Elisa Gabbert's blog
I was doing a little research on copywriting blogs recently, and noticed that many of the renowned veteran copywriters who got their start in direct (i.e., offline) marketing would often make reference to “sales letters.” I wasn’t born in the ‘90s or anything (I know who Osama bin Laden is), but my response to this was, What the H is a sales letter?A sales letter, of course, is the “letter” you receive in direct marketing mailings, which begins “Dear ________” and informs you of all the reasons you should give the sender your money.
Believe it or not, young ones, direct marketing still exists – and even works. According to a recent Marketing Sherpa survey of B2B marketers, 79% of respondents found direct mailing “somewhat” or “very” effective.This is top of m... > Read more
A couple of weeks ago Larry Kim gave a webinar on keyword research, revealing his three-step process for discovering keywords. You can watch a recording of the webinar, as well as view the slides, below. You'll learn:How to dominate a search category for your brandWhy keyword niches are more important than single keywordsHow to apply your keyword research in on-page SEOAnd don't forget to sign up for our next webinar, Improving Quality Scores, on Wednesday, May 18.
Webinar: Winning with Keyword ResearchTo try the keyword tools demonstrated in the presentation, take a test drive today! ... > Read more
Sometimes, the best thing I read over the week has nothing to do with Internet marketing. But I really want to share it with you, so by God, I make it have something to do with Internet marketing. This week, that thing was this list of the worst analogies written by high school students, originally published in the Washington Post.
The source above ("The Lost Eyeball") calls them the "worst/best" because many are actually quite brilliant – if I was a high school teacher and one my students wrote these gems, I’d give them a king-size gold star. To further qualify the list, the source says the paper “held a contest in which high school teachers sent in the ‘worst’ analogies they’d encountered in grading their students’ papers over... > Read more
April is over, you've paid your taxes, and now you're waiting for your tax return. Oh, the miserable wait: What to do in the meantime??? How about catching up on our best blog posts from the month? Is the Internet Bad for the Environment?: In honor of Earth Day we published this infographic detailing what kind of damage we're doing with our Internet addictions, as well as how the Internet is good for the planet.
Crayola Colored Bubbles: Reputation Management for a 1-Star Disaster: Worst product ever? Read some of the hilarious reviews for this mess of a product (literally) and learn what to do if this happens to your company. Understanding the Differences Between Google and Bing Match Types: This guest post by Bethany Bey from Hanapin Marketing explains the differences betwee... > Read more
When hiring for a tech startup, most companies focus, understandably, on technical talent: developers and engineers. Obviously, you need great engineers if you're going to build software, apps or a website of any kind. But don't underestimate the value that a great writer can bring to your organization.
A lot of startups make any writing tasks that come up the responsibility of whichever staff member is the most competent writer. When you're bootstrapping, multitasking is a necessity. But if you've got some funding, hiring an excellent writer can impact your business in a lot of positive ways. So whether you make a full-time hire or find a reliable contractor, it's worth the investment to seek out a writer who understands your business and industry and cares about the outcomes. Here are fi... > Read more
We recently put together a Keyword Research Kit that includes a lot of great resources for anyone doing keyword research and marketing for either SEO or PPC applications.The Keyword Research Kit is a completely free resource available to download. The kit includes:The Keyword Research Cheat Sheet – This PDF offers a bird's-eye view of what keyword research is, what it isn’t, and why it’s important.
This cheat sheet is helpful for quickly orienting those new to the concept of keyword research, from first-time hires to executives.Keyword Monitoring Worksheet – This tool allows you to plug in your keyword data every month and monitor trends in your rankings, traffic from SEO, and ultimately how your organic search engine marketing efforts are helping to drive your business.The Ultimat... > Read more
On Wednesday, Google rolled out a new Analytics upgrade. Here’s Mashable’s report on the upgrade: Google rolled out a new and improved version of Google Analytics to all current Analytics users on Wednesday. The upgraded product comes with a bevy of new features. In addition to faster performance and a streamlined UI, the new Analytics also packs quite a lot of improved and entirely new functionality.
Users can create multiple dashboards, up to 20 per user; and each dashboard can contain up to 12 widgets. Users can also set interaction goals (for example, you might use Google Analytics to track and optimize file downloads or video views), graph and compare certain metrics over time, and toggle between multiple profiles and sites while focusing on one report. Wiep Knol begs to d... > Read more
Dan Olson is the CEO of DIYSEO, a provider of SEO software for small businesses. Dan leads the strategic direction and manages all day-to-day activities at DIYSEO. He is a former vice president at Performics, the largest search marketing company in the United States that was acquired by DoubleClick, Google and eventually Publicis Groupe.
