Elisa Gabbert's blog
Our latest white paper, co-authored with the good folks at Hanapin Marketing, is now available for download! Below is an excerpt from the guide. Click here to download the full text of this new, free guide.Tricks to Get the Click: 10 Tips for Writing Better PPC Text AdsIf you want to sell products or generate leads online, a user-friendly, conversion-optimized website is Step 1.
But when it comes to search engine marketing, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your website is if people never get there.Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements placed in search engine results and on other relevant sites can be an extremely effective means of driving qualified traffic to your site – one that more than pays for itself, if you’re doing it right.Even though you have to pay for each click on one of you... > Read more
Lately it seems like content marketing is the new SEO. It’s become a bit of a buzzword. But when you slap a trendy label on something, it’s easy to start overthinking it. Ten years ago, everyone with a website was producing content of one kind or another. Then we started worrying about SEO – how to make that content more visible and available to search engine visitors.
Now that “content marketing” is the word of the day, people are stressing about what “content” means and how they can “create great content.”But the truth is, for most businesses, your goals haven’t really changed. You’re still just trying to get people to your website to do whatever it is you want them to do – to buy your widgets, as it were. Advertising is one way to accomplish that; content marketi... > Read more
Yesterday, blanking on the name of the movie Magnolia, I googled the phrase “tom cruise movies,” and saw a really surprising result (click the image to enlarge): Knowledge Graph on Steroids!!! This huge, sliding row of movie posters at the top of the page – very reminiscent of Netflix’s browsing design – is beyond eye-catching; it’s practically all I can see.
When you click on one of the movie posters, you’re directed to a new SERP, as though you searched for the name of that movie: Larry saw something similar this week on his mobile phone while doing a tourism-related search: What’s Going on Here?You haven’t forgotten my big conspiracy theory about the Google Knowledge Graph, have you? I suspect that Google is trying to train users to pay... > Read more
I think it’s quite amusing that Kajagoogoo has an album called “The Very Best of Kajagoogoo” – I mean, can anyone name more than one song by Kajagoogoo? I think this is the one:Well this blog is no one-hit wonder! Here’s our very best of the month, the top 10 posts that got you reading and talking:Google SERP Dumps 5.
5% of Organic First Page Listings – Google recently slashed the number of first-page results for some queries from 10 to 7 (and 30% reduction!). Larry examines the SEO implications.Why SEO's (Sometimes) Suck at PPC Marketing – Larry puts on his fighting gloves and names some important differences in the mindset required to succeed at organic vs. paid search.The Long-Term Value of SEO: Does SEO Value Last Forever? – Larry (who, you might have noticed, was on a b... > Read more
While digging through our analytics for question keywords (as outlined in “3 Ways to Find Questions to Answer in Your Content”), I found the following question: Why are popular keywords so hard to rank for with a new website? It’s a good question, although the longer you work in search marketing, the more obvious the answer becomes.
New websites have difficulty ranking for popular, high-volume keywords for two primary reasons:New websites don’t have much site authority yet. The amount of on-page optimization you do when targeting a specific keyword is only half the battle. The Google algorithm takes site or domain authority into account when assigning rankings. Your site’s authority depends on factors like age of domain (hence, new websites necessarily have less authority) a... > Read more
Or, Why Does My Personal Blog Have the Same PageRank as a Search Marketing Site with a Huge SEO Budget?A couple of weeks ago, Google rolled out a new update to Toolbar PageRank. Victor Pan, our resident SEO “ninja,” dropped me and Larry a note, letting us know the WordStream site is holding steady at 5.
Out of curiosity, I checked the PageRank on my own blog. It was also a 5. Amused, I let them know, and Larry shot back, “You should be running our SEO meetings!”In case you don’t find this as surprising as we do, let me tell you a little more about these two sites:WordStream.com: We’re a venture-backed search marketing company that has been around for about five years. We primarily sell PPC management software, but we also offer both free and paid keyword research tools as well ... > Read more
Larry stirred up quite a controversy last week with two posts that made some bold claims. First, he said that SEOs suck at PPC because they don’t approach it with the right mindset. (Later, he amended the post to say that SEOs sometimes suck at PPC – he also told me he was mainly thinking about himself.
) Then he said that the idea that SEO has more long-term value than PPC is a myth.This didn’t sit too well with some of our readers (many of whom are advocates for and practitioners of SEO – as, frankly, we have always been in the past). We had some vehement disagreement in the comments from people who thought Larry was over-generalizing or conflating “SEO” with webspam and unsustainable black-hat tactics. For example, Matt Bennett said, “you've taken your own experiences... > Read more
Google was launched in 2000, with pricing based on a flat CPM (cost per impression model). It was relaunched under an auction model in 2002. (Search Engine History)An 18-year-old college dropout named Scott Banister is credited with the brilliant, multi-billion-dollar idea of pay-for-placement search listings, an idea later brought to fruition by Bill Gross at IdeaLab.
