Monthly Archives: February 2021

Sites Have a Sneaky New Way to Track You Across the Web

February 20, 2021 No Comments

Plus: A LastPass rate change, Clubhouse concerns, and more of the week’s top security news.
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When Facebook Ads is NOT a Viable Strategy for Clients

February 20, 2021 No Comments

It’s only human nature to try things that other people are doing because it feels like a good idea and/or the right thing to do. In many instances, the outcome is either neutral or positive. However, in today’s online marketing world, just because someone is doing it, doesn’t make the outcome “good”. In contrast, it could actually backfire (both financially and reputation-wise). Let me explain.

When Facebook rolled out their advertising platform, everyone wanted to get in on the action. After a few years of “trial and error” trying to figure out the algorithm, it became clear that this was a potential money-making machine for advertisers. However, it didn’t take long for these same advertisers to see that their Ad dollars increasing while their Cost/Conversion skyrocket. It was this outcome, that started everyone to second-guess the benefit of this new PPC alternative to Google Adwords (now Google Ads)

Personally, many of my clients over the years wanted to try Facebook ads and frankly who wouldn’t? It was an amazing feeling where an advertiser could target pretty much anything they wanted. (Men 55+, Divorced, like Fine Scotch, NY Yankees and watches CNN). However, that honeymoon didn’t last very long. It was not based on strategy or setting inaccurate expectations, it was simply not cost effective and actually started to hurt their reputation. Clients would take a hit based simply on comments given by competitors and/or disgruntled people. It was this experience that quickly changed the minds of not only myself, but also the client. It was this combination of poor performance along with reputation issues that made them feel even more skeptical this new platform. However, over the years there’s been (1) one silver-lining and that is identifying which clients could benefit the most from this hyper-targeting platform.

In conclusion, as an Agency or Freelancer it is entirely OK to say to a client NO to Facebook Ads or at the very least say we should do a “test” to evaluate it’s potential. In candor, it all depends on the advertiser’s audience along with sensible strategies and agreed upon success metrics.

Digital Marketing Agency | Google Ads Consultant

Ironclad’s Jason Boehmig: The objective of pricing is to become less wrong over time

February 20, 2021 No Comments

In 2017, Ironclad founder and CEO Jason Boehmig was looking to raise a Series A. As a former lawyer, Boehmig had a specific process for fundraising and an ultimate goal of finding the right investors for his company.

Part of Boehmig’s process was to ask people in the San Francisco Bay Area about their favorite place to work. Many praised RelateIQ, a company founded by Steve Loughlin who had sold it to Salesforce for $ 390 million and was brand new to venture at the time.

“I wanted to meet Steve and had kind of put two and two together,” said Boehmig. “I was like, ‘There’s this founder I’ve been meaning to connect with anyways, just to pick his brain, about how to build a great company, and he also just became an investor.’”

On this week’s Extra Crunch Live, the duo discussed how the Ironclad pitch excited Loughlin about leading the round. (So excited, in fact, he signed paperwork in the hospital on the same day his child was born.) They also discussed how they’ve managed to build trust by working through disagreements and the challenges of pricing and packaging enterprise products.

As with every episode of Extra Crunch Live, they also gave feedback on pitch decks submitted by the audience. (If you’d like to see your deck featured on a future episode, send it to us using this form.)

We record Extra Crunch Live every Wednesday at 12 p.m. PST/3 p.m. EST/8 p.m. GMT. You can see our past episodes here and check out the March slate right here.

Episode breakdown:

  • The pitch — 2:30
  • How they operate — 23:00
  • The problem of pricing — 29:00
  • Pitch deck teardown — 35:00

The pitch

When Boehmig came in to pitch Accel, Loughlin remembers feeling ambivalent. He had heard about the company and knew a former lawyer was coming in to pitch a legal tech company. He also trusted the reference who had introduced him to Boehmig, and thought, “I’ll take the meeting.”

Then, Boehmig dove into the pitch. The company had about a dozen customers that were excited about the product, and a few who were expanding use of the product across the organization, but it wasn’t until the ultimate vision of Ironclad was teased that Loughlin perked up.

Loughlin realized that the contract can be seen as a core object that could be used to collaborate horizontally across the enterprise.

