New Visibility Services for Local Businesses

Small business visibility services.

We’ve just introduced a new service for businesses located in Fredericksburg and Harrisonburg, Virginia. Check out the details or view on our website.

Our unique local business visibility program allows you to choose the services and level of engagement you need to grow your business. Choose from services like drone photography, drone videography, video creation for ad and website use, Google My Business management, and Google Ads Express advertising —all with an eye on driving more local traffic to your store or to increase sales of your local services.

Flexible Local Business Program Options

You get to choose what makes sense for your business*, but having a professional recommendation can make all the difference in your results.

Drone Shoot Package

Our experienced FAA Licensed, insured, and supremely experienced drone pilot will work with you to create a custom drone package based on your needs. Prices start at $489 for 20 minutes of fly time and the creation of a custom 2 minute video using drone video and still aerial photography. (There is an additional charge for longer fly times based on the area to photograph, travel outside our two service areas, and the addition of music to the video.) Our pilot will provide a custom quote based on the review of your location and unique needs.

Google My Business (GMB) Account Set Up and Management

You may already have a Google My Business account and just need a review and monthly management or you may need help with the full set up. We can assist with GMB verification, verbiage for your page, add monthly posts or events on your schedule, and even mentor you on how to manage it all yourself after et up. GMB set up prices start at $289 or just buy our services by the hour for what you need, when you need it, on your own unique schedule or on-demand.

Google Ads Express Set Up and Management

Google My Business makes it easy to get started in a junior automated version of Google Ads called Google Ads Express. We can set up your first ad program and budget and teach you how to manage it. Or, test out Google Ads with Express and then move to the full professional version of Google Ads for results that are an investment in your business’ growth. Management prices start at $189 to get started with Google Ads Express through the Google My Business portal and help with Google Analytics tracking and conversion goals. (Your webmaster may need to install code on your website for Google Analytics.) We recommend starting with a $300 a month click budget. Clicks are billed separately to your credit card by Google Ads. We do not make a margin on clicks.

Move to the full professional Google Ads version with professional set up and monthly account management within 90 days and get a $150 credit from us on your set up service.

Monthly Management Options

If you need help managing your Google My Business page with monthly posts, event creation updates, or periodic introduction of new images, ask us about our monthly Google My Business management service. Monthly management of your GMB page starts at $189 for one event creation, one small 150-word post, and help with responding to most comments.

*Please note: our local business visibility program is tailor-made for businesses located in our service areas of the Fredericksburg and Harrisonburg, Virginia. Ask us if we can help you with a streamlined version of this unique program in your location.

 

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Privacy Changes Create Challenges for Google Ads Advertisers

Solutions Ahead Privacy Forward Marketing

Privacy challenges and changes are causing a paradigm shift in advertising. Not only is Google Ads impacted but all online advertising platforms including Microsoft Advertising, AdRoll, and others.

This is a complex topic, but I will work to make it easy to understand. Regulations and expectations have changed. The Chrome browser will be retiring the use of third party cookies in 2022. Many browsers like Firefox and Microsoft Edge are already providing users expanded privacy protection. With Google serving nearly 80% of digital advertising, it and the Google Ad platform will be hurt the most by these new privacy initiatives.

The bottom line is that third party cookies which are being degraded drive conversions as a user travels the web. Knowing more about you and what you share with Google (via cookies) and what browsers record about your activities online – drive conversions for advertisers. Take that away and advertisers will be less relevant to your needs. When advertisers struggle to make conversions and drive sales, Google is impacted as advertising dollars are moved to other advertising products.

81% of internet users this year became more concerned about privacy and personal data. 59% of internet users feel that their privacy is not sufficiently protected by the companies that they do business with. (From the Google Partner seminar on Planning for Privacy-Safe Growth.)

The challenges are real. Google has introduced an initiative to be used in Chrome and is hoping other browsers will embrace it. It is called FLoC Federated Learning of Cohorts. This initiative plans to anonymize data and then group users into clusters which it will use as audiences for ad serving. Already, Microsoft Edge and possibly even Firefox have said they will block FLoC tracking.

The difficulties are real for businesses advertising digitally. With less direct information, that was previously delivered by third party cookie tracking, the less relevant ads will be. Remarketing lists will be smaller as many users will not be able to be tracked.  Fewer conversions will be recorded in the Google Ads control panel to be used by the bidding algorithms to adjust bids to deliver optimized results. There will be less personalization and fewer personalized ad served to you after you have done a recent search for a product.  Google will have limited ability to create audience lists that will be meaningful that can drive additional conversions and sales. The list goes on.

These privacy changes are great for consumers, but for advertisers will require a shift in approach to reach relevant audiences to promote their products and services in a new privacy-safe way.

