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
How do you feel about private data in public spaces? Search Plus Your World was disturbing enough. If I do a Google image search for “ice cream,” it’s because I want some generic pictures of ice cream. I don’t want to find a picture of myself eating ice cream. I especially don’t want to find a picture of myself eating ice cream naked.
(I don’t have any nude photos in my Picasa account, that I know of, but it’s possible right?) And I especially don’t want a friend who is using my computer to find a picture of me eating ice cream naked. And if I’m borrowing a friend’s computer, I don’t want to find their naked pictures either! (I don’t know any male models.)And now Google has officially gone completely crazy. Yesterday they announced that search results will soon inco... > 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
Dalton Caldwell Gives Mark Zuckerberg the BusinessI mentioned the App.net project – Dalton Caldwell’s vision of an ad-free Twitter platform – last week. Now Caldwell is making headlines for an open letter that he posted on his blog, called “Dear Mark Zuckerberg,” in which he recounts a meeting he had earlier this summer with several top Facebook executives.
As Caldwell describes it, he was hoping the outcome of the meeting would be “executive-level support for [his] impending product launch.” Instead, those executives informed him that the product he was developing sounded like a competitor to Facebook App Center. As you can guess, they didn’t like that. Dalton writes:Your executives explained to me that they would hate to have to compete with the “interesting product” I... > Read more
I taught Google Search tricks the way you teach them to Furby. Their creepiness awesomeness is on the same level. Create your unique Google Search stalker app today!When Google’s Search Plus Your World was first released, people were all worried about the world ending as we knew it. The theory was that world views were about to become narrower as an invisible filter bubble would alter your access to information.
What I hope to demonstrate here is that I believe the opposite is true.There’s too much information on the web. Better filters can help users get what they want.Let me show you how I Furby-trained Google to only more efficiently fetch the information I wanted – specifically, information about people. (Link-builders, PR professionals, and intelligence agents, it’s time to ta... > 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.
Latest Google Penguin Update Sends Slew of Unnatural Link WarningsIn “a step towards transparency,” Google webmasters initiated a series of warnings to sites against spammy activity and sketchy, manipulative links better known as unnatural links. On July 19, a confusing link warning was sent to a large number of sites.
Google’s Matt Cutts posted on his Google+ account soon after to address the SEO hysteria:If you received a message yesterday about unnatural links to your site, don’t panic. In the past, these messages were sent when we took action on a site as a whole … For example we may take this kind of targeted action to distrust hacked links pointing to an innocent site. The innocent site will get the message as we move towards more transparency, but it’s not necessarily so... > Read more
Warning! Don't do something or something might happen, maybe?Google’s Link Warnings Run AmokOn July 19, like many other sites, we received a warning email from Google Webmaster Tools that Google had detected potentially harmful, unnatural links pointing to our site. The sequence of emotions went something like this: panic, fear, confusion, relief, irritation, then back to confusion.
The “relief” phase came when we realized the warnings went out to a huge number of sites – including SEOmoz, which I think of as squeaky-clean and unimpeachable. According to Ruth Barr, SEOmoz does “virtually nothing in the way of active link solicitation.” In other words, they have a huge and active community and they focus on churning out good content daily, so, as Ruth says, the links build ... > Read more
Microsoft adCenter: Learn to Login, Download the Desktop App, Import from Google AdWords & Market on Bing & Yahoo
If you’ve already created a successful Google AdWords campaign, a great way to drive more leads through PPC is to start to expand to platforms outside of AdWords, like Microsoft’s adCenter, which allows you to place ads on Bing, Yahoo! and their partner sites. (And now that WordStream Advisor offers support for adCenter in addition to AdWords, it’s the perfect time to learn.
)Many of the fundamental best practices for being successful in Google AdWords also hold true for creating a successful adCenter campaign, but the platform definitely has some distinct wrinkles. If you’re starting to advertise with adCenter, or thinking about getting started, there are several great informational resources available to help you get more out of your campaigns.One thing I think is worth clearing u... > Read more
To Bing or not to Bing, that is the question – for countless advertisers who are considering whether to advertise on Bing (and Yahoo!). The pros are pretty clear. Advertising on Bing gives you access to roughly 30% of the search market. If you play your cards right, that’s 30% more impressions. And 30% more clicks.
