“Why is SEO harder for small businesses?” This question has popped up a couple of times in our organic keyword referrers. We’ve been saying for months that SEO is getting harder, and that it’s especially difficult for SMBs to excel at. But why? Why is SEO easier for the big dogs? Make no mistake, it is – even if it’s getting harder for them too.
Here are 10 reasons why smaller businesses struggle to succeed at SEO.1. You have less money.This is the #1 reason SEO – and everything else! – is harder for small businesses. It’s an old saw but it’s true: You have to spend money to make money. The reason companies spend money on marketing and advertising is because they deliver ROI, but sometimes there’s a tipping point. For example we’ve seen small businesses ... > Read more
Vanity URLs have been long misunderstood, for good reason.Table of ContentsWhat Is a Vanity URL?7 Reasons and 13 Examples of Why Vanity URLS Are AwesomeHow We Got Our Google Plus Vanity URLWordStream's Obligatory Google Custom URL CelebrationWhen we got our Google + vanity URL before Wordstream Technologies, Wordstream Publishing, and Wordstream the game, it was a moment of celebration.
We were about to get an unfair advantage over our competitors with our newly acquired gplus vanity URL. Try searching any brand with a vanity Google URL and you will find that the Google knowledge graph will showcase you over other brands. i.e. Delta Airlines What is a Vanity URL?Vanity URL Definition: A vanity URL is an unique web address that is branded for marketing purposes.Vanity URLs are a t... > Read more
Lots of small and medium-sized businesses have figured out that a corporate blog is good for business. The potential benefits of a well-run corporate blog include:Brand developmentSEO traffic and valuable linksOngoing inbound leadsBut buy-in is one thing. Actually creating and publishing new blog content on a regular basis is another.
Maintaining a regular publication schedule is a struggle for everyone, but it’s especially difficult for SMBs with their smaller budgets and smaller teams. You might not have a dedicated copywriter, and if you do, that writer is probably being pulled in multiple directions – writing copy for your email campaigns, landing pages and so on (oh, hi, to-do list!).A good way to make sure that you’re regularly publishing new content on your blog is to en... > Read more
There’s no content without keywords – unless you’re building a website out of nothing but images and video, which, frankly, we don’t recommend. So if you’re trying to get on board the content marketing train, you’ll need to be thinking about keywords. How do keywords fit into your content marketing strategy? Where do you start with keyword research for content marketing?Start here! These are the top 10 most frequently asked questions I hear about using keywords in marketing content.
Table of ContentsWhat’s the best keyword tool to use for content marketing?Should I target head terms or long-tail keywords in my content?How many times should we use the keyword on the page?Where on the page should the keyword appear?Is it OK to target multiple keywords on the same page?I publishe... > Read more
Marketing. Between social and content, paid and organic, PR and community management, marketing is a supersize topic, and one that’s becoming a part of every employee’s job thanks to technology and growing consumer expectations of brands.The breadth of the discipline has created generalists and specialists, with hybrids in between.
Yet despite the tremendous impact good, smart marketing can have on an organization, marketing professionals are often the first weight to be shed when a company decides it’s time to slim down. Why is that?Where Marketing Teams Can FailI generally attribute that type of short-term reaction (off with their heads!) to operational issues decision-makers might be reluctant to accept. Most times, the issue really isn’t rooted in the last weak campaign, poorly... > Read more
September must be such a joyful month for parents – school is basically free child care, right?! Well, OK, only if you send them to public school. But at least they’re out of your hair for about 8 hours of the day.Why not get into that back-to-school spirit yourself and read up on our greatest hits from the month of September? The Importance of A/B Testing: 24 Marketing Experts on Their Most Surprising A/B Test – I asked a bunch of awesome folks (AJ Kohn! Oli Gardner! Matt Umbro, Michelle Morgan and others from the #PPCchat crew!) to share their craziest A/B test results.
