What’s the Difference Between Geo-fencing and Geo-targeting?

In a study conducted by BIA/Kelsey, it is estimated that location-targeted mobile ad spend will increase from $12.4 billion to $32.4 billion by 2021. While the technology for location-based search has been around for several years, it wasn’t until recently that the required infrastructure was put into place. Now businesses are beginning to utilize the value and potential of real-time location-based marketing.  As with most new marketing techniques, there is some confusion between geo-fencing and geo-targeting. In this post, we will explain the differences between geo-fencing and geo-targeting and tell you how beacons can enhance a campaign.

How is Geo-fencing Different from Geo-targeting?

Geo-fencing is the use of GPS and/or RFID data to create a hyper-specific boundary based on a user’s precise location and/or their location in relation to other people and/or objects. Ads are then shown to users who enter that geo-fence. More simply, Geo-targeting takes a pin, drops it on a map, and sets a perimeter around that pinpoint. For example, everything or anyone within 5 miles of zip code 30318. Ads can then be shown to anyone that enters the targeted circle.  

Geo-targeting takes geo-fencing one step further. It takes a user’s precise location and fires an ad based on that user’s exact location and if that user meets specific criteria determined by you. Geo-targeting establishes targeting criteria through demographics, interests, and behaviors.  

  • Geo-fencing Example
    Your company sells bottled water. You create a geo-fence that is the perimeter of an outdoor summer festival. Anyone who enters this perimeter will be shown a push-notification from the festival app for 10% off your bottled water.
  • Geo-targeting Example
    Your company sells bottled water. You create a geofence that is the perimeter of an outdoor summer festival and identify the dance floor via GPS.  Then, you create a campaign that shows a festival goer a display ad on their cell phone for your bottled water when a person walks off the dance floor but is still within the perimeter of the outdoor summer festival.

How are Geo-fencing Campaigns Delivered?

Geo-fencing campaigns are shown through an app push notification, display ad, or text message.

I Often Hear of Beacons. What Are They? How Do They Compare to Geo-fencing?

Beacons are Bluetooth low energy devices that broadcast signals to a beacon-enabled app on mobile devices. They cannot pinpoint users on a map. Instead, these devices are only able to estimate when someone is in range of the Bluetooth signal. Beacons are better for proximity detection and can be paired with a geo-fencing campaign for maximum efficiency.

Give me an Example of Beacons and Geo-fencing

Your company sells bottled water. You create a geo-fence that is the perimeter of an outdoor summer festival. In addition, you place beacons at your three concession stands at the outdoor festival. You create a campaign that shows a festival goer a 10% off coupon on your cell phone app for your bottled water when the person gets within 10 feet of the concession stand.

Geo-fencing and geo-targeting are two of location-based marketing you should consider as this trend continues to grow. You can also incorporate beacons to take your strategy to the next level. Location-based marketing allows you to attract more customers, boost engagement, increase ROI, reward loyal customers, convert impulses into sales, and easily measure results.

Whether you’re interested in targeting a broad group or a specific subset of consumers in a defined area, Bearpaw Partners can help you. Let us help you build your digital marketing strategy in 2018 and beyond! Give us a call today at 404-500-6499.

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Does HTTPS Affect Search Engine Optimization

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, known commonly as HTTPS, is the secure version of HTTP. In order to be classified as secure, a website must procure an SSL certificate which garners the HTTPS designation. This certificate ensures a secure connection, particularly for those sites that transfer sensitive information, such as credit card info or passwords. Thanks in large part to the growing popularity of HTTPS as well as a new iteration of Chrome (56) that will more clearly differentiate between HTTP and HTTPS, a looming question on a lot of people’s minds is, “Does HTTPS affect search engine optimization?”

The answer to that question is not totally clear or decisive at the present moment.

One thing is for sure, though: HTTPS seems to be the way of the future regardless of its impact on search engine ranking.

