Elisa Gabbert's blog
As you know, if you’re a customer or a regular reader of the WordStream blog, we’ve recently added call tracking features to our PPC management software. Call tracking is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to accurate measurement of return on ad spend, since many prospects and customers choose to pick up the phone and call your business when they see your PPC ads, rather than visiting your landing page and filling out a form.
If you’re not using call tracking software, you won’t know to attribute those leads to your PPC campaigns, and you’ll underestimate your ROI. You also won’t know which keywords and ads are driving calls and which aren’t.I recently had the opportunity to interview Chen Zhao, an expert on call tracking data and analytics, and ask her some question... > Read more
Dr. Pete just tweeted a screenshot of a SERP that he spotted last night – Google appears to be running a test with paid local search results!Just popped up on Google last night - Is this paid local? pic.twitter.com/9VUanoXpfX— Dr. Pete Meyers (@dr_pete) August 11, 2014As you can see in the screenshot he grabbed, the local map results have the yellow “Ads” label that designates them as sponsored results:Compare this to a typical organic local pack:Following the recent loss of local “pack” results, which came to be dubbed the “Pigeon” update, this is an extremely interesting development.
It’s just a test for now (I couldn’t reproduce the results on a live query), but it would make perfect sense for Google to monetize the local results, because that’s exactly what happen... > Read more
Larry Kim and Will Critchlow from Distilled recently did a great webinar revealing all their personal keyword research strategies. It went pretty in-depth, so if you’re in the mood for digging in, scroll to the bottom to see the slides and video.Today, I just want to share three quick tips inspired by the webinar.
If you’re looking to accomplish something beyond just dumping a seed term into a keyword tool, these clever tricks should jump-start your next keyword research session.#1: Spark Content Ideas with Google Suggest Wild CardsIn the webinar, Will mentions picking this tip up from Tom Anthony at Distilled. You’ve probably used Google Suggest as a means of keyword research before, but I love this trick because it allows you to mine suggestions that don’t just come at the end of... > Read more
Today I’m happy to share an interview I did over email with Erica McGillivray. Erica is a die-hard geek who spends a ridiculous amount of time being nerdy (her words, not mine!), both professionally and personally. At Moz, she's the senior community manager and helps wrangle a community of over 400,000 members, co-runs the annual MozCon conference, and works on whatever else is thrown her way.
She's also a founder of GeekGirlCon, a nonprofit run by volunteers that celebrates and supports geeky women with events and conventions. In her spare time, Erica's a published author and has a comic book collection that's an earthquake hazard.We’re all secretly jealous of the community that Moz has built over the years. Let’s hear from Erica how they did it.We’re so impressed with the online ... > Read more
I know for most of the year I’ve been telling you that links are going to lose value – and I still think it’s true. However, I’ve been careful to point out that for now, links are still pretty powerful stuff in SEO.Further, even if links eventually lost all their (direct) power to move your rankings, they’d still have value for you as a marketer, because links are great for exposure and branding.
But the ultimate link is not just good for SEO and branding, it also sends referral traffic.What’s so great about referral traffic? Do you really have to ask?! Referral traffic is great because it gets your content in front of new audiences, creating new opportunities for audience engagement and conversions.A recent survey of MozCon attendees showed that after organic search, referral t... > Read more
When Google announced a couple of weeks ago that Google+ authorship markup would be disappearing from the SERPs, Larry and Rand Fishkin were on the same page – both suspected that the reason for the reversal was a loss of clicks on ads.As Larry put it, “Clicks on the search results page are basically a zero sum game.
If there's an increase in CTR for one part of the SERP, some other part is losing that click. There must be a decrease in CTR elsewhere. And that includes the ads.”Do I think this theory is plausible? Sure, for two reasons:You’d expect that Google would test the feature before they told SEO’s to start using it. So it’s suspicious that we are now being told that the author photos have no positive effect.Images have been shown to increase CTR on the paid side (i... > Read more
A lot of our most popular posts in June had to do with changes in AdWords – new features, new policies, new dashboards, new data. As always, we did the hard work and analysis for you, so instead of trying to parse the AdWords-ese, get the key takeaways from us right here.We also shared a bunch of great tips for creating marketing that resonates and makes your audience do the happy dance.
If you missed our “Happy Juice” webinar, be sure to check out #6 below!Has Google Gone Too Far? Parental Status Demographic Added to AdWords – We noticed a new demographic feature in AdWords – you can now target users based on their parental status.4 Things You Need to Know About Google's New AdWords Policies – The AdWords Policy Center has been revamped. Here’s the TL;DR for advertisers.No S... > Read more
Do you know the etymology of the word “cliché”? It’s a printer’s term – back when printers had to physically arrange letters together to form words and paragraphs and pages, they would sometimes arrange common strings of letters or words together on a single plate to facilitate printing those sequences more efficiently.