The key to this new world is the use of first party data. Here are my recommendations.

If you are not collecting email address for interaction with clients through form fills or purchases, you should plan on implementing that right away.

If you are not collecting client emails on a spreadsheet for marketing use, start now. If you are using customer relationship management software you should be downloading and then exporting your properly formatted customer list into Google Ads every six months (Google’s recommendation).

All businesses should be using Customer Match in Google Ads and then layer this audience over all campaigns. This first party data will help the modeling that Google will be doing in your account to help your advertising be more productive.

Review your Google Ads and Google Analytics tags – Google recommends use of the global site tag and an  upgrade to Google Analytics 4. You may want to consider moving to Tag Manager as Consent Mode will be turned on in the USA in the very near future. Add the  Google Tag Assistant to Chrome as an app then visit your website to see what tracking code version you are using now. You may need an updated.

Without data, Google expects to see conversions recorded in Google Ads decline. With data the hit may only be 5% or so. Google has stated that what data it cannot get from first party information, it will model. The less modeling the better.

It is important to know that even with these changes, your website is not impacted or your sales just your advertising. You still get the conversions it is just that the data on the sale or form fill no longer flows to Google Ads as it has before. With bidding algorithms using conversion/lead data to make bidding decisions it simply means that these tools become less effective in controlling costs and bidding effectively.

Overall, I want to express that I am not worried by these changes. In many cases I feel that the increased level of data protection is a good thing for the end user. What we want to do is to help all our advertiser embrace this new privacy environment and work to use that tools that are available to control the impact on their business.

We will be reaching out to our clients with an action plan to help address a number of these changes. Many of our clients have already been approached with a request to refresh customer match lists. More will be contacted in the near future to help them create customer match lists for the first time.

Our recommendation is to simply start by reviewing are you keeping a list of email address for customers and prospects. Can you offer a special download and get an email address in return to start building your first party data list? That is a great place to start.

Our team will guide you through the process in the month ahead with suggestions on steps you can take to have a privacy forward focus for the future.

For more information about McCord Web Services, a Google Partner, please visit our website to learn more about our mission and our services.

Update: as of late 6/24/21 Google announced that is delaying the Chrome cookie update until late 2023 due to advertiser concerns in embracing the new tracking technologies.

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What Does Google Have Planned for 2021?

Look to the Future

What does Google have planned for Google Ads and marketing in 2021?

You will be amazed…

Here are some of the important nuggets from the recent Google Livestream.

Insights Page
A new page in the Google Ads Control Panel helps you to know what is trending in the very near future. For one client who sells scientific equipment Google surfaced that after July 11th lab glassware and centrifuges would have increased activity. We set up a centrifuge campaign to leverage that information into sales for this client. We’ll be looking for ways for each of our clients to leverage this information that Google is revealing for the first time in advertiser accounts as part of their new transparency into trends they see coming.

Performance Max
This is a new campaign type that maximizes performance across all Google inventory. It offers rich insights into automation. It is currently in beta but due to roll out late 2021. It features advanced automation. Testers so far have had significantly improved lead performance. We’ll let you know when we see it and test it in client accounts.

Privacy Changes
This year the use of 3rd party cookies will be stopped. Google has decided to embrace an ad serving model that protect privacy and offers choice. Thanks to Apple and the GDPR we will see broad and striking changes this year in regard to an individual’s privacy and how ads will be served. This is a significant change.

Google has given significant advice to Google Partners on how to help customers move into this privacy first world and yet still achieve great results with targeted advertising. We will do a separate blog post on these recommendations and contact all our clients to offer assistance to help them embrace these new changes.

Future of Measurement
Without 3rd party cookies on which Google Analytics is based, measurement will now be based on 1st party data, sitewide tagging, and then fill in the gaps with modeling.

The Google Tag Manager now has additional features enabled called consent mode that recovers 70% of the customer journey. New capabilities will be rolled out this year as well.

Google Analytics will now offer more insights for the complete customer journey in a privacy safe method. The new advertiser experience in Analytics will provide deeper insights into website traffic and ad performance. Attribution models will now include YouTube and Display.

Automation
The key take away is that automation provides performance, opportunity, and control. Google is recommending the use of responsive search ads with broad match keywords, and smart bidding to boost leads by nearly 20%. Excellent rated ad text plus 4 extensions appearsto be the winning combination. for success.

The key for account management is to steer these automation tools, improve account automation, and leverage insights.

eCommerce
The future looks bright for ecommerce with a new and significant relationship between Shopify, Shop Pay, and Google. Success appears to be tied to curated, immersive experiences on your website with easy integration of Shopify stores into the Google Shopping platform and the Merchant Center.

Google is introducing a Deals tab on Google.com to help highlight your promotions. New also is Google’s integration with your Loyalty Program.