How should small business owners think about and evaluate SEO?I think three things are important here:Approach it like marketing. SEO isn’t some tech-voodoo, it’s another way of getting customers to your site.Compare it to other things you do to market your business – sometimes that’s similar stuff like PPC, but it’s also print ads, billboards, etc.Focus on the actual return on investment.I think a lot of small businesses get overwhelmed by ... > Read more
Todd Wilkinson, CEO of WordWatch, began his online career in 1999 with WorldOnline/Tiscali, a pioneering European ISP. Todd later co-founded a digital agency in Amsterdam in 2002, called iizt (pronounce “east”), serving the advertising industry in the Benelux. In 2006, Todd co-founded and served as CEO to Respectance.
com, a social media play described by TechCrunch as the “MySpace for dead people.” Funded by two European VCs, Respectance was located in San Francisco, CA and Amsterdam, NL. Todd exited Respectance in 2010 and launched WordWatch in March 2011, based in Foster City, CA and Amsterdam, NL, with production and algorithm development in Krakow. You believe that bid management is the most time-intensive part of search engine marketing. Why is it so time-consuming and what... > Read more
One of my many brilliant Twitter followees pointed me this week to a hilarious page of Amazon reviews for a product called Crayola Colored Bubbles Wand Set. This piqued my interest because I remember reading an interview in The Believer a few years back with Tim Kehoe, a toy inventor who had been working for more than a decade to develop colored bubbles that wouldn't stain.
(You can read an excerpt from the interview online, but the full text is only available in print. FWIW, I seem to remember the whole issue being fantastic. I believe it also included interviews with Will Sheff of Okkervil River and Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances.)Kehoe's product was set to be called Zubbles and debut in 2008, but I never heard anything else about them, until now. At first I thought Ke... > Read more
Clearly, Google’s latest foray into social was the big search news of the week. But we’ve already covered what Google +1 is and how +1 will affect your campaigns. So rather than forcing yet more +1 down your throats, I’m wrapping our usual round-up of the month’s best blog posts in with my recommended reading for the week.
You voted with your clicks and eyeballs, and here they are, our top 10 slammingest posts from the month of March:Five Great "Hidden" Link Building Resources: Tom identified a handful of sources for reliably great information on link building, outside of the 100% link-building-focused blogs like Ontolo.PPC Ad Writing Tips from the Experts: An Interview with BoostCTR: I talked with BoostCTR’s Jeff Sexton and Ryan Healy about what goes into a kick-ass pay-per-click... > Read more
Do you know the difference between broad match and modified broad match? Are you confident in your ability to use negative keywords to save money without losing valuable traffic? To maximize the profitability of your pay-per-click campaigns, you need to know how and when to use each of the keyword match types offered by Google AdWords.
Our newest white paper, the Complete Guide to AdWords Matching Options, can help you navigate the options. After reading this white paper, you'll have a clear understanding of: The differences between the keyword match types offered in AdWords How, when and why to use each match type to get the best results Using the new modified broad match option for more refined targeting How negative keywords can save you money and raise CTR Best practice... > Read more
That's right folks, it's the auspicious return of Pimp Your PPC Ad, in which I scan the SERPs for sponsored ads that don't pass the sniff test, then tell you how to make them better (-smelling?). I always meant to make this a regular feature, but apparently I only did it once in 2009. Oops. So, maybe it's only a biannual feature.
Anyway, here we go with five more lessons from poorly executed pay-per-click ads. Lesson #1: Don't Put All Your Keyword Eggs in One Basket These are some of the ads I was served up for "army surplus gear": This last one suffers from a lack of targeting – these different keywords (ACU headgear, ACU jackets, etc.) should really all be in their own ad groups. In addition, the ad doesn't communication any value proposition and doesn't have a ca... > Read more
There was a really interesting article in Fast Company this week: “How Carrots Became the New Junk Food,” by Douglas McGray. (Hat tip to Mark Bittman – this is why it’s good to leave your filter bubble!) It tells the story of the rise of baby carrots in the hearts of America – not actual young carrots, but the little mechanically rounded, ready-to-eat nubbins of carrot you can buy in a bag in the produce section.
Real baby carrots look like the image to the right. "Baby carrots" are more like ponies – they don't grow up to be real horses. Baby carrots were conceived as a way to reduce costly food waste: Supermarkets expected carrots to be a particular size, shape, and color. Anything else had to be sold for juice or processing o... > Read more
If you’ve been following the WordStream blog for a while, you know we’re longtime fans of Aaron Wall at SEO Book. (You should have seen the glow around Tom Demers when Aaron agreed to do an interview with him.) In addition to being a great tactical resource on both SEO and PPC, Aaron is a must-follow blogger for his regular rants and essayistic analysis on the industry at large.
