Larry Kim's blog
As is true of so many things in life, the big boys have it a whole lot easier than the rest of us. Fishing for backlinks in exchange for money can be risky (not to mention deeply unethical), but that didn’t stop Hotels.com, an Expedia property, from sending out spammy emails asking travel bloggers for precisely that.
What Happened?Earlier this month, a number of influential travel bloggers received an email from an as-yet unnamed “SEO Manager” for Hotels.com’s Americas division. The poorly-written email was sent from a Hotels.com email address, and claimed that the SEO Manager had been reading the bloggers’ posts. The sender went on to ask if the recipients would be interested in some “brand promotion for our hotels.”So far, so good, right? Unfortunately (for Hotels.com), the ... > Read more
Google AdWords is a seriously powerful, dynamic online advertising platform, yet few users ever even begin to reach their full potential within the service. Google is constantly updating AdWords, adding new features, killing off ones that don't work, and changing the way features function, thousands of times a year.
It's no wonder marketers can't keep up! Thanks to this ever-changing nature of AdWords, there are some really significant features that hardly get any play at all. However, these underused features can have a serious impact on your PPC performance.If you want to really bury the competition, you have to move beyond the AdWords basics and get creative. I went searching for the AdWords features with the lowest adoption – we're talking under 10% – that have the greatest potentia... > Read more
The paid search landscape is fraught with risks and opportunities. But how do you know which risks to address first? Simply digging your way through the mass of PPC data available can be a huge chore.More importantly though, how can you pinpoint and take advantage of the opportunities offering the greatest rewards when the competition is stiff and constantly changing?We talk a great deal here at WordStream about paid search best practices – it's critically important that you get those ducks in a row if you want to see any success in PPC.
Beyond the basics, though, you need a comprehensive and holistic strategy to not only keep up with the competition, but leave them in the dust.Next Tuesday, October 21, Michael Stricker from SEMrush and I are hosting an exclusive webinar to help you do j... > Read more
I recently had the pleasure of hosting a webinar on lead generation strategies with the incredibly knowledgeable Tim Paige, Conversion Educator at LeadPages.LeadPages is a dynamic software company headquartered in Minneapolis – and they're growing fast. They just launched in 2012 and already have millions in revenue from over 30,000 customers.
LeadPages hit a $3.5 million run rate nine months after launching and are now growing at a rate of about 20% each month.Tim and I got together to share the lead generation strategies we've used to build our companies far quicker than most are able to achieve. My own company, WordStream, is now seven years old and has grown 677% in the last three years, to $6.6 million in annual revenue.So how do you DO that?Have a look at what LeadPages learned fro... > Read more
AdWords advertisers struggle constantly to keep pace in an ever-changing industry, where Google likes to switch things up with hundreds of changes to the platform each year.What if you could cut through all the noise, seriously reduce your learning curve, and cut straight to the heart of the most effective and impactful PPC marketing tactics?I recently led a webinar with Thue Madsen from KissMetrics and shared the 10 top PPC marketing hacks you need to optimize your pay-per-click strategy today.
You can keep tweaking copy and testing button placement forever, but those minor changes won't have near the impact as these.Here we go: these are my all-time top 10 PPC advertising hacks.AdWords Hack #1: Optimize Quality Score!Google wants you to think QS isn't all that important, but we know bett... > Read more
Industry thought leaders in the search marketing space have long speculated about how Facebook can compete with Google in terms of its lucrative advertising business. Well, according to recent reports, Facebook could soon surpass Google in terms of its remarketing capabilities with the launch of its Atlas advertising platform.
