Blog Management for Small Businesses: The Ultimate Guide

Thousands of small business marketing blogs are launched every day. Big companies, small companies, even kitchen table companies use business blogs to get in front of new prospects and hold fast to sales-ready leads and existing customers. A small business blog can cast a wide net around target audiences afloat in various stages of buying readiness by fueling their interests, piquing their curiosity, and empowering them to make smarter decisions.

People (business buyers are still people) revisit good blogs. They also add them to their reader or subscribe to the email version of the posts. Bad blogs…well, those often fall off our radar after they fail to satisfy an information need, bomb on the entertainment factor, or skimp on quality.What makes a good blog a good blog? How can your small... > Read more

November 19, 2012     |   Posted In: Blogging   |   Comments: 8

Important Update on WordStream's Infographic Research and AdWords Performance Grader

At WordStream, one of our core values is transparency, so we want to be clear with our readers and customers about some minor changes we are making to our site and our AdWords Performance Grader application. Due to recent changes in Google’s API policy, we have made adjustments to the AdWords Performance Grader application and removed our most recent infographic about Google AdWords.

Please read on for more details on the nature of these changes.What HappenedGoogle has made changes to their API terms and conditions. The previous version of the API terms and conditions read as follows:...AdWords API Clients may only use or transfer AdWords API Data as expressly allowed in Section III of this API Agreement and, except in the case of a disclosure of account information to that account owner... > Read more

November 16, 2012     |   Written by: Ralph Folz   |   Posted In:   |   Comments: 2

How to Rank for a Keyword in 10 Steps

 The view from the top ain't badGot your sights on a keyword? Want to see your website on the elusive first page of Google for a given search term? Prepare yourself: Unless you’re Wikipedia or The New York Times, it won’t be easy. But it’s not impossible, either. Seriously – we do it all the time!Ranking for a keyword in organic search is a repeatable process.

You won’t get the results you want 100% of the time, especially if you’re a new website trying to rank for a popular keyword, but if you take content marketing and SEO seriously, you can start to make things happen. Things like rankings, and traffic, and sales, oh my!Here are the ten steps to rank for a keyword in Google.Step 1: Lay the GroundworkThis is really more of a pre-step than a first step. You’ll need to h... > Read more

November 14, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Keyword Marketing   |   Comments: 149

The AdWords Performance Grader, Now with Industry Benchmark Data! Find Out How You Compare to Industry Peers

Due to recent changes in Google’s API policy, the 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. Hit me up on Twitter: Follow @larrykim... > Read more

November 12, 2012     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 2

The Best Tweets of All Time: Our List of the Most Important, Record-Breaking Tweets Ever

The social media site Twitter, in only a few short years, has managed to forever change the way generations of people communicate. Whether sharing breaking news, announcing political victories, or mourning the deaths of our heroes, Twitter has become an integral part of the social landscape.We’ve made a list of the top tweets of all time – not just the most retweeted tweets (those titles are held almost exclusively by celebrities), but also the history-changing tweets, the momentous twitter events, and the minute messages that reflect just how much can be said in only 140 characters.

WordStream presents you the best tweets ever.The Best Tweets Ever:ObamaMarsPhoenixMount EverestOccupy WallStreetCrime FightingAnthony WeinergateBP Oil SpillKennethColeOld SpiceOprahCharlie SheenJustin Bieb... > Read more

November 08, 2012     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 4

How to Find Long-Tail Keywords: 9 Ways to Discover Long-Tail Terms

Let this long-tailed tit be your guide! (Via BinaryApe)We’ve been banging the drum about long-tail keywords for a long (ahem) time. Recently, I explained why it’s so hard to rank for competitive keyword phrases with a new website. The answer? Keep trying, and target more specific, less competitive long-tail keywords in the meantime.

We also talked about whether you should target head terms or long-tail keywords in my Content Marketing FAQ. The answer? BOTH! As you’re building out your site content, your keyword taxonomy should naturally include both broad and narrow terms.Hopefully by now, whatever the size, type, or age of your business, you understand that long-tail keywords should be a part of your SEO content strategy. The long-tail keywords you find could be used as the title an... > Read more

November 07, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Keyword Marketing   |   Comments: 26

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

November 07, 2012     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 14

Who Will Win the Election Tomorrow? Obama by a Landslide*!