This was also known as a “stereotype block.”You can see how both “cliché” and “stereotype” evolved into metaphors. In the same way that using clichés made things easier for printers, clichés make things easier for writers. Reaching for a common, familiar phrase is a shortcut to communicating something close to what you mean. It’s harder and it takes longer to express yourself in fresh language that is also clear.We’re all lazy and we’re all g... > Read more
“The attention auction” is a phrase that has stuck in my head since I first read it earlier this year, on AJ Kohn’s blog Blind Five-Year-Old. The idea is that we’re all competing for a finite amount of attention, and it’s a zero-sum game. If people are paying attention to your competitor, they can’t pay attention to you at the same time.
Another term for the same basic idea is “attention economics” – in an attention economy, attention is treated as a scarce commodity. We’ve got access to more information than ever before, but no more time or attention to give.The concept is pretty key for us content marketers. When you publish new content, you’re putting a bid into the attention auction. And not everybody can win.Here at WordStream, we put a lot of thought and planning... > Read more
Confession: I’m a content marketing manager who hates most content. It’s all so boring! It’s true in the consumer world – as Choire Sicha, co-founder of The Awl, just said in an interview for The Atlantic:I opened up my Digg reader the other day, because I was on blogging duty at work, and everything was so duplicative of each other.
I was like, yeah, okay, there’s that piece of news filtering through all these different websites, all the same things … no wonder I don’t go to them.And the same is true in the business-to-business world. Over 90% of B2B companies do content marketing – but 90% of that content marketing is redundant crap, e.g. “5 Ways to Do Blah Blah the Same Way as Everyone Else.” Publishing blog posts like this is basically cargo-cult marketing; it’s t... > Read more
In the latest Webmaster video, Matt Cutts answers a question that could have come from me (but actually came from someone named Leah in New York):Google changed the search engine market in the '90s by evaluating a website's backlinks instead of just the content ... Updates like Panda and Penguin show a shift in importance towards content.
Will backlinks lose their importance?There have been some arguments – notably from Russ Jones in the comments on this post (extrapolated on by Rand Fishkin in a recent Whiteboard Friday) – that links will actually increase in value over time.In the below video, Matt Cutts says the opposite is true. It’s not around the corner, but Google will eventually put less emphasis on links – not, however, purely because of link spam, but because links to a s... > Read more
Rand Fishkin just published the results of a test he did to see if query and click-through data might affect search rankings. To run the test, he asked his Twitter followers to search the term “imec lab” and click on the Moz result. He did not link to the post in his tweet:Care to help with a Google theory/test? Could you search for "IMEC Lab" in Google & click the link from my blog? I have a hunch.
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) May 1, 2014Rand writes:A blog post I’d published last week ranked number 7 in Google US results (incognito/logged-out, without regional geographic bias), the same as it had a week prior just after I wrote it (sadly, I forgot to take a screenshot last week when I first looked at the ranking). After noting the position and taking a screenshot, I sent&nbs... > Read more
Over at Moz, Simon Penson just wrote an interesting post about a “Panda Patent” which may shed light on how Google will rank sites in the future, “using a ratio of links and mentions, or ‘implied links.’” With penalties flying and the value of the almighty link coming into question, could Google be looking for new signals of authority? We think so, but are brand mentions the answer?The relevant part of the patent is this:The system determines a count of independent links for the group (step 302).
A link for a group of resources is an incoming link to a resource in the group, i.e., a link having a resource in the group as its target. Links for the group can include express links, implied links, or both. An express link, e.g., a hyperlink, is a link that is included in a source r... > Read more
This past Sunday marked my five-year work anniversary at WordStream. I know that sounds like a long time, but young ones, five years goes by really fast when you’re on the wrong side of 30. I’ve now been working remotely (from the Mile High City) for longer than I worked in the Boston office, which, due to the telescopic nature of time, seems impossible.
The math checks out though. (See also “reminiscence bump.”)Via WikipediaBut enough math – let’s talk search marketing! (Which might possibly involve some math.) Here are our top 10 11 most popular blog posts of the month:1. The 9 Best Email Subject Line Styles to Increase Your Open Rates – This post from the last day of March is going strong! Check out Meg’s tips for crafting must-open emails – should you personalize? How... > Read more
In his latest Webmaster video, Matt Cutts answers the question: “How does Google separate popularity from authority?” (This question came from a “Blind Five Year Old,” by the way! That’s our friend AJ Kohn unless someone stole his alias.)It’s an interesting question, but I’m particularly interested in an offhand comment that Cutts makes at the beginning of the video.