Google’s HTTPS Plan for January 2017

Google recently announced that by the end of January 2017, Chrome will begin explicitly labeling all HTTP connections that have credit card or password fields as ‘non-secure’.

In the past, Chrome hasn’t labeled any connections as outright non-secure. Chrome 56, the latest iteration of the popular browser, might just flip that script come February. Instead of simply omitting the little green “Secure” designation (pictured below), the browser will display a red “Non-Secure” addendum that will signify to the end user that the site doesn’t have the same level of security as sites with SSL certification.


SSL Not Secure Warning

As with other major changes that Google has rolled out in the past, this change will come incrementally, and the standards will become more stringent over time to ease businesses and consumers through the transition as painlessly as possible. Their end goal is to make the internet a more secure place for everyone involved.

How Does HTTPS Keep Connections Secure?

In a discussion of HTTPS versus HTTP, it’s impossible not to touch on SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certification. We just briefly mentioned it in the above section, but it absolutely bears a more thorough explanation.

During a secure session, the SSL certificate enacts a sort of chain reaction that starts with an ‘SSL handshake’. This handshake establishes a unique, secure connection between the browser and the website itself. By comparison, sites that are simply HTTP communicate with the respective browsers in ‘plain text’, thus making it incredibly easy for hackers to intercept and read all communications between the site and the browser. That’s precisely how identities are compromised via HTTP sites.

Due to countless identity fraud cases and scares all around the world, secure web browsing has swept the web over the past couple of years. Today, more than half of the pages on the internet are viewed over HTTPS, and the average internet user spends upwards of 67% of their time on HTTPS pages.

Does HTTPS Affect Search Engine Ranking?

In short, yes. To elaborate on this answer, it’s important to note that the algorithms that determine search engine rankings change all the time; they are constantly evolving to keep up with the changing nature of the internet.

Because HTTPS is relatively new on the scene (first proliferated during the early 2010’s), the designation doesn’t majorly affect a site’s ranking.

There is a correlation, however, between top-ranking sites and those that are HTTPS. Among the list of page-level, keyword agnostic features, HTTPS ranks within the top ten, which includes:

  • Total number of links
  • Hreflang declaration
  • Number of internal links
  • Number of stripped chars in doc body
  • Number of external links
  • Whether or not a page uses Google Analytics
  • If the site is HTTPS

[Source: Moz]

Of course, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. There are several factors that go into search engine ranking. That said, at this point, it’s hard to deny that secure connection has an effect.

Is it Time to Switch to HTTPS?

Beyond the way it affects search engine ranking, HTTPS also signals to end users that their information is well taken care of on a given site.

With the implementation of the new ‘non-secure’ designations come February 2017, it will become more and more evident to online consumers which sites are to be trusted—and which aren’t so trustworthy.

If you’re wondering whether or not it’s time to switch over to HTTPs, there are a couple of crucial questions you need to be asking yourself.

First of all: do you want to be seen as a secure site? Once all of the Chrome-HTTPS changes have been rolled out, anyone who clicks on your site will instantaneously be alerted to your status one way or the other. And it’s not just Chrome that you may have to worry about. Other major browsers are likely to follow suit in the near future.

Secondly, do you want to provide that extra level of security for your customers or potential customers? Few things dissuade consumers from entering their credit card information quite like the idea that a site is ‘non-secure’.

Lastly, do you want to positively impact your site’s search engine ranking? Though the correlation is slight, it’s real and will likely increase over time as more and more sites adopt the certification. It will eventually (probably) become a basic necessity for websites to be certified secure. Search engine optimization experts tend to agree that, in the future, sites that don’t have the HTTPS certification will be perceived as broken or outdated.

A minor deterrent for some site-runners right now is the cost. In most cases, however, the cost of switching is minimal—somewhere between $500 and $1200, and those costs are on a steady decline. Looking at the bigger picture, switching to HTTPS is almost a no-brainer.


