LinkedIn Advertising

When it comes to cost per click (CPC) based advertising campaigns most healthcare and pharma marketers tend to focus their budgets purely on pay per click advertising across search engine networks like Google, Bing and Yahoo. However, if you want to specifically target a business audience, then you should consider running CPC campaigns across the LinkedIn network – here’s why…

According to Quantcast.com, in the UK 35% of LinkedIn’s visitors are “regulars”. By Quantcast standards, that means a visitor frequents the site several times a month. 1% of visitors are considered “addicts” which means that they frequent the site 30 or more times a month. There are 101 million LinkedIn members worldwide, roughly 60% are male and 40% are female.

  • 20.9% are aged 18-24
  • 35.8% are aged 25-34
  • 36.3% are aged 35-54
  • 6.9% are aged over 54

The biggest users are North Americans – 47.9 million users and the second largest group are Europeans – 23.1 million users. Out of the 17 business areas listed on LinkedIn, the ‘Medical’ sector ranks number 4 globally in terms of the number of users tagged to that sector.

In the UK alone there are 148,870 members on LinkedIn that are tagged with a ‘Medical’ job function. From a targeting perspective you can narrow this down, so if you wanted to  just reach individuals that use the words ‘Doctor’ or ‘General Practitioner’ in their profile description, then your ads would still be seen by 21, 019 highly targeted members.

Profile Data You Can Trust

LinkedIn allows you to target ads based on user profile data. Because of the business focus of the site, LinkedIn states that the profiles of its users are ten times more accurate than many other sites’ registration data. In other words, people who create a LinkedIn profile to connect with their work colleagues or other business professionals are less likely to be deceptive in their profile data.  For us marketers, that means we’re working with highly accurate profiling data which helps to create a more targeted campaign and reduce budget wastage.

Ad Formats

LinkedIn Ads consists of these elements:

Headline (up to 25 characters of text)

  • Description (up to 75 characters of text)
  • From: (your name or any company)
  • Image: (50×50 pixel image)
  • URL (website people visit once they click on your ad)

The ads will be eligible to appear on a variety of prominent pages on the LinkedIn.com website and your ads may appear in various positions on any or all of the pages listed below:

  • Profile Page (when users view the profile of other LinkedIn members)
  • Home Page (the page that users see when they log in to LinkedIn)
  • Inbox (the page where users see messages and invitations to connect)
  • Search Results Page (the page that results when you search for a member by name)
  • Groups (on pages in LinkedIn Groups)

Your ads will only be displayed to LinkedIn members who meet the targeting criteria that you set. The targeting options include:
“Job Title, Job Function, Industry, Geography, Company Size, Company Name, Seniority, Age, Gender, LinkedIn Group”

Currently, LinkedIn only allow ads to be written in English. However, these English-language ads can be targeted and shown to LinkedIn members in over 50 countries including Europe.

So, next time you’re planning cost per click ad campaigns and you want to target business professionals make sure you consider the LinkedIn network because the precision targeting options that this social network offers will help you to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing budget.

2011 Top 5 Web Design Mistakes

Designing and developing websites can seem easy but getting it right is not. Below are our top 5 mistakes that could be affecting your website right now.

1. Incorrectly Using Adobe Flash

This one’s been around for years but is still a major problem. Adobe Flash allows the use of animation on the web. It can be used for something as simple as a blinking button to something as complex as an entire website. Flash is rarely needed in 2011 with new technologies capable of reproducing its functionality across more platforms than Flash supports.

  • Search Engines try to understand Flash but it will never be as readily indexed as standard text. That means your audience will be visiting your competitors site because they simply won’t know yours exists.
  • Flash doesn’t work on the iPhone or iPad, both of which are increasingly used in the Medical, Pharma and Healthcare industries.

Why it’s important: Mobile web browsing is increasing exponentially. If your site can’t be seen it’s not worth having.

2. Ignoring Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) should be considered for every site but is hugely important when patients and medical professionals are involved.

  • 75% of consumers use the Internet to search for advice about health, medicines or medical conditions
  • 81% of physicians use search engines like Google to research medical related info

Basic SEO can be achieved using a few simple techniques that can make the difference between you or your competitor being found by a potential or existing customer. For starters:

  • Always use a page title that accurately describes the purpose of the page. This is what will show up in Google so keep it short (max 70 characters) and appealing (to encourage people to click it!)
  • Always include accurate, concise headings. Headings not only help the search engines understand the nature of the page they also help users find the information they need quickly.
  • Always use plain text. Plain text is what the search engines understand so don’t be tempted to use images, PDF files or anything else instead.

Why it’s important: Your competitors are in Google. If you’re not, you’re losing business.

