Elisa Gabbert's blog
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 physical address in the location... > 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
Click here to read Part 1 of our Complete Guide to AdWords Matching Options (covering broad match and modified broad match). Phrase Match The phrase match keyword option offers a much more targeted approach than broad match, but still allows flexibility for Google to match your ads to more queries than your exact keyword phrase.
When using the phrase match option, your advertisement will appear for searches that include your keyword phrase in the correct order, but can still display for queries including additional words. To use the phrase match option in AdWords, enter your keyword phrase in quotation marks. Entering your phrase as “Gel Batteries” indicates to Google that your advertisements should only appear when someone has entered a search term that includes this exact phr... > Read more
Selecting targeted keywords is the first step to setting up a PPC campaign in Google AdWords, but the keyword matching options that you use can also have a large impact on your success. There are five AdWords match types: Broad Match, Modified Broad Match, Phrase Match, Exact Match, and Negative Match.
All keyword match types have advantages and drawbacks, so we'll discuss each in detail to help you choose the most advantageous options for your goals.For our discussion of the different AdWords matching options, we'll use "Gel Batteries" as the example keyword to illustrate how different options affect when your advertisements will be displayed.Broad MatchBroad match is the default matching option for keywords used in your AdWords campaigns. A broad match keyword will be entered as Gel Batt... > Read more
There's been a lot of speculation this week, everywhere from The Atlantic to Hipster Runoff, that Apple is planning to buy Facebook. I'm pretty skeptical about this possibility, but nonetheless, it frightens me. No two companies I can think of have inspired so much cultish devotion among millennials, who rank brand loyalty up there with religion and ethnicity in terms of personal identification.
If Facebook and Apple joined forces, world domination couldn't be far behind. And that would be a scary world, a world with only rounded corners and far too many email notifications. Speculation began on Monday when Steve Jobs made intimations during an earnings call that Apple was poised to spend some of its $51 billion in cash on acquisitions. Or, as he put it, they have "a unique opportunit... > Read more
Your headline is the first thing people will see in the search results – assuming they notice your ad at all. To catch eyes and get clicks, it's essential to write a headline that:Includes your keyword, signaling relevance to the search, while alsoBeing unique and compelling, so it stands out from the crowdMost advertisers have the first qualification down.
The second part is harder; it takes cleverness and creativity to get say something interesting in just 25 characters. But better ads earn you higher click-through, so it's worth it to invest a little more effort into your ad's headline.Here are some dos and don'ts to consider when writing headlines for PPC.DON'T use a generic headlineDo a little competitive research on the keywords you plan to bid on before you write your ads, and tak... > Read more
This Thursday, October 21, you have two opportunities to learn from WordStream. First, we'll be presenting the following SEMPO webinar: WHAT: Developing a Negative Keyword Strategy WHEN: Thurs., Oct. 21, at 12:00 PM Eastern (9:00 AM Pacific) WHERE: Online (register here) WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Executives, in-house marketers, SEMPO clients and prospects Do you know how to develop a negative keyword strategy? This FREE webinar will provide a series of tips and tricks for cutting the fat from your paid search accounts and for identifying irrelevant traffic that your keywords could be matched against, before you waste any advertising spend.
We will outline a repeatable process for leveraging negative keywords to help cut costs and improve the relevance of PPC traffic. Don't miss this opport... > Read more
On Wednesday, Bing and Facebook announced a partnership to make search more social by integrating Facebook "likes" into search results. According to the Facebook blog: When you search for something on Bing or in web results on Facebook (powered by Bing), you'll be able to see your friends' faces next to web pages they've liked.
So, you can lean on friends to figure out the best websites for your search. In theory, if you search for "The Social Network" in Bing, you might see links to reviews or stories about the movie that your Facebook friends have given the thumbs-up. Or if you're searching for a hotel in Santa Monica, you might see that a friend liked a certain hotel's Facebook page. In addition, people in your FB network will be more likely to show up in searches for names. M... > Read more
Today is a bittersweet day at WordStream – our much-loved director of marketing, Tom Demers, is leaving WordStream for another opportunity. We're very happy for Tom, who is buying a house with his beautiful wife and kids in Connecticut, but very sad for ourselves! Tom's shoes will be extremely hard to fill.
He's been with WordStream since waaaaaay back – as way back, at least, as a startup can go. Back when WordStream was just a handful of people meeting with laptops in a Panera, Tom was there, laying out the early marketing strategy and creating most of the content that became our website. He's seen us through several office moves, site redesigns and product overhauls, dozens of hires, and roughly a thousand meetings, with a huge smile on his face the whole time. Tom is an ama... > Read more
For a while now, we've been offering a free Quality Score Toolkit that rounds up our best resources for marketers looking to learn more about Quality Score. This toolkit includes: A white paper on improving Quality Score by increasing relevance A "Mastering Quality Score" video (a recording of one of our most popular webinars) A Quality Score Cheat Sheet, a one-pager dense with information about Quality Score And we've just added a fourth element that makes this toolkit even more useful for search marketers.
