Digital Marketing For The Layperson

By this point I shouldn’t be surprised but, these days I often find myself dumbfounded by some people’s struggle to comprehend the simple nature of our industry. Fear of the unknown seems to be driving much of the confusion and I suppose a lot of it comes from generations with little to no exposure to computers in their youths but, it amazes me nonetheless.

I am a “Gen X’er” so, I was a part of the very first generation to have computers in the classroom and the first to have video game consoles in the home. Growing up in what is now the Silicon Valley might have given us an advantage over other schools throughout the country but I am grateful for the early start.

I know some very intelligent, capable, successful people who simply cannot wrap their heads around digital marketing and, I know some folks with below average intelligence who oversimplify what we do and as a result, are equally impossible to talk to. Even though there are plenty of books, blogs and video tutorials dumbing down what we do for mass consumption, I am going to attempt to explain the basics of what we do, in my own words. Bear with me.

Search Engines

Unless you’ve been in solitary confinement at a C.I.A. black site, you’ve probably heard of Google so, let’s start there.

Think of Google like an interactive phone book but, instead of flipping through pages, you type in keywords (relevant to what you’re looking for), into a search bar. After you click the search button, you’re going to see a list of results, some consisting of names, numbers, and locations of either people or businesses (non-business related searches will also pull up the appropriate results). If the information you are seeking displays on the page(a business’ phone # and/or address) you’re golden, if not, you may have to click on links to be taken to a page that has the information you’re looking for. It’s really that simple. On most search engine result pages there are 3 sections: Sponsored ads, local results and organic results, to the untrained eye, they are all the same but there are some important differences.

Sponsored Ads:

These are PAID ads but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t click on them. I have heard countless people say something to the effect of “everyone knows those are paid ads so I don’t click on them”. Really? That is one of the most absurd arguments I have ever heard. Do you also refuse to buy anything you see in a tv commercial, radio ad or print ad because the advertisements are paid for? I didn’t think so. Nobody is trying to “trick or deceive you”, sponsored ads are clearly marked and they are placed in positions on the page that search engines know to get the most activity.

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Google makes 97% of its revenue from sponsored ads (Billions) so, they are going to position those ads in most strategically advantageous places, the same way advertisers choose certain audiences, programming, publications, markets and time slots when advertising on T.V., radio, and print.


Local Results:

The “Map Section” as it’s commonly referred to, usually only consists of local results based on a geo modifier used in a search query (name of a town, city, county, state, province, country or continent) or based off the users location, as it’s perceived by the device being used to search with (laptop, tablet, phone. etc). Improve your ranking in this section with a service called Local SEO, a valuable and affordable service we offer. Listings in this section are not pay per click.


 Organic or “Natural” Results:

These results are not paid for and appear where they do through a number of factors, mostly outside of your control. Google’s always changing algorithm ultimately decides how the results are ranked but there are things you can do that will help over time. Keeping the same URL helps, having updated, relevant content, blogging regularly and having a current, mobile and user-friendly site will go a long way. Although usability is far more important than appearances, good aesthetics certainly don’t hurt.


Display Ads:

Google Display Network is a group of more than 2 million websites, videos, blogs and apps where your ads can appear. Display Network sites reach over 90% of Internet users worldwide*. With the Display Network, you can use targeting to show your ads in particular contexts (like “outdoor lifestyles” or “”), to particular audiences (like “young moms” or “people shopping for a new sedan”), in particular locations, and more.

 Here are some examples of ad shapes you might recognize:

Large Rectangle 336×280




160×600 Skyscraper

 728×90 Banner




Feel free to email us with any questions about digital marketing.


Cheesy marketing joke of the week:

A SEO copywriter walks into a bar, bars, tavern, pub, pubs, public house, Irish, bartender, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…

Sorry, that was not fair to SEO professionals My apologies, apology, apologize, best apology, how to apologize, really sorry…









Ideal Positions Honored as One of Five North American Finalists for Google’s (Global) Premier Partners Awards

This May, Google invited Ideal Positions to enter the First Annual Premier Partners Awards.  This contest of the best advertisers in the world would be segmented into several different categories, and go through several rounds of judging to find the Best of the Best.  We pushed hard to meet the deadline- staff members pitched in to write essays, develop case studies, shoot video, etc…     Today we learned that we made it to the shortlist!  Ideal Positions is 1 of only 5 agencies in the US and Canada in the running to win the category of “Growing Businesses Online”. Of all the agencies in the world, Ideal Positions is 1 out of 95 agencies who made the shortlist. That’s really something!

