Dan Shewan's blog

WordStream’s Best of the Month: August

Summer is fast approaching its end. Pumpkin-flavored drinks and snacks have already begun to appear in coffee shops and liquor stores across the country, and before long, everyone will be sporting tasteful sweater/scarf combos and taking leisurely walks through the beautiful autumnal foliage of local parks.

Pretty soon, there will be nobody on the road, nobody on the beach. Just as Don Henley promised in his 1984 hit single “Boys of Summer,” our love for you will still be strong after the posts of summer have gone. However, contrary to Mr. Henley’s assertions, we can indeed look back. Here’s a round-up of the most popular posts from the WordStream blog in August.And yes, in case you were wondering, I am listening to Don Henley as I write this post.1. RIP Exact and Phrase Match in Ad... > Read more

August 29, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

How to Do a Webinar Your Audience Will Love

Good webinars can be a little like independent movies – they leave you feeling wonderful, inspired, and ready to take on the world. Bad webinars, however, are more like Michael Bay movies – after two hours, you begin to wonder how somebody could have possibly been paid to make something so unapologetically terrible.

If you’ve ever wondered how to do a webinar that people will actually want to watch, you’ve come to the right place. In today’s post, we’re going to look at whether you should even be planning a webinar, a checklist of webinar best practices, and we’ll also learn some valuable lessons from two of WordStream’s seasoned webinar pros along the way.Should You Even Produce a Webinar?Believe it or not, this is a question that most marketers fail to ask before diving he... > Read more

August 26, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 2

25 Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Website

Ask a marketer or business owner what they’d like most in the world, and they’ll probably tell you “more customers.” What often comes after customers on a business’ wish list? More traffic to their site. There are many ways you can increase traffic on your website, and in today’s post, we’re going to look at some of them.

1. AdvertiseThis one is so obvious, we’re going to look at it first. Paid search, paid social and display advertising are all excellent ways of attracting visitors, building your brand and getting your site in front of people. Adjust your paid strategies to suit your goals – do you just want more traffic, or are you looking to increase conversions, too? Each paid channel has its pros and cons, so think carefully about your objectives before you reach for ... > Read more

August 14, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 9

16 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a marketer quite like being asked to write a blog post. Some marketers would rather wrestle with pivot tables (or grizzly bears) for days on end than write a blog post – but why?Writing doesn’t have to be this painful.Writing is intimidating to a lot of people, particularly those who don’t write for a living or blog on a regular basis.

The good news is that writing doesn’t have to be agonizing, and almost anybody can hone their writing skills with a little discipline and a willingness to learn. In today’s post, I’m going to share 16 ways you can start improving your writing skills right now.1. Brush Up on the BasicsBefore you can start writing incredible content, you’ll need at least an intermediate understanding of the basic principles ... > Read more

August 07, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Blogging   |   Comments: 8

WordStream’s Best of the Month: July Edition

Ah, July – a month of sunshine, fireworks, and of people gently nudging irregularly shaped meat patties on the grill while wearing novelty aprons. July was also a very interesting month in search marketing, with a lot of shake-ups on the SERP, starting with authorship photos.Oh dear.Let’s take a look back at the most popular WordStream blog posts from July, just in case you missed them while you were out camping, kayaking or whatever else you ended up doing.

1. The Real Reason Google Plus Authorship Photos Are Gone: In our most popular post in July, Larry delved into the real reasons why Google decided to remove Google+ authorship photos from the SERPs (which, if they looked anything like the… unfortunate yearbook photo above, probably wasn’t a bad thing).2. The Smoking Gun: Deleted... > Read more

August 01, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 3

How to Develop Brand Voice Through Content Marketing

Many companies approach brand voice as an afterthought. Although it’s important to ensure that you’re creating great content, publishing on a regular basis, and keeping an eye on your overall content strategy, without a cohesive and consistent brand voice, you could end up confusing your most loyal fans or deterring would-be customers.

In today’s post, we’ll be looking at the elements of brand voice, how to develop brand voice through content, and we’ll also examine several examples of brands that have leveraged content to strengthen their brand and reinforce key messaging.What is Brand Voice?Simply put, brand voice is how your company expresses its messaging. Brand voice touches virtually all aspects of corporate communications, from advertising and slogans to blog posts and visu... > Read more

July 31, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 3

How the ‘Attention Web’ is Changing Content Marketing Metrics

Long gone are the days when clickthroughs and time-on-page were the most important content marketing metrics. Today, many publishers are changing their approach to shifts in audience behavior to focus on attention and engagement as the defining measurements of success.Although pageviews and unique visitors are still relatively valuable metrics to marketers, they don’t paint a complete picture of how people are interacting with your content.