(TechCrunch)About 97% of Google’s total revenues come from advertising. (Google Investor Relations)Businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords. (Google Economic Impact Report)As of Spring 2011, Google had over 1.2 million businesses advertising on its search network. (AdGooRoo via Perry Marshall)The average click-through rate for an ad in the first position is 7.94%. (AccuraCast)&nb... > Read more
How do you feel about private data in public spaces? Search Plus Your World was disturbing enough. If I do a Google image search for “ice cream,” it’s because I want some generic pictures of ice cream. I don’t want to find a picture of myself eating ice cream. I especially don’t want to find a picture of myself eating ice cream naked.
(I don’t have any nude photos in my Picasa account, that I know of, but it’s possible right?) And I especially don’t want a friend who is using my computer to find a picture of me eating ice cream naked. And if I’m borrowing a friend’s computer, I don’t want to find their naked pictures either! (I don’t know any male models.)And now Google has officially gone completely crazy. Yesterday they announced that search results will soon inco... > Read more
Dalton Caldwell Gives Mark Zuckerberg the BusinessI mentioned the App.net project – Dalton Caldwell’s vision of an ad-free Twitter platform – last week. Now Caldwell is making headlines for an open letter that he posted on his blog, called “Dear Mark Zuckerberg,” in which he recounts a meeting he had earlier this summer with several top Facebook executives.
As Caldwell describes it, he was hoping the outcome of the meeting would be “executive-level support for [his] impending product launch.” Instead, those executives informed him that the product he was developing sounded like a competitor to Facebook App Center. As you can guess, they didn’t like that. Dalton writes:Your executives explained to me that they would hate to have to compete with the “interesting product” I... > Read more
Warning! Don't do something or something might happen, maybe?Google’s Link Warnings Run AmokOn July 19, like many other sites, we received a warning email from Google Webmaster Tools that Google had detected potentially harmful, unnatural links pointing to our site. The sequence of emotions went something like this: panic, fear, confusion, relief, irritation, then back to confusion.
The “relief” phase came when we realized the warnings went out to a huge number of sites – including SEOmoz, which I think of as squeaky-clean and unimpeachable. According to Ruth Barr, SEOmoz does “virtually nothing in the way of active link solicitation.” In other words, they have a huge and active community and they focus on churning out good content daily, so, as Ruth says, the links build ... > Read more
You can gauge the unexpectedness of an event by the number of tweets announcing the news that start with “Wow.” And Monday, my tweetstream was full of wow’s, because the news broke that Marissa Mayer – formerly a VP at Google and one of the company’s most public faces – was leaving to take the helm at Yahoo as CEO.
This is shocking because:1. Who would choose Yahoo over Google?! Yahoo seems to exist solely to serve as the butt of tech jokes.2. OMG, Marissa Mayer is pregnant!!!Let’s take the second shocker first: Does it matter that Mayer is pregnant? Can a pregnant woman run a company? I’ll answer this question with a little analogy. My brother and I went to the same college (Rice University, go Owls!), and we used to play a lot of ping-pong. Now, I’m pretty damn good at ... > Read more
Howdy, sports fans! Thanks to the good people at MarketingProfs, we have a special offer for our readers to save $200 on an upcoming MarketingProfs University (MPU) online training course: Search Marketing School: SEO. This training course features classes on keyword research, content strategy, link building, social media, SEO metrics and more, with expert speakers including Vanessa Fox, Andrew Hanelly, Jill Whalen, Ian Lurie, John Doherty, Ruth Barr, and yours truly.
Read on for more details on this offer.About MarketingProfs UniversityMPU provides affordable, comprehensive online training in the interrelated disciplines that make up your marketing mix.With each course you'll get 10-17 hours of instruction in what you need to plan, build, and measure successful marketing programs. Plus yo... > Read more
Yesterday we published the results of a study showing how sponsored advertisements on Google (PPC ads) are taking over territory previously reserved for organic listings, AKA “free clicks.” This is both good news and bad news for marketers. On the plus side, Google continues to roll out more and better types of search advertising to help marketers target their customers.
On the negative side, you (obviously) have to pay for those clicks.But the fact is, organic clicks aren’t really “free” either – gone are the days when it was relatively easy to rank on the first page in Google for your target keywords. Given the increasing costs and complications involved with SEO, it’s important to diversify your marketing channels. You can’t rely on organic search alone for traffic and l... > Read more
Perry Marshall on the AdWords Stupidity Tax & Why You Should Never Let a Google Rep Near Your Account
Perry Marshall is one of our favorite people in PPC. We’ve partnered with him on a few webinars, and we love that he doesn’t just parrot back conventional wisdom at you. He shares real insight into web marketing strategy and has a knack for analogies that hit home. He recently sent me the new edition of his popular AdWords guide, The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, and spoke with me about some of the great advice you can find inside.
About Perry: Entrepreneur Magazine calls him “the #1 author and world’s most-quoted consultant on Google Advertising … He has helped over 100,000 advertisers save literally billions of dollars in AdWords stupidity tax.” His Chicago company, Perry S. Marshall & Associates, consults both online and brick-and-mortar companies on generating sales ... > Read more
Google recently announced the release of the Knowledge Graph, a new feature designed to “help you discover new information quickly and easily” by providing informative answers to informational queries directly in the SERP. In other words, for search queries that are typically answered by a high-ranking, ever-present Wikipedia page, some of that top-level information can now be found on the results page itself, so you don’t necessarily have to click through to another site.
For example, if you google “Mae West,” you see some basic information (date of birth and death, height, name of spouse, and some of her more well-known movies, as well as related figures) to the right of the organic search results (click to enlarge):Yesterday, I was talking to Larry about different types of sea... > Read more
We've evaluated thousands of PPC accounts with the AdWords Performance Grader, adding up to almost $1 billion in total PPC spend. Looking at this huge amount of data in aggregate, one of the most salient trends has to do with account activity. Namely, we've noticed a strong correlation between regular activity and relative success.
That is to say, the advertisers that get the highest scores (because they're beating everyone else in terms of key metrics like Quality Score, click-through rate, and impression share) usually spend the most time in their accounts.Disturbingly, about 1 in 5 advertisers who used the Grader haven't even logged into their AdWords account in the past 30 days. We get it – we're busy too! – but if you don't actually work on your account on a regular basis, your RO... > Read more
Happy belated Independence Day, WordStream fans! With the 4th falling on a Wednesday, it feels like we had a Saturday right in the middle of the week – but no following Sunday to help us recover. Oof!When I reluctantly dragged myself back to work yesterday, I saw a note from my coworker Adam, who said he was “declaring independence from old emails,” archiving all messages older than two weeks.
That note – and Wednesday’s patriotic festivities – inspired me to think of more ways to assert your independence in the office.1. Declare Email BankruptcyDeclaring “bankruptcy” for your email means admitting that you’re never going to be able to answer all those old messages. Archive them, delete them, unflag, mark all as read – do whatever you have to do, but don’t allow... > Read more
Check out our top 10 greatest hits from June!Everything You Want to Know About Quality Score & Landing Pages – This FAQ, consisting of questions we received during a recent webinar, is packed with info on AdWords Quality Score and how your landing pages affect it.RIP SEO Footer Links – Matt Cutts recently announced that boilerplate, sitewide links don’t count for much if anything.
Has your link strategy changed?AdWords Live Chat Ad Extension Now In Beta – Google appears to be testing a new “Live Chat” extension that allows people to click a button to initiate a live chat directly from a PPC ad.3 Things I’ve Learned from Founding a Software Start-Up – Larry talks about his experience with founding, bootstrapping, and securing funding for a software company that is now al... > Read more
Twitter, God love them, tends to be a little slow on the uptake as far as social networks go. It’s been around for about six years, but Twitter has been notoriously slow about adding new features and improving the functionality of its website. For example, it took years for the company to build in a “retweet” button (and the way they built it initially was not well received); it acquired TweetDeck in May 2011, but has kept TweetDeck as a separate application with its own brand rather than integrating those awesome features into Twitter itself.
About a month ago, Twitter sent out an email to users announcing some updates and policy changes. First among those changes: “A new weekly email that delivers the most interesting news and items you might have missed from the people ... > Read more
The New York Times just published an Associated Press snippet under the extremely misleading headline "ComScore Study Says Facebook Ads Effective."Larry passed me the link, and we both wondered briefly if Facebook had commissioned a study to "prove" that their ads are in fact effective (since our recent research suggests that Facebook ads are not effective compared to other online display ad networks).
However, if you read the story, it doesn't even appear to be about ads (emphases mine):The report released Tuesday found that people who were fans of Starbucks and Target, or friends of those fans, were more likely to make a purchase than a control group that were not fans.The comScore study comes a day after the research firm said that the number of unique visitors to Facebook's websit... > Read more
Every year at SMX Advanced, Matt Cutts does a “You & A” question-and-answer session with Danny Sullivan. Matt McGee’s write-up of this year’s interview is full of juicy tidbits and interesting insight into Google’s inner workings – but it’s worth reminding ourselves that part of Cutts’ job is PR.