*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

November 05, 2012     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 17

How Many Ads Does Google Serve in a Day?

Due to recent changes in Google’s API policy, the 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. Hit me up on Twitter: Follow @larrykim... > Read more

November 02, 2012     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 1

WordStream's Best of the Month: October's Top 10

Good morning, faithful readers! Did you celebrate Halloween? WordStream sure did! And I just know Larry was working on this costume for MONTHS:I’m just sorry I wasn’t there to see the dance!Before November gets underway in earnest, take a moment to catch up on our blog’s best posts from last month:The Changing Economics of Google AdWords – Our latest infographic breaks down just what goes on in the Google AdWords economy in a single day – including how many total impressions, clicks and conversions occur on Google Search and the Display Network in 24 hours.

The infographic also includes top-level metrics for the top 10 industries that spend the most on AdWords advertising.10 Reasons SEO Is Harder for Small Businesses – Some readers out there have gotten the idea that we don’t... > Read more

November 01, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In:   |   Comments: 3

Happy Halloween! 10 Scary Stories from WordStream

 In honor of the spookiest holiday, I thought it would be fun to forget about marketing for a day and tell some scary stories instead. So I asked a bunch of WordStreamer’s:What’s the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to you at work?Their answers are below – don’t read them alone or in the dark! I also took a page from Google’s book and commissioned a special Halloween version of the WordStream logo from our extra-awesome UX designer, Tara DiMaggio (thanks, Tara!).

Larry Kim, Founder and CTOThe scariest thing that ever happened to me at work was getting a warning of unnatural links from Google.In SEO-terms, it’s the equivalent of a death sentence – Google usually de-lists your website within a few weeks of giving the notice.I felt so sick to my stomach. Couldn... > Read more

October 31, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 3

What's a Good Conversion Rate on Google AdWords? Average Conversion Rates by Industry

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. If you are looking for specific conversion rate industry benchmarks for your Google AdWords account, the data can be accessed in report format through an AdWords Performance Grader report.

For more details on why our original research was removed: 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 av... > Read more

October 29, 2012     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 31

The Changing Economics of Google AdWords

Due to recent changes in Google’s API policy, the 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. Hit me up on Twitter: Follow @larrykim... > Read more

October 25, 2012     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 22

5 Things to Test for Better PPC Ad Performance, by Perry Marshall

 One of my favorite examples of a successful PPC ad test is this one:Version 1:How to Write a Book, Fast14 Days from Start to FinishUnique, Step By Step ProgramWrite-A-Book-Faster.com4.40% CTRVersion 2:How to Write a Book Fast14 Days from Start to FinishUnique, Step By Step ProgramWrite-A-Book-Faster.

com4.12% CTRI call it “The Little Comma that Could” because one comma increased response by 8% – which in this campaign was $500 a year.However, this example is extremely misleading! That’s because it makes you think that optimizing Google ads is about testing stuff like commas. Frankly, nothing could be further from the truth.Here’s the truth about testing, which I learned from David Bullock:ForestTreesBranchesLeavesWhen you’re testing ads and new ideas, imagine that you’re... > Read more

October 24, 2012     |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 3

Can Organic Search Be Highly Targeted and Highly Qualified?

 Last week’s post about why SEO is harder for small businesses got a lot of interesting comments. One commenter, Alan, posted the following (the below is edited slightly for spelling/typos):Quite a depressing list for a small business owner, really. The conclusion is also slightly flawed. "Is SEO Still Worth the Trouble?" The answer is not as simple as 'yes', it is about  return on investment.For some small businesses, it definitely isn't worth the effort, and they are better off spending their cash on PPC and other marketing activities.A real example, is one of my small businesses achieved number 1 position for a quality competitive keyword, and despite this not a single extra bit of business was won through this (although enquiries increased).Organic search is never goin... > Read more

October 23, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: SEO Marketing   |   Comments: 7

Free Blog Photos? Not So Much: Getty Images Demands Big Money from Bloggers

Have you ever used a picture from the web on your blog or website? Did you take the time to verify that you had the proper copyright to use that image?If not, you could soon be the unhappy recipient of a settlement demand letter (AKA "extortion letter") that asks for a large sum of money to pay for "damages.

