Larry Kim's blog
It’s almost here—the holiday shopping season that so many businesses rely on to profitably round out the year. And once again, there’s a movement afoot to ensure that small businesses get their fair share of the action. Nestled in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday (SBS)—which this year falls on Saturday, November 24.
The U.S. Small Business Administration describes it as “a day to celebrate and support small business and all that they do for their communities.” It's particularly meaningful to me as I myself founded a start-up, and we work with so many small and medium sized businesses every day!Small Business Saturday may be less than one week away, but there’s still time to make sure your business is primed for what will hopefully be a bi... > Read more
The AdWords Performance Grader, Now with Industry Benchmark Data! Find Out How You Compare to Industry Peers
New Google SERP Changes Make Ads More Prominent than Ever, Cannibalize Organic Search for Informational Queries
Google has released a refresh of their Search Engine Results Pages (SERP), shifting the search toolbar from the left side to the top of the screen. The top navigation bar (including the new search toolbar) is also approximately 20 pixels less tall compared to the old top navigation bar, so adds appear higher up on the page.
According to Google: "With the new design, there’s a bit more breathing room, and more focus on the answers you’re looking for, whether from web results or from a feature like the Knowledge Graph," the search engine said Tuesday in a blog post.The stated goal was to create a “simpler, cleaner design” which creates a “consistent search experience across the wide variety of devices and screen sizes people use today."How the SERP Change Impacts Organic SearchThe N... > Read more
*If online engagement metrics are any indication!Election Day 2012 is tomorrow – will President Barack Obama get another four years? Or will Republican challenger Mitt Romney take the win?Political wonks may know that statistician Nate Silver has predicted a win for Obama based on election polls and public opinion polls.
I was curious if the Internet presence of the two respective candidates pointed to the same outcome. So I ran some quick numbers to look at Obama and Romney’s spending on paid search advertising (political campaign ads on Google search and the Google Display Network), their website traffic, and their social media presence (including Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and YouTube subscribers).Based on what I found, I predict that Obama will win by a landslide on Nov. 6, ... > Read more
This post originally aggregated data from thousands of real Google AdWords from multiple industries. Due to recent changes in Google’s API policy, the original content of this blog post has been removed. Please see the following blog post for details: Important Update on WordStream's Infographic Research and AdWords Performance Grader.
All that's left now are the insights we discovered at a high level.Google AdWords Conversion RatesMany businesses often wonder how much mileage their industry competitors are getting with Google AdWords. This is a tough problem because the data isn't publicly available. While I was able to create a create an aggregated model based on spend we've analyzed through our AdWords Performance Grader, we're sad to tell you that this data cannot be shared without vi... > Read more
After months of denying/downplaying the impact of Negative SEO, Google today has launched a new and widely anticipated disavow links tool. The tool was announced by Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam, at today’s keynote at the Pubcon conference, implicitly proving the existence of Negative SEO.
The new Google disavow links tool is live and can be used now.New Disavow Tool: What Does It All Mean?My take on the new disavow tool:Proves that Negative SEO is a Real Issue: Obviously (duh!). Otherwise why would Google roll out such a tool. Not all webmasters are sophisticated enough to use the disavow tool to disavow links. Unscrupulous SEOs could target unsuspecting, competing websites with devastating effect.Creates Moral Hazard: The disavow links tool is a get-out-of-jail-free card ... > Read more
New AdWords Policy Means Quality & Relevancy Matter Most. PPC audits recommended.Google has updated its AdWords policy to place an even stronger focus on the quality of paid search advertising. This policy goes into effect today. While Google’s Quality Score has always been an important metric for any PPC campaign, this time it appears that Google really means business: marketers that do not heed its new policy updates demanding relevance, clarity and accuracy risk receiving penalties.
Your ads could be disapproved and in some cases your domain could even get suspended. Serious violations risk account suspension.New AdWords Policy on Relevance, Clarity, & AccuracyThe new AdWords policy focuses on enforcing standards of relevance, clarity and accuracy in text ads, ensuring that us... > Read more
How high should I set my initial AdWords budget?The answer is surprisingly complicated to come up with, and it's even more difficult to allocate.Why?A Challenge in Allocating AdWords BudgetsAdWords budgets are generally set per campaign, per day (i.e. you set a daily budget for each of your campaigns).