One of our resident PPC experts, Andy Stefano, has put together a Quality Score worksheet that will give you a quick overview of where your AdWords account stands from a Quality Score perspective. Just plug in some key numbers in the first page of the worksheet, and a dashb... > Read more
Another week, another Friday, and Google is doing what Google does best – giving the search marketing community something to whine about. Google has taken the "new" keyword tool out of beta and retired the previous versions, the new tool now being the only tool there is. Google claims the new version offers more flexible search options and easier keyword refinement; in addition, users can now view statistics for mobile search.
If search volumes look different to you, that's because the old tool shows stats for search partners, and the new tool only shows stats for searches conducted on Google.com. However, a lot of advertisers had been ignoring the existence of the new tool, preferring to stick with the old UI. Robbed of that option, many aren't too happy about it. Patrick... > Read more
The following questions were asked during last week's "Five Myths About Quality Score" webinar. You can read the answers to more Quality Score FAQs here. Q: Does landing page load time effect Quality Score? A: Yes, the load time of your landing pages and site in general is a factor in your AdWords Quality Score, albeit not the most important factor.
Google takes load times into account because they have a significant effect on user experience. To reduce your load times, try optimizing your images and CSS and doing away with unnecessary animation, such as moving ads. Q: You said that CPC bid does not affect Quality Score. But a higher ad may have a higher CTR, so does it indirectly affect QS? A: Google normalizes your click-through rate based on your ad position. Your expected CTR is higher... > Read more
AOL (or is it Aol now?) is back on the map lately. A couple of people I know recently started working for them in some capacity, so I figured they were making a hiring push in preparation for a comeback. That comeback plan must involve acquisitions, because this week brought news of AOL's purchasing TechCrunch.
Yes, the ultimate symbol of all that is dated and lame about the Internet has purchased the tech blog that everyone loves to hate for its sketchy ethics and what Michael Gray calls "page view journalism." This, supposedly, will further AOL's strategy of becoming "the global leader in sourcing, creating, producing and delivering high-quality, trusted, original content to consumers." Hey, you gotta have goals. This was actually just one of several acquisitions anno... > Read more
Yesterday, one of our resident AdWords experts, Andy Stefano, led a webinar called "Five Myths About Quality Score." He received the following question from one of the attendees. Below you'll find Andy's answer. Is it possible that some businesses inherently get a low keyword Quality Score because they are in low-volume industries? For example, we are in the horse topical treatment industry – that will never get as much interest as, say, the golf or football industry.
– Jane Here's Andy's response: Hi Jane, This is a really interesting question. I think “low-volume” won’t be a determining factor, but “low-interest” might be. Let me explain. I started tackling your question by looking at the data I had access to. I had a sample... > Read more
We are getting heavy into fall here, folks. OK not really. The high yesterday was 80. But if you're like me, September just feels different, whatever the temperature. It's the start of a new "semester." After 25 years of nonstop schooling, I've been in the plain-old workforce for almost six years, but I'm still trying to break the habit of buying academic planners.
(Same goes for the annual ritual of "back to school" shopping.) In the spirit of back-to-school, why not throw on a scarf and blazer (turn up the AC is necessary) and catch up on our most popular posts this month? Link Building Magic: How to Turn Citations into Links: Did you all want to be magicians as kids or what? Ken shares one of our favorite secret link-building tricks. How to Find People on Twitter: N... > Read more
There are a few key basics that every PPC text ad needs in order to rank well and generate clicks: A compelling headline Relevant keywords A relevant display URL A call to action This post focuses on the last requirement. The call to action, or CTA, is the language that tells the searcher what to do – in other words, giving them a reason to click.
(Aside from increasing your traffic, a higher click-through rate will also improve your Quality Score, which in turn will lower your costs.) The default call to action is something like "Buy now!" This may be better than no CTA at all, but it's not very good. It's too familiar, too general and too pushy. So what's a better call to action? It's good to remember that your CTA doesn't have to be a direct sales push – there ar... > Read more
It's Friday, and it's been an unusually long week (something about the tilt of the Earth, no doubt), so let's keep this roundup fun, shall we? What did you do while Facebook was down? Wednesday, due to a vaguely defined third-party networking issue, Facebook was down for a number of users across the country, and the site has continued to experience uptime issues.
This happened at roughly the same time that our own site experienced some downtime due to a Nettica problem (Nettica is our DNS provider), so I imagine this was the root cause of Facebook's downtime as well. Since you Facebook users all seem like a bunch of slavering addicts to me, I wondered what you did to bide the downtime. You turned to Twitter, of course! (Or other social networks, as the case may be.) Mostly, you spent the... > Read more
It's Brand Week at WordStream! OK, so I just made that up. We haven't been calling it Brand Week, but I just christened it—branded it, if you will—myself. We've been making some improvements to our office space, including the fancy new sign and display in our lobby, as you can see in the video below, with the intention of strengthening our branding for visitors to the office (board members, job candidates, consultants, paparazzi, and so on) as well as our office culture.
(By the way, if you're curious about the display in the video, it's the work of LocaModa, a location-based social media company.) Coincidentally, I've been seeing a lot of talk about branding this week. Could it be that fall is coming, and everyone wants to turn over a new leaf? (These puns don't even make ... > Read more