Conclusion
We don’t have details on a number of these new features and enhancements, but they are coming and they are exciting.

For more information about who we are and what we do, as Google Partners, we invite you to visit our website and dig deeper into how we can help you improve your online visibility and improve your marketing’s value to growing your business.

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Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA)

December 31, 2022 is When Virginia's Privacy Law Takes Effect.

Second in the nation behind California to enact online privacy regulation, Virginia’s new law takes effect on January 1, 2023.

Similar to the law in California that is again similar in itself to the more stringent privacy regulations in the European Union, Virginia has new privacy rules now too.

What does this mean for US and Virginia-based businesses and those selling in Virginia?

First and foremost, if you do not have cookie notifications on your website, now is the time to implement this scripting. There are many online services that provide the scripts to meet the European Unions’ strict rules and can be used to meet both California and Virginia’s regulations. We use cookie-script.com for our privacy adherence needs.

For Virginia businesses and those that do business in Virginia, here’s what you need to know about this recently passed act.

First you must be in compliance by January 1, 2023.

“Virginia’s legislation has a carve-out for information collected in the employment context, whereas California’s law applies to some employment data.” Read the full article.

The CDPA applies to the following business types:

• Those that control or process the personal data of at least 100,000 consumers.

• Those that process the personal data of at least 25,000 consumers and derive more than 50 percent of their gross revenue from selling personal data.

Make sure to check this article for a number of exemptions. Virginia has made its law less stringent than California’s privacy law, but make sure you know what is covered and not covered.

What Are Your Rights in this New Law?

“Virginia’s law was modeled after California’s laws and the European Union General Data Protection Regulation. Virginia’s law provides expansive consumer privacy rights, such as the right to access, right of rectification, right to delete, right to opt out, right of portability and right against automatic decision-making. The act includes a broad definition of “personal information,” a “sensitive data” category, and data-protection assessment requirements for businesses that control the data.”

“Consumers don’t have the right to bring a private lawsuit for violations of the act. Instead, the Virginia attorney general’s office will enforce the law. Entities will have the opportunity to cure violations or face a fine of $7,500 per violation.” Read more.

Most people expect other states to follow with restrictions similar to Virginia’s or California’s.

Our Recommendation

With privacy being in the forefront of everyone’s mind right now, it is time to look at adding a privacy statement and cookie setting acknowledgement script on your website.

When the EU rolled out it’s privacy regulation several years ago, many businesses opted to not update their site for cookie approval as they felt they were exempt (erroneously) by not selling services or products in the European Union. Now with expansion of similar regulations to California and Virginia, it is time to implement technology to be in compliance this year and at the minimum by December 31, 2022.

 

 

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Meta Title Tag Character Count Change

What to Know About the Meta Title Tag

Actually this is pretty big news! It used to be that the meta title tag needed to be crafted to be 80 characters long. Google was only showing 50 to 60 characters in the search results.

“Gary Illyes from Google said in last night’s Google Central Live event that there is a benefit, I assume an SEO benefit, to having title tags longer than what is displayed in the search. He later added that you should keep the title tag “precise” to the topic of the page and do not worry how long it is or if it is too long.” Full article.

We recommend crafting your meta title tag to be indicative of the page, precise, but no longer worry about the character count. That does not mean that you should have a paragraph of content, but can definitely go beyond 50 and even 80 characters in length.

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What to Know About Core Web Vitals

Be On Target

Be on target for the 2021 Google algorithm changes that reflect your core web vital score as found in the Google Search Console. In May 2020, Google announced that the index in 2021 would rank sites based on their approval scores of three important metrics.

The Metrics

LCP

Largest Contentful Paint – how long it takes the largest item in the viewport (screen to show). A measure of page speed. Shoot for 2.5 seconds.

FID

First Input Delay – how long it takes the site to respond to a user interaction. Shoot for less than 100 milliseconds.

CLS

Cumulative Layout Shift – visual stability. Does the page jump around when the user scrolls. Shoot for less than 0.1.

Read the full article here for a deeper understanding of these terms.

Google has also stated that the metrics should be in the “green zone” to earn special placement in the index, and that all metrics need to be green lighted for best performance.

What I have found is that although the developer’s Google pagespeed insights tool helps you to ID if you have a problem, solving where and what to update is a challenge.

It appears that developer extensions in the Chrome browser may be of help in identifying where the problems exist. As I uncover more details, I will share them here, but for now know that this algorithm update is coming and you may need assistance in fixing some site issues to see if you can “green-light” your website.

Other important updates this week:

It appears that there was a Google search algorithm update on or around February 17th.

Virginia is closer to creating privacy legislation that is similar but not exactly like the California privacy law that itself is similar to that used in the EU.

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