This usually gets complicated because most advertisers have multiple campaigns.If you're a reader of the WordStream blog or if you've used our AdWords Grader, you’ll know that we recommend that you break up every campaign theme into at least 3 different campaigns for targeting:Mobile searchDisplay network (or Remarketing)Google searchNow imagine having broken up every campaign into three campaigns along these lines, and you can start to see how it might be a challenge to allocate say, a $1... > Read more
In PPC marketing, as in all walks of life, your best intentions can sometimes get you into trouble. Even “best practices” often have unintended side effects!Last week I partnered with Sean Quadlin at Hanapin Marketing to host a webinar called “Good Intentions Gone Wrong: 7 Worst Practices in PPC.
” Here are three of those “good intentions” that can hurt your PPC account and cost you money and leads.Worst Practice #1: Keyword Expansion or Bust!Some marketers have an “expand or die” attitude in PPC. You want every impression possible, so you’re constantly browsing the opportunities tab and adding new keywords that your competitors are bidding on. Growth is a good thing, yes, but if you focus on expansion over organization, your ad groups are probably out of control.Ask yours... > Read more
You may have noticed recently that Google has been showing just 7 organic search listings on the first page for many searches, instead of the usual 10. Take for example, this search for "adwords," which shows just 7 organic search listings.Dr. Pete noticed that too, and yesterday he reported on the SEOmoz blog that Google had reduced the usual 10 search listings to just 7 on over 18% of Google searches! In my article today, I’ll just quickly summarize his rather incredible findings pertaining to the Incredible Shrinking Organic SERPs, and follow that with my own analysis and thoughts.
First, here’s a graph of the percentage of first page search results with fewer than 10 organic listings since April 4, 2012:In just two days, sometime around August 12-14, the number of first page search ... > Read more
Hey Guys,I've been reading trough the comments posted about my article yesterday. Many were angry and upset at me personally, and I feel pretty crummy about this. So, I'd like to apologize to everyone.While people were upset at many things, the two most common complaints were:Failure to more clearly differentiate between "SEO Spam" and "good SEO".
Failure to provide a more balanced view in presenting the arguments.The feedback is duly noted, and I've updated yesterday's article to try to present a more balanced view. You have my word that I will try my best to ensure that this won’t happen again!I sincerely apologize for this!Sincerely,Larry... > Read more
Note: This article, originally titled "Debunking the Myth of the Long-Term Value of SEO," has been edited from its original version. I've taken some of the arguments in the comments into consideration, and upon reflection a lot of my points were unclear or misleading, and I've adjusted my language accordingly.
Thanks to everyone for contributing to the debate. - LarryOne of the most common responses to my recent “War on Free Clicks” study and yesterday’s article, “Why SEO’s Suck at PPC,” was the notion that PPC stops the moment you stop spending, whereas SEO provides benefits forever.It reminds me of the “better to buy than rent a home” advice that was all the rage in the days leading up to the housing meltdown. Millions of homeowners got completely wiped out listenin... > Read more
When it comes to search marketing, SEO’s are from Mars and PPC’s are from Venus.Just over a week following the release of our War on Free Clicks infographic, dozens of whiny SEO’s have come out of the woodwork with ludicrous sob stories about how they purportedly tried and failed to get PPC to work for them and/or their client.
Sure, PPC isn’t easy – I get that, and I’ve even written a few articles about how some small businesses are struggling with PPC.But, seriously – compared to SEO?!! PPC is a total cakewalk. Like rolling off a log. Easy as pie.SEO, on the other hand, has recently become a complete nightmare-circus – I’m talking about the keyword analytics “not provided” brouhaha, Panda, Penguin, unnatural links notifications, the increasingly ridiculous and ... > Read more
Last month, we reported that the click-through rates on Facebook Ads average a dismal 0.04%, which is approximately 10x less than the equivalent display ad on the Google Display Network.Today, e-commerce store builder Limited Run is claiming that 80% of the clicks paid for could not be verified! The company is so unhappy with the results on recent Facebook ad tests, they're deleting their Facebook page entirely.