Refill your coffee – this is a long read but full of inspiring ideas for testing your own marketing initiatives.3 More (Yes, More!) Ways to Save Money on PPC – Here are a few more little tricks you c... > Read more
A/B testing stands for “Always Be Testing,” right? It should! Once you start testing various elements of your marketing campaigns – from PPC text ads to landing pages to email subject lines – you realize “A/B testing best practices” are only a rough guideline. You never know what’s going to work with your audience until you AB test it.
When I hear about an A/B test with surprising results, it always makes me want to run out and test everything. So I asked 24 marketing experts to answer one question:What is the most surprising or exciting result you’ve ever achieved in an A/B test? You can read their answers below. I hope you find these AB tests as fun and inspiring as I do! Here are the players:Aaron Levy - AB Test Where Your Form is On The Landing PageAJ Kohn - S... > Read more
There was a time when being a PPC manager necessarily entailed being an Excel ninja as well. Not a fan of spreadsheets? Then step away from the PPC account, my friend!In 2001, however, a tipping point occurred – the majority of companies no longer managed their PPC accounts using Excel. And the trend continues in that direction.
According to SEMPO’s recent State of Search report, the number of companies who manage their PPC campaigns DIY-style using free tools like those provided by search engines, Excel, or “a simple database” fell from nearly half (49%) in 2001 to just 38% in 2012. That’s a big drop! And a much bigger drop than the change from 2010 to 2011 (53% to 49%).Here’s the survey data from SEMPO (the exact question was “Do you or your primary search engine marketing ... > Read more
Having a poor performing AdWords landing page is bad news – not only will Google be less likely to show your ads, but you are probably missing out on valuable conversions. It also negatively affects your Quality Scores, which means you end up paying more for each click.In an effort to be more “transparent,” Google now makes an attempt to tell you why your Quality Score for a given keyword is low.
One reason might be the quality of your landing page experience. If Google thinks your landing page experience is “below average,” it could hurt your Quality Score.According to Google, you should focus on three things if your landing page quality needs improvement:Relevant and original contentTransparencyEase of navigationIf Google has deemed your landing pages to be “below avera... > 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
Over the past year I’ve noticed that the Google results for long-tail queries have really started to suck. It often seems like Google just stops paying attention if I type more than three words. Case in point: I just searched “the french exit cilantro” and Google basically completely ignored the last word of my query:Spectacular fail: NOT ONE result on the first page contains the word “cilantro.
” (They're also all from my blog; so much for domain diversity.) I was looking for a specific post on my blog about cilantro, and was trying to save time by Googling directly to it rather than going to my blog first and performing a search there. This used to work! Even on the second page, I didn’t start seeing results that included the word “cilantro” until halfway down the page, an... > Read more
In honor of this week’s change in branding from adCenter to Bing Ads, and as a counterpart to 25 Fast Facts About Google AdWords, here are 25 facts and figures about Bing Ads, Microsoft’s PPC advertising platform:With a single Bing ad buy, you can reach 162 million unique searchers using Microsoft and Yahoo sites (including Yahoo Search, Bing, and partners), which account for 30% of total search engine share and over 6 billion searches a month.
(comScore Core Search, January 2012)From June 2011 to June 2012, Bing stole 5% of Google’s search share. (Experian Hitwise)Bids on Bing tend to be lower, and the competition for keywords is lower. (Hubspot)Local, travel, shopping and health related searches account for 30-40% of total search queries. Sessions in these four areas on Bing are of... > Read more
Those who advertise on Microsoft adCenter might have noticed that Microsoft changed its name to Bing Ads under Yahoo! Bing Network. Yesterday, advertisers received a newsletter from The Bing Support Team with the announcement in name change and no additional explanations. No significant changes have been made and advertisers don’t need to take any actions to upgrade to Bing Ads.