“That was when the lightbulb went off and I realized this is actually much bigger,” said Loughlin. “This is not a legal tech company. This is core horizontal enterprise collaboration in one of the areas that has not been solved yet, where there is no great software yet for legal departments to collaborate with their counterparts.”

He listed all the software that those same counterparts had to let them collaborate: Salesforce, Marketo, Zendesk. Any investor would be excited to hear that a potential portfolio company could match the likes of those behemoths. Loughlin was hooked.

“There was a slide that I’m guessing Jason didn’t think much of, as it was just the data around the business, but I got pretty excited about it,” said Loughlin. “It said, for every legal user Ironclad added, they added nine other users from departments like sales, marketing, customer service, etc. It was evidence that this theory of collaboration could be true at scale.”

Enterprise – TechCrunch

Four common SEO problems with Shopify and how to fix them

February 20, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • While Shopify is one of the most popular platforms for ecommerce businesses, the CMS has a number of issues that can be problematic for SEO
  • Best SEO practices generally apply to all CMS platforms, but Shopify has several in-built features that cannot be customized, meaning some items require more unique workarounds
  • Edward Coram-James discusses issues such as restricted URL structure and duplicate content, providing advice on how to combat Shopify’s shortcomings in these areas

Shopify is the most widely-used ecommerce platform, making it easier than ever before for businesses to sell their stock online. Its easy-to-use CMS has made it particularly beneficial for smaller retailers during the pandemic, allowing them to claw back around 94% of what would have otherwise been lost sales.

As with any new website, a fresh Shopify store will require a great deal of effort on the part of its webmaster to establish the necessary visibility for users to find the site, let alone convert into customers. And as with any CMS, there are a few SEO hurdles that store owners will need to clear to ensure that their website finds its audience efficiently. Some of these hurdles are more deep-rooted than others, so we’ve broken down four of the most common SEO problems on Shopify and how you can fix them for your webstore.

1. Restricted URL structure

In much the same way that WordPress splits content between posts and pages, Shopify’s CMS allows you to divide your product listings into two main categories — products and collections — alongside more general posts, pages, and blogs. Creating a new product on Shopify allows you to list the individual items you have for sale, while collections give you the opportunities to bring your disparate products together and sort them into easily-searched categories.

The problem most people have with this imposed system of organizing content is that Shopify also enforces a predetermined hierarchical structure with limited customization options. The subfolders /product and /collection must be included in the URL of every new product or collection you upload.

Despite it being a huge bone of contention with its users, Shopify has yet to address this and there is no solution currently. As a result, you will need to be extremely careful with the URLs slug (the only part that can be customized). Ensure you are using the right keywords in the slug and categorize your posts sensibly to give your products the best chance of being found.

2. Automatically generated duplicate content

Another frustrating issue users have with classifying their content as a product or collection occurs when they add a specific product into a collection. This is because, although there will already be a URL in place for the product page, linking a product to a collection automatically creates an additional URL for it within that collection. Shopify automatically treats the collection URL as the canonical one for internal links, rather than the product one, which can make things extremely difficult when it comes to ensuring that the right pages are indexed.

In this instance, however, Shopify has allowed for fixes, though it does involve editing code in the back end of your store’s theme. Following these instructions will instruct your Shopify site’s collections pages to internally link only to the canonical /product/ URLs.

3. No trailing slash redirect

Another of Shopify’s duplicate content issues relates to the trailing slash, which is basically a ‘/’ at the end of the URL used to mark a directory. Google treats URLs with and without a trailing slash as unique pages. By default, Shopify automatically ends URLs without a trailing slash, but variations of the same URL with a trailing slash are accessible to both users and search engines. This can normally be avoided by enforcing a site-wide trailing slash redirect via the website’s htaccess file, but Shopify does not allow access to the htaccess file.

Shopify instead recommends that webmasters use canonical tags to inform Google which version of each page is preferred for indexing. As the only fix available so far, it will have to do, but it’s far from ideal and often leads to data attribution issues in Google Analytics and other tracking software.

4. No control over the website’s robots.txt file

Beyond the CMS forcing users to create duplicate versions of pages against their will, Shopify also prevents webmasters from being able to make manual edits to their store’s robots.txt file. Apparently, Shopify sees this as a perk, taking care of the pesky technical SEO issues on your behalf. But, when products go out of stock or collections get pulled, you can neither noindex nor nofollow the redundant pages left behind.