He has also taken a watchdogging stance toward Google, and his thoughts about the company’s direction are always enlightening, even if you’re inclined to give GOOG the benefit of the doubt. Twice this week Aaron reminded me of the power of a single image in a blog post – not a fancy infographic or even a beautiful photograph, just a basic screenshot – and how much an image can co... > Read more
Last night I performed a Google search on my home computer, using Firefox. I only got four results back on the first page, though there were over 55,000 results total (see below). I was not signed in but Instant was on. It looks like Google is testing this style of SERP when it thinks a handful of pages are clearly the most valuable, relevant results for the query.
Presumably, some users would prefer fewer choices as long as those choices clearly addressed the query. Didn't either Sergey or Larry once say that in a perfect world, Google would return only one result? This page did not address my needs as a searcher, because I was specifically trying to determine where my own blog ranks for this query -- i.e., whether I rank on the first page. If this experiment became the norm, "the f... > Read more
BoostCTR is is a network of advertisers and expert pay-per-click ad writers. I asked BoostCTR's Jeff Sexton and Ryan Healy to share some of their knowledge about what goes into a great pay-per-click ad. Jeff is in charge of Optimization Management for Boost’s writer network, and Ryan is a lead writer and blogger for Boost.
First off, can you tell us a little bit about BoostCTR? Jeff Sexton: BoostCTR helps businesses improve their pay-per-click advertising ( PPC) by boosting the click-through rate (CTR) of their ads. We take clients’ best performing PPC ads, re-write them, and then split-test the original ad against our new challenger ad. And we repeat that process until we beat the client’s old ad by at least 5%, or we give them their money back. 5% is the guarantee, but our average ... > Read more
Since I got all the complaining out of my system yesterday, today I'm giving you nothing but links. Here are some of the most helpful and interesting blog posts I read this week:DIYSEO offers 101 "easy, low-cost" SEO tips for time- and budget-strapped SMB marketers. This is a quick read and good overview of all the little basic things that small businesses should be doing on their websites and blogs.
Gareth Davies delivers 35 killer tips from SES London, including tips from Lee Odden on content marketing, Dave Naylor on SEO, Patrick Altolft on link building and Jim Boykin on SEO tools.On Search Engine Watch, Kristi Hines says that Google's "Panda Update" means we should kiss low-quality link building goodbye. She recommends content marketing as an alternative to "spammy backl... > Read more
One cross for each time SEO has died In his keynote address at SES this week, Danny Sullivan (as live-blogged by Lisa Barone) said we should “just ignore” the so-called pundits claiming SEO is dead: “Nothing’s going to kill SEO. Danny’s exhausted by the conversations … When ignorant people are talking about what SEO is and isn’t, why give them that time to respond? They’ve sucked up enough of our life.
” But journalists and other media blowhards continue to blame the SEO industry as a whole (if not the very concept of SEO) rather than individual scammers and spammers. I know we’re not supposed to feed the trolls, but what if the trolls are getting air time on high-authority sites like the New York Times and Business Insider?... > Read more
How many of you out there have always wanted to start your own SEO company, but were intimidated by all the work, experience and investment it would require? Obviously, you never bothered to Google "how to start an seo business," because if you had, you would have found this eHow article which explains just how easy it is to do! In fact, according to eHow, you can start your own SEO business in three stupidly simple steps: 1.
"Create your own website." This is crucial because if you don't even have a website, how are you going to convince people that you know anything about the Internet? Don't get too caught up in this part though – just include your email address and phone number so people can reach you. That should about do it. (Oh, also: Add a blog and blog a lot about SEO and make s... > Read more
February may be a short month, but that doesn't mean we were short on kick-ass blog posts! (Ugh.) Here they are, our top 10 page-view-grabbing-est posts for the month, every bit as awesome as they were the first time (except maybe for the first one): Unsurprisingly, our most popular post this month was Larry’s AdWords promotional code share.
You cheapskates! ;) (Sadly the codes have all been used and are no longer valid.) Larry did a quick analysis of Google’s big JC Penney bust. Tom wrote up a dead simple Google AdWords certification guide covering costs, the different types of certification, study tips and more. Google accused Bing of copying its search results after cooking up an elaborate and nerdy “sting” – Larry asks the burning question, Who cares? Cha... > Read more
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’s branding so weak? Half the stories... > 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