Google Ads

AWQL is now GAQL

AWQL is now GAQL. What does that mean? Let’s start with an acronym check:

  • AWQL = AdWords Query Language
  • GAQL = Google Ads Query Language

This is a somewhat overdue rebranding of a proprietary scripting language available inside of Google Ads. Since they renamed AdWords to Google Ads in mid-2018, this has been off brand for quite some time. Regardless of the name, the embedded query language is a JavaScript-based SQL query-like language that allows for the automation of certain tasks within a Google Ads account.

To learn some ways I use this to automate Google Grants accounts check out AWQL Example: Pause One-Word Keywords and Using AdWords Query Language (AWQL) for Google Grants Compliance.

But there is just a little bit more to the upgrade than a simple renaming. The language itself has gotten an overhaul and some of the API calls and functions have been upgraded to be more user friendly and efficient. Each individual script must be migrated to the new platform – and in doing so you may find some code not working. The first thing to try is to copy and paste your code into a brand new object instead of upgrading an existing one. Almost all functionality should be backwards compatible and not require any rewrites, but if you find yourself in that situation, this Query Migration Tool from Google may be needed to update your data call requests.

Social Media

How to un-suspend your Twitter account

I have had a Twitter account for Dijon Marketing for years, despite never having tweeted. The primary reason I got it was so nobody else could – a little brand protection. I have an all but unused Instagram account as well. Some day I may choose to share content on either of these accounts like I do regularly on Facebook.

But when I logged into my Twitter account for the first time in a couple of years, I was met with a message telling me my Twitter account was suspended. Possible reasons included:

  • Posting spam
  • Leaving my account unsecured
  • Abusive tweets

Well certainly none of those described me!

The first thing I did was ensure I had a backup email address and phone number. Just in case it was a security issue. I already had both set. Then I clicked the button to contest my account suspension and filed an appeal.

Within 2 minutes, I had received an email that my account had been reviewed and unlocked for my use. If you find yourself in a similar situation, follow the prompts to contest it. If there is a real issue or if there has been a violation of the terms of service, they will let you know and you can work to remedy it from there.

Search Engines

How to remove a Google Business listing

If your business or organization has permanently ceased operation, you’ll want to remove it from Google Business. Your Google Business listing will return results in both Google Maps and Google searches. Customers may try to find your website and reach a 404. They may try to call you and get an out of service phone number. Even though you’re not looking for conversions anymore, this is still a poor user experience.

To close a business listing, you’ll have to be an administrator of the business account. Assuming that’s in place, just head over to business.google.com and choose “Info” from the menu on the left. That will lead you to a page where you’ll see these options:

The tricky part here is that you may be tempted to choose “Remove listing” hoping to immediately remove all traces that your business ever existed. That’s not what this button does. “Remove listing” will remove this business from your account so you can no longer manage it. It will not stop it from appearing in searches or remove it from public view.

The best option is “Mark as permanently closed.” This will cause it to be returned less often in searches. Certainly for generic searches like “pizza near me” or “best massage parlor” it won’t be returned because it is not a relevant result. It might still come up and show “permanently closed” for very specific branded searches.

Best Practices

Integrating Google Forms into your website

If you’ve ever tried to create your own web forms for data collection, you know that it can sometimes be a little arduous. Not only do you need to create the form, but you’ll also need an SMTP email server to relay the information from your site to your inbox. And once you’ve gotten the data, you need some way to transfer it to a database to make good use! That can be a tall order for a web newbie!

That’s where Google Forms can be a great solution to do the heavy lifting for you. Google Forms are easy to build, easy to edit, easy to integrate, and easy to collect and review data.

  • To start, just head to https://docs.google.com/forms/ and log in using the account that will own the form.
  • You can choose from some pre-built templates or start from scratch to build your own.
  • Use the artists palette icon at the top to set some theme items – a logo of your organization at the top and your branded colors hex codes for the background and colors.
  • Populate your questions. Be conscious of the fact that every piece of data you request is adding a little bit of friction to the users completing the form. Be thorough but not exhausting. If you’ve asked for data of birth, for example, there’s no need to ask for age also. Consider whether the questions should be multiple choice or multi-select and always consider adding an “Other” option.
  • Preview and test the form yourself a few times to be sure the sequence and wording of the questions makes sense.
  • Click the “Send” button at the top and choose the Embed option. Copy and paste the iframe code into your website’s HTML code.
Google Forms embed code
  • Lastly, head to the “Responses” tab, click the three dots in the upper right and click on “Get email notifications for new responses” to be notified any time someone fills out your form.

By letting Google Forms do all the work, you can focus on using the data instead of spending too much time figuring out how to collect it.


