James Svoboda will be speaking on PPC at the Engage Conference, which will take place March 9, 2017 in Portland. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please click here.

James Swoboda - SEMpdx Engage 2017 Speaker

1) Please give us your background and let us know what you do for a living.

I manage WebRanking, a search marketing agency based in Portland with a second office in Minneapolis where I live. I first got my start in search back in 1999 when my father and brother were looking to expand WebRanking from beyond the spare bedroom of my father’s house. They wanted to bring on additional help to manage their growing SEO consulting clientele. We focused on search engine optimization for most of the early 2000’s, with a little Paid Search here and there. Then in the late 2000’s we started to get more clients asking us to help build and manage paid search campaigns. The shift in major portions ad budget to search had been such a noticeable increase that we could no longer thinks of these campaigns as add-ons. With this we expanded our PPC focus to include display ads, remarketing, shopping and now paid social. Today a portion of what I do is directing our Paid Media initiatives in addition to providing strategy and consulting to some of our clients.

2) So many small businesses work with paid search contractors without fully understanding the engagement. How can they best protect themselves?

Small Businesses are in a tough spot when it comes to paid search, and digital marketing in general, with trying to understand what their market capabilities are and how to best use their budget. The best ways to protect themselves when dealing with independent contractors would be:
· Ask for references of other companies they’ve worked with and then make sure to follow-up on contacting those.
· Ask for references and information on paid search campaign they’ve done that are similar to your business.
· Some contractors might not have the work experience yet that you would like. In this case ask for references from industry peers or colleagues they’ve worked with before who would have an idea of their experience in paid search. For instance, I’ve never worked directly with Todd Mintz, however I do know him well enough to provide a recommendation for him if he ever needed it.
· Get a written statement of work from your contractor outlining what they are going to be doing for you initially and an ongoing basis. If it is vague, then it could be a red flag to steer clear of them and find another professional to discuss your needs with. You can always take this and ask someone else to review it to get a second opinion.
· Focus on your goals (leads and sales). Paid Search campaign can be seen as costly to small businesses. However, when done right, they should provide you with positive returns. Often better than most other channels. If you’re not getting the results you think you should be, then it’s likely time for a 2nd opinion. The worst thing to do would be to keep a bad campaign running, wasting our ad budget.

3) How do you see paid search evolving over the next few years?

Voice Search is currently changing search as we know it. It’s adoption, especially among younger demographics, has been considerable and will continue to growth among older demographics. It’s growth will increase as people get more familiar with it and devices such as Amazon Echo, and voice assistants such as Microsoft’s Cortona, become more common in your average household. Due to this we’re likely to see paid search ads come along shortly that take advantage of voice search’s audio output… an Audio Ad so to speak. I expect that a new audio ad will be a mix between short creative (text ads) and a more detailed long-form Radio commercial. Since Voice Search on smartphones have a built in connection to a phone number, we’re likely to see a greater focus on call tracking and call answering technology to better serve Voice Search Advertisers.

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