In this instance, you are able to edit the theme of your store, incorporating meta robots tags into the <head> section of each relevant page. Shopify has created a step-by-step guide on how to hide redundant pages from search here.

Are there any unique challenges your Shopify webstore is facing? Share them in the comments.

Edward Coram James is an SEO professional and the Chief Executive of Go Up Ltd, an international agency dedicated to helping its clients navigate the complexities of global SEO and the technical aspects of delivering location-specific pages to targeted audiences.

The post Four common SEO problems with Shopify and how to fix them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

A marketer’s guide to Core Web Vitals and page experience

February 19, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Google has always placed its emphasis on the user experience
  • Core web vitals (CWV) and the Page Experience Update are part of that evolution
  • Sites that already recognize the importance of fast loading times and exceptional UX are best positioned to benefit
  • The prospect of having searchers warned off from clicking on your organic listings is real

Optimizing user experience makes for a more delightful web experience for all. Back in May 2020, Google announced a major Page Experience Update was on the horizon, based on information taken from internal studies and industry research that demonstrates how users prefer sites with a great page experience.

This new set of search ranking signals incorporates user experience metrics including mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, SSL certification, and intrusive interstitials, as well as Core Web Vitals. Page Experience is not a requirement, and there are no penalties for not focusing here. However, the additional ranking boost could just be the factor that moves your site ahead of competitors.

In this column, you’ll learn what Core Web Vitals and Page Experience are, why they matter and what you can do to get ready for the upcoming change.

What are page experience signals?

If you take a step back and look at some of the areas where Google has placed its emphasis on the user and their experience, you can see why the new signals are so important and the bigger picture.

Page experience insights

Source: BrightEdge, Preparing for the Page Experience Update

Google has recommended that websites implement SSL and considered it a ranking factor since 2014. Three years later, the search giant added a visible marker in search results to indicate whether or not the site was HTTPS-compliant. This suddenly became a priority for marketers, as at the time just 65% of sites ranking for high volume keywords had SSL in place.

Mobile optimization was a priority even before Mobilegeddon back in 2016, and today is just best practice. It’s so important to Google that they have given webmasters a free mobile-friendliness test to ensure compliance.

Google has been penalizing sites for having annoying interstitials at least since 2016, and actively warns searchers if they’re about to visit a site deemed unsafe for browsing.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Said to be happening sometime in May 2021, the introduction of Core Web Vitals (CWV) as a ranking factor represents a significant change to the way that websites are currently ranked, shining a spotlight on more of the technical aspects that contribute to overall UX.

CWVs are real-world, user-centered measurements that help us to understand more about how users may perceive the experience of interacting with web pages. They do this by quantifying three key aspects:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) refers to the time until the page’s main content has loaded and specifies that this should be below 2.5 seconds.
  • First Input Delay (FID) looks at interactivity – namely, the time between when the user tries to engage with the page and when the browser can actually respond. This should occur within 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) considers visual stability and how content still being loaded to a page impacts the existing content. For instance, images and ads that push content down or to the side and widgets that do the same lead to a negative CLS score.

Websites that offer great UX will also be highlighted in search results. Google hopes that this visual indicator, coupled with existing text snippets and image previews, will direct users to sites that provide them with precisely what they need.

All of the above sounds like best practice that we should already have implemented, so what’s new?

The Page Experience Update isn’t a set of new signals, but a reminder of Google’s unwavering commitment to putting the searcher first.

What user experience actually means to Google and why it’s important

Google’s latest planned update only serves to underscore what many website developers and digital marketers have known for some time now – UX matters.

Slow loading times and frustrating interactions with websites can undermine a customer’s whole perspective of a company or brand. In contrast, positive experiences are more likely to keep them coming back for more.

Google explains,

“Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.”

By providing an exact roadmap for change, alongside useful tools for evaluating and altering sites, Google is getting better at giving business owners and SEOs the opportunity to remedy the technical shortcomings of their sites that impact user UX to make the internet a better place for everyone.

What Google’s intense prioritization of page experience means for marketers

Google announcing the upcoming release of this new update, something it rarely does, suggests that it will have a significant impact on many. However, we shouldn’t allow this shift in focus to detract from what’s really important – quality content. As Google puts it,

“While all of the components of page experience are important, we will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content.”