3. If It’s Broke, Fix It!

This really covers a multitude of sins but essentially boils down to sites not being maintained properly and becoming out dated.

The 404 error (techno speak for a missing page) can be a major irritant for site visitors who expect to find what they’re looking for without having to jump through hoops. Most often, 404 errors occur because a site has been redesigned or restructured and the content has moved. By using ‘redirects’ a 404 can be avoided. A redirect is a hidden instruction that automatically routes a user to the correct location when they try to visit an outdated page. Redirects should be implemented every time a site is restructured or a page is moved. And just to cover all eventualities, use a ‘friendly’ 404 page that recognises the error and advises on what to try next.

Out of date information can be equally damaging, particularly if it’s medical related. Ensuring a site can be readily maintained by using a powerful yet simple Content Management System can help avoid this.

Missing pictures, broken downloads, slow loading pages, duplicate pages, contradictory information, doesn’t work in an old web browser, doesn’t work in a new web browser, doesn’t work full stop! There are plenty of things that can go wrong with a website so good reporting and a comprehensive maintenance routine are essential.

Why it’s important: You have seconds to engage a visitor. A badly maintained site = a lost visitor.

4. No Call To Action

So you’ve ditched the Flash, optimised the site, got bang up-to-date information and the visitors are coming. Now what? One hot topic in web design right now is Conversion Optimisation which is the technique of encouraging visitors to perform goal oriented tasks. The task could be downloading a brochure, placing an order or completing a contact form for example.

Without setting specific goals and having calls-to-action that channel users toward those goals you risk wasting a visitor. If someone comes to your site, finds the information they’re after and then immediately leaves they’re far less valuable than if they go on to volunteer their contact information.

Having a call to action and making sure it’s optimised is key to a successful modern website.

Why it’s important: You’re wasting budget if you’re not getting the most from every visitor to your site.

5. No Tracking

You ditched Flash, optimised, informed and converted. Or did you? Tracking, reporting and analysis is hugely important in understanding not only how your site is currently performing but how it can be adjusted for improved performance.

There are many reporting options available but the one which has quickly become the standard is provided free by Google. Google Analytics is a web based service which requires a small amount of code to be added to every page on your site. At it’s most basic it can tell you how visitors arrived at your site, the search terms they might have used, which pages they viewed, where they exited, how long they stayed, the most popular pages and much more.

By monitoring site analytics, and making use of the more advanced options to track online marketing campaigns, you can identify patterns in visitor behaviour that allow you to introduce changes to help increase your chances of converting visitors into customers. Furthermore, you can more easily identify which areas of your online marketing activity are delivering the highest quality of visitors and focus more budget on those activities thus reducing budget waste.

Why it’s important: To improve your site you have to know how it’s performing.

Bonus item: Ignoring Mobile

According to research, half a billion people accessed the internet using a mobile device worldwide in 2009. Usage is expected to double within five years as mobile overtakes the PC as the most popular way to get on the web. If your website doesn’t accommodate mobile users you could well be cutting off a significant proportion of your audience.

 

There are lots of mistakes that can be made when developing websites, the list above is just a few that we think are paramount right now. It would have been easy to write a top 10 but we’ll save the rest for when we talk to you!

Kung Fu Panda – “This Time Its Personal” – Google Panda Survival Guide

So it’s now almost 6 months since Google rolled out their Panda update and boy has it caused some furore. This Panda has kicked some butt alright, the thread over on Webmaster World has spanned to over 250 messages –  and plenty of website owners are not happy with this particular algo update. Anyway I want to try and cut through all the hype and angst surrounding Panda and take a look at where Google are at in this significant update and how we as search engine marketers can avoid getting beaten up by Panda.

Question one – Is Panda a rolling update?

Barry Schwartz over at SEOroundtable did seem to think that Panda is a rolling update and that Google will continue to tweak their algo daily. However, a spokesperson over at Google commented: “We’re continuing to iterate on our Panda algorithm as part of our commitment to returning high-quality sites to Google users. This most recent update is one of the roughly 500 changes we make to our ranking algorithms each year.”
The team over at Searchengineland have kept a timeline on the various Panda updates that have taken place and have seen a clear update pattern evolve.  Since Feb, Google have updated Panda every 4 to 7 weeks so this seems to suggest that there are more changes to come.

Question two – Why have some sites that have been using so-called ethical SEO techniques fallen foul of the Panda update?

So let’s try and understand why some sites have fallen into the tumbleweed search results pages. The Panda update has impacted around 12% of search queries which means that a lot of websites have seen their search traffic impacted.
The common theme that I am picking up on why some sites have dropped down the SERPS is down to poor quality content, i.e. content that adds little value to your site and your visitors aren’t engaging with that content. Panda is a filter that Google has developed to flag-up what it believes to be low-quality content on web pages. Basically if you have too many low-quality pages with little original content then Google penalises those pages. It doesn’t mean that your entire site is out of Google but it does mean that pages within your site carry a penalty designed to help ensure only the better ones make it into Google’s top results.