To top it all off, costs per click (CPCs) on Bing tend to be a little cheaper than AdWords, so advertisers can potentially get a higher ROI on their PPC spend.Now I know what you’re thinking – more impressions, more clicks, better ROI –there has to be a catch right?And there is.In order to access Bing’s share of the market you need to set up a separate account on Microsoft adCenter. This means you need to have new campaigns, new ad groups, new keywords, new ads and n... > Read more
Among the most common tasks that new AdWords advertisers can find daunting is simply starting a new campaign. Just in the initial campaign setup screen (before you even begin to create your actual ad groups and ads), you’re presented with 22 separate choices! We recently created a series of posts dedicated to determining the right Google AdWords settings for your campaign, but as you might have noticed, Google introduced a new look to their interface recently.
In this post, we’ll walk through a couple of subtle but important differences that have been introduced with the new interface that you can leverage when setting up a campaign.What’s New in the AdWords Campaign Settings?On the whole the new interface does improve the workflow of setting up a new campaign, introducing elements li... > Read more
You can gauge the unexpectedness of an event by the number of tweets announcing the news that start with “Wow.” And Monday, my tweetstream was full of wow’s, because the news broke that Marissa Mayer – formerly a VP at Google and one of the company’s most public faces – was leaving to take the helm at Yahoo as CEO.
This is shocking because:1. Who would choose Yahoo over Google?! Yahoo seems to exist solely to serve as the butt of tech jokes.2. OMG, Marissa Mayer is pregnant!!!Let’s take the second shocker first: Does it matter that Mayer is pregnant? Can a pregnant woman run a company? I’ll answer this question with a little analogy. My brother and I went to the same college (Rice University, go Owls!), and we used to play a lot of ping-pong. Now, I’m pretty damn good at ... > Read more
Howdy, sports fans! Thanks to the good people at MarketingProfs, we have a special offer for our readers to save $200 on an upcoming MarketingProfs University (MPU) online training course: Search Marketing School: SEO. This training course features classes on keyword research, content strategy, link building, social media, SEO metrics and more, with expert speakers including Vanessa Fox, Andrew Hanelly, Jill Whalen, Ian Lurie, John Doherty, Ruth Barr, and yours truly.
Read on for more details on this offer.About MarketingProfs UniversityMPU provides affordable, comprehensive online training in the interrelated disciplines that make up your marketing mix.With each course you'll get 10-17 hours of instruction in what you need to plan, build, and measure successful marketing programs. Plus yo... > Read more
Yesterday we published the results of a study showing how sponsored advertisements on Google (PPC ads) are taking over territory previously reserved for organic listings, AKA “free clicks.” This is both good news and bad news for marketers. On the plus side, Google continues to roll out more and better types of search advertising to help marketers target their customers.
On the negative side, you (obviously) have to pay for those clicks.But the fact is, organic clicks aren’t really “free” either – gone are the days when it was relatively easy to rank on the first page in Google for your target keywords. Given the increasing costs and complications involved with SEO, it’s important to diversify your marketing channels. You can’t rely on organic search alone for traffic and l... > Read more
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
Perry Marshall on the AdWords Stupidity Tax & Why You Should Never Let a Google Rep Near Your Account
Perry Marshall is one of our favorite people in PPC. We’ve partnered with him on a few webinars, and we love that he doesn’t just parrot back conventional wisdom at you. He shares real insight into web marketing strategy and has a knack for analogies that hit home. He recently sent me the new edition of his popular AdWords guide, The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, and spoke with me about some of the great advice you can find inside.
About Perry: Entrepreneur Magazine calls him “the #1 author and world’s most-quoted consultant on Google Advertising … He has helped over 100,000 advertisers save literally billions of dollars in AdWords stupidity tax.” His Chicago company, Perry S. Marshall & Associates, consults both online and brick-and-mortar companies on generating sales ... > Read more
Google recently announced the release of the Knowledge Graph, a new feature designed to “help you discover new information quickly and easily” by providing informative answers to informational queries directly in the SERP. In other words, for search queries that are typically answered by a high-ranking, ever-present Wikipedia page, some of that top-level information can now be found on the results page itself, so you don’t necessarily have to click through to another site.