Individual sites that already recognize the importance of fast loading times and exceptional UX are best positioned to take advantage of the extra boost in rankings this update promises.

The thing is, despite Google giving us all of these great clues about how to deliver a better user experience, too many marketers and webmasters are still dropping the ball.

How to prepare for Google’s Page Experience Update

Evaluating your site’s Core Web Vitals is the necessary first step to identifying areas in need of optimization. Even if you think they are up to scratch, it’s certainly worth checking.

You’ll find a list of elements to prepare for and fixes here.

For marketers the big question has become this:

If none of this is really anything new and there is no penalty associated with not meeting the page experience standards, how can we convince the C-suite or our clients to invest in optimizing for them?

In a recent Google Search Central ‘SEO Office Hours’ video, John Mueller revealed that marketers expecting incremental benefits for partial compliance may be disappointed:

“The general guideline is we would also like to use this criteria to show a badge in search results, which I think there have been some experiments happening around that. And for that, we really need to know that all of the factors are compliant. So if it’s not on HTTPS then essentially even if the rest is OK then that wouldn’t be enough,”

John said.

Displaying to searchers ahead of the click whether a site measures up to CWVs put this update right up there with safe browsing in importance.

It is important that decision-makers in your organization understand that even though there is no manual or algorithmic penalty associated with the Page Experience Update, the prospect of having searchers warned off from clicking on your organic listings is real.

What’s more, not being penalized is not a win. Although the index can always be expanded, for every position a site rises in the rankings, another is left in its wake.

Google is willing to reward sites that share and demonstrate its priorities. If not yours, then whose?

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.

The post A marketer’s guide to Core Web Vitals and page experience appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

7 Tips For Writing An Irresistible Native Ad Headline

February 19, 2021 No Comments

Writing native ad headlines requires more precision than regular PPC ads. There are some things you need to remember to make your native ad headlines standout.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero

Daily Crunch: Facebook’s Australian news ban is pretty broad

February 19, 2021 No Comments

We explore the fallout of Facebook’s news ban, WhatsApp addresses privacy concerns and Perseverance lands on Mars. This is your Daily Crunch for February 18, 2021.

The big story: Facebook’s Australian news ban is pretty broad

Yes, this was the lead story in yesterday’s newsletter, but 24 hours later, we have a better sense of how things are playing out.

A quick refresher: As the Australian government is debating a law that would require tech platforms to pay media companies for linked content, Facebook has gone ahead and started blocking the sharing or viewing of news. The move has been criticized as censorship and even “an assault on a sovereign nation,” but also praised as a reasonable stand against a “link tax.” (Google made a similar threat but has instead been striking deals with Australian publishers.)

Regardless of how you feel about the decision in theory, the initial implementation has left something to be desired, with the Facebook Pages of hospitals, universities, unions, government departments and the bureau of meteorology all wiped clean. When reached for comment, Facebook confirmed that it applied an intentionally broad definition of news, designed to reflect the law “as drafted.”

The tech giants

Following backlash, WhatsApp to roll out in-app banner to better explain its privacy update — If users choose to review the changes, they’ll be shown a deeper summary, including added details about how WhatsApp works with Facebook.

Apple TV+ arrives on Google TV devices, starting with Chromecast — It will also become available on Google TVs from both Sony and TCL, with expansions to other Android TV-powered devices in the months to come.

Microsoft announces the next perpetual release of Office — If you use Office, Microsoft would really, really, really like you to buy a cloud-enabled subscription to Microsoft 365, but it will continue to make a standalone, perpetual license for Office available, too.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Robinhood goes to Congress — Alex Wilhelm did not enjoy watching.

Math learning app Photomath raises $ 23M as it reaches 220 million downloads — Chances are, you might already know about the app if you have a teenager in your household.

Wholesale marketplace Abound raises $ 22.9M — The marketplace helps independent retailers stock their shelves with new products from up-and-coming brands.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Why do SaaS companies with usage-based pricing grow faster? — Public SaaS companies that have adopted usage-based pricing grow faster because they’re better at landing new customers, growing with them and keeping them as customers.