So the types of pages that might get affected are those pages that you might have introduced into your site to specifically target certain keywords and get a higher ranking for them. Doorway pages, gateway pages, SEO articles – these are pages that you have been specifically created to appeal to search engine spiders. The content is keyword rich and the html has been appropriately formatted so that you can rank well for the key phrase being targeted. Little thought has been given to usability and how the end user will react to that page. These pages are deliberately often buried deep within the site’s hierarchy so that users who are already on your site can’t easily come into contact with them, for obvious reason.

A response from a Google employee on their Webmaster Forum commented:

“Bear in mind that people searching on Google typically don’t want to see shallow or poorly written content, content that’s copied from other websites, or information that are just not that useful. In addition, it’s important for webmasters to know that low quality content on part of a site can impact a site’s ranking as a whole. For this reason, if you believe you’ve been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.”

If you think you’ve been negatively affected by Panda and wrongly so, then you can try and use the Google webmaster forum to see if someone from Google will manually review your site.

Question three – How does Panda impact the future of SEO?

SEO is all about adapting. I have been developing SEO strategies since 1996 and the techniques that I used back then would get my clients into serious trouble today. The point I am making is that as Google evolves so does the way we do SEO. 

Here are my 5 tips on how to avoid the “Panda Punch”

1 – Make the content on your site engaging
Yes, the process the of getting an SEO copywriter to produce a series of 300-500 word articles for your site used to be an effective SEO technique and it still can be. But, the content for those pages need to add value and they need to be of a high enough quality so that they capture the interest of your site visitors. If they don’t, then they won’t serve a purpose anymore because Google will ignore them. Spend more time creating fewer higher quality pieces of content as opposed to quickly bashing out hundreds of ‘doorway pages’ that don’t actually contain any valuable information that will help your site visitors achieve what it is they are trying to achieve by visiting your site.

2 – Fix usability issues
Do ugly and poorly designed pages inspire confidence, of course they don’t? Get back to basics and make sure that the web pages that you put up on your site are all well styled and that the content is easy to read so that it draws your visitors in and they stay to read it.

3 – Reduce the bounce rate
OK, so this is closely linked to usability and writing engaging content.  The last thing Google wants to see is a visitor that selects a page from the top of its search results and returns almost immediately without even viewing another page on that site. To Google that is a clear signal that it has failed to do its job properly. It has not served up a relevant, high quality page for its user’s search query.  Use your analytics pages to identify all the pages on your site that have high bounce rates, especially the ones that are ranking well or used to be. Then think about how you can improve the quality of those pages so the bounce rate reduces.

4 – Get people linking to and tagging those pages
Getting other sites to link to internal pages (other than your home page) within your site has always been an effective way of improving the credibility and authority of that page. However, it’s easier send than done, unless you have something on that page that is really going to add value and provide the owner of the linking website with a good reason to point his own visitors in the direction of your web page. It can be a well written article, white paper, video, info graphic – it doesn’t matter as long as what you are promoting is unique and engaging.  On the topic of linking it’s also important that you have plenty of internal links pointing to those pages also. Again, that’s a clear indicator of quality – if you’re prepared to link to those pages and send your own visitors to them, then Google will think that they must serve a valuable purpose.
There’s also no harm in making use of social bookmarking icons on your pages to make it easier for your visitors to flag the page up to friends and colleagues. The one’s I’d focus on are Facebook Like and Google +1. I’ll do a separate post on these later on.

5 – Don’t view SEO as a one-off project and don’t isolate SEO
SEO is not a project in the sense that it has a definitive start and end date. It’s an ongoing process that should be a key part of your marketing mix. And as its part of the marketing mix, don’t isolate it. SEO can and needs to be integrated with all your other marketing communications activity. Don’t just think about optimising web pages. Google now serves up a wide range of digital media in its search results. You need to be asking how do we optimise that video that we created, so that it appears in Google?  A wide range of digital assets can be optimised for search engines including video, images, clinical papers, product databases not just your web pages.
 If your business benefits from good search engine visibility then invest in that area full-time. SEO is an activity that can deliver good long term results as long as you get the strategy right and put in the required effort. It’s not an activity that will deliver short term results, unlike pay per click advertising. I like to compare SEO and PPC in terms of buying a house versus renting one. Yes, PPC like renting provides an immediate short term solution. However, buying a home and investing in SEO will deliver a greater return on your investment in the medium to long term.