URL Shorteners and a free alternative

URL shorteners like Bitly are useful for a couple of reasons. The first is the most obvious. You can take a very long URL, and replace it with a much shorter one. You might need to do this in order to fit better into something like a tweet.

Another good thing about shortened URLs is that you can embed your tracking in a “wrapped” URL that might otherwise look ugly, but is hidden within the shortened URL right along with the destination URL. This can help you track which of your links or social networks are driving the most traffic to your site, and ultimately the most conversions to see which tactics are working the best.

If you swing for a custom URL shortener, then you don’t sacrifice being able to brand your shortened URLS. The downside is that those cost money. If you don’t have a branded shortener, you could also create your own shorter URLs using 301 redirects on your side. This allows you to have attractive, easy-to-remember URLs that are good for print ads or posters for people to remember later. Think something like


that redirects the user to

Flip the Brain Client Profile

Flip the Brain

I normally limit my clients to registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits. When Flip the Brain approached me to help them with SEO on their site, I had to make a small exception. This business is for profit, but they design their products to help educators, therapists, and the medical community understand brain function. They in turn can use this product to explain things better to their patients.

So what is “Flip the Brain?”

Flip the Brain produces actual 3D, tactile models of the human brain. They are all stitched into felted “pages” that are labeled and show different physical or functional sections of the brain. In addition, they have bolt-on extras that you can affix to the base brain for specific issues or topics. Things like overcoming trauma, grounding through the senses, and self regulation.

Flip the Brain Left Brain
Flip the Brain – Left Brain modeled

In addition to the felted 3D brain models, they also have educational materials and host conferences. At these conferences you can meet with other professionals and share knowledge around brain function and therapeutic best practices. If you are in the field, or could use an educational brain model, check them out today: FlipTheBrain.com

Best Practices

SEO trend in 2022

Happy New Year! And welcome to the year 2022! As usual, a new year brings up question – what’s the latest trend in SEO this year? And as with most years, I balk at the use of the word “trend” as SEO isn’t trendy. It’s the long game. A set of tried and true principles that while they do change, should be more building upon the knowledge of the past, not swinging between the latest hip recommendation.

Google has a great way of summing up their foundational approach to search rankings: EAT. EAT is an acronym that stands for:

  • Expertise – Write about what you know. Be the expert such that people would likely want to hear what you have to say on your chose topic.
  • Authority – This is the traditional off-page SEO practice of building up your website reputation in the way of backlinks from other reputable sites related to your target keywords.
  • Trustworthiness – Any accolades you’ve received from third party organizations help with trustworthiness, although just being transparent with who the author is and what credentials they have can be a great starting point.

Looking at these three pillars of ranking credentials you can see how they needn’t change from year to year based on the latest technology or evolving ranking patterns. They remain true from year to year and any minor nuanced change to your technical implementation of your site is really aside from trying to make sure you tick these three boxes.

Sorry to disappoint, but my top SEO trend for 2022 is the same as every year prior – there are no trends. Keep creating great content people want to read and the rest are just details!

Best Practices

When to use a QR code

QR codes (or quick response codes) are similar to bar codes, but arranged in a square pattern. They are faster for readers to process and can hold much more information in a much smaller footprint. While they’re not new, they have ebbed and flowed in terms of popularity throughout the years. There is temptation sometimes to slap a QR code on everything, but when is it really best to employ a QR code?

To encode LOTS of data

QR Code

My biggest aversion to QR codes is that humans can’t read them. And while most of us carry around a smartphone that doubles as a QR code scanner, not everybody does. If I purchased a billboard advertisement for Dijon Marketing, I would just put “dijonmarketing.com” at the bottom. That way everyone could read it, remember it, and Google it. I always argue against QR codes for encoding simple, short, memorable data.

If, however, I wanted to send you directly to a targeted advertising landing page, that might have a very long and confusing address. Or if I’m really doing things right, I have probably wrapped that complex URL with even more complex tracking codes. And maybe I then used a URL shortener in addition, making it even less human-friendly. In that case, I might employ a QR code that users could scan, but still put my domain along the bottom for those that don’t want to.

To link to a static location

I would also caution against creating QR codes that link directly to a very specific location. Think about the life of a QR code on a sticker somewhere. It may long outlast our current URL structure. If things change, it’s best to have your QR codes all pointing to easy to maintain addresses. You could employ 301 redirects to jump users from a generic QR landing page directly to the long/complex address you want them to find. If you plan to have lots of different QR codes then having an organizational structure around their destinations will make your life much easier in a few years when you need to make major changes to either your website or your messaging.