Creating a prediction machine for the financial markets — Data is the backbone of any prediction machine.

Check out the incredible speakers joining us on Extra Crunch Live in March — Our March slate starts with Sarah Kunst of Cleo Capital and Julia Collins of Planet FWD.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Perseverance lands safely on Mars and sends back its first images of the surface — Perseverance landed after a white-knuckle descent that involved picking a landing spot just moments before making a rocket-powered sky-crane landing.

Tired of ‘Zoom University’? So is edtech — A wave of startups is trying to disrupt the virtual school day.

California DMV warns of data breach after a contractor was hit by ransomware — Automatic Funds Transfer Services, which the DMV said it has used for verifying changes of address, was hit by an unspecified strain of ransomware earlier this month.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Social – TechCrunch

SESO Labor is providing a way for migrant farmworkers to get legally protected work status in the US

February 19, 2021 No Comments

As the Biden administration works to bring legislation to Congress to address the endemic problem of immigration reform in America, on the other side of the nation a small California startup called SESO Labor has raised $ 4.5 million to ensure that farms can have access to legal migrant labor.

SESO’s founder Mike Guirguis raised the round over the summer from investors including Founders Fund and NFX. Pete Flint, a founder of Trulia, joined the company’s board. The company has 12 farms it’s working with and is negotiating contracts with another 46. The company’s other co-founder, Jordan Taylor, was the first product hire at Farmer’s Business Network and previously of Dropbox.

Working within the existing regulatory framework that has existed since 1986, SESO has created a service that streamlines and manages the process of getting H-2A visas, which allow migrant agricultural workers to reside temporarily in the U.S. with legal protections.

At this point, SESO is automating the visa process, getting the paperwork in place for workers and smoothing the application process. The company charges about $ 1,000 per worker, but eventually as it begins offering more services to workers themselves, Guirguis envisions several robust lines of revenue. Eventually, the company would like to offer integrated services for both farm owners and farm workers, Guirguis said.

SESO is currently expecting to bring in 1,000 workers over the course of 2021 and the company is, as of now, pre-revenue. The largest industry player handling worker visas today currently brings in 6,000 workers per year, so the competition, for SESO, is market share, Guirguis said.

America’s complicated history of immigration and agricultural labor

The H-2A program was set up to allow agricultural employers who anticipate shortages of domestic workers to bring to the U.S. non-immigrant foreign workers to work on farms temporarily or seasonally. The workers are covered by U.S. wage laws, workers’ compensation and other standards, including access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act.

Employers who use the visa program to hire workers are required to pay inbound and outbound transportation, provide free or rental housing and provide meals for workers (they’re allowed to deduct the costs from salaries).

H-2 visas were first created in 1952 as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which reinforced the national origins quota system that restricted immigration primarily to Northern Europe, but opened America’s borders to Asian immigrants for the first time since immigration laws were first codified in 1924. While immigration regulations were further opened in the sixties, the last major immigration reform package in 1986 served to restrict immigration and made it illegal for businesses to hire undocumented workers. It also created the H-2A visas as a way for farms to hire migrant workers without incurring the penalties associated with using illegal labor.

For some migrant workers, the H-2A visa represents a golden ticket, according to Guirguis, an honors graduate of Stanford who wrote his graduate thesis on labor policy.

“We are providing a staffing solution for farms and agribusiness and we want to be Gusto for agriculture and upsell farms on a comprehensive human resources solution,” says Guirguis of the company’s ultimate mission, referencing payroll provider Gusto.

As Guirguis notes, most workers in agriculture are undocumented. “These are people who have been taken advantage of [and] the H-2A is a visa to bring workers in legally. We’re able to help employers maintain workforce [and] we’re building software to help farmers maintain the farms.”

Opening borders even as they remain closed

Farms need the help, if the latest numbers on labor shortages are believable, but it’s not necessarily a lack of H-2A visas that’s to blame, according to an article in Reuters.

In fact, the number of H-2A visas granted for agriculture equipment operators rose to 10,798 from October through March, according to the Reuters report. That’s up 49% from a year ago, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor cited by Reuters.

Instead of an inability to acquire the H-2A visa, it was an inability to travel to the U.S. that’s been causing problems. Tighter border controls, the persistent global pandemic and travel restrictions that were imposed to combat it have all played a role in keeping migrant workers in their home countries.