The first change many might notice is a new home screen when you log in or sign up to advertise on Microsoft. The new Bing Ads home page resembles the main page of Bing search and welcomes new advertisers with information and tips on how it works, how to expand advertising reach, cost and payment, and success stories.The second and I believe the biggest change Microsoft has made and is the ability to transfe... > Read more
A while back we published a post called “Think nobody clicks on Google ads? Think again!” This post was based on original research revealing that roughly two-thirds of clicks for search queries with high commercial intent go to sponsored results.Recently, a new, related report has been making the rounds.
This study, carried out by GroupM UK and Nielsen, reports that 94% of total search engine clicks go to organic results, with just 6% of click share left for paid search ads. This seems to contradict our results – one cheeky lad tweeted the link directly to us – but does it?In the strictest sense – just, you know, in terms of facts – the answer is no. The GroupM study was looking at overall click distribution in the UK over a one-month period, totaling 1.4 billion search q... > Read more
Our latest white paper, co-authored with the good folks at Hanapin Marketing, is now available for download! Below is an excerpt from the guide. Click here to download the full text of this new, free guide.Tricks to Get the Click: 10 Tips for Writing Better PPC Text AdsIf you want to sell products or generate leads online, a user-friendly, conversion-optimized website is Step 1.
But when it comes to search engine marketing, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your website is if people never get there.Pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements placed in search engine results and on other relevant sites can be an extremely effective means of driving qualified traffic to your site – one that more than pays for itself, if you’re doing it right.Even though you have to pay for each click on one ... > Read more
Lately it seems like content marketing is the new SEO. It’s become a bit of a buzzword. But when you slap a trendy label on something, it’s easy to start overthinking it. Ten years ago, everyone with a website was producing content of one kind or another. Then we started worrying about SEO – how to make that content more visible and available to search engine visitors.
Now that “content marketing” is the word of the day, people are stressing about what “content” means and how they can “create great content.”But the truth is, for most businesses, your goals haven’t really changed. You’re still just trying to get people to your website to do whatever it is you want them to do – to buy your widgets, as it were. Advertising is one way to accomplish that; content marketi... > Read more
Yesterday, blanking on the name of the movie Magnolia, I googled the phrase “tom cruise movies,” and saw a really surprising result (click the image to enlarge): Knowledge Graph on Steroids!!! This huge, sliding row of movie posters at the top of the page – very reminiscent of Netflix’s browsing design – is beyond eye-catching; it’s practically all I can see.
When you click on one of the movie posters, you’re directed to a new SERP, as though you searched for the name of that movie: Larry saw something similar this week on his mobile phone while doing a tourism-related search: What’s Going on Here?You haven’t forgotten my big conspiracy theory about the Google Knowledge Graph, have you? I suspect that Google is trying to train users to pay... > Read more
I think it’s quite amusing that Kajagoogoo has an album called “The Very Best of Kajagoogoo” – I mean, can anyone name more than one song by Kajagoogoo? I think this is the one:Well this blog is no one-hit wonder! Here’s our very best of the month, the top 10 posts that got you reading and talking:Google SERP Dumps 5.
5% of Organic First Page Listings – Google recently slashed the number of first-page results for some queries from 10 to 7 (and 30% reduction!). Larry examines the SEO implications.Why SEO's (Sometimes) Suck at PPC Marketing – Larry puts on his fighting gloves and names some important differences in the mindset required to succeed at organic vs. paid search.The Long-Term Value of SEO: Does SEO Value Last Forever? – Larry (who, you might have noticed, was on a b... > Read more
SEO Experiments Now Come In A New Flavor: Google’s Messing With Your SERPsSEO experimentation is a science. Hypothesis: If I increase the quantity of inbound links pointing to a page (independent variable), then I will see my ranking on the search engine results page (SERP) for the page’s targeted keywords increase (dependent variable).
By running enough scientific experiments that were in similar, carefully-controlled environments, SEO’s can make very precise conclusions, i.e. 10 targeted exact-match anchor text links in a guest post author bio no longer increase SERP rankings for a competitive keyword after the latest Penguin algorithm update.At least, they could make precise conclusions. This causality mindset is being phased-out as a trend of the past as we speak.We’ll release ... > Read more
Mobile devices are playing a larger and larger role in the life of a paid search marketer and it is projected that a quarter of all paid clicks on Google will come from mobile devices by the end of the year. That’s basically a 500% increase from the beginning of 2011! Silently but surely, Google has a mobile product portfolio readied for the burgeoning mobile search market.
