Elisa Gabbert's blog
Andy Beal wrote a great post this week called "How to Be a Twitter Guru," which is not actually (thank god) a guide to being a "Twitter guru." Instead Andy recounts a flip-out he had on Twitter (which, sadly, I missed) (start from the bottom): Possibly without meaning to, Andy has put Twitter through the filter of signaling theory.
If you're not familiar with signaling, it refers to behavior whose primary purpose is to "signal" or convey something about ourselves to others – whether or not it's true. Generally, what we're trying to signal is status. Some people, such as economist Robin Hanson, believe signaling is responsible for a great deal, even most of what humans do. (You can hear him talk about it in this podcast.) Here are some examples of behavi... > Read more
On the off chance that you’re not right sick of hearing about the JC Penney SEO scandal – or that you had better things to do this week and missed it entirely – let’s go over some of the many responses to the incident. The quick recap: The New York Times alerted Google spam man Matt Cutts to JC Penney’s highly questionable, probably full-on black-hat SEO tactics that had it ranking in the top five for many highly competitive head terms (via a slew of paid links).
The Google slap was administered, and JC Penney’s rankings have plummeted, but naturally, this raised all sorts of questions, like how did such a high-profile company get away with such a large-scale violation of Google’s guidelines? I’m also wondering: Why is JC Penney’... > Read more
“A merger of visions”? "An equation of 1+1=11"? “An unlikely pairing of two online media giants”? “A great American success story”? "The equivalent of a fourth-quarter Hail Mary pass"? "A slow-motion train wreck and will end in disaster”? These are some of the ways people have been talking about AOL’s “game-changing” acquisition of the Huffington Post for $315 million earlier this week.
The positive descriptions, it should be noted, come directly from Arianna Huffington and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong themselves. The rest of the world isn’t so sure. I had to laugh when I saw this headline in the Hollywood Reporter: “Advertising Execs Worry Huffington Post Will Taint AOL's Brand.” Because, reall... > Read more
Over the past few weeks, we've walked you through several scenarios demonstrating how you can use the newest evolution of WordStream to supercharge your AdWords account. Whether you're a novice or an expert, WordStream for PPC has tools that can make your job easier and your campaigns more successful.
Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Scenario #5 “I know the best practices. I’ve been using AdWords for a long time now and have had a history of success. That being said, I’m always trying to find ways to squeeze every last drop of profit out of my account, add to my efficiency, and continue to grow PPC-related revenue for the business.” If you're an old hand at AdWords – whether you're an pay-per-click agency or an individual advertiser – and you're already ... > Read more
DANG, y'all! You just. Can't. Get. Enough. Link building posts. Remember when I said I was running out of pictures of chainlinks? That's why you get a classic NES reference for your image today. So here you have it, our most popular blog posts from January: lots of link building love and a few AdWords and PPC posts too.
Enjoy! Quick and Dirty Link Building Tip Part 1: How to Get Lots of Link Prospect URLs FAST!: This is the first in a three-part series by SEO whiz Tom Demers, in which he lays out a process for a fast link-building campaign. Quick and Dirty Link Building Part 2: How to Prioritize Your Link Building Efforts: In Part 2 of this series, Tom explains how to sort through the link prospects you gathered in Part 1. Link Building 101: 5 Simple Ways to Build Links that ... > Read more
Matt “Google Spam” Cutts himself pointed out “an interesting essay on search neutrality” this week. If you initially read this as “net neutrality,” so did I – in fact “search neutrality” is a pseudo-buzzword concept that is built on the principles of net neutrality, as James Grimmelmann notes in the essay, titled “Some Skepticism About Search Neutrality.
” Search neutrality targets search engines like Google rather than Internet service providers (ISPs), and its proponents argue that search engines shouldn’t be able to discriminate among websites, biasing results toward some sites rather than others. But wait, a skeptic like Grimmelmann might say – don’t search engines exist to discriminate among sites? If they didn’t, how could there be rankings at all? Grimme... > Read more
Over the past couple of weeks, we've walked you through some examples of ways you can use the newest evolution of WordStream to supercharge your AdWords account. Whether you're a novice or an expert, WordStream for PPC has tools that can make your job easier and your campaigns more successful. Read Part 1 and Part 2.
Scenario #4 “I work at an agency. We're new to offering PPC services and need a way to quickly onboard clients and manage them going forward to produce strong results.” Many advertising and interactive agencies have only recently begun offering pay-per-click services. If you're in this situation, you likely know it's a big opportunity and are ready to jump in, but you need a little help getting up to speed. Conversely, you may work at a new pay-per-click agency tha... > Read more
Who here feels useful and necessary? Ah ah – not so fast there, humans! While cruising the blogosphere this week I ran across two stories that suggest we’re falling behind a bit in our ongoing race for supremacy with the machines. (I probably would have found more if my reading speed and comprehension weren’t limited by inherent human weakness.