Image via nettramarketing.comFacebook Putting Google Under PressureFacebook Ads certainly has come a long way in two years. According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook will unveil the revamped Atlas system next week. Facebook originally acquired the Atlas Advertiser Suite from Microsoft last year, and the new platform promises to be a reengineered version of Microsoft’s former product.So what’s the big deal? For starters, Facebook’s Atlas system is capable of... > Read more
Google has gone to valiant lengths to convince us that rumors of Google+’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, but Google is no longer forcing new Gmail users to connect their account to a Google+ profile – yet another move that could signal the end for Google’s troubled social network.Rumors of the decoupling of Google+ and Gmail first surfaced in the spring.
Google, unsurprisingly, hasn’t exactly gone out of its way to shout about the change from the rooftops, instead choosing to quietly shelve the mandatory integration which had previously been in place since 2012.Although the change means that new Gmail users will no longer be forced to sign up for Google+, they’ll still have the option to do so, as you can see in the image above.Gundotra’s sudden departure from Mountain ... > Read more
It's an exciting week here in Boston, as HubSpot plays host to thousands of business leaders, influencers and entrepreneurs at their epic INBOUND 2014 conference.The conference kicked off yesterday and continues through Thursday, with more than 170 educational sessions for attendees to choose from. Martha Stewart's here, as are Malcolm Gladwell, Guy Kawasaki, Simon Sinek and over 7,500 other leading marketing and sales professionals.
WordStream CEO Ralph Folz spoke this morning, alongside Altitude COO Kory Kolligian, on the essential elements of a winning organization and why company culture matters. If you've ever walked into an office with incredible company culture, you understand the huge benefits inherent to engaged employees with positive morale. The companies considered best to work ... > Read more
Take it from My Little Pony – friendship is magic! And guess what? You can harness that magic and wield the mighty power of friendship on LinkedIn to become a social media socialite! You can become a unicorn in a sea of donkeys.Most people on LinkedIn tend to play it safe when it comes to adding connections.
While sites like Twitter openly advocate adding strangers, most LinkedIn users hesitate to add someone to their network that they haven’t at least met in some vague capacity.However, loosening up the definition of “friendship” can have some serious benefits, especially on LinkedIn. Today we’re discussing how connection-bingeing can greatly improve your LinkedIn street cred. So forget about stranger danger; go ahead add those randos! Advantages of Binge... > Read more
Do you want your content to be unforgettable? Do you want parents to pass on your blog posts to their children, and your white papers to their grandchildren? Of course you do! And the solution is simple – make your content hilariously, milk-exploding-from-nostrils funny. All right, maybe your creations won’t earn a place in the family hope chest, but a touch of comedy will greatly improve any content piece’s shelf life.
News bloggers can write as many as six articles a day, and while those articles may generate tons of views, they tend to go in one ear and out the other. Most readers won’t remember that article next week, never mind who wrote it.The truth is, if you want to be memorable, you need to be funny. You gotta make ‘em laugh! A Spoonful of Comedy Makes Dry Cont... > Read more
Over the past year, Facebook has been rolling out algorithm updates that have resulted in decreased visibility for business’s organic page posts – in March, it looked like organic reach on Facebook was rapidly approaching zero.So how do you beat the odds? In my article today, I'll cover 12 tactics to beat the Facebook algorithm and help you get your fan engagement back!1.
Share Great ContentThe old adage remains true - (quality) content is king. (Sorry about the cliché, Elisa.) If you post awesome content, your chances of being liked and shared increases, boosting your presence in Facebook news feeds. Many of Facebook’s algorithm tweaks are aimed at weeding out what Facebook deems “low quality content,” like memes. For greater reach, opt instead for quality content from news sit... > Read more
Paid search is one of the most effective means for businesses to gain new customers. However, the PPC playing field has changed dramatically in recent years, and strategies that might have been effective in the past simply no longer cut it.In this post, I’m going to show you why you should stop wasting time with low click-through rate PPC strategies or bidding to a particular position, and what you can do to improve the ROI of your paid search campaigns.
