Daily Sparks Tribune
Business – May 21, 2009
By Jessica Garcia
Most Web users tend to ignore flashing display ads or the text ads on Google surrounding their desired search results.
But to Chris Gandolfo of Sparks-based Westward Strategy and Design Group, those blurbs hold a key to determining how well a companyÃ¢â¬â¢s Web marketing strategy works.
He makes his living evaluating the effectiveness of text-based or visual ads for his clients through a process called Ã¢â¬Åanalytics,Ã¢â¬Â? in which he counts the number of clicks or tests keywords.
While most Web marketing businesses do at least that much to find out how strong a businessÃ¢â¬â¢ presence is on the Internet, Gandolfo has taken his four years of experience and put it to the test Ã¢â¬â? literally. Gandolfo recently passed an exam and became, to Westward owner and marketing specialist Kristy CrabtreeÃ¢â¬â¢s knowledge, the only local person to be certified as a Qualified Google Advertising Professional.
Ã¢â¬ÅThe reason I did it is, one, I wanted the experience of working with my clientele; and, two, I wanted to continue to invest in my craft and develop my skill set,Ã¢â¬Â? said Gandolfo, 28.
According to Google, the certification requires four basic criteria.
- The user must sign up for the program and remain in good standing.
- They must manage at least one account in AdWords, a program through which webmasters can create their own display ads and select keywords for search engines.
- They have to build and maintain an account where they manage the campaigns of their clients, who must spend at least $1,000.
- Finally, they must pass the exam.
The exam is about 110 questions long and is taken online.
Ã¢â¬ÅIt took every bit of my four years of experience to pass,Ã¢â¬Â? Gandolfo said. Ã¢â¬ÅIt was not easy. … It covers aspect of platform analytics, campaign management, budget, how to write ads.Ã¢â¬Â?
For the company, itÃ¢â¬â¢s as if Gandolfo attained a Bachelor of Science degree but with experience instead of academics.
For the client who wants to market on the Web, the value of the certification can be equated to being a money manager, Crabtree said.
Ã¢â¬ÅItÃ¢â¬â¢s like youÃ¢â¬â¢re the professional who tells me where I should put the money and how to track it to get the best retail dollar,Ã¢â¬Â? she said. Ã¢â¬ÅIt shows you invested time to make your business better.Ã¢â¬Â?
Being a qualified Google ad professional will equip Gandolfo to show his clients how they can improve their search engine optimization by targeting their traffic and rankings.
For example, with one client called PDUs Direct, which sells power distribution units, the Web site offers image-based advertisements, which works well because itÃ¢â¬â¢s a new business, Gandolfo said.
Ã¢â¬ÅWith a brand new business, you want many eyes on it, as many as you can,Ã¢â¬Â? he said. Ã¢â¬ÅRight now, theyÃ¢â¬â¢re averaging 12,000 to 15,000 impressions a day.Ã¢â¬Â?
An impression, he said, is one appearance of a rotating ad on a Web site. Many impressions is highly desirable when browsing a search engine like Google or Yahoo, which Crabtree said are the only two companies so far pushing for professional certification in Web marketing to help businesses attain the top-paid placements for ads. On Google, for example, those placements are the top few lines in a shaded box or are listed on the right-hand side of the page.
In an age in which many people go online to make purchases from home and in which 84 percent visit search engines for comparison shopping before making a purchase, companies would miss on advertising opportunities by not having their postings placed as close to the top as possible, Gandolfo said.
Ã¢â¬Å(The postings) are based on the quality of the ad and quality of the landing page (the site to which the ad takes a user) and what you bid,Ã¢â¬Â? Gandolfo said.
Business has been slow for Westward as its clients reign in expenses, but Crabtree and her staff donÃ¢â¬â¢t have much time to notice.
Ã¢â¬ÅYou have to do whatever you can to remain on the forefront,Ã¢â¬Â? Crabtree said. Ã¢â¬ÅYou want to be the lead horse.Ã¢â¬Â?
For more information about Westward Strategy & Design Group’s Search Engine Optimization services, sign up for a complimentary SEO Consultation. Westward Strategy & Design Group is a Reno Web Design and Marketing Agency specializing in Web Design , Web Development, Search Engine Optimization and Email Marketing.
Photo by Debra Reid – Chris Gandolfo, marketing & design specialist for Westward Strategy & Design Group, helps companies increase their website traffic.