HTTPS does affect search engine optimization (SEO). At this moment in time, the effect is minimal (though positively correlated). That effect is poised to become greater with the changes that Chrome is planning to roll out in 2017.

Regardless, to be on the safe side—quite literally—it might just be time to switch to HTTPS, not just for the SEO benefits, but also for the added security it promises on both sides of the equation.

Especially if your site requires registration with a password or accepts sensitive information like credit card numbers, now is definitely the time to switch to HTTPS.

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How to Write the Best Meta Descriptions

A meta description is a 150-160 character snippet that summarizes the contents of a certain webpage. Meta descriptions are coded in HTML onto the page itself, but they only display on search engine result pages (SERP). For example, when you type into Google, “How to find the right career,” this is one of the top results that pops up:


The short paragraph below the rating is what’s considered the meta description. This is a great example of a succinct meta description in that it hits its keyword mark, doesn’t trail off past the recommended 156 characters, and it tells end users exactly what to expect.

Why are Meta Descriptions Important?

Because Google’s algorithm doesn’t actually take the meta description of a page into account when it’s ranking pages, the real reason that it’s so critical to perfect your meta description has everything to do with your end user.

Let’s say that you’re trying to target the keyword, “HVAC systems.” It’s a fairly competitive term, but you’ve managed to get one of your pages about the basics of HVAC systems to rank on the first page. Google has deemed that you’re an authoritative source on the subject of heating and air; therefore, whatever you’ve written is more likely to be useful and meaningful to the audience that’s searching for that term and related topics.

Of course, that also means that there are several other companies (typically direct competitors) that are ranking for that term. At the end of the day, what determines which result a person will click on has to do with two factors:

  • The ranking. The top result on the first page garners 33% of clicks on average. The second result usually grabs 17% of the clicks, and it continues to drop off considerably from there.
  • The meta description. A compelling, informative, succinct meta description gives the user just enough to make an informed decision about whether or not to click, but not so much information that they don’t need to click on it to learn the entire answer to the question they’re asking.

Back to the example. You’re trying to rank for “HVAC systems.” Potential customer types into Google, “The basics of HVAC systems.” Here are two of the top choices that pop up when they hit enter:

Obviously, since this result hit the first page, the content is authoritative, and they’ve done their homework SEO-wise. But where this page falls short is its meta description. As an end user, would you want to click on this result? First of all, it doesn’t really say much. It does include the keyword, but it doesn’t define it or even really hint at defining it. From this snippet, the end user gets the sense that they’d have to scavenge for the information they’re looking for. Next!

This is a fantastic example of a meta description that would draw an end user in. If they’re searching for the basics of HVAC systems, they can rest assured that this article will cover them. The snippet doesn’t trail off; it clearly defines what the article will discuss and gives the impression that it will be well organized and easy to follow. Aim for this level of clarity and brevity in your meta descriptions to insure more clicks on your page.

In addition to displaying a stellar meta description, this site has also managed to garner one of Google’s top algorithmic badges of honor: Google Sitelinks. The links along the bottom of the description correspond to the top pages within that site.

What are Sitelinks and How Do You Get Them for Your Site?

As we briefly explained above, Sitelinks are a premium listing format that shows the main meta description along with at least two additional Sitelink results.

Sometimes these listings are indented, but often they present along the bottom of the meta description as they did in the HVAC systems result above. These addendums give the end user the unique ability to skip from Point A to Point B, from Google to one of your top pages, without having to click on your landing or home page first.

Having Sitelinks appear on your search result makes your site seem more enticing to the end user, and it typically garners more clicks for your individual pages, since users don’t have to search through your site or start from your landing page to find what they’re looking for.

So, how do you get Google Sitelinks for your site?

Unfortunately, Google closely guards the algorithm that determines coveted things like Sitelinks. That being said, there are some definite best practices that have been shown to increase a site’s chances of appearing with Sitelinks.