What is a ‘Low CTR Strategy’?Before we go any further, I’ll explain what I mean by “low CTR strategies.”There are two main types of low CTR paid search strategies. The first is the type of campaign in which you target broader keywords within your market. These keywords include both informational and navigational queries, as well... > Read more
For the second year in a row, WordStream is listed on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies in America. We're incredibly proud of this honor, which speaks to the importance of successful, measurable PPC advertising for businesses across the country. This year, WordStream ranked #673 on Inc.
's annual list of the 5000 fastest-growing, privately held U.S. companies. And, as noted by BostInno, we're the 6th fastest-growing company in Massachusetts.Paid search is the advertising channel of choice for an increasing number of businesses, with advertisers spending 25% more on PPC this year over last. Our core purpose of bringing the power of search marketing to businesses of all sizes – with free grading tools for AdWords accounts and landing pages and now our free learning resourc... > Read more
Holy smokes! Google has today effectively killed off both the Exact and Phrase keyword match types in AdWords!While the keyword match types will still exist, starting in September, AdWords is redefining the definition of how keywords set to phrase and exact keyword match type will trigger search ads by applying close variant keyword matching – meaning your keywords will also trigger for misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemmings, accents, acronyms and abbreviations of the keywords that you specify.
Close variant keyword match was introduced in 2012, and was already the default option when using exact match and phrase match – however previously you could opt out of it. Going forward, this is no longer the case. Here’s everything you need to know about this keyword match type shake-... > Read more
A few weeks back, I took part in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) in the Big SEO community on Reddit.I love participating in AMAs – they’re a great chance to see what’s really on people’s minds right now and which issues are causing the industry grief. Each one is also an opportunity to connect with marketers of all experience levels, across a range of industries and in different types of roles.
I definitely learn a ton every time I do one!I did an AMA on Inbound.org back in April and put together a list of the top PPC questions I was asked. This time, I wanted to share some of the super smart SEO questions the Reddit group had for me, along with my answers. Enjoy! (Also check out our Mega Collection of SEO Expert Advice from other Reddit SEO AMAs.)1. What’s Your Keyword Research Secret?... > Read more
It’s almost here! Next week ClickZ Live, the conference formerly known as SES, will descend upon San Francisco for an intense four days of internet marketing training, inspiration and – the best part? – networking.If you’re an experienced conference-goer, you already know how difficult it can be to take everything in with just a few short days to do it.
Newcomers – get lots of sleep before you go and don’t forget your business cards. There’s always something happening in and around the conference hotel and the networking opportunities are priceless.Make sure you don’t miss any of these social and networking events in San Francisco next week:Mon Aug 11: Newcomers Meetup and Meet & GreetClickZ Live Newcomers MeetupIf you’ve never attended a ClickZ event before, plan to ... > Read more
If you want to maximize your online advertising budget and get the most bang for your buck, you need a solid understanding of how paid search works and how to best manage your AdWords account. But where do you even start?Paid search marketing can be incredibly intimidating for beginners – there's a lot to learn and the industry is changing all the time.
Google AdWords is the most popular PPC platform, but can also be the most complicated for marketers to manage. In 2013 alone, Google made over a thousand changes to AdWords. It's almost impossible to keep up.That’s why we created WordStream PPC University: an organized educational resource enabling marketers of all skill and experience levels to take their AdWords strategy to the next level – for free!Millions of visitors have already... > Read more
Google has given AdWords advertisers a pretty awesome gift: new dynamic sitelinks, free of charge, for the top three ad positions. That means Google will automatically generate sitelinks for certain ads, and clicks on those dynamic sitelinks won’t cost you anything.In their announcement this morning, Google said, "This is another example, like selling ratings, of AdWords tools adding value to your ads while saving time and simplifying campaign management.