In today’s post, we’re going to examine the trend of analyzing how visitors are engaging with your site, not just how many, and look at some examples of this shift and how you can start measuring audience attention.RELATED: 32 Free Content Marketing ToolsWhat is the Attention Web?Firstly, while the so-called “attention web” is a genuine shift i... > Read more

July 22, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 8

You Can’t Not Click: Weighing the Pros & Cons of Clickbait

Love it or hate it, clickbait has become yet another weapon in the content marketer’s arsenal. These days, it seems as though no site is above resorting to dastardly tricks to get you to click on their content, and these techniques have become so familiar, some experts have questioned whether clickbait has a future.

Image credit: SlateTable of ContentsWhat is Clickbait?The Benefits of ClickbaitThe Dark Side of ClickbaitWhat Is Clickbait?As its name implies, clickbait is content that is written specifically to attract as many clicks as possible. Just about any type of content can be considered clickbait. News stories, blog posts, interviews, infographics, videos – packaged in a certain way, you can make any web content clickbait. However, clickbait typically has several of the following ... > Read more

July 15, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 5

23 Facts About Women and Advertising

Marketers spend most of their time trying to appeal to their target demographics, but when it comes to women, many of them are missing the mark. Given that women make up half the population and have a disproportionate amount of purchasing power, isn’t it in your best interest to try to understand them?  Here are 23 surprising facts you probably didn’t know about women and advertising.

Facepalm - because actions speak louder than words.Women account for 85% of consumer purchases (She-conomy)Despite this, 91% of women say advertisers don’t understand them (Ibid.)Women control 73% of U.S. household spending (Boston Consulting Group, 2009)Women account for 58% of U.S. ecommerce spend (Women’s Buying Behavior Index 2013)22% of women shop online at least once per day (Ogilvy & Ma... > Read more

July 10, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 5

Native Advertising Examples: 5 of the Best (and Worst)

The chances are pretty good that, even though you may not have realized it, you’ve seen several examples of native advertising. These days, native advertising is everywhere – and it’s getting harder and harder to spot.There’s something not quite right about this cheeseburger…In today’s post, we’re going to look at what native advertising is, why it can be so controversial, and several native advertising examples that are really impressive – as well as a few that are downright terrible.

What is Native Advertising?Simply put, native advertising is paid content. Articles, infographics, videos, you name it – if a content producer can make it, corporations can buy it and publishing platforms can promote it.Now, you might be thinking, “How does a native advertisement differ fr... > Read more

July 07, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 1

Commercial Intent: How to Find Your Most Valuable Keywords

High commercial intent keywords are like invitations from prospective customers. They beg you to tempt them with your wares. They tell you, loud and clear, that they have money in their hands (or burning holes in their pockets), and they want what you’re selling right now.The intent of the keyword should affect how you target it.

For example, if someone is clearly in the “early research” phase of shopping, the keywords they use will have less intent – maybe something like “do I need a lawyer?” You can target that keyword with a content piece like a checklist. Content marketing is all about getting in front of the customer early and making a good impression. Maybe later on, he’ll come back when he needs you.However, if someone definitely does need a lawyer, they might use a hi... > Read more

June 30, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 0

How Google Hummingbird Changed the Future of Search

In September of last year, when Google Hummingbird was officially announced, Matt Cutts said that it would affect 90% of all searches, albeit in a subtle way. Considering that Google handles more than 3.5 billion searches every day, this means Google Hummingbird affects more than 3.15 billion of them.

Not exactly an inconsequential update.This image has nothing to do with Google Hummingbird. Still, hummingbirds are pretty cool.The Hummingbird update was the most ambitious adjustment of Google’s search algorithm since 2001. In today’s post, we’re going to look at what Google Hummingbird is, what it means for SEO, and what the future of Google’s quest to become the “Star Trek” computer could hold.What is Google Hummingbird?Although it’s technically accurate to call Google Hummin... > Read more

June 23, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 10

Dwell Time: The Most Important Metric You’re Not Measuring

Dwell time is one of the most important, yet frequently misunderstood, site metrics. Many marketers put too much faith in Time on Page when evaluating traffic, but this metric is unreliable and can be misleading.In today’s post, we’re going to look at what dwell time is, whether search engines use it as a ranking signal, and examine ways in which you can increase the average dwell time on your site.