Among those best practices are:

  • Having clear, well-thought-out navigation
  • Writing unique page titles and meta descriptions
  • Creating a structured hierarchy of pages within your site

Of course, having a heavily trafficked site with high click-through rates doesn’t hurt a bit, but that takes time and a good deal of SEO knowledge and following dozens more best practices.

The point is: it’s not impossible to get Sitelinks as a part of your metadata; it just takes strategy, planning, and time.

How Do You Write the Best Meta Descriptions?

There are three major factors involved in crafting the perfect meta description that we’ve alluded to throughout this article.

The truth is that there is no single formula for writing an ideal meta description.

However, there are dozens of ways to optimize your meta description to make it the best it can possibly be.

To write a stellar meta description, you need to be able to say what you mean and mean what you say in under 156 characters. That sentence, in and of itself, sums up the three important factors that go into crafting an eye-catching meta description. Let’s break it down:

  • Say what you mean.
  • Mean what you say.
  • In under 156 characters.

Saying what you mean involves clearly defining what your article or page is about. If it’s about the basics of HVAC systems, find a way to state that as obviously as possible.

Meaning what you say means not making false promises. Don’t say that you’re going to cover all of the basics of heating and air conditioning if you’re actually talking about swimming pool installation. Obviously, the differences might be a little more subtle than that, but the point is not to make false promises in your meta description.

Finally, in order to have your full meta description displayed, it must be under 156 characters. If it exceeds that character count, you’ll incur the dreaded points of ellipsis that trail after descriptions that are too long. If you can’t explain your page in under 156 characters, you’re not boiling it down to its essence. Search engine users only spend a couple of seconds perusing the results, so if they can read your full spiel in under two seconds, they’ll be more likely to click on your link.

Once your website has climbed the ranks to the first page for a certain keyword, the only thing that stands between you and a potential new lead is your meta description. So you’d better make sure you say what you mean and mean what you say in under 156 characters!

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What Is Semantic Search?

What Is Semantic Search?

Semantic search is a search method utilized by Google that analyzes user intent through context and content to generate and order search results. When a term or phrase is searched on the web, Google provides (and the user expects) a result that is relevant to the search phrase. The context of the searched words combined with the content and context of a website helps the search engine decide the result that best satisfies the query.

A visual explanation is a great way to understand semantic search. If you type in the word “penguin” in a Google search bar, Google assumes (based on criteria such as trending topics, past search, browser history, geographic location) the user wants to look up the animal, but also provides more options- there is a clothing line, a book publisher and a kids’ learning program.

Google Search For Penguin


Because Google does not have the context of the term “penguin,” the search engine result page (SERP) first returns the most common sought after answer- the animal, followed by two other options in the sidebar (the clothing company and the book company).  By adding context, Google has a better idea of user intent. For example, adding the word “habitat” to “penguin” and Google knows that the search is about bird, and not a book or a shirt.


Penguin Habitat Search


This example can be further illustrated by typing in “penguin SEO.”  SEO is short for “search engine optimization,” and Google has an algorithm named penguin. As a result of semantic search, Google knows that if a search query has the words “penguin SEO” the user is not looking for the bird, book, or shirt.


Google Search For Penguin SEO


If a search query is “penguin cotton,” Google understands that the user is is looking for Penguin cotton shirts, and that “cotton” does not go with either a bird or a book.

 Google Search For Penguin Cotton


Why Semantic Search is Important

Google is not just a search engine; it is the primary source for many to look up information. That information ultimately comes from websites. For a website to perform at its optimum potential, it needs to be created so that Google can easily understand the information available and the overall topic.

study conducted by Backlinko determined “that content rated as topically relevant” significantly outperformed content that didn’t cover a topic in-depth.” The more in-depth a website and its content, the higher the SERP rankings.

With the release of the Hummingbird Algorithm in 2013, Google was able to understand a search query and the user’s intent. By designing a website that is the content leader with authority and expertise in its topic, you drastically improve your chances for higher placement on the search engine result page.

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