To be a little playful

One of the great things about QR codes is that aside from a few key requirements, they can be largely customized. Colors can be adjusted. Logos can be embedded. And if you don’t mind alienating a small subset of people who aren’t carrying a phone, it can be enticing to want to scan the code to see what lies behind. Maybe it’s a menu, maybe it’s a 50% off coupon. Maybe it’s on the side of a building 20 blocks away but I can still scan it with my phone. In that case they are a cool, techy marketing tool to drive a little bit of interest with the little bit of inherent mystery that comes with them.

Now that you’ve got some boundaries about when to use a QR code, try some of these free online generators:

Search Engines

Optimizing for Voice Search

The rise of omnipresent mobile phone digital assistants, home hubs, and car infotainment with voice commands can be an opportunity for you, the digital marketer. Considering voice search in your optimization efforts is one way that you can leap frog your competition for certain keywords and concepts.

Typical SEO optimization would focus on a keyword (or key phrase) and make sure to use that keyword multiple times in key areas – titles, headers, image alt text, body copy, etc. When you are optimizing instead for voice search, the game changes a little bit.

Think about things you would typically use voice search for:

  • Where is the closest pizza restaurant that’s open now?
  • How tall is Mount Everest?
  • What year was President Biden born?

Each of these has two things in common. First, they all use natural language to present the question. Instead of a list of keywords and facts, they use full English sentences that the context must be derived from. Second, they all have a definite answer. Rarely if ever would you use voice search for more esoteric search queries. “Hey Google, explain the theory of relativity.” (I don’t think so.)

Knowing these two aspects of a good voice query will help you optimize your content to take advantage. You want to be first on Google, but you would also like to be presented as a knowledge tile. Those are more likely to be read out loud as the response to a voice query. So follow the two characteristics of a good voice query:

  1. Instead of peppering your content with a target keyword, instead use full length natural language questions as titles and headers.
  2. Give a definitive answer boldly within the text – probably as a numbered list or otherwise offset.
  3. Monitor your search performance in Google Search Console to see if you are being presented as a knowledge tile. This lends itself to a good chance you are the voice search response.

Acronym Check! Helpful Marketing terms and descriptions

In digital marketing, as with any industry, a certain jargon gets entrenched in every day conversations. You may find yourself nodding along wishing there was a dictionary you could reference not only to know what the many, many acronyms stand for – but what they mean. Well look no further!

  • AWQL – Adwords Query Language – Within Google Ads (previously Adwords) there is a proprietary set of function calls riding on top of traditional SQL (Structured Query Language) that allows you to perform some pretty cool and powerful reporting actions.
  • CPC – Cost Per Click – this describes the amount of money you pay each time your advertisement is clicked on a search engine results page.
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheet – this is a file format for setting styles on a website. Everything from the page layout to the font, sizes, and colors, can be controlled centrally from the CSS file. Different styles can “cascade” down to members and children of different classes or identifiers.
  • CTA – Call To Action – once someone arrives on your site either from an organic listing or a paid ad, there’s usually something you want them to do. Either purchase an item, make a donation, download a whitepaper. A call to action is typically a big, bold, brightly colored button with command language directing your visitor to perform the desired action.
  • CTR – Click Through Ratio – for search marketing ads, there are a lot of different metrics to consider, but how often that ad generates a click through to your website is one of the main ones to monitor. This ratio is typically reporting on clicks divided by impressions (or how many times your ad was seen).
  • DNS – Domain Name System – when you typed dijonmarketing.com into your websites address bar, it was a DNS server that returned the actual IP address of my website’s server. DNS translates human-friendly names into computer-friendly addresses. DNS can also host text records for things like verifying Google Search Console or Facebook page ownership.
  • PPC – Pay Per Click – This describes one specific advertising payment format, though sometimes industry professionals will refer to the entire practice of search engine paid advertising as PPC ads. Strictly speaking, this is only applicable if you pay per click and not per impression, for example.
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimization – this refers specifically to the best practices employed by website owners and marketers to indirectly influence your sites rank on search engines like Google or Bing. Ranking higher on the search results page means lots more clicks which can lead to more sales or conversions.
  • SERP – Search Engine Results Page – after you’ve entered your search query on Google or Bing, the list of top results is sometimes referred to as a SERP. The SERP can also contain ads, local results, images, videos, etc. Owning more of the SERP helps you get more eyeballs onto your site.
  • TLD – Top Level Domain – some discussion of domains and URL structure will refer to the Top Level Domain. Examples are .com, .org, .net. There are also country code TLDs called ccTLD like .fr (France), .co.uk (United Kingdom).
  • UI/UX – User Interface/User Experience – these are often used together but can also stand alone as separate practices. The User Interface typically describes how your website looks. The User Experience is how a visitor interacts. Creating an attractive and frictionless experience will greatly increase your conversion rates.