To distinguish between popular sites and authoritative sites, he uses the examples of pornography and government websites. Porn sites are more popular than government sites, he says, but government sites are more authoritative:If you were to look at sites that are popular – for example porn sites are very popular – but people tend not to link to porn sites. On the other hand if you take something like the Wis... > Read more
In a recent Webmaster video, Matt Cutts confirmed that Google has tried internal versions of its search engine that work entirely without links. The results are low-quality – “for now,” he said. But this suggests that the value of the almighty link has come into question at Google, and they may be working on a version of the PageRank algorithm that doesn't depend so heavily on the link graph – which means PageRank as we know it might be on the chopping block.
But when?Don LaFontaine, Master of the "In a World" Movie Trailer VoiceoverIn light of this, we asked some of our favorite SEO and inbound marketing experts to answer the following three questions:Do you see the link losing value over time? Do you foresee a future where backlinks lose some or all of their weight in the PageRan... > Read more
When I suggested last month that someday, search engines could work without links, a lot of people thought it was an interesting gedankenexperiment (they didn’t use that word but hey, it’s one of my favorite words) but didn’t believe Google is really moving in that direction. The future, by definition, remains to be seen, but today in his webmaster video, Matt Cutts revealed that Google has already experimented with a version of Google that doesn’t use links as a signal:A user asked:Does the big G have a version of the search engine that totally excludes any backlink relevancy? I’m wondering what search would look like and am curious to try it out.
And here’s Matt Cutts’ response (emphases mine):We don't have a version like that that is exposed to the public, but we have run e... > Read more
Folks, we have a winner. The results are in from our Grade and Get Paid contest, and the big winner is GetOutfitted, a small startup based in Colorado. If you missed the announcements surrounding the contest, here’s how it worked:We invited marketers and businesses owners to use the AdWords Performance Grader twice – once to get an initial report on their AdWords account performance, and then again after 30 days, to show much they could improve.
We then asked them to tell us what they learned about their account.The business that was able to show the most improvement in 30 days won a tricked-out prize package: $25,000 in free AdWords spend for 2014, plus a year-long subscription to our PPC Advisor platform to help them make the most of that spend. (They also got a subscription to Consta... > Read more
ugh i’m still writing “ugh i’m still writing 2013 on all my checks” on all my tweets— Andy Levy (@andylevy) January 1, 2014Funny story: I published the first few blog posts of the year with “2013” in the URL. Funny because a) I’m a cliché and b) our Drupal installation doesn’t automate blog URLs, I have to plug the date in myself.
Le sigh.Here’s to a 2014 with no stupid mistakes! Right? Right! (Right?) But before we head off into Month 2, let’s take a look back at our most popular blog posts this month:6 Social Media Marketing Strategies to Drastically Improve Your Efforts in 2014 – Margot, one of our client services superstars, wrote this great, actionable post with lots of tips for better managing your social presence.Toward a Linkless SEO: The SEO Link Is Dying.... > Read more
Whether they saw it coming or not, and whether they believe it or not, everyone in SEO sat up and noticed when Matt Cutts declared that guest blogging is dead. We’d all like to believe that we only guest-blog to share our knowledge, but the truth is, most of us have guest-blogged and gladly taken the links that came along with it.
And the conversation has really been about links all week: Can guest-blogging survive without links? How do we get links if we don't guest-blog anymore?But aren’t we just treading water here? Guest blogging was just one tactic as part of a larger link-building strategy. Google is slowly chipping away at all our link-building tactics. Rather than replacing guest blogging with another kind of link building, maybe it’s time to think about a system that isn’t... > Read more
Matt Cutts just declared guest blogging dead:Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.
Well, I’m convinced.Just kidding! Guest blogging may be on Google's radar, but I wouldn't close the coffin lid just yet. Here’s why.All SEO Gets Spammier. SEO Still Isn’t Dead.You could substitute almost any SEO technique into this sentence, and it would be true:Over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of keyword targeting then you’re hanging out with really bad company.Over time it’s become a more and more spammy pr... > Read more
You’ve read our picks for the best articles, guides, and case studies on PPC from around the web in 2013. But what about WordStream? We wrote plenty about pay-per-click marketing, Google AdWords in particular, this year, but some of our most popular posts were about Twitter, Facebook, and social media management.
Could it be that small businesses find social media marketing less intimidating than SEO and PPC?In any case, both Twitter and Facebook are coming into their own in terms of their advertising offerings. They have a long way to go before they catch up with Google, but it should be very interesting to see how the big two in social media step up their ad options in 2014.Other hot topics this year: Enhanced Campaigns (by far the biggest change Google has made to AdWords in years) an... > Read more
True or false: SEO is dead.If you said false, keep reading.But wait! That’s not all.You also need to be an excellent writer. Do you love blogging and sharing your knowledge?Then yay! You might be a good fit for our newest marketing role.We’re looking for someone who’s equally strong in search engine optimization techniques and content marketing to help our team out with a bunch of exciting projects in the pipeline.