This wouldn’t be such a big deal if all you had to do was make sure that high-end mobile devices are enabled for your campaigns. However, you and I (and everyone else with a smart phone) knows that searching on a mobile device is a vastly different experience than searching on a desktop.The format of the results page is different. The keyword is different. User intentions are different. Competition is different. And ... > Read more
While digging through our analytics for question keywords (as outlined in “3 Ways to Find Questions to Answer in Your Content”), I found the following question: Why are popular keywords so hard to rank for with a new website? It’s a good question, although the longer you work in search marketing, the more obvious the answer becomes.
New websites have difficulty ranking for popular, high-volume keywords for two primary reasons:New websites don’t have much site authority yet. The amount of on-page optimization you do when targeting a specific keyword is only half the battle. The Google algorithm takes site or domain authority into account when assigning rankings. Your site’s authority depends on factors like age of domain (hence, new websites necessarily have less authority) a... > Read more
One often-mentioned best practice for SEO is to use a test PPC campaign to “get some initial data” about a query space, and people frequently make reference to the fact that you can get valuable insights for your organic optimization efforts by looking at pay-per-click data.But Google AdWords offers users a ton of data (some would say that for small businesses there are actually too many options and data points), and many people who aren’t PPC practitioners don’t know where some of the most useful gems are hidden.
Beyond that: while there’s frequently a lot of overlap between PPC and SEO data, not all of the information in an AdWords account is actually useful for someone looking to improve SEO results (and some of it can be downright misleading when applied to SEO efforts!).In t... > 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
Or, Why Does My Personal Blog Have the Same PageRank as a Search Marketing Site with a Huge SEO Budget?A couple of weeks ago, Google rolled out a new update to Toolbar PageRank. Victor Pan, our resident SEO “ninja,” dropped me and Larry a note, letting us know the WordStream site is holding steady at 5.
Out of curiosity, I checked the PageRank on my own blog. It was also a 5. Amused, I let them know, and Larry shot back, “You should be running our SEO meetings!”In case you don’t find this as surprising as we do, let me tell you a little more about these two sites:WordStream.com: We’re a venture-backed search marketing company that has been around for about five years. We primarily sell PPC management software, but we also offer both free and paid keyword research tools as well ... > Read more
Larry stirred up quite a controversy last week with two posts that made some bold claims. First, he said that SEOs suck at PPC because they don’t approach it with the right mindset. (Later, he amended the post to say that SEOs sometimes suck at PPC – he also told me he was mainly thinking about himself.
) Then he said that the idea that SEO has more long-term value than PPC is a myth.This didn’t sit too well with some of our readers (many of whom are advocates for and practitioners of SEO – as, frankly, we have always been in the past). We had some vehement disagreement in the comments from people who thought Larry was over-generalizing or conflating “SEO” with webspam and unsustainable black-hat tactics. For example, Matt Bennett said, “you've taken your own experiences... > Read more
Google was launched in 2000, with pricing based on a flat CPM (cost per impression model). It was relaunched under an auction model in 2002. (Search Engine History)An 18-year-old college dropout named Scott Banister is credited with the brilliant, multi-billion-dollar idea of pay-for-placement search listings, an idea later brought to fruition by Bill Gross at IdeaLab.
(TechCrunch)About 97% of Google’s total revenues come from advertising. (Google Investor Relations)Businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords. (Google Economic Impact Report)As of Spring 2011, Google had over 1.2 million businesses advertising on its search network. (AdGooRoo via Perry Marshall)The average click-through rate for an ad in the first position is 7.94%. (AccuraCast)&nb... > 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 Hit me up on Twitter: Follow @larrykim... > Read more