Still, Guirguis believes that with the right tools, more farms would be willing to use the H-2A visa, cutting down on illegal immigration and boosting the available labor pool for the tough farm jobs that American workers don’t seem to want.

Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images.

David Misener, the owner of an Oklahoma-based harvesting company called Green Acres Enterprises, is one employer who has struggled to find suitable replacements for the migrant workers he typically hires.

“They could not fathom doing it and making it work,” Misener told Reuters, speaking about the American workers he’d tried to hire.

“With H-2A, migrant workers make 10 times more than they would get paid at home,” said Guirguis. “They’re taking home the equivalent of $ 40 an hour. The H-2A is coveted.”

Guirguis thinks that with the right incentives and an easier onramp for farmers to manage the application and approval process, the number of employers that use H-2A visas could grow to be 30% to 50% of the farm workforce in the country. That means growing the number of potential jobs from 300,000 to 1.5 million for migrants who would be under many of the same legal protections that citizens enjoy while they’re working on the visa.

Protecting agricultural workers through better paperwork

Interest in the farm labor nexus and issues surrounding it came to the first-time founder through Guirguis’ experience helping his cousin start her own farm. Spending several weekends a month helping her grow the farm with her husband, Guirguis heard his stories about coming to the U.S. as an undocumented worker.

Employers using the program avoid the liability associated with being caught employing illegal labor, something that crackdowns under the Trump administration made more common.

Still, it’s hard to deny the program’s roots in the darker past of America’s immigration policy. And some immigration advocates argue that the H-2A system suffers from the same kinds of structural problems that plague the corollary H-1B visas for tech workers.

“The H-2A visa is a short-term temporary visa program that employers use to import workers into the agricultural fields … It’s part of a very antiquated immigration system that needs to change. The 11.5 million people who are here need to be given citizenship,” said Saket Soni, the founder of an organization called Resilience Force, which advocates for immigrant labor. “And then workers who come from other countries, if we need them, they have to be able to stay … H-2A workers don’t have a pathway to citizenship. Workers come to us afraid of blowing the whistle on labor issues. As much as the H-2A is a welcome gift for a worker it can also be abused.”

Soni said the precarity of a worker’s situation — and their dependence on a single employer for their ability to remain in the country legally — means they are less likely to speak up about problems at work, since there’s nowhere for them to go if they are fired.

“We are big proponents that if you need people’s labor you have to welcome them as human beings,” Soni said. “Where there’s a labor shortage as people come, they should be allowed to stay … H-2A is an example of an outdated immigration tool.”

Guirguis clearly disagrees and said a platform like SESO’s will ultimately create more conveniences and better services for the workers who come in on these visas.

“We’re trying to put more money in the hands of these workers at the end of the day,” he said. “We’re going to be setting up remittance and banking services. Everything we do should be mutually beneficial for the employer and the worker who is trying to get into this program and know that they’re not getting taken advantage of.”

Startups – TechCrunch

10 “Real” Marketing Tips for Wealth Management Firms

February 17, 2021 No Comments

Are you getting tired of sifting through countless marketing articles trying to get some actual tangible advice to grow your Wealth Management company? Finding out that many of them fall short in terms of specific strategies by merely stating the obvious? Well, this article is different. I will cut through the gibberish and provide actual “hands-on” strategies that can help either a wealth management office or even financial consultants looking to grow their online presence.

#1 Basic Digital Marketing

Most of the public associates Google with SEO (Search Engine optimization) and even though they are somewhat correct, it’s much more than that. Even though PPC (Pay-Per-Click) has been a staple in digital marketing longer than algorithm-optimized SEO, they are both still a major factor in generating traffic and sales to websites. However, (SEM) Search Engine Marketing has evolved immensely, and industries such as Legal, Banking and Wealth Management communities need to adjust their strategies accordingly.