" As with Enhanced Campaigns, Google is basically catering to smaller businesses who don’t have the time or expertise to set this stuff up themselves.When Adoption Is Low, Google Forces AdoptionThe big idea behind Enhanced Campaigns was to increase adoption of mobile advertising, since so many AdWords advertisers weren’t doing it on ... > Read more
Google’s latest earnings call was a bit mixed – while Google saw a 22% increase in revenue over last year, bringing earnings to $15.96 billion in the second quarter of 2014, and the search giant narrowly beat analyst projections of $15.6 billion in revenue, their ad sales in the US and the UK, their two major markets, have slowed.
Non-US revenue (excluding the UK) of $7.7 billion accounted for 48% of total revenue. Their earnings per share were considered a miss as well, at $6.08.The proliferation of ads in emerging markets worldwide drove profits to $3.42 billion for the period, up from $3.23 billion in Q2 2013. More people are clicking on Google ads – a lot more. Total paid ad clicks were up 25% over last year and up 2% over the first quarter of 2014.However, the average cost per c... > Read more
If you’ve been following developments in the search industry lately, you’ll have undoubtedly have come across discussions about Google’s recent decision to remove authorship photos from search results. We reported on this soon after the change went into effect, and other industry thought leaders like Rand Fishkin wasted no time weighing in, either.
However, despite overwhelming support for the idea that Google’s decision was based on authorship photos’ impact on the CTR of paid search ads, some naysayers insisted that this couldn’t be the case. I wasn’t content to leave things at that, so I set about looking for evidence to support my theory – and I’ve found it.In the figure above, you can see that in a search for the term “negative keywords”, our paid search ad is the... > Read more
Googler John Mueller shocked the SEO industry last week with his announcement that Google is removing authorship photos and circle counts from the SERPs.The big question is: WHY? Why would Google kill a feature they had said would instill user trust in quality search results and help valuable content stand out?Why did they want us all to implement it in the first place?Was anything we were told about Google+ authorship markup and profile images in search true to begin with?It didn't take Moz's Rand Fishkin long to tweet his thoughts on the motivation behind the change:And even more pointedly:Since Google+ authorship and the rich snippets with photos in search results were implemented, we've seen eye tracking studies point to additional attention for the enhanced results.
We've seen researc... > Read more
Google this week has published a new white paper on Quality Score and finally updated their 5-year-old video on how Quality Score works. I asked them “why now” and they said that it’s just time to redo the old stuff, but part of me thinks that they’re trying to quell a Quality Score rebellion that myself and others (including Frederick Vallaeys, etc.
) may have inadvertently started – the wording of some points in the new materials seem to directly reflect points that I’ve articulated in articles I’ve published in the last year.Image via Kirk Williams - @ppckirkAs usual, Google trotted out the same old “happy users,” “happy advertisers” and “happy Google” platitudes. It’s mostly a rehash of the same old Google fairy dust about Quality Score, but there are a ... > Read more
Get this: since last year, mobile paid search advertising has increased by 55%. Even crazier: Mobile PPC now accounts for one-fifth of total advertising spend.We keep hearing that advertisers aren't seeing great ROI from their mobile ad campaigns, though. Even if you’re making the investment, you don't feel like you’re getting your money's worth.
As mobile PPC continues to increase in value and surpasses desktop PPC…how can you tap into the massive opportunity of connecting with highly motivated, on-the-go consumers?Don't keep plugging away, following the old best practices – we've discovered that the conventional wisdom for desktop PPC is dead wrong when it comes to mobile. If you're doing what you've always done, you're sabotaging your own mobile campaigns.That sucks, right?S... > Read more
If you’ve ever read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, you probably didn’t notice a chapter about Google tracking your parental status in AdWords. Well, this is exactly what Google is doing, as Parental Status is now a demographic subset that advertisers can explicitly target.This feature went live within the past 12 hours or so, and Google has yet to make an official announcement.