What is Dwell Time?Three years ago, Duane Forrester at Bing wrote a blog post about how to build quality content. It was in this blog post that the concept of dwell time was first introduced.Simply put, dwell time is the actual length of time that a visitor spends on a page before returning to the SERPs. In theory, the longer the dwell time the better, as this indicates that the visitor has ... > Read more

June 10, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Analytics   |   Comments: 2

Best of the Month: WordStream’s Top 10 for May

One word dominated search marketing in May – “panda.” Obviously we’re not talking about the adorable, endangered animal, but rather the fourth update to the Google algorithm that laid waste to crappy sites across the web and struck terror into the hearts of webmasters the world over.These pandas want to rock ‘n roll all night AND party every day.

Of course, the Panda 4 update wasn’t the only thing people were talking about this month. Let’s see what else was going on and take a look at this month’s top posts.1. Panda 4.0: Why EBay Just Lost 80% Of Its Organic Rankings – Even if you’re not familiar with the term “schadenfreude,” eBay’s recent misfortune at the hands of Google is a perfect example. Check out this post to see why Google slapped eBay so hard, courtesy ... > Read more

May 30, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

New Webinar: Test Your Way to More Leads from PPC

If you’ve been attending WordStream’s recent webinars (or reading the blog), you already know some of the secrets to hacking AdWords – like how Quality Score is really calculated, and the secrets behind “unicorn” ads with super-high click-through rates.Now it’s time to learn our best A/B testing hacks – the changes, big and small, that can help you drive way more leads (not just clicks) though PPC, without giving Google more of your sweet, sweet cash.

In our next webinar, “7 Powerful A/B Tests That Drive More Leads from Paid Search,” WordStream will team up with Optimizely to reveal the secrets of A/B testing that will help you drive more leads from paid search.Join WordStream and Optimizely on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 1 p.m. EST (5 p.m. UTC) – register now!WordStream... > Read more

May 29, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Conversion Rates   |   Comments: 1

5 Cognitive Biases & How to Overcome Them On Your Landing Pages

You already know that highly optimized landing pages are crucial to the success of any paid search campaign. However, even the best landing pages don’t have conversion rates of 100%. Why? Well, because people are unpredictable, and sometimes, consumer behavior defies all logic – frequently due to cognitive biases.

In today’s post, we’re going to examine what cognitive bias is, look at several examples of these behaviors in action, and outline how you can overcome (or at least account for) them with your landing pages.What is Cognitive Bias?Cognitive biases are ways of thinking about and perceiving the world that may not necessarily reflect reality. We may think we experience the world around us with perfect objectivity, but this is rarely (if ever) the case. Each and every one of us... > Read more

May 22, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Conversion Rates   |   Comments: 7

5 Creative Ways to Use Google Glass (and How to Win Your Own!)

Google Glass: What began as an experiment in the notoriously secretive Google X research and development lab soon became the future of wearable technology. Google recently opened up its Glass Explorer pilot program to the general public, meaning yes, anyone (with $1500 to spare) can buy one! But many people remain unaware of what Google Glass can really do.

First, for all you hardware nerds out there, let’s take a look at Glass’ “tech specs” (sorry, couldn’t resist):12GB of usable memory (16GB Flash total)802. 11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity5 megapixel camera720p video resolutionIn this post, we’re going to explore five creative ways you can use Google Glass – and tell you how you can win your very own Google Glass headset (for free!) in WordStream’s new Grade and Get... > Read more

May 21, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 6

Drink Your ‘Happy Juice’: Learn the Secrets of Persuasive Marketing with Perry Marshall

Prospective customers can be a fickle bunch. They rarely do what we want them to, they behave in all sorts of crazy, unexpected ways, and – worst of all – sometimes they don’t even listen to us.However, it’s not hard to see why consumers have become largely indifferent to most marketing techniques.