) You’ve all heard it from copywriters and SEOs alike: Don’t write for search engines, write for people! It’s become an SEO cliché, up there with “Don’t link for the sake of linking” and “No keyword stuffing.” But A.J. Kohn of Blind Five Year Old has turned the cliché on its head. Screw that, he says: “Stop writing for people. Start writing for search engines.&rdquo... > Read more
Over the next few weeks, we'd like to walk you through some examples of ways you can use the newest evolution of WordStream to supercharge your AdWords account. Whether you're a novice or an expert, WordStream for PPC has tools that can make your job easier and your campaigns more successful. Read Part 1 of the series here.
Scenario #3 "I've had an AdWords account running for quite some time, but my Quality Scores remain low, even after revamping my website and landing pages." There are a number of factors that go into determining your Quality Scores, and the relevance of your landing pages, as well as factors like website load time, do have an effect. But you'll have the most impact on your Quality Scores by focusing on your ads and ad groups. Specifically, you'll need to: Ensure that yo... > Read more
Proving that its record-breaking financing round hasn't made it too self-important – or that it's run by power-giddy, Zuckerbergesque children with no sense of when to get serious, not sure which – Groupon this week published a very cheeky press released titled "Groupon Raises, Like, A Billion Dollars.
" Pretty spot on – it raised $950 million, which might as well be a billion. The press release also contained this line: "In the last year, Groupon has been called 'the fastest growing company ever' by Forbes Magazine and 'America's best website' by one of Groupon's television commercials." I'd be totally charmed if I didn't irrationally hate Groupon. You know how you just hate certain celebrities for little to no reason? That's how I feel about Groupon.... > Read more
Over the next few weeks, we'd like to walk you through some examples of ways you can use the newest evolution of WordStream to supercharge your AdWords account. Whether you're a novice or an expert, WordStream for PPC has tools that can make your job easier and your campaigns more successful. Scenario #1 “I just recently set up my AdWords account.
I have a few campaigns/ad groups/keywords in there, but I didn’t really know what I was doing, so it needs to be redone. I’m essentially starting from scratch.” Sound familiar? You're not alone. Many of our clients are just getting their feet wet with PPC; they know they need to add it to their marketing channel, but they haven't had time to learn it from top to bottom, and they're nervous that the whole effort could turn ... > Read more
Which day of the week do your contextual PPC ads get the most clicks? Infolinks recently released a study showing that in-text pay-per-click advertisements get more clicks on Tuesday than any other day of the week, followed by Wednesday and then Monday. Unsurprisingly, clicks were lowest on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with a typical Sunday accounting for 45% fewer clicks than Tuesday.
This study was based on Infolinks' database of over 40,000 websites and analyzed data spanning all of 2010. According to the study: "Advertisers and publishers can utilize this click data for smarter investments and also higher payouts. By concentrating advertising efforts on Tuesday, Wednesday and even Monday, higher engagement can be accomplished and in turn higher revenue earned." ... > Read more
Just in case the world isn’t going to end in 2012, let’s do some futurecasting! A new year means a new opportunity for making outlandish predictions (and/or predictions so safe they can’t not come true), not to mention resolutions and recommendations for changing times. We’ve seen a lot of that around the blogosphere this week – let’s take a look, shall we? Erik Qualman of Socialnomics made 21 social media predictions for 2011, including that Facebook will go public, the FTC will adopt privacy rules that will stifle innovation, Twitter will be acquired by a media company like CNN, and “Google becomes the next Microsoft and Facebook becomes the next Google.
” 2010 was a year of big changes for both Google and Facebook, especially in terms of their public perception. I ex... > Read more
As we've said many times before, the types of keywords you should use in your SEO copywriting depend on your industry and your goals. They also depend on your customers, which is why it's so important to know who your customers are before you start writing your site. What are their demographics? (Age? Gender? Income/educational level? Location?) Are they one-time or repeat buyers? Similarly, if you're targeting business customers rather than individual consumers, your keyword choices will need to reflect that.
B2B (or business-to-business) keywords typically have lower search volume than consumer keywords, and you'll need to delve into the long tail. (Your own analytics are your best source for high-converting keywords.) The below keyword types are particularly applicable in the B2B space.... > Read more
2010: The year of the link? At least here at WordStream it was. Six of our top ten most popular blog posts of the year had the word "link" in the title. That's great guys – I'm glad you understand the value of the link when it comes to Google and SEO. However, there are only so many creative-commons images of chain-link fences I can put in these round-ups, so let's make 2011 the year of something pretty, OK? Can we do for kittens what we did for links? Without further ado, here they are, our 10 biggest hits from the entire year! And a huge thank you to all our readers – we couldn't, or at least wouldn't, do it without you.