"In recent years, companies like Getty Images, iStockphoto, Masterfile, Corbis, Jupiter Images, and others have become aggressive in pursuing people who infringe on an image's copyright. It doesn't matter whether you use an unlicensed image accidentally or intentionally – the consequences are the same.You can also run afoul of copyright if a web designer improperly uses an image on your site without your knowledge. You will still be held liable even if you didn't post the image.Most e... > Read more

October 22, 2012     |   Posted In: Blogging   |   Comments: 6

New Techniques For Getting Higher Quality Scores

As PPC experts we’re always plagued with low AdWords Quality Scores. Over the past 3 years I’ve had clients with ads so perfectly written and landing pages so perfect I don’t know why they didn’t get a 15 out of 10. But that wasn’t the case. In this post, I will teach you some new techniques for getting higher Google Quality Scores for your PPC ads.

Write Ads That ConvertYou need to be writing ads that have a high click-through rate (CTR). This has been one of the biggest indicators of Quality Score for my ads. Write clickable ads.But it’s not enough to just write a good ad, ads that inspire people to click. Google is no longer just looking for clicks, but interactions on pages. If you’re writing ads that have a high CTR but bounce back to Google 2 seconds later, your Quality ... > Read more

October 18, 2012     |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 33

New Disavow Links Tools Proves Negative SEO Exists, Is a Serious Issue

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

October 16, 2012     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: SEO Marketing   |   Comments: 23

Google's AdWords Policy Update: What SMBs Need to Know

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

October 16, 2012     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 4

What is Evergreen Content? Your Guide to Long-Lasting Content That Boosts SEO

 If you’re involved with SEO, content marketing or any kind of web marketing, you’ve probably heard the phrase “evergreen content” and been told that your site needs to have it. So what is evergreen marketing, and why are evergreen articles good for SEO?Today we’ll be explaining the basics of evergreen articles, how to write an evergreen content piece, and why incorporating evergreen posts into your blog strategy is essential for killer content marketing.

Evergreen content definitionEvergreen content is SEO content that is continually relevant and stays “fresh” for readers.So Why is it Called “Evergreen”?The term “evergreen” sounds familiar even to the non-marketing ear because evergreen trees (usually the pine or fir variety) are often used to decorate homes at C... > Read more

October 16, 2012     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Blogging   |   Comments: 16

10 Reasons SEO Is Harder for Small Businesses

 “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

October 15, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: SEO Marketing   |   Comments: 54

Vanity URL: What It Is, How To Get One, & Why Your Life Is Worse Without Them

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

October 11, 2012     |   Written by: Victor Pan   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 13

Corporate Blogging for SMBs: How to Get More Employees to Contribute to Your Company Blog

 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

October 08, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Blogging   |   Comments: 12

Content Keywords FAQ: How to Use SEO Keywords for Content Marketing

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

October 03, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In:   |   Comments: 45

Top 25 Most Popular YouTube Videos of All Time: What Makes a Video Go Viral?

YouTube has become a regular staple of Internet culture, amassing over 4 billion views each day and ranked 3rd most popular website on the Internet. Despite YouTube’s overwhelming presence across the web, strategies for becoming a top viewed video continue to baffle many small businesses.Skip ahead to a top 25 youtube video artists:PsyEminemLMFAOWaka WakaLady GagaCharlie bit my fingerMichel TelóDon OmarPitbullBruno MarsAdeleGotyeKaty PerryMiley CyrusNicki MinajCarly Rae JepsenRihannaIn this blog post today, we'll be:Listing the Top 25 Most Popular YouTube Videos to dateDiscussing why certain videos become hitsOffering tips and tricks on how to make your own viral videosTop 25 YouTube Videos of All TimeLet’s talk about the top YouTube videos that have racked up the most views and what ... > Read more

October 02, 2012     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 13

Trim the Fat from Your Online Marketing with Agile Methods

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

October 01, 2012     |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 12

WordStream's Best of the Month, Back to School Edition

 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

September 27, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 1

The Importance of A/B Testing: 24 Marketing Experts on Their Most Surprising A/B Test

 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

September 25, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Interview Series   |   Comments: 21

DIY? No Can Do: More Companies Turn to Software for Help with PPC

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

September 24, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 6

What to Do if AdWords Says Your Landing Page Experience Is Below Average

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

September 20, 2012     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 17
 
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