Below is one of the 6 essays written for the contest. We think you’ll agree, Ideal Positions has what it takes! We find out by late August if we have made it through to the next round.


An online advertising agency doesn’t thrive for 13 years in this industry just by being adequate. Ideal Positions is something special. We’ve been able to anticipate and adapt to changes with ease and stability. One of the biggest things that supports this and what keeps us different than the rest is our sincere desire to do right by our employees and our clients. We hear a lot of horror stories from clients about their previous experience with other agencies, and we feel a sense of pride knowing that we’re going to do our best by them and operate with transparency and integrity, be helping them to grow their business and be successful.

We have many stories of clients who came to us ready to close their businesses and decided to try advertising with us as a last attempt to keep their doors open. There’s a surfing instructor in Santa Monica, CA who was going to give up and move his family across the state to live with his parents and teach stand-up paddleboard lessons on a small lake in an underpopulated area. We convinced him to try our service, and starting with a very small budget, we were able to bring him enough clients to keep his business in Santa Monica and then grow it enough to allow his wife to start her own Children’s Event business (which we also advertised for)!  There’s also the electrician in Texas who was working for himself, gave us a chance and soon was able to hire additional help, buy more trucks, expand to service other cities, and continues to grow! Another is a father and son Law Firm, also in Texas, who were about to close their doors, but through working with us for several years, were able to open several other offices, hire many additional lawyers, expand their practice areas from bankruptcy, to family, and also criminal law, and even expand into other areas of advertising such as television and radio.

Ideal Positions’ employees try harder. Maintaining an employee base with over 60% having been with the company more than 6 years allows us to provide a level of service that other companies without that kind of employee tenure can’t compete with. The teamwork and expertise that comes from years of experience watching both our accounts and the industry change and grow gives us an edge over our competition, which is reflected in our clients’ success. This industry can be a challenging but exciting one, requiring flexibility and frequent adjustments- our staff are used to that, and thrive on it.

In our time as a small company, we’ve met the challenges brought by the evolution of

Google’s advertising platforms head-on.  As a company that does all of our work by hand, by our employees, and doesn’t outsource any of our account structuring, optimization, copy-writing, bid management, etc., it takes us more time to adapt to Google’s changes. We put in the extra blood, sweat, tears, and hours, so that we can be confident that the service we’ve provided our clients has been executed by experts. Our clients appreciate this level of service, and in an age of automation, it makes a difference to many of them to know that a real human being is looking after the well-being of their business. Automation and the application of machine learning is important to move toward, but the current climate of small business is that the owners still want to know that there are real people they can trust who are running their accounts.

Ideal Positions’ analysis of client acquisition and retention has shown that over 20% of new clients are actually returning clients. We feel this reinforces that we’re doing something right. In an industry where the competition continues to grow year after year, knowing that clients keep coming back time and time again is a strong argument that Ideal Positions deserves the Growing Businesses Online Award.


For more information check out our Facebook post!

SMX Advanced Conference 2017 Recap

Josh, Mara I  got back from SMX Advanced in Seattle, WA last week. It was a very fun and educational experience. After 2 full days of knowledge flooding your brain there’s nothing quite like recovering from all that, but the knowledge learned there is incredible and very useful!


The Year Of Mobile (Been there done that)


I’m sure you have heard the talk of “The Year Of Mobile”. Lots of us have for years now and at SMX Advanced this year they didn’t hold back on throwing jabs about how that’s already happened. Mobile traffic exceeded Desktop traffic back in 2016. So when you hear people say “Is this year going to be the year of mobile?” you can inform them that it’s already history. It’s highly unlikely that mobile searches are going to drop drastically in the near future. In fact they will probably continue to grow more and more over the next few years.

There was some great information on how to utilize Microsoft Excel with Bing Ads to streamline account optimization. There was also a lot of talk about how Bing has some upcoming surprises in the near future. So this might end up being “The Year Of Bing”. There was also some talk on interesting targeting methods and information on protecting your brand.


That’s just some of what was gone over at SMX Advanced, but there was much more. As you can see it’s a lot to take in and this was my first year there, but I can’t wait to go back next year! Hopefully you enjoyed reading about my experience!