Do People Click on Google Ads?If you use Google search (and who doesn’t), you may have noticed that sponsored results (Google pay-per-click, or PPC, ads) have been taking over more and more of the search engine results page.Here at WordStream, we’ve noticed that too! So we decided to do some research into what impact all of these new, bigger, more prominent and engaging ad formats are having on the average Google searcher.
The results are astonishing:Clicks on paid search listings beat out organic clicks by nearly a 2:1 margin for keywords with high commercial intent in the US. In other words, 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online!Click here to skip ahead:Organic Search ListingAlgorithm UpdatesSEO vs PPCAcknowledgementsSurvey MethodologyNow, to... > Read more
Hello World!Just a quick announcement that I'll be participating in the Boston Product Management Association (BPMA) June meeting, this Thursday, June 21, 2012, at the Constant Contact offices in Waltham, at 6:15PM. It's not a free event, but anyway, here are all the details!Session TopicPanel Discussion on "Sophomoric Software: Going from Prototype to Production" hosted by the Boston Product Management Association (BPMA).
BPMA Session AbstractYou've received some seed funding and signed with a customer or two. Now you need to grow your base to bring in some real revenue and build a production-quality product. It's very exciting times but you may not realize that the light at the end of the tunnel may be the train. Attend this session to learn more from an experienced group of executives ho... > Read more
Breaking News!Adwords Releases New Live Chat Ad Extensions! Take a look at this incredible screenshot!What is the New AdWords Live Chat Ad ExtensionThis new Ad Extension appears to enable a live chat session by clicking on the "Live Chat" icon within the Google AdWords ad! The chat extension has not been announced by Google yet in any official capacity.
This exciting new ad extension builds on many other interesting ad extensions released by Google in the last year including:AdWords Communication/Email ExtensionsAdWords Social Ad ExtensionsAdWords Product Ad ExtensionsAdWords Call Ad ExtensionsAdWords Sitelink ExtensionsPersonally, I am very excited by Live Chat Ad Extensions in AdWords because it greatly reduces the the time it takes to speak to your leads, which should lead to higher conv... > Read more
In case you missed it, Syncapse yesterday announced that it had acquired Clickable, Inc.!! (Go to clickable.com for additional details!)Clickable had been at one point been a direct competitor of WordStream, but much less so in the last year because:Clickable changed their product direction away from PPC /AdWords/Search Engine Marketing and instead focused more on Social Media and Facebook Advertising.
Clickable changed their target market away from small and medium-sized businesses towards larger, up-market companies.I don't know much about the Clickable acquisition -- I'm just as surprised as everyone else! But here’s what I do know:We've seen a growing flow of customers who were ex-Clickable users in the last 6 months. SMBs need help with paid search / AdWords and we are laser-focused ... > Read more
5 years ago, I quit my day job and I started WordStream. The idea for my start-up was pretty simple: That paid search is potentially an incredibly effective way to grow your business, but unfortunately, you need to be a math wizard to make it actually work. Since most small businesses don’t have these kinds of skills (or the money to hire someone with those skills) our mission would be to develop software that would make it possible for millions of small businesses to be succesful.
In the last 5 years we’ve accomplished quite a lot! Today, we’re the industry leader in our market segment, we've developed innovative products and features like PPC Advisor and the 20 Minute PPC Work Week, we have many customers, and we’re growing remarkably fast! But it wasn’t always like this an... > Read more
Do SEO Footer Links work? Are SEO-optimized footer links at the bottom of your web pages any good for SEO or are they bad? (does it hurt SEO?). The official answer as of now is No - that SEO footer links don't work.Matt Cutts today announced at the SMX conference that: “We’ve done a good job of ignoring boilerplate, site wide links.