After all, the average American consumer spends 11 hours per day using or engaging with digital media and is exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of ads every single day. Is it any wonder why many consumers are hard to reach?Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. In our upcoming webinar, “The ‘Happy Juice’ Principle: Marketing that Captures and Converts,” WordStream and renowned marketing expert Perry Marshall will show you how to leverage the “happy juice” principl... > Read more

May 15, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 1

6 Google Analytics Tips for Business Insight Way Beyond Traffic

I recently learned six Google Analytics tips that literally changed the way I use the software. Until just last week, I only used Google Analytics casually. I’d log in, poke around a little bit, then leave with only a vague idea of what was going on with our traffic. In other words, I was barely scratching the surface of what was possible.

We recently did an all-day intensive Google Analytics training session, which showed me a ton of features that I wasn’t using and didn’t even know about.Before the training, I was pretty much just using Google Analytics to check daily and weekly blog traffic trends. However, the features I’m going to share with you allow me to see:Detailed visitor demographic data and how the behavior of certain types of users can be tracked against “typical” ... > Read more

May 15, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Analytics   |   Comments: 12

Recognizing Success During Small Business Week 2014

What do WordStream, Google and the White House have in common? We’re all championing small businesses this week, as Small Business Week 2014 is in full swing!In partnership with the Small Business Administration, a series of events, workshops and Q&A sessions are taking place in cities across the country (and at tech companies such as Microsoft and Twitter) to provide proprietors of small businesses with the support, advice and resources they need to thrive.

Small Business StatisticsSmall businesses are a big deal. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses make up:99.7% of U.S. employer firms64% of net new private sector jobs49.2% of private sector employment46% of private sector output43% of high-tech employment98% of firms exporting goods overseas33% of the co... > Read more

May 14, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 4

Guide to Getting Your Customer Churn Rate in the Zone

Whatever you call it – defection, attrition, turnover – customer churn is a painful reality that all businesses have to deal with. Even the largest and most successful companies suffer from customer churn, and understanding what causes formerly loyal customers to abandon ship is crucial to lasting, sustainable business growth.

In today’s post, we’re going to look at what customer churn is, what constitutes a “good” churn rate, and ways you can stop your customers turning their backs on you forever.Art installation by Tim EtchellsWhat is Customer Churn?Client churn is when existing customers stop doing business with you. This can mean different things depending on the nature of your business. Examples include:Cancelation of a subscriptionClosure of an accountNon-renewal of a cont... > Read more

May 12, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 4

What Is Long-Form Content and Why Does It Work?

Ask two content marketers about long-form content and you’ll likely get two completely different responses. The first might say that long-form content is a gamble, given audiences’ supposedly miniscule attention spans. The other might say that producing longer articles is an excellent way to engage with readers and offer them genuine value and a rewarding experience.

Which of these content marketers is right? Yep, you guessed it – the long-form content evangelist. Why? Let’s find out.Table of contentsWhat is Long-Form Content?Why Does Long-Form Content Work?5 Long-Form Content ExamplesWhat Is Long-Form Content?It might seem obvious, but there are many different definitions of what long-form content truly is. Some people consider articles longer than 700 words to be long-form, wherea... > Read more

May 05, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 11

Come and Work with WordStream – a Cook Associates ‘Up-and-Coming’ Employer!

I don’t know about you, but after six years of headlines telling us how badly the economy is doing, I’ve just about had enough of the doom and gloom. How about some good news for a change?According to Cook Associates, Inc., an executive search firm with offices in Boston, Chicago and New York City, the job markets here in the Hub and the Big Apple are on the mend after enduring a nasty slump during the second half of last year.

Even better news is that WordStream was named one of Boston’s “up-and-coming” employers after enjoying one of our strongest quarters ever in Q1 2014 and bringing more than 20 new staff members on board – myself included!In its Q1 Digital Jobs Index, Cook revealed that hiring was up 2.2% during the first quarter of 2014 in Boston and 4.6% in New York City.... > Read more

May 02, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 2

The Clueless Marketer's Guide to Building a Landing Page from Scratch

We talk about optimizing landing pages a lot here at WordStream, but how do you go about building a landing page in the first place? You need something to optimize before you can start optimizing! There are many ways to go about building a landing page, from rolling your sleeves up and diving into coding one with HTML, CSS and JavaScript to using web services that allow you to customize landing page templates.

In today’s post, you’ll learn how to build landing pages from the ground up and see which option is right for you. By the end of this post, you’ll be ready to start building a landing page that will drive conversions. Unless it looks like the one above, in which case you’ll probably want to rethink your life choices.Building a Landing Page the ‘Hard’ WayBefore we dive into... > Read more

April 21, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Conversion Rates   |   Comments: 13

What is Net Neutrality and Why Should Marketers Care?