How to Create Amazing Backlinks – Why settle for ho-hum backlinks when you can have amazing backlinks?! Amazing backlinks, of course, t... > Read more
Time flies by in such a blurry fashion these days, I can no longer remember without assistance what happened in the past year and not, say, three years ago—it all feels roughly equidistant somehow. But luckily, thanks to our blog archives, I have a handy reference of everything major that went down in 2010.
Looking back through roughly 50 weeks’ worth of Friday roundups, here’s what stood out in terms of big news and milestones in the online marketing space this year. Facebook f*cks around with our privacy Facebook changed its default privacy settings so users would be required to opt out of sharing everything with the whole world; Zuckerberg defended the decision by claiming that society was moving toward more openness and people want less privacy. Many didn’t buy ... > Read more
Whether you're a novice at link-building or an experienced link-builder, you could always use learn a few more tricks for quick and dirty ethical links. Use absolute links, not relative links, in your blogs posts. That way, if a post gets scraped, the links in the content are preserved. When you write a guest post, send the bio along with your preferred links and anchor text already coded in.
This makes it easier for the hosting blog, so it's less likely that they'll mess with your link(s). If someone sends you a guest post, ask if you can return the favor by writing a guest post for them too. (If your sites are relevant to each other, this won't look like a suspicious reciprocal link.) Keep track of keywords you'd like to improve your ranking for. When guest post opportunities pop up, w... > Read more
On Black Friday, the New York Times ran one if its oh-so-savvy pieces about Google, demonstrating once again its deep understanding of SEO. </sarcasm> The article, titled "A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web," tells the story of DecorMyEyes, an eyeglasses business with an ungrammatical brand and a bad attitude.
The owner, whose name, believe it or not, is Vitaly Borker, claims that horrible service – we're talking criminally bad – is his business strategy, because (ex-)customers leave negative reviews on the Internet, driving up his rankings: "I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven." Danny Sullivan did a long write-up of the article, calling it "great." But I was immediately suspicious of the NYT bla... > Read more
Seeing as 2010 is winding to a close, I had the idea to do a sort of year in review for keywords, using Google Insights for Search to find patterns in the year's keyword trends. However, I got so distracted by the screwed up categories, I abandoned the post. Instead I'm just going to complain about how useless they are.
When you filter your Google Insights results for a given time period (I used 2010), the default results call into "all categories," but you can further sort those into 27 (by my rough count) categories, including "Business," "Entertainment," "News & Current Events," "Shopping," "Sports," and so on – sounds potentially useful, right? Unfortunately, whatever method they're using to sort the rising search qu... > Read more
Do you hear sleigh bells ring-a-ling, ding-ding-ding-a-ling too? Thanksgiving has come and gone, which means it's officially open season Christmas season in the eyes of the American advertising industry. Prepare yourself for the Xmas onslaught! (I once had "Here We Go A-Wassailing" stuck in my head for like three years.
No joke.) If you can tear yourself away from the e-commerce and/or decorating the tree, check out our greatest hits from November: Real Life Link Building: Three Real Relationships You Can Turn Into Virtual Votes – Tom wrote this great post about how much of link building is really relationship building. Semantic Analysis for SEO: Going Beyond LDA – In this guest post, David Harry talks about how to use semantic analysis concepts f... > Read more
Early-bird registration for the Landing Page Success Seminar ends this Friday, Nov. 26. WordStream will be one of 20 organizations presenting at the first major online seminar on conversion rate optimization (CRO) for landing pages and websites. Learn how to take your landing pages to a new level of success, all from the comfort of your own home or office.
No travel required. The seminar begins Tuesday, Nov. 30, and runs through Thursday, Dec. 16. Registration is strictly limited to first 500 marketers who sign up. The company's last seminar sold out before the early-bird discount ended. Register now to save $300 (over 50%)! When you register, you'll also receive $584 in eight free bonuses. Expert instructors and topics for this seminar include: Ben Jesson, CEO of Conversion Rate Experts,... > Read more
Is your click-through rate good, or good enough?This is a really common question, but unfortunately the answer to "What is a good click-through rate" will vary depending on a number of factors, including your industry and keywords. Additionally, in many situations your CTR is not nearly as important as your conversion rate.
Still, it’s helpful to have some general guidelines as to what qualifies as a good click-through rate. Keeping in mind that your mileage may vary, here are some benchmarks depending on the platform you're using for marketing.What is a Good CTR for...Pay-per-click adsFacebookBanner adsEmail newslettersWhat Is a Good CTR for A Pay-Per-Click Ad?What's a good CTR for a PPC ad in a Google AdWords campaign? Earlier this year, a Google employee said that beginner advertisers ... > Read more
The rumors began to fly last week that Facebook was planning to announce a "Gmail killer"—an email service that would obviate the need for ever leaving Facebook. At Monday's press conference, however, we learned that the new service, dubbed Facebook Messages (or maybe sometimes Facebook Messaging—the branding is sort of inconclusive), "is not email.