Celebrating Memorial Day

Today at Ideal Positions we celebrated our upcoming 4-day weekend Memorial Day holiday with a yummy all you can eat taco bar!  We had a great mix of chicken, carne asada, carnitas, and a delicious vegan crumble option!  To top off the tacos we had some amazing hot sauces from Humboldt Hot Sauce – yummy!

Eating lunch and enjoying the sunny day!
A yummy taco!

Our office will be closed Friday, May 26th & Monday, May 29th in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. We hope you have fun and safe holiday weekend!

Under New Ownership

In 2004, Kelsy Anderson began a long-distance hike on the Appalachian Trail and what she thought were steps in the wrong direction, turned out to be leading her towards just the right path. In June of that year, Kelsy started Ideal Positions working from home with no equity funding and no loans. It was just her ingenuity at the kitchen counter of her studio apartment. Several months later, she cemented a working relationship with James “Shannon” Sullivan, who partnered in the company with her.

In January of 2005, they signed their first lease for a 900 square foot basement space in the Stuart School Building in Arcata, CA and hired 5 employees almost immediately. By April 2007, big changes were in store for the company. On April 1st, Kelsy and Shannon reached an agreement for Kelsy to take over Ideal Positions as the sole owner. Later that month the company moved upstairs in the same building to a larger, 2,600 square foot office space in order to accommodate a growing staff. Very soon, even this larger space was not enough to keep up with the company’s growth! Next they moved into an office space twice the size in the Arcata Technology Center. In February 2016, Ideal Positions made its last and most recent move to a brand new office space near the airport in McKinleyville. Since its inception 12 years ago in Kelsy’s home, Ideal Positions has grown to a company of 20 employees with an impressive presence in the online marketing industry.

Guiding the company from the beginning, Kelsy still remembers that feeling of getting her own private office back in 2007. In that moment, she recognized how far she had come from her kitchen counter. At the end of every workday, her favorite ritual was to go around the office locking up and turning off the lights. She would then pause to look over the office and the employees’ workstations, and bow to acknowledge the creation of this organization and the people who make up the soul of the company. This moment of pause kept her heart grateful for all the amazing people who promoted the strength and fostered the personality of the company into what it is today.

It’s the personality of the company that Kelsy enjoyed seeing most at the yearly holiday parties. These have always been an opportunity for employees to interact in a more relaxed setting— always bringing out interesting and surprising parts of employee’s personalities, as well as the most heartfelt expressions of camaraderie and appreciation for one another. Kelsy has always considered one of her proudest accomplishments in her role as business owner as someone who was able to create jobs. Having a positive impact on those employees, getting to know them, and creating a positive working environment for all staff is something that she’s thoroughly enjoyed.

Now, Kelsy has taken the next step on her journey. On October 1, 2016, Ideal Positions changed ownership, and Josh Babbitt, the SEM Department Manager who has been with the company since 2008 took the lead. Through all the trials and tribulations of the last 12 years, Kelsy came to realize that the two great loves in her life, owning her own business and being a parent to her 3 young boys, were in constant competition. Being a business owner is an intense and all-consuming responsibility that can make it difficult to be fully present in parenting young children. By deciding to sell the company, Kelsy hopes to be able to be the best parent she can to her children as well as take some time to return to her passions of hiking, yoga, and visiting friends and family. Since she regularly only had a few hours every week “off the clock”, she plans to spend this new time nurturing her family and her soul.

What allowed her to be able to take this next step is knowing that the company will be in the very capable hands of Josh Babbitt. Kelsy describes Josh as one of the finest people she knows. In her many years of business, she has developed the ability to discern between someone that’s the real-deal and someone who is not. Josh is the real deal. He is the last person to take credit and the first to recognize others. His innate leadership ability makes people want to work hard for him and be on his team because he earns their respect through his hard work, humility, and competence. Kelsy fondly remembers a time when Josh asked for a personal day off. As someone who regularly works some of the longest hours and rarely takes time off, the request was out of the ordinary. But it was the premier of the new Star Wars movie and Josh could not miss this “once in a lifetime event.” It is this similar interest and passion in all things technological that sets Josh apart. He is a “technical wizard” and Kelsy has the utmost confidence that he will continue to stay two steps ahead in this ever-changing industry. Kelsy and everyone at Ideal Positions are extremely excited to have Josh take on this important role and cannot wait to see what the future holds!