Elisa Gabbert's blog
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 also Being unique and compelling, so it stands out from the crowd Most 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 headline Do a little competitive research on the keywords you plan to bid on before you wri... > 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
Wordstream is looking to speak with search marketing practitioners to gather input on how we can evolve our SEO product to better meet customer needs. We’re conducting a series of 50-minute research sessions via phone on Tuesday, Sept 21, and Wednesday, Sept 22nd. These interviews can be scheduled at your convenience, and to thank you for your time, we’ll send you a $75 American Express gift card.
If you meet the following criteria and are interested, please drop a comment or send us an email: Search marketing specialist or practitioner who has responsibility for SEO for their organization Available to participate in a 50-minute session sometime between 8:30 am and 8:00 pm Eastern time, on 9/21 or 9/22 Have Internet access using a broadband, DSL, or T1 connection (no dial-up)... > Read more
Heather Lloyd-Martin is a 20-year marketing veteran, a recognized author and considered the pioneer of SEO copywriting. For over 12 years, Heather’s firm, SuccessWorks, has been training corporate in-house SEO copywriters and creating revenue-driving Web site content campaigns. Heather serves on the board of American Writers and Artists, Inc.
, is an advisory board member of SEMpdx and serves on the PubCon conference advisory board. In 2010, SuccessWorks launched the SEO Copywriting Certification training, the only certification program for in-house and freelance SEO copywriters. Can you tell us a little bit about SuccessWorks and how you got into the SEO copywriting business? Sure! I started my SEO copywriting career B.G. (before Google) around 1998. Prior to that, I had worke... > Read more
This weekend at home, I was surprised to find Google was giving me way more than ten results per page—more like twenty, though I confess I didn't bother to count. (It seems Google no longer does the counting for you.) I quickly sent an email to Tom and Ken about it, but it appeared it was "just me," or rather an experiment that was only affecting some users (as reported by Andy Beard and Barry Schwartz).
I was still thinking about this experiment on Wednesday, contemplating a post called "No More 'Ten Blue Links'" when Google unveiled a much bigger change—big enough to warrant a live press conference, big enough to get everyone on Twitter talking, and not just the "tweeple" in my web marketing column. This big change is Google Instant. It sounds a ... > Read more
On Wednesday, the moderators of Sphinn announced that the site would lose its main social feature—voting—and move to a pure editorial format, with the editors hand-selecting the best of submitted stories to promote to the front page. If you haven't already heard about this, you either: Took a few days off Haven't been on Twitter lately Don't work in Internet marketing Have real job responsibilities and/or "a life" Just kidding about that last one.
Perhaps the death of Sphinn as we know it isn't quite as earth-shaking as Michael Jackson's passing, but it definitely caused a stir in the search marketing community. After the announcement was made on the Sphinn blog, Ruud Hein was one of the first to react. In a post called "Sphinn Is Dead: Long Live Anything Else,... > Read more
We recently ran a webinar on negative keywords, sharing tips, tricks and best practices for using negative keywords to identify and eliminate areas of wasted spend in AdWords pay-per-click campaigns. The webinar included: Tips for identifying wasted spend before it happens Methods for identifying underperforming queries that are costing you money in your AdWords campaign Step-by-step instructions for setting negative keywords within your AdWords campaign via the AdWords interface If you missed it, you can view a video of the webinar or the slides below.
And we hope to see you at the next webinar! Negative Keywords: Tips, Tricks and Best Practices Need more help with negative keywords? Download our free white paper: Negative Keywords: How to Put an End to Wa... > Read more
August was a very graphic month for WordStream. I’m not talking about anything R-rated (though our marketing meetings can get pretty violent)—I’m talking about infographics! Who doesn’t love infographics? Definitely not us. I mean, we definitely don’t not love them.
I mean, we love them. And you all love them too, judging from the page views. And you loved hearing about our infographic strategy almost as much as loved the infographics themselves. Here are the top 10 most popular posts from the WordStream blog in August: How We Got a Link from CNN and Drove Loads of Traffic with Infographics: This case study shows we used infographics to score a huge range of links and big traffic spikes in a short amount of time. Five Myths About Link Building: Larry de... > Read more
Do you need help writing copy that's optimized for search and conversions while still being readable? It's not easy to write at your best while keeping keywords and business goals in mind. If your SEO copywriting skills could use some brushing up, we recommend you check out a seminar being run by friend of WordStream Heather Lloyd-Martin, the CEO of SuccessWorks Inc.
, a pioneer in SEO copywriting services that has been providing training for over 12 years. This training seminar will equip you with skills including: Forming a keyword research strategy Using keyword research tools Finding topic ideas Writing powerful, clickable titles and meta descriptions The three spots you should always place your keyword phrase A step-by-step process for writing optimized content Heather stre... > Read more
Bloggers love a controversy, and that includes me. The big controversy this week was over a new "tax"—more accurately, a business license—being imposed on bloggers in Philadelphia. Last week, Philly's City Paper reported that owners of small, low-traffic blogs were receiving letters from the city "demanding" they pay $300 for a business privilege license.
This license applies to all businesses in the city, not just blogs, but only recently, it seems, has the city attempted to enforce it with blogs. There does seem to be an inherent difference between a blog and a brick-and-mortar business—the latter is probably benefiting from services that the city provides, but a blog run by someone who happens to live in Philadelphia wouldn't seem to. But the license, city officials claim, applie... > Read more
This is the final excerpt from our free white paper, Seven Steps to a Better Search Campaign. Click here to download the full white paper including the last three steps. You've done your research and organized your keywords. You have a system in place for ongoing keyword management and growth. This provides a strong foundation for your paid and organic search marketing campaigns.
But until you have a good understanding of which keywords really work for your business, you can't learn from your campaigns and improve your results. The next step is to use keyword analytics to analyze your keywords and monitor results. Keyword analytics allow you to drill down to the level of the keyword group or the single keyword to see which terms drive the most traffic and conversions, as well as... > Read more
For the rest of the week, we'll be posting excerpts from a new free white paper: Seven Steps to a Better Search Campaign. Click here to download the full white paper now. Starting with extensive keyword research allows you to evaluate a number of opportunities and determine which keywords truly have the potential to drive profits for your business.
However, evaluating and refining your keywords will be a lengthy and tedious process if you don't first impose a meaningful order on your keyword research. So the next step is to segment your keywords into small, tightly related groups. Grouping your keywords will change everything else you do in search for the better. Here are just a few of the benefits of better keyword grouping and organization: Higher Quality... > Read more