Instagram Ad Rollout – More Opportunity for PPC

The world is becoming more mobile every day. According to a national survey 92% of Americans own a cell phone, 58% of which own a smartphone. The result?  We are constantly connected to one another and to the world.

One of the most popular ways we connect on mobile is via social networks. Over the past decade+ we’ve connected virtually on platforms from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook, the latter of which has arguably become a part of everyday life.

Instagram Used by Almost 20% of Cell Phone Users

Instagram is one of the latest in this social media landscape – and originated as an app.  Since being introduced in 2010, it has grown in popularity. According to the Pew Research Center, one in five American adult cell phone owners use the app (roughly 18% of the population).

Like Facebook (Instagram’s parent company), Instagram is now serving ads in users’ feeds that appear “natural”, like a post from a friend or someone that you follow. When one of these sponsored images or videos appears, it will feature a “Sponsored” icon in the top right corner.

Instagram Ad Targeting

Instagram ads are targeted to users by combining data from personal Instagram and Facebook accounts. Ad content will depend on who you follow on Instagram as well as what you’ve already “Liked” on Facebook. If a user does not have a Facebook account (or have their Instagram linked to their Facebook), the ads shown will be less tailored.

Advertising on Instagram is in beta – currently not available to all advertisers – but will be slowly rolling out over the next few months. Large brands such as Adidas and Lexus have created Instagram accounts in the past few years and have already built quite a following. These types of brands can leverage both their natural presence, as well as the ability to advertise to engage users in multiple areas, with multiple messages.

Are Instagram Ads Right for You?

As with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles and advertising,  not every social media channel will be right for every company. Pew Research Center has broken out some very significant data that will help us to determine whether or not Instagram ads are a good fit. One example is that 43% of cellphone owners age 18-29 currently use Instagram, but only 18% of the  30-49 age bracket does. If your brand targets Gen Y, Instagram could be very successful. If targeting anyone over 30, you may be wasting your ad dollars or may want to at least take a closer look at what appeals to this smaller segment.

CRI is very excited to have the opportunity to reach our audience via new PPC formats and services, and we look forward to testing and analyzing results in the months ahead. Stay tuned for what will definitely be an exciting time in the ever-changing world of online advertising.

What Does it Take to Become a Great SEO? 4 Must-Have Traits

Hulk Breaking Out: 09/10/06By Sam Coren

When I first started networking with other SEOs, I found out that there are quite a few different paths that lead people to this line of work. One reason for this is that there is very little by means of formalized, structured SEO education out there. Although it seems that in the past couple years, judging by all the wonderful Facebook ads I get, that some colleges have begun offering courses in digital strategy including SEO / PPC. However, within the SEO community, we have our hesitations about learning SEO in an academic environment.

Some of my colleagues at Charles River Interactive ventured into SEO consulting after tenures as webmasters, paid search planners, and various in-house marketing positions. We often talk about what types of experience, skills, and mindsets it takes to really succeed in this role. While the different types of experience leading up to someone becoming an SEO vary significantly, there are common traits that all great SEOs seem to have, regardless of where they came from.

So without further ado, here’s what we’ve come up with as the 4 universal “make-or-break” traits that you need to become a great SEO:


Quit Whining About ‘Not Provided’!

By Lauren Rockwell

It’s not the end of the world, and it is certainly not the end of SEO. I admit that I was upset when this move to encrypted organic Google search happened. Since I find most of my content ideas from long-tail keyphrases with one visit each, I was annoyed that this ‘privacy’ solution would hinder my ability to extract content ideas from Google Analytics. Then, I got over it.  I was able to move past this pretty quickly after going through the latest reporting cycle.  In previous posts, CRI has highlighted that SEOs and webmasters still have several tools / methods to show SEO value by analyzing:

  • Landing Pages
  • User Behavior Statisticsbaby
  • Webmaster Tools Data (Google & Bing)
  • Google AdWords Dimensions (Paid & Organic Report)

The removal of organic keyphrases may even make me a better Organic Search Strategist, because I am digging deeper to find the story beyond entrance keywords and visits. Check out these ways to find content ideas and show SEO value:


Not Provided? Not a Problem! – What to do without keyword data

The SEO world is buzzing over the loss of organic keyword data from Google. While it does change *some* of SEO, it’s important to remember that SEO isn’t only about keywords.  In fact, there is still a LOT of data out there, including quite a bit of referring keyword data and proxies. SEO, like any industry, is always evolving and changing so, take heart!  This does not spell the end of SEO.  Read on for why.


Not all keyword data is gone.

Although most websites receive the majority of their traffic from Google, other search engines like Bing and Yahoo follow their own rules. The 20-30% or so of traffic from these and other search engines does have valuable nuggets of search data in it.  There are also other keyword research tools available including Google Trends, Webmaster Tools, AdWords, and, although you might have heard that keyword rankings are dead (viva la keyword rankings), the data is still very useful to benchmark which keywords you already rank for and which areas need improvement.

SEO goes beyond Keyword data

SEO is not only about keywords!   If search engines can’t “see” or “read” a website because of broken links, improper redirects, navigation issues, and site speed issues – it’s likely the site won’t rank well in  organic search results. Even the best, most beautiful website in the world won’t convert if no one can find it!

There are other cool SEO tools including new(ish)-to-the-scene techniques like and the Data Highlighter Tool in Webmaster Tools – both of which make your search results more interesting, encouraging CTR.  Also, Authorship, Places/Local, Video, Images, you get the idea – basically the kitchen sink that shows up in most search engines’ SERPs.  These are all valuable tools in the SEO arsenal just begging for optimization.

And, who could forget Social Signals (yes, with 2 capital S’s J).  While social media posts that are set to private or with limited sharing don’t show up in search results, being active and participatory in social profiles boosts your online presence, and it’s been said that ~10% of Google’s algorithm takes these signals into account.

And last (but certainly not least) is CONTENT.  We still have all kinds of data about organic searcher behavior and interaction with a site’s content that is very useful for benchmarking successes and informing future initiatives.


Be active, be fresh, be smart. Over the past 5 years or so, SEO has been moving much faster toward a more ‘natural’ approach – the days of link buying and stuffing pages with keywords are gone. If you’re on top of keeping your website code clean, are active with social media, and create fresh, properly tagged content people (and search engines) will take notice.

Google’s Hummingbird – What it Means for Marketers

The search engine landscape is *constantly* evolving – and the past month has been a big one for major changes.  On the heels of last week’s big news that Google will be moving all of its organic search keyword data into the (not available) bucket, Google Senior VP Amit Singhal announced that the search engine giant has been rolling out the “Hummingbird” index update.  This story has been picked up even by many mainstream news providers, but what does it all mean?

Google Index Basics

The last time Google made a significant change to its search index was with 2010’s Caffeine, which provided “50 percent fresher results for web searches than (the) last index.”  This update confirmed what SEOs had been encouraging clients to pursue for some time – blogging and other “fresh” content initiatives like video, news and real-time updates were going to become critical to getting and keeping organic search rankings.

Hummingbird is similar in that it’s not a small algorithm change – there are plenty of those – but a completely new algorithm – a change to the index itself.  Before Caffeine, Google’s index had “several layers, some of which were refreshed at a faster rate than others; the main layer would update every couple of weeks. To refresh a layer of the old index, Google would analyze the entire web.”  This is why it used to take much longer for SEO strategies to take effect – websites just weren’t hit as often.