Honestly, there’s a reason why Google’s offices serve Gelato and Filet Mignon at lunch for their employees. It’s because they can charge outrageous amount of $ $ for specific keyword based on their alleged value. Let’s face it, Google Ads is not always cost-effective. For example, anything with the keyword “Wealth Manager, Estate Planning, ” is crazy expensive. The only way that this might be profitable is if you Cost/Conversion or “life-time value” metric that meets your requirements. To help explain, I will provide some “outside the box” strategies that can help ease the $ $ pain

Here’s an example of Google Ads Pricing (These are lower than in reality)

#2 Outside the Box Matters

When thinking about search marketing, the most important metrics to consider are (1) search volume and (2) estimated value of the content/keywords. However, when doing PPC Marketing keyword research, it’s not so easy. For example: Bidding on general legal keywords (IRA Rollover, Wealth Management) can result in the following dilemmas:

  • Highly competitive
  • Very Expensive
  • Higher risk for click fraud
  • Loss of Ad serving due to budget constraints

How do we remedy the problem?

Below are a few examples on how to classify keyword research in order to evaluate ROI and overall understanding of searching behaviors.

  • Long-Tail Keywords: These are longer specific phrases to filter out general searches
    • (wealth management services for veterans, retirement planning for military widows)
  • Intent Classification: Grouping keyword terms that are segmented by an interaction potential
    • High Intent: (wealth management office in Wayne, PA)
    • Medium Intent: (Finance planner in PA)
    • Low Intent: (Financial Consultant)
  • Industry Specific Terms: These terms are highly specific in their service and can provide less competition and lower CPCs
    • “HNWI Financial Planning”
    • “REIT’s Consultants”
    • “UITs Unit Investment Trusts”

#3 Stock Portfolio (No Pun Intended)

Yes, in the digital marketing world, the stock portfolio approach is a virtual must. We are “fishing where the fish are” in today’s world that is EVERYWHERE.

  • Google Ads (search, display)
  • Bing Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Ad Retargeting
  • Organic Search

#4 Ever Heard of LinkedIn

Yes, LinkedIn can be used as a marketing tool not just for gloating about a job promotion and posting articles; it is also a powerful B2B and B2C advertising platform. In fact, LinkedIn Ads has impressive targeting abilities that include targeting specific industries and individuals based on job position levels.

#5 Team vs. Player

In some cases, many Wealth Management offices would rather NOT want to advertise specific employee and just focus on the generalization of their law services. However, in some instances, it can be a marketing “gold-mine” based on news and/or buzz online. If a firm is known for a specific service and is written up in a magazine where the representing attorney has received an award, then having that persons’ name in marketing efforts will most likely provide a higher intent to convert at a lower cost.

#6 Bridging the Channel Gap

This is sort of an “oldie but goodie” strategy. If a Firm is advertising outside of the online world, it is always a good idea to compliment the same branding and messaging online. For example, if a Firm’s slogan/tagline on TV is “ Were the Money Makers”, then there should be the following online:

  • Google Ads campaign with keywords related to “Were the Money Makers”
  • Creation of a content-heavy landing page (within the existing website) about “Were the Money Makers”
  • Banner Ads that say “Were the Money Makers”

#7 Free, Free, Free

Once in a while, it is nice to generate website traffic and visibility for basically nothing. In this case, I am talking about Google Places and pushing content/blog posts through social media.

In the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), Google Places is a very lucrative position, especially on mobile devices within a specific geographic. In the Legal world, this is golden. It doesn’t cost anything, includes the ability to post photos, receive reviews/feedback, etc..

Pushing content via Social media: Now, it may cost money to hire a writer to develop content, but it does not cost anything to make it viral through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others.

#8 Little Secret from Comedians

You’re probably wondering where I am going with this. Well, it has been widely known that “Timing” is a crucial part of a successful comedy. Moreover, the same can be said for online marketing. For example, let’s suppose there is a big news story about a lawsuit regarding a case involving Estate Charitable Giving. Well, since “Estate Charitable Giving” is in the public eye, the shelf life will eventually dissipate by the next day or so. To leverage this, a Law Firm that provides Estate Charitable Giving could benefit by pushing their own content, provide opinions in social media, or even create a small PPC Marketing campaign around these terms.

#9 That Annoying Retargeting:

I’m sure everyone has experienced that annoying banner that follows you everywhere you go, but in the same breath, you want to do the same to others than visited your website. Well, there are more refined strategies to retargeting that can help filter out that annoyance. For example, here are some retargeting options:

  • Target people who only visit specific pages or interactions to limit wasteful ad dollars
  • Upload email lists of current and past leads/customer into Google Ads and Facebook Ads (called RSLA)
  • You can create “Look-a-like” audiences in Facebook Ads were Facebook can identify similar audiences and target ads to them directly. (little scary but works)

#10 Ever Heard of Analytics?