Here’s what you need to know:You won't be a cog in ye olde machine. We’re a young, venture-backed software company in the search marketing space. We’re growing really fast. We're winning awards. Everyone who joins WordStream has a chance to make a palpable difference in our success.Our marketing team is widely known for performing at a level way beyond our size and ye... > Read more
With Google constantly rolling out new features and design on the search results page, including personalized and location-based search results, there's no longer such a thing as a standard SERP for everyone. So what’s driving the new Google search results page layout?The team at VirtualHosting.com has put together a new infographic that examines what today's Google SERP looks like and what it means to be at the top of Google’s search results.
According to VirtualHosting, the new Google search results page is driven and defined by:Click-through rates (CTR) – Which parts of the page get the most clicks? How much does CTR fall off after page 1?Searcher intent and location – Does the Google user have intent to make a purchase? Are they looking for local businesses or trying to co... > Read more
Happy Halloween!You’re probably too distracted by candy and costumes today to get any real work done – amirite? – so why not kick back with some hot cocoa or what-have-you and catch up on the WordStream Blog’s greatest hits of the month? Here are our top 10 most popular posts from October:1. Find Your Old Tweets: How to See Your First (Worst?) Tweet – Ever wonder what your first tweet was? Here are two easy ways to find your earliest tweets, plus first tweets from a bunch of celebs and high-profile search marketers.
#fun2. How to Get Phrase & Broad Match Traffic Data Back from Google Keyword Planner – Victor offers three methods for hacking Keyword Planner to get data beyond exact match.3. &n... > Read more
Here’s your “duh” of the day: You don’t have to be an SEO to be a good blogger. I bet 90% of search marketers read a blog or five that has nothing to do with search marketing, whether it’s a cooking blog, nail art porn or Andrew Sullivan.Some of the best and most popular blogs in any given niche get high rankings and lots of links without thinking too hard about SEO.
Instead, they focus on:Great content: Popular blogs develop huge readerships primarily because the content is awesome; it’s that simple. (Here’s a reminder of the eight qualities that make great content great.)Great design: Almost as important as great content is great design – your business blog needs to be both attractive and usable. High-quality photographs or illustrations are a big plus.Community building:... > Read more
Can’t remember what your first tweet was? It was probably “Hello world!” or “Is this thing on?” or “I finally joined Twitter, am I doing it right” or “Twitter sucks,” but if you want to know for sure, you’ll need to dig back into your archives.Unfortunately, Twitter only displays your last 3200 tweets in your timeline, so if you’re anything like me (I’ve been on Twitter since May 2009 and have well over 40,000 tweets), that won’t cut it.
Here are the two easiest ways to find your oldest tweets, including your first tweet. (I promise these work – a lot of the methods and tools you’ll find in the Google results don’t.)How to Find Your Old Tweets Using Twitter SearchOpen up Twitter.com and go to the search bar:Type in the following string but with your username ... > Read more
Are you a small business using Google AdWords to market your offerings? That’s great!The bad news is, you’re probably wasting about a fourth of your budget.We recently did a survey of 500 small business AdWords accounts, and found that the average account owner is wasting over 25% of his or her AdWords budget.
Since the typical small business spends $1200 per month on PPC, that means $300 is going in the trash every month – adding up to $3600 a year. And that’s just the average – many companies are wasting closer to half their total spend.That’s not all we found. There is plenty of room for improvement in the typical SMB AdWords account.We identified the top five areas where small business marketers need to renovate their accounts. Learn about the opportunities you’... > Read more
Recently, I shared some great examples of e-commerce content marketing – three companies that are using content to promote their online product sales. It was a hit, so let’s do it again – but this time, let’s look at some service professionals that are doing great content marketing work.As ever, the goal of content marketing is primarily to build authority, trust, and interest in your brand.
By positioning yourself as an authority on a topic related to your business, you’re greatly increasing the chances that people will turn to you when they need your services. In other words, content marketing is a great method of lead gen for service professionals.Here are three service professionals putting out awesome blogs and other content to inspire your marketing ideas.Brand New: Addicti... > Read more
While compiling the “Best of September” post this month, I happened across this, on Tumblr:Seasonal Babysitters Club covers are the best way to celebrate any holiday or change of season. Print this out on a sweatshirt and wear it while sipping your pumpkin-flavored whatever.Wow, I wish I had known about this before! Please tell me I’m not the only person in the search marketing industry who read every Babysitters Club book.
(Then sold the whole collection at a garage sale for less than $20, sob.)Now for some reading to enjoy as you sip that pumpkin latte. Here are our 10 most popular blog posts from past 30 days. Read ‘em, know ‘em, love ‘em.The Best Keyword Research Tools (For Experienced Fishermen & Fisherwomen Only) - The AdWords Keyword Tool's reign has come to an ... > Read more