However, we’ve already seen it in action, as you can see in the following figure:Our resident data scientist Mark Irvine was the first of us at WordStream to notice the new feature. At this point, parental status targeting hasn’t been rolled out across all advertiser accounts – in fact, even some of our largest Managed Services accounts don’t have access to this functionality yet, suggesti... > Read more
What if search advertising were able to impact not just clicks and conversions, but top-of-mind brand awareness?This was the question Google set out to answer in a just-released study with Ipsos MediaCT. In it, they found that search ads have a positive impact on top-of-mind awareness, but also on unaided brand awareness – even when the searcher doesn't click the ad.
Search ads may be known as a direct response tool, but Google's research points to real value for branding, as well.The study, which consisted of 61 simulated search experiments involving 800 U.S. consumers, identified an 80% lift in top-of-mind brand awareness.In each of the studies, consumers were asked to perform searches for category-specific searches spanning 12 verticals. They then saw either a control page or a simula... > Read more
Google is launching a “new and improved” AdWords Policy Center aimed at making policies more user-friendly and accessible to advertisers, according to an announcement buried in their AdWords Policy Help resources.The current AdWords policies will remain in effect until “around September,” when the new center will launch.
So what's new? Google has released a preview of the new center alongside their announcement. Here's what you need to know about the changes.1. If you're in compliance now, you won't be a rule-breaker come September… well, most of you, anyway.In their announcement, Google noted, "Almost all advertisers who comply with our current policies will also comply with the new policies."Yes, there will be fundamental policy changes that will affect some advertisers more tha... > Read more
Keyword research can be a tedious, thankless task – especially if you aren't using the results for maximum impact. Without keyword intelligence, though, you're flying blind. How can a marketer get the greatest ROI from their time spent toiling over keywords?More than keyword research tips, smart marketers need a comprehensive keyword strategy to guide successful SEO, PPC, and content marketing efforts.
We get it, you don't have time for the same old regurgitated "wisdom" you've been hearing and reading about for years.Together, Will Critchlow, co-founder/CMO of Distilled, and I have devised an all-inclusive, totally replicable keyword strategy for search engine success – one we'll share in an exclusive webinar next Tuesday, June 17.Not your average keyword tipsAttendees will review cas... > Read more
eBay along with researchers from the Universities of Berkeley and Chicago, have just released the final version of a study claiming that paid search ads have “no measurable benefit.” This is not really new news; we heard about the preliminary results last year, and pretty much everyone in search marketing had a good hearty laugh – because eBay has long been known for its embarrassingly crappy ad strategy.
The study is done now, and while it’s not completely terrible, it’s definitely misleading, as well as confusing in terms of what this says about eBay’s marketing strategy. In this post I’d like to go over a few points worth rebutting, especially when it comes to trying to apply these findings to the average Google advertiser out there.It’s Not the Channel, It’s How You Us... > Read more
Poor eBay – they're having a pretty bad day. Thanks to Google’s roll-out of Panda 4.0 and the Payday Loan 2.0 update, eBay is suffering a massive loss in organic traffic and rankings. Adding insult to injury, they had to ask all users to change their passwords after a database hack.Matt Cutts kicked off the SEO hysteria yesterday as he often does, with a tweet:First released in 2011, Panda is a component of the organic search ranking algorithm designed to weed out low-quality sites, or those with "thin content.
" In its initial release, Panda affected approximately 12% of all search queries – by March 2013, Google had refreshed Panda 25 times, making it a constant source of aggravation in SEO circles.This update is particularly worrisome for webmasters, given that Google had stopped a... > Read more
Does the internet marketing industry have a gender bias problem? It’s something that’s been talked about before, but too often, those discussions are based almost entirely on speculation, a general sense that women are getting the short end of the stick. And the problem with speculation is that it’s easy to dismiss.
Moz’s recent industry salary survey provided some interesting data; they found that women in online marketing are paid less than their male counterparts, even at the same levels of education and experience. This sparked some really great discussion, but again, some may assume men just get the better jobs because of greater ability, better performance, or more ambition. But is this really the case?I recently ran across some internal data that really surprised me. I believ... > Read more