 23rd 2016, Google officially announced that “Penguin” is now part of their core algorithm. Google’s search rankings rely on over 200 signals, one being the Penguin ranking algorithm that helps Google identify websites that spam search results. Websites who obtain links through networks designed primarily to artificially boost Google rankings are the ones impacted by this update.
  • Action for businesses: Know the channels and websites that your business is listed on, “linked to”. Buying links in bulk or irrelevant links from small directories may end up getting a Penguin penalty in future. Scan your business on the most important channels and get your health score today by visiting www.naptunelistings.com.

 

How did the updates impact Milestone customers?

Milestone reviewed their client traffic after the updates, September and October 2016, and below are the findings:

  • Organic traffic share:
    • Increased 14% compared to the Sept/Oct 2015
    • Increased 8.03% versus the previous period, July/Aug 2016
  • Highest increase was in the conversions:
    • Increased 23.89% compared to Sept/Oct 2015
    • Increased 16.42% versus the previous period, July/Aug 2016

It is almost anyone’s guess as to the precise state of SEO a year from today, as trends fall off almost as quickly as new trends emerge. But, staying on top of changes and building a solid SEO strategy based around customer engagement will set you up for success in 2017 and beyond. If you have additional questions please leave a comment below, visit our website, or email us at [email protected]


Source: Paid Search

Milestone’s Galexi CMS Can Now Power ADA Conforming Sites

Milestone announced today that its Galexi™ CMS is the first in the hospitality market to provide the necessary framework and technology to allow for the development of ADA conforming websites. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 by the US Congress, and it mandates that electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities. “US courts have interpreted ADA conformity for websites per the guidelines established by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)” said Anil Aggarwal, Milestone’s Chief Executive Officer. “Milestone’s Galexi CMS system can now create websites that conform with the W3C’s WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) Level A and AA guidelines,” continued Mr. Aggarwal.

“Catering to those with disabilities is not just a mandate of the law, it’s the right thing to do and it makes good business sense” said Mr. Aggarwal. Milestone’s Galexi CMS supports the technologies necessary to allow for the required changes in design, site programming and content modifications that allow websites to become conforming. By providing conforming access, businesses can expand their ability to cater to the approximately 20% of Americans who suffer from some form of disability.

Beyond catering to those that have disabilities, however, this technology can also protect Milestone customers from possible legal challenges. “Several businesses in New York, California and Pennsylvania have faced legal challenges in the past year due to their lack of conformity,” explained Mr. Aggarwal, “with the new features, Milestone’s CMS system is now able to create websites that will conform to both WCAG Level A and AA guidelines.” Milestone will be working closely with clients over the coming weeks to enhance the usability of all sites powered by Milestone’s CMS system.

Anyone interested in creating a website that conforms to ADA standards, or upgrading their current website, should reach out directly to Milestone by contacting its sales department at 866-615-2516 or at [email protected].

About Milestone
For the past 19 years Milestone has been at the forefront of powering websites for the hospitality and retail industries. Milestone’s suite of digital marketing products powers the digital presence of over 2,000 customers, while Milestone’s website design services and organic and paid marketing services are driving traffic to thousands of properties all around the world. For more information about Milestone and our products and services, visit us at www.MilestoneInternet.com.


Source: Paid Search