For example, if you google “Mae West,” you see some basic information (date of birth and death, height, name of spouse, and some of her more well-known movies, as well as related figures) to the right of the organic search results (click to enlarge):Yesterday, I was talking to Larry about different types of sea... > Read more
We had an interesting question posed by a commenter named Scott recently regarding how to target a very specific offer to a remarketing audience:Thanks for your insights. I have a question about how to really implement a remarketing strategy on the website. Take this scenario into consideration: a user views a page on the site, leaves, is later targeted with a remarketing ad that says something like 'Come back for 25% off' and includes a coupon code on the ad, so they click on it, return to the site, proceed to checkout.
..and can't remember the coupon code... What to do then? I'm trying to brainstorm ideas for how to remind remarketing customers about the coupon code without telling everyone about it who visits the site.For this it seems like the best way to direct these visitor... > Read more
We've evaluated thousands of PPC accounts with the AdWords Performance Grader, adding up to almost $1 billion in total PPC spend. Looking at this huge amount of data in aggregate, one of the most salient trends has to do with account activity. Namely, we've noticed a strong correlation between regular activity and relative success.
That is to say, the advertisers that get the highest scores (because they're beating everyone else in terms of key metrics like Quality Score, click-through rate, and impression share) usually spend the most time in their accounts.Disturbingly, about 1 in 5 advertisers who used the Grader haven't even logged into their AdWords account in the past 30 days. We get it – we're busy too! – but if you don't actually work on your account on a regular basis, your RO... > Read more
We recently highlighted the different advertising options available via Twitter’s paid ads and promoted tweets platform. Another massively popular social site has also been introducing new advertising options of late: Tumblr. For many businesses, Tumblr’s currently available advertising options may not be a great fit yet, but it’s always worth understanding what’s available with a given advertising channel before you dismiss it, and by following how a popular platform with a lot of visitors evolves their ad products you’ll know when they start to offer solutions that you can get the most out of.
Currently, Tumblr offers four separate ad products:Tumblr Highlighted PostsHighlighted posts allow users to designate their own Tumblr posts to be highlighted in your followers’ dashboar... > Read more
Happy belated Independence Day, WordStream fans! With the 4th falling on a Wednesday, it feels like we had a Saturday right in the middle of the week – but no following Sunday to help us recover. Oof!When I reluctantly dragged myself back to work yesterday, I saw a note from my coworker Adam, who said he was “declaring independence from old emails,” archiving all messages older than two weeks.
That note – and Wednesday’s patriotic festivities – inspired me to think of more ways to assert your independence in the office.1. Declare Email BankruptcyDeclaring “bankruptcy” for your email means admitting that you’re never going to be able to answer all those old messages. Archive them, delete them, unflag, mark all as read – do whatever you have to do, but don’t allow... > Read more
Because they have so many products and users, Google’s account login and access processes are often fairly complicated, and this is never more clear than with Google AdWords. If you’re a small business using AdWords, you might have struggled with some of the following issues:How to grant access to your Google AdWords account to other usersUnderstanding which users currently have access to your accountRevoking AdWords account access to previous usersGranting access to an agency or a third-party PPC software productIn this post we’ll walk through how to deal with each of the above scenarios.
Managing My AdWords Account AccessBy navigating to the “Account access” option in the “My account” tab, you can quickly get a view of:Pending Invitations – See a list of the the invi... > Read more
Simultaneously decreasing your cost per conversion, but still getting inspiration for new keywords in order to expand your successful AdWords campaign? It’s possible! Using so-called "mirrored campaigns," the current campaign is split into two campaigns. One of these two campaigns contains keywords that are set at the keyword option exact match and the other campaign contains keywords that are set at broad match.
This post describes how you can easily create these mirrored campaigns in AdWords, as well as sharing some real results.AdWords advertising allows you to buy search terms in four different ways. These four keyword matching options determine which Google searches can trigger your ads to appear. The first option is broad match, in which the ad appears on similar phrases and releva... > Read more