In the last few months, we’ve been trying to make the point that not only is link buying like that not doing any good, we’re turning the dial up to let people know that certain link spam techniques are a waste of money.”What have your experiences been with SEO Footer Links? Are you finding that they no longer work? Is your SEO footer hurting your traffic? Let me know what you're seeing!... > Read more
In a final, epic victory of reason over complete and utter pandemonium, I dumped my Facebook IPO shares at the open today.This may come as a surprise to some, given that I wrote a pretty bullish case about the future of Facebook just yesterday, which in itself was probably surprising given that on Tuesday we published research that basically said Facebook advertising is awful.
So why did this confused and conflicted internet marketer sell shares of The Social Network?As in PPC management, buy and hold is for suckersWhile I still strongly believe everything I wrote about the long-term future of the company, timing still matters and it’s going to take a couple of quarters (or years even) for FB to figure out how to monetize its audience.Damn it, Jim, I’m a marketer, not a financial ... > Read more
In a dramatic triumph of hope over experience, I bought into the Facebook IPO hype today.I just got off the phone with my broker at Morgan Stanley and placed an order for 1000 shares of Facebook. (Morgan Stanley is one of the major underwriters of the Facebook IPO, and if you’re a client of theirs, you can actually place an order to stock at the IPO price before the company goes public tomorrow.
)It’s a pretty big investment for me and might come as a surprise to some, given that I recently published research on Tuesday morning that basically concludes Facebook advertising is awful. The research was picked up early on by Jim Edwards at Business Insider, and John Letzing at the Wall Street Journal, and Laurie Sullivan at MediaPost.As if to validate the research, a mere 6 hour... > Read more
Is Facebook really worth +$100 billion?That was Facebook's market capitalization, based on where the stock is priced for its IPO on Friday, May 18.I’m no investment analyst, but here at WordStream, we are experts on online advertising. Facebook’s valuation of $100 billion puts it at half the worth of Google.
Since both Google and Facebook generate most of their revenue through advertising (advertising accounts for 96% of Google’s revenue vs. 86% of Facebook’s), we can definitely weigh in on the worth question from an advertising perspective.So we decided to do a comparative analysis of the world’s largest online display advertising networks: Facebook vs. the Google Display Network.Facebook Ads vs Google Display Network Breakdown:Google Display Advertising vs. FacebookWill Faceboo... > Read more
Recently, we released what we believe to be the world’s most powerful and easy-to-use bid management software.Keyword bid management isn’t a new issue for search marketers, but, sadly, most of the bid management solutions available are still lacking. For example, you can choose from:Letting Google manage your bids for youTrying to manage keyword bids manually, by yourselfWriting your own bid management rules (either in AdWords or an expensive third-party PPC platform)The aforementioned options suffer from either a lack of transparency and loss of control, in the case of Google’s automated bidding, or are costly and complicated to implement.
In this post, I’d like to talk a little about the bid management feature now available in WordStream PPC Advisor, including how it’s different... > Read more
Recently a customer asked us, “Why should I raise bids on keywords that already have high quality scores?”I answered this question via email, but I thought I’d post the answer here too so everyone can benefit from this bid management best practice. Here’s my response:We’ve analyzed thousands of AdWords accounts and found a strong correlation between Quality Score and cost per conversion.
Meaning, if you were to look at the cost per conversion across the different keywords in your account, comparing the CPA of the keywords with a Quality Score of 1 to the CPA of Quality Score 2 keywords, Quality Score 3 keywords, and so on, you would see that on average, the lower your Quality Scores, the higher your average cost per conversion. (We compared these findings with our partners at Goog... > Read more
AdWords has announced changes to how the Exact Match and Phrase Match keyword match type options works. Previously, a keyword set to exact match in your AdWords account would only trigger ads for user search queries that exactly matched the keyword you specified (hence the name: exact match), and similarly, a phrase matched keyword would be triggered by search queries containing the phrase that you specified.
Soon, Google will be changing the definition of these keyword match types to behave more like Modified Broad Match. It will serve up ads for a far more diverse set of search queries, including:keyword misspellingssingular/plural formsstemmings (word endings such as "ing", "ed", etc.)accentsabbreviationsAs is always the case, Google claims that the motivation for the change is user bene... > Read more