Like practically every topic of discussion on the internet, net neutrality is a subject that people either a) haven’t heard of and couldn’t care less about, or b) are rabidly passionate about and will die to defend (or so it seems in most site comment sections). But what is net neutrality anyway, and why should marketers care?What is Net Neutrality?Net neutrality is the concept that internet service providers (ISPs) should allow all types of traffic to travel across their networks without discrimination; that all sites and applications should be treated equally, and not subjected to traffic shaping, bandwidth throttling and other means of control that serve ISPs' commercial interests.

Here are five facts that marketers need to know about net neutrality and why it’s so important:1. Net... > Read more

April 18, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 3

SearchLove Was in the Air in Boston

It seems there’s always a digital marketing conference going on somewhere, but few were as eagerly anticipated as SearchLove Boston 2014 was. The thoroughly charming folks at Distilled assembled a truly diverse lineup of speakers for the event – a roster of search and digital marketing talent that certainly didn’t disappoint.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a week since we gathered at Harvard Medical School’s Joseph B. Martin Conference Center for the event, and perhaps even harder to believe that I failed to get this write-up finished sooner. C’est la vie.Although I’ve no doubt many of you were hanging on my every word on Twitter during the conference, here’s a round-up of some of my favorite sessions.Day OneAlthough Distilled’s Founder and Chief Marketing Office... > Read more

April 15, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 0

PPC: Impossible? Not for WordStream’s Elite Paid Search Agents!

WordStream recently received intel from one of our field agents that Kristi Anderson, VP of marketing for GetOutfitted.com, was attempting to maximize the effectiveness of her PPC campaigns and increase conversions.Despite facing overwhelming odds, Kristi succeeded in her mission by using WordStream’s not-so-super-secret paid search technology.

Over the course of 30 days, Kristi learned precisely where she was going wrong in her paid search efforts, enabling her to take immediate action and get incredible results.In just 30 days, Kristi was able to:Improve her impression-weighted Quality Score by 50%Raise her average CTR from 0.26% to 6.32% - 24 times higher than her original CTRIncrease her account activity score from 39% to 72%Kristi’s mission was ambitious, but far from impossible. ... > Read more

April 07, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

How to Create a Ferocious Unique Selling Proposition

Unless you’re fortunate enough to be the only player in your industry (say, the only dedicated supplier of lion-taming equipment in North America), you’ll need to differentiate yourself from your competition through your unique selling proposition, or USP.A strong, instantly recognizable USP can make or break businesses operating in competitive markets, so it’s essential that you leverage your USP and make it the cornerstone of your overall marketing strategy.

Until you know what your USP is, and how to capitalize on it, your business will be just another voice clamoring to be heard.In this post, you'll learn:Unique selling proposition definitionUnique selling proposition examplesUnique selling proposition best practicesHow to use a unique selling proposition in your advertisementsHo... > Read more

April 07, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 10

Diving Deeper into Search Network with Display Select

To the uninitiated, the Google Display Network can be more than a little intimidating. Despite the vast potential of the GDN to expand AdWords advertisers’ reach, the costs and time management involved in running a GDN campaign put many people off, particularly small businesses with limited paid search budgets.

For these reasons, Google launched its latest hybrid campaign type, Search Network with Display Select (SNDS), in November 2013. SNDS campaigns are the ideal way for AdWords advertisers to take their first steps into the world of display, and WordStream’s Director of Search Engine Marketing Rich Griffin sat down with Google’s Katie Hamilton in a Google Hangout on Air to dive deeper into what SNDS campaigns can do for advertisers.In the Hangout, Katie and Rich cover topics inclu... > Read more

April 04, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 0

3 Things I Learned by Writing 3 Million Words in 3 Years

My first SEO copywriting job (which is what most content marketing used to be called before “web content” was a thing) was working as a freelancer for a national British travel agency. Although the work itself amounted to little more than stuffing awkward long-tail keywords into flowery copy about tourist hotspots across the Mediterranean, it was an invaluable learning experience and set me on an exciting and rewarding career path.

Since that fateful freelance gig, I’ve written millions of words (literally) – most of them during the past three years. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about what separates the great content from the bad, how to hit deadlines on time every time, and why measuring your coffee intake in pots is a warning sign that you should probably take it easy.In tod... > Read more

April 02, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Blogging   |   Comments: 4
 
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