Analytics is the key to everything. The biggest issue Law Firms face is not only trying to understand what the data means but also to make sure their website is being accurate tracked for every interaction point. For example:

  • Phone Calls
  • All Online Forms
  • Online Chats
  • Visits of a specific highly relevant page

Besides validating that the Analytics tracking code is correctly tracking information, advertisers also need to have a firm understanding of at least the following metrics:

  • Where did they come from?
  • What pages did they visit most?
  • Where are my leads coming from?
  • What is their GEO location?
  • Which days of the week are better than others?
  • Did that TV commercial increase traffic for a specific day?

In conclusion:

The purpose of this article was to provide actual “tangible” strategies that have been used with legal clients in the past (and present). If you are a wealth management firm of in the financial planning industry and would like to connect with us, please feel free to reach out to me greg@afterclicks.com

Digital Marketing Agency | Google Ads Consultant

Reddit’s transparency report shows a big spam problem and relatively few government requests

February 17, 2021 No Comments

Reddit has published its transparency report for 2020, showing various numbers relating to removed content, government requests and other administrative actions. The largest problem by far — in terms of volume, anyway — is spam, which made up nearly all content taken down. Legal requests for content takedown and user information were far fewer, but not trivial, in number.

The full report is quite readable, but a bit long; the main points to understand are summarized below.

Of nearly 3.4 billion pieces of content created on Reddit (which is to say posts, comments, hosted images, etc.), 233 million were removed. These numbers are both up by 20%-30% from 2019. Of those 233 million, 131 million were “proactive” removals by the AutoMod system and 13.6 million were removed after user reports by subreddit moderators.

The remaining 85 million were taken down by Reddit admins; 99.76% of these were spam or “content manipulation” like brigading and astroturfing, with around 50,000 each of harassment, hate and sexualization of minors, smaller amounts of violent speech, doxing and so on.

Chart showing that content removal on reddit was largely spam.

Image Credits: Reddit

82,858 subreddits were removed, nearly four times more than 2019. The majority of these were for lack of moderation, followed by hate, harassment and ban evasion (e.g., r/bannedsub starts r/bannedsub2).

When it came to removing comments, hate, violence and harassment were much more prevalent. And 92% of private messages removed (of about 25,000 total) were for harassment.

Outside of spam and content manipulation, hate speech resulted in far more bans than any other infraction; more accounts were permanently banned for hate in 2020 than for all causes combined in 2019. (But far fewer for content violations than for spam and ban evasion.)

Government requests to remove content were relatively few. Overall Reddit received a couple hundred requests covering about 5,000 pieces of content or subreddits. For example, 753 subreddits had their access restricted to Pakistani users due to anti-obscenity laws there.

Requests from individuals or companies to remove things numbered in the hundreds, and copyright takedown notices asked for about half a million pieces of content to be removed (375,774 were), more than twice 2019’s. Only a handful of DMCA counter-notices were received.

Law enforcement came to Reddit 611 times for user information, up 50% from last year, and the company granted 424 of those requests. These are mostly subpoenas, court orders and search warrants. Since Reddit isn’t really a social network and accounts can be essentially anonymous or throwaway, it’s hard to say what level of disclosure this actually represents. Emergency disclosure requests numbered about 300 and were mostly complied with — these are supposedly life-or-death situations in which a Reddit account is concerned.

Lastly Reddit received somewhere between 0 and 249 secret requests for data, targeting somewhere between 0 and 249 users, same as last year. Sadly, federal law prohibits them from saying any more than this regarding FISA orders and National Security Letters.

Overall the picture painted of Reddit in 2020 is of a growing community plagued by spam and inauthentic activity, plus a significant and growing contingent of hate, harassment and other prohibited content (though last year was surely an exceptional one for this). Lacking much fundamental access to or use of personally identifiable data, Reddit isn’t much of a target for three-letter agencies and law enforcement. And with “free speech”-focused alternatives to Reddit and other platforms popping up, it’s likely that the hate and harassment that were deplatformed will roost elsewhere in 2021.

Social – TechCrunch