When a company goes around saying “We value transparency, we value transparency!” all the time, you have to wonder how transparent they’re being – and Google’s algorithms for organic search rankings and Quality Score are still very cryptic.But let’s see what we can take away from his comments anyway, shall we?Links Still Matter – But Not Site-Wide Links, SuckersDanny asked, “Do links still work, or are social signals gonna replace them?” Cutts responded:Dougla... > Read more
This is pretty funny – do a search for “keyword” in Bing and here’s an example of the ads that get served:In other words, a seemingly random assortment of merchants – Bloomingdales, BMW of Sudbury, ankylosing spondylitis treatments, whip cream chargers?? Only one of the sponsored results has anything to do with keywords, the one on the bottom for an “SEO Site Analyzer” (notice, though, that the term “keyword” doesn’t even appear in the ad).
What’s going on here? My coworker Sergey figured it out – marketers or business owners are either uploading a spreadsheet or cutting and pasting from a document that uses “Keyword” as a heading. For example, Bloomingdales might have a keyword list that looks something like this:KeywordKate SpadeDKNYMichael KorsAnd the heading ... > Read more
We recently ran a joint webinar with landing page specialists Unbounce called “How to Use Killer Landing Pages to Get Better PPC Results” (you can view the slides from that webinar here). We didn’t have time to answer all the great follow-up questions from attendees, so we’re answering them here on the blog.
Special thanks to Tom Demers of Measured SEM for his help with answering these questions.What would you consider to be the weighting of Ad CTR vs. Landing Page relevancy as it relates to Quality Score? If you have a KW with low quality score should the first area of focus be Ad Copy testing or landing page development?The relevance of your ad is more important on balance than your landing page. It’s the first thing a Google user sees, assuming your ad qualifies to display in ... > Read more
It’s three weeks or so till the summer solstice, but everyone knows Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer. It’s time to put on your white jeans and accidentally squirt ketchup on them when preparing to eat a hot dog.It’s also time to check out our blog’s greatest hits from May, just in case you missed them the first time.
Your social calendar is filling up with barbecues and outdoor concerts, and it was a big month for social media in the news too. For once, the conversation revolved around Facebook, its IPO and subsequent fluctuating (dropping, mostly) stock price, and to a lesser degree Pinterest, rather than Google’s assorted machinations – not that Google didn’t put up a good fight.Here are the 10 posts that got the most eye-time this month:How Much Is ... > Read more
Last week, when we released data revealing Facebook’s shortcomings as an advertising platform, we didn’t know how timely it would be. Then GM announced it was pulling its $10 million Facebook campaign, claiming the ads weren’t working. Coming right before the IPO, the news was a shock – but we were able to step in with an explanation for GM’s move.
For example, despite its incredible reach, Facebook delivers lackluster results – the average Facebook ad has a click-through rate (CTR) of about 0.05%, which is half the average CTR for banner ads across the Internet, and just 1/10 as high as the average ad on the Google Display Network.Because our research provided some answers, it led to some great opportunities to speak about the findings in the media. In the course of a fe... > Read more
Last week, I shared the story of a guy who convinced the Internet that Abe Lincoln invented Facebook – pretty impressive linkbait, but not exactly heart-warming. But those of you with cold hearts need not fear – I’ve got a doozy for you this week. (As Woody Allen would say, there’s nothing like hot cockles.
)This story starts with poetry. Several years ago I became acquainted with a poet named Patricia Lockwood, affectionately known as Tricia. Tricia had a blog, but she was less likely to post about poetry per se than the strange things her mother says ("There were very bad storms here all week, you know. Later on, maybe tomorrow, I'll take you out and we can go see all the devastation") or the disturbing illustrations on the covers of young adult books (see here and here).What beco... > Read more
Yesterday the news broke that General Motors (GM) is pulling its Facebook campaign, to the tune of $10 million, claiming the ads don't work. As Pamela Parker at Marketing Land said, "It couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Facebook, which has its initial public offering of stock later this week.
" According to the Guardian, this move, coming "days before stock market sale" is "seen as an embarrassment by analysts."The infographic we launched yesterday comparing the value of Facebook advertising to the Google Display Network goes some way toward explaining GM's move. We found that average click-through rates on Facebook were just half the industry average for banner ads, at 0.051%. Average CTR on the Google Display Network, on the other hand, is 0.4% (almost 10 times higher!). Accord... > Read more
Did y’all hear about Abraham Lincoln inventing the internet (or something like that)? It was the meme of the week, an owl in a box for our time – Nate St. Pierre, a blogger and consultant, told the (long-winded) story of his recent trip to Springfield, Illinois, and how he discovered a patent application filed by Abraham Lincoln in 1845 – for a product that looks and sounds a lot like an early version of Facebook:Lincoln was requesting a patent for “The Gazette,” a system to “keep People aware of Others in the Town.
” He laid out a plan where every town would have its own Gazette, named after the town itself. He listed the Springfield Gazette as his Visual Appendix, an example of the system he was talking about. Lincoln was proposing that each town build a centrally located co... > Read more