" This isn't just semantics—it's really not email, because it lacks a lot of the functionality of email. For example, it's one-to-one, with no CC or BCC, and no subject lines. (Also, you send a message by hitting "Enter"—which I guess means you can't have line breaks in a Facebook message. To me, this is not a feature.) I can't see anyone who currently uses email dropping it in favor of this;... > Read more
Slate Labs has been developing a tool called Plain English that "translates" legalese, technical jargon or other lingo-heavy English into just plain English. NPR used the tool to translate the Federal Reserve's $600 billion stimulus plan. When you click on a yellow phrase, it toggles over to a gray translation in plain speech, like so: Note that you can't use it to automatically generate translations; it's just a way of presenting two versions of a text.
(I find Slate's disclaimer at the top of the page funny: This product is still in development. Contact us if you have an idea for how to use it. Aren't you supposed to come up with a reason for its being before you develop it?) Anyway, this got me thinking about all the corporate lingo that I used to disparage and have pret... > Read more
Yesterday Google launched a new feature in Instant Search: Google Instant Previews. When this feature is activated, you can click the magnifying glass icon to the right of a search result to view a pop-up preview of the page before clicking through. It appears that the preview is sometimes an accurate representation of the page, as above; in other instances Google will remove and/or magnify a portion of the page to show relevancy, as below: The pop-out quotes show where the keyword ("civet coffee") appears on the page.
On this particular SERP, Google altered the appearance of the preview for about half the results on the first page. It's not entirely clear what governs this. Will this affect the behavior of the typical Google user? It's hard to say what impact this will ha... > Read more
When analyzing the performance of your pay-per-click ads, one of the main factors you'll want to concentrate on is click-through rate (CTR). Ads with high CTR are desirable because they drive more traffic to your site in less time. In addition, a high CTR contributes to a good Quality Score, and that helps lower your cost per click.
It's also an indication that you're targeting a relevant, qualified audience, which can improve your conversion rate as well. (Of course you'll want to keep an eye on both metrics and make sure you're not sacrificing one in favor of the other.) Recently I scanned through the ads in our own AdWords account and identified some patterns in the ads with the highest click-through rates. Note that I've changed the examples so I'm not giving away our best creative, bu... > Read more
Halloween this year brought, along with the usual candy hangover, the launch of a much anticipated (by some, anyway) new search engine called Blekko, which has been in the works for several years. To compete with market leader Google and even Bing, any new search engine really needs to stand out, and Blekko sports a new concept: slashtag searching.
The idea is that you can follow any search with a slashtag that acts as a filter to narrow the scope of your results. For example, say you want to search for information about stars—as in the astronomical bodies, not the shape or famous people. You could restrict your results by searching for "stars /science"—that's the theory anyway. Nicely, when you type in "stars /" you get autocomplete suggestions for potentially related slashtags: The ... > Read more
Your landing pages – the pages that searchers land on after clicking on your ads – should usually be substantially different in content and style from a regular web page. This is because they are built around different goals. Web pages may be built to rank organically, to inform, to entertain, and sometimes to sell.
Landing pages are almost always intended to sell. Here are three points to keep in mind when creating landing pages as opposed to other types of pages. 1. Landing pages should be closely aligned with your keyword and ad. It's especially important when creating a PPC landing page to form a clear line between the keyword, the text ad, and the page. Using the keyword prominently in both the ad and the landing page demonstrates clear relevance to both the user and to Goog... > Read more
As I went through the blog rounds this week collecting interesting links, I noticed a pattern: everything was turning up Google. Not exactly shocking in the search industry, I know. But for some reason this week seemed especially Googley. Here are some of the many Google stories I read this week. First up, Google has made a significant change to its local search results pages called "Place Search.
" According to Google, "We've clustered search results around specific locations so you can more easily make comparisons and decide where to go." As Patrick Altoft puts it, Google is phasing out organic search results for local queries, giving local results all the prime real estate: "The impact of this change is that in the long term any site that doesn’t have a p... > Read more
So what are you going to be for Halloween? One of these kooky costumes for SEOs perhaps? (I like the RT of someone else's costume.) Too conceptual for you? You could work instead on "optimizing" a more traditional costume for maximum recognition—there's nothing worse than getting all dressed up and then having to tell everyone who you are.
In the meantime, reading our best posts of the month should work up your appetite for the incoming candy (fun-size is the best size). The Problem with Footer Links in SEO: This guest post by Lior Levin explores why footer links may be detrimental to both your site and the site you're linking to. Google is Testing New Sitelinks: Ken spotted a new sitelinks format in the SERPs. Have you seen this test? 11 Essential